Without a doubt Mel Kiper, Jr. is the most well-known and respected talking head within the NFL Draft industry. Many a writers started their "career" with the goal to be the next Mel Kiper, or more than likely be "better" than Mel Kiper, yet he is still on ESPN and still making money doing what most of us love.
He recently played general manager for each NFL team in his "Grade A" draft, in which he actually makes picks for the teams instead of projecting picks only.
Now that the niceties are out of the way...what the hell is this draft?
For those of you that don't know, Kiper mocked to the Arizona Cardinals the following players:
20. Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
52. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
84. Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming
"Left tackle was addressed in free agency, so the focus turns to the pass rush, and at this spot on the draft board I think Barr's upside is hard to pass on, even if his senior tape was underwhelming. At one time I thought he'd be a top-10 pick, but if Barr is more consistent and improves on his awareness (he converted from running back) he could become a steal at this slot. It's a close mix between need and "best player available" at this point. McCarron might seem like a bit of a luxury pick in Round 2, but tell me what the long-term solution is at QB in Arizona. The drop-off from Carson Palmer on the depth chart is scary-looking, Palmer isn't young, and the roster is good enough to take a shot on a developmental backup a little early. Herron can be electrifying after the catch, and there's a need for an added target at receiver after Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd."
Now let me start by saying that the positions are not necessarily the problem, the names that go with those positions are where trouble may start though.
Barr is a fantastic athlete, one of the best in the class at any position, and has a ceiling that reaches to an All-Pro level, but he is RAW. He needs time to come in, learn the ins and outs of playing outside linebacker, he's only played it for two years, and learn to harness and focus that athleticism.
He would be a really good pick at 20, except when you factor in the pick at 52. For many in the draft community, McCarron is an enigma. To some, he is a talented player who was carried by even more talent, a very conservative system and dominant running game. When his offensive line started to have trouble in 2013, he and the Crimson Tide were not nearly as successful.
For those that like McCarron, he's a winner, a leader and a guy who stays within himself, doesn't make mistakes and gives his team the chance to win week in and week out. The problem with putting Barr and McCarron, or Barr and any quarterback, together in rounds one and two is you may not see much production from your first two picks in the draft... again. Barr would likely get time as a pass rusher on third downs, but may not be able to be more in year one. McCarron, well I doubt he could beat out Palmer, but you never know.
No, the problem with this draft is that your main producer looks like it would be your third round pick in Herron. He would fight for playing time in a pretty decent wide receiving corp and give the Cardinals an additional deep threat that can take the top off the defense, but how much time will a likely third or fourth receiver earn in this offense?
Kiper's picks aren't bad from a positional stand point, it's just the names attached leave something to be desired... like immediacy of impact.
Note: if the Cardinals draft Barr, I personally will like the pick, but if they do it, I would expect a pick in round two and three that would produce a more immediate impact.
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