EDITOR’S NOTE: Kyle is back with what I believe is his third annual Mock Draft for this site. I’ve been sitting on it a few days but just haven’t had a chance to post it… but here it is, fresh off the schedule announcement. The Draft is drawing closer and I always appreciate Kyle’s contributions, no matter how wild and crazy they may be! With that – I’ll let him take over from here – thanks Kyle, as always – enjoy!
It’s time for another mock draft. As you guys know, I am certainly not afraid to go avant-garde when it comes to my selections, and there is certainly one or two that might make you think I’m on something, but I will do my best to give you some decent enough reasoning, and, well, frankly, the best part of the draft is when the actual draft completely goes off-course from the consensus.
This is a combination of a 1-round NFL draft as well as a 7-round Texans draft. Trades are authorized but over the course of the process, I didn’t find a good time for the Texans to move, and only project two minor trades through the course of round 1. Also, I would like to throw a shout out to Draft Tek and their online simulator. Their exhaustive research and user-friendly model for creating a customized mock draft made this a lot easier, and gave an air of realism to the 7-round draft where I could actually make semi-legitimate projections of who’ll be available as our picks came up.
Anyway, here we go!
1. IND – Andrew Luck, QB
2. WAS (from STL) – Robert Griffin 3, QB
3. MIN – Matt Kalil, LT
No explanation needed for the first two picks, so let’s move on. Draft season is full of a lot of smoke and mirrors. Such is prevalent with the Vikings acting in love with Morris Claiborne. The Cover 2 defense (also known as “zone”) has no need for a shutdown cornerback, so there’s no purpose in drafting a CB this high. On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with an elite left tackle at #3. So, when no one bites on trading up to 3, they “settle” for an exceptional blindside protector prospect.
4. CLE – Trent Richardson, RB
Walterfootball.com has a longstanding theory of “new regimes mean new quarterbacks”. Taking that logic a step further, it stands to reason that once Mike Holmgren came into power and made his choice of QB, that’s who he will stick with. Also, Richardson is a consensus top-5 prospect, while Tannehill deserves to be drafted in the 20’s or so. There’s not a lot of reason to believe that Tannehill will be such a large upgrade over Colt McCoy, and the superior idea would be to just build around Colt and let him be the game manager. Besides, Holmgren made it to the Super Bowl with a mediocre QB and an elite running back.
5. TB – Morris Claiborne, CB
This is a no brainer to me. The biggest need in Tampa is an overhaul of the secondary, and Claiborne is the BPA at the moment.
6. STL (from WAS) – Michael Floyd, WR
“Oh my goodness buddy! How DARE you put Floyd over Blackmon!”
Well, Floyd is a better on-paper prospect. Blackmon’s stats being (slightly) better can be attributed to having a superior QB throwing him the ball. The bottom line is that, if you take away the DUI arrest on Floyd, the two are both elite receiver prospects and, if you google it, you will find reports that some scouts are rating Floyd over Blackmon. All it takes is Jeff Fisher thinking that Floyd has “learned from his mistake” and this is a very possible pick. Credit to Draft Tek for opening this can of worms by grabbing him in the simulator.
7. JAX – Riley Reiff, RT
First of all, let me say this: do NOT underestimate the effect of an unexpected Passover. The reasons why Jacksonville may not draft Blackmon despite wanting to draft Floyd.
A: they may not have done a serious amount of scouting on Blackmon since it’s assumed he won’t fall past #6.
B: they may have fallen in love with Floyd. If you don’t think that losing the one you want will have an effect, show up to McDonalds at 10:59 and be told you can’t have your Egg McMuffin, and I guarantee you will drive off without ordering a Big Mac.
C: And this is why I would have picked Reiff over Floyd anyway. Improving the right tackle position is more important. Remember that this is all about fixing Gabbert. The best way to fix Gabbert? Let MJD loose. With the upgrade to the right side, the Glitter Kittens would have one of the best young lines in the league, and MJD should be able to produce at the top of the league. We all saw how much better Vince Young was with Chris Johnson behind him; the best thing for the Jags to do with Gabbert is to do what it takes to have him face an 8-in-the-box front.
8. MIA – Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB
I mentioned that other front offices notice when a player they expect to be drafted is passed over. Well, add in Ryan Tannehill being passed over by HIS FORMER HEAD COACH, and this would be a shocking move that would put him in free fall. We watched Jimmy Clausen go from projected potential #1 to late second round, so this is not a completely improbable scenario.
Something else to consider is that the Dolphins have drafted a first-round QB TWICE in the 45-year history of the franchise. Tannehill is no Bob Griese and no Dan Marino. Like Cleveland, the Dolphins have a better shot by building around what they have than starting over, and this holds double for the Dolphins who are facing a complete foundational teardown if they don’t start winning now.
Ingram is a freakish athlete who can play both 3-4 or 4-3 edge rusher and with the Dolphins implementing a hybrid defense, Ingram will prove an invaluable piece of their defensive puzzle.
NOTE: Spoiler alert, but in the simulator, Tannehill falls out of the first round when the Dolphins bypass him. He falls all the way to #42…the second round pick of the Miami Dolphins, the fourth QB in a row that has been picked in the second round by the franchise.
9. CAR – Justin Blackmon, WR
The Panthers will love obtaining a dynamic playmaker to help develop Cam Newton and to upgrade over the departed Steve Smith. [EDITOR'S NOTE] of course while I was sitting on this mock, the Panthers re-signed Smith – sorry about that Kyle (but honestly I don’t think it would be out of the question for Carolina to take Blackmon here given Smith’s age).
10. BUF – Stephon Gilmore, CB
With Super Mario signed and the best offensive tackles and receivers off the board, the best move for the Bills is to upgrade the secondary that is already above average but has holes. As the draft season has worn on, Gilmore has stepped over Jenkins and Kirkpatrick atop the cornerback leaderboard (after Claiborne) and is likely the second corner off the board.
11. KC – David DeCastro, G
12 SEA – Luke Kuelchy, ILB
I’m lumping these two together because they both entail exceptional athletes in positions that have low value in the draft. Guards very rarely go in the top half of the first round; ditto for inside linebackers. However, in these two cases, the teams have needs at those positions and can not refute the exceptional talent of these two players.
13. ARI – Mike Adams, LT/RT
The Cardinals resigned a VERY mediocre left tackle, so they are somewhat stuck with Levi Brown, at least this year. This fact propels Adams over Jonathan Martin. Martin is arguably a better left tackle prospect, but Adams is considered a better right tackle prospect who also have blindside potential, meaning he can get plugged into the line right away until the Cardinals are ready to dump Brown.
14. DAL – Quentin Coples, DE
The Cowboys have two luxuries in this draft: one is not having many immediate needs and can take a lot of BPA’s over the course of this draft; the other is not really caring about character issues. Coples has been the BPA for a few picks now, but there’s a lot of concern about Coples’ work ethic, and that drops him down to here, where the Cowboys will plug him in at the 5-tech end position.
15. PHI – Dontari Poe, NT
With Demetrius Bell signed, the left tackle position is no longer a giant priority. Run defense was a sore spot on last year’s failure of a season for the “Dream Team”, and the Eagles have shown a lot of interest in Vernon Gholsto…I mean Dontari Poe.
16. NYJ – Mark Barron, SS
Two big needs for the Jets are quarterb…I mean, safety and pass rushing. While the edge rusher carries considerably more positional value, Barron is on par with the best edge rushers available, and Barron is lightyears ahead of the next echelon of safety. In other words, Barron plus a second round pass rusher will be better than the reverse of such.
17. CIN (from OAK) – TRADE: 17, 4th round pick to TEN for 21, 3rd round pick
TEN – Whitney Mercilus, DE
Pass rush is a huge need for the Titans and they pull the trigger to leapfrog the Chargers who have been considered a potential landing point for the Illinois prospect.
18. SD – Cordy Glenn, G/RT
The Chargers need to get better in their defensive front seven, but they have whiffed in the past in the first round, and they just lost the guy they wanted anyway. They also have a huge need to bolster their offensive line and protect Phillip Rivers.
19. CHI – Jonathan Martin, LT
Jay Cutler has been blessed by his front office to reunite with Brandon Marshall, and has formed a great offensive triangle with him and Matt Forte, and their defense is not aged out just yet. The best thing this team can do is fix a TERRIBLE O-line that led to Cutler getting abused and eventually sidelined.
20. CIN (from TEN) – Dre Kirkpatrick, CB
21. CIN – Kendall Wright, WR
The Bengals trade down and still grab the player they wanted in Kirkpatrick. With their other selection, the presence of A.J. Green empowers the Bengals to consider the exceptionally talented but probably-slot-receiver-for-life Kendall Wright. The Bengals need more offensive weapons but don’t need an ‘X’ receiver.
22. CLE (from ATL) – Stephen Hill, WR
In retrospect, it makes a lot more sense to go Colt McCoy + Richardson + Stephen Hill then taking away one of those two prospects to change McCoy to Tannehill.
23. DET – Courtney Upshaw, DE
Upshaw has been an unstoppable monster, but walterfootball shares a growing opinion that Upshaw is a tweener in the worst way; too short to be effective at DE and too bulky to be an OLB. However, the Lions are a BPA team, and taking a shot on a productive monster is a smarter move than reaching for another position.
24. Pittsburgh – Michael Brockers, DE
25. Denver – Fletcher Cox, DT
Behold the domino effect of a shocking twist in the draft. The Steelers and Broncos get FANTASTIC value at the DT/DE position because the Rams and Jaguars pass on Justin Blackmon, allowing him to fall to Carolina, who was “supposed” to take Dontari Poe. Cox is a slightly better prospect, but Brockers fits the 5-tech DE position better, making him a better fit for the Steelers.
…Obviously, wide receiver is our biggest need, but as we have proven before, we are willing to wait if we know the value isn’t there, and, frankly, it isn’t right now. Only four receivers deserve to be drafted on Thursday, and they have all been drafted already. So, where do we go if we don’t go wideout?
…Andre Branch, OLB, Clemson
I’m not going to lie to you guys. Walterfootball.com considers Andre Branch a likely bust.
Wait! Wait! Don’t go away! Let’s look deeper, by way of CBS Sports’ coverage of the draft. Without lifting quotes, two BIG things stick out…
A: his biggest strength is straight-line pass rushing
B: his weaknesses are primarily technique
Man! This guy is a top 20 prospect according to Draft Tek! If only we could pair him with an excellent defensive coach who has a linebacker position whose sole purpose is to rush the passer!
27. NE (from NO) – TRADE: 27 to STL for #39 and 2nd rounder in 2013
STL – Devon Still, DT
The defensive tackles still good value from before, and we all know that between the Patriots having two first round picks, and the Rams having two top second rounders, that the Pats will trade down and/or the Rams will trade up.
28. GB – Zach Brown, ILB
29. BAL – Dont’a Hightower, ILB
Two great 3-4 ILB prospects go off the board to top-shelf 3-4 defenses. Hightower is getting a lot more attention than Brown, but Brown is an exceptional athlete and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he is projected higher than Hightower.
30. SF – Peter Konz, C/G
There’s not a lot of weaknesses on this team (a common dilemma when you draft #30), but their center position could use the youth.
31. NE – Kendall Reyes, DE
Reyes is a downgrade from Devon Still, but is still a first-round prospect, and, well, they have the Rams’ second rounder next year, which will probably become a first-round pick in 2014. Just a hunch.
32. NYG – David Wilson, RB
With Eli Manning losing one of his favorite targets in Manningham, a revival of the multi-faceted running game will help loosen the bracket coverage Victor Cruz has undoubtedly earned. Wilson has emerged as more than just a speed back; he is believed to have the bulk to handle an NFL load and is a great backfield receiver, making him a great change of pace from Ahmad Bradshaw, who hasn’t proven the capability to be the lone back anyway.
And now we move on to fast-forwarding to the Texans’ picks. Again, these are used with the Draft Tek simulator, so if you have any problems with players being too high or too low, consult them!
2nd round – Marvin Jones, WR, Cal
Outside of the “First Round Four” (minus Kendall Wright), Mohammed Sanu was the guy I was hoping for, but he got reached for by the Jaguars early on.
However, when googling Marvin Jones, I came across a month-old Stephanie Stradley blog post where she hired an expert to review prospects based on traditional Texans criteria (team captain, plays special teams, “high character”, played tight end in college etc.), and when asking about receivers, the answer was Marvin Jones. He was a captain at Cal, he is a kick returner, and, with further reading, he has the skill set to be a great “Z” receiver next to Andre. I was kinda hoping for the future replacement of Andre, but that was probably too much to hope for in Round 2.
3rd round – Brandon Thompson, NT, Clemson
Most project a mid-round nose tackle to go to Houston, and Thompson fits nicely. The 315-pounder can play the one-gap and was very good at helping his former teammates look good. Andre Branch approves.
4th round – Demario Davis, ILB, Arkansas State
Nate Potter, OT, Boise State
It is fitting to use the DeMeco Ryans draft pick to draft his replacement. Demario Davis is one of those dominant FCS players who will be looking to prove that small school does not mean he can’t play NFL football.
As for Nate Potter, he fits the zone blocking and is a good candidate to be our swing backup tackle with the potential to play both sides.
5th round – Trevor Guyton, DE, Michigan
The info on Guyton is limited, but he is a hard-working 5-tech prospect who is graded as a fourth-rounder by Draft Tek, so he’s worth the pick here. We can use depth on the defensive front.
6th round – Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State
Walterfootball.com recently mocked us reaching for him in the second round. Quick joins the category along with Marvin McNutt and Greg Childs among others in the “Marques Colston” mid-to-late round receivers who could be stars a few years down the road. I know we already addressed the position, but he’s huge value here and we can use another receiver. Remember that we have NOTHING behind AJ.
7th round – Randy Bullock, K, Texas A&M
Bullock stands head and shoulders above other kickers in the draft, and there’s gotta be a reason why we haven’t resigned Neil Rackers yet.