As many of you know, I’m not a big fan of mock drafts, especially this early in draft season. Why? It’s essentially fantasy football, and when you try and do a mock eight weeks before the draft you don’t come close to being right.
Accuracy with mock drafts will be much better after we get through the first wave of free agency. Clubs will sign players in need positions and also lose some key players. In other words, what a club needs today might not be the same as their needs come draft day. That said, here is my best guess at what the first round may look like.
1) Tampa Bay – Jameis Winston– QB – Florida State – This will be interesting. Winston is clearly the best QB in this draft but he has his issues. Having worked with Lovie Smith for a number of years, I know how he feels about some of those issues. Still, the Bucs need a QB badly and Winston is the best one.
2) Tennessee – Leonard Williams – DT – USC – The Titans could go in a number of different directions but if they simply go for the best player, it will be Williams.
3) Jacksonville – Dante Fowler – DE -Florida – The Jags need a pass rusher. Fowler being a UF player is the perfect choice.
4) Oakland – Amari Cooper – WR – Alabama – The Raiders need to give Derek Carr some weapons. Cooper is the best receiver in the draft and will be a perfect fit for Oakland.
5) Washington – Trae Waynes – DC – Michigan State – This could be a trade down spot, but if the Redskins stay why not the best corner in the draft? In today’s game you can’t have enough corners.
6) New York Jets – Marcus Mariota – Oregon – Things haven’t worked out so well with Geno. Knowing that the Jets have to get a QB. Coming from the Oregon offense, Marcus isn’t quite ready for prime time but he has a chance to be really good.
7) Chicago – Vic Beasley – OLB – Clemson – The Bears are going to a 3-4 and have a huge need for an athletic edge rusher. I like Beasley better than Ray…very explosive!
8) Atlanta – Shane Ray – OLB – Missouri – I debated between Ray and Gregory here. I chose Ray because I feel he is a better all-around player.
10) St. Louis – Kevin White – WR – West Virginia – after his performance at the Combine, some have White ahead of Cooper. Not me.
11) Minnesota – Brandon Scherff – OT – Iowa – Scherff’s ability to play guard or tackle gives the Vikings flexibility. It also takes care of an area of need.
13) New Orleans – Randy Gregory – OLB – Nebraska – You can never have too many pass rushers and Gregory gives the Saints a very good one.
14) Miami – Jalen Collins – DC – LSU – The Dolphins have a need at the position and Collins is my number 2 corner. He is tall, long and fast with upside.
16) Houston – La’el Collins – OT – LSU – Collins offers versatility. He can play either tackle or guard position. The Texans will use him in the spot where they need him the most. He’s a very strong run blocker and showed at the Senior Bowl he can block wide speed.
17) San Diego – Tevin Coleman – RB – Indiana – The Chargers spent most of last year with an UDFA as their RB. I like Coleman better than Gordon because he has a stronger all –
18) Kansas City – Devin Smith – WR – Ohio State – the Chiefs need a downfield weapon and Smith is that type of player.
19) Cleveland – Danny Shelton – DT – Washington – Shelton is a big wide body who can stuff the run and gives a surprising inside pass rush
20) Philadelphia – Arik Armstead – DE -Oregon – The Eagles could go in many different directions with this pick but either way it will be on defense. Kelly stays close to home with the pick of Armstead.
21) Cincinnati – Jordan Phillips – DL – Oklahoma – At this point of the round, Phillips is just too go to pass up. Can play any position on the defensive front.
22) Pittsburgh – Landon Collins – DS – Alabama – The Steelers need to get younger and more athletic at the safety position. Collins can come n and play right away. He is far and away the best safety in this draft.
23) Detroit – Eddie Goldman – DT – Florida State – I’m assuming that the Lions will lose some people in free agency. Goldman is an explosive inside player.
24) Arizona – Benardrick McKinney – LB – Mississippi State – ILB was an area of weakness for the Cardinals last year. McKinney is the best ILB in the draft. He is also very versatile
25) Carolina – TJ Clemmings – OT – Pittsburgh – This fills the biggest need the Panthers have going into the draft.
26) Baltimore – Kevin Johnson – DC – Wake Forest – Johnson fits the mold of the type of corners the Ravens like to use. He needs to improve on his 40 time form Indy to lock this spot up.
27) Dallas – Carl Davis – DT – Iowa – The Cowboys aren’t bringing back Henry Melton, Davis gives them a big and quick inside guy to replace him.
28) Denver – Ereck Flowers- OT – Miami – I’m looking at value here. Flowers is just too good to pass up.
29) Indianapolis – Cam Irving – OC/OT – Florida State – The Colts need to improve the offensive line. Irving has the ability to play any line position. He can be an instant starter at center, guard or tackle.
30) Green Bay – Maxx Williams – TE – Minnesota – With Aaron Rodgers throwing to him, Williams can become a star in Green Bay. Coming from Minnesota, he is used to playing in the cold.
31) Seattle – Phillip Dorsett – WR – Miami – The Seahawks don’t have a legitimate deep threat on their roster. That’s just what Dorsett is.
32) New England – Marcus Peters – DC – Washington – Belichick has had success dealing with players with issues. If anyone can get the most out of Peters, it’s Belichick.
Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe
When you hear Mike Mayock and Rich Eisen talk about how much bigger and faster the players are getting each year, you have to wonder where the comparison should stop from players of the past.
The whole reason why drills, schedules and formatting of the Combine remain the same is so evaluators can always compare to the prior years attendees. However, this thinking/formula is flawed now because the evolution of training and preparing for the Combine has accelerated so dramatically over the last fifteen years. If I were an evaluator I wouldn’t compare a player’s combine performance to another player going back more than eight years.
In 1999, Mark Verstegen launched his first Athletes Performance (Now Exos with 7 locations) facility in Tempe, AZ. I know this because I sent him half of his first class. Other trainers like Chip Smith of CES, Tom Shaw and several others have been prepping players for over fifteen years now and have continually gotten better at having participants peak for their Combine workout. As of late, a bigger focus has been on nutrition, speed mechanics and bringing in former NFL players and coaches to tutor each player in drills and interviews.
The main reason for the Combine still remains the medicals and physical component. And everyone believes it is the most necessary and most important component of the Combine. But players and agents are growing more resistant to this current format and a change is needed or the NFLPA could force one to happen in what could have a showdown like capacity.
The current format has players getting in line for physicals at 6:30 am, standing in line for hours, then having their limbs, joints, knees and shoulders being pulled, pushed and rotated to their limits. Some doctors are more aggressive than others and some have minimal experience in the field.
Numerous players, including 310 pound plus lineman are crammed in an MRI machine for up to 30 minutes or more. Some players reported that the air in the MRI machine was not working and when they asked to be removed because they were feeling claustrophobic, they wouldn’t immediately do so and told them to be still for 15 more minutes. If you ever been in an MRI machine you can relate to these issues. Then imagine you are 6’5” 315 pounds. These machines are not made for these size men. It’s truly a “cattle call”.
So after very little sleep (most players settle down about midnight after their interviews and snacks), much standing around without food or sometimes even a place to sit, being pulled at, tugged at, even accused of hiding an injury, it’s on to an energy draining cybex test, having up to seven or more vials of blood drawn, and then off to more meetings. That coupled with another long evening and they are supposed to be fresh for the biggest audition of their life that also takes place on national TV? Oh, and all performed in some really tight fitting florescent clothes you are forced to wear.
Of course, this is a stressful time for these young men trying to get drafted as high as possible, not embarrass themselves, make great impressions, begin their dream and perform at their very best under duress in a stressful environment. I know there are worse things, but the Combine needs to grow up, mature, get with the times and make some more adjustments that are simply common sense.
For starters, here are some changes that should be made:
Players should be allowed to come a day earlier if they choose. The Combine started an extra day earlier this year. The extra day was meant to allow for more sleep, travel recovery time, more/longer informal interviews, and make for a more civil pace for everyone. But for some reason none of the players felt any more rested than years before. I believe just more things/activities were crammed into that extra day.
Physicals, drawing of blood and even opportunity for interviews should be “AFTER” the players perform all the on-field drills and forty. Essentially, the schedule of the combine should be flipped around. Would this mean all the players who would perform under these more friendly conditions would do better than all those before them? Perhaps, but it’s a new era and now is the time to make these adjustments.
Formal interviews should be increased to 20 minutes from 15. Juniors and QBs should be 30 minutes and the players should have the right to choose which teams they want to meet with in case there is limited time for them. Additionally, all player meetings should cease at 9:00pm. They currently run to 11:00pm. Having the extra day on the front end could help the whole process.
No physicals, scans, X-rays, tests or meetings should start before 9:00am. Players come from all over the country and come from different time zones. Players from Pacific time zones who have to be at the doctor’s for MRI’s at 7:30am are getting up at 3:30am Pacific time and will be up for the remainder of the day (their first full day in Indy).
Each player should have their own room: There are some really funny stories floating around about the roommate situations at the Combine. Players get stuck with roommates who snore, want to sleep with the TV left on, stay up late on the phone and keep the other player awake. The NFL makes good money on the Combine so buck up and give the players their own rooms.
I did run into NFLPA director DeMaurice Smith and player president Eric Winston one day. They were making their rounds and talking to a lot of agents and players and getting a feel for the whole environment and listening to grievances from agents. So don’t be surprised if the Players Association asks for a bigger role in shaping future Combines.
Follow me On Twitter: @Jackbechta
Data from the recently completed NFL Combine is still being gathered. Based on the data that is already available, though, it is possible to take a quick crack at identifying those players who performed well and who belong on our annual Combine all-star team. Inclusion on the all-star team is based strictly on the measurable Combine drills and nothing else.
The evaluation included only a player’s performance in the three most important drills for each playing position (as presented in the recent “Which Combine Drills Are Most Important” article). In some cases, data for a drill (e.g., the 20 yard segment of the 40 yard run) is not available. In such cases, the drills evaluated included the data from the top three drills for which data is available (e.g., for a playing position with no data for a “top three drill” immediately available, the fourth most important drill would be included instead).
The additional qualification is that a player must have participated in at least two of the three drills. Hence the exclusion of CB Byron Jones who did not do any of the running drills but blew the roof off the drills in which he did participate.
The All-Star team follows below. Whether performance in Indianapolis translates to performance on Sundays remains to be answered.
Andrew Gallik – Boston College
Mark Glowinski – West Virginia
Laken Tomlinson, Duke
Jake Fisher, Oregon
Ali Marpet, Hobart
Chris Conley, Georgia
Kenny Bell, Nebraska
Sammie Coates, Auburn
Mycole Pruitt, Southern Illinois
Nick Marshall, Auburn
Small RB (<215 lbs)
Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska
David Johnson, Northern Iowa
Small DE (<270 lbs)
Vic Beasley, Clemson
Mario Edwards, Florida State
David Parry, Stanford
Eric Kendricks, UCLA
Stephone Anthony, Clemson
Bud Dupree, Kentucky
Edmond Robinson, Newberry
Ronald Darby, Florida State
Jalen Collins, Louisiana State
Justin Cox, Mississippi State
Damarious Randall, Arizona State
Follow Tony on Twitter @draftmetrics
Texas landed a high-profile quarterback for its Class of 2016, as Shane Buechele pledged to the Longhorns on Monday night.
The 6-2, 185-pound dual-threat from Lamar High School (Arlington, TX) is the son of former Major League Baseball player Steve Buechele, who is now the bench coach of the Texas Rangers and was a former roommate of John Elway at Stanford.
Charlie Strong and his staff were going after a number of signal-callers in the 2016 class, but Buechele ultimately felt comfortable committing to the in-state ‘Horns. It is a nice “get” for the program, especially since Buechele’s older siblings either attend or attended Oklahoma. But his several visits to the Austin campus obviously paid off.
Buechele is a consensus four-star prospect who is considered one of the better dual-threats in the country. He held offers from programs such as California, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Ole Miss and TCU. He threw for 2,504 yards and 30 touchdowns against just six interceptions while rushing for 609 yards and seven more scores during his junior year. He completed over 68 percent of his passes and is known for his good decision-making.
This past recruiting cycle, Texas brought in Kai Locksley, who is more of a developmental passer. So it was essential that the ‘Horns find a more polished passer for the 2016 class.
Of course, the Longhorns have not been able to find consistency at the position since Colt McCoy graduated in 2010. David Ash suffered a career-ending injury last year, leading to Tyrone Swoopes taking over. Jerrod Heard redshirted last year and will compete with Swoopes this spring.
Texas now has four pledges in the 2016 class.
Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.
LSU is increasingly becoming DBU.
The Tigers landed a pledge from another top defensive back on Tuesday, as Saivion Smith announced that he planned to head to Baton Rouge to further his football career. The Class of 2016 product committed to the Bayou Bengals over offers from major powers such as Clemson, Florida State, Virginia Tech and Florida.
According to the 247Sports Composite ratings, Smith is the No. 1 cornerback in the entire country and the top player in Florida. He had 10 non-offensive touchdowns during his junior season, so his playmaking ability is undeniable.
The 6-1, 185-pounder from IMG Academy (St. Petersburg, FL) is the seventh commitment for the Tigers’ 2016 class. Many recruiting analysts believed that Florida State would be the landing spot for Smith, but he was obviously impressed by his first unofficial visit to LSU’s campus a few days ago.
LSU is also on the trail for other top defensive backs in this class such as in-state cornerback products Kristian Fulton and Andraez Williams, so the rich may keep getting richer.
And with Smith’s pledge, Corey Raymond is showing once again that he is one of the best recruiters in the country.
Now the question remains whether LSU can keep the commitment of the Florida prospect until next year’s National Signing Day.
Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.