Something odd happens to me when I write a Mock Draft. I know my ability to turn a phrase - connecting words in a readable fashion - isn't bad. But something happens when I dare to offer an NFL Draft option or two for the Rams. Let's face it, I've never hidden my lack of college player knowledge. When Joe McAtee mentions his lists of players from around the NCAA, I sheepishly nod, and hope he isn't kidding. He wasn't putting me on when he told me Buttle Icker, the quarterback from Smelly Lake Polytechnic, was a sleeper for me to keep an eye on, was he?
Call me naive, but is Sven Rodriguez a real tight end playing for Ben Dover U.? Joe says he's the next Rob Gronkowski, even though he's only 5'1", 135 lbs. Hmm? I mean, how in the hell does Joe know about all these players anyway? He must watch more college football game than anyone else on the planet. I'd bet he has a couple flat screen TV in his bathroom? If so, the bigger question has to be: How does he keep his legs from falling asleep after sitting for hours on a toilet seat shaped Lazy Boy?
When it comes to college football, Joe "3K" McAtee is my hero. He's the guy I go to with NFL Draft questions. Since my short term memory is just shy of a goldfish, and my attention span can be measured in nanoseconds, I need to write down the advice Joe gives me. But for some reason, I either forget to, or lose the my notes within minutes of hanging up the phone after talking to Joe. Thankfully, my fiction writing ability kicks in to make up for my lack of actual knowledge. When writing a Mock Draft, I pull up Dan Kadar's site, or hit the Interwebs for Walter Football. Then I chose a player I - for the most part - have neeeeeever heard of, but the analysis I read seems to fit a current or future St. Louis Rams' need.
Now, for those who've never had the profound joy of reading one of my Mock Drafts, know I tend to lean toward TRADES! I love to make deals. Just yesterday, I cut a guy off with my Yugo as he pulled out of Burger King, and made him trade me his Texas Whopper for the Quarter Pounder Meal Deal I'd just bought at McDonald's. He looked shocked when I offered to throw in $10 bucks, but I made the deal. It didn't matter that my lunch now cost me close to $20: It's all about the deal, right? OK, maybe my friends who say I need to talk to someone about my little foibles aren't all that wrong...
In my opinion, this draft is one of the better I've seen at a couple of positions. First, quarterbacks o' plenty will be taken in the first round. In fact, I can see as many as five - 5!! - being taken in the first fifteen picks. Next, offensive tackles may rule once again in the first round. Jake Matthews isn't going #1, but I doubt he lasts beyond the 5th pick on the "real" draft day. Take a look at the virtual cloud of NFL tackle prospects - provided by my good friends at "Mocking the Draft" - who have quietly recovered their site name that made them famous...
|1. Jake Matthews | 6'5, 305 pounds | Offensive tackle | Texas A&M|
|2. Cyrus Kouandjio | 6'5, 312 pounds | Offensive tackle | Alabama *|
|3. Taylor Lewan | 6'7, 310 pounds | Offensive tackle | Michigan|
|4. Antonio Richardson | 6'6, 332 pounds | Offensive tackle | Tennessee *|
|5. Cedric Ogbuehi | 6'5, 300 pounds | Offensive tackle | Texas A&M *|
|6. James Hurst | 6'7, 305 pounds | Offensive tackle | North Carolina|
|7. La'el Collins | 6'5, 315 pounds | Offensive tackle | LSU *|
|8. Cameron Erving | 6'6, 320 pounds | Offensive tackle | Florida State *|
|9. Brandon Scherff | 6'5, 315 pounds | Offensive tackle | Iowa *|
|10. Ju'Wuan James | 6'6, 324 pounds | Offensive tackle | Tennessee|
|11. Jack Mewhort | 6'7, 308 pounds | Offensive tackle | Ohio State|
|12. Zack Martin | 6'4, 305 pounds | Offensive tackle | Notre Dame|
|13. Tyrus Thompson | 6'5, 320 pounds | Offensive tackle | Oklahoma *|
|14. Cornelius Lucas | 6'9, 328 pounds | Offensive tackle | Kansas State|
|15. Morgan Moses | 6'6, 335 pounds | Offensive tackle | Virginia|
|16. Justin Britt | 6'6, 315 pounds | Offensive tackle | Missouri|
|17. Seantrel Henderson | 6'8, 345 pounds | Offensive tackle | Miami|
|18. Le'Raven Clark | 6'5, 320 pounds | Offensive tackle | Texas Tech **|
|19. Kaleb Johnson | 6'4, 300 pounds | Offensive tackle | Rutgers *|
|20. Malcolm Bunche | 6'7, 327 pounds | Offensive tackle | Miami *|
|21. Sean Hickey | 6'5, 285 pounds | Offensive tackle | Syracuse *|
|22. Ryan Groy | 6'5, 320 pounds | Offensive tackle | Wisconsin|
|23. Rob Crisp | 6'7, 298 pounds | Offensive tackle | North Carolina State|
|24. Brandon Thomas | 6'3, 305 pounds | Offensive tackle/Guard | Clemson|
|25. Jimmy Bennett | 6'9, 306 pounds | Left tackle | Connecticut|
|26. Jake Olson | 6'8, 305 pounds | Offensive tackle | Central Michigan|
|27. Chris Martin | 6'5, 303 pounds | Offensive tackle | Central Florida|
|28. Aaron Williams | 6'5, 324 pounds | Offensive tackle | Arkansas State|
|29. Jeremiah Sirles | 6'6, 310 pounds | Offensive tackle | Nebraska|
|30. Donovan Smith | 6'5, 325 pounds | Offensive tackle | Penn State **|
The top nine names on this list will be long gone by the middle of the second round, and the top five - six if Cedric Ogbuehi doesn't return to Texas A&M for another year - could be gone by the the 25th pick. For Rams' fans, this might prove interesting. Ogbuehi could drop into the #14 range, so if Jeff Fisher and Les Snead are shopping for a tackle, would they bank on him, and address a higher, luxury need with their first pick of the day? I think so, but I don't want to ruin the surprise...
Anyway, onto to my first round Mock Draft!
In my slightly skewed world, The Rams are sitting with the #2 and #14 overall draft picks in the first round. But in my version of the 2014 NFL Draft, other teams are channeling the Les Snead of 2012. What's more, with the number of high caliber quarterbacks in this draft, teams are scrambling for the one who fits their team best. In a shocker, Houston trades down with Cleveland, who desperately want Teddy Bridgewater. They get both of the Browns' first round picks, and third rounder, and move down to take Johnny Manziel at #5, and offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio out of Alabama at #24.
Next, the Jacksonville Jaguars are caught flatfooted. The quarterback they covet most - Derek Carr, Fresno State - is snatched away in a blockbuster trade involving the St. Louis Rams and... The New York Giants! The Rams snag the Giants #11 pick overall, and their #42 choice in the second round. Plus, they get the Giants first and third round choices in 2015. Stop screaming at your computer screens! This really isn't as far fetched as you and Brandon Bate may think. The Big Apple press may be head hunting for Tom Coughlin's job, but they are also flat out livid about the lesser of the NFL's two Mannings. Eli has been abysmal this season, and his paycheck would help fill more immediate needs in free agency. The Giants have a desperate need at outside linebacker, so why not snag Brian Orakpo from division rival Washington? How about Anthony Spencer from the Cowboys? Since the only NFL team with LESS salary cap space than St. Louis ($132,221) is the New York Giants ($89,535). Cap numbers are titchy things, and Dallas' situation - according to ESPN - is even worse than the Rams and Giants for 2014:
Anyway, it will come down to how Eli Manning's contract is worded as to whether the team can gain enough money by releasing or trading him.
Jacksonville has to get a quarterback in this draft. Their fan base demands it, so at #3 they choose: Jadeveon Clowney, defensive end, South Carolina. As their pick is announced, mustache twirling team owner Shad Khan Tweets to the world he's just signed the Chicago Bears' back up quarterback "LUKE" McCown to a long term deal, then quickly re-Tweets he meant "Josh", not Luke.
At #4, the Oakland Raiders are twisting in the draft winds. Al Davis' ghost hovers over their war room, and Mark Davis screams for the voices in his head to stop. He smooths his bowl-esk hairdo down just so, and tells his front office staff to take: Sammy Watkins, wide receiver, Clemson.
#5 Houston Texans - Johnny Manziel, Quarterback, Texas A&M
At #6, the Atlanta Falcons have boatloads of needs, but their new head coach ________ (You fill in the blank, because I got nothin") wants the defense to improve. He fights the urge to pick a linebacker, but he has three defensive tackles hitting free agency. The Falcons select: Ra' Shede Hageman, Minnesota.
Tampa Bay needs a corner back. Darelle Revis is unreliable and getting long in the tooth. They need a new head coach too, but no one knows what the Glazer family will do. In the meantime, they select: Jason Verritt, TCU with the #7 pick.
The #8 draft choice is one I had to research. Minnesota is going to take a quarterback in this draft, but three are already off the board in my Mock Draft. So I'm going to leach off of Todd McShay, Dan Kadar and Peter King, who think an NFL quarterback can have a last name like BORTLES. Ya, sure, you betcha! But when I read up on the University of Central Florida signal caller, he struck me as intriguing to say the least. What's more, there are guys out there comparing him to Andrew Luck, in both skill set and innate football knowledge. How a Florida boy will deal with playing outdoors in Minnesota for the next couple winters is anyone's guess? So Vikings fans, here's your pick at #8: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
The Tennessee Titans aren't as bad as many think in 2013. This is just my opinion, but where many have lost faith in Jake Locker at quarterback, I'd stick with him for another season. What this team needs most is a BIG wide receiver. Kenny Britt is just an arrest or two away from being less relevant than he already is at this point. My pick for the Titans at #9: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M.
The Buffalo Bills have loads of talent across their roster. But there are two positions they really need to focus on: Tight End and Safety. Scott Chandler(TE) is a free agent, and Jarius Byrd(S) is headed somewhere that doesn't have "lake effect" snow. They snag Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama, with their #10 pick, and hope they can find a tight end in later rounds.
St. Louis is in an odd position here. Offensive line is a huge need, especially if you look at the first halves of their last two seasons. Yet, each year their offensive line starts to gel late in the season, muddying the waters along the draft importance curve. There are some outstanding tackles still on the board at #11, but Jeff Fisher hasn't really gotten over outside linebacker Jo Lon Dunbar's suspension earlier in the 2013 season. With arguably the best linebacker/defensive end prospect of the year still available, they select Anthony Barr, OLB/DE, UCLA with the #11 choice. The very thought of Robert Quinn and Barr on the same side of the defensive line should make Rams fans drool!
Somehow, offensive tackle Jake Matthews, Texas A&M is still on the board. The offensive line starved Pittsburgh Steelers run their #12 selection to the stage.
The New York Jets need someone - ANYONE - who can be a difference maker on offense. Quarterback Geno Smith is still struggling to find his NFL legs, and 2012 second round draft pick Stephen Hill(WR) hasn't flourished, being demoted from the starting line up before an injury sent him to the sidelines for the rest of the 2013 season. Marqise Lee, WR, USC offers a polished route runner, with excellent hands. While I like him as a Pro prospect, I think this would be a horrible fit, which is why the Jets are bound to take him at #13. This IS the Jets we're talking about, right?
The interesting thing about Jeff Fisher, is his absolute obsession with the running game. His tackle position isn't nearly as shaky as the possible holes he could have at guard. Rodger Saffold will command mid-range money in free agency the team just doesn't have right now. Chris Williams - a former first round pick by the Chicago Bears - is a stop gap player. Harvey Dahl is getting older, and missed quite a few games in 2013. At offensive tackle, Jake Long has looked very good, and should recover from his recent knee injury, and Joe Barksdale has surprised me enough to think he could hold down the position, or even improve to the point he makes right tackle his home for some time. So would Fisher bite back his urge to grab one of the better tackles or corner backs available, for a guard? Really? A GUARD? With the #14 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams select: Gabe Jackson, Guard, Mississippi State University. What Jackson offers is a pure road grader at guard. This is an enormous guy, with immense strength at the point of attack. Rams fans groan at this selection, but Sam Bradford and Zac Stacy are dancing around the room...
At #15, the Detroit Lions would love to take a wide receiver who could take some heat away from Calvin Johnson. This class isn't all that deep in top notch pass catching talent, so Detroit bends toward a weakness that's haunted them for years: corner back. They grab Darqueze Dennard, Corner Back, Michigan State University. He's a big, physical defensive back who fits the growing size/talent model the NFL seems to be bending toward.
The Dallas Cowboys are trying hard not to pick another center with a third round draft rating. They lock Jerry Jones in a closet, trade Dez Brant to the Green Bay Packers for their 2014 first round pick (#18), and select Jimmy Garoppolo, Quarterback, Eastern Illinois University at #16. As Jerry giggles maniacally from behind the locked door, he fires everyone and assumes head coaching duties himself.
The San Diego Chargers were one of the surprise teams of the 2012 season. They lack a pass rush/pass protection linebacker on the outside, so they snag Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State at #17
Back on the clock, and Jerry Jones now resting comfortably at Happy Acres Home for the NFL franchise owners with delusions of knowing football talent ( Dan Snyder checked in moments before Jerry arrived), the Cowboys have an opportunity to solve a potential problem with much concussed Sean Lee. C. J. Mosley, Middle Linebacker, Alabama is still on the board, and they grab him with the #18 pick.
At #19, Jeff Ireland is still avoiding people following the Jonathan Martin debacle. The Miami Dolphins need a top flight left tackle, and there just happens to be one from Michigan on the board. They pick Taylor Lewan,Offensive Tackle, Michigan to fill the gaping hole on the left side of their offensive line.
The Arizona Cardinals know developing a quarterback can't wait for long. Carson Palmer is having a great year, but he doesn't have many seasons left if they don't find a way to protect him. Head coach Bruce Arians flips a coin, and instead of drafting LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger at #20, he wipes away tears as he selects: Cedric Ogbuehi, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M. (Yes, in my warped world, he leaves the happiness of college life for the NFL)
Chip Kelly's Eagles flashed and fell, but no one can say the blame should fall on his offense. With the #21 pick, they grab Notre Dame's DT Louis Nix to shore up a weak defensive line.
The Bears need a pass rush, which right now isn't all that bad. But it isn't "Bears worthy", when compared to past "midway monster" linebacker groups of the past. Here, they snag a specialist at #22 who may be one of the more overlooked prospects among top tier players. Kyle Van Noy, OLB/DE, BYU, is a high work ethic guy who'll blend in well in the Bears aggressive schemes on defense.
Joe Flacco has been missing a decent tight end the entire 2013 season. Injuries hit the position hard, and Flacco's stats showed it. At #23, Jace Amaro, Texas Tech, would slid perfectly into the Ravens' offense, and provide a key weapon the uni-brow quarterback desperately needs.
At #24, Houston Texans (Via Cleveland) - Cyrus Kouandjio, Offensive Tackle, Alabama
The Cincinnati Bengals have a need at corner back, but they could use defensive line depth too. Then again, there's the smallest chance they could grab a quarterback if the thinking is Andy Dalton can't get them to the promised land. Team owner Mike Brown is a notorious cheap skate, and Dalton is only signed through 2014. There's loads of choices left on the board to fit all of these needs, but Terrence Newman being 35 years old tips the scales. The Bengals at #25, take Justin Gilbert, Corner Back, Oklahoma State.
Bill Belichick misses Aaron Hernandez. He's a "two tight end" guy after all, and Rob Gronkowski has battled injuries the entire 2013 season. At #26, it means they made a hasty retreat from the post season, and that simply won't do. Looking to rekindle the flame on offense, they snag Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tight End, Washington
New Orleans can't draft road wins, but they can improve the pass protection for Drew Brees. They select a small red flag prospect at #27: Antonio Richardson, Offensive Tackle, Tennessee
The Carolina Panthers did great throughout the 2013 season. The urge to dot a couple "I-s", and cross a "T-s", instead of a high needs pick at tight end is too much to pass up. They grab Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo at #28 and hope to build on their defense's success.
Kansas City misses a chance to go to the Super Bowl on last second heroics by Peyton Manning. Andy reid knows two things: First, Alex Smith needs a tight end to succeed in the passing game. Second, the Chiefs need a quarterback who can do more than throw to a tight end. At #29, they snag Zach Mettenberger, Quarterback, LSU
San Francisco slinks out of the NFL Championship game in Seattle battered and angry. Jim Harbaugh shouts on the plane all the way back to the city by the bay, and doesn't stop his until the 2014 NFL Draft. He knows what he needs: a wide receiver! No wait, it's a corner back? Nope, it has to be a... You get the idea, right? The 49ers won't grab a first round wide-out, but instead - at #30 - snag Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Corner Back, Oregon.
The swing and a miss in the Super Bowl wasn't by much. Pete Carroll learn one major thing from the 2013 NFL season: He needs a top flight wide receiver who can actually play an entire 16 game schedule, and doesn't specialize in traveling to Switzerland for treatment. As far as I'm concerned, there really isn't another 1st round worthy receiver left on the board. But with Seattle picking so low in the second round, they have to grab: Davonte Adams, Wide Receiver, Fresno State.
Here we are, the last pick in the first round, and it goes to the Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos. This choice has to go to the defense. Champ Bailey is old. Von Miller is coming back from a week #15 injury, and the defensive line could use an upgrade. Who to choose? Well, I'm going pass rush here, which is almost a cop-out on my part. But the guy they choose should slide right into the defensive rotation at the very least. Welcome to the Broncos: Vic Beasley, DE/OLB, Clemson.
There you are, a verbal treatise filled with peaks and valleys; wisdom and idiocy. While I have my doubts this draft will match the real NFL Draft in 2014, I believe my team observations aren't all that far off. So have at me, you Mock Draft zombies! Comments away...
1\ Cleveland (Via Houston) - Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
2\ New York Giants - (Via St. Louis, via Washington) - Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
3\ Jacksonville Jaguars - Jadeveon Clowney, Defensive End, South Carolina
4\ Oakland Raiders - Sammy Watkins, Wide Receiver, Clemson
5\ Houston Texans (Via Cleveland) - Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
6\ Atlanta Falcons - Ra' Shede Hageman, Defensive Tackle, Minnesota
7\ Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Jason Verritt, CB, TCU
8\ Minnesota Vikings - Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
9\ Tennessee Titans - Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
10\ Buffalo Bills - Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Safety, Alabama
11\ St. Louis Rams (Via New York Giants) - Anthony Barr, OLB/DE, UCLA
12\ Pittsburgh Steelers - Jake Matthews, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M
13\ New York Jets - Marqise Lee, WR, USC
14\ St. Louis Rams - Gabe Jackson, Guard, Mississippi State University
15\ Detroit Lions - Darqueze Dennard, Corner Back, Michigan State University
16\ Dallas Cowboys - Jimmy Garoppolo, Quarterback, Eastern Illinois University
17\ San Diego Chargers - Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
18\ C. J. Mosley, Middle Linebacker, Alabama
19\ Miami Dolphins - Taylor Lewan, Offensive Tackle, Michigan
20\ Arizona Cardinals - Cedric Ogbuehi, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M
21\ Philadelphia Eagles - Louis Nix, Defensive Tackle, Notre Dame
22\ Chicago Bears - Kyle Van Noy, DE/OLB, BYU
23\ Baltimore Ravens - Jace Amaro, Tight End, Texas Tech
24\ Houston Texans (Via Cleveland) - Cyrus Kouandjio, Offensive Tackle, Alabama
25\ Cincinnati Bengals - Justin Gilbert, Corner Back, Oklahoma State
26\ New England Patriots - Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tight End, Washington
27\ New Orleans Saints - Antonio Richardson, Offensive Tackle, Tennessee
28\ Carolina Panthers - Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo
29\ Kansas City Chiefs - Zach Mettenberger, Quarterback, LSU
30\ San Francisco 49ers - Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Corner Back, Oregon
31\ Seattle Seahawks - Davonte Adams, Wide Receiver, Fresno State.
32\ Denver Broncos - Vic Beasley, DE/OLB, Clemson