Mark Dominik is the former GM of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was fired at the end of last season, so he went through the usual process of plotting for the upcoming 2014 draft.
He’s now working for ESPN as an analyst and shared a couple of interesting Tweets last night:
The two positions in this draft that have the most locked down first round picks are offensive tackle and wide receiver.
— Mark Dominik (@MarkdominikESPN) April 24, 2014
At wide receiver, Watkins, Evans, Lee, Beckham and Cooks. Offensive Tackles are Lewan, Matthews, Robinson, Martin and James — Mark Dominik (@MarkdominikESPN) April 24, 2014
There’s nothing revelatory in suggesting Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews will be first round ‘locks’. But it’s the name on the end of the list that is really fascinating.
As in Tennessee offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James.
I don’t get the sense Dominik’s Tweets were just one man’s opinion — they were more a consensus view among league personnel. We’ll probably see more receivers and tackles drafted in round one than just the names listed above. But this is the first suggestion James is in any way a ‘lock’ to go in round one.
The position has become so key in the NFL. That was never more evident than last year when three of the first four picks were spent on offensive tackles. I’m not sure any of the trio are superior to Robinson or Matthews this year — but in a draft without obvious top-end talent, teams loaded up on the best tackles.
Overall nine offensive linemen were drafted in the first frame. We might not reach that number in 2014, but it’ll be close.
Not many people expect the top three (Robinson, Matthews & Lewan) to get out of the top ten. And yet there’s still multiple teams who won’t allow themselves to end day one without a new tackle.
Could James be the next man up? It appears that could be the case.
Tony Pauline noted today that first round buzz on Cyrus Kouandjio — which always appeared to be a bit of a damage limitation stunt — is inaccurate. If teams were failing him on his medical at the combine, he’s going to fall. Perhaps in a big way.
Pauline mentioned Joel Bitonio as a possibility for the Dolphins which shows how far he’s rising up the board (and rightly so). The options in rounds 2-3 aren’t great so any team without a Tom Cable will feel some pressure to find a blocker in round one.
James, Bitonio and Morgan Moses could all be first round picks.
Falcons trading up to #1?
Jadeveon Clowney is reportedly travelling to Atlanta for a short work out. His agent previously suggested he’d only do one single work out — presumably for the team that’ll end up drafting him with the top pick.
Of course there’s every chance Houston does something else at #1 and the Falcons grab him at #2 after trading with St. Louis. Yet if the Texans are serious about moving down surely they’ll simply agree to any offer the Rams are prepared to accept to move down?
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) April 24, 2014
On the Falcons — last year had been brewing for a while. To some extent it’s similar to Seattle’s sudden and dramatic collapse at the end of the Holmgren era. And while Matt Ryan is younger than Matt Hasselbeck and injury free — the rest of the roster is beaten up, ineffective and filled with holes.
Clowney would provide some edge pressure but the main issue is an overall lack of talent and depth. If anything they’d be better off trying to move back from #6. The NFC has become a brutal endurance test — and the Falcons are as finesse as they come. Clowney is an exciting talent, but he’s not going to bring a hard edge to a pretty soft looking unit.
If the Falcons did move up to #1 we could see something like this in the top ten (I still believe Detroit will trade up too):
#1 Atlanta — Jadeveon Clowney
#2 St. Louis — Khalil Mack
#3 Detroit — Sammy Watkins
#4 Cleveland — Greg Robinson
#5 Oakland — Jake Matthews
#6 Houston — Blake Bortles
#7 Tampa Bay — Mike Evans
#8 Minnesota — Aaron Donald
#9 Buffalo — Taylor Lewan
#10 Jacksonville — Johnny Manziel
This would actually be a good thing for the Seahawks. They want the QB’s to come off the board early.
I’ve played around with a number of scenarios from 11-32 with this top ten and in every single one there’s an appealing option with the last pick in round one. Whether it’s Joel Bitonio, Morgan Moses or one of the top receivers (Latimer, Benjamin or Moncrief) — Seattle aren’t without options. And there’s always a chance they’re the team highest on Ja’Wuan James.
Latimer with another pro day
According to Tony Pauline, Cody Latimer will work out for at least 23 teams tomorrow at Indiana. He only did certain drills in a previous work out due to a foot injury. He’s since visited with several teams including the Seahawks.
Without doubt for me Latimer is one of the most exciting players in the draft — and also one of the most underrated along with Bitonio. This quote from Pauline sums up why he’ll be very appealing to many teams:
“There are a number of reasons for his ascent but the two things I continue to hear as the biggest factors are 1) his 4.43s forty time at pro-day and 2) the way Latimer consistently wins out for contested passes.”
A 4.4 forty and winning contested passes — words to light up Seattle’s war room.
It’s not just that though — his run blocking is superb, he doesn’t drop passes and he’s one of those ‘basketball’ athletes who comes into the league and just takes off.
He’s a special talent and the Seahawks will be fortunate if he’s available at the end of round one. He’s one of 30 players who will attend the draft in New York.