This has been the longest April that I've ever experienced and, I swear, time is only dragging slower. I'm just about ready to try sleeping the rest of this wait away. Yeah, right, like I could fall asleep for a minute. I'm hopped up on enough speculation, rumors and Mel Kiper's hairspray fumes to give every prospect in America a buzz.
While I rehabilitate myself with a little bit of time-halting book work, here are the final analysis of SB Nation's mock draft. Several more players who are likely on the Rams' radar are now off of the table, and the last of our division rivals become even more threatening through the air. Oh, goodie. Let's hope that does not happen...
Bruce Raffel explains:
The Baltimore Ravens need to find a replacement for left guard Ben Grubbs, who bolted for the big bucks in free agency to the New Orleans Saints. The Ravens have mentioned trying last year’s 3rd round draft pick, Jah Reid, into that position, one that he has never played before. Ironically, the choice here was between Zeitler and his Wisconsin teammate, center Peter Konz. Konz is leaving college after his junior year and has been recovering from a dislocated ankle that kept him out of the second half of the 2011 season, and disappointed at the Combine in the bench press, putting up only 18 reps. Zeitler, which had 32 reps at the Combine, is a mauler while Konz is more of a wall-off blocker, which is not what the Ravens need in putting a lot of emphasis on the running game. Zeitler led the nation for knockdown blocks with 142 and had 33 blocks that led to touchdowns. This draft pick will be the type that the Ravens "plug-and-play" right away as soon as he hits the team’s practice field.
I like Bruce's reasoning to shake things up and pass on Konz, who has been penciled in this spot for months. The fact that Zeitler would better fit Baltimore's style of aggressive, physical offense could easily come into play. But does he also fit the value? If the Ravens feel that he is worth their first round pick, I won't question it, but I have seen few other mocks - if any - where Zeitler goes anywhere other than mid-second round. He is a road-paver, though an adequate pass blocker, who will earn his paychecks by putting defenders on the ground and taking them out of the play. The main knock on him is that he can be slow getting off of the ball - a pretty important skill to have for someone who will regularly be expected to pull and set the edge. As I said, I like the reasoning, but the timing has me wondering.
David Fucillo explains:
The San Francisco 49ers have put themselves in a position where they can with the long-term future in mind, as opposed to getting immediate big production. The 49ers added Mario Manningham and Randy Moss this offseason, but even if they both play well this year, the only receiver signed beyond 2013 is Michael Crabtree. Stephen Hill is a very raw prospect, but the 49ers are in a position where they can develop him without rushing him. At the same time, his performance at the Combine and his YAC this past season show a guy who can make significant contributions at the next level. The 49ers are looking for Moss to stretch the field, but if the veteran receiver shows his age, Hill could be the guy who can stretch things out. Other possibilities at this spot include Coby Fleener, offensive line help, or trading down.
I'm always wary of "combine wonders," the very definition of Stephen Hill in 2012, because they almost never live up to the hype. However, with the additions of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, the 49ers would have the luxury of not having to force him into the lineup. Michael Crabtree won't be quick to willingly hand over his position either. Hill is a bit of a project player who may require some polishing before he makes an impact. He needs to learn the full route tree and must add some weight if he is going to survive in the NFL.
"Boom or bust" is written all over this guy. Because he played in an offense that abandons the passing game, there is no telling what Stephen Hill may actually be capable of; however, first round WR's should typically have more than 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns on their resume. He would likely have more, but has suffered from an unfortunate case of the "dropsies."
This won't be a popular opinion, but he is one player who I'd like the Rams to avoid should he fall into the second round.
Greg Knopping explains:
After picking up Illinois defensive end / outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus with the 27th pick, I have the Patriots continuing to upgrade their front seven with the selection of Connecticut defensive lineman Kendall Reyes with the 31st pick. While the Patriots could very well trade out of one of their two first round spots, they have a pressing need to add talent at the 5-technique position this draft. While Brandon Deaderick, Jonathan Fanene, and Ron Brace can start as needed, none have a very high ceiling. Kendall Reyes would offer that for the Patriots. He's got good size (6'4", 299 lbs), athleticism, and work ethic. He could probably jump into the defensive line rotation as an one-gap interior rusher as a rookie, and be a starter at defensive end in the base 3-4 by year two.
The Patriots used their 27th selection to take sack specialist Whitney Mercilus, but they aren't done yet. It's going to take much more than one player to retool their defense, and Bill Belichick has now found two to get the ball rolling, or keep it from moving. The best way to get to another team's quarterback is to smother inside blockers, allowing others more freedom to rush from the edges, which is exactly what Kendall Reyes will be asked to do at the next level. He is far from a complete prospect, though he is above average in nearly every aspect of play.
In the actual draft, I don't see Reyes going anywhere near round one. This seems like a reach. Michigan State's Jerel Worthy is still on the board and widely believed to be a better all-around player. New England could easily seek another outside 'backer to place opposite of Mercilus, such as Shea McClellin or Chandler Jones.
Ed Valentine explains:
The Giants could go a lot of different ways here, offensive line, wide receiver, running back, linebacker, cornerback. Konz doesn’t fit the seeming need for an offensive tackle, but he is the best offensive lineman and best value left on the board. Giants GM Jerry Reese is all about value, so Konz is the choice. Besides, he could end up starting at left guard.
When you're the defending world champions, you don't have many needs to fill. Valentine has the Giants simply taking the best player available, as I would expect them to in the actual draft. In New York, Konz would likely be little more than an injury fill-in and special teamer in his first year, but he's the type of prospect who can start from day one. The "G-Men" aren't shy about taking quality depth, especially in the trenches - they essentially have a Pro Bowl defensive end playing backup - so "settling" for Konz would come as no surprise. Another new toy for Eli Manning, such as tight end Coby Fleener, could also be an option.
One scenario that no one seems to be talking about could be the possibility of a running back. The Giants had the worst rushing attack in football last season. Ahmad Bradshaw is coming off of foot surgery, Brandon Jacobs is now in San Francisco and D.J. Ware has never shown any ability to shoulder a load. I'm not saying it will or should happen, but RB is a position of need. Eli can't throw for 400 yards every game.
Well, that's it. The first round is over. Actually, it's set to begin in just over 24 hours, but I'm finished evaluating the speculations of the Nation. I hope you enjoyed the draft prowess of each of my associates and I. A special thanks to papapegasus, dbcouver and DouglasM for your help. You guys made this much easier.
Happy drafting, y'all!