In the latest edition of the podcast, we talk everything going on around the world of football…except that.
GET YOUR HELMET ON!
Few utterly meaningless exercises engender more amusement, hysteria and rage than the mock NFL draft. Everyone has their concrete ideas of what will happen, they study their brains out, deciphering proper slotting according to how they view a particular prospect, team need and/or evaluation method, and finding just the right fit at each spot…and then it all goes completely to hell at pick 3. Seriously, nobody knows anything beyond the first couple of picks. In part, this is because at this time of year in the NFL, misinformation is king, and we’re all having ungodly amounts of smoke blown up our collective wazoo. Even those guys with the flawless hair on TV don’t have great success picking who will go where. And don’t even get me started on trying to predict trades. Remember how Shanahan and the Redskins were going to move up for or select one of the many first-round-ready quarterbacks in last year’s draft? Yeah. They took Ryan Kerrigan at 16. Meanwhile, my mock at the top is way too similar to many others, meaning there’s no chance it happens this way because we all fell for the smoke. Got it? Good.
For this Sickness 2012 Mock, there will be a couple of simple ground rules. First: no trades. I’ll mention where appropriate when I think trades are likely or at least more plausible, but that’s it. I’m not trying to go insane attempting to predict the whims of NFL executives. I’m guessing strictly based on my wholly amateur opinion of (1) prospect value and (2) team need and/or history. Second, I try and take into account what a team’s schemes are, and not just throw guys to a team because they need someone at a given position. There’s no point mocking a 3-4 OLB to the Eagles, for example. Different teams are looking for different things, and while I don’t pretend to understand every minute detail of most teams’ philosophies, just know that some marginal thought has gone into the thing. Third, I’m making the traditional guesswork prediction, and then telling you what I would do were I in charge of each team. Full disclosure: I’m not even pretending I have any idea what most of them actually will do. Lastly: we’re here to have fun. I know some of these make no sense. Have you tried this nonsense?!? Mock me all you wish. My skin is thick and my helmet is on!
1. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: Guesswork Prediction- Andrew Luck, QB (Stanford). Throw me in with the lot who consider him the most complete, non-speculative, outstanding prospect since John Elway. Luck provides a decision-maker with the comfort of knowing his pre-snap read, adjustment and anticipatory skills have already been tested at an NFL level. A superior athlete in his own right, Luck has the stature to hang in the pocket and shed sacks and the ability to make huge plays outside the pocket and running with the football. The Colts go from one once-in-a-generation QB to the next. They’ve already told us so.
If I Were GM: Luck.
2. WASHINGTON REDSKINS: Robert Griffin III, QB (Baylor). Another foregone QB conclusion, and easily the story to watch going forward in the NFL for 2012. If he becomes what the Redskins obviously expect him to given the haul they gave up to get him, he will be a transformative figure in NFL history. Kick your feet up. Watch. Enjoy. Unless you’re a defensive coordinator. In which case, ready thyself. Watch that zone boot. Watch the play-action off the stretch look. Good luck.
If I Were GM: RGIII. (Technically, since I’m a Browns fan, maybe I’d take Matt Kalil here and let Grif fall to 4. Heh. (Damn it.))
3. MINNESOTA VIKINGS: Matt Kalil, OT (USC). Rumors of trade possibilities are heating up in all corners as of this writing, and nothing would surprise me. The Rams originally held the keys to the draft, but have long since removed that suspense by making the Griffin trade weeks before the draft. As a result, the Vikes have their choice of a franchise left tackle or an elite corner. As it so happens, they are in desperate need of both in this new passing NFL, and either would be a perfectly reasonable choice. But Kalil not only carries additional premium because he protects the QB’s blind side and has NFL bloodlines, he’s generally considered the superior prospect. This shouldn’t be a tough card for the purple to turn in, but if they don’t take Kalil, heads’ up…because the draft is about to get really interesting.
If I Were GM: Kalil. (Sickness First Commandment: Protect Thy Quarterback.)
4. CLEVELAND BROWNS: Trent Richardson, RB (Alabama). I go back and forth daily between Richardson, Justin Blackmon and Morris Claiborne, each of whom I think would be an excellent fit. But ultimately, the Browns need to do two things if they are to live with Colt McCoy for even one more season (as it appears that they might). First, they must shorten the game. Second, they must score more touchdowns. Richardson will help with both. And while I’m not arguing about the general devaluation of the RB position (See the fine piece here by Shawn Siegele), I think exceptions to most rules exist, and Richardson is one to that “rule.” (Many call this stupid. I call it betting against the house. Again, if I can get LeSean McCoy or Ray Rice production at #4…am I bumming that hard?) If Richardson isn’t there, I would guess a trade down or Blackmon.
If I Were GM: Richardson.
5. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: Morris Claiborne, CB (LSU). In this scenario the Bucs end up with the draft’s top corner and a potential top-flight starter at a key position (especially in a division inhabited by Drew Brees, Matthew Ryan, Cam Newton and friends). They might be interested in Justin Blackmon, but in my view Claiborne is the better prospect. He plays one of the premium positions, and he’s ready to step in and do the job for which he’ll be drafted on day 1. There’s one other reason: the Bucs have gotten far too old and too non-law-abiding in recent years. This will help re-set the course of the Bucs’ ship.
If I Were GM: Claiborne.
6. ST. LOUIS RAMS: Fletcher Cox, DT (Miss. St.). A lot of noise about this one, which makes me wonder. But Cox is a heck of a talent. And I do seem to recall Fisher having outstanding defensive lines in Tennessee.
If I Were GM: Justin Blackmon. I’d be thinking about trading up to 3 for Kalil, because Sam Bradford ain’t making that new-CBA, slotted rookie money. No, sir. I’ve got big cash in Sammy B, I’m committed to him, and I need to make damn sure I keep division foes like the San Francisco Smiths, the New Orleans…well…y’know…and the sometimes dominant Seahawk front four off his ass. If Kalil is here (and there is a chance), I’d pull that trigger. Otherwise, I’m equipping him with my favorite of the top receivers.
7. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Stephon Gilmore, CB (South Carolina). The Jags seem like as good a bet for a trade as any team in the top 10, so let’s get that out there. Maybe the Jets come up for a Melvin Ingram, or someone else antsy for a corner or offensive tackle. But here, they’re stuck. Wideout is certainly a major need, so Blackmon and Floyd would have to be on the radar. But I still think those corners and pass rushers get pushed up the board, and the Jags could use one of each. Alfie Crow and Peter King beat me to the Stephon Gilmore call (and undoubtedly with infinitely more actual information at hand), but I feel no need to be original here.
If I Were GM: Melvin Ingram. I’m just a believer and think he fits anywhere. I’m probably crazy.
8. MIAMI DOLPHINS: Ryan Tannehill, QB (Texas A & M). I honestly have no idea here. Just riding the wave. (Tannehill & Grudes.)
If I Were GM: Probably Tannehill. But I’d be nervous as hell. Blackmon and Floyd would be my other options.
9. CAROLINA PANTHERS: Quentin Coples, DE/DT (North Carolina). Like I said, these guys get pushed up the board. Butch Davis may be known for a lot of things, but let’s not forget that one of them is coaching up quality D-Linemen, and knowing talent at these positions. Coples has plenty. Questions about his motor and tendency to play too upright are totally valid, but so are observations of his considerable ability. Freakishly athletic and versatile enough to play inside or out, someone is going to find Coples well worth the gamble sooner rather than later.
If I Were GM: Michael Floyd. Cam is a special passer, and I like Brandon LaFell a lot. But I also know that Steve Smith can’t play forever and Floyd has dominant potential. I’d take him…then I’d go defense the rest of the draft.
10. BUFFALO BILLS: Justin Blackmon, WR (Oklahoma St.) First, a note: I could see the Bills trading up for someone like Kalil or taking Tannehill if he fell this far. But since I’m not predicting trades…Blackmon would be fantastic opposite Stevie Johnson. Ryan Fitzpatrick would know exactly how to work the ball to Blackmon and to utilize the Oklahoma State star’s Dr. Octopus-like catch radius and aggression for the football. He’s also a nightmare in the open field and often takes more than one small man to bring down. Most mocks have him going higher, and with good reason. But I think there’s a chance he falls with a perception that he is not quite the elite athlete that, say, AJ Green and Julio Jones were a year ago (they went 4 and 6, respectively).
If I Were GM: Again. Melvin Ingram. He’d look nice behind that devastating D-line they’re building. Or book-ending it on certain downs.
11. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: David DeCastro, G (Stanford). I had Dontari Poe in here, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. He doesn’t dominate on tape despite his fantastic measurables and combine workout. Plus, DeCastro is a surefire decade-long starter on the interior line and will help grind out yards with Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis pounding through the holes.
If I Were GM: DeCastro.
12. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB (South Carolina). Finally. Coach Pete gets a new toy.
If I Were GM: Ingram. Was that not clear?
13. ARIZONA CARDINALS: Reily Reiff, OT (Iowa). The Cardinals have to protect whomever their quarterback will be, this year and in the future.
IF I Were GM: Floyd. I’m in the minority, but I don’t see Reiff as a surefire left tackle, and would have a tough time taking him here as a result. And Fitz desperately wants Floyd. This would fit.
14. DALLAS COWBOYS: Mark Barron, S (Alabama). All the consensus picks, like the Cowboys taking a defensive back here, make me uncomfortable. It’s just too easy. But they do need ’em. Badly. Of course, Adam Schefter guaranteed on Wednesday that Barron won’t make it to this slot, so…
If I Were GM: Dre Kirkpatrick. It’s simple. He’s Sabanized and corners are more important to me.
15. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Michael Brockers, DT (LSU): Sen Dog assures me the Eagles’ biggest issue is up front on defense and that he’d be enthralled with the addition of the big DL from LSU. Good enough for me.
If I Were GM: Luke Keuchly. They desperately need the upgrade. Of course, it’s at least 50/50 he’s gone before this pick.
16. NEW YORK JETS: Courtney Upshaw, LB (Alabama): Smoke, noise, rumors, innuendo…and none of it about Tebow or feet in general. One well-placed rumor had the Jets interested in trading way up for Trent Richardson. I have a real hard time seeing that, but I don’t have a hard time seeing the Jets moving around. GM Mike Tannenbaum has made that a regular practice, and I half expect him to be selecting 8 or 10 spots earlier here. But Upshaw would fit beautifully into Rex’s 3-4 and is a quality thumper.
If I Were GM: Upshaw or Dontari Poe. Poe’s got questions, but Rex has a way with those guys and there aren’t many of “those guys” on the planet.
17. CINCINNATI BENGALS (FROM OAK): Luke Keuchly, LB (Boston College). As I mentioned above, I think in real life he’s gone by here. I just don’t know to whom, and in this particular scenario, he’s still sitting here for the Bengals to pluck up. Marvin Lewis was quoted just this week as saying they’ve “neglected the defense.” Let’s go ahead and assume that gets rectified in the first round.
If I Were GM: I’d go with Kirkpatrick first, but they get him anyway here and I can’t in good conscience just keep letting Keuchly fall. This is madness.
18. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: Cordy Glenn, OL (Georgia). The Bolts have been devastated up front with injuries and surprise retirements. Glenn is a big, athletic, versatile plug-and-play guy.
If I Were GM: Glenn. I loved Rumford Johnny’s pick of McClellin here, but I think the OL is a huge need.
19. CHICAGO BEARS: Michael Floyd, WR (Notre Dame). They’d be beyond lucky to get him here and to pair him with Brandon Marshall. Jay Cutler is an immensely talented quarterback who, in my view, started to make the leap into the upper echelon with outstanding play throughout 2011. Add another monster weapon and start doing some real damage to the rest of the NFC North.
If I Were GM: Floyd or Reiff.
20. TENNESSEE TITANS: Nick Perry, DE (USC). Still raw, but a rare athlete at a premium position with a nose for the QB and the power to bring him down when he gets there.
If I Were GM: In all honesty? Janoris Jenkins. Huge risk. But it’s #20, not #2.
21. CINCINNATI BENGALS: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB (Alabama). I’ll be stunned if the Bengals don’t come out of the first round with a new corner one way or another.
If I Were GM: Kendall Wright. Put him opposite AJ Green and watch the points roll in.
22. CLEVELAND BROWNS (FROM ATL): Reuben Randle, WR (LSU). It’ll be interesting to see whether they like Brandon Weeden enough to take him this early despite his advanced age (and if they take Blackmon at No. 4, they might just do that), or whether they look to a less obvious position like rush end. But I think it’s probably a wide receiver or a new right tackle. Several popular choices exist for the wideout spot. I think Reuben Randle makes a ton of sense here, and I hear they’ve got this batch of WR’s all pretty closely ranked.
If I Were GM: Randle. I’d be highly tempted to take Janoris Jenkins, but my team is still too young and developing. I’m a big believer in Reuben Randle.
23. DETROIT LIONS: Whitney Mercilus, DE (Illinois). Lead the nation in sacks, and would have a good chance at early production with guys like Suh, Fairley and Avril eating up blocks. Can learn on the job with the depth currently in place. And the Schwartz wants to destroy QB’s. All makes good sense to me.
If I Were GM: Tough call for me. Since I don’t trust their RB’s to stay healthy? I might look at a quality all-around back like Doug Martin of Boise St. here.
24. PITTSBURGH STEELERS: Kevin Zeitler, OG (Wisconsin). I have to think Ben is tired of getting demolished back there, and you know with new offensive coordinator Todd Haley in town they’re going to show a renewed commitment to Steeler football and the effective running of the football. Zeitler is a quality player that addresses both of these issues, shoring up the interior of that offensive line.
If I Were GM: Dont’a Hightower. Just seems like a Steeler to me.
25. DENVER BRONCOS: Devon Still, DT (Penn St.) Or maybe Dontari Poe. Or even a running back. But the Broncos must help the middle of that defensive line. I tore them up for not taking Dareus last year (though Von Miller was clearly an outstanding choice), and would do so again if they fail to address what I think is their biggest need.
If I Were GM: Still.
26. HOUSTON TEXANS: Kendall Wright, WR (Baylor). There seems to be a decent amount of disagreement as to what echelon of player Wright is, but he’s a first-rounder in my book. Couldn’t care less about his timed speed, as the tape shows me he knows how to use whatever he’s got to manipulate and destroy db’s. Tough to square up after the catch, a fine route-runner, and sure-handed. Would fit nicely opposite Andre Johnson and give the Texans that #2 that they’ve been looking for for so long.
If I Were GM: Wright or Poe.
27. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (FROM N.O.): Chandler Jones, DE (Syracuse). Leaning on my man Rummy, here, and I like Jones a good bit. The Patriots are impossible to predict. I certainly didn’t have them targeting those two rookie RB’s last year. And I fully expect them to trade at least one of these late first rounders.
If I Were Gm: I’d just defer to Belichick. Heh.
28. GREEN BAY PACKERS: Shea McClellin, DE/OLB (Boise St.) Long before he became fashionable with well-known and outstanding draftniks like Greg Cosell, my man Brendan Leister was going crazy telling me how good this guy was. The more Boise video I watched, the more I could see why. Explosive, fantastic get-off, and one of those tough, fundamentally sound Broncos studs. Someone will be exceptionally pleased to get him, and he’d be an insanely good fit opposite Clay Matthews III.
If I Were GM: McClellin.
29. BALTIMORE RAVENS: Dont’a Hightower, LB (Alabama). “Oh, hey. Looky what we found here. A perfect fit for our aging defense.” – Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome.
If I Were GM: I’m a Browns fan. I’d let the Ravens’ pick expire. (Nope. Still not over it.)
30. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: Coby Fleener, TE (Stanford). Yes, they have Vernon Davis, and he’s a monster. But perhaps youv’e noticed a team or two looking to run multiple TE threats out there? Plus we’ve got the Harbaugh connection. If Kendall Wright were still available, I’d have done that.
If I Were GM: I might gamble on Stephen Hill of Georgia Tech here. Crazy fast and appears to have every tool in the box. Just didn’t get enough run in that triple option at GT to know for sure.
31. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Janoris Jenkins (CB) Northern Alabama. If anybody can afford to gamble, it’s the Hoodie. Jenkins dominated while in the SEC. Bill likes Florida guys. That’s all I’ve got.
If I Were GM: Jenkins. You bet’cha.
32. NEW YORK GIANTS: Bobbie Massie, OT (Mississippi State). I think the Giants are going to be pleased with just about anything that falls into their lap at 32, and Massie is a big stud OL with major upside. They can take their time and develop him, possibly into the LT of their future.
If I Were GM: Lamar Miller. A fun, luxurious replacement for the Tiptoe Bandit and a fine complement to/insurance for Ahmad Bradshaw. I doubt they’d do it, though.
Post Script: Thank the Gridiron Gods this is over for another year. The Mock Draft is exhausting and infuriating. Enjoy your draft weekend, everyone!
My SICKNESS is at levels beyond modern medicine. The NFL schedule is out. Free Agency has come and gone. Players have been traded and it all leads up to one thing; The Crown Jewel of the NFL Non-Playing Season. We are now on final countdown to the NFL Draft. By now there have been millions of mock drafts thrown out there, with many people pretending to know what’s in the minds of NFL GM’s and owners. Most of them just hoping and praying that they can say I told you so once all the pageantry in NYC is complete. Me, I will let it all play out, but that doesn’t mean that I am without opinion. With that in mind, I will give you my thoughts on what the Eagles might do with their first 3 picks.
After the season ended, their top needs in my mind were up the gut of the defense. It was a defense that finished 16th in the league against the run. That’s not gonna get Andy Reid and the Eagles back to the Super Bowl. They addressed the MLB position getting DeMeco Ryans from Houston for one of their 2 3rd round picks. He’s the perfect type of linebacker for the Eagles, cheap and coming off an injury. Just the way Reid and Co. like ‘em. If he is back to 100% he will be a big upgrade to the LB crew. He was like a fish out of water when Houston moved to the 3-4, so I’m sure it was music to his ears when he heard that the Eagles had interest.
First Round(15): The middle of the DL needs immediate attention. Luckily, the DT position is one of the deepest in this year’s draft. Philly has a lot of ammunition giving them many options. They can trade up from the 15 spot and take someone like Fletcher Cox who would fit smoothly into the Wide-9. They could sit tight at 15 and take Mark Barron or a hybrid DE/LB like Courtney Upshaw, then get a tackle in the 2nd round like Jerel Worthy with one of their two picks. Either way, I think the Eagles are sitting pretty with their draft slot. In the end, unless Cox or Brockers are available look for the Eagles to look elsewhere to upgrade the defense. My guess would be Upshaw.
2nd Round(46&51): This will be the most fun part of the draft for me. One of these picks could be gone if they try to move up. If they don’t make a move then they can really solidify the squad with some good moves. Asante Samuel, for all intents and purposes, is gone. They had a deal with Denver, and even though that fell through, I’m sure something will be done by Thursday night. Rodgers-Cromartie has shown that he is not comfortable as a slot DB. Brandon Boykin and Janoris Jenkins would be welcome additions. If they don’t go DT in the first round then this is where they’d have to use one of those picks. Mike Patterson has been solid. Cullen Jenkins came over from Green Bay and assumed a leadership role for this team. But both of those guys could use some help. Worthy, Devon Still, Brandon Thompson should all be available here. My guess here would be Still and Jenkins.
3rd Round(88): So having addressed DT, OLB, and CB with those first 3 picks, the needs that are still out there: OT, SS, and possibly QB. I would not be surprised here to see the Eagles go after a quarterback here. Kafka and Edwards might be okay for 1 game or mop up duty. But, if Vick misses extended time, as he has in the past, they need a better option. And looking forward, Vick is on the wrong side of 30. Brock Osweiler and Nick Foles are two guys that I am very familiar with being out here on the West Coast. Osweiler fits a bit better being more mobile that the old school pocket-style Foles. They could also look at the offensive tackle position here. Both Herremans and Jason Peters are 30+ and the latter is coming off an achilles injury. Demetress Bell is just a stop gap for this season. I’d expect him to get his walking papers once Peters is healthy. With such uncertainty, someone like Mitchell Schwartz could find himself in green. My guess, Osweiler is gone by the 3rd round, and probably Schwartz too, but this is my world so they get Schwartz. Eagles are one injury away from leaving Vick exposed.
You’ve all been clamoring for it, and now you’ve got it: a crossing of the football podcast streams, as Rumford Johnny & Ryan Forbes of the stellar 2 Mugs Fantasy Football site and podcast join FootballSickness.com’s Ryan Burns and Sen Sogah in a hybrid edition. Of course, with a hybrid of any sort, you never really know how it’s going to turn out, and it has the potential to get aggressive. The fellas get in depth on the NFL Draft, the fantasy impact of the soon-to-be-rookies, and try not to get in each other’s lanes. It’s a good time, it’s got good pace, and you know you want it. GET YOUR HELMET ON!!!
Welcome to the second installment of the All-Sickness Draft Team. Last year, this was but a mere throw-in to my single post-draft piece. The Sickness has come a long way in its first year, and people seemed to enjoy discussing the 2010 Team, so I decided to expand it this year into its own post, complete with my always-rudimentary analysis. You’re welcome.
No real ground rules. These are just my favorite picks in the draft, with value and need factored in. To some degree, I had hoped to focus on the “diamond in the rough” trait here, but it just wasn’t that easy. I thought almost every team had a totally sane, reasonable draft, and more than usual had really good ones. It appears the rest of the NFL is catching up with the Steelers, Patriots, Packers, and Eagles (and of course, its fans) and really starting to pay attention to what they’re doing in the draft. So many fantastic players were available later than they would be in most years that the All-Sickness team is a little top-heavy in 2011. So be it. Our guys are our guys.
So, with no further ado…the 2011 All-Sickness Draft Team. Comment when ready.
QB- JAKE LOCKER, Tennessee Titans (#8 overall); RYAN MALLETT, New England Patriots (#74)
I made it no secret that Locker was my favorite of the 2011 QB’s, and I think he falls into an absolutely perfect situation in Tennessee. Chris Palmer is going to find everything in Jake Locker that he found lacking in David Carr and Tim Couch, and the Titans faithful are about to be far more happy than even the ones who already are think they are. (Wait for it…)
And look, there are things to like about all these guys. Cam Newton is a ridiculous talent and seems to me to have the requisite work ethic. I think Gabbert landed in a beautiful spot to succeed. If Christian Ponder can play in the NFL, he ought to be able to in Minnesota while handing off regularly to Mr. Peterson. I think Andy Dalton has that football acumen and gutsiness to become one of the better QB’s in the league. Colin Kaepernick is maybe the best athlete of the group and will learn from Jim Harbaugh (and, apparently, Andrew Luck…awkwaaaaard…). But you already know the numbers game, don’t you? Half of them aren’t going to make it, and at least a couple are going to fail in spectacular fashion.
I think Mallett three distinct advantages. First, I think his college system prepared him more than most of his peers for the intellectual rigors of the NFL. Bobby Petrino’s system is complex and gives the quarterback a great deal of responsibility for pre-snap reads. So Mallett comes in at least somewhat pre-conditioned to learn a pro offense.
Second, he has absolutely no hope of playing anytime soon unless someone blows another assignment on the BoneCrusher. In fact, despite the popular scenario, I harbor serious doubts as to whether he ever takes over from Tom Brady as the Patriots starter. #12 confirmed as much immediately after the Patriots snagged Mallett, saying “I’m here for another ten years.” Maybe he was exaggerating, but I choose not to estimate that particular individual. At any rate, Mallett will have the opportunity to learn how one of the great professional quarterbacks, in the truest sense of that phrase, goes about his business on a day-to-day basis. While I’m often in favor of playing the young, talented QB’s, (1) it’s obviously a moot point given Brady’s existence, and (2) I think Mallett will benefit immensely from an eyes-and-ears-open, mouth shut buffer period.
Finally, he’s going to have to work just to stay employed in New England. Now, I personally have no reason to believe Mallett doesn’t possess the necessary work ethic in the first place. But if you think the Hoodie would hesitate to cut a third round quarterback who wasn’t cutting it, well…you and I think differently.
As a side note, it had to be cool to be Greg McElroy, who became the second Crimson Tide signal caller to be drafted by the New York Jets. The first? Joe Willie Namath.
RB- MARK INGRAM, New Orleans Saints (#28); JACQUIZZ RODGERS, Atlanta Falcons (#145)
I also loved Taiwan Jones to the Raiders, but Mark Ingram to the Saints is absolutely beautiful. If you’ve been following along you know I’m a sucker for Sabanized prospects, and Ingram was his rock-pounder for the Crimson Tide. We’ve been making the Emmitt Smith comparison longer than most. The vision, balance and footwork in the hole are unmistakably NFL-ready. I actually think he could be the rare 3-down back in today’s game, were Sean Peyton so inclined.
Rodgers is one of my favorite PAC Ten Players of the past ten years. More powerful than his size would indicate and much faster in pads than his combine 40, Rodgers is going to own that change-of-pace role within a week of camp opening. Whenever that happens. A fantastic receiver out of the backfield. With the additions of Julio Jones and ‘Quizz, Atlanta has joined the ranks of the elite, pick-your-poison NFL offenses.
WR- GREG LITTLE, Cleveland Browns (#59); LEONARD HANKERSON, Washington Redskins (#79).
As much as I liked the top two wide receivers in the draft, I felt like these two were the best values in the draft. Little is an athletic freak who can be as good as he wants to be. The Browns had him with a board grade similar to Green and Jones, and were thrilled to get him late 2nd. It may take a little time (Little missed 2010, getting caught up in the Carolina Agent Extravaganza), but I firmly believe my Browns scored huge here. Hankerson is another guy I just happened to like. His size and playmaking ability after the catch are going to fit in nicely in Shanahan’s offense.
TE- VIRGIL GREEN, Denver Broncos (#204)
The #NFLDraft Sickness Twitter List was very much on board with Virgil Green. Clearly one of the better all-around TE’s available, Green should get a chance to play early in Denver, and in an offense that is now featuring the tight end rather thoroughly in New England, for example. The TE is becoming a premiere position, as enormous fast athletes find that scoring touchdowns pays at least as well as sacking the quarterback. I liked several of the rookie TE’s from a value and fit perspective, though DJ Williams of Arkansas, one of my favorites, ended up behind Finley and Quarless in Green Bay. Have fun with that, big fella. Jordan Cameron, from USC, was the subject of numerous texts from my SC fans telling me my Browns got the best in the draft. I’ll withhold judgment.
OT- GABE CARIMI, Chicago Bears (#29); MARCUS GILBERT, Pittsburgh Steelers (#63)
The Bears still should have followed Carimi with four more offensive linemen, but they added a decade-long starter at tackle who might someday be ready for the blind side. Gilbert is a typical Pittsburgh selection- smart, capable, ready. And he will join his former Gator teammate, Maurkice Pouncey. On the offensive line, familiarity breeds not contempt but chemistry.
OG- WILL RACKLEY, Jacksonville Jaguars (#76); MARCUS CANNON, New England Patriots (#138)
Rackley is the third fantastic O-lineman the Jags have grabbed early the past couple of drafts, to go with bookend tackles Eben Britton and Eugene Monroe. Our man from Lehigh is a road grader and would have gone much earlier if only it said “Michigan” next to his name. Cannon found himself diagnosed with cancer as part of the draft process, and we here at the Sickness are rooting for this massive, strong guard prospect out of TCU for reasons that go well beyond football and hit VERY close to home.
C- STEFAN WISNIEWSKI, Oakland Raiders (#48)
He may actually play guard, but we’ll see. Pouncey’s not a center in my book, either. And for Wisniewski to fall with the Raiders is beautiful stuff.
DE- CAMERON JORDAN, New Orleans Saints (#24); DA’QUAN BOWERS, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (#51)
The Saints and Bucs both benefitted in this draft from the ridiculous top-end depth among the defensive line prospects. Cameron Jordan was a top 10 pick as far as I was concerned, and now that he’ll be lined up opposite Will Smith with Cedrick Ellis and Anthony Hargrove in the middle he’ll be making plays constantly. Bowers was regularly discussed as the number 1 overall pick just a few months ago. Suddenly people don’t trust his knee and he plummeted, but the Bucs now have four first-round worthy players along its D-Line with Bowers, Gerald McCoy, Brian Price and Adrian Clayborn. Nasty, nasty, nasty in an NFC South that was built on that trait.
DT- MARCEL DAREUS, Buffalo Bills (#3); NICK FAIRLEY, Detroit Lions (#13)
Dareus was my #1 overall player and I applaud Buffalo for doing the sensible thing. This year. Meanwhile, Detroit becomes unblockable up front with Fairley, 2010 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Ndamukong Suh and Kyle VandenBosch, among others. I hope the NFC North squads have properly backed up their pretty little quarterbacks, on whom they are spending a preposterous amount of money.
ILB- MASON FOSTER, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (#84); KELVIN SHEPPARD, Buffalo Bills (#68)
I think both win starting jobs right away and will both be considered steals of this draft in a year or two.
OLB- AKEEM AYERS, Tennessee Titans (#39); CHRIS CARTER, Pittsburgh Steelers (#162) Stunning, I know. The Steelers ended up with another potential superstar pass rushing 3-4 OLB. Carter was someone I wanted my Browns to take for three or four rounds, as Sickness Draft weekenders can attest. Ayers, a fellow Bruin, will fit in nicely in Tennessee with college teammate Alterraun Verner.
CB- PRINCE AMUKAMARA, New York Giants (#19); JIMMY SMITH, Baltimore Ravens (#27)
Again, I’d prefer not to have such a focus on the first-rounders. This piece is intended to display my depth of knowledge about the draft as superior among non-experts. Alas, the draft allowed two fantastic steals to happen at a vital, premiere position. I think Amukamara and Smith both landed with perfect fits from a schematic perspective. And Smith might be the best corner in this draft, bar none. He’ll take over as the leader of the secondary when Ed Reed decides he’s done for real.
S- RAHIM MOORE, Denver Broncos (#45); MARCUS GILCHRIST, San Diego Chargers (#50)
Moore joins a long line of hard-hitting, playmaking Broncos safeties; Gilchrist was one of my two or three favorite DB’s in the draft and should start immediately in an underrated Chargers D.
First, a disclaimer for the new folks: I am a Browns fan. Big one. If you’re looking for objective draft review, this is not the place for it. I am unable, with this particular team, to divorce my emotions and nostalgia from legitimate factual analysis with respect to the team’s draft. Whatever your particular problem with my analysis, I can assure you it is very likely primarily a result of this inability. You have been warned. Now, then…off we go.
You may recall that in my Browns draft preview, I listed a trade down to collect a bunch of extra picks as one of my two dream scenarios. Well, consider new Atlanta Falcon Julio Jones a dream come true. As fans of an organization on the bitter, losing end of something called ‘The Drive” and another something called “The Fumble,” let us hope that we someday dub this weekend’s heist “The Trade.” And yes, I said heist. In fact, let’s capitalize it. Heist. Nope. Still not good enough. Hang on.
That’s better. You could say I was in favor of this one. Not since the days of Daniel Ocean and Rusty Ryan have I seen such fine master thievery. It’s not an original point, but in case you haven’t heard it articulated, allow me: Which active NFL WR’s would you give up two first-round picks, a second-round pick, and two fourth-round picks to get? Andre Johnson? Calvin Johnson, maybe? I hear someone arguing Hakeem Nicks, and I sneeze at you, sir. I mean, what the hell would the Falcons have given up to get multi-Pro Bowler Roddy White? Suffice it to say, I thought the Browns won the deal, which could, if properly parlayed, be the trigger to a franchise turnaround of Lombardian proportions. This is the kind of deal that builds the core of a Super Bowl champion. All there is left is to do it. Don’t screw it up, fellas.
Which isn’t to say I thought it was all that bad a deal for Atlanta, who got an explosive, Sickness-Approved wideout to really take their already formidable offense to the elite levels. But it better work. Quick.
(Click the player’s name for video.)
No, it wasn’t a reach. No, he would not have been there at 27 or beyond. No, they did not give up too much to move up to get him. No, he’s not strictly a 3-4 nose tackle. No, he’s not a character or fitness concern. What else you got? Look, he was going at 21, whether it was Kansas City or the Browns, and if he didn’t go at 21 it was, by most accounts, 24 to New Orleans. He played in the 4-3 at Baylor, and Jauron’s 4-3 happens to fit him like a glove. I know a massive, double-team eating defensive tackle isn’t sexy. But it’s absolutely critical. Both DT’s have to play multiple spots at a functional (or, preferably, fantastic) level, and Taylor and Athya Rubin should make it awfully tough for teams to do what has become the far-too-traditional pounding of the rock up the Cleveland Browns’ backside. Now, we dare them to run up the middle. That’s a change I’m on board with.
YES!!! I cannot tell you how pleased I was to see them go back-to-back D-line to start this draft. I’ve been insisting for months now, mostly via Twitter but also in the Browns draft preview, that this was exactly how the draft should begin, with one big run stuffer and one sack master. The order was irrelevant to me, as both were equally important and there were several guys at either position I would’ve liked in the top two rounds. Sheard can start right away, and is absolutely capable of 10 sacks as a rookie. He’s a high-motor guy, one of my favorite cliché gridiron compliments a guy can get. Tom Heckert officially earned the last morsel of trust with this one. Rejoice, Cleveland: It’s coming.
Suck on that, Peter King and everyone else who would not shut up about how they had to take a wide receiver at number 6! When the pick came up I quietly begged them to take either Little or Miami’s Leonard Hankerson, whom I also liked as a value prospect and went shortly thereafter to the Washington Redskins. I have it on good authority that the Browns had Greg Little with a board grade more or less equivalent to AJ Green and Julio Jones, and were ecstatic to land him in the late 2nd. If you’ve seen the game film or the Game Changers episode, you know why. This dude is CRAZY athletic. I don’t care what his forty time was. Every time I watched the Heels, he was the unmistakably “football fast”-est guy on the field. His hands are fantastic. He’s enormous and ripped- looks a lot like Andre Johnson in his pads. I am beyond excited about the possibilities a formation featuring Little, 2010 6th rounder and Mangini prisoner Carlton Mitchell, Evan Moore and Ben Watson presents, particularly in the red zone. Colt McCoy may be short, but these guys are all huge and utterly findable, “even” by Mr. McCoy. Good luck, little DB’s. Three picks, three starters at positions of primary need. Bingo.
Here’s where it went a little off the expected path for me. It didn’t surprise me that they were interested in TE’s in this draft. Ben Watson is no spring chicken, and Evan Moore is far from a sure thing to stay healthy. Indeed, back in #MockOne, an educational and fun Twitter mock run by our friend Brandon Nall, I chose Wisconsin TE Lance Kendricks in the 5th round (he went in the 2nd, by the way. Still waiting, Buffalo…actually, that’s not fair. I like what Buffalo did. And I’m not really willing to work in Carolina. So…Seattle. Call me. I don’t mind the rain.). I was, however, surprised they chose Jordan and that they did so in the 4th. Since the first three picks went exactly as I would have them, I simply assumed they’d grab a right tackle as insurance against the…ahem…rather likely event that Tony Pashos doesn’t make it through the season healthy. And I also hoped like crazy that they’d take Eastern Washington RB Taiwan Jones to compliment the big backs already in house. I was also surprised to see so many DB’s go off the board before they took one. But I digress. He’s a much more speculative choice than Little, but Cameron is another freakishly-high potential guy. If they hit with both, it is OVER.
I was distraught that Taiwan Jones wasn’t the choice here. Especially since he went in the very next pick to the Raiders. But if we had to pass on him for anyone…nope. I can’t even say that. I also really liked Fresno St. LB Chris Carter. And I’m not at all convinced they couldn’t have taken this guy a round or two later. But Marecic is never going to be a mistake as a draft pick. I love him as a player, having seen most of his career out here on the West Coast. He played fullback in the West Coast offense with Andrew Luck. He started at inside linebacker, too, by the way. And on specials. Never came off the damn field except to get straight A’s and save kittens. Jim Harbaugh calls him the perfect football player. I’m pretty sure that’s good enough for me. This is the rookie jersey to buy your old-schoolers on the gift list. In fact, they should sell his in throwback version.
He’s fast and fluid, and while I can’t say I’ve seen a ton of him, I can tell you that draft prodigy Shawn Zobel of Draft Headquarters.com, who publishes an impressively detailed and thorough draft guide each year, considers Skrine one of “his” guys and a guy who has a chance to be really good at the NFL level. I think it’s fair to say that Skrine is raw but gifted, and we’ll have to wait and see.
Twitter was abuzz with the value tag when the Browns pulled Pinkston. He’s fine. He’s not a mauler, but he’ll hold his own. There seems to be some debate as to whether he can handle right tackle, but I suspect he can. They talked about him at guard in the post-draft presser. I’d listen to them instead of me, too.
Good player. But I thought Larry Asante was a good player, too. They passed on a couple of safeties I happen to like- Marcus Gilchrist, for one- which makes me hear those whisperings of Sheldon Brown playing safety someday. And it might’ve been fun to go for the ultimately undrafted Dane Sanzenbacher or Mark Herzlich here, but what can you do?
The Parting Shot
I love me some Colt McCoy. But he’d better take the reigns, and pronto. Because, and I haven’t seen this elsewhere, but…if he doesn’t, thanks to the Julio Jones trade, the Browns have two #1’s, two #4’s, and more next year to offer some desperate rebuilding team. Deep down, you know they’re not going to be good enough to make The Leap. You know who the #1 pick is going to be in 2012. You know what he means to the franchise that drafts him. You know what offense he runs in college, and you know it is exactly what the Browns run. And of course…You-Know-Who runs the Browns.
Hey Colt: Good Luck.
Fresh off a phenomenal NFL Draft Weekender at Sickness HQ, FootballSickness.com’s Ryan Burns and Sen Sogah get together to break down all their observations on the draft. Winners, losers, steals, reaches, the big trade between Burns’s Browns and the ATL, all the QB’s going early, one big one not going early, and much, much more. Have a click and a listen…GET YOUR HELMET ON!!!
Down to the wire…what are the Lions going to do? We asked our buddy Josh Moore of 4 for 4 to give us his last minute assist, and he came through. Let’s do the short version! Follow Josh @circulargenius on Twitter.
Q: Most people have the Lions pegged at either CB or OT for that #13 pick. Do you agree with that, or do you see another way they could, or should, go?
A: I see the Lions likely going CB or OT at 13 but wouldn’t be totally surprised to see the go best defensive player available if a DE or DT falls to them that they really like.
Q: Other than those two, what position must they absolutely address early?
A: The Lions are thin at LB, especially after trading 2006 1st round pick Ernie Sims to the Eagles last season. Another area of need is a speed WR to play outside in 3 WR sets. Neither one of these necessarily has to be drafted in the first 3 rounds, but I would expect to see both taken in the 3-5 range.
Q: Is there a late round guy in the draft you think would be a perfect fit for the Lions?
A: Maybe not a late round guy, but a guy like Titus Young or Torrey Smith could be a nice fit if they are available on Saturday. I could also see the Lions drafting Michigan State standout LB Greg Jones late in the draft. He was a hometown beast in college, but is projecting as a 5-7th round selection. Let’s just say if Matt Millen was drafting, Lions would likely select Jones in the 2nd or 3rd.
Q: What are the chances they add a bigger back to compliment the explosiveness of Jahvid Best?
A: I think they’re bound to do this either through the draft or free agency, given what the team has been saying. I think if a back they like is available with a middle pick, the Lions wouldn’t shy away from going that direction. I also wouldn’t mind the signing of a guy like LeRon McClain from Baltimore. In my opinion this isn’t a huge need for the Lions, as Maurice Morris was serviceable last year and Best should be healthier.
Q: What does a good overall 2011 Lions draft look like?
A: Lions address OL/CB/LB in first three rounds, address WR in the middle, and build depth by drafting OL & D value the rest of the way.
What will they do at #1? That’s not the only question. We asked Justin Davis, Panthers fan and media mogul Justin Davis his thoughts on his squad, and he came through with the late assist. I think they should go Dareus; I hear they’re going Cam. What does Justin think? Follow him @jersymikejr on Twitter.
Q: So…we’re hearing it’s Cam Newton. Is it really? Do you agree with that decision?
A: Yes and no. I think you’re damned if you do amd damned if you don’t. Personally I’d like Patrick Peterson, because in this league now every team needs a “Revis” now.
Q: A team doesn’t have the #1 pick without having some holes to fill…but I think the Panthers actually have more to work with than their 2010 record might indicate. Do you agree? Besides QB, what position must they absolutely address in the first 3 rounds?
A: Absolutely. The defense played great just the offense couldn’t sustain many drives or capitalize on opportunities. Besides QB WR and DL are areas of need IMO.
Q: Who is the late round guy you like and think is a perfect fit?
A: A late round guy I like is Marvin Austin. I think he’s learned from his mistakes. He’s a great DT who will help our LB core a lot.
Q: Your new offensive coordinator, Rob Chudzinski, is a TE guy. Do the Panthers have a dynamic TE of the future on their roster? If not, could you see them take Kyle Rudolph with their 2nd rounder if he’s there?
A: Yes Chud is a TE guy but I believe he can work with our current core of Shockey, Barndage and Rosario so I don’t see us drafting a TE.
Q: What does a good overall 2011 Panthers draft look like?
A: A good 2011 Panthers draft has our depth at OL, DL and a franchise QB addressed.
We are but a few short hours away from the 2011 NFL Draft, and I still have absolutely no idea what the Browns will do with the #6 overall pick. Of course, neither do they. It all depends on how everything shakes out in front of them. But the fact of the matter is that they can effectively make a 6-player board for that pick and just take the highest-ranked of the guys still left when their pick rolls around. At least nowadays, we can have the confidence that Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert have an idea of what they’re doing. I think we’d all take a draft as successful as last year’s, particularly at the top.
There are two.
1. I’d love to see the Browns trade down and pick up additional early picks in a draft that could allow them to stack the front 7, add a quality WR and get some OL help.
2. Marcell Dareus falls to #6. Dareus is my #1-rated player in this draft, and happens to be exactly what the Browns need. No, he’s not just a 3-4 player. All that noise you’re hearing about that is simply wrong. In fact, the thing I love about Dareus is that he’s all over the place. Nick Saban used him like NFL coaches use a guy who can’t be blocked. They move him all over and pick on matchups and situations. He’s already done it, and for one of the best. The only way it happens, though, is if AJ Green, Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Von Miller and Patrick Peterson are viewed as better players. I put that at about 2%.
MY BOARD FOR #6
And, to illustrate my earlier point, here is how I would organize my 6-man board for that top pick:
1. Marcell Dareus. As explained above. This guy just ruins gameplans.
2. AJ Green. I’ve come around. He’s ridiculous. I’d take him over any of the DL’s besides Dareus.
3. Nick Fairley. Risky, no doubt…but he’s another house-wrecker and that’s what the Browns need up front more than anything. Disruption.
4. Robert Quinn. He’s the perfect 4-3 rush end. Potential phenom.
5. Julio Jones: He gets the nod over Peterson because he absolutely ate Peterson’s lunch head-to-head.
6. Patrick Peterson. Would not be a bummer to pair him with Joe Haden for a decade, would it? But I have a hard time overvaluing the return skills when (a) I already paid Josh Cribbs and (b) we’re going to see a grip of touchbacks.
1. Defensive Line. Look. Despite Peter King’s insistence that they “must” take a wide receiver at 6, I don’t see it that way at all. WR is one of the biggest needs, but it’s not the biggest. That’s the D-Line. Athyba Rubin is their only returning starter, and he’s somewhat miscast (though capable) as a 4-3 DT. They have some guys that have shown some spark rushing the passer, most notably Matt Roth and Marcus Benard. But, I mean…come on. We can’t keep doing this. And by the way, we need to deal with the run in this division still, too.
2. Wide Receiver. It’s a big need. But I believe in a few guys on the roster, in particular Carlton Mitchell. I believe he will bring an explosiveness element many do not expect. I also like Evan Moore as a pass-catching “TE” who is really a wideout. Ben Watson is solid as a TE. They need that #1, though. No doubt. They may or may not get it here.
3. Cornerback. There is no such thing as too early or too many in the New NFL. Just get used to it. We have 2. Maybe. Need to keep stocking up.
4. Right Offensive Tackle. The Browns brass has been publicly supportive of Tony Pashos, but they also strike me as fundamentally reasonable men, and no
fundamentally reasonable man could possibly be comfortable with Pashos as your only real start-worthy option. If the Browns were to trade down even a few spots in the first, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see them take Tyron Smith as their RT of right now and insurance against a Joe Thomas defection when his contract is up.
5. 3rd-Down Back. This might be considered a luxury by some, given the monster year 2011 Madden cover boy Peyton Hillis put up in 2010 and the hoped-for return of Montario Hardesty (let’s not hold our breath, shall we?). But in a new offensive system that uses the RB’s as primary receivers and demands that they be shifty in certain situations, two big power backs won’t work all alone. There is simply no way Hillis is going to come close to repeating. A mid-rounder like DeMarco Murray or Taiwan Jones, who has lead back upside, would be a nice addition. And there are a bunch of guys even later who could still help in a more limited role.
There is almost nobody they could take at any of the first three picks who will disappoint me. I love the way this draft matches up with the Browns’ needs. There are quality players who can be good value at multiple spots of need all up and down the draft. And what’s better, as I mentioned before, I trust the guys in charge. They have a track record. It’s good. I can’t wait to see what happens. By Friday night, we should have at least three new starters, and maybe more if we find a good trade down deal. And it sounds like maybe Dallas, Atlanta, New England or Minnesota might make that possible. This is going to be fun, folks.