NFC West: Kiper Mock 2.0

Kiper mock 2.0: Cardinals thoughts

February, 7, 2013
2/07/13
3:50
PM ET
Mel Kiper Jr. is back Insider with his second 2013 NFL mock draft for the first round.

We're running through the projected picks for NFC West teams in reverse order. Arizona is last up. The Cardinals hold the seventh overall choice, the second time in three seasons they've picked in the top seven.

7. Arizona Cardinals: Eric Fisher, T, Central Michigan

Kiper's give: This is one of the spots where you could see a QB come off the board, but at this stage a QB taken at No. 7 would be a significant reach. Until we see major strides by one of the QB options, Arizona is better off adding a key piece it can start right away and looking for a QB in Round 2, or trading up into the late first. And remember, the Cardinals may have moved on a QB in free agency or via a trade by April. Fisher isn't a big name, but he's as a good as any tackle in this class outside of Joeckel. Arizona was a train wreck at tackle for much of 2012, and even with some young guys on the roster, they need to consider a better option if available.

Sando's take: The Cardinals have said they're going to put greater emphasis on the offensive line. Drafting an offensive lineman seventh overall would back up the talk. Levi Brown, chosen fifth overall in 2007, was the last offensive lineman Arizona selected higher than 112th overall. The Cardinals liked what they saw from rookie tackles Nate Potter and Bobby Massie late in the season. Kiper allows for that, but he's correct in saying there's plenty of room for improvement. It's not like Potter and Massie were becoming dominant forces on the offensive line. Brown, Potter and Massie are the only viable tackles on the roster. D'Anthony Batiste is the only other tackle. Drafting a quarterback this early has appeal in theory, but will any of the prospects impress the Cardinals enough for first-year head coach Bruce Arians to place what would be a relatively big early bet?

Kiper mock 2.0: Rams thoughts

February, 7, 2013
2/07/13
2:40
PM ET
Mel Kiper Jr. is back Insider with his second 2013 NFL mock draft for the first round.

We're running through the projected picks for NFC West teams in reverse order. St. Louis is next up. The Rams have two picks in the first round: their own (16th overall) and one acquired from Washington (22nd).

16. St. Louis Rams: Lane Johnson, T, Oklahoma

Kiper's give: The Rams can afford to go a few different ways here because they have that other first-round pick. I think the offensive line has to be a priority at one of these spots. Johnson is a steady tackle who upgrades the team on the right side immediately and has the ceiling of a very good NFL left tackle. I've included snippets from Kiper's analysis before offering my own thoughts.

Sando's take: The pick makes sense from a need standpoint even though Jeff Fisher's teams have never used a first-round pick for an offensive lineman with Fisher as head coach. Rodger Saffold is the only long-term starting tackle on the roster. He's had a hard time staying healthy recently and could have the flexibility to play another position on the line. Barry Richardson, Wayne Hunter, Joe Barksdale and Ty Nsekhe are the other tackles on the roster. The Rams did a good job functioning in the absence of better offensive linemen. They need better players at the position, however.

22. St. Louis Rams: Keenan Allen, WR, California

Kiper's give: The Rams lock down some blocking help, then get a wide receiver who can help them immediately. That would be a productive first round. It's possible I've worried too much about how well Allen will run, because aside from what should just be a pedestrian 40 time, he can do everything else well.

Sando's take: The Rams will know by the draft whether potential free agent Danny Amendola figures into their future and at what price. They have an emerging big-play threat in Chris Givens. They figure to get more from Brian Quick this season. The Rams’ perceived need for help at wide receiver could be larger than their actual need. Still, the team could use additional offensive playmakers. Allen stands 6-foot-3, which could help him in a division featuring physical cornerbacks such as Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner. Allen grades out well Insider as a competitive player with no fear making tough catches over the middle. The Rams could use those traits.

2013 Kiper mock 2.0: Seahawks thoughts

February, 7, 2013
2/07/13
1:30
PM ET
Mel Kiper Jr. is back Insider with his second 2013 NFL mock draft for the first round.

We're running through the projected picks for NFC West teams in reverse order. Seattle is up next.

25. Seattle Seahawks: Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State

Kiper's give: Another good spot for someone to call and trade up. As for the pick, if Seattle wants a penetrator on the interior of the D-line, Hankins really isn't that guy. He doesn't have the burst to split gaps and create havoc behind the line of scrimmage. What he can do is occupy multiple blockers, help other rushers find space and better matchups, and make the Seahawks more difficult to run against.

Sando's take: Mock drafts usually focus on filling needs. Seattle could use another big body on its defensive line, for sure, but what percentage of snaps would Hankins play as a rookie? How much would he improve Seattle's ability to close out games in fourth quarters by getting additional pressure on opposing quarterbacks? I don't know the answers to those questions, but Kiper makes Hankins sound like an early down player. Last year, critics questioned the Seahawks' thinking in using a first-round choice for pass-rusher Bruce Irvin, who was seen as a situational player. Irvin was the 15th overall choice. Hankins would be drafted 25th. Do those 10 spots make all the difference? Is it better to take a situational player when that player is best at stopping the run? Would Hankins stay on the field for pass-rushing situations? His Insider player card Insider rates him in seven categories. It calls Hankins "below average" as a pass-rusher, calling him a "one-dimensional power rusher" with "considerable" upside in that area. For the record, Irvin played 43.8 percent of the defensive snaps in the regular season. That was about as many snaps as fellow first-round defensive linemen Fletcher Cox (48.7) and Quinton Coples (47.5) played for their teams.

2013 Kiper mock 2.0: 49ers thoughts

February, 7, 2013
2/07/13
12:00
PM ET
Mel Kiper Jr. is back Insider with his second 2013 NFL mock draft for the first round.

We'll run through the projected picks for NFC West teams, beginning in reverse order and working our way forward. I'll include snippets from Kiper's analysis, followed by my own thoughts.

31. San Francisco 49ers: John Jenkins, DL, Georgia

Kiper's give: The current construct of the Niners' roster really offers them a great chance to maximize value, and getting a player like Jenkins this far down the board would represent a lot of value.

Sando's take: Kiper's previous mock draft had the 49ers taking another massive defensive lineman, Sharrif Floyd of Florida, with the projected 30th overall choice (they wound up with the 31st choice). The defensive line should be a priority for the 49ers this offseason as they seek to maximize investments in linebackers Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. Defensive ends Justin Smith and Ray McDonald have each logged more than 2,000 regular-season and postseason snaps over the past two seasons. Only three players have logged more than them over that span. Smith will be coming off triceps surgery. He turns 34 in September. McDonald is younger (28) and has not started for nearly as long, but he's also had chronic knee problems in the distant past. Ideally, the 49ers would be getting quality snaps on their defensive line from 2008 first-rounder Kentwan Balmer. That choice did not work out. That choice shows why the 49ers should not reach for a defensive lineman in the first round simply to fill a need.

2012 Kiper mock 2.0: Rams thoughts

February, 20, 2012
2/20/12
4:46
PM ET
Mel Kiper Jr. is back Insider with his second 2012 NFL mock draft for the first round.

We discussed the first one about a month ago, summarizing Kiper's thoughts and supplementing them with my own.

This updated look works from Kiper's updated mock, concluding with the St. Louis Rams, who hold the second overall choice.

2. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma St.

Kiper's give: Cleveland, Washington or maybe even Miami could slide into this spot if they want to make a move at quarterback, but Blackmon goes here in this mock because I'm not able to reflect trades. St. Louis is in desperate need of a weapon in the passing game, and will get one with one of its first two picks. Remember, it could also lose Brandon Lloyd in free agency.

Sando's take: Lloyd returning seems like a long shot with his preferred coordinator, Josh McDaniels, now in New England. The team's new general manager, Les Snead, was with Atlanta when the Falcons selected wide receivers 29th (Michael Jenkins, 2004), 27th (Roddy White, 2005) and sixth (Julio Jones, 2011). His teams never drafted a wide receiver in the second round. One way or another, the Rams need playmakers. Their needs extend far beyond receiver, however. Perhaps the combine will help better define the Rams' choices. Trading down for additional picks carries appeal in the absence of an obvious non-quarterback option for St. Louis at No. 2. Sending the second pick to the teams Kiper mentioned would be feasible given that all three -- the Browns, Redskins and Dolphins -- play outside the NFC West.

2012 Kiper mock 2.0: Seahawks thoughts

February, 20, 2012
2/20/12
4:15
PM ET
Mel Kiper Jr. is back Insider with his second 2012 NFL mock draft for the first round.

We discussed the first one about a month ago, summarizing Kiper's thoughts and supplementing them with my own.

This updated look works from Kiper's updated mock, continuing with the Seattle Seahawks, who hold the 11th or 12th overall choice, pending a coin flip with Kansas City.

11-12. Seattle Seahawks: Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina

Kiper's give: Some see the Seahawks looking at a QB this high, but the value doesn't make a lot of sense for me just yet. On the defensive side of the ball, the big need is help for the pass rush. Ingram has enough size to hold up in the 4-3, and will provide an upgrade.

Sando's take: Kiper had the Seahawks taking Ingram in his previous mock as well. The thinking makes sense under the circumstances. Seattle can approach the quarterback dilemma in stages. Matt Flynn could be an option in free agency. Peyton Manning could be an option later, provided the Colts release him and his health improves sufficiently. Drafting a quarterback at Nos. 12 or 13 does seem unlikely based on current evaluations. The Seahawks, by resisting Andy Dalton when he was available at No. 25 last year, showed they will not draft a quarterback simply because they would like one. Projections do change, however. At this time last year, Kiper projected Insider two quarterbacks in the first round. That number increased Insider as the draft neared Insider. Teams wound up drafting four among the top 12 picks. Pressure on the Seahawks to act boldly figures to increase as the team continues to finish outside the top few overall draft choices.

2012 Kiper Mock 2.0: Cardinals thoughts

February, 20, 2012
2/20/12
3:04
PM ET
Mel Kiper Jr. is back Insider with his second 2012 NFL mock draft for the first round.

We discussed the first one about a month ago, summarizing Kiper's thoughts and supplementing them with my own.

This updated look works from Kiper's updated mock, continuing with the Arizona Cardinals, who hold the 13th overall choice.

13. Arizona Cardinals: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

Kiper's give: As I've noted before, Arizona hasn't drafted an offensive lineman before the fifth round since 2007 -- and it's about time. Martin might start on the right side, but he has the physical tools to become the blindside tackle here. Questions remain about what the Cardinals will do at quarterback -- my guess for now is they simply stick with Kevin Kolb and hope that investment pays off -- but there's no question they have to be better up front regardless of who is back there.

Sando's take: Jeremy Bridges, Levi Brown and Brandon Keith all showed poorly in pass-blocking ratings from Pro Football Focus. Kiper is right in saying the Cardinals need better protection regardless of their quarterback's identity. Arizona's pass-blockers need help from their quarterbacks, too. Kolb had no feel for his line after arriving by trade at the last minute. His feel for the pocket also seemed shaky. Improved protection becomes more important for teams with less instinctive and anticipatory quarterbacks. Note that Anthony Davis, Ryan Clady, Branden Albert, Jammal Brown and Shawn Andrews were the five tackles drafted most recently with the 10th through 16th overall picks. Martin was the player Kiper targeted for the Cardinals in his previous mock as well.

2012 Kiper mock 2.0: 49ers thoughts

February, 20, 2012
2/20/12
2:43
PM ET
Mel Kiper Jr. is back Insider with his second 2012 NFL mock draft for the first round.

We discussed the first one about a month ago, summarizing Kiper's thoughts and supplementing them with my own.

This updated look works from Kiper's updated mock, beginning with the San Francisco 49ers, who hold the 30th overall choice.

30. San Francisco 49ers: Rueben Randle, WR, LSU

Kiper's give: Randle could be a steal. This is a guy who, in a more dynamic passing offense, could have been far more productive. Obviously, the combine will tell us a lot, but Randle could be preferred over Alshon Jeffery of South Carolina, because he has the length, but will be a lot quicker into and out of his breaks because he's got a leaner frame.

Sando's take: Jon Baldwin, Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Britt, Donnie Avery, Devin Thomas, Robert Meachem, Craig Davis, Anthony Gonzalez, Santonio Holmes and Roddy White were the last 10 receivers drafted with the 25th through 35th picks. Kiper had the 49ers taking Jeffery in his first mock. That was before the 49ers' season ended with Michael Crabtree's single 3-yard reception accounting for all the team's production from the wide receiver position. While we should not assume the 49ers will take a wide receiver in the first round, neither should we outthink ourselves. The position provides a good starting point. San Francisco does have other options. Josh Morgan is returning from injury and could re-sign. Crabtree returns. The 49ers could also address the position in free agency.

Kiper mock 2.0: Thoughts on Cardinals

February, 16, 2011
2/16/11
12:25
PM ET
Mel Kiper's second mock draft for 2011 serves as a good conversation starter for NFC West fans looking forward to April.

I'll conclude with a look at his plans for the Arizona Cardinals, who hold the No. 5 overall choice.

5. Arizona Cardinals: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M


Kiper's give: Joey Porter is unlikely to be back, and Miller would represent an immediate pass-rushing upgrade on the edge of Arizona's 3-4 scheme. The Texas A&M standout made his name in 2009 as a sack artist but developed a range of skills in 2010 and has become a complete player. He stands up well against the run and drops into coverage seamlessly.

Sando's take: Kiper had the Cardinals taking Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert in his previous mock. Gabbert was still available at No. 7 in this follow-up mock, and nothing about the Cardinals' quarterback situation has changed in the interim. Arizona did recently hire former Pittsburgh Steelers secondary coach Ray Horton as defensive coordinator. Horton has promised to remake Arizona into an aggressive blitzing team. The Cardinals will need to upgrade their pass-rush talent to make that happen. Adding Miller would qualify as a step in that direction, but who plays quarterback, again?

Kiper mock 2.0: Thoughts on 49ers

February, 16, 2011
2/16/11
12:00
PM ET
Mel Kiper's second mock draft for 2011 serves as a good conversation starter for NFC West fans looking forward to April.

I'll continue with a look at his plans for the San Francisco 49ers, who hold the No. 7 overall choice.

7. San Francisco 49ers: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU


Kiper's give: San Francisco has other needs -- in fact, I count three ahead of cornerback -- but Peterson would be too much to pass up here in terms of talent. A freakish athlete, he immediately steps in as a starter at corner, moving that to a position of strength for the Niners. Peterson also adds a dangerous element in the return game. A corner with safety size, Peterson won't need the NFL combine to assure evaluators of his physical skills.

Sando's take: Kiper had Peterson going second overall in his previous mock, with the 49ers taking defensive end Robert Quinn at No. 7. Quinn fell to Minnesota at No. 12 in this second mock. As for the 49ers, cornerback is a concern. The team could be parting with veteran starter Nate Clements. Clements has been injured and inconsistent over the past couple seasons, and his salary balloons in 2011. Cornerback is a primary need, but I get what Kiper is saying. Quarterback and pass-rusher are more valuable positions. Cam Newton was the only quarterback off the board at No. 7 in this latest Kiper mock. I've heard some say the 49ers can't afford to take another quarterback early after missing on Alex Smith at No. 1 in 2005, but what kind of thinking is that? The truth, in my view, is that San Francisco cannot afford to miss on another quarterback early in the draft. If the team likes one in this draft, there's no reason to go in another direction.

Kiper mock 2.0: Thoughts on Rams

February, 16, 2011
2/16/11
11:30
AM ET
Mel Kiper's second mock draft Insider for 2011 serves as a good conversation starter for NFC West fans looking forward to April.

I'll continue with a look at his plans for the St. Louis Rams, who hold the No. 14 overall choice.

14. St. Louis Rams: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois


Kiper's give: A relentless player who plays powerfully and locates the ball extremely well against both the rush and the pass, Liuget fills a need spot for the Rams. If (Julio) Jones still was on the board, I suspect St. Louis would target the receiver, but if he isn't and the Rams stay here, an interior lineman like Liuget offers much greater value than a reach on a wideout. I also can see the Rams going for an outside linebacker at this spot. Liuget has drawn more buzz from NFL folks, causing many to take a closer look. The reviews are very good.

Sando's take: Alabama's Jones, the player Kiper projected to St. Louis in his previous mock, was off the board this time. The Rams know they need to find additional weapons for Sam Bradford. That does not mean they need to gamble on a first-round receiver if the value doesn't seem right. Adding young talent to the defensive line would make sense because the Rams cannot count on veterans Fred Robbins and James Hall to continue producing at a high level for years to come. The team needs to prepare for life without them at some point in the future. Adding a starting interior defensive lineman to the rotation could help extend Robbins' career while taking pressure off the linebackers and creating more favorable matchups for Chris Long on the outside.

Kiper mock 2.0: Thoughts on Seahawks

February, 16, 2011
2/16/11
11:00
AM ET
Mel Kiper's second mock draft for 2011 serves as a good conversation starter for NFC West fans looking forward to April.

I'll begin with a look at his plans for the Seattle Seahawks, who hold the No. 25 overall choice.

25. Seattle Seahawks: Mike Pouncey, G/C, Florida

Kiper's give: When Seattle was at its best, it was a running team built behind the left side of Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson. The Hawks addressed the tackle position in last year's draft, adding Russell Okung for the left tackle spot. Pouncey, who has good bloodlines and good smarts as an interior blocker, can help at either guard or center. Seattle needs better blocking after starting many different line combinations this past season, and Pouncey will shore it up.

Sando's take: Kiper had the Seahawks taking quarterback Ryan Mallett in his previous mock draft. Mallett fell out of the first round entirely in Kiper's updated mock. It's tough to argue against building along the offensive line. Seattle has funneled resources toward its line, with underwhelming results. Chris Spencer was a first-round pick in 2005. He might not be back. Max Unger was a second-rounder in 2009. He's coming off a season-ending toe injury and could replace Spencer at center. Mike Wahle was a moderately priced signing in free agency a few years ago, but he could not hold up physically. Drafting Okung a year ago was a very good start in the rebuilding process. Adding Pouncey to the mix would help upgrade the ground game.

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