2015 @ZackMooreNFL’s Mock Draft
I do my mock draft a little different than how most members of the NFL media do it. Pair that with the exciting work we do at Over the Cap during the offseason, we have a lot more to cover than most people this time of year as well. While everyone does have a lot to look at in the NFL this time of year, this is our “busy season,” so I’m more interested in analyzing salary cap issues than mock drafts. As an aspiring NFL agent, studying the college game increases in importance for me every year, so I look forward to the banter that is sure to happen in the comment section below.
This will be a lot like some of the great work that they’re doing at NFL.com talking about the draft division by division and dissecting team needs with multiple players and multiple picks rather than the mock drafts we typically see this time of year.
(Feel free to jump ahead to the analysis of your favorite team, this is mostly a lead in to allow you to understand the thinking process that I try to use throughout this, so if you’re a cap head and you want to understand that part of it, read through, but if you just want to see what your favorite team is going to do, go below.)
Also, this piece could be a bit of a preview of something I might try to do after I finish Caponomics where I offer another book where I take the theories and ideas that I’ve come up with from analyzing the 21 cap era Super Bowl champs, along with the 2014 teams, then apply all of that towards 2015 and discuss how I think teams will do this season based on their salary cap. As for this, team positional spending and individual players influence many of my draft decisions.
I’ve also begun to use the way that that Patriots and Ravens build their teams as a huge part of how I analyze teams, I might as well also throw Alabama in there, even though they are at the college level. The Seahawks try to do this as well, but they haven’t been doing it long enough for me to use them as an example. One way they do this is through their cornerbacks who are always tall, something Alabama also does.
The Patriots, Ravens and Crimson Tide all use measurables from height and weight to 40-times, along with other analytics to figure out how a certain player will factor into their team’s plans. The examples that I like using on the Patriots are the way the Patriots have moved seamlessly from Kevin Faulk to Danny Woodhead to Shane Vereen, letting Faulk go when he got old and was ready to retire and letting the other two go when their cap numbers became too high. In fact, the Patriots have the pass-catching running back to such a science that these are the stats for these three players all the way back to 2000:
From 2000-2009. Kevin Faulk averaged 48.2 yards per game for the Patriots.
From 2010-2012, Danny Woodhead averaged 47.3 per game.
From 2012-2014 Shane Vereen has averaged 50.6 per game.
Another position the Patriots do this well at has been moving from Troy Brown to Deion Branch to Wes Welker and now Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola in that slot receiver spot.
The Ravens benefitted this year from the offseason pick-up of Justin Forsett, who turned out to be one of the most valuable players in the NFL last season taking up only 0.43% of the cap and churning out 1266 yards on the ground at 5.4 per carry with 44 catches for 263 yards through the air and eight touchdowns. What the Ravens did well there was find a guy with a similar running style to Ray Rice, two months after Rice was arrested for assaulting his wife, which turned out to be a huge move when Rice was suspended indefinitely.
Another position they did this at was tight end with Todd Heap assuming the role from 2001 to 2010, then they drafted Ed Dickson in the third round of 2010 and Dennis Pitta in the 4th round of that year. Both Dickson and Pitta took a year to learn behind Heap, then they combined for 94 catches for 932 yards and eight touchdowns in 2011. All three players are around the same size with Heap being an inch taller and seven pounds heavier than the other two. What really struck me was how similar Heap and Pitta seem to move in the film I’ve seen. What the Ravens did, and something I’m seeing as a great moves for teams to do, is they drafted two players who fit their image of a prototypical tight end in their system, so they minimized the risk of not having a good player at a critical position in their offense once Heap moved on.
A last position that I want to touch on briefly here is wide receiver. Starting with Derrick Mason, they’ve had a good stretch of tough, great blockers at receiver with Anquan Boldin and Steve Smith. They’ve also always had a speedy, deep threat opposite of these tough, grinders in Mark Clayton and, recently, Torrey Smith.
We’ll go through this by looking at the order of the first round, then putting the teams who don’t have a first rounder below.
This is certainly the most comprehensive “mock draft” type piece on the Internet, it’s not necessarily meant to be read entirely, but rather you can pick and choose the teams that are most interesting to you. Honestly, by the end of writing this, it became a way for me to self-analyze the theories and ideas that I’m creating in Caponomics and applying them to what I think teams should do, so that I can look back at it later to see what I was thinking and try to see what teams were thinking with each pick. Essentially, it was me trying to be the GM of every single team, with about 1% of the information they have, but just trying me trying to test theories and all.
Hope you enjoy and, again, I don’t think you should read the whole thing! Ha! I hope you enjoy whatever you do read and I welcome the discussion. As always, e-mail me at Caponomics@gmail.com if you’re interested in getting on the e-mail list and receiving our first chapter on the 2000 Ravens that we released last week!
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-14)
No. of selections: 8
Draft picks: Round 1 (1), Round 2 (34), Round 3 (65), Round 4 (109), Round 5 (162), Round 5 (168), Round 6 (184), Round 7 (218)
Well, all the talk is between Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota with the first pick, apparently it’s Winston and that would seem to be the right pick for this offense. I’m a huge proponent of either drafting quarterbacks into systems that fit their styles or molding a style to fit the quarterback, as long as Winston’s background check comes up fine, then he will be the choice in Tampa Bay. If not, it’s going to take Mariota a little longer to settle into the starting role that it would Winston, but I do think he could be a good player for the Bucs down the road.
The Bucs will need to solve their offensive line issues in the second round with their best tackle on their board at #34 whether that’s TJ Clemmings, Cedric Ogbuehi, Jake Fisher or Andrus Peat if he’s still on the board.
Andrus Peat is an absolute monster. This picture of him with Ty Montgomery behind him, a guy who is over six foot and 200 pounds, is just silly. Granted, he might not be available at #34 considering that it’s hard for teams to pass up a physical tackle, who’s also smart enough to play at Stanford.
This is why I don’t do a traditional mock draft though, it’s not about who I think these teams should pick and I can’t even determine if these guys will be available at these draft picks, it’s about who these teams like most and who the teams in front of them pick. So who knows if any of these players will be available at #34, but if they or someone else who’s at the top of this tackle class is available, they should pull the trigger here and protect Winston for a long time.
One shocking statistic about the Buccaneers, as of right now, they are spending 35.13% of their cap on their defense. The average Super Bowl champion spends 45.63% on their defense. Gerald McCoy takes up 10.19% of that 35.13% or 29.01% of their defensive spending.
- Tennessee Titans (2-14)
No. of selections: 7
Draft picks: Round 1 (2), Round 2 (33), Round 3 (66), Round 4 (100), Round 5 (138), Round 6 (177), Round 6 (208)
I’ve thought all along that the talk surrounding the Titans and Mariota was to create a buzz for a potential trade where they would stock up more picks or a player or a player and picks. My main thought was that they were looking to trade the pick for more picks because of the amount of holes they had as a team going into this offseason, surprisingly, they did a decent job filling some holes this offseason. What shocked me more than anything was the Phillip Rivers trade talk, but I must say, it does make a bit of sense and it goes with my feelings that everything about the Mariota talks was to create more value for the pick.
Last year, there was a lot of talk about how much they believed in Zach Mettenberger and without his injury his senior year, he would have gone a bit higher than the 6th round. So I think the Titans will do one of two things here, they’ll either draft Leonard Williams or trade the pick to move down. An idea that really stuck me from a Titans site when discussing this pick was the idea of drafting Amari Cooper with that #2 pick. Considering they have four picks in the first 100 picks, they could get Leonard Williams who’s far more valuable than whatever they could get instead of Cooper as a receiver in the second or third round. In those middle rounds, they can also find themselves a strong cornerback like Byron Jones, Marcus Peters or the raw, former basketball player, Quinten Rollins.
The writer of that article makes the point that there wasn’t much around Mettenberger on offense last year other than Delanie Walker and that’s true, so they will have to give him weapons if they want to see if he really is their quarterback of the future, but with the way they’ve talked about him and the opportunity for tremendous value they could get out of him if he does pan out, I don’t see them giving up on him for a player with his own set of question marks in Mariota.
In the early second round, they’ll have a pretty solid group of players to choose from at receiver in either Jaelen Strong, Phillip Dorsett, Breshad Perriman, Devin Smith, Nelson Agholor, Sammie Coates or Dorial Green-Beckham. While Green-Beckham has a slew of off the field concerns, to draft him with the 33rd pick would be some kind of get. If they drafted Leonard Williams and The DGB, would there be a team who got more talent out of their first two draft picks than Tennessee?
If I were them though, what about trading with Philadelphia back to the 20th pick, get the 52nd pick as well, and maybe next year’s first round pick? Then use that 20th pick to draft a pass-rusher or a cornerback and the 52nd pick to draft a running back to pair with Bishop Sankey? I’m a big believer in the draft two-backs in back-to-back drafts strategy, so they form a tandem together strategy and they could implement that here very nicely.
A pass-catching group made up of Delanie Walker, Kendall Wright, Harry Douglas, Justin Hunter, Anthony Fasano and The DGB would be pretty good. I wouldn’t be opposed to them drafting another receiver in the first hundred picks either because we can’t be sold on Douglas or Hunter as weapons yet, plus they’re both making low, manageable cap numbers, so it’s not like they’ve bet to much on their success.
(Interestingly, as I was writing this, they signed Hakeem Nicks to a one-year deal, so they’ve got another player who can play at receiver, but how effective can he, Douglas, and Hunter be? I still wouldn’t be opposed to drafting DGB.)
This way, Zach Mettenberger gets a chance to prove his their guy and they get a chance to see if he is. I get very frustrated by young quarterbacks being thrust into situations without a lot of help around them and then being told they weren’t good enough. With the weapons mentioned above, Mettenberger and the Titans will have no excuses. Interestingly, the Titans had the second best pass blocking team in the NFL last season, so they’re prepared to protect Mettenberger as well.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13)
No. of selections: 7
Draft picks: Round 1 (3), Round 2 (36), Round 3 (67), Round 4 (103), Round 5 (139), Round 6 (180), Round 7 (220)
The Jaguars have had a surprisingly good offseason and have handled a lot of their issues. They have a major opportunity to take advantage of having a good, young quarterback in Blake Bortles at a low cap hit, which allows them to use that money to build a strong team around him and help him grow into his role as a team leader. In my opinion, to do this, they’ll need to have a great defense and a strong running game because those are the two best ways to make up for the mistakes that trip up young quarterbacks. Would Russell Wilson be two NFC Championship Russell Wilson without Marshawn Lynch and that defense? No. Gus Bradley has the opportunity to build something very similar in Jacksonville to what’s going on in Seattle with a few simple steps. With the 26th ranked defense in the NFL last season, Bradley can’t be happy.
First, draft a pass-rusher with the third pick, know who you are and what you want your strengths to be and draft accordingly. I like what most pundits are saying about the Jaguars here, draft something that will make the defensive coordinator in Gus Bradley happy. Go with either Dante Fowler or Vic Beasley.
With the additions of Julius Thomas, Justin Blackmon, Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns, they’re going to have good weapons around Bortles in the passing game, so with that early second round pick, I’d like to see them take a running back. With the 36th pick, they’ll be able to choose from Jay Ajayi, Duke Johnson, Tevin Coleman and TJ Yeldon, all solid backs. Honestly, they’ve done such a solid job this offseason, I wouldn’t be opposed to them taking a second running back like Jeremy Langford, David Cobb or Cameron Artis-Payne in the fourth through sixth round because of my belief in the need for a strong running game to make a young quarterback develop.
Their sneaky big signing of the offseason was snapping up Jermey Parnell from the Cowboys, a right tackle who played very well when Doug Free went down at times last year ranking just ahead of him according to PFF and all Cowboys beat writers as the 20th best tackle in the NFL last year in limited playing time. They will still need to draft some line help as they had one of the worst lines in the NFL last year as seen by Bortles being sacked 55 times in 13 starts last year, three more than Colin Kaepernick at #2.
If I were them, I’d draft one of the very good interior linemen in this draft’s middle rounds as well, a guard like Laken Tomlinson from Duke, Josue Matias or Tre Jackson from Florida State, or center Andy Gallik from Boston College late.
With their later picks, go get yourself some defensive players who fit into the SPARQ rating system that the Seahawks use. Two late receivers that I’d like to see them take a look at are Dezmin Lewis and Taylor Belsterling, both could be available in the seventh.
- Oakland Raiders (3-13)
No. of selections: 7
Draft picks: Round 1 (4), Round 2 (35), Round 3 (68), Round 4 (102), Round 5 (140), Round 6 (179), Round 7 (221)
The Raiders are another team that had a very exciting offseason and improved in ways I didn’t imagine going into it. For years, Oakland has been where careers go to die, but finally, they seem to have some pieces in place to do good things. The 2014 NFL Draft might be the turning point in this organization with their drafting Khalil Mack in the first round and Derek Carr in the second. For the first time in a long time, the Raiders have some young pieces to build around.
So this year, what should they do? They went out and signed Michael Crabtree to play with Andre Holmes, James Jones and emerging tight end Mychal Rivera, which makes up a pretty good receiving group for Carr. Their running backs are Latavis Murray, Trent Richardson and pass catcher extraordinaire, Roy Helu. So what do they need most?
I would argue they need an offensive line most, but this is the Raiders, 2014 was the first year in a long time that they did the right things in the draft. I do have to admit that I wouldn’t kill them for drafting Amari Cooper and giving Derek Carr a true number one for the rest of his career. I’m a believer, as you’ll see in Caponomics that young quarterbacks should have a legitimate #1 receiver that gives them a go-to guy and a safety blanket, especially in times of need.
(Will expand on this before Round 2 on Friday night)
- Washington Redskins (4-12)
No. of selections: 7
Draft picks: Round 1 (5), Round 2 (38), Round 3 (69), Round 4 (105), Round 5 (141), Round 6 (182), Round 7 (222)
The Redskins are a mess in the RG3 era, and I say that as someone who desperately wants him to succeed. He seems like a good person and that’s usually enough for me to be a fan, but you couple that with the injuries and it sucks to see someone who showed so much promise unable to get back to where he should be. Hopefully, for his sake, he can in 2015.
I think the Redskins need help on the offensive and defensive line above all else and they could certainly use a pass rusher, who couldn’t? They could use a young cornerback in the middle to later rounds, signing Chris Culliver was a huge addition, but they still need more at one of the most important positions in the game. They should draft a lineman in the first round, depends on who’s there, but best available.
They need a pass catching back to replace Roy Helu, so Jay Ajayi is a major option for them after catching 45 balls this season, Duke Johnson who had 38 catches for Miami or Northern Iowa’s David Johnson who is a receiver turned running back who had 141 catches during his college career. It’s mainly dependent on who or where they want to draft a running back. Drafting a running back who can catch is critical with Alfred Morris arguably being the worst receiving lead running back in the NFL.
To add to that, the Redskins were 19th in the NFL in rushing last season, even with Morris putting together his third straight 1000-yard season. Without Roy Helu, they have to add that pass-catcher, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a stud, back-up who can pound the rock as well like one of those three. It’s especially important to address it because they have a handful of solid receiving options in DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Niles Paul, Jordan Reed and Andre Roberts, but I believe RG3 needs a solid complimentary run-game to get back to the level he was at as a rookie.
The Redskins are currently the highest spenders on receiver spending 17.45% of their cap on them. They dug themselves into a hold from a cap-building standpoint with Garcon and Jackson as their second and third highest cap charges, a configuration that’s never won a Super Bowl. In fact, only two receivers in the cap era have been in their Super Bowl team’s Top 3 with Jerry Rice on the 1994 49ers and Sidney Rice on the 2013 Seahawks.
I believe the Redskins need to give RG3 a big target outside, but it can’t be until the later rounds because they have other needs that need to be filled. A late-option, big bodied receiver that I love is Vince Mayle from Washington State who many project in the fifth to seventh round range at 6’ 2”, 224 pounds.
(Will expand on this before Round 2 on Friday night)
- New York Jets (4-12)
No. of selections: 6
Draft picks: Round 1 (6), Round 2 (37), Round 3 (70), Round 4 (104), Round 7 (223), Round 7 (224)
The Jets are in an incredible place right now considering where they were at the end of the 2014 season, they’ve got an incredibly talented defense, Chris Ivory and Steven Ridley at running back, their receiver group is Eric Decker, Brandon Marshall, and Jeremy Kerley. With Ryan Fitzpatrick, they’ve got a guy who succeeded in OC Chan Gailey’s spread offense during his time in Buffalo, so they’ve got someone to lead the team until they find the quarterback of the future. They could go in a couple different directions with this first pick depending on who’s available.
Their needs are so much less than they were at the end of the season, but they should address quarterback, outside linebacker, receiver, offensive line and running back. Todd Bowles defenses are very multiple, so they should continue to build that defense by drafting some great athletes at their position of need. According to Bucky Brooks from NFL.com, he stats that Mariota “would appear to be a good fit in coordinator Chan Gailey’s offense, based on his athleticism and playmaking ability,” so if he doesn’t end up in Tennessee or Philadelphia, maybe this would be a great spot for him? If they don’t get him, they could fall back on two guys who I think could be steals of this draft as second or third rounders, who could be good starters in the right systems, Bryce Petty and Brett Hundley.
If they don’t get Mariota, it’s up to them on whether they want to go pass rusher or receiver, but I have come around to the idea of drafting Amari Cooper, even just after their moves for receivers the last few years. They are currently spending 14.10% of the cap on receiver, which is well above the average for Super Bowl champions, but a major issue is that Marshall could only be here for a year, then they’re back at square one. Plus, they don’t have much behind those three. Amari Cooper is one of my surest picks of the draft. He’s got a great work ethic and he seems like a great kid, humble, respectful, hardworking, all the right adjectives describe this kid, so he’s a very safe pick. With the depth of the draft at receiver though, they could get a couple players later that could be great, while pass rushers are much more scarce.
If they go with a pass rusher like Dante Fowler, Vic Beasley, Alvin Dupree, or Randy Gregory. Now, if they do that, then I’d like to see them take best available on their board at #37 out of Melvin Gordon, Todd Gurley, Jay Ajayi, Jaelen Strong, Dorial Green-Beckham, or Brett Hundley if he’s their guy at QB. They could also use drafting another offensive lineman, so if the best player on their board is a lineman, I’m not opposed to that.
If they go with Hundley, then they should choose between the running backs and receivers left on their board in the third round after addressing QB and pass rusher. At #70, this could come down to Tevin Coleman, Ajayi if he somehow slips, TJ Yeldon who would be a tremendous value pick here, Ameer Abdullah, Duke Johnson, Nelson Agholor, Sammie Coates, or Tyler Lockett.
If they drafted a player other than Hundley in the second round, then I’d certainly go with Bryce Petty in the third round. I think it’s critical that the Jets get someone out of Mariota, Hundley or Petty due to their apparent fit into what the Jets will have as an offense. These guys are all very talented players with a lot of accomplishments; I find it hard to believe they wouldn’t have success in the right system in the NFL. Petty threw 845 times in his college career and had a mere 10 interceptions…that’s insane. Like you’ll see in Caponomics, I’m a firm believe that protecting the football is a huge part of Super Bowl success. Pete Carroll has been quoted as saying that turnover ratio is the key to championships and articles have been written about the only two vital statistics for him being the final score and turnover ratio. If a guy throws an interception once every 84.5 throws in college, then he’s alright with me.
I’m a big believer that Chan Gailey is also smart enough to construct an offense that plays to the strengths of whichever of these three guys they choose.
If they draft Beasley, Hundley and a guy like TJ Yeldon or Nelson Agholor, then the Jets had a really solid draft. People have been high on Hundley for years and he’d fit into this offense, the Jets would be getting a lot of value at the top of the second round if they draft him. Then to get a top pass rusher and a top running back in my opinion, they’d have made a killing in the first three rounds.
I’m a believer in what the Jets have done this offseason, I’m a believer they don’t have that many holes in this team now, which is why I’m a believer in the idea that they’re in the position to do what the Patriots do so well, draft the best player available.
As a North Jersey native and a supporter of my local teams, I’m very excited for Todd Bowles to help bring some excitement back to local NFL football.
- Chicago Bears (5-11)
No. of selections: 6
Draft picks: Round 1 (7), Round 2 (39), Round 3 (71), Round 4 (106), Round 5 (142), Round 6 (183)
With Brandon Marshall gone, they now need to replace one of their big guys outside. If Amari Cooper or Kevin White are available at #7, I wouldn’t be against them drafting one of them, but if Dante Fowler or Vic Beasley are available, I’d draft them instead, then address replacing Marshall later.
If they do draft Cooper or White, then maybe they’d get Randy Gregory to fall to them at the beginning of the second round, which would end up being a huge value pick. Eli Harold or Eric Kendricks should be available at #39, and they would be solid choices. Pernell McPhee was a great pick up as a pass rusher this offseason
Third round safeties could be Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins, Eric Rowe, Anthony Harris or Doran Grant, which is one of those situations where it’s up to them to decide who their best available is.
Is Ka’Deem Carey going to take on a bigger role this season? They did also pick up Jacquizz Rodgers who might be the best pass blocking running back in the NFL, but I still want to see them grab a running back late. I think they need a legitimate WR3, but apparently Marquess Wilson can be that guy, so maybe they don’t go that direction considering they also picked up Eddie Royal.
After picking up a wide receiver, this might be a situation where they should just go defense all the way down the rest of the draft, so that the Bears can get back to being the kind of team they’re known to be. I wouldn’t be against drafting an offensive lineman at some point after addressing receiver, outside backer and safety.
- Atlanta Falcons (6-10)
No. of selections: 8
Draft picks: Round 1 (8), Round 2 (42), Round 3 (73), Round 4 (107), Round 5 (146), Round 6 (185), Round 7 (225), Round 7 (249)
At number eight, the Falcons could make one of the most shocking picks of the draft by drafting Todd Gurley or Melvin Gordon if the right pass rusher isn’t available. I’m sorry to keep saying this, but if the right player is there at either pass rusher or offensive tackle, then this draft is too deep at running back to spend a #8 pick on one of those two guys unless you’re positive that he’s the right guy. BUT…in this case, Gurley might just be the right guy.
If Dan Quinn wants to replicate the formula of what he had in Seattle, then a power running game will be needed. In fact, he might just be in better shape offensively than Pete Carroll was with a guy like Matt Ryan throwing to Julio Jones and Roddy White who can make this offense one of the best passing offenses in the league.
Last season, the Falcons run blocking was 28th in the NFL according to PFF with a rating of -40.8, their pass blocking was a little better, 15th, with a rating of -18.2. Considering that depth at running back, plus some solid moves to improve the defense this offseason, it might be smart to draft one of the top linemen and address other needs later. You can’t have a top passing game or a power running game without and offensive line.
I think that Andrus Peat would be the right guy to pick here as he’s a freak in every single sense of the word athletically, size, strength and I have an affinity for 6’7”, 313 pound offensive linemen who can handle being a student at Stanford. Add in the fact that his dad played in the NFL for six seasons and you have a guy who has a ton of factors that add up to him being an almost certain “double” as Ozzie Newsome says, which means that it’s not about swinging for home runs in the first round, it’s about swinging for doubles so that you don’t strikeout.
If Vic Beasley, Dante Fowler or Alvin Dupree are at the top of their board and fall to them at #8, then I think they go there, then draft TJ Clemmings, DJ Humphries, La’el Collins, or Cedric Ogbuehi in the second round. That means that the third round becomes where the running back gets addressed and they could choose from TJ Yeldon, David Cobb, Duke Johnson, David Johnson, Mike Davis, and others there.
If Quinn thinks Beasley, Fowler or Dupree are the best options for their team, then that’s the right move for him, but the additions of Brooks Reed and O’Brien Schofield this offseason are huge. If they’re not available or they’re not higher on Quinn’s board than Trae Waynes, then this could be where Trae Waynes comes off the board to paid with Desmond Trufant who is one of the best young cornerbacks in the NFL. This would give Quinn a similar shutdown corners to what he had in Seattle.
If they want to get the player who reminds me most of Marshawn Lynch, I’d grab Jay Ajayi in the second round, then hope that Jake Fisher, Tyrus Thompson, Ali Marpet or Donovan Smith are the answer at tackle in the third round, or hope that Ogbuehi falls there.
I will be mentioning Jay Ajyi throughout this piece, but I really believe that he will be one of the best values in this draft in the second round. The first time I watched his highlight tape, I was in awe at the way he moves, it was one of the more remarkably players I’ve seen in a long time and throughout this process, he’s also one of the guys that people I respect like Bucky Brooks mention a lot as well.
If Ajayi is there for Atlanta at #42, he would bring a running style similar to Lynch’s to Atlanta. He and Davonta Freeman could form a very solid backfield with Antone Smith performing in that big play role he had last year, which was remarkable.
The last issue that I want to make sure Atlanta addresses is their WR3, but also Roddy White’s eventually replacement as he will turn 34 this year. I do believe that Quinn will use a kind of best available strategy while keeping his needs in mind, so if the right player is available, he could make a move earlier than I predict at receiver, but I think White has enough time left that it would be unwise.
The way I currently have things shaking out, they wouldn’t draft a receiver until at least the fourth round after addressing their main needs, so let’s take a look at receiver and tight end to analyze what they should do to address two needs.
In the fourth round, Tyler Lockett and Justin Hardy could be available as slot receiver types. League sources say that Hardy could be one of the biggest value picks of the draft and I’ve agreed for some time now, but there’s one more major value pick I see for Atlanta: Florida State’s Rashad Greene.
I have no idea why Greene has fallen off so many people’s radars, he does have concerns regarding his size and speed, but he ran a 4.53 and he’s 5’11”, two numbers that are fine with me. He was their leading receiver down the stretch during that National Championship run and has proven he can play second fiddle and be the lead receiver as he was his senior year. I think that Greene is the kind of reliable player that has a nice, solid career in the NFL and the Falcons could get him in the fourth round, use him in the WR3 position and let him grow into a role that could replace White one day.
Ty Montgomery is another wildly successful college receiver who hasn’t had a lot of hype around him and will be available in the middle of the draft, another value pick for someone. If they’re looking for a slot receiver, I’ll always go back to Jamison Crowder in the fourth through sixth round, he’s another guy who I see as a tremendous value pick. The reason I keep talking about value is because I believe Quinn will bring over the same kind of intelligence that Carroll had in Seattle and he’ll find the right guy for the right price for all of his needs.
The Falcons desperately need a tight end after Levin Toilolo gave them next to nothing last season as PFF’s 64th tight end out of 67. They added veteran Jacob Tamme who adds depth, but I think they’ve gotta draft another tight end to push Toilolo and probably take over the starting job.
Depending on how they handle receiver, they could potentially snag Nick O’Leary if the get him in the fourth round, before going after a receiver. The tight ends available in the fourth or fifth rounds that could be solid picks for them are Blake Bell, Jeff Heuerman, or Rory Anderson.
- New York Giants (6-10)
No. of selections: 8
Draft picks: Round 1 (9), Round 2 (40), Round 3 (74), Round 4 (108), Round 5 (144), Round 6 (186), Round 7 (226), Round 7 (245)
I like what Bucky Brooks says about the Giants, “the Giants are at their best when they’re built around a formidable front line on both sides of the ball. On defense in particular, Big Blue thrives when they’re able to wear down opponents with a deep and talented line rotation. A rugged defensive tackle like Washington’s Danny Shelton would be he monster in the middle the G-men need to control the run at the point of attack.”
If they don’t draft him, I’d like to see them do what a lot of people have put in their mock drafts lately, which is guard Brandon Scherff from Iowa as he’s also versatile and could play right tackle. Versatility in offensive linemen is what made Dave Diehl such a valuable player for the Giants and something that I think makes them a much better line. If they do that, Malcom Brown, Eddie Goldman, Jordan Phillips, Arik Armstead or Mario Edwards could be terrific defensive tackle picks in the second round. I like the idea of picking an offensive lineman in the first round and a defensive tackle in the second because I think that defensive tackle is a position where you can save money with value picks.
Saying that, I’ve had my eye on Denzel Perryman for months now and I think he’d be a great choice for the Giants with the 40th pick, which would then make me move that defensive tackle choice to the third or fourth round where I would draft Michael Bennett, Gabe Wright or Grady Jarrett, but then we end up with no one at safety for the Giants until the middle of the draft in one of the weakest safety classes of the past few years.
At second look at OTC, I think I’d draft a safety in the third round, then hope to get one of those three in the fourth round because the Giants are in much better shape at defensive tackle, than safety. As of last week, the Giants were spending only 1.49% of the cap on safeties, so they’ve got to draft one, if not two in the draft. Bucky Brooks mentioned that Damarious Randall from Arizona State “could be a perfect fit as a potential safety/nickel corner,” which will help address Antrel Rolle’s departure. Of course, Quinten Rollins is one of my favorite mid-round d-backs in the draft, so you know he’s on the tip of my tongue and who knows, maybe Eric Rowe is still available at #74.
Anthony Harris from Virginia is a guy who they could draft in the third or fourth round depending on how the safety position is looking when they’re picking at #74, that could be a deciding factor for if they go DT or S there, then could come back to Harris in the fourth. Kurtis Drummond from Michigan State, Josh Shaw from USC and Adrian Amos from Penn State could be choices available in the fourth as well.
So, depending on how they feel at DT and S, plus how they feel about the prospects available heading into that #74 pick, they could go a variety of different ways and hopefully I helped you understand the thinking that I think will be going on in NYG headquarters.
I think the Giants will be looking for a WR4 or a guy who can light a fire under Reuben Randle, but there’s also speculation that Victor Cruz’s injury might be cause for something higher in the draft. If we’re putting the potential of Cruz not being back to normal after this injury into the equation, then that changes the entire dynamic of the conversation.
Thomas Emerick from Sporting News mentions that if Amari Cooper or Kevin White fall to #9, they might be tempted to solidify the receiver group, and while I want to disagree with that, Emerick mentions that Cruz may never return to prior form and I’m reminded of the brutal recovery that patella tendon injuries entail. So if the Giants can get one of those two, then sure, that could be a very valuable choice and create an offense that amplifies their strengths and that’d make their offense really explosive.
If not, then if Nelson Agholor is available at #40, he does some things that are very similar to Cruz and Rashad Greene is a guy who would be available at a much better price, but Emerick mentions that Agholor’s versatility would make him a great candidate to fill in the slot for Cruz as needed, challenge Randle and serve as the heir apparent to WR2 next season, “if not sooner.” He even compares him to Randall Cobb.
I’m certainly not comfortable with Preston Parker, Dwayne Harris or Corey Washington serving as the Giants WR3 this season. Eli Manning needs a top-flight pass catchers and the Giants need these elite pass catchers to justify Manning’s high cap number.
This article from Emerick has a terrific ending reminding us that “GM Jerry Reese added first-rounders to better units in 2010 at defensive line (Jason Pierre-Paul) and 2011 at defensive back (Prince Amukamara), the latter before losing Terrell Thomas in preseason. Reese mentioned something quite pertinent at last week’s pre-draft press conference: ‘As soon as you say you have a lot of depth at any position, you don’t have depth. I know better than to say that.’”
I know this piece on the Giants is long, but the Cruz injury creates two completely separate conversations to be had, one that we can’t fully comprehend because we don’t have the same information that the Giants have, we really have no idea what this season is looking like for Cruz.
During that 2011 season, we saw Eli Manning play the best football of his career with Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks combining for 158 catches for 2728 yards (17.3 ypc) and 16 touchdowns. Jake Ballard had 604 yards, Mario Manningham added 523 and Ahmad Bradshaw had 267 yards. If Victor Cruz is hampered by injuries, do we think that the Giants can have that kind of production out of Beckham and Randle? Do we think the Randle that we’ve seen the last few years is as good as Nicks was at his best? I don’t think so.
During that Super Bowl run, Manning threw for 1219 yards with nine touchdowns and one interception. This was possible because Nicks and Cruz combined for 49 catches, 713 yards and five touchdowns in four games. For Eli to be at his best, he’s going to need players who can perform at this elite level. This same kind of offense that Ben McAdoo brought over from Green Bay excels because of Aaron Rodgers and his targets: Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and whoever their third receiver is, currently, Davante Adams.
So if we’re taking this approach where Cruz is hampered, then the Giants have to ensure they have the kind of athletes at receiver to make their offense excel. Sure, Randle did well last year in an expanded role, but did he show you enough to let you feel comfortable with him again this year if it’s him, Beckham and a Cruz that’s not at 100%? In my own experience with injuries that don’t even come close to Cruz’s, an injury of that kind doesn’t feel healthy for at least a whole year, so, now that I think about it all, the Giants should make an early selection at receiver. One of the things I discuss in Caponomics is the importance of amplifying your strengths, knowing who you are. The Giants can win a Super Bowl if they have an elite offense and adding the right receiver to this group, ensuring that they’ll always have three healthy receivers, something they didn’t have all of last season with Beckham, then Cruz’s injury, is very important.
So, if Cooper or White fall to them, it might be right to pull the trigger and give Eli Manning a wide receiver group of Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle and Amari Cooper/Kevin White. If not, then at #40, they should draft Nelson Agholor or Dorial Green-Beckham if they’re comfortable that everything checks out with him. If they want to draft a receiver later, then Rashad Greene is the man for the job. On a separate note, if they want to let Randle go in free agency next year, then Vince Mayle could be one of the best late round value picks in the draft.
Nothing against Dwayne Harris, but I’m not sure where he fits in here. If you’re the Giants, you don’t want him playing that often if you’re trying to build an elite passing offense, so I don’t know why they paid him so much money. If Victor Cruz is 100% though, then Harris is a good back up for him, but the Giants don’t want to go into the season with Cruz not at 100% and not knowing what they’ll get out of him and Harris as a starter for who knows how long.
Again, these are two different paths in this draft, one of them is if the Giants think that Victor Cruz will be 100% because if he is, again, Harris is a great back up and they don’t need to draft a WR early. But, if he’s not 100%, then the Giants need to make a move early for a receiver and, in turn, build one of the strongest receiver groups in the NFL. In fact…after having gone through all of this thought process, I still wouldn’t be opposed to them taking Cooper or White at #9 or Agholor at #40.
This is why mock drafts are crazy, it’s much more exciting and better for all of us to just think it all out here.
Something to end with, many of the solutions for the Giants are on their roster as they have been the team that has lost the most players to injury the last two seasons. By the end of the season, the Giants had $34,737,930 worth of players on their Injured Reserve, that’s 26.12% of their cap. A lot of those players will be back and ready to help the Giants, plus, trends are on their side, since 2007, the Giants have won a Super Bowl every four years, this year is four years after 2011.
- Louis Rams (6-10)
No. of selections: 6
Draft picks: Round 1 (10), Round 2 (41), Round 3 (72), Round 4 (119), Round 6 (215), Round 7 (227)
Bucky Brooks reiterates a point that I’ve been making the last couple years, with all the injuries that they’ve suffered, the Rams have been on the verge of being a postseason-caliber team for a few years now. In analyzing their 2014 team for Caponomics, I was shocked to see that three of their top four salary cap charges were injured, that’s 29.89% of the salary cap tied up in lost seasons for QB Sam Bradford, DE Chris Long and LT Jake Long. To add to that, those are three of the most important positions on the field! To still go 6-10 in the toughest division in the NFL is a testament to Jeff Fisher and the talent on that team.
As I go through this process, I see the importance of draft picks from an angle that I haven’t seen it from before, I see the Rams six draft picks and I’m frustrated because there are so many things I’d like to address in their draft, it gives you no creative license with which to attack their issues. The positions I see as a need are their offensive line, wide receiver, and I want a late running back, someone to develop behind Tre Mason, Zac Stacy, Bennie Cunningham and, hopefully, Isaiah Pead. Together, those four could be one of the deepest and most dynamic groups in the league, but I feel the addition of a late round guy could give them another layer. They should draft a player who is more along the potential side of things, an explosive athlete they’re taking a chance on in the late rounds and could develop into a surprise player.
They have a solid defense, so there aren’t too many holes over there, but they could use a replacement in the rotation for Kendall Langford’s departure. Considering they haven’t resigned Jake Long yet, they should also draft a left tackle in one of the first two rounds.
If the Rams ever want to see if any of their quarterbacks are ever the solution, then they really have to get themselves some receivers, so if Kevin White is available at #10, they should pull the trigger and grab him. If he’s not available there, then they should take either Andrus Peat or Brandon Scherff and then look for a receiver in round two, someone like Jaelen Strong, Dorial Green-Beckham, Breshad Perriman, Nelson Agholor, Devin Smith, or Phillip Dorsett. Whoever they like out of that bunch and almost all of them should still be there at #41.
If Kevin White is there at #10 and they draft him, then La’el Collins, DJ Humphries, TJ Clemmings, or Cedric Ogbuehi should be available at #41.
In the third round, they should draft an interior lineman that can eventually replace the older Scott Wells or Davin Joseph. With that early third round pick, Josue Matias, Arie Kouandjio, Tre Jackson, AJ Cann, and Laken Tomlinson could all be available for guards. One of my favorite sleepers of the draft, center/tackle Ali Marpet from Hobart could also be available and be a great selection here. If they want to draft a center in the fourth round or later, Andy Gallik from Boston College could be available, if they want to wait until the sixth round, Northwestern’s Brandon Vitabile could be there.
I believe they need to upgrade that line to give them the kind of running game that I think they’ll need to succeed. It feels wrong to not draft anyone for the defense, but that’s what happens when you only have six picks. They have a solid defense and they’ve got young players everywhere, so it’s the offense that needs to catch up, so that’s where the picks should be, they should try to find some solid defensive backs with potential after the draft.
Either with that seventh round or after the draft, I’d like to see from them take the 6’5″, 205-pound wide receiver Taylor Belsterling from D3 Huntingdon College in Alabama. Belsterling is such an intriguing prospect that over 20 teams visited Huntingdon this season even though he had to sit out the year due to some whacky NCAA rules that made him ineligible (the NCAA is the worst organization in all of America, they just ruled a homeless Baylor football player ineligible this February for accepting food and shelter. Everyone who works for them should be ashamed that they’re feeding the beast that is the NCAA. Sorry, had to get on my soapbox about that because it still ticks me off.)
Out of high school, Taylor needed to go to Southern Union State Community College to work on his academics, he didn’t even think he was going to continue to play football, but he realized he was miserable without the game and wanted to play as quickly as possible. This prompted him to reach out to Huntingdon’s head coach, Mike turk, because he had shown interest in Taylor during high school. Turk then helped him with the application process and got him accepted. What I love about the players who have faced adversity or have had any time without the game, is that they understand how important the game is to them and they don’t take it for granted. Belsterling will be a great addition to whoever picks him up.
Another late round guy, who they could get in the seventh or undrafted, is Carlif Taylor from Southern Connecticut State University who is a defensive tackle. In St. Louis, he could take some time to grow into the starting caliber defensive tackle that I know he will be. He’s a funny character and a good kid, I met him through Twitter when he sent me his highlight tape and was trying to do his combine training at DeFranco’s before signing with JR Rickert. He was sending his highlight tape around on Twitter to everyone in the industry, self-promoting with the kind of hustle that you rarely see, which was cool to see from a player. He was a D2 All-American and at 6’2”, 315 pounds, he’s big enough to take his game to the next level.
Taylor ended up at Southern Connecticut because he started player football late, his grades were fine in high school, but he had some issues with NCAA’s clearinghouse and he also just didn’t understand the whole process. In fact, his SAT scores got lost in the mail…truly remarkable how big companies like that can screw up a kid’s entire path in life with the simplest mistakes. He had interest from D1 schools all across the northeast, but didn’t realize he could have gone to prep school or JUCO at the time, but he had a great career at Southern anyway, so everything worked out. During that self-promotion on Twitter, Simeon Rice had an incredible response to the kid’s highlight tape that tells you quite a bit about the level of talent. As an undrafted free agent or seventh rounder…this kid could be one of the most valuable picks of the day.
The last undrafted type guy that the Rams should look at is Kevin Monangai from Villanova who was their third all-time leading rusher, which is a tremendous feat, but even more impressive because his quarterback, John Robertson, is the school’s second leading rusher all-time. Monangai has a tremendous work ethic; he’s been driving an hour to and from DeFranco’s Gym to train since high school, that work ethic is proven by his academic career as an economics major and philosophy minor at Villanova and his RIDICULOUS 725 squat (video here), which has only gotten higher since combine training. This kid is an athletic freak.
Just like Belsterling and Taylor, he also ended up at a smaller school due to something outside of his abilities. Monangai had serious interest from FBS schools all over the northeast, but a broken ankle his junior year at Seton Hall Prep in NJ, which landed him at Villanova, which ended up being the perfect place for him to grow into the fantastic back he is today. His tape from Villanova speaks for itself, as I say in the Ravens write-up, the way this kid moves, his size, and his skill set really remind me of Ray Rice.
Like I said, all three of these guys ended up at smaller schools for reasons other than their skill level, they should certainly be taken by someone in the seventh round or as undrafted free agents. They each fill a need for the Rams and I believe they will grow into solid NFL players if given the opportunity and are in the right systems. For a team like the Rams, with the lack of draft picks and the needs they have, they need to get some contributors after the draft, those three are solid choices.
If they don’t take Monangai, three other backs that the Rams should look at are Zach Zenner, Karlos Williams and Tre Williams, they’re guys that should be there in the seventh round or as undrafted free agents. Zenner and Tre Williams are two of my favorite late round running backs and I think they’ll have nice careers in the right system.
Three defensive backs that teams who need undrafted help at the position should take a look at are Nick Marshall from Auburn, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu from Oregon and Tim Scott from North Carolina.
Marshall was obviously a quarterback at Auburn the last two years and was a pleasure to watch, but he was a cornerback at Georgia before transferring to a place that would let him play as a quarterback. Not only was he a cornerback, but he got playing time, in the SEC early in his career…to play for two different teams, two of the most difficult positions in football in the most difficult conference in college football is extraordinary. I think, with some practice and good coaching, he will be a very good cornerback in the NFL, there is nothing this guy can’t do.
Ekpre-Olomu was in the running to be one of the first cornerbacks taken in the draft, but then he suffered a knee injury during bowl practice that, according to Walter Football, some sources are saying could be closer to the kind of injury Marcus Lattimore suffered from rather than a simple ACL tear.
Tim Scott has some coverage issues and Walter Football says he should be a safety in the NFL, but he has the kind of size (6’, 195) and versatility that is intriguing in a UDFA defensive back. Another guy who, with good coaching, could give a nice return on the investment.
- Minnesota Vikings (7-9)
No. of selections: 7
Draft picks: Round 1 (11), Round 2 (45), Round 3 (76), Round 4 (110), Round 5 (137), Round 7 (228), Round 7 (232)
With Teddy Bridgewater under center and looking like he could be the answer at quarterback for the franchise, the Vikings need to prepare to build the right kind of team around him. What I’ve seen in my analysis of Super Bowl champions for Caponomics is that young quarterbacks who win championships are surrounded by great running games and defenses early in their career, this allows them to grow into their role as a team leader and takes the pressure off them until they get that big contract. A great running game and a great defense makes a great young quarterback a bonus, with only 3.82% of the cap invested in their quarterbacks, the Vikings have a real opportunity to build a team in the image of the 2000 Ravens, 2013 Seahawks and 2005 Steelers.
With a good young quarterback like Bridgewater, everything he brings to the table becomes a bit of a bonus for the Vikings, you’re not supposed to get Pro Bowl caliber production out of 3.82% of the salary cap. This is part of what makes me so frustrated about fan bases that don’t understand this; you don’t need your young QB to be a world-beater if the organization has built the right kind of team around him.
Currently, the Vikings have the exact blueprint available to them in the Seattle Seahawks as Teddy Bridgewater can be the kind of player that Wilson is, while he won’t come close to the 849 rushing yards Wilson had in 2014, he’s a mobile quarterback who can beat you with his legs if he has the opening. Same with Tannehill in Miami, these are three young quarterbacks whose teams should all be using the rush attack offense, great defense model.
Looking forward with this theory, when the QB gets that second contract in the middle of his career, that’s when the team needs to begin to shift from this running offense with a great defense and adjust to the QBs higher cap hit, thus the increased importance that must be placed on the passing game.
By the time the QBs third contract comes, this is when he will be making over 10% of the salary cap, which means the team now has to get into full aerial attack mode and build their team around their passing game. This is when the quarterback is about a decade into his career and if he’s worth what you’re paying him, then his cap hit should not be a problem for your organization. This is when the amount of money on your running backs should sink to the 4-7% range and your defensive spending will take a hit as well.
This line of logic also allows the team to move from one phase to the next over a matter of a few years, which if done the right way, shouldn’t be an issue.
A lot rests on what they do with Adrian Peterson and I have a feeling we might find out before or during the draft. I haven’t been following the story much because most of what I’ve heard has been insane levels of speculation about the Cowboys with a move that goes against all the smart moves that the Cowboys have been making the last two years. So you’re telling me that they weren’t going to pay Demarco Murray, a running back heading into his prime, over a certain dollar figure, but they’re going to take on a 30-year-old running back who will take up 10.75% of the cap this year?
While Peterson wishes to be traded, the Vikings have stated that they don’t plan on trading him and why would they? He’s the perfect back to help this team win a Super Bowl with Bridgewater under center. He has no dead money in 2016 or 2017, so if he’s looking like he’s digressing or he won’t take a pay-cut, they can just get rid of him after the 2015 season. With that in mind, I don’t think that Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon are the solutions in that backfield post-Peterson considering the kind of team they need to create, so there should be a running back drafted in the draft at some point.
If they’re going to get rid of Adrian Peterson at some point during this draft and they get a first rounder in return, then they should draft Todd Gurley with this pick and an offensive lineman with the second pick, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.
Bucky Brooks mentions cornerback, linebacker and running back as their three main needs, but I think that they should draft an offensive lineman with this pick because they were the tenth best run blocking team per PFF and the 25th pass blocking team, unless, they really like Trae Waynes of course. If Brandon Scherff is there, then this could be the ideal fit because they desperately need help at guard to run the kind of powerful running offense they should want to run. If Scherff isn’t there, then I would draft Andrus Peat and move Matt Kalil to guard after a season where he rated as the 81st tackle on PFF out of 84 tackles with a rating of -29.1. This is a far cry from 2012 where he was tied with his teammate, Phil Loadholt, at 12.1 as the 21st best tackle in the NFL.
In the second round, they should handle a need at linebacker by taking Eric Kendricks, Benardrick, McKinney or Denzel Perryman. If they’re going to let go of Peterson, then Jay Ajayi or TJ Yeldon should be drafted here.
Even if they do keep Peterson, I would love for them to draft Jay Ajayi and have Norv Turner use him in the same ways he used Ladanian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles during his time in San Diego. Every one of Turner’s running backs in San Diego could run and catch the ball, no one in this draft does it better than Jay Ajayi. This would be the kind of long-term move at running back that would set Bridgewater up for success. I know they have other needs, but this would be big-time. If they do this, then hopefully they drafted Trae Waynes in the first round, because then I’d have them move their offensive line pick back to the third or fourth, whichever way allows them to draft Stephone Anthony or Paul Dawson for their inside linebacker spot.
If they don’t draft a running back in the first two rounds and they draft an offensive lineman in the first round, then they should figure out how to balance out getting these two players, TCU cornerback Kevin White and Minnesota running back David Cobb in the third and fourth round.
In the fifth round, they should look to upgrade their strong safety spot by drafting 2013 First-Team All-American, Cody Prewitt out of Ole Miss. He had a down year in 2014 and scouts were unimpressed with him according to Walter Football, but he’s a solid player to take a fifth round pick on in hopes that he will rediscover the player he was in 2013. He’s versatile enough to play free and strong safety and could provide a good return on investment here.
In the seventh round, the Vikings have two picks, which I want to draft a late lineman and a wide receiver or tight end. In this round, I’d look for a center because I think that Brandon Vitabilie from Northwestern is going to be a very good player in the NFL at a solid value. He was a great student at Northwestern and a good run-blocker for Northwestern, exactly the kind of intelligent center with the right skills that the Vikings need.
As for receivers, Vince Mayle, Antwan Goodley, Josh Harper, Austin Hill and Taylor Belsterling are some players I’d check out in the seventh round. Goodley from Baylor would be a very interesting pick because he could be a very solid running back in Turner’s system. He’s 5’10”, 209 and played some running back at Baylor rushing 18 times for 130 yards (7.2 ypc), plus he could still be a solid slot receiver as well. His versatility would be incredibly valuable this late in the draft.
I’ve been looking back at Norv Turner’s San Diego offenses to try and figure out what kind of players are needed to help him succeed in Minnesota. Kyle Rudolph is a good tight end, but he hasn’t been producing enough for my liking, so I’d like to draft a late tight end with potential, a player who’s skill set can remind you of Antonio Gates. One guy who reminds me a bit of him is CJ Uzomah out of Auburn. He only had 11 catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns in 2014 and per Walter Football, “he was capable of producing more, but Auburn struggled to pass the ball.” He’s also been a very good blocking tight end during his time there, which is in line with the Auburn offense.
Pharoah Brown is another guy who could develop into a solid tight end in the NFL at 6’6”, 250 out of Oregon. He had 25 catches for 420 yards (16.8 ypc) and six touchdowns in 10 games before a knee injury ended his season. According to Walter Football, he “was on pace to have one of the best seasons for a tight end in Oregon history. He showed quickness, athleticism and separation skills,” but he needs to improve on a blocker, something that’s not a huge deal when you’re talking about a seventh round pick.
Something worth mentioning about late round picks and undrafted guys is a bit of philosophy I’ve begun to think about. In the early rounds, you should try to draft sure things, try to “hit doubles” as Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome says. In the late rounds, I think you should look for guys with potential, look for guys who may have been underutilized in their college system, guys like Uzomah, but have a great skill set and showed flashes of brilliance when they had opportunities.
If they do not draft a running back, then again, Kevin Monangai or Lyle McCombs would be a very solid undrafted pick-up. They would both fill that Darren Sproles role nicely in Turner’s offense.
- Cleveland Browns (7-9)
No. of selections: 10
Draft picks: Round 1 (12), Round 1 (19), Round 2 (43), Round 3 (77), Round 4 (111), Round 4 (115), Round 5 (147), Round 6 (189), Round 6 (202), Round 7 (229)
If they do want to follow that 2000 Ravens, 2013 Seahawks model for team building, which is run-first with a great defense, then they should draft accordingly. While Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell are good running backs, they need a bell cow, so I wouldn’t be opposed to them taking either Melvin Gordon or Todd Gurley with one of their first round picks, whoever they think fits their system better.
The Browns did go out and sign Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline, which gives them a nice little group with Andrew Hawkins. Bucky Brooks discusses that they should go get themselves a legitimate #1 receiver, but maybe they don’t need one of they decide to go all in on a run-first offense. If they do decide to go run first, then I’d love to see them draft a running back and a tackle in this round, then go after a receiver later.
The Browns are spending 56.80% of the cap on their defense, which is well over the Super Bowl spending, but not a bad move if they’re constructing the team as I suggest.
They made some nice moves this offseason signing defensive tackle Randy Starks, cornerback Tramon Williams who will be a nice #2 with Joe Haden and allow last year’s #1 pick Justin Gilbert to grow into a nickel-back role. With guys like Paul Kruger, Karlos Dansby, Donte Whitner, Desmond Bryant, Tashaun Gipson, Barkevious Mingo, Phillip Taylor and others, they have some good players on the defense, they’re in pretty good shape there, so other than drafting some key players that they decide will upgrade over what’s already there or will be players that can grow into future roles when they move on from some of the older players.
So most of this draft should focus on the offense and like I said, it should focus on building a powerful run first offense. I know I’m a bit of a Johnny Manziel apologist, but if he has his head on straight, I see no reason why they can’t try to turn this into an offense similar to what the Seahawks do with Russell Wilson and in this draft, they could pick the pieces to make that happen.
Imagine that offense with Manziel, that receiver group, plus a guy like Nelson Agholor or Devin Smith, then add a tight end like Clive Walford, Nick O’Leary or Jeff Heuerman in the third? Or even Dorial Green-Beckham? Then you’ve got a backfield of Gurley, West and Crowell? Suddenly, Cleveland has something to be really excited about.
They’re already well set up for that run-first, defensive model with their spending primarily on their offensive line and defense. They’re primed to build themselves in the image of those 2013 Seahawks with the right decisions. They’ve just got to make it happen.
The Browns aren’t that far off from a playoff team if Manziel can get his act together. He’s got the whole city on his back because if he can get it together and grow into the quarterback he can be, they really have a shot with some of the right moves in this draft.
He better make it work for his sake, LeBron, the rappers, the beautiful women, and everyone else…they’re not gonna want to hang out with a bust.
- New Orleans Saints (7-9)
No. of selections: 9
Draft picks: Round 1 (13), Round 1 (31), Round 2 (44), Round 3 (75), Round 3 (78), Round 5 (148), Round 5 (154), Round 6 (187), Round 7 (230)
The Saints have turned into a team with a lot of question marks very quickly almost all because of their major cap issues. Bucky Brooks lists their needs at wide receiver, pass rusher, and defensive tackle. They are spending a very low 36.85% of their cap on their defense, which is an issue for a team that finished 28th in the NFL in points allowed last year. Jairus Byrd will be back at safety after missing 2014 with an injury and Kenny Vaccaro will be back there with him, so that’s one area where they’re pretty well set up.
According to PFF, Patrick Robinson was their best cornerback with a rating of 0.1 and he’s gone to San Diego, while Keenan Lewis and Corey White were 98th and 106th out of 108. White is now a Cowboy and Lewis is their seventh highest player…so yeah…they need help. They made a great move for Brandon Browner, but they need more, so they’ve definitely got to draft a cornerback who fits into what they look for in their cornerbacks. They did sign Kyle Wilson, but as Jets fans will tell you, that’s not going to be your solution.
Dennell Ellerbe was a nice pickup for them and I guess as an inside linebacker, the Saints thought it was better to get a proven player like him for that position, then draft a wide receiver to replace Stills in another deep receiver class.
With Stills gone, they need the deep ball threat for this offense, a role previously held by guys like Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson, both of whom ran 4.3 40s. Kenny Stills’ lowest 40-yard dash was in the 4.2-4.3 range when he came out in 2013. In terms of height, Henderson was 5’11”, Stills 6’1” and Meachem 6’2”, so the Saints aren’t necessarily looking for the tallest player as much as they’re looking for a guy with blazing speed for this role in their offense.
So, using this as an outline of what we’re looking for, some players that the Saints could be interested in are Phillip Dorsett and certainly Devin Smith. Considering that the Saints have two first rounders and the #44 pick, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them take Devin Smith at #44 even though that might be a little early for him just because that 27 yards per catch average he has last season fits perfectly into what they want to do. If they think he might fall to #75, then maybe they wait, but he is their kind of guy and does run a 4.42.
Chris Conley is a guy who they could take in the middle rounds with his 4.35 speed. With 4.41 speed, Tre McBride could be there in the fourth through sixth rounds. Sammie Coates is another option in the second or third round. With Brandin Cooks, they’ve got the slot receiver covered, so they’re just looking for that deep threat and Colston’s understudy.
That’s the replacement for Stills’ spot, but what about the eventual replacement of Marques Colston? They could end up drafting two receivers in the first two rounds. If Kevin White is there at #13, then with his 4.35 speed, he’s also a legitimate deep, big play threat or they could go with DeVante Parker or Jaelen Strong at the end of the first round. At 6’6”, 225 pounds, Dorial Green-Beckham could be a bigger version of the 6’4”, 225 pound, 31-year-old Colston and would be a steal talent wise at #31. Imagine if they drafted Danny Shelton to plug that defensive line at #13, then drafted Green-Beckham at #31? Or Kevin White, then Malcom Brown? That would be a very nice haul for two positions that the Saints need badly.
I’ve forgotten, Breshad Perriman from UCF ran in the 4.2s and could be someone that would fill that Stills role REALLY nicely and averaged 19.5 yards per catch in college.
With Shane Ray just getting himself arrested, along with Randy Gregory’s issues, they’re immense talents that could be waiting at #13 for the Saints if they want to take a chance on them. If they did that, Eddie Goldman and Jordan Phillips are two defensive tackles that could be there at #31 or #44 depending on what they’re thinking regarding how to attack drafting receivers.
I believe the Saints need to draft those three positions hard, but also get some offensive lineman as they’re only spending 13.24% of their cap there. With Jahri Evans and Max Unger, they’ve got two solid interior linemen and could find another guard in the third round like Laken Tomlinson.
Tight end is an obvious big need now, of course, Maxx Williams is another option with the #31 or #44 pick. Just talking about these three picks within the first 44 for the Saints gets me excited at all the possibilities for them to handle their business and be right back in the thick of the conversation as a legitimate contender. If they traded Jimmy Graham for an All Pro level center, then draft the right tight end, a guy who produces as a rookie, then boy, what a move.
Of course, other obvious options include Clive Walford and Nick O’Leary. Blake Bell from Oklahoma could be someone that interests the Saints at 6’6”, 252 which is similar to the 6’7”, 265 Graham and he’s also a guy who hasn’t played tight end for long as Bell was an Oklahoma QB before his senior season. He’s projected in the middle rounds as is Jeff Heuerman from Ohio State who battled through injuries and is much better than his statistics. Wes Saxton from South Alabama ran the fasted 40-time at the combine, 4.56, but injuries held him back as a senior, so he could be a nice option in rounds three through five as well.
Jean Sifrin is one of my favorite players in the draft with incredible athleticism. He’s 27 years old after taking a longer route to draft day with a variety of different things he overcame to get where he is right now. I really envision him as a type of athletic tight end in the image of Julius Thomas and I think the Saints would do well to draft him in the fifth or sixth round before Denver snaps him up.
- Miami Dolphins (8-8)
No. of selections: 6
Draft picks: Round 1 (14), Round 2 (47), Round 4 (114), Round 5 (149), Round 5 (150), Round 6 (191)
With only six selections, they have to make great selections because, something I’m a little surprised I heard myself saying tonight in a conversation with a buddy of mine who’s a Dolphins fan, I’m a believer they can have a Super Bowl caliber team with a few more good decisions. As I’ve said regarding other teams with young quarterbacks, I’m a big believer in the concept of having a great running game with a great defense around him, so let’s keep that in mind while we draft a team around Ryan Tannehill, one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL. With the additions of Ndamukong Suh, Jordan Cameron, Greg Jennings, and Kenny Stills, they made a lot of great moves this offseason.
Keeping in mind that idea of building that strong running game with that defense, I want the Dolphins to draft another great cornerback to pair with Brent Grimes, Trae Waynes, and if he’s not there or if they like this guy better, Kevin Johnson. They had the sixth best passing defense in the NFL last season and their rush defense is going to improve from 24th with the addition of Suh, so let’s make sure that the pass defense stays on task with a cornerback in the first round.
They had the 31st pass blocking team in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus and the 27th run blocking team, so that has to be improved. Considering they drafted Ju’Wuan James in the first round last year, they have to be optimistic that he will improve off a year that was in the bottom five for tackles according to PFF, so I didn’t want to go that way in Miami again this year. They need a young guard to replace Daryn Colledge who was the 74th of 78 guards according to PFF and will be 33 this year, but with the guards being deep in this class, they should wait until after drafting a linebacker.
With the #47 pick and a desperate need at linebacker, they should draft Denzel Perryman from Miami and keep him at home. They have only one inside linebacker on the roster right now, Kelvin Sheppard, and that’s not going to do the job. So it’s either Perryman here, or whoever they have highest on the board if he’s not available. This is not a position that they can afford to wait until the fourth round on. That’s part of what makes having only six picks so killer, you might have to reach on a position that you desperately need because you can’t afford to wait two rounds because there might be no one available for the role you need, in which case, you’re screwed.
When the Dolphins come back in the fourth round, I’m going to choose between best available guard and defensive tackle. For the defensive tackles, Michael Bennett, Grady Jarrett, and Gabe Wright are the players I would be looking at in this round. Meanwhile, at guard, there probably isn’t anyone that would be worth what those three players are in the fourth round, so you’ll have to wait until the fifth to address a position that, I consider, a pretty legitimate need. Again, missing an entire round in the middle of the draft is killer.
When the Dolphins come back in the fifth round, I’d look at Mitch Morse, Jarvis Harrison, Jeremiah Poutasi, and the versatile Max Garcia.
To close out the draft, I’d look for a reliable WR4 who can compete for playing time in the sixth round. The players I’d look at in Miami are Tre McBride, Stefon Diggs, Dezmin Lewis, Deontay Greenberry and Vince Mayle. I like Dezmin Lewis a lot here because he’s a bigger receiver with great speed, which the Dolphins don’t really have with their current crop. Lewis is a speedster and he’s 6’4”, he could turn into something very special. He also made this silly catch…this highlight tape is ridiculous.
In the seventh round, I’d try to draft the running back that best fits the Dolphins system or a player that is a real change of pace to Lamar Miller, I definitely don’t know who that is better than the Dolphins staff, but the players I would look at if I were them are Tre Williams, Karlos Williams, Matt Jones or Kevin Monangai. At this point in the draft, Matt Jones would be my pick if he’s there, but I don’t think he will, his running style reminds me a lot of Marshawn Lynch’s and I think that his college production was depressed in college due to him not having a quarterback who could do anything to keep the defense off balanced. He’s exactly the kind of player who you look for late in the draft, an immense talent with potential who was either underutilized in his college’s system or just wasn’t given the best opportunity to succeed for other reasons.
- San Francisco 49ers (8-8)
No. of selections: 9
Draft picks: Round 1 (15), Round 2 (46), Round 3 (79), Round 4 (126), Round 4 (132), Round 5 (151), Round 6 (190), Round 7 (246), Round 7 (254)
Wow. What a crazy offseason for a team that’s just a year removed from three NFC Championship games in a row. At the 15th pick, this will be a place where the 49ers will draft whoever the best player on their board is at either cornerback, inside linebacker, defensive end or a hybrid edge pass rusher. With the retirement of Patrick Willis and his replacement, Chris Borland, they need an inside linebacker for the future, but there’s more value in drafting an inside linebacker in this year’s second or third rounds.
With Carlos Hyde as the lead back, they’re in pretty good hands, but with Reggie Bush on a one-year deal, this is the year to draft a pass catching running back for the future. With Kaepernick at quarterback, they will need an offense that has the ability to run and at the right price moving forward. This Bush deal is a good one-year deal to get them into the future, but they’ll need a running back for that role in the future that they know they can rely on. Javorius Allen, another USC back, could be a good choice for them in the fourth round, after they address their more pressing needs.
With the loss of both Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox this offseason, they could be looking for Trae Waynes or Jalen Collins in the first round, potential second round options include Marcus Peters, Byron Jones or Ronald Darby. It will come down to if they can get a better corner or pass rusher in the first round as to which direction they decide to go.
With the problems surrounding guys like Aldon Smith, who knows if they’d be willing to take a flier, but Randy Gregory would provide tremendous value for them at #15. Walter Football has a great write up on him where they discuss his full repertoire of moves rather than merely relying on his incredible speed stating that he “uses a spin move, swim move, and bull rush effectively” and he’s smart about when he uses these moves. He’s got a dynamic mix of speed and strength that allows him to use skills suited to whether he’s going up against a stronger or faster tackle. Alvin Dupree is another pass rusher that would be very valuable at #15.
If they decide to go with a cornerback in the first round, then pass rushers like Lorenzo Mauldin and Arik Armstead are potential second round options, but Armstead might not fall that far. The 49ers are a team that can go in a bunch of different directions with the needs they have.
The pure need of people in that front seven makes me think that Armstead will be the choice in the first round, then they’ll address the cornerback needs with guys like Kevin White, D’Joun Smith, Steven Nelson, Alex Carter, Quinten Rollins or Eric Rowe in the middle rounds. It is possible Marcus Peters falls into the second and that would be a huge get for them there regardless of his issues because that would allow them to get tremendous value out of their top two picks at positions that desperately need a boost.
If they can get better value by drafting Denzel Perryman, Eric Kendricks or Benardrick McKinney in the second, then they should certainly address that huge hole in the middle, but if they have to wait until a little later, Stephone Anthony and Paul Dawson should be there in the third round.
With two fourth round picks, they should draft what will hopefully be their eventual replacements for Anquan Boldin (35 in October) and Vernon Davis (31). So in this round, the options are probably going to be Jeff Heuerman and Wes Saxton as two guys who could fit that athletic mold they’re looking for, I love Heuerman as a blocker for this offense, so he’d be my first option. I’ve got to throw CJ Uzomah and Pharoah Brown as seventh round options.
At receiver, I like what I’ve heard about Stefon Diggs with one former Terrapin in the NFL saying he’s the best athlete he’s ever played with. If he’s not there, Tre McBride from William & Mary fits the mold of what I would be looking for to replace Boldin; Tony Lippett from Michigan State would be a nice choice as well and he’s so athletic that some teams are considering moving him to defensive back because he helped the Spartans at cornerback too last season, while leading the team in receiving. That’s the kind of Anquan Boldin style team player that would fit in out in San Francisco.
In the late rounds, I’d just hammer away at late round value picks on defense and the offensive line. Players like Nick Marshall, Cody Prewitt, Rob Havenstein, Brandon Vitabile, Andy Gallik, Zach Hodges, Lynden Trail, Jake Ryan, Jordan Hicks and whoever else they have up on their big board.
- Houston Texans (9-7)
No. of selections: 10
Draft picks: Round 1 (16), Round 2 (51), Round 3 (82), Round 4 (116), Round 5 (152), Round 5 (175), Round 6 (195), Round 6 (211), Round 6 (216), Round 7 (235)
As you’ll see in my book Caponomics this summer, I’m a huge advocate for the Texans building their team in the model of the 2000 Ravens, sticking to the running game and building up that great defense. With Jadeveon Clowney and Louis Nix returning from injuries that took their whole season last year, plus the addition of Vince Wilfork, they’ve got a solid defensive line.
I’m a firm believer that they don’t need to do anything drastic to address the quarterback situation, but rather draft a mid-round guy this year that best fits into their offense. Let me tall you a quick story about Tom Savage. I’ve been hearing about this kid since he was in high school, especially so because he was Rutgers’ big recruit and, frankly, I’m sick of hearing about someone’s potential who has never showed us this potential. For him to have gone in the fourth round last year, as he climbed up boards because of all these outside intangibles like arm strength and other things, things he didn’t show in his two and a half seasons of starts in college. Quarterback is the main position that I believe you can never go to the pre-draft process and have someone jump up your draft board based on what he does without pads on. Simply put, I don’t know how you have a guy like Savage jump up a draft board over unseen potential that we’ve heard about for years, but never seen come to fruition.
So for an actual developmental quarterback, if Garrett Grayson falls into the third or fourth round, then he could be a nice pick there, but I wouldn’t draft him in the second because of other needs. If they want one later in the draft, Sean Mannion from Oregon State could be a nice pick.
With the 16th pick, if they think they can control Randy Gregory and they trust him, GOOD LORD WOULD HE LOOK GOOD IN HOUSTON. If they don’t think they can trust him, then 16th might be too high to take Eli Harold or Eric Kendricks, but with the loss of Brooks Reed, this is a position that must be replaced early, with the model that I think they should build, they cannot afford to have a weakness in that front seven.
They certainly need two great receivers and with Andre Johnson they need to fill that hole. They did sign Nate Washington and Cecil Shorts during the offseason, but are they WR2s in an offense you want to win a Super Bowl?
They definitely need a third cornerback, but is it enough of a need to take with the 16th pick?
They certainly need a safety, it’s one of their weakest positions on that great defense, so do they go there for Landon Collins? They did just sign Stevie Brown and DJ Swearinger is on the trade block reportedly, just two years after drafting him in the second round. Does this all mean anything? Rahim Moore was a very important move for them, but they definitely need more.
I think the Texans will take mesh the best available approach and their needs, plus the availability in the draft that their first round pick, an equation of sorts with those three. So using that concept, with that 16th pick, I think the Texans going to draft Alabama’s Landon Collins.
(I just took a peak at NFL.com’s Mock Draft Central and Mike Mayock, Daniel Jeremiah, Charles Davis and Charley Casserly, on their combined 350th, 351st, 352nd and 353rd mock drafts of the last month all drafted receivers with Houston’s 16th pick. I disagree, obviously, this draft is just too deep to draft a first round receiver after signing Shorts and Washington who are still more than capable. Those four also all drafted a wide receiver to the Vikings. This is why understanding the salary cap and team building strategies are so important to NFL analysis, these are two teams in the Texans and Vikings that need to implement the strategies of the 2000 Ravens and 2013 Seahawks to help out young or average quarterbacks and amplify the strengths of their good defenses. Drafting a first round wide receiver, IN A DRAFT FILLED WITH GOOD ONES, is not necessary for what these teams needs.)
So with that Collins pick, we’re still searching for a cornerback, linebacker, wide receiver, tight end and a back-up running back/heir to the throne, as I don’t think Alfred Blue is the solution. Again, back to the strategy of what we want to build here, with Foster’s age and injury history, the Texans need a great running back to back up Foster. I believe in this idea so much so that I wouldn’t be against them drafting Melvin Gordon with the 16th pick if they think he’s the guy for the job, this is a team that led the league in rushing attempts last season, so they need someone who can tote the rock. They were 23rd in the league in yards per carry due to Alfred Blue’s awful 3.1 average.
Thankfully the Texans have ten picks to help us with these needs, it seems that Bill O’Brien brought that philosophy over with him from New England. This philosophy is so key because you get more chances to hit the lottery and with good scouting, understanding your team needs and getting the whole process down to a science, you hit the lottery more often than other teams do. From a cap standpoint, when you hit on these low-round players, you get a player grossly outperforming his contract and giving you an incredible return on investment. These kinds of return on investments really alleviate a ton of salary cap stress, so getting as many draft picks as possible is a terrific idea for every team.
If they go with Collins in the first round, then the second round should be where the Texans either draft Maxx Williams if he falls here because their tight ends were some of the worst in the league last year for a team that’s always had good tight ends. Out of 67 tight ends, Ryan Griffen, Garrett Graham and CJ Fiedorowicz, their 2014 third round pick, ranked 43, 55, and 63 respectively. Griffen had the highest rating at -6.3 and not one of them had a positive run blocking rating in an offense that needs it desperately. Remember, O’Brien came from New England, a place that’s had great tight ends the last few years, but have always had great blocking tight ends, he can’t be happy with what he saw last year and will certainly be looking to upgrade. They even use some three tight end sets during his time at Penn State, so you don’t want to go into the season with those three only.
If Williams doesn’t fall here, then they will probably go for an outside linebacker like Eli Harold, Eric Kendricks, Benardrick McKinney or Shaq Thompson. If Shane Ray or Randy Gregory fall all the way down here, then the Texans will have to take one of them. Lorenzo Mauldin is an interesting option for them a bit later. Eric Kendricks would be a solid pick here.
With that all said, the third round should be where they decide who the best player at the most important position for them between these three is: tight end, running back, wide receiver and cornerback. They should use that equation I discussed regarding their first round. I’m going to discuss those positions and the outlook the rest of the way and hopefully the Texans follow this logic.
Last year, slot receiver, Damaris Johnson played 586 snaps and he was the 107th rated receiver out of 110 according to PFF. So there are a few players who I would be looking to replace him with and they’ll probably go off the board in this order: Tyler Lockett, Justin Hardy, Rashad Greene, Ty Montgomery, Jamison Crowder, and Antwan Goodley. Personally, I want to see them take Hardy in the fourth, Green in the fourth or Crowder in the fifth.
In terms of tight end, the players I’d look at if I were them are Nick O’Leary in the third, Jeff Heuerman in the fourth, Blake Bell in the fifth, Rory Anderson in the fifth, Jesse James in the seventh, and CJ Uzomah in the seventh. I’d like to see them take O’Leary in the third or Heuerman in the fourth, plus Uzomah in the seventh.
At running back, they need a solid runner type and pass catcher who can hopefully replace Arian Foster one day, plus limit the amount Blue touches the ball this season. While blue reminds you a lot of Foster in the way he looks and moves a bit, he didn’t show enough last year to trust this year. Foster will be 29 this year, they have to be prepared because this offense will be VERY reliant on the running backs. A couple players who I would look for from the third round on are Duke Johnson, David Johnson, Javorius Allen, David Cobb, Josh Robinson, or John Crockett. If Duke Johnson is there in the third round, I don’t think you can pass him up, but David Johnson could be there in the fourth and would be great in this offense. David Cobb would be great pick up in the firth and Josh Robinson would be a steal in the seventh if he fell there. Tre Williams would give them a quick, shifty pass catcher in the seventh that I think O’Brien would utilize very nicely and give this offense another dimension.
At cornerback, Kevin White from TCU is the best middle round cornerback projected in the third to fifth area in this draft. Steven Nelson from Oregon State could be available in the third round and he’d be a great choice there. Quinten Rollins from Miami (Ohio) excites me because he fits the role that the Texans would need this year in a versatile athlete who could be a great slot cornerback and nickelback. Alex Carter has the size to be one of the new breed of six foot and taller cornerbacks, he, and Rollins, won’t last past the third round. If Nelson, Rollins or Carter are available in the third round, they’d be solid values.
They should also draft a center considering Chris Meyers’ is 33 years old, so Brandon Vitabile, Jake Smith and Dallas Lewallen are really good late round choices. Some later outside linebackers that I like are Jake Ryan and Zach Hodges in the sixth round, which is a solid place for the Texans to get value with three picks in the round, with that in mind, the Texans will have their eyes set on a bunch of value picks that could be available there, the previously mentioned Jesse James and CJ Uzomah could be ones, Nick Boyle from Delaware could be a great blocking tight end at 6’5”, 273-pounds and available in the sixth round.
Someone who should be mentioned for the middle of the draft should the Texans do something else with their second round pick is Lynden Trail from Norfolk State. At 6’7”, 269-pounds could be an absolute animal for the Texans at outside linebacker, but he has off-the-field issues that might make them hesitate to pick him.
And with those three sixth round picks, I would love to see them draft Dezmin Lewis there, he’s 6’4″, 215-pounds, runs a 4.46 forty and looks like a guy who could be a 1000-yard receiver. He is the type of athlete that could end up being the WR2 opposite DeAndre Hopkins for a long time. Check out his highlight tape here. A wide receiver group of Hopkins, Crowder and Lewis could be very, very good and change the complexion of this offense.
What you see up there is chaos, but that’s what life in the war room must be like, just trying to comprehend where guys are going to end up and figure out how to make it work to your advantage. I’m a Texans supporter because of Brian Cushing, I hope they return to the playoffs and build the kind of team that plays to their strengths and can win a Super Bowl in that 2000 Ravens model.
Stay tuned, the Chargers (1, 17) through the Seahawks (2, 63) will be up before noon!
Tweet me: @ZackMooreNFL
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