My first post on this site was entitled "Splash of a lifetime" I decided to reciprocate the title because as the draft nears, only one point has become all too clear to me. Jadaveon Clowney will be the only player in this draft that we will not have a chance to get. Say what you want about his work ethic, there has been countless amounts of film, work outs and due diligence done that disproves these points. Whether you want to point to his ability to chase down plays from the backside, continue to be a force when being blocked by a minimum of 2 offensive lineman on each play, and show great conditioning and test results in his combines, Jadaveon Clowney is the once in every 10-20 year player who will either be taken by the Texans or sought after by teams like the Falcons or Bills. Luckily, because we have Robert Quinn, the best Defensive End in the NFL, I am not too torn up over this at all.
With the number 2 overall pick I believe that we all know that I want Johnny Manziel. With the most premier position in football, I think we are in a great position to take him and not have to worry about any of the actions of the other teams. This mock draft isn't to argue this pick though as I have spent countless posts on that and have a firm belief that with the talent around him and in our infrastructure he is best suited for glory. Rather it is what I plan on doing next after this pick that will be truly the real splash.
As has been shown in my previous mock drafts, I believe that we could trade Bradford to the Browns for their 26th overall pick as well as a third rounder, if not more. However, I have stated before that this is a point of leverage that we must elevate our status from to truly win in this draft. Putting Bradford's name in this stock of QB's available would create a large bidding war for the multifarious array of teams that need QB's yet realize they will have to rely on later round picks and pray they find a diamond in the rough.
Thus, I continue. The way I view Bradford, I believe that he would be the second best QB in this draft behind Manziel, however, Bortles could possibly draw more attention from his youth and mobility. I see the Browns and Jaguars are the two other teams in the top 5 who will look to take a QB if available. Because of this, any team that were to get Bradford outside of the top 5 picks in this draft, would get him at bargain, a very slight one, but a bargain nonetheless. So I have taken a look at the QB needy teams in this draft outside of the top 5 picks; this would be the Bucs, Vikings and the Titans. While the Bucs have signed McCown, they have been linked with some of the top QB's in this draft. The Titans have Jake Locker, but he has not given anyone enough merit to consider keeping him for another year. While they may consider trading for Bradford, they do not have the cap space to afford him, the same way the Browns do. At a glance, the Vikings may not either. But in fact, I think they actually could.
The Vikings are a very interesting case because they are quietly in desperation mode. Even though they have a new head coach, they are tasked with the job of winning now while they have the best runningback in the league, if not ever. Adrian Peterson will not sit back for 2-3 years and wait for another QB to develop the same way he tried for Ponder who never materialized. Ponder makes a little under $2 Million while the Vikings also have a little under $11 Million in cap space. Cutting Ponder and negotiating a contract extension with Bradford to have him take a little less and backloading his deal with incentives would allow for them to take him on with relative ease. Bradford would finally have a good runningback next to him again which he has always needed to succeed, as well as dependable receivers in Greg Jennings and Cordarelle Patterson. The Vikings were also top 5 in the NFL in sacks allowed, showing that they not only can boast an efficient run attack, but can keep Bradford on his feet which would truly be useful for his durability issues. The NFC North is full of very questionable secondaries as well as Bradford being a great fit with new OC, the West Coast guru, Norv Turner. Rams fans clamored for Norv when he was available, and I believe Bradford is the kind of talent he would push the Vikings to take a risk on. Mike Zimmer even went on air to support the structured type of QB that Bradford is and it seems as though he would be a much better fit in such a weaker division with so much playoff talent around him. Adrian Peterson made a public appeal for Vick, however, the Vikings can appease both sides even more with a talented QB who has a great infrastructure to develop for the future but also has the skillset now to deliver for them. He is a plug and play player that you know what he is capable of doing in the NFL after his OROY campaign and that would ease tensions of ever wasting the 8th pick.
Because of their desperation, I see them parting with the number 8 pick for him. While that may seem like too much to some, we have more than enough compensation from the later rounds and conditional future picks based on his performance to even out any possible discrepancies. I am of the thought process that given the fact that we have locked Bradford in as a first round value in his comparable (if not better) valuation with Trent Richardson, how QB desperate the Vikings are, and how incredibly weak the QB market looks outside of Manziel and Bortles; the 8th overall pick would ultimately not be as hard to pry away given the fact that the Vikings have no other needs in any of the premier positions available to them at 8 after having so many draft picks fill such roles these past years due to the Percy Harvin trade ( Have drafted quality OT, WR, CB, DT, and S). There is no top 10 DE in the draft after Jadaveon and they just signed Everson Griffen to a large contract extension. LB could be a pick however it is a position that could also be addressed in day 2 with no repercussions i.e. Seahawks winning the Super Bowl with all fourth rounders playing and their first round linebacker, Aaron Curry, seeing limited time. This draft is known as the deepest in history, to take advantage of its first round by having three picks, without even giving up any future first rounders is a move that makes incredible sense for us. Also, with such a reduced salary cap we would be able to pursue a great 2015 free agent class that boasts many playmakers, like Ndamakung Suh, that I would rather have on my team than a second or third rounder next year anyway.
Next, I see us giving up the 13th pick and our 3rd rounder this year and next year to move up to the 7th spot so we can have two back to back picks. With these two picks, I would love to continue the Texas A&M trend by taking Jake Matthews and Mike Evans. After working out all three this week, such a move would make sense through our interest with them. The chemistry that Johnny showed with Mike Evans, who has great height and speed to be a number 1 receiver, would be electric when paired with the rangy Kenny Britt. The Bucs just moved on from a taller receiver in Mike Williams and might prefer a different type of playmaker in Odell Beckham Jr. who also has great return abilities, which they covet, rather than someone who is exactly like Vincent Jackson, especially when offered a trade whose value is of more than their actual pick. Mike Evans and Kenny Britt would remind me of the combination that the Bears have in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jefferey, where the size and jumping advantages that they have over many cornerbacks makes them incredibly deadly and is a trend the rest of the NFL is trying to follow. Jared Cook would also help in this department as I truly believe you can never have enough height at the position and he would be more of a match up nightmare than he was before when perceived as our number 1 receiver. Having Chris Givens and Tavon Austin with ghost motion ability for the option run game and to take the top off the defense would make our receiving core incredibly multifaceted.
Jake Matthews shores up the offensive line where we have a polished tackle to eventually take over for Jake Long, but can serve as a plug and play player right away on either side while Saffold adds even more versatility. Greg Robinson reminds me too much of Jason Smith with high boom or bust potential and weakness against the pass rush which is a definite need for us. Let someone else take the risk on him higher. Jake Matthews has NFL bloodlines especially in his father's familiarity with Coach Fisher, and has shown for years that he is capable of playing at the highest level. Taking these three guys in the 1st round would make our offense incredibly dynamic and truly a spectacle for the rest of the league to deal with.
With the second round pick I have us going cornerback. The name we were linked the most with in free agency was Alterraun Verner. This created the question of what we would have done if we had signed him and still had Tru and Janoris, the two best players in our entire secondary. Haha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor are two players I would rather be without in this draft. Both are hyper valuated picks in a weak safety class. Which is why I took Keith McGill, because I would rather Trumaine get moved to safety which he is capable of doing as we all knew when we drafted him with Janoris. The Seahawks have shown us how larger DB's are advantageous in this morphing NFL to defend against the fades and back shoulder throws that so many Quarterbacks rely on. We need to get a bigger corner in McGill who can man up tight ends while Trumaine can go back outside and cover. I trust his ability more than any of the other safeties in this draft as he reminds me of a Devin McCourty in his size, versatility and playmaking ability. Janoris is our staple cornerback of the future with great promise so we can afford to move Tru. Trusting in finding a diamond in the rough in the late rounds is ideal, but ultimately you want your first and second round picks to be your premier athletes. Also, like I said, I would rather bring in a lengthy corner who can start right away and man up taller players than a project safety from the later rounds who may only be decent. That is something none of our corners can effectively do now because of their size. The NFL is much more of a passing game now. Just because Tru were to move to safety doesn’t mean he wouldn’t still play a great role in covering outside receivers and matching up with the different kinds of player that offensive sets boast now. I like him a lot and would rather let him answer our biggest position need then let a draft class of unproven safeties take a crack at it. The corner class is much better and will see more players go in the earlier rounds. We need to utilize Tru's flexibility to our advantage and take the best DB's available. Those are the corners, especially one as unique as a 6’3 Keith McGill who can run a 4.4 and has fluid hips.
In the later rounds I looked to some of the guys who came from smarter schools to fill out our draft board. These schools many times get looked over, yet still produce some of the best talent in the league. The NFL is a cerebral game as well as physical that requires smart players at every position. With the 4th round pick I have us taking David Yankey at guard from Stanford. He is a very underrated player who has great size and athleticism to help out on the offensive line. He led one of the better rushing attacks Stanford has ever had, which has been known for it's great coaching and ability to produce quality and smart offensive lineman in the NFL. He is a later bloomer, coming from Australia, who we could take low now and see his stock appreciate very quickly. In the 5th, if AJ McCarron is still available I would take him, but if not, Jeff Matthews is a smart Ivy League kid with a very live arm who performed well in the senior bowl. I think he is a good developmental guy who could be great trade bait moving forward because of his size and intangibles. Caraun Reid is a 6th rounder who addresses a need at D tackle that we could take low after focusing so much on the offense early. He has shown great performances from the senior bowl and combine statistics to be a good playmaker for us in the middle.
Last but not least in the 7th round I believe it’s time to move on from the project of Brian quick. He has proven inadequate and unable to step up when needed. L'Damian Washington is a local product who has the frame to be a serious player for us in a couple years down the road and would be a great new project for us moving forward due to his height. Drafting him here rather than Quick in the second is rather low risk, yet with his size could develop into another redzone threat after seeing great production at Mizzouri. Finally, Tosan Eyetsemitan, is another local product (Born in Chesterfield), who is an extremely smart Ivy League linebacker and fits in well as a 4-3 will backer. JoLonn is getting old and it would be wise to have a project player who is the same size as him but didn’t get the recognition needed coming out of college to prove he can be a great additive to the defense and special teams. He can play the pass extremely well and rush the passer because of his fluid hips and quick reaction time. His knowledge of the game is bar none as he designed some of the defensive schematics on his team. He plays the game very cerebrally yet has great aggression and ability to use his hands that creates a mismatch for most blockers of any size. If you watch his film it will show his versatility to make plays on special teams and defense alike. He fits well as a Will linebacker and has the size and speed to make plays in all aspects after playing defensive end and nickel for his team as well. He rounds out an exceptional draft class that I think has the playmakers to push the Rams to our first winning season in a while.
1 (2) - QB Johnny Manziel http://youtu.be/5jQyR6jYxn4
1 (7) - OT Jake Matthews http://youtu.be/VuhZN7GfrLU
1 (8) - WR Mike Evans http://youtu.be/CLuP0rBy41s
2 ( 13) - CB Keith McGill http://youtu.be/Z6qv3hVhKzA
4 ( 13) - OG David Yankey http://youtu.be/RS2Zw-CbBho
5 (13) - QB Jeff Mathews http://youtu.be/yeqahH1z6vY
6 (13) - DT Caraun Reid http://youtu.be/Z0-eW8wm5Ao
7 (2) - WR L'Damian Washington http://youtu.be/xV1WGA9jvh0
7 (17) - OLB Tosan Eyetsemitan http://youtu.be/zAXIP8dJ-Os