Mock Draft 3.0

Mock Draft 3.0

This post also appears in NFL Draft

  1. Bucs: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

This one is written in stone at this point, people will yawn when this one’s announced at the podium.

ACC Championship - Duke v Florida State

  1. Titans: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

After much ado, the Titans cave and take a quarterback that could add a big spark to their franchise.

marcus-mariota-7

  1. TRADE Falcons: Dante Fowler Jr., OLB, Florida (Jaguars receive Falcons 1st, 2nd, 4th 2016 3rd)

Falcons jump up to grab the best overall outside backer in the draft to add some much-needed juice to their pass rush. How bad do they need it? The Falcons often couldn’t get to the passer before I would finish running a forty on a given play.

Fowler2

  1. Raiders: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

Kevin White may be the guy here but it’s looking more and more like the Raiders will be content with the pro-ready ultra-safe Alabama product. Unless Al Davis’ ghost shows up, then it’s White all the way.

amari-cooper

  1. TRADE Browns: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia (Redskins Receive Browns 1st, 2nd, 4th, 2016 2nd)

There have been talks heating up recently about the Browns jumping up and the Skins moving down. The Browns need a wide receiver like Floyd Mayweather needs a muzzle.

white

  1. TRADE Saints: Leonard Williams, DE/DT, USC (Jets receive Saints 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 2016 2nd, Saints receive Jets 4th)

Jets see more value in an extra second rounder here and the Saints jump up to grab a defensive difference maker. Williams will immediately provide some intrigue to a defensive line as stale as day-old popcorn.

leonard williams

  1. Bears: Danny Shelton, NT, Washington

Bears and Shelton are practically married in my mocks. It’s a match made in heaven too, I hope for nothing but their happily ever after.

shelton

  1. Jaguars: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia

Jags want Gurley but they also want him at the right price, believe it or not David Caldwell nails this transaction and gets the guy he wanted most anyway, the extra second rounder will help with the pass rush need.

Tennessee v Georgia

  1. Giants: Brandon Scherff, OT/OG, Iowa

Could see pass rusher here but you’ve got to think the Giants see their rivals in Dallas building the league’s best o-line. It’s a copycat league, always has been.

scherff

  1. Rams: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

Rams grab the starting corner Janoris Jenkins wishes he could be. Waynes and Jenkins will be an absolute nightmare for the soft NFC West receivers.

waynes

  1. Vikings: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville

Parker and Bridgewater reunited, it even feels good for me and I could care less about the Vikings. Should help both parties, young quarterbacks thrive with familiarity, helps lessen the learning curve.

DeVante-Parker

  1. Redskins: Bud Dupree, OLB, Kentucky

Skins have to replace Orakpo. Even with Orakpo they had to blitz every play to barely eke out a Monday Night Football victory over the Cowboys. That’s not a recipe for success and Dupree has the potential to blossom into an even better player than Orakpo.

bud dupree

  1. Jets: Breshad Perriman, WR, Maryland

Jets grab a receiver to help their new starter, it makes a ton of sense for a team that had an abysmal offense last season and already has plenty of building blocks on defense. Perriman has the size and speed to develop into a dynamic target for Hundley/Petty/Grayson/Mannion… or whoever.

perriman

  1. Dolphins: La’el Collins, OT/OG, LSU

Collins’ recent questioning in a murder case is non-malicious, he’s not a suspect. The fact remains that Collins is one of the best offensive lineman in the draft and the Dolphins o-line has more leaks than icloud.

collins

  1. 49ers: Arik Armstead, DE/DT, Oregon

Another one that just seems written in stone at this point. I guess the 49ers have to replace Justin Smith, seems like Baalke to ignore every other pressing need (ILB, CB, OL, WR1, TE).

arik

  1. Texans: Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest

Texans just locked up Kareem Jackson and Jonathan Joseph is a mainstay but corner seems like the hot pick here despite needs elsewhere. No receiver really fits the range with the injury to Strong.

kevin johnson

  1. Chargers: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

I’m finally buying the Chargers taking a running back, Melvin Gordon would be an excellent fit for them, Oliver could catch the passes and Gordon can just focus on doing what he does best, wrecking opposing defenses in the open field.

Melvin Gordon

  1. Chiefs: Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma

Chiefs grab a receiver capable of catching a touchdown pass with another receiver they got in free agency also capable of doing that. Set for years at the position if Green-Beckham can keep his head on straight.

green-beckham

  1. Browns: Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami

GM Ray Farmer and Mike Pettine grab their second of two huge needs and protect whoever’s trying to throw to Kevin White in what’s sure to be another laughably mediocre Browns offense.

ereck

  1. Eagles: Landon Collins, S, Alabama

Eagles brass has said they don’t see Collins as a first rounder, I’m calling their bluff, which may be to play mind games with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Collins fills a need effectively, recent reports suggest some see him as even more versatile than expected.

landon collins

  1. Bengals: Randy Gregory, OLB, Nebraska

Gregory needs to be in a no-nonsense locker room where he will be humbled and grow up a little. Bengals need pass rush help. Perfect fit.

Gregory

  1. Steelers: Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson

Polamalu retired, Ike Taylor retired, Jason Worilds retired. One of these answers will be answered here in the first round.

vic beasley

  1. Lions: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

Peat has top-5 potential with feet on par with Jake Matthews last year. He’s got to get tougher at the point of attack, just like the Lions have to get Matt Stafford five extra seconds to heave to Calvin Johnson, Eric Ebron and Golden Tate every play.

Andrus Peat

  1. Cardinals: Shane Ray, OLB, Missouri

Cardinals dream scenario here. They are a team unafraid of off-field issues as Arians is a confident disciplinarian. Ray has the sort of motor they covet and they need to get younger in the linebacking corps.

shane ray

  1. Panthers: TJ Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh

Panthers don’t manage to overthink themselves and finally give Cam Newton the athletic, strong bookend he needs.

clemmings

  1. Ravens: Malcom Brown, DE/DT, Texas

Ravens need a Ngata replacement, Brown is a top-15 talent that only tumbled based on need. They sprint to the podium for this one.

rbb texas vs iowa 03

  1. Cowboys: Shaq Thompson, OLB/S, Washington

Cowboys need insurance at linebacker and safety. Church might not be up to par as a starting safety and Sean Lee will go out for the season sometime between the first coin toss and the first snap. Thompson is the kind of athlete that will glue Rod Marinelli’s defense.

shaq

  1. Broncos: Cameron Erving, G/C, Florida State

Orlando Franklin flew the coop, Manning needs a clean pocket, especially as his arm strength dwindles.

erving

  1. Colts: Damarious Randall, S, Arizona State

The Colts safety situation is underrated in how poor it is. Randall is considered the best cover safety in the draft and one of the best ball hawks. Slight interest for a dull as dirt defense.

randall

  1. Packers: Denzel Perryman, ILB, Miami

Packers covet inside linebackers that can excel in the run-game at the point of attack, Perryman eats running backs for breakfast.

denzel-perryman-louisville1

  1. Saints: Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA

Curtis Lofton is gone, Ellerbe and Hawthorne are starting. Red alert. Saints grab a rangy linebacker with athleticism, motor and excellent character.

Kendricks

  1. Patriots: Jalen Strong, WR, Arizona State

Patriots grab a steal here, Strong would be the best receiver in seven of the last ten NFL drafts.

ASU+jaelen+strong3

Top Ten Tracker

Thursday, April 2, 2015

So for today, we’re going to take a look back at the players in my top ten that have found a landing spot, as well as the latest buzz on the rest.

In case you missed it, here’s a link to the original.

https://sportsslants.wordpress.com/2015/03/20/my-ten-best-remaining-free-agents/

So here we go.

CowboysRolando McClain, LB: Signed 1 year, $3 million deal, $750,000 base salary to remain with Dallas Cowboys

NFL: Houston Texans at Dallas Cowboys

Well, first off, score one for me on this one, I had McClain returning to Big D and I love the move. How is it that the top-rated inside linebacker against the run last year was had for this cheap of a deal? Well, he had another run-in with the law and he had some hamstring issues and this, that and the other thing?

Guess what though? This guy’s a genuine talent with instincts that cannot be taught and for now he’ll remain the Cowboys dirty little secret. Him, Sean Lee and Anthony Hitchens on the field at the same time is among the most fearsome linebacking trios in football. Of course it’s a lot to ask Lee to stay off a stretcher for more than a couple of plays. But man, those plays are going to be something.

As mentioned, McClain is stellar against the run, showing the instincts and toughness to consistently shoot the right gaps and bring down even the toughest ball carriers. Check out his work against Marshawn Lynch last year and you’ll see what I mean. Speaking of that game, that game-sealing interception to become the second team in Russel Wilson’s career to beat the Seahawks in Seattle? That was McClain too.

The guy is a special athlete out there. And he might finally have his head on straight. If he proves it this year, I think the Cowboys will be more than obliged to invest in him long term.

McClain was number four on my list.

bears helmetMason Foster, LB signed 1 year, $825,000 deal with the Chicago Bears

Foster

I thought the Bears were out of the running because they were low-balling Foster with a vet-minimum offer, I was half right. I have no idea why this signing isn’t getting more love but this is a big steal and a great addition for new head coach John Fox, a defense-first guy.

The Bears have some young talent at the position in Jon Bostic and Christian Jones, but I expect them to grab another in the draft to form a healthy competition. Foster is slotted to start right now and though that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, he shouldn’t be handed the job. So why am I so big on this signing? He brings a stable veteran presence with some upside to a very young, albeit talented defense.

Foster will never be Lance Briggs, but he could be more effective than D.J. Williams was last year for the floundering Chicago defense. That’s really all you can hope for from a free agent addition. Plus, they signed a guy for nothing and he might start, and he’s only 27, that doesn’t happen often. The Bears could strike gold with this one.

Foster has shown excellent ability covering short flat and hook routes, he has the athleticism to cover tight ends as well but may not have the confidence or technique to match up one-on-one. He’s a solid tackler who packs a big punch in his hits and will add a hammer and authority to the middle of the Bears defense. They desperately need an intimidator.

Foster was my number six available free agent.

So let’s check in on the rest of the top ten.

10. Stevie Brown, S: Still has only drawn reported interest from the Giants, reportedly being low-balled by the Giants, who are high on their current starters.

9. Ahmad Bradshaw, RB: Nothing new on this front, other than that police said the only thing found in Bradshaw was pot. So that’s all teams have to worry about. Must be comforting. His name will heat up after the draft or as an injury fill-in in training camp.

8. Anthony Spencer, LB: Has had visits with Seahawks and Saints, Cowboys reportedly now interested in bringing him back at their price. A reunion with Rob Ryan could be mutually beneficial for Spencer and the Saints, especially in light of the Gallete situation. The price has to be right though.

7. Stevan Ridley, RB: Had a visit with the Jets yesterday, pretty sure it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke. By the way, was anyone else disappointed with the lack of traction the fake stories got this year? I was expecting some reports Rivers or Brees being traded. Guess that would’ve been too real for some. I like the fit with the Jets, Bowles will welcome a back that can help control the time of possession.

5. Michael Crabtree, WR: The market has cooled once again on Crabtree after a visit with the Dolphins yielded a whole lot of nothing. Crabtree is a plug-and-play number two receiver. Word is he wants to play for a pass-happy team even though the 49ers have expressed interest in resigning him. How about a Brady-Crabtree hookup? I’m just saying. Sleeper pick: Denver Broncos, that would just be an embarrassment of riches. Sanders could be great in the slot, too.

3. Joe Barksdale, OT: Barksdale is a solid tackle in a market devoid of solid tackles. I have no idea what’s up here. Maybe his asking price is too high. Titans have said they’ll focus on signing Barksdale post draft. That would definitely be a solid move.

2. Brandon Spikes, LB: He’s the best linebacker left on the market and there are still teams out there that need linebackers bad. Hope you’re reading this, Baalke. Bills want Spikes back and I’d be surprised if they didn’t get their way. Spikes has virtually no market, for whatever reason.

1. Stefen Wisniewski, C: This guy just can’t catch on. He’s had visits all across the country (Tampa, Seattle, New England are among possible suitors) and he most recently visited with the Jaguars. Teams could be hesitant about his shoulder, Wisniewski had offseason surgery. He’s the surest starter left on the market though. He’ll find a home soon.

And now, introducing the revised top ten.

1. Stefen Wisniewski, C

2. Brandon Spikes, LB

3. Joe Barksdale, OT

4. Michael Crabtree, WR

5. Stevan Ridley, RB

6. Anthony Spencer, LB

7. Ahmad Bradshaw, RB

8. Stevie Brown, S

9. Jermaine Gresham, TE

Cincinnati Bengals v Philadelphia Eagles

The former first rounder didn’t live up to expectations in Cincinatti, but for a team looking for a stable veteran at the position with a complete skill set he could be an excellent find. There are some teams like that out there. Gresham was under-used as a pass-catcher and might benefit from a more talented quarterback. His best season stats-wise: 2012 where he had 64 catches for 737 yards and 5 touchdowns.

He hasn’t seen a significant drop off in production and entering just his seventh professional season, he should be a solid contributor for two to three more seasons before a real drop off is expected. Signing him to a cheap three-year deal might be the way to go as well. His value doesn’t figure to change much and his best years could still be ahead of him in the right situation.

Interested Teams: Oakland Raiders, Cincinatti Bengals, Cleveland Browns

Prediction: Atlanta Falcons: The fit is just too good for these two. Matt Ryan would be a huge upgrade over Dalton and the Falcons need to get serious about replacing Tony Gonzalez. It was a big problem in their offense last year. Gresham is an immediate fix that can be had for cheap. He also strikes me as a Dan Quinn guy.

10. Hakeem Nicks, WR

Logan Ryan, Hakeem Nicks

I know, I know. I said this last year about Nicks and I loved him going to the Colts. I can’t figure out why he didn’t thrive with Luck throwing him the ball. He played well in short spurts and the talent is still there that made him one of the most exciting young receivers in football a few years ago.

He’s only 27 years old, if he latches on with a solid quarterback he could get back to top WR2 form, I really believe that. I think the Colts would do well to bring him back on board. He provides very solid depth in a relatively empty free agent field at receiver. Andre Johnson does not preclude this from happening.

Interested teams: San Francisco 49ers

Prediction: San Francisco 49ers- I can’t argue that this is a bad move for the franchise but I can say I’d be very disappointed in Nicks’ decision making. Kaepernick is not consistently accurate and he’s a major downgrade from Luck and even Eli Manning in terms of accuracy. Signing Nicks would be a smart move for Baalke and the crew, so I have to assume it’ll be a 5 year, 35 million dollar deal.

Mock Draft 1.0 (Picks 27-32)

Wednesday April 1, 2015

The complete first round is now available on NFL Draft

And now the final installment: NFL Mock Draft 1.0 Picks 27-32

No April Fools jokes in here, seriously.

27 Cowboys Jalen Collins, CB, LSU

The Cowboys have more immediate needs, but they’re going to be in a world of hurt if they don’t start infusing young talent in the corner position. Not to mention, this is the kind of prospect Jerry Jones falls in love with. Carr has lost a step and is too inconsistent. He’s still a serviceable starter but I don’t think he will be for much longer. Scandrick is a stalwart and should stick around for quite some time since he’s just coming into his prime. I think the Cowboys have to start planning for the possibility that Mo Claiborne never lives up to his draft stock.

Collins is all upside, but he sure has a lot of it. He’s quite awful against savvy receivers but is a stand-out athlete in run support and can run stride-for-stride on deep balls. In the right situation, he could thrive and I think the Cowboys might be just the place for him. They have athletes at linebacker who could help if Collins loses inside release. If he’s forced to play early in his career, he will have to be schemed around. In a year or two, he has all the tools to become a pro bowler and the Cowboys have been a team known to gamble on upside.

LSU vs. Ole Miss 11/17/12

And then they said we’re gonna take you in the first round

Height: 6’1

Weight: 203 lbs.

2014 Stats: 38 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 9 passes broken up, interception

Projection: Above average starter

Floor: Out of the league within a few years

Ceiling: Pro Bowler

NFL Comparison: Jimmy Smith, CB, Baltimore Ravens- raw prospect coming out of college, prototypical size and all the speed and athleticism to challenge deep balls and develop, lacks the technique to be a true game changer at the position but all the potential to grow into it.

28 Broncos Denzel Perryman, LB, Miami

The Broncos have to consider some help for Von Miller. DeMarcus Ware is a nice piece but he’s better saved for third down where he can wreak havoc off the edge and cover backs out of the backfield. They need a run stopper to set the edge of their 4-3 defense and Denzel Perryman may just provide exactly what this team needs.

Perryman hits like a much larger man. He’s consistent, strong at the point of attack and very savvy against run blockers. At times he looks solid in pass coverage, but more often than not he looks unsure what to do out there. Coaching should improve that facet since the necessary athleticism is not lacking. He has strong instincts and a nose for the ball. He’ll immediately contribute as a two-down linebacker and has the potential to develop into a three-down guy down the line. His height hurts his stock a bit but he’s a strong pick at 28 for the Broncos.

Perryman

Trust me I’m Ray Lewis

Height: 5’11

Weight: 236 lbs.

2014 Stats: 110 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 3 forced fumbles, 2 sacks, interception

Projection: Strong starter

Floor: journeyman

Ceiling: Strong starter

NFL Comparison: London Fletcher, LB, Washington Redskins- Though stout, packs a huge punch. Tough-as-nails linebacker with a mentality that he’s the strongest man on the field, a sure tackler, he’s a force in the run and strong against the pass at times.

29 Colts Cameron Erving, C, Florida State

With three different starters at center last year, addressing that position in the draft becomes a no-brainer. Despite Andrew Luck being an athlete, he’s a pocket-passer first and a clean pocket will make his game rise just that much more. Maybe he’ll stop throwing so many picks early in games. Nah, he’s just a performer, he likes to make the second half interesting. The Colts were active in free agency, but center is one spot they did not address.

Cameron Erving is as versatile as it gets for an offensive lineman. He was playing at an All-American level at left tackle a couple years ago and slid to center, where he continued to play at an All-American level. With so few snaps at center, he’s got nowhere to go but up and he’ll be helped by Luck’s athleticism and quick release early on. I expect he and Luck could become best friends for a decade. Erving doesn’t have a lot of weak spots in his game and he appears to be a natural inside. He pass blocks like a left tackle and is a punishing run blocker. He can blow holes the size of Manhattan open for running backs. His inexperience and his position are the only things hurting his stock but look for him to have Travis Frederick-level impact early in his career in Indianapolis.

Erving

These d-linemen are so slow

Height: 6’5

Weight: 313 lbs.

Projection: Pro Bowler

Floor: Average Starter

Ceiling: All Pro

NFL Comparison: Jeremy Zuttah, C, Baltimore Ravens- Fast feet, naturally fluid athlete with more height than usual at center, solid frame but needs to develop more lower body strength to become a seriously punishing run defender. Solid starter in his role with loads of versatility.

30 Panthers Jake Fisher, OT, Oregon

How bad to the Panthers need a talented tackle? Badder than Josh Gordon needs 24-hour supervision. Ok, exaggeration. But the Panthers have been absolutely lost at the position since Jordan Gross retired. They got their big Cam Newton target last year in Kelvin Benjamin, now they grab a guy who has experience playing with running quarterbacks in up-tempo offense.

A true athlete at the tackle position, Fisher even has a touchdown on his resume. He’s got great ability as a space blocker and will probably work best in a zone-blocking scheme since his range is so impressive. He’s powerful, but not overwhelmingly so and his hips look stiff at times when he has to swivel to catch speed rushers. He’s also susceptible to the bull rush which will be a problem if he’s asked to stand up and protect a pocket-passer consistently. Thankfully, none of that is going on for the Panthers which are a perfect fit for Fisher’s talents. He’ll play up to his potential with Carolina.

Jake Fisher

Wonder what it’s like to have only two uniforms

Height: 6’6

Weight: 308 lbs.

Projection: Strong starter

Floor: Backup/swing tackle

Ceiling: Strong starter

NFL Comparison: Riley Reiff, OT, Detroit Lions- Struggles with speed rushers, not ideally suited as a left tackle and may be better on the right side in a traditional offense, rarely attacks as a pass protector but possesses a mauling run-blocking skill set.

31 saints Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington

The Saints haven’t had a true athlete at linebacker since Jonathan Vilma was in his prime. It’s time to change all that. Covering tight ends has been a problem for the Saints for years. As has covering the outside run game and quick-hitting short routes. Vaccarro has helped in that area but the Saints have to have a linebacker with that sort of ability.

This guy oozes Rob Ryan and fits perfectly with the many different fronts and base packages the Saints employ. He’s an incredible athlete with the ball in his hands; he has exceptional field vision and burst as a play-making defender. His abilities in coverage are only limited by his inexperience. He can develop into an elite pass-coverage linebacker. He’s not terribly strong at the point of attack but the Saints have plenty of big uglies at linebacker in Humber and Hawthorne to clean up the running game. Thompson gives this defense juice and spark and in this scheme, he fits the range perfectly.

shaq-thompson

I’m a linebacker don’t be fooled by the 7 on my chest

Height: 6’0

Weight: 228 lbs.

2014 Stats: Defense: 80 tackles, 3 fumble return touchdowns, interception for touchdown, 4 passes broken up. Offense: 456 rushing yards, 56 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns,

Projection: Above average starter

Floor: Journeyman

Ceiling: Pro Bowler

NFL Comparison: LaVonte David, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Undersized for a linebacker, a sideline-to-sideline athlete with a nose for the ball, has game-changing ability and always-ascending play to reach a very high ceiling, also a knack for creating turnovers.

32 Patriots Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

Bill Bellichick and Robert Kraft have proven time and time again that they’re the smartest guys in the room. Here’s another example. Obviously receiver is a consideration here but the draft is deeply talented in that area. It’s also deep at running back but the value here for Melvin Gordon is exceptional.

Gordon is a do-it-all back that allows the Patriots to save roster spots for different positions. He can play all three downs since he is a solid pass catcher and adequate pass blocker. He has elite vision and strong acceleration to go with mind-numbing consistency. Gordon shows up in every game, on every play, with absolute effort. In fact, his play style is also mind-numbing because he’s about as patient and savvy a runner as you’ll see. He doesn’t flash with big moves, he doesn’t bowl over defenders, he doesn’t streak up sidelines, he’s just patient and smart. Did I mention he had 408 yards and 4 touchdowns in one game against Nebraska, an average of 16.3 per carry? In three quarters? Ridiculous.

Gordon

You gotta have muscles on your eyeballs

Height: 6’1

Weight: 215 lbs.

2014 Stats: 2587 rush yards, 29 rush touchdowns, 153 receiving yards, 3 receiving touchdowns

Projection: Strong Starter

Floor: Above average starter

Ceiling: Pro Bowler

NFL Comparison: Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo Bills- Can really do it all. Has enough speed to burst for big chunks, enough wiggle to get through small creases, the vision to find those creases before they develop and the elusiveness to make that last defender miss, excellent frame for an NFL back, Will make a long career as an all-around back and transition perfectly to a complimentary role when the time comes.