Those who have been around the Texans awhile probably recall a wonderful site called Houston Diehards. Chris (I don't know his last name) ran a site that was chock ful of great info and analysis, and was a wonderful complement to the BRB experience.
He was also nice enough to let me guest post around draft time, to include an annual mock draft. Sadly, while Chris is still afoot, the website itself is currently inactive, so instead I will provide this draft here on BRB.
I used Walterfootball.com as a primary source for team needs. He meticulously updates for even the most seemingly irrelevant of signings, which helped me try and determine whether or not the GM's figured that they had effectively plugged the holes listed.
I also leaned on Drafttek.com's big board. What set their board apart was how players are listed for multiple positions, which told me which pass rushers could line up at OLB, which DE's could play 5-tech with a little more clarity. It also penalized players when they COULD play a position, but not as effectively. Case in point is Taylor Lewan, who is #13 on their board as a left tackle, but is listed as a -80 right tackle, meaning that based on that position alone, he should be #93. This told me that a team that would look for him to start at the right then move left may pass on him.
Finally, I DID NOT MAKE A PICK without checking SB Nation blogs first. No matter which team you check out, the NFL Team blogs on SB Nation are full of posters and commenters that are tuned in to their franchise. This helped me cut through lazy, uninformed journalism that runs rampant across national media. If you ever want to learn about another NFL team, that's where I highly recommend you start.
Anyways, onto the draft! Wish me luck!
1. Houston Texans - Jadeveon Clowney, DE/OLB, South Carolina
The strongest argument I think can be made for defensive player over quarterback is the rumors of falling signal callers. There is a possibility that someone in the Top 3 falls out of the first round or at least falls far enough that teams are throwing their second round picks up in the air to get them in the back end of Thursday night. Mel Kiper was just on the radio saying that any QB still on the board after 8 (Minnesota) should be VERY nervous, and for once, I agree with Mel. There's no way Clowney, Mack, Barr, or any of the defensive standouts fall low enough for us to pluck them with an augmented second round pick, but there IS a chance we can go DE and still end up with a QB later. That alone is enough to warrant this pick.
As far as Clowney vs Mack, I look at versatility. Mack is in my opinion a superior OLB prospect, but that's the only note he can play (though he could very well play it at a All-Pro level). Clowney has the tools to be a Pro Bowl linebacker, but I also see him being effective on the weakside 5-tech, drawing a double team that would free up Mercilus to rush against a running back, and possibly even splitting the tackle and guard and collapsing the pocket himself. Plus, Clowney, Watt, and an effective nose tackle would all be players that you would want to double-team, but that's 6 blockers. You either let one of them go in single coverage, or you are sacrificing your TE just to keep up, linebackers and corners can blitz untouched, and you still don't have enough receiving options to counter attack the rush. I could go on and on about the different ways a Clowney/Watt pairing could be spread around the defense and utilized. Mack is a great OLB prospect, but he isn't that diversely able to wreak havoc, and I think O'Brien wants that versatility.
2. St Louis Rams - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
I don't see a trade up to #2. Atlanta would be idiots to give up a boatload of picks when they fell so hard last season based on injuries and age exposing a complete lack of depth. With no Quarterback standing above the rest at this point, I doubt someone leaps ahead to get "their guy" either.
So who do the Rams pick? Watkins, Mack, and Robinson are all great choices, so I looked at who was most likely to be available at #13. Lewan should be there, so I eliminated Robinson. Most people would expect Mike Evans to not make it to #13, and neither would Anthony Barr. However, I realized that, since the idea of drafting a pass rusher is future money-related, then to me it makes more sense to get a Day 2 player that doesn't need to be great his rookie season at that position. So Watkins is the guy.
Glitter Kitties Jaguars - Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Jacksonville is in a similar boat to us. They could really use one of the two top pass rushers - even more than we need them because they have NOTHING and we at least have MegaWatt - and if there was a QB worth taking at 3, we'd've taken him at 1. If Clowney and Mack go 1-2, they probably take Sammy Watkins anyway because of the Blackmon suspension.
4. Cleveland Browns - Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
This makes so so so much sense. The Browns have a good defense and they have weapons to help JFF out. They have a rookie coach and GM who do not have the successful track record to justify dictating that "things need to be a certain way", so they are going to be more malleable than most about letting Johnny play his style of football. Also, you have Kyle Shanahan who learned from his daddy that you can have a long-lasting coaching career by being the guy on the sidelines watching a great QB play. Plus, all three of those guys are young enough to be willing to play with the post-modern offensive scheme that JFF would require. Finally, the Browns have the most draft value of any team in the league this year, so there's plenty of opportunities to finish building the team in JFF's image. Again, this is the most makes-sense pick of the entire draft, in my opinion.
5. Oakland Raiders - Aaron Donald, DT/DE, Pitt
The death of Al Davis did not temper the WTF nature of the Raiders draft habits. Last year, the first chance GM McKenzie got to make a first-round pick...was DJ Hayden, a cornerback with a heart condition. (sigh)
So why Aaron Donald? For one, he's amazing. He is on the top 5 list of "players least likely to completely bust". The Raiders need playmakers on both sides of the ball, and they liked using Lamarr Houston all over the defensive line last year, and I think Donald has the explosiveness and speed that he could actually take some snaps at left end to take advantage of matchups (such as if the Texans move forward with Hologram at right tackle).
The best part? Silver and Black Pride has commenters that would be totally find eith this pick. The only chance the Raiders had of trading down was Watkins to Detroit, so they suck it up and take their guy at 5, and the fans aren't even mad, bro.
6. Atlanta Falcons - Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
This is a tough pick when money is thrown in. They are locked into Sam Baker at the left tackle until at least 2016, but they have nothing on the right side, and maybe having his replacement suiting up could make Baker play better. Either way, if I've learned nothing from the rookie cap era, it's that suddenly it's okay to draft right tackle early.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
I think the Bortles at 7 talk is smoke designed to make the Vikings jump, but I don't think the Bucs are interested in going offensive line at 7, and this is a great situation for Bortles between location, coaching, and the fact that they have Josh McCown there to hold the fort. Why not?
8. Minnesota Vikings - TRADE! - #8 for #17, #48
Baltimore Ravens - Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The first trade of the night comes later than expected, but I think it makes sense. The Ravens have the depth to give up a choice pick despite having few picks this year, and they are hurting at the tackle position. Oher was not re-signed nor did he deserve to be, and so they have nothing on the right and are hoping Eugene Monroe continues to defy the Jags decision to dump him for Day 3 fodder. Considering that this team's hopes revolve around Flacco and his limited mobility, then securing the services of arguably THE SAFEST PICK in this year's draft is worth the second round pick.
9. Buffalo Bills - Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Their defense is in good shape, so let's see what we can do for the offense. Mike Evans is a popular choice here, but I think their receivers are okay whereas their tight end position is not. Plus, is it just me, or do all these young whippersnappers insist on having a TE to check down to when times get tough?
10. Detroit Lions - Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Dear Draftnik Community,
Stop mocking secondary to the Lions at 10. Please. Stop.
Yours, the fans at Pride of Detroit
BESFs Titans - Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
For some reason, my phone won't activate Music City Miracles, so for this instance, I had to risk it and brave the internet. What I saw was a fan community that liked Gilbert and Dennard, but generally felt Dennard has a more Titan-y attitude. Whatever. Moving on!
12. New York
Football Giants - Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
Reach! REEEEEEEACH! Which is exactly what they did with Justin Pugh last year, and they are generally happy with the results. Shazier is exactly what the team is looking for, a versatile linebacker with both blitzing and coverage chops, so why wait? Get your guy, right?
13. St. Louis Rams - TRADE! #13 for #24, #55, #123
Cincinnati Bengals - Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
A trade down from 13 is more sensible for the Rams. There's lots of guys they would like available, and for some reason Les Snead seems to really want quantity or quality. The other bonus to this move is that it keeps Justin Gilbert, a guy I expect the Niners to covet, out of the NFC West. For the Bengals, cornerback is a gaping hole and, having made the playoffs, they can also afford to throw picks up for the sake of fixing the spot.
The Bears defense spent years and years being led by the tag team of Urlacher and Briggs. I think Mosley can be the Briggs to Jon Bostic's Urlacher. If the injury concerns are vetted and cleared, then Mosley is not only a potentially top 10 talent (#8 on the Draft Tek board) but is also leaps and bounds ahead of his competition, making him a solid choice, again IF the injury concerns check out.
Like the Rams, the Steelers have multiple players they like available, so why not grab a pick and let the other teams decide? As for the Jets, Rex Ryan has been trying to recreate the 2000 Ravens for his entire tenure, and won't stop now just because his QB's best weapon is CJ2YPC.
16. Dallas Cowboys - Zack Martin, OL, Notre Dame
I apologize BRBers. Morgan Moses was indeed the wrong choice. It should have been Martin. The logic was that after this year the Cowboys could cut Doug Free, saving money while improving the tackle position. Well, Doug Free plays better than the two guards the Cowboys are expected to line up, so putting Martin at LG then sliding him out next season possibly is a much better idea. Plus, Martin is higher on the board and is the top guard prospect so it fits the Cowboys's new draft philosophy.
17. Minnesota Vikings - Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Teddy Bridgewater does not fit Norv Turner's vertical offense. You have been led to believe that Derek Carr does. Sorry Vikings fans.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers - Taylor Lewan, LT, Michigan
I was surprised at how much support this would get given the off-field allegations and how similar they are to the Big Ben scandal. But, then again, the Rooneys have supported Big Ben through the whole process and apparently all rumors that the Steelers are planning to move on from Roethlisberger are B.S. Well, if you want to keep Big Ben, let's youthify the offensive line.
Ugh. With Lewan AND Martin gone, there's no one that isn't a big reach here for the Dolphins. The Chargers call and take advantage, working a deal that is acceptable on the value chart but doesn't cost them any picks (because the Bolts have some holes to fill). I read some interesting scouting that indicated that Louis Nix was not the nose tackle that fit the Chargers best. It was actually Jernigan, who plays stronger than his 299-pound frame. Hey, if you think this is your nose tackle, go get him, guys. Nose tackle is an underrated position. Just ask BRB.
20. Arizona Cardinals - Morgan Moses, RT, Virginia
Mark my words, ladies and gentlemen. Morgan Moses will be a first round pick. Sending him to Dallas was a mistake, but sending him to Thursday night is not. He is arguably the best pure right tackle of the class, and could develop into a blindsider over time. The Cardinals' offensive line has been an abomination, and while they got a good left tackle in Jared Veldheer, they need a partner for the right.
21. Green Bay Packers - Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville
Packers need a safety. Pryor is among the best players on the board. Don't overthink this, guys.
22. Philadelphia Eagles - Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech
Yes, the free fall of Mike Evans and Marqise Lee is getting ridiculous, right? But I think the Eagles' alleged love of Mike Evans is smoke. Maclin is capable of being a #1 WR, Foles had great rapport with Riley Cooper, and they have a strong TE option in Ertz. Plus, this team will continue to revolve around the speedy running game of Shady and now Sproles. Their defense is a far more pressing need, and there are PUH-LENTY of receivers that can be grabbed later. (This is the real problem with Evans and Lee: they are better than the WRs in Day 2, but there's so many good prospects that teams are going to psych themselves out of drafting either one unless they have no other pressing need)
Greg Cosell said he thinks Attaochu is better than Dee Ford, at least in a 3-4. Drafttek has had Attaochu higher on their board for months. This is not the reach you think it is, according to them at least.
23. Kansas City - TRADE!
So Teddy Bridgewater is the pick here. I'll tell you that. I'll also tell you that there was a poll on Arrowhead Pride asking fans if the Chiefs should draft TBW at 23 if he's there. The result was 50-50, with a lot of the NO's citing the awful return on investment of Alex Smith to let him walk after 2 seasons after giving up two second round picks WHILE also paying a first-rounder for his replacement. That's a lot of cheddar to toss at Bridgewater if you thin kabout it, and I think the GM will care more about his investment than anything else.
That said, the Chiefs need another Day 2 pick to recoup their losses, so they auction off the Bridge.
#23 for #33, #65 - Houston Texans - Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
This is not just the homer in me. The Texans 2nd and 3rd have more value than what the JAgs are likely to offer (our 2 & 3 has more value than their 2, 3, & 4, and I don't see the Jags giving up future picks when everyone knows they're going to be awful next year still), and I don't see anyone else making a serious offer.
We did it, folks. We got to have our cake and eat it too, and it only cost us #65 in a draft where we have 10 other picks.
24. St. Louis Rams - Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
You can't teach height, but everything else this guy already done learned. Arguably the best corner in the class despite being small enough to need a stepladder to look Richard Sherman in the eye, he also is a perfect fit at the nickel corner spot. If BOB is right, that makes him more of a starter than the Chargers drafting a nose tackle. :-/
25. Miami Dolphins - Xavier Su'a-Filo, G, UCLA
Best lineman on the board, and it's about where I had him on the big board. The trade with San Diego helps them get a right tackle of choice in round 2.
26. Cleveland Browns - Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
This was not intentional. However, I don't think they'd be able to resist if it came to pass.
27. New Orleans Saints - Marqise Lee, WR, USC
This was a tough call between Lee and Dee Ford, but in the end, Lee was higher on the board so I'll stick with that.
28. Carolina Panthers - TRADE! #28 for #43, #74
New York Giants - Jace Amaro
The Panthers need offensive tackles. No bones about it. Reaching for Cyrus Kuandijo feels like an awful idea here. However, as it turns out, there is one team more desperate for a tight end than the New England Patriots, and that's the G-Men, who have yet to replace the departed Jeremy Shockey with comparable talent at the position.
29. New England Patriots - Louis Nix III, NT, Notre Dame
Oh, we can't replace Aaron Hernandez? Oh well, we'll just get Vince Wilfork's eventual successor. No biggie.
30. San Francisco 49ers - Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
So, I heard that Niners GM Trent Baalke likes "long-armed" prospects. So, I looked at cornerbacks and I also checked up on Dee Ford as a potential Plan B in case Aldon Smith's situation worsens. Kyle Fuller was good, not quite Justin Gilbert but what do you expect at 30, right?
Dee Ford...was about 2.5 inches shorter than a lot of other prospects such as Marcus Smith, whom I think they'll pick on Day 2.
Let that sink in. Dee Ford is a no-go to the Niners because his arms are 2.5 inches too short. That's the approximate length of your pinky finger. His arms are a pinky-length too short to be a good fit for this team. Prospect scouting has officially jumped the shark.
31. Denver Broncos - Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
This was tough. The Broncs need corners and linebackers, and Roby was the only one anywhere near this on the board, though I'm not sure his boom-or-bust potential is what Elway is looking for. But I didn't think they had much of a choice as there's no good trade bait either.
32. Seattle Seahawks - Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
This was one of my favorites to scout. Turns out the guys over at Field Gulls created a metric called SPARQ that somehow turns "is he a good fit for the Seahawks" into a measurable metric. Awesome, right? There's quite a few available players that "scored highly on the SPARQ", but Hageman stood out because, as a 1-tech/5-tech type player, his skill set was expected to be unfairly low within the system, yet he still scored among the top. This indicated to the writer whose name I forget that Hageman was absolutely the right pick if available, and I am inclined to agree.
Normally, I'd do a bonus pick #33, but since the Texans gave it away, I won't bother. The Chiefs would have all day to think about how they traded out of the first round only to watch every first-round-rated corner and safety get snatched up (Drafttek has Jimmie Ward as a fringe-third-round guy FYI). Oops.
Sound off on the comments section. Do you like this draft? Did I flub up and somehow manage to match a team with a player that isn't the right fit? Tell me what you think, and remember, it'll be over in two weeks.