Mel Kiper’s Top 25: A way-too-early look at potential NFC East 2012 draft targets

Here’s Mel’s list (you’ll need an Insider subscription to see his notes on each prospect):

Rank Player Pos School
1 Andrew Luck QB Stanford
2 Matt Kalil OT USC
3 Trent Richardson RB Alabama
4 Landry Jones QB Oklahoma
5 Justin Blackmon WR OSU
6 Morris Claiborne CB LSU
7 Jonathan Martin OT Stanford
8 Quinton Coples DE UNC
9 Riley Reiff OT Iowa
10 Matt Barkley QB USC
11 Alshon Jeffery WR S. Carolina
12 Luke Kuechly LB Boston College
13 Manti Te’o LB Notre Dame
14 Brandon Thompson DT Clemson
15 Vontaze Burfict LB Arizona St.
16 Cordy Glenn OT/OG Georgia
17 Ronnell Lewis LB Oklahoma
18 Devon Still DT PSU
19 Courtney Upshaw LB Alabama
20 Alfonzo Dennard CB Nebraska
21 Zach Brown LB UNC
22 Jerel Worthy DT MSU
23 Janoris Jenkins CB N. Alabama
24 Robert Griffin III QB Baylor
25 Dre Kirkpatrick CB Alabama

Let’s do the Redskins first.

Obviously, the Redskins will be looking (or at least should be looking) to draft their QB of the future.  By all projections you’ll find out there, you’ll see “the Big 3” – Andrew Luck, who’s going to go first overall, and then Landry Jones and Matt Barkley, who are very good possibilities to go Top 10.  If the season ended today, the Redskins would have the 9th overall pick.

Personally, I don’t see the Redskins winning too many more games, so they’ll likely draft a little higher.  Just for fun though, let’s take a quick look at the teams near them, and their likelihood of drafting a QB:

Pick If the season ended today Might they draft a QB?
1 Colts (0-9) Complex question there with the Colts. Only they will know exactly how healthy Peyton Manning really is. I think if they have the #1 pick, they’ll take Luck, but I find it unlikely that they’ll go QB if they draft anywhere else.
2 Dolphins (1-7) Yes
3 Rams (1-7) No
4 Cardinals (2-6) Gotta say no here. They signed Kevin Kolb to a 6 year, $65 million deal after trading DRC and a 2 for him. He’ll get at least another year to prove he’s a good NFL QB… or not.
5 Jaguars (2-6) From what I’ve seen of Blaine Gabbert, he has looked awful, and almost a little afraid. In the past there’d be no way the Jags would go QB again in the first round, but with shrinking contracts for early picks (Gabbert’s deal was only 4 years, $12 million), it’s not crazy to think the Jags will go QB again if there’s a guy they really like. Factor in that they might have a new coach next year, and it’s a real possibility.
6 Panthers (2-6) No
7 Seahawks (2-6) Yes
8 Vikings (2-6) No
9 Redskins (3-5) Yes
10 Browns (3-5) Eesh. Personally, I’m not a Colt McCoy fan, although the Browns seem to really like him. Tough call here.
11 Eagles (3-5) No
12 Broncos (3-5) Yes

The way I see it, the Redskins will definitely be competing with the Dolphins, Seahawks and Broncos, and possibly also the Jaguars, Browns, and Colts (if the Colts get the #1 overall pick).

In other words, it’s no gimme that the Skins will get their guy, unless, you know… they keep losing, which they should.

(Eagles, Cowboys, and Giants after the jump)…

Obviously, the biggest need for the Eagles is linebacker.  Any linebacker.  If you look at Kiper’s list, there are 6 in his top 21.  This draft could be the year of the LB.  Eagles fans would certainly love to see the Eagles take one in the first round since 19 freaking 79.  My boy Tommy Lawlor loves Boston College’s tackling machine, Luke Kuechly.  Kuechly’s stats this season almost look fake:

Opponent Tackles
Northwestern 18
UCF 17
Duke 23
Massachusetts 11
Wake Forest 14
Clemson 16
VT 19
Maryland 12
FSU 20
Total 150

150 tackles?  In 9 games?  Really?

The Cowboys could really go any number of directions.  Terence Newman will be 34 next season, and makes WAY too much money.  There are no shortage of good corners available. They still need OL help, so that could be another direction.  They pretty desperately need a legitimate DE that can play the run and also get some sort of consistent pressure on the QB, although the pickings in the first round there look to be slim this year.  And finally, they’ll need to make a decision on Anthony Spencer, who is a free agent this year.  Does he stay in Dallas? For what cost? If he goes, might the Cowboys look to replace him in the draft?

As for the Giants, see my notes on the Eagles.  They too could use LB help.  Michael Boley has been very good this year, and Mathias Kiwanuka is a good player, but I’m still not sure if he’s a legitimate LB.  Other than that, you have a little bit of promise in Jacquain Williams, but I don’t think he’s much more than decent depth.  There will likely be a few LB options on the board wherever the Giants pick.

However, their much larger need goes right back to the OL again.  David Diehl will be 32 next year, and is already in decline.  Kareem McKenzie was great in 2010, but his game has slipped this season.  He’ll be 33 next year.  Chris Snee will be 30.  The Giants have very little depth behind their starting OL, and have been very fortunate to stay relatively healthy there this year.  They’ve done a good job getting Will Beatty ready to play since they drafted him in 2009, but have mostly ignored the OL in the draft since.  They need to reload here.  Now. Unfortunately, the pickings are slim.


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  5. True blue63 says:

    I don’t expect a LB or OL round 1 for the Giants. Though if they think Brewer is a bust that could change. But Kiwi is the only 1st round LB on our squad and Beatty is our highest drafted OL.

    Add in that the Giants prefer to season an OL with a year of practice prior to play, you can find those guys in rounds 2 thru 5.

    I agree that we need to add more talent to the LB/OL pipeline, I’m just not convinced that the team will change its approach. JR has been nothing if not consistent.

  6. WeNeedLinemen says:

    It will be interesting to see how the new salary structure affects the way teams draft. Even good teams with established QB’s might be in-play for really good QB prospects.

    Take the Saints, Drew Brees will be 33. With the new rookie scale, even the No.1 overall’s salary is pretty reasonable. The Saints could legitimally look to draft Brees’s replacement this year. Even if they have to sit the guy for four years, it’s a better option than waiting for Brees to get old or injured and finding there isn’t a franchise QB available that year.

    In fact the better teams, with fewer roster holes, are in better position to make trades. The Redskins desperately need a QB, but they really cannot afford to trade away a lot of picks. The Cerrato era left us with way too many holes to fill. I think this will be the biggest test for Shanahan, Allen and Snyder. If they really want to build a foundation for the long term, they need to hold on to their picks and take a QB if one falls to their spot. They absolutely have to avoid trading away their draft futures to move up the board.

  7. Free Plax says:

    Giants line has not been healthy this year, Snee and Bass have missed games, they just beat they Pats with a guy who is only been playing Center for 10 months. They have depth what they need are starters, I would look for them to try and find a Guard or RT early. LB I have givin up hope they will draft one early, they just don’t seem to value them very much. Also look for them to look at an RB maybe a WR depending on what happens to Ham.

    1. “Giants line has not been healthy this year”

      Sure they have. Their 2 OTs (Beatty/McKenzie) have both played all 552 snaps this season. I’m not even sure who would fill in if they lost either of those two.

      Meanwhile, Diehl has missed a grand total of 2 snaps, and while Snee missed a game and Baas missed 2, they were never out at the same time. They’ve only needed to use one reserve.

      1. brisulph says:

        to be fair, Diehl going out would likely strengthen the line, as I have more faith in Boothe than I do Diehl.

      2. Free Plax says:

        Depth 0-line players are Kevin Booth (can play every position on the line) Jim Cordle C/G (FA off the practice squad that is getting some playing time this year) and Stacy Andrews. We drafted a RT in the 4th round but he is a development player and drafted a guard the year before Mitch Petrus (not sure about him because Cordle see’s the field before he does. This is McKenzie’s last year on his contract so a RT is a need but they could fill it through FA too.

    2. And yeah, RB would definitely make sense too. Agree 100%.

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