[Note: This is going to be a weekly article. Ordinarily it would be published on Tuesday or Wednesday, but it took a bit of doing to get the first edition rolling]
Power Rankings! Everybody is doing 'em right!? And Everybody seems to love them... Or at least talking about them and arguing why they're wrong.
.. #NFLPowerRankings can anyone make the case why are NOT a complete waste of time in a league that has a playoff system and a SuperBowl— Carl Banks (@CarlBanksGIII) September 17, 2014
Hmm... Well, I can think of a couple things:
1. It gives us something to talk about that DOESN'T involve a running back getting in trouble with the law... And I can't speak for anyone else, but that seems worth it to me.
2. When Ed asked Invictus and I to think on a way to do a "Big Blue View Power Ranking", he asked if we could come up with our own 'twist' on the concept, we figured that if you take a power ranking and flip it on its head... You have a draft order!
Not only does this give us a vaguely meaningless way of rating the NFL teams against each other, but it also gives us a way to keep in touch with the college game and maybe keep an eye on what prospects could be future Giants (and where teams could improve).
So I give to you the inaugural "Big Blue View Power Mock"!
(For the first week these are my rankings. I crunched the numbers and averaged out rankings from a bunch of different outlets, then broke ties based on my own feelings. Going forward I'll be using Real Clear Sports' aggregate rankings)
1. Raiders - Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M
The Raiders seem to have their quarterback in place in Derek Carr. However, being a Carr, the Raidahs are going to want to protect him and keep him from feeling too much pressure. Ogbuehi is a prototypical NFL left tackle possessing length, athleticism, and power.
2. Jaguars - Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn
The Jags have their franchise QB in Blake Bortles, and they have some weapons for him in Marquise Lee and Allen Robinson. However Coates is a different kind of talent. In short, he is a prototypical Number 1 receiver and deep threat. Despite Auburn's unique run-heavy attack Coates averages better than 20 yards per reception and looks like some kind of combination of Julio Jones and Sammy Waktins
3. Buccaneers - Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Thus far the Buccs have been a disappointment. They have weapons in the mold of the Chicago Bears' "Twin Towers" passing game, and a talented defense. What they don't have is the QB. Mariota is, if anything, a better version of Collin Kaepernick. He has the strong, accurate arm, and the next-level athleticism to force opposing teams to try to defend the entire field every single play. In short, Tampa could become a nightmare match-up for anyone they face.
4. Giants - Leonard Williams, DL, USC
One of my concerns for the New York Giants going forward is the defensive line. Looking ahead, It is fairly unrealistic to assume that Mathias Kiwanuka, Cullen Jenkins, Mike Patterson, and Markus Kuhn to either be Giants, or contribute going forwards. As well, the Giants only have Robert Ayers on a 2-year contract, and still have to pay JPP.
Williams addresses most of those issues. First and foremost, he is a flat-out monster. At 6'5", 295, he has the long, powerful frame the Giants simply love in their defensive linemen, and he is a rare athlete, combining explosive power and fluid movement. Second, he can play a variety of roles for the versatility-hungry Giants. His natural slot would be at LDE across from Jason Pierre-Paul, but he could also play the 5-technique in 3-4 or 4-3 (under) alignments, as well as slide inside and play the 3 technique in nickel situations. In short, Williams would provide insurance for JPP, replace Justin Tuck as well as the LDE teams need to account for in the run and pass game, and replace Cullen Jenkins as that Swiss Army Knife DL who never has to come off the field.
5. Chiefs - Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
The biggest reason for the Chiefs' failure to live up to expectations (so far), other than injuries, is the departures from their offensive line. Andy Reid loves to build his teams from the trenches out, and Scherff is his kind of offensive lineman. Playing for Iowa, you won't hear much about him in the main-stream until Draft Season begins in earnest, but Scherff is a mauler of a left tackle. He has the length, technique, and functional athleticism to hold up on the left side in the NFL, but his true skill is run blocking. He is an exceptionally powerful left tackle who just likes to impose his will on defensive linemen. The Chiefs would love to have Jamaal Charles run behind him all day long, and Alex Smith will enjoy the protection too.
If it turns out that Eric Fisher is a better left tackle, Scherff can switch sides and could become one of the best RT's in the game.
6. Rams - Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon St.
Can the Rams rely on Sam Bradford? He has a bunch of talent, but he is lacking in the number 1 ability an NFL QB needs: Availability. So with that in mind the Rams take Mannion 6th overall. The "logical" choice here is Jamis Winston, but I'm not going to count on a red-shirt sophomore coming out, nor do I think he should. And while there are a bunch of big, strong, athletic QB's out there (and ranked higher than Mannion), they're all red-shirt juniors. Mannion is a 5th year senior who has been exceptionally productive in a pro-style offense. He's well versed in reading defenses and has the prototypical build, arm, and intelligence for a pocket passer.
7. Vikings - Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan
With Adrian Peterson's status going forward a complete unknown, I was tempted, very tempted, to mock Georgia's Todd Gurley to the Vikings. But with this year's running back class, they'll be able to get a very good one later. Norv Turner likes a vertical offense with BIG pass catchers. They Vikings have Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Rudolph. To that they add Michigan's 6'7" WR/TE (I think of him as a WR) Devin Funchess. Despite his height and catch radius, Funchess doesn't look to have the frame to be an NFL TE. However, he is good receiver who can be a match-up problem all over the field, and a nightmare to defend in the endzone.
8. Titans - Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska
I'd like to give the Titans an offensive player here, but there aren't any really more highly rated than Gregory. The Titans could use more speed off the edge to pressure opposing passers. Gregory is a bit thin (245) right now to play DE in the NFL, but I think he could stand up and bear an uncanny similarity to Aldon Smith... Hopefully without the legal problems.
9. Redskins - Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
Trent Williams is among the best left tackles in the NFL. And while Peat is a natural left tackle, he has the size and power to play either side. Regardless of whether Robert Griffin III or Kirk Cousins is the starter next year, having bookend tackles like Williams and Peat would certainly help.
10. Cowboys - Landon Collins, S, Alabama
The Cowboys desperately need help on the back end of their defense. Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne are struggling mightily in coverage. However, Jerry Jones invested a lot of money in Carr, and moved up in the draft to select Claiborne. So, they finally pick up a safety in Landon Collins. He is probably the most well-rounded safety in the draft, and should be the next in a long line of Alabama DB's to come out and be selected high in the draft.
11. Browns - Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Once again we have to ask "Can the ______ rely on _____?" In this case the blanks are "Browns" and "Josh Gordon". The Browns might get Gordon back at some point this year, but has he grown up yet? I don't know. So, the Browns do what they should have done in 2014 and select a potential number 1 wide receiver. Cooper isn't the athletic specimen that Coates is, but he is a smooth, talented, dependable receiver.
12. Texans - Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
With a choice between Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett, and Tom Savage, I don't blame anyone who would mock a quarterback to them. That being said, Gurley is a special talent who can help to take the load off of Foster and whoever the QB happens to be. Gurley is fast, powerful, agile and a beast to bring down in traffic or in space.
13. Dolphins - Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
He look, another Pac-12 player! Olomu was a favorite of mine last year, and he should be the top CB this year. The Dolphins have a fierce pass rush, and adding a cover guy like Olomu should make their defense that much better, and even more of a headache for the other teams in the AFC-E.
14. Jets - Vic Beasley, LB, Clemson
The Jets could still use a true number 1 wide receiver, but this is a Rex Ryan team (assuming he keeps his job for another year), so they'll spend the pick on their defense. I'm sure they hoped Gurley or Olomu fell to them, but Rex will take a dangerous speed rusher off the edge any time.
15. Steelers - Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio St.
Bennett is probably the highest rated player on the board right now, and he fits the Steelers' draft MO. He is an athletic front-7 player who can penetrate the offensive line and cause havoc in the backfield. At 6'2" 288 pounds he would likely be a DE in Pittsburgh's 34 scheme, and a good compliment Stephon Tuitt and former Buckeye teammate Ryan Shazier.
16. Lions - P.J. Williams, CB
The Lions desperately need some help in the back end of their defense. As of now P.J. Williams is the highest rated DB on the board. He's also the highest rated player that fits an area of need for the team.
17. Saints - Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan St.
One of the biggest surprises so far this year is how bad the Saints defense has been. What was the 4th ranked defense in 2013 is one of the worst in the league right now. Calhoun's natural fluidity and ability to attack in space could make him a good fit in Rob Ryan's defense.
18. Colts - La'el Collins, T/G, LSU
The Colts need help on their offensive line. La'el Collins is a bit of an anomaly, a talented SEC player who likely would have been a high pick as a junior, but went back to school. He has the powerful frame of a guard, but also the feet and long arms of a tackle. Collins' has plenty of power to help the Colts' anemic rushing attack, while also being able to move well enough on the edge to keep Luck upright.
19. Falcons - Dante Fowler Jr., DE, Florida
This is a good year to need a pass rusher, and good thing for the Falcons, because they need one. Fowler has a squat, powerful build and a nice combination of quickness and power. At 6'2", 260, He might suffer a bit from "Tweener Syndrome" but for Atlanta that just means he could play rush linebacker in base packages and move to DE in the nickel.
20. Ravens - Melvin Gordin, RB, Wisconsin
The rationale for this one is pretty obvious: the engine of their offense just turned from star to pariah. While he certainly gets a boost from running behind the perennially powerful Wisconsin offensive line, Gordin is an exciting player to watch. He is a "Do It All" back who runs with great power, acceleration, and balance. He can pick up the hard yards, and is a threat to score whenever he finds space.
21. Bills (Browns have the pick) - Mario Edwards Jr, DL, FSU
The Browns add to their already stout defense with this pick. Edwards looks to be a prototypical 5-technique (maybe a bit short). He plays with the power to stand up to (or push) double teams, and the speed to split gaps and get into the backfield.
22. Chargers - Mike Davis, RB, South Carolina
You know what Phillip Rivers needs? Another weapon! Mike Davis is another running back who does everything well. He pass protects, runs hard, catches the ball, and can hit the home run. Watching Davis, I see nothing so much as a rich-man's version of Ahmad Bradshaw.
23. Bears - Kurtis Drummond, S, Michigan St.
Good safeties are becoming hard to find anymore. Teams that have them realize how valuable they are to a defense... And so do the teams that don't have them. Drummond is a good all around player who can move in space, and -- like everyone else on that Michigan St. defense -- isn't afraid to come down and get his hands dirty in run defense.
24. Packers - Spencer Drango, OT, Baylor
Starting RT Brian Bulaga is a free agent after this season, and is already coming off an injury. Drango is a big, smart, athletic, and powerful tackle. He had back surgery in 2013, but if that continues to not be an issue, he should be able to step in and contribute immediately
25. 49'ers - Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona St.
Michael Crabtree is set to become a free agent, and Boldin is going to have to retire eventually. Strong has great size, reliable hands, and a talent for making the tough catches. That last is a necessity in the NFC West, where every catch is contested.
26. Cardinals - Davonte Fields, DE/OLB, TCU
Fields is a reach at this point, but with John Abraham's career likely over, the Cardinals need a pass rusher across from Sam Acho. Fields has the lower body flexibility and quickness to be effective rushing from a linebacker position.
27. Patriots - Ellis McCarthy, DT, UCLA
Darth Hoodie has always preferred to part ways with a player a year too early than a year too late. McCarthy is a mammoth defensive tackle who would be Vince Wilfork's heir in the middle of the defensive line, and at 330+, heir to his spot in the buffet too.
28. Panthers - Ty Montgomery, WR, Stanford
The Panthers continue to add weapons to Cam Newton's arsenal. The Panthers were one of the teams hoping that the teams at the top of the draft would overlook Odell Beckham Jr, allowing him to fall. Montgomery isn't the same level of prospect as Beckham, but he is a similar kind of player. He is a fluid, aggressive athlete who has excelled in a pro-stlye offense. Montgomery should be able to step in and contribute immediately.
29. Eagles - Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
Another reach, but the Eagles have been doing that in the 1st under Kelly. Thompson is a dynamic player who is all over the field -- literally, he has done spot duty as a running back as well -- and is capable in run support, pass coverage, and rushing the passer
30. Bengals - Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami
The Bengals are renowned for being... Frugal, and with their starting LT entering his 9th season, and both backups entering free agency, it seems likely that Cincy will take a replacement here. Flowers is a big, athletic tackle with all the tools to be a left tackle in the NFL.
31. Seahawks - Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor
What do you get for the defense that has everything? Well how about a ginormous defensive end? Cliff Avril is entering free agency, and the Seahawks are going to have some difficult choices to make soon. Oakman is a freakishly huge defensive end, who is also freakishly athletic. His unique blend of size and athleticism means he can play all over Seattle's defensive front. I honestly expect his stock to shoot up by draft time, but here he is.
32. Broncos - AJ Cann, G, South Carolina
The Thomases, Demaryious & Julius, are both due to be free agents after this season, and that could make re-signing free agent guard Orlando Franklin a bit tricky. I'm going to assume that the Broncos will want to keep Peyton's favorite targets and draft a new guard for the future. Cann is a big, powerful guard, who is a good pass protector and run blocker. He also (reportedly) has the smarts and work ethic to do well on a Peyton Manning-led football team.
There we have it, the first Big Blue View Power Mock. These rankings, both of the NFL teams and the college players will be changing on a weekly basis, so unlike most of the pre-draft mocks, this one could (should) be changing radically every week.