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SALT LAKE CITY — Thursday is the NFL draft or, as I call it, Christmas. I love the draft, I’ve made that no secret over the years. This year, in all it’s infinite wisdom, the NFL decided to push the draft back a few weeks into May, and as a result, there has been a significant increase in mock drafts.
Now, I could fall in line and do a mock draft based on what I think NFL teams will do like everybody else in the free world. However, I’m doing a mock draft with a twist.
In no way, shape or form have I seen enough film of every prospect that could go in the first round tonight to give you an accurate projection of where they might go. I have, however, seen an incredible amount of film on our local college players. So what I decided to do was make a mock draft using only local football players.
Here are the guidelines:
- I can draft any local player who has played in the NFL in the past 10 years. (I picked 10 because it’s a nice round number and gives me a larger pool to pick from.)
- I can also draft any local football player who played high school football in the state of Utah but didn’t play college here (Haloti Ngata, Xavier Su’a-Filo, Stewart Bradley, etc.).
- I can draft any local football players who are eligible for the draft this year (Kyle Van Noy, Keith McGill, etc.).
- I am not taking into account injury history. I will take every player based on a sample of his best seasons or, in the case of those eligible this year, his potential.
- I’m using the first round order of tonight’s NFL draft, and I will take into account the players' needs in reality, but I’ve always been a best available guy.
- I will not be making any trades.
Houston: Haloti Ngata
One of the most disruptive forces playing the game. If I had the chance to pair Ngata with JJ Watt, I would sprint to the podium.
St. Louis: Jordan Gross
A franchise left tackle for the next decade at the two spot. Easy decision.
Jacksonville: Steve Smith
Jacksonville needs to be re-energized; the franchise, the fan base, everything. No one over the past decade has had more energy than Smith. He’s a playmaker and he is just what the team needs.
Cleveland: Eric Weddle
A good defense adds one of the best safeties in the game. The beard will fit in well with the dawg pound.
Oakland: Chris Cooley
Don’t think he’s a top five pick? Seventy-one catches in ’05, 83 catches in ’08 and 77 catches in ’10. If Matt Schaub is your QB, you need a safety valve and Cooley would be a perfect fit.
Atlanta: Donald Penn
Left tackles are essential for success. However, there aren’t a lot of left tackles in this pool of players. Penn was a Pro Bowl caliber player in Tampa Bay and the Falcons are in dire need of a tackle.
Tampa Bay: Alex Smith
The other thing this pool of players lack? Quarterbacks. I like Smith but I wouldn’t take him top five in this scenario. Two of the past three years, Smith has thrown for 3,000 plus yards and career high 23 touchdowns in ’13. Great fit in Tampa.
Minnesota: Ziggy Ansah
The team has a new head coach who loves defense and just lost Jared Allen. It makes a lot of sense.
Buffalo: Dennis Pitta
Pitta is starting to come into his own, a career-high 61 catches in ’12. Buffalo has a young quarterback and needs a play-making tight end.
Detroit: Bobby Wagner
Building your front seven is essential for success. The Lions already have a great defensive line. Why not add one of the best middle linebackers in the game?
Tennessee: Brett Keisel
The Titans are switching to a 3-4 defense, and Keisel has been one of the best 3-4 defensive ends in the league. His beard nearly put him in the top 10.
New York Giants: Star Lotulelei
The team lost its defensive tackle in the offseason, and Star showed how he can transform a defensive line in Carolina. Plug him in and stop the run.
St. Louis: Andre Dyson
Sixteen interceptions and three defensive touchdowns in his first four seasons in the league. The Rams need a corner, and if I’m picking from this pool. Dyson at his height is who I would chose.
Chicago: Paul Solai
His stats aren’t flashy but, much like Star, he changes a defense immediately. He eats up blockers and plugs holes. He allows playmakers to make plays.
Pittsburgh: Kyle Van Noy
It’s a great match; 3-4, zone blitzing team for a linebacker who played in a zone-based 3-4.
Dallas: Paul Kruger
Dallas lost DeMarcus Ware and need a pass rush. Low and behold, Kruger is waiting there at pick 16.
Baltimore: Zane Beadles
The team lost some pieces of its offensive line, and the best interior lineman on the board is still there for the taking.
New York Jets: Kevin Curtis
First receiver off the board; I thought long and hard about Austin Collie here. Their career-best three-year arc is very similar. I’ll go with the former Aggie here.
Miami: Koa Misi
He just signed a four-year extension with the team, so why wouldn’t they pick him if he was there?
Arizona: Austin Collie
Perfect complement in the slot for Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. I feel like once again I will reiterate, I do not take injury history into account.
Green Bay: Sean Smith
Green Bay needs secondary help, and in a league that is now obsessed with big corners, Smith fits the bill.
Philadelphia: Brice McCain
A run on corners is beginning. McCain has had a good run since entering the league and is a good value pick in this pool of players this late.
Kansas City: Trevor Reilly
I really like Reilly; versatile, high motor, tough (guy played with a torn ACL for crying out loud). I know Jason Shepard is loving this pick.
Cincinnati: Nevin Lawson
Lawson before Will Davis? I say yes; I still believe to this day Lawson is better than Davis. If I were picking here and had my choice of the two, Lawson would be my pick.
San Diego Chargers: Will Davis
And with that said, I’ll take Davis with the next pick.
Cleveland Browns: Cody Hoffman
Sure, he had a horrible, horrible combine; but if Hoffman can ever channel that 2012 season talent, he can be an impact player in the NFL. In Cleveland he wouldn’t have to be a No. 1 guy with Josh Gordon there and could take advantage of single coverage.
New Orleans: Mo Alexander
Either Alexander or Daniel Sorensen could go here. Very similar when it comes to style of play. Sorensen has the edge in experience, but Alexander would fit the team's scheme a little better. That’s why he’s the pick
Carolina: Xavier Su’a-Filo
This actually might happen in the real NFL draft. At least, I hope it does.
New England: Jake Murphy
New England has, how shall we say, a unique situation with tight ends right now; Murphy seems like a Belichick guy.
San Francisco: Keith McGill
Another pick that might actually happen. However, it wouldn’t be until the second round.
Denver: Robert Turbin
Turbin has shown flashes the past two seasons; in Denver, with Knowshon Moreno gone, Turbin would get the majority of the carries. He’s great at catching the ball out of the backfield, which is a must playing with Peyton Manning.
Seattle: Stewart Bradley
The defending champs have the luxury of picking best available, and Bradley is the pick. In 2008 he had 108 total tackles for the Eagles, and with Wagner being taken by the Lions, the team needs a new middle linebacker.
Some notables who just missed out:
There you go. Who would you take No. 1 overall? Who’s the worst pick? How wrong was I?
Enjoy the draft, folks.