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2014 NFL Draft Blog Picks 1-16

May 9, 2014

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Okay grieving time over. Go to the other article for more commentary on picks 17-32.

 

Johnny-Manziel-Dez-Bryant-pool

What could have been……

Jerry Jones passing on Johnny Manziel to take an OG is like having an alcoholic as a friend for the past decade show up to your Bachelor Party in Vegas saying he’s taking AA classes and not in the party scene anymore. You’re happy for the guy as he’s doing something he should have done years ago but really buddy, you changed right before my Bachelor Party? After a decade of mediocrity due to Jones always going for the “sexy pick” he finally changes course just as the “sexy pick” could have revitalized the franchise and would have been the rare occurrence where flash equaled substance. I’m so sad. So so sad.

Team: Cowboys

Pick: 16th (1st round)

Jon’s Profile: Zach Martin Notre Dame 6’4 308 Sr.

Overall: I don’t know if he has the length or athleticism to be a LT but I do know that whether it’s at LT, RT, or OG he WILL be an elite OL in the NFL and a Pro Bowler. That was what I said about him late in the 2013 season. The Combine showed me that he will have to be an OG not an OT as he’s barely 6’4 (6040), he has sub ’33 arms (32.88), his quickness numbers were mediocre and he didn’t run the 40 which makes me assume it wasn’t going to be good. Martin is the guard version of Luke Joeckel as he’s smooth and effortless in all of his games. He’s rather boring to watch as he just shuts down the player in front of him and erases him on every play. He isn’t a powerful guy and isn’t an elite athlete but he ALWAYS gets the job done. I think he might be able to play LT and he likely could play RT but both would be as an average to above average starter. If a GM drafts him and immediately puts him at OG he will become a Pro Bowl guard. I guarantee it. He’s inferior to Jonathan Cooper, my top rated guard in 2013, but superior to David DeCastro, my top rated guard in 2012, and is one of the better guards I’ve ever evaluated. Top 20 as my #1 OG in the 2014 NFL Draft 3/1/14.

Rankings:

Jon’s 500 Mayock’s 100 Daniel Jeremiah’s 50 Gil Brand’ts 125
17 9 19 14

Jon’s Thoughts on the pick: This just in, Jerry Jones passed on the most exciting collegiate player ever to draft a guard. It’s a strange pick on the surface as everyone was tensed up when the pick was announced to see whether in one pick Jerry Jones would re-shape the franchise. Picking Johnny would have been dramatic in so many ways. It would have set a timer on the Romo era as Johnny can sit for one season but not any longer than that. It would have meant the 2014 Cowboys were going to be a sub .500 team as we just spent our most valuable draft pick on a player that would have no impact this season. It also would have meant that Witten would soon be shown the door just like Ware was this offseason as Jerry was finally in rebuilding mode. Rebuilding around a nucleus of Johnny Football, Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Sean Lee and Henry Melton sounded pretty appealing to me. It’s funny that articles will be written tomorrow about how Jerry did the right thing by drafting Martin and you could argue that as he will play LG (I hope he plays LG as I want him to be next to Smith and Frederick for the next 8-10 years. Don’t mess that up by saying “well RG is our bigger need,” just don’t do that.) at a Pro Bowl level but this also shows that Jerry still thinks the Cowboys are a piece or two away from contending. Taking Manziel admits that the Romo era was a failure and it’s time to move on. In some ways wouldn’t that be the most responsible thing to do? I know it sounds counterintuitive but wouldn’t drafting Manziel be the logical and strategic thing to do for a team that has gone 8-8 the past three seasons while mortgaging their future each offseason to add more guys via free agency? It’s not a thread of logic you will read anywhere else but it’s something to think about.

Back to the pick….Martin has the ability to play LT, RT or OG. I suspect he starts at LG and becomes a Pro Bowler but the Cowboys could try and use his versatility to ruin him and have him replace Doug Free at RT in 2015. To me you don’t screw with Martin as he has short arms and isn’t an elite athlete. What he is though is an elite technician who absolutely erases his man in the run and pass game. Put him at LG and don’t move him for 10 years. He will make 3-7 Pro Bowls and Dallas will have the best left side of an offensive line the NFL has seen since the mid 2000s Seattle Seahawks with Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson. I don’t usually like taking guards in the 1st round but he’s the second best OG I’ve grade in the past 3 drafts and is one of the 5-7 best I’ve ever graded. It’s a safe, conservative pick that will be a solid double for the Cowboys. It is the most un-Jerry Jones like pick I’ve ever seen. Why now Jerry? Why now?

Team: Steelers

Pick: 15th (1st round)

Jon’s Profile: Ryan Shazier Ohio State 6’1 237 Sr.

Overall: Shazier is the best athlete in this year’s LB group and one of the 2-3 best athletes at linebacker over the past half decade. He isn’t a polished player though as his instincts are average and the angles he sometimes uses to attack a play are downright bad. Teams will need a plan when drafting Shazier as I don’t think he’d make a great MLB and only has 1 INT so his best fit wouldn’t be as a cover SLB. I think he’d be a perfect fit at WLB in a 4-3 but is it worth using such a premium pick on such an undervalued position? My thinking is that his speed, explosion and pass rush stats (12 sacks the past two seasons) would make him a good fit at SLB in a 4-3 if the scheme asked him to blitz regularly. He’s a wild man out there and loves to freelance so a defensive coordinator shouldn’t put too much responsibility on his plate and should just let him “hunt.” In the right system though he could be a consistent Pro Bowler as there are few athletes comparable to him and he has a passion that is rare. I love him on one play and hate him on another so he barely stays out of the 1st round despite his elite upside. Early 2nd round as my #1 LB 5/4/14.

Rankings:

Jon’s 500 Mayock’s 100 Daniel Jeremiah’s 50 Gil Brand’ts 125
32 18 25 17

Jon’s Thoughts on the pick: I had Shazier as my #1 LB not CJ Mosley so I’m not shocked at him being taken first but at #15? Also I don’t see Shazier playing in a 3-4 as he’s a speedy linebacker that fit best as a WLB or SLB in a 4-3. He lacks the length to play 3-4 OLB and the size to play 3-4 ILB so I’ll be curious to see what they do with him. I think this is just a pick where the Steelers saw themselves as being too old and too slow and tried to solve it in one fell swoop. They definitely added speed but their scheme will need to be different to really accentuate his talents.

Team: Bears

Pick: 14th (1st round)

Jon’s Profile: Kyle Fuller Virginia Tech 5’11 ¾ 190 Sr.

Overall: Fuller is the boundary corner for Virginia Tech and has been a productive player for them the past 3 seasons. He’s a bit like former Tech CB Brandon Flowers as he isn’t a great athlete but is tough, physical and plays his heart out. Unfortunately he isn’t nearly as strong or dominant of a run stopper as Flowers (85 tackles in his final season vs. career high of 65 by Fuller) and projects to be more of a #2 CB. His Alabama film in 2013 was impressive as he had numerous PBUs and looked athletic in one on one coverage vs. Amari Cooper. Since then he’s had an up and down ride as he missed 5 games due to injury yet had a surprisingly good showing at the Combine. I honestly have no idea where Fuller goes as I’ve heard everything from Top 20-late 2nd round but to me he looks like a future #2 CB that would excel in a zone scheme where he could play off coverage. That write up hardly gets me excited and is the reason why I might have a lower grade on him than others. 2nd round as my #5 CB who is a hard nosed player without the elite upside other cornerback prospect have in this draft 5/7/14.

Rankings:

Jon’s 500 Mayock’s 100 Daniel Jeremiah’s 50 Gil Brand’ts 125
52 13 30 25

Jon’s Thoughts on the pick: One pick after the best choice of the 1st round comes the worst choice to this point. Mayock had him #13 but everyone else had him as a late 1st or in my case a mid 2nd rounder. I had him ranked as my #52 player so him at #14 is shocking. I will say though that it’s a great fit as he’s a zone corner with great tackling skills. He’ll fit their scheme well but he projects as an average #2 CB. You don’t pass on guys like Marquise Lee, Stephon Tuitt and Calvin Pryor for him. Also why not a Jason Verett? I get that Darqueze is overrated, he’s not my #2 CB either but Fuller? It’s just a bad pick in my opinion.

Team: Rams

Pick: 13th (1st round)

Jon’s Profile: Aaron Donald Pittsburgh #97 6’0 ¾ 285 Sr.

Overall: Aaron Donald has been one of the two best DTs on my board for 3 straight seasons and it’s about time that the scouting community finally jumped on his bandwagon. It took a dominant Senior Bowl performance and a historic Combine for most to jump on board but now he rarely is mentioned as being on the “1st round bubble” which absolutely infuriated me. Donald is everything you want in a one gap, 3 technique DT except for 2 more inches of height, 10 more lbs and 2 more inches on his arms. He is the consummate pro as he has the best motor of any DL in this draft, he’s a gym rat (you don’t get to 35 reps on the bench by being lazy) and he has no character concerns or off the field incidents. On the field he’s the quickest, most agile DT I’ve ever graded and he made talented interior lineman look silly. I’ve had a Top 10-15 grade on him for 3 straight years but, after his historic Combine, I have to move him up even higher. He has everything you can ask for in a prospect: elite production, elite athleticism and a squeaky clean character. Top 5 as my #1 DT who is the 2nd best DT I’ve ever graded behind only Ndamakong Suh 4/27/14.

Rankings:

Jon’s 500 Mayock’s 100 Daniel Jeremiah’s 50 Gil Brand’ts 125
3 12 14 16

Jon’s Thoughts on the pick: This is by far the best pick of the 1st Round and it’s not even close. Donald was #3 on my board and joins Robert Quinn, who I rated as the #1 player in the 2012 draft yet went in the teens that year to them, and Chris Long to make the best front four in football. If Sam Bradford can become a quality NFL QB the Rams will join the Seahawks and the 49ers as double digit win teams as that division just got even scarier. Cowboys have you noticed that this is the 4th DL they’ve taken in the 1st round in the past 6-7 drafts? Yeah it’s a smart way to build a football team, look into it.

Team: Giants

Pick: 12th (1st round)

Jon’s Profile: Odell Beckham LSU 5’11 ¼ 198 Jr.

Overall: Beckham has hovered in the late 1st/early 2nd round grade all season for me as he’s an extremely talented player who has good speed (elite 40 time but not quite as fast on the field as his time would indicate), great quickness, catches the ball beautifully, enough size to stay on the outside and the versatility to play the slot or help in the return game. Some team could easily fall in love with his all around package of skills and take him in the Top 20 but I have my concerns as he was on a very talented team and always seemed like the secondary option for his team. The past two years I had Jarvis Landry ahead of him yet after his horrific Combine it’s Beckham who is the #1 Tiger on my draft board. That’s strange to me as I just don’t see Beckham ever being a #1 receiver and I think his best position is as a slot receiver, which is one of the least valuable positions in all of football. For a team with a very good offense Beckham could be a great complement in various ways and take that offense to the next level. For a bad team seeking a leader and a star player Beckham would be miscast and could be set up to fail. Due to these negatives he drops out of the 1st round as complementary players shouldn’t be given 1st round grades. Early 2nd round as my #6 WR who has a lot of talent but will never be a great player, more of a #2 WR type 4/18/14.

Rankings:

Jon’s 500 Mayock’s 100 Daniel Jeremiah’s 50 Gil Brand’ts 125
31 17 17 11

Jon’s Thoughts on the pick: I hate this pick which means I guess I love it since it’s a Giants pick. I would have been really worried if they had drafted a Marquise Lee or Austin Seferian-Jenkins but instead they drafted a slot receiver. That’s duplicating their best skill position player as Beckham or Cruz will always have to be out of the slot. I think Beckham projects as a career #2 WR so I think it’s a little rich at #12. So glad they didn’t take Aaron Donald.

A few picks away so Cowboys fans here is your dream list:
Aaron Donald-Perfect fit in a 4-3 one gap scheme and amazing value (#3 Overall Player on my board) yet doesn’t this duplicate your best DL in Henry Melton? I loved the Melton signing but think if Donald is the pick he’s gone in a year.

Zach Martin-A left side of Tyron Smith, Zach Martin and Travis Frederick would be incredible.

Johnny Manziel-Do we dare dream?

I still think a trade down makes the most sense as the best available talent left (Manziel, Donald, Marquise Lee, Teddy Bridgewater, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Derek Carr) all don’t seem to be great fits for us. Trade down 5-10 spots and a Calvin Pryor or Stephon Tuitt would be outstanding.

Team: Titans

Pick: 11th (1st round)

Jon’s Profile: Taylor Lewan Michigan #77 6’7 1/8 309 Sr.

Overall: Lewan has been on my radar as a 1st round talent for the past 3 years yet his matchup with Clowney in the 2012’s bowl game was what elevated my opinion of him from mid 1st round to elite prospect. Until then I had him as an overrated RT who didn’t have the foot speed to stay at the more coveted LT spot. Yet against South Carolina he showed the foot speed necessary to stay with Clowney’s 4.5 speed and cemented my opinion that he’s a legit LT. Since then everything has fallen into place for him in my eyes as he had another great year on film (it’s strange he was 2nd Team All-American in 2013 after being 1st Team in 2012 as I saw no difference in caliber of play), he showed great maturity and leadership skills by coming back for his senior year and he dominated the Combine. Everyone in the scouting community has him as the #3 OT in this year’s draft yet I see it differently as he is a tough, physical, experienced player with the necessary athleticism to stay at LT. He isn’t as smooth of a player as Luke Joeckel was last year yet he brings more to the table as a run blocker so they are very close in ranking. With Jake Matthews less athletic and with less impressive film and Greg Robinson looking more like an elite RT than a franchise LT, I have no problem with Taylor Lewan as my #1 OT in the 2014 NFL Draft and a Top 5 grade 3/6/14.

Rankings:

Jon’s 500 Mayock’s 100 Daniel Jeremiah’s 50 Gil Brand’ts 125
5 6 10 9

Jon’s Thoughts on the pick: Lewan was the #1 OT on my board despite being the “other tackle” by most scouts among the Big 3. He has elite athleticism and goes to a franchise that really covets OL play. I’m confused as well about the fit though as Roos doesn’t seem to be done yet and Oher was just signed so maybe they move Oher to OG for a season, maybe they cut Roos and call it a day or maybe Lewan plays OG. It’s a bit of a waste in my opinion but staying true to your board usually works out in the end and I think in 3 years we won’t be wondering where Lewan played as a rookie but will be talking about how they got their decade long LT outside the Top 10. This is a steal despite the fit being strange.

Team: Lions

Pick: 10th (1st round)

Jon’s Profile: Eric Ebron North Carolina 6’4 3/8 250 Jr.

Overall: Ebron is the “consensus” #1 TE in this draft class as I’ve yet to find a scout or media person without him at #1. Last year the same thing occurred as everyone had Tyler Eifert #1 except me who had a higher grade on Zach Ertz. One year later it’s looking smart as Ertz had a superior rookie season and appears to be the better athlete. Now I have Austin Seferian-Jenkins as my #1 TE not Ebron as Eric is shorter, smaller and more of a split out wide type than a muscular, red zone type. When surveying the NFL landscape it’s easy to see my logic as teams rank Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski well ahead of the Vernon Davises and Jared Cooks of the world. Ebron is a very good athlete, he is a willing blocker and he has great hands but he will never be 6’6 270 and because of that he will never be an elite red zone threat. If I’m spending a Top 10 or Top 15 pick on a TE, a tough decision to make in and of itself, then I better be getting a 3 down TE who is an elite red zone threat. Ebron probably will be subbed out on short yardage situations (not a three down guy) and will be mediocre in the red zone so he doesn’t fit the mold. Late 1st as my #2 TE who I think is overrated as he does excel at the areas that elite tight ends are supposed to excel at 4/23/14.

Rankings:

Jon’s 500 Mayock’s 100 Daniel Jeremiah’s 50 Gil Brand’ts 125
20 8 13 13

Jon’s Thoughts on the pick: Yeah cause every time I watch the Lions play I say, “man if only they had another vertical threat in the passing game.” What a bunch of idiots. I get that Gilbert is off the board but I just don’t see why you take Ebron when defense is clearly your biggest issue. I’d have taken Lewan here and moved Riley Reiff to RT where he’s a more natural fit. Suddenly your OL fits perfectly and Stafford has more time to throw to his trio of wideouts who are already pretty impressive. The Lions are obsessed with skill position players in the Top 10. How many have they drafted in the past decade?

Team: Vikings

Pick: 9th (1st round)

Jon’s Profile: Anthony Barr UCLA 6’4 7/8 255 Sr.

Overall: For most of the 2013 season I had a Top 5 grade on Barr yet the Stanford game as well as a few other games really proved to me that Barr isn’t ready for the NFL. He only played 2 seasons at LB and is raw as can be for a pass rusher. I think he is going to have a terrible rookie season if not put in the right situation as he is a one trick pony when it comes to rushing the passer (he only has a speed rush), he lacks the strength to be an effective run stopper (cannot hold the edge) and he seems lost in coverage. I see him as an extremely high upside project type and I can’t give a Top 10 grade to those let alone Top 5. Mid 1st as my #4 PR as he has Pro Bowl potential but will likely struggle early in his career until he gains strength and improves his almost non-existent technique 5/4/14.

Rankings:

Jon’s 500 Mayock’s 100 Daniel Jeremiah’s 50 Gil Brand’ts 125
15 14 6 15

Jon’s Thoughts on the pick: I personally don’t get this pick as Barr to me is a clear fit as a 3-4 OLB and the Vikings are a 4-3 team. Also I think they could have gotten Barr in the mid 1st but I guess they did trade down once, only netted a 5th round though, so they probably tried. A strange pick that feels like a reach. I hate it after thinking about the fit schematically. Why is Spielman not fired yet by the way? Blaine Gabbert was a bust in Jacksonville and their GM was fired. Ponder was a bust in Minnesota but Spielman just keeps plugging away. He’s the new Matt Millen in the NFC North.

Team: Browns

Pick: 8th (1st round)

Jon’s Profile: Justin Gilbert Oklahoma State 6’0 1/8 202 Sr.

Overall: Gilbert is the cornerback with the most athleticism and overall upside in this draft. He also ends as my #1 CB and the next highest cornerback isn’t that close to him. Yet I’m not a fan of his as his inconsistent film, questionable toughness and poor technique make me think there is a legit chance he becomes a bust. He has Pro Bowl potential as there are few cornerbacks with his size (6’0 1/8 202 lbs), arm length (’33 1/8), ball skills (12 career INTs) and pure speed (4.37). Milliner just last year had similar characteristics, minus the ball skills which were known to be below average, yet he had an atrocious season due to athleticism that didn’t seem to translate to the field, poor technique and a lack of confidence. I don’t think Gilbert will be as bad as Milliner but I could see him struggle as well since just 2 years ago he looked like a 3rd round caliber talent. His inconsistent play will drive a coach mad but after watching his 2013 tape and his elite Combine I think he’ll be more like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie than Patrick Robinson. Both had elite athleticism but Robinson rarely played well and was a bust while Rodgers-Cromartie has been waffling between average starter and Pro Bowler. Gilbert likely will have a similar career with a lot of ups and downs but his overall body of work will still make him worth drafting in the 1st round. Mid 1st as my #1 CB that has Pro Bowl potential but will likely be a maddeningly inconsistent player 5/6/14.

Rankings:

Jon’s 500 Mayock’s 100 Daniel Jeremiah’s 50 Gil Brand’ts 125
12 23 9 10

Jon’s Thoughts on the pick: I’m scared as hell about Justin as he has a big chance to bust. Of course his Combine and 2013 film was elite so he could become a Pro Bowler and if he does they just drafted the the second best secondary in the NFL as Joe Hayden already is the #3-4 best CB in the league and they could be a dynamic duo. I hate the fact they passed on Johnny twice essentially but the reality is that everyone says they love Derek Carr so I’m really not shocked by this. I expected them to take a position player first and then move up from #26 to take Carr earlier. I still think that is what will happen. I don’t agree with it but hey the Browns have a proven track record of success so we should give them the benefit of the doubt on this one, oh wait.

Pick: 7th (1st round)

Jon’s Profile: Mike Evans Texas A&M 6’4 ¾ 231 Soph

Overall: Mike Evans on talent alone has a Top 10 grade. Unfortunately he doesn’t end with a Top 10 grade due to his temperament issues I noticed in 2013, especially late in the year as his numbers went down and the losses went up. He had his share of sideline temper tantrums and noticeably grew upset when the ball wasn’t consistently coming to him. Considering he ended 2012 as one of the 10 most prolific wideouts in the nation it makes me worry even more as he actually did get quite a few targets and there was little reason for him to complain. Evans is a baby though in a lot of ways as he’s only 20 years old, despite redshirting in 2011, and has only been playing football for 4 years. The potential is there for immense growth in the future for Mike as both a football player and a person. Yet at this point it hasn’t happened and I can’t give Evans a Top 10 grade because of his rawness. He lacks quickness to get great separation against cornerbacks and could struggle in the NFL if taken by a team with a QB that cannot throw the back shoulder pass to him or is unwilling to throw the occasional jump ball. If he’s taken by a team like the Chargers with Philip Rivers then he could become an All-Pro but if he’s taken by a team with a QB like Tony Romo, who angers me at his reticence at throwing the jump ball to Dez Bryant, then he could be just an average WR. Evans size, strength, arm length and elite hands make him one of the best jump ball wideouts I’ve ever graded. He could be an Alshon Jeffery type Pro Bowler who gets +10 TDs ever year. Or he could be a bigger wideout that struggles to get open at the next level and we could be talking about him as a bit of a diva who misses having the best QB in college football throwing to him. Evans comes with his share of risks yet he also has the potential to be great. I suspect he will become a Pro Bowler in time but it will be a bumpy road and his risks cause him to miss out on being a Top 10 grade. Top 15 as my #3 WR who could end up as the best WR in the draft but will be a headache at times for his team and won’t work well with every QB 3/16/14.

Rankings:

Jon’s 500 Mayock’s 100 Daniel Jeremiah’s 50 Gil Brand’ts 125
10 7 7 7

Jon’s Thoughts on the pick: I love this pick. The Bucs signed a very underrated QB in Josh McCown who had an outstanding year by throwing to two huge wideouts in Marshall and Jeffrey. Now the Bucs have Evans and Vincent Jackson which isn’t quite as good but quite close in talent and definitely in style. I love this pick. He was only 10th on my board and went 7th but sometimes the fit makes so much sense that you “reach” and it’s okay. Also I consider it a very small reach as Evans to me has the highest upside of any WR and there couldn’t be a better teacher than Vincent as they have such similar games.

The Bucs I think are taking an Aggie the question is which one: Johnny Manziel or Mike Evans.

Team: Falcons

Pick: 6th (1st round)

Jon’s Profile: Jake Matthews Texas A&M 6’5 ½ 308 Sr.

Overall: I’ve watched almost every game Jake Matthews played in for his career and I can definitively say that he is not an elite LT. I think the team that drafts him will be taking him due to his bloodlines, professionalism and good game film as he is a “safe” pick but if a team takes him thinking they are getting a Pro Bowl LT they will be sorely disappointed. His very good Combine aside I still have his best position as a RT not a LT as he lacks the foot speed and arm length to dominate on the left side. I don’t want to be too negative on Jake as he will be a 10 year starting OT in the NFL, will never cause any issues for his team and will work his butt off but I think the media has gone overboard on his bloodlines and created this idea of him as a Top 5 talent when he isn’t. Against elite athletes he struggles to keep the edge, he has his share of mental mistakes (false starts, TFL given up due to a brain fart, etc.) and is neither the long armed, athletic LT nor the bull dozing power RT you prefer at those spots. Jake will be a good OT in the NFL but he will never be great and as such he grades out as a mid 1st rounder as my #3 OT and a guy who is a bit overrated due to his bloodlines 3/9/14.

Rankings:

Jon’s 500 Mayock’s 100 Daniel Jeremiah’s 50 Gil Brand’ts 125
16 5 5 5

Jon’s Thoughts on the pick: Stop talking about his bloodlines!!!! The Falcons didn’t draft his dad they drafted him and there’s a reason why Luke Joeckel played all three seasons at LT despite Matthews being there as Matthews isn’t as good of a player. I like Matthews but I have him as a mid 1st rounder while everyone else has him as a Top 5 talent. I just don’t see it as Manziel got him out of trouble at times, he is penalty prone and lacks elite athleticism for a LT or elite strength as a run blocker at RT. He’ll be a good OT but not a great one and this will look like a ho hum type pick in 3-5 years.

Team: Raiders

Pick: 5th (1st round)

Jon’s Profile: Khalil Mack Buffalo 6’2 5/8 251 Sr.

Overall: Before his bowl game vs. San Diego State I had never seen Khalil Mack. 4 ½ months later he’s a clear cut Top 5 pick on my board as he does everything well and quite a few things great. Mack set NCAA records for TFL and FF in a career and it’s obvious why as he’s so big, so fast and so violent that the ball naturally separates from the body of a ballcarrier. I think his best fit value wise is as a 3-4 OLB as he has the flexibility, strength and athleticism to be a very good pass rusher but the player he reminds me of the most is Navarro Bowman (Willie McGinest made the same comparison at the Combine). The reason is because of his frame that bulges outward with muscle and just how violent he is in playing the game. I know I’m repeating myself but I honestly can’t remember a more violent, explosive player that I’ve ever graded than Mack. Khalil will immediately be a team leader due to his work ethic and the way he plays the game. He will immediately be a dominant run stopper, no matter the system, and he will immediately be an impact defender. I’m unsure if he will be an elite pass rusher as his length is poor for those positions but if put in the right system I suspect he’ll eventually become above average. A 3-4 OLB that gets you 8-12 sacks a year while being your team leader and being the best edge setting, run stopper at his position in the league is worth a Top 5 pick. Top 5 as my #2 PR who is much safer than Clowney but lacks the upside as he’ll probably never be an elite pass rusher 5/4/14.

Rankings:

Jon’s 500 Mayock’s 100 Daniel Jeremiah’s 50 Gil Brand’ts 125
4 1 4 2

Jon’s Thoughts on the pick: At #5 the Raiders got a player that was one of the 4 best on every analyst’s board. Jeremiah and I “only” had him ranked #4 so we even love this pick. The Raiders have been so bad for so long that the #1 attribute they need is effort/hustle/heart whatever you call it as they won’t be great this year or next and they need leaders and hard workers to help point them in the right direction. I like this pick because Mack is right up there with Aaron Donald as the best leader/worker in this draft. I still would have gone Johnny Football here as I thought him in silver and black made a ton of sense.

Team: Bills

Pick: 4th (1st round)

Jon’s Profile: Sammy Watkins Clemson 6’0 ¾ 211 Jr.

Overall: Sammy is a game breaking wide receiver with good deep speed, good quickness and great strength for his size. He’s at his best in the open field as he’s too fast for linebackers and safeties and too strong for most cornerbacks. He has soft hands that allow him to pluck the ball on the run and he can juke defenders with the best of them. When Sammy is at his best he is arguably the best player in college football. Unfortunately he isn’t always at his best and I think he currently is a little overvalued by scouts who are just remembering his last game, which happened to be his best game. Sammy is a bit of a diva and doesn’t always try his hardest. In the LSU game in 2012 he took a big hit at the beginning of the game and didn’t return. It was not a concussion type of hit and was later blamed on an ankle being twisted but to me it looked like he got his nose bloodied and wanted to go home to mama. Against the best defenses he rarely was dominant and at times he was almost invisible. That is very disconcerting as for three straight years he had a great college QB getting him the ball, one of the most creative offensive coordinators drawing up plays for him and plenty of talent around him (Andre Ellington and DeAndre Hopkins for 2 years, Tajh Boyd and Martavis Bryant for 3 years). At his best Sammy is an electrifying talent who has the quickness to run great routes, the speed to beat a defense deep and the elusiveness to turn small catches into big gainers. At his worst he’s a me first player that doesn’t produce against the best talent and is a bit soft. I can guarantee you that Sammy will be a good receiver and put up good stats but I cannot guarantee you that he will be an elite receiver and be productive against the elite corners. That concerns me since everyone thinks he’s clearly the best offensive player in this draft class. In the end he barely stays as a Top 5 talent as his ceiling is high enough to overcome the red flags (2012 season, drug arrest, soft play, mediocre work ethic, immaturity issues, poor production vs. elite defenses). Top 5 as my #1 WR but whom I still consider to be overrated by the scouting community 4/16/14.

Rankings:

Jon’s 500 Mayock’s 100 Daniel Jeremiah’s 50 Gil Brand’ts 125
6 4 2 6

Jon’s Thoughts on the pick: I called this trade earlier in the week when I said by the end of pick 6 the Bills would own either Clowney, Watkins or Evans. They got possibly their #1 choice as he makes a lot of sense when teamed with a young QB like EJ Manuel that can’t thread the needle or throw accurately downfield. They will be a bubble screen team and Watkins will make them dangerous in that scheme.

Team: Jaguars

Pick: 3rd (1st round)

Player: Blake Bortles

Jon’s Profile: Blake Bortles Central Florida 6’5 232 Jr.

Overall: He’s a raw QB but his tools are obvious as his size, strength and athleticism are rare to find. He’s the ultimate gamble as he isn’t ready to play in the NFL right away but likely will be taken in the 1st round which will force a coach to play him. He has the potential to develop into a Ben Roethlisberger type yet his lack of accuracy, especially on the deep ball which is a strength of Ben’s, will likely be his downfall. My biggest issue with him is that he projects as more of a game manager type than a gunslinger. He has the frame of Ben’s but not the mindset nor the cannon of an arm which makes me think he’ll be more of an EJ Manuel clone than a Ben Roethlisberger one. At his best he’d be like Josh Freeman in 2010 when he was a big strong QB that took care of the football well (25/6 TD/INT ratio that season). At his worst he’ll be like Manuel was in 2013 when his team was behind as these guys lack the arm strength, accuracy or temperament to carry a team on their back. I like Bortles as a prospect since he has an elite frame, very good mobility for his size, has no character issues and projects as a starting QB. I project him only becoming a middle of the pack QB though (If ranked he’d be in the 16-22 range among the 32 NFL starters) so I don’t really understand why some think he deserves a Top 10 grade. Late 1st as my #4 QB who projects as a game manager with an elite frame ala Josh Freeman 5/5/14.

Rankings:

Jon’s 500 Mayock’s 100 Daniel Jeremiah’s 50 Gil Brand’ts 125
23 15 20 8

Jon’s Thoughts on the pick: He’s #23 on my board, #15 on Mayock’s, #20 on Jeremiah’s and his biggest advocate only has him #8 there. I don’t see why they took him here as they could have moved back and gotten him later. This is the same franchise that took Blaine Gabbert with a Top 12 pick (I didn’t have a 1st Round Grade on him in that draft) so it’s not surprising they reached for a QB. I had him as the #4 QB among the Big 4 so I don’t like this pick at all. Some love Bortles though so it really is based on whom you speak to. Bob Sturm thinks he’s the best QB in this draft. I like Sturm but he’s wrong.

Team: Rams

Pick: 2nd (1st round)

Player: Greg Robinson

Jon’s Profile: Greg Robinson Auburn 6’5 332 Jr.

Overall: Greg Robinson is the most talented OT to come out of the draft since Matt Kalil in 2012. Unfortunately he isn’t extremely polished and possibly is only a RT due to questionable lateral quickness so I can’t put him as the #1 OT in this draft class let alone the past 3 draft classes. He has the potential to improve his technique, get quicker feet and become the best run blocking/pass blocking LT since Jonathan Ogden. Joe Thomas has been the best LT in the game for the past 7 seasons but he’s only a wall off run blocker yet Robinson has the potential to be a bull dozer in the run game and a shut down pass protector in the passing game. Yet he could just be a workout warrior as I don’t see a 4.92 40 guy on film when I watch him and I can’t help but notice that Auburn rarely put him in one on one pass blocking situations. You don’t “hide” your best OL and that is what they did quite regularly. They often slanted down with him blocking down on a DT instead of kicking out on the DE. They regularly lined a TE (#11) to his side on passing downs allowing to play more like an OG than an OT as he was “covered up.” Sometimes they also had a back chip a defender he was going against so they couldn’t get a quick start against him. All of these signs point to a player that is more workout warrior than future Hall of Famer. I think there is a chance that he becomes a once in a decade Hall of Fame LT but the base scenario is that he is a RT with elite run blocking skills and enough athleticism to be on an island against most teams’ #2 rusher. As such I have to knock him as the LT position is far more valuable than the RT position yet he still gets an extremely high grade due to his immense upside. Top 10 as my #2 OT 4/27/14.

Rankings:

Jon’s 500 Mayock’s 100 Daniel Jeremiah’s 50 Gil Brand’ts 125
7 3 3 4

Jon’s Thoughts on the pick: He’s #7 on my board and not even the #1 OT so obviously I don’t like the pick. The reason is because I see him as a RT not a LT and that limits his value. I feel vindicated by the fact that the Rams plan on starting Robinson at OG not even RT. I know he has elite upside but come on man, you just drafted a starting OG with the 2nd Overall Pick in the best draft of the past 10 years. This pick will look really dumb in a year.

Team: Texans

Pick: 1st (1st round)

Player: Jadeveon Clowney

Jon’s Profile:  Jadeveon Clowney South Carolina 6’5 ¼ 266 Jr.

Overall: Jadeveon Clowney has the highest upside of any pass rusher I’ve ever graded with the exception of Julius Peppers. Peppers was 6’6 290 and Jadeveon is 6’5 265 (will likely play at 275) so they aren’t the exact same in style but I still compared Clowney to Peppers due to his uncanny natural ability and questionable motor. Clowney doesn’t give an all out effort EVER and often times doesn’t even give a good effort which will drive his future coaches crazy. He could have been be the best run stopper in the nation at his size, strength and quickness yet he treated the job like a chore and seemed to bide his time until a pass rushing moment arrived. He gets winded quickly, doesn’t take care of himself (as evidenced in the season opener when he played about half the snaps due to not eating his pre-game meal), isn’t the hardest worker in the weight room and isn’t tough. His combination of size, speed, length and agility is rare but he never was statistically the best pass rusher in the nation and that’s when he was facing guys who, most of the time, weren’t considered NFL prospects. In 2012 he faced Taylor Lewan and was quiet, in 2013 he faced James Hurst and only got a few pressures and in 2013 he faced Justin Britt (Missouri-late round type) and had no sacks. In 2013 he faced Antonio Richardson (a player I think will be a RT not a LT) and had a good game (5 tackles, 0 sacks but numerous pressures) and in 2012 and 2013 he faced Brandon Thomas (a player I think will be an OG not an OT) and had a great game in 2012 (7 tackles and 4.5 sacks) and a solid game in 2013 (3 tackles and 1 sack). When he faced NFL talent his production noticeably declined, especially if you take out Brandon Thomas which is fair as Thomas will be an OG not an OT at the next level. Watching him at the Combine was infuriating as he didn’t take part in position drills, told reports he was about to jump in and then decided against it for no real reason. Later in the interview session he lied on numerous questions and continued to paint the picture that he’s a hard worker but the media was just trying to create a story. No one with any intelligence can watch the North Carolina, Georgia, UCF or Arkansas games in 2013 and tell me with a straight face that he tried his hardest. Yet for all of the frustration he will cause NFL coaches and for all of the missed potential he will have, Clowney will still be an elite pass rusher and will be a Pro Bowler numerous times. His best seasons will likely be in contract years and after down years when the media will be on him for his apathy in numerous situations but the production will be there. Julius Peppers has played 12 seasons for a, soon to be, three franchises and has accumulated 119 tackles and 8 Pro Bowls in that time. There were some ups, his 2008 season when he had 14.5 sacks and 5 FF, and there were some downs, his 2007 season when he had only 2.5 sacks, yet in the end the production was there. Clowney has the potential to be one of the greatest of all time but I doubt he ever reaches that level. He’ll likely end up with a career similar to Peppers as an inconsistently great player that was a pain in the butt to deal with on a day in and day out basis. Top 5 as my #1 Pass Rusher who has all the talent in the world and needs to go to a team and coaching staff that will maximize it 5/4/14.

Rankings:

Jon’s 500 Mayock’s 100 Daniel Jeremiah’s 50 Gil Brand’ts 125
2 2 1 3

Jon’s Thoughts on the pick: Don’t get me wrong I have Manziel as the #1 player in this draft but it makes a lot of sense taking Clowney. All four analysts I used for my rankings have him as a Top 3 player. It’s a very good pick. What would make it a great pick is if they trade him for a QB they love and pick up a ton of picks. I still say Clowney is in play.

-Mayock has Manziel as the #10 player, Kiper has him also as the #10 player yet I have him as the #1 player in this draft. Let’s get it out of the way right now, I’m biased as I’m a graduate from Texas A&M. Now that that’s out of the way I just want to point out that I think it’s absurd Manziel is #10 on their boards. They really have 9 players better than him? Mayock had Zach Martin an OG ahead of him. An OG?!!! If you put him at #2-4 I wouldn’t even argue but #10 seems like they’re all trying to find reasons not to like him. I love that Gruden is telling them all he’ll be reminding them of Johnny not being worth the #1 Overall Pick in 3 years because I will too. Whether it’s Merrill Hoge (saying he’ll be a bust) or Todd McShay (didn’t have him in the 1st round till late in 2013) or Ron Jaworski (saying he wouldn’t take him till the 3rd round) I’m trying to keep track of everyone doubting him now as they won’t be after his first game in the NFL.

-I think the Texans take Clowney but just like in the 2004 NFL Draft when the Chargers took Eli Manning I think the drama will be just beginning if/when they take Clowney. I strongly believe they want to trade down but they will play hard ball and make the Falcons or Bills give them a nice package of picks otherwise they will allow JJ Watt to mentor Clowney and see if they can turn him into the Hall of Famer he potentially can be.

Welcome to my blob. If you’re a newbie then just make sure you realize that you need to refresh periodically to get the up to date coverage. I’ll be a little behind at times but probably ahead of ESPN.com so feel free to follow live and check back with me or read it back at the end of the night. Either way, I’m glad you joined me for another draft.

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