NFL Mock Draft 3.0 – All 7 Rounds
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141.) Texans: DT Justin Ellis, Louisiana Tech (6’1, 334) – The Texans lost DT Earl Mitchell in the off-season and are thin at DT. Ellis was a good run-stuffer as a NT in college and flashed some pass rush skill at the Shrine game and again at the Senior Bowl, but hasn’t done it consistently enough to be a sure thing. Ellis has plenty of talent though and is moving up most draft boards. He could provide depth at NT initially and eventually move into the starting role as his technique improves. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ellis goes a round or two earlier than this.
142.) Redskins: CB Chris Davis, Auburn (5’10, 202) – As I mentioned last round, all of the Redskins defensive backs graded negatively last year. They need help. Davis will always be famous for his 109-yard TD return that shocked #1 ranked Alabama and for giving up the winning touchdown in the NCAA championship game, but if he ever wants to be known for anything in the NFL, Davis will need to clean up his technique in coverage. Davis is way too handsy and over aggressive in coverage, but does have elite speed and better strength then you would expect from his small frame. He can run with anybody but is consistently out of position and his aggression can be easily taken advantage of with double moves. Davis’ best chance to stick in the league is as a kick/punt returner and with his explosiveness he could be a great one, but he will have to drastically improve his coverage technique if he is going to see the field on defense.
143.) Buccaneers: WR Kevin Norwood, Alabama (6’2, 198) – After trading Mike Williams, the Bucs need some depth at wide receiver. A late riser this off-season, Norwood was a long shot to get drafted after not being utilized much during his senior year at Alabama (38, 568, 7). Norwood’s route running skills stood out during the Senior Bowl practices and then again in the position drill portion of the combine. He also is a solid blocker and has reliable hands. Norwood earned a spot in the draft and as a 25 year-old rookie should be able to contribute right away.
144.) Jaguars: DE Aaron Lynch, South Florida (6’5, 258): The Jags had one of the worst pass rushes in the league last year. They brought in some free agents to help, but they still need more talent on the edges. Lynch is extremely talented, but might have the worst work ethic in the draft. His stock is plummeting due to attitude concerns and reports from his former teammates calling him selfish, lazy, immature, self-centered, and a handful of other negative adjectives. Lynch looked like a lock for the first round as a freshman at Notre Dame, but looked like a completely different player by his junior year at South Florida. He has lost about 20 pounds since his freshman year and some of his strength with it. Lynch showed glimmers of his old pass rush ability, but was very inconsistent last season and most of the time he looked apathetic. Lynch did turn it on the last few games of the season, but is that enough to convince a team that he’s serious about football? He still has a high ceiling but his odds of getting there are slim.
145.) Browns: DE Ben Gardner, Stanford (6’4, 272) – His senior season was cut short by injury but Gardner was productive when he played with 4.5 sacks, 7.5 TFLs, and 9 QB hurries in just 8 games. He was a surprise snub from the combine, but made up for it at his pro day by posting a 39.5″ vertical leap, 10.2″ broad jump, and a 6.78 3-cone time. Gardner’s results in all three workouts would have been in the top 5 of the defensive lineman at the combine. He’s a bit small for a 3-4 DE, but he should be able to contribute at the position right away on passing downs until he gets strong enough to be a 3-down DE.
146.) Seahawks: CB Walt Aikens, Liberty (6’0, 205) – Made the freshmen all Big 10 team for Illinois before being kicked off the squad due to an arrest for theft. After a couple of weeks of jail time, Aikens ended up at Liberty where he dominated inferior competition. Aikens eased some competition concern at the Senior Bowl where he was one of the better corners in practice. Aikens has the height teams are looking for now, the strength to play press coverage, and the fluidity to play off-man. Aikens wasn’t invited to the combine but ran a 4.46 40-time at his pro day. After proving he has the straight-line speed to play in the league, the biggest concern is the jump from Liberty to the NFL. It may take him some time to adjust, but I think Aikens will end up being a solid NFL corner and he’s a perfect fit for the Seahawks scheme.
147.) Falcons: CB Ross Cockrell, Duke (6’0, 191) – The Falcons could use some depth in their secondary after the release of CB Asante Samuel. Cockrell is underrated because he played at a non-traditional football school, but Duke was a pretty darn good football team last tear. Cockrell is a three-year starter with good speed and solid coverage skills. He’s not a big time play-maker but he has the fluidity to stick with receivers and the height to match up with the taller ones. Cockrell should have value right away as a 3rd or 4th corner in sub packages and could eventually develop into a solid #2 CB.
148.) Vikings: S Ahmad Dixon, Baylor (6’0, 205) – The Vikings could use an upgrade over Jamarca Sanford at strong safety. Dixon’s stock has dropped due to a poor Senior Bowl performance and mediocre combine, but is a good value pick in the mid-rounds. He’s a sure tackler and has the speed and instincts to eventually be solid in coverage. Dixon likes to hit and with a little refinement of both his tackling and coverage techniques, he could be a solid NFL starter at strong safety. In the short-term he should excel on special teams.
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149.) Bills: TE Crockett Gilmore, Colorado St (6’6, 260) – The Bills re-signed Scott Chandler but they could still use some help at the position. Gilmore was the surprise of the Senior Bowl as a late invite. He proved his blocking skill in college, but at the Senior Bowl showed great hands, crisp route-running, and surprising mobility after the catch. He didn’t run as well as expected at the combine (4.89) but showed good explosion with a top 5 vertical leap and broad jump.
150.) Jaguars: G Anthony Steen, Alabama (6’3, 314) – The right side of the Jags O-line was underwhelming last year and Steen would give them a potential upgrade at RG. He was an underrated member of Bama’s dominant O-line who has dropped a bit due to shorter than expected arm length. Steen is a very good run blocker and decent in pass pro, but was beaten occasionally by some of the elite pass rushers in the SEC. He should push for a starting job early in his career and at worst will provide solid interior line depth.
151.) Titans: QB Garrett Gilbert, SMU (6’4, 223) – The Titans declined their 2015 option on Jake Locker, so they may be in the market for a replacement next year. The former 5-star recruit for the Texas Longhorns struggled early in his college career, but graduated in three years and transferred to SMU to work with quarterback guru June Jones. Under Jones, Gilbert resurrected his prospect status. Gilbert was leading the nation in total offense before injuring his knee late in the season. He has ideal size and all the physical traits NFL teams look for in a QB, but hasn’t been productive enough to be on team’s radars until this year. Gilbert also had a solid pro day, completing 87 of 88 passes and showing above average athleticism in the speed and agility drills. He is a late riser, but has as much upside as any mid-round prospect.
152.) Giants: CB Deion Belue, Alabama (5’11, 182) – Good all-around skill set. A little shorter than ideal and doesn’t have great hands, but shows very good footwork and is consistently in good position to make a play on the ball. Belue should be a solid back-up corner in 2014 with starter potential down the road.
153.) Rams: OLB Jordan Zumwalt, UCLA (6’4, 235) – Intense linebacker who was asked to tone it down by Senior Bowl coaches. Zumwalt had a good week of practice at the Senior Bowl, showing better than expected coverage ability, violent pass rush moves, and the aforementioned intensity. He also ran a respectable 4.76 40 at the combine and had a 3-cone time under 7 seconds. The Rams have solid LBs at two of the three positions and Zumwalt would have a shot to beat out the disappointing Jo-Lonn Dunbar at the SLB position. If not, his intensity would play well on special teams and endear him to hard-nosed coach Jeff Fisher.
154.) Jets: DE Ed Stinson, Alabama (6’3, 287) – Good size and athletic ability for a 3-4 DE but his production (41 tackles, 2.5 sacks) never matched up to his talent in college. Stinson could be a rotational DE who plays the run well on early downs and occasionally provides some pressure on the QB.
155.) Dolphins: OLB Jordan Tripp, Montana (6’3, 234) – With Koa Misi moving inside to MLB, the Phins get a replacement at WLB in Tripp. He is a fluid athlete who surprised at the Senior Bowl with good pass rush and coverage skills to go with the solid run stopping skills he showed at Montana. Tripp ran well at the combine with a 4.67 40 and showed great short-area quickness as the only linebacker with a sub-4 second 20-yard shuttle.
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156.) Bears: WR Dri Archer, Kent St (5’8, 173) – Bears replace Devin Hester with the fastest player in college football last year (4.26 40-time!). Archer is the best return man in the draft, but he is more than just a track star; Archer is a well-rounded football player who had 24 rushing touchdowns, 12 receiving touchdowns, and 4 kick return touchdowns in his career at Kent St. He is more Darren Sproles than Devin Hester and would give Marc Trestman a dangerous weapon on offense that he could use on reverses, draws, screens and whatever other craziness he can come up with. Archer is very small at 173 pounds, but he’s not fragile and very strong (20 reps of 225 pounds). He would be a weapon in the return game right away and can eventually contribute on offense. Check out his highlights here, it’s worth it. If you don’t have time for the long version at least check out his runs at 2:39, 4:00, & 4:58.
157.) Steelers: T Michael Schofield, Michigan (6’4, 303) – Schofield stood out in Senior Bowl practices as a guy who can hold his own at either tackle or guard. He didn’t look dominant at either, but versatility like that has plenty of value. If you can fill two back-up spots with one guy that opens up another roster spot for more depth or a developmental player. The Steelers definitely need some O-line depth and Schofield should develop into at least a competent swing tackle if not a starting RT.
158.) Cowboys: CB Victor Hampton, South Carolina (5’9, 197) – The Cowboys continue to add defensive players to try and fix their embarrassing defense from last year. Hampton has some recent legal trouble, but that has never scared the Cowboys away from talent before. His 4.7 40 at the combine might be more of a concern, but Hampton is very strong for a DB and plays with an aggressive style that will be a good fit in Dallas. He won’t get away with muscling receivers like he did at the college level, but he’s athletic enough to adapt. Hampton will need some time and coaching before he can contribute at the NFL level, but he will have value in the right scheme.
159.) Jaguars: WR Mike Davis, Texas (6’0, 197) – The Jags seem to think that Justin Blackmon won’t play in 2014, so they need to add some depth at receiver. Davis was hindered by inconsistent QB play at Texas, but showed off good hands and crisp route-running at the Senior Bowl while being coached by Jags HC Gus Bradley. Davis is more quick than fast, but could be a solid possession receiver for the Jags.
160.) Cardinals: WR Robert Herron, Wyoming (5’9, 193) – Quick, sure-handed slot receiver who can go take a big hit over the middle and hold on to the ball. Herron is undersized, but there is a place for his skill-set in the NFL. The Cardinals need a replacement for slot receiver Andre Roberts and Herron could be a good one.
161.) Packers: C Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma (6’4, 304) – After losing Evan Dietrich-Smith to free agency the Packers will most likely move last year’s 4th round pick, JC Tretter, to center even though he has little experience at the position. If Tretter doesn’t pan out, Ikard should be ready to take over by 2015. He is extremely smart, takes good blocking angles, elite short-area quickness, charismatic, natural leader… Everything is good about this kid except for his lack of functional strength (20 reps). Once he gets stronger I think he’s going to be a starting center in the NFL for a long time.
162.) Eagles: CB Nevin Lawson, Utah St (5’9, 190) – Scrappy corner who has had a good off-season. Lawson was the best corner at the Shrine Bowl which earned him an invite to the Senior Bowl where he practiced well all week and then topped it off with a 4.46 40 at the combine. Despite his small size, Lawson is tough against the run and good in coverage as a slot corner. On talent alone he’d be a mid-rounder pick, but his lack of size could drop him a round or two.
163.) Chiefs: RB Lache Seastrunk, Baylor (5’9, 201) – Seastrunk can fly, but bounces too many runs outside and might not be sturdy enough for a big workload. The Chiefs need a back-up for Jamaal Charles since Knile Davis could be out for a while due to his late season knee injury. Seastrunk is a good receiver out of the backfield and has a similar skill-set to Charles & Davis, but might not be durable enough to be an every down player.
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164.) Bengals: DT George Uko, USC (6’3, 275) – Would have been a much higher pick if he had stayed in school another year, but the Bengals get an explosive DT prospect who can rotate with Geno Atkins to keep him fresh for the long haul. The more I watch Uko, the more I like him. He has a ton of potential.
165.) Chargers: S Dez Southward, Wisconsin (6’0, 211) – The Bolts need an upgrade at the other safety spot across from Eric Weddle. Southward is strong in run support but has poor instincts in coverage. His coverage technique needs plenty of work, but his physical attributes are off the charts. Southward wasn’t allowed to work out at the combine due to a surprise back injury, but he dominated his pro day. Southward ran a 4.31 40, had a 42-inch vertical leap, and looked very impressive in the position drills. He’s a project that needs some work before he can play safety in the NFL, but the athletic potential is there and he has plenty of upside. Southward could be a pro bowl quality gunner on special teams right away.
166.) Colts: G John Urschel, Penn St (6’3, 313) – Lacks ideal athleticism, but is ridiculously smart and plays with nearly flawless technique. He was a team captain in college and is the type of smart, scrappy player that will be around for a long time in the league if he wants to. Worst case, he’ll give Andrew Luck someone to hang out with off the field.
167.) Saints: T/C Wesley Johnson, Vanderbilt (6’5, 297) – Too small to play LT like he did at Vandy, but has great feet and an innate understanding of blocking angles. Johnson could make a good guard or center and has the talent to eventually crack the starting lineup somewhere. The Saints need a replacement inside for Brian de la Puente and depth on their interior line.
168.) Panthers: G/T Charles Leno, Boise St (6’4, 303) – The Panthers O-line is in shambles and they need to find 2 or 3 upgrades for 2014. Leno was a solid left tackle at Boise St, but Leno might be too small to play tackle in the NFL. He projects well as a guard, but has no experience playing the position so it may take Leno some time to get comfortable with the position switch. He has long arms, moves well, and has starter potential at guard.
169.) Eagles: WR Josh Huff, Oregon (5’11, 205) – The Eagles lost DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant this off-season, so they need some depth. Chip Kelly is familiar with Huff from his days at Oregon and they may take him a round or two earlier than this. Huff is a classic slot receiver. He is undersized, but has excellent speed and agility. Huff has also shown both the ball skills to be an effective deep receiver and the toughness to make catches over the middle. Besides his lack of size, the main knock on Huff is a lack of concentration; He dropped plenty of catchable balls and was called for too many dumb penalties. Those are correctable issues and his production as a senior in a running offense (62, 1140, 12) was impressive. Huff can also contribute on special teams as a kick/punt returner and a gunner in coverage.
170.) 49ers: RB/DB Jerick McKinnon, Georgia Southern (5’9, 209) – Might have had the most impressive overall workout at the combine. McKinnon ran the 2nd best 40-time (4.41), put up the most bench reps (32), had the 2nd best vertical leap (40.5), the 2nd best broad jump (132″), the 3rd best 3-cone time (6.83), and the 4th best 20-yard shuttle (4.12) of the running backs. Wow. There is talk of McKinnon showing promise as a defensive back and some team is going to fall in love with his athleticism and draft McKinnon in the mid-to-late rounds. The 49ers lost both of their starting defensive backs in free agency, so they could use some depth at the position and have extra draft picks to take some risks.
171.) Broncos: RB Devonta Freeman, Florida St (5’8, 206) – The Broncos let Knowshon Moreno leave in free agency and they could use some depth behind Montee Ball. Freeman runs low to the ground with good power. He is exceptionally shifty and a smooth receiver out of the backfield (28 catches for 278 yards). Freeman was part of a running back committee at FSU, so his numbers don’t tell the whole story and his legs are fresher than most draft prospects.
172.) Seahawks: TE Marcel Jenson, Fresno St (6’6, 259) – Big target with long arms and good hands. Jenson wasn’t utilized much in Fresno St’s offense, but he has the potential to become a weapon in the passing game. He’s a decent blocker but needs to get stronger to have an impact against NFL defensive ends and linebackers. Good developmental prospect.
173.) Steelers: TE Jake Murphy, Utah (6’4, 254) – Well rounded tight end who can block, run good routes, has soft hands, decent speed (4.79) and is tough to bring down after he catches the ball. He’s Hall of Famer Dale Murphy’s son, but he reminds me more of a poor man’s Heath Miller.
174.) Giants: WR Jeff Janis, Saginaw Valley St (6’3, 219) – After losing Hakeem Nicks to free agency, the Giants need receiver depth. I was down on Janis after his disappointing Senior Bowl, but he had an impressive combine performance. At his size, a 4.42 40-time is excellent. His unofficial 10-yard split of 1.47 was the best of any receiver not named Dri Archer and translates to an elite burst on short routes. The rest of Janis’ workouts were outstanding as well; Janis finished 3rd in the bench press, 3rd in the 3-cone drill, 5th in the 20-yard shuttle, and in the top 7 in vertical leap and broad jump. He’s a good developmental prospect.
175.) Ravens: CB Bennett Jackson, Notre Dame (6’0, 195) – The Ravens have sold starters at corner but could use some young depth. Bennett has good size and ran well at the combine (4.51) but needs to improve his coverage technique. Best suited for a zone coverage scheme right now, but will excel on special teams while developing as a corner. Is an excellent tackler so could possibly be moved to safety if he can’t hack it at CB.
176.) Packers: DE Taylor Hart, Oregon (6’6, 281) – Solid, max-effort player with good size and strength but limited athleticism. Hart was a good run-stopper in college who flashed occasional pass rush ability (11.5 sacks last 2 seasons). Hart should provide depth at the DE position for the Packers and could eventually develop into a solid starter at the 5-technique.