Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Mock draft: Kiper on the NFC East
By Dan Graziano
By now, all of you draft-crazy maniacs must know that Mel Kiper Jr. has released his second mock draft. It's Insider (and no, we're not just doing Insider stuff today — it's a coincidence, and for goodness' sake, it's a mock draft!), but I asked Mel and he said it'd be OK if I told you guys who he has the four NFC East teams taking. Just this once.
6. Washington Redskins: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU. Mel believes the Redskins could move out of this slot***, in particular if they make a play to move up and take quarterback Robert Griffin III. But Mel's mocks don't deal in potential trades, and he believes Claiborne represents the best value for Washington at No. 6, even given the team's obvious needs on offense. Mel says Claiborne "is actually a better pure cover corner than Patrick Peterson, the No. 5 overall pick from last year." No question, that would help.
14. Dallas Cowboys: Mark Barron, S, Alabama. Yes, a big percentage of this year's first round will be players who played in the BCS National Championship Game. Mel thinks Dallas' biggest need is defensive back, and he thinks the safety Barron represents better value at 14 than the next-best cornerback he has still available (Barron's teammate, Dre Kirkpatrick). As ever, the caveat is what happens in free agency. If they get a bunch of defensive backs in free agency, I believe they'll be looking for a pass rusher here. The next pass rusher off Mel's board is Illinois' Whitney Mercilus, whom he has going to Tennessee at No. 20.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Fletcher Cox, DT Mississippi State. Mel has Luke Kuechly gone already, and while linebacker is the Eagles' greater need, he doesn't see value for them at that position in this spot. I kind of agree, though if they don't get a linebacker here I think they need to make sure and get one in Round 2 or 3. Cox would help shore up the middle of Jim Washburn's defensive line rotation.
32. New York Giants: Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson. The champs lost two tight ends in the Super Bowl, and if Allen's still on the board at 32, he makes as much sense as anyone. If not, my guess is they pick an offensive lineman here.
***NOTE: This isn't, per se, an NFC East point, but it does affect the Redskins, at least tangentially. Mel has the Rams taking Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon with the No. 2 pick, and it made me think about the Rams' leverage in these negotiations with the teams that will want the pick to ensure they get Griffin. Even if, say, the Redskins become the only team willing to trade for the pick, the Rams still have plenty of leverage. Someone like Blackmon or USC tackle Matt Kalil would fill a major need for them, and if no team wants to give them the multiple-first-round-picks package they'll surely be seeking in exchange, they can very easily stay right where they are and get a potentially great player who can help them for years to come. It's not as though the Rams need to be out of No. 2. They'll only do it if they get blown away. Worth keeping in mind.