Mel Kiper Jr. studies more collegiate tape than all of us. He has a nicer crop of hair on his head than most men his age and is ESPN's most recognizable draft guru.
That doesn't mean I can't thoroughly critique his latest most draft. (ESPN Insider)
Here, I'll take a look at the picks that simply don't make sense to me.
No offense, Lord Kiper.
(I'll leave the top six alone, because he's taking a firm stance against prediction trades in his mock drafts. I can deal with that. No way Morris Claiborne ends up on the Washington Redskins, though.)
First gripe: No. 13 Arizona Cardinals - Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Kiper says: "Offensive line would be the more obvious pick here, but I want to see what the Cardinals do in free agency first. Floyd would be a great complement to Larry Fitzgerald in that offense, and give the Cardinals an enviable pair of guys that can work underneath, go deep and also post up smaller defensive backs in the red zone. Outside of the offensive line, Floyd is as much as you could do to help a quarterback."
My take: The beginning of the first sentence says it all for me. The Cardinals NEED offensive line help. They've given up 104 sacks over the last two seasons. That's a lot. I don't care if John Skelton, Kurt Warner or Peyton Manning is under center, the Cardinals signal-caller needs protection in the pocket.
Levi Brown is one of the worst left tackles in the game and taking a guy like Stanford's Jonathan Martin would make much more sense in the first round, a time when you can grab franchise offensive linemen.
Second gripe: No. 14 Dallas Cowboys - Mark Barron, S, Alabama
Kiper says: "We all know the story. Dallas was a mess defending the pass in 2011, and it might look for help both in free agency and here. Barron's a perfect fit for the Cowboys. He's the best safety in the draft, and the Cowboys can't go wrong with either the top safety or the top cornerback here. He didn't work out in Indianapolis, coming off double hernia surgery, but it's not a lingering concern."
My take: The Cowboys need help in their secondary—that goes without question—and Barron's easily the best safety in the 2012 class. But that doesn't mean this is the perfect fit. While he has great instincts and is certainly NFL-ready, Barron is more of a run-plugging and hard-hitting safety than he is a rangy ball-hawking center fielder.
Do I think Barron could become a solid player with in Big D?
I just think a players like South Carolina's Stephon Gilmore or Dre Kirkpatrick are better options.
With Derrick Dockery and Kyle Kosier currently manning the guard spots, I wouldn't be against Stanford's David DeCastro, either. Would you, Cowboys fans?
Third gripe: No. 27 New England Patriots - Kendall Reyes, DT, UConn
Kiper says: "I had Reyes to the Patriots with their other first-round pick in a previous mock, and he sticks, albeit a little higher, this time around. The Patriots know they have to get better along the defensive front, and that could come via free agency (Mario Williams?). Still, I'd be surprised if they don't target it in the draft, even though Bill Belichick never fails to make moves and surprise during the draft. Reyes provides an active run-stuffer up front, a guy that can eat up blocks and free up rushers."
My take: He's right. The Patriots do have to get tougher along their defensive line. Vince Wilfork can't do it all. They allowed 4.6 yards per carry in 2011. However, I just don't have Reyes as a legitimate first-round pick and there are other disruptive defensive tackles in this year's class.
Penn State's Devon Still may come with some risk because he's known to take plays off, but he'd demand double teams and provide much more impact as a pass-rusher.
(Kiper does have Nebraska outside linebacker Lavonte David going No. 22 overall to the Cleveland Browns, a pick that would stun the masses. Not me. OK, I'd be a little surprised. My best guess at the logic behind Cleveland snagging David? The Browns run defense was 30th in the NFL last season and they'd love to pair a young athletic outside linebacker with D'Qwell Jackson.)
Overall, nice job, Mel.
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