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 fifth 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, Class of '10 and Class of '11. So far I'm doing pretty well!
So without further adieu here is my fifth annual "Dream Draft":
David DeCastro, OG, Stanford 6-4⅞ | 316 | 5.43
This is year five of the "Dream Draft" experiment and I've yet to miss on a first round pick. I don't expect to start with this one. DeCastro was arguably the safest prospect in this class due to a prototypical blend of physical tools and intangibles. DeCastro slid because teams were reluctant to use a premium choice on a true guard but I won't make that mistake. A Top 10 talent on my board, DeCastro should be a high-level starter for the next decade. The runner-up was Iowa OL Riley Reiff.
With some players you just have to throw measurables out the door and watch the film. David lacks the ideal size you'd prefer but the guy is a true football player in every sense. An aggressive 'backer with elite instincts, range and intangibles, it is not hard to see why David has drawn comparisons to Derrick Brooks. David was a first rounder on my board, which is why he gets the nod over North Carolina OLB Zach Brown, Michigan St. DT Jerel Worthy and UConn DT Kendall Reyes.
Actual: Round 2 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (#58 Overall)
Draftniks tend to develop what I like to call prospect crushes on certain players and Bentley was definitely one of mine. In fact, I was driving the "Bill" Bentley bandwagon long before the Ragin' Cajun began opening eyes at the Senior Bowl. An outstanding natural athlete with excellent speed, quickness and fluid hips, Bentley is a bit undersized but is tough, feisty and plays bigger than you'd expect. Even if Bentley doesn't emerge as a starter he should at least be a top-notch nickel.
Actual: Round 3 - Detroit Lions (#85 Overall)
Orson Charles, TE, Georgia 6-2½ | 251 | 4.73
At one point Charles was considered to be a potential first rounder but for reasons that are still somewhat murky he slid further than expected on Draft Day. A pass catching specialist with rare athleticism and speed and a yoked up physique, Charles could be an impact H-Back along the lines of Aaron Hernandez at the next level. Unfortunately Charles is blocked by Jermaine Gresham in Cincy so barring an injury he won't have too many opportunities to showcase his unique skill set.
Iloka is essentially a safety in a linebacker's body and you just don't see defensive backs with his rare size and length very often. Of course there are reasons for that, most notably pad level and transition issues, but in the middle rounds I am willing to take a flyer. After all, Iloka was a good enough athlete to see some action at cornerback as a senior. Even if Iloka doesn't emerge as a starting safety in the pros he should still offer plenty of value as a backup and stud special teamer.
I wasn't enthralled with the options available in this round... It's ironic that I went with Winn because throughout much of the process I singled him out as one of most overrated prospects in this class. However, that was when he was considered to be a Top 100 overall pick. Winn is inconsistent but the physical tools are there and I'm willing to roll the dice in the late rounds. Winn is a "Looks Like Tarzan, Plays Like Jane" type, but if the light ever comes on this could be a steal.
Actual: Round 6 - Cleveland Browns (#205 Overall)
B.J. Coleman, QB, Chattanooga 6-3⅛ | 233 | 4.94
I am a proponent of consistently bringing in developmental signal callers in the later rounds. After all, there is no such thing as too many good quarterbacks and they could turn out to be valuable trade chips. Coleman is far from a finished product but he possesses both the physical tools and intangibles to potentially compete for a starting job down the line. Health issues ultimately scared me away from Florida State OT Andrew Datko and Virginia DE / OLB Cam Johnson.
Actual: Round 7 - Green Bay Packers (#243 Overall)
Undrafted Free Agent
Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Arizona St. 6-1⅜ | 248 | 4.90
There was a time when Burfict looked like a potential Top 10 overall pick but one off-the-field issue after another absolutely torpedoed his stock. I stayed in Burfict's corner longer than most but even I eventually had to admit defeat and drop him far down my rankings. There is little or no risk with bringing Burfict in as a free agent though and if he ever does get his head on straight and grow up this will be an amazing value. If ever there was a "Boom or Bust" prospect it's Vontaze Burfict.
Actual: Undrafted - Signed by the Cincinnati Bengals
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