NFC South: mock draft

Analyzing McShay mock: Buccaneers 

April, 24, 2014
Apr 24
Todd McShay's latest mock draft is out and it's a little different than usual.

In this one, McShay makes the picks he would make and isn't predicting what teams will do. But McShay's pick for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at No. 7 overall isn't a major surprise.

Todd McShay's fourth mock draft Insider is out, and I can't say I'm surprised by what he has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers doing.

Despite a 4-12 record last season, the Bucs have done a nice job of narrowing their needs. They still could use some help on the offensive line, some depth on the defensive line and they might even consider a quarterback with the No. 7 overall pick in the draft.

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the seventh overall pick in this year’s draft after going 4-12 last season.

A wide receiver, an offensive guard and anything that would bring much-needed depth to just about any position would make a lot of sense for the Bucs.

Mel Kiper’s fourth 2014 NFL mock draft is out on ESPN Insider today, and his choice isn’t a big surprise for the Bucs. In this mock draft, Kiper chooses what he thinks each team should do, not what it will do.

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Analyzing Kiper 3.0: Buccaneers

March, 13, 2014
Mar 13
Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest mock draft is out and he has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers taking Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins.

I like the pick and I think the chances of it happening are better than they were a few days ago. The Bucs added defensive end Michael Johnson and cornerback Alterraun Verner in free agency, so they have narrowed their needs. I still think the Bucs might consider an offensive lineman (Greg Robinson or Jake Matthews) with the No. 7 overall pick.

But Watkins, who might be the most dynamic offensive player in the draft, is starting to make more and more sense to me. The Bucs could use another playmaker on offense. They have Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams as their starting receivers. Williams might be in some hot water with the coaching staff and front office because of some off-field trouble.

Even if Williams is going to stick around, I still think Watkins makes sense. The Bucs have very little depth after Jackson and Williams. In the modern game, a third receiver can play as much as a starter.

The Bucs have to get deeper and better at receiver, and Watkins would bring more speed to a passing game that needs some spicing up.

Kiper's Mock 3.0: Buccaneers

March, 13, 2014
Mar 13
After a 4-12 season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hold the seventh overall pick in the draft.

It's hard to predict what the new regime of general manager Jason Licht and coach Lovie Smith will do with that pick. But the Bucs definitely have options as they start a new era.

Even after signing veteran quarterback Josh McCown, Smith said it remains possible the Bucs could use their first-round pick on the position. That could come into play if Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr remain on the board when the Bucs pick.

If the Bucs don't go with a quarterback, there are other options on offense. Tampa Bay is overhauling its offensive line and tackles Jake Matthews and Greg Robinson could be options. If the Bucs really want to spice up their offense, wide receiver Sammy Watkins could be a possibility.

But Smith is a defensive coach and he might go with what he knows best. Outside linebackers Khalil Mack and Anthony Barr have been tied to the Bucs in some mock drafts.

Check out ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper's latest mock draft to see which players he thinks Buccaneers should target with their first pick.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay have their latest mock drafts out, and they’re in agreement on who the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will take at No. 7.

Kiper and McShay have the Bucs choosing Buffalo outside linebacker Khalil Mack. But unless the Bucs are planning to convert Mack into a defensive end, I don’t think this would be a good move. The Bucs already have one star at outside linebacker in Lavonte David, and it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to invest a lot more in this area.

Personally, I think the Bucs should go with Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy. He’d be a natural fit opposite Adrian Clayborn. The addition of a pass-rushing defensive end might be all that separates the Bucs from having an elite defense.

If Ealy isn’t there or the Bucs want to go in another direction, I easily can see them taking Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson. The offensive line wasn’t very good last season and needs some new talent.

Of course, there’s another scenario that’s at least a possibility. The new regime has been saying nice things so far about quarterback Mike Glennon. But it remains to be seen if the Bucs are content to go with Glennon. If they have a shot at Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel or Derek Carr, they might not be able to pass on a quarterback.

Final mock draft with Todd McShay

April, 25, 2013

Todd McShay’s final mock draft is out, so let’s take a look at the NFC South portion.

At No. 14, McShay has the Panthers taking Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. At least in mock drafts, Lotulelei’s stock seems to be dropping in recent days. Early on, the consensus was that he’d be a top-10 pick. If he makes it to No. 14, I think the Panthers would be delighted to get him. If not, I think they would be content with defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson or safety Kenny Vaccaro.

McShay has the New Orleans Saints taking LSU defensive end/outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo. He’d be a great fit in the 3-4 scheme, but I’m not sure Mingo makes it out of the top 10. Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones could be the fallback option.

At No. 30, McShay has the Falcons taking Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant. I think that would be a solid pick. But I think Atlanta is a team to keep an eye on once the draft gets underway. General manager Thomas Dimitroff isn’t afraid to make big moves and I could see him trying to trade into the top 10 to get Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner. I could also see Dimitroff trying to trade into the late teens or early 20s to get Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes. #bloggermock at noon

April, 23, 2013
At noon ET on Tuesday, we’ll kick off’s NFL Blog Network mock draft. Our live format allows for instant analysis, discussion, interaction and reader input.

Shortly before noon ET on Tuesday, a live chat module will post on all eight divisional blogs as well as the Nation blog. I’ll be joined by the other division bloggers and ESPN’s Matt Williamson.

You can join in the chat directly or via Twitter using the #bloggermock hashtag.

I’ll be making the first-round picks for the Panthers, Saints and Falcons. Although the Bucs traded away their first-round pick in the Darrelle Revis deal, I’m at least going to put out some feelers to see if I can trade my way back into the later stages of the first round.
At this time of year, most mock drafts seem to look pretty similar. But, as I read through Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest Insider offering Insider in which he plays general manager for three rounds, I found one big surprise in the NFC South.

Kiper has the Saints taking Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o at No. 15. I haven’t seen that one suggested anywhere else, as most draft experts have the Saints focusing on an edge rusher or a cornerback. Kiper acknowledges both needs, but said the right players weren’t available at No. 15 in this mock, so he went with Te’o.

This scenario isn’t completely off the wall. Te’o is an inside linebacker and everyone assumes the Saints are fine at that position with Curtis Lofton and Jonathan Vilma. But Vilma has a history of knee problems, and he didn’t excel in the 3-4 scheme when he played it for the Jets. There could be a landing spot for Te’o in New Orleans.

Kiper’s other first-round picks for the NFC South teams are much more conventional. He has Tampa Bay taking Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei at No. 13. Of course, that’s going on the assumption that the Bucs don’t trade that pick as part of a deal for cornerback Darrelle Revis.

At No. 14, Kiper has Carolina taking Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. I’m kind of amazed how there seems to be universal agreement on what’s going to happen with the 14th overall pick in a year when the top five picks aren’t very clear.

At No. 30, Kiper has the Atlanta Falcons taking Stanford tight end Zach Ertz. I understand the school of thought that the Falcons need to start grooming a replacement for Tony Gonzalez. But the Falcons have a more pressing need at cornerback, and I think they should address it in the first round.
For those of you that read this blog regularly, you know I see LSU defensive end/linebacker Barkevious Mingo and Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones as the two most logical draft possibilities for the New Orleans Saints at No. 15.

My thinking hasn’t changed at all. The Saints need a strong pass-rusher as they switch to the 3-4 scheme and Mingo and Jones each fit that profile.

But, as I get ready to make New Orleans’ first-round pick in next week’s blog network mock draft, I’m trying to prepare for all scenarios. And one scenario could be that Jones and Mingo both are off the board.

Georgia’s Alec Ogletree also has been tied to the Saints in some mock drafts. He’s an inside linebacker and a good one. The Saints have Curtis Lofton and Jonathan Vilma at inside linebacker. However, Vilma might be nearing the end of his career and it might be time to look to the future.

If Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson is available at No. 15, I’d have to consider him. The Saints already have Brodrick Bunkley, but they need all the help they can get for a run defense that was hideous last year.

There’s another spot on the defense that I’d also consider. That’s cornerback. Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes and Washington’s Desmond Trufant would have to be considerations. I’m not sure the Saints can afford to count on Patrick Robinson as the third cornerback after Keenan Lewis and Jabari Greer.

As much as the Saints need help on defense, I’m not completely ruling out a surprise. Sean Payton is an offensive coach. The Saints are a little thin at wide receiver beyond Marques Colston and Lance Moore. I’m not completely ruling out West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin.

Those are my thoughts on the Saints’ scenarios. Let’s hear what you have to say in the comments section below. And I’m more than open to alternative scenarios that I didn’t mention.
As I prepare to make the ESPN Blog Network mock draft pick for the Carolina Panthers at No. 14 next week, I’m trying hard to think beyond Sheldon Richardson.

It seems just about every mock draft I’ve seen has the Panthers taking Richardson. It makes plenty of sense because the Panthers need a quality defensive tackle to put next to Dwan Edwards to firm up their run defense.

I have no problem taking Richardson and probably will if he’s on the board. But I want to be prepared for a scenario where someone ahead of the Panthers grabs Richardson. If that’s the case, I think part of the equation might be that Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei is falling. If he’s available, I’d gladly take Lotulelei because I think the Panthers would do the same thing.

But I also want some scenarios beyond defensive tackles because I’m not so sure the Panthers are as locked in on that position as everyone thinks.

The needs could be even greater in the secondary. One scenario that has been growing on me in recent weeks would be to take Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro. The Panthers really don’t have much at safety and Vaccaro would be an instant starter.

Then, there’s the cornerback situation, which is just as thin as the safety situation. Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes and Washington’s Desmond Trufant are the two corners who could be available at No. 14. A lot of people have Rhodes and Trufant pegged to go later in the first round. But the law of supply and demand could kick in and it’s possible the Panthers could take one of them at No. 14.

There also has been a little buzz about West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin and the Panthers. I don’t know that there will ever be another Steve Smith. But Austin looks the part and the Panthers do need an eventual successor for Smith.

Finally, this may be a long shot, but I don’t know the Panthers are truly sold on right tackle Byron Bell at right tackle. Alabama’s D.J. Fluker should be available at No. 14. With the Panthers saying they want to get back to the power running game, I think Fluker’s a guy they at least could consider.

What I do with the Panthers’ pick will depend largely on what happens with the 13 picks in front of them. These are the scenarios I’m at least pondering. Feel free to share your thoughts on my scenarios or any alternatives in the comments section below.
The ESPN Blog Network mock draft is coming next week and I’ve got some good ideas of what I plan to do for all four teams.

But this isn’t like the 2011 draft when I knew weeks in advance that I’d be taking Cam Newton for the Carolina Panthers at No. 1 overall.

Without an NFC South team picking until nearly the middle of the first round, I’m going to be at the mercy of those picking above me.

I’m going to run through the four teams and share with you what scenarios I’m thinking about and invite you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Let’s start with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have the No. 13 overall pick.

A lot depends on whether the Bucs pull off a trade for cornerback Darrelle Revis. Although I think that trade is likely, I have to prepare with the assumption it will not happen.

Without Revis, there’s a glaring need at cornerback. My leading scenario at the moment would be to have the Bucs trade up (probably into the top five) to get Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner. He’s the only sure-thing as a cornerback in the draft, and I think it makes sense to go get him.

If the Bucs stay put at No. 13, I’m not feeling great about the cornerback options. I would consider Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes and Washington’s Desmond Trufant. But my personnel thought is that No. 13 is too early to take either player. However, there are rumblings the Bucs are really high on Rhodes.

Although I’m not as high on Rhodes, I might take him if the rumblings continue to get stronger.

But I’m also considering a few other options beyond cornerback. Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei was considered as a possibility for the No. 1 overall pick before a medical concern was raised. Lotulelei reportedly has been medically cleared, but you see him all over the board in mock drafts.

If he’s available at No. 13, I’ll consider him. Once upon a time, the Bucs took a shot on a defensive tackle whose stock had fallen. That was Warren Sapp in 1995 and he’ll be going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer. I might also consider Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson for the Bucs.

I also may consider West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin. Although I don’t think the Bucs really need him, there’s been some buzz that the team is enthralled with him. If I get more indications that’s true, I might go with Austin.

And I’ll end it with one scenario that’s received almost no attention. Under the right circumstances, I might even consider Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert. This might be a little early for a tight end, but Eifert has the potential to be a great one. At the moment, the Bucs have nothing but mediocrity on their roster at tight end.
Todd McShay’s latest Insider mock draft Insider is out and this one comes complete with three first-round scenarios for each team. Let’s take a look at what he’s picturing in the NFC South.

Although McShay acknowledges Tampa Bay could go with a cornerback at No. 13, he has the Bucs taking West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin. I’ve seen some other mock drafts with this same pick. But I’m not buying it. The Bucs already have big money tied up in Vincent Jackson, they’re likely to give Mike Williams a healthy contract extension and they signed Kevin Ogletree to challenge for the third receiver spot. The Bucs will have a lot invested in wide receivers and I don’t see them investing any more. Tampa Bay has greater needs on defense. Of course, it must be noted the Bucs might not even have this pick if they make a trade with the New York Jets for Darrelle Revis.

At No. 14, McShay has Carolina taking Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. That’s a pretty common pick in mock drafts everywhere, and I think there’s an excellent chance the Panthers end up with Richardson. But I wouldn’t be totally surprised if the Panthers take Austin or Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes.

McShay has the New Orleans Saints taking LSU defensive end/outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo at No. 15. But McShay also throws out the possibility of the Saints moving up in the draft to get another pass-rusher. I would not rule out that scenario.

At No. 30, McShay picks a mild surprise for the Atlanta Falcons. He has them taking Boise State cornerback Jamar Taylor. In most of the mocks I’ve seen, Taylor is projected as a second-round pick. But Atlanta has a glaring need at cornerback and the law of supply and demand could kick in. Plus, it’s entirely possible the Atlanta personnel department has Taylor rated higher than where the draft gurus are projecting him.

Mocking with Todd McShay

April, 5, 2013
Todd McShay’s latest Insider mock draft is out and he’s going against the conventional wisdom that says the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will take a defensive player in the first round.

McShay has the Bucs taking West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin at No. 13. The Bucs recently have added receivers Kevin Ogletree and Steve Smith to compete with Tiquan Underwood for the backup jobs behind Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams.

Would the Bucs really use their first-round pick on a guy that’s projected as a slot receiver? I wouldn’t rule it out. Tampa Bay appears to be committed to giving quarterback Josh Freeman all the tools he needs to succeed and Austin is a dynamic playmaker.

At No. 14, McShay has Carolina taking Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. That’s a very common pick for the Panthers in mock drafts. If Richardson is there, I think he’d be a solid fit for the Panthers.

McShay has the New Orleans Saints taking Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree. That’s entirely possible. But I think Ogletree’s college teammate, linebacker Jarvis Jones, also could be a possibility for the Saints.

At No. 30, McShay has the Atlanta Falcons taking Florida State defensive end Cornellius Carradine. I’d like to see the Falcons add a cornerback, but I’m not sure they’ll be able to get good value in the first round. Adding a pass-rusher like Carradine wouldn’t be a bad alternative because he could make the cornerbacks look better.
Mel Kiper Jr. has his latest Insider mock draft Insider out, so let’s take a look at what he has the NFC South teams doing.

At No. 13, Kiper has the Bucs taking Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. Cornerback is Tampa Bay’s biggest need at the moment, but there probably isn’t going to be a corner available that’s worth the value if the Bucs stay at No. 13. Put Lotulelei and Gerald McCoy together (and hope McCoy stays healthy) and the Bucs could have one of the league’s top tandems at defensive tackle.

Kiper also has the Panthers taking a defensive tackle at No. 14. He has Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson going to Carolina. That’s a popular pick and one I’ll consider strongly in our upcoming Blog Network mock draft. But I have to wonder if the Panthers could pull a surprise and take a wide receiver or take a leap on a cornerback.

At No. 15, Kiper has the Saints taking Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones. He’d be a great fit in the 3-4 scheme. But I wonder if the Saints would take a defensive tackle if Lotulelei or Richardson is still available.

I’m really intrigued by what Kiper has the Atlanta Falcons doing at No. 30, mainly because it’s a scenario I haven’t seen before. It also is extremely timely with Thursday’s release of starting right tackle Tyson Clabo. Kiper has the Falcons taking Oregon offensive lineman Kyle Long, who can play guard or tackle and can be an immediate starter.