All right, I'll admit it--I was a little hard on Scouts Inc.'s Todd McShay the last time he put out a 2013 NFL mock draft. Yes, the write-up was utter garbage. And yes, even zombies like Vince Vaughn and Kristen Stewart would've taken offense to the manner in which McShay mailed in his performance. Nonetheless, we owe him at least some respect for the quality mocks he's churned out over the past few years. That includes his latest mock draft creation, which debuted earlier today.
Before we dig in, a reminder that McShay this offseason has mocked the following players to the Dolphins: Oregon defensive Dion Jordan, Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro and California wide receiver Keenan Allen. What this means is that McShay hasn't even been close to gauging what the Dolphins will do on draft night. Jordan's a better fit in the straightforward 3-4 scheme; Jeff Ireland has passed on safeties better than Vaccaro; and Allen at No. 12 is a ridiculous thought. I applaud Todd's overall effort, but WTF?
The fourth installment of McShay's 2013 mock draft suggests that he's finally talking to the right "insiders" around the league. Prior to reading his mock 4.0, part of me feared that Todd was going to say "f*** it" and give us Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes (McShay and his Scouts Inc. mates flat-out despise Rhodes for some weird reason), or stick with the receiver-at-12 mindset and hand us Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (awesome ability, but raw as all get-out). Fortunately, McShay spared us yet another misguided selection at No. 12 and instead handed us the player who will likely make the most sense for us on draft night.
First, though, let's cover some of his selections leading up to the Dolphins' pick (context is always key when it comes to mock drafts)
No surprise to see McShay rolling Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel as the No. 1 overall pick, but I'll continue to question the Joeckel-at-first-overall mindset when equally talented (and arguably better) offensive tackles will be in the top 10 mix this spring. Central Michigan's Eric Fisher is a more complete prospect than Joeckel, and Oklahoma's Lane Johnson has the best feet and highest upside of the big three. That's not to say Joeckel isn't an outstanding tackle prospect; I just fail to see why he's the guy currently at the top of this year's draft class.
Jordan at No. 2 overall to the Jaguars is becoming a popular mock selection, and I can't say I disagree with the logic. New head coach Gus Bradley wants speed and length coming off the edge, and Jordan has plenty of both. I think his uncanny ability to move so well in coverage for a big man is the clincher if Jax moves forward with the Oregon pass-rusher.
Speaking of selection trends that are beginning to creep up, McShay has Oakland taking West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. You can argue that Smith doesn't have the skill set or value to validate a top three selection, but if the Raiders do indeed dump Carson Palmer (and that's the way it looks right now), Smith is a no-brainer for the silver and black.
McShay has Fisher to Philadelphia at No. 4 overall. Uh oh, starting to sense a run on offensive linemen ...
Now, we've speculated on this site about how Detroit's No. 5 overall selection could directly influence where the Dolphins go in this draft. If the Lions select a tackle, then we might be on the outside looking in at No. 12 if we want to add a key piece to the offensive line. Thankfully, McShay has Detroit taking BYU defensive end Ezekiel Ansah. Dodged a bullet there!
Naturally, it's the Cardinals who take the next available lineman, and that happens to be Johnson. Rats!
Analysis: "If Smith is off the board and the Cardinals don't feel good about any other quarterback, they can still fill a priority need with a top-10 prospect in Johnson," McShay wrote. "He is still a work in progress after moving from quarterback to tight end to tackle in recent seasons, but Johnson continues to get bigger and stronger, and he is certainly ready to step into a starting role as a rookie. His floor might be lower than that of Joeckel or Fisher, but he will improve with game experience, and it's not hard to argue that Johnson's athleticism and movement skills give him a potentially higher ceiling."
McShay keeps the run on offensive linemen going with Buffalo and its selection of Alabama's Chance Warmack. I don't feel too bad about this pick. Really.
Two more things to note before we get to the Dolphins' selection: McShay has Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd sliding all the way to Tennessee at No. 10 overall (Todd does make the point that picks four through nine are basically no man's land for defensive tackle with Floyd's skill set), and leaves the hapless Chargers (who need a tackle more than any team selecting in the top 10) with Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. Not too shabby of a consolation prize, Bolts.
Oh, and then there's the Dolphins' selection. Shield your eyes, CT.
COLLEGE: North Carolina AGE: 23 HT: 6-2⅛ WT: 311
Analysis: "Miami must find a replacement for departed free-agent OT Jake Long but can't afford to reach for a tackle here," McShay wrote. "Cooper is the best blocker in space in this class, and he fits what the Dolphins are looking for in terms of athleticism and stamina. He will help protect young QB Ryan Tannehill -- who has been provided with several new weapons this offseason -- and upgrade Miami's run blocking. Cooper is the best player left on the board at this point, and some feel he is even better than Warmack."
Intriguing. The Dolphins could certainly use the presence of an elite-caliber guard, and the thought of Cooper playing alongside Mike Pouncey will be intoxicating for many. That said, this selection wouldn't sit well with anti-OL contingent on the site.
What's your take on Cooper at No. 12 to the Dolphins? Love it? Hate it? Who would you rather select at that spot?
Those of you with an ESPN Insider account can read the fourth installment of McShay's 2013 mock draft here.