Ever since our compensatory picks were announced, I've been revamping the Mock Draft I initially posted before Free Agency started. I still have a few of the same picks, especially in the first few rounds, however, I made a specific effort to really try to scout out the late round talent. The way I approached this version was by providing a preferred choice and an alternative choice for each pick of the draft, while giving an explanation as to why.
I spent the most amount of time on rounds 4 through 7 because I didn't want to just toss in any old names. So, this is the result of a good amount of time spent evaluating back of the draft prospects and I put a lot of thought into my analysis. Because it's "the mock draft you weren't expecting," it means there's no Amaro, Lee, Ebron, Dennard or Cooks in the first round (although I wouldn't mind the latter two). Instead, I intentionally avoided the obvious and made choices almost no one is making, because in reality that's usually what happens. I tried to emphasize value above all else for each pick. If you have the time and interest, please feel free to read it all, but I understand there is a lot here so no worries just voting off the names alone.
Round 1. OLB/ILB C.J. Mosley, Alabama
This is wishful thinking on my part. Mosley, in my opinion, is hands down a Top 10 talent. The only reason I'm even entertaining the possibility that he's there at 18 is because many mocks have it as so. Personally, I don't think he makes it past pick 12 before either the Giants snatch him or someone trades down for him. The most versatile linebacker I've seen in a long time, you could plug him inside or outside and he'll just flat out dominate. A no-question Day 1 starter, Rex Ryan would drool over having a backer as competent as Mosley that could do whatever is asked of him. If he's there at 18 and we don't pick him, I might get into a fight with someone. He's just that good. There isn't a Wide Receiver in this draft, including Watkins, that I would take before taking Mosley. End of love letter.
Alternative: OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan
Brick's replacement in 2015 (yeah, I said it. What?!), this guy has all the right potential but still plays a little unrefined. In the meantime, he'd make a great utility piece, either competing with Breno for the right-side or just filling in at guard somewhere. A year of pro experience under his belt and he should be good to go by his sophomore season. Some folks think he's a Day 1 starter and I know most people want that from a first rounder, but I saw too much that still needs to develop in his fundamentals to have faith in him as a rookie. Nonetheless, I think there's no question that he could make a quality starter in this league eventually.
Round 2. WR Paul Richardson, Colorado
What else can I say about this guy I haven't repeated ad nauseum? Simply electrifying, I am in love with the way he plays the game. You want playmakers on the offense? His middle name is playmaker. If it weren't for his thin frame, he'd be a 1st round pick in any draft class because there isn't a piece of his game that isn't at a high level. Occasionally he will catch it with his body, but that is very correctable. As it is, I'm not concerned with his hands nor his size. I'm convinced he can put on enough weight to go hard at the pro-level and then once he does, watch out. All the potential in the world to be unstoppable. Other than Mosley, he would be the best pick of the draft.
Alternative: SS Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois
Explosive, hard-hitting, menacing dude. This guy could come in and anchor our safety position (see ya, landry). A little undersized for the position, he makes up for it with his surprisingly deft cover skills. Would be an excellent scheme fit and it would be nice to see Rex's defense draft some plays for a safety with his skillset. Best safety in the draft, imo.
Round 3. C/G Travis Swanson, Arkansas
I'm really shocked that this guy hasn't moved farther up draft boards because man is he going to be good. A weak class for centers, Swanson is fluid and we could bring him in to play Guard until we're ready to move on from Mangold in a few years. The versatility in his game is crucial and he's among the quickest off the line. A real third-round gem and a total steal.
Alternative: RB Charles Sims, West Virginia
A great back for Marty's offense. In fact, he does everything a back in our system needs to do as well as anybody else, except the actual running the ball part. In that regard, he's sadly mediocre. Not going to get far punching it up the gut with this guy, but he can be dangerous on the screen. Most important are his top-notch pass-blocking skills, which, especially this year, we'll need. He'll never be a star but he'll fill a highly important function in our current offensive system, which will make him underrated but no less valuable.
Round 4. CB E.J. Gaines, Missouri
All the hype has been surrounding the other CB Philip Gaines, but for my money, E.J. Gaines in the fourth is the way to go. This guy is going to need some time to develop but has a very high ceiling. He's thoroughly experienced in man coverages and if any coach could make the most of his abilities, it's Rex. He's very much a natural man corner with great instincts and patience. The biggest problem is he rivals Deion Sanders in terms of pitiful tackling skills. He won't be ready for a couple seasons, but I could easily see him eventually rising to become our #2 corner, if developed right. In a deep CB draft, it's pretty realistic we can pick up some great value in Gaines at this spot.
Alternative: TE Arthur Lynch, Georgia
Nothing special as far as receiving goes, but man is this guy a great blocker. I think we'll need it with our shaky line and I'm fine spending a fourth on a quality blocking TE. The guy is more of a fast Guard with soft hands that can run basic routes than he is a Gronk clone. Some might hate going for the more traditional TE, but I think he could suit us well by opening up lanes as a run-blocker and also make for a quality special teamer. Remember, this is the fourth round we're talking about.
Round 4. ILB Shayne Skov, Stanford
I'm going to make what I know to be a controversial statement: Our linebackers are the weakest unit of our whole team. To put it bluntly, they suck. Davis is overrated and an average-at-best middle guy and David Harris can't really be described as anything better than reliable. Adding Mosley wouldn't be enough, in my eyes. Enter Shayne Skov. Impeccable instincts, high motor and can actually blitz pretty damn good (!), Skov is certainly no worse as a rookie than Davis. CBS compares him to Harris. I think, where he is right now, that's fair. But in terms of potential, I think he could develop into much more than Harris has. Harris isn't exactly a stud in the pass game and neither is Stov, but again, I like his instincts and I think he could improve. He's a great depth pick that would likely upseat Davis, or at the very least push him to improve.
Alternative: CB Deion Belue, Alabama
Another developmental guy with a high ceiling, we could certainly do worse than drafting Belue here. He strikes me as the inverse of Skov above, in that he doesn't rely enough of his instincts and uses his natural athleticism to overcome mistakes. He's fast and from what I can tell, a real team-first, whatever is asked, type of player. Perfect for special teams.
Round 4. RB James White, Wisconsin
Always take at least one running back each draft. That's my motto. White has precise fundamentals and a no-quit attitude, but the fact is he's a limited athlete. Heart alone won't make him a premiere back and his small frame ain't doing him any favors. Nonetheless, he'd make a solid complementary piece. Won't blow your mind, but won't let you down either.
Alternative: WR Devin Street, Pittsburgh
A big guy who plays tough, he'd make a good #4 to send down the middle on short yardage situations. He's got fantastic hands, better than most late round prospects and he'll fight for every catch made in traffic. Other than that, nothing really wows you. But hey, it's the fourth round, you're not looking for Randy Moss. I think a lot of times people tend to underestimate just how much of a hole lack of depth can be and just filling it with any lower tiered player can be a huge mistake. It needs to be filled with the right type of player. Our receiving core could certainly benefit from a big, physical guy with reliable hands to go down the middle and pick up the first against a mike in a crucial situation. He's exactly that guy and would make an impact in that way. A welcomed addition.
Round 5. DE Michael Sam, Missouri
Let me say out the gate, Michael Sam would be a steal in the fifth round and I could care less if that means he'll get more media coverage than backups usually do. Rarely do you get an opportunity to see a late-rounders leadership abilities on display and the way he navigated the media-blitz after he came out was absolutely perfect. Yes, his combine was terrible. You know what I don't give two farts about? Combines. As far as his game, it's the all-too-common tale of dominant pass rusher in college, but too small in the NFL. All of his criticism comes back to size. Too small to do this, too small to handle that, but truthfully, if you watch the tape, there isn't a part of his game that isn't above-average. He simply does everything well. Of course, it all means nothing if he can't overcome his size, but in the fifth, that's exactly the kind of chance you take. If he can adjust to the pro-game than goodnight because we will have finally found our pass rush specialist.
Alternative: QB Aaron Murray, Georgia
Oh how the mighty fall. Once considered a top prospect, he's now running risk of not being drafted, according to some. Personally, I think a lot of the criticism is a little overblown. Yes, he is in no way a polished gem. Yes, he is easily rattled and prone to mistakes when hurried. Yes, he makes some really dumb throws. Yes, he's coming off a bum ACL. But he's got about as much promise as any other player you're going to nab in the fifth so why not take a stab on a QB many thought would be a round 1 lock just one year ago? Personally, I don't see a gulf of difference between him and the top prospects this year. With some time and coaching, who knows? Worth a shot at least.
Round 6. DE Aaron Lynch, South Florida
My favorite of the late round picks. He's getting the Coples comparison a lot, but I think that's a little overblown. Lynch at his best is still a step below Coples at his best, if for no other reason than his game isn't as polished. But man is this kid good when he wants to be. Don't know if it's lack of heart or what, but he's a classic example of guy throwing away a lot of rarely gifted talent. If Rex Ryan and Karl Dunbar can't get him to produce, I doubt anyone else could. He's a little small for his position, but bulking him up shouldn't be a problem. He's truly his own greatest enemy. If we can change his attitude than really the skys the limit and my god I don't even want to think about how good our line will get. Could be a Vontaze Burfict type situation. Although, unlike Burfict, I don't think he can come in and see a lot of time immediately, even with an improved motor. Yes, he's as gifted as anyone, but still majorly raw and will need time to perfect his fundamentals.
Alternative: FB J.C. Copeland, LSU
Ever wondered what it would be like to have an offensive guard in the backfield? Than say hello to Mr. Copeland! Really, it's like having a sixth lineman on the field. Made for pass-blocking, he'd also rack up the points in goal-line situations. The man is flat-out enormous. And whereas I'd rather pass it to Mangold before sending him out for a catch, it's the sixth round. Plus, it's not like Tommy Bohannon has the job locked-down or anything.
Round 6. OT Seantrel Henderson, Miami
There's a lot of ways to approach drafting a late round player. The Seantrel Henderson approach is one of my favorites. An offensive tackle that never lived up to his billing in college, he's a physical specimen that will need some time to develop if he's ever going to make it in the league. In the meantime, he could provide some solid depth. Might even benefit from a year on the practice squad. Low risk, high reward to a T. An OT. Get it?
Alternative: FS Tre Boston, North Carolina
The definition of inconsistency, sometimes he's a beast, other times he looks like a lost puppy. Definitely someone who relies on his strengths to hide his weaknesses, but the problem being he has too many weaknesses to fully hide them. Who knows if this guy will ever put it all together? Nonetheless, all the tools are there to build the house, so if it's only going to cost us a sixth, might as well start testing out the foundation. It's certainly a position where we could use the depth and if nothing else he'd make a solid camp body to push the guys we do have to step it up a bit.
Round 6. C Zac Kerin, Toledo
I don't know if we've ever drafted two centers in the same draft, and this is definitely not the strongest draft for centers, but we're not expecting him to start either. He's the kind of player that gets by on a combination of size and heart, but very limited ability. Again, another depth pick to push a line that is thin and complacent. Also, and this is just my own personal crazy idea that I have seen zero others suggest, but given his size, speed off the snap and will to fight, he might be able to transition to defensive tackle. It's another experiment with changing the side of the field for late-round linemen ala William Campbell, but with 12 picks you can afford to do that of thing.
Alternative: DT Jay Bromley, Syracuse
An actual defensive tackle, he's a total project player and not even guaranteed a roster spot. The reason I like him over other prospects here is because he's got experience all over the line and since we like to line up our starters all over the line, I'm of the mind that we need depth guys who can do the same. He won't be taking Harrison's job away from him and Ellis is also likely safe, but there's no hurt in fleshing out our practice squad with someone who can make for solid insurance in the future, should we need that kind of contribution.
Round 6. TE Richard Rodgers, California
This guy fits the mold pretty well for the new breed of TE. Quality hands and can't block worth a damn. Personally, I don't see much difference from Ebron here, except maybe Ebron doesn't make as many dumb mistakes. Still, considering that Ebron will go in the 1st or 2nd whereas Rodgers is lucky if he gets drafted, I'd say this would be a good value pickup. Certainly has the potential to one day upseat the great and powerful Cumberland, but will need some time on the practice field first.
Alternative: QB Tajh Boyd, Clemson
This guy is worth a late-round flyer. He fell apart this year and will likely never be a starter, but like I said, this guy is worth a late-round flyer. Just too much talent to ignore.
Round 7. WR L'Damian Washington, Missouri
A true victim of a deep WR draft, in a weaker class this guy is an easy fifth round snag. He's got big height and is fast as all hell. Almost too fast for his size. Would definitely be a guy you send down the field to either draw coverage or stretch them back with a deep shot. Very unreliable hands and definitely needs work in most aspects of his game, his ceiling is likely at a #3 but for a seventh rounder, that's a worthy ceiling.
Alternative: P Patrrick O'Donnell, Miami
Quigley is meh and it's the seventh round so why not give him a wake up call? His build reminds me of Weatherford. Maybe he'll punt as good as him too. Besides, who will care about our QB battle when there will be a Punter War raging out in Cortland!