Todd McShay’s NFL mock drafts are some of the most respected in the business, as the ESPN analyst clearly puts in a lot of work doing research and making carefully curated selections for each team.
With under a month until the 2014 NFL draft begins, McShay decided to not only bless us with his first-round selections, but also clue us in on how he believes the second round will shake out. His 4.0 mock draft with full analysis can be viewed at ESPN.com (subscription required).
Let’s take a peek at how McShay’s latest mock selections came together, followed by a closer look at some of the more interesting picks the guru made.
|1||Texans||Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina|
|2||Rams||Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn|
|3||Jaguars||Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo|
|4||Browns||Blake Bortles, QB, UCF|
|5||Raiders||Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson|
|6||Falcons||Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M|
|7||Buccaneers||Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M|
|8||Vikings||Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M|
|9||Bills||Eric Ebron, TE, UNC|
|10||Lions||Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama|
|11||Titans||Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville|
|12||Giants||Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan|
|13||Rams||C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama|
|14||Bears||Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh|
|15||Steelers||Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State|
|16||Cowboys||Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State|
|17||Ravens||Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame|
|18||Jets||Brandin Cooks, WR, Oklahoma State|
|19||Dolphins||Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia|
|20||Cardinals||Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville|
|21||Packers||Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU|
|22||Eagles||Marqise Lee, WR, USC|
|23||Chiefs||Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana|
|24||Bengals||Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State|
|25||Chargers||Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State|
|26||Browns||Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State|
|27||Saints||Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech|
|28||Panthers||Joel Bitonio, OT, Nevada|
|29||Patriots||Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame|
|30||49ers||Jason Verrett, CB, TCU|
|31||Broncos||Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota|
|32||Seahawks||Xavier Su’a-Filo, G, UCLA|
|33||Texans||Tom Savage, QB, Pittsburgh|
|34||Redskins||Cyrus Kouandijio, OT, Alabama|
|35||Browns||Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska|
|36||Raiders||Anthony Barr, DE/OLB, UCLA|
|37||Falcons||Dee Ford, DE/OLB, auburn|
|38||Buccaneers||Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri|
|39||Jaguars||Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois|
|40||Vikings||Lamarcus Joyner, CB, Florida State|
|41||Bills||Ja’Wuan James, OT, Tennessee|
|42||Titans||Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame|
|43||Giants||Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State|
|44||Rams||Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State|
|45||Lions||Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State|
|46||Steelers||Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech|
|47||Cowboys||Jeremiah Attaochu, DE, Georgia Tech|
|48||Ravens||Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois|
|49||Jets||Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington|
|50||Dolphins||Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU|
|51||Bears||Keith McGill, CB, Utah|
|52||Cardinals||Demarcus Lawrence, OLB, Boise State|
|53||Packers||Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame|
|54||Eagles||Terrence Brooks, S, Florida State|
|55||Bengals||Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State|
|56||49ers||Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt|
|57||Chargers||Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU|
|58||Saints||Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado|
|59||Colts||Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconsin|
|60||Panthers||Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina|
|61||49ers||Marcus Martin, C, USC|
|62||Patriots||Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State|
|63||Broncos||Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson|
|64||Seahawks||Jack Mewhort, OT, Ohio State|
|1||Bishop Sankley, RB, Washington|
|2||Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida|
|3||Bashaud Breeland, CB, Clemson|
|4||AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama|
|5||Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida|
High Riser: Cody Latimer to Kansas City Chiefs
One of the most eye-catching picks in McShay’s latest mock is the one that the Kansas City Chiefs are projected to make at No. 23. The draft specialist believes that the AFC West contenders will overlook more notable wideouts to select Cody Latimer of the Indiana Hoosiers.
McShay even acknowledged in his analysis that this selection would be a surprise:
This is the big surprise pick of the first round. He might not go off the board quite this early, but I was blown away by his game when I finally got to study his tape recently. He does a great job of getting off the press, has extremely reliable hands and is a threat after the catch -- three things that make him a perfect fit for a West Coast-style offense. He is dealing with a foot injury but his healing is ahead of schedule, and he recently ran in the 4.4-range at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds.
He went on to mention that the Chiefs would also consider Kelvin Benjamin of Florida State here, a player that has been consistently mocked by most experts around this draft position.
Is Latimer a first-round pick?
Kansas City fans would be surprised if their receiver-starved club went for Latimer over Benjamin, especially after many of them watched the big Seminole star win the BCS Championship Game with a catch that showed off his incredible leaping skills and big-play ability.
Regardless, Latimer has flashed greatness during his three seasons in Bloomington and still had a productive season despite the injury. The junior hauled in 72 catches for 1,096 yards and nine touchdowns on the season.
The prospect also lit up his pro day, running a 4.38 40-yard dash. NFL draft analyst Tony Pauline was in attendance for that and spoke about the impressive performance with Zach Osterman of the Indianapolis Star: “Scouts were surprised to the point of being impressed a 215-pound receiver was able to run so well so soon after foot surgery.”
It clearly impressed McShay and it now seems that Latimer is on the verge of becoming the biggest riser in the upcoming draft.
Falling Down: Justin Gilbert from No. 8 to No. 25
It’s been just over a month since McShay released his 3.0 mock (subscription required), but a number of players took some serious tumbles down the guru’s big board in that time.
One of those falling down is Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert, who dropped from No. 8 all the way down to No. 25 in this edition of the mock.
McShay initially explained that the Minnesota Vikings would be an ideal candidate to scoop the prized defensive back in the event that the team could not find a suitable trading partner to move down.
He praised Gilbert as one of the best talents in the draft class and called him the “top corner prospect on our board who has excellent speed, size and playmaking ability.”
McShay still hails Gilbert as one of the best playmakers and athletes available, but explained the reasoning for the Pokes star’s fall down to No. 25, where the San Diego Chargers are projected to rescue him:
I'm not as high on Gilbert as some other evaluators are, but I still think he's worth a first-round pick, and the Chargers have a need at corner. He gives up too much separation in coverage and isn't very physical, so he needs to be used properly. He's at his best when the play is in front of him and he can attack the ball, and he has elite ball skills and straight-line speed. He also is a huge playmaker with the ball in his hands (he had two interception returns for TDs in 2013 and had six career kickoff returns for TDs).
Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller does not agree with McShay’s stance on this cornerback, saying he is the top talent at the position he has seen in quite some time:
Countering McShay's take on Justin Gilbert, I wrote last night he's the best CB I've graded in last three drafts.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) April 4, 2014
It is definitely worth monitoring Gilbert’s status in the weeks leading up to the draft and it will be interesting to see which analyst teams agree with come draft day.
Biggest Fall: Anthony Barr from No. 11 to No. 36
Gilbert’s tumble between mock editions may be significant, but at least the Cowboys product wasn’t bumped from the draft’s first day to the second.
That is exactly what happened to UCLA star pass-rusher Anthony Barr, who went from coming off the board to the Tennessee Titans at No. 11 overall all the way down to being the Oakland Raiders’ No. 36 overall pick.
McShay’s reasoning behind this was terse, bluntly stating that he isn’t as big of a fan of the Bruins edge-rusher when compared to other analysts: “I don't have Barr ranked as high as some others, but he is a good speed rusher of the edge who could help in Oakland.”
To be fair, McShay did offer Barr as an alternative draft pick for the Arizona Cardinals at No. 20, but then went on to push the pass-rusher into the second round. McShay did mention he wasn’t a huge supporter of Barr in his previous mock, saying: “I'm not someone who thinks Barr has enough upside to be an early first-round pick, but there seem to be a lot of guys in the league who do.”
Those who have been paying attention to McShay’s media rounds may have seen this coming, as he appeared on ESPN’s First Draft podcast (h/t Rotoworld) a few weeks ago and said he would “have a hard time” selecting Barr within the first 25 picks of the 2014 draft.
Kyle Posey offered an alternative viewpoint, pointing out that it is doubtful Barr gets past New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan at 27, New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan at No. 18, the Chargers at No. 25, the San Francisco 49ers at 30 and the Seattle Seahawks to close the round at No. 32:
McShay has Barr falling to 36. I doubt he'd get past BOTH Ryans, 25, SEA/SF. Just way too talented for this slander.— Kyle Posey (@The_KP_Show) April 10, 2014
Barr is an intriguing talent that has the ability to play both outside linebacker and defensive end, depending on the scheme. It is hard to imagine so many teams passing on a talented prospect that can fit within almost any defense, but McShay is predicting a hard fall for the young man this May.