From the downfall of great empires to the resurrection of storied franchises, historic recurrence constantly bares its teeth. In this particular mock draft, history strikes again, but this time we're on the opposite side of the spectrum. Read more, after the jump.
**TRADE: As we all know, Mike Shanahan will go to any lengths to find his guy at QB. We've seen him draft Brian Griese in the 3rd round to eventually replace Elway. We've seen him replace Griese with Jake Plummer, via free agency, and in the last years of his time with Denver we witnessed Shanny trade up in the 1st round to grab prima donna, Jay Cutler. That is why I have the Washington Redskins completing a carbon copy of the trade Josh McDaniels orchestrated to move back into the 1st round and grab Tim Tebow, coincidentally with the 25th pick. Broncos receive 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round picks from the Washington Redskins in return for the 25th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, which the 'Skins will use to grab Ryan Tannehill (QB), Texas A&M. This is, essentially, the trade we completed with the Baltimore Ravens, back in 2010. Now for the picks.
2nd round (via Redskins): Alfonzo Dennard (CB), Nebraska, 5'10 204
I just don't understand the concept of how one week of Senior Bowl practices can cause a proven talent like this to fall into the later part of the top 40 picks, but hey, I'll take it. The trade to obtain the 7th pick of the 2nd round helps us grab this possibly-elite talent. He lacks great size, but still has a solid core at 204 pounds. Dennard also has elite speed and quickness, and while he lacks good footwork, he has shown the ability to explode on routes and intercept the pass. Has proven to excel at all types of coverages, but his gambling nature can cause him to bite on play fakes and get burned. Extremely aggressive at the LOS, and is a terrific press corner with amazing ball skills. There was a story I read, and it brought up an interesting point - when Dennard and Amukamara were a tandem, QBs would actually target Prince more in order to avoid the king.
2nd round: Kendall Reyes (DT), UConn, 6'4 300
Reyes vaulted his draft stock an entire round, going from a 3rd round prospect, to a 2nd rounder, mostly because of a terrific Senior Bowl where he finally became a proven player. He manhandled the likes of Kevin Zeitler in practices, and recorded 2.5 sacks in the actual game. Reyes is exactly the type of guy we need next to Bunk: one who can both stop the run and collapse the pocket in passing situations. Explosive off the LOS and can knock opposing linemen off their feet at the point of attack.
3rd round (via Redskins): Bruce Irvin (DE/OLB), West Virginia, 6'3 245
What an inspirational story. Former high school dropout in his junior year, but after one of his closest friends was arrested for cocaine trafficking, he was determined to turn his life around and became one of the best pass rushers in college football. Tremendous athlete who runs a 4.5 40, and was on the Ted Hendricks Award Watch List, for best DE in the nation. Averaged about 15 sacks a season in his college career (both in JC and FBS). Great tackler and has a very high motor. He would give us an amazing pass rush with Doom, as he can play the 4-3 DE; best situation during his rookie year would be as a pass rushing specialist on 3rd down to spell Ayers. Dumervil, Reyes, Irvin, and Von all getting after the QB. For now, think Antwan Barnes mold, who had 11 sacks last season despite starting only 5 games. Scouts and coaches alike, think Irvin has the potential to eventually become an every down player as he develops run stopping skills.
3rd round: Brandon Brooks (OG), University of Miami, Ohio, 6'5 353
Brooks is a player who helped himself a lot at the East-West Shrine game. I hate the OL free agency class this year. I don't see anybody who could help very much, whether it be with depth, or even starting material. Grubbs and Nicks are too expensive and likely won't be let go anyways. Brooks possesses a physically imposing frame and huge size that he handles well. Has good, natural strength and raw power with the ability to be a mauler in the run game (music to John Fox's ears). He is a developmental guard prospect with high upside, but we're not looking for an instant fix right now. Brooks could push Beadles as far as competition, and would also be insurance for Kuper. He could turn into a great future cog on our line.
4th round (via Redskins): Terrell Manning (OLB), North Carolina State, 6'3 225
Is it just me, or is NC State becoming quite the linebacker factory? Let's hope Nate Irving pans out. In the meantime, we'll grab his former fellow 'backer, Terrell Manning. As you'll read later, I do not have us re-signing Woodyard. That's not my preferred route, but it's the most likely. We get Manning as a consolation prize to be the understudy for DJ and snatch the starting job from him when his time is up. Great player, probably a mid 3rd round prospect, but he missed the beginning of this season with injuries so falling to the early 4th is possible. Only played 8 games in 2011, but still racked up 66 tackles, 5 sacks, and 3 INT. Athleticism is off the charts for a LB, as you can see he has a hefty safety size. Manning has excellent speed and good, strong hands. Plays bigger than his size, played all 3 linebacker positions at NC State. Plays well in space, has tremendous burst to the ball, and fills the gaps as well as anyone. The sack numbers coming from DJ could continue or even improve when this guy steps in.
4th round: Robert Turbin (RB), Utah State, 5'10 216
I feel like I'm responsible for the little bit of Turbin Mania going around, as I've seen a couple mocks and comments calling for him since my last post that had us taking him.. Well let's continue those calls people! I feel like he could be the RB steal of the draft. If you haven't seen the video and analysis I posted about Turbin, check it out here: http://www.milehighreport.com/2012/1/31/2755852/post-senior-bowl-mock-draft
5th round (via Rams): B. J. Coleman (QB), Chattanooga, 6'3 234
Seems like the exact type of QB Elway is looking for, and he comes at the cheap price of a 5th round pick. Has the prototypical arm and size to succeed in the NFL. Showed tremendous upside at the East-West Shrine game. Coleman has great ability to drive passes downfield, and proved to be extremely coachable during Shrine practices. He displayed a rocket arm and smooth mobility (Elway probably sees himself with that description). He is also a great teammate and leader, could go anywhere in the top 5 rounds, but I wouldn't want to reach any farther than the 2nd pick of the 5th.
5th round: Gerell Robinson (WR), Arizona State, 6'4 224
Robinson has so much potential it's not even funny. For us to be able to get him in the late 5th round would be huge, and I'm not just talking about that 6'4 frame. The guy is a playmaker - you all saw that in the Senior Bowl. He's a bit raw, but he has everything you could want from an NFL receiver. "Robinson has great size, excellent quickness, and good speed. For a bigger receiver prospect he is certainly elusive in the open field when running with the football. He has excellent vision and balance and the ability to make people miss and make the big play. Robinson has soft hands and runs good routes. He is the type of receiver that can beat you on the short, intermediate, or deep routes." - via scout.com. Most importantly, he is a low risk, high reward pick. He will have no pressure on him, being behind Demaryius and Decker at first, so he has time to develop into the full package.
7th round: Shawn Loiseau (ILB), Merrimack, 6' 241
Since his standout performance at the East-West Shrine game, the small school, Division II product has opened the eyes of scouts around the NFL. His intensity is off the charts and he gives full effort on every down. He improved his stats every year at Merrimack, even displaying good ability to rush up the middle. After great performances in the practices, big time scouts like Mike Mayock and Todd McShay (yuck), couldn't stop raving about him. This from nfldraftscout.com: "He has average size, length and athleticism, but makes up for his shortcomings with instincts and overall toughness. Loiseau fills the run lanes hard and won't shy from contact, taking on blocks and using his eyes effectively. He should be a special teams standout at worst and will make it tough for pro coaches to cut him."
Now if you don't mind, I'd like to list the free agents I think would be ideal to pick up prior to the draft, as I feel putting it after you read about my picks would help make more sense.
I think we'll be pretty frugal and continue to build through the draft. Much more loose with money than last year, but nothing huge. Just enough impact signings to add that extra boost in talent.
Tyvon Branch (SS)
Hopefully we can get this sack to turn into a bro hug. Take him away from those dang Raiders. Above average safety. Sound tackler, good ball skills, has the ability to rush the passer (had 4 sacks in 2010). There are two ways to make this work. We can either relegate Dawkins to more of a spot starter/relief during games/mentor role which would let us sign him to a smaller sized contract (as far as money) and keep him healthy; or we can play Branch at FS, keep Dawk at his SS position for at least this year, and let Carter develop a little more. Either way, Branch will be our safety of the future.
Dan Connor (ILB)
He would be a bargain to come play for his former coach. A little competition for Irving would not hurt at all, especially if it comes rather cheap. Say 4 years 16 mil? Not sure what kind of contract he'd gauge, but it shouldn't be too expensive. Good linebacker who could come right in and start. We could eventually get a little rotation going between Connor and Irving if both display terrific potential. Wouldn't that be a luxury?
Brandon Carr (CB)
Boy, would I be happy if we could snatch another key cog from another divisional rival. The Chiefs are primed for a run, with Charles, Cassel, Moeaki, and Berry all coming back, so stealing this up-and-coming star CB would be great for us. Even though, in this plan, we'd be drafting Dennard, that would leave him, Goodman, and Harris as our other corners after Champ leaves (and Goodman may very well leave at the same time). Harris is a high level slot corner, and I'd like to keep him there. Sign Carr.
There it is. No overspending in free agency, but all three are high impact signings. I would also be fine with signing Tolbert to continue the trend of draining our rivals, and waiting for Ball, Lattimore, and Dyer next draft. In reality, you don't know who's going to be available in the draft, so signings of Jason Jones, Cliff Avril, or Robert Mathis are also possibilities. Anyways, that's my mock for the week. Praise or condemn it in the comments, as you so choose.