A few familiar faces finally start to appear as the first half of the NFL mock draft wraps up. With the quarterbacks swarming the top ten, some skill position and front line players begin to show up. Which teams might sit there to take them?
#11 – Cleveland Browns – Bradley Roby – CB – Ohio State
Rob Chudzinski doesn’t pull off the playoff miracle many Cleveland Browns fans hope for, but he does get them pointed in the right direction. Part of the optimism is an improved season from Brandon Weeden. Cleveland may still invest in a young quarterback, but for the first round they decide to keep feeding Ray Horton’s new defense with fresh talent. They won’t find many better than Bradley Roby. The Ohio State corner rates among the best in the country. He is fast, instinctive, has good size and most importantly holds up very well in man-to-man coverage. That is what corners in a 3-4 defense like Horton’s are required to do. By adding Roby alongside emerging youngster Joe Haden, the Browns get their two lockdown corners.
#12 – Buffalo Bills – Cyrus Kouandjio – OT – Alabama
For the first time in year the Buffalo Bills actually received some reasonable praise for their off-season moves in 2013. That said, a number of people worry about their willingness to let top guard Andy Levitre go and not invest in the offensive line during the draft. They chose to focus on finding weapons for rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel. This time around they make sure to correct that mistake. Cyrus Kouandjio comes from the best program in college football. His physical attributes were enough to push All-American Barrett Jones from left tackle to center and his resulting play in 2012 proved why. With another year under Nick Saban his mechanics should be well polished. Barring injury or regression he will become an instant help for Buffalo in their quest to build around Manuel.
#13 – Detroit Lions – Brandon Coleman – WR – Rutgers
It’s hard to argue that the Detroit Lions got better by the roster additions they made. The trouble is nobody knows how much better. There are still holes experts continue to point out that could threaten to derail their season, but conservative estimate show they should improve from their 4-12 flop last year. They end up with the 13th pick finally decide to invest in a second option opposite Calvin Johnson. Brandon Coleman seems like such the type too: 6’5″, 220 lbs, who caught 10 touchdowns and proved himself an excellent run blocker. There are questions about his speed but his ability to produce solid numbers in a run-oriented offense shows he has the potential to break out with a team featuring a gunslinger type quarterback, like Matthew Stafford. Detroit will have twin towers at receiver, and hopefully the wins to go with them.
#14 – Kansas City Chiefs – Stephon Tuitt – DE – Notre Dame
Andy Reid is a great coach with loads of experience, so taking the Kansas City Chiefs from the 1st pick to the 14th in one year is quite an accomplishment. Having solidified the offensive front with Eric Fisher this year, they turn their attention over to the defense in 2014. While their pass rush should stay effective for awhile, Andy Reid is smart enough to know there is no such thing as too many pass rushers. Given his size and power, Stephon Tuitt shapes up as the prototypical five-technique defensive end in a 3-4 defense, which the Chiefs run. He had 12 sacks in 2012 and was a key reason why the Fighting Irish reached the national championship game. It’s made all the more impressive by the fact it was his first year as a starter. One can only imagine how much better he’ll get with more experience.
#15 – Chicago Bears – Louis Nix – DT – Notre Dame
Unfortunately new coaches usually mean a slight regression before things get better and the Chicago Bears won’t avoid that under Marc Trestman. Having invested heavily on their offensive line in 2013, they look to add another young stalwart to their reloading defense. They are very fortunate to have Louis Nix fall into their laps. The massive Notre Dame defensive tackle was a nightmare to block in 2012 and figures to only get better in 2013. He chews up double teams, plugs the run and is deceptively just as good at pressing the pocket on passing downs. If Chicago is able to hang on to Pro Bowler Henry Melton, they could end up with the best, deepest defensive tackle rotation in the NFL.