Are y’all ready to get RAMD? For the third year in a row, I’m doing a Rational Actor Mock Draft, which assumes that I know what a rational actor would do. Basically, if every team were run by somebody who thinks like me, this is what would happen. Please note the following ground rules:
2. This is meant to describe what teams SHOULD do, not what they WILL do. I’m not interested in regurgitating Peter King’s disinformed mock, and you shouldn’t be interested in reading something like that. Take this exercise as me sharing my thought process, and hopefully, a bit of football insight.
3. As such, I don’t care if this matches any actual picks, as they happen. When PK or some other tool is patting themselves on the back for getting seven or eight right, I’ll be smirking at them. When they bitch about agonizing over this pick or that pick for hours, I won’t be; there’s no agony to this whatsoever.
I’m glad we had this talk. Turn your clothes backward, and Jump! Jump! Because I’m the Daddy Mack, and I just told you to.
Okay, maybe don't actually turn your clothes around, lest somebody feel like beating you up at the bus stop.
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck - QB - Stanford
The Colts have known deep down for months that this was the direction they’d be going. Luck isn’t the most physically gifted thrower ever, but he’s a very good athlete (as good as Cam Newton), and he’s the most advanced QB to come along in years, from a mental perspective.
2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin - QB - Baylor
I’m not one of these guys who feels the need to type or say “The Third” for Robert Griffin. I’ll let you in on a little secret – I’m a Third myself, and I think it would be onerous and presumptuous to expect other people to acknowledge that fact every time they mentioned me. Griffin is an impressive young QB, whose passing skill is a bit better than his throwing ability. I don’t really love him as a runner with the football, either, despite his track speed, because he lacks power, and he’s a long strider. I do think that he’s going to the right scheme, and that he’ll eventually end up being a more athletic Matt Schaub type.
Now it gets interesting, because Minnesota has been on the clock for almost two months, and they’d clearly love to sell off this pick. In this scenario, they’re trying to entice either Cleveland or Tampa Bay to jump up, Cleveland for Ryan Tannehill, or Tampa for Trent Richardson. They’re going to find a taker.
TRADE Minnesota receives #5 and #36 (2,240 points) and Tampa Bay receives #3 and #138 (2,237 points)
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Trent Richardson - RB - Alabama
Tampa and Cleveland have both been extremely tight-lipped as to their intentions, but the Bucs need to solidify their running game, and Richardson is a big-time player. Bill Polian said recently that when you’re picking in the top 10, you want to get a player who scores touchdowns, or prevents touchdowns, and that kind of resonated with me. How many teams have drafted an offensive lineman or nose tackle this high, and felt like it was the right thing to do five years later? Richardson supplants the below-average LeGarrette Blount as primary ballcarrier, and Greg Schiano gets the best guy possible to start his physical, mistake-averse program with, steep price be damned.
4. Cleveland Browns: Ryan Tannehill - QB - Texas A&M
The Browns have to be fully aware that Colt McCoy isn’t the answer, and in Tannehill, they’ll get a guy who is experienced in a pro-style West Coast scheme, and who has big-time arm talent and athletic ability. The only real knock on Tannehill is that he’s relatively inexperienced as a starting QB, but the fact that he played a lot as a WR helps him with the NFL adjustment. The Browns need to overhaul their offense, and admitting that you don’t have a QB - and addressing that issue - is an excellent start.
5. Minnesota Vikings: Morris Claiborne - CB - LSU
I don’t think that Claiborne is the best CB in this class, but he is the second-best, and he’s definitely the cleanest off-the-field, Mike Florio’s dirt-slinging notwithstanding. The Vikings are so ungodly terrible in the secondary that they need to make this pick and stop the madness in a division that includes Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, and Mr. Eye-roll. With the extra second-rounder they get for moving down, they can look at OTs and most likely get a fine player.
6. St. Louis Rams: Fletcher Cox - DT - Mississippi State
Not many coaches value interior pass rush as much as Jeff Fisher does, and I think the Rams have to favor a blue-chip penetrator over a receiver who isn’t physically special in any way. Cox has terrific talent, but what I like best about him is his effort. The St. Louis D-line is on the cusp of being really good, and Cox could put them over the top.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Justin Blackmon - WR - Oklahoma State
WR is a major need for the Jags, and if they’re going to give Blaine Gabbert a real chance to grow into a solid NFL QB, they need to give him some weapons. Blackmon can’t beat NFL double-coverage by himself, and that means he’s not a #1. He’s still a very good player though, and I really like the way he attacks the ball in the air. Matt Kalil was a consideration, but OT is a lesser need.
8. Miami Dolphins: Melvin Ingram - OLB - South Carolina
The Dolphins only have one legit pass rusher (Cameron Wake), and they’re giving some hints like they may not want to pay him after this season. Ingram is a player who can complement Wake, if not replace him. For the record, I don’t think Miami is necessarily set on Tannehill, to where they’d want to trade up, but that they would probably take him if he made it to #8.
9. Carolina Panthers: Michael Brockers - DT - LSU
The Panthers need to get better up front on defense, and Brockers is a scheme-indifferent guy who can play in Ron Rivera’s hybrid fronts. Darin Gantt of the Rock Hill Herald made the point that the team isn’t going to staff for both 30 and 40 fronts, and will be primarily a 40-front team. A guy like Brockers, who can play either a gap or a man, is a big help in being able to switch it up.
10. Buffalo Bills: Matt Kalil - LT - USC
This is where it starts to be reasonable to take Kalil, who projects to be a good starter at LT, but not an elite one. Buffalo also considers Michael Floyd and Luke Kuechly, but ultimately shores up Ryan Fitzpatrick’s blindside.
11. Kansas City Chiefs: David DeCastro - OG - Stanford
The Chiefs want to run the ball, and take DeCastro, who is an excellent OG prospect. Kuechly seems not to be a fit here, specifically, since either he or Derrick Johnson would be off the field 40% of the time when sub packages are on the field. Much better to get an every-down player in DeCastro.
12. Seattle Seahawks: Chandler Jones - DE -Syracuse
Seattle plays a 4-3 that acts a lot like a 3-4 on the strongside, with Red Bryant typically two-gapping as a 5-technique. On passing downs, they could really use their own version of Aldon Smith to replace Bryant, and they take that guy in Chandler Jones. I really like the athleticism, length, and effort that I see in Jones.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Michael Floyd - WR - Notre Dame
As much as Arizona needs offensive line help, there’s nobody available here who’s good enough to be picked 13th. Floyd is close with Larry Fitzgerald, as both are from the Minneapolis area, and I think that Fitz’s lobbying (which he’s definitely doing) wins out.
14. Dallas Cowboys: Dontari Poe - DT - Memphis
Here comes the NT that the Cowboys need. It’s funny with Poe, because his combine performance made his stock soar, his tape made it dip, and lately, the word is that a lot of teams think he’s a good kid with a high degree of coachability, and that that’s moving him up again.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Kuechly - MLB - Boston College
This feels about right for Kuechly, who is a tackling machine. Philly’s defense plays its DEs really wide and tries to force running plays inside. Last year with Casey Matthews and others in there, no problem. They’ll be a lot more stout with Kuechly though, and in this kind of 4-3, he doesn’t necessarily come out in passing situations.
16. New York Jets: Mark Barron - S - Alabama
Barron probably isn’t going to be on the Reed/Polamalu level, but I think he can have a long career as a Brian Dawkins type, and the Jets really need a big-time player back there. The need trumps a pass rusher for their type of defense, particularly given who is available.
17. Cincinnati Bengals: Janoris Jenkins - CB - North Alabama
Weed-smoking and raw-dogging aside, Jenkins has the definite potential to play in multiple Pro Bowls, and to actually deserve to be there. At Florida, he played as both the Field CB and the Boundary CB once Joe Haden left, and he was excellent throughout his career. You won’t find a young CB with better instincts, especially playing in an off position. This is high risk, and high return, and the Bengals aren’t allergic to a kid who’s had some trouble in the past.
18. San Diego Chargers: Cordy Glenn - OT - Georgia
Glenn is very big, and he has long arms and good movement skills for a 350-pounder. He’s a little on the unaggressive side, but if a good coach can keep a foot in his ass, you could really have something as a RT who has the power to drive defenders and the feet to stay in front of most pass rushers. RT was a disaster area for San Diego last season, and they still need to fix it.
19. Chicago Bears: Quinton Coples - DE - North Carolina
This is only rational for the Bears, because I’m confident that Rod Marinelli will leave footprints all over this guy’s britches if he loafs. In Nolan Nawrocki’s Draft Guide, it actually says “Led the ACC in Loafs”. Coples has good natural power and movement skills, and I think that Chicago gives him his best shot at NFL success.
TRADE Green Bay receives #20 (850 points) and Tennessee receives #28 and #90 (800 points)
20. Green Bay Packers: Shea McClellin - OLB - Boise State
There are a lot of talented Boise State defenders in this draft class, and McClellin is the first one to go. To watch him, he’ll remind you a bit of Clay Matthews, but he’s not as naturally explosive. He would join Matthews to give the Packers effective pass rushers on both sides, which would go a long way to slowing down opposing offenses. The pass rush pool is getting a bit thin at this point, with some needy teams coming up, so Green Bay parts with a late #3 to get their guy.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Doug Martin - RB - Boise State
Nobody seems to be mocking a RB to the Bengals, but did you realize that the best guy on their roster right now is Bernard Scott? To me, it’s a no-brainer that either #17 or #21 goes for a RB. In this case, Martin makes it two BSU Broncos in a row. I don’t think he’s a first-round type of RB, but between 20 and 45, you tend to have a bunch of fairly equal second-round types, so this is defensible based on need.
22. Cleveland Browns: Riley Reiff - OT - Iowa
The Browns really have a big need at RT, and I think it trumps WR and RB at this point. Reiff is their kind of guy, and they’ve historically favored OL from the Big Ten. Since Reiff’s biggest problem is that he’s not going to be able to play LT, it’s good for him to go to a team that needs him at RT.
23. Detroit Lions: Stephon Gilmore - CB - South Carolina
There has been talk that Gilmore will be Jacksonville-bound at #7, but here, he’s available for the Lions at #23. When you’re the third-best CB, sometimes you’re the third CB picked in the Draft. The Lions really need to improve at the CB position, because their pass defense was atrocious last season, despite an excellent pass rush.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dont’a Hightower - ILB - Alabama
Hightower just looks the part of a Steeler ILB, and with the departure of James Farrior, there’s a major hole to fill. Hightower could contribute right away, and I doubt it would take him long to unseat Larry Foote as the starter.
This brings us to the time when the Broncos are up, and not seeing anybody they have to have here, they put the pick up for sale to teams picking from 26th to 35th. They find a taker, and get the first pick of the fourth round and second pick of the sixth round for moving down.
TRADE St. Louis receives #25 (720 points) and Denver receives #33, #97, and #162 (728.6 points)
25. St. Louis Rams: Stephen Hill - WR - Georgia Tech
Houston, New England, and San Francisco were good candidates to take Hill, so the Rams move up to get him. They could really use a field-stretcher to help Sam Bradford, and Hill is all of that. I really like Hill’s height, speed, and ability to pluck the ball high.
26. Houston Texans: Mike Adams - OT - Ohio State
The Texans surprisingly cut Eric Winston, and they need to replace him at RT to keep their highly effective offense cruising. Adams is more talented than the 26th pick, but he has some knucklehead to him, including failing his drug test at the Combine. He’ll need to be managed well, but he can be a steal if he keeps it on the straight and narrow.
27. New England Patriots: Whitney Mercilus - DE-OLB - Illinois
One of the best things about Nawrocki’s aforementioned book is that it provides a guide to pronunciation of tough names. I’ve heard Whitney’s name pronounced Mer-SILL-us, Mer-sill-US, and MER-sill-us, and it turns out the latter is correct, like the word “merciless,” which is just a cool homophone for a football player’s name. He’s a bit raw, but he can play standing up or with a hand on the ground, and the Patriots tend to like developmental guys like this who have some obvious talent.
28. Tennessee Titans: Peter Konz - C - Wisconsin
The Titans obviously see replacing Eugene Amano as a high priority, and I can certainly understand why. That thought drove the trade down to #28. Kevin Mawae retires, and suddenly, you’re one of the worst rushing teams in the NFL, after being one of the best. Konz has the size, power, and intelligence to quickly upgrade the Titans line.
29. Baltimore Ravens: Courtney Upshaw - OLB - Alabama
Remember yesterday when I didn’t think Upshaw was a legit first-rounder? I like him fine for the Ravens, because they’ll be replacing Jarret Johnson (who signed with the Chargers last month) with the pick. Johnson isn’t a pass rusher, and Upshaw isn’t either, and since the Ravens really do want a strongside edge-setter, this works.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Coby Fleener - TE - Stanford
There aren’t too many needs on the 49ers roster, so I just figured they’ll go with a guy that Jim Harbaugh knows. For Year 1, Fleener is the third TE, and then he gets to become what he can become. It’s a great situation for everybody involved.
31. New England Patriots: Harrison Smith - S - Notre Dame
I’m going to defy the conventional wisdom a bit that says that New England will trade one of its first-rounders for one next year. I think they’ll see Smith available and see a 10-year starter at FS. Patrick Chung could really use the help.
32. New York Giants: Jerel Worthy - DT - Michigan State
The Giants only have three DTs under contract, and Marvin Austin hasn’t played in two years. I wish Worthy’s motor ran a bit hotter, but he has a beast’s skill set, and I think that the Giants staff will get the most out of him.
So, that’s it for me. 32 picks, and I had the Broncos trade out to #33. Fun, huh? I actually ran this whole mock draft exercise out for four rounds, but I’m not going to discuss every pick, because these are busy times. What I will do is talk about who I have the Broncos taking with their sudden abundance of picks between Rounds 2 and 4. Deal? Let’s start with the Broncos leading off Day 2 with the #33 pick.
TRADE Miami gets #33 and Denver gets #42 and #103. Miami jumps up to take Brandon Weeden, and the Broncos get yet another fourth-rounder, giving them four of them, and seven picks in the first four rounds.
42. Denver Broncos: Lamar Miller - RB - Miami
There’s been a lot of talk that the Broncos love Miller, and I like him a lot better at #42 than I would at #25. Miller has explosive speed and accumulated relatively low mileage during his time at Miami. He’d be a lot better at running the stretch game than Willis McGahee, and his presence would presumably relegate Knowshon Moreno to a strictly third-down-back role. I look at a team like New Orleans, and see them using Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas, and Darren Sproles really well as a package of three different skill sets, and I think that the Broncos could do the same with McGahee, Moreno, and Miller.
57. Denver Broncos: Derek Wolfe - DT - Cincinnati
As I mentioned yesterday, I’m a big fan of Wolfe. I think he projects to eventually be an 8-10 sack guy at DT, and that he can contribute right away as a nickel pass rusher. Wolfe has played a lot of football and had a lot of production (19.5 sacks), and his effort and impressive growth curve are strong indicators for the future. It’s harder to find a legit inside pass rusher than people think, and Wolfe is one.
87. Denver Broncos: George Iloka - DB - Boise State
I don’t care if Iloka ever becomes a starting safety, because he can be an early impact player in sub packages in covering TEs. Iloka is 6-3, 225 pounds and has 34.5 -inch arms along with CB athleticism. I wouldn’t really want him covering A.J. Green outside, but I think he can compete with a Jimmy Graham or a Rob Gronkowski better than most. This is the big nickel guy the Broncos really need badly.
96. Denver Broncos: Mike Martin - DT - Michigan
Martin is a guy who played all four years at Michigan and has a lot of experience as both a NT and 3T in a couple of different one-gap 4-3 schemes. I think he projects to be a solid rotational DT, mostly on base downs, and that he’ll be able to contribute at both positions. In the fourth round, that’s good value.
103. Denver Broncos: Ryan Lindley - QB - San Diego State
Lindley is a guy I like, because he has a terrific arm, and that’s the one thing that really can’t be coached. His mechanics (especially his footwork) leave something to be desired, and that tends to negatively affect his accuracy at times. To me, Lindley is the kind of player you take when you have Peyton Manning and Caleb Hanie. His only job is to take coaching and to improve in practice, and while nothing is promised to him, he can eventually earn a chance to replace Manning - or not, if he doesn’t improve. If I want to do a long-term project, I’m starting with the best raw materials I can find, and to me, Lindley’s arm talent is that. It’s not like Adam Gase is going to have to spend a lot of time coaching Manning, or would spend a lot of time trying to get Hanie to improve, you know?
108. Denver Broncos: Tony Bergstrom - OG - Utah
Bergstrom is a very similar player to former Ute teammate Zane Beadles, and would represent an effort to improve the quality of the depth on the offensive line. He’s primarily a Guard, but I think he could play some Center too, and maybe even Right Tackle in a pinch. Every time I saw Utah this past season, I noticed #70.
120. Denver Broncos: Devon Wylie - WR - Fresno State
I didn’t see a lot of Fresno State football, but Wylie jumped out at me in the NFLN coverage of the Combine. He had a 4.39-second 40, and he jumped 39 inches as a guy who stands only 5-9; both speak to really impressive lower body explosiveness, similar to Eddie Royal. He also had really good punt return stats at Fresno. Despite his size, I don’t see him as strictly a slot guy because of his vertical speed. I really liked the way he tracked the deep ball in receiver drills at the Combine, and I think there’s a lot of talent to work with here, even if he is strictly a punt returner as a rookie. He’s also a candidate to be everybody’s new favorite white guy, maybe Denver’s own Welkah.
That’s as far as I went, because as you get further and further down the Draft, there are so many players that nobody has ever seen play. I figure four rounds (and seven prospective new Broncos players) is sufficient. If you’re interested in how the complete second-to-fourth rounds played out in my RAMD, see below. If you’re not, I put it at the end just for you. See you Thursday, friends.
|33||Miami||Brandon Weeden||QB||Oklahoma State|
|37||Cleveland||David Wilson||RB||Virginia Tech|
|39||St Louis||Kevin Zeitler||OG||Wisconsin|
|41||Buffalo||Zach Brown||OLB||North Carolina|
|44||Kansas City||Josh Robinson||CB||UCF|
|47||New York Jets||Lavonte David||OLB||Nebraska|
|48||New England||Amini Silatolu||OG||Midwestern State|
|49||San Diego||Tyrone Crawford||DE||Boise State|
|53||Cincinnati||Alshon Jeffery||WR||South Carolina|
|54||Detroit||Zebrie Sanders||OT||Florida State|
|59||Green Bay||Mychal Kendricks||ILB||California|
|61||San Francisco||Brandon Brooks||OG||Miami (OH)|
|62||New England||Brandon Boykin||CB||Georgia|
|63||New York Giants||Matt Reynolds||OT||BYU|
|65||St Louis||Sean Spence||OLB||Miami|
|68||Tampa Bay||Mitchell Schwartz||OT||California|
|70||Jacksonville||Josh Norman||CB||Coastal Carolina|
|71||Buffalo||Antonio Allen||SS||South Carolina|
|74||Kansas City||Nick Toon||WR||Wisconsin|
|77||New York Jets||Olivier Vernon||OLB||Miami|
|78||San Diego||Ben Jones||C||Georgia|
|81||Dallas||Brian Quick||WR||Appalachian State|
|82||Tennessee||Billy Winn||DT||Boise State|
|83||Cincinnati||Charles Mitchell||FS||Mississippi State|
|87||Denver||George Iloka||DB||Boise State|
|88||Philadelphia||Nigel Bradham||OLB||Florida State|
|89||New Orleans||Jayron Hosley||CB||Virginia Tech|
|90||Tennessee||Kyle Wilber||OLB||Wake Forest|
|91||Baltimore||Brock Osweiler||QB||Arizona State|
|92||San Francisco||Jared Crick||DE||Nebraska|
|93||San Diego||Demario Davis||OLB||Arkansas State|
|94||New York Giants||LaMichael James||RB||Oregon|
|101||Jacksonville||Kelechi Osemele||OG||Iowa State|
|102||Washington||Joe Looney||OG||Wake Forest|
|103||Denver||Ryan Lindley||QB||San Diego State|
|105||Buffalo||Kirk Cousins||QB||Michigan State|
|107||Kansas City||Trevor Guyton||DE||California|
|110||San Diego||Bruce Irvin||OLB||West Virginia|
|112||Arizona||Bobby Wagner||ILB||Utah State|
|116||Cincinnati||Nate Potter||OT||Boise State|
|117||Detroit||Robert Turbin||RB||Utah State|
|120||Denver||Devon Wylie||WR||Fresno State|
|122||New Orleans||Senio Kelemete||OG||Washington|
|123||Green Bay||Trent Robinson||FS||Michigan State|
|124||Buffalo||Andrew Datko||OT||Florida State|
|125||San Francisco||Cyrus Gray||RB||Texas A&M|
|126||New England||Audie Cole||OLB||North Carolina State|
|127||New York Giants||Rhett Ellison||FB||USC|
|128||Minnesota||Janzen Jackson||FS||McNeese State|
|130||Baltimore||Vontaze Burfict||ILB||Arizona State|
|131||New York Giants||James Hanna||TE||Oklahoma|
|132||Green Bay||Keshawn Martin||WR||Michigan State|
|133||Green Bay||Russell Wilson||QB||Wisconsin|