Updated mock draft & Wednesday Links

March 16th, 2011 | Written by Rob Staton

Julio Jones: Too good to fall?

For the latest mock draft projection click here.

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.

Wednesday links and other mocks

Wes Bunting at the NFP has the Seahawks taking Ryan Mallett in his latest projection.

Albert Breer uses a pro-college scout to form a mock draft that has Seattle grabbing Adrian Clayborn at #25.

Todd McShay’s latest mock draft for ESPN has Jake Locker staying in the North West.

Round two is available for ESPN insiders. The Seahawks take Clint Boling (OG, Georgia) which seems like a positional reach with more talented players left on the board.

McShay and Mel Kiper also have a new podcast out this week.

Evan Silva has a tweet indicating Ryan Mallett scored a 26 on his wonderlic test (24 is the average).

Dan Kadar at Mocking the Draft has a two-round projection. You can see round one here.

And here’s Kadar’s round two.

23 Responses to “Updated mock draft & Wednesday Links”

  1. Cliff says:

    The question for my is if you’re John Schneider and both Mallet and Jimmy Smith are on the board, who do you take?

    • Rob says:

      If he likes those guys and grades them similarly, you have to take the quarterback. I’m a huge Smith fan, but if you have both of those players available (which I think would be unlikely) and grade them similarly, it has to be the position of most importance.

  2. ChavaC says:

    Mallet got a 26? That’s going to help his stock… at least until someone makes up rumors that he cheated or something.

    • Rob says:

      When all is said and done, Ryan Mallett’s off season has to be considered an absolute success story. Some will guffaw loudly at such a suggestion – but he’s performed well at the combine/pro-day, the drug stuff has well and truly capped off with reports teams were satisfied with his combine interviews. The media didn’t enjoy his performance in front of a mic, but he probably answered those questions exactly how every NFL team would’ve wished.

      The story of Mallett’s off season isn’t about a bad forty yard dash or a perceived bad press conference, it’s how he repaired his stock from where it was in January. Look at the mocks today and compare them to January. Maybe it’ll mean nothing on April 28th and he will fall after all. If he doesn’t and he does go in that 12-16 range, it will be down to the good work he fought through in February and March.

  3. McDavis says:

    Rob, one thing I’m a little confused on is the tension between you trying to stick to your guns ala Smith and Locker and your attempts to continually switch things up in your mocks. Even if you feel confident that Smith will go top 15 or that Locker will go to Washington at 10 why not switch those things up for a mock that although “unlikely” is ultimately a possibility. Your site is one of the better blog sites for draft info, especially Seahawks specific info, but it seems like you’re really restricting yourself with those two. Why not switch things up in a draft like this weeks where you’re targeting less likely scenarios.

    • Rob says:

      It’s a very valid point McDavis. In fairness on Smith, this mock has him returning to the top ten after several weeks in the 19-23 range. The one pick that I’ve stayed true towards is Locker at #10 but I’m convinced… really convinced… that Washington are going to draft him. Even so you’re right I perhaps have a duty to move him around considering nearly everyone else has done so. We’ll see how it goes.

  4. AKSeaHawk says:

    May be a stupid question, but what does LEO stand for again. I know it is a rush end that Carrol uses similar to a 3-4 linebacker but just can’t remember what it stands for. It’s killing me.

  5. COHawk says:

    Great site you run here…a non-seahawk question. Do you think the Broncos may pass on Bowers and go instead with a DT? Maybe Dareus or Fairley? They need depth at least after releasing two of the other DTs.

    • Rob says:

      It’s a possibility because they need help all along the defensive line. It really comes down to how they grade the prospects and how much input John Fox has in the decision. Bowers looks like a Fox project. They have some freedom in round two (I think they have multiple picks) to add some quality interior defensive lineman, but they won’t find a Bowers in that area. I still think Bowers is a great fit in Denver and a quality left end to work with Dumervil on the right.

  6. John says:

    Rob,

    Rob Rang published his ‘diamonds in the rough’ draft predictions this week, noting Greg McElroy as his top quarterback sleeper.

    http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/story/14816730/nfl-draft-is-full-of-highimpact-players-with-lowlevel-names

    • Matt says:

      McElroy…yikes….the poster boy for “winner” and “intangibles.” At some point, you have to physically be able to compete with the big boys as well as be able to take a pounding. Part of the reason that arm strength is very important, despite the “arm strength” isn’t everything is that windows are smaller because players are bigger, faster, and smarter.

      Despite popular misconception, Drew Brees arm isn’t terrible as many say, but he also has “elite anticipation and accuracy.” Tom Brady, in fact has good arm strength (not a howitzer) as does Philip Rivers. Sure, they don’t have Jay Cutler arm strength, but they also don’t have Dalton/McElroy/Ponder arm strength.

    • Rob says:

      I wouldn’t draft McElroy. He’s a low level back up at best, similar to the man he replaced at ‘Bama (John Parker WIlson). Never at any point watching Alabama the last two years did I feel like we were watching a guy who could play in the NFL.

      • timshorts says:

        I have to agree with you on John Parker Wilson. I was amazed when he was given an NFL contract. As an Auburn fan I don’t watch Alabama a lot, but as you don’t get a lot of choice of game on UK television, I saw them both enough. The difference between him and McElroy (other than my not being able to spell McElroy) was that I always feared that McElroy might do something to win the game for the Tide, whereas with JPW the gut feeling was that he would probably do something to lose it. That being said, when you play for a side with quality players throughout the offence it is all too easy to overevaluate a guy – not just at QB but in almost every offensive position. It’s just as easy to undervalue a good QB on a bad team in a strong league – which is why I’d always have gone for Cutler over Leinart and Young even if he does sulk. I still got David Greene very wrong though……

  7. timshorts says:

    Seriously hope that Mr Fairley does not end up with the Rams at 14. If his performance at Auburn translates in any way proximate in the NFL then that would give our already injury-prone OL nightmares.

    Interesting article by Fantasy Football Metrics recently propounding Ricky Stanzi as a prospective first round QB pick. Initially I assumed it was just bollocks – after all, the guy was a walking interception machines at times in college, but the stats for NFL quarterbacks over the last 5/10 years made the article an excellent read. I don’t recall them referring to Greg McIlroy – and in any event, McIlroy would have failed their test on the basis of lack of starts, but the more I read about this years QB crop, the more I feel that we ought to be looking for a QB outside of our first two picks and trying to evaluate those that might be available with our early 4th rounder. Stanzi, for example, I’d rate a bit above Brian Hoyer when he came out – and he already looks (almost) the part for the pats. Who’d have thought that when he was with the Spartans? Difficult to see anyone in the mix that I disliked more than Clausen last year, mind…..

    • John says:

      McElroy doesn’t fail their tests based on lack of starts. He’s got 27 professional starts, exactly the cutoff number necessary. They’ll be doing a piece reviewing him, as well as other as-of-yet unreviewed QBs Dalton, Kaepernick, and possibly Devlin soon.

      The site I believe you’re referring to is
      http://fantasyfootballmetrics.com/

    • Rob says:

      Stanzi and Kaepernick are the only two guys I’d consider after round one, both in that R3-4 range for me. If I’m drafting a QB, I have to believe they can start one day (unless of course you have a Matt Ryan as your starter, but Seattle does not). I have no confidence in Dalton, Ponder, McElroy etc. Stanzi at least has a shot, but let’s also temper expectations here – really he’d need a fantastic supporting cast on offense and he won’t get that any time soon with the Seahawks.

      • Cash says:

        I’ve been really low on Ponder too but now all I’m seeing is reports that his arm strength is up and that he’s going to be a late 1st early 2nd pick. Does him showing an “above average arm” at his workouts change your opinion of him at all?

        • Matt says:

          It wouldn’t for me as I would hope he can stay healthy in shorts and t-shirt workouts. If he can’t stay healthy in college with a very good O-line, what happens in the NFL when guys hit harder and he will be playing in worse weather? Re-injury is a huge concern as elbows and shoulders are so intricate. I’ve had Tommy John surgery and despite how much better it feels, it’s not the same. I can only imagine what it might feel like compounding that with continual physical beatings in the NFL.

        • Rob says:

          Hi Cash,

          Not at all unfortunately. I don’t think you can ever hold a strong conviction on a prospect and allow that to change because of performance at the combine or a pro-day. I like to think I’m aware of Ponder’s positives and negatives having seen him three times in 2009 and five times in 2010. After eight games I think you can paint a picture of a guy’s ablities that you can’t get watching him throw in shorts. I understand why he’s a trendy pick – he’s personable off the field, he looks the part, he’s from a good school. He’s getting labelled with the things we always hear – moxie, intelligence, WCO, etc. How much negative publicity have you actually heard about Ponder, Dalton and McElroy? Then you have the guys with consensus first round talent and how much negative publicity has Newton, Mallett, Locker and Gabbert had? It’s fashionable to look at a guy like Ponder as an alternative later on. As a NFL fanbase for some reason there’s this fear to commit to one guy (the QB) early, we’re always looking for an alternative with less talent but looks the part.

          Ponder is a classic example and he’s trending. Mike Mayock starts the draft season saying he hated the guy at the Manning camp last year and now he’s a first round pick. Why? Nothing that happened in 2010 provoked that change of opinion… it’s all based on Ponder at the Senior Bowl and the combine. I would never let a combine or senior bowl dictate a long term investment at QB.

          Watch the tape from 2010 and tell me he’s a first rounder. Watch the Oklahoma game or BC. Watch him be economical against NC State and throw it all away at the end. People justify the poor performances due to injury like it’s a fair excuse. Rest assured if you were talking about three arm surgeries on Cam Newton they’d be major red flags.

          My opinion on Ponder based on tape was – this guy will never start. He stares down receivers, he forces throws to his hot read regardless of coverage, he’s incapable of understanding a defense and using that to his advantage, he can’t get the ball deep without floating it up for grabs, his decision making is all over the place. On the plus side he’s athletic enough to move around and keep plays alive and if given a clear lane he can put the ball in the right areas. His peak, IMO (and I’m willing to be proven wrong) will be starting for an injured starter QB for a couple of weeks and being able to do enough to keep a good team ticking over. He could back up Big Ben in Pittsburgh or be Billy Volek somewhere. That’s it.

          There are two guys I would draft at QB after R1 – Stanzi and Kaepernick. They would still be a long way form starting and no sure thing.

          • Matt says:

            Excellent points Rob. We never hear negative things about the “lesser QBs.” On the contrary, we never hear positives about the top notch QBs. If Ponder, Dalton, McElroy are so wonderful, then why are they not locks for the first round? Seems a little odd considering a good QB can turn your franchise around in a hurry. Did we not hear the same thing last year about Lefevour and Tony Pike? 2 “winners” with great “moxie” and “accuracy” despite having poor arms and coming from goofy offenses.

            Another funny one to think about, is the fact that we hear a lot of negatives about the top notch guys, but for some reason, Von Miller is never associated with negative things. And yet another guy who was a comfortable pick in the 18-32 range who is now a lock in the top 5 after an exhibition game and the combine.

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