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Thursday, 8 March 2012

Gur's Mock Draft 1.0

Feeling Lucky? (pun)
It's draft time, so I'm going to give in to my inner clairvoyant and let you know what happened on draft night. *cough*.

Unlike Toby's draft, I've only got the first round in mine. At first, I wanted to write a mock with no trades; but as it became obvious that doing so would be stupid (as I have a better chance of starting at right tackle for the Bucs in 2012 than the Rams do of actually using the #2 pick), I decided to go the other way, and throw in plenty of wild speculation and unfounded hunches. Because, hey, why the hell not? This mock has just as great a chance of being correct as anything Mel Kiper will say.

Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

There is literally no need whatsoever to explain this pick. Unless Andrew Luck suffers an injury between now and the draft that will prevent him from playing football before 2013, this is happening. (If Luck does hurt himself, say, by tearing something at his pro day, then this pick will be RGIII)

2. *TRADE* WASHINGTON REDSKINS (from St. Louis Rams)
Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

Depending on what happens in free agency, there's a couple of teams who could be trading up here, but it's the Redskins who nab their QB for the future in this draft. To follow up on the alternative scenario I mentioned above, if Andrew Luck does end up hurting himself bad enough that the Colts take RGIII instead, Washington will still trade here, and draft Luck. Mike Shanahan will settle for Rex Grossman for another year if it means he gets Luck as his QB in 2013. Oh, and Dan Snyder is ridiculous enough of an owner to give up whatever it takes to get his quarterback at this spot. Rams will receive the Redskins' 1st, 3rd, and one of their 4th round picks in 2012, their 1st and 3rd round picks in 2013, and their 2nd round pick in 2014 (the Rams will get similar offers from other teams - the inclusion of a 2014 pick will be what will clinch it for Washington).

3. *TRADE* CAROLINA PANTHERS (from Minnesota Vikings)
Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

Am I crazy, or just an idiot? Probably a bit of both, but, yes, I actually think this could happen. Steve Smith had a fantastic 2011 season, but he's not getting any younger at all. The Panthers don't have any other proven receiving talent on the roster (not including their tight ends), and while they have young guys who have potential, it's not yet been turned into production. Blackmon will be good enough to start opposite Smith from day one, and will provide continuity for Cam Newton when Smith eventually hangs up on the cleats to be replaced by Gettis or La Fell. OK, so you've bought my reasons for why the Panthers would in theory want Blackmon, but would they really give up any picks to trade up and grab him? Yes. Yes they would. A brief history lesson: in 2009, Panthers GM Marty Hurney traded their 2010 1st round pick to the 49ers for SF's 2nd and 4th round picks. In 2010, Panthers GM Marty Hurney traded their 2011 2nd round pick to the Patriots for NE's 3rd round pick. There's always a huge trade that comes out of nowhere, and, like their division rivals in 2011, the Panthers will, completely out of left field, trade up to grab a receiver. Add to this Marty Hurney's love of trading up, and the attraction of having a no. 1 target for Cam Newton to grow with, who will be a target for him for the next 10 years, and this trade will happen. Matt Kalil might be too much of a temptation for the Vikings to trade out of this spot... until the Panthers, in addition to their 2012 2nd & 5th round picks and their 2013 1st round pick, also throw in Jeff Otah. Otah is a fantastic tackle, but he missed all of 2010 and three quarters of 2011 due to injury. The Vikings will get a lovely haul of draft picks, plus a very good piece (when healthy) for their O-line.

Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

Part of me really, really wanted to mock Trent Richardson here - and, yes, it is an utterly stupid move to draft a running back in the top ten picks, but after falling short in their attempts to trade up to take Griffin, they need SOMETHING to get their offence going. Even when Richardson couldn't work out at the Combine because he had his knee scoped, I thought that the Browns might be stupid enough to pull the trigger on Richardson. But then Richardson missed his pro day today because of the injury. Uh-oh. Red flag. There's no way that Richardson goes inside the top 10 now. And if you disagree, just remember that Da'Quan Bowers was considered a very strong candidate for the #1 overall pick last year - until minor knee surgery forced him to miss both his combine and Clemson's pro day. I don't think Richardson will fall out of the top round, in fact I have him going relatively early; but he won't go this high anymore. The Browns will be tempted to take Matt Kalil to bookend with Joe Thomas (more about the Kalil-at-right-tackle thing below), but instead will take Morris Claiborne to pair with Joe Haden, giving the Browns a ridiculously good set of corners, and will shore up their secondary for a decade.

Matt Kalil, OT, USC

You can tell he was born to play tackle.
His beard just screams "LINEMAN"
The Bucs will now be very, very annoyed about missing out on Mo Claiborne - just as well they signed Cortland Finnegan/Brandon Carr/Carlos Rogers in free agency! (Mark Dominik, if you read this, that's a hint. Go get a corner). They will be tempted to trade down and take Luke Kuechly; but Matt Kalil will just prove too good to pass up in the eyes of new HC Greg Schiano. Kalil projects to be a dominant left tackle in the NFL in the vein of a Joe Thomas or Jake Long; but dominance is dominance, and Kalil would be just as dominant on the right hand side of the line. This gives the Bucs an opportunity to craft the best offensive line in the NFL, between Donald Penn, Carl Nicks (Mark Dominik, if you read this, that's a hint. Go get Carl Nicks), Jeremy Zuttah at center, Davin Joseph, and Matt Kalil. After two years, Dominik will trade Donald Penn to the Washington Redskins (who will have given up on Trent Williams) for their 2014 3rd round pick and 2015 2nd round pick, and then move Kalil to his more natural left tackle position, where he will dominate for another 10-15 years.

6. ST. LOUIS RAMS (from Washington Redskins)
Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis

The Rams will have traded with the 'Skins in the hope that they could pick up Justin Blackmon here; unfortunately for them, the Vikings screw them over by their trade with Carolina. The Rams will try to move back again, but don't receive an offer they like; instead, they draft the ridiculously beastly Dontari Poe, adding a real force between Chris Long and Robert Quinn, while satisfying Jeff Fisher's love for DTs. You can take that last part in whatever context you wish.

Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

Jacksonville needs help in a lot of places, so there's plenty of ways this pick can go. But with Aaron Kampman unable to stay on the field and Andrew Luck in the division, the Jaguars NEED to get someone opposite Jeremy Mincey. Step forward, Quinton Coples. But a word of advice for you, young man - don't buy a house in Jacksonville. You'll be in St. Louis before too long.

As a St. Louis Jaguar, of course.

Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina

The Dolphins might be switching to a 4-3 defense. Or they might not be. They're not quite sure. Luckily, Melvin Ingram can play in both, bringing that 4.66 speed either on his feet or with a hand in the ground. Either way, he will give the Dolphins a second pass rusher that will demand attention from opposing O-lines. With the Manning/Brady showdown now playing on a TV near you twice a season (yes, the Dolphins will sign Manning), Stephen Ross is going to want to give Peyton a bit of an edge... an edge rusher! (Ohohohohoho).

Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

The Vikings used the twelfth pick last year to draft Christian Ponder, so they have to do everything they can to help him succeed, especially with Adrian Peterson at risk to miss the start of the season with the ACL tear he sustained against the Redskins last year. The Vikings will rely on Jeff Otah coming over from Carolina healthy in order to keep Ponder upright, so they leave Riley Reiff and instead find him a new weapon in Michael Floyd. Percy Harvin is a stud, but Minnesota desperately need another viable receiver to draw some coverage away from him - even more true with Visanthe Shiancoe potentially leaving in free agency, and Kyle Rudolph not showing much last year as their tight end of the future. Floyd is perhaps a bit of a reach here, but Leslie Frazier needs to win games to save his job, and that won't happen until the Vikes get a second legitimate receiving threat.

Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama

Another team that no-one's quite sure what defense they'll run next year, the Bills will, like the Dolphins before them, be looking for a guy who can play both a 4-3 DE and a 3-4 OLB AND will be getting to Tom Brady twice a season. If they switch back to a 4-3, they're set at tackle with Marcel Dareus and Kyle Williams; with Courtney Upshaw to bring the heat off the edge, the Bills would have the makings of a good D-line.

Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

Having missed out on Peyton Manning, the Chiefs are saddled for a year with Matt Cassel and Kyle Orton. But they'll need a line to protect Matt Barkley in 2013, while keeping Jamaal Charles upright through the coming year, and with a hole at right tackle, the Chiefs can't not go for Riley Reiff, who projects as the top true right tackle in the draft.

Devon Still, DT, Penn State

Despite the fact they're picking 12th, the Seahawks actually exceeded expectations in 2011 - by about 11 picks. Part of that is down to how sneakily good their defense actually was, something which no-one was particularly expecting. However, Seattle still want a guy to give them an aggressive push up front and let Chris Clemons and Red Bryant do their thing. With the emergence of Dontari Poe, Devon Still is no longer the top DT in this draft class, but he still goes in the top half of the first round to Seattle. With this shoring up of the defensive front and the acquisition of Matt Flynn, the Seahawks have a real shot at a wildcard spot this year.

Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
Will Jonathan Martin be playing in
the desert in 2012?

Beanie Wells finally stayed healthy, and, whaddyaknow, he's actually good when he's on the field! Having discovered this astonishing fact, the Cards will want to keep him on the field as long as possible. Unfortunately, cap issues means that they'll be jettisoning Levi Brown, so they look to Jonathan Martin to step in and take over at right tackle.

Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

The Cowboys need a corner. In other news, water is wet. Both Jenkins and Dre Kirkpatrick come with baggage, which might scare off a team less desperate for secondary help; the Cowboys are not one of those teams. This pick could be Kirkpatrick, but with Roger Goodell's seeming hatred of all things marijuana-y, Dallas will go for Jenkins.

Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

One of those beautiful moments when need meets talent. With the exception of Trent Richardson, Kuechly is undoubtedly the top talent left on the board, and with the Iggles needing linebacker help in the worst sort of way, Philly fans should get their jersey orders in now to avoid the rush. And, yes, Andy Reid never takes linebackers in the first round. Not normally, anyway. But it's not normal times. Reid was officially put on the hot seat by Jeffrey Lurie, so Reid's got to do something different to save his job - even if that means drafting a linebacker in the first round.

Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

For the record: this is the first pick at which Richardson stops being a stupid pick - even when 100% healthy. As it stands now, with his knee throwing up some serious red flags, this is a bit of a reach, but the risk is worth it, as Rex Ryan will be gone in 2013 and the new HC will want to bring in his own guys, so Ryan may as well go for broke. Shonn Greene has not emerged to be the bell cow that the Jets needed him to be, so it's back to square one for the run game. At least Richardson will be able to split carries with Greene, giving his knee a bit of a chance to recover. And, hey, if Richardson turns out to be everything that he's billed to be, he might actually end up prolonging Rex Ryan's firing another year, or letting Mark Sanchez pull an 'Alex Smith' and trick people into thinking he's a good quarterback by letting other 52 guys on the roster doing all the hard work for him. Anyway, if Rex Ryan wants to go back to 'ground and pound', he needs a running back, so Richardson it is.

17. CINCINNATI BENGALS (from Oakland Raiders)
Dre Kirkpatrick, CB,  Alabama

In 2010, the Bengals had the best cornerback duo in the league. Going into 2012, one half of that duo is a Texan (teamwise, not geographically), and the other tore his ACL towards the end of last season so is likely to enter this year at least on the PUP list. I mentioned above that the second and third best corners in the draft both come with baggage. The Cowboys went for Jenkins, on account of his baggage being personal rather than legal. For the Bengals, on the other hand, legal baggage is a requirement to making the 53-man roster. (Rookies are given the length of training camp to have been sentenced to at least 200 hours of community service, or they are cut immediately. I'm not even joking. It's actually in their contracts. That's a fact*) With Pacman Jones a free agent, the Bengals get an upgrade to a newer model in Dre Kirkpatrick. Interestingly, with Sam Hurd heading to jail, Kirkpatrick and Jerome Simpson will now have a monopoly on drug dealing in the NFL.
*not a fact

David DeCastro, G, Stanford

The Chargers said farewell to one of the best guards of recent seasons, Kris Dielman, who they rewarded for his years of service by keeping him in a game after he sustained a concussion, leading to a seizure and the end of his career. Luckily for them, they get themselves the premier interior offensive lineman in DeCastro. I just hope that the organisation have enough respect for him to not pull that crap again. Yes, football is a violent sport, and people who play it know what the risks are going into it. But there's a difference between understanding that you might get a concussion, and being put back into the game immediately after getting a concussion. /rant over

Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

Mike Martz is gone, and in his place comes Mike Tice, no doubt as a reward for the fantastic job he did with the Bears' O-line the past few seasons. (Ohohohohohoho) The Bears franchise tagged Matt Forte, but it wouldn't surprise me if there's a holdout coming. Even if there isn't, they desperately need someone on offence to make things happen for Jay Cutler, and there's no telling if Johnny Knox will ever play again. Kendall Wright therefore makes sense here, giving Cutler someone other than Earl Bennett to throw to.

Gordy Glenn, G, Georgia

Jake Scott is a free agent, and Leroy Harris is really, really bad. The Titans stupidly sunk a helluva lot into Chris Johnson last preseason, plus they've got Jake Locker and/or Matt Hasselbeck to protect, so upgrading their interior linemen is a must. Gordy Glenn gets the call.

21. *TRADE* DENVER BRONCOS (from Cincinnati Bengals)
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

One of the things that pissed me off most last season was when people starting applauding Mike Brown's "shrewdness" over the Carson Palmer trade. What utter horse faeces. Mike Brown is a terrible, terrible owner, and I fully believe that he was willing to let Carson Palmer languish in retirement forever. The only reason the trade happened was because Mark Davis really is his father's son, and offered a stupid amount for Palmer without Brown having to lift a finger. He fell ass backwards into a great trade; that is not shrewdness, that's being a stubborn prick and it miraculously paying off. And the same thing's gonna happen on draft day.

Mike Holmgren, looking sad
Poor Browns. They're going to try so hard to get RGIII, but Randy Lerner will never out-Snyder Dan Snyder. So instead they sit back and wait to draft Justin Blackmon at #4, and start thinking about picking up Tannehill with the #22 pick. Alas, 'tis not to be, as the Panthers nab Blackmon in a trade with the Vikes. So they take the best defensive player of the draft in Mo Claiborne, and comfort themselves with the thought that at least they'll get a new starting QB out of the first round. So, as Roger Goodell calls out Gordy Glenn's name, Mike Holmgren picks up the phone and tells his helper monkey in the Radio City Music Hall to fill out the card with Ryan Tannehill's name, and as soon as the words leaves his lips, he hears a cry from behind him. He turns around, and there, flashing at the top of the NFL Network stream, is a single word that strikes terror into his heart: TRADE.

Oh, and Tebowmaniacs, you already hate John Elway for not backing Tebow. I look forward to seeing your reaction when he gives the Bengals your 2013 1st round pick to move up and draft Ryan Tannehill.

22. CLEVELAND BROWNS (from Atlanta Falcons)
Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina

So, the Browns head into 2012 with, again, Colt McCoy as their starting QB. Oh well, they may as well get a receiver now for Landry Jones next year.

Mike Adams, T, Ohio State

If Matthew Stafford finished last season on IR again, it would be time to start talking about whether or not he was a bust. Instead, he justified Detroit's use of the #1 pick in 2009 by taking the Lions back to the playoffs while becoming only the 4th QB to ever top 5000 passing yards in a season. The Lions saw what he can do, and they liked it. And they'd like to see it again. So, long at last, Detroit finally gets Stafford some decent protection by drafting Mike Adams.

Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama

There are plenty of areas where the Steelers need some youth in pretty urgent fashion, not to mention replacing the recently-departed Mike Wallace. Luckily for them, they have two first round picks to help get younger in key areas. While Stephen Hill will definitely get some consideration, Pittsburgh is a town built on defense, so the Steelers draft Dont'a Hightower as a replacement for the jettisoned James Farrior.

25. CINCINNATI BENGALS (from Denver Broncos)
Mark Barron, S, Alabama

The Bengals defensive front seven played very well in 2011, but they need some help on the back end. After addressing corner with their first pick, the Bengals grab Mark Barron here, providing a much-needed upgrade from Chris Crocker.

Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech

The Texans finally made the playoffs, and they have every intention of getting back there from now on. With their defense now seemingly fixed, and Arian Foster locked up for the next few years, the Texans can finally address the missing piece of their offense - someone to draw coverage AWAY from Andre Johnson. Stephen Hill is that someone. The dude has explosive speed and ridiculous size, and though he does have a mild case of the dropsies, he has flashed to potential to punish any and every opponent who doesn't respect him enough to make sure he's adequately covered. Between AJ & Hill commanding double coverage, and Arian Foster equally threatening teams not to load up the box against him, facing the Texans will truly become a case of picking your poison.

Personally? I'd go with arsenic

27. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (from New Orleans Saints)
Michael Brockers, DE/DT, LSU

The Patriots desperately need pass rush, and Nick Perry is on the board. So what does Belichick do? Well, obviously, go for the best player available, no matter what. To the disappointment of Patriots fans everywhere, that will not be a pass rusher, but rather Michael Brockers, who can switch between 3-tech in a 4-3 and 5-tech in a 3-4, which you know Belichick will love. If he's even capable of loving anything. Aside from his hoodies.

Nick Perry, OLB, USC

Speaking of Nick Perry, he comes off at the next selection, with the Packers finding a rush linebacker to play across from Clay Matthews. However, Scott Wells is a free agent, so if the Packers can't find a replacment, they might end up taking this guy instead...

Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin

Matt Birk is a free agent, and is old. Assuming the Packers don't take him, the Ravens find their new franchise center in Peter Konz. Even if Birk resigns with the team, Ben Grubbs is also hitting the market. Konz undoubtedly has the size to play at guard in the event that Birk is back with the Ravens, with him eventually transitioning over to center once Birk is gone; alternatively, he can just start there from day one. Either way, Konz will be in Baltimore in 2013 if he makes it this far.

Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida

Carlos Rogers is a free agent, and unlike their rushing defense, which was dominant, the Niner passing D was merely very good. Josh Robinson really raised his draft stock at the combine, and the tape appears to back up what he showed in Mobile, to the point where Frisco can be forgiven for only a very minor reach to nab Robinson.

31. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (from New England Patriot)
Bobbie Massie, T, Ole Miss

As I mentioned, the Steelers have two first round picks this year. Some of you might have been scratching your heads about that. Well, to clarify: the second comes from New England as compensation for signing away Mike Wallace. The Steelers, as said above, have to get young everywhere, and the O-line in no exception. If they grab Massie, then between him and Maurkice Pouncey, they have two of the five spots on the line filled for at least the next decade.

Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin

The Giants may have won the Super Bowl, but they barely scraped into the playoffs in the first place. Don't be fooled - they have holes. One of those holes is at left guard, where they tried three different started over the course of the season, all to no avail. The Giants pick up arguably the best interior lineman left on the board.

Of course, with free agency less than a week away, this is all bound to change. But for now, this is how I see the first round of the draft potentially turning out.

- Gur Samuel (@FredTheGur)
- The Pulling Linemen

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