Mel Kiper's 2013 pre-draft season hasn't been one of his better efforts. Not through the eyes of Dolphins fans anyway.
As ESPN's resident draft "mad scientist" (or whatever in the hell the network calls him these days), Kiper's previous three mocks this winter/spring have closely mirrored the approach he took with the Dolphins two years ago, when he all but refused to send anyone not named "Mark Ingram" to Miami with the No. 15 overall pick.
(To be fair, Mel that spring was far from the only person harping on the idea of the Dolphins reinventing their backfield with Ingram. But given that Kiper's draft nemesis Todd McShay had Florida center Mike Pouncey pegged to Miami as early as mid-January, the widow's-peaked one deserves all the razzing we can muster. Fire away.)
Just like two years ago, Kiper has spent much of this pre-draft season staying in lockstep with the majority of "analysts" who think they know what's best for the Dolphins. This time around, it's Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, who Kiper has mocked to Miami with absurd consistency the past three months. Prior to free agency, the Dolphins certainly could've used Patterson in what was arguably the league's most anemic receiver group. In late April, however, the Vol speedster makes far less sense for an offense that has Mike Wallace, Brandon Gibson, Brian Hartline and Dustin Keller in town. If the Dolphins go with a receiver, it should be on day two or even day three.
Like any overpaid draft analyst worth his salt, Kiper has taken the Dolphins' free agency moves into account, as evidenced in the 2013 NFL mock draft he posted this morning on ESPN.com. Problem is, his new selection for the Dolphins at No. 12 makes me wish we could have Patterson back.
12) D.J. Fluker, OT Alabama (6'5", 339) Age: 21
Analysis: "The Dolphins will shift second-year man Jonathan Martin to left tackle in the absence of Jake Long, but it leaves a pretty big talent deficiency at right tackle, and in Fluker they get a player who is ready to step in immediately," Kiper wrote. "The Dolphins have made personnel upgrades in their passing game, but they don't want the problem to become protection or an inability to run the ball and create short-yardage situations where they can open up the playbook. They do need another pass-rusher, but Fluker makes sense."
Have I missed something here? Did D.J. Fluker do something super-special within the past few weeks to warrant a jump all the way to No. 12 overall? No? OK, then all I can figure is that Kiper is officially trolling Dolphins fans.
I can understand drafting a tackle like Central Michigan's Eric Fisher or Oklahoma's Lane Johnson early in the first round, but not a gargantuan, slow-footed prospect like Fluker. The Dolphins are trying to acquire ideal zone-blocking offensive personnel, yet here comes Mel Kiper with a right tackle prospect who practically outweighs the entire left side of Miami's offensive line. I like Fluker, and he played very well during his time at Alabama. That said, he doesn't make much sense in a blocking scheme that emphasizes quickness and overall agility. Not even close.
(Rant mode switched to "off")
Outside of the dump Kiper takes on the Dolphins at No. 12, his fourth-edition mock is actually pretty decent, and includes a second round (we'll get to that in a second). Here are some of his noteworthy first-round selections:
- Kiper calls the Eagles' bluff and has them using the No. 4 pick on West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. His reasoning for the selection makes sense, too: "In Smith, the Eagles are in a good position to develop an athletic, talented thrower to succeed specifically in (Chip) Kelly's offense, but without the requirement that he must start from day one." Works for me.
- Kiper thinks Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel is headed to Kansas City at No. 1 overall, but he doesn't have another tackle coming off the board until the No. 7 pick. That would be Fisher going to the Arizona Cardinals.
- North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper coming off the board before Alabama's Chance Warmack? Kiper thinks it'll happen, and has the former landing in Buffalo at No. 8, and the latter heading to Tennessee at No. 10.
- My Bears-fan friends will be thrilled to know that Kiper has their team selecting Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o with the No. 20 overall pick.
Those of you still fuming over the Fluker pick might feel a little better after a look at what Kiper has in store for the Dolphins in round two of his mock.
42) Cornelius "Tank" Carradine, DE Florida State
"They fill the void at tackle in round one and target a needed pass-rusher in round two," Kiper wrote. Some genius-level analysis there.
54) Robert Alford, CB Southeastern Louisiana
"One of the top sleepers on my board, Alford hits an area of need at cornerback," Kiper wrote.
If Carradine checks out medically (he tore his ACL last November), he would be an incredible pass-rush weapon to pair with Cameron Wake. As for Alford, he's one of my top three corners in this draft, so no need to sell me on that selection. I like it.
Those of you who subscribe to ESPN Insider can check out the full version of Kiper's mock draft 4.0 here.