This week I wanted to do a mock draft that represented two things:
1 – A run on quarterbacks early in round one
The 2011 and 2012 drafts brought in a new era for the NFL with the rookie pay scale. Instead of contracts worth $60m guaranteed, #1 overall picks were now signing fully guaranteed $22m deals. Since the pay-cap was introduced we’ve seen seven quarterbacks drafted with top-12 picks.
Teams know it’s much less of a gamble these days to chance your arm on a quarterback. To win in this league you need an effective signal caller. The teams picking in the top ten know this because most found out the hard way.
Kansas City had multiple players at the Pro Bowl but finished with the leagues worst record. Why? No quarterback. Drafting Luke Joeckel to replace Branden Albert won’t solve this problem. Andy Reid can’t start off his regime with another year of second-guessing at the position. He has his pick of the group with the #1 pick. While there’s no Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III out there, he’ll surely identify a quarterback he believes he can win with.
Once the first quarterback leaves the board, others will fall. We could see three or four going early. This is the way the NFL draft appears to be heading. The potential benefit of finding a franchise quarterback far outweighs the gamble of drafting one in the first round.
2 – A run on defensive lineman
We could also see a run on defensive ends and defensive tackles — two positions that’ll probably be quite high on Seattle’s radar. In this weeks mock I have nine defensive line prospects leaving the board before the Seahawks are on the clock.
Last year seven defensive lineman were off the board before the #25 pick despite none going in the top ten. This year we should see multiple early picks.
The Seahawks need to improve the teams pass rush as a priority, but they can’t and almost certainly won’t force the issue. There will come a tipping point when they have to look elsewhere. This could impact how they approach free agency. If a Henry Melton, Randy Starks, Cliff Avril or Osi Umenyiora makes it to the open market, do you start writing cheques? Can you afford to go into the draft knowing if you wait until the 25th pick you could be looking at the tenth best defensive lineman? Or worse?
I like to mix things up with the mocks — offer different suggestions and create debate. I’ve gone in a different direction this week – Khaseem Greene at Rutgers. I’m not the first person to make this projection for the Seahawks in round one, but it is a pick I can see this front office making. Following Leroy Hill’s latest arrest, the WILL linebacker position is going to come into even greater focus. Unless Malcolm Smith is going to be given a full-time starting role, there’s every chance we’ll see another linebacker drafted early by the Seahawks.
It’s hard to pass on players like Zach Ertz, but it could be argued the WILL is a greater need — especially given the emergence of Anthony McCoy as a more consistent performer. Round two is rich with receiver/tight end talent and could be earmarked for a pass catcher. That’s the direction I’ve gone for in this weeks mock.
Greene has exemplary character, the kind of speed this team craves along the front seven and he just looks like a Pete Carroll/John Schneider pick. He’s also one of the best blitzing linebackers I’ve watched for a while, so he could potentially add to the pass rush. Whether you agree he’s worth a first round pick or not, it’s hard not to accept he’s probably going to be on the teams radar.
As always, let me now what you think.
|#1 Matt Barkley (QB, USC)
Kansas City needs a quarterback. Barkley should be the first to go.
|#2 Sharrif Floyd (DT, Florida)
Floyd has a ton of upside and could be ranked higher than the edge rushers in this class.
|#3 Geno Smith (QB, West Virginia)
Whether they’re stuck with Carson Palmer this year or not, the Raiders might decide to start planning ahead.
|#4 Luke Joeckel (T, Texas A&M)
Chip Kelly needs to rebuild Philly’s offensive line.
|#5 Bjoern Werner (DE, Florida State)
The Lions could use an edge rusher, especially if they lose Cliff Avril.
|#6 Dee Milliner (CB, Alabama)
The complete cornerback prospect. He deserves to go this early.
|#7 Mike Glennon (QB, NC State)
They need a quarterback. If they can convince themselves Glennon is good enough, they should take him here.
|#8 Alec Ogeltree (LB, Georgia)
Ogletree is a star in the making.
|#9 Star Lotulelei (DT, Utah)
Putting Lotulelei alongside Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples would give Rex Ryan the three-man front he craves.
|#10 Sheldon Richardson (DT, Missouri)
|#11 Eric Fisher (T, Central Michigan)
They need to draft a left tackle.
|#12 Damontre Moore (DE, Texas A&M)
If Moore falls a bit he could find a home playing across from Cameron Wake.
|#13 Desmond Trufant (CB, Washington)
The Buccs will likely target cornerbacks early.
|#14 Johnathan Hankins (DT, Ohio State)
He’s a space eater, not a pass rusher. I’m not a big fan. Others are.
|#15 Barkevious Mingo (DE, LSU)
The Saints need a pass rusher for their new 3-4 defense.
|#16 Chance Warmack (G, Alabama)
Jeff Fisher does a ‘Gangnam Style’ dance if this happens.
|#17 Kevin Minter (LB, LSU)
This could be Pittsburgh’s biggest need.
|#18 Ziggy Ansah (DE, BYU)
He’d make a great power end to compliment DeMarcus Ware.
|#19 Kawann Short (DT, Purdue)
The Giants like drafting solid, productive defensive lineman.
|#20 Lane Johnson (T, Oklahoma)
Unless they go the free agency route, this is Chicago’s priority.
|#21 Dion Jordan (DE, Oregon)
A possible replacement for Michael Johnson who could depart?
|#22 Kenny Vaccaro (S, Texas)
Sparky safety prospect that would fit like a glove in St. Louis.
|#23 Jonathan Cooper (G, North Carolina)
Cooper will be be a staple in the league for 10+ years.
|#24 Cordarrelle Patterson (WR, Tennessee)
An enigma who could go top-15 quite easily.
|#25 Khaseem Greene (LB, Rutgers)
Converted safety prospect who looks like a John Schneider draft pick.
|#26 Zach Ertz (TE, Stanford)
This would be a great replacement for Jermichael Finley.
|#27 Jonathan Jenkins (DT, Georgia)
Would they consider adding some size up front?
|#28 DeAndre Hopkins (WR, Clemson)
Peyton Manning would love this guy.
|#29 Jarvis Jones (DE, Georgia)
The spinal stenosis issue could lead to a fall. Someone will take a shot.
|#30 Eddie Lacy (RB, Alabama)
An ideal replacement for the ageing Michael Turner.
|#31 Manti Te’o (LB, Notre Dame)
Tough shoes to fill, but the Ravens often look for value in round one.
|#32 Xavier Rhodes (CB, Florida State)
Big, physical cornerback.
#33 Jacksonville – Jesse Williams (DT, Alabama) – Gus Bradley’s answer to Red Bryant
#34 Kansas City – Tyler Eifert (TE, Notre Dame) – Andy Reid grabs a tight end
#35 Philadelphia – Barrett Jones (C, Alabama) – further strengthens the o-line
#36 Detroit – Matt Elam (S, Florida) – this would be good value for the Lions
#37 Cincinnati – Arthur Brown (LB, Kansas State) – could’ve been an option at #25
#38 Arizona – D.J. Fluker (T, Alabama) – they have to get a tackle after grabbing the QB
#39 New York Jets – Stepfan Taylor (RB, Stanford) – fills a big need
#40 Tennessee – Larry Warford (G, Kentuck) – rising after the Senior Bowl
#41 Buffalo – Tyler Wilson (QB, Arizona) – the Bills might have to trade up to get Wilson
#42 Miami – Sylvester Williams (DT, North Carolina) – possible Randy Starks replacement?
#43 Tampa Bay – Gavin Escobar (TE, San Diego State) – he’s good enough to go here
#44 Carolina – Johnthan Banks (CB, Mississippi State) – another big corner
#45 San Diego – Keenan Allen (WR, California) – not quite as good as many believe
#46 St. Louis – Robert Woods (WR, USC) – much better than many believe
#47 Dallas – Travis Frederick (C, Wisconsin) – a big need in Dallas
#48 Pittsburgh – John Simon (DE, Ohio State) – looks and plays like a Steelers’ pass rusher
#49 New York Giants – Sam Montgomery (DE, LSU) – questionable worth ethic
#50 Chicago – Dallas Thomas (G, Tennessee) – underrated
#51 Washington – Phillip Thomas (S, Fresno State) – big time playmaker
#52 Minnesota – Alex Okafor (DE, Texas) – worth a shot here
#53 Baltimore – Menelik Watson (T, Florida State) – incredible athletic qualities
#54 Cincinnati – Giovanni Bernard (RB, North Carolina) – do-it-all running back
#55 Seattle – Justin Hunter (WR, Tennessee) – down year + bad injury hurts his stock
#56 Green Bay – Oday Aboushi (T, Virginia) – can start quickly
#57 Miami – Markus Wheaton (WR, Oregon State) – could be another Mike Wallace
#58 Houston – Justin Pugh (T, Syracuse) – big tackle who could convert to guard
#59 San Francisco – Jordan Poyer (CB, Oregon State) – playmaker
#60 New England – Tavon Austin (WR, West Virginia) – size is bothersome
#61 Atlanta - Jordan Reed (TE, Florida) – athletic, pass-catching receiver
#62 Denver – Blidi Wreh-Wilson (CB, Connecticut) – good size/speed combo