“Last week we posted that sources had told us several teams removed Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith from their draft boards due to character concerns. Over the weekend separate, independent sources again confirmed this. That said we’ve also been alerted that the Seattle Seahawks still highly rate the cornerback and would consider taking him in round one.”
Smith is a top ten talent on the field, yet talk of character concerns continue to linger. The Seahawks would be wise to roll the dice on his huge talent if he makes it to #25. In my last mock draft I looked at the possibility that Smith could still be an early draft pick – Tennessee have ignored character concerns in the past when drafting in round one and they’re in desperate need of a corner. While some may assume the #8 overall pick is too early (especially with the Titans need at quarterback) I still think it’s a potential landing spot. There’s a papers width between Patrick Peterson and Jimmy Smith as this year’s top cornerback, even though Peterson has received a much greater press. Both are incredibly talented players.
It would be an upset if the character concerns dropped Smith to #25 even despite all the negative publicity. If it was to happen, only one of the top quarterbacks remaining on the board should prevent the Colorado prospect landing in Seattle.
Dan Kadar thinks so: “That quote would lead me to believe that it may be the Seattle Seahawks, if an offer has actually been sent. Of the teams in the draft after pick 18, Seattle is the only one that really needs a quarterback.”
It’s a logical link to make, considering the Seahawks pick late at #25. I presume Philly would jump at the chance to add another first round pick and possibly some 2012 draft stock too. Arizona, San Francisco, Cleveland – these teams aren’t going to give up top-ten picks for Kolb.
I doubt Miami and Jacksonville will bite at #15 or #16. Getting a pick in the 20’s is Philadelphia’s likely best offer. The sticking point would be obviously the lack of a CBA or that crucial injunction. If Seattle is determined to bring in a quarterback regardless, it lends credence to Chris Mortensen’s opinion that the Seahawks are favored to draft a QB.
When people criticise the play of Ryan Mallett, they often point to his footwork under pressure and how it affects his ability to make plays. ‘Universal Draft’ has compiled a 12-minute video of plays where the Arkansas QB is under duress:
It makes for interesting viewing and certainly highlights some of the issues people have raised. It also proves that Mallett isn’t a complete lost cause when facing a pass rush – as witnessed at the 5:34 point when he sidesteps an Alabama defensive lineman to make a good completion. Generally though it is a legitimate concern regarding his footwork and mobility and it’s something a team will have to live with and work around at the next level.
There’s also a section on play action and roll outs nine minutes in. As much as Mallett’s footwork (and therefore accuracy) is impacted by pressure, he’s adept at play action. Despite not being the most agile athlete, he’s also very good on roll outs and creating that extra time and space to diagnose the field and progress through his reads.
Mike Mayock reports from Blaine Gabbert’s pro-day. Is it possible for a quarterback to have a bad pro-day? I don’t think I’ve ever heard a negative report on a top prospect throwing in shorts. Mayock has some views on Aldon Smith and makes a great point on his potential fit in a 4-3 scheme.
The draft isn’t a perfect science. Unexpected things happen.
This latest projection may prove to be the most inaccurate I’ve compiled so far yet if one of the bolder moves actually happens, it’s worth the discussion we’ll have today.
The first eye catching pick is probably Jimmy Smith at #8 to Tennessee. At the moment everyone is down on Smith because of character concerns but it’s impossible to watch Colorado tape and not think this guy has a shot at going in the top ten. The Titans have been anything but predictable this off season and it could be argued cornerback is their second biggest need after replacing Vince Young. With the top two quarterbacks off the board in this scenario – do they entertain the prospect of drafting Jake Locker or Ryan Mallett at #8 or will they look elsewhere?
Smith has elite potential. We can talk about character and make a legitimate case for a substantial fall if the allegations are serious enough. Yet the old adage goes, “only one team has to buy in” and I don’t see why that won’t be the case here.
Von Miller at #11 – this is the area I’d feel more comfortable grading him personally. I understand everyone else sees him as a consensus top five pick, but that was never the case actually during the college football season. He has tremendous potential as a speedy pass rusher and undoubtedly was one of the most enjoyable prospects to watch during 2010-11. Yet I still have this nagging doubt about his ability to carry that into the NFL. Can he play rush 3-4 OLB? Is he more of a 4-3 OLB? How teams answer that question will determine whether he actually goes as high as the consensus believes.
Nick Fairley at #14 – huge talent who dominated throughout 2010 for Auburn. Then you look at the draft board and see several 4-3 teams who would be a logical destination for Fairley, but which one actually pulls the trigger? He’s a popular pick for Tennessee, yet they have much greater needs at quarterback and cornerback. It’s not an opinion most people will agree with, but I wouldn’t be stunned if he’s a player teams would be willing to draft throughout the top-ten yet there’s always someone else they prefer left on the board.
Ryan Mallett at #15 – Miami needs a quarterback and that isn’t discussed enough in the draft world. Chad Henne was given a big opportunity to fill that void and failed. They have a very good receiver in Brandon Marshall and need someone who can get him the ball. Mark Ingram is the popular pick at #15 and while he is a very exciting talent, is Miami’s biggest issue a lack of potency at running back? Mallett has to be a consideration for Minnesota at #12 and Miami at #15.
Corey Liuget at #17 – may suffer if Nick Fairley falls a bit. Legitimate top-15 pick and a viable alternative to Julio Jones for St. Louis at #14 if Fairley’s off the board. New England’s 3-4 scheme isn’t a tight fit for Liuget, but the Patriots may think he’s too good to pass and you know they’ll work him into that system.
Julio Jones at #21 – I really like Julio and in terms of talent he’s a sure-fire top-15 pick. However, receivers can fall. Jones’ athletic performance at the combine was sensational and he made major improvements to his consistency in 2010. It really wouldn’t surprise me if he went in the top-10 picks, but is a fall into the teens or early 20’s out the question? This is probably his floor.
Ryan Kerrigan drops out of the first round in this projection. This week he reached 274lbs which is around 15lbs more than he weighed at Purdue. He’s clearly trying to convince teams he can play that base 4-3 RE position. I’m not sure he’d be trying to keep adding weight at this stage of the process if he was still hoping to play in a 3-4. With a number of rising prospects at his position (Reed, Sheard, Houston etc) he may struggle to stick in that 16-32 range.
I’ve gone back to Jabaal Sheard for the Seahawks at #25. His stock is rising more than most at the moment and it’s not hard to see why. He’s got great speed and explosion off the line, a nice repertoire and he holds up well against the run. It’s a discussion we’ve had many times on here about the value of the LEO and whether Seattle should be spending a pick on that position. Over the next few days we’ll use this latest mock to see what scope the Seahawks possibly have to move up or down to target different positions/prospects.
Dan Kadar at Mocking the Draft reviews the key pro-days at Florida and Pittsburgh: “One draft riser who will get to show off today is Pittsburgh’s Jabaal Sheard. Projected by many as a 3-4 outside linebacker, Sheard looked good running a 4.68 40-yard dash at the Combine. Still, he didn’t the three-cone drill in Indianapolis, a key drill for linebackers.”
Rob Rang has an updated mock draft and suggests the Seahawks will consider Ryan Mallett at #25: “The Seahawks appear to be very intrigued with the Razorback’s strong arm. GM John Schneider was on hand for Mallett’s pro day.”
Chad Reuter also has an updated projection and this time the Seahawks take Mike Pouncey: “Pouncey could play guard if Max Unger steps in at center, or vice versa.” Am I the only one who thinks the play of Chris Spencer warrants an extension?
Three months ago I published a mock on December 14th. At the time I said I’d review the state of it in March and reflect on how things had changed.
Here are the top 15 picks I projected on 12/14 (I’ve not included the teams because draft order has changed dramatically since):
1 Andrew Luck
2 Cam Newton
3 Da’Quan Bowers
4 Patrick Peterson
5 AJ Green
6 Robert Quinn
7 Marcell Dareus
8 Jimmy Smith
9 Cameron Jordan
10 Nick Fairley
11 Prince Amukamara
12 Tyron Smith
13 Julio Jones
14 Janoris Jenkins
15 Jake Locker
The most notable ‘error’ was projecting Andrew Luck would declare and therefore be the first overall pick. It’s interesting to note that the other high profile juniors projected in the top-15 all declared except for #14 Janoris Jenkins (CB, Florida).
Projecting Jimmy Smith as a top-10 pick was something I stood by throughout the new year despite a distinct lack of attention elsewhere. Some would call it a mistake in hindsight, considering he still isn’t universally expected to go that high. I wouldn’t rule it out, despite everything that’s been said about his off-the-field character. Only today Michael Lombardi quoted a NFL GM who believed Smith may be better than consensus #1 cornerback Patrick Peterson. I’ve made this point many times, against popular opinion, that there’s very little between the two corner prospects in terms of on-field potential. The sky really is the limit for Smith.
“I’ve talked to a lot of teams. He clearly has elite talent. I think he might be the No. 2 CB in this draft.” – Lombardi on Jimmy Smith
Mike Mayock’s also been arguing his cause against the character concerns: “He’s had a lot of people around him go to jail. I want to stress that this kid’s never been arrested.” Will moving away from home and taking to a professional setup get the best out of Jimmy Smith? Time will tell, but I’m still convinced one team is going to roll that dice.
There’s an obvious error of judgement – no Von Miller. I always liked Miller as a player, but never felt compelled enough to give him a grade in the top-15. It has to be said, he was not trending in that area until the positive media reaction during the Senior Bowl. A lot of mocks are based on ‘trends’ and certainly it’s something I’ve since had to rectify as a mistake. Maybe come April I’ll wish I stuck to the initial grading of a mid-to-late first rounder? Or maybe Miller’s absence from that list above will seriously damage the legitimacy of such an early projection? Personally I wouldn’t spend a top-10 pick on him, but the national opinion claims it’s a certainty someone will.
This isn’t just an exercise for me to say ‘I told you so’ (I’m aware it reads that way so far). More errors creep in as I run through the rest of the top-32.
16 Allen Bailey
17 Mike Pouncey
18 Stephen Paea
19 Mark Ingram
20 Anthony Castonzo
21 Akeem Ayers
22 Brandon Harris
23 Gabe Carimi
24 JJ Watt
25 Adrian Clayborn
26 Ryan Kerrigan
27 Derek Sherrod
28 Brandon Burton
29 Justin Houston
30 Drake Nevis
31 Von Miller
32 Nate Solder
I mocked Allen Bailey as the 16th overall pick (a popular trend at the time) despite writing in my blurb: “I’m not convinced by Bailey. He looks the part of a NFL pass rusher, but he doesn’t always bring it. Teams will have to weigh up potential vs production.” I probably should’ve shown more faith in that conviction and given Bailey the middle round grade he’s probably received from most NFL teams.
Another mistake? Brandon Burton (CB, Utah) was a player I projected to bolt into the first round talk, which has never really happened. I still like Burton, but he’s certainly never trended as high as that and he didn’t pull up any trees at the combine.
The Von Miller pick at #31 sticks out like a sore thumb.
I wish I’d had more confidence to project Jabal Sheard in that range during the season. He stood out on film and it wasn’t until early February that I placed him at #25 for Seattle. I’ve since touted the possibility that Brooks Reed could be another LEO option in round one. Neither of these suggestions were greeted in the most positive light at the time but over the last fortnight both prospects have gained a lot of first round momentum.
JJ Watt’s potential was probably under estimated in December and there’s no Ryan Mallett – I think he’s done enough during the off-season to since solidify a home in round one.
Projections made in December should never be taken seriously. I wouldn’t even recommend taking present-day mocks that seriously (especially my own). It’s still reassuring to a certain degree to note the top-32 picks weren’t a million miles away from what we expect to see now in March.
Although there’s always a danger of trying to be too different, the draft never follows a predictable path. GMjr’s mock sees things different to most. Marcell Dareus #1 overall? It certainly fills a need in Carolina, but are they not focused in on a quarterback by now? Anthony Castonzo in the top ten – to Dallas no less? Regulars to this blog will note my preference for placing Jake Locker with Washington at #10, but perhaps more interesting than anything else is the placing of AJ Green and Julio Jones.
Green drops all the way to #14 to St. Louis. As a result, Julio Jones falls all the way to…. #25 – Seattle.
Is it realistic? Maybe. Jones’ stock is rock solid at the moment after a stunning combine, but receivers can fall – especially if Green does suffer an unlikely drop out of the top-ten.
It might be worth tempering any hopes or expectations that Julio could suffer such a fall – GMjr also has Christian Ponder in round one, a big non starter for me. I guess we’ll see. Ponder’s sudden rise still troubles me slightly. This is what Mike Mayock had to say on Path to the Draft this evening:
“I saw him throw at last year’s Manning Passing Camp and I was not impressed whatsoever.”
Yet Mayock acknowledges he’s since improved his stock, potentially as high as a late first round pick. That cannot be based on Ponder’s performance during 2010 which was generally poor. He only passed for 200+ yard three times and had two noticeably poor games against Boston College and Oklahoma. Can a prospect really improve his stock that much at the Senior Bowl and throwing in shorts at the combine? Especially one that’s reportedly had three arm surgeries in the last 16 months?
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