Draft King Analysis|
April 4, 2012
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com
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If you haven't seen it yet, you absolutely owe it to yourself to check out the comic-book style mock draft by Chris Steuber. It's a nice mix of creativity and solid draft projections.
The big news related to the draft today was Philadelphia signing Bills UFA OT Demetress Bell (aka Demetrius Bell), who reportedly signed a five-year, $25 million deal. Though, as this story reveals, only the first year of the contract is guaranteed. No word yet as to how much that first year of the deal is worth, but it's a savvy move by the Eagles.
If Jason Peters recovers fully from the torn Achilles tendon in his right leg in time to be ready to go for the 2013 season, then the Eagles will get back their All-Pro at left tackle. If that happens and if Bell doesn't seem worth keeping to Eagles management by this time next year, they can jettison him without trouble. If Peters is healthy and Bell has a strong 2012, the Eagles could potentially keep Peters for depth or, alternately, they might be able to trade Bell to a team needing a productive offensive tackle provided that the new contract doesn't have a no-trade clause.
One really odd note is that the Eagles and Bell have said that his first name isn't Demetrius: it's Demetress. According to what I've learned, Bell only recently found out that his legal first name was Demetress. Remember that Bell is the biological son of NBA Hall of Famer (and colossal prick) Karl Malone, who impregnated Bell's mother when she was 13 years old. But the bottom line is this: Bell is now a member of the Eagles, Philadelphia has long-term flexibility at offensive tackle, and the move eliminates the silly notion that the Eagles were going to blow the #15 overall pick in the upcoming draft on an offensive tackle.
I've enjoyed watching Path To The Draft on the NFL Network. They cover stories relating to the draft well, provide player information (pro days, short-form features, etc.), and perhaps best of all they have a wide variety of opinions given, allowing viewers to decide things for themselves from the various lines of thought presented.
At this point, the 2012 NFL Draft seems to be taking more and more of a tangible form. Here's how it looks at this point:
1. IND: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
2. WAS: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
3. MIN: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
It's possible that the Vikings could opt for another player, but offensive tackle is a major need and Kalil is an outstanding talent. Minnesota primarily runs a Cover 2 and thus wouldn't need to use their #3 overall pick on LSU CB Morris Claiborne, plus just today they added CB depth by signing journeyman CB Chris Carr to a one-year deal (terms unknown). In addition, with Adrian Peterson on the roster, the Vikings wouldn't be looking to select Alabama RB Trent Richardson.
Here's how many see the 4-6 range going:
4. CLE: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
5. TB: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
6. StL: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Richardson fills a need for the Browns at running back. And while rule changes tilted the NFL product considerably in favor of the passing game, and despite this being a loaded draft at running back, Richardson would fill a huge need for Cleveland, albeit one that's less important than ever in the NFL. CB Joe Haden's huge contract (and excellent play) would seem to discourage any thoughts of Cleveland selecting Claiborne, while for the Bucs adding Claiborne seems like a great move both in need at the position and value in landing the consensus top cornerback prospect.
Keep this in mind with Tampa Bay: in division play alone, they will have to face Drew Brees (barring contract breakdown), Matt Ryan, and Cam Newton twice each this season. If for some reason Cleveland deviates from Richardson and drafts either Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill or one of the top wide receiver prospects (Blackmon or Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd), it could create an interesting decision for the Buccaneers between Richardson and Claiborne. But, looking at how critical it is to stop the pass in the NFL, I think Claiborne gets the nod in that situation.
As for St. Louis at #6, either Blackmon or Floyd would make sense. They paid a premium to bring in UFA CB Cortland Finnegan (Titans) and they desperately need to acquire a top-notch receiving threat for Bradford. The success found by A.J. Green and Julio Jones as rookie wide receivers in 2011 I suspect has some teams thinking that the learning curve at wideout has decreased thanks to the new safety rules, which in turn could lead to elite receivers being even more valued than most think at this point.
7. JAX: DE or WR
8. MIA: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M (or pass-rushing DE/OLB)
9. CAR: Pass-rushing DE/OLB or WR, particularly if Floyd and/or Blackmon slide to this spot
10. BUF: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
The Jaguars kept talented defensive end Jeremy Mincey by signing him to a four-year, $20 million ($9 million guaranteed) contract last month, but that won't necessarily stop Jacksonville from drafting someone like South Carolina DE/OLB Marvin Ingram or North Carolina DE Quinton Coples here. Also, Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert would benefit from the team drafting an elite wide receiver prospect here. Floyd at #7 to Jacksonville could be in play, depending of course on what the management there thinks of the aforementioned players.
Tannehill to Miami may be likely at #8. I'm concerned about Tannehill's 61.6% completion rate last year, particularly with QB passing accuracy being more important than ever in the NFL. And while the most prudent course of action might be to select a pass rusher here, it may be tough for Miami to take another chance on a second-round quarterback.
Life After Marino -- recent second-round QBs picks by Miami
2007: John Beck (#40 overall)
2008: Chad Henne (#57 overall)
2009: Pat White (#44 overall)
If it's me making the call, I take Ingram at #8 overall and then snag Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden (72.3% completion rate in 2011) at #44 overall if he's there. Age is a concern for Weeden since he will turn 29 later this year, but for a team like Miami that could use someone right away (or to at least push Matt Moore and David Garrard in camp) as opposed to later, Weeden makes sense to me.
But it's not my call, and most indications seem to suggest Tannehill to Miami. And, ultimately, knowing what the team is likely to do is *much* more important than what I think the team should do. Tannehill had an impressive pro day, he had to deal with receiver drops and receivers not winning 50/50 balls in 2011, and he has prototype height/size at 6'4" 220. As always, time will tell.
With the newly renamed Demetress Bell (like a pro wrestler who has to go by a different moniker because WWE owns his old name) signing with Philadelphia, as mentioned above, Buffalo adding Reiff at #10 makes sense. If for some reason the Bills aren't bullish on Reiff, they could pull a surprise move and go with someone like Stanford OT Jonathan Martin, but Reiff would appear to be the most likely scenario there. The Bills broke the bank to bring former Texans DE/OLB Mario Williams on board to add a strong pass-rushing threat last month, so there isn't a pressing need for the Bills to draft a blue-chip pass rusher, an issue other teams drafting in this range face.