My Mock Draft, and Why I Do It

There are some of you who love football and are looking forward to reading a mock draft. There are some of you who couldn’t care less about football and you read my blog for more personal, philosophical writing.

You’re all in luck.

If all you want is the mock draft, scroll down until you see it. If you want to know why I do a mock draft, there’s a bit of writing at the top here that I hope you enjoy.

Writing an NFL mock draft is an exercise in futility. Nobody ever gets more than a handful of these picks right, mostly because teams are constantly trading positions and picks, and sometimes even trading players right after they’ve drafted them. The only ways to write a mock draft are to either decide that every team is going to draft in the order in which they are currently arranged, or to decide where you think trades might happen that will affect draft order. Doing it the first way is naïve; doing it the second way is a recipe for madness. There are just too many possibilities.

In fact, when writing a mock draft, you go through several emotions. First, there’s excitement, because let’s face it, if you’re writing a mock draft you flippin’ love football. There’s no other reason to do it. There have been no pro games since February, there won’t be any more until September (not counting pre-season, which is simultaneously exciting and boring as pavement, and when someone can explain that to me I’ll be impressed), and we junkies need our fix.

Then, there’s frustration as you face the impossible task of trying to predict what teams will do. Some have so many needs that you can’t narrow it down, some have so few that you can’t narrow down what they might do, and that’s before the whole in-order-or-trade thing pops up.

Then, there’s fear. What if you don’t get done on time? What if you do get done on time and nobody cares at all? What if you get done on time and people care but they think you’re an idiot? What if you’re just wrong wrong wrong all the time? What if you’ve forgotten about an important off-season acquisition or cut that affects the team’s needs? What if the stats you remember aren’t right? You’re not a professional, so you can’t spend the necessary time to polish things… what if you just make yourself look like an idiot?

The fear and frustration tend to be the most prevalent feelings, battling it out for supremacy until you’re finally done, you post the mock draft a day before Round 1 begins, you sit down to watch it unfold on TV, and by the eighth pick you’re reeling with how wrong you were.

So why do a mock draft?

For the same reason that we watch the games in the first place. For the same reason that we circle future dates on the calendar. For the same reason that I periodically check out the website for the hotel that I’ll be staying in during the ComedySportz World Championship in July, even though I know nothing will have changed.

Hope.

The draft is the ultimate symbol of hope in the sports world. And not just “I hope we don’t suck,” but a real feeling of optimism that the future is going to go the way that we want it to go.

Eighteen months ago, my position at work was eliminated. I was offered a different position – one I didn’t want but couldn’t afford not to take. I’m still in it. I hate it. I’m not particularly good at it. Work used to be fulfilling and enjoyable; now, it’s the misery I slog through in order to be the father and husband that I want to be. (And yes, I will complain about it sometimes, but if it weren’t worth it, I wouldn’t do it.) I had no real choice.

Late last year, I tried to get a position of responsibility in another organization that I’m part of. It was given to someone else who is, I will readily admit, more qualified and in virtually every way a better choice. It still hurts a little, though. And I had no real choice.

Very recently, I learned that my church is closing down the service that I have attended for years – the first church service I have ever attended in my life where I truly felt like a participant and not an audience member, the first place I ever really felt “fellowship.” I don’t know where to go from here, because the services that are left work just fine for other people but feel hollow and impenetrable to me. And I have no real choice.

And last year, I watched the team I root for, the Indianapolis Colts, fall to pieces without Peyton Manning under center… and then massacre the roster in the name of budgeting. And I had no choice, real or even pretend.

(Yes, I am focusing on the bad things here. I have not brought up the good things, like getting to ref a match at last year’s ComedySportz World Championship, or vacations I’ve been able to take to Puerto Rico, or of course BECOMING A DADDY TO THE WORLD’S MOST ADORABLE BABY EVER. I know. But there are days where the bad things are all we can think about, right?)

But the draft gives us this promise that things are going to get better. It tells us that we just have to apply our brains and some effort and a little bit of luck, and things will start to go really well for us from here on out. And a mock draft gives us the opportunity to imagine how we would go about capitalizing on that promise if we were in the position of making those decisions. To boil it down to its psychological basis: it lets us pretend that we have the intelligence to make choices that will improve our lives. It lets us feel immune to fate, or randomness, or whatever you want to call it that strips us of our ability to control our destinies.

We often forget that nobody really gets to control their destinies completely. You can only respond to circumstances. Life is improv, and you may not get where you wanted to go, but you can react in ways that get you to the best outcome available.

The mock draft lets us pretend, for a moment, that life is scripted.

 

So, now, onto the script.

Strange/David’s 2012 NFL Mock Draft (Round One only)

The usual caveats: no plan survives first contact with the enemy. All of this is fluid. I’m a fan, not a guru.

1. Indianapolis Colts
Should they trade?
No.
Who should they pick?
QB Andrew Luck, widely regarded as the most NFL-ready quarterback since Elway.
Who will they pick?
QB Andrew Luck. They’ve already confirmed this.

 

2. Washington Redskins (from St. Louis)
Should they trade?
No, that’s how they got here in the first place.
Who should they pick?
QB Robert Griffin III.
Who will they pick?
QB Robert Griffin III. Thus ends the slam-dunk portion of the mock draft.

 

3. Minnesota Vikings
Should they trade?
No. There are rumors that they want to, but the only teams I can imagine paying enough to make it worthwhile would drop the Vikings too low into the round to get a quality player.
Who should they pick?
OT Matt Kalil. The Vikings need to be able to protect their quarterback. Hopefully they get a real one within the next couple of years.
Who will they pick?
OT Matt Kalil. The other “spotlight” players don’t fill a need the way Kalil does.

 

4. Cleveland Browns
Should they trade?
Yes, if they can get one. Ideally, they would trade with the Carolina Panthers at 9; Carolina might be interested in “stealing” CB Morris Claiborne from the Bucs. Then the Browns could trade back up to 7 from the Jags if they wanted QB Tannehill, although I think that would be a mistake.
Who should they pick?
WR Justin Blackmon. I know everybody is nuts about RB Trent Richardson, saying he’s the next Adrian Peterson, but let’s face it – this is a passing league. Running backs are great, but think about the top several rushers from recent years: Frank Gore, Steven Jackson, Ray Rice, Chris Johnson, Michael Turner, Jonathan Stewart, Maurice Jones-Drew, Arian Foster, Matt Forte, Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles… guess what they all have in common? No Super Bowl appearances. Running backs break down and are tremendously overvalued. I’ll concur that you need a good one, but you need the rest of your team to be good first. A good wide receiver, though, is just what Colt McCoy needs to help move the Browns to the next level.
Who will they pick?
RB Trent Richardson. Because the NFL can’t seem to grasp the idea that you shouldn’t draft a running back anywhere near this high. This isn’t fantasy football.

 

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Should they trade?
No.
Who should they pick?
CB Morris Claiborne. The Bucs have Aqib Talib, but he’s a suspension magnet; Ronde Barber, who is probably too old to be playing anymore; and Eric Wright, who pretty much sucks.
Who will they pick?
CB Morris Claiborne. In a division with Drew Brees (assuming he shows up), Cam Newton, and Matt Ryan, the Bucs desperately need a playmaker in the secondary.

 

6. St. Louis Rams (from Washington)
Should they trade?
No.
Who should they pick?
WR Justin Blackmon. Bradford needs a star here.
Who will they pick?
OT Riley Reiff. I don’t have a huge problem with this, as Bradford also needs protection. I just think that Blackmon would have more impact than Reiff. Reiff just isn’t the greatest pass blocker, but I’m guessing Coach Fisher wants a good solid run game.

 

7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Should they trade?
Sure, if they can get anyone to move up.
Who should they pick?
Either WR Justin Blackmon (noticing a theme here?) or DE Melvin Ingram. The Jags have trouble keeping their DE’s healthy, and Ingram would be a great pickup for them.
Who will they pick?
WR Justin Blackmon. Guess how many yards the Jags’ leading receiver had last season. Just guess. If you said 415, you’re either a really sad Jags fan or you’re cheating. Yo Gabbert Gabbert may not be a great quarterback, but if they’re really sold on him they’re going to get him someone to pass to.

 

8. Miami Dolphins
Should they trade?
No.
Who should they pick?
DE Melvin Ingram or DE Quinton Coples. Either one would be a good choice for a team that is shifting to a 4-3, as both have the flexibility to play DE or DT. Some of you are wondering why I don’t have that Miami “should” draft QB Ryan Tannehill. It’s because I think Tannehill is an illusion. He’s not worth a top-15 pick, although he won’t make it past 12.
Who will they pick?
QB Ryan Tannehill. Oh, Miami. He’s not terrible, but he’s not your savior.

 

9. Carolina Panthers
Should they trade?
If I were them, I’d trade up to 4 to take CB Morris Claiborne before Tampa Bay did. I doubt they will, though.
Who should they pick?
DT Fletcher Cox. DT Dontari Poe got all the attention at the Combine because of phenomenal drills, but I believe Poe is a workout warrior. His college numbers don’t live up to the hype. He’s massive and fast, but that doesn’t always translate into successful. Cox, on the other hand, is slightly undersized when compared to Poe (although he’s almost exactly 300 pounds, so it’s not like he’s a lightweight), and he benched only 30 times compared to Poe’s 44, but look at his numbers and his college opponents, and then pay attention to his versatility. Cox should be the pick here.
Who will they pick?
DT Dontari Poe. (sigh)

 

10. Buffalo Bills
Should they trade?
If anyone in the 13-17 range wants to move up, trade this like a duplicate Pokemon card. That team would almost certainly be after Tannehill, and players Buffalo could use would still be there.
Who should they pick?
ILB Luke Kuechly. An all-around phenomenal player. He’s the sort you plug in to a scheme and then not worry about replacing him for years. (Which almost certainly means that he’ll get hurt, but…) Buffalo is remaking itself as a defensive beast. Kuechly would make them instantly beastier.
Who will they pick?
ILB Luke Kuechly. They’ll waffle and waiver and consider WR Michael Floyd, but ultimately they’ll recognize that Kuechly is worth a top-10 pick.

 

11. Kansas City Chiefs
Should they trade?
No.
Who should they pick?
Well, if I didn’t have Carolina picking up DT Poe, I’d say Kansas City should pick him up. Here’s where I think Poe is potentially useful as a 3-4 Nose Tackle – he’s 346 pounds of angry and would command double-teams. Cox wouldn’t be able to do that. But since Poe’s gone, I’ll say OG David DeCastro; the whole O-Line is in flux and needs a good anchor. DeCastro is that anchor.
Who will they pick?
OG David DeCastro. I have a lot of teams doing what I think is the smart thing. That alone suggests to me that I’m wrong.

 

12. Seattle Seahawks
Should they trade?
No.
Who should they pick?
DE Melvin Ingram. Right now, Seattle doesn’t have anyone consistently able to get to the QB. Mark Ingram is primed to be a stud 4-3 DE or 3-4 OLB. Pete Carroll was kind of hoping for Tannehill to fall to him (despite paying a small fortune for Matt Flynn), but he’d be wise to take Ingram even if Tannehill is available.
Who will they pick?
DE Melvin Ingram. OK, really, I have so many bad teams making good choices. Something’s definitely off here.

 

13. Arizona Cardinals
Should they trade?
Probably, but nobody’s angling for this spot, I don’t think.
Who should they pick?
WR Michael Floyd. Really, the Cards will be overspending for just about any need position here at 13; the elite players are pretty well gone. Floyd would be a good solid choice – someone to draw heat away from Fitzgerald, at the very least, and he has great hands and rarely drops a pass.
Who will they pick?
OT Jonathan Martin. I think they’ll be really reaching for this, but they do need to get a right tackle to keep Kevin Kolb healthy. I personally think he’s more of a run blocker than a pass blocker, but he managed to keep Andrew Luck fairly clean.

 

14. Dallas Cowboys
Should they trade?
See 13. Arizona Cardinals.
Who should they pick?
DT Fletcher Cox. If he’s still on the board, as I have him, the Cowboys should absolutely grab him here. In my opinion, he’s probably the best player left on the board, and the Cowboys have enough needs that they can pick and choose.
Who will they pick?
Seems like everybody and his brother is giving the Cowboys SS Mark Barron. I’m not going to, and here’s why: Barron has injury issues (think Breakable Bob Sanders) and some off-field issues as well. I think the character gamble will be unattractive to Jerry Jones when compared to their pick: DT Fletcher Cox.

 

15. Philadelphia Eagles
Should they trade?
Yes – up to get DT Fletcher Cox, or down to get OLB Zach Brown.
Who should they pick?
Either OLB Zach Brown or DT Michael Brockers. These are both positions of need, and they are both over-drafting these players. Brockers was disappointing at the combine, but should still develop into a solid tackle; Brown is a very good pick, but he could be taken later in the round if the Eagles could just trade down.
Who will they pick?
Assuming they’re still stuck here? OLB Zach Brown. Incredible speed and good instincts will overshadow some character concerns.

 

16. New York Jets
Should they trade?
No.
Who should they pick?
OLB Whitney Mercilus. This guy is a terror when rushing the quarterback, and a perfect fit for the 3-4 defense the Jets like to play. (I’m not quite as sold on Courtney Upshaw, who ranks higher in a lot of lists. I am, however, entertained that two of the meanest baddest monsters in the draft are named Whitney and Courtney.)
Who will they pick?
SS Mark Barron. Rex Ryan isn’t scared of off-field issues, he doesn’t mind breaking his players, and the Jets desperately need a safety. I give it nine games before he gets hurt.

 

17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland)
Should they trade?
No.
Who should they pick?
OG Cordy Glenn. The Bengals need a stronger O-Line to keep Dalton clean and passing to Green. Glenn could play at guard or tackle in the NFL.
Who will they pick?
In a rare moment of clarity, OG Cordy Glenn.

 

18. San Diego Chargers
Should they trade?
Yes. They need OG Cordy Glenn worse than the Bengals do. Trade up.
Who should they pick?
OLB Whitney Mercilus. He’s still there, guys. And he’s still mean and nasty and talented.
Who will they pick?
RB David Wilson. I’ll admit, the Chargers need a better run game, and Wilson will help that, but I can’t help but feel that they could have gotten Wilson cheaper, or a near-equivalent in the second round.

 

19. Chicago Bears
Should they trade?
No.
Who should they pick?
DE Quinton Coples. Can you imagine Peppers and Coples together? It would be like a Freeney-Mathis combination, back in the good old days when the Colts ran a 4-3 or a Tampa 2 (see: the last several years in Indianapolis).
Who will they pick?
DE Quinton Coples. Bears angry. Bears smash Rodgers. Grrrr.

 

20. Tennessee Titans
Should they trade?
No.
Who should they pick?
They desperately, desperately need a good center and at least one guard, but I think Tennessee believes they can pick them up later in the draft. Otherwise, I’d say they needed to trade down. Assuming they’re here, they should pick up CB Janoris Jenkins. This is assuming they think that he’ll stop his off-the-field nonsense.
Who will they pick?
CB Dre Kirkpatrick. Of course, he’s been arrested too, but the charges were dropped. My hesitation with Kirkpatrick is that his numbers don’t reflect any time playing against elite wideouts. Still, he’s fast and tall and probably will do just fine.

 

21. Cincinnati Bengals
Should they trade?
No.
Who should they pick?
WR Michael Floyd. If Floyd manages to slip this far in the round, the Bengals have got to take him. A Dalton-Green-Floyd combo would make even the Steelers and Ravens’ D think twice.
Who will they pick?
WR Michael Floyd. Yes, I’m assuming the Bengals are going to make a push to grab some rare talent this season.

 

22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta)
Should they trade?
Yes. If they can move up a couple spots to pick off Floyd without giving away too much, they should do it. Otherwise, no.
Who should they pick?
Oddly, the Browns are in a tough spot because there are so many options left on the board that they need. Either DE Courtney Upshaw or DE Whitney Mercilus are still here, but they probably won’t be when the Browns pick again in Round 2. The same is true of WR Stephen Hill and WR Kendall Wright. I think their best bet would be to take WR Stephen Hill. A number of boards I’ve seen has Wright ranked higher, but look at the numbers. Hill is six inches taller, runs a quarter second faster even though Wright is considered to be “blazing fast,” jumps an inch higher. Hill has more pure athleticism (broad jump, for example) and runs better routes. He fits in the mold of former Georgia Tech wideouts Demaryius Thomas and Calvin Johnson, although he needs a little more polish. The Browns should take a shot at getting a franchise wide receiver.
Who will they pick?
DE Whitney Mercilus. A safer pick, perhaps, and a good player. I won’t blame them.

 

23. Detroit Lions
Should they trade?
No.
Who should they pick?
I’ve seen a number of projections for OT Mike Adams here, but I don’t buy it. Adams really hurt himself this past year. A five-game suspension, a poor showing at the Senior Bowl, and only 19 bench press reps at the Combine (not many more at his own Pro Day). He doesn’t prepare. I don’t see Jim Schwarz tolerating that. Instead, they should address their other glaring need by taking CB Janoris Jenkins.
Who will they pick?
CB Janoris Jenkins.

 

24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Should they trade?
No.
Who should they pick?
ILB Dont’a Hightower. Smart, fast, capable of great physicality. Perfect for the Steelers’ aging roster.
Who will they pick?
ILB Dont’a Hightower. I’m struggling to imagine why they wouldn’t take him if he’s here.

 

25. Denver Broncos
Should they trade?
No.
Who should they pick?
For a team that won a playoff game, the Broncos sure have a lot of problems. First and foremost, they desperately need a defensive tackle. The best remaining on the board is DT Devon Still (I’m not sold on Michael Brockers, whose great numbers are only from one year and whose Combine was underwhelming).
Who will they pick?
DT Devon Still. They really have to fill this position.

 

26. Houston Texans
Should they trade?
No.
Who should they pick?
WR Stephen Hill. He’ll draw attention away from Andre Johnson, or replace him if he gets injured again.
Who will they pick?
WR Stephen Hill. Unless they go with WR Kendall Wright, but I really think they’ll take Hill.

 

27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans)
Should they trade?
Not unless they can trade down, which Belichick loves to do.
Who should they pick?
DE Kendall Reyes. As I mentioned before, I’m really not sold on DE Michael Brockers, and the Pats need a good pass rusher like Reyes.
Who will they pick?
DE Michael Brockers, I’m guessing, because I’m never right about the Pats. I won’t be surprised if they pick a different position entirely, like CB, or goalie or something.

 

28. Green Bay Packers
Should they trade?
Yes, down to early second round if they can.
Who should they pick?
DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw is still available, and would be a great fit for their 3-4 scheme. Pair him with Clay Matthews and watch the other teams tremble.
Who will they pick?
With RB David Wilson gone, the Pack may turn to SS Harrison Smith to shore up their secondary. Smith may be a little bit of a reach, and there’s no guarantee he’ll pan out, but a number of experts think he’d be a steal.

 

29. Baltimore Ravens
Should they trade?
No, unless they can drop down just a few.
Who should they pick?
C Peter Konz. The Ravens need to get a good young center to anchor the line now.
Who will they pick?
C Peter Konz. This is another one of those picks where I’m struggling to see it going another way if Konz is available – which he should be.

 

30. San Francisco 49ers
Should they trade?
No.
Who should they pick?
OG Kevin Zeitler. The Niners need better protection for Alex Smith if they want the new WR acquisitions to have a chance of working.
Who will they pick?
OG Kevin Zeitler. Sorry, all you who want TE Coby Fleener  to reunite with Jim Harbaugh. They just don’t need him at the moment.

 

31. New England Patriots
Should they trade?
Yes. Trade down, which Belichick loves to do.
Who should they pick?
CB Stephon Gilmore. He may be a little inconsistent, but last season the depth chart was so ravaged that backup offensive players were playing corner.
Who will they pick?
CB Stephon Gilmore. Of course, if this remains the Pats’ second pick of the first round and they’re not able to trade down, don’t put it past Belichick to take a flyer on some raw talent nobody expected to see above Round 3.

 

32. New York Giants
Should they trade?
No.
Who should they pick?
TE Coby Fleener. You can’t have too many weapons for Eli Manning, and Fleener plays smart and fast.
Who will they pick?
Risky selection OT Mike Adams. If he just needs discipline, Coughlin will make him or break him. Unless he goes a different route and has himself a Plaxident.

 

 

Tune in tomorrow evening (tonight by this point) to find out how wrong I am on a scale of Nostradamus to Nostradumbass.

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