I want to thank TST and all you members for making the first mock draft I did a whole lot of fun. Thanks Doug for the front page time and to everyone for such a robust discussion in the comments.
Following up that draft, I've been spending a lot of time browsing other mocks and SB Nation sites not necessarily to look at the picks, but the reasoning behind them - something I'm much more interested in. It can be hard to find new ideas this time of year regarding the draft, especially since we've had an extra two weeks to think things over.
That being said, let's get mocking. I promise this one will be much shorter-winded as I'll only include 4 rounds and refer you to the earlier mock if you want in depth analysis on some of the same picks.
This trade sort of makes or breaks this draft (as expected). At 2, we get the elite player but risk putting the rest of our draft in jeopardy. With this being the best class in a decade, I'd rather accumulate than go for broke.
Which brings me to thought 1: I've cooled on Robinson a bit. I can't say it's for a specific reason - perhaps insanity at this point. Having locked down Robinson in my mind, it allowed me to explore other top linemen. With exploration comes discovery and with discovery comes change.
Because Robinson in my mind is not head and shoulders above certain players, we need to trade down.
Tampa Bay has Vincent Jackson but they are missing a WR now that Mike Williams is circling the wagons in Buffalo. Guess who the Bucs would LOVE to have but are not gonna be able to grab at 7? The more I think about this trade the more it makes sense. It's an easy swap that wont paralyze the Bucs in this draft and will allow them to complete their arsenal on offense. McCown is capable at least for this year and if things don't go as planned, they can take advantage of the 2015 QB class.
Tampa trades Picks 7, 38, and a 2015 3rd for pick 2.
Round 1 - Pick 7 (From Tampa Bay) - Mike Evans - WR - Texas A&M
Would you rather have Schotty trying to figure out how to use a guy that can do a million different things well within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage? Or would you rather have him telling Evans to do 3 things well? He's bigger, more physical, faster, and more surehanded than BQ.
Check out http://www.turfshowtimes.com/2014/4/23/5642996/the-shmerriman-2014-mock for more on the pick.
Round 1 - Pick 13 - Zack Martin - T/G - Notre Dame
So we don't come away with Robinson. Fine. This kid will do just fine for the next decade. The Rams worked him out at ND on their Springsteen-esque tour over the past week and have been known to draft guys they spend a lot of time with pre-draft. He's really not all that far off Robinson and I'd argue his tape is more fun to watch, especially his 2012 season. Comes in assuming that Jake Long is ok and starts at Guard.
Long - Martin - Wells - Saffold - Barksdale. Looks fine to me.
Round 2 Trades:
So as of right now we have 38 and 44. 38 is a little high for my guy here so let's give someone something they need and drop back a bit in round 2. Carolina Panthers at 60? Need Jordan Matthews? (and about 7 other receivers)? Done.
Carolina trades picks 60 and 92 for pick 38.
And yes these trades are fairly valued by our friends at Draft Countdown.
Round 2 - Pick 44 - Lamarcus Joyner - CB/FS/Nickel/KR/PR/Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread - Florida State
I love Joyner. I love his versatility. I love his skills. I love his passion. I love his leadership. I love his speed. I love his attitude. I love him starting day 1 at nickelback and returning kicks.
Round 2 - Pick 60 (From Carolina) - Terrence Brooks - FS - Florida State
Free safety of the future. I truly believe he can be the best safety in this years class. Fills the biggest team need and starts (and excels) day 1.
Round 3 - Pick 75 - Troy Niklas - TE - Notre Dame
Holy Shit a Tight End?! Yup. But ONLY because we've been able to create these luxury picks - stuff we don't necessarily need but can utilize because the opportunity cost is negated.
This pick was caused by thought 2. More of a reaction I guess to a few TST arguments I've seen for drafting (and not drafting) a TE. Like I said, we only make this pick if we have another 3rd round selection. Stop getting mad at me for not drafting O Line depth or a "true" corner or an outside linebacker that we so desperately need to replace Jolonn with.
Bringing in Niklas who's 6'7" 270 isn't a bad move. He's got great hands, decent speed, and a killer mentality (he started at outside linebacker for the Irish too, so THERE). He's only started for a year - remember they had a guy named Tyler Eifert - but his frame and developing athleticism scream upside. Listen, I'm a huge Lance Kendricks fan and I love the rapport he's developed with Sammy B. But he's a free agent after this season and there's money that's going to be needed elsewhere. Troy Niklas can be a situational guy this year (RED ZONE, BABY) and an all-out dominant force in year 2, given that he doesn't beat someone out in training camp this year which he very well may do. I love Kendricks and he can be a perfect 3rd TE option going forward if we make Cory Harkey exclusively a Fullback - something that will prolong the career of Zac Stacy. That even allows the option of splitting Cook outside in a 2 TE Goal Line package with Evans on the other side. Niklas and Kendricks act as on-the-line blockers. Done Deal.
I fully understand the argument for not taking a TE here. I promise. But perhaps Martin wasn't the only guy the Rams were taking a look at while visiting Notre Dame the other day...
Round 3 - Pick 92 (From Carolina) - Daniel McCullers - Defensive Tackle - Tennessee
Guess where else Fisher & Co. worked out prospects? Yes sir! UT. I took a DT in the 6th in the previous mock but this guy is a specimen. He's 6'8" 350. Nicknamed the "Shade Tree". Now I know we have a fantastic/deep D Line but we simply don't have this. He's slow, but if we play that hybrid 4-3 3-4 that everyone seems to be talking about, this guy can be a 1-Technique tackle and literally swallow anything coming his way - his favorite entree being Le Double Team.
Round 4 - Pick 110 - Aaron Murray - Quarterback - Georgia
Competition breeds success. There's also that part where he can come in and be better than Bradford if needed. Kid is a winner. Holds a litany of SEC passing records. Appears to be healthy. Great attitude. Plays with some fire (something I think Bradford has lacked). Smart as hell. Great prospect. Smokin' hot girlfriend.
There she is folks. It's all up to the football gods, Snead's hair, and Fisher's stache now. Speaking of which, can someone please photoshop both attributes onto Kevin Demoff?
If we can grab 6 picks in the first 3 rounds, we are well on our way to years of winning football. The trades make sense for all involved and leave teams in win-win situations. To recap:
1 (7) - Mike Evans - WR
1 (13) - Zack Martin - G/T (new)
2 (44) - Lamarcus Joyner - CB/Safety/Nickel
2 (60) - Terrence Brooks - FS
3 (75) - Troy Niklas - TE (new)
3 (92) - Daniel McCullers - DT (new)
4 (110) - Aaron Murray - QB
Round out the last few picks with O Line depth, an inside AND outside linebacker, a big RB, another corner, and maybe another safety.
Thanks for reading and can't wait for Thursday.