This is the toughest year for making mock drafts I can remember.
- Teams are better at managing information; and I’m not talking about just protecting leaks regarding what they intend to do, but also in creating false buzz and misdirection to throw the dogs off the scent.
- Scheme diversity. On offense and defense, in college and the NFL, there is a wider array of schemes, combinations of schemes, and hybrid systems than ever before.
- Prospect diversity. There are more unique, unusual players in this draft than I can remember. Just about every prospect is a ‘tweener of some kind. It makes the art of projecting ideal fit a monumental crapshoot.
- The new CBA. Financial risk is significantly less than it was before the new labor deal. Guess wrong on a top ten pick and it’s not as crippling as it was before. You can take more risks.
- A draft pool light on elite talent but deep through the top two or three rounds. After the top 4 or 5 players, there is nothing close to a consensus on the next 30-40 players. Everyone is trying to trade down, but there’s a dearth of players worth trading up for.
The end result is mass confusion. So to that end, here’s my best shot at my final Mock, at least for the purposes of getting my entry submitted to the Huddle Report. I’ll just list the picks and add some explanations at the end.
The first round is FINAL
1. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
2. WASHINGTON REDSKINS: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
3. MINNESOTA VIKINGS: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
4. CLEVELAND BROWNS: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
5. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: Morriss Claiborne, CB, LSU
6. ST. LOUIS RAMS: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi St.
7. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma St.
8. MIAMI DOLPHINS: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
9. CAROLINA PANTHERS: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
10. BUFFALO BILLS: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
11. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
12. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
13. ARIZONA CARDINALS: Reily Reiff, OT, Iowa
14. DALLAS COWBOYS: Mark Barron, S, Alabama
15. PHILADEPHIA EAGLES: Melvin Ingram, OLB, South Carolina
16. N.Y. JETS: Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
17. CINCINNATI BENGALS: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
18. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: Nick Perry, DE, USC
19. CHICAGO BEARS: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
20. TENNESSEE TITANS: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
21. CINCINNATI BENGALS: Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse
22. CLEVELAND BROWNS: Reuben Randle, WR, LSU
23. DETROIT LIONS: Cordy Glenn, OT, Georgia
24. PITTSBURGH STEELERS: Amini Silatolu, OG, Midwestern State
25. DENVER BRONCOS: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
26. HOUSTON TEXANS: Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
27. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State
28. GREEN BAY PACKERS: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
29. BALTIMORE RAVENS: Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin
30. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: Stephen Hill, WR, Georga Tech
31. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
32. NEW YORK GIANTS: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
Toughest choices: My biggest challenge in this draft was weighing need vs. value. There were better players than Reily Reiff available at #13 for the Chiefs, but their need on the OL is so significant I had to put him there. Obviously, the tipping point for me was at #6, where just about everyone has the Rams taking Blackmon. I just feel Cox is the better value there. He is similar to Jason Jones, who the Rams tried desperately to sign as a Free Agent, and he could put the finishing touch on a young, dominant D-line in St. Louis. I love Blackmon, but WR is the deepest position in the draft, and the Rams knows they can still get a good one with one of their two high 2nd rounders.
It was hard not to put Ingram or Upshaw to the Seahawks at #12, but to me, the fit was too obvious. MLB is their single most glaring need at the moment, and Keuchly instantly solidifies that spot for years to come. He might not be the sexiest pick, and he doesn’t address the need for pass rush, but he’s just……… really good. Seattle can still get a pass-rushing OLB or DE in round 2.
Coples is an enigma, and it’s impossible to predict what teams think about him but his talent is unquestioned, and if Ron Rivera feels he can get the most out of him, the Panthers just got themselves a big-time DE.
Other notes: Guys dropping out of the first due to prevailing whispers….. Dontari Poe, Kendall Wright, Jonathan Martin….. I looked long and hard at finding a way to get another QB or two into the first round mix, but my gut tells me the QB run will be in the second round.
***I’ll add a 2nd round to this before Thursday***
Until then, give me your feedback and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @HawkCoug08 or @nflmocks