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), no. 26 Browns (Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State), no. 27 New Orleans Saints (Jason Verrett, CB, TCU), no. 28 Carolina Panthers (Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama), no. 29 New England Patriots (Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State) and no. 30 San Francisco 49ers (Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State). With the 31st pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, who do the Denver Broncos select?
Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska.
Our defense was a mess by the end of the season, and since then we’ve added guys like S T.J. Ward, DE/OLB DeMarcus Ware and CB Aqib Talib. Despite adding those three guys, we still need more talent and depth, especially in the secondary. Talib is locked into one CB spot, but Tony Carter should be at nickel and I’m not confident in anyone else to play outside for us.
Jean-Baptiste could very well be our version of Richard Sherman. He’s an outstanding athlete at 6-foot 3, 220-pounds, and while he may not have elite straight-line speed (4.61 40), he does have tremendous explosion and burst (41.5-inch vert and 128-inch broad jump). He’s physical at the line of scrimmage, never afraid to mix it up, and is tough in run support. He can be a little stiff in the hips in bump and run, but combats that with good anticipation. He’s a former receiver (like Sherman) so you know he’s got solid hands, and shows outstanding balance on jump balls.
This is a somewhat risky pick, as he’s still incredibly raw and undeveloped, but his ceiling is as high as any CB in the Draft. It’s a classic boom or bust pick, and considering the talent we already have on this team, it’s acceptable to take a risk here, especially one with the upside of Jean-Baptiste.
Who else was considered here? Surprisingly Chris Borland (ILB, Wisconsin). He’s not blessed with tremendous physical skills but has elite anticipation and production. He’s a smart, heady player who understands both leading a defense and reading an offense. He reminds me a lot of Zach Thomas, and would be an major upgrade over Jamar Chaney.
Xavier Su’a-Filo (OG, UCLA) is also a candidate here. His versatility and experience playing across the line would be a strong asset, and would help our inside ground game. He’d be a tremendous fit at LG playing next to LT Ryan Clady.