Mel Kiper Mock Draft: Picks That Will Change Due to Free Agency
Just one day after ESPN's Mel Kiper published his latest NFL mock draft, a lot must be changed.
The NFL draft expert published his third mock draft (insider only) of the offseason on Monday, the day before the start of free agency. Since then, a number of moves around the league have made a huge impact on team needs entering the draft.
There is still plenty of activity ahead, but these selections already must be adjusted to reflect the latest signings.
No. 6 Cleveland Browns: Dion Jordan, OLB, Cleveland Browns
Cleveland had a clear need at outside linebacker heading into the offseason, which made this a smart pick at No. 6. However, that hole has already been filled on the first day of free agency.
The Browns spent $40 million on former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Paul Kruger, according to Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com.
Kruger led the Super Bowl champs with nine sacks last season, and he added 4.5 in the postseason.
He took a huge step forward in his fourth year and should be able to greatly improve the Browns defense with his pass-rushing ability. However, this makes the need for a pass-rusher in the draft much less important.
No. 12 Miami Dolphins: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The Dolphins drafted Ryan Tannehill last season, but they did not give him too many weapons to throw to in his first year. Although the team re-signed Brian Hartline, this was still not enough.
That was at least until the team signed Mike Wallace for $65 million, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter and John Clayton:
And @claytonespn reports Dolphins give Mike Wallace a five-year deal worth up to $65 million.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 12, 2013
Wallace had a down year last season, but he is still one of the best deep threats in the NFL.
With a true No. 1 target to pair with a solid possession receiver, the Dolphins no longer have an urgency to draft a wide receiver. This could allow them to draft a player at another position in April, like a cornerback.
No. 32 Baltimore Ravens: Matt Elam, S, Florida
Besides losing Kruger to the Browns, Dannell Ellerbe also decided to sign with the Miami Dolphins for $35 million, according to John Breech of CBS Sports.
Losing two linebackers to free agency and Ray Lewis to retirement leaves a gaping hole in the middle of the defense.
While Matt Elam is a very good player and would represent plenty of value at the end of the first round, the Ravens should be forced to draft someone who can play right away at linebacker.
Potential options at that point will be Notre Dame's Manti Te'o and Kevin Minter of LSU. Both were excellent college players and have experience leading great defenses, which will help make the transition to the NFL much easier.
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