(using the Walterfootball board)
My mock draft from 4/25 received some good reception in the original thread, so I thought I'd put it out here in the Fanposts and add in my analysis for why I chose my picks. See the link above for the draft.
24: QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
Bridgewater is the top quarterback on Joe Goodberry's big board. According to Goodberry, Bridgewater's pocket management, anticipation, short passing accuracy, intermediate passing accuracy, and deep passing accuracy are all superior to that of present-day Andy Dalton. Yes, each one of those. According to Goodberry, Bridgewater has a stronger arm and is moderately more mobile than present-day Dalton as well. Goodberry calls him the "most game-ready QB I've graded since Andrew Luck and ahead of RG3." Bridgewater has had an outstanding college career marked by accuracy and efficiency, not to mention intelligence and leadership. Though it wasn't a problem in college, his main concern is his slight frame and thus durability, but he can surely bulk up.
Mike Brown has a contract on the table for Dalton now. I predict that neither side will budge, with Brown possibly offering $10-12M/year and Dalton possibly wanting $15-20M/year, and Dalton will head into the season without an extension. Bridgewater would be groomed during the 2014 season. The front office can re-sign Dalton after 2014 if he proves himself and trade away Bridgewater for a first-round pick and probably more. If Dalton doesn't prove himself and still pushes for a lucrative contract, it can let Dalton walk and have Bridgewater step in as the 2015 starter. If the latter is the case, Bridgewater would have every chance to succeed, after a year of grooming and with a stellar supporting cast at his disposal (which can be fully retained long-term because of not giving Dalton a massive contract), all while on a cheap cap-friendly deal. In terms of an NFL comparison, he is potentially another Russell Wilson- accurate passer, doesn't turn the ball over often, and most importantly has excellent pocket presence and anticipation.
Quarterback should not be exempt from our BPA mindset. It's the most important position in football. There is a greater drop-off from the top-tier to the lower-tier at QB than at any other position in the draft. The depth of this draft allows for immediate-impact quality position players to be taken in the mid-rounds with little, if any, drop-off from the high-round guys. To me, Bridgewater in the first plus Phillip Gaines in the fourth is a much better haul than, say, Kyle Fuller in the first and Aaron Murray in the fourth. Bridgewater would put real pressure on Dalton to do well, which is a good thing. If Dalton proves himself and is re-signed, Bridgewater is a valuable trading chip.
55: HB Carlos Hyde, Ohio State
BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been declining in production, and is entering the last year of his contract. Some may say that Hyde will not fall this late, but one never knows how the draft plays out, and one shouldn't apologize for stealing him at 55. Hyde is the consensus top running back in the draft. He is powerfully built with prototypical running back size. He is a strong, physical downhill runner who can break tackles and maintain good balance. He has good vision to find the right creases and cutback lanes. He is outstanding in the short-yardage game, pushing the pile forward and driving and twisting his body for extra yardage. He also has nimble feet and shows elusiveness in the open field. Furthermore, he is a solid pass-blocker and good receiver. His main concern is speed, with a 4.66 40 time, and thus running outside the tackles. Hyde would not just eventually replace BJGE; he could take over almost immediately and be an instant upgrade to form a dynamic duo with Gio Bernard. In terms of an NFL comparison, Hyde is potentially somewhat of a cross between Eddie Lacy and Le'Veon Bell, young bruising bell-cow backs who are also solid receivers and pass-protectors. He may be closer to Bell, considering the slower speed and the Big Ten connection.
88: DE/DT Dominique Easley, Florida
The Bengals need some help at defensive line. Michael Johnson is gone at right defensive end and Margus Hunt is still raw, while Devon Still has shown little progress at DT and his roster spot is not guaranteed. Dominique Easley is Goodberry's #3-overall defensive lineman in the draft. He is physically talented with impressive size and strength and long arms. He is a good athlete who uses his leverage and active hands to shed blocks and win at the line of scrimmage. He is a high-effort player with a nonstop motor; he explodes off the line with great snap anticipation and a quick first step, and never gives up on plays. Easley has an enthusiasm for the game of football. He is both a superb speed rusher and power rusher. When Jadeveon Clowney's motor has been questioned, a player who has been named as being the opposite of that is Easley. He is versatile, having played at all D-line spots at Florida; he could play a healthy number of snaps at RDE for the Bengals while providing an interior pass-rush at DT as well. He is a refined player who could step in and play right away, unlike more raw defensive linemen like Kareem Martin. It was a close call for me between Easley and Will Sutton here, but Easley's versatility won me over. The reason Easley is not higher-rated is because of injury concerns, namely two ACL tears (which he has recovered from). In terms of an NFL comparison, Easley could potentially be Greg Hardy, an outstanding pass-rushing, run-defending, physically intimidating, SEC-bred DE/DT whose pre-draft stock (in 2010) fell due to injury concerns.
123: CB Phillip Gaines, Rice
Gaines is Goodberry's #3-overall cornerback in the draft. He has great measurables, a 4.38 40 time to go with good height, weight, and arm length. He has lateral quickness, nimble feet, and fluid hips (all impressive considering his good size), and can go step-for-step with receivers. His combination of length and closing speed allows him to break up passes at the last moment. He is a ballhawk, timing passes to intercept them, and disguising his coverages well. He was highly productive in 2013, limiting opposing receivers to just 13 catches on 40 targets! Knocks on him have included shying away from physicality at times and not being particularly good against the run, and of course level of competition in C-USA. As a Bengal, Gaines would undoubtedly play outside cornerback. In terms of an NFL comparison, Gaines could potentially be Patrick Peterson (minus the return skills), another physically impressive ball-hawking corner. Gaines seems to be the mid-round version of Justin Gilbert.
164: CB Nevin Lawson, Utah State
Lawson is Goodberry's #7-overall cornerback in the draft. Again, a steal at this juncture. Lawson is the yang to Gaines' yin. He is less flashy than Gaines, but is more physical. He is strong with good weight and a compact frame. He jams receivers at the line of scrimmage. He is a good run defender and is a solid open-field tackler. He has decent speed as well, with a 4.48 40 time. He saw good competition in college, with matchups against Marqise Lee, Davante Adams, and Jordan Matthews and looked impressive enough; Goodberry calls him "the most tested CB in the draft." His biggest concern is height, at just 5' 9.5". As a Bengal, he would see plenty of action as a slot/nickel CB; he played plenty of nickel at Utah State. An apt NFL comparison is Chris Owens, who has quietly enjoyed a solid NFL career by being a consistent coverage and run-defending corner in spite of size concerns. Lawson seems to be the mid-round version of Jason Verrett.
199: OT Matt Patchan, Boston College (formerly Florida)
Left tackle is not an immediate need for the Bengals, as Whitworth will be the starting LT through 2015. Patchan is an easy first-round talent with major injury concerns (like and unlike Seantrel Henderson, who is a first-round talent with major motivational concerns). Patchan was part of a "Fab Four" of 5-star elite high school offensive tackles in 2008. He was ranked fourth, Matt Kalil was third, Mike Adams was second, and Tyron Smith was first. Patchan started off his career at Florida and had a maddening array of injuries there. In 2008, he suffered a stray gunshot wound to the left shoulder, and injured his left knee in a scooter accident. He missed almost all of 2009 with a torn right ACL, missed all of 2010 with a fractured right wrist, a portion of preseason 2011 due to getting hit by a car, the second half of 2011 with an upper back injury, and all of 2012 with a torn pectoral. He became somewhat of a legend among Gator fans for surviving all that. In 2013, he was completely healthy. He transferred to Boston College and started the entire year at LT and was very good on the field in his first and only full college season out of six. He is physically impressive, with a sub-5.0 40 time and good size, and led all O-linemen at the combine in vertical jump. He is an athletic pass-protector with good lateral movement and square shoulders and good hands, but more notably is also a road-grading run-blocker. He was a primary reason for the success of Heisman finalist Andre Williams, who frequently ran off left tackle. Take a look at Williams' production from 2013 compared to 2010-2012. Holy cow, right? Regardless of his rocky injury history, Patchan had the look of an upper-round offensive tackle in 2013. He would head to the practice squad unless he can beat out either Marshall Newhouse or Tanner Hawkinson, which is certainly possible. If Patchan pans out, a potential NFL comparison could be Jammal Brown, a very talented left tackle with injury concerns.
212: TE Jake Murphy, Utah (son of legendary Atlanta Braves outfielder Dale Murphy)
Murphy has an athletic, well-developed frame and is NFL-ready. He is a willing blocker and runs good routes as a receiver. He can flex out as a wideout and also plays H-back. He has soft hands to go with good hand-eye coordination and body control. He is fairly physical- he can break tackles and make contested catches. He can also make athletic receptions and runs well after the catch. He looks to be solid in most everything, but not really outstanding, either. In 2013 he showed extraordinary grit, breaking his wrist at UCLA and just 4 weeks later returning and going on a tear in the Utes' final three games of the season against Oregon, Wazzu, and Colorado- racking up 15 receptions, 238 yards, and 4 touchdowns (one of them is in the above photo). Age is a concern, as he will be a 25-year old rookie (he served a two-year Mormon mission). He also has left school early to support his wife and daughter, which could be viewed as a plus by some and a drawback by others. Orson Charles' status with the Bengals is in jeopardy after his run-in with the law, and it's doubtful he would be moved back to TE anyway. That means the Bengals current #3 TE is Kevin Brock, someone whom Murphy can easily beat out for a roster spot. Murphy might also be the Bengals long-term #2 TE to Eifert, if Gresham leaves. An apt NFL comparison for Murphy is Brandon Myers, a late-round solid, unspectacular receiving and blocking TE. Also, there is an intriguing line of LDS tight ends including Todd Christensen, Itula Mili, Todd Heap,
Daniel Coats, Tony Moeaki, and Dennis Pitta.
239: DE Ethan Westbrooks, West Texas A&M
Westbrooks is the Defensive MVP of the 2014 East-West Shrine Game (the Offensive MVP is Jimmy Garoppolo). He has physical upside with good size (height, weight, arm length) and speed, and good hair. Furthermore, his frame clearly allows for some bulking up without loss of quickness. He is deceptively agile and has good acceleration, allowing him to chase down mobile quarterbacks. He played all along the D-line for the Buffs and was very productive. He could be a sleeper at right defensive end for the Bengals. He is physical and highly aggressive, with a quick burst off the line and upper body strength to knock over offensive linemen. His technique is rudimentary and needs to be refined. In essence, Westbrooks seems to be a Kareem Martin clone but at a much better value. If Westbrooks proves himself in training camp, we could see both Easley (obviously) and Westbrooks make it, and either Devon Still or Robert Geathers off the roster. An NFL comparison might be Armonty Bryant, a late-round defensive end with physical upside who played well in limited action last year.
252: FB J.C. Copeland, LSU
Copeland has been a traditional lead blocking fullback for a dominant LSU running game. He is thickly built and has long arms and giant hands. He blows up defenders as a blocker. He is highly tenacious and competitive. He is a punisher in short-yardage and goal-line situations, keeping his pads low and legs churning to power through; it is not at all enjoyable to tackle him. One knock on him has been his being undisciplined at times (in large part due to his mean streak) and thus leading to penalties; he also needs to refine his blocking technique to engage at times and not just decleat; he also needs to trim some weight. Jay Prosch is the top-rated FB in the draft (as good of a blocker as Copeland, but a better rusher/receiver/special-teamer as well as speedier), but went earlier in this mock. However, I do prefer Copeland to Trey Millard, who is versatile like Prosch but is a poor blocker. Copeland's only roster competition as of now would be Orson Charles. In terms of an NFL comparison, Copeland could be John Conner, a devastating lead blocking FB and also an effective short-yardage back.
I didn't address center because there wasn't anyone available in the first few rounds who wasn't a reach, and the later-round guys are likely no better than Trevor Robinson and T.J. Johnson; Mike Pollak will most likely start at C regardless. I was open to addressing offensive guard as well, but again, there wasn't anyone available who wasn't a reach. Hopefully Boling fully recovers from injury by the start of the season. If not, we will be able to manage- perhaps Pollak at LG and Robinson at C, or Newhouse at LT and Whitworth at LG.
I didn't address linebacker because we have a lot of depth at the position already, and as with C and OG there was no value pick available.
We will likely carry only six WR this season, and perhaps only five. Green, Jones, and Sanu are in (and Tate is also in if a return WR is not drafted), while Sanzenbacher, Whalen, and Hamilton will fight for the final one or two spots. Still, I would have pulled the trigger on a great value pick at WR, especially one with both receiving and returning ability, if one were available.
I had the mindset of drafting defensive backs in general, but ended up going with two CB for the value. There was no safety available who wasn't a reach. A safety corps of Nelson, Iloka, Manning, and Williams is solid anyway.