- Mel Kiper Jr., Football analyst
This is not really a mock draft. In this case, I'm the GM.
In a mock I project picks -- here, I make them.
This piece came about a few years ago when my editors said, "What if there was a draft where you got to pick for every team, and not simply project picks?" This was the result, and I think if you look at last year's file, you might like this version better than your team's actual picks.
The ground rules
1. At each spot, I'm making a pick for that team at that spot. I won't pass on a player at No. 5 who fits just because I like how he fits better at No. 6. I act in the best interest of only the team with the pick.
2. There are no duplicates.
3. This year, I'll make a few trades where it makes sense (noted in italics).
4. Most important: This is NOT A MOCK DRAFT. It's my preference for each team at each slot, Rounds 1 through 3. It's supposed to be fun, which is part of the reason why I mixed in some trades.
If you start commenting without reading the rules, expect the backlash to be unrelenting.
You'll find below the roundup for each team's draft haul, but I've also included a pick-by-pick version so you can see how the order of the picks progressed and get an idea of who was off the board when each team selected.
Top needs: QB, WR, LB, G, CB, DE
Rd. 1 (Pick No. 8) DE Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
Analysis: I'm content to take a guard here, until Ansah falls in my lap. Defensive end isn't the biggest need on the board, but this shifts the strategy because it's possible to get a capable starting guard to replace Andy Levitre later on. It's not common that I can get the top 4-3 defensive end prospect at No. 8, so given that we're in the midst of a switch to a 4-3 hybrid defense, and one of my starting defensive ends is Mark Anderson -- who will be 30 years old this fall and on his fourth team in three years -- I'm taking Ansah to maximize value while also hitting a need. In Round 2, I take Allen, who'd be in Round 1 if he hadn't missed a good portion of the postseason evaluation process to recuperate from a sore knee. His stock clearly has fallen, but Allen is a Week 1 starter, period. Then I grab new Bills coach Doug Marrone's college quarterback in Round 3. I wouldn't project Nassib to last that long in the real draft, but in this one I'm about maximizing value, and I have him with a late second-round grade.
Top needs: DE, OT, CB, WR, FB
Rd. 1 (12) RT D.J. Fluker, Alabama
Rd. 2 (42) DE Tank Carradine, Florida St.
Rd. 2 (54) CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, UConn (via Indianapolis)
Rd. 3 (77) CB David Amerson, North Carolina St.
Rd. 3 (82) FB Kyle Juszczyk, Harvard
Analysis: Fluker is a very slight reach in terms of value, but he's an immediate starter for me at right tackle, and that's a huge priority given that I'm in the midst of a transition on the O-line with Jonathan Martin moving to left tackle. There's certainly a chance Martin could struggle, so I can't afford to be bad at both tackle positions in a year in which I need Ryan Tannehill to take another step forward, given the new personnel we have in the passing game. Defensive ends in the 4-3 are scarce in this draft, so taking Carradine -- who would have gone far higher if not for a knee injury to end 2012 -- at this point is a solid get. Cornerback is a need here, so I doubled up with Wreh-Wilson and Amerson. While Amerson's stock is down after a brilliant sophomore season, when he led the nation in INTs, it's a good place to hit a need and bet on upside. Finally, I have a need at fullback and I use that extra third to get the best one in the draft in Juszczyk.
Mel Kiper plays GM for all 32 NFL teams, making his optimal picks for the first three rounds of the NFL draft.