Somewhat lost in the fuss that was Mel Kiper's debut 2014 mock draft on Wednesday was the fact that NFL.com posted two debut mocks of its own, courtesy of media analysts Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah.
Brooks and Jeremiah are two of the main draft guys at NFL.com (Gil Brandt and Charles Davis make up the rest of the crew), and while their respective projections can be outrageous at times (Brooks spent much of last winter convinced that the Chiefs would take Geno Smith No. 1 overall), they get it right more often than not.
Which brings us to the duo's respective debut mock drafts from Wednesday. And as expected, Brooks' and Jeremiah's first-round projections have some interesting themes within the top 10 and beyond:
- Rumors of Jadeveon Clowney's potential draft slide are greatly exaggerated in the minds of Brooks and Jeremiah, as they both have the South Carolina pass-rusher going to Houston at No. 1 overall.
- Both analysts believe Johnny Manziel will go to Cleveland at No. 4 overall.
- In a bit of a shocker, both analysts believe Auburn left tackle Greg Robinson will be the first offensive lineman selected (Jeremiah has him going to Atlanta at No. 6 overall; Brooks has him going to the Rams at No. 2). As for Jake Matthews, Brooks has him going to Tampa Bay at No. 7 overall, while Jeremiah has the Texas A&M left tackle falling out of the top 10 altogether and landing with the Tennessee Titans. What a get!
- Jeremiah and Brooks also have a unanimous selection for the Miami Dolphins at No. 19 overall: Notre Dame left tackle Zack Martin. Here's Brooks' commentary regarding the Dolphins selection:
"The Dolphins' offensive line struggled well before the Jonathan Martin incident, so identifying a solid offensive tackle is a top priority. Factor in Martin's ability to play inside or outside, he could be the ideal pick in Joe Philbin's mind."
Intriguing. Martin is indeed an ideal fit in Miami's zone-blocking scheme (provided the team sticks with it next season), and he's one of the most athletic and technically-sound tackles in an absolutely loaded draft class. But as Brooks points out, he can play inside, and he may have to. That's because Martin comes in at 6'4", with an arm length expected to measure in the 32-inch range. Those measurables would be enough to convince some NFL teams that Martin is a guard, not a left tackle. However, Houston left tackle Duane Brown--arguably the best left tackle in football right now--had similar measurements when he came out of Virginia Tech in 2008. So why can't Martin work on the left side? He doesn't struggle with longer pass-rushers on tape; he isn't susceptible to the bull rush (impressive when you consider that Martin played under 310 pounds last season); and he has the natural feet necessary to negate speed off the edge. Lose the measurements and Martin is arguably the most complete left tackle in this year's draft class.
I was so close to mocking Martin to the Dolphins earlier this week, but chose to hold off on that selection simply because I need to see how he measures up at the Combine next month. If his arms are indeed in the 32-inch range, he might be able to handle the left side in a zone-blocking scheme. If his arms measure any shorter than that, though, you can safely slot him as a guard prospect in next May's draft.
Let's hope for the former scenario.
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