With both the Senior Bowl and Combine in the books, we’ve reached a perfect time for an updated mock draft. As usual, we’ll go pick by pick to make sure we discuss each pick thoroughly enough, and as usual, we’re assuming I’m the GM, so I’m not making picks based off who I actually think will go where, but rather who I’d take with the slot. And no, no trade scenarios because they’re infinite.
Here’s a quick rundown of our draft so far: no. 1 Houston Texans (Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina), no. 2 St. Louis Rams (Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M), no. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars (Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville), no. 4 Cleveland Browns (Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M), no. 5 Oakland Raiders (Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn), no. 6 Atlanta Falcons (Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan), no. 7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson), no. 8 Minnesota Vikings (Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State), no. 9 Buffalo Bills (Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo), no. 10 Detroit Lions (Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M), no. 11 Tennessee Titans (Anthony Barr, DE/OLB, UCLA), no. 12 New York Giants (C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama), no. 13 St. Louis Rams (Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama), no. 14 Chicago Bears (Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri). no. 15 Pittsburgh Steelers (Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State), no. 16 Dallas Cowboys (Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt), no. 17 Baltimore Ravens (Eric Ebron, TE, UNC), no. 18 New York Jets (Marqise Lee, WR, USC), no. 19 Miami Dolphins (Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame), no. 20 Arizona Cardinals (Ra’Shede Hageman, DT/DE, Minnesota), no. 21 Green Bay Packers (Lous Nix, NT, Notre Dame), no. 22 Philadelphia Eagles (Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn), no. 23 Kansas City Chiefs (Odell Beckham, WR, LSU), no. 24 Cincinnati Bengals (Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State), no. 25 San Diego Chargers (Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State) and no. 26 Browns (Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State). With the 27th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, who do the New Orleans Saints select?
Jason Verrett, CB, TCU.
Our defense made huge strides last year under first year DC Rob Ryan, and it was particularly impressive because we successfully transitioned from an even to odd front. Still, due to cap concerns, key defensive players like OLB Will Smith, CB Jabari Greer, S Roman Harper, S Malcolm Jenkins and ILB Jonathan Vilma won’t be back, leaving us with some holes to fill.
I’d have to honestly say an elite edge rushing outside linebacker is our biggest hole, mainly because I don’t know if Junior Galette’s 12 sack explosion last year was a career year or the beginning of something special. Even still, considering the board and where we’re at in the Draft, it’s too early for someone like Jeremiah Attaochu (Georgia Tech) or Demarcus Lawrence (Boise St.), and the second tier of cornerbacks is largely untouched.
Verrett isn’t the biggest guy in the world at 5-foot 9, 190-pounds, but he plays much bigger than that, showing good physicality and an unwillingness to back down from bigger and stronger wide receivers. He has excellent read and react skills and does a nice job reading both the QB and the route runner. His hips and feet are smooth in backpedal, and shows good explosion through breaks. His straight-line speed is outstanding (4.38 40) and he has good recovery speed for the occasions he’s beat off the line. Schematically he should be a good fit in Ryans odd front, showing the skills to confidently play man coverage and also the tackling ability for blitzes and stopping the outside run.
With Verrett and Keenan Lewis playing outside, Corey White inside at nickel and Kenny Vaccaro and Jairus Byrd at safety, I’m really liking the future of our secondary.
Who else was considered here? Brandin Cooks (WR, Oregon St.) would be a good fit and a good value. With his tremendous speed (4.33 40) and playmaking ability, he’s an ideal fit in HC Sean Payton’s multidimensional offense, and would ably replace Darren Sproles’ role. ILB Chris Borland (Wisconsin) would also be a good fit in Ryan’s scheme next to Curtis Loftin, but no. 27 is still a little too high for him.