Twelve members of your loyal Field Gulls writing staff, at the suggestion of the incomparable Mike Chan, have banded together over the past week or so to put together a collaborative mock draft, with each writer alternating as the General Manager for individual teams. Here follows picks 1 through 24, with the selections and writer explanation behind each choice.
We figured that this would be a fun way of providing some player and team-need analysis NFL-wide, and also, obviously, to set up a scenario that the Seahawks may find themselves in at #25, with the previous 24 team picks somewhat protected for any one bias and individual perception that is present in single-writer mock drafts. The eventual real-life Draft board never ends up looking like the vast majority of mocks, but our collective analysis of picks 1-24 ended up somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,600 words, so I'm hoping you learn a thing or two about some of the top prospects in this year's class.
1. Kansas City Chiefs | GM Mike Chan
The Pick: Luke Joeckel, T, Texas A&M
It seems easy to go with either Geno Smith or Matt Barkley here, but I don't think either of them are worth the #1 overall pick, so Chiefs go BPA here.
While the team has 20+ M of cap space once they cut Cassel, I don't think they want to resign injury-prone Brandon Albert to a long-term deal (who was drafted as a guard. Go figure), and no way are they going to count on Donald Stephenson again for the blind side. Joeckel here would be the perfect protector for Andy Reid's WCO and secure some protection whoever they want at QB, setting the edge for the Chiefs for years to come.
They aren't necessarily forced to pick a signal caller here, and there are many options - Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb - that succeeded within the offensive scheme and can come cheaply as a stopgap until Reid sees the guy he wants. Also keep in mind that the McNabb selection in 1999 came after Tra Thomas was set as a cornerstone the year before - a relationship that endured for most of the Eagles' postseason success. With the line problems plaguing both the Chiefs and Reid's tenure at Philadelphia for the last few years, I think they wisely play it safe here and rebuild the foundation of the offense.
Even without Bowe, this team still has a solid running game betweeny Jamaal Charles and Shaun Dragun, as well as a young defense core of Dontari Poe, Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, Brandon Flowers and Eric Berry. Whoever's under center at Arrowhead next season won't be under pressure to succeed, so my objective as KC would be to amass as much weapons and future capital I can get my hands on to - espeically with such a weak QB class.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars | GM Jacob Stevens
The Pick: Björn Werner, DE, Florida St.
David Caldwell has indicated three pertinent things: 1) Amongst comparable prospects, he will draft for need. While known for building teams through the draft, his former superiors in Bill Polian and Thomas Dimitroff did just that. 2) He's somewhat encouraged by Jacksonville's roster. 3) He stressed patience regarding Blaine Gabbert, highlighting Gabbert's youth (still second-youngest in the NFL even after a strong crop of 2012 rookie QBs).
This QB class isn't strong, and Gabbert is probably still the superior prototypical QB talent to anyone in the draft. The lad's career is in serious, mortal danger, but upside remains.
Gus Bradley has indicated his defense will feature a Leo end. Dead-last QB pressure exemplifies one of their strongest needs. Werner could make a huge impact here. Most of the top pass rushers in this draft are Leo-sized. Damontre Moore, Barkevious Mingo, Dion Jordan, and others approach Werner's pressure abilities, but few match his run defense acumen.
Star Lotulelei may grade higher on what he brings to his position, but that won't match Werner's impact for Jacksonville from the edge, with Tyson Alualu and CJ Mosley rotating with Terrence Knighton inside. The Seminoles used Werner on the inside, standing up on the outside, and in zone drop cover a fair amount; the standout German is adept at disruption from any angle.
3. Oakland Raiders | GM Matt Erickson
The Pick: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Most of you are probably scoffing at this pick not being Star Lotulelei, and I'll be honest: I wouldn't be shocked if Star was the pick here. But a mock draft is more about tying needs, positions, and skillsets to teams and less about projecting individual players. And the Raiders need pass rushers. Tommy Kelly is old. Desmond Bryant is younger, but he's a free agent and isn't a dynamic player. So I have the Raiders taking my top DT.
Star's ceiling is undeniable. But I'm still pretty whelmed by his inconsistent get-off and tendency to get upright and turn into a space-clogger. He's also 23.
Floyd may have a slightly lower ceiling, but in my opinion his floor is higher. He's explosive in his own right, and he plays with strong violent hands. He's been used at 0-, 1-, 3-, and 5-tech, and shows an understanding of advanced technique in his use of various pass-rushing moves (clubs, rips, swims). He's powerful against the run and if used as a penetrating 3-technique, I could easily see him getting 5-8 sacks a year. And he's only 20. His best football is in front of him. There have already been rumors about him being a sure top 10 pick, and it wouldn't surprise me to see him go this high.
4. Philadelphia Eagles | GM Jared Stanger
The Pick: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Although Offensive Guard is traditionally not a position drafted in the top half of the draft, Chip Kelly is not a traditional coach. The Eagles have a need at Guard and, not only is Chance Warmack the top guard in this class, he's one of the top guards in a generation. Pound-for-pound, position-for-position, Warmack is one of the top 5 players in this draft and will immediately stabilize the interior of the Eagles' O-line.
5. Detroit Lions | GM Ben Harbaugh
The Pick: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Last off-season, starting defensive end Cliff Avril declined a 3 year $30 million contract. He's a free agent now and probably won't return to the Lions. Further, Kyle Vanden Bosch is old and Lawrence Jackson is Lawrence Jackson (also a free agent).
The Lions need a DE and Damontre Moore is a phenomenal prospect - need meets talent. He'll maybe have to add a little more weight to reach his full potential at DE but this is only a minor concern. Barkevious Mingo was also considered but Moore has a more rounded game and can offer a similar level of pass rush. DeMarcus Milliner and Eric Fisher are other top talents at needed positions but it's not often that you can add a player of Moore's caliber to a line that already features Ndamukong Suh.
Lions GM Martin Mayhew showed his desire to establish a dominant defensive line when he chose Nick Fairley with the 13th pick just one year after taking Suh. Selecting Damontre Moore would be a big step toward realizing that vision.
6. Cleveland Browns | GM Jon Benne
The Pick: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
New defensive coordinator Ray Horton is switching to a hybrid defense with a base 3-4, and the Browns have already begun the first step of the transition by releasing Frostee Rucker, who was a liability in the pass rush. Mingo is explosive off the snap and while he doesn't possess much in the way of technique, he has the pure edge speed to get in the backfield and disrupt plays.
The biggest concern is his size. At 240 pounds, he's probably too light to play every snap on the line, and may be asked to move to outside linebacker, and if that sticks, he's be a great versatile weapon in Horton's new scheme.
7. Arizona Cardinals | GM Rob Staton
The Pick: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
There's absolutely no way the Cardinals mess around at quarterback again this year. They had three different starters in 2012 and were a shambles for the most part. Yes, they also need to improve the offensive line. But they can't afford to wait until round two to get a quarterback. This situation needs sorting. Now. They're the only team in the NFC West with question marks at the position.
They've appointed a Head Coach fresh from a year dealing with a rookie and turning a miserable 2-14 season into an eleven win season. Bruce Arians has been brought in to sort out the quarterback situation. So why Barkley?
Despite a lot of silly hand wringing and complaint, he's still the same QB that was being touted as a top-ten lock a year ago. His numbers in 2012 were very similar to 2011. The problems at USC were down to a bad defense and the Kiffins. Not Barkley. And anyone who thinks his success was purely down to the talent at receiver should watch Max Wittek vs Notre Dame and Georgia Tech.
Adam Schefter recently reported that Barkley was still expected to be the first QB off the board and I agree with him. He's not an explosive athlete, but he's technically superb and will get the ball to Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. They just need to make sure they get a guy like Oday Aboushi in round two to protect him.
8. Buffalo Bills | GM Kenneth Arthur
The Pick: Alec Ogletree, OLB, Georgia
GM Buddy Nix has been saying since November that the Bills must get a franchise quarterback and that they would even be willing to "trade up" in the draft to get one. So with Geno Smith falling into the lap of Buffalo at pick 8, this is an easy decision, right? *ehhhh* *buzzer sounds* "Please try again." "Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200. You don't deserve it."
The Bills DO need a QBOTF to replace Ryan Fitzpatrick and Smith IS an interesting prospect that could fit in with the Bills offense, but I don't believe that he is the right pick for Buffalo at 8 and I also don't believe that they necessarily need to take a QB here.
When Nix says that the Bills will "trade up" to get a franchise QB, I think he could just as easily be talking about trading up into the BACK of the 1st round where players such as Smith, Tyler Wilson, Mike Glennon, and "hello hello hello" head coach Doug Marrone's very own Ryan Nassib of Syracuse could all be available.
Only the Jets are left with any viable threat to take a QB after Buffalo passes on one and players like Colin Kaepernick, Andy Dalton, and Russell Wilson have all proven more capable in the last two years than Jake Locker, Christian Ponder, Blaine Gabbert, and Brandon Weeden. For this reason, I think that the Bills will pass (at least they SHOULD) on a QB at 8 when they could get one in the 28-40 range that wouldn't be any worse.
Let's move onto the defense then, because no receiver is good enough to go here. Buffalo blitzed about 17% of the time in the NFL, which is almost HALF of the league AVERAGE. New defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has said "no way, no how, uh uh" to that philosophy and promises to blitz more and get some more pass rushers up in this bitch. He has also said that the Bills will basically be using the nickel formation as their base defense, much like the Patriots, and are committed to stopping the pass.
This leaves me with a couple of options: Snag Dee Milliner or Xavier Rhodes to pair with Stephon Gilmore as cornerback cornerstones OR find a pass-rushing specialist DE/OLB hybrid to pair with Mario Williams and get all hella naughty on opposing quarterbacks. The other AFC QBs will be all like "oh damn, my butt!" when they find themselves sacked 3 or 4 times per game.
Milliner and Rhodes are good prospects and could be an upgrade from Aaron Williams, but the Bills just used a 1st on Gilmore in 2012 and a 2nd on Williams in 2011. They're content. So we move to pass-rushers where we have a pair of players from Georgia that are looking at me like "Ay, papi, draft me to be a Buffalo Bill!" More than HALF of Buddy Nix's draft pix's have come from the SEC or ACC. I'm going to NIX Ezekial Ansah and Dion Jordan.
So, Jarvis Jones or Alec Ogeltree? Either one could do, but I am going to stay with the "cool kids" and maintain that Ogletree is that way to go. Kids are saying he's "oh yeah so cool" and "me love you long time" and I think he's going to be one of the fastest risers at the combine. He might not even make it to 8 by the time the draft rolls around. It's Ogeltree for the kid in me and the Bills defense just got a whole lot neater. Woof woof! /mic
9. New York Jets | GM David Crockett
The Pick: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
In many ways, despite the Herculian task facing new GM John Idzik in transforming the Jets from "Team Turmoil" to legitimate contender (for a Wildcard), this draft may be the easiest thing he gets to do. His roster is approaching Ruskellian levels of talent, which is to say, the best players are at ends of their primes and the young players have mostly disappointed.
Smith is the relatively easy choice. He's the right combination of value, need, and forward thinking for the Jets. Sanchez's failure to develop is disappointing. But, in the short-term NY has few other realistic options. His cost in guaranteed money is classic sunk cost, but the price tag on a reasonable upgrade makes releasing him unrealistic.
Still, Sanchez's baggage has made it easier for Idzik to come in and declare the competition open. To my admittedly untrained eye, Smith is at least the equal as a prospect as Josh Freeman, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, or Christian Ponder, who have all been drafted within a few picks of this spot. Smith has some warts, though I think he suffers some negative halo because his team disappointed and he has the misfortune of following a once-per-generation QB draft.
All things said, I think Smith's floor (if he is coached up and developed) is league average starter with considerable potential for much more. If you are a Jets fan I'm fairly certain that you have killed for far less.
10. Tennessee Titans | GM Danny Kelly
The Pick: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
This comes down to value for the Titans. With Chance Warmack off the board, Titans GM Ruston Webber will look for value at guard in the 2nd round or later - protecting Jake Locker is important, and Tennessee has a nice duo of tackles, but going with any interior lineman outside of Warmack here might be too much of a reach.
Instead, the Titans will look for an impact player on the defense. Defensive Ends Werner, Mingo, and Moore are all off the board and DT Sheldon Richardson will be very tempting, but ultimately the best value might be Milliner - a guy that can start on day one and play physical and tight coverage in the secondary as the Titans look to shore up their dreadful defense from 2011.
In this day in age, cornerbacks are becoming more and more valuable, and with Milliner falling to the tenth pick, Tennessee can't pass up the option. We all saw how much the Titans missed Cortland Finnegan's physical presence on the outside, and Milliner fits that style. This move also allows the Titans to move Alterraun Verner back into the slot, where he's at his best, and allows them to do more with their front-seven in blitz looks and pressure concepts, knowing the back-end is covered consistently with a strong secondary.
11. San Diego Chargers | GM Derek Stephens
The Pick: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
The Chargers need to find their long-term solution at left tackle, and Fisher is a great option here. I don't think he falls this far, but if he does, San Diego should snatch him up quickly. He's a technically-sound pass-protector and a "plus" run blocker with big-time power and toughness to go with better than average agility in space.
He's smart, nasty and big, and would finally give Phillip Rivers the blind-side protection that he's been missing for some time. Joeckel has been getting all the attention as far as left tackles are concerned, but Fisher isn't far behind and should not be overlooked.
12. Miami Dolphins | GM Jacson Bevens
The Pick: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
Consider this a BPA pick. My initial instincts are to fill Miami's need at wide receiver with some high-upside guy, or to improve their dreadful right-side blocking, but I don't think the draft offers anyone at either of those positions that's worth this high of a pick.
Vaccaro, who took over for Earl Thomas when Seattle drafted him, is a super-rangy, fearless safety with stick man-to-man abilities (sound familiar?). The knock on him seems to be that he's a bit of a gambler and as such, can be a bit of a liability in over-the-top coverage situations.
Still, a safety with such a high degree of athleticism and the ability to man up on a slot receiver will be extremely valuable to a defense that ranked 17th in pass defense by (DVOA). We're all certainly familiar with the flexibility a multi-use safety can offer, and one hidden beneficiary of this addition will be sackmaster Cameron Wake, who will have an extra half second or two to pursue his target if Vaccaro can take away one of the opposing QB's reads.
Kevin Nogle, who runs The Phinsider (SB Nation's Dolphins site), gave us his reaction to the pick:
The Vacarro to Miami bandwagon is starting to gain steam among Dolphins fans. It does not address one of the team's top needs (WR, CB, DE), but it would upgrade a position that has been traditionally a weak one for the Dolphins. With the emergence of Reshad Jones as one of the best safeties you've never heard of, adding Vacarro next to Jones could give the Dolphins a scary tandem as the last line of defense.
Miami selecting Vacarro would be a great move, and is possibly the way they go as the picks ahead of them take away players from the top of their draft board.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers | GM Mike Chan
The Pick: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Tampa Bay must be running towards the podium to make this pick. Lotulelei can be considered as the best defensive lineman of its class and to have him fall this far is a steal for the Buccaneers. He has a complete package in offering versatility playing as a 1 or 3-tech and will serve as the main run stuffer in the Schiano's 4-3. Along with Gerald McCoy, this pick offers immense value and will solidify the interior trenches, making it one of the most potent D-Lines in the league, and open up more pass rush for the outside guys like Michael Bennett (if they re-signed him), Daniel Te'o-Nesheim and a healthy Da'Quan Bowers.
This team still has a lot of holes that need to be filled - mainly, DB, WR, TE and OL, to entertain other selections (Xavier Rhodes was who I would've picked had Lotulelei was selected), and this organization has already spent a lot of capital on these positons for the past few seasons that never got off the ground.
Nevertheless, I think with the depth bethind this year's class with regards to Tampa's needs, Lotulelei makes the most sense here. His pass rush technique may be limited, but his quickness, a rotation between Roy Miller and playing alongside McCoy will help limit his flaws.
14. Carolina Panthers | GM Jacob Stevens
The PIck: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
I don't subscribe to Planet Theory. The notion that very large gentlemen are rare, and those good at football rarer still, is disproven year after year by college football's endless supply of VLGs.
On the other hand, the evolution of the passing league and the interpretation and enforcement of interference rules have made a great cornerback amongst the rarest of breeds. They're expected to be the fastest, jump the highest, change directions faster, and not get bullied out of the play by the new generation of superreceiver. The tension of multiple, opposing requisites of athletic ability for great corner play keeps the list short.
Pete Carroll seems to have found a working formula to break the mold, but the supply of able corners is not as rich as that of defensive linemen, and this year is no different. Were I David Gettleman, victor over agism and all, I would want a cornerback for my team. The DT class runs deep, and we've already reached the gap between the CBs worthy of the first half of the draft, and those that aren't. Despite my proclivities, Desmond Trufant doesn't stand out from the next five cornerbacks, while a talent from the top tier of this draft just fell.
Most Panther fans would have targeted Richardson over any CB, period. They were pained by the weakness up the middle, and all three division opponent QBs are particularly vulnerable to nose-of-the-pocket pressure. The secondary has a grave outlook, however, and the cap situation worse. If they can stem the tide there, though, with a pick like Richardson, say hello to your 2013 sleeper Super Bowl contender: by both DVOA and EPA, Carolina was a better team than 13-win Atlanta, and their only weakness was special teams.
15. New Orleans Saints | GM Matt Erickson
The Pick: Xavier Rhodes, CB, FSU
The Saints need better defensive players, period. They just finished setting the NFL single-season record for total yards allowed: 7,042. That's really, really, really bad. That's an average of over 440 yards per game. For reference, the Seahawks allowed more than 440 yards in a game once, when they allowed 475 yards to the Patriots. So (apparently) Rob Ryan will have his hands full.
A lot of people have mocked defensive line players to the Saints, which makes sense, since they definitely lacked a consistent pass rush last year. I was tempted to give them Dion Jordan, but I actually think they have a decent set of defensive linemen. Between Cameron Jordan, Akiem Hicks, Broderick Bunkley, Will Smith, and Junior Galette, I think they can put together a pretty solid 3-4 pass rush.
If there was a top defensive tackle available, I'd lean that direction, but with the top 3 off the board, the Saints look to the #2 cornerback in the draft. Rhodes is a big, physical specimen, very much in the mold of the trendy cornerbacks of the modern NFL. Jabari Greer is 31 and Patrick Robinson has struggled to live up to his own first-round status. Rob Ryan likes his big shutdown corners. See: Claiborne, Morris; Haden, Joe; Routt, Stanford. Improving the coverage in the secondary can improve the pass rush by allowing them an extra few moments to get to the QB, and Rhodes can do just that.
16. St. Louis Rams | GM Jared Stanger
The Pick: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Full disclosure: I was actually born in Anaheim, CA when the Rams were based there. So it's funny that I drew the Rams first draft slot. I don't have many memories of my time as a Rams fan...I was more interested in Saturday morning cartoons. But I do have one significant memory.
I was probably six or seven and went with my parents to a car dealership to pick up our new car. While there, the salesman that was helping us called us over to meet the largest human being my young eyes had ever seen. His face was an indescernible silhouette that blocked out the sun. Instead, I remember best the giant bunch of bananas he called a hand that reached down to shake mine. "Jared, this is Jackie Slater." Yep, the hall of fame tackle of the LA Rams. Slater would eventually be succeeded admirably by Orlando Pace during the Rams most successful era. More recently the success of the Rams' OT succession has fallen off, and the team's win-total with it.
In an attempt to stem its tide of losing football, solidify its offensive line and keep Sam Bradford upright, and return to the tradition of Pace and Slater...with the 16 pick in 2013 Fieldgulls mock draft, the St Louis Rams select Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson. Johnson brings a large frame, tremendous athleticism, the versatility to play right and left tackle, and a nasty demeanor to the 2013 Rams O-line.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers | GM Ben Harbaugh
The Pick: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
While not the team's greatest need, James Harrison turns 35 in May and the Steelers place a premium on getting after the passer with their OLBs. Jones is arguably the top talent in the class but concerns around his spinal stenosis condition will likely push him down into the latter half of the first round. The Steeler's will try to recapture their presence as a Super Bowl contender this off-season so the risk of a short career can be overlooked.
There's simply no denying Jones' explosiveness and elite pass rush ability. He'll have an instant impact and could help vault the Steeler's defense back to being one of the league's best. Jones barely beats out Jeff Tuel for this pick. They'll be hoping he falls to them in the second round.
18. Cowboys | GM Jon Benne
Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
The Cowboys hired Monte Kiffin as defensive coordinator and are switching to his standard Tampa 4-3. In addition, Jay Ratliff's future with the team is up in the air after a season derailed by injuries and a clash with Jerry Jones. So they need one, possibly more, DT to start the transition and push Ratliff. I went with who I considered the best DT left on the board, but who knows what Jerry is going to do. He'll probably draft Landry Jones here or something.
19. New York Giants | GM Rob Staton
The Pick: Ziggy Ansah, DE, BYU
The Giants offense works pretty well without any big stars on the offensive line. It was tempting to go for Jonathan Cooper here, but really defense is the big issue in New York. Justin Tuck is less effective these days and Ansah could be the heir apparent.
Right now he's not good enough as an edge rusher and needs to learn even basic technique. But he is extremely good working against the run and kicking inside on third downs. He'd be a nice compliment to Jason Pierre-Paul as a power end. With Osi Umenyiora likely departing in free agency there's room to draft a defensive lineman here.
But the Giants defense is approaching rebuild time so theoretically they could go in many directions - DT, LB, CB, S. Every single area is a need at the moment. My concern with the Ansah pick is he might just be too undercooked. He looked great at the Senior Bowl but in other games (eg the Bowl game vs San Diego State) he was a non-factor.
Yes -- the Giants took a chance on JPP. He was also much more of a threat off the edge. He was more of a natural pass rusher. Even so, it stands that someone will take a chance on Ansah's athletic potential. I'm not sure I'd take the risk considering he's unlikely to be a factor working the edge, at least as a rookie. But compared to some of the other options at #19, the Giants could be the team to roll the dice.
20. Chicago Bears | GM Kenneth Arthur
The Pick: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
I very much struggle with this pick for Da Bears, much like I assume GM Phil Emery will have an internal wrestling match going on in April. It's amazing how many major holes Da Bears have considering that they were at one point 7-1. (Though I recall someone calling them overrated at that point...)
OG/OT/TE/MLB seem to be the main sticking points for most people for Chicago, but damn it, please tell me that they don't have a significant hole at wide receiver. Brandon Marshall is outstanding and I think he's got 4-5 years left to be that way, but after that? Ew, Buzz, your girlfriend. WOOF! People will point to the fact that they JUST drafted Alshon Jeffery, but so what? A) Jeffery doesn't actually fit the mold of what Da Bears need at receiver to complement Marshall (which is a speedy player to streeeeetchh the field) and B) He was good-not-great as a rookie and missed six games. I am concerned about Jeffery's ability to stay healthy and he's a piece but he's not the answer.
So, will they go WR in the 1st round even though I'm the only person on the internet proposing that? Lets look at the evidence: GM Emery comes from an offensivey background, as a former scout for the Falcons, Bears, and Chiefs. Those teams actually drafted a significant amount of receivers while he was a scout for those teams but most of them are underwhelming. Jon Baldwin, Dexter McCluster, Harry Douglas, Michael Jenkins to name a few. There was one hit, Roddy White, but that was a looonngg time ago.
Still the Bears are looking for offense, apparently, and head coach Marc Trestman is a QB/OC guy that is looking to do favors for Jay Cutler. In addition to that, Emery insists that he is a BPA general manager plain and simple. Okay, well, for many people right now the BPA is Keenan Allen. He fits the mold of what I would think is perfect to set across from Brandon "We are US Federal" Marshall's (Shutter Island reference) and is just a beaut of a receiving prospect.
Good, that's the guy, right? "I don't think so, Tim" I think that Allen is the guy I would take but I look at OC Aaron Kromer, an offensive lineman guy, and I see the Bears sticking to something along the offensive line. A big need for Chicago anyway.
So, is it OT DJ Fluker? "Try again, buddy". OG Jonathan Cooper? "What are you, a moron?" Well, there isn't likely to be another O-lineman considered at 20 so what am I smoking? A little bit of the TightEndApple Express marijuana cigarettes.
My only compromise with Da Bears is that they must draft a playmaker for Cutler but also a blocker. That's the best compromise I can make. The only other feasible option if its not Cooper or Fluker would be Manti Te'o but you can't just make this stuff up haha (Because there was this story about Te'o having a fake girlfriend. Surprised you didn't hear about it.)
Tyler Eifert is considered the better blocker. Zach Ertz is perhaps more talented in the passing game. My personal favorite might be Travis Kelce. My gut tells me that Ertz is better, but my brain tells me that Eifert is more their style. It Ertz to do this, but I'm going with Eifert. Yet another potentially-underwhelming Notre Dame tight end. But the right fit for... DA BEARS.
21. Cincinnati Bengals | GM David Crockett
The Pick: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Based on the Ourlads.com depth chart and Cincy Jungle, Cincinnati has around 20 unrestricted free agents this off-season, including Andre Smith and Michael Johnson. I don't follow the Bengals closely, but Holy ----!
To any of our Cincy Jungle Bruhs out there, how the hell did the front office let it come to that?
Anyway, onto Patterson. Would he not be the most Cincinnati Bengals pick ever?! I mean, athleticism seductive enough to make you inadvertently giddy? Check. Just inconsistent and immature enough--not a criminal, just a benign knucklehead--to make you question whether he will ever reach his potential? Check and check.
Yes. So so Bengals. This pick is so Bengals that I have wired the rest of this mock draft to explode, thus ending it. Out of its ashes we can shape utopian and dystopian visions that pair Patterson with A.J. Green. In some visions the pair is unstoppable. In others, Patterson and Green run perpetually wide open while Andy Dalton perpetually underthrows them.
22. St. Louis Rams (from the Washington Redskins) | GM Danny Kelly
The Pick: Matt Elam, SS Florida
This was honestly a very difficult pick for me. Considerations included any of the top wide receivers, running backs, and tight ends on the board, as the Rams will likely look to further stock their offense with weapons for Sam Bradford, who, in his fourth year, should need to start putting things all together. That said, this is a Jeff Fisher led organization, and the hallmark of his teams have been hard-hitting, tough defenses, and Matt Elam provides that element in the secondary.
The Rams upgraded their offensive line with their first of two first-round picks, and here, they decide to just go with a guy that they're high on, not risking the wait into the early 2nd round, where he's projected by some to fall to. With a strong defensive line unit and Janoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan taking care of business on the outside, the area of need that you can find value at with the 22nd pick here was safety.
Linebacker, offensive line, tight end, and wide receiver are all positions with relative depth in this year's Draft class, so the Rams addressed a large position of need at strong safety with probably this year's best player at that position. Elam may be a little undersized, but he plays with a chip on his shoulder, is physical, can come up into the slot or into the box or play deep, so Fisher and his defensive staff can plug him into the starting lineup early.
23. Minnesota Vikings | GM Derek Stephens
The Pick: Keenan Allen, WR, California
Christian Ponder needs true No. 1 target who can line up outside and routinely beat press, as Percy Harvin is really at his best from the slot. Allen has prototypical size, uses his hands well to evade the jam, possesses a huge catch radius and can separate both vertically as well as across the field. He's an ideal fit here at 24.
24. Indianapolis Colts | GM Jacson Bevens
The Pick: Jonathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
Wouldn't have minded seeing him slip to the Seahawks, actually, but here we are. Hankins is the type of guy that many feel can clog up an offensive line, someone who's impact isn't necessarily reflected in the box score (think Brandon Mebane). The Colts' run defense struggled so mightily last year that the Indy offense was in a state of constant compensation. Hankins should help remedy that.
I asked Brad Wells, who runs Stampede Blue (SB Nation's Colts site) to give me his reaction as if this had been the Colts' actual selection.
Very interesting pick. At 6'3, 322 lbs, Hankins seems best suited for nose tackle in Chuck Pagano's 3-4 "hybrid" defense. I can't say I disagree with the pick because the logic is sound. However, making this pick in the first round would send a signal that the Colts have zero faith in Josh Chapman returning to form. Chapman, the former Alabama NT who played through much of the 2011 college football season with a torn knee ligament, was unable to play for the Colts in 2012...
However, that aside, this is solid selection. Very solid. The run defense in 2012 was as bad, if not worse, than the 2011 team that won only 2 games...
Now, it's Pagano's team, through and through. In order for him to put his stamp on this team, Pagano must improve the defense. Hankins is a good step in the right direction.
THE SEAHAWKS ARE ON THE CLOCK.... Who's it going to be?