Mario Brothers!: Week 8 NFL Mock Draft

Daniel Kitchen, NFL Staff Writer

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I finally get to predict what my true analytic passion is in football: the NFL draft. Weekly picks, fantasy guesses, and outsmarting ESPN experts are always fun ways to stay involved, but the most fun is just downloading prospect lists, making your own rankings, and blasting teams for ridiculous moves of unintelligence that will set them back a mimimum of three seasons. Yes, I am weird. But to me, this is a fun wayt o spend my free time.

As always, I pick a song lyric from whatever’s in my head to use as a title. This song is the theme from Mario Bros., which happens to be on an Nintendo 64 while my AXP pledge and future brothers play Super Smash Bros. all night. I hope that song is now glued to your minds for hours to come.

My picks are based on my projections of how the teams will be ranked in the standings at the end of Week 17, followed by a playoff simulation I made (no, I did not use Madden) to determine who would win the big game (Houston over the defending champion Giants). Do not fault me if your team is ranked low; it is 99.9% their fault they are a horrible franchise (Jacksonville). If I have them ranked highly and it is underserved (Buffalo), be happy at least someone decided to take pity on you. The picks are as follows:

 

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Will Take: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia U.       Should Take: Matt Barkley, QB, USC

How I usually do my drafts are on a basis of “Will” and “Should”. Some teams listen to common logic, and fillt heir biggest need. Other teams fall under the movement I call the “Al Davis Rule”: they blatantly ignore their franchise’s well-being, draft who they want, and plead ignorance when Oakland disgraces themselves over a decade-long period. Jacksonville will take the next coming of Cam Newton #1 – an overhyped, running quarterback who likes to have every touchdown credited to his arm or his legs. Smith is a great college passer, I won’t deny him that. But unlike Newton, who I felt would never be an elite QB, Smith will not be a long-term starter. The chance to make me eat my words is there, but I do not like Smith’s chances. Barkley, on the other hand, is the type of passer that lasts a long time: someone who is predicted to dominate in every level of ball he plays, doesn’t scramble, and plays like Brady, Manning, Brees, etc. Barkley has the smaller percentage of risk, and could replace mega-bust Blaine Gabbert in Jacksonville.

 

2. Cleveland Browns: Will: Barkevious Mingo, HY, LSU   Should: Geno Smith, QB, WVU

Another thing I must explain is that I am very lazy. I also enjoy widening my vocabulary with terms I coin personally. “HY” stands for hybrid rusher, or someone who can line up at defensive end or outside linebacker on any player. “HY” is just easier to read, write, and understand than “DE/OLB”. Saves time. Anyways, Cleveland still has wasted many picks on failed rushing stallwarts. This class has (at the moment) some elite ones, headed by Mingo. Of the elite prospects in the class, a hybrid rusher is the most sense in Cleveland. They SHOULD take Smith though because I do not see all the Browns’ executives surviving the ax this offseason. The new brass should seek to distance themselves from the suicide note that is Brandon Weeden. Why any “professional” and “fully-functioning” exec thinks a 28 YEAR OLD ROOKIE is the franchise’s savior is beyond me. Smith has some risk, but at least he won’t be having grandchildren by his third season as a pro. THAT’S someone with enough time to build around.

 

3. Kansas City Chiefs: Will: Matt Barkley, QB, USC     Should: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas

I, and I’m sure at least someone else, questioned why Matt Cassel, a QB who had yet to win a game since high school and had one season as an injury fill-in on the best team in the league at the time, was worth two good role players and two second-round picks. Now Kansas City is paying for their ignorance. Cassel is inadequate, and Brady Quinn is their next best hope. A change is needed. If Barkley slips by 1 & 2, KC will happily slobber him up. If both teams wisely choose new leaders however, a strong reach seems to be in order. KC has one of the best rosters in the league, neglecting the quarterback position. A good QB means immediate results, so why not go for it, even if Wilson may be available in Round 2 for them.

 

4. Carolina Panthers: Will & Should: Jonathan Hankins, NT, Ohio State

Carolina’s biggest need last year was defensive tackle. Their biggest need this year is defensive tackle. Luke Kuechly was too good to pass up last year. Hankins is too good to pass up thsi year. Luckily for the Panthers, Hankins actually plays defensive tackle. Biggest need: filled (the man is big enough I’m pretty sure the only thing he can’t fill is his stomach!)

 

5. St. Louis Rams: Will & Should: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M

Now is the point where some of the teams listen ot logic and pick their needs. The Rams have a good line… if it can be played by only three or so people. Wayne Hunter is not the answer; neither was the player they traded to get him. I don’t know why people though a change of scenery would help either guy. The Rams will have the brains to alieviate their qualms this year though (see later that the Jets won’t). Joeckel is the highlight tackle of this class; every year, one tackle steps above the rest. He is not as good as last year’s beast, Matt Kalil, but he’ll do.

 

6. Oakland Raiders: Will: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia       Should: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

This time, I won’t fault a team for disagreeing with my course of action. Jones, or as I am trying to get him called, “The Beast from the Southeast” could’ve been a top fifteen pick last draft. Coming back for a year only bolstered his quality. The consensus best pure outside linebacker, Jones could fill one of the innumerable gaps in the Raiders defense. Milliner is the more immediate need. He plays on the best defensive team in recent college history, and the Raiders have a couple useable players at linebacker. Their cornerback situation is Ron Bartell. Don’t recognize him? Exactly.

 

7. Tennessee Titans: Will: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama      Should: Barkevious Mingo, HY, LSU

Tennessee lost 90% of their healthy secondary when Cortland Finnegan left last offseason. They have been paying for that this year. I regularly write and play anyone who is up against the Titans’ pass defense. They need a big-play corner now, and Milliner is the only player worth that moniker in this draft (yet). With Milliner gone in my “Should” draft, the next best player worthy of the 7 pick is Mingo. The Titans have some rush prospects in limbo on the team, but I don’t see them switching Derrick Morgan to linebacker, or Morgan playing to the level they need him to. Mingo could step in playing better then Morgan day 1.

 

8. Tampa Bay Buccanears: Will: Bjorn Werner, HY, FSU    Should: Mante Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame

The Buccanears are a defense in question. They have the prospects to thrive; the issue is that none of them play how they should. They have two first-round ends from two years prior (well one, but Bowers should have gone round 1 too), a number 2 overall defensive tackle from recent years, a second round linebacker, a high-priced free agent corner, a former elite (and still young) corner, and a first round rookie safety. All but the safety, corner, and other corner are showing “bust” symptoms. Such a waste. Werner will be viewed as a plug for either the end or outside linebacker holes available. Te’o is the better fit though. Drafting Te’o gives them a general for the banger players, allowing their first-round safety to control the backs. With Te’o, the inside linebacker from the second roudn this year could move back outside, and the ends could play end without fearing a move to linebacker. (And yes, I do actually know every one of their names. Pronouns seemed easier to use.)

 

9. New York Jets: Will: Mante Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame     Should: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia

Alas, the football universe has decided the Jerry Springer show shall be renewed for another season. The Jets are a mess. Rex Ryan has failed in his experiment, though it was a good idea that could work in another team. His style is better suited for a banger team like Baltimore. Mark Sanchez is far and away the biggest waste of a top-10 pick I have ranted in page after page about, and I won’t spend an hour (though I could) picking apart every trait that makes him a failure as a starting quarterback. I could start typing and never stop in describing the flaws in Tim “Mr. Perfect” Tebow, how he is not as good a quarterback, person, or quarterback as everyone thinks, and how the Jets shouldn’t have even wasted a sixth round pick on his overrated carcass. Yes, I feel that strongly against Tebow. The Jets, with no quarterback worthy of this selection, will take someone who can reorder their strength: the defense. Te’o, if available, will drastically improve the defense, and allow, if needed, the removal of David Harris and his massive salary (though he is a great player). If Jones falls though, and Te’o goes at number 8 like I said he should, Jones could also help lead, while filling a needed hole.

 

10. St. Louis Rams (Via Washington): Will: TRADE/Keenan Allen, WR, California     Should: Allen

St. Louis gets this as the first of their received picks in the RG3 trade. Having already tried again to acquire a tackle to cure Sam Bradford’s David Carr Syndrome by drafting Luke Joeckel at #5, they give Bradford a better weapon at receiver at number ten. I have heard varying rumors that Jeff Fisher was incredibly enraged when the Rams’ strategy was messed up and they missed out on Justin Blackmon (as of now, they are more fortunate to have missed him); whether Fisher broke a table and glasses when he went off the board or starting making up his own profanity is beside the point – St. Louis needs a big name target for Sam Bradford. There is no target who has proven themselves worth a top-fifteen pick yet, but Allen is closest. While those ranked above him preseason have fallen off during underperforming college seasons, Allen has stayed consistant, which will convince the Rams to take a flier on him here.

 

11. New Orleans Saints: Will & Should: Sam Montgomery, HY, LSU

New Orleans currently has the worst defense in recent memory. They are making journeymn look like $50 million talent and stars look like the greatest of all time. Help is desperately needed at any and all positions. That may actually be an exaggeration; some of their players have just been suffering off-years or are being targeted as scapegoats of a league-sponsored witch hunt (add this to my list of things I could yell about for days) against bounty systems. One spot that has lost no players to injury or suspension is rush linebacker. Do you know who the Saints employ at that position? No? Exactly – they weren’t dedicated and vicious enough to be a bounty player OR talented enough to have alerted anyone as to their name. And if there is one player at that spot who some have heard of, I’m willing to bet there isn’t two. Montgomery was a first-rounder this year, and even a bad year in college has only dropped him down to 11.

 

12. Miami Dolphins: Will: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee/TRADE  Should: Hunter

Brian Hartline is a surprise story this season. And I’ll stop there with him. He explodes the first week teams forget about him, and then once someone actually bothers to cover him, he disappears. Miami needs a consistant receiver for the surprisingly playable Ryan Tannehill. This receiver group of 2013 is one of the more pathetic we’ve seen in recent memory, and Hunter does not warrant this pick. But Miami can do no better than it already is until they have someone dependable catching the ball.

 

13. Arizona Cardinals: Will: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah  Should: Bjorn Werner, DE, Florida State

The Cardinals do not have an immediate need at defensive tackle. Lotulelei is just a monster, and can slide to end if need be. He has fallen so far down my board that I think Arizona will bypass a more immediate need for him. Werner will fill that immediate need (unless another arises in the next six months).

 

14. San Diego Chargers: Will: Jonathan Banks, CB, Mississippi State  Will: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

San Diego is playing better than anyone ever thought. They always get blown out by the same type of teams though: those with a decent quarterback and many receivers. Quentin Jammer stopped being young half a decade ago, and he is still one of their best corners. Not a good sign. Being the best available, Banks should help from day one. Similar to why I mocked Lotulelei to Arizona last pick however, Lotulelei is too good for a Chargers team to pass up.

 

15. Detroit Lions: Will: Dominic Moore, HY, Texas A&M   Should: Jonathan Banks, CB., Mississippi State

The Lions love when they have any viable excuse to select a dfefensive rusher. They took Ndamukong Suh (smart move), threw far too much money at Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril, and drafted another (injury prone) defensive tackle in Nick Fairley. Fairley has spent more time sobering up in a jail cell than on the field, and Vanden Bosch is getting no younger. With a chance to do so, the Lions will draft a rusher they feel fits their mold in Moore. The Lions DO have a horrible need, just not at rusher. Any cornerback can be seen as an improvment on the incumbants, and with Banks available, he should be taken.

 

16. Dallas Cowboys: Will & Should: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama

Dallas had three major needs last draft: corner (drafted Morris Claiborne and signed Brandon Carr), defensive tackle (ignored), and offensive guard (ignored). The offensive line has far more to be worried about than the defensive line, so their biggest position of weakness should be dealt with in Warmack, who is surpassing, according to some, David DeCastro from last year as the “once-in-a-lifetime” guard prospect.

 

17. Indianapolis Colts: Will: Jonathan Jenkins, DT, Georgia   Should: Dominic Moore, HY, Texas A&M

Indy got their long-awaited savior in Andrew Luck; their offensive has responded accordingly. Now they need a general to save their defensive weaknesses. Jenkins will be drafted because the defensive tackle position is considered the general of defense (in certain defensive schemes, such as Indy’s). Moore should be drafted because the Colts defense already has Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis to guide the young defenders, and drafting someone of their mold will ease the transition from the old to the new.

 

18. Buffalo Bills: Will & Should: Robert Woods, WR, USC

It seems anytime I mock a receiver to a team, the receiver appears in both my “will” and “should” columns. Woods was being ranked as a number one overall pick candidate before the college season began, and that potential is still there. He has just been overshadowed by teammate (and future number one candidate) Marquis Lee and newly-arrived Penn State transfer Silas Redd. Woods will end up being a steal here at #18, mark my words, but for now, he is the third out of three receiver reaches in round one.

 

19. Philadelphia Eagles: Will: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan   Should: Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama

If I had more of a qualification in ranking prospects, I would have Barrett Jones being selected no later than third overall in any mock draft. The man is the leader of the best O-line in the nation, can play any position on the offensive line, and is the leading candidate to gain his second straight Outland Trophy, awarded to the best lineman on EITHER side of the ball, not just offense. Philadelphia just drafted Danny Watkins at guard though, leaving tackle as a glaring weakness. Lewan is raw, but has tremendous potential at tackle. Philly won’t be able to resist that (but can reesist their common sense, apparently).

 

20. Seattle Seahawks: Will: Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama   Should: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

See my post from above. Switch the prospects and their positions. Entry #20 done (well, sorta).

 

21. Minnesota Vikings: Will & Should: Xaiver Rhodes, CB, Florida State

Minnesota almost let the best tackle prospect I’ve seen slip past in Matt Kalil. The player that almost supplanted him? A cornerback. With no superstar available at 21, Minnesota takes a position of need.

 

22. Cincinatti Bengals: Will: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama   Should: Corey Lemonier, HY, Auburn

Cincy has the luxury of having little needs to draft for. In that case, they can stock up on a position that always has need: linebacker. Rey Maualuga has been less than what they drafted him for, so Mosley can be groomed to replace him when the time is right. Lemonier is just as good a pick as Mosley, but Cincy has more quality inside linebackers than outside linebackers. It’s splitting hairs by that point.

 

23. Baltimore Ravens: Will & Should: Eric Reid, S, LSU

Baltimroe got slapped repeatedly by the injury and age bugs this season. Their only quality corner went down for the year, their landmark safety got hurt, their inside linebacking landmark is done for the year, and their bulldozer of a defensive tackle went down for a limited time. Last year, Courtney Upshaw was drafted. He, along with a returning Sergio Kindle, can fill Ray Lewis’ void. The corner is still young, so he’ll be bak to help. Similar reasons apply to Haloti Ngata. Ed Reed, the safety, is the only injury that can not be quick-fixed. Drafting Eric Reid will leave a hard-working safety to fill in Reed’s shoes when he retires. It’s destiny: their last names are both Reid/Reed.

 

24. Green Bay Packers: Will: Terrence Williams, WR, Baylor    Should: T.J. McDonald, S, USC

Green Bay has two issues: the ones that cause media-induced panic, and the issues that are ignored. The media has blown-up the situation of how Donald Driver is always injured with age, Greg Jennings has played less than little, and when Jordy Nelson was injured, Randall Cobb remained their only option. Rumors have circulated that Jennings is on his way out, Driver may be contemplating retirement, and that Green Bay may be looking for another quality target for Aaron Rodgers. Had Terrence Williams been playing with RG3 one more year, he would be a top ten pick guaranteed. He falls this far because of a lack of a star quarterback getting him the ball. The Packers’ real need still continues to be safety, as Charles Woodson too is fighting the age bug, and the Packers get beat by the likes of Andrew Luck in shootout-style games. McDonald was a former top-ten prospect who fell behind Reid and is now a risk of falling into round two. He will be a great pick in Green Bay.

 

25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Will: Corey Lemonier, HY, Auburn    Should: David Amerson, CB, North Carolina State

Pittsburgh is the prime case of why the age bug is not one to be tempered with. Division-rival Baltimore got a few player blight of it; Pittsburgh’s enter defense got eaten alive! Brett Keisel is a still-performing oldster who will be dropping off soon, Casey Hampton is not worth a starting salary, James Harrison is too old to stay healthy, Ryan Clark’s powerful hits (the reason he is my favorite player) are taking their toll on his own body, and Troy Polamalu has missed over half the season two of the last three years. Any position on defense could use an upgrade, but Pittsburgh seems to enjoy signing starters for the secondary and drafting the run D corps. Lemonier is a player projected at a much higher level than late first round, and Pittsburgh will happily swallow him up. Pittsburgh’s biggest weakness, and it has been established by many a team in 2012, is their horrific cornerbacks. Ike Taylor occasionally plays at a level his salary calls for, but Keenan Lewis, Cortez Allen, and Curtis Brown are not working. Bringing in Amerson, the projected top corner in preseason, NCAA leader in interceptions in 2011 and again a frontrunner in 2012, would automatically add another capable starter to the Steelers, allowing a little extra time for one of the other three to learn how to be a starter of the Steel Curtain.

 

26. New England Patriots: Will: David Amerson, CB, North Carolina State   Should: Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State

As I said, Amerson is worthy of a mid first-round pick, but most teams aren’t smart enough to “risk” it. New England, as deceitful and cheat-happy (yes, I just made that unfortunate term up) as they are, know how to draft, and draft well. Amerson will fill their one huge, large, gaping, gigantic, glaringly obvious hole in pass defense, currently highlighted by boom-or-bust corner Kyle Arrington and seventh-round steal (another smart move that only I seemed to predict working well immediately) Alfonzo Dennard. Poyer is definately a reach, but with literally no other weakness in New England, I would disgrace myself as an “expert” if I mocked New England any other position.

 

27. San Fransisco 49ers: Will:   T.J. McDonald, S, USC   Should: Kenny Vacarro, S, Texas

San Fransisco is another team like New England directly before them: they have an amazing team with a weak secondary (except San Fran’s isn’t even that weak). Given that, I think San Fran will get beaten deep enough in the playoffs to realize a new safety is needed. Dashon Goldson is an impending free agent, and Donte Whitner occasionally has lapses of judgement. McDonald is a higher first-round worthy pick than experts consider him, but with him gone in my “should” draft, Vacarro is the next best by my consideration. Again, a reach in my “should”, but it’s their only weakness.

 

28. Atlanta Falcons: Will & Should: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas

Atlanta, currently the last of the undefeated NFL teams, still can’t get over the Conference Championship game hump in my most recent draft. Not even making the Con. Championship by my recent predictions, they will have slightly more holes than some may think, but one that has held over since the last offseason was defensive end. John Abraham is feeling his age, and Ray Edwards hasn’t earned for than a couple million of his substantially-larger-than-that salary. Okafor could slip into round 2 and I wouldn’t be surprised a bit, but with the fall of players like Vernon Gholston, Okafor’s stock rises in correlation.

 

29. Chicago Bears: Will & Should: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

Whenever I think that my Steelers have a consistantly pathetic offensive line, I think of the Bears, and have a much better opinion about Pittsburgh. Chicago drafts high year after year for offensive linemen, and year after year arrives at little more than disappointment. Gabe Carimi, when he stays healthy for two straight years, can play. They need help at the other tackle position. Fisher again is another player who could fall into round two without anyone batting an eye, but in this day in age, you HAVE to draft for what you most need.

 

30. Denver Broncos: Will: Dion Jordan, HY, Orgeon   Should: Jonathan Jenkins, DT, Georgia

Did you seriously think I was going to project the Peyton Manning-led Broncos to win it all? I may like great sport stories, but I do not like Peyton Manning. Coming so close, and with no running backs even conceivable for an extreme round one reach, Denver should address their defensive tackle position, which potential solution Derrick Wolfe being moved to primarily defensive end. They won’t, having gone crazy with Von Miller fever this year. They have Miller capable of rushing from end or linebacker, Wolfe at other end, and Dumervil capable of rushing end or linebacker. One more rush linebacker gives them arguably the most feared rushing four in the league. That seems too fun to pass up by the Broncos.

 

31. New York Giants: Will & Should: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

New York needed a offensive tackle last year. They drafted now unused David Wilson. They need an offensive tackle even worse this season. They should draft Jake Matthews. Teams don’t listen to who I think they should draft (usually). New York becomes an exception so they can use the currently unused Wilson.

 

32. Houston Texans: Will: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas   Should: Terrence Williams, WR, Baylor

Houston has far less faith in Matt Schaub than you may think. Even after winning the Super Bowl, they will have serious concerns about Schaub’s durability, leadership, and consistancy. He is also rising in age, and is in such an age region that Houston can groom a successor. Being given the opportunity to bring in a fallen successor prospect directly after winning their first Super Bowl is a dream come true. I’m not too sure. Even if Wilson was available in my “should” draft, I still probably would have given the Texans the best possible receiver. Wilson is a worse injury concern than incumbant Schaub, and should not be trusted to establish a franchise’s entire future on. Andre Johnson isn’t the bulletproof tank he could once be relied on for, and there is literally no other speedy target to throw to. Williams, whom I shall mention again is worthy of a higher pick (though not incredibly higher), can bring another target in to lessen the concerns about Matt Schaub as the next five years of the Houston Texans.

 

 

This is the first draft of many. My updated mocks are created every Tuesday, and published shortly after, time permitting. For this type of post only, I am open to any collaborations, submissions of your own, or anyone who wants to come help me make a draft. Thanks for reading, and please watch our LIVE Political Coverage tonight from 8-12 on RMU TV!

God Bless, God Bless America, and Go Football!

– Dan

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