Archive for February, 2013

23. Minnesota Vikings select WR Terrance Williams

I think Williams’ skill set is a really nice fit for the Vikings. He’s a big, vertical threat who can help stretch the field and be a threat in the redzone which makes him a nice compliment to Percy Harvin and Jarius Wright in the passing game. He’s not as versatile as some of the other receivers, and spent his college career running a limited number of routes, but he should provide a big boost to a Vikings passing game that really seemed to be coming together towards the end of last season.

 

24. Indianapolis Colts select S Kenny Vaccarro

With Dwight Freeney departing Chuck Pagano may be enticed by one of the remaining pass rushers, but with a guy many consider to be the best safety in the draft still available, I’ll trust Pagano’s ability to coach up a raw prospect from the mid rounds. Vaccarro can bring leadership to a mostly young Colts team and also brings a great deal of versatility as a swing safety who can play in coverage or move up into the box to defend the run.

 

25. Seattle Seahawks select DE Datone Jones

With the top receiving prospects off the board Pete Carroll adds versatile lineman Jones to his squad. Jones can step in for Chris Clemons who’s likely miss at least a good chunk of 2013 following an ACL tear in the Seahawks playoff win over Washington.

 

26. Green Bay Packers select ILB Kevin Minter

This could be Alec Ogletree or Manti Te’o, but I think the DUI may put the Packers off and when given the option between two disappointing 40 times the Packers will opt for the LSU product as their leader in the middle of the field.

 

27. Houston Texans select WR Robert Woods

I know at 25 I said the top receivers were gone, but Woods is a with good, natural hands and the type of possession skills the Texans will covet opposite Andre Johnson, whereas Seattle has plenty of compliments and is searching for their own “Andre Johnson” so to speak. Cornerback, or pass rush are also possible here, but as Andre Johnson gets older and his injuries seem more frequent it may be time to invest a high pick at WR.

 

28. Denver Broncos select DE/OLB Alex Okafor

The Broncos opt for a pass rusher to pair with Von Miller in a best player available move. (Sam Montgomery also remains on the board, and drafting a successor for Champ Bailey at corner could also make sense here)

 

29. New England Patriots select DT Jonathan Hankins

I expect Welker and Vollmer will both end up staying in New England which allows this pick to be used bolstering the defense. The secondary can still use upgrading and that’s certainly an option (Matt Elam at Safety or Jonathan Banks at Corner figure to be the next best available), but for now at least I’m going with Hankins.

 

30. Atlanta Falcons select DE Bjorn Werner 

If Werner slides past the Lions and Cowboys the Falcons should be happy to take the Germenator as they finally find a dominant pass rusher to pair with John Abraham.

 

31. San Francisco 49ers select DT Jesse Williams

This seems like the best choice with the teams current nose tackles as free agents with the possibility that only one gets resigned. The 49ers prize athleticism and Williams moves well for a big man (6’3, 323 lbs.)

 

32. Baltimore Ravens select LB Alec Ogeltree

At the end of the day this pick will come down to who the Ravens have to let go after Joe Flacco takes his cut of this year’s cap space. Until we know more I like Ogletree to help fill the void left by Ray Lewis. At #32 the talent outweighs any concern about his character.

11. San Diego Chargers select G Jonathan Cooper

The Chargers were hoping Lane Johnson would fall to them, but with Arizona snatching him early and DJ Fluker a bit iffy this high, the Chargers go with Cooper and solidify the interior line. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes is a consideration, but Cooper’s the better bet.

12. Miami Dolphins select CB Xavier Rhodes

Honestly, I had to be talked into this one, but I can’t deny that it makes sense. The Dolphins need a starter at cornerback and Rhodes fits their scheme well. The free agent class of corners is looking better everyday, but most are looking for big money. If Keenan Allen goes off at his pro day, he might be too good to pass up, but for now I think the Dolphins will draft Rhodes with a close eye on WR’s Da’Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter who both possess the size (6’3 and 6’4 respectively) and talent to become number 1 receivers.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers select OT DJ Fluker

I know, I just said Fluker was a reach at 11, but with Rhodes off the board adding a guy like Fluker at RT is a good move for the Bucs. The offense now flows through running back Doug Martin and Fluker excels in run blocking. There’s still plenty of pass rush help available, and that should be a consideration, but due to an early run on offensive lineman the Bucs decide to strike while the iron is hot.

14. Carolina Panthers select DT Sheldon Richardson

I believe that Richardson can do for the Panthers’ defensive line what Luke Kuechley did for the linebackers, which is to say that he will greatly improve the unit. Richardson’s a big (6’2, 294lbs)  athletic (40 time just over 5 sec with 32 in vertical) who will shoot up to the middle of the first following an impressive comine.

15. New Orleans Saints select DE/OLB Damontre Moore

After a somewhat disappointing combine (he only managed 12 reps on the bench) Moore sees his stock drop a little, as he falls into Rob Ryan’s lap at 15. “DaMonster” was a terror on the edge at Texas A&M and he provides an immediate boost to this Saints team.

16. St. Louis Rams select WR Keenan Allen

I mentioned that Allen is a candidate to rise quickly on draft day and might be long gone by the time the Rams pick, but I’d be looking for them to take the best receiver available, in this case it’s Allen, who provides Sam Bradford a legitimate number 1 target and eases the probable loss of Danny Amendola.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers select OLB/DE Barkevious Mingo

The somewhat raw, but undoubtedly talented Mingo, makes for a great addition to a Steelers team desperate for pass rush help. If Mingo is off the board his teammate Sam Montgomery put up a strong enough combine to warrant consideration. I also like this guy’s idea to add Ohio State Nose Tackle Johnathan Hankins if there ends up being an early run on pass rushers.

18. Dallas Cowboys selects DE/DT Star Lotulelei

Assuming the heart condition that forced Lotulelei to miss the combine is nothing serious (as is currently expected) he ends up a great fit for a Cowboys team looking to move to the 4-3 under Monte Kiffin. And hey, if Jerry Jones decides next year that he wants the team to go back to the 3-4, Lotulelei can do that too. (Bjoern Werner is also a consideration as the best 4-3 end available)

19. New York Giants select OLB/DE Ziggy Ansah

I originally had TE Tyler Eifert in this spot, but that’s really just not the Giants MO this early. Ansah on the other hand is exactly the kind of player the Giants like to take in the first round. Ansah is crazy athletic and while raw can you really think of a better place for him to learn the game than alongside Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck?

20. Chicago Bears select TE Tyler Eifert

With the top lineman off the board the Bears take the next best thing. Eifert’s not an especially talented blocker, but he could still prove invaluable in the passing game. With Johnny Knox’s health issue, and Devin Hester never really panning out as anything more than a returner Eifert provides the Bears with a valuable target in the middle of the field. The Mike Martz era held the Bears back from joining the trend of pass catching TE’s, drafting Eifert will mark it’s return.

21. Cinncinati Bengals select RB Giovanni Bernard

This is a bit of a reach, but I really like Bernard and in a somewhat iffy class of running backs he seems to be just what the Bengals are looking for; a speedy compliment to BenJarvus Green-Ellis who has displayed solid hands and pass protection skills. Bernard is a guy who, I think could even take over as the featured back at some point.

22. St. Louis Rams select S Eric Reid

Playing in the NFC West it never hurts to have help over the top. This may be a little high for Reid and I have him going before Kenny Vaccarro, but I think Reid’s aggressiveness fits Jeff Fisher’s defense better and makes him a perfect compliment to Janoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan. (I also considered combine superstar Terron Armstead here, but after a second thought he seemed too unproven this high…my point is with 2 first round picks both this and next year, expect the unexpected from the Rams.

1. Kansas City Chiefs select LT Luke Joeckel

When push comes to shove I think the Chiefs will choose Joeckel over incumbent Branden Albert. Joeckel has just looked so good throughout the year and did nothing to hurt his draft stock at the combine. Ideally the Chiefs would keep both guys, with Albert sliding inside, but with a lot of teams looking for help on the outside the 25 year old should have too much trouble finding someone willing to pay him handsomely to stay at LT. If Albert is retained at Tackle, I would look for the Chiefs to try moving back or taking a Defensive Lineman like Shariff Floyd or Sheldon Richardson.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars select LT Eric Fisher

I have Fisher and and Joeckel as this year’s Luck and RG3, both have looked outstanding and figure to be building blocks for the teams that draft them. I know everyone is talking about the Jaguars need for a pass rusher at this spot, but it just feels too risky for a team that is likely to be shifting schemes (Head  Coach Gus Bradley has said the team will stay as a 4-3 for now due to personnel, but wants to move towards a hybrid scheme.) Fisher gives a rebuilding Jaguars team a high quality starter at a position of need for the next decade, while still instantly improving the offense. It’s the best possible move, and I’m baffled as to how it’s slipping past nearly every analyst. (Side Note: If the Jaguars do feel the need to go Defense at #2, I like Dee Milliner as press coverage corner who fits Bradley’s scheme)

3. Oakland Raiders select DT Shariff Floyd

There’s a lot of ways for the Raiders can go here, but with Richard Seymour and most the rest of the D-line starters leaving I like this as a place to start. Word has been that the Raiders like Floyd, and he capped off an impressive career at Florida with a solid combine, that I think solidifies him as the Raiders top choice to begin the defensive rebuild. This is another team I think could be well served by adding CB Dee Milliner, but the spot is still just a little too high.

4. Philadelphia Eagles select OLB/DE Dion Jordan

I originally had Dee Milliner here, but Chip Kelly’s made it clear it’s not just the corners, but the entire defense that needs to be overhauled. This move would make sense even without Jordan’s prior knowledge of Kelly’s system as he’s one of the top pass rushers in this class and has seen his stock on the rise after a solid combine. If Kelly feels Jordan’s a little too close to home, then I like Guard Chance Warmack to solidify an offensive line that will be getting back it’s sorely missed starting LT.

5. Detriot Lions select CB Dee Milliner

It almost makes too much sense to happen, but the Lions should land Milliner, who’s coming off a mixed review combine. His speed, was impressive, his hands were not…to be fair he was competing with a torn labrum in his shoulder and you have to figure that didn’t help. I originally liked Kenny Vaccaro here if Milliner was off the board, and if Eric Fisher is still available he should be a strong consideration. If DE Cliff Avril ends up walking, Bjorn Werner looks like a more than capable replacement the Lions can easily afford.

6. Cleveland Browns select QB Geno Smith

Here’s my thinking on this one: If they fail to sign Mike Wallace this pick will got to a WR (likely Corradelle Patterson, maybe Tavon Austin.) If they sign Wallace but fail to get a pass rusher this pick could go there, but I think the new ownership gets cap happy and fills most of the larger holes leaving QB as a glaring weakness. The new Browns management knows Brandon Weeden isn’t the future and supposedly wants to implement a spread option offense, Geno may be the best option available and the NFL tends not to be a wait and see sort of league.

7. Arizona Cardinals select LT Lane Johnson

I considered Matt Barkley, but ultimately decided with Bruce Arians coaching they can afford to wait and see who’s available in the second (maybe even third) round. If Fisher drops he doesn’t make it past Arizona, but since he’s gone to Jacksonville in this mock the Cardinals take the next best player at the position. Johnson is a former WR and has looked impressive enough to warrant a top 10 pick as Arizona desperately needs better protection for their QB (whoever that may be)

8. Buffalo Bills select WR Tavon Austin

GM Buddy Nix is on his way out, but that won’t keep him from making one last splash by making the speedy Austin the first receiver off the board. There’s been talk he wants to add a big bodied receiver on the outside and move Johnson into the slot, but I think after an impressive combine and some well deserved hype the Bills take their chances with the diminutive playmaker. Cordarelle Patterson is another option, but his route running is less polished. If Andy Levitre can’t be resigned and the franchise tag is used on Jarius Byrd this pick likely becomes Guard Chance Warmack.

9. New York Jets select LB Jarvis Jones

I really can’t decide when it comes to the Jets. Play making WR Cordarrelle Patterson is still on the board and could be tempting, Sheldon Richardson is a consideration at DT and Kenny Vaccarro a candidate for a secondary set to lose LaRon Landry and possibly Darrelle Revis. In fact, Vaccarro may jump to the top of the list if Revis gets dealt. But as it stands now the need for a pass rusher dominates and if Jones checks out medically he’s the best man for the job. (Guard Chance Warmack and Tackle DJ Fluker also got consideration.)

10. Tennessee Titans select OG Chance Warmack

Warmack is on a lot of teams boards so there’s a chance he doesn’t make it this far, but guards aren’t typically valued very high. If he’s on the board Titans won’t hesitate. The Alabama product improves the Titans line and gives new life to CJ2K. (If Warmack is gone the Titans likely stay at OG with Jonathan Cooper)

Don’t let anyone tell you the Chiefs should have waited for the 49ers released Alex Smith, or until the cost of a trade came down, because neither option was on the horizon. If anything Alex Smith’s stock was on the rise. It’s no coincidence that this deal is announced to be all but complete just days after this year’s rookie QB’s worked out at the combine in Indianapolis. Tyler Bray of Tennessee was about the lone story of a QB who threw significantly better than expected, and the major knock against Bray was never his arm. What the combine largely proved for the QB class was, what you saw is what you were getting.

New head coach of the QB needy Cardinals, Bruce Arians, said the group lacked a ‘wow’ factor. That could only be good news for Smith as while the draft seemed to lack significant first round talent it was believed most of the teams looking to draft their franchise signal caller this year would do so in the 2nd round. This likely became the baseline.

Remember, even though we only heard reports out of Kansas City and Arizona that their was a high level of interest in Smith, a lack luster QB combine could have spiked interest, particularly in Cleveland where Alex Smith’s old OC Norv Turner currently resides with a head coach who’s fond of mobile QB’s (Smith may not be Cam Newton, but he’s leagues ahead of Weeden.) I also think Buffalo could have come calling. They’ve already got a bit of money tied up in Fitzpatrick and Jackson, but if they weren’t wowed by their interviews with the rookie prospects it would be a worthwhile investment (especially since Smith was likely to restructure his deal with a new team anyway.) The Cardinals, I expect were willing to part with a second rounder, that otherwise was expected to go to Matt Barkley. Smith would provide all the football intelligence of the USC product, plus a stronger arm and NFL experience.

So, no, the Chiefs should not have simply waited. Alex Smith wasn’t going to be released and while the second round pick is a particularly high one, and finding out that there is a second conditional pick headed to San Fran next year may sting this is the price that must be paid to lock in a starting QB. And those of you who were hoping for Nick Foles (Andy Reid may well be amongst this group) he was reportedly unavailable, and based on the reports out of Philly is unlikely to come available anytime before training camp, which just leaves too much uncertainty. No, the Chiefs paid what they had to to secure Smith’s services and lock in a starter at QB, which essentially takes them from rebuilding project to contender’s in the AFC West (the Broncos will be tough to overcome, but the Raiders and Chargers…not so much.)

It seems a silly question at first blush. One of the most productive, most reliable receivers over the past few years should have teams clamoring for his service, but if that’s the case we certainly haven’t heard about it.

No matter who he plays for Welker will be a 5’9, 32 year old slot receiver, and he won’t be helped by a WR draft class that looks pretty deep. Greg Jennings is only 29 and he’s having trouble finding teams willing to pay him top dollar. So who’s going to cough up a rich contract for Welker?

Part of the problem is that Welker has never received full credit for his production (at least in the court of public opinion.) He was essentially unheard of before being paired up with Tom Brady and there seems to be some concern that he could slip back into obscurity with a less talented QB. Again, this is more public opinion than scouting report.

The bottom line is there just aren’t any teams (outside of New England) that can justify giving Welker a big contract. The Browns come to mind as a potential landing spot thanks to ample cap space and some ties to the Patriots a la Michael Lombardi, but I just can’t see it. The Bengals have the cap space to pull it off and it’s hard to argue against an offense that features AJ Green stretching the field with Welker underneath, but again I just don’t see it. Andrew Hawkins did a pretty good job with the underneath stuff. A quick role through the rest of the league leaves me looking at the Texans. Not sure what their cap looks like, but adding Welker as an underneath element with Andre Johnson, and Owen Daniels stretching the field is about the best fit I can find.

Let’s start with the obvious. The Browns and the Jaguars both need help at QB. Neither Weeden nor Henne provide a long term solution, but I can’t help but look at both players and think they benefit from trading places. The new Browns regime is clearly not pleased with Weeden, but have little other option at QB putting everyone in an awkward spot. A move to Jacksonville would be a fresh start for Weeden and a chance to reunite with Justin Blackmon. The Jaguars have recommitted to Gabbert, but adding Weeden brings fresh competition and if Gabbert falters Weeden should be a solid fill in (and his cap number for 2013 is under $1 million)

On the Browns end they get something back for Weeden and in a worst case scenario I think Henne makes for an effective short term answer. Henne has the arm strength to air it out in a Norv Turner offense and has interestingly played his best games against top defenses (he regularly beat up on the Jets secondary when he was with Miami and put in a 350 yard 4 TD 0 INT performance against the Texans with Jacksonville last year.) In a league that features some stout defensive talent, Henne’s ability to play up to his better competition could be invaluable. Henne also has a low cap number (around $2 million) and is entering the 2nd year of a 2 year deal which means the Browns will not be prohibited from adding another QB through the draft or free agency.

It was at one time thought that Alex Smith would be the most attractive free agent QB on the market this offseason. At this time it was believed as fact that the 49ers would grant the former No. 1 overall pick his release and he would be free to seek out a new contract and a new team. But with a weak QB draft class and a QB needy division rival in Arizona the 49ers decided to hold on to Smith, at least for now, to explore trade possibilities.

But, I’ve gotten the feeling recently that Smith’s once high trade value is dropping quickly, with QB needy teams looking in other directions. The Buffalo Bills who had shown some interest in Smith, have since resigned Tavaris Jackson and made a statement that both Jackson and current started Ryan Fitzpatrick will stay with the team, likely to provide competition for a rookie QB.

The Chiefs, who I had pegged as a good landing spot for Alex have inquired about Nick Foles, who obviously worked with new Chiefs coach Andy Reid last year. Many analysts also believe the Chiefs could take Geno Smith with the #1 overall pick in this year’s draft on the assumption that starting LT Brandon Albert will be resigned.

The Jaguars new GM David Caldwell released a statement that he was interested in building around former first round pick Blaine Gabbert. With the team still rebuilding in a tough AFC South the team would likely rather keep it’s draft picks. Should Alex Smith get released, I would look for the Jags to reevaluate the situation. (With MJD in the final year of his contract and the emergence of Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon improved QB play could go a long way towards helping the struggling Jags.)

The Eagles, who also at one point showed some interest in Smith, have since resigned Michael Vick removing the need for Smith, and added QB Dennis Dixon, which at least opens the door to the possibility of trading current back-up Nick Foles.

The Browns emerge as a strong candidate, stuck with a QB they don’t want and one of Alex Smith’s many former coordinators Norv Turner calling the plays. But the Browns have plenty of holes to fill and may be reluctant to surrender any draft picks. The Browns are in line to have plenty of cap space and if they fill holes quickly through free agency, may pull the trigger, but I doubt they’ll be in any hurry, as they’d probably win a bidding war if they truly believe Smith could be their guy.

Then there’s the Jets, who I just don’t see being able to commit to Alex Smith. The Jets want competition for Sanchez, Smith wants to start…it’s not really a perfect fit. The Jets are also one of the few teams for whom Alex Smith’s current cap number could create a problem. The team is already pressed tight under the cap and paying $8 million to Mark Sanchez with lots of holes to fill. Spending another $7 million on Smith just wouldn’t seem right.

The Vikings have also come up as a landing spot, but unless Percy Harvin makes an (unlikely) push to bring Alex Smith to Minnesota, I just can’t see it. Christian Ponder showed growth towards the end of last season and I think he needs to be allowed to build off of that. Yes, Adrian Peterson put the team on his back (especially once Harvin went down) but Ponder made some big throws against Green Bay to help clinch that playoff spot and Ponder should be much more confident coming into the 2013 season coming off that playoff berth, than he was coming into this season (fresh off a less than impressive rookie campaign that netted the team the third pick in last year’d draft.)