The evaluations are half way over, as is the ten day waiting game leading up to draft day. April 26 is so close that I can taste it, or maybe I'm just drooling with anticipation, possibly even my fingernails which have been chewed down to the cuticle. Whatever the case, I can hardly contain my excitement.
It's been a long, painstaking month of speculation and turmoil for Ram fans. Let's face facts - no one knows what is going to happen. There is not even a consensus preference among fans for whom should be selected with the sixth overall pick, but that's why we left it up to Ryan Van Bibber to make our decision for us. We have also already covered picks 1-4 and picks 9-12. The Arizona Cardinals are now on the clock, after the jump...
With the 13th pick, Revenge of the Birds and the Arizona Cardinals select Jonathan Martin, offensive tackle, Stanford.
Revenge of the Birds explains:
The offensive line is clearly the Cardinals’ greatest need. With both David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin on the board, the decision is tough. DeCastro could be an elite guard. Martin has great film, but has one glaring weakness -- his weakness (lack of strength). In the end, Martin is the guy to go with because the Cardinals seek a tackle, especially someone who could play left tackle. Martin’s technique is great, his athleticism is without question and if strength is the only thing lacking, he can acquire that with John Lott, one of the best in the business at strength and conditioning.
Douglas M's analysis:
I'm not happy with this pick simply because of who is still left on the board that are much higher value picks, and could be instant starters for Arizona. David DeCastro is still there, and would fill the Cards need to improve their running game day one. Melvin Ingram is still there, and while I doubt he'll last this long in the real NFL Draft, the Cards have a huge need at OLB that Ingram could instantly fill for years to come. Ingram is a Top 5 talent driven down by team needs, not his future prospects. Mark Barron would be my sleeper pick here, and would dot the "i" on the Cards improving defensive secondary. Martin has quite a few question marks. I see him as a depth OT in his rookie year, so why waste a 1st round pick on a player who can't help year one? While OL is a big need for the Cards, this is a reach. I can easily see Martin hitting the top of the second round in the real draft.
Clearly the Cardinals have been taking lessons from the Bills, who also reached for an offensive tackle much earlier than they should have. Though Martin is a higher rated prospect than Mike Adams, Arizona too had better options on the table, which Doug touched on perfectly. Kevin Kolb better gear up with his "anti-concussion helmet," because he won't be getting much early help from Martin on his blindside.
With the 14th pick, Dave Halprin from Blogging the Boys and the Dallas Cowboys select David DeCastro, offensive guard, Stanford.
Dave Halprin's rationale:
The Cowboys interior offensive line was a problem last season, and with the release of Kyle Kosier at guard last week, the position is truly in flux. Dallas did pick up a couple of veteran guards in free agency, but the future of the position is still in question. Enter David DeCastro, who many scouts have said is the best guard prospect to come along since Steve Hutchinson. He’s got every skill you need and is a fierce run-blocker. Blessed with agile feet, he’s extremely good on the move, and in the Cowboys run-blocking scheme the guards are often asked to pull. DeCastro is projected as the kind of player you pencil into the starting lineup for the next decade. Dallas picked up their tackle of the future last year with Tyron Smith, they could do the same at guard this year with David DeCastro.
Jerry Jones and Tony Romo could not be any happier to see that DeCastro has fallen to them. Guards aren't nearly as coveted in early rounds as they once were, but the big man who helped keep Andrew Luck upright is no typical interior lineman. He could step in immediately, replacing Kosier at RG or helping on Romo's blindside, and be Pro Bowl caliber.
I can't fault this pick, but the Cowboys could easily go in many different directions on the defensive side of the ball. After losing Terrence Newman to the Bengals, they need even more help in a backfield riddled with problems. Safety Mark Barron or a corner such as Stephon Gilmore would help tremendously in that regard. Also, after losing Bradie James to their AFC Texas rivals, DC Rob Ryan would surely make his case known for Luke Kuechly should he be available.
With the 15th pick, JasonB of Bleeding Green Nation and the Philadelphia Eagles select Luke Kuechly, linebacker, Boston College.
Now that the Eagles have traded for DeMeco Ryans, every mock drafter on the planet has seemingly checked linebacker off the list for the Eagles and moved on. Not me. If you watched the Eagles at all last season, you’d know their problems at LB were more than just the man in the middle. In reality, the Eagles could probably use an upgrade at all three spots. So for me, Ryans is just the start of the overhaul. The chance to add a guy like Kuechly here is just too good to pass up and in the course of one offseason could turn this teams’ biggest weakness into one of its most talented units.
If this pick had occurred 2 weeks earlier, this would be easier to wrap my head around. As it is, they just signed DeMeco Ryans, presumably for the Mike position. Kuechly is good in coverage but maybe Reid sees something in him to justify putting him over at Sam. Personally, I'd have used this pick on a rather gelatinous fellow for the Defensive line. They may yet do that later though; they have an extra 2nd rounder for their other needs.
With the 16th pick, John B from Gang Green Nation and the New York Jets select Melvin Ingram, defensive end/outside linebacker, South Carolina.
John B's rationale:
Even though Rex Ryan is known for his love of getting after quarterbacks, the Jets have not made getting pass rushers a priority during his tenure. They have opted for developmental players (Jamaal Westerman), cheap veteran signings (Jason Taylor), and scrap heap pickups (Aaron Maybin). Rumors are swirling that Ryan wants to change that and add a difference maker at outside linebacker and loves Ingram. It makes sense. He loves to move his pass rushers all over, and Ingram lined up at linebacker, defensive end, and defensive tackle at South Carolina.
The Jets needed to have something go right for them this off-season, and it does here. Ingram is a guy many think doesn't have a sure position at the next level. He's too small and his arms are too short for playing up as a DE and he's not good enough in coverage to use as any kind of linebacker. Well then, the solution is obvious. Play him all over. The Jets run kind of a hybrid Defense anyway and Ingram will prove to be the most valuable guy they have by his second year. He's too fast for OTs to stop and he's able to come off the edge with a low pad level and still maintain that speed. I project Ingram as the 2012 defensive ROY.
That's it for today. Make sure to check back tomorrow for picks 17 - 21 and the final, best Turf Show Times mock draft contest of 2012.