NFC North: 2014 Mel Kiper mock 3.0

Analyzing Kiper 3.0: Bears

March, 13, 2014
3/13/14
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ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. unveiled his Mock 3.0 on Thursday, and just like his draft-guru colleague Todd McShay of Scouts Inc., he projected the Chicago Bears to take Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald with the No. 14 pick.

Chicago’s signings thus far in free agency certainly make such a move prudent. Although the Bears re-signed defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff and Nate Collins before the start of free agency, the club still hasn’t put together an enticing enough offer to bring back Henry Melton, who, according to a league source, is visiting Minnesota but also has several other visits lined up.

If the Bears can’t re-sign Melton or any other starting-level defensive tackles in free agency, they’ll certainly turn to the draft to address that need. Kiper sent Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan to the Bears at No. 14 in his first two mock drafts, writing in Mock 2.0 that “I’m a bigger fan of Jernigan in a 4-3 look, where he’s using his power to go through a blocker and not trying to beat people off the snap and use quickness.”

McShay chose Donald in his last mock draft, saying, "Donald is a perfect fit for the Bears’ scheme as a 3-technique defensive tackle. I don’t know if there’s been a prospect who has helped his stock more during the draft process than him. He was unblockable at the Senior Bowl, and that, put together with an unbelievable overall workout at the combine. He’s shorter than prototype size, but he has long arms and a powerful upper body and creates a lot of big plays with his anticipation and quickness. FSU’s Timmy Jernigan is a fit as a 3-technique as well, but Donald is a much better finisher as a pass-rusher."

Kiper and McShay have both been consistent throughout their mock drafts in Chicago's using its first-round pick to address the defensive tackle position, and from this vantage point they’re on the money.

Donald might actually be more of a fit than Jernigan at No. 14 because the Bears might benefit from pairing him with Ratliff next season. If Donald doesn’t pan out early, the worst-case scenario is he would provide depth at a position that lacked it in 2013 when injuries rendered the defense rudderless.

The Bears last season gave up the most points (478) and total yards (6,313) in franchise history as opponents put together 10 100-yard-rushing performances.

Uncertainty still exists along Chicago’s defensive line despite the signings of Ratliff, Collins and free-agent defensive end Lamarr Houston. The Bears need to add along the front four to avoid experiencing another catastrophe such as what they endured in 2013.

“I feel like I can make an impact right away, feel like I can come in and have trust in the coaches and playbook and make plays right away,” Donald said last month at the NFL combine.

At this point, that’s certainly what the Bears need in their attempt to revamp the defense.

Analyzing Kiper 3.0: Lions

March, 13, 2014
3/13/14
2:00
PM ET
The Lions might have signed Golden Tate and Kevin Ogletree already this week, but that hasn't stopped Mel Kiper Jr. from predicting Detroit will go wide receiver again in the first round of May's NFL draft.

Kiper is tabbing Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans with the No. 10 pick to Detroit, and while it would make sense for the Lions to pick up another receiver, considering who else is available on Kiper's board still at No. 10, it might be a stretch.

Based on Kiper's latest mock draft, the Lions would have their pick of Evans, linebacker Anthony Barr, tight end Eric Ebron, safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and cornerback Justin Gilbert. All, in one way or another, have been linked to Detroit early in the process.

And considering the team's needs at the present moment -- safety, cornerback, tight end and defensive end -- it would be surprising to see Detroit go with Evans if this were the way it were to shake out.

Of course, a lot can shift between now and May, or even a week from now, when most of the quality free agents will have likely been scooped up. And if Detroit addresses some of its other needs, then Evans becomes a potential value/best player available pick and could give the Lions a dynamic receiving corps.

Here is Kiper's take on why he would still go with Evans:
"After the Lions signed Golden Tate, the obvious reaction is to think they go another direction here. I'll counter and say that the Lions didn't just need one wide receiver, they needed two, and I'd also say that while Tate is a nice addition, he doesn't do much to ease the worry of what this offense looks like when Calvin Johnson isn't healthy. The Lions shouldn't be done at this position, and I think Evans is too good to pass up here. Tate's presence doesn't mean this is no longer a need."


There is definitely logic there, especially if offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi believes Tate will be more effective in the slot than on the outside or wants to get super creative and use Johnson in the slot more often. But depending on what Detroit needs, it might not be the best use of such a high draft pick.

Analyzing Kiper 3.0: Packers

March, 13, 2014
3/13/14
2:00
PM ET
A month ago, it looked like there was little to no chance the Green Bay Packers would have a shot at Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley at No. 21 in the first round of the draft.

In fact, in his Mock Draft 2.0, Mel Kiper Jr. predicted Mosley would go to the New York Giants at No. 12.

That was before issues arose about Mosley's health. However, he said recently at Alabama's pro day that he has repeatedly checked out fine.

Nevertheless, Kiper has dropped Mosley significantly in his Mock Draft 3.0, which was released Thursday. Kiper believes that if Mosley is indeed available to the Packers at No. 21, they will take him.

His range and ability to cover and tackle would appear to be a good fit for the Packers, who need to upgrade their inside linebacker productivity. While A.J. Hawk had perhaps his best season, the Packers were disappointed with what they got out of Brad Jones at the other inside spot.

Kiper wrote: "... while I know depth on the defensive line is a concern, Mosley is a great value at this point and is a player who can step in right away at inside linebacker and improve the unit. His ability in coverage from the linebacker position surpasses that of anybody in this draft, and if he can stay healthy, he's going to be an impact player early on."

It's interesting to note that Kiper has Louisville safety Calvin Pryor going one spot after the Packers pick, at No. 22 to the Philadelphia Eagles. Perhaps the Packers' greatest need is at safety.

Analyzing Kiper 3.0: Vikings

March, 13, 2014
3/13/14
2:00
PM ET
In his third mock draft, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has a quarterback -- and a headline-grabber, at that -- sliding to the Vikings at No. 8: He's got them taking Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, as the top three quarterbacks in the draft all slide out of the top three overall picks.

The Vikings would have interest in Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack, whom Kiper now has projected to go No. 1 overall to Houston, and with the Matt Cassel signing, they are not obligated to take a quarterback with the eighth overall pick. But if Manziel were still there, it might be tough for the Vikings to pass on him, especially since they could pair him with offensive coordinator Norv Turner and Cassel, putting him in a structure where he's able to develop. Manziel wouldn't have to start the first week of the season unless he were good enough to do so, and even if he did, Cassel would give him an experienced quarterback to learn from. It's also worth noting that Turner was the San Diego Chargers' offensive coordinator when they picked Drew Brees; in other words, Manziel's height won't be a red flag in the coordinator's mind.

Drafting Manziel would mean the Vikings would get all that comes with him, though he seemed intent on distancing himself from the Johnny Football persona at the NFL scouting combine. They would also be passing on potential impact players at linebacker or cornerback. But Manziel would give them a dynamic young quarterback to build around -- and would certainly add a jolt of excitement to a fan base that hasn't had much of it at quarterback lately, save for two years with Brett Favre. All told, it's tough to see the Vikings passing on a chance to get a player like Manziel, should the opportunity present itself.

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