This is likely my final mock of this season. Enjoy.
Unusually for me, I'm not predicting a trade back in the first.
Round 1: Gareon Conley - CB - Ohio State - 6'0 195lbs - Premier press-man cover corner. Ran a 4.44-second 40-yard dash and a blazing fast 6.68 three-cone at the combine, and that quickness shows up in his coverage. He stays right in receivers’ hip pockets down the field, with enough speed to turn and run up the sideline. Shades receivers with a basketball stance - wide base, bent knees and wide arms. Has outstanding feet to match the receiver.Creates challenging throwing lanes to target. Allowed just 37 percent completion rate whilst playing talented teams. Shows discipline and technique on verticals and curls. Very disciplined with his hands down the field, won't be called for a lot of PIs in the bigs. Needs to play bigger and with more tenacity in the run support game. Has the size to improve, just needs to play to his size. Working with Vontae will do wonders for his run support game. He is an immediate starter at CB#2.
Round 2: Sidney Jones - CB - Washington - 6'0 186lbs - Jones has every attribute to be a top 15 pick, apart from 2 fully intact Achilles tendons. His Achilles surgery apparently was a roaring success and the full story behind the injury itself was that the tear was clean and much higher than Robert Mathis' injury a few years back. I'm no surgeon, but apparently the higher the tear, the easier it is to fix and rehab. A lot reports are saying he may well be able to play this season at some point. Although still having Vontae (hopefully healthy) and drafting Conley doesn't make it imperative for him to be ready week 1, which could be a perfect situation for him. Jones is a high level man-to-man corner and was his own island in the Washington defense, giving receivers fits all season long. Watching his film, Jones is locked in, and has laser focus, following the quarterback’s eyes in pass coverage. Whilst he is not tackle shy by any means, he will need to bulk up and continue to add some muscle to his current frame and work on his tackling technique. Once healthy, he fights for playing time this year on what could be a crowded group of CBs. But next year, him and Conley fight it out for CB#1 if we decide to move on from Vontae.
Drafting both Conley and Jones allows us to have the flexibility to move on from Vontae after next season without too much drop off in talent. It also changes the pass defense from what has been a weakness of the defense to a big strength. Losing Vontae means losing a big contract and may well gain us a reasonable compensation pick in the next year's draft if he gets picked up by a CB needy team with a big war chest.
Round 3: Alex Anzalone - ILB - Florida - 6'3 240lbs - In my opinion this guy should be a top 60 pick. Yes he has had 2 season ending injuries, but 2 different season ending injuries that should not trouble him much in the future. He had a shoulder injury in the 2015/16 season that kept him out most of the year. In 2016 he broke his arm which kept him out of football for some time. Concerns over durability are fair, but I think they need to be tempered in the eyes of a shoulder injury that hasn't troubled him since the 15/16 season and a broken arm that is an occupational hazard for an aggressive ILB such as Anzalone. As a player, Anzalone is a prototypical MIKE ILB for our scheme. Big, fast and high motor. His technique needs some work when it comes to disengaging but all the tools are there to improve at every level. He is an aggressive downhill run defender and loves nothing more than taking on a FB or pulling Guard in the hole. Surprisingly for a guy his size, he has also shown some good coverage skills against RBs out of the backfield. He impressed a lot of people at the Senior Bowl practices with his tenacity and athleticism. He has the talent to become a solid three-down starter in the league and should start at MIKE over his former teammate Antonio Morrison. Some may argue that this too early for him, although I think a lot of NFL execs would disagree with those people.
Round 4: Deatrich Wise - DE - Arkansas - 6'5 274lbs - I'll admit, I was a little stuck on who to take here. I wanted a rusher but couldn't find one I liked that had a good shot at being around. I decided on Wise due to our need to inject more youth and talent into our front 7. Wise would likely be a rotational DE in our 4 man front packages or even as a 3rd down 5-tech. He has the frame to handle another 10-15lbs so that gives him the scope to shoot for about 290lbs after a good offseason in the gym and cafeteria. He is a pure power player with rare arm length that allows him to keep his body clean against smaller Olinemen. He has terrific power in his punch that jars linemen at first contact. Uses brute force to set a strong edge as a run defender. Quick getting hands into the passing lane when his rush stalls. Deflected six passes over last two seasons. At this point he's a tweener you slot in on an ad-hoc basis when you need a bit more power on the edge of the line. But at some point in the near future, he could be a solid contributor once you get an idea of what his strengths are going to be in the bigs.
Round 4: Anthony Walker Jr. - ILB - Northwestern - 6'1 238lbs - A player that has tumbled down draft boards more recently. Made his name at Northwestern as an explosively athletic ILB that was an asset against the pass and the run. He'd fit for us as a WILL ILB. The reason he has tumbled is due to him adding about 15lbs of good muscle for his final year. In that year he looked visibly slower and less explosive. He still put up 100 tackles but wasn't able to utilise those explosive athletics that were the bread and butter of his playing style in previous years. He came into the combine at 238lbs, lighter than his final year of college, although I'd like to see him closer to 230lbs (the weight he played at before packing on the muscle). He has shown an impressive ability to cover backs out of the backfield, and in the 2015 season opener, he was running stride for stride with Christian McCaffrey on routes out of the backfield. Walker has the ability to cover in man, but really is excellent in zone coverage where he can use his superb instincts to disrupt passing lanes underneath. Against the run, he is tremendous when he goes unblocked. He is very fast to fire into the hole, bolt into the backfield, or get to the perimeter. Agile in the open field and absolutely explodes in pursuit. Character wise, he's a smart player with excellent work ethic. Also considered a great teammate and leader. I'd love to add him to the group of ILBs we have now. Competition breeds greatness, and that is a situation where a player with his work ethic could thrive.
Round 4: James Conner - RB - Pittsburgh - 6'1 233lbs - An absolute load to take down. Always falls forward and rarely goes down on first contact. Has good vision and excels at finding cutback lanes and getting upfield. Doesn’t dance, always runs downhill decisively and accelerates to his 2nd gear quickly. Utilizes a punishing stiff arm to break tackles on the edge. Possesses great feet for a big guy and runs with great balance. Always able to take a hit and then press on for extra yards. Known widely as an only average athlete, although he only ran 0.03 ticks slower than Kareem Hunt in the 40 yard dash at the combine whilst posting 20 reps on the bench. Team captain known for incredible resilience and mental toughness, reminds me a lot of Tim Riggins from Friday Night Lights for some reason. Leaned down and added more muscle mass this season. Arm tackles are a waste of time. Carries heavy momentum behind pads at finish. Drops shoulder to punish final tackler. Tore his MCL in the 2015 season and was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma during the rehab process. Returned cancer free for the 2016 season. He is not your every down RB of the future. At this point he can take some of the load off of Gore who still has juice in him but I'd prefer to decrease his load somewhat in what could well be his last year. In the future he would act as your thunder back in your rotation. His lack of ideal long speed drop him here.
Round 5: Eddie Vanderdoes - DT/DE - UCLA - 6'3 303lbs - Hugely talented but derailed by an ACL injury in the 2015 season. Didn't regain his form in 2016, but if he does regain his form with NFL level coaching & strength and conditioning training then he could be a steal. His body type belies his surprising athleticism. Solid functional lateral movement and change of direction. Able to spin out of blocks with quick feet. Gives good chase along backside. Booming power in his hands to tilt rep in his favour after initial punch. Explodes hips into contact to dislodge blockers. Has strength and ability to play nose tackle or three-technique. All of this is entirely dependant on whether he can regain his earlier form. At this point he is a low risk high reward pick.
QB - A Luck, S Tolzein
RB - F Gore, J Conner, R Turbin, UDFA
WR - T Hilton, D Moncrief, P Dorsett, C Rogers, T Smith,
TE - J Doyle, E Swoope, B Williams, M Alie-Cox
OT - A Castonzo, L Clark,
OG - J Mewhort, D Good, J Haeg
C - R Kelly, B Schwenke, A Blythe
NT - J Hankins, A Woods, D Parry
DT - K Langford, E Vanderdoes, T McGill, H Ridgeway
DE - H Anderson, D Wise, M Hunt
SAM - J Simon, C Maggitt
RUSH - J Sheard, B Mingo
MIKE - A Anzalone, A Morrison, J Bostic
WIL - A Walker Jr, S Spence, E Jackson,
CB - V Davis, G Conley, S Jones, R Melvin, UDFA
FS - D Butler, M Farley
SS - C Geathers, TJ Green
K - A Vinatieri
P - J Locke
LS - M Overton