Thursday, March 13, 2014

Mock Draft 1.0: Featuring Rick and Coop (Part I)

It's March. Free agency is in full swing three days after it officially began. The Combine is done. It is time for the first mock draft of the offseason.

Rick, Coop, and I will be alternating picks in a somewhat organized chaos kind of way.

Since we all have jobs, we can only make picks early in the morning or late at night so this will be split into four parts. Maybe we will try to speed it up a little on the weekend, but I wouldn't count on it.

Round 1

1. Texans (TSB): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina - Clowney has the most talent of anyone in this draft, and I’m not a huge believer in any of the quarterbacks in this class (although I did consider Johnny Football here since he already dominates the state of Texas). Only two teams in football finished the 2013 season with fewer sacks than Houston which is especially amazing considering they had JJ Watt playing for them. The Texans are also about to lose DE Antonio Smith, who finished third on the team in sacks last season. I think Watt will keep Clowney plenty motivated (something that scouts are worried about right now), and they will be among the league leaders in sacks next season. He makes the entire defense better including the secondary which finished with a league-worst seven interceptions last year.

2. Rams via Redskins (Coop): Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn - 130. That is how many pancake blocks Greg Robinson had during the 2013 run to the BCS National Championship. That is a big, strong, nasty man blocking downfield.  Robinson is the most talented lineman in this class, and his dominance in the run game will be a much needed boost to the 30th ranked offense in the NFL. The Rams O-line is a mess right now. Jake Long is recovering from a knee reconstruction in late January, and Roger Saffold left to explore his free agency options. With the talents they have emerging at the skill positions (Stacy/Austin), bolstering the line is the next step to competing in a division the featured three of the top-6 defensive teams in the league.

[Update: The Rame re-signed Roger Saffold. Their O-Line is still a mess.]

3. Jaguars (Rick): Blake Bortles, QB, University of Central Florida - the re-signing of Chad Henne allows a bridge to a franchise QB. Bortles is widely assumed not yet ready to shoulder the load of an NFL franchise, but here he won't have to right away. The Jaguars won't be contenders for a while and this will allow them to develop a young QB which they haven't been able to do (see Blaine Gabbert). None of the QB's in this class are overwhelming, but Bortles has that overrated prototypical size and pocket presence GM's love.

4. Browns (Coop): Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M - The Browns haven’t spent a draft pick this high on a QB in the 21st Century, and it is time for them to pull the trigger.  Manziel cannot draw up a better situation to be walking into as a rookie. Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron immediately give him playmakers to work with, and the offensive line has been rock solid for the past 2 years. All he has to do is keep being Johnny Football, and the Browns should be on the right track.

The Franchise
5. Raiders (TSB): Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville - Oakland might have more roster turnover than any team in football. Their cap situation was a mess that’s finally been cleared up. Now it’s time for them to clean up another messy situation: their quarterback position. This has been the black hole of the Black Hole since Rich Gannon left. Just listen to some of these names that have lined up under center since 2004: Carson Palmer, Jason Campbell, Jamarcus Russell, Dante Culpepper, Andrew Walter, Kerry Collins. And it’s not like these guys were backups. Each of them led the Raiders in passing at least once in the last decade. Yikes. The Raiders need some stability at the position. Even though I think Sammy Watkins will be the better player, I think the Raiders need TeddyB more. The Raiders just need him to be solid, not spectacular and I think he's capable of that. I also think Rod Streater and Denarius Moore can do the job adequately enough that they can wait to take a wideout later in the draft. Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin, not so much. A couple tangential points here. Pryor would make a great wide receiver if he can catch (and he’s a great athlete so I imagine he can catch). I owe McGloin an overdue thank you. Betting against you while you were in college made me a lot of money. I appreciate it.

6. Falcons (Rick): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson - Atlanta splashed in free agency by building up in the trenches and getting more physical. They probably aren't done there. I can see them using another pick along the offensive line, but if Watkins falls in their lap here they won't pass him up. He's the premier weapon in the draft and with Roddy White slowing down he'll slide right in and immediately create the best WR tandem in the NFL with Julio Jones.

7. Bucs (TSB): Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M - I have to say I'm a little shocked at that Watkins pick. I was already prepping my Sammy-to-the-Bucs write-up where he would have been a perfect fit with Vincent Jackson. But the draft will surprise you sometimes. The more I thought about it though, the more I thought adding Evans would be an even better fit for the Bucs. 6'5", 230 lbs, good speed, great hands, some off the field issues. He is V-Jax 2.0. Is it crazy to have two of the identical players on a team? I can't think of a great reason why that would be a bad thing if that player is incredibly gifted and creates all types of mismatches. V-Jax 1.0 is 31 years old. He's not playing in the Not For Long forever. This will be a passing of the torch eventually, but for now, gimme both of them. Related note: how on Earth does Lovie Smith think it's a good idea to tell the world that the QB job is Josh McCown's to lose? I'm not saying Mike Glennon is a the long-term solution, but Lovie came to town last week, and he's already kicking Glennon to the curb after he had a decent rookie campaign. Makes no sense.

8. Vikings (Coop):  Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St. - After the top 3 QBs come off the board, there is a steep drop off and no reason for Minnesota to reach for a guy like Derek Carr at 8. Hemmed and hawed about this pick quite a bit because of what Khalil Mack can bring to the table, but the reality is the Vikes are desperate for help at the corner position. They had the 2nd worst pass defense in the league, which is no surprise when facing Smoking Jay Cutler (Brandon Marshall/Alshon Jeffery), Aaron Rodgers (Jordy Nelson/Randall Cobb), and Matt Stafford (Megatron/Anyone) twice a year. Gilbert is the #1 corner available in the draft providing a good combination of size, speed, and ball skills. The good news for the Vikings is that Xavier Rhodes comes back from an ACL injury, and by drafting Gilbert they will have a young and capable top set of corners to help them compete in the NFC North.

9. Bills (Rick):
10. Lions (TSB):
11. Titans (Coop):
12. Giants (Rick):
13. Rams (Coop):
14. Bears (TSB):
15. Steelers (Rick):
16. Cowboys (Rick):
17. Ravens (Coop):
18. Jets (TSB):

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