Making a draft selection isn’t as simple as picking the most talented player available. Teams need to take into account not only their existing roster, but concerns such as off the field issues, work ethic, and injury history.
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Now that we have established two fairly baseline projections (Mock Draft 1 | Mock Draft 2), we can now explore other scenarios. The purpose of this mock is to demonstrate how different the draft would look if we only took into account potential and need, and omitted some of the other traits that are more difficult to assess without the insider access NFL teams have.
QB is the most important position in football, so it’s no surprise to see a QB go #1 in this format. While I only grade Newton as a late 3rd round prospect because of his unfamiliarity in a pro style offense, inconsistent footwork, and documented personal concerns, as a pure talent his ceiling is limitless. If he can keep his nose clean and in the film room, he has the athleticism and physical skill set to become one of the best in the game.
In this case the real board matches the potential board. Bowers has a skill set comparable to Julius Peppers
, and even better will not be criticized for taking plays off.
Kaepernick is a similar player to Cam Newton, except he is known as a hard worker and a tremendous character guy. If he can adjust to playing under center and is able to shorten his throwing motion, he will become a dangerous starting QB, capable of winning games consistently not only with his arm but with his feet as well.
Upon the news of Johnathan Joseph
’s departure, CB became a serious need for Cincinnati. Lucky for the Bengals, the most physically gifted college prospect in possibly the last decade is available. Peterson will immediately be a dynamic return threat, and has the rare combination of size and athleticism to become a dominant player at his position.
Mallett will probably fall to the second round of the real draft because of his mental struggles on the field and personal concerns off the field, but he has an elite arm and can make every throw with zip and remarkable accuracy. He, like Cam Newton, could become one of the best if he stays out of trouble and becomes a workaholic.
6. Cleveland Browns
AJ Green, WR Georgia
Green is one of the top pure prospects in this year’s class, but falls to #6 because of the demand for QBs. One scout I recently talked to said Green’s floor is Sidney Rice
, and his ceiling is Randy Moss
– The Browns would be ecstatic with either one.
San Francisco is in desperate need of pass rushers, and Quinn has the raw athletic ability to get the job done. Quinn could be the pick for the 49ers in the real draft as well, despite his lack of consistency on game day.
Fairley could be the first pick in the entire draft (and deservedly so), but this mock’s format causes him to fall into Tennessee’s lap. Having a young trio on the defensive line the likes of Jason Jones
, Derrick Morgan, and Nick Fairley would give every QB in the league nightmares.
Smith is probably not as highly rated in Dallas as some of the other tackle prospects because they love to take bigger linemen, but Smith’s pure potential is better than that of anyone else at his position this year. He doesn’t have the same experience as BC’s Anthony Castonzo
, but he has all the physical tools to be a cornerstone at LT.
With all of the top QBs gone, the skins opt for the Alabama wide receiver, who helped himself with an off the charts combine. Jones seemed to lack consistent focus and concentration at times on film, but his physical skill set is undeniable.
Houston still has glaring needs in the secondary, so they are lucky to have an elite physical talent fall to them here. Smith’s combination of size, athleticism, and speed is rare for a CB, but off the field concerns that came to light during the combine will probably cause him to drop further than this spot in the real draft.
In this scenario Jordan is simply a victim of his position, as 4-3 LDEs/3-4 DEs simply don’t have the ceiling that other positions do. Regardless of where he ends up, Jordan will be a pro bowl caliber player very early in his career.
It’s odd to see a pass rush specialist of this caliber to fall this far in a potential-based draft, but scheme, need, and most importantly depth in talent causes Miller to fall to Detroit. He would be an ideal SAM backer for Detroit, as they would be able to utilize not only his pass rushing skills on the blitz, but his quickness against blocks, and raw athleticism in coverage.
With the elite receiving talent gone at this point, the Rams select one of the most underrated talents in this draft in Liuget. He is an explosive 3-technique, and could easily end up out-producing more highly regarded players like Nick Fairley and Marcell Dareus
When healthy, Williams is an elite playmaker at RB, capable of getting the tough yards inside while at the same time flashing the explosiveness and elusiveness, to blow by everyone in space. While I have had Williams going to Miami in previous mocks, I believe his injury-plagued 2010 season at Virginia Tech will cause him to drop come draft day.
Sheard is another player with a huge ceiling that “falls” a bit because of the depth of this format. As long as teams are not scared away by his off the field issues, I expect him to continue to climb on draft day, and he could go anywhere between picks 7 and 16.
While it would not surprise me to see Clayborn taken by New England in this spot during the real draft, he could be in for a long draft day because of his shoulder concerns. However, when on the field at Iowa, he was a dominant stack and shed defender – a perfect fit in New England’s 3-4 scheme.
Houston is likely to be drafted on day one of the draft by a 3-4 team because of his raw explosiveness and athleticism, but his on the field play does not match his potential. He must play with more consistency and a higher sense of urgency if he is to ever become the top end pass rusher he is capable of being.
As a pure talent Carter is clearly a top 20 pick, as his size, athleticism and versatility translates to every scheme. His ACL injury however will keep him from being able to workout in front of scouts this spring, and in all likelihood cause him to fall to the third round.
Solder gets the nod over Boston College
’s Anthony Castonzo because of his raw athleticism, all though his inconsistent technique on the field will likely result in Castonzo’s name getting called early during the real draft. Solder has all the physical skills to be a franchise blind-side protector, but must improve his knee bend and footwork.
Ellis is an elite talent at a highly exclusive position, as it is rare to find a true nose tackle with his level of athleticism and explosiveness. Ellis was dismissed from South Carolina
’s team in 2008, and must prove to teams that his rocky past is behind him if he is to be selected on day 2, let alone the first round.
22. Indianapolis Colts
Anthony Castonzo, OT Boston College
With the premium placed on left tackles the Colts are lucky to have a player this caliber fall to them in this mock. Castonzo is capable of starting on day one at the position, and should be a consistent performer for the next decade.
Lack of experience and to a lesser degree, age, will make it difficult for Watkins to climb this high on April 28th. However, as a pure prospect he has a tremendous combination of strength and athleticism, as he plays with the consistent leverage and nasty demeanor to become one of the best in the league.
While no player has helped himself more since January than Austin, don’t expect to see his name called on day one. While he is an explosive athlete who could become a constant disruptor, he was highly inconsistent on the field at North Carolina, and comes with off the field baggage as well.
While many consider Gabbert to be the top QB prospect in this draft, he doesn’t have the upside of some of the other prospects at the position, and consequently falls to Seattle in this scenario. Like so many college quarterbacks transitioning to the NFL, he needs to prove he can play in a more traditional system, as well as make tough throws while under pressure.
Young could very well end up being selected by the Ravens here, but off the field concerns could drop him out of the first round all together come draft day. He is an explosive and fluid athlete who should also be a dynamic returner immediately upon setting foot on an NFL field.
Rudolph is an excellent, tough athlete whose production dropped in 2010 because of youth at the QB position at Notre Dame, as well as having to play thru a hamstring tear. When healthy, he demonstrates that he is not only a dynamic receiving threat, but a capable blocker as well. Learning behind NFL legend Tony Gonzalez
would be the perfect scenario for Rudolph.
The Patriots rarely spend high picks on offensive linemen, but in this format Sherrod's potential trumps past tendencies. He clearly possesses the athleticism to be a franchise blind-side protector, but he must learn to be much more physical against the run if he is to become a complete player.
Paea's injured MCL that knocked him out of the Senior Bowl and limited him to just the weight bench in Indianapolis is likely to cause him to fall to day 2. However, his college film shows that he has the potential to be a consistent, disruptive force from the interior. His 2010 battle against Andrew Luck
is required viewing for all draftniks.
If raw speed and athleticism were all it took to be a great football player, Moch would already be considered a pro bowl caliber player. As it turns out, competitiveness, instincts, and technique count as well, and Moch must improve signficantly in all of these areas if he is to reach his potential.
Again, the exclusivity of athletic nose tackles makes Powe the selection for Pittsburgh over several other candidates. Current nose Casey Hampton
is struggling more and more to maintain his conditioning, and now may be the time to pull the trigger on his eventual replacement. Powe was pencilled in as a first round player before the 2010 campaign, but very inconsistent play will in all likelihood cause him to fall out of the first day.
Dareus falls all the way to the final pick of the first round in this scenario because he simply doesn’t have the same potential as some of the other prospects at his position. While he is very solid and consistent in all facets of his game, he at the same time does not jump off the film in any one area. While he is in the mix for #1 overall to Carolina, the Panthers taking him would be akin to Miami taking Jake Long
#1 in 2008 over the likes of Ryan Clady
and Matt Ryan
Just Missed the Cut
I expect Ryan Kerrigan
to be drafted somewhere amongst the top 20 picks, but he is not included in this mock because his lack of elite explosiveness limits his overall potential.
could be a top ten selection come April, but is nowhere to be seen in this first round scenario. Like Kerrigan, he lacks the elite recovery speed and explosiveness to have the upside required to make this list.
Some may also be surprised to not see Jake Locker
anywhere on this list. While Locker is an elite athlete for the position, and has all of the physical and mental traits of a franchise signal caller, I question his ability to improve his accuracy. When a player’s mechanics are sound, there is often little NFL coaches can do to improve upon this deficiency.
While some draft experts are calling Aldon Smith
one of the top developmental pass rushers in this draft class, I was able to break downmore film on him while in Indianapolis and came away underwhelmed. His lack of a pass rushing skill set and hand usage does not hurt his stock in this mock's format, but his struggles to change directions do. He is not nearly as innately explosive off the snap as he is often given credit for being, and he appears to be a bit of a straight-line, one-speed athlete. He reminds me too much of Vernon Gholston
to warrant a first round selection.