Who will go first to... The Giants?
How many mock drafts have been written in the past two months?
If your answer was 6,925,142 you are correct.
How many more will be written in the next two months?
If your answer was 19,544,797 you are correct again.
Yup, it's mock draft season; that special time of year when every writer feels the need to tell you exactly who your team is taking and why. Rather than be a conformist, I decided to mix things up a bit. We're going to reverse the order.
The New York Giants are on the clock.
Who better to protect Eli Manning than Matt Kalil?
In actuality, the Giants would probably trade this pick down to a team looking to select Andrew Luck, but since I’m not predicting trades, the Giants would take Kalil.
Matt Kalil is an elite left tackle prospect, the best to come out since Joe Thomas in 2007. He is the type of player you build an offensive line around.
Though the offensive line isn’t necessarily a weakness, if you have a chance to get an elite quarterback or left tackle you always take it. Kalil could spend a year at right tackle getting used to the league if necessary, but he’s probably ready to start on the blind side right now.
Based on need, the pick would probably be Morris Claiborne. Terrell Thomas was out most of last year and neither Prince Amukamara nor Aaron Ross have proven to be a consistent starter. Claiborne would be a consideration, but ultimately I don’t see how the Giants could pass on Kalil.
Could Morris Claiborne fix New England's secondary?
What held me back is the fear that Brady will likely play four or five more years, and Luck wouldn’t be willing to wait that long.
Considering their needs, this pick would come down to Morris Claiborne and Justin Blackmon. Blackmon has the potential to be a legitimate go to receiver, but Belichick never uses first-round picks on pass catchers.
New England’s secondary was a disaster last year. You know you need a corner when you’re using a third string receiver as your nickel back. Claiborne is a top tier prospect; he will be a top cornerback in the NFL for a decade.
Though he was overshadowed by his more popular teammate, Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu, it was Claiborne that led LSU’s fantastic secondary. It was his man coverage abilities that allowed Mathieu to roam around the field and cause turnovers. Claiborne is exactly the kind of player the Pats need.
Considering their seemingly infinite supply of draft picks, it’s very possible that New England trades up for Claiborne in the real draft. Luckily for them, this scenario has them getting him on their own.
Andrew Luck likes the idea of playing for coach Harbaugh again
Alex Smith seems to be entrenched as the starter in San Francisco, but if Jim Harbaugh got a chance to get his former Stanford quarterback you could bet the farm that Smith would be gone.
Andrew is the best quarterback prospect to enter the draft in over a decade. If Indianapolis was so inclined they could probably trade the first pick for three or four more because of how highly regarded Luck is. I’d go on, but we’ve heard everything there is to hear on Luck at this point.
Alex Smith was a decent quarterback last year. It’s hard to let go of someone who took you to the NFC championship game. But Smith is a game manager; Luck is game changer. If the 49ers had a chance at Luck, they’d take it and wouldn’t look back.
Would Justin Blackmon put the Ravens over the top?
Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin have helped fill Baltimore’s hole at receiver, but neither is a go to guy. Boldin is an elite slot receiver who runs great underneath routes, and Smith is one of the game’s biggest deep threats, but neither is the complete package you want out of number one receiver.
He reminds many of former college teammate Dez Bryant, but he is far more polished as a route runner and he gets more yards after the catch. I’ve got another name for you—Terrell Owens.
Blackmon isn’t quite as big as Owens, but he’s just as fast and has a very similar style. Blackmon’s ability to position himself to make plays before the ball is even in his hands is very Owens-esque, as is his ability to go up and get jump balls despite not having elite size. His 40 time likely won’t be in the 4.3 range, but don’t be fooled, nobody is catching Blackmon from behind.
Joe Flacco may not be a Pro Bowl quarterback, but give anyone a receiving trio of Blackmon, Smith and Boldin and you’re likely looking at a dynamic passing offense.
Is Upshaw a reach at No. 5?
Green Bay needs another pass rusher, but the best one on the board (Quinton Coples) is a 4-3 end, which doesn’t fit their defensive scheme. They could look for a safety, but it’s far too early for Mark Barron. That means the Packers would likely take the best outside linebacker on the board, Alabama’s Upshaw.
Upshaw isn’t known as a top tier pass rusher, but he’s one of those rare college players with experience in the 3-4, so he should be able to contribute right away. He’s not elite in any one area of the game, but he’s extremely versatile as a pass rusher, coverage player and run stuffer. He can play in any situation.
One player Green Bay would at least consider is Alabama running back Trent Richardson. Richardson is universally considered the top back in this year’s class and a potential Pro Bowl back, so adding him to Green Bay’s passing attack would make the Packers nearly unstoppable. Ultimately, I think Green Bay would be okay with James Starks and Ryan Grant if it meant having a chance at Courtney Upshaw.
Coples would make an excellent Patriots
Well we’re lucky this scenario isn’t real because if the Patriots were picking twice in the top six we’d basically be handing them the Lombardi trophy.
With their biggest need filled with the earlier selection of Morris Claiborne, New England would likely look for either a deep threat or a pass rusher. Since there aren’t receivers left on the board worthy of this selection, the Pats go with North Carolina’s Quinton Coples.
Coples had an impressive 7.5 sacks last year facing double and occasional triple teams. He is an amazing physical specimen; at 6’6’’ and 281 lbs., Coples has been compared to former Tar Heel Julius Peppers. While Coples doesn’t have quite the speed Peppers did at that stage and isn’t nearly as polished, Coples has the potential to be a double-digit sack guy.
Floyd would look great playing next to Andre Johnson
But wait, didn’t I say there weren’t any receivers worthy of being picked in this range?
Well to be honest, Houston just doesn’t have that many needs. You could argue that they’ll need a pass rusher to replace Mario Williams, but Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed filled in admirably with 17.5 sacks between them.
With that being the case, Houston would probably look for a high upside player. Considering Kevin Walter really isn’t a staring caliber player, adding Michael Floyd to play opposite Andre Johnson could make Houston’s elite offense nearly unstoppable.
At 6’3’’ and 224 lbs., Floyd has the size to be a dangerous deep threat. For a receiver of that size his 4.47 40 time is very impressive. He has had character issues in the past, but his athleticism can’t be denied, putting him next to Andre Johnson would give Matt Schaub a dangerous duo of pass catchers.
Floyd would also help in the red zone. Despite their elite running game and the presence of Johnson, Houston was actually 23rd in the league with a 47.6 red zone touchdown percentage. Floyd’s size and leaping ability make him nearly impossible to guard on fade routes, which should help Houston substantially near the goal line.
While his character is in question, his talent is not; Floyd would be a big addition to the Texans.
Denver would love to add the 2011 Heisman winner
Let’s be fair, Tim Tebow really didn’t play well last year. If not for several lucky breaks (Oakland blowing their finale against San Diego, Marion Barber running out of bounds, recovering an onside kick against Miami) Denver would have missed the playoffs and Tebow may already be out of Denver.
If John Elway had a chance to select Griffin he would. RG III would be the first overall pick in a normal year.
He has nearly Michael Vick’s speed in a 6’2’’ body. It’s rare for quarterbacks who are that mobile to be accurate, but the Heisman winner completed an astonishing 72.4 percent of his passes (yes, that is better than the completion percentage posted by Andrew Luck).
The fact that several teams are willing to give up multiple first-round picks for the chance to get Griffin shows how highly regarded he is by league executives. Somebody is going to get a very good quarterback when they draft him. In this scenario, that team would be Denver.
Pittsburgh needs help on the offensive line
The Steelers offensive line is terrible. There’s a reason Ben Roethlisberger is sacked as often as he is. Maurkice Pouncey is the only keeper they have.
Reiff isn’t in the mold of Kalil or Jake Long, but he’s a first-round prospect who should be able to step in as a starter from day one. There’s a bit of a hesitation with Iowa offensive linemen considering Robert Gallery was a bust as a tackle and the jury is still out on Bryan Bulaga, but that shouldn’t deter teams from Reiff.
He’s a very polished tackle who is effective against both the run and the pass. He has decent size at 6’5’’ and 313 pounds, and he put up respectable numbers at the combine.
Though he wouldn’t singlehandedly fix the Steeler’s line, Reiff would definitely be a step in the right direction.
Would Richardson make the Lions unstoppable?
Detroit is known for taking the best player available regardless of position, so despite needs in the secondary and on the offensive line, they wouldn’t pass up Richardson if he were on the board.
Richardson has virtually no holes in his game. He has elite size for a back and elite strength by nearly any standards to go along with his blazing speed. Richardson led an Alabama offense that lost former Heisman winner Mark Ingram, Julio Jones and senior quarterback Greg McElroy to a national title.
The Lions' offense was nearly unstoppable last year, but it was also one-dimensional. If the defense found a way to stop Calvin Johnson they essentially stopped the entire offense. Richardson changes all of that. You can’t commit two or three players to one receiver if there’s a real threat for the offense to run. Jahvid Best and Kevin Smith can’t create that threat, but Richardson can.
Cleveland needs a pass rusher like Ingram
Cleveland’s switch to the 4-3 didn’t go quite as smoothly as they hoped. If it had, they wouldn’t have gone 4-12. Luckily for the Browns they’ll be picking twice in the first round. They can use those picks to move up for Robert Griffin, or they can start fixing their defense.
One of their biggest needs is for a pass rusher. Ingram isn’t quite the athlete that Quinton Coples is, but he’s definitely more versatile. At times he lined up at end, linebacker and even defensive tackle. While he isn’t what some would consider a pure rusher, he finds ways to get after the quarterback and can do it in any scheme, a valuable commodity in today’s NFL. His 10 sacks at South Carolina are even more impressive when you consider the brutal SEC slate he went through.
Cleveland would also consider a receiver at this spot, but it’s a bit too early for guys like Kendall Wright and Stephen Hill. They might also consider a quarterback. No. 4 is obviously too early for Ryan Tannehill, but if they were sitting at No. 11 they’d have to give him a long look. Ultimately though I think they would settle on Ingram.
Jenkins has top 10 talent
It almost feels too easy to mock a player with legal troubles to the Bengals, but Janoris Jenkins actually fills a need.
Jenkins is going to slip a bit due to character concerns, but he is only a step below Morris Claiborne as a prospect. He isn’t quite as skilled as Claiborne, but he’s definitely on his level as an athlete. He was a man among boys at North Alabama, both as a returner and a corner.
Leon Hall is an excellent corner, but the spot next to him vacated by Jonathan Joseph needs to be filled. Jenkins could fill it and take over return duties from Brandon Tate. Filling two spots with one selection is excellent value regardless of where you’re picking, so look for the Bengals to consider Jenkins in April.
Could Mercilus fill the hole left by Jason Babin?
In the past few years, the Titans have lost Albert Haynesworth and Jason Babin to free agency and have watched Derrick Morgan bust. In other words, they need a defensive lineman.
Mercilus has risen up the draft board in the past few months due to his incredibly productive senior year. He led the Big 10 in sacks with 16 and was voted a consensus All American. Mercilus is the rare prospect that put up big numbers in college but also is enough of a physical specimen to lead us to believe he has room to improve.
There are definitely concerns with Mercilus though. He may have had an amazing junior year, but Mercilus was a one hit wonder. While some teams won’t be scared of this, most recognize that for every Jason Pierre-Paul there are five Vernon Gholston's.
His size is also a bit of concern. At 6’4’’ and 265 lbs. you have to wonder if he’s big enough to fight off NFL linemen. His speed should allow him to get snaps as a linebacker, but he has no experience there so the learning curve would be steep. Mercilus is a bit of a project, but if used correctly he has the potential to be a force in the NFL.
Tennessee could look for a corner if Cortland Finnegan leaves, and given Kenny Britt’s injury problems they may also look for a receiver, but their primary need has to be the defensive line. You simply can’t get anywhere in this league if you can’t rush the passer. Look for that to be the first need Tennessee addresses in the draft.
Martin would go a long way in fixing the Bear's line
Like the Steelers, the Bears have somehow managed to be competitive with one of the league’s worst offensive lines. Some of this may be attributed to the very quarterback unfriendly system of Mike Martz, but most of it stems from the fact they just have bad players.
There was a point in the draft process where Martin ranked almost as highly as USC’s Kalil, and while he isn’t quite that good he should be a starter immediately. Like most Stanford players, Martin is smart, you rarely see him out of position and he has decent size for a tackle. He may be better served switching to the right side because he doesn’t quite have top tier athleticism, but he should definitely be able to get by on the left.
The Bears have two real issues to address this offseason: the offensive line and wide receiver. Their defense is still excellent, Matt Forte is one of the best backs in the league, and Jay Cutler gives them solid quarterback play. If they can fill these two needs in the draft they should be right back in the playoffs next year.
San Diego's offensive line is in tatters
Kris Dielman is retiring after complications stemming from concussions, Marcus McNeil may be cut and other than Nick Hardwick I can’t even name the rest of San Diego’s offensive line. Clearly this means that they need help.
DeCastro is the best guard in this year’s draft class. Playing next to Jonathan Martin, DeCastro was one of the leaders on Stanford’s nearly impenetrable offensive line. His body type is nearly identical to that of Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson, and he had a good enough combine to ensure a first round selection.
DeCastro may be a bit of a reach at No. 15, but San Diego is desperate for help on the line and this is a much deeper class for tackles than guards. The Chargers could hope Cordy Glenn falls to the second round, but that is a bet they would probably lose. Ultimately I think DeCastro is the best fit on the board for San Diego.
Robert Griffin's favorite target will be a first round pick
Cornerback (if they don't address it with their earlier pick) and running back are possibilities, but there isn’t a player worthy of this selection at either of those positions. They could also look at Alabama safety Mark Barron, but I think in the end they’ll be able to bring Reggie Nelson back, mitigating that need.
In today’s pass happy NFL you can never have enough receivers, so giving young quarterback Andy Dalton another target is a must. A.J. Green can’t do it all, especially with the acrobatic Jerome Simpson set to test the free agent market.
The speedy Kendall Wright didn’t have a very good combine, but that won’t fool scouts. Like Justin Blackmon, Wright plays a lot faster than his times would indicate. He is nearly impossible to catch in the open field. Wright put up massive numbers playing next to Robert Griffin, and most evaluators think he’ll be a big threat to stretch the field at the pro level.
Barron would immediately upgrade New York's secondary
I have watched every Jets game over the past six years and have not once thought to myself, “Man, that Eric Smith is a top-five safety."
In fact, I’d be hard pressed to find a time when I thought, “Man, that Eric Smith really isn’t a bottom-five safety."
The message I’m trying to convey here is that Eric Smith is awful. Brodney Pool and Jim Leonhard aren’t much better, and Jets' fans spent the majority of last year watching that trio getting burned by tight end after tight end.
The Jets need to fix their safety problem. There is no better fit in the draft than Mark Barron. Alabama’s defense was loaded with pro prospects, but Barron stood out as the leader of the secondary and one of their hardest hitters. He isn’t great in any one area, but he’s solid across the board and should be a starting caliber safety from day one.
The presence of Darrelle Revis has given the Jets an excuse to ignore the safety spot for the past few years, but with the emergence of New England’s tight end duo they simply must address that spot now.
Rex Ryan’s pass rush also saw a big drop off in 2011, so if Courtney Upshaw or Melvin Ingram are on the board, they may consider taking a rush linebacker.
A wide receiver with size is also a big concern considering that outside of the stone footed Plaxico Burress, no Jet pass catcher can do much in the red zone.
The Jets have needs across the board, so expect them to take the best player available regardless of position. If Mike Tannenbaum falls in love with a player, he has shown in the past that he will always consider moving up.
Kuechly is a perfect fit for the Eagles
How do you miss the playoffs with two elite defensive ends, two elite corners and an elite quarterback, running back and receiver?
You employ Casey Matthews as one of your starting linebackers.
The rookie from Oregon proved that the same last name and hair as your superstar big brother does not make you a competent football player. Philly’s group of linebackers last year was one of the worst we’ve seen in years, so expect that to be the first area they look to address in the draft.
Luke Kuechly is a match made in draft heaven for the Eagles. He is an absolute tackling machine that will benefit immensely from playing with guys like Nnamdi Asomugha and Trent Cole. At Boston College, Kuechly was almost forced to be a one-man defense—that wouldn’t happen in Philly.
A combination of injuries, excessive hype and bad luck led to a really talented Eagles team missing the playoffs. They’re going to come into the 2012 season with something to prove. If they can do something to fix their linebacking corps they’ll be ready to compete in the NFC. If Kuechly is available, he’s the best possible fit the Eagles will find in the draft.
Don’t take my word for it, my friend Brooks (a Boston College freshman) was recently quoted saying, “He’s the only reason our defense was remotely good."
Dallas needs a guard like Glenn
Remember the days of Larry Allen, Ray Donaldson and Nate Newton dominating defensive fronts for the Cowboy line? Well, those days are long gone.
Tyron Smith was a good start, but he looked very raw as a rookie and will need time to develop. Other than Smith, there may not be a long-term keeper in that group.
Cordy Glenn can be that type of player. Like Smith he is raw and his technique definitely needs improvement, but you can’t teach 6’5’’ and 348 lbs. That’s the type of size generally reserved for left tackles. He’s a better athlete than Stanford’s DeCastro and may have been the strongest player in all of college football last year.
Corner is definitely an option for Dallas, as is outside linebacker if they lose Anthony Spencer to free agency, but the Cowboys, more than anyone else, know the value of a good offensive line. Expect them to target help in that area early in the draft.
Alshon Jeffery would take some pressure off of Larry Fitzgerald
We are now reaching the point in this mock draft where the bad teams are thinking “wait we switched the order? When did we agree to this?”
Most of the players Arizona will look at (Courtney Upshaw, Morris Claiborne, the top tier tackles) are gone. Arizona would then be forced to fill a need with a lesser player. With Early Doucet leaving, Arizona will have to find someone to play opposite Larry Fitzgerald.
Jeffery was a bit disappointing in 2011, as many predicted him to go to head with Justin Blackmon for the top receiver spot in the draft. Some have even questioned whether or not he’ll go in the first round, but Jeffery’s size and athleticism should at least earn him a selection in the bottom of the round.
At 6’4’’ Jeffery has prototypical size for a red zone threat. His strength and leaping ability allow him to go up and get jump balls. The problem is he’s in jump ball scenarios far too often because he isn’t fast enough to separate from top corners. If teams think Jeffrey can get open, his hands and athletic ability will make him a first-round pick.
We are now officially entering QB watch 2012. This is about the point in every draft where teams look to trade back into the first round and take the inevitable quarterback who fell. If Arizona falls in love with Ryan Tannehill (because lord knows they haven’t with Kevin Kolb), they may look to use next year’s first-round pick to jump ahead of other quarterback needy teams to grab him.
USC's Perry could really improve Seattle's pass rush
Having Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback can make any team look bad, but on paper, the Seahawks don’t have too many needs. The offensive line is young and will improve, the defense was solid and in Marshawn Lynch and Sydney Rice they have two playmakers that can make the offense go.
One area where Seattle could use some improvement is in the pass rush. Given their actual draft position, Mercilus or Ingram will likely be considered, but in reverse order world Nick Perry is the best rusher left on the board. Perry is a low-ceiling, low-floor player; he’ll be a contributor at the next level, but never a superstar.
He’s a passable athlete, but he’ll never wow you with feats of pure athleticism. He’s still learning the tricks of the pass rushing trade, but his basic ball rush and speed rush are usually enough to get after the quarterback. His 9.5 sacks were solid, but you do have to worry a bit that almost half of them came in two games.
Pete Carroll has chased many of his former Trojans as the boss in Seattle, but has failed to bring in guys like Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush. If Seattle moves down Perry might be the guy they’re targeting.
The Chiefs could use a blocker like Adams
This is a bit of a precarious spot for Kansas City. They won’t take a quarterback because they have so much invested in Matt Cassel, and it's hard to accurately gauge their needs since their 2011 roster might as well have been stricken with the black plague.
One area we are sure that the Chiefs could improve is their offensive line. Branden Albert has been somewhat underwhelming and their interior was exposed last season without Brian Waters.
Adams is an absolute mammoth at 6’8’’ and 320 pounds. He’s an elite run blocker and his long arms help him as a pass blocker. Teams drool over players with his type of size, so expect him to rise up the draft board.
There are definitely concerns with Adams though. He’s had issues off of the field, and while Scott Pioli tends to value intangibles his former employer (the Patriots) knew when to take risks on former head cases. If Pioli believes Adams can get his act together, he might be interested in the former Buckeye.
Hightower would be an excellent fit for the Bills
Rather than going over Buffalo’s needs, it would probably make more sense to go over what they won’t be looking for.
They seem to be set at one receiver spot with Stevie Johnson. Marcel Dareus is a keeper on the defensive line. Their backfield tandem of Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller is productive.
And that’s pretty much it.
The Bills opened the season with a bang, their offense looked unstoppable, and they even managed to upset the Patriots.
Then the league realized they were getting beaten by Chan Gailey and Ryan Fitzpatrick, had a quick laugh, then proceeded to pound the Bills to the tune of a 10 game losing streak to close the season.
Buffalo will likely look to take the best player available regardless of position. Buffalo would have a hard time doing better than Alabama's Dont'a Hightower at this point in the draft. Hightower has everything you look for out of an inside backer—his size and speed measured very well at the combine, and he was an absolute tackling machine in college.
The downside to Hightower is mainly a low ceiling and some injury concerns. He’s not the kind of super athlete some teams look for out of linebackers, what makes him so successful is nearly flawless technique and always sticking with his assignments. It’s very rare to see Dont'a Hightower out of position.
Teams are going to worry about the torn ACL he suffered in 2009, but if he can stay healthy expect Hightower to be a major contributor as a pro.
Stephen Hill is an incredible athlete
Cam Newton had one of the best rookie seasons in NFL history, throwing for over 4,000 yards and finishing second in the league with 14 rushing touchdowns. He is the sort of player you can build your team around.
The problem is Carolina doesn’t have many more guys like that. What is so amazing about Newton’s rookie year is that his only real threat as a receiver was the aging Steve Smith. Carolina has to give Newton another weapon.
That’s where Hill comes in.
Stephen Hill isn’t a normal prospect. Not many 6’4’’ receivers can run 4.3 40’s. The few that can tend to catch more than 28 passes in college. Teams looking at Hill are going to consider him based on his potential. With a body type and pure athleticism reminiscent of former Yellow Jacket Calvin Johnson, Hill has the potential to be an elite receiver.
He also has the potential to be a bust.
That’s the trouble with players like Hill, some of them turn out to be studs, but most turn out to be duds. Luckily for the Panthers, they have a decent margin of error. Cam Newton can throw to anyone, so he might be the perfect quarterback to help Hill reach his potential.
Can Ryan Tannehill solve Miami's QB issues?
The Dolphins taking a quarterback is one of the better mock draft clichés of the past decade. We expect it every draft, but it never happens. For their sake, I hope this is the year that they’re finally going to address that issue.
But how? Matt Flynn will be an option, as will Peyton Manning, but since my psychic abilities are a tad rusty I’m going to refrain from handing them a free-agent signal-caller.
That means Miami will look to the draft for their new quarterback. No. 9 is far too early to take Ryan Tannehill, but No. 25? Now we’re talking.
Personally, I’m not a fan of Ryan Tannehill. He had an NFL coach and some really nice talent around him, yet he never really capitalized on it. Oh, and he’s a converted receiver. How many converted receivers do you know that turned into elite NFL quarterbacks?
I have to give Tannehill credit where it’s due, he’s an above average athlete for a quarterback and his stats were solid at the college level.
But solid isn’t what you want out of a first-round quarterback. There are too many red flags with Tannehill to warrant a first-round selection. Somebody is going to be disappointed when they take him.
Is Sanu the receiver Jacksonville needs?
The Jaguars have to take a receiver. Their inability to throw the ball has caused Maurice Jones-Drew to face what feels like 13-man fronts. Some of that has to fall on Princess Gabbert, but not many quarterbacks can throw to Jarrett Dillard and Cecil Shorts.
If nothing else, Sanu is productive. He caught 115 passes in 2011 and has broken several records at Rutgers. Athletically, he’s not a can’t miss prospect, but there are no major red flags to his game. At the end of the day, what you’re getting in Sanu is a smart receiver who will at least give you something. His bust potential is very low.
In the actual draft it’s doubtful that Sanu will go in Round 1, but we’ve seen a run on receivers in my fictional draft world so this would be a potential landing spot for Sanu. In reality Sanu may be a Round 2 target for the Jaguars.
Will a 28 year old QB really go in round one?
Like Miami, it’s been quite some time since the Redskins have had a quarterback. For whatever reason, Mike Shanahan thought it was a good idea to go into the year with the dynamic duo of Rex Grossman and John Beck. Needless to say this backfired and they went 6-10.
Washington will be in the market for all of the same quarterbacks as Miami, but again I’m not here to hand out free agents so they’ll look to the draft.
Brandon Weeden is the next highest ranked signal caller on the board, so he’s the logical choice here. Personally I disagree, I think Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins is not only better than Weeden, but also Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill. But I’m not here to tell you what I think teams should do, I’m here to tell you what they will do (in a totally fictional scenario).
Anyway, I just think that unless he’s a sure thing, there’s no reason to take a 28-year-old quarterback in the first round. By the time he’s groomed and ready to play he’ll be 30 and nearing the wrong side of his prime. You also have to wonder how much Oklahoma State’s system and teammate Justin Blackmon attributed to Weeden’s success.
Combine all of these factors and Weeden should probably be a day three pick. He won’t be, but then I’m not a GM.
Miller could be the lightning to LeGarrette Blount's thunder
LeGarrette Blount is a starting caliber back, but you could time his 40-yard dash with a sundial. He’s a great power back, but he’s slower than most backs, especially starters.
As a University of Miami student I can vouch for the fact the Lamar Miller is fast. Really, really, really fast. His 4.4 40-time doesn’t do him justice, he is shifty and nearly impossible to catch once he’s in the open field. He has played on Miami teams with nearly non-existent passing attacks thanks to the ineffective Jacory Harris.
Very few teams use one back any more. We’ve reached a stage where teams like to platoon multiple runners with different styles. The differences between Miller and Blount are practically night and day. They would work well together as a backfield tandem.
Randle may slip into the end of round one
In this scenario, Cleveland would likely trade up for RGIII. Remember he’s going eighth here and Cleveland picks at No. 11 and No. 29. However, as I’ve said, there will be no trades in this fictional mock draft, so the Browns will look to fill another need here.
Like Sanu, Rueben Randle probably won’t go in the first round in the real draft, but since we’ve seen a run on receivers in this mock he might be able to sneak into bottom of the round. Considering how much Cleveland needs a receiver, it’s definitely a possibility.
Athletically, Randle is a first-round prospect. He’s 6’4’’ and has an ideal body for a receiver. He’s fast enough to separate from NFL defensive backs and he has above average hands. The problem with Randle is a lack of production. When someone with his potential fails to put up All-American numbers you have to wonder why.
SEC competition could play a part in that, as could the quarterback combination of Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson, but Randle also has a few red flags to his game. Most notably his route running needs to be refined. If teams feel like they can coach him up to his potential then Randle is going to make somebody very happy.
Poe was the big winner of this year's combine
It seems odd to mock a defensive tackle to Minnesota. For so long the Williams Wall made that a position of strength for the Vikings, but Pat Williams is gone and Kevin Williams is getting up there in years. It’s time to find another elite run stuffer.
Dontari Poe was the big winner of this year’s combine. His nearly 350 pound frame gives him more than enough size to play on the nose, yet he still he has the type of speed and athleticism we rarely see out of defensive tackles. He’s definitely raw, and his college stats leave a bit to be desired, but someone is going to take a chance on his upside.
Minnesota has other, more pressing needs, such as wide receiver and left tackle, but at No. 30 they don’t have many options at those spots. Somebody may fall to them, but look for Minnesota to consider Poe or another defensive tackle in the second round.
Fleener would be a nice safety valve for Sam Bradford
Quickly, name a St. Louis pass catcher other than Brandon Lloyd. What? You can’t? Well I think we’ve figured out the Rams’ biggest need.
Coby Fleener is a young quarterback’s dream. I know it’s a cliché to call Stanford players smart, but Fleener really is. He runs crisp routes and is the prototypical safety valve for a quarterback. He’s also fast enough to get down the field and has excellent hands for a tight end.
Fleener is more of a new age tight end. He’s a receiver in a tight end’s body, as he’ll be able to stretch the field, but he’s by no means an elite blocker. Fleener would be best used in a tight end platoon with someone who can block.
St. Louis has very similar needs to the Vikings, but like Minnesota those needs will be hard to address this late in Round 1. Fleener is an excellent fit for this late in the draft.
Devon Still should be targeted by the Colts in round two
Changing the draft order changes everything for Indianapolis. Picking first, they’ll be able to add Andrew Luck as their quarterback of the future, but at No. 32? Needless to say Luck will be gone.
Kirk Cousins or Brock Osweiller may be discussed, but ultimately with Luck and RG III out of the picture the Colts would likely decide to try to compete with Peyton Manning.
How long have the Colts needed a defensive tackle? This is another mock draft cliché that we see every year but never actually happens. Things are changing in Indy though; Chuck Pagano is coming from Baltimore where he had Haloti Ngata. There aren’t many Ngata’s out there, but he will definitely look to bring in a top tier run stuffer at some point in the draft.
Still has very good size for an under tackle and may even be able to line up in the nose if Pagano needs him to. He’s not Ndamukong Suh as a pass rusher, but he can penetrate and at the very least open some space for other rushers. Still’s biggest contributions will come against the run, where his strength and technique give him the potential to be an excellent run stuffer.
Since Indianapolis is picking first in the actual draft, this serves as a de facto second-round mock pick for them. While it’s a virtual certainty that they will take Luck first, Devon Still is a realistic target for them in Round 2.