How about a break from the Steven Jackson rumors and premature tears falling into your bag of Cheetos? Let's speculate something much less disheartening with a few more mock evaluations. No one likes a soggy cheese doodle, but everyone loves draft talk.
If you haven't yet entered TST's Top 4 Team Draft Picks Contest, you're running out of time! Don't miss your opportunity to show off your draft genius. While you ponder over the finishing touches, here are SB Nation's mock picks 25 through 28 to get you going.
Sayre Bedinger's rationale:
This would probably be some kind of best-case scenario for the Broncos. The board has played out that the only defensive tackle off the board is Fletcher Cox. That seems somewhat unlikely to me, but Cox is not the top DT on my board so for the Broncos, this could be ideal and could result in a move down. From what I’ve been told, the Broncos would like to trade down if they can, so this would be the ideal scenario to do so. However, it’d be very tough to pass on the talent that Michael Brockers possesses. He is my top-ranked DT this year, and I think he’s going to be an absolute stud in the NFL. I read that he was given a late-first to early-second round grade by the draft advisory committee, but based on potential alone I think he is a top 15 grade. At 25 overall, this is a steal and Broncos fans would be dancing and jumping for joy.
Brockers has things he needs to work on, that much we all know. What I don't know is if he's going to continue to improve at the rate he has this last year. I think he will, and by the way, Denver is not going to get this opportunity in the real thing on Thursday. If Brockers would have stayed in school, he'd be so far in front of the other DTs next year, that he'd be getting comparisons to you know who from 2 years ago.
His height is his biggest detractor but the techniques he has developed to overcome the leverage problems are continuing to improve and by the time he's actually supposed to be in the NFL he'll be playing at an elite level. He has the power to require double teams and still stop the run at the POA, his arms are long and powerful enough to arm tackle all but the most firepluggish of RBs. He also bullrushes well keeping his head up and swatting down passes with ease. This is THE combination everyone looks for in a DT.
The only problem I have with the Rams maybe picking Cox at #6 is the potential this guy has to be great. It just won't happen in his rookie year, I don't think, but it certainly isn't out of the question.
Lost in the Texans’ defensive improvement last season was that the defense was still weak up the middle against the run, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who has ever seen Shaun Cody or Earl Mitchell play. Enter Dontari Poe. While Wade Phillips does not normally use a NT with 2-gap size, he’s done so when the talent was available (Ted Washington, Jamal Williams). Poe would give him that talent, but with the added bonus of having the speed and agility to play the 1-gap style that Wade prefers, especially on passing downs. There was some discussion that perhaps the Texans should look at Whitney Mercilus or Nick Perry due to the departure of Mario Williams, and there were some concerns about Poe’s possibly being a Combine warrior. In the end, however, we simply couldn’t pass up improving the NT position with the unreal combination of speed, size, and strength that Poe brings to the table.
Here we are at the other end of the overrated/underrated DTs spectrum. The people who compare Poe to Haloti Ngata are forgetting one thing - Haloti Ngata's an islander, Dontari Poe is not. When it comes to big interior linemen, this matters. Ngata isn't just winning every battle, he's able to gear up game after game and do it again. You can't hurt him, and unless they allow offensive linemen to arm themselves for the games, that's not changing.
Sure you can say Poe doesn't show up on film, but it's not the first time that someone who doesn't have much film gets drfated high, and sometimes that works out anyway. He's from a small school and there's only so much a guy can do in those situations to stand out. I don't buy the lack of film theory. I do think Poe will do well to take on double teams and help stifle a run attack.
His speed in the 40, though very impressive for a man of his size, better never matter to the Texans. I'm not saying he shouldn't be drafted, just not on the first day. He's no Mt Cody and Cody wasn't taken by the Ravens until late round two. 2010 was a much deeper draft, but no that deep.
Greg Knopping's rationale:
Heading into the 2012 NFL Draft, the Patriots desperately need to add a dynamic pass rusher to their front seven. Mark Anderson, the team’s co-leader in sacks in 2011, departed to the division rival Buffalo Bills on a contract that the Patriots determined was too steep to match. His pass rush counterpart from 2011, Andre Carter, remains an unrestricted free agent on the open market, as he is still recovering from a quad injury that landed him on injured reserve late last season.
The Patriots will likely want to add pieces at wide receiver, running back, interior offensive line, and 5-technique at some point in this draft. However, at 27, Illinois’ Whitney Mercilus possesses too much value to pass up at a position of need. While some are labeling Mercilus a "one year wonder," there’s no denying his talent or explosion as a pass rusher. He is relentless getting after the quarterback, and is always playing all-out in effort (unlike another prospect I considered, Penn State DT/DE Devon Still). He still has some work to go on his technique, but the athleticism and potential are definitely there. He has the size/speed the Patriots look for in their outside linebackers (6’4", 261 lbs, 4.68 40 yard dash), and even if he did not work out as an outside linebacker, he’d still be able to play a majority of the team’s snaps in four man fronts and sub-packages. At some point, the Patriots need to take a risk on a pass rusher who has high potential. Mercilus would be the perfect candidate for that.
Blame can't be placed on New England's defense for their loss in the Super Bowl, but it was the stigma of their franchise all season long. Some even referred to the unit as the worst in the league. They could not stop the run, were atrocious against the pass and were only average in getting after the quarterback. Whitney Mercilus could help in all three facets, especially the ladder. Although Andre Carter and Mark Anderson, who is now in Buffalo, tallied ten sacks apiece, the rest of the team tied them by amassing only 20. Belichick needs a pure edge-rusher to help keep from having to win in a shootout each Sunday, and he will find one in early in the draft. His best option may be who some have referred to as this draft class's Aldon Smith. Even if the Pats forgo a sack artist with this pick, they also have the 31st selection and two second rounders at their disposal.. Oh, yeah... The Rams play them this year, too...
With the 28th pick, Dan Kadar, who helps run Mocking the Draft, and the Green Bay Packers select Devon Still, defensive tackle, Penn State.
Unfortunately, this writer didn't get his pick in and I made it for the Packers. The Packers are one of those teams that can truly go best player available. With that in mind, it was fair and away Still, who also happens to be a good fit for their 3-4 front. There was no defensive tackle in the nation that played better than Still in 2011. He's a powerful player, but has the arm length and enough athleticism to line up at end.
It's hard to argue against Dan, whose purpose in life appears to be solving the draft riddle, so I will do no such thing. The Packers find themselves sitting right at the end of an all-out defensive shopping spree that started with the Lions choosing Janoris Jenkins at 23. Fortunately, they didn't miss many players who should be of interest to them. They already have their anchor in the middle in B.J. Raji, so Poe is out. Brockers has the ability to play in a 3-4, but Still is better suited to step in immediately. Had Mercilus fallen past New England, he would have made sense as upgrade opposite of Clay Matthews is needed. Shea McClellin could fit, but he wasn't even on many teams' first round radars when this mock draft was created. Devon Still arguably is the best defensive player left on the board. I like the pick.
That's all for today. Be sure to check in tomorrow for the final installment of 2012's SB Nation mock draft analysis, and the final day of waiting before the actual 2012 NFL Draft. Wow, that's a soothing thought!