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 fourth year in a row I will 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.
There is no point in doing this experiment without some accountability and I will always link to my past efforts so everyone can judge for themselves how I'm doing. Here is my Class of '08, Class of '09 and Class of '10, which I must say have all been impressive.
So without further adieu here is my fourth annual "Dream Draft":
Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska 6-0 | 206 | 4.43
This was a tough decision between Amukamara and Cal DE Cameron Jordan, but I went with the highest ranked player on my big board. Arguably a Top 10 talent, Amukamara inexplicably slid further than expected on Draft Day but he has everything you look for physically including prototypical size, speed and athleticism plus top-notch intangibles to boot. Prince may or may not be a "shutdown corner", but he is definitely starting material and that's a valuable commodity.
Actual: Round 1 - New York Giants (#19 Overall)
Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson 6-3⅜ | 280 | 4.94
Time to roll the dice! Bowers most likely would have been a Top 10 overall pick if not for some health and durability concerns but at this point the potential rewards outweigh the risks. While not the dynamic edge pass rusher that his college stats might lead you to believe, Bowers has the ability to be a terrific two-way left end in the pros. If Bowersí knee holds up, I got a steal. I might have opted for Brandon Harris of Miami (FL) if I hadnít already selected a cornerback in round one.
Actual: Round 2 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (#51 Overall)
Mason Foster, ILB, Washington 6-1¼ | 245 | 4.75
This pick was essentially a no-brainer as Foster was one of my favorite prospects in this class throughout the entire draft process. A true football player, Foster is extremely active and just has a knack for being around the action. Further adding to Fosterís value is his ability to play either inside or outside. There were other linebackers available who were bigger and / or faster, but I'd bet on Foster every time. Foster is basically the epitome of the type of player I would want on my team.
Actual: Round 3 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (#84 Overall)
Julius Thomas, TE, Portland St. 6-4⅝ | 256 | 4.68
There are very few true sleepers these days, but Thomas was an exception. However, I became a huge fan after watching him excel at the East / West Shrine Game. A former basketball star who only played one season of college football, Thomas is obviously extremely raw but he is an outstanding athlete with good size and seemingly unlimited potential. Oklahoma St. RB Kendall Hunter and Eastern Washington RB Taiwan Jones also received strong consideration here.
Actual: Round 4 - Denver Broncos (#129 Overall)
Jeremy Kerley, WR, T.C.U. 5-9½ | 189 | 4.59
I struggled with this pick because there were a number of players I liked but none I loved. I went with Kerley because of his versatility. A jack-of-all-trades, Kerley doesnít profile as a starting wideout but in addition to his offensive responsibilities as both a pass catcher and runner he can also contribute as a return man and get snaps as a wildcat quarterback. Tennessee WR Denarius Moore, Florida S Ahmad Black, Marshall TE Lee Smith & Fresno St. OLB Chris Carter were candidates too.
Actual: Round 5 - New York Jets (#153 Overall)
Jerrell Powe, DT, Ole Miss 6-1¾ | 335 | 5.29
Powe was widely considered to be a possible early round pick heading into his senior year but saw his stock steadily decline as the process wore on. A mountain of a man, Powe's a classic two-gap nose who excels at occupying space in the middle and stuffing the run. Powe has struggled to keep his weight in check at times and must also overcome a learning disability, which are major risk factors, but I feel comfortable taking a late round flyer on that rare blend of size and athleticism.
Actual: Round 6 - Kansas City Chiefs (#199 Overall)
Lee Ziemba, OT, Auburn 6-5⅝ | 317 | 5.60
In the seventh round you are just looking for someone who can compete for a roster spot and I think Ziemba could offer value as a swing backup at both tackle and guard. A four-year starter at left tackle in the SEC, Ziembaís short arms, lack of athleticism and health issues led to him coming off the board later than anticipated. The upside is limited, but I know what I'm getting with Ziemba. I also liked Pitt DE Greg Romeus in this round but I had already addressed that position earlier.
Mark Herzlich, OLB, Boston College 6-4 | 244 | 4.92
At one point it looked like Herzlich was destined to be a first round pick but a battle against a rare form of bone cancer and a lackluster senior campaign sent his draft stock plummeting. Even so, it was still a pretty big shock when Herzlich went undrafted. Itís hard to imagine Herzlich ever becoming the dynamic all-around playmaker he once was, but he's also the type of guy that you hate to doubt. At the very least I think Herzlich could contribute as a backup and special teamer.
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