NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
With free agency slated to start within the next week a lot of things are going to change within the NFL and consequently will change a lot within the NFL draft. Many questions that we have had since the end of the season will be answered in the next couple weeks and the NFL draft picture will begin to clarify a little bit.
Here are my 15 Thoughts prior to the beginning of Free Agency:
1. The prototype OTs get a lot of hype during the draft process just because tackle and left tackle primarily is a premium position. Two players in this draft that aren’t natural OTs, but might end up playing there and end up having a better career than any tackle in this draft outside of Matt Kalil are Georgia’s Cordy Glenn and Iowa State’s Kelechi Osemele. Both players have experience at both tackle and guard and both are massive human beings who possess great strength. Glenn is the better athlete of the two and Osemele is the stronger more overpowering player. Cordy Glenn is projected to go somewhere towards the end of round one, while Osemele is looked at as a round two player. Both of these players I believe will be better right away and will be able to contribute more than Mike Adams a player who is projected to go higher. Each player will make an immediate impact in the league and give the team that drafts them the flexibility to play them at OG or OT.
2. Up until about a week ago it appeared extremely unlikely that North Alabama CB Janoris Jenkins would be available for either of the Patriots two picks at the end of round one. Since the combine however, it seems that Jenkins stock has taken a little bit of a hit. I’m not sure what the reason is for the perceived fall as in my opinion he had a pretty solid combine and certainly didn’t do anything on the field to hurt his stock. Jenkins has come under question for the way he may have come off in interviews and the fact that he already has four children. In my opinion none of that matters, as when I have had the chance to talk to Janoris he has been very forthcoming. I believe Jenkins has the best natural cover ability of any DB in this draft. Going to a team with a strong locker room would keep Janoris focused on football and would allow him to reach his potential. If he is available for one of the Patriots picks, I think it would be a big mistake to pass on a player with the cover ability that Janoris Jenkins has.
3. One of the deeper positions in this year’s draft is the running back position with 17-22 running backs who have a legitimate shot of being drafted and making an NFL roster. However, when trying to find a landing spot for these backs, especially early in the draft it becomes difficult. We all know Trent Richardson is going to go high in the first round, whether it is the first five picks or the first ten picks. After that I struggle to find another landing spot (besides the Bengals) for running backs in round one. Running backs have a tendency to slip each year and this year I expect the same. With such great value at the position in the 2nd-4th round, teams will likely wait to pick their RB, knowing that they will be able to get one in later rounds. This will cause players like Lamar Miller, David Wilson, Bernard Pierce, Chris Polk, LaMichael James to all fall a little further than many project. Seeing where the RBs come off the board will be one of the more intriguing things to watch the first two days of the draft.
4. It’s not often that you can say a team sitting outside the top ten of the draft is in a prime position, however I believe the Chicago Bears who are sitting at pick #19 are in prime position. By far the two biggest needs the Bears are facing are upgrading the offensive line and finding talented wide receivers for Jay Cutler to throw to. From doing mock drafts, looking at projections and talking with people in the industry I believe it’s likely that the Bears will be able to have their choice at 19 which way they want to go. By the time the draft rolls around, I expect WRs like Michael Floyd and Kendall Wright to go right around that area. I also expect players like Stanford OT Jonathan Martin, Georgia OT/OG Cordy Glenn and Ohio State’s Mike Adams to be available to the Bears. Anyone of those players would fill a huge need and Floyd might be the best of the bunch. But, until the Bears fix their OL problems it’s not going to matter who is playing WR for them. Jay Cutler keeps running for his life, which severely limits their passing game. The Bears took Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi in the first round last year and I would hope they continue to build their horrendous offensive line up in the early rounds off the draft.
5. One player who has been off the radar for while now is Florida International WR T.Y. Hilton. Hilton suffered a leg injury prior to the Senior Bowl and promptly pulled out of the game to rest up for the combine. The injury wasn’t considered serious and most people expected T.Y. to workout at the combine. However, T.Y opted not to run, lift or take part in field drills having a medical excuse. Hilton is one of the most explosive and elusive players in the draft and scouts and analysts are anxious to see how Hilton tests. It once looked like Hilton would be a solid second round pick, but with other players improving their stock and Hilton being out of the loop for awhile it now looks like he is more of a 3rd-4th round selection. Florida International’s Pro Day is March 9th, so Hilton will have the opportunity to show what he can do very soon. (UPDATE: Hilton ran a 4.36 40 at his Pro Day)