There are a plethora of Mock Drafts scattered throughout the internet, but not one of them receives more attention and scrutiny than ESPN’s Mel Kiper. He has been a staple amongst the scouting/draft community, and some hold his word as gospel. Today, he released his latest version, and we have the pleasure of analyzing it. There are a few surprises amongst the top 32 picks, so lets dive right in.
#6 Cleveland Browns – Wisconsin DE, *J.J. Watt
- The biggest surprise of Kiper’s mock draft is J.J. Watt cracking the top 10. I love Watt’s skills, measureables, and work ethic. He’s a blue collar kid that can rush the passer and hold the point of attack. Frankly, I think he is better suited for the 5-technique position in the 3-4. With his size and strength, he is the perfect candidate to anchor that position. To my knowledge, the Browns will be switching back to the 4-3 this upcoming season. I think #6 is a little too high for Watt. With explosive 4-3 pass rushers like, Robert Quinn and Aldon Smith still on the board, I can’t see the Browns steering this way.
#11 Houston Texans – Alabama WR, *Julio Jones
- This pick really caught my eye as strange. The Texans could use another playmaker opposite of Andre Johnson, but is that a pressing need? With the addition of Defensive Coordinator, Wade Phillips, and the switch in defensive philosophy (3-4), it is hard for me to bite the Julio Jones bullet. Switching from a 4-3 to the 3-4 requires a lot and creates a lot of holes. The Texans need to find players that can play nose tackle, 5-technique defensive end, and pass rushing outside linebacker. Julio Jones is a luxury pick. The Texans can’t afford that type of luxury this year. They must find players that fit their new scheme, not to mention, find players to help their feeble secondary.
#26 Baltimore Ravens – Texas CB, *Aaron Williams
- Not many draft analyst have Texas cornerback, Aaron Williams over Miami cornerback, Brandon Harris, but Kiper does. Yet another shocker for me. I like both Williams and Harris, but at this point, I like Harris more. He doesn’t have the size of Williams, but he has that competitiveness and fight you want in a cornerback. He sells out his body, in order to compete for balls. I love that about this kid. He has that want-to and fight. Really reminds me of Chiefs cornerback, Brandon Flowers, in that regard. Aaron Williams will be a fine cornerback, but I view him as a high 2nd round pick, not a first round pick.
#29 Chicago Bears – Villanova OT, Benjamin Ijalana
- I won’t say I disagree with this pick. Benjamin Ijalana is shooting up draft boards right now. He is a solid tackle that should be able to come in right away make an immediate impact at tackle or guard. What is surprising is, the fact that Kiper chose Ijalana over Mississippi State offensive tackle, Derek Sherrod. Right now, Sherrod is lumped into the category of first round offensive tackles, Ijalana into the second round. Both are fringe players in my opinion. The Bears could go either way with this pick. I just found this pick really interesting.
Notable players missing from the 1st Round:
- Washington QB, Jake Locker
- Arkansas QB, Ryan Mallett
- Baylor DT, Phil Taylor
- Oregon State DT, Stephen Paea
- Mississippi State OT, Derek Sherrod
- Miami CB, *Brandon Harris
If you have ESPN Insider, head on over and check out the rest of Mel Kiper’s Mock Draft. Let us know what you think about his picks.