Monday, October 31, 2011

Mid-Season Draft Peek

After lots of off-season drama, we've quickly reached the halfway point of the season. Mel Kiper and Todd McShay are busily refining their draft boards. Until we actually slot the teams, it's all somewhat meaningless ... so it's time to take a stab at which team will pick where! I've picked the teams with 2 or fewer wins and projected a range of likely wins over the rest of their schedule. Then, I've added the midpoint of that range to their current number of wins to come up with the following projection:

1. Miami (1.0 wins)
2. Indianapolis (1.5 wins)
3. Jacksonville (2.5 wins)
4. Denver (3.0 wins)
5. St Louis (3.5 wins)
6. Minnesota (4.0 wins)
7. Arizona (4.0 wins)
8. Carolina (4.0 wins)
9. Seattle (4.5 wins)
10. oh, I dunno ... Washington seems to be imploding, I'll go with them.

A few things stand out: there is a very real chance that not 1, but 2 teams to go undefeated. Also, there are a ton of teams with awful records this year. This might be a historically bad season at the top of the draft boards. Perhaps Suck for Luck is real?

Now on to the big money question: who picks what player? Given the current draftnik boards, we can venture a few guesses.

1. Miami - Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford. The biggest no-brainer of the draft. They need a QB, he's a can't-miss guy, they gotta do it, right? Then again, this was the team that picked Ted Ginn, Jr when faced with a similar need a few years ago ...

2. Indianapolis - Matt Kalil, OT, USC. Indy's offensive line was never great, but it's downright bad now. They can't run, and their franchise QB can't get on the field. Indy tends to make solid picks, I don't see how they can go any other way here.

3. Jacksonville - Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma St. The Jags need some big-time playmakers for new QB Blaine Gabbert. Their investment in him makes picking another QB unlikely, and their formerly absent pass rush is showing a few signs of life by committee. This is a team that has scored over 14 points once this season. Their line is fine, they need weapons.

4. Denver - Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma. Jon Elway hit a homerun with Von Miller last year, and he'll be looking to dump the Tim Tebow experiment in the dumpster. Tebow has a chance to save his job between now and then, but I just don't see it happening. If it does, Denver could grab Trent Richardson since the aging Willis McGahee's performance makes it clear that Knowshown Moreno is underperforming.

5. St Louis - Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford. The Rams can't keep their promising young QB upright, nor mount a convincing rushing attack. While their defense leaves plenty to be desired, this is too high of a pick for Morris Claiborne and pass rushing is actually an area of strength, which leaves Quinton Coples on the board.

6. Minnesota - Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina. The Vikings are loaded in the run game and sacks have dropped dramatically since Christian Ponder took over the starting job. Pass rush is already an area of strength for the Vikings, but 55% of their sacks come from Jared Allen who'll be turning 30 this offseason. Minnesota would also love to see Justin Blackmon available here.

7. Arizona Cardinals - Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa. Fans will hold their breath, remembering the Cardinals ill-fated reach for Levi Brown in 2007. With Blackmon off the board and Ryan Williams waiting to come back from injury, offensive skill players are probably not in play. Kevin Kolb will get some benefit of the doubt in the face of horrific line play. Morris Claiborne is a possibility, but Greg Toler will be back next year.

8. Carolina - Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson. Carolina's offense can keep up with anyone, but they are incapable of stopping the run. They need a top interior lineman, and Thompson will fit the bill. Beason's return from injury should eliminate their interest in one of the top inside linebackers.

9. Seattle - Matt Barkley, QB, USC. Tarvaris Jackson has been statistically decent, but Seattle's offense is completely anemic. Their biggest issue is their offensive line, but there's no other lineman worthy of a top-10 pick left on the board. Let's not kid ourselves, Jackson is not the long-term answer in Seattle either.

10. Washington - Vontaze Burfict, ILB, ASU. The ubiquitous London Fletcher's career is winding down and it's time to think of a replacement in the middle. Upgrading Josh Wilson (I've never been a DeAngelo Hall fan either ...) with Morris Claiborne is a solid option as well. The Redskins would really like to get a top-notch QB or offensive lineman, but both positions have been picked clean in this scenario.

I'll have to remember to check back in at the end of the season to see how the rankings played out, and update picks based on scouting changes!