In Part Two of Barking Carnival’s mock draft we’ll take a look at picks 11-20 from the rest of 2011’s non-playoff teams, including a preview of Jerry Jones’ latest attempt to outsmart the rest of the league.
In Part One of the BC Mock Draft, we looked at the woeful pack of rapscallions who finished 6-10 or worse in their 2011 campaigns. In Part Two, there’s a heaping helping of mediocrity as we review the rest of the pack that missed the playoffs last season. Unlike the NBA, placement in this tier of teams isn’t a virtual guarantee of 5-7 years of Sisyphean toil and torment at the fringe of the playoffs. These teams will instead make their selections with an eye towards emulating the New York Giants’ leap from staying home in 2010 to hoisting the Lombardi in 2011. In fact, they may have their sights set even higher than the 2011 Giants, with lofty goals like winning ten regular season games and scoring more points than they allow.
Will their first-round selections serve as a step in the right direction? Read on.
Pick 11 – Kansas City Chiefs
The Pick: Michael Brockers – DE, LSU
Key Number: 3/0
During Scott Pioli’s time with the Patriots, they won three Super Bowls with the NFL’s most under-appreciated defender of the last decade, DE Richard Seymour, commanding the kind of double-team attention in both the run and pass game that made an endless procession of athletically-limited Pats LBs look faster, smarter and better than they really were. The Patriots have won zero Super Bowls since Bill Belichick outsmarted himself and traded a still-dominating Seymour to Oakland. This lesson will not be lost on Pioli as the Chiefs make a move to grab Seymour doppelganger Michael Brockers from LSU. The 6’6", 305-pounder is a prototype 3-4 end who, while still raw (particularly as a pass rusher), projects a vastly higher ceiling than what the Chiefs now seem likely to get from Top-5 dissapointments Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson. Brockers is my secret heart’s desire for the Cowboys at #14 (he declared just after I finished up my Fixing the Cowboys series) so I’d be thrilled if the Chiefs decided to address their gaping hole at right tackle instead, but I fear a guy with Brockers’ frame and skill set won’t drop much further.
Pick 12 – Seattle Seahawks
The Pick: Ryan Tannehill – QB, Texas A&M
Key Number: Five
My NFL dorkdom and possible autism have compelled me to create an absurdly big n’ complicated Excel workbook that features the starters and key backups for every team with links to their per-play ratings from ProFootballFocus.com, team stats by way of FootballOutsiders.com and an array of other stuff. I spent about five minutes poring over the Seahawks’ starting 22 as I was figuring out what they needed, and found myself saying "How did this team finish 7-9? They’ve got plus talent at every level of the defense, a young OL that’s coming along, a stout RB and some pretty good weapons at wideout – what’s the story here?" Then I smacked my forehead and said, "That’s right – they are trotting out Tarvaris Jackson at QB!" While Jackson wasn’t an unmitigated disaster in 2011, he likely places a pretty low ceiling on Seattle’s offense in an era of phenomenal passing bounty. I look for Pete Carroll & Co. to huff some of the helium that’s inflating Tannehill’s draft stock in the hopes that he can take them to the promised land – or at least the 4,000 passing yard benchmark that now starts to define a reasonable NFL offense.
Pick 13 – Arizona Cardinals
The Pick: Mike Adams, OT – Ohio State
Key Number: -88.7
-88.7 is the aggregate ProFootballFocus.com Pass Blocking rating that the Cardinals’ alleged left tackle Levi Brown has accumulated over the past four seasons. As a point of reference for understanding the magnitude of that number, Brown’s 2011 season came in at a -22.3 rating – just about exactly average for him, and worse than every other starting tackle in the entire league save for the Giants’ Kareem McKenzie. That’s right, folks – Brown’s average season places him at the absolute bottom at his position’s most critical skill. We can all probably think of a multi-year starter or two on our favorite teams that have underperformed, but as far as I can tell Brown’s four-year run of downright putridity is unparalleled anywhere else in college or the NFL – you just don’t get to suck this bad for this long and keep starting. Kurt Warner was able to gloss over some of Brown’s deficiencies with a lightning-quick release, but Warner still took a ferocious beating that probably hastened his retirement by at least a season. The Cardinals’ decision to hand an $80 million deal to Kevin Kolb – known for handling pressure with the same aplomb with which a Pekingese handles an earthquake – with a habitual turnstile like Brown at LT was organizational dysfunction at its finest.
Ohio State’s Mike Adams might be a bit of an overdraft here, but as even the NFL’s most incompetent franchises are able to prevent their quality left tackles from hitting free agency Adams is likely the best option on the Cardinals’ plate. Adams has some technique issues to address but he’s got the length, feet and overall agility to project as a quality pass protector and bring the impossible dream of a successful seven-step drop back to the desert.
Pick 14 – Dallas Cowboys
The Pick: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB - Alabama
Key Number: 16-0
Jerry Jones secretly believes the Cowboys are going 16-0. At the start of every.
Jerry’s eternal optimism, while no doubt a handy trait for an oil and gas wildcatter, has been sheer death for the Cowboys in the post-Jimmy era. He consistently overestimates the upside and underestimates the downside of every player that catches his fancy, and assumes that any questionable roster situations will fall out for the best.
That character risk (Antonio Bryant, Derek Ross) will fly right, and we’ll reap a windfall on his first round-caliber talent.
That guy with the somewhat above-average career to date (Roy Williams, Leonard Davis) will come to Dallas and reach the ceiling he was projected to have on draft day, justifying this massive contract.
That small-school project (Jason Williams, Akwasi Awosu-Onsah) will figure it all out and play to the level of his vertical leap/40 time.
The entire team is so stacked that we really just need to try and draft backups (Sherwin Williams, Shante Carver, the entire fucking 2009 draft).
That thin secondary or iffy right tackle spot will stay healthy for 16 games and let our stars carry us to victory.
No amount of negative reinforcement will convince Jerry of the fallacy of his basic approach – it’s been sheer bad luck that’s had us digging so many dry holes since (just to pick a date out of the air) March 29, 1994, but this next one’s always sure to be a gusher.
So what impact will Jerry’s hope springing eternal have in the spring of 2012? I see it playing out thusly. If the draft falls as I’ve laid it out so far, Alabama’s Dre Kirkpatrick will be the most alluring prospect on the board. Sure, David DeCastro might be a Pro Bowl lock at guard, and players like Melvin Ingram could certainly bring much-needed pressure on opposing QBs. But given the dire state of the Dallas secondary (thanks to Jerry’s failure to realize that Terence Newman – whose NFL LVP candidacy I’ll be examining in an upcoming post – was done and that Alan Ball has never been an NFL player) means that Kirkpatrick realizing his potential at an impact position like CB would give Jerry the biggest possible bang for his Pick 14 buck. In fact, as the confetti was falling on Alabama’s 2011 National Championship team, it was nigh-inconceivable that a player of Kirkpatrick’s talent would make it out of the top ten.
Of course, that was before his January marijuana arrest. That, coupled with what has been described as a very lackluster performance in his NFL combine interviews, has given many teams pause. It’s possible that so soon after the Cowboys got a glimpse of the character downside in Dez Bryant (not to say that Dez has ‘character’ issues that have, or will, manifest themselves in drug use or criminality – just that there are player development risks inherent in taking a guy generally recognized to be about two standard deviations below the median IQ) that they’d opt for the safer play.
However, there’s another side to the coin. Cowboys head man Jason Garrett has a strong relationship with Alabama
dark wizard head coach Nick Saban, and the word seems to be that Saban either has, or is willing to, vouch for Kirkpatrick. Whatever value you place on Saban’s ethics and honesty, I think that the slightest encouragement is all Jerry will need to revert to his upside uber alles M.O. and roll the dice on Kirkpatrick.
Pick 15 – Philadelphia Eagles
The Pick: Luke Kuechely, ILB – Boston College
Key Number: 40
In the first quarter of the Eagles’ Week Three loss to the New York Giants, Giants oafback Brandon Jacobs combined with Eli Manning on an extremely half-hearted play fake before lumbering ponderously out of the backfield on a wheel route to the right sideline. Eagles’ rookie MLB – STARTING rookie MLB – starting rookie 4TH ROUND MLB on an ALLEGED SUPER BOWL CONTENDER Casey Matthews bit on the fake so hard he chipped a bicuspid, made an awkward turn and began to pursue Jacobs, gaining nary a yard on the 265-pound man-golem during Jacobs’ 40-yard touchdown jaunt.
Folks, Brandon Jacobs does not need to be housing 40-yard swing passes against anyone.
That standard of play was all too common as the Eagles’ Dream Team season turned nightmarish thanks to a donut defense with absolutely nothing in the middle. GM Howie Roseman’s pursuit of flashy free-agent treasure turned the Eagles’ LB and safety corps into corpses, and their high-priced corners and DL were of little use in combating the constant array of up-the-gut jailbreaks on screens, seam routes and simple draw plays.
Assuming that the Philly brain trust is capable of learning from error (the continued employment of overmatched OL-coach-inexplicably-turned-DC Juan Castillo is a point against this hypothesis, but bear with me) then they could go a long way towards turning their donut defense into a tasty Danish by drafting Kuechely. He’s not a prototype physical specimen like a Patrick Willis, but his instincts and sure tackling would be a most welcome addition. Or unwelcome, if you’re a Cowboys fan.
Pick 16 – New York Jets
The Pick: Melvin Ingram, OLB – South Carolina
Key Number: 15
For all of his media-friendly bluster, Jets head coach Rex Ryan made two critical mistakes going into the 2011 season:
1) Failing to realize that, despite his noted podiatric expertise, Dr. Scholls did not have the broad medial qualifications necessary to serve as Jets team physician
2) Neglecting to stock either of his outside linebacker spots with anyone who could get within shouting distance of an opposing QB
The Jets’ outside linebackers – the heavy lifters in just about any 3-4 pass rush – only managed a total of 15 sacks in 2011. While that number isn’t shockingly low on its surface, it was rescued from the single digits only thanks to a six-sack effort from 215-pound reclamation project Aaron Maybin (who the Bills hilariously selected ahead of Brian Orakpo in 2009). Rex would probably like you to believe that his wacky blitz schemes are the true star of the defense, but he – like brother Rob in Dallas – got a harsh reminder of how tough it is to field a top-end defense without at least a few guys who can reliably defeat one-on-one blocking.
Fortunately for Rex, Melvin Ingram should fit the Jets’ needs as snugly as a nylon clings to the supple curves of a woman’s foot. Ingram has a precocious array of pass-rushing moves and the ability to wreak havoc either standing up or from a three-point stance, and his versatility is just what the doctor ordered for the Jets’ havoc-based defensive approach.
The Pick: David DeCastro, OG – Stanford
Key Number: Four
The Bengals play four games a year against the Steelers and Ravens – the two organizations in the entire NFL most devoted to playing smash-mouth football in the defensive front seven. There are also pretty good odds that any AFC North intra-divisional game will be played in temperatures of four degrees or less from mid-November onwards. These factors would cause any smart football man to pine for a rough n’ ready offensive line, and surprisingly they have also sparked the same longing in hapless Bengals owner/GM/ genetic drift exemplar Mike Brown. The Bengals have actually fielded a strong-to-quite-strong OL over the last few seasons led by criminally underrated LT Andrew Whitworth, but they found themselves sorely lacking at guard as both Nate Livings and rookie Clint Boling were particularly ineffective in the run game.
Effectiveness in the run game is but one of David DeCastro’s calling cards. DeCastro more than any other player embodies the artful bludgeoning and ‘winning with cruelty’ approach favored by erstwhile Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh. His toughness, athleticism, technique and mean streak will stand him in good stead as he spends the bulk of the 2010’s going toe-to-toe with Haloti Ngata one week and picking up Dick Lebeau-inspired blitzes the next.
Pick 18 – San Diego Chargers
The Pick: Jonathan Martin, OT – Stanford
Key Number: 105
KissingSuzyKolber.com humor target and San Diego QB Philip Rivers suffered a combined 105 sacks, hits, and pressures allowed by Chargers’ tackles not named Jared Gaither last season. Marcus McNeill, Jaromey Clary and Brandon Dombrowski approached pass protection with the fervor of men who had just learned that Rivers had abandoned his Christian principles and violated their under-aged sisters. While the Chargers will do their best to re-sign Gaither, McNeill is likely to be released due to chronic back woes and the Bolts should just allow Clary and Dombrowski to take up tasks less hazardous to Rivers’ health, such as digging punji traps for him on the practice field.
Deep-ball impresarios like Rivers tend to need time in the pocket to thrive, and the Chargers can try to provide that time by selecting Stanford’s Jonathan Martin. Martin is more of a finesse athlete that won’t fit the mold of a traditional, mauling RT, but look for San Diego to let their guards handle the heavy lifting in the run game and lock down a right tackle who can let Rivers concentrate more on praising his Savior and less on planning to meet Him at the conclusion of his next seven-step drop.
Pick 19 – Chicago Bears
The Pick: Cordy Glenn, OG – Georgia
Key Number: 60
Most clinical dosing guides specify a maximum of 60 mg/day of hydrocodone for pain management, and Bears QB Jay Cutler likely hit his daily limit sometime around brunch each day after the ritual beatings surrendered by the Bears’ sordid OL. There’s no passing scheme in the league more protection-dependent than the Mike Martz ‘just hang in there until this rounded-off 19-yard crossing route breaks across midfield’ approach, and attempting it with the Bears’ OL shitshow borders on organizational malpractice. Martz is gone, but the need for legitimate linemen lives on. The Bears would probably jump on any of the tackles listed above should they fall to #19, but if not they’ll happily address their almost-equally abhorrent interior OL situation.
Glenn is a 6’5", 350-pound monolith of Stacy Searels-inspired fucknastitude, and he somehow managed to rip off a 4.96-second 40 in Indianapolis. His footwork is only so-so, but his sheer mass and athleticism should do wonders for Cutler’s health while opening enough holes to discourage an enraged Matt Forte from pulling a Last Boy Scout at some point during the 2012 campaign.
Pick 20 – Tennessee Titans
The Pick: Peter Konz, C – Wisconsin
Key Number: 56,000,000
Terrell Owens’ erstwhile publicist once claimed that he had 25 million reasons to be alive, and the Titans have 56 million reasons to hope that Chris Johnson stays atop the league’s elite rushers. While Johnson’s post-holdout conditioning and commitment were certainly questionable upon his return to the field last year, his Quixotic quest for 2,500 yards became a Verdun-style slog towards 2.5 yards per carry in large part due to shoddy work by his OL. No one on the Titans’ front line was more guilty than center Eugene Amano, who proved singularly incapable of going mano a mano with the league’s DTs in amassing PFF’s second worst run-blocking rating among centers.
Amano’s poor showing should lead the Titans to gaze longingly in the direction of Konz, a tall, tough and quick-footed center prospect out of the Paul Chryst Run Game Finishing School. Konz is sufficiently thick despite his 6’5" frame, but also has the mass and attitude to succeed at guard should that ever suit the Titans’ fancy.
That’s the last of the non-playoff teams – in the final segment we’ll look at the selections that the NFL’s 2011 playoff darlings will make in their effort to stay on top.