ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has been synonymous with the NFL Draft since it became a thing, and while people often disagree with his analysis, there’s no doubt that few in the scouting world of the media are more connected to what the teams are looking for. So when he releases a draft, it’s definitely worth diving into.
On Wednesday, we received a new Kiper Jr mockup, and there are some real surprises.
‘Sauce’ Gardner climbs to No. 2 overall in NFL Draft, while Derek Stingley falls
Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner more or less settled as the No. 1 cornerback in the draft due to his rare physical and athletic traits. That said, Kiper is the first person to rank him No. 2 overall for the Lions.
That would make Gardner the highest scoring cornerback of all time. While that’s a critical position, and Detroit would be formidable with Gardner and Jeff Odukah (if he can get his health back), I’m really having a hard time seeing investing a pick. that high on a cornerback here.
The flip side is that Kiper knocked Derek Stingley Jr. down to No. 12 on the Vikings. He was a guy projected into the Top 5. I know Minnesota fans will be salivating for that, but I’d be amazed if we saw Sauce go that high or Stingley Jr. go that low.
If that happened, it would definitely shake up the Top 10, and it would be something to watch for sure.
The rush run pass in the Top 10
There’s a ton of pass rusher talent in the draft, but Kiper is first to go all-in on how many teams love these players. Four edge runners are selected in the Top 10, with Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson being the sneaky name others haven’t screened so far.
This comes at the expense of attacking tackles, which drop lower than expected. I could potentially see that happening, but the idea of getting the third or fourth best pass rusher on an Evan Neal or Charles Cross really doesn’t sit well with me.
Breece Hall in the second
There’s only one running back in my mind worth a first-round pick, and I think he’s a hell of a player. Kiper drops Iowa State’s Breece Hall to 38th against the Jets, which floored me.
Hall is an ideal blend of speed and power, with rare traits. I can’t imagine the Buffalo Bills getting past him at No. 26, given that an all-around back is really the only thing this offense lacks. Hell, by the way I can’t believe the Texans would let him down either.
I think people are going to be shocked at Hall’s height. I could honestly see him as a teenager if a team believes enough.
What are the Bengals doing?!
I’m not opposed to the idea of Cincinnati trading the first round for future assets, rather it’s Kiper having the Jets FLEECING the Bengals in a trade. At No. 31, he offers the Jets a move to draft Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum, who slips for God knows what reason.
In exchange, he asks New York to give Cincinnati the No. 35 pick and a Day 3 selection. That’s laughable. On no planet can I imagine the Bengals going from Day 1 to Day 2, where they could get blown up in trade talks overnight, and all they walk away with is a mid-round pick that probably won’t make the team.
This scenario also causes the Bengals to miss OG Kenyon Green because of this trade, which would be a natural fit on their new offensive line.
No receiver for the Chiefs
There’s justification here that Kansas City has second- and third-round picks to tackle the position, but I hate that. The bread and butter of this team is Patrick Mahomes, and with Tyreek Hill gone, they MUST back him up with more guns.
Part of that is how early Mel-happy WR’s draft is leading to a major leak where Chiefs choose, which I don’t see happening either. There are a lot of good receivers this year, but I don’t see seven coming off the board before Kansas City picks.
Also, Kiper is asking the Chiefs to get Skyy Moore back with the No. 50 pick. He won’t last that long and should be the first-choice pick.