The last three days, Mocking the Draft held what I call "The Big One." A live mock draft of all 253 picks and then a wild free for all after the selection of Mr. Irrelevant for five undrafted free agents. I was the head Colts GM and torridphenix helped out as my assistant. Here are the selections we made. As in the last one of these I posted, I'll try to contextualize who was on the board and who had been taken to give you a better idea of the thought process.
Round One, No. 1 overall: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford University
-I never really thought I'd have to explain why I took Luck, but given the little insurgency the past month or so, I think I need reiterate. Anyone who watched Gruden's QB Camp with Luck and RGIII knows why Luck is the better prospect. Luck showed an extremely high level of mental acuity when it came to breaking down film. He has a strong arm and his combine statistics were almost the same as Cam Newton. If you need someone to succeed a legend, then Luck is the guy to give the reins to. As long as we see progress this year, Luck should be the Colts QB for the next 10-15 years. And with Matt Ryan-level as his floor, that's a pretty good gamble.
Round Two, No. 34 overall: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford University
-I was very surprised Fleener fell, especially since he went 8 overall to Miami in the last live mock. Still, this was not a simple selection. Stephen Hill went to Baltimore at 26 and Mark Barron to San Diego at 18. When the Giants passed on Fleener in favor of Jeffery and the Rams took Ruben Randle, we had a major decision to make. Mohammed Sanu was still on the board. San Diego offered a fairly attractive trade package, but the deal foundered over compensation in the third and fifth rounds. The plan had been to trade to the pick and move down 10 spots to grab Allen or Sanu, whoever fell. Still, getting Fleener was a nice coup. Now, I'm not as high on him as everyone else is. Fleener still has to add some bulk to his frame and work on his blocking skills. If Fleener develops his blocking skills to the level of his downfield abilities, then he could be a premiere tight end.
Round Three, No. 64 overall: Trade to Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh took Josh Chapman.
-I seem to be cursed in the third round because my boards always fall apart. The number one guy on my board, Mitchell Schwartz the offensive tackle from Cal, was taken one pick earlier when the Vikings traded with Giants. Amini Silatolu, the guard from Midwestern State, went 56th to Pittsburgh. Josh Robinson had gone 54th to Detroit. Baltimore traded up to get Zeitler at 36. Brandon Thompson went to Atlanta at 55 and the Cowboys reached on Ta'amu by trading up to 43. New England took Iowa State Tackle/Guard Kelechi Osemele at 62. I wasn't sold on reaching for Chapman this early. I don't question his ACL, but rather his football IQ. There are some scouts who seem to think he has trouble grasping scheme. I also felt 64 was too early for Brandon Brooks, the guard from Miami University. So we shopped the pick overnight and got several offers, including Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and Arizona. Pittsburgh gave the best offer. We gave 64 & 214 and Pittsburgh gave 74, 119 & 231. Essentially we swapped picks in the third and seventh rounds, and the Colts added an additional fourth. Of course, the player I questioned and hoped would fall is the one who gets selected. Third round curse, I suppose.
Round Three, No. 74 overall: Bobby Wagner, ILB/OLB, Utah State University
-We had a big decision to make here. Marvin Jones had gone to Cincinnati at 69 and Brian Quick went to Buffalo at 66. But, Josh Norman went to Jacksonville at 70. Just prior to the pick we saw all the late-second/early-third round tackles were gone. All indications were there was going to be a run on either wide receivers or corners. We considered Trumaine Johnson from Montana or Casey Heyward from Vanderbilt. Then we took a look at the big board and noticed that Bobby Wagner had slipped out of the second round and was sitting right there. Around a dozen or so GMs were angry that we scooped up Wagner here, which is usually an indication the pick is a good one. The opportunity was too good to pass up. National Football Post lists Wagner as 6-1 and 232lbs and is the third best Inside Linebacker in the draft, behind Kuechly and Hightower. While we know Angerer will take one ILB spot in the 3-4 looks, Conner is more suited to the non-rush OLB spot because of his weaknesses in coverage. Wagner looks good in pass protection and just needs some experience. He's an excellent tackler with long arms who can also shed blockers and blitz. When the Colts shift to a 4-3 look, Wagner has had experience at OLB and can play comfortably next to Angerer. He looks like an excellent replacement for Wheeler and a potential stud for the new 3-4/4-3 linebacking corps.
Round Four, No. 97 overall: Ryan Broyles, WR, University of Oklahoma
-We were spot on about the run on corners in the third. All the guys we targeted for this spot: Heyward, Johnson, Minnifield, Johnson and Bentley were off the board. Brandon Brooks, the guard from Miami University, went 86th to the Steelers. However, that meant all the mid-round wide receivers were there and the run was coming. We decided to take one here, especially since Blair White is no longer on roster and we need depth. We had many options: AJ Jenkins, Greg Childs, Tommy Streeter, and Marvin McNutt. But we decided to go with the ultra-productive Ryan Broyles. Broyles helped his stock at the Oklahoma pro day were he demonstrated his recovery from his ACL tear, running a 4.57 and a 4.59. Broyles is the most polished route runner in the draft. When coming out of his stance and his off his breaks, Broyles already looks like a pro in not tipping off the defender to his plans. A guy like this is a young quarterback's best friend. He was not going to survive to pick 119,much less pick 136, so we took him here. Once again, the pick was met with despair from the other GMs and the approval of those watching.
Round Four, No. 119 overall: Lucas Nix, OG, University of Pittsburgh
-Value at cornerback still hadn't surfaced again from the reaches in the third round. We talked about Leonard Johnson from Iowa State, but I was nervous after seeing Mohammed Sanu abuse him during the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. Johnson went Denver one pick after us. We targeted Billy Winn, who had slipped out of the third round, but he also went to Denver 11 picks earlier. We considered picking up a 3-4 end project player, but decided that with Redding on the roster surely one of Moala, Nevis, Matthews or Ogbu would be able to transition into good 3-4 end. Personally, my money is on Moala because of his USC experience or Nevis, who is just a straight up football player. So, we decided to try and shore up the offensive line and to do that, we went with the veteran Lucas Nix. The 6'6, 310-lber is solid in pass protection and does a good job sealing out linemen for the running game. All Nix has to do is keep himself a bit lower out of his stance and he could be an All-Pro. With Nix, Luck will have a line (from left to right) of Costanzo-Reitz-Satale-Nix-Ijalana. I think Ijalana and Justice fight it out in camp for right tackle and Ijalana wins. McGlynn is just depth and doesn't displace Reitz.
Round Five, No. 136 overall: Asa Jackson, CB, California Polytechnic State University
-Going into the fifth round, the final of the second day, we knew this was our best chance to get a corner. All the guys in this range are developmental prospects, since the day 1 starters went in third round. The two non-cornerbacks we'd had our eyes on: Tank Carder (ILB, TCU) and Cyrus Grey (RB, Texas A&M) went to Oakland at 129 and Denver at 125 respectively. We thought about taking Jerry Franklin, the ILB from Arkansas, for more depth but decided the pick had to be a corner. The top one on our board? Fast rising small school prospect Asa Jackson. At 5'10 and a lean 188 lbs, Jackson will need to add some bulk in the NFL. He also needs some discipline as far as technique goes, but if anyone can instill that it's Chuck Pagano. Wes Bunting at NFP says Jackson's floor is a nickel or dime corner. That's pretty good value at 136 overall.
Round Five, No. 170 overall: Chigbo Anunoby, NT, Morehouse College
-With the very last pick of the second day, we went in wanting either a developmental big body at nose tackle or depth in the defensive front seven or offensive line. Jerry Franklin, who we considered at 136, went to Pittsburgh at 166. Aikem Hicks went to Carolina at pick 143.Dominque Hamilton and Kheeston Randall, 3-4 defensive ends, went at 146 to Kansas City and 154 to San Francisco respectively. Miles Burris, a 3-4 non-rush OLB from San Diego State, a strong candidate for the pick, went two picks earlier to Oakland. Some developmental offensive tackles: Nate Potter (Oakland,148), Matt McCants (153, Miami), and Levy Adcock (158, Detroit) were all off the board. So it came down to Evan Rodriguez, a TE/H-back, Hebron Fangupo, or Chigbo Anunoby. We went with the latter. Anunoby is a small school prospect who isn't getting as much publicity as big school guys like Hicks, Baptise, or Fangupo. But he has as much ability as all of them. In fact, Wes Bunting gives Anunoby and Fangupo the same grade. Anunoby is 6-4, 324 lbs. However, his weight fits his frame and he has the perfect proportions for a big time nose tackle in the NFL. He has excellent football instincts and always flows toward the football, which is something you just can't teach. Anunoby is a good technician who moves quickly and stays low. While Anunoby will probably never be a good pass rusher, in a few years he could easily be the anchor for the Colts' new 3-4/4-3 hybrid in BOTH sets. While the pick MAY have been a bit of a reach, I didn't want to risk losing out on the best developmental NT in the draft.
Round Six, No. 206 overall: Evan Rodriguez, TE/FB, Temple University
-The first couple of hours of the Sunday section passed slowly since we didn't have a pick until the final spot of the 6th round. Some of the guys we'd targeted for this pick we saw get scooped up. Project corner Chris Greenwood went to Seattle really early, at pick 149. Ryan Miller, the Tackle/Guard from Colorado, went to Jacksonville at 176. Dale Moss, the workout warrior from South Dakota State, got scooped up by San Diego at 162. Justin Bethel, another project corner from Presbyterian, went to Arizona at 184.Still, we had a good number of guys on our board, and we went with the Tight End/H-back Evan Rodriguez from Temple. Rodriguez is a big body: 6'4 and 250 lbs. Steve Addazio, former assistant to Urban Meyer at Florida and first year coach at Temple, used Rodriguez in the same way Aaron Hernandez was used at Florida. Rodriguez is a solid route running and does a good job catching the ball away from his body. In 2011, Rodriguez led all Temple receivers with 35 catches for 479 yards and 2 touchdowns. While not as fast down the seam as Fleener, he still presents a threat down field and in the intermediate routes. He is also a willing blocker and while he never lined up in the traditional fullback role, he has that potential. Hernandez and Mahaffey make a potent blocking combination and should do very well in goal line situations. This pick was an extreme value, as Rodriguez is rated anywhere between the fourth and sixth rounds.
Round Seven, No. 208 overall: Jarret Boykin, WR, Virginia Tech University
-I liked Blair White for depth and was surprised he was cut. Ryan Broyles is a future starter and a good start for rebuilding a WR corps, but I don't put too much faith in Quan Cosby or Jarred Fayson. So we knew we wanted to spend one of our three seventh round picks on someone who could provide reliable WR depth. Boykin is that guy. The Virginia Tech product has been a consistent and reliable target when the Hokies decide to go to the air, catching 61 balls for 761 yards and 5 touchdowns. Boykin is a big target, standing at about 6'2 and weighing 218 pounds. Although he only ran a 4.71 at the Combine, he improve his 40 time at the Virginia Tech Pro Day, running a 4.58. But Boykin is never going to be the type of receiver who stretches the field. Rather, he is a flanker who can reliably move the chains and presents a big body in the red zone. Boykin also does a good job getting separation and at working through man coverage. He needs a little discipline in working on his routes, but on the whole looks like a solid depth guy who should be able to contribute in his rookie year if given the chance.
Round Seven, No. 231 overall: Sammy Brown, OLB, University of Houston
-Sammy Brown was a HUGE steal midway through the seventh round. The Arizona GM in particular was frustrated, claiming no one else was supposed to know about him. He was on the short list of players we considered at 206 and 208. Corner Donnie Fletcher went to Dallas at 222. Omar Bolden, the standout corner from Arizona State, went to Miami at 215. We considered small school wide receivers Derek Carrier from Beloit University and Cody Pearcy from Huntindon College but decided that with Broyles and Boykin added to Avery, Collie and Wayne the WR corps was pretty well set. Even with Bobby Wagner drafted to play next to Angerer, linebacker depth was still pretty shallow. Sammy Brown played OLB in Houston's 3-4 front. Brown has solid size at 6'3 240 lbs. Houston has a good motor and looks to be a developmental pass rusher. He also plays very well against the run. His pass protection skills are a bit of a mystery and will need to be refined. Houston won't pay dividends right away, but could pay off a few years down the road.
Round Seven, No. 253 overall: Gino Gradkowski, C/OG, University of Delaware
-Derek Carrier, a big bodied project wide receiver from Beloit University went to Houston at 233. Corners Keith Tandy and Ryan Steed went to Pittsburgh at 246 and San Francisco at 237 respectively. We considered Cody Pearcy, the speedster from Huntingdon College, but I didn't like his route running or his small stature and lean frame. We debated whether or not to take Gradkowski, the younger brother of NFL quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, because Jake Kirkpatrick was resigned and has the potential to be a developmental center, since Kirkpatrick did win the 2011 Rimington. Ultimately we decided on Gradkowski from our list of 6 or 7 UDFA prospects because we figured Baltimore would try to take him as a development project to sit behind Matt Birk. Gradkowski initially played at West Virginia before transferring to Delaware. At Delaware, Gradkowski played both guards and center. The player Gino has attempted to model his game after is our own beloved Jeff Saturday. The two have similar body types: Gradkowski is 6'3 and 300 lbs. Gradkowski plays low and shows good form when blocking. I don't think Samson Satale is the long-term answer at center. Gradkowski could be.
UDFA: JR Sweezy, DT/DE, North Carolina State University
-Sweezy is a development project as a 3-4 end. He has excellent size at 6'5, 293 pounds. Sweezy plays well against the run and does a good job working away from blocks and toward the ball carrier. While he doesn't show great lateral quickness to get to the football, he does show good techniques using his hands. He has limited skill as a pass rusher, but does show potential in learning how to work around linemen and push the pocket. While he'll probably be a reserve/practice squad player this year, in two to three years Sweezy could be part of the playing rotation in the 3-4.
UDFA: Jose Gumbs, SS, Monmouth University
-Jose Gumbs may be one of the better prospects you've never heard of. Gumbs is just over 5'10" and ran a 4.44 and 4.46 forty yard dash. Had Gumbs been at the Combine, that would have been the fastest time from a safety. He had a 41" vertical jump and benched 20 reps. As a sophomore Gumbs was NEC Defensive Player of the Year and was All-NEC in 09, 10 and 11. Gumbs was ultra-productive with 308 credited tackles and 188 solo tackles in his career at Monmouth. Gumbs was a leader and is an excellent technician in the lost art of tackling. He said, "It’s all about alignment. A lot of people don’t know how to align themselves and set themselves up to make a tackle. A lot of people just go out and try to think that if you force feet at someone you’ll bring them down. It’s actually that you got to break down and take one side away and then take someone down. That’s the basics of tackling. Sometimes it’s just bad alignment where someone doesn’t force a play inside and they get a play outside." Gumbs motor is nonstop. At worst, Gumbs looks like a valuable special teamer in the NFL, but I think he has the ceiling to be a good starting strong safety in the NFL, either the center field type or the in the box type. I very much contemplated taking Gumbs with pick 253 and was very happy to get him as a UDFA.
UDFA: Joe Looney, OG, Wake Forest University
-Offensive lineman number three in the draft. Looney was a 4-6 round prospect who fell out completely. The 6'3, 320 lb Wake Forest product was a four year starter in the SEC. Looney shows good footwork and was able to shift his feet to counter stunting blitzers college. Looney isn't rangy but he shows enough footspeed to both pull and to get to the second level. His pass protection is good but he needs to develop more as a run blocker. Not an immediate starter, but good depth and a developmental prospect.
UDFA: Emanuel Davis, CB, East Carolina University
-One more corner to try and rebuild depth. Davis has good height at 5'11. His frame is long and he has the potential to add even more bulk to his current 182 lbs. Davis uses his hips well and has NFL caliber speed, but his technique and discipline need work. Importantly, Davis has proven himself a good tackler and willing to support in the run game. He has the ability to be a solid corner in both man and zone coverage. Davis missed the first game of the year against South Carolina because of an arrest for public intoxication, so there may be some character issues. However, as a UDFA he is worth the gamble. He needs time to develop, good coaching and discipline but could eventually become a good depth guy.
UDFA: George Bryan, TE, North Carolina State University
-George Bryan is a guy who Wes Bunting over at National Football Post qualifies as a late-round sleeper who has a good chance to stick with whichever team gets a hold of him. Bryan is a big guy, 6'5 and 265 lbs. He lacks the speed to be a true deep threat over the seam, but is quick enough to at least present a threat. At the East-West Shrine Game though, Bryan showed he had soft hands and the ability to get open in the flat and on underneath routes. Where Bryan really shines is as an in-line Y tight end. In fact, Bryan is one of the better blockers in this year's tight end class. A 6-7th round prospect who fell out, he could provide a great boost to depleted tight end corps and spell Brody Eldridge, who has had difficulty staying healthy.
So there is the haul we pulled in for the Colts. We tried to take a balanced approach and taking the BPA at a position of need and ended up with nine offensive players and seven defensive ones. Although we didn't address corner until the fifth round, taking one any earlier would have been a reach and we would've sacrificed a much better player elsewhere. While Anunoby might have been a bit of a reach, we loved his potential to develop and learn from a veteran like McKinney. I live in the mid-Atlantic and know a lot of Ravens fans. When I asked them about McKinney they said when he was on the field you knew he was there. I think he was the potential to be a solid starter and is getting undersold on this site. So we didn't feel the need to draft an early nose tackle in a shallow class but could wait for some value in a developmental guy later on. Even though the Colts signed three free agent offensive linemen, I only see Satale as a starter and not as a long term solution. While I would have liked to get a right tackle and shift Ijalana to guard, the value wasn't there so we went with three guards instead (I think Ijalana wins the right tackle job in camp). Nix as the ability to start from day one while Looney and Gradkowski have development potential. This draft may also be heavy on tight ends, but Brody Eldridge really is the only one on roster. The others are more there for long-snapping. Fleener serves as a downfield threat, Hernandez as a flex blocker and mid-route guy and Bryan as depth and a blocker. With Eldridge in the mix, that is a solid tight end corps for a young quarterback. Broyles and Boykin provide youth to the wide outs and a base as the Colts rebuild their receivers. Wagner and Jackson have the potential to be great players and really be cornerstones for the new defense. Gumbs is a HUGE sleeper and a prospect I love as potential defensive leader, not just a star special teamer. I'm clearly biased, but if this were how things shook out for the Colts in two weeks, I would be very happy.
Feel free to voice your opinions below.