ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has been synonymous with the NFL Draft since it became a thing, and while people often disagree with his analysis, there’s no doubt that few people in the world of media scouting are more plugged in with what teams look for. So, when he posts a draft it’s really worth diving into.
On Wednesday we got a new mock from Kiper Jr, and there are some real surprises.
“Sauce” Gardner rising to No. 2 overall in the NFL Draft, while Derek Stingley falls
Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner has more or less settled into being the No. 1 cornerback in the draft due to his rare physical and athletic traits. That said, Kiper is the first person to put him No. 2 overall to the Lions.
This would make Gardner the highest selected cornerback ever. While this is a critical position, and Detroit would be fearsome with Gardner and Jeff Odukah (if he can get healthy), I’m really struggling to see investing a pick that high on a cornerback here.
The flipside is that Kiper has Derek Stingley Jr. falling all the way to No. 12 to the Vikings. This was a guy being projected in the Top 5. I know fans in Minnesota will salivate for this, but I would be stunned if we see either Sauce go this high, or Stingley Jr. go this low.
If it happened this would definitely shake up the Top 10, and it’ll be something to watch for sure.
The pass rush run in the Top 10
There’s a ton of talent at pass rusher in the draft, but Kiper is the first to go so all-in on how much teams like these players. Four edge rushers are being selected in the Top 10, with Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson being the name sneaking in that others haven’t projected so far.
This comes at the expense of the offensive tackles, who fall lower than people have projected. I could potentially see this happening, but the idea of getting the third or fourth best pass rusher over an Evan Neal or Charles Cross really doesn’t vibe with me too well.
Breece Hall in the second
There is only one running back in my mind worth of a first round pick, and I think he’s a hell of a player. Kiper has Iowa State’s Breece Hall falling to No. 38 to the Jets, which floors me.
Hall is an ideal mix of speed and power, with rare traits. I cannot fathom the Buffalo Bills passing on him at No. 26, considering a do-everything back is really the only thing that offense is missing. Hell, for that matter I can’t believe the Texans would pass on him either.
I think people are going to be shocked by how high Hall goes. I could honestly see him in the teens if a team believes enough.
The Bengals do what?!
I’m not objecting to the idea of Cincinnati trading out of the first round for future assets, it’s more that Kiper has the Jets FLEECING the Bengals in a trade. At No. 31 he proposes the Jets move up to draft Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum, who is sliding for God knows what reason.
In exchange, he has New York giving Cincinnati the No. 35 pick and a Day 3 selection. That is laughable. On no planet can I imagine the Bengals shifting from Day 1 to Day 2, where they could get jumped in trade discussions happening overnight, and all they come away with is a mid-late round pick who probably won’t make the team.
This scenario also has the Bengals missing out on OG Kenyon Green because of this trade, who would be a natural fit on their new-look offensive line.
No receiver for the Chiefs
There’s a justification here that Kansas City has second and third round picks to address the position, but I hate it. This team’s bread and butter is Patrick Mahomes, and with Tyreek Hill gone they HAVE to support him with more weapons.
Part of this is how WR happy Mel’s draft is early, leading to a major drain where the Chiefs are picking, which I don’t see happening either. There are a lot of good receivers this year, but I don’t see seven coming off the board before Kansas City picks.
Also, Kiper has the Chiefs picking up Skyy Moore with the No. 50 pick. He will not last that long, and should be the pick in the first.