Every draftnik thinks they can do a better job of picking players than most real General Managers so I decided to put my expertise to the test. For the seventh year in a row I'll be selecting prospects for my own hypothetical NFL team using the following guidelines:
• I will get one selection in the middle of every round of the draft. • In each round I can only select a prospect who actually went in that frame. • I can't take anyone who was selected before my mid-round slot. • I can't choose more than one prospect at each position. • I will also be allowed to sign one undrafted free agent. • I will not be selecting for any particular offensive or defensive scheme.
At one point Bridgewater was considered to be a potential #1 overall pick but many jumped off the bandwagon following a disappointing Pro Day. Unlike some who claim to value game tape over workouts yet don’t practice what they preach I trust my eyes and refuse to overreact to how a prospect performs in shorts. Intangibles reign supreme at the quarterback position and Bridgewater sat atop my rankings due to his intelligence, work ethic, leadership ability and an innate feel for the game .
Actual: Round 1 - Minnesota Vikings (#32 Overall)
Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri 6-4 | 273 | 4.92
Teams always seem to be searching for pass rushers so it was surprising to see Ealy slide after legitimately being in the first round discussion. Ealy will require a degree of patience and some development but is big and rangy with both positional and schematic versatility. Ealy might even remind some of another former Mizzou product by the name of Aldon Smith. Ohio St. RB Carlos Hyde, Fresno St. WR Davante Adams and Texas Tech TE Jace Amaro were under consideration as well.
Actual: Round 2 - Carolina Panthers (#60 Overall)
Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame 6-2⅜ | 331 | 5.42
Nix was rated significantly higher than this on my board but I wasn't shocked when "Irish Chocolate" slid a bit. After all Nix is a true nose tackle best suited for a 3-4 scheme so right off the bat about half of the teams were out of the mix and of those remaining how many had a glaring need at the position? The 330 pound Nix can anchor the middle of an odd front but is also more disruptive than you might expect. North Carolina DE Kareem Martin and LSU OG Trai Turner were runner-ups.
Actual: Round 3 - Houston Texans (#83 Overall)
Brock Vereen, S, Minnesota 5-11⅝ | 199 | 4.47
I didn't necessarily love my options in the back half of this round but eventually settled on the younger brother of New England Patriots RB Shane Vereen over Arizona St. LB Carl Bradford, Lindenwood CB Pierre Desir and Furman OG Dakota Dozier. Vereen is a bit of a CB / S ‘tweener and lacks ideal size but he is a good football player with a well-rounded game, top intangibles and pro bloodlines. At the absolute least Vereen will contribute as a versatile backup / special teamer.
Actual: Round 4 - Chicago Bears (#131 Overall)
Jordan Tripp, OLB, Montana 6-2¾ | 234 | 4.67
Based on pure value my preference for this choice would've been Arkansas DE Chris Smith, Alabama DE Ed Stinson or Princeton DT Caraun Reid. However, after already addressing the d-line earlier I am forced to turn my attention elsewhere. That’s not to say I am unhappy with Tripp though because I had the small school standout rated just outside my Top 100 overall. Tripp is an extremely intense ‘backer with a nice blend of size and speed, a non-stop motor and top intangibles.
Duvernay-Tardif is a rare draftable talent out of Canada who in addition to excelling on the gridiron was also a pre-med student. "LDT" is undoubtedly a project but he possesses a rare blend of size and athleticism that you don’t often find available this late and as an added bonus is capable of playing either guard or tackle. Concordia (MN) DE Zach Moore and Tennessee DT Daniel McCullers also drew interest but in the end going with one of my prospect crushes was a no - brainer.
Actual: Round 6 - Kansas City Chiefs (#200 Overall)
A strong case can be made that Henderson was a first round talent but his stock was as clouded by character concerns as any prospect in this class. Thus far injuries and off-the-field issues have prevented Henderson from maximizing his vast potential but he is a massive physical specimen with freakish athleticism and major upside. Boise St. OL Charles Leno, Missouri DE Michael Sam, Saginaw Valley St. WR Jeff Janis and Oklahoma FB Trey Millard were also in the conversation.
Actual: Round 7 - Buffalo Bills (#237 Overall)
Undrafted Free Agent
Christian Jones, MLB, Florida St. 6-3⅛ | 240 | 4.74
Jones was arguably a fringe Top 100 talent but slid out of the draft completely due to character concerns. At this point there is little or no risk so I am willing to roll the dice. An explosive athlete with excellent speed and a rangy frame, the versatile Jones played both outside and middle linebacker in college and also saw action at defensive end as an edge pass rusher. Tennessee OT Antonio Richardson, LSU DT Anthony Johnson & Alabama OLB Adrian Hubbard were also in the discussion.
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