‘Merica!: NFL Mock Draft Edition 2

Daniel Kitchen, NFL Staff Writer

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Today’s song title is from an old song that has been making a revival. Unfortunately, due to some profane lyrics, I can’t elaborate the remainder of the chorus. It’s been an eventful week. I began Tuesday by starting, and completing on Friday, my NFL “Will” draft, and my “should” draft followed suit tonight. I also was granted an interview with Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller, who is their Lead NFL Draft Writer. He advised me to fuel my obsession to its maximum capacity, and I am happy to oblige! My Official Edition 2 Mock Draft is as follows:

 

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Will & Should: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

Jacksonville is in shambles. To worsen things, the reason no one talks about it is because it’s been a given for so many consecutive seasons that not many people care anymore, they just accept it. Geno Smith has not been proven long enough to deserve the first overall pick. Then again, Cam Newton didn’t deserve to be number one, and Robert Griffin III didn’t deserve number two. Fast, scrambling, collegiate one-year wonders are the flavor of the month right now, and failing teams seem to value them worthy. Smith will be the pick because Jacksonville is dangerously close to being league-moved, and they want to be culturally relevant again. He should be the pick because I’m pretty sure that even if Matt Barkley leads them to an 8-8 record his rookie year, critics will still fault the front office from going against the norm established by RG3 and Cam Newton in the past two drafts. I still believe in Barkley as the best, but hey, what do I know?

 

2. Kansas City Chiefs: Will & Should: Matt Barkley, QB, USC

Kansas City thinks I know a lot! Not that they had much choice. They are an extremely young and very bright team, but have been playing behind a chip in one of my three worst draft trades of my analytic career. Matt Cassel isn’t worth a second round pick in my fantasy league draft, let alone two second-rounders in the actual NFL Draft. KC thought he was worth it, and fortunately for them, their roster is still talented enough that if a new QB is brought in, they have a two-year window to make a playoff push. Matt Barkley won’t be THAT good in the first year, but he will be in the second. He should have gone number one, but I’m sure when viewing the results, Kansas City won’t be very upset he fell to two.

 

3. Cleveland Browns: Will: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia     Should: Mante Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame

I can’t argue with the Browns going a different direction in my drafts. Jarvis Jones is generally regarded as the current top prospect in the draft, and he will make one heck of a player! I have Te’o going number three in the should draft because the Browns could use a linebacker of any type, and I firmly believe that Te’o will rise to the point that his leadership and general instincts will drive him over Jones in some teams’ minds. Jones is a beast, but a team as pitiful as Cleveland needs a leader who can perform as such day one.

 

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

The Rams should be on the rise. They’ve had so many early picks that by now SOME of that talent has to have proven itself, right? I don’t mean to rag on them, they’ve been average on draft day. They do have horrible track records when drafting offensive tackles, however. Joeckel is next in the long line of top OT’s that the Rams will pick. Will he pay off? Maybe, maybe not. But the Rams have to try.

 

5. Carolina Panthers: Will: Jonathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State    Should: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

To divert the topic for a moment, this is why Barkley should go first overall. When you draft a Cam Newton or similar, it’s like a firework. It starts hot and successful, but when the fun wears off, the results are worth one glance, and nothing more. Carolina watched their firework display, and now they have nothing more than the ashes left. Newton will be ok, but they need some talent so support a non-elite QB. Defensive tackle was a priority last year, and it was not filled. Hankins is valued as a safe bet. I don’t think Carolina will take another risk with a first-rounder, seeing how good the sure thing from last year, Luke Kuechly, has performed. While a risk last year was a bad move, I think a risk this year will be good. Lotulelei is so fast that he could pass as a defensive end, then tackle, then end, and alternate every play. He could fill whatever need Carolina’s line desires.

 

6. Oakland Raiders: Will: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah       Should: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

Oakland has been hammered by the media for wasting money on Tommie Kelly. Keeping it in the same area, the media also points out that Richard Seymour is getting no younger. That’s two-thirds of Oakland’s less-than-heralded D-line. Pandering to the media to try and pass the post-Al Davis regime off as logical, I see Lotulelei getting the pick. Even more pitiful than the rest of Oakland though is their secondary. Their top corner (injured most of the time though) is Ron Bartell, most notable in my mind for being one of the 73-75 overall rating players that’s always available in Madden free agency should your fourth-string be injured. Milliner isn’t as good as top corners of previous drafts, but he’ll do the trick for Oakland.

 

7. Tennessee Titans: Will: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama       Should: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia

Let me make a disclaimer: my should draft isn’t always who I feel a team should have as their top priority. It’s the player I would take in their situation if it was my call.

If Milliner is available, Tennessee should take him, as their secondary has spent most of the year ranked in the bottom five pass defenses. With him gone, Tennessee would be fortunate enough to select a top-three worthy pick at seven, even if Jones isn’t one of the major needs on D.

 

8. New York Jets: Will: Bjorn Werner, DE, Florida State       Should: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama

If any quarterback was worth even a fraction of a first-round pick and was still available, I would give the Jets the pick in a second. Mark Sanchez was an overhyped GQ model; it took three years for him to prove me right. Tim Tebow isn’t good enough to be a starter. He proved me right from his first day as a rookie. After quarterback, there’s needs everywhere but cornerback, basically. Defensive end is the position the Jets current regime values most this year in the front office, and Werner is one of the best in the class. From what I’ve seen however, the Jets defense is good enough to stand strong. Their offense needs desperate help. With no other position on O worth a high pick, I’d take Warmack the second “once-in-a-decade” guard prospect in two drafts. Sanchez and Tebow can play marginally better if they stay up forever.

 

9. New Orleans Saints: Will: Mante Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame             Should: Damontre Moore, HY, Texas A&M

New Orleans’ defense is being contemplated as the worst in recent NFL history. The claim is justifiable. I don’t see Jonathan Vilma coming back ever again as the undisputed leader of the defense. He can be the resident enforcer of it though. Te’o would be a great replacement for leader. Not available in my “should” section, I went with Vilma being kept as general, and Moore, the new premier hybrid rusher (a term I invented to describe one able to line up at defensive end or rush linebacker), being drafted to strengthen at least one hole of a defense that appears to be nothing but a hole.

 

10. Buffalo Bills: Will: Domantre Moore, HY, Texas A&M       Should: Bjorn Werner, DE, Florida State

Both players serve the same purpose, and are just the best available in the respective drafts. Buffalo’s defense has been flirting with the rest of the worst in the league, and if not for New Orleans’ dispicable display, would probably be the favorite to finish last. Having drafted a corner first last season, I imagine another area, be it end or hybrid, will be addressed.

 

11. Arizona Cardinals: Will & Should: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

I have the same reasoning as every other expert online: Arizona, having dug themselves a hole in Kevin Kolb and forgetting to install a ladder to climb back out (maybe that money went into Kolb’s signing bonus instead), has to give him the best chance to do whatever it is that he calls good quarterback play. Running back is a mess, but Lattimore was the only one who was worth this pick at one point. They picked wide receiver last year, so they need to address what the biggest issue all along: tackle. Bobby Massie could do the job, but I don’t think they have the patience to wait a year or two, and would rather use a pick on Lewan instead.

 

12. St. Louis Rams (via Washington): Will & Should: TRADE/Keenan Allen, WR, California

The Rams will have two early picks this first round. They should go to a tackle and a wide receiver, the two biggest holes on the team. Joeckel will take one of the picks, even if they have to move the second one into the second round to do it. Thus, I have a trade disclaimer in case they move down. If not, they need to reach for Allen, no matter the waste of a high pick. Even if Allen only performs to an average level, St. Louis needs a wideout badly enough that it’ll be worth the pick.

 

13. Miami Dolphins: Will: TRADE/ Barkevious Mingo, HY, LSU      Should: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee

The trade disclaimer is the same as in the previous pick, so I won’t repeat myself. If they don’t trade, Hunter isn’t worth the high pick. I think Miami too is desperate enough they should reach anyways for him. The Miami brass won’t take that chance though, and select Mingo, a beast who tapered off this past season, yet somehow stayed in the discussion for a top ten pick. Miami does need a hybrid rusher, but not as much as a receiver.

 

14. Tampa Bay Buccanears: Will & Should: Jonathan Banks, CB, Mississippi State

Tampa had a questionable cornerback crew before top guy Aquib Talib got traded. Now they just need corners bad. A slight reach, Tampa needs to do it anyway.

 

15. San Diego Chargers: Will: Chance Warmack, OG    Should: Jonathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State

I’ve heard far too much ridicule directed at Chargers Qb Philip Rivers. He is a good quarterback leading a good offense. The offensive line is the reason Rivers rushes many throws, which gains him heat from the press. I think the Chargers will take a guard prospect being praised highly to compensate. Hankins is merely a victim of how my “should” draft works. He will go much higher, but staying true to my draft process, he falls this far.

 

16. Philadelphia Eagles: Will & Should: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

Philadelphia had a much higher need at safety earlier this year. Then their offensive line chose to abandon Michael Vick to outrun the entire defense of whomever the opponent was that day. Such horrid play (or injury-proneness in the case of Jason Peters) needs to be addressed, especially when their corps. is recognized on ESPN as the most obvious need of any team in the draft. Matthews has the bloodlines from star footballer daddy, and he has played like a star-in-the-making himself. Will help quite an amount.

 

17. Dallas Cowboys: Will & Should: Jonathan Jenkins, DT, Georgia

Dallas almost pulled the trigger on Dontari Poe in 2012, before deciding Morris Claiborne was more valuable in a trade (good call). Now, a year later, defensive tackle is stilla need, while offensive line is a need in and of itself. With no O-linemen worth taking here, Dallas will take their other weakness in Jenkins, a player who has far too many resemblences to Poe (one-year wonder) for me to think it a completely safe choice. Best player left at his position goes to a team who needs him.

 

18. Cincinatti Bengals: Will: Sam Montgomery, HY, LSU     Should: C. J. Mosely, ILB, Alabama

Cincy has no obvious needs. Recently though, one faint need has appeared: linebacker. Whether it be at rush linebacker or inside, Cincy needs some more depth at any front seven position except defensive tackle. Montgomery has fallen far this season (he was projected near the top 10 last year), but his name still resonates with talent. That’s why Cincy will take him, in addition to his versatility at end or linebacker. Mosley would be a better fit because Cincy could run him, being the leader of the incomparable Alabama defense, alongside Rey Maualuga as a dual leader system, leaving other linebackers free to rush more often. Either pick works though.

 

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

Minnesota considered picking both Justin Blackmon and Morris Claiborne ove Matt Kalil last draft. Thankfully, they didn’t, but they also did not address either need in another way between then and now. No wide receivers are available that are worth the pick here, and corner is a more pressing need anyways. Rhodes is the type of player that some experts rank highly, while others don’t rank period. He’s got the stuff though, and will work his way into round one before April.

 

20. Detroit Lions: Will & Should: Eric Reid, S, LSU

Never a more underperforming team hath thine eyes befallen than the 2012 Lions. Okay, an accent-laden exaggeration, but still, they should be WAY better than they are. The secondary is by far the worst unit on the team, but, with no corners worth this pick remaining, a safety will also improve the incumbent regime. Reid hasn’t performed exactly to expectations, but he’s shown he is worth a first-round pick.

 

21. Indianapolis Colts: Will: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama     Should: Barkevious Mingo, HY, LSU

Yes, I project Andrew Luck to go #1 overall and guide the scuttled Colts inot the playoffs immediately. Then I have them losing round one. Seeing how well Luck has performed as a rookie offense leader, the Colts need someone similar on defense. Williams will get the pick because he’s ragarded as a safe bet, and comes from the best college D we’ve seen in years. Mingo should be the pick because, while his boom-or-bust potential could cause him to fall even farther, he can be a work in progress for a few years, time enough to decide if he can be a dynamic leader, or if Indy needs to move on.

 

22. Seattle Seahawks: Will: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee    Should: Robert Woods, WR, USC

Seattle wasted so much money recently. Matt Flynn has yet to assume total control of the QB job, and Sidney Rice has spent more time on the injury report than on the field. A third quarterback to add in the competition is not an answer, but another receiver is. Justin Hunter is someone who could actually go higher with a strong finish in the season, and the Seahawks will be happy to have him in their blue and green. With Hunter gone in my should draft, I went with Woods, someone who most experts say has fallen, but I still maintain has top 15 talent. He will prove me right by retirement.

 

23. Pittsburgh Steelers: Will: C. J. Mosely, ILB, Alabama     Should: Sam Montgomery, HY, LSU

Pittsbugrh could not pass up David DeCastro last draft, even if Dont’a Hightower was the ideal image of a Steeler. I guarantee that if Mosely maintains first-round talent, Pittsburgh will not pick anyone else and pass up a second straight ILB general of the nation’s best defense. If Montgomery falls though, as he did in my should draft, Pittsburgh will happily take a previously mocked top-5 pick at a position of need.

 

24. Green Bay Packers: Will & Should: Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama

I will say this everytime I mock him: Barrett Jones deserves a top-10 pick at the least. What man do you remember in recent history who wins collegiate nationwide O-linemen trophies AND can play any offensive line position there is? I don’t remember any at all. Jones fills many needs all at once on Green Bay’s O-line, and seeing Aaron Rodgers struggle for two games early on this season is all the motivation I think they’ll need to upgrade in the trenches.

 

25. Denver Broncos: Will: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri      Should: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama

Denver’s biggest need last draft was defensive tackle. Their solution, Derrick Wolfe, is not even playing defensive tackle for them, meaning they still have it as their biggest need. I gave them whichever DT was the best remaining in each draft. Simple as that.

 

26. Baltimore Ravens: Will & Should: Matt Elam, S, Flordia

Baltimore has too many aging defensive stallwarts to not fill one of them. Being the best player left at one of those positions, Elam is the pick. Baltimore needs depth at safety anyways, and Elam is everywhere on the field he can possibly be at one time. He’ll be a great steal later on.

 

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

Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, & Brandon Marshall showed everyone what Chicago can do on offense. The offensive line has since contributed to a team that relies 100% on their defense, and caused the injury to their quarterback. Needing constant improvement at any spot, the Bears will and should take whomever the best lineman is remaining. In this case, it’s Fisher.

 

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

Atlanta signed Ray Edwards to fill a need at defensive end. He has been released as of this season. John Abraham should be retiring any year now. There’s two holes at two defensive end spots. Being the best available end, Okafor can step in and start day one.

 

29. New York Giants: Will: Dallas Thomas, OL, Tennessee    Should: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina

New York needed help badly last draft. In keeping with the theme of this post, the _______ (insert team there) did not address _____ (insert need here) between then and now, so they should this draft. Thomas is versatile enough that I think he’ll attract the Giants’ attention, but Cooper is the more proven prospect, and should go higher than experts think… though not much higher.

 

30. New England Patriots: Will & Should: TRADE/David Amerson, CB, N.C. State

I was tearing my hair out that no one else realized what a steal Alfonzo Dennard was in the 2012 draft. Passed over by many an inept G.M., Dennard is now playing like a Pro Bowler. New England still has enough secondary holes to be exploited out of the playoffs, but Amerson could fill two of them. Able to play free safety or corner, Amerson was a potential top 3 pick before the season, and the only reason he isn’t up there still is because he was matched up against Tennessee’s pass attack early in the year. Tennessee has one of the best pass games in the country, and Amerson was unfairly criticized for it. New England gets a steal, and in five years or so, the best cornerback duo in the league.

 

31. Houston Texans: Will: Robert Woods, WR, USC     Should: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri

The Texans have two big holes, one much larger than the other. Wide receiver is an obvious need, and has gone unaddressed for almost half a decade now. Woods, if available, will remedy that. Not being available in my should draft, I give Houston the best remaining player at the other, smaller need from last year: defensive tackle.

 

32. San Fransisco 49ers: Will: Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State      Should: Kenny Vacarro, S, Texas

San Fran has no obvious needs. One recently came to light, as there have been ruors that the aging and potentially disgruntled group in the secondary may need help. Poyer would be the biggest reach of the first round, but as Super Bowl Champs and having no major needs, a team can do that. One player that has been rising rapidly though is Vacarro, a boom-or-bust prospect who could replace one of the safeties, be it Goldson or Whitner, when one retires, is let go, or leaves due to disagreements.

 

I must remember to shorten my explanations. Late nights until 2 to ype these lose their luster after SportsCenter is over and the caffine is gone. Hope you enjoyed the Thanksgiving holidays, this post, and your families and friends.

God Bless!

– Dan

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