How far can Andre Branch slide on draft day? (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
I am through with my mock drafts. I promise you will see no more of them. At least for another 330 days or so. As one final piece prior to the NFL Draft, I will provide my opinions on which players may slide or climb quite a bit in the draft.
Andre Branch, DE/OLB: This is a bit of a mystery to me because I don't know exactly why Branch has been falling. He's a versatile player that has played on both the right and left side of the field and he can play either DE in a 4-man scheme or an OLB in the 3-4. I still think he has the potential to go as early as San Diego at #18 overall, but he could slide into the early half of the second round.
Janoris Jenkins, CB: There is no doubt Jenkins is one of the most talented CB's in the draft. I have said for months the kid would be challenging Morris Claiborne as the top CB in the draft class if he didn't have character issues. Unfortunately, he has quite a few character issues he has had to answer for. Teams will be afraid of another Adam "Pacman" Jones pick and that could be exactly the type of player Jenkins turns out to be. His talent alone could have him going in the middle of the first round, but his character issues could cause him to slip into the early second round.
Mike Adams, OT: He was a potential late first round pick, but then things took a bad turn. It was later discovered Adams failed a drug test at the combine for marijuana. You may think it was a simple marijuana fail and teams won't weigh that too heavily. Beyond putting him directly into the NFL's substance abuse program as a stage one offender, teams recognize how foolish Adams must have been in the first place. It's not like Adams failed a random drug test. He knew he was going to be tested at the combine and still failed it, showing a great lack of maturity on his part. That will also be a major concern that can drop Adams down to the late second round, possibly third round.
Ryan Tannehill, QB: Surprising? Maybe. The rumored interest of the Dolphins have been all over the place. If the Dolphins do pass on Tannehill, there remains a fairly good chance both the Seahawks, Chiefs, and Cardinals won't select him. The next team on the board that may seriously consider him could be the Cleveland Browns at #22. Still, the Browns may feel a QB like Brandon Weeden is the better QB. Simply put, some teams may prefer Weeden, not Tannehill, as the third highest ranking QB in the draft. That could cause Tannehill to slide into the late first round and potentially, but less likely, the early part of the second round. If that happens, expect a lot of teams to be calling the Colts for the first pick of the second round before the second day of the draft ever starts.
Dontari Poe, NT: This one may be very surprising, especially because a quality NT is a hot commodity. With the amount of quality of 4-3 DT prospects out there, I don't believe Poe will necessarily be a hot commodity among teams that primarily use 4-man fronts. Poe wowed many during the workouts, but the question has always been why he didn't dominate while at Memphis. I'm sure there that will weigh heavily among the teams. The best fits for Poe would be in a 3-4 defense and much of the talk has been Poe going to Kansas City at #11 or to Pittsburgh at #24. Luke Kuechly and Dont'a Hightower are very solid ILB prospects and will surely be considered by the Chiefs and Steelers as well if they're still on the board. That could cause Poe, who some think may be a top 10 pick destined for Carolina, to slide even further and could slide into the early parts of the second round. Of course, some of those teams late in first round, such as New England or San Francisco, could take a chance on him as well.
Alfonzo Dennard, CB: Once considered a potential first round pick, he assured himself he will not be a day one selection after being arrested and charged with a third-degree felony assault of a police officer on Saturday. It's not the worst thing any of the prospects have done, but it was terrible timing as it leaves teams with little details before the draft. Dennard faces five years in prison. It's likely there have been at least a few teams that removed Dennard from their draft board and now Dennard, a potential second round pick, may slide to the third round or several rounds later.
Vontaze Burfict, ILB: Remember how he was a potential mid-first round pick? That has changed a lot. He's not on here for possibly sliding into the second round, but his array of concerns about his character could cause him to slide into the third and possibly the fourth round. Ouch.
Lavonte David, OLB: He doesn't get discussed a lot because he's not a sexy 3-4 OLB selection, but he's just one of those quiet 4-3 OLB yawn inducing picks. Don't be so quick to yawn though because David is a terrific prospect. He faces concerns because of his height and weight, but he was a solid producer at Nebraska and he can fly all over the field. How high can he go? I think he can go as high as #15 to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Bobby Massie, OT: He has solid height and weight and can project to play either LT or RT, which is valuable to clubs. A part of his climb can be attributed to the fall of Adams. He may be considered a second round pick, but he could potentially be selected as high as the twenties in the first round.
Mychal Kendricks, ILB: Many don't know about him and those that do doubt him because of his size, but the kid is simply a play-maker. He reads and reacts to the run very well, hits hard, and is also adept in coverage. He can hang with TE's and RB's, but he may have problems trying to go up and fight for the ball with those TE's. His athleticism and his knack for making the plays could get him into the second round. Some team will be very happy to have him.
Brandon Weeden, QB: Many think of him as a second round prospect because of his age. NFL coaches and GM's know they don't exactly schedule their careers in 10-year intervals so they may not care if Weeden's career ends in 2021. Weeden could easily find himself going into the first round. It's possible teams try to outbid each other on the phones by trying to trade back into the first round to take him and it's also possible the Browns can just select him as early as #22 overall. It could also be a surprising move if the Chiefs or Cardinals select Weeden with their first round picks. Don't believe that is the case? Well, I bet you didn't think Tyson Alualu would go to the Jacksonville Jaguars at 10th overall in 2010 either. I know I didn't. Sometimes that move still baffles me.
Jared Crick, DE: Many think of him as a third round prospect, but I think he can go early in the second round. He was a kid I really loved and was a first round prospect until he tore his pectoral muscle. Like Jared Odrick, he can play anywhere on the DL in a 3-man or 4-man front with the exception of 3-4 NT. He has good quickness, very powerful hands, and is just flat out smart on the field. He faces medical concerns, mostly with knee tendinitis, but you will fall in love with the kid if you watch his film. Some team will happily take a chance on him if they feel he won't be an injury risk.