This should be fun. If nothing else, it'll stir up some good conversation. Every Wednesday from today until the day before the draft I'll be doing a "Fan Speak" Mock draft simulator. I got the idea from my good friend Seth Cox from Revenge of the Birds. This obviously isn't exactly where guys will go but this is gives you somewhat of a general idea of where guys will go. It's also a good exercise to give us new names and new players to watch.
Here's how it'll work; I'll show screenshots of the players previously taken and my logic into how I came to selecting the player I did. Before you jump on me you'll want to understand my draft strategy. If I were the general manager, I'm drafting for need and best player. I'm also a big Vegas gambler, so if I think I player with similar talent at a position that I'm thinking about will be there a round later I'm going to roll the dice and hope he falls. Some gambles work out, others don't.
Let's do this.
Round 1, pick 3, Deforest Buckner, Oregon, DL
I've already wrote about Buckner in depth and he was one of the 10 highest grades I've given out over the last 3 years. I'm a fan. If you haven't had a chance to watch it, I also did an RSP Film Room Session with the professor himself, Matt Waldman. In that video we really go into Buckner has a pass rusher and how he's more advanced than he's being credited with live examples. It was fun. Here were the top 10 picks.
This is actually quite scary on how accurate it could be. I've told you Ramsey is the best player in the draft. True stories. There's also another player at his same position who I don't feel like the drop off would be too significant and I can get him a round, maybe 2, later. So I'm building from the inside out in this scenario. I'm immediately improving the teams run defense. Buckner can chase down plays from the opposite side of the formation and stop end any run threats coming his way. I'm also finally taking pressure off of Corey Liuget and the endless double teams he'll face. I'm pushing all my chips into the middle that Buckner is going to be a stud at the next level with this pick.
Round 2, pick 35, Cody Whitehair, Center, Kansas State
This was tough. I had 2 receivers that I absolutely love still on the board. The ultimate wildcard was staring me in the face in Robert Nkemdiche and a dominant run defender like Jon Bullard. I'd have no problem doubling down on defensive lineman. Ohio States offensive tackle Taylor Decker was gone so it really came down to the defensive tackles, Alabama's Ryan Kelly, and Whtiehair. Whitehair played tackle in college, but during the all star circuit and the post season he's been getting reps at guard and center. Here are the picks.
I'm not fully finished on Whitehair, but the fact he can play every position considering the amount of injuries the offensive line has suffered in recent years is appetizing. Him being good at football also helps. From what I do have on Whitehair he can climb to the 2nd level and looks good in space. He doesn't panic or look overwhelmed in pass protection. He's kicking inside due to the length of his arms but where Whitehair differs from recent interior offensive lineman is that once he locks on, it's a wrap. You're not going anywhere. Position flexibility, ability to work to the 2nd level, and imagining him and Fluker do work on inside zone runs make this an easier pick than I'm leading on.
Round 3, pick 66, Karl Joseph, Safety, West Virginia
This is me on the ground doing snow angels as confetti is coming down from the sky. This is me in college doing beer bongs after celebrating my favorite team scored. This is me at the casino putting $200 on red and odd and winning. If you couldn't tell, I like Joseph, a lot. Here are the picks.
I have Joseph as the 9th best player in the draft. He's also my favorite player in the draft. He's reckless at times. But if he's also an enforcer and a playmaker. He missed some tackles last year, and that was improving this year before his injury forced him to miss the rest of the season.
Karl Joseph: love his aggression in the run game & how fast he closes. ++ range & best man cover S I've seen. Baller pic.twitter.com/83gQ5QXqVc— KP (@KP_Show) January 15, 2016
Drafting a rangy athlete like him is the perfect compliment to a player like Dwight Lowery, who is better the closer to the line of scrimmage he is. He played 4 games this year and had 5 interceptions. In 2014 he had 90 tackles and forced 3 fumbles. He can lay the wood. That's his reputation, but the most underrated part about him is his skills in man coverage. He's the best man cover safety that I've watched. This would be the Keenan Allen of 3rd round picks.
Round 4, pick 103, Tyler Higbee, Tight end, Western Kentucky
We are at the point of the draft where I'm just looking for contributors that might be able to develop. Antonio Gates is on his farewell tour and there's no other tight end of note on the roster. Higbee is 6'6, 249 pounds and can really run. The thing about him I like the most is how easy he makes catching the ball look. Whether it's high, low, behind him, he catches it and holds on.
Higbee has trouble working through the trash over the middle, and can get rerouted at times. He's also an iffy blocker. I'm fine with that. Spread him out and let him run isolation routes. He has the speed to outrun safeties across the middle can be a great red zone target.
Round 5, pick 176, Javon Hargrave, defensive tackle, South Carolina State
I don't expect you to know many of the names from here on out. Hell, I don't even know most of these names. But I do know Hargrave. I can tell you he will bring some serious power and explosiveness to the Chargers.
Hargrave's athleticism, wow. Has several plays where he shows he can bend or change direction. Impressive for 300lbs pic.twitter.com/0kdlIHJQm0— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) March 10, 2016
For a small school guy it's important for them to dominant the competition. That's exactly what Hargrave did. He got the call up to the East West shrine game and did continued to show well there. He's not a refined prospect. There are times where he doesn't look like he knows what he's doing. But I'm in the 5th round and I'm getting more beef and athleticism up front. Yes please.
Round 6, pick 180, Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia, WR
Lose one, Malcom, draft another. This version is 6'1, 195 pounds, a little on the older side as he'll be 24 as a rookie. He did run a 4.45 40 yard dash with a 36" vertical. He's not all athleticism, however. He's a good route runner and was open quite often when I watched. He's really good at adjusting to the ball in the air as well He would come in and push for the number 4 receiver and likely replace Stevie Johnson in a year.
Round 6, pick 199, Antonio Morrison, Florida, ILB
I think he's crazy. Literally. He just didn't show up for the combine. Nobody knew where he was. In 2013 he was arrested for "barking at a police dog." When asked why Morrison said, "The dog was barking at me." I'm not kidding you when I say that this dude is a nut. If you have any friends that are Gators fans have them tell you a story about Morrison. As for on the field, he plays like he is off the field, nuts.
Not going to make the same mistake this year. UF Antonio Morrison has some MT's but plays with his hair in fire pic.twitter.com/DXDxJwmMCy— KP (@KP_Show) March 1, 2016
He does miss tackles but again, he also makes his fair share of plays. He could be a special teamer year 1 and replace Manti Te'o when his contract expires next year. He'll fall because of said issues but as a linebacker, he can play.
Round 7, pick , Alex McCalister, Florida, Edge rusher
No expectations here. If he develops into anything more than a great special teamer, great. Florida had some "dogs" on that defense and I want them on my team. McCalister is 6'6, 239 pounds with 36" arms. He had a slow 40 at 4.80, but his broad jump, 3 cone, and short shuttle were all in the 85th percentile or better at his position. I'm not going to pretend like he's this fantastic football player. He just makes the team more athletic and gives them depth off the edge. He did have 6.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss. He jumped out a few times watching the other Gators prospects off hand.