Now before you go looking back for Week 1 NFL Power Rankings, there aren’t any. Truth be told I wanted to start doing NFL Power Rankings this season but my pre-season projections give a good enough idea of where I believe teams will end up that I did not see a need to give pre-season power rankings – I thought it would be awfully redundant. A week ago I would’ve never imagined some teams as high or low as I have them and of course being early in the season we’re going to see a lot of fluctuation the first 3-4 weeks. Without further ado, my week 2 power rankings:
1. San Francisco 49ers (1-0)
Is it fair to say that Jim Harbaugh has turned Alex Smith into a QB? The glaring position of weakness from last year’s NFC Championship, wide receiver, has been overhauled. The ferocious defense is still in place. San Francisco is the team to beat in the NFL right now.
2. Atlanta Falcons (1-0)
Tony Gonzalez had the kind of homecoming in Kansas City that most only dream of – what a way to kick of his final NFL Season. The days of ground and pound are in the rearview for A-Town as this has become Matt Ryan’s team. With so many weapons on offense, it was easy to forget at times that Roddy White is still on this roster.
3. Baltimore Ravens (1-0)
We all know about what Ray Rice can do in the rushing game. We’re more than aware of Ray Lewis & Company on the other side of the ball. But now, Joe Flacco has arrived on the scene in style and has caused a Dennis Pitta waiver wire frenzy among fantasy owners. The Ravens scored at will against one of the league’s top defenses from a year ago. This is a very dangerous team.
4. Houston Texans (1-0)
The question is no longer whether or not the Texans can make the playoffs but how far they can go. As long as Matt Schaub is under center I believe this is the most complete team in the NFL and everything I saw on Sunday confirmed that.
5. New England Patriots (1-0)
This team is fresh off it’s 5th Super Bowl appearance this century so we know that the offense was already great. They focused on defense in the draft this year and their early picks are already paying dividends. If this team can continue to perform this well on both sides of the ball – watch out.
6. Green Bay Packers (0-1)
I don’t believe this is a 15-1 team anymore but I still believe the talent is there for them to win 12-13 games. The biggest question is, can this offense perform at a high enough level again to make up for the flaws of an anemic defense? We’ll get our first answer to this question against Chicago.
7. Chicago Bears (1-0)
Many are quick to forget that had Jay Cutler stayed healthy last year, this would’ve probably been a playoff team. This team is strong on defense as always and has added Michael Bush, Alshon Jeffrey, and Cutler’s all-time favorite target, Brandon Marshall on offense. The game against the Packers will give us a better idea of just how good the Bears really are.
8. Dallas Cowboys (1-0)
How ’bout dem Cowboys? It’s one game but what a huge win for Tony Romo and the boys. The offense can be explosive and the young cornerback additions of Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr may be one of the best duos in the league. DeMarco Murray picked up right where he left off and Tony Romo looked like a franchise quarterback.
9. New York Giants (0-1)
Yes the Giants dropped the ball and became the first Super Bowl Champion to drop the home opener under the present format but it’s just one game. If the Giants have not taught us anything else in the last four years they’ve at least taught us this – it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. The Giants just better hope Victor Cruz finds his hands again and quickly.
10. Denver Broncos (1-0)
Out of what promises to be a down-to-the-wire AFC West race, Denver was clearly the cream of the crop this past weekend. Peyton Manning looked at home wearing orange for the first time in 15 years. He’s about to make Demaryius Thomas & Eric Decker household names.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1)
Big Ben lost his second straight game in Denver but this is still a very talented roster and a team to be reckoned with in the AFC.
12. Detroit Lions (1-0)
It wasn’t the prettiest thing, but the Lions got the W and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. Against a much improved Rams defense, Stafford once again led his team to a comeback victory in dramatic fashion. He has this team ready to make another playoff push.
13. New York Jets (1-0)
Not only did the “nonexistent offense” score more points than any team in the NFL, they did it against a defense that many (myself included) projected to be among the top 5 defenses in the league this season. Sanchez didn’t just manage the game, he won it. And Stephen Hill was explosive in the tradition of Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas. Who says the Georgia Tech triple option doesn’t prepare players for the NFL?
14. San Diego Chargers (1-0)
It was rough and it was ugly but the Chargers got themselves a key division win and found ways to move the ball against a tough Oakland defense. The Chargers are looking for answers in the backfield while Ryan Mathews recovers from injury. There are still plenty of other weapons on this offense to allow San Diego to contend for a playoff spot this year.
15. Washington Redskins (1-0)
I never expected to rank the Washington Redskins this high after week 1 but Robert Griffin III turned in the most impressive debut for a rookie quarterback that I can remember. This roster has gotten better and like always, Mike Shanahan took a no-name running back and has made him work in that system. The biggest question is – can this be sustained?
16. New Orleans Saints (0-1)
I do believe that New Orleans will find their rhythm and likely finish with a better record than the Redskins but after that shellacking there is no way I could rank them higher. After that performance, there have to be some major questions about that defense.
17. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0)
Prior to the season, all of the questions were about Michael Vick being able to stay healthy prior to the season. Now all of the questions are going to be about whether he can go a series without turning the ball over.
18. Kansas City Chiefs (0-1)
For the first half on Sunday, Kansas City looked like the team I expected them to be this season. Cassel was playing smart football and Charles was moving the chains. The second half was another story. This team can be competitive as long as they put together 4 quarters of football.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0)
Tampa Bay spent a lot of money this offseason to improve their offense. In turn, the Bucs did not get much production. It was enough to beat the Panthers but this offense has got to find a rhythm.
20. Oakland Raiders (0-1)
For this team, it’s all about staying healthy. If McFadden and Palmer can finish out this season, this team will be fighting for a playoff spot.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (0-1)
If an entire roster were ever to have a sophomore slump, it would be this team. The Bengals did much to improve this offseason but were pretty terrible on both sides of the ball on Monday. I will say the ability to convert on 4th down twice in the same drive was impressive.
22. Arizona Cardinals (1-0)
The defense picked up right where they left off at the end of last season and the offensive weapons are there. With a quarterback this could be a very good team.
23. Buffalo Bills (0-1)
I am shocked to find the Bills this low to start the season but their highly touted defense was helpless against the Jets on Sunday. And many of the teams high hopes have been dashed with the loss of Fred Jackson for the first quarter of the year. C.J. Spiller has shown he can pick up his share of the load but this team needs to get back on track fast.
24. Seattle Seahawks (0-1)
I thought Russell Wilson had the 2nd best debut of any rookie quarterback. He almost got his team a win on the road against a very tough Cardinals defense. His height is an issue though as he had trouble seeing the field. The bigger issue though is the apparent lack of an offensive line.
25. Carolina Panthers (0-1)
Ryan Kalil promised fans a Super Bowl title this offseason. In order for that to happen this team must rediscover their ground game.
26. Minnesota Vikings (1-0)
It was the strength of rookie Blair Walsh’s leg that delivered the Vikes a much-needed win at home but its Adrian Peterson’s seemingly healthy leg that has got everyone talking.
27. Tennessee Titans (0-1)
Jake Locker is tough and his shoulder injury shouldn’t sideline him for too long. This team’s fortunes though are directly tied to which version of Chris Johnson decides to show up this season.
28. St. Louis Rams (0-1)
While they have a long ways to go, Jeff Fisher has already transformed the defense of this young team. The biggest concern for this team is offensive line depth followed by finding someone for Sam Bradford to throw the ball to.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1)
The Jaguars are not going to win many games this year but Blaine Gabbert showed vast improvement from a year ago. That 4th quarter go-ahead drive took poise and that was impressive. The improvements at the wideout position may have something to do with it.
30. Cleveland Browns (0-1)
When you have a rookie quarterback in his late twenties, the plan is not to develop him – it’s to start him. Weeden posted a 5.1 passer rating which has to make Jamarcus Russell feel good about himself. He stared down receivers and showed an inability to read defenses. There is plenty of young talent on this roster but they are not going to contend in the always-difficult AFC North anytime soon.
31. Indianapolis Colts (0-1)
There remains a lot of work to be done in Indy but Pagano has the right pieces in place. Luck and Fleener are going to be the cornerstones of this offense for years to come and Reggie Wayne is the veteran presence this young team needs. The offensive line and rushing attack have to find a way to take some pressure off Luck. They face a tough test this week against Jared Allen and Chad Greenway.
32. Miami Dolphins (0-1)
Is anyone surprised that the Dolphins have once again started the year 0-1? Of all 5 rookie quarterbacks that started this weekend, there is no doubt that Ryan Tannehill has the least amount of talent surrounding him. Miami is a long ways from being significant.
Questions? Comments? Snide Remarks? Let Me Hear ‘Em!
Where should your favorite team be ranked?
Yesterday evening prior to kickoff I laid out where I believed each team would finish for the 2012-13 NFL Season. Dallas impressed last night and only verified where I believe they are as a team and that they will move ahead of the Giants in the NFC East. Today we look at individual players and see what the postseason award picture will look like. While I knew all of these picks on Tuesday, this is my first chance to write them down. Last night’s game solidified my belief in one of my picks.
Offensive Rookie of the Year –
Doug Martin, RB – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
More often than not, the offensive rookie of the year has been a running back. While we’ve had a few young quarterbacks receive the award in recent years, I foresee a return to the running back trend. The Boise State product has great vision and is a threat running the ball as well as catching out of the backfield. He has already secured a starting position on a talented roster that considers itself a playoff team this year. While I don’t see Tampa making their playoff return quite yet, I’m expecting great things from Martin.
Others that will be considered: Andrew Luck, QB – Indianapolis Colts, Robert Griffin III, QB – Washington Redskins, Trent Richardson, RB – Cleveland Browns, Kendall Wright, WR – Tennessee Titans, Alshon Jeffrey, WR – Chicago Bears, Coby Fleener, TE – Indianapolis Colts, & Matt Kalil, OT – Minnesota Vikings
Defensive Rookie of the Year –
Luke Kuechly, LB – Carolina Panthers
Going into this year’s draft, I thought that – outside of Vikings OT Matt Kalil – Kuechly was the rookie most prepared for the NFL. The young star from Boston College has great vision and leadership qualities and he has been thrust into a talented defense that fits his talents perfectly. I am a big believer that linebacker is the easiest defensive position for a rookie to have success in and I believe that given his talent, situation, and position that Kuechly will be the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year this season.
Others that will be considered: Morris Claiborne, CB – Dallas Cowboys; Harrison Smith, S – Minnesota Vikings; Stephon Gilmore, CB – Buffalo Bills; Janorris Jenkins, CB – St. Louis Rams; Mychal Kendricks, LB – Philadelphia Eagles; Dont’a Hightower, LB – Houston Texans; & Fletcher Cox, DT – Philadelphia Eagles
Offensive Player of the Year –
Arian Foster, RB – Houston Texans
There is a very good reason that most fantasy football experts listed Foster at the top of their draft boards this season. It is because, in my opinion, the Houston Texans are the most talented and most complete team in the NFL. On a team that I expect to have the NFL’s best regular season record in 2012, Foster is the best player. He is a threat on the ground and in the receiving game. If he can stay healthy, I fully expect Foster to eclipse the 2,000 all-purpose yards mark.
Others that will be considered: Calvin Johnson, WR – Detroit Lions; Ray Rice, RB – Baltimore Ravens; Aaron Rodgers, QB – Green Bay Packers; Matt Schaub, QB – Houston Texans; Tom Brady, QB – New England Patriots; & Matt Ryan, QB – Atlanta Falcons
Defensive Player of the Year –
DeMarcus Ware, LB – Dallas Cowboys
Last year I mentioned on multiple occasions that I believed 2011 would finally be the year that Jared Allen broke through and won his 1st NFL Defensive Player of the Year award after being such a force for so many years in the League (and let’s face it – not giving the award to Allen was a travesty). Well this year I believe that Ware will finally get his due. I see Ware getting a minimum of 15.5 sacks this year (and last night’s 2 sack performance making him the 2nd fastest player ever to record 100 sacks) doesn’t hurt matters. I believe that Dallas wins the East this year and Ware is going to be a big part of that.
Others that will be considered: Jared Allen, DE – Minnesota Vikings; Aldon Smith, OLB – San Francisco 49ers; Von Miller, LB – Denver Broncos; J.J. Watt, DL – Houston Texans; Patrick Willis, LB – San Francisco 49ers; Patrick Peterson, CB – Arizona Cardinals; & Mario Williams, OLB – Buffalo Bills
NFL MVP –
Aaron Rodgers, QB – Green Bay Packers
Only two quarterbacks have ever won back-to-back MVP awards, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre, but there is no reason to believe that Rodgers can’t duplicate this feat. The Packers were far and away the best offense in the NFL last season but at the same time, if something were to happen to Rodgers, the Packers would fall off pretty drastically. I really believe the Packers without Rodgers would be close to the 2011 Colts without Manning. The Packers figure to be in the thick of things this year and it’s Aaron Rodgers who is going to get them there.
Others that will be considered: Tom Brady, QB – New England Patriots; Matt Schaub, QB – Houston Texans; Arian Foster, RB – Houston Texans; Matt Ryan, QB – Atlanta Falcons; Tony Romo, QB – Dallas Cowboys; & Ray Rice, RB – Baltimore Ravens
Comeback Player of the Year –
Peyton Manning, QB – Denver Broncos
I’m more than aware that this is an extremely popular pick for this award and while I gave it a lot of thought I came to the conclusion (that like Brett Favre when he went to the Vikings) you can never count Peyton Manning out. I find it so hard to pick against Peyton Manning that I chose the Broncos to get into the postseason over the Steelers, Bengals, Jets, Chargers, Titans, & Raiders. There are concerns now but Peyton Manning is going to make Demaryius Thomas & Eric Decker into household names. After everything he has gone through if he can get the Broncos to the playoffs there is no doubt this award will belong to him.
Others that will be considered: Randy Moss, WR – San Francisco 49ers; Eric Berry, S – Kansas City Chiefs; Jamaal Charles, RB – Kansas City Chiefs; Adrian Peterson, RB – Minnesota Vikings; & Matt Schaub, QB – Houston Texans
Coach of the Year –
Romeo Crennel – Kansas City Chiefs
Now if the carousel of New Orleans Saints coaches can get that team to the playoffs they may be considered but let’s look at the facts: the NFL loves to give this award to rookie head coaches who have success. Secondly, a team either has to be extremely dominant or go from worst to first (a la a San Francisco 49ers transformation) for a coach to get this award. While this is Crennel’s 2nd go-around as a head coach, I believe that he will win. His team finished in last place in the AFC West last year (though they only finished a game behind champion Denver) and the roster is much improved. On top of that this team is getting Matt Cassel, Tony Moeak, Jamaal Charles, and Eric Berry all back from injury. I believe that the Chiefs can make some noise in the AFC this year and when they do, Romeo will receive his first Coach of the Year award.
Others that will be considered: Gary Kubiak – Houston Texans; Chan Gailey – Buffalo Bills; Pete Carroll – Seattle Seahawks; Jason Garrett – Dallas Cowboys; Mike McCarthy – Green Bay Packers; & Mike Smith – Atlanta Falcons
Executive of the Year –
John Elway, Executive VP of Football Operations – Denver Broncos
Let’s look at everything this guy has done in the last two years. He took a team that had the #2 overall pick in last year’s draft and got them to the playoffs by playing a running back at QB. That player started a media blitz that could fill the hole in ESPN programming left behind by Brett Favre’s 17th retirement. In the process that running back turned QB became the most popular athlete in the Mile High City since well… John Elway. And then Elway was actually cheered for shipping that QB off to New York (ask the Nuggets how hard it is to ship a beloved Denver athlete to New York) because he brought in the man who in my estimation will one day be, statistically, the best QB of all-time. He had another great draft and surrounded Manning with young and veteran talent alike. If the Broncos get back to the playoffs, there is no doubt that Elway should be the Executive of the Year.
Others that will be considered: Ryan Grigson, GM – Indianapolis Colts; John Schneider, GM – Seattle Seahawks; & Les Snead, GM – St. Louis Rams
The 2012 season picture is not as clear as 2011 was but I think I can make some sense out of it. Last season I correctly foresaw the Patriots losing the Super Bowl after beating the Ravens. I correctly predicted the NFL MVP, Comeback Player of the Year, Defensive Rookie of the Year, and the Executive of the Year. I correctly predicted 8 out of 12 playoff teams including the Detroit Lions and the Houston Texans. As I look into the crystal ball I see some divisions with a clear cut winner and many situations like the AFC West last year where the division will be highly contested top to bottom. I see a team with a 12 year playoff drought finally getting back in and I see a future Hall of Famer winning his first playoff game of his career. I will include below my regular season rankings, playoff projections, and the worst five teams in the NFL this season. Overall, I think we’re going to see a lot of interesting things this season and so without much further ado, let me tell you what to expect.
Well after a long absence highlighted by the postseason push of the NBA and NBA D-League seasons combined with the need to get mock NFL drafts in the hands of all the football fans who read this blog, Cafe 101 is back! And back in glaring fashion! Since it’s been awhile you may recall that the premise is that in sports heaven, the Cafe 101 is the most exclusive restaurant with only 101 tables, each table numbered 00 – 99 and reserved for the best athlete to have ever worn that number. When I went to the random number generator I knew this would be a great article when it gave me #12 but then when the next number I was given was #33? I knew this post may have the most firepower and debate of any Cafe 101 yet. Of course these are two numbers that are pretty popular across all of sport and have been worn by the best of the best of the best. Getting either table will be no easy feat. Additionally we have some good debate at #63 and #85 so let’s get right to it and see who deserves each table.
Quarterback, New England Patriots (2000 – Present)
3x Super Bowl Champion, 2x Super Bowl MVP, 5x AFC Champion, 2x NFL MVP, 3x AFC Offensive Player of the Year, 2x NFL Offensive Player of the Year, 7x Pro-Bowler, 2x 1st Team All-Pro, 2nd Team All-Pro (2005), 2009 Comeback Player of the Year, NFL All-Decade Team (2000′s)
Being a fan of Midwestern sports teams (for the most part) and living just two hours from Boston and 30 minutes from Boston’s greatest propaganda machine ESPN I have grown tired of the hype that surrounds Boston sports teams and athletes. If Boston has a king though, that man is Tom Brady. Others may argue with my giving him the honor of being the greatest to ever wear #12 and yes you can argue for others like Terry Bradshaw, Thierry Henry, Jim Kelly, Roger Staubach, etc. but let’s just take a moment to look at what Tom Brady has accomplished.
When I was a child (though they lost the Super Bowl when I was 1 and again when I was 11) the New England Patriots were a joke of an NFL franchise. Even though they had a championship drought unlike any other, the Boston Red Sox instilled more hope in Boston fans than the Patriots ever would. Then comes along Tom Brady, a 6th round draft pick out of Michigan who nobody ever expected to start but now we all know the story. It only took him 131 starts to win 100 games (the fastest to 100 of any QB in NFL history). His .780 winning percentage over the past 13 seasons is the best all time. He started off his career with 10 consecutive postseason wins (best all-time). He has gone undefeated at his home field 5 times in his career. He threw for 50 touchdowns in 2007 which is an NFL record and his regular season records are unreal.
He is tied for the most postseason wins of all time with Joe Montana. He is tied for most Super Bowl appearances by a starting quarterback with John Elway (5). And he is just 1 Super Bowl win away from tying Joe Montana & Terry Bradshaw’s record of 4. In my opinion, with just one more AFC Championship (although a Super Bowl win would cement this) we might have to consider Tom Brady the greatest quarterback of all-time. There’s no doubt he is already in the top 5. While I am not a Tom Brady fan, this table is all about the best and Tom Brady is the greatest athlete to ever wear #12 and he deserves this table.
RUNNER-UP: TERRY BRADSHAW, Pittsburgh Steelers (1970-1983)
ON THE WAITING LIST: Jim Kelly, Thierry Henry, Dwight Howard, Roger Staubach, Kenny Stabler, Bob Griese, Joe Namath, George Yardley, Dick Barnett, John Stockton, Jarome Iginla, Stan Smyl, Simon Gagne, Colt McCoy (College), Aaron Rodgers, Wade Boggs, Steve Alford (College), Oscar Robertson (College), Roberto Alomar, Randall Cunningham, & Andrew Luck (College)
TOO SOON TO TELL: Andrew Luck (NFL), Colt McCoy (NFL), Percy Harvin, Lamarcus Aldridge, Marques Colston, A.J. Pierzynski, Eric Staal, & Darrius Heyward-Bey
Center, Milwaukee Bucks (1969-1975) & Los Angeles Lakers (1975-1989)
6x NBA Champion, 6x NBA MVP, 19x NBA All-Star, 2x NBA Finals MVP, 10x All-NBA 1st Team, 5x All-NBA 2nd Team, 5x NBA All-Defensive 1st Team, 6x NBA All-Defensive 2nd Team, 1970 NBA Rookie of the Year, NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team, 3x NCAA Men’s Basketball Champion at UCLA, 3x NCAA Tournament MVP, Naismith College Player of the Year – 1969, No 33. retired by the Bucks and the Lakers, Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee
Like the #12 there is a lot of debate as to who the best to ever wear the #33 is. And as with #12, where the debate primarily came down to one sport (football), the debate with #33 mainly comes down to basketball. While for some this would be a difficult decision for me it was pretty easy to give the go ahead to Kareem for Table #33. After all I believe that, wait a minute let me make this it’s own line.
In my opinion, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the greatest basketball player in history.
There, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way you can understand why I had to go with Kareem. When someone is the greatest to ever play their respective sport, you have to give them the nod for the table. Let’s take a look at what Kareem accomplished. First off, he won an astonishing 3 NCAA Championships in his 4 years at UCLA and on all three occasions was named the tournament’s most outstanding player. He was the first ever winner of the Naismith College Player of the Year award in 1969. Abdul-Jabbar was so dominant in college that the NCAA banned the slam dunk after 1967 and did not bring it back for nearly a decade. He led the Lakers to 5 NBA Championships (and the Bucks to 1) and was twice named the MVP of the NBA Finals. He was named NBA MVP a record 6 times and to this day is the NBA’s all-time points leader. And of course who could forget his trademark “Sky hook” that he could shoot with either hand and was virtually impossible to defend. While many basketball greats have worn #33, I must tip my hat to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
RUNNER-UP (TIE): HONUS WAGNER, Louisville Colonels/Pittsburgh Pirates (1897- 1917) & LARRY BIRD, Boston Celtics (1979-1992)
WAITING LIST: Patrick Ewing, Tony Dorsett, Scottie Pippen, Sammy Baugh, Patrick Roy, Roger Craig, Brian Jordan, Stacey Nuveman, Alonzo Mourning, Henrik Sedin, Grant Hill & Shaquille O’Neal (College)
TO SOON TO TELL: Cliff Lee, Michael Turner, Nick Swisher, & Justin Morneau
Guard, Oakland Raiders (1967-1981)
2x Super Bowl Champion, 1967 AFL Champion, 6x NFL Pro Bowl Selection, 3x All-AFL, 3x First team All-Pro, 1970s NFL All-Decade Team, Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee
Gene Upshaw is one of the greatest guards of all-time and he is the only player in NFL history to play in a Super Bowl with the same team in three different decades. Upshaw was one of the greatest guards to ever play the game and for 14 years was the cornerstone of a great Raiders offensive line. It was his domination of Hall of Famer (and owner of Table #88 at the Cafe 101) Alan Page in Super Bowl XI that allowed the Raiders to rush for over 260 yards and win their first title. He shut down the Eagles’ vaunted defensive line in Super Bowl XV to help the Raiders win another championship. Upshaw was one of the greatest Division II players of all time and the annual lineman of the year award in Division II is named for him.
RUNNER-UP: WILLIE LANIER, Kansas City Chiefs (1967 – 1977)
ON THE WAITING LIST: Dermontti Dawson, Y.A. Tittle, Mike Munchak, Lee Roy Selmon, and Jeff Saturday
TOO SOON TO TELL: Mike Pouncey
Defensive End, Los Angeles Rams (1971 – 1984)
7x Pro-Bowl Selection, 5x 1st team All-Pro, 3x 2nd team All-Pro, 7x 1st team All-NFC, 2x 2nd Team All-NFC, 1975 NFL Defensive Lineman of the Year, 2x NFC Defensive Player of the Year, 1971 All-Rookie Team, NFL 1970’s All-Decade Team, St. Louis Rams #85 retired, NFL Hall of Fame inductee, College Football Hall of Fame
When it came to table #85, I knew I had to give it to Jack Youngblood. There are a lot of great receivers in the game today who wear #85, but Youngblood is one of the greatest pass rushers of all time. In 202 career games, he had 151.5 sacks. Not only was he a great pro but he was also one of the best players in the history of Florida Gators football. In his first full season as a starter with the Rams, he amassed 70 tackles in 11 games played. In 1973, the Rams were the best defense in the NFL and Youngblood led the way with 16.5 sacks. The following season the Rams still had the best defense in the NFL. Few recall that in the 1970’s, the NFL championships were almost always between a combination of the Rams, Cowboys, and Vikings. Youngblood’s stellar play is what allowed the Rams to have the success they did. What Youngblood will always be remembered though is his toughness. During the 1979 postseason, Jack Youngblood played the entire playoffs and Super Bowl with a broken left leg. No doubt that Youngblood is the best to ever wear #85.
RUNNER-UP: NICK BUONICONTI, Boston Patriots & Miami Dolphins (1962 – 1976)
ON THE WAITING LIST: Mark Duper, Chuck Hughes, Chad Ochocinco, & Derrick Mason
TOO SOON TO TELL: Greg Jennings, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Vernon Davis, & Antonio Gates
Agree? Disagree? Tweet us @can_of_corn using the hashtag #Cafe101 to tell us your picks!
Click to enlarge the seating chart for sports heaven’s most exclusive restaurant
Will your favorite athletes be able to get a table at the Cafe 101? Please post below or tweet any questions, comments, or snide remarks to @can_of_corn! Thanks for reading!
Alright, well we’ve made it through the first two rounds of the 2012 NFL Draft. With the third round comes the first time that the Saints are on the board and due to the departure of Asomugha after the 2010 season, the Raiders sneak in right at the end of the 3rd round, with a compensatory pick. Without further ado, I round out my top 100 of the 2012 NFL Draft.
The Colts talked Reggie Wayne into returning but the rebuilding process has to involve surrounding Andrew Luck with some weapons. Criner is a big, physical receiver who has large hands that seemingly swallow up every ball thrown his way.
The Rams would like to get some depth at the running back position as well as find an heir to Stephen Jackson’s position. Wilson is a fierce runner and an absolute steal at the top of the 3rd round.
The Vikings have been trying to find an answer for the safety position ever since Darren Sharper went to the Saints. Tyler is one of the best safeties in the draft and a great value for Minnesota here.
Trumaine Johnson is one of the more underrated players in this draft. He’s a very physical cover corner who has a great ability to make a play on the ball.
The Buccaneers are in desperate need of running back help. In the 3rd round, they land one of the top running backs in the draft. Lamar Miller can be a threat for Tampa both on the ground and in the passing game.
The Redskins need some help at the tackle position and now that they have their QB of the future they must protect him. Schwartz is a tough tackle who is excellent in the run game and shows promise as a pass protector.
The Jaguars have a number of needs but solidifying the offensive line is a big one. Jacksonville lands one of the draft’s best centers here.
The Buffalo Bills have got to get someone opposite of Stevie Johnson and Marvin McNutt is their man. He’s a large target who has great separation skills and shovels for hands. Definitely a much needed addition to this receiving corps.
The best receiver left on the board at this point, Jenkins has good separation skills, great hands, and is unbelievably humble which may be a nice change of pace for the Dolphins who just traded away Brandon Marshall.
The Dolphins are back on the board again and with this pick they select Jared Crick. A player who can play the defensive end or tackle position, I believe if Crick has success in the NFL, it will be on the interior defensive line.
And so far the Kansas City Chiefs are having an excellent draft. Here in the 3rd round, they select the 3rd best pure nose tackle in the draft at a great value. This fills the one remaining void in a very young and potent defense.
Even though Seattle was able to extend Marshawn Lynch, they are still looking for depth at the position. Landing one of the top 5 running backs in the draft in the third round is a no-brainer for the Seahawks.
There are a lot of things I love about Zebrie Sanders and I believe he’s a steal in the third round. He’s a tough athletic tackle who excellent a pass protection. While his run blocking is lacking, this is a great addition to the Texans’ line
The Jets land Zach Brown in the 3rd round which allows them to commit Upshaw to the defensive end position. A superb tackler who is great against the run, Brown’s a perfect fit for Rex Ryan’s defense.
The Chargers definitely need some help in their secondary and Bentley is the best corner left on the board at this point. Bentley is a potential “ballhawk” type corner who could be a huge part of San Diego’s rebuilding efforts on the defensive side of things.
The Bears made a must-needed move in the offseason by trading for Jay Cutler’s all-time favorite target in Brandon Marshall but the Bears’ receiving corps still needs a lot of work. In Keshawn Martin, the Bears select a very athletic and skilled, but very raw wide receiver with a high ceiling.
The Cardinals were able to re-sign Early Doucet but they still have to bolster their wide receiving corps. Ryan Broyles was originally projected to be a late 1st round/early 2nd round pick. He has fallen due to injury but Arizona will take a chance on him here.
The Cowboys continue the much needed project of building up their offensive line by selecting Ben Jones here. Jones is a very instinctive and aware tackle who is a solid blocker in both the passing and running game. He is the best center left on the board and a necessary pick for Dallas here.
The Titans really need some help in their receiving corps. There are some good young weapons there in Kenny Britt and Jared Cook but this corps is lacking. Projected by many early on to be an early to mid second round pick, Toon is an excellent route runner with a great ability to make a play on the ball.
The Bengals are a young team on the rise who have some major concerns in their secondary. They have already addressed the cornerback position and here they find one of the top 5 safeties in the draft in Martin. He’s a great value this late in the 3rd round and the right pick for Cincy.
There are a lot of things I love about Brandon Boykin and I feel that he is vastly underrated. A lights out cornerback at Georgia, Boykin is great against the run, has the ability to make a play on the ball, and has phenomenal coverage skils. While many have questions about Boykin’s instincts and recognition skills, he represents a great value for the Falcons here and I believe he can be a successful corner in the NFL.
Most seasons, Chase Minnifield and Brandon Boykin would be top 40 draft picks but where they fall shows you how deep this cornerback class really is. Chase Minnifield is a cornerback with phenomenal ball skills and a very rare sense of awareness. He reads defenses well and plays exceptionally well against the run. Most of the questions surround Minnifield are in regards to his size and a knee injury that required surgery in January, 2012.
The Steelers need some help on the offensive line and Stephenson is best offensive tackle left on the board. In college, Stephenson was excellent in pass protection and pretty solid at opening up lanes for Oklahoma’s backs. The issue with Stephenson is his inconsistency and his lack of hustle. Doesn’t always block until the whistle but he has the tools to be a good lineman for Pittsburgh.
Many will be shocked that I have Nick Foles falling this far but after the run on quarterbacks in the 1st and 2nd rounds, there are a number of teams with much bigger needs. Now that Elway has shipped out Tebow and taken out a 3-5 year lease on Peyton Manning, the Broncos need depth at the quarterback position and somebody to develop behind Peyton. Foles is a large quarterback with a big arm who is a proven leader. While his pocket presence leaves much to be desired, he is an accurate quarterback with great athleticism who has a pass first mentality but can gain yards on the ground. Something tells me Elway will see a little bit of himself in Foles.
The Eagles have not had a safety since the departure of Brian Dawkins and any thought that the Eagles might move Asante Samuel to the safety position is out the window now that he’s been traded to Atlanta. Antonio Allen is the best safety on the board and fills a huge need for Philadelphia.
And for the first time all draft, we see the New Orleans Saints make a draft pick. The Saints largest need is overwhelmingly the outside linebacker position and Terrell Manning represents a good value at this point. He’s a solid tackler with good instincts who could help New Orleans’ defense.
Love ’em or hate ’em, you have to respect how well Green Bay drafts. The Packers are in need of some help in their backfield and Pead is the best available rusher. He’s a competitive runner with good vision who is solid between the tackles and adds much needed depth behind Starks.
It’s no secret that Baltimore needs to bolster their wide receiver corps and Joe Adams is a speedy dynamic receiver who could be dangerous in the slot. As an added bonus, Adams can be a threat in the return game and adds one more dimension to a very talented and dangerous Baltimore team.
The Miami of Ohio product is the best interior lineman available at this point and could go a long way to help solidify San Francisco’s offensive line. He’s excellent at pass protection and pretty good at run blocking as well. Most questions that surround Brooks are in regards to a shoulder injury he suffered in 2010.
The Patriots also have a number of needs on their interior offensive line and Joe Looney is the best available option. Bellichick knows the value of a strong offensive line and he must address that need here. He’s a big guard who blocks extremely well and has good instincts. Looney could’ve gone much higher but drops because a left foot injury held him out of 2012 workouts.
Josh Norman is an exceptional athlete with superb coverage skills who is great against the run and has Darren Sharper type potential as far as being a “ballhawk-type” corner are concerned. There are questions about his instincts and character but the Giants need help at the position and Norman is the best possible pick here.
The Raiders finally get to make a pick! Thanks to the departure of Nnamdi Asomugha last offseason Oakland receives the highest possible compensatory pick. While the team has a number of needs the overwhelming need is outside linebacker. Spence is a fierce outside linebacker who was great on 3rd down for Miami and is a solid tackler. He has excellent instincts and reads plays well. There are questions about his size and durability but he’s likely the pick Oakland makes here. But you never know – Oakland could feel the need to take yet another quarterback…
THE 4TH ROUND
And now, as an added bonus to round out the top 100 picks, the first five picks of the 4th round. A nice little bonus for all of you whose teams had just an awful season.
For all the St. Louis Rams fans who complained about a lack of receivers after having a tradition that boasted Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, you are welcome to rejoice. Tommy Streeter is my biggest sleeper at the wide receiver position and someone who I believe, in the right situation, could be a #1 wide receiver in this league. He is the perfect complement to Justin Blackmon. He is 6’5″ and has the big play ability to stretch the filed. While he has issues with separation, he is the type of guy you can throw a jump ball to and have confidence he’ll come down with it. He has great hands and long arms and is a great addition to this St. Louis team.
The Colts have always loved the tight end position and I don’t see that changing under Pagano. Orson Charles is the 3rd best tight end in the draft and a necessary weapon for the Colts to add if Luck’s going to win any games.
The Vikings have to be excited to be getting Chris Cook back after some legal trouble but Cedric Griffin is gone and Antoine Winfield is getting older. Casey Hayward is a great value in the 4th round and fills a necessary need for Minnesota.
I don’t know how Brandon Thompson falls this far but he does and the Texans are here to snatch him up as a result of the DeMeco Ryans trade. Thompson is a violent player who is a perfect fit for Wade Phillips’ defense.
The Browns have a need at the inside linebacker position and will be thrilled to find Wagner available at the 100th overall pick. A superb tackler who plays well against the run, he’s an excellent pick for Cleveland at this point in the draft.
Questions? Comments? Snide Remarks? Let me hear ’em! As always follow me @can_of_corn
Well on Friday we saw how the first 32 picks played out and now we’re on to the next 31 (the Saints second round pick was forfeited as part of “Bountygate”). The last 37 picks of my mock draft top 100 will come out on Wednesday. The second round means the Atlanta Falcons fans finally get to see their team make a pick and teams such as the Rams, Eagles, and Patriots have the opportunity to build up their team with multiple picks. Who has slipped into the second round and how will your favorite team follow up their first round draft selection(s)?
Without further ado, let’s find out!
PREVIOUS PICK: LaMichael James, RB – Oregon
Jeff Fisher recognizes that his new team has two franchise players – Steven Jackson and Sam Bradford – and the best thing he can possibly do is provide Bradford some pass protection and find an offensive lineman that can open up running lanes for Jackson. At the 33rd overall pick of the draft, Massie is the best offensive tackle on the board. He is a good pass blocker and was great at run blocking for the Rebels. While I see him being a better fit as a right tackle in the pros, he will significantly upgrade the Rams’ offensive line. He is a large-bodied, hard nosed tackle, with great strength and long arms.
PREVIOUS PICK: Nick Perry, DE/OLB – USC
The Colts have a plethora of needs and at this point they are just selecting the best player on the board. I believe that if Coby Fleener falls this far (which could easily happen) the Colts will elect to pair Andrew Luck with his favorite college target. However since he is off the board, the Colts will address their pass rush by taking Nick Perry. My personal opinion is that outside of Melvin Ingram and Chandler Jones, there is not a better pure pass rusher on the board than Perry. Putting pressure on opposing QBs is a big need for the Colts and Perry is an excellent value at 34 overall.
PREVIOUS PICK: Stephon Gilmore, CB – South Carolina
The Vikings’ two primary concerns after selecting Kalil are their secondary and receiving corps. GM Rick Spielman loves to draft Notre Dame players and if Harrison Smith falls to Minnesota here, I believe that he’s the pick. Another tendency that the Vikings have though is using top 40 draft picks on South Carolina wide receivers. They selected Troy Williamson and Sidney Rice. They even offered Green Bay practice squad member Tori Gurley a contract last season. Now the Vikings love affair with South Carolina wideouts continues with the selection of Alshon Jeffrey. Jeffrey is a physical possession receiver who does have the ability to pick up large amounts of yards after the catch. He also has the size, hands, and speed to be a legitimate deep threat for the Vikings. He is the kind of receiver who can use his size to win jump ball battles down the field.
PREVIOUS PICK: Andre Branch, DE/OLB – Clemson
The Buccaneers probably go running back here but when Andre Branch falls to them, I don’t think the Bucs pass him up. Andre Branch has the versatility to be either utilized as a defensive end or an outside linebacker. After drafting Claiborne and Bowers last year, the Buccaneers will probably elect to use Branch as an outside linebacker. He is a ferocious pass rusher and the addition of Claiborne and then Branch could go a long way to restoring the reputation of the Buccaneers’ defense.
PREVIOUS PICK: Lamar Miller, RB – Miami
I absolutely love Brandon Weeden. He’s a smart QB with great accuracy and a big arm. There’s only one problem – he’s 29. If Weeden were 5-7 years younger, I am pretty confident he would be the 3rd overall pick of this year’s draft. He’s a mentally tough leader with a quick release and the best part is, I really believe that Weeden could start Week 1. It’s risky to take a 29 year old rookie but Weeden will push Colt McCoy from Day 1 and whoever wins the QB battle, Cleveland will be better off for it.
PREVIOUS PICK: Alshon Jeffrey, WR – South Carolina
If you can name two or more wide receivers that were on Jacksonville’s roster last season, you are probably a Jaguars fan. The Jaguars have signed Laurent Robinson and Lee Evans in the offseason to bolster their receiving corps but they need to find a possession type receiver for Blaine Gabbert to throw to. Sanu fits the mold of being a big receiver with good hands who can go up and catch a ball down the field. The Jaguars moved up last year to select Blaine Gabbert and now they must give him some weapons.
PREVIOUS PICK: Kendall Reyes, DT – Connecticut
I’m pretty confident the Rams are going to use this pick to focus on their defensive line or to address their pass rush. The Rams have shown a lot of interest in Jerel Worthy but when Reyes falls to this spot, I don’t believe St. Louis will hesitate to grab him.
PREVIOUS PICK: Mohammed Sanu, WR – Rutgers
Minus the off-the-field issues; I love Janorris Jenkins. Unfortunately off-the-field issues have been the difference between playing in the SEC and losing in the Division II playoffs. They’ve been the difference between being a top 10 to 15 pick and sliding to pick #40. Regardless, the Panthers get an absolute steal by picking up one of the best cover corners in the draft in the second round. The selections of Dontari Poe and now Jenkins gives this defense an entirely new feel for 2012.
PREVIOUS PICK: Jared Crick, DT/DE – Nebraska
There’s no doubt that Josh Robinson is raw but he has good ball skills and excellent instincts. He is a hard worker and a natural leader. And with a 4.33 40, he is the fastest player in the draft and I believe someone will take a chance on him in the 2nd round.
PREVIOUS PICK: Terrell Manning, OLB – NC State
Last season, we saw three NFL quarterbacks throw for over 5,000 yards (when only two quarterbacks had ever hit that mark). One of those was of course, Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. As the league becomes more pass-happy and with an elite QB like Brady in their division, the Dolphins are in desperate need of pass-rush help. As his name suggests, Mercilus is a violent and explosive player who can get to the quarterback. He is a first round caliber player who the Dolphins are happy to find in the 2nd round.
PREVIOUS PICK: Vinny Curry, DE – Marshall
The Seahawks already had a glaring need in their interior offensive line and now with the departure of Robert Gallery, guard becomes an even greater need. Zeiter is the 3rd best available guard in the draft and Seattle will select him hoping he can provide the stability to their line that future Hall of Famer Steve Hutchinson once did.
PREVIOUS PICK: Alameda Ta’amu, NT – Washington
The nose tackle position remains a primary need for the Chiefs but there is no one on the board worth taking at this pick (but I would not be surprised if the Chiefs decided to reach for Alameda Ta’amu). However, the Chiefs do need to find an answer at quarterback and have already hosted Osweiler at their facility. They will be thrilled to find him available here. He’s a big quarterback (6’6″) who has surprising mobility and tremendous arm strength. He’s incredibly raw but definitely someone that could be developed into an NFL starting quarterback.
PREVIOUS PICK: Ben Jones, C – Georgia
Last year in the draft, the Cowboys resisted their usual temptation to pick up a flashy playmaker and instead addressed their offensive line with the selection of Tyron Smith – and it paid dividends for them. Now the Cowboys continue to address the interior offensive line, which is awful, with the selection of Silatolu. He’s a raw talent that has the potential to be a dominant guard in this league.
PREVIOUS PICK: Ronnell Lewis, OLB – Oklahoma
I am really shocked to find Lavonte David still on the board at this point and the Eagles will be too. Though Philadelphia probably has their sights set on Lewis or Manning here, with a first round caliber talent like David still on the board – they won’t hesitate to take him. David is a great tackler with top end speed who goes 100% and plays sideline to sideline on every single down.
PREVIOUS PICK: Zebrie Sanders, OT – Florida State
The Jets decided to pass on Michael Floyd in the first round and instead opted to address their pass rush but they must bolster their wide receiving corps here. Whether Sanchez or Tebow plan to line up behind center, they must have someone else to throw the ball to besides Holmes. Little-known Brian Quick has great size and an ability to separate from defenders that makes him a potential deep threat for the Jets.
PREVIOUS PICK: Jayron Hosley, CB – Virginia Tech
The Patriots have 5 picks in the first three rounds of the draft and they must use the majority of those to address their defensive woes. Lucky for New England there is unbelievable depth at the cornerback position in this draft and at 48th overall they find a ballhawk like Hosley who runs a 4.4 40 and can also be dangerous in the return game.
PREVIOUS PICK: Alfonzo Dennard, CB – Nebraska
Due to durability issues, the change to being a pass-first game, and the recent success of late round/undrafted runners, the running back position has been highly devalued. As a result the Chargers find the 2nd best running back in the draft at the 49th overall pick. James is a runner with great vision who can also catch balls out of the backfield. He fits San Diego’s offensive style perfectly.
PREVIOUS PICK: Bobby Massie, OT – Ole Miss
The Bears have some major needs on their offensive line. They have a dangerous two-headed monster in Matt Forte and Michael Bush and a quarterback with a big arm in Jay Cutler. Now the Bears will select local talent Jeff Allen to come solidify their line. Allen is an excellent pass blocker who leaves something to be desired in the run game but he’s a tough player who can read the defense and the best pick for Chicago at this juncture.
PREVIOUS PICK: Brock Osweiler, QB – Arizona State
This pick should not surprise anyone. The Eagles have been rumored to have interest in potentially trading up with Minnesota or Cleveland to draft Ryan Tannehill. This is the team that drafted Kevin Kolb with a 2nd round pick and signed Michael Vick when Donovan McNabb was still going to Pro Bowls. The Eagles will use this pick to grab Kirk Cousins, who they believe, to be the best available quarterback on the board.
PREVIOUS PICK: Mike Brewster, C – Ohio State
Kelechi Osemele was great for Iowa State at the left tackle position but like many, when I look at him, I see someone who can be an ok right tackle or someone with the tools to be a phenomenal guard. The Titans will draft him for that reason with their second round pick. They are in desperate need of some help on their interior line and Osemele is someone that is really good at pass protection and at opening up the run game. He reads defenses very well and is a good addition to the Titans line with this pick.
PREVIOUS PICK: David Wilson, RB – Virginia Tech
Dennard is a little shorter than you would traditionally want a cornerback to be but the same people who have that hesitation with Dennard probably felt the same way about Antoine Winfield. The Bengals are in need of secondary help and Dennard is a great locker room guy with good instincts with terrific coverage skills and body control. There remains much to be desired in his ability to make a play on a ball but overall a good cover corner who can defend the run and the pass.
PREVIOUS PICK: Chandler Jones, DE – Syracuse
Early on, there were many (myself included) that thought Curry would be an early second round pick and could potentially sneak up into the end of the first round. There’s no doubt that the Lions need help with their pass rush. Curry is a great locker room guy and a ferocious pass rusher with excellent instincts and hustle. He’s a great fit for this Detroit team.
PREVIOUS PICK: Dwayne Allen, TE – Clemson
This is one pick that I have not budged from. While the Falcons have defensive issues that need to be addressed, the fact is that in Matt Ryan’s 0-4 playoff start to his career, the Falcons have struggled to score points. The Falcons currently have the greatest tight end of all time on their roster but Tony Gonzalez is getting up there in year and when Dwayne Allen falls here the Falcons are not going to pass up the chance to give this Falcons offense yet another weapon and to develop Gonzalez’s heir.
PREVIOUS PICK: Jerel Worthy, DT – Michigan State
Please explain to me how Jerel Worthy falls this far. Many have him projected to go late in the first round or in the top 10 picks of the second round but I believe he falls to Pittsburgh here. The Steelers are trying to get younger on both sides of the line of scrimmage and when you have a physical tackle like Jerel Worthy who is great at stopping the run and can put pressure on the QB, he’s a great value this late in the draft.
PREVIOUS PICK: Chris Givens, WR – Wake Forest
John Elway got his dream quarterback and shipped Tebow out of Denver but now he must surround Peyton Manning with some weapons because as we all know, the window is incredibly small. Chris Givens is a small, speedy receiver with great hands who is a perfect replacement for the recently departed Eddie Royal.
PREVIOUS PICK: Kelechi Osemele, OT/OG – Iowa State
The Texans traded DeMeco Ryans to the Eagles because they didn’t feel that, even though he’s a great player, he fit their defensive scheme. While the Texans could go nose tackle here, with Kendricks on the board they will address this new need. Kendricks is a middle linebacker who is a phenomenal tackler with great instincts and awareness. He is excellent against the run but has shown that he can be effective on passing plays as well.
PREVIOUS PICK: Mitchell Schwartz, OT – California
And with the 59th overall pick of the draft, the Green Bay Packers continue to do what they do best – find value in the draft. Devon Still is a defensive tackle who I originally projected to go in the top 12 picks of the draft. In recent weeks Still has fallen, but not because his stock has dropped but more so, because the stock of other tackles has risen. Regardless, Devon Still is one of the best run-stopping tackles in the draft and with a division that includes Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte, and Michael Bush, Still is exactly what the Packers need.
PREVIOUS PICK: Mychal Kendricks, ILB – California
If Mychal Kendricks is available here, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s the pick. However since he is not the Ravens will be excited to address their pass rush by selecting Ronnell Lewis with this pick. Ronnell Lewis has pro-typical size, is one of the best tacklers in the draft, and is a great 3rd down outside linebacker who is an absolute steal at this point in the draft.
PREVIOUS PICK: Josh Chapman, NT – Alabama
The 49ers biggest need at this point is nose tackle as they have not yet recovered from the departure of Aubrayo Franklin after the 2010-11 season. Ta’amu is the 2nd best pure nose tackle in the draft after Poe. He is a big physical tackle who can plug up the middle of the offensive line and is outstanding versus the run. He is pure hustle and while his pass rush skills leave much to be desired he is the perfect pick for San Francisco.
PREVIOUS PICK: Devon Still, DT – Penn State
I agree with Mel Kiper that Derek Wolfe is incredibly underrated and also agree with Kiper that the Patriots will select him; I just happen to have it happening a whole round later than Mel does. As the Patriots continue their defensive overhaul they must find someone to put next to Wilfork. Wolfe is the best defensive lineman left on the board at this point and a pick that makes a lot of sense for New England.
PREVIOUS PICK: Doug Martin, RB – Boise State
The days of Earth, Wind, and Fire are long gone for the New York Giants. The Giants are still a team with a run-first mentality but they lack any running back depth. Martin is a top 5 running back in this class who many believe will go early in the 2nd round. Thanks to the recent devaluation of the position, Doug Martin falls to the champs here. He is a hard nosed runner with a never-say-die attitude who has great acceleration and can be extremely effective in the passing and screen game. The Giants are not going to hesitate to draft him when he falls all the way to 63. Don’t be surprised to see the Giants try to trade up to make sure they land the Boise State back.
Questions? Comments? Snide Remarks? Let me hear ‘em! As always, please follow me @can_of_corn
As the NFL Draft approaches, a lot of things come into focus and the crystal ball becomes more clear. The NFL Combine, pro days, and individual workouts have given us a better idea of the expected talent and impact of these young rookies and how teams will rank them. As teams invite players for private workouts we get a better idea of who teams might have interest in. The stock of some players continues to rise while others continue to fall as we approach Draft Night. And of course a large factor in any mock draft, the order has been finalized and compensatory picks have been awarded.
Peyton Manning, Matt Flynn, Mario Williams, Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks, and the other high profile free agents have signed which has allowed a number of teams to address needs they otherwise would have in the draft. In some cases the signing of one or two players has entirely transformed a team’s draft priorities (As is the case with the Broncos, Bills, and Buccaneers).
The top 20 picks of this final mock draft are pretty consistent with what we saw in my previous post. Throughout this week leading up to the draft I will be publishing who I believe will be the first 100 picks with Round 1 coming today, Round 2 coming Monday, and Round 3 and the first five picks of the fourth round coming on Wednesday. You will notice that this time around I have included my previous pick and for the first round, I have also included other possible picks the team might take at their given position.
NOTE: In a lot of cases where I list a position as an area of need it may just be depth and not a starter. This is very true of positions like quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and line positions for a number of teams.
As always, feedback is much appreciated so please comment below or tweet us @can_of_corn
PREVIOUS PICK: Andrew Luck, QB – Stanford
UPDATE: As I type this, multiple sources are reporting that the Indianapolis Colts have informed Andrew Luck he will be the #1 overall pick
This has been my #1 overall draft pick for the past year (regardless of team) and there is nothing I have seen yet to make me feel otherwise. He is an intelligent young quarterback with a strong arm and as we saw in his pro day, underrated athleticism. He is a mobile quarterback who can extend plays and a natural-born leader. He is ready to run a pro-style offense now and has the pro-typical size that NFL execs and coaches love. In college he was a winner, he was prolific, and more importantly, he was an efficient quarterback throwing 37 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions in his senior campaign. I stated early last season that teams should only consider doing three things with the first overall pick – draft Andrew Luck, draft Andrew Luck and trade him (or your current quarterback depending on the team), or trade the pick to somebody who will draft Andrew Luck.
If I were to rank Andrew Luck against other quarterback prospects of the last 30 years he would rank in the top 3 alongside John Elway and Peyton Manning. One thing all three will soon have in common is they were drafted first overall by the Indianapolis Colts – talk about your incredibly lucky franchises.
Other Possibilities: None
PREVIOUS PICK: Robert Griffin III, QB – Baylor
The Washington Redskins came out and promised their fans that this would be the year that they addressed their quarterback situation. It was clear last season that John Beck and Rex Grossman were not the answer. Knowing that they were unlikely to be players in the Peyton Manning sweepstakes, the Redskins pulled the trigger and swapped first round picks with the St. Louis Rams and sent St. Louis their 2012 2nd round pick, their 2013 first round pick, and their 2014 first round pick. The only other quarterback in the draft beyond Andrew Luck that might be considered worthy of that type of an investment is RGIII.
I believe that Robert Griffin’s stock has been helped by the success of Cam Newton with the Panthers this past year but there is no denying that last season RGIII was the consensus best player in all of college football. Griffin can throw the deep ball and throws it with accuracy. He has blazing speed (ran a 4.4 40 at the combine) but is definitely a throw-first type quarterback. He fits Shanahan’s offense and he’s a high character guy who has the intangibles you want in the future leader of your franchise.
Other Possibilities: None
PREVIOUS PICK: Matt Kalil, OT – USC
With it being presumed that Luck and RG3 go 1 and 2, the Vikings are essentially on the clock. I have been very high on Matt Kalil from the start and I believe that he is in the same class as Cleveland’s Joe Thomas and Miami’s Jake Long as far as offensive line prospects go. The Vikings shocked everyone last year when in the quarterback frenzy they selected Florida State’s Christian Ponder with the 12th overall pick setting up the most intriguing young quarterback competition in the NFL between Ponder and Joe Webb. Presuming that Ponder will be the starter, the Vikings must protect their investment and as Matt Kalil told the Vikings, if they were to select him they, “won’t have to worry about finding a left tackle for the next decade.” I could not agree more.
How good is Matt Kalil? He is the reason that Dallas’s Tyron Smith (who just had a great rookie year) played on the right side at USC. He is the most athletic offensive line prospect I’ve seen in a long time and has quick feet and great strength that will make him an elite pass blocker. The great thing about Matt Kalil is that with this one draft pick the Viking’s all of a sudden take an abysmal offensive line from 2011 and make it one of their strengths. The Kalil pick allows them to move Charlie Johnson from tackle to guard, Loadholt is solid at right tackle, and the Vikings have added depth in free agency to compete with second year player Brandon Fusco. This line could be elite with Matt Kalil next to center John Sullivan (quietly one of the best centers in the NFC last year). Imagine how effective the three headed monster of Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart, and Percy Harvin could be at running the ball if the Vikings offensive line wasn’t awful?
This is definitely the pick the Vikings make. Any team that does not need a quarterback and passes on Matt Kalil is making a HUGE mistake. He is the 2nd best player (after Luck) available in this draft.
Other Possibilities: 1. The Vikings trade the pick; the Vikings have been sending out flyers about interest in other players which I believe is a diversion to get a team who wants Trent Richardson, Matt Kalil, or Ryan Tannehill to move up. Ultimately I believe Minnesota wants to move down within the top 10-12 picks.
2. The Vikings give their secondary a huge boost by selecting LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne
3. The Vikings give Christian Ponder another weapon by selecting WR Justin Blackmon
PREVIOUS PICK: Morris Claiborne, CB – LSU
Trent Richardson is the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson in my opinion. He is an intelligent player and a very complete running back who can be a threat in the running and passing games. A few months ago I believed that Richardson could slip to the middle of the first round because the pass-happy tendencies that teams are leaning towards combined with the success of running backs such as Ray Rice, Maurice Jones-Drew, Arian Foster, Matt Forte, and Fred Jackson has greatly devalued the running back position. Trent Richardson is leaps and bounds ahead of any other running back in this draft and so this devaluation won’t affect him one bit and I’d be shocked if he fell past the 6th overall pick. If he did fall past the Rams, there is a chance he could fall all the way to the Bengals as I originally projected.
Richardson is a talented running back with the vision, speed, and strength to come into the league and be a top five running back in the league immediately if he’s used correctly. The Browns need some help on the offensive side of the ball and since Holmgren won’t find a quarterback worth building around here and he does not believe in using early picks on wide receivers, he will take Richardson. While there are league-wide concerns about his knee injury, the Browns were one of the teams that passed on Adrian Peterson due to injury concerns in 2007 and likely won’t make that same mistake again.
Other Possibilities: 1. If Mike Holmgren decides that Ryan Tannehill could be his quarterback of the future he will not hesitate to select him here and may even swap picks with the Vikings before someone else can move up.
2. The Browns could take Morris Claiborne here and pair him with Joe Haden giving them the best young CB tandem in the NFL.
3. The Browns could trade down with a team interested in Ryan Tannehill (Dolphins, Chiefs, or Eagles) or Trent Richardson.
PREVIOUS PICK: Trent Richardson, RB – Alabama
In spite of the Eric Wright signing, the Buccaneers still have a glaring need at the cornerback position. The Buccaneers need to find an heir to Ronde Barber who is only getting older and someone to take the place of Aqib Talib (off-field issues). When you play Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, and Cam Newton twice a year, finding potential shut down corners has to be a priority and Morris Claiborne is the best defensive prospect in the entire draft. While there are some concerns surrounding his rumored Wonderlic score of a 4 (8%), I don’t believe that will affect his draft stock.
Claiborne is a quick cornerback with excellent instincts and great ball skills. As he showed at LSU, he has the skills to be a true shut-down cornerback. He has the speed and athleticism to be elite in the NFL. Like his former teammate Patrick Peterson (who went 5th overall to the Cardinals last season) the young cornerback can also be very dangerous in the return game. If Morris Claiborne is still on the board here, he’s the pick.
Other Possibilities: 1. If Trent Richardson is available here the Buccaneers may go Richardson over Claiborne.
2. The Buccaneers could elect to use the pick to give Josh Freeman another deep threat alongside Vincent Jackson by drafting Justin Blackmon.
PREVIOUS PICK: Justin Blackmon, WR – Oklahoma State
The Rams made a wise move in trading down out of the #2 spot and in the process gave themselves the draft picks necessary to potentially rebuild this once great franchise that has been the joke of the NFL in recent years. The Rams had a pressing need at wide receiver the past couple of years and with Brandon Lloyd signing with New England, the receiving situation is even more dire. I believe that with this pick the Rams will select the best wide receiver prospect in the draft in Justin Blackmon. While this was a pick some thought the Rams might take at the #2 overall position, I don’t believe the Rams are entirely sold on Blackmon but at this point he’s probably the best pick for St. Louis.
The Rams really wanted Julio Jones last season and now with Blackmon they’ll finally give Bradford the big play weapon he needs. Blackmon is an athletic and speedy receiver who has the ability to make contested catches in the middle of the field but can also stretch defenses vertically. He was consistent throughout his college career and caught 111 catches for 20 touchdowns and over 1700 yards last year with the Cowboys and did so against double and triple coverage packages. The Rams haven’t had a #1 wideout since Torry Holt and Blackmon could fill that void for St. Louis.
Other Possibilities: 1. If Trent Richardson or Matt Kalil are available here, that’s the pick for St. Louis.
2. If Morris Claiborne is available here along with Blackmon, the Rams will have a difficult choice to make
3. The Rams could choose to address their defensive line issues here by selecting Fletcher Cox or Dontari Poe or address their offensive line by selecting Riley Reiff
4. The Rams may once again trade down, given all of their needs, with a team interested in Riley Reiff, Justin Blackmon, or Ryan Tannehill.
PREVIOUS PICK: Quinton Coples, DE – North Carolina
When it comes to the NFL Draft, there are trends that can’t be ignored. One glaring trend as a fan is that it seems like the Jacksonville Jaguars are consistently selecting defensive ends in the top 10. First it was Derrick Harvey, then it was Tyson Alualu, and now Gene Smith is going to hope that the third time is indeed the charm when he selects South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram.
Melvin Ingram is not the most talented defensive end prospect in this class (that distinction belongs to Quinton Coples) but Ingram is probably the best all-around. He is a fast and agile defensive end who has a nose for finding the ball. He is a very mobile defensive end who is extremely effective in open space and could also have success as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. He isn’t the most explosive defensive end but still would significantly boost the pass rushing efforts of the Jaguars. One thing that makes Ingram the more desirable defensive end (over Coples) for Jacksonville is there is no doubt about his work ethic – he is pure hustle. The same cannot be said of Quinton Coples.
Other Possibilities: 1. If Justin Blackmon falls to the Jaguars here, there is no doubt he’s the pick. The Jaguars may also consider taking Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd here.
2. The Jaguars trade back with a team that is interested in Riley Reiff or Ryan Tannehill
3. The Jaguars select Riley Reiff to shore up their offensive line.
4. Jaguars GM Gene Smith goes against his usual mantra of wanting “safe players” and takes a risk on Quinton Coples
PREVIOUS PICK: Ryan Tannehill, QB – Texas A&M
Don’t get me wrong, I love what I have seen of Ryan Tannehill and believe that he can be a franchise QB and someone that a team builds around. I am such a big believer in Ryan Tannehill that I believe the Cleveland Browns should pull the trigger and select him in the first round …. with the 22nd overall pick. He is a young quarterback with a very high ceiling and loads of potential but at the 8th overall pick, I believe he’s a reach. After last year’s draft though where we saw Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, and Christian Ponder all off the board by the 12th pick; I am not going to be shocked when Tannehill’s name is called in the top 10.
The Dolphins must address their QB situation and even though Tannehill needs to be developed, he is a quarterback that can make plays with his feet and has an incredibly strong arm. The downside on Tannehill is that he’s inconsistent and fumbling could be a concern with him. He also played one full season at quarterback in college. There’s no question that he’s a talented, intelligent quarterback with a short learning curve and a great grasp on fundamentals with firm mechanics. And considering that Miami offensive coordinator Mike Sherman was his head coach at A&M last year, his knowledge of the offense definitely helps his draft stock here.
Other Possibilities: 1. The Dolphins address their offensive line issues by selecting Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff.
2. The Dolphins fill the void left by the Brandon Marshall trade with the selection of Michael Floyd
3. The Dolphins address their defense by selecting Melvin Ingram/Quinton Coples or Fletcher Cox/Dontari Poe
PREVIOUS PICK: Dontari Poe, NT/DT – Memphis
I don’t think anyone was as impressive at the NFL Combine as Dontari Poe. Dontari Poe showed up at the NFL Combine at 6’4″, 346 pounds and impressed scouts with an unofficial sub 4.9 40 and 44 reps on the bench press (the most at the combine). The one negative on Poe is that many are worried because his combine workout does not match his game tape which is why many believe Fletcher Cox out of Mississippi State will be taken ahead of him but I remain confident that Poe is the pick here.
When it comes down to it, I believe the comparisons to Baltimore’s Haloti Ngata are merited. Poe is a phenomenal athlete that can immediately help to remedy Carolina’s biggest defensive woe – stopping the run. While he is traditionally a 3-4 nose tackle, Poe is a great athlete and will fit the Panther’s 4-3 scheme nicely. I believe his measurables and athleticism will be too much for Carolina to pass up.
Other Possibilities: 1. The Panthers go defensive end (Coples or Ingram) as opposed to defensive tackle
2. The Panthers elect to take the top player of their board regardless of position. That could be Boston College’s Luke Kuechly. The second best wide receiver (Floyd), cornerback (Gilmore/Kirkpatrick depending on who you ask), and offensive tackle (Reiff) will also all be available here and all represent big needs for the Panthers.
PREVIOUS PICK: Riley Reiff, OT – Iowa
The Bills could go a number of different directions with this pick but they will be thrilled when the second best offensive tackle on the board falls to them at #10 overall. It has been ten years since the Bills have selected an offensive tackle in the first round but given the fact that they just extended Ryan Fitzpatrick, it’s now essential that they give Fitzpatrick time to throw the ball.
In the tradition of University of Iowa offensive lineman, Reiff is a large tackle (6’5″, 315 lbs.) who plays a hard-nosed style of football. He is incredibly effective in the run game. Fundamentally he is a very sound player that is ready to contribute immediately and would fill a huge void in Buffalo’s roster. Not the sexiest pick but the best pick for Buffalo here.
Other Possibilities: 1. The Bills decide to give Ryan Fitzpatrick a weapon to line up opposite of WR Steve Johnson and select Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd.
2. The Bills continue to bolster the defense by adding either Quinton Coples/Melvin Ingram or with ILB Luke Kuechly
PREVIOUS PICK: Luke Kuechly, ILB – Boston College
If he’s available, Dontari Poe would make the most sense for the Kansas City Chiefs who have a gaping need at the nose tackle position. However, given GM Scott Pioli’s hesitance towards “unproven players” there’s a chance that if Poe were available, the Chiefs still might pass on him. However I believe that if Poe is available here, he’s the pick. Since Dontari Poe is off the board – Luke Kuechly becomes the pick for Kansas City.
The Chiefs are in a unique position where they have a relatively high draft pick but have a pretty complete team with few needs. Many consider Luke Kuechly to be one of the safest picks in the entire draft. At 6’3″ and 240 lbs, Kuechly had a great combine workout. He is a great athlete with excellent instincts and a short learning curve. He has the ability to read defenses quickly and adapt his style of play accordingly. He led the nation in tackles the last two years (by a wide margin). This is a guy who makes plays from sideline to sideline who Chiefs fans will fall in love with. There is no doubt that he’s the best linebacker in this year’s draft class. Kuechly’s style of play fits Romeo Crennel’s defense perfectly and would be a perfect complement to Pro Bowler Derrick Johnson. Kuechly is exactly what Kansas City needs: a run-stopping linebacker who plays aggressively and with great instincts.
Other Possibilities: 1. The Chiefs decide to address their interior offensive line and select Stanford’s David DeCastro
2. Pay attention to trends, the Chiefs could surprise everyone and select LSU defensive lineman Michael Brockers who many consider a better talent and safer pick than Dontari Poe. The Chiefs have used a first round pick on an LSU player three times since 2007 and Brockers would the be the third LSU defensive lineman (Dorsey and Jackson) that Pioli has selected in the first round since 2008.
3. The Chiefs trade up and draft Ryan Tannehill.PREVIOUS PICK: Luke Kuechly, ILB – Boston College
PREVIOUS PICK: David DeCastro, OG – Stanford
If Luke Kuechly is still on the board, he might be the pick here but I don’t expect him to last this long. The Seahawks need to address their pass rush and failed to land their biggest free agent target in Mario Williams. Quinton Coples is the most athletic defensive end/outside linebacker in the draft with the only major concerns being his work ethic and attitude. At UNC, Coples showed a great ability to defend against the run and find the quarterback. There are some who believe that Coples’ attitude will have him fall out of the first round but I don’t believe that at all – I believe his athleticism will be too much for the Seahawks to pass up. He spent a majority of his collegiate career being double blocked and still managed to have success, his performance at the Senior Bowl showed what teams can expect when they make the mistake of single blocking him. Quinton Coples could be the final piece in a young defense that’s on the rise.
Other Possibilities: 1. The Seahawks may choose to focus on the interior offensive line and select David DeCastro out of Stanford. Being the franchise that selected Steve Hutchinson, they know the value of a good guard.
2. Select either Stephon Gilmore, Dre Kirkpatrick, or Janorris Jenkins and bolster their secondary
PREVIOUS PICK: Jonathan Martin, OT – Stanford
The popular pick for Arizona seems to be Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd but the $64M they invested in Kevin Kolb last season and the issues on the offensive line have me 100% certain that the Cardinals will be selecting an offensive lineman, out of Stanford to be more exact. Given the gaping hole at left tackle I believe they will opt for Jonathan Martin over guard David DeCastro. Martin is not the talent that Kalil or even Reiff are but he is the consensus third best offensive tackle in the draft and there is a significant drop off in offensive line talent after Martin.
Jonathan Martin is a big, physical, athletic tackle who is a great run blocker and has the tools necessary to be an elite pass protector. He is very adept at setting the edge in screen situations and given the Cardinals two-headed rushing attack of Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams, Martin could be the perfect fit for this Cardinals offense.
Other Possibilities: 1. Draft Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd to take pressure off of Larry Fitzgerald similar to what the Falcons did with the Julio Jones last year.
2. Draft David DeCastro and address the interior offensive line.
3. Address the pass rush with the best available defensive end or outside linebacker
PREVIOUS PICK: Mark Barron, SS – USC
There are a number of ways that the Cowboys could go with this pick but I think at this point the Cowboys go with the best available player that fits a need which makes it a choice between David DeCastro and Mark Barron. I think they choose Barron. Even though they signed Brodney Pool, safety remains an area of need for the Cowboys. Their secondary was awful last season and in a division that includes the matchup nightmares of Cruz and Nicks or Jackson and Maclin, a good safety is essential. Barron is, without a doubt, the most NFL-ready safety in the draft. Barron is a hard-hitting safety who has a tendency to find himself wherever the ball is on the field. He has the potential to be an impact defensive player and an eventual Pro Bowler for Dallas.
Other Possibilities: 1. Build up their interior offensive line by selecting David DeCastro
2. Address the defensive line by selecting either Fletcher Cox or Michael Brockers
PREVIOUS PICK: Michael Brockers, DT – LSU
If Mark Barron is available here, I believe he’s the pick. Fletcher Cox has been really moving up the draft boards as of late and could go as early as #6 overall to the St. Louis Rams. But if he falls to this point (which I believe he will) then Philadelphia will not hesitate to take him. Fletcher Cox was a disruptive force for the Bulldogs and considered by many to be a pretty safe pick. He is the kind of defensive tackle that can fit almost any role or scheme and selecting him would go a long way toward solving the Eagles’ rush defense woes.
Other Possibilities: 1. TRADE ALERT – Don’t be shocked if the Eagles try and trade up. Ryan Tannehill, Trent Richardson, Matt Kalil, Riley Reiff, or Melvin Ingram might all be reasons they move up.
2. If Riley Reiff or Jonathan Martin are available the Eagles may try to address their offensive line.
3. They could also address their pass rush with Courtney Upshaw or Chandler Jones.
PREVIOUS PICK: Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB – Alabama
The New York Jets find themselves in a tough spot because they have a number of glaring needs here but it’s difficult to choose which one to address or which prospect best fits their team. At the end of the day thought, the Jets have trouble getting to the quarterback and when you’re a defensive minded head coach that has to play Tom Brady twice a year, that’s definitely a problem. Originally projected to be a top 10 draft pick, Upshaw is the best choice for the Jets here. He is the highest rated defensive end/outside linebacker prospect on the board at this point. The one drawback on Upshaw is that many consider him a “player without a position”. There are some consider him too small to be an every down defensive end but too large to be an every down outside linebacker. Regardless, he is a great physical talent that could really help Rex Ryan’s pass rush.
Other Possibilities: 1. The Jets could give Mark Sanchez another weapon and select Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd.
2. The Jets address their offensive line and select the best available offensive tackle (Ohio State’s Mike Adams)
3. Trade up to select Melvin Ingram or Quinton Coples
4. Trade back and select the best available player at that point.
PREVIOUS PICK: Michael Floyd, WR – Notre Dame
Every year’s draft has two stories: the reach and the drop. Well I believe that in spite of the fact that some teams have Michael Floyd as the top receiver on their draft boards he drops to the Bengals here. It is likely that the Bengals will address their offensive line or secondary with this pick but when Michael Floyd falls, the Bengals will not hesitate to pull the trigger.
The Bengals are a very talented young team but they definitely took a step back last year without A.J. Green on the field. Michael Floyd is very comparable to Justin Blackmon and most consider him the 2nd best receiver on the board. He has unbelievable hands, good speed, and is an excellent route runner. He is a big target who has the ability to break open the big play. He also has the leaping ability and body control necessary to fight for a ball in the endzone. There may be some hesitance in regards to his alcohol-related problems but the Bengals tend to overlook those things. The rare opportunity to take a quarterback that wasn’t even playing for you and turn him into the best young wide receiver tandem in the league is not one that Mike Brown should pass up.
Other Possibilities: 1. The Bengals could select David DeCastro, the best guard in the draft. He’s an excellent value here!
2. The Bengals could elect to address their secondary concerns with Janorris Jenkins or Dre Kirkpatrick.
PREVIOUS PICKS: Mike Adams, OT – Ohio State
If I had a big board, David DeCastro would easily fall into my top 10 overall prospects and the San Diego Chargers would be thrilled if he fell all the way to 18 (he could be gone as early as 11). He is by far the best guard prospect we have seen in a long, long time. He is an excellent run blocker who is great at pulling and setting the edge on screen plays. He’s an intelligent player who is pure hustle. He is incredibly athletic and my favorite thing about watching him play for Stanford was that DeCastro tends to knock down the first defender and then lay another block on a linebacker or corner. He plays from whistle to whistle and would greatly satisfy the Chargers need on their interior offensive line. With DeCastro the Chargers could be set at guard for the next decade.
1. The Chargers could address their pass rush with Chandler Jones or Nick Perry
2. Though they have greater needs, the Chargers may draft Kendall Wright to replace Vincent Jackson.
3. The Chargers could reach a little bit and draft the top running back on their board.
PREVIOUS PICK: Cordy Glenn, OG – Georgia
I really thought that Stephon Gilmore would be an early second round pick but in recent weeks, because of his measurables, he has moved ahead of Dre Kirkpatrick and Janorris Jenkins on most boards. I have always been very high on Stephon Gilmore and think he is a very special athlete but at South Carolina he proved inconsistent. I think he is clearly one of the top four cornerbacks in the draft and he might have the highest ceiling of any cornerback available. However, I do believe that his performance will largely be based on the system he’s in and the coaching staff that gets to develop him. I consider Gilmore an elite physical talent with amazing speed and great instincts but he still has much to learn. Regardless he would fit Chicago’s defense well and they need all the secondary help they can get if they hope to take the division from Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford.
1. The Bears address their pass rush with Chandler Jones, Shea McClellin, or Nick Perry
2. They could address their wide receiving corps by selecting Kendall Wright to line up opposite Brandon Marshall.
3. The Bears could also choose to go with Dre Kirkpatrick or Janorris Jenkins over Stephon Gilmore here.
PREVIOUS PICK: Melvin Ingram, DE – South Carolina
The Tennessee Titans have a number of needs but their secondary is a huge concern and the chance to get a cornerback from the top tier of this class is one the Titans should not pass up. As far as talent goes, Kirkpatrick is the 2nd best cornerback available at this point. In my opinion, Janorris Jenkins is a much better cover corner and fits Tennessee’s defense better BUT there are the off the field issue concerns with Jenkins and the last thing the Titans want is Pacman Jones: The Sequel. There are questions surrounding Kirkpatrick as well (marijuana charges that were later dropped) but he is a big physical corner with great leaping ability who has the potential to be a ballhawk for the Titnas. He is a violent tackler and smart player with great speed that could really help Tennessee on defense.
1. They could select either Mike Adams or Cordy Glenn to shore up their offensive line
2. The team does have a need at inside linebacker and could select Dont’a Hightower out of Alabama.
3. They may consider selecting Baylor’s Kendall Wright or Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill to give Matt Hasselbeck/Jake Locker a receiving threat opposite of Kenny Britt
PREVIOUS PICK: Janorris Jenkins, CB – North Alabama
In this draft, the Bengals could have opted to select David DeCastro with their 17th overall pick and taken Kendall Wright here. However when Floyd falls to them they will select the 2nd best wide receiver in the draft and now they get the good fortune to also select the 2nd best guard. Glenn is a large (6’5”, 345 pounds) guard who is an excellent run blocker. While he played the tackle position in college, he could be a truly dominant guard in the NFL. He is incredibly mobile for someone his size, has great strength, and long arms. He would be the perfect addition to this young Bengals’ offense.
1. The Bengals have huge holes in their secondary and could address it by selecting Janorris Jenkins. Unlike other teams, the Bengals won’t have the same concerns with his off-field issues.
2. Trade back and use a later pick on either Jenkins, Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith, or a running back.
PREVIOUS PICK: Kendall Wright, WR – Baylor
The Cleveland Browns made a great choice in passing on Justin Blackmon and now at the 22nd overall pick they still land the 3rd best wide receiver in the draft in Kendall Wright. Wright is an explosive receiver with great speed who can challenge defenses deep down the field but is also the type of player who catch a ball on a slant pattern underneath coverage and gain yards after the catch. In college, Wright was RG3’s favorite target and had similar production to Justin Blackmon last season. He played for four years at Baylor, never missing a game and never held to under 2 catches in all four years of play. This is the perfect pick for Cleveland because all of a sudden if defenses load the box up for Richardson, Wright will make them pay and vice versa. Mike Holmgren still gets McCoy a deep threat and in true Holmgren fashion, does it without using a top 10 pick on a receiver.
Other Possibilities: 1. The Browns could reach for a quarterback here but I don’t see it, if Ryan Tannehill somehow fell past the Dolphins, Chiefs, Cardinals, and Eagles – he’s the pick here.
2. The Browns could address their offensive line and select Mike Adams.
3. The Browns could opt to address their pass rush with Shea McClellin, Chandler Jones, or Nick Perry
PREVIOUS PICK: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB – Alabama
The Lions have needed to find an heir to Jeff Backus for years and this is the year they finally do that. Mike Adams is a physical offensive tackle who is very athletic and has great size (6’7”, 320 lbs). He is an excellent run blocker which should be of great benefit to Leshoure, Best, and Smith. While Adams is a great run blocker, he still does need to be developed in terms of his pass blocking ability and needs to become better at picking up the speed rush. However, in a division that includes Jared Allen and Julius Peppers, this is a pick the Lions have to make if they hope to stay on top in the NFC North.
1. The Lions could address their secondary and select either CB Janorris Jenkins or S Harrison Smith
2. The Lions could select Chandler Jones to help with their pass rush
PREVIOUS PICK: Dont’a Hightower, ILB – Alabama
Due to salary cap restrictions, the Steelers had to let James Farrior go. The Steelers are in desperate need of an inside linebacker who can play right away. In college, Hightower called the defense for Alabama and had success against top SEC teams as a blitzer. What he really brings to the game is tackling. He’s an excellent tackler who plays well against the run. He is a large, physical linebacker with good speed given his size. This deadly combination made him a dangerous blitzer for the Crimson Tide and should make him one in the NFL. He fits the mold of a Dick LeBeau player which makes this a perfect match.
Other Possibilities: 1. The Steelers may address their defensive line and select Michael Brockers
2. The Steelers may address their offensive line and select Bobby Massie
PREVIOUS PICK: Fletcher Cox, DT – Mississippi State
Last season the Broncos surprised everyone by not only winning the AFC West but then by knocking off the defending AFC Champions in the first round of the playoffs. The Broncos started rebuilding last season by selecting Von Miller 2nd overall. At times the Broncos D looked elite but overall the front four struggled and had trouble stopping the run. Michael Brockers is a great athlete with a great ability to penetrate the offensive line. His ability to break through and force quarterbacks to the edge plays right into the strength of Denver’s defense – Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller. He’s a big player with long arms and is an absolute monster in the trenches. Brockers is an excellent fit for Denver’s defense and a great value at 25th overall.
Other Possibilities: 1. The Broncos could grab LaMichael James or Lamar Miller here to help with their run game
2. With Claiborne, Gilmore, and Kirkpatrick off the board; the Broncos may try and trade back in order to grab a quarterback, running back, or wide receiver.
PREVIOUS PICK: Stephen Hill, WR – Georgia Tech
Before the injury to Matt Schaub last season, I thought the Texans were the best team in the AFC. Even without Schaub the Texans were formidable but when Andre Johnson got hurt was when Houston took a step back. Houston has two desperate needs – a disruptive nose tackle and a receiving threat to line up opposite Johnson. 26th overall is a little high for a prospect as raw as Hill but with all the potential based on the skills he showed at the combine he has the tools to be an elite receiver in this league. Hill had an amazing combine showing very reminiscent of two Georgia Tech wideouts who had big playoff performances last season (Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas). He is a 6’4″ wide receiver who ran a 4.36 40 and has an unbelievably high ceiling. He has amazing speed, great hands, amazing leaping ability, and unmatched athleticism and body control. He’s raw but if he develops into the kind of receiver he has the potential to be (an Andre Johnson/Larry Fitzgerald type of threat), this pick will be an absolute steal.
1. If Dontari Poe somehow falls this far, there is no doubt in my mind that he’s the pick. (I don’t see Poe falling past Dallas)
2. The Texans would also consider Hightower, Martin, or Adams if they were available.
The New England Patriots were just a few minutes away from their 4th Super Bowl trophy but in the end, it was their defense who failed them. The Patriots made it no secret that they were pursuing Mario Williams in free agency – New England has some gaping voids in their secondary and a non-existent pass rush. The Patriots had trouble putting pressure on Eli Manning and were incapable of covering Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz in the Super Bowl. Chandler Jones is the perfect pick for Bellichick and a great value at #27 overall. Chandler Jones is a great talent who has the athleticism to also be moved to the OLB position in a 3-4 defense. He could be the perfect start to the rebuilding process for the Patriots’ defense.
1. The Patriots could choose to address their offensive line and select Wisconsin center Peter Konz
2. If the Patriots are not concerned about Janorris Jenkins’ off the field issues, they could address their secondary here.
PREVIOUS PICK: Lavonte David, OLB – Nebraska
Last season, Green Bay’s defense was absolutely awful and posted the worst sack rate in the NFL. An inability to create pressure and sack opposing quarterbacks is the main reason Green Bay was sent packing three weeks earlier than most expected. While their very explosive offense overshadowed their defensive woes, they need some help creating pressure. There is some debate about who the Packers will select with this pick but there’s no doubt in my mind it will be a defensive end or outside linebacker.
I originally had Shea McClellin going to the Packers… in the second round. In the last few weeks though he has surged up draft boards. The Packers are apparently in love with this kid and if they want him, they are going to have to take him here (if he’s still available). It’s easy to see why they like him so much. He’s a defensive player that can tackle well in the open field. He has excellent instincts that allows him to recognize plays and adapt accordingly. His unusual combination of size, strength, and speed make him a natural pass rusher. He’s a very disciplined, hard nosed player with great work ethic that fits the personality of the Packers perfectly. Ted Thompson is going to be extremely pleased to get his man at #28 overall.
1. They could opt to draft Andre Branch, Whitney Mercilus, or Lavonte David instead
PREVIOUS PICK: Peter Konz, C – Wisconsin
If Dont’a Hightower falls to the Ravens here, there’s not a doubt in my mind that he’s the pick. But he’s not so let’s move on. In spite of the fact that the Ravens just re-signed All-Pro center Matt Birk to a 3 year contract, I am fairly certain this will be his last year in the NFL. The Ravens must find an heir to Matt Birk and Konz is by far the best center in the draft. Peter Konz is a strong, athletic, intelligent center that could be the cornerstone of any NFL offensive line for the next 10 years. The beauty of drafting him now is that he has a year to learn from one of the best centers the NFL has ever seen. And since Konz is ready to play now, the Ravens could use him immediately to fill the void at the offensive guard position while they wait for Matt Birk to retire.
Other Possibilities: 1. They could select Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith as replacing Ed Reed should also be a priority
2. They could select Rueben Randle or Alshon Jeffrey – whichever receiver is higher on their board
3. They may also trade up for Hightower or Hill or trade back to find better value. The Ravens have been pretty consistent at finding great value in the draft and it’s very rare that they reach for players on the first day.
PREVIOUS PICK: Rueben Randle, WR – LSU
Even with the additions of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, the 49ers receiving corps still needs some help. The 49ers came within two muffed punts of making the Super Bowl last year and they did so with a receiving corps that did not catch a pass before the 4th quarter. San Francisco lacked any ability to convert on 3rd down and relied heavily on tight ends Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker to provide any kind of pass offense. With no nose tackles on the board worthy of this pick, San Francisco will take the top receiver on the board which will likely be Rueben Randle. Randle is a large, physical redzone threat that could be a boost to the 49ers passing attack.
1. I really believe the 49ers will try and trade back and then select either the best available nose tackle or wide receiver at that point.
2. They could continue to work on defense and take the top defensive player on their board
PREVIOUS PICK: Harrison Smith, SS – Notre Dame
TRADE ALERT! I fully expect the New England Patriots to trade out of this pick. There are about three or four teams I could speculate on that may want to move here but I would be shocked if the Patriots actually make both of their first round selections. If the Patriots do pick here though, they’re going to continue to address defense and I believe that Harrison Smith is the pick. The safety out of Notre Dame is the second best safety in the draft and after Smith there is a significant drop off at the position. Smith is a safety with incredible instincts, top-end speed, and great ball skills. He is a physical, aggressive player who can close running lanes quickly and can compete with receivers for jump balls. His personality and playing style are exactly what Bill Bellichick looks for on defense.
1. They really need help on the defensive line and could select UConn’s Kendall Reyes here
2. Once again, if they are sold on Janorris Jenkins, he could be the pick here
3. Most likely the Patriots will trade back into the top half of the 2nd round and gain additional draft picks.
PREVIOUS PICK: Coby Fleener, TE – Stanford
The Super Bowl Champs do have some needs and if Peter Konz is available he fills one of their biggest needs. But the Giants are really in a position where they should just be drafting the best player available and at the 32nd overall pick, Coby Fleener is an absolute steal. He is one of the best players in the draft. He has great size, absolutely blazing speed, is a terrific route runner, and could be deadly in the red zone. He has amazing hands and great awareness and body control. He has Rob Gronkowski type potential. If you really want to know how good Coby Fleener is, just think about this – at Stanford’s Pro Day (which featured Andrew Luck, David DeCastro, and Jonathan Martin among others) it was Fleener who stole the show and was the talk of the Pro Day. The Giants need some tight end help and while Fleener’s stock has been helped by players like Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham, there is no doubt he’s the right pick for the Giants.
1. The Giants could address their offensive line and select OT Bobby Massie
2. They could address their pass rush and take Andre Branch or Whitney Mercilus here
3. They may select a running back with this pick
4. Once again, this is another team that could trade back if another team is looking to move up
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