I don't really buy the Pat Willis comparisons, but the guy is very good and likely will be a top 15ish pick. I read that he lost 15 or so pounds so that definitely helped him this year.
I was pretty pissed that he stayed in school as I thought if he came out, we'd have had a shot at him or Hightower this past draft.
But honestly, I never understood why the Patriots drafted him. Hightower is an ILB. A big ILB. New England already has good starting ILB's in Mayo and Spikes so I don't know where they were going with that...if they wanted another ILB that was really good against the pass, Hightower is just average there. It was a weird pick IMHO.
My mid-season mock up (V1), rounds 1 and 2.
*I don't account for trades, but I do indicate where I think a trade could happen.
*Unlike Emory Hunt and others, I do base my picks off of BPA versus need and I try to take into account a team's history when picking.
*Draft positions are based on current record and where I think is a probable place for the team to wind up at the end of the season.
* Picks are also based on where I have collegiate players graded out. Obviously, this will evolve as the season(s) go on as well.
* Obviously things will change, this is just for discussion purposes.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars - Matt Barkley, QB, USC (6’2” 230lbs). It is still kind of up in the air as to whether or not Blaine Gabbert will ever develop into a solid starting QB. Considering he was a holdover from the previous owner and coaching staff, I’m not so sure the Jags have a lot of loyalty towards him. Matt Barkley is arguably the top rated QB this year and has all of the qualities that a team can build a franchise around. If Jacksonville wants to put seats in their stadium, they have to find a way to win games and build a team capable of getting them back into the playoffs.
2. Kansas City Chiefs – Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia (6’3” 215lbs). Similar to RGIII in last year’s draft, Geno Smith brings a tremendous amount of skills to the table as a quarterback. He has an excellent arm, is decisive, and can make things happen with his feet once the play starts to break down. Kansas City needs a quarterback probably more than any other team in the NFL right now because they have a solid defense and a stellar running game.
3. Cleveland Browns – David Amerson, CB, NC State (6’3” 195lbs). I don’t really care what anyone says, Amerson is still one of the top 10 players in this draft. It is rare that a guy his size has the speed and ability to turn and run with any receiver. He plays zone well, but he is at his best in press coverage where he can use his 6’3” frame to disrupt receivers at the line of scrimmage. He also brings a nice set of ball skills to the table, which Cleveland desperately needs. I think because Cleveland doesn’t pick again until later in the draft they will try to get the most bang for their buck and Amerson is someone who could step in and instantly upgrade their secondary.
4. Oakland Raiders – Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah (6’4” 330lbs). The Raiders need a lot, but I think this pick is really going to depend on whether or not they think that Carson Palmer can win there and whether or not they think they have something with Terrelle Pryor. That said, the Raiders’ defense has been pretty disappointing this year and they really could use an upgrade at DT. Lotulelei is a monster against the run and for a guy his size gets off the ball quickly and uses his leverage to push the pocket around. I don’t necessarily think he is a TOP need for the Raiders, but he is easily one of the top 5 players available in this draft and I’m sure Oakland will find a way to use him in their defensive front 7.
5. Carolina Panthers – Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia (6’2” 240lbs). Jones is an absolutely incredible athlete. He rushes the passer well, he plays the run well, and he can drop into coverage. He can line up at end, inside linebacker, and outside linebacker. There is also reason to believe that he can function in both a 4-3 and a 3-4 alignment. Many folks are comparing him to Von Miller, who has exceeded many expectations as a 4-3 outside linebacker. The Panthers defense needs a major overhaul, so they might as well take one of the top defensive players available.
6. Buffalo Bills – Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M (6’6” 315lbs). This is kind of a weak class for offensive tackles, but Joeckel is currently the top rated guy at the position. Buffalo really needs to consider picking up another QB, but none of that matters unless they can protect whoever that may be. Cordy Glenn did ok, but in reality he is probably better suited as a RT or guard, and Chris Hairston really should be a back up. Joeckel needs some fine-tuning, but the talent and upside is there.
7. Indianapolis Colts – Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU (6’4” 260lbs). The Colts exceeded a lot of people’s expectations defensively. Chuck Pagano took a lot of 4-3 components and turned them into a 3-4 and it has been decent, but the reality is that both Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney are old, overpaid, and don’t fit well in a 3-4. Sam Montgomery is one of the highest rated 3-4 OLB prospects in this draft after Jarvis Jones and compares heavily to guys like Aldon Smith and Terrell Suggs in that he is just an all-around good defensive player. He sets the edge well, he plays the run well, he collapses the pocket, and he has a nice burst of speed that allows him to close on the QB or ball carrier.
8. Tennessee Titans – DeMarcus Milliner, CB, Alabama (6’ 190lbs). The Titans have a lot of young components, so it is kind of hard to really guage where they may go, but cornerback kind of makes sense for them since they lost Cortland Finnegan to free agency and haven’t really found a solid answer for that loss since. Jason McCourty is a decent corner and Alteraun Verner isn’t bad, but they need a guy who can line up on the outside and push Verner down to the slot, which is where he belongs. Milliner has been a solid corner this season for Alabama and has done well against a lot of top tiered receivers in the SEC.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jonathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State (6’4” 320lbs). Tampa Bay has been trying to figure out their defensive line for a few years now and they have spent a lot of decent draft picks on the position without much luck. Gerald McCoy is decent, but not the player they thought they were getting with such a high draft pick. Hankins is a standout pass rusher for the Buckeyes and just makes plays all over the field. Tampa could look at the offensive line, linebacker, or possibly even corner, but Hankins is higher rated than any of those guys would be right now and Tampa could certainly look to bolster their defensive front.
10. St. Louis Rams – Keenan Allen, WR, California (6’2” 210lbs). The Rams were looking at picking Justin Blackmon last year, so there is certainly an interest from them in drafting some young talent at receiver. Allen is arguably the top rated receiver in this draft class and could easily provide the Rams with a more consistent starting receiver. Allen is very underrated, so I could see his stock falling a little due to being on a team with poor QB play, but he runs nice routes and has deceptive speed.
11. New York Jets – Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU (6’5” 245lbs). This pick will ultimately depend on whether or not Rex Ryan is fired after this season. If he is fired, they may look at someone like Tyler Bray or Tyler Wilson to replace Mark Sanchez, who has been nothing short of disappointing. If Rex is kept around, I think he will try to get someone who can fit into his 3-4 defense. They thought that maybe Aaron Maybin would be that pass rushing catalyst, but he only seemed to be interested in getting a contract extension. He hasn’t been very good this year. Mingo is a long and lean speed pass rusher with an outstanding burst off of the line. He can really get around offensive tackles quickly and close on QB’s.
12. Cincinnati Bengals – Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State (6’4” 260lbs). Werner has been an absolute terror for offensive lines this season. Last year many felt that he may move up into the bottom of the 2nd round, but with his play this year he has easily played himself into the first round and in my opinion he could easily be worth a top 15 pick. He is strong against the run, he uses leverage well and he has excellent footwork. He has one of the best rip moves I have seen in a defensive end in a long time. The Bengals have some talent at defensive end, but it is inconsistent and I could definitely see them looking at DL prospects this off-season.
13. St. Louis Rams (From Washington) – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M (6’5” 305lbs). The Rams traded Jason Smith to the Jets for Wayne Hunter, who has never been more than a depth swing tackle. The Rams definitely need to upgrade their offensive line if they want to get their offense going. Steven Jackson can still get it done, but he needs lanes to run through and right now they just aren’t doing it. Not only does Jake Matthews have a great bloodline, but he is also extremely athletic and has a nasty streak that you really like seeing in offensive lineman. He has predominately played RT in college, but many think that he is athletic enough to transition over to LT much like Tyron Smith did in Dallas.
14. New Orleans Saints – Barrett Jones, OT/G/C, Alabama (6’5” 310lbs). New Orleans has had a really rough year and their bread and butter offense noticeably missed Carl Nicks on the offensive line. They signed Ben Grubbs, who has been ok for them, but they really need help at offensive tackle and center. I think the Saints could also look at a defensive tackle here, but Barrett Jones just has move value in the top 20 and his flexibility has to be something that Sean Payton would really value.
15. Arizona Cardinals – Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas (6’3” 225lbs). John Skelton has glimpses of being a decent player and Kevin Kolb has shown glimpses, but neither have really taken the reigns and been that starting caliber QB that the Cardinals haven’t had since Kurt Warner. The Cards definitely need to address their offensive line, but I think those issues have largely been in part to injuries, so taking Wilson here isn’t a bad idea. He has a solid arm with good accuracy and he is a lot more athletic than most think. He has had some durability issues, but when healthy he is a good player with nice upside.
16. Philadelphia Eagles – Jonathan Banks, CB, Mississippi State (6’1” 192lbs). Banks has been one of the most impressive defensive players in the country and is without a doubt worthy of a top 20 pick. He plays press coverage extremely well and has the natural talent to be the best cornerback taken in this draft. The Eagles landed a gem with Brandon Boykins, but they have some major decisions to make regarding Nnamdi and DRC. Both are expensive, Nnamdi has been a disappointment, and DRC is a free agent. If Andy Reid is still the coach, then I think they’ll let DRC hit free agency and draft a guy to replace him.
17. Dallas Cowboys – Manti T’eo, ILB, Notre Dame (6’2” 250lbs). Dallas already has a good defense, but getting a guy like T’eo could turn them into a great defense. T’eo has a ton of experience in a 3-4 alignment and would be an ideal fit for Rob Ryan’s defense. He has really improved his ability to cover receivers and tight ends and he is a force against the run. Dallas could also be looking for a guy like Jon Jenkins, but T’eo is way too good to pass up on right here.
18. San Diego Chargers – Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee (6’4” 205lbs). The Chargers need a lot on both sides of the ball. Frankly, I think their biggest issue revolves around Norv Turner. The guy is a hell of an offensive coordinator, but he has never done well as a head coach. They invested money into Eddie Royal and Robert Meachem and neither of those guys has panned out at all. Malcom Floyd is an above average possession guy with a lot of height, but he has some major durability issues. They really need to get someone for Phillip Rivers to throw to. Justin Hunter has outstanding speed and leaping ability to go along with an impressively long frame. He can get vertical and he is a big target in the red zone. He needs some refinement as a route runner, but he could impact San Diego’s offense immediately.
19. Miami Dolphins – Tyler Eiffert, TE, Notre Dame (6’6” 255lbs). Ryan Tannehill has improved almost every week and many thought it would be a couple of years before he could really compete at the NFL level. Playing in a familiar offense has really helped him out a lot; so getting him some better targets should be a top priority for Miami this off-season. Eiffert is a natural receiver with deceptive speed and his frame makes him a mismatch for almost any defender on the field. His game is very similar to Rob Gronkowski’s.
20. Detroit Lions – Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State (6’2” 210lbs). Detroit’s secondary may be one of the worst in the NFL. Outside of Louis Delmas, who can’t stay healthy, they all stink. Teams have been picking on their cornerbacks all season long. I think Detroit is going to try and look at receivers and offensive lineman as well, but I don’t see how they can pass on a cornerback like Rhodes here. He is a little stiff in the hips, but he has nice speed to go along with a 6’2” frame. I think he’d be an ideal player in Detroit’s system and could benefit from playing behind a defensive front 4 that can get to the QB as well as they can.
21. Seattle Seahawks – Da’Rick Rogers, WR, Tennessee Tech (6’3” 209lbs). Pete Carroll has never been one to shy away from guys with a questionable history. He has also never been one to sit on a player who might not carry as much value as the pick would suggest (see Bruce Irvin), but you can’t fault the guy because he identifies whom he wants and takes them. Rogers was the Tennessee Vol’s #1 receiver before being kicked out of their program. He probably would have been a top 15 pick easily before that happened, but if he can keep his nose clean off the field then there is no reason why he can’t produce at the NFL level. He is that good of a player. The Seahawks desperately need a receiver because Sidney Rice is always hurt and Doug Baldwin is someone who should be playing out of the slot.