Thursday, April 27, 2017

The NFL Draft: Hopes, dreams and way too much coverage.

For fans of the NFL, today starts the best/worst weekend in sports.

It's NFL draft time and you're about to be subjected to some of the best the NFL has to offer presented through one of the worst media filters of the year.

It's the time of year that ESPN rolls out and dusts off Mel Kiper to tell teams how they should do things, in many ways just so he and Todd McShay can argue back and forth. It's time for the NFL Network to turn Michael Irvin loose butchering the English language and acting as if his hair is perpetually on fire.

At least we're going to be spared having to endure Chris Berman for the first round. Trey Wingo is far superior (at this point) as an anchor.  Rich Eisen is good, he's a Michigan Man, but he has an annoying tendency of narrating events as if each and every pick is the football equivalent of the cure for cancer. Way too much gravitas.

Then we come to the worst of all the draft day traditions: The draft grade. At this point trying to put a grade on a draft is somewhat ridiculous.  If anything, it's time to grade the 2012 draft, not the one we're about to witness for which none of the draftees has played in an NFL game,.

Back to this year's draft though.

And the Browns.  Yes, the Cleveland Browns.  Who happen to control the entire first round due to them having both the first and 12th picks. If the Browns pick Myles Garrett, then the drama will be much less than if they take a Browns flyer and select North Carolina QB Mitch Tribusky as their face of the future.

As a 49ers fan, I hope they go the QB route.  Because that means that Garrett falls to San Fran and there's even a good possibility this team, that needs so many pieces, can trade down and grab more draft picks. I can't believe I'm saying that after the abundance of riches the team amassed during the Harbaugh era.  Regardless, the first pick of the Kyle Shanahan era will be closely monitored by fans.

Since I live in Houston I'll also mention the Texans here. The consensus is that they will pick a QB in the first round and the two most prominently mentioned are Texas Tech's Pat Mahomes, and California's Webb Davis. Were I a member of team Toro I would hope they pass on those two. If you wonder why take a look at Jared Goff's NFL experience to date and remember that both QB's come from the same system.

Besides, for the Texans, and every other team, the first round is the sizzle but the 2nd, 3rd and 4th rounds are the steak.  Show me a consistently winning team in the NFL and I'll show you a team that's nailing those picks year after year after year with few exceptions. Free agency can get you one or two years, but sustained winning requires hitting the NFL Draft equivalent of the flop.

With that said: Here's my 1st round Mock, guaranteed to be mostly incorrect.

(note: for simplicity's sake I've omitted trades. I'm sure some will happen but I'm not going to try and predict which ones.)

1. Cleveland Browns - Myles Garrett EDGE/Texas A&M. - The desire to draft Trubisky is strong, but Garrett has Clowney-type athleticism and you can't pass that up.

2. San Francisco 49ers. - Solomon Thomas DE/Stanford - I wouldn't be surprised if the Niners traded down. But Thomas is a versatile guy from the local area.

3. Chicago Bears - Marshon Lattimore CB/Ohio State.Some people like Jamal Adams here, but I think the Bears need a CB worse than a Safety.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars. - Leonard Fournette. RB/LSU - Normally I wouldn't tag a RB this high, but Fournette has generational player talent and the Jags need someone to take the pressure off of Bortles.

5. Tennessee Titans - Corey Davis WR/Western Michigan - The Titans are building something in Tennessee, and Mariota needs weapons. Davis is certainly that.

6. NY Jets - Mitch Trubisky QB/North Carolina - Outside of Cleveland (and the Texans) they are the team with the most glaring need at this position.

7. San Diego Chargers - Jamal Adams S/LSU - The Chargers will be running to the podium to grab a player who I consider to be the best defensive athlete in the draft.

8. Carolina Panthers. - Christian McCaffrey RB/WR Stanford. Cam gets a dual threat weapon to play with.

9. Cincinnati Bengals - Jonathan Allen  DE/Albama Will be a force for years to come and could be a joy to watch next to the Bengals strong DT pair.

10. Buffalo Bills - Rueben Foster. LB/Alabama. - Some call him the "Next Ray Lewis" and while I think that's a little optimistic I do think he's the best LB in the draft this year. Should help the Bills defense immediately.

11. New Orleans Saints - Marlon Humphrey CB/Alabama - This team needs defense desperately. Humphrey reminds me a lot of Texans CB Kareem Jackson.

12. Cleveland Browns - Deshon Kizer QB/Notre Dame - I just have the feeling the Browns are going to mess this one up.

13. Arizona Cardinals - Haason Reddick LB/Temple. This will be an underrated pick that I think is going to turn out OK for Arizona.

14. Philadelphia Eagles - Mike Williams WR/Clemson - A weapon for Wentz. (Spoiler: Philly fans will boo)

15. Indianapolis Colts - Charles Harris OLB/Mizzou - The Colts need muscle in the front seven. Harris gives them that.

16. Baltimore Ravens - John Ross WR/Washington - I could see them trading down here because most of their top targets are gone.  But they need help at WR. If they're not scared off by Ross' medicals they could go this way.

17. Washington - Dalvin Cook RB/Florida State. - Behind Fournette, the most talented RB in the draft. They'll be lucky to get him here.

18. Tennessee Titans - Adoree Jackson CB/USC - A ball hawking playmaker with shutdown corner potential.  Sign me up.

19. Tampa Bay - O.J. Howard TE/Alabama - Yes, I think Howard falls to here. I also think Tampa Bay is pinching themselves tonight and cannot believe their luck.

20. Denver Broncos - Ryan Ramczyk OT/Wisconsin - Much needed infusion of talent for an O-line that was a sieve last year.

21. Detroit Lions - Jerrad Davis LB/Florida - Kind of a "best player available pick" but one that should help their defense.

22. Miami Dolphins - T. J. Watt OLB/Wisconsin - Gives the Fins an upgrade at PR and a high motor guy that their defense is lacking.

23. NY Giants - Garrett Bolles OT/Utah - Some protection for Eli who's had happy pocket feet the last few years.

24. Oakland (Las Vegas) Raiders - Cam Robinson OT/Alabama - Some needed protection for Derek Carr.

25. Houston Texans - Deshaun Watson QB/Clemson - O'Brien rolls the bones in search of a QB who can play average NFL level football. They would like an O-tackle, but all of the 1st round ones are gone.

26. Seattle Seahawks - Forrest Lamp OG/Western Kentucky - Need pick. And I'm rarely thrilled about those.  This one is OK IMO however.

27. Kansas City Chiefs - Chidobe Awuze CB/Colorado - Some are saying RB, but I don't see it. They need help at CB more and you can get solid RB's later in the draft.

28. Dallas Cowboys - Kevin King CB/Washington - the run on solid CB's begins.

29. Green Bay Packers - Tre'Davius White CB/LSU - They need DB help in the worst way, they also need a RB but I think they wait on the latter.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers - Evan Engram TE/Mississippi - The Steelers have a need, Engram fills the hole.

31. Atlanta Falcons - Taco Charlton DE/Michigan - I had Peppers in this slot until his "diluted sample" now I think the Falcons take a pass-rusher in Charlton.

32. New Orleans Sains - Patrick Mahomes QB/Texas Tech - They have the luxury of sitting him behind Brees for a year or two so he can learn how to play in the NFL, something poor Goff wasn't given.

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