NFL Nation: Mel Kiper

In his annual post-draft grades,Insider, ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. gave two teams a high mark of an "A."

One team desperately needed it – the Jacksonville Jaguars. The other team that Kiper gave the top grade to was the San Francisco 49ers. Well, that’s just piling on. The 49ers, who also traded for standout receiver Stevie Johnson during the draft, entered the draft with perhaps the NFL’s finest roster. Well, it got a lot better.

Here is some of Kiper’s reasoning for giving the 49ers such a great grade: The Niners just got so many good players. Safety Jimmie Ward will cover, attack the line of scrimmage, and will play fast and fearless. If you call that a reach, remember that Arizona had taken Deone Bucannon at No. 27, so there were already three safeties off the board (not that Bucannon and Ward are that similar) and the 49ers knew if they didn't nab Ward there, they had no chance later. They got the No. 1 RB in the draft at No. 57. Frank Gore has a lot of miles on the odometer, LaMichael James may not be there long, and if Marcus Lattimore is your No. 1, you better have a 1-A. Carlos Hyde made sense and, again, he's the top RB in the draft. Marcus Martin is a future starter at center; Chris Borland gives immediate depth at linebacker and has the experience to play now. Brandon Thomas is another 49ers redshirt, but could be a star guard when he comes back (he hurt his knee this spring, but would have gone in Round 2 otherwise). Bruce Ellington isn't a far cry from Brandin Cooks, but he went 86 picks later. It goes on and on. Dontae Johnson is solid and Aaron Lynch has developmental promise. I even like the pick at No. 245 -- Trey Millard is the top fullback in the draft and was another guy who dropped on some boards after a knee injury. What I like about this draft is the 49ers are in a championship window, and they still managed to balance both the need for immediate help and also got a lot of talent for the future.

What stood out to me about the 49ers’ draft is that they scored so many players who can make an impact, but were available lower than projected. Those players include Hyde, Martin, Borland and Ellington. Truly, the rich got richer.

Meanwhile,Insider in an Insider piece, Todd McShay really likes two 49ers’ picks a lot.
ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay have released their final mock drafts of the year in Insider pieces. Both men have the San Francisco 49ers getting a receiver.

In Kiper's mock Insider, he has Indiana’s Cody Latimer going to the 49ers at No. 30. If the 49ers -- who reportedly are trying to trade up for a receiver -- stay at No. 30, Latimer would be a tremendous value. I’d be surprised if he is there, as I think he'll go in the 22-26 range.

A lot of people, including me, think the 49ers will attempt to trade up for a top receiver such as LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr. McShay agrees. Insider But the rule of this mock is there are no trades. So, McShay admitted he fudged some and had Beckham slide to the 49ers at No. 30. He knows it's unlikely, but because the 49ers' pursuit of Beckham appears real, he made this pairing.
The fifth mock drafts are out for ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper Jr. Insider and Todd McShay Insider, and their first-round picks for the Baltimore Ravens have a familiar ring.

Kiper has the Ravens taking North Carolina's Eric Ebron, the consensus best tight end in the draft. The Ravens would be thrilled to land a playmaker like Ebron at No. 17. Ebron was Kiper's pick for the Ravens in his first two mock drafts.

McShay stuck with the offensive theme as well, sending Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin to the Ravens. This is the second straight mock draft where McShay has linked the Ravens to Martin. The Ravens are looking to upgrade at right tackle, and Martin is considered the fourth-best tackle in this draft.

History of Kiper's picks for Ravens

Mock 1.0: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

Mock 2.0: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

Mock 3.0: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

Mock 4.0: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

History of McShay's picks for Ravens

Mock 1.0: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

Mock 2.0: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

Mock 3.0: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama

Mock 4.0: Zack Martin, OL, Notre Dame

Mock 5.0: Zack Martin, OL, Notre Dame

Analyzing McShay mock: Bears 

April, 24, 2014
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The Chicago Bears made clear their intentions of making the 2014 NFL draft an endeavor in which they load up on defenders, despite fortifying in that area throughout free agency.

ESPN.com's Todd McShay revealed his fifth 2014 NFL mock draft on ESPN Insider Insider today, with this one based on the premise of taking players he would select as opposed to simply projecting what the teams around the league might do.

Analyzing Kiper Mock 4.0: Bengals 

April, 17, 2014
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The NFL draft is exactly three weeks away. When the Cincinnati Bengals make their first pick, they'll do so late in the first round at No. 24 overall.

They have needs at cornerback, quarterback, outside linebacker, safety, defensive end and on the offensive line. They also could add a running back or receiver at some point during the draft. Just whom will they wind up selecting with their picks in the first two rounds? ESPN's Mel Kiper has made his predictions. His second-round pick is a player who once had a first-round projection.


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Analyzing Kiper Mock 4.0: Dolphins 

April, 17, 2014
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The NFL draft is just a few weeks away and anticipation is growing for teams around the league. The Miami Dolphins hold the No. 19 overall pick and still have some well-defined needs.

Most projections have the Dolphins drafting an offensive lineman in the first round. It is currently the team's biggest need. But in ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest mock draft, he did not go in that direction for the Dolphins.


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The Chicago Bears hold the No. 14 pick in the 2014 NFL draft after putting together an 8-8 record under head coach Marc Trestman and missing the postseason for the sixth time in seven seasons, in part because of a traditionally strong defense finally realizing its mortality.

So, similar to the way the club retooled the offense going into 2013, the Bears plan to work diligently on the defense, with the draft most likely focusing on cornerback, defensive tackle, safety and perhaps even linebacker additions.


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The Philadelphia Eagles were active in keeping their own players, such as Jeremy Maclin, Jason Kelce and Riley Cooper. They were active in signing free agents, such as safety Malcolm Jenkins, and trading for running back Darren Sproles.

But the biggest move was cutting wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who stayed in the NFC East by signing with the Washington Redskins.

In ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper's Grade A draft, he plays general manager for the Eagles, not Howie Roseman or Chip Kelly. What would Mel do as GM?

Find out here. Insider


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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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The Oakland Raiders hold the No. 5 overall pick in the draft after going 4-12 last season. And as Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said, his team has needs -- with an "s" -- and he wants a playmaker.

In his latest Grade A mock draft, Mel Kiper put on his GM hat for us and went through the draft selecting players for every team as if he were the one making the picks, rather than predicting the selections. His choice for the Raiders will raise more than a few eyebrows.


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Analyzing Kiper 3.0: 49ers

March, 13, 2014
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ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest choice for the San Francisco 49ers in the first round Insider is Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller.

Fuller is a fast riser and a popular pick these days. Fuller, whose two older brothers played in the NFL, had a terrific scouting combine last month in which he showed great speed. Cornerback will certainly be a top priority in the draft for San Francisco.

If the board falls the way Kiper sees it, I could also see Fresno State receiver Davante Adams being the choice at No. 30. Receiver is arguably the team's greatest need in the draft.

Kiper's Mock 3.0: 49ers

March, 13, 2014
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We interrupt free agency with a draft diversion Thursday as ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.'s third mock draft for the first round of the May draft is revealed.

Kiper has given the San Francisco 49ers an LSU receiver with the 30th picking each of his first two mock-draft efforts.

He gave Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry to the 49ers. There's a good chance neither player is the pick this time around. Beckham had a great combine and he may be a top-25 pick. Landry, however, wasn't as impressive and may be a second-round prospect.

I would expect Kiper to slot the 49ers with a receiver or a cornerback. They are the team's two biggest needs.

Mel Kiper's latest mock draft .

Kiper's Mock 3.0: Buccaneers

March, 13, 2014
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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.

Kiper's Mock 3.0: Dolphins

March, 13, 2014
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The Miami Dolphins enter an important year for many within the organization. Coach Joe Philbin is 15-17 in his first two seasons and must prove he can get the Dolphins to the playoffs in 2014.

That is why it is so important for Miami to nail the NFL draft. The Dolphins hold the No. 19 overall pick and should be able to get some quality talent in what is considered one of the deepest draft pools in years.

It’s no secret the Dolphins must address their offensive line. Miami made a huge splash this week by signing left tackle Branden Albert to a five-year, $47 million contract. That is a move in the right direction. But major holes at right tackle and guard remain. The Dolphins won’t be able to fill all those positions on the offensive line by signing expensive free agents. Therefore, expect Miami also to use resources in the draft -- perhaps in the first round.

With Albert now firmly entrenched at left tackle, that relieves some pressure to fill the hardest position on the offensive line. Key targets such as Zack Martin of Notre Dame and Cyrus Kouandjio of Alabama could be possibilities at No. 19 to play the easier position of right tackle.

Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey has said on several occasions that he’s looking for the best available player regardless of position. If that’s the case, the Dolphins could be a wild card. Ignoring a glaring need on the offensive line doesn’t seem like the best move. But there will be quality players on the board at other positions such as cornerback, linebacker, wide receiver and defensive tackle.

Offseason Blueprint: Redskins

March, 4, 2014
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The Redskins’ blueprint this offseason will look more like a road map. So many roads they could go down because of the needs they must fill and the number of free agents they have. They’ve already made a couple of moves -- re-signing corner DeAngelo Hall and defensive lineman Chris Baker. But there’s a lot of work to be done this offseason, especially with the defense and the continued development of quarterback Robert Griffin III.

ESPN’s experts weighed in on what the Redskins’ blueprint should be; a few nuggets jumped out. NFL Insider Louis Riddick labeled the relationship between new coach Jay Gruden and Griffin as a top priority. Considering what happened last season, it’s tough to disagree.

Riddick also wrote that the No. 2 priority involves the line: “Other than LT Trent Williams, the offensive line is horrible and needs to be upgraded, no matter what the new scheme will be.”

Draft analyst Mel Kiper listed several players to watch in the second round, but two who could provide excellent value, he said, are offensive tackle Morgan Moses from Virginia and receiver Allen Robinson from Penn State. Both play at positions of depth in the draft.

Finally, KC Joyner included a stat on linebacker Brian Orakpo: “Orakpo posted a 2.3 percent mark in the disrupted dropback percentage metric that tracks how often a defender tallies a sack, interception, pass defensed or batted ball. That total ranked sixth among all linebackers last year and illustrates the kind of impact Orakpo can have.”

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