This one looks different doesn’t it? It should. With the Combine and more importantly Free Agency being underway, our man Dorsey has once again transformed the team by adding starters and depth at some key positions of need. Since the beginning of February:
Buddy Boy has added hugely talented starters (K.Hunt, OBJ, S.Richardson), quality depth (A.Taylor, D.Harris, K.Lamm, E.Kush) and try-out guys (J.Strong). He locked up our LT situation for one more year with G. Robinson, resigned a few depth guys that are likely on the bubble again next year (C.Davis, R.Armstrong, P.Gaines) and jettisoned some Cap baggage or guys that were not playing like we want a Brown to play (T.Vallejo, J.Collins, D.Fell).
Having given up our 1st and a 3rd Round pick to make the OBJ deal, we have less capital to work with and must select very carefully to make these picks count. I predict that we will move either Duke Johnson or Ogbah before the draft via trade, which is likely going to net us another mid-round pick (4th or 5th seems likely). That move is not reflected here, but I believe he sees this draft like I do, that the strength of it is at the very top in DL/EDGE & OL players (we no longer have 1st round capital).
Then in Rounds 3-6 the value and talent is in the TE, WR, RB, CB, S. Unfortunately LB pretty well sucks after the first 3 guys that will get taken. EDGE is pretty awful after the 1st round guys go too. The OL group, despite a major drop off, isn’t the worst I’ve seen through the mid-rounds but you won’t find many guys that can start in Year 1 after the middle of the 2nd Round in my opinion.
I believe that what we have left to deal with in this draft, after the moves he made, is CB, SS, LB, TE, EDGE, DT, OL, WR in that order. So my Mock 2.0 reflects this suggestion and in some cases I am taking BPA (best player available) even though the need might not be as high as other positions.
You will notice what I am missing in this 2.0 Mock is OL and DT. I feel the Dorsey moves already cover starters and depth enough that I want to focus on more skill positions like CB, SS, LB, EDGE. The really good OL will be gone in the Top 40 picks. The really good DT will be gone in the first 25 picks. Our first pick is at 49, and I am not 100% on the idea of moving up.
When I publish my Mock 3.0 I will include a number of alternate players like what you see above. I will offer alternates 4, 5 and 6 for each Draft slot we have remaining. Above you’ve got my best 32 players at the moment. Once I have time to review Pro Day results for certain players, I will add another 24 players so we will have a total of 56 players for Draft weekend that represent our best thinking.
My thoughts on the 8 guys I chose in Mock 2.0:
Three themes run through all of my picks on Defense: Skill position players, with Multiple skill sets, and PROVEN Disruption skills. You will see in the stats of each player an ability to disrupt either through turnovers (interceptions) or TFL (tackles for loss). These players bring an elite knack for changing the game and doing it from multiple position roles. The few Offensive players are meant to be high quality depth with specific roles and UNPROVEN upside. These are low round picks that have excellent potential to outplay their Draft slot.
CB Julian Love: This is part 1 of 2 of a Draft coup that I am hoping we can pull off. He’s going to be in demand despite his smaller size, especially once the 2nd Round starts. Love is one of those CB’s that plays so much bigger than he is. Simply a playmaker. His production was ridiculous at ND and he was a starter since Game 4 of his freshman year. He had 36 passes defensed over the last two seasons! If he was 6′ tall he’d be a 1st Round pick, and I am hoping that we can nab him at #49 due to his size, slightly underwhelming Combine results (4.54 speed but scouts were hoping for 4.5 or better) and the fact that there may be some debate about what position he plays as a Safety (he can play them all). Fluid hips, incredible COD skills, downhill explosiveness and elite instincts makes him a guaranteed starter in the NFL with upside to boot.
SS/FS Juan Thornhill: This is part 2 of 2 in my Draft coup that I fantasize our Buddy Boy can pull off. Thornhill played at Virginia but has the attention of NFL scouts for sure. Insane all around production because he is so multiple in his skill sets. Played CB, LB as well as Safety (both FS and SS at a high level). Complete ball-hawk with 13 (!) career interceptions and 26 passes defensed. Great length, long arms and a solid 210 lbs. Built like a prototype but lacks the intense physicality you might like in a guy his size. He plays like a receiver, more of a nuanced game instead of being a hammer. Is not soft, plays the run well and is a very sure tackler. Will body up TE’s easily and get off blocks. Instincts, fluidity, lateral athleticism and range are all elite. Ran a 4.42 so is not slow, but his long speed is a question against faster receivers. Was given the #1 highest SPARQ score (145!) for explosive traits of all Safeties, which also exceeded the highest grade given to any CB’s (142). Might need to move up to get him…
LB Te’Von Coney: Two years ago I created the FQRS model to help me analyze QB’s from college and project their likely success in the pros. I need to create a similar model for LB’s… Players that are not obviously bursting with elite LB traits are extremely hard to project and even harder to pick for a Draft slot. My best recent comparison is Genard Avery who we took in the 5th Round and he’s turned out to be a very high quality player with a ton of upside still undeveloped.
Avery had tremendous athletic skills and his production in college actually displayed an ability to get through the LOS into the pocket and disrupt and get tackles for loss. That is fairly rare for a kid playing more OLB than DE. But he played against low level of competition at Memphis and he didn’t have any obviously elite traits. But he was built like a tank and tested off the charts athletically. Somehow he was overlooked and Dorsey snagged him and he now rotates as a 5 tech, a wide 9 and OLB. He is excelling at most of these roles and is going to keep getting better as he unlocks elite football traits leveraged against his elite athletic ability.
Coney is the closest thing I can find in this draft. Physically he’s not as long or as gifted as Avery but he’s close. More importantly, he’s multiple in his ability to play Will and Mike, possibly even a little Sam if he can improve his coverage skills. He’s rocked up and has a nice lower power bubble, which he uses to great effect in shedding blocks up on the line. That is a very valuable skill that most LB’s don’t have.
Has fair ability to cover and chase. Best against the run. Urgent, heat-seeking tackler and has very good anticipation and instincts for where the ball is going and where he needs to find the mesh point. He’s an outstanding all-around linebacker but also does not fit the physical profile of the modern linebacker.
The key is, just like with Avery, in the NFL he is going to get one job and very high level coaching to draw out the elite traits that he has lurking under the surface. He is a supremely talented base model with only one physical limitation (length) but has a tremendous launch pad to start his NFL career from, just like Avery. I am counting on him falling just outside the Top 100 so we can grab him…
SS/SLOT Mike Edwards: This kid is my big gamble to replace Jabrill Peppers. I figured we needed a player that could start as a rookie, and that would have an excellent skill set for playing up on the line but also has demonstrated an ability to man cover and preferably had some ball skills. If the kid could play some deep zone, that’s just a bonus. Edwards delivers on all counts but he’s doing it from a less than NFL ideal physical platform and this is why I suspect we can get him this late. Therein lies the gamble.
But facts can get in the way of a negative narrative about a player “not NFL sized” and so he gets downgraded. This is pure opportunity for a talent evaluator like Dorsey.
Edwards is a 4 year starter at an SEC school and has incredible production against the best of the SEC. He plays so much bigger than he actually is. He surprises the competition with physicality and quickness, violent tackling. He can play the pass and the run equally well. He has excellent instincts and uses predictive skills to put himself in position to make plays. His issues are all correctable (miss tackles due to overaggressive approach, gets fooled by double-moves and trickery). The most important thing to value with Edwards is the actual, verifiable production against the best college competition there is. Draft. What. You. See.
TE Kahale Warring: The story behind this kid is pure Browns. Didn’t play football until his senior year of high school but he starred and lettered in water polo, basketball, cross country, swimming, soccer and tennis! He was good enough at football that San Diego State gave him a walk-on opportunity and he turned that into a 4 year career. His production was low, but his film is tantalizing as he is a supreme athlete with real blocking receiving skills. He’s an upside player, but that ceiling is extremely high. He’s been compared favorably to Todd Heap. Would be a fantastic late round get to back up Njoku and allow effective two-TE sets.
QB Gardner Minshew: Outside of the completely appropriate Uncle Rico comparisons, Minshew represents the PERFECT developmental back up to Baker. He has a touch more height than Baker but otherwise has a similar stubby sort of build. His arm strength is not quite the same but it’s his accuracy and touch that make him special. In order run our offense, which is likely to be based largely on the Air Raid/Run-and-Shoot model, accuracy is paramount. Being able to throw the long ball with accuracy is critical. Minshew delivers on both counts.
He needs a bit of work reading defenses, is a little skittish off-platform when the pocket starts to disintegrate, but generally can make accurate throws on the run. Baker is the perfect teacher and example for Minshew to learn and grow with. Icing on the cake is his fiery personality and strong leadership skills. His teammates and even players from other teams in college loved him. That’s the kind of guy you want stepping into the fire if Baker were to miss any time. He is going to add positive energy and healthy competition in practice and the locker room. I am holding this slot for Minshew in every one of my Mocks…get it done Buddy Boy!
WR Shawn Poindexter: This kid is my 2019 Mike Evans. He has the size, frame and receiving skills to become a truly damaging wideout. Incredible hands (2% drop rate), ball tracking and body control. He’s got great length and very good speed. Not a ton of quickness or elite explosion, but enough to make him slippery in the open field. His YAC is pretty good for his athletic profile. He’s the perfect add to our WR group as a developmental on the 53 man roster, as he’s good enough to play right away. Needs work on his blocking, needs the NFL weight room to improve his lower body power, but damn this kid is a real downfield and Red Zone threat…
LB Ulysees Gilbert III: Here my Ohio homer pick of the Draft. Clearly these 7th Round picks are a way to claim a guy before he’s an UDFA and other teams can steal him. But what Gilbert brings to the table is worth bringing into camp to see what he is capable of around the big boys. He played and starred at Akron where he showcased incredible speed and range. He’s not built well for the NFL, with a narrow frame and barely 6’0″ tall and only 228 lbs, but he’s got longer arms which improves his tackle radius.
Turns explosion into power when he tackles properly. Loses leverage in the run game because he can’t take on blocks. Is not a playmaker in the run game, so this largely rules out playing Mike at the next level. His instincts, fluidity and raw speed is what has allowed him to be a playmaker. Granted, a lower level of competition in the MAC, but he’s made a ton of splash plays. Very durable at his size over four years in college. Most likely a pure Will backer in the NFL but has the tools to make a roster and possibly surprise.