Saturday, March 28, 2015
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Mock Draft 1.0 Picks 21-26
21 Alvin Dupree, OLB, Kentucky
The Bengals have been searching for a missing piece for years to put them over the Wild Card hump. While Andy Dalton is 0-4 in the playoffs, the fact that he got there four times shows that there’s something good going on for this team. Dalton is good enough to get the ball to A.J. Green, which should be adequate, and it could be, but they have to generate a pass rush. The Bengals were dead last in sacks last year.
How about an edge rusher with all the upside in the world who can immediately contribute as a package player and may surprise with even more production? Some are very high on Alvin Dupree, top-10 high, the board didn’t fall that way, much to the Bengals delight, so they snag the last true first-round talent at edge rusher. There’s a possibility he could end up being the best of the bunch; his measurables are insane. He does a nice job setting the edge in the run, but he’s often fooled on free releases during screens, so his awareness has got to raise in the NFL or teams will burn him for it.
It’s Ok Bud, no one can bring him down
Weight: 269 lbs.
2014 Stats: 74 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, interception, 2 forced fumbles
Projection: Rotational player
NFL Comparison: Aldon Smith (OLB, San Francisco 49ers)- possessing the desired size and frame, can get after the quarterback, relentless on every down, can also set the edge in the run, but must work on fundamentals and technique, has a tendency to gamble and it doesn’t always pay off
22 Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
After watching Dupree get snagged, the Steelers finally have to get serious about upgrading the corner position; one they’ve neglected since Keenan Lewis left for New Orleans. Ike Taylor is done and Brice McCain is a second corner at best. Unfortunately there are no first round safeties available, which is also a huge need, so they grab a corner that is probably the most ready to contribute right away.
He needs to put on a few pounds, but Johnson has the prototypical frame, the coverage skills, athleticism and, most importantly, a nonstop motor. He’s a three year starter at Wake Forest who has loose hips and quick-twitch traits to close on the ball at the point of the catch. He’s a true cover corner but is known to respect the deep ball too much and can give up receptions that way. That means he’s also susceptible to back shoulder throws which will cause a decent learning curve in the NFL. He’ll be an excellent gunner on special teams from day one.
Weight: 188 lbs.
2014 Stats: 44 tackles, 6 passes broken up, 1 interception, 1 touchdown
Projection: Above-average starter
Floor: Average nickel corner
Ceiling: Pro Bowler
NFL Comparison: Darrelle Revis (CB, New York Jets)- prototypical height, highly impressive mirroring abilities in press coverage, feisty play demeanor with that unteachable ability to get away with penalties.
23 Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
The Lions would love an impact player on the defensive line here since the cupboard is now bare behind recent acquisition Haloti Ngata, but there are no more first round talents at the spot. With no trade partners, they snag a player in Andrus Peat who has slid a bit more than expected. Many have him as a top 3 offensive tackle in this year’s draft and some have hailed him as the most pro-ready as a bookend.
Peat is an absolute technician which will give him plenty of reps early on in his career but he has to continue to develop as an athlete and learn to be meaner. He will get pushed around at the next level against big, heavy bull rushers which is concerning since edge rushers are so big at the pro level. He can handle the speed rush beautifully with exceptionally quick feet and a nice, legal hooking move in case they get outside his hip. He’s solid, but unspectacular as a run blocker and must be more proactive in that phase. He needs to learn to use his massive frame and get better pad level. If he can do that, the Lions will have a top-5 talent here at 23.
You do the hokey pokey
Weight: 313 lbs.
Projection: Above-average starter
Floor: Average starter
Ceiling: Pro Bowl left tackle
NFL Comparison: Matt Kalil (LT, Minnesota Vikings)- With exceptional feet and hands, can handle speed rushers with ease but susceptible to bull rush, needs to refine technique and build strength in legs to become a more effective run blocker.
24 Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Yes, the Cardinals could always use more defensive players, especially with the departure of Darnell Dockett and the aging/unreliable linebackers they currently have. But how long has it been since the Cardinals have had a true, all-world talent at running back? This is a grand opportunity that could potentially open up the play-action which would give Palmer more time to connect on intermediate routes with his big, talented receivers. Not to mention Gurley is ready for primetime, right now. He’s the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson, hands down.
Watching Gurley play is legitimately exhausting, he churns out the hard yards on nearly every down, he’s got the rare ability to fall forward on almost every run, he possesses a devastating quick cut and excellent burst through holes and into the second level of the defense. Being a dangerous kick returner as well, he knows what to do when he gets there. Gurley is an incredibly fluid athlete with moves that suggest a much smaller man, but he’s large and thick and a load to bring down. You’ll rarely see him go down by one tackler. He’s also an accomplished pass blocker and a natural on screens. The one thing I can see missing from Gurley’s game is a cutback move. A couple of his runs he tends to try to bounce outside where there’s a ton of room with a simple cutback. He develops that and recovers well from injury, he could be looking at 10,000+ career yards. Obviously though, a major knee injury for a running back is a big concern. If he gets back to form, he will be the steal of this draft.
This guy’s no joke
Weight: 222 lbs.
2014 Stats: (6 games) 911 yards, 7.41 per carry, 9 touchdowns, 1 kick return touchdown
Projection: Pro Bowler
Floor: Out of the league due to injury
NFL Comparison: Steven Jackson (RB, Free Agent)- With the size and strength of a bulldozer, and an impressive array of juke, stiff arm and spin moves, possesses the speed to streak down the sideline and the balance to wiggle through holes in the A and B gaps of the line. Runs with absolute authority.
25 TRADE Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA (Panthers Receive 2015 1st, 2016 3rd)
The Packers aren’t going to address this problem before the draft, but their starting inside linebackers are abysmal. A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones are gone, leaving Carl Bradford as the starter alongside Clay Matthews who is better suited as an edge defender. They have to find an answer or this defense will be taking large steps backward. Ted Thompson has shown a willingness to go up and grab a linebacker he liked in the past. That man, Clay Matthews, has worked out pretty well for them.
Eric Kendricks is worth the investment for Green Bay who desperately need better athletes in the middle of their front seven. Kendricks is an incredibly hard worker with a high motor and superior field awareness. He’ll be ready to contribute immediately and may be ready to start immediately. He likely won’t ever be a super star, since he lacks off-the-charts measurables, but he’s a natural as both a run-stopper and in pass coverage. A jack of all trades linebacker, he gives Dom Capers an extremely versatile piece to work into the defensive formula. Kendricks shouldn’t be asked to cover Jimmy Graham, but I think he can handle most tight ends in the league, he’ll be at his best in zone coverage where his superior instincts will help him thrive.
Opera is a realistic backup plan, right
Weight: 232 lbs.
2014 Stats: 145 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 3 interceptions, 1 touchdown
Projection: Above average starter
Floor: Average starter/backup
Ceiling: Above average starter
NFL Comparison: Stephen Tulloch (LB, Detroit Lions)- A tad undersized, an impact player in coverage and against the run with solid, but unspectacular athleticism, not a force as a pass rusher but very good manning the middle of the defense.
26 Eddie Goldman, NT, Florida State
The Ravens have to be quick about plugging the hole in their defensive line. Losing starters Pernell McPhee and Haloti Ngata hurt in both run support and pass rush, they need a versatile big man to help ease the transition as they continue to get younger on that side of the ball. They might like a receiver here but Green-Beckham doesn’t strike me as an Ozzie Newsome guy and there will be plenty of potential contributors available in round two.
Eddie Goldman is a savvy defender at the line of scrimmage, he’s smart about disengaging blockers and has great hand usage. What makes him special is his burst for his size, with free releases, he’s on the quarterback in the blink of an eye. He plays with a high motor and is an active fighter, rarely giving up on a play. He must do a better job with anchoring; he plays with his pads too high and gets pushed around against the run as a result. If he’s coached up, this is a man that can do some serious damage as a pass-rushing nose tackle, a rare breed.
Darn, gotta go do lineman stuff
Weight: 336 lbs.
2014 Stats: 35 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 4 sacks
Projection: Above average starter
Ceiling: Pro Bowler
NFL Comparison: Michael Brockers (DT, St. Louis Rams)- A force in both pass rush and run defense, savvy lineman who anchors well but can stand to improve with massive frame, pass rush isn’t consistent but certainly flashes, possesses great physical gifts.