So here’s my final mock of the year! Enjoy.
I’ve now mocked 3 different WR’s to our 1st round pick over the course of the last 6 weeks. Hopkins is who I most think will happen though. I heart Tavon Austin, but as I have mentioned before, I doubt he will be available at our pick since I think the Rams will trade up a few spots for him (can’t just HOPE he falls to them, lest he slip away like Blackmon did last year). Keenan Allen was my last posted mocked guy, but after the slower 40 and not being completely healed, I think he’s cemented himself behind Hopkins, as a late first round guy now. So if Patterson and Hopkins are on the board, who do you think we’re going to take? I’m just hedging my bets on the guy we’ve notably interviewed the most. Plus, I don’t exactly think we’re staying put at 14. I mentioned this in the trade down thread 2 weeks ago, but my feelings have consistently been that the Cowboys are going to look to move up (for Vacarro or Cooper – guys that are suggested to go between picks 12-20 – so Jerry insures he gets whom he wants) and we’re going to look to move down, meaning an exchange of 1sts and us garnering a 3rd round pick. Basically in my mind we’re making this pick at #18 instead of #14, but I won’t mock us anyone in the third since it’s all theoretical anyway. But regardless of if we trade back or not, Hopkins is my pick.
So what does Hopkins bring to the table? How about we look at this in Madden terms (for those wily gamers out there). I see about 87-88 speed, 92 route running, 90 catching, 85 spectacular catch, and 92 catch in traffic (IMO). Meaning he’s a verifiable outside WR, but a beast in the slot too. He’s dependable. He’s an excellent route runner who excels at hand catches and high pointing the ball. So why is he almost always thought of by the media to be a late 1st to mid-2nd round guy? His speed and the depth of WR talent in the draft. He didn’t run the fastest 40 (ranges between 4.51 and 4.57) and although he is a spectacular WR, he’s looked at by fans the same way Hakeem Nicks and Greg Jennings were when they slipped in the draft, as a guy that’s going to be a franchise player, but not a matchup nightmare on game day. From what I see, at best he becomes a Roddy White/Hakeem Nicks like WR, and at worst he’s a Jordy Nelson/Miles Austin. I don’t see in between with him. Oh and by taking him I see our Week 1 WR order looking like: S.Smith, B.Lafell, D.Hopkins, D.Hixon, T.Ginn, J.Adams. I really think Pilares is talented and is currently a better WR than Ginn or Adams, but I think their ST’s ability and Adams cheap depth for more years helps them win out. I like Hixon, but I believe that there is no way we’ll sit our first rounder as a #4 guy on our depth chart, unless he’s just not getting it and hurting the team to be on the field. Plus, that aside, I think he’ll simply outplay Hixon and win the spot out right. Lafell should be safe at the #2 spot for his contract season.
Despite us bringing Mike Mitchell to compete for our starting SS spot, here we grab our future at the spot. Elam is a big hitter and sure tackler, and just a highlight reel waiting to happen who will likely be a starter from day one with Mitchell and Campbell as his backups. However, as Mitchell said when we first got him, they told him the best guy is gonna start. To me that sounds like Rivera is going to make this an open competition and we could see Mitchell claim the Week 1 starting spot with his technical experience proving better at the immediate during preseason than Elam’s. Who knows? One thing’s for sure though, I can’t see Haruki making the final 53. He’s simply the least talented safety on the roster. (And no he’s not better than Colin Cole, our true special team’s ace. Cole’s ability there easily outshines Nakamura’s at FS.) But regardless of whom starts out as our starting SS, in 2014 Elam will become our defacto starting SS as Mitchell enters free agency.
via onlineathens.com4.) Bennie Logan - DT
Logan is a prospect who, from looking at a majority of rankings and mocks, seems right at home in the 4th. He’s been my most consistently mocked player to us in the 4th. He has a quick burst and while not precisely a pass rush specialist, he helps to significantly improve our interior run defending talent. Logan can back up both DT spots and would be a fantastic rotation player this season (if not becoming an immediate starter at the NT spot). He could also use his time to bulk up and learn some pass rushing tips from Dwan. This kid just sounds like he has a great work-ethic and would be a much needed upgrade over Kearse, Fua, and Cole.
Ding-Ding! We have found our future RT! Nixon would be an exceptional addition to our line up. Right away we could slot him behind Bell. By training camp this would be one of the main Camp battles to watch. Nixon is extremely talented and I think we would be lucky to grab him in the 5th. He’s a road-grading run blocker who could seriously blow open holes for our talented backs. He’ll need some coaching up in regards to his pass blocking, but he should be sufficient enough to start Week 1.
I know most of us have different preferences to the day 3 OT’s, such as Chris Faulk, Brennan Williams, and Luke Marquardt. Personally I’d be happy with any of them as they all provide the potential to be Week 1 starters at RT. You’ll notice that I excluded David Quessenberry as it appears his stock is driving him more into third round discussion.
And in the 6th let’s add a guard prospect. Never heard of him? Here’s a quote on him from Pat Kirwan of CBSSports.com: “Garrett Gilkey is an offensive guard from Chadron State and he is one physical player that loves to battle in the trenches. Any team interested in a power guard that can move a defensive tackle will be interested in Gilkey. How this guy didn't play for a team like Nebraska or Wisconsin coming out of Chicago is a mystery to me.” And here’s one from Rob Rang of NFLDRAFTSCOUT.com during Senior Bowl practices: “It is the nature of the position for offensive linemen to be a bit anonymous, but this is even more the case with small-school prospects. Chadron State's Garrett Gilkey, however, is quickly forcing scouts to pay attention. The 6-6, 314-pound Gilkey was twice recognized as an All-Rocky Mountain West Conference pick while at tackle, but his work this week has been inside at guard. Despite playing a new position, Gilkey was impressive, showing strength, toughness and flexibility handling the massive Jenkins and quicker defenders like Florida State's Everett Dawkins. He was beaten on a spin move by Jenkins early on but rebounded to enjoy an impressive practice overall. Considering the jump he's being asked to make from the Division II level, that's quite a statement.” Sounds like a guy with good potential. Exactly what you look for in the late rounds.
Next season Hangartner’s cap hit ballons to around 2.5 million with no guaranteed money, meaning he could very well be a candidate for salary cap casualty. Personally, I see this as a definite thing. And with Bell and Byers becoming RFA’s next offseason and B.Campbell and G.Williams becoming FA’s, Gilkey could very well come into next offseason as our only right guard officially on the roster. And hey, if Gilkey shines in practice or pre-season he could even wind up as our starting RG this season, saving us from having to spend one of our top 4 picks on one next year.
And if we DID manage to make that trade and wind up with a 3rd, just whom would I take? I would’ve either taken Gavin Escobar – TE to give Cam another offensive weapon and us some much needed TE depth and talent, or Brandon Williams – DT to double up on a weakness and potentially help provide us that run plugging middle we’ve been missing for years. Doubling up on positions is not something most fans love doing, but when you KNOW your team is going to be drafting a high round DT (1-4) again next year unless they draft 2 this year, I don’t see how it hurts. Plus our DT group is an INCREDIBLY blatant weakness. Why no CB? I think we have solid depth there right now and so many questions that are just waiting to be worked out during training camp and this season that we can afford to really wait and take measure of what we have there. Will Norman show improvement this year after a rough rookie campaign? Are Dockery and Thomas seriously diamonds in the rough? What potential and skills will Moore and Florence bring? Rather than muddy up the conversation this year, I see us letting it play itself out and knowing better where we stand next offseason.
If Gettleman is going BPA, though, and Stedman Bailey happened to still be there then who knows, maybe we’d draft him too and solidify our WR corps for the future. 1) SS, 2)BL, 3)DH, 4)DHixon, 5)SB, 6)TG for 2013. Would we potentially keep 7 and hold on to Mr. Adams for future insurance, when Hixon, Ginn, and Lafell become Free Agents? 2014 WR depth potentially looking like 1)SS, 2)DH, 3)SB, 4)JA…with a couple more one years or late rounder’s rounding out the cast? Making Lafell the secondary priority to Hardy next offseason, with us being set if he doesn’t re-sign. Interesting notion and what makes the draft so fun to speculate on. :) See you guys in the talk-backs later!