Time for a new effort from the Hair himself, ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., with his second mock of the year (which is behind ESPN's insider paywall because we don't win anymore).
|1||Tennessee Titans||Laremy Tunsil||OT||Ole Miss|
|2||Cleveland Browns||Carson Wentz||QB||North Dakota St.|
|3||San Diego Chargers||DeForest Buckner||DE||Oregon|
|5||Jacksonville Jaguars||Jalen Ramsey||CB||Florida St.|
|6||Baltimore Ravens||Joey Bosa||DE||Ohio St.|
|7||San Francisco 49ers||Myles Jack||OLB||UCLA|
|8||Miami Dolphins||Ronnie Stanley||OT||Notre Dame|
|9||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Vernon Hargreaves III||CB||Florida|
|10||New York Giants||Noah Spence||OLB||Eastern Kentucky|
|11||Chicago Bears||Jaylon Smith||OLB||Notre Dame|
|12||New Orleans Saints||
|13||Philadelphia Eagles||Jack Conklin
|14||Oakland Raiders||Eli Apple||CB||Ohio St.|
What's odd is how similar it is to Daniel Jeremiah's mock from yesterday over at NFL.com. The same seven names in the top 7. Hargreaves at #9. Spence at #10. Rankins at #12...Rankins at #12!
There's a lot of overlap there, and while I don't think it's necessarily unfair it is striking.
And that's nine out of 14 picks on the defensive side. If anybody helps set the conventional wisdom, it's Kiper. I'd expect to see more mocks flail to include defensive options now over offensive ones. Especially with all the defensive line talent flooding the top of this draft.
So with two QBs off the board in Wentz and Goff, Kiper mocks the Rams to:
Laquon Treadwell (WR, Ole Miss)
Plenty of people will want to see the Rams go after a quarterback at this spot, but with the top two quarterbacks already off the board in this scenario, they don't have the option of taking a clear immediate upgrade at that position. Treadwell is better than a consolation prize, a potential No. 1 wide receiver who might not work out like a track star but has tape that shows he can make an impact in Year 1.
Treadwell was the early mock favorite for the Rams coming out of the gate at the end of the season, but that gave way to the flood of QBs over the last month and a half. I don't know if this stems the tide; as Kiper notes, the need is so outstanding it's hard to discount the possibility outright. Still, it's a major inclusion of Treadwell into Rams mocks as we head into the combine. That's not not noteworthy.
The rest of Kiper's mock should draw interest for some of his defensive selections, which is clearly the theme here.
Alabama DT Jarran Reed and Clemson DE Shaq Lawson follow the Rams' selection of Treadwell with Alabama C Ryan Kelly at 18 to the Colts, a popular Rams option after #15.
A defensive threesome from #19-21 sees Clemson DE Kevin Dodd, Alabama LB Reggie Ragland and Alabama DT A'Shawn Robinson all come off. So by the 21st pick in the draft, that's two Clemson DEs, two Alabama DTs, an Alabama C and the Alabama MLB. Yeesh. (And yes, Clemson CB Mackensie Alexander slides in later at #30)
Arkansas TE Hunter Henry, a popular second-round find for the Rams, heads to Green Bay at 27. Following him are Illinois DE Jihad Ward (which I'm sure will be a popular first-name among NFL fans...) and Boise St. OLB Kamalei Correa, two names we haven't seen in many first-round mocks.
Kiper's mocks sometimes are more important for what they effect than what they actually say. He was one of the first to start pushing the idea of Greg Robinson as a top tackle prospect for the 2014 NFL Draft months before the Rams selected him with the #2 overall pick.
So don't put all your chips in the QB well just yet...