The latest mock draft from ESPN’s Mel Kiper aims to create a perfect draft scenario for all 32 teams. Here’s how he explains it:
I’m not projecting picks based on what I’m hearing around the league. This is me making three full rounds of picks based on what’s best for each team at that slot, so that each team gets an “A” grade.
That’s a nice premise, but there’s a couple problems:
- Yeah, right. He gave a grand total of two “A” grades after the 2017 NFL Draft and three “A-” grades. I don’t believe for a second that there’s some magical reordering of the first-round jigsaw puzzle that is perfect for every team.
- It’s really not much different than his regular mock draft that came out last week. The first six picks — Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Saquon Barkley, Baker Mayfield, Bradley Chubb — were exactly the same.
So which teams actually deserve that “A” in his new projection? And which deserve a hot, piping “F” — a grade that Kiper didn’t give any teams last year?
These teams actually deserve an “A”
Picks: Alabama WR Calvin Ridley (No. 16), Oklahoma TE Mark Andrews (No. 52), Arkansas C Frank Ragnow (No. 83)
The last time the Ravens picked offense with their first three selections was 2007, but this might be a good time to go back to the well. In Kiper’s mock draft, Baltimore lands the top receiver in the class, a receiving tight end, and some offensive line help.
The Ravens had the No. 29 passing offense in 2017 and were No. 19 in yards per rushing attempt. The offense needs work and it’s going to take more than John Brown and Michael Crabtree to fix it. This would be an excellent way to set the team up for success in 2018.
Picks: Iowa CB Josh Jackson (No. 30), Oklahoma OT Orlando Brown (No. 62), Appalachian State G Colby Gossett (No. 94)
Landing cornerback Josh Jackson and offensive tackle Orlando Brown with their first two picks would lock up the title of “best offseason” for the Vikings. The team already landed Kirk Cousins and Sheldon Richardson in free agency, and would address two of its biggest remaining needs with this draft class.
Yes, Jackson was a one-year wonder at Iowa. And yes, Brown was truly awful at the NFL Combine. But using tape from the 2017 season, someone could easily make the case that Jackson is the best cornerback in the 2018 NFL Draft and Brown is the best offensive lineman.
Picks: Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch (No. 23), UCF CB Mike Hughes (No. 31), Pittsburgh OT Brian O’Neill (No. 43), Richmond QB Kyle Lauletta (No. 63), Arizona State RB Kalen Ballage (No. 95)
Having five picks in the top 100 makes it hard to screw up too badly. But by not forcing it at quarterback after the first five are already off the board, the Patriots get quite the coup of talent in this mock draft.
Leighton Vander Esch, Mike Hughes and Brian O’Neill would all have a chance to start right away in 2018, as would third-round selection Kalen Ballage. The only one who wouldn’t is late second-round pick Kyle Lauletta, the player Kiper tabs as Bill Belichick’s new quarterback of the future.
Hmm ... a 6’2 quarterback from the FCS who will have time to learn behind Tom Brady? That sounds familiar.
These teams’ picks weren’t so great
Picks: South Dakota State TE Dallas Goedert (No. 25), Nevada C/G Austin Corbett (No. 57), Colorado State WR Michael Gallup (No. 89)
I’ll let SB Nation’s Titans blog, Music City Miracles, break this one down:
Tennessee could use some help at the inside and outside linebacker positions. Perhaps another wide receiver for Marcus Mariota to work with. But Kiper has been pretty adamant that tight end should be the way to go instead.
Delanie Walker is 33, but still earned a spot in the Pro Bowl in 2017. If his play drops off soon, the Titans also have Jonnu Smith, a third-round pick last year, waiting to take over. Then there’s Phillip Supernaw and Luke Stocker too.
Taking a tight end in the first round when there’s so many other ways to get better would not be the way to earn an “A” this April.
Picks: Wyoming QB Josh Allen (No. 1), Penn State RB Saquon Barkley (No. 4), Michigan DT Maurice Hurst (No. 33), Louisville OT Geron Christian (No. 35), Ohio State DE Sam Hubbard (No. 64)
It makes sense why Kiper thinks the haul of Josh Allen, Saquon Barkley and Maurice Hurst with the first three picks would be fantastic. Like he says “this is my top-ranked quarterback, running back and 3-technique defensive tackle with the Browns’ first three picks.” But taking Allen at No. 1 isn’t going to earn rave reviews from many others
The Wyoming quarterback looks the part at 6’5, 237 pounds with a cannon for an arm, but he’s just ... not good at football.
Maybe Cleveland would help him realize his full potential, but no player is more likely to become a gigantic bust than Allen. He’d be a worthy addition to the Browns jersey of shame.
Picks: Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph (No. 29), USC DE Uchenna Nwosu (No. 61), UCF WR Tre’Quan Smith (No. 93)
Taking a quarterback isn’t a bad idea for the Jaguars, considering Blake Bortles is — ya know — Blake Bortles and the only other option is Cody Kessler. But by taking Rudolph, Jacksonville uses its first-round pick to get the sixth quarterback off the board.
Six quarterbacks in the first round hasn’t happened since 1983 and the Jaguars are passing on the potential of adding immediate contributors like Will Hernandez or Christian Kirk by taking a quarterback.
Then Jacksonville follows that selection by taking Uchenna Nwosu, a defensive end who would join a team that had 55 sacks in 2017 and didn’t lose any pass rushers in the free agency.
Neither selection are bad players, but there are plenty of other ways the Jaguars could approach the draft that would earn them a better grade.