Another week, another mock draft. This time things are a little bit clearer for the team picking first overall.
Andy Reid is in at Kansas City. The main reason the Chiefs job was so attractive was in part because they’re such grand underachievers. They have two good pass rushers, two excellent defensive backs, an explosive running back, a decent offensive line and some young receiving options. There is no way this team should be picking first overall.
The reason they are is simple – they don’t have a quarterback. Reid will know if he finds one, Kansas City could enjoy a resurgence and become competitive in an AFC West division that isn’t exactly daunting (Peyton Manning won’t play forever). He has to draft a quarterback first overall and I’m sticking to my guns on who he’ll take. I want to talk about this briefly before getting into this week’s projection.
A lot of people want to tell you how bad the quarterback class is, but in reality it’s just not as good as last year. There’s no Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III that tick every media-friendly box. Elite athleticism? Check. Character? Check. Feel good storyline? Check.
What you’ve got instead are three decent quarterbacks who all deserve first round consideration. Matt Barkley, Geno Smith and Tyler Wilson all have their faults, but all have striking positives too. It’s not a black hole situation for Kansas City and they can win with all three of these players in my opinion. For all the hand-wringing over the quarterback position, who else truly deserves to be the #1 overall pick? I’m not convinced Luke Joeckel is quite as good as a Matt Kalil for example (4th overall last year) while the top pass rushers don’t get close to Jadeveon Clowney (a probable #1-2 overall pick in 2014). This isn’t like the time St. Louis took Sam Bradford over Ndamukong Suh. There really aren’t many alternatives that will lead Kansas City away from trying to solve their quarterback dilemma.
Anyone playing any position could be a top-ten pick this year. That’s just the way it is. The talent differential between picks #1-25 is going to be minimal. And there’s no none-quarterback who truly deserves to go first overall.
If Reid ignores the position with the first pick, he’ll likely be depending on a Ryan Nassib, Tyler Bray, Mike Glennon or Landry Jones being available in the middle rounds. That seems like the blueprint to another lost year, and Reid needs to kick start this franchise and find momentum early.
So which of the three quarterbacks should Kansas City select? I still think it has to be Matt Barkley.
There’s a lot of garbage talked about Barkley – how he had a bad year, how he only succeeded due to the talent around him. If you want to blame anyone for USC’s meltdown this year, look no further than Lane Kiffin. When he wasn’t busy being a jerk to the media or playing silly mind-games with opponents, he was overseeing a shambles on the field.
Amid this shambles, Barkley still threw 36 touchdown passes. Had he not missed the last two games through injury, he would’ve likely topped 2011′s 39 scores – beating a season that won universal praise. He had to operate behind a porous offensive line minus Matt Kalil and with center Khaled Holmes suffering an injury plagued year. He ran an offense that scored 51 points against the Oregon Ducks – I guess Barkley also needed to play defense too seeing as Monte Kiffin’s unit gave up 62 themselves? In a bad year for the Trojans, Barkley’s numbers still stand out. So why is he getting so much bad publicity? Why has he gone, for example, from #1 to #32 on Todd McShay’s big board? Why has he gone from #1 on Mel Kiper’s board to not even being included – while Mike Glennon does make the list? I understand if you never rated Barkley to start with, but how does he go from best to borderline first rounder based on a 36-touchdown season? That makes zero sense.
If his success at USC was only due to a strong supporting cast, why did Max Wittek only throw for 107 yards against a rank bad Georgia Tech outfit in the Sun Bowl? Wittek has a better arm than Barkley, he’d played against Notre Dame previously. Why wasn’t the talent at receiver helping him put up big numbers against a mediocre opponent?
Andy Reid can build around a quarterback like Barkley. He is a methodical, accurate quarterback. He’s not going to run the read-option or beat you with his legs. He will orchestrate an orthodox passing offense, make quick, intelligent decisions and act as a point guard for your playmakers. In the right environment, Barkely can shine. Kansas City has that right environment. They can protect him, run the ball and use a possession-based offense. And they can win football games.
He’s also an engaging, hard-working character who will quickly take control of the offense. If you build to his strengths, he will succeed. I’ve long believed he has an upside potential comparable to Philip Rivers and I see no reason to doubt that. Rivers is competitive, accurate and when he’s had tools he’s been elite. If Kansas City builds correctly, Reid can win with Barkley.
In Philadelphia he drafted smaller, quicker receivers (DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin). The Chiefs should target Robert Woods with their second pick and maybe also Markus Wheaton. That way they can run a lot of quick screens, slants and get the ball to their playmakers – just as Barkley operated at USC. He has a bigger target in Jonathan Baldwin, although Dwayne Bowe appears likely to depart. Jamaal Charles is a perfect foil as a runner/receiver. With a good defense already installed, this could be a 9-10 win team in 2013.
You can make arguments for the other two quarterbacks too. Geno Smith has a superior fast ball and showed real efficiency at the start of the college season before things imploded at West Virginia (similar to USC’s crash, although Smith’s stock somehow stayed intact while Barkley’s fell). Tyler Wilson is surprisingly mobile and more of a gun slinger – plus he had no chance of succeeding in Arkansas’ season from hell. He does force too many passes though and occasionally makes questionable decisions. I still think Barkley presents the best option as a technically gifted passer who can act as a point guard for Andy Reid. And if he needs any reminder of what Barkley is capable of, he needs only look at the 2011 Oregon tape. Why not ask Chip Kelly what he thinks about Matt Barkley?
Three other quick notes – Tennessee defensive lineman Darrington Sentimore today declared for the draft. He’s a former transfer from Alabama. This is a boost for Seahawks fans hoping to identify a mid-round defensive tackle who can rush the passer. Sentimore is a fiery character, he weighs 290lbs and is 6-2 in height. He never truly delivered on his promise in college, but he has a lot of talent. He could be on Seattle’s radar. I’ve also left out Brandon Coleman in this weeks projection. Rutgers coach Kyle Flood says he doesn’t expect any more players to turn pro before the January 15th deadline and Coleman is yet to commit either way. I think he’d be better off turning pro given the quarterback situation, but it appears he might be spending another year in college. He’s only a redshirt sophomore. Taylor Lewan announced today he will be returning to Michigan for his senior year.
Onto this week’s mock draft…
|#1 Matt Barkley (QB, USC)
The Chiefs need a quarterback. They don’t have a terrible roster. They have to do this.
|#2 Bjoern Werner (DE, Florida State)
The Jaguars need a pass rusher and Werner could be the choice after a 13.5-sack season.
|#3 Sheldon Richardson (DT, Missouri)
Only Jacksonville had less sacks than Oakland this season. Richardson could be the next great interior pass rusher.
|#4 Luke Joeckel (T, Texas A&M)
This is the starting point for whoever replaces Andy Reid. They have to repair the offensive line.
|#5 Damontre Moore (DE, Texas A&M)
The Lions could use an edge rusher. Moore had 12.5 sacks in the SEC this year.
|#6 Jarvis Jones (DE, Georgia)
Jones has top-five talent but the spinal stenosis issue will really linger. He’ll need to be cleared to go this early.
|#7 Geno Smith (QB, West Virginia)
They need a quarterback. Simple as that.
|#8 Alec Ogeltree (LB, Georgia)
Buffalo might trade back into the first round to get a quarterback, allowing them to take the best player available here.
|#9 Chance Warmack (G, Alabama)
If Chance Warmack went first overall, it’d still be good value.
|#10 Star Lotulelei (DT, Utah)
Plenty of upside here, just not a lot of consistency.
|#11 Eric Fisher (T, Central Michigan)
They need to take a left tackle.
|#12 Cordarrelle Patterson (WR, Tennessee)
The X-Factor player of this draft.
|#13 Dee Milliner (CB, Alabama)
The complete cornerback. This would be a steal.
|#14 Sylvester Williams (DT, Utah)
Big-bodied defensive tackle who can get to the quarterback and play well against the run.
|#15 Dion Jordan (DE, Oregon)
Jordan will know he can make some money at the combine, so he needs to get healthy.
|#16 Lane Johnson (T, Oklahoma)
With Taylor Lewan deciding to return to Michigan, this is great news for the technically sound Lane Johnson.
|#17 Matt Elam (S, Florida)
Pure playmaker in the secondary.
|#18 Jonathan Cooper (G, North Carolina)
Athletic guard who could even switch to tackle. He will start for 10+ years.
|#19 Ezekiel Ansah (DE, BYU)
Another player who could really boost his stock with a great combine.
|#20 Justin Pugh (T, Syracuse)
The next best tackle on the board.
|#21 Barkevious Mingo (DE, LSU)
He had a tremendous Chick-fil-A Bowl.
|#22 Arthur Brown (LB, Kansas State)
This guy is legit. A brilliant linebacker prospect.
|#23 Travis Frederick (C, Wisconsin)
He’s going pro after dominating at guard and center. Big body, looks made for a man-blocking scheme.
|#24 DeAndre Hopkins (WR, Clemson)
Minnesota needs a reliable receiver to compliment Adrian Peterson’s brilliance. They kind of need a quarterback, too.
|#25 Manti Te’o (LB, Notre Dame)
The Ravens always seem to get value. What better way to replace an emotional leader?
|#26 Zach Ertz (TE, Stanford)
Stanford’s leading receiver, his blocking is also better than advertised.
|#27 Jesse Williams (DT, Alabama)
His best fit in my opinion is at 3-4 end.
|#28 Sharrif Floyd (DT, Florida)
He’s a good fit for the 3-4 end position. Long term Jason Smith replacement?
|#29 Dallas Thomas (G, Tennessee)
He had a great year on a losing team. Can play tackle or guard.
|#30 Tyler Wilson (QB, Arkansas)
No, I don’t think the Patriots draft Wilson. But a team like Buffalo could trade into this range to get him.
|#31 Jonathan Jenkins (DT, Georgia)
They could use a big body to help the run defense.
|#32 Kevin Minter (LB, LSU)
Denver can afford to take a solid football player here.
#33 Jacksonville – Alex Okafor (DE, Texas)
#34 Kansas City – Robert Woods (WR, USC)
#35 Philadelphia – Barrett Jones (C, Alabama)
#36 Detroit – Jonathan Banks (CB, Mississippi State)
#37 Cincinnati – Eddie Lacy (RB, Alabama)
#38 Arizona – Kyle Long (T, Oregon)
#39 New York Jets – Tavon Austin (WR, West Virginia)
#40 Tennessee – Gabe Jackson (G, Mississippi State)
#41 Buffalo – Logan Ryan (CB, Rutgers)
#42 Miami – John Simon (DE, Ohio State)
#43 Tampa Bay – Tyler Eifert (TE, Notre Dame)
#44 Carolina – Shawn Williams (S, Georgia)
#45 San Diego – Justin Hunter (WR, Tennessee)
#46 St. Louis – Kenny Vaccaro (S, Texas)
#47 Dallas – Jonathan Hankins (DT, Ohio State)
#48 Pittsburgh – Markus Wheaton (WR, Oregon State)
#49 New York Giants – Oday Aboushi (T, Virginia)
#50 Chicago – Gavin Escobar (TE, San Diego State)
#51 Washington – Eric Reid (S, LSU)
#52 Minnesota – Bennie Logan (DT, LSU)
#53 Baltimore – Xavier Rhodes (CB, Florida State)
#54 Cincinnati – D.J. Fluker (T, Alabama)
#55 Seattle – Khaseem Greene (LB, Rutgers)
#56 Green Bay – Giovanni Bernard (RB, North Carolina)
#57 Miami – Brennan Williams (T, North Carolina)
#58 Houston – Keenan Allen (WR, California)
#59 San Francisco – Jordan Poyer (CB, Oregon State)
#60 New England – Blidi Wreh-Wilson (CB, Connecticut)
#61 Atlanta – Margus Hunt (DE, SMU)
#62 Denver – Terrance Williams (WR, Baylor)
Next best available
QB – Mike Glennon, Tyler Bray, Ryan Nassib, Landry Jones
RB – Stepfan Taylor, Montee Ball, Le’Veon Bell, Andre Ellington, Kenjon Barner, Jawan Jamison
WR – Steadman Bailey, Cobi Hamilton, Da’rick Rogers, Kenny Stills
TE – Levine Toilolo, Dion Sims, Joseph Fauria, Michael Williams, Brandon Ford
OL – Larry Warford, Brian Waters, Khaled Holmes
DL – Corey Lemonier, Sam Montgomery, Quinton Dial, Cornellius Carradine, Kawann Short, Darrington Sentimore
LB – Kevin Reddick, Chase Thomas, Kiko Alonso
CB – Sanders Commings, Greg Reid, Terry Hawthorne
S – Bacarri Rambo, Devonte Holloman, D.J. Swearinger, Tony Jefferson, T.J. McDonald, Shamarko Thomas