Monday, April 11, 2016

On The Clock: NFL Mock Draft 2.0: Let's Get Crazy

By Alex Hale, @DaSportsGenius7

Well, Free Agency has slowed down and that means its time for Mock Draft 2.0.

Now when I do Mock Draft 2.0, I decide since nobody will ever have a perfect Mock Draft, why not get crazy with it?  That's going to be the theme of this Mock Draft.  Most of the analysts are giving you the same Mock Draft week after week with the same old explanation.  

Example: The Browns are drafting QB Carson Wentz because he's big, has a strong arm, and is a project which fits why they signed Robert Griffin III.

That's a cop out answer to saying they have no idea what is going to happen when the Browns pick. Heck, we don't even know what the Titans are going to do at #1 at this point, so you know what... LET'S GET CRAZY.  

The NFL Mock Draft 2.0 is now underway and once again, the Tennessee Titans are on the clock...

1. Tennessee Titans- CB Jalen Ramsey, Florida State- While the Titans have a need to get a true Franchise LT, people are forgetting the Titans only 2 years ago invested a 1st Round pick on Taylor Lewan and while he hasn’t developed into what they expected, the guy is still young enough to develop into that LT.  The Titans could go Laremy Tunsil and move Lewan to RT, but Ramsey is too good to pass up and it fills a position of need.  It’s quite possible that the Jaguars could end with Ramsey and if I’m the Titans with the pure talent Ramsey is as a CB or even a Safety he’s worth the #1 pick.  At his Pro Day one scout said Ramsey was, “Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor combined into one player”.  If that’s the case, this isn’t much of a debate…the Titans have to take Jalen Ramsey and find a OT in the second round.

2. Cleveland Browns- OT Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss- In the shocker of the night, the Browns don’t go with Goff or Wentz and take Tunsil to be their future franchise LT.  Tunsil has the physical talents and the blocking ability to be worthy of this selection.  The one question mark is Tunsil’s durability which could dissuade the Browns from selecting him.  But I’m still not sure the Browns are sold on any QB, nor do I think they can get the trade offer needed to move down.  The Browns will have to address the Offensive Line at some point in this draft and with not being sold on any QB and Tunsil’s talent too good to pass on him, the Browns have to take him here.  But you got to wonder after this pick…if the right trade offer presents itself, do the Browns trade Joe Thomas?

3. San Diego Chargers- OT Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame- In a perfect world, the Chargers will land Laremy Tunsil, but the Browns shocked everyone and shook up the draft.  Stanley is for sure a reach here at #3, but not a huge reach.  Stanley doesn’t have the upside of Tunsil as compared to Tunsil, Stanley is pretty much filled out physically as Tunsil still has room to bulk up.  The Chargers as we all know need Offensive Line help and as stated in Mock 1.0, there are only 2 OT who really are worth taking in the top 10-15 picks.    Stanley needs to stop playing high and work on his blocking angles as although he could get away with it at Notre Dame, it won’t be enough to get by in the NFL.  Stanley has the potential to be a consistent starter for the next decade at LT.

4. Dallas Cowboys- LB Myles Jack, UCLA- Ok I know perfectly well I left him off Mock Draft 1.0, but I wasn’t done scouting him.  After doing some homework after Mock 1.0, I’m starting to believe the hype around him.  The one thing that stands out with Jack is his versatility.  He could easily be a 3-4 ILB or a 4-3 OLB.  Now after his season ending knee injury, there will be some questions on his athleticism.  He did well at UCLA’s Pro Day on his broad jump and vertical, but decided he wouldn’t run UCLA’s Pro Day but his own personal day April 1.  If can solidify his time on the 40 time and agility drills, he could be in consideration for the Chargers at #3.  In the end, Myles Jack fits the defensive scheme for the Cowboys, especially with Sean Lee’s continued inconstancy staying healthy.  Should be able to start and make an impact from day one.

5. Philadelphia Eagles (from Jacksonville Jaguars)- QB Carson Wentz, North Dakota State- Philadelphia trades the 8th Overall pick, 3rd Round pick in 2016 and 2017 to Jacksonville for the 5th Overall pick- Reports have said that the Eagles have been looking to move up yet again after their trade with Miami to the #8 pick.  The Eagles may have paid Sam Bradford, but much like the Browns signing of RGIII, Bradford will a bridge to the Eagles QB of the future.  Wentz will need a year or two to really get up to speed with the pro game but his upside is immense and he could develop into a great QB in the NFL with the right coaching.  Doug Pederson will provide good coaching and will build a system around Wentz when he’s ready.  The cost to move up will be questioned, especially with the lack of picks the Eagles have currently, but Doug Pederson probably is going to want to identify a QB of the future if he stands to last as the Head Coach.

6. Baltimore Ravens- DE/OLB Joey Bosa, Ohio State- I know this is a scenario Browns/Buckeye fans don’t want to see as Bosa fits what the Ravens need in a pass rusher.  After losing Courtney Upshaw to the Falcons in Free Agency, the Ravens must address the future of this position early with Terrell Suggs coming off Achilles surgery.  Bosa has solidified himself as a Top 10 pick in the draft, but the question is still does he fit the 4-3 or the 3-4?  For the Ravens it will be irrelevant.  I think the Ravens see him as a better version of Paul Kruger, a player with the size to play the 3-4 OLB, but the speed of a 4-3 DE whose pass rushing skills offset his speed.  Bosa will make an immediate impact for the Ravens.

7. San Francisco 49ers- QB Jared Goff, California- This pick is pretty much a no brainer for the 49ers.  With the uncertainty of Colin Kaepernick’s future, the 49ers have to go QB here and they get the most polished QB in the draft in Goff.  Goff has been my #1 QB prospect since mid-September and he’s solidified it with a strong Pro Day.  Goff’s footwork is unmatched by any recent QB coming out of college in recent years.  While he isn’t the prospect that Andrew Luck or Jameis Winston is, Goff although he’s polished has more upside than people think.  In San Francisco, Goff will be a hometown guy to rally around and a QB San Francisco can trust as they build around him.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Philadelphia)- OLB Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame- I know this is a big time reach, but after trading down and all of the free agent signings they’ve made, in a perfect world I think the Jaguars Myles Jack.  If Jack doesn’t make it to #5, I could see Jacksonville try to move the pick to validate this pick.  If he wasn’t injured, Jaylon Smith might’ve been worthy of being taken at #5.  His pure talent as a LB is there on film.  One of his biggest assets, his ability to play the 4-3 or 3-4.  But what really makes him stand out above a Myles Jack is his size.  Compared to Myles Jack (6’1’’ 230), Jaylon Smith is 6’3’’ 235.  If he can bounce back from his injury, he had the pure athletic ability to potentially play both the inside and outside in the 3-4.  The Jaguars need help at LB so although it’s a reach, it’s a reach that makes sense after not getting their guy at #5.  Will have to be patient with Smith, but then again this is the team that lost Dante Fowler Jr the first day of Minicamp and dealt with it so I don’t think that should be a problem.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- CB Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida- This pick is a no-brainer for the Buccaneers.  After for no reason firing Lovie Smith, first year Head Coach Dirk Koetter now has the reigns to Tampa Bay and will address their biggest problem, CB.  After Jalen Ramsey, Hargreaves is the next best prospect at the position.  While he’s undersized at 5’10 200, he has outstanding instincts and excels in press coverage.  He won’t blow you away with speed but the technique and skills he possesses make up for it.  Most people compare him to another former Gator in Joe Haden and rightfully so, he could make an immediate impact for a team that could be a playoff team in the Bucs.

10. New York Giants- RB Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State- This pick shouldn’t take long to make.  The Giants desperately need a big time RB that they’ve lacked really since Tiki Barber.  Elliott would provide Eli Manning a real bonafide option to hand the ball off too.  What makes Elliot really stand out is that he’s the total complete back with his outstanding blocking skills.  He has a great combination of speed and power that was showcased throughout his time at Ohio State and would fit in extremely well in the Giants.  Can you imagine Eli Manning with OBJ as his vertical threat and Elliott as his ground game threat?  That is just one big nightmare for defenses.

11. Chicago Bears- DE DeForest Buckner, Oregon- For Bears Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio, this would be a dream scenario.  Buckner has the perfect size at 6'7", 290 to thrive in his 3-4 defense, much like Justin Smith did in San Francisco.  The real question with Buckner is where really does he go?  You can make a case that Buckner could go as high as #3 to San Diego, but he won’t get past Chicago.  He has a massive wingspan and he knows how to use it to his advantage.  On top of that for a guy for his size has outstanding athleticism.  With his height, he can play high off the snap, but for Buckner this is the place he can thrive in.  Comparisons have been made to Arizona DE Calais Campbell, which is really high expectations.  But the physical comparisons are right on the money.  Would be a huge get for Chicago here.

12. New Orleans Saints- CB William Jackson III, Houston- Jackson is one of those prospects who is flying up draft boards because of the workouts he’s having.  He ran one of the fastest 40 times at the combine and along with his size, you can imagine how he’s flown up the draft.  While he lacks the strength to go with more physical receivers, what stands out is he is very fluid in his movement, especially in his backpedal.  On top of that, the kid has a nose for the ball.  It could be questioned that the level of play might be a red flag, his size and athletic ability give him a chance to succeed at the next level.  The Saints need secondary help and the intrigue on Jackson might be enough to pull the trigger this high.

13. Miami Dolphins- DE Shaq Lawson, Clemson- While the Dolphins may have added Andre Branch and Mario Williams to replace Olivier Vernon, but neither really offered what Vernon had. A young talented pass rusher who can anchor the DE position for the next decade.  While in a perfect world, the Dolphins can snag a CB but the reality is the top tier of CBs isn’t worth really reaching for outside of William Jackson III.  That leaves the best player on the board and that is Shaq Lawson.  Lawson was the standout pass rusher for the Tigers who has smooth pass rushing ability and fits the 4-3 scheme perfectly for the Dolphins.  Again the Dolphins have Cameron Wake, Mario Williams, and Andre Branch, but they lack a young talented pass rusher.  Lawson gives them the young talented pass rusher they lost in Vernon.

14. New York Jets (from Oakland Raiders)- TRADE- New Yorks Jets trade the 20th Overall pick, 2nd Round pick, 2017 4th Round pick in exchange for the 14th overall pick- QB Paxton Lynch, Memphis-  The Jets haven’t resigned QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and cannot go with Geno Smith.  If they even SUSPECT that Paxton Lynch can be their Franchise QB, they must move ahead of Los Angeles to get him.  Now Lynch is built like Brock Osweiler, but resembles a lot of Colin Kaepernick at QB.  Lynch has elite arm strength but relies on it a little bit too much, sometimes forgetting his fundamentals.  What stands out is he has good ability to stand in the pocket and has a good sense of pressure.  What also stands out is although he played at Memphis, there were times when he rose up to the challenge, like in Memphis’ shocking upset over Ole Miss.  At the same time you can say that Lynch didn’t come through in Memphis’ most important games against Navy and Houston.  Lynch is a mixed bag and quite possibly the biggest project in the draft, but his upside is through the roof.

15. Los Angeles Rams- CB Mackensie Alexander, Clemson- I would love to see the reaction in the Los Angeles draft room if this scenario is to happen.  As of now Case Keenum would be the starter.  And Cleveland has it bad with QBs?  The Rams will be forced to go after their 2nd biggest need, CB.  Alexander impressed teams at the Combine in his interviews as he comes across with the attitude you want in a CB.  While undersized, he makes up for it with his pure talent to go with his competitiveness.  He’s not afraid to get physical and challenge bigger WRs.  Much like what the Rams had with Janoris Jenkins before he left, the Rams will just draft another Janoris Jenkins.  The Rams would probably then settle on a Dak Prescott/Christian Hackenberg in the 2nd Round.

16. Detroit Lions- DT Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss- Nkemdiche might be the one guy whose stock you really can’t predict.  Before his incident in middle December, Nkemdiche would probably have been the #1 overall pick to the Titans in this draft.  His pure talent is off the charts and to think this kid started at OLB at Ole Miss and has bulked up to play DT.  The Lions after losing Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley are really lacking the interior pass rush that made their defense stand out.  While Nkemdiche is a big risk, considering the incident he had in Mid-December involved Marijuana (which is already risky with potential prospects), but if the Lions can get through to him and he changes his ways, the Lions will get a steal and the interior pass rush they lack.

17. Atlanta Falcons- DE Kevin Dodd, Clemson- The Falcons made an effort last year to improve their pass rush and Vic Beasley gave them what they were looking for.  Yet Beasley isn’t enough to push them over the top.  While the Falcons added Derrick Shelby and brought back Adrian Clayborn, those two are going to make a big difference.  Dodd showed at Clemson he can be a problem for offenses especially down the stretch for the Tigers.  Dodd was a nightmare for Alabama in the National Championship game, with 5 tackles for loss and 3 sacks, this coming when Shaq Lawson was injured.  Dodd gives the Falcons a great talent who fits their defensive scheme and will cause problems for the rest of the NFC South alongside former teammate Vic Beasley.

18. Indianapolis Colts- OT Taylor Decker, Ohio State- This is the most questionable pick in this draft hands down.  The Colts could go many different ways and I was considering Georgia OLB Leonard Floyd here.  At the end of the day, the Colts must protect Andrew Luck even if this pick is a reach.  Taylor Decker is an intriguing prospect with a lot of upside.  His intangibles are off the charts and will be a great locker room presence wherever he goes.  He uses his arms and hands well to block, although his arms are a bit shorter than you may want.  He grades out as a RT for me, but with the right coaching he does have the ability to move over to the left side.

19. Buffalo Bills- ILB Darron Lee, Ohio State- It was just over a year ago the Bills traded Kiko Alonso and could use another ILB in Rex Ryan’s defense.  Darron Lee is the type of LB that Rex Ryan would love to have.  Smart, Instinctive, and fast for his position.  We all know that Ryan loves his LBs to blitz and this system is a perfect fit for Darron Lee.  What stands out even more for a guy like Rex Ryan is that Lee can play multiple positions.  Probably is best served as a 3-4 ILB, and more importantly used like how Ryan Shazier is used in Pittsburgh.  This could be a home run selection here for a team that needs a few more pieces to really make a run at the playoffs.

20. Oakland Raiders (from New York Jets)- DT Sheldon Rankins, Louisville- The great thing about Oakland’s situation is their major areas of concern were answered in Free Agency.  At this point this would be about building depth at areas of weakness.  Rankins would be one of the top prospects available at this point and it would be foolish of the Raiders to pass on him here.  Rankins stands out as an interior lineman because of quickness off the snap.  One of the knocks is he lacks the strength to continue playing the interior at the next level.  The Raiders from what I’ve seen recently like the Defensive Lineman who have quickness off the snap.  After trading down taking a high upside prospect like Rankins makes a lot of sense here and it fills a position of need.

21. Washington Redskins- CB Eli Apple, Ohio State- With Apple being the last of the top tier of CBs available, the Redskins with a need at CB don’t hesitate to take the OSU standout.  Apple might have the highest upside out of all the CBs in the draft because of his size, (6'1", 200) and aggressiveness for the position.  The big downside is Eli had problems with holding WRs and in the NFL, he may not get the same treatment like he did at OSU.  If the Redskins can teach him to stop doing that one major problem, Eli Apple will be a staple CB for the Redskins for the next 5-10 years.

22. Houston Texans- WR Corey Coleman, Baylor- While the Texans could probably go 2-3 ways with this pick, what makes Coleman the pick is the fact the Texans must surround QB Brock Osweiler with as many weapons as possible.  With DeAndre Hopkins as their star playmaker WR and 2nd year WR Jaleen Strong as their possession WR, the Texans could use a slot/deep threat WR and Coleman offers that.  Coming from an explosive offense at Baylor, Coleman turned his disadvantage in his size into an advantage with his speed and agility.  Giving Osweiler a trio of Hopkins, Strong and Coleman to throw to will be a great step in giving Osweiler a great chance to succeed.

23. Minnesota Vikings- WR LaQuon Treadwell, Ole Miss- When the Vikings are on the clock here, Teddy Bridgewater will be begging the Vikings Front Office to select the Ole Miss WR here.  This shouldn’t be a tough selection with the best WR on the board.  Treadwell while he doesn’t have the greatest speed, his ball skills are outstanding and he uses his size very effectively to fight for the ball.  On top of that while he lacks the speed to separate, what’s surprising is he’s very good at making the play after the catch, which is perfect for a QB like Teddy Bridgewater.  A core of Adrian Peterson, LaQuon Treadwell, and Teddy Bridgewater could potentially cause fits for the AFC North.

24. Cincinnati Bengals- WR Braxton Miller, Ohio State- The Bengals are looking for WR help after Mohammed Sanu and Marvin Jones left in FA.  The Bengals here will have 2 in state options here in Braxton Miller and Michael Thomas.  The upside and versatility of Miller are too good to pass on.  Miller has shined since the Senior Bowl and although he had a small setback in his 40 time at the combine, he redeemed himself at the Ohio State Pro Day.  Mohammed Sanu was a guy who could do it all for them and that’s what Miller provides.  They did get Brandon LaFell and I would expect Tyler Eifert to get more involved next year.  The upside of Miller as a playmaker to go with AJ Green is too good to pass on.

25. Dallas Cowboys (from Pittsburgh)- TRADE: Dallas acquires 25th overall pick, 6th Round pick from Pittsburgh in exchange for 34th Overall pick, 4th Round pick, 2017 2nd Round pick- RB Derrick Henry, Alabama- If you’re Dallas, if you can afford to get Derrick Henry, you go ahead and do it.  Yes…they signed Alfred Morris, but do you really trust Alfred Morris?  Henry has the unique size and speed combination that you normally don’t find in RBs.  On top of that he fits for the run scheme the Cowboys run.  Henry would start right away and in my personal opinion win the Rookie of the Year award this year, running for over 1500 yards.

26. Cleveland Browns (from Seattle)- TRADE: Cleveland acquires the 26th Overall pick from Seattle in exchange for LT Joe Thomas- WR Michael Thomas, Ohio State- After the Browns drafted OT Laremy Tunsil at #2, the Browns get an offer for Joe Thomas they can’t refuse to trade the future Hall of Famer to the Seahawks.  Most people might suspect a QB here, but again the Browns don’t reach and take the best player that fits a need for them.  At the beginning of the year, I’ve been a major critic of Michael Thomas but I’ve come around.  He’s a gifted talent that is just scratching the surface of his potential.  At 6’3’’ 210-220 area, Thomas already has the size needed at the position and he has the playmaking ability to really be a standout player in this league.  His hands are good, not great, but he improved this past year.  He will need to improve his route running and also needs to be more aggressive vs. opposing CBs.  But those things can be taught, the other skills aren’t so easy.  Expect the Browns to address QB in the 2nd Round with the best QB available at that time.

27. Green Bay Packers- ILB Reggie Ragland, Alabama- One of the few picks that hasn’t changed from Mock 1.0 to Mock 2.0 and I don’t think I need to change my explanation on this one.  Ragland is a great ILB prospect that the Packers would love to add to their team next year.  On top of that Ragland is an old school type linebacker who loves to take on runners.  That is a perfect fit for a team that needs those types of players to play in the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field.  Expect Ragland to start and make an impact from Day One in Green Bay.

28. Kansas City Chiefs- WR Josh Doctson, TCU- This is a gift for the Chiefs here at 28, who can use a big WR target for Alex Smith.  Last year we saw Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce really help upgrade a passing attack that struggled in 2014.  Adding Doctson would move Albert Wilson to his more natural slot position, Maclin would be the vertical/playmaking threat, and Doctson would be the big possession WR.  At 6’2’’ 202, he will need to bulk up a little bit to deal with the more physical corners he’ll face in the NFL.  He has strong hands and excellent catching ability.  He will provide another weapon to an already very talented offense led by Andy Reid.

29. Arizona Cardinals- S Von Bell, Ohio State- With Rashard Johnson gone, and the acquisition of OLB Chandler Jones, the Cardinals more than likely will go Safety here.  Von Bell will be a perfect fit to go alongside Tyron Mathieu at the opposite safety position.  While Bell is more of the FS type in my opinion more than a SS, his playmaking ability and ability to cover other receivers is what will stand out for the Cardinals.  Over the past two years at OSU, Bell defended 23 passes.  He will need to get better in run support, but still…good luck throwing on Arizona now.

30. Carolina Panthers- OT Jake Conklin, Michigan State- The Panthers were one win away, but an outstanding defense and its pass rush, the Broncos exposed the Panthers Offensive Line weakness.  While Conklin is more suited to play RT, the Panthers need to draft somebody for the line and it’s possible that outside Laremy Tunsil and Ronnie Stanley, Conklin is the most NFL ready.  Still, the Panthers need to find a way to improve the line more as they can’t seriously think Michael Oher on the left side is going to be enough to get back to the Super Bowl.

31. Denver Broncos- QB Connor Cook, Michigan State- The Broncos CANNOT go in 2016 with Mark Sanchez as their starting QB.  Out of all the Quarterbacks in this draft, Cook is probably the most Pro ready.  Cook can make all the throws and has the size to take the punishment he’s going to face in the AFC West.  Cook has above average arm strength and can put the right touch on the ball to get it where he needs to place it.  With all of his questions about his character, there is one reason that in Denver that won’t be a problem: John Elway.  Cook will learn from Sanchez and more importantly Elway what he must do as a leader at the next level.  My only concern was last year at Michigan State he seemed to stare down his targeted receiver a lot and although he’s shown the ability to find another receiver when the target isn’t open, the evidence is there that Cook really relied on Aaron Burbridge as his main target.  With the receivers in Denver, that probably won’t be as big of a problem with Cook, but it’s something worth noting.


32. Cleveland Browns- QB Cardale Jones, Ohio State- For the record, I’m not the biggest Cardale Jones fan.  But everything Hue Jackson has hinted that he’s looking at in a Quarterback comes down to 1 of 3 QBs, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, or Cardale Jones.  The one who fits the profile the most is Cardale Jones.  Hue Jackson seems to want a big physical QB who has a strong arm and is not afraid to take the big hit.  With Robert Griffin III now a Cleveland Brown, this would give the Browns the time needed to develop Cardale as a QB as he’s a big time project.  Cardale has the prototypical size, along with elite arm strength and ability to maneuver out of the pocket.  At the same time Cardale has some faults.  His footwork is horrific and relies sometimes too much on his arm strength.  I also question his character a little bit as he didn’t embrace the starting QB job when he got it at OSU this year.  He should’ve taken the QB job and ran with it coming off the great experience he got at the end of the 2014-2015 season.  Instead of progressing, he took a step back.  I think if RGIII has learned from his problems in Washington and leads by example in Cleveland to go with Hue Jackson, Cardale could be ready in 2 years to make the impact everyone expects him to eventually make.  It’s a risky move at 32, but one that could truly benefit the Browns if the chips fall into place perfectly.  The Browns would have after 32 picks a new core of Laremy Tunsil, Michael Thomas and Cardale Jones.

Okay... the craziness is over that was Mock Draft 2.0 and things can still change in the weeks leading up to the draft.  As Pre-Draft visits are still going on and it is this time when Draft Day trades start to take form.  For the most part Free Agents have been signed outside of a few left, but keep an eye on what the Denver Broncos and New York Jets decide to do at QB.  Remember Ryan Fitzpatrick is still a Free Agent and Josh McCown is available for trade and as crazy as this sounds, one of those two can shake up the entire 1st Round.  Example, if the Browns don’t trade Josh McCown, there won’t be as much urgency for the Browns to take a QB at #2.  Mock Draft 3.0 will be released the week of the NFL Draft and it will include a 1st Round player projections and a 2nd Round.  Always remember over the next few weeks, don’t believe every rumor you hear because it all can be a smokescreen. 

Here’s my solution to any rumor… Does it make logical sense? 

The road to Chicago and the NFL Draft is in full swing!

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