ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. is many things to many people. To some, he's a raven-haired draft guru who has his thumb pressed firmly on the pulse of NFL scouting. To others, he's a razor-beaked, bespectacled annoyance whose draft analysis and projections are nothing more than electronic toilet paper. And to funeral parlor owners the world over, Kiper's appearance is the golden standard by which all embalming jobs are measured against.
Regardless of which camp you're in when it comes MK Jeezy, it's hard to deny the excitement his mock drafts create among NFL and college football fans. Of course, that excitement typically segues into befuddled facial expressions and exclamations along the lines of "what the f***!?" That's neither here nor there, however, so let's just stick to the best thing about Kiper's mock drafts: the feeling of anticipation they give us prior to the discovery that Kiper is mocking a Conference USA player to our favorite team (and with a top 10 pick, no less).
Maybe we're being too hard on MK 2.0. Then again, maybe not. Before we take a look at some examples from the 2013 NFL Mock Draft he posted earlier today, let's review his initial mock Dolphins selections over the past few years:
2012: Riley Reiff, OT Iowa
2011: Mark Ingram, RB Alabama
2010: Rolando McClain, ILB Alabama
2009: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR Maryland
2008: Glenn Dorsey, DT LSU
If ever there was a list that could induce projectile vomiting among Dolphins fan everywhere, it's the one above. Most of us will never understand what Kiper saw in Dorsey during his stay at LSU. And the Heyward-Bey projection was as offensive in January 2009 as it is right now.
As for the other selections, they might look horrid in hindsight, but McClain was the hotshot linebacker prospect of the 2010 NFL Draft (and Kiper's projection was made prior to the Dolphins signing free agent Karlos Dansby that spring). Ingram was a near-unanimous Dolphins selection among mock drafters who looked at Miami's lame running game and connected the obvious dots. And Reiff was just Kiper's read on Jeff Ireland's tendency to use top 15 selections on offensive lineman.
Kiper's mock projections aren't always off the mark. Here are his comments regarding the Dolphins' eighth overall selection in Kiper's final 2012 NFL Mock Draft:
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
No surprises here. I've said before I think Tannehill has been a little overhyped by the draft process, but I agree with colleague Todd McShay that the upside is undeniable. This really is the best setting for Tannehill, too. We know Miami lacks a long-range plan at quarterback, and while Tannehill isn't an immediate starter, you take him for the promise. Joe Philbin gets another young project to take on. He's succeeded with young QBs before.
OK, OK, makes sense. Scratch out the "immediate starter" comment and it's clear that Kiper's Dolphins-oriented intel last spring was right on the money.
All of this brings us to the main topic at hand: Kiper's first 2013 NFL Mock Draft, which was published Wednesday morning. The Phinsider has already had plenty of draft commentary throughout the past few months, but it's never a party until Kiper arrives on the scene. As expected, his initial first-round projection had plenty of "WTF?" moments, with a little bit of logic and even some common sense mixed in. We'll get the Dolphins' selection momentarily, but let's first take a look at some interesting happenings within the top 10 of Kiper's mock.
Biggest surprise pick that is actually starting to make a lot of sense: Kansas City selects Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel with the top overall pick
This projection would've thrown me for a loop a few weeks ago, but it's now starting to look like Joeckel is indeed a candidate to land in Kansas City. What's really fascinating about this scenario is the fact that only three offensive linemen have gone No. 1 overall since 1968: Ron Yary (selected by the Vikings that year), Orlando Pace (selected by the St. Louis Rams in 1997) and Jake Long (selected by you-know-who in 2008). How many people last spring actually thought Joeckel was a candidate to join the above list? Anyone?
Biggest 'WTF?' moment: Cincinnati selecting Wisconsin running back Montee Ball with the 21st overall pick
The Bengals' offensive backfield certainly needs to get younger, but Montee Ball at No. 21? Holy hell.
Biggest 'Yep, sounds about right' selection: Barkevious Mingo to the New York Jets at No. 9
The question isn't "Will the Jets draft Barkevious Mingo this spring?" Rather, it's "How can the Jets say no to him after he has a berserker workout at the Combine next month?"
And now, the moment you've been waiting for (unless, of course, you have ESPN Insider and already read the mock draft):
Miami's selection at No. 12 overall: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR Tennessee
Here's what Kiper has to say on the matter:
"The Dolphins nailed their quarterback pick in taking Ryan Tannehill in 2012, but when they dealt Brandon Marshall to the Bears, they also left Tannehill without a wide receiver who opposing defenses truly fear as a matchup problem. Patterson had just one year against top competition after spending two years at the junior college level, but he has very good hands, can beat cornerbacks with his height and strength, and will go up and beat defenders for 50-50 balls. He also has big-time ability to run after the catch, and this slot matches up with his current value."
That last bit about Patterson's value is what caught my attention. If the Dolphins can absolutely justify taking the Tennessee wideout at this spot, do they pull the trigger and begin the wide receiver shopping on draft night? Or will they explore other options and seek maximum value with the 12th overall selection?
Tell us your thoughts on Kiper's pick for the Dolphins. Is Patterson the right guy for Miami? Who would you rather select at No. 12? Will Kiper project a different player to us in his February mock draft?
Those of you who subscribe to ESPN Insider can check out Kiper's first 2013 NFL Mock Draft here.
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