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BTSC 2012 Community Mock Draft Pick No. 18 — San Diego Chargers Select Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC


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Now we're leaving the SEC and moving out west! Many thanks go to BluegrassSteeler for the entertaining, informative, and thoroughly enjoyable write up here on life in AJ Smith's shoes. Next up: Chicago Bears and they'll be represented by Readarmon0.

By the way, take note of the cool little minute-long draft profiles from SBN NFL that are embedded with these picks. It's been Michael Bean's personal project to make these videos happen, and let us know what you think of them! -barnerburner-

********************

AJ Smith can't sleep.

Sitting up in bed he looks around at the darkened room, familiar objects outlines by moonlight. He gets up and dresses with a practiced silence. He's done this so many times in the last few weeks he doesn't need to flip on a light - he has perfect knowledge of everything that surrounds him. He tip-toes down the stairs and heads to his office. After he passes through security, the guard - the same guard that's checked him in almost every night in recent weeks - shakes his head.

"What's eating this guy?" he wonders before he goes back to checking his Tweets.

Smith makes a fresh pot of coffee. No cream. No sugar. He makes his way down to the film room. He logs onto the computer stationed at its back - it's only called a film room as a nod to tradition, it's all digital now - and pulls up games he's watched a dozen times at least. He wants to check out David DeCastro. And Nick Perry. And Cordy Glenn. And Whitney Mercilus. And Michael Floyd too. What about Mo' Claiborne? No, no point. He'll be long, long gone by then and too expensive to trade up for. But what if... what if something happens? Anybody can drop. Maybe the Wonderlic really did scare some GMs? They're not picking in the Top-10 because they're great at evaluating talent, after all. Just a quick peek then. Just at the National Championship game. Might as well watch Upshaw and Hightower in it too. Kill three birds with one stone. Why not?

He sits back and observes. He doesn't take notes - he knows what's coming. He's gone over and over his notes. His scouts' notes. His position coaches' notes. He just wants to make sure. He needs to be able to see what no one else can. Like he did with Shawne Merriman. And Antonio Gates. And Marcus McNeill.

Smith is trapped by his own legend, by a drafting run that any reasonable person could see just wasn't sustainable. Everyone has misses and busts and to expect otherwise is just silly, even in the 1st round. But now everyone expects him to work some kind of magic, to see something in the film that's invisible to everyone else. Everyone expects magic, but he's no magician. No, he's just a worker; a grinder.

So he watches some film. And the more. He sips his coffee because he has nothing else to do with his hands. Occasionally he glances down at his fingers. There's nothing special about them. They look like they could belong to any other man his age. No... all he notices is what's not on them.

No rings.

And all he can think of is what the sportswriters and bloggers call him: The Lord of No Rings.

He does his best to put it out of his head though. He sips his coffee. And he grinds through more all-22 film. When he finally stops for a break, he realizes it's already lunchtime.

******************************************************************************************************************************

It's no secret that this is a make or break year for both Chargers HC Norv Turner and GM AJ Smith. It's been two playoff-less seasons in a row. The Chargers used to be called underachievers. Sportswriters would regularly admit that the Chargers had the most talented roster in the NFL - with a franchise QB in Philip Rivers - and wonder when they would finally get over the hump and win a Super Bowl.

But the sportswriters don't say that anymore.

No, now they lament the loss of so much from a once-loaded Chargers roster. Merriman is gone, a shell of his former self. Marcus McNeill too. Vincent Jackson has landed in greener pastures in Tampa (and if you've seen his contract numbers, you'll know how green they really are). Even those still on the roster, like Antonio Gates, have faded due to both age and injury. The apple of AJ's drafting eye, Philip Rivers, has struggled to be much more than slightly above average.

Worse yet, Smith hasn't been able to replenish the talent he's lost. Larry English has turned out to be a huge bust. Antoine Cason is an adequate corner, but not one that scares anyone. Ryan Mathews is talented, but - just as in college - he hasn't been able to stay on the field in the NFL. Rivers is asked to do more and more with less and less, and it's beginning to show in his play - he's forcing too many throws, taking too many chances.

Norv Turner may be an uninspiring coach to most NFL fans, but he inherited a roster that was on the decline. We didn't know it at the time, but for reasons discussed above - and others that we surely don't know about - the Chargers roster that went 14-2 under Marty Schottenheimer has undergone a precipitous decline. This is a draft that AJ Smith needs to hit on in order to give Turner the best chance to at least make a Wild Card spot. If Turner can win a playoff game, it might just save both their jobs.

AJ Smith needs impact players.

At this juncture in the draft, there are some available. Two in particular are interesting to me (with my AJ hat on): Stanford guard David DeCastro and USC defensive end/outside linebacker Nick Perry. Cordy Glenn would certainly have been under consideration, but the Bengals nabbed him from right under Smith's nose.

The Chargers defense was once known for its ability to terrorize QBs, but no more. The Chargers finished 23rd overall in sacks with 32 (though it should be noted, the Steelers only had 35). They now play in a division with Peyton Manning. In other words, they can't depend on Shaun Phillips to do all the pass rushing work himself. Last season they brought in Antwan Barnes and he accounted for 11 sacks, but he's a situational rusher who gets exposed against the run (and Manning is happy to run the ball straight at him if it wins games). So the Chargers signed Jarrett Johnson away from the Ravens this offseason, probably with the plan to take him off the field in obvious passing situations and rotate Barnes in. The Chargers still have Larry English - former 1st round pick from Eastern Illinois in 2009 - on the roster, but at this point, any production they get from him ought to be considered a luxury. You simply can't depend on him to give you many quality snaps. After all, he had seven tackles and two sacks last year. He's had 43 tackles and seven sacks over the course of his whole NFL career.

Johnson is a good complimentary player, but having watched a lot of Ravens/Steelers football over the last few years, I think I speak for us all when I say that there are many Ravens defenders I worry about, but Jarrett Johnson was never one.

(I feel bad for you son, I got 99 problems but Jarrett ain't one!)

Shaun Phillips will be going into his 9th season and there is absolutely no one on the roster you can be comfortable with as a replacement. And USC's monster pass rusher Nick Perry is staring you in the face.

It's tempting.

One of the knocks against Perry is that teams aren't sure he's quite athletic enough to handle the coverage responsibilities of a 3-4 OLB. However, the Chargers employ the Wade Phillips version of the 3-4, which unlike Dick LeBeau's 2-gap version, doesn't require its OLBs to spend much time dropping into coverage. Demarcus Ware, for example, probably drops into coverage a mere handful of snaps per season. So Perry could be free to do what he does best: make offensive tackles look foolish and QBs look scared.

Perry is a better athlete and plays with more quick-twitch explosiveness than Alabama's Courtney Upshaw. And over the course of his college carrer, he accumulated a similar stat line to Upshaw against big time college football programs as well. Perry's got serious production against major competition to go along with his obvious and considerable physical tools - this isn't Larry English from the Northern Illinois Huskies.

However, Smith would also have to seriously consider David DeCastro. One thing many members of Steeler Nation might not realize is what a mess the Chargers OL has been over the past few years. They recently cut former Pro Bowl LT Marcus McNeill due to injury concerns (and this happened after a prolonged holdout by McNeill two years ago for a long-term contract). Their Pro Bowl and former All-Pro RG Kris Dielman recently retired due to severe concussion concerns. If you saw the video of him staggering around between plays, then you've seen one of the scarier things in football - and that led to a seizure that he suffered on the team plane after the game. They recently re-signed center Nick Hardwick, and while he's a good player, he's certainly not a top-10 NFL center and comes with his own batch of injury concerns. Finally, ask any Chargers fan and see what they say about their RT situation. Hint: they all think it's been a huge weakness for years and years.

The Chargers did sign former Ravens and Chiefs LT Jared Gaither to a long-term deal. He's a good player - probably better than most fans give him credit for - but he's bounced around the league for a reason: teams aren't sure about his commitment to the game or on-field temperament.

Adding David DeCastro at this point seems really natural. He could slide into Dielman's LG spot and help solidify one side of the OL. DeCastro is a good pass blocker, but an outstanding (and mobile) run blocker who could help open up things for Ryan Mathews. Norv Turner has always preferred a run-oriented offense that allows his QB to throw deep from play-action, so getting Mathews going would also help Rivers. With the signing of speedster Robert Meachem at receiver, Turner obviously wants to keep chucking it deep.

DeCastro is tempting. Like Perry.

At the end of the day though, pass rushers are harder to find and have a bigger impact on games than interior offensive linemen, even really good ones. And as Smith's own evaluation will tell him, this is a deep draft for interior linemen. He can grab a left guard in the second or third rounds that can almost certainly start right away.

What he can't do is take a pass rusher in the second or third round and be confident that he'll have all the tools to develop into a terror off the edge. Despite the struggles of Rivers this past season, the Chargers offense was still very productive, ranking 6th in yards per game and 6th in points per game. The defense, as I mentioned above, is in the bottom third of the league.

You want to help Rivers, but sometimes - and as Ben Roethlisberger surely knows - sometimes the best way to help out a QB is by building a defense that takes some of the pressure off of him. If you keep the game closer, then Rivers probably won't take as many chances - both with the ball and with himself.

So after all the work is done, on April 28th AJ will call his representative inside Radio City Music Hall. Smith will announce the pick to him and make sure he's got it written down before he finally hangs up. And the Chargers representative will jot the name on a card and run it up to Commissioner Goodell.

It reads: With the 18th Selection of the 2012 NFL Draft the San Diego Chargers select:

Nick Perry - Defensive End - University of Southern California

BTSC 2012 Community Mock Draft Picks:

  1. Indianapolis Colts -- Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
  2. Washington Redsinks -- Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
  3. Minnesota Vikings -- Matt Kalil, OT, USC
  4. Cleveland Browns -- Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
  5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
  6. St. Louis Rams -- Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
  7. Jacksonville Jaguars -- Quinton Coples, DE, UNC
  8. Miami Dolphins -- Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
  9. Carolina Panthers -- Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
  10. Buffalo Bills -- Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
  11. Kansas City Chiefs -- Brock Osweiler, QB, Arizona State
  12. Seattle Seahawks -- Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
  13. Arizona Cardinals -- Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
  14. Dallas Cowboys -- Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
  15. Philadelphia Eagles -- Mark Barron, S, Alabama
  16. New York Jets -- Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
  17. Cincinnati Bengals -- Cordy Glenn, G/T, Georgia



Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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BTSC 2012 Community Mock Draft Pick No. 17 — Cincinnati Bengals Select Cordy Glenn, G/T, Georgia

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The back-to-back-to-back barrage of 'Bama players has been ended, but we're not leaving the SEC yet. We're finally into the second half of the 1st round, and seton hall and the steelers made the selection here for the pick that the Bengals somehow managed to fleece out of Oakland. Next up: San Diego Chargers and they'll be represented by BluegrassSteeler.

By the way, take note of the cool little minute-long draft profiles from SBN NFL that are embedded with these picks. It's been Michael Bean's personal project to make these videos happen, and let us know what you think of them! -barnerburner-

********************

The Cincinnati Bengals took a huge step in the right direction last year thanks to the play of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. However, they are still a few pieces away from being a major threat in the brutal AFC North. The Bengals still lack a lockdown corner because Jonathan Joseph left last year to play with the Texans. They still need an upgrade at running back because Cedric Benson is just bad. However, their biggest need is at right guard. They need a first round talent to play the guard position. They have some other minor needs at safety, wide receiver, and defensive end but those should be addressed later in the draft.

Thanks to the Oakland Raiders' stupidity, the Bengals were able to pick up an additional first round pick, which is the one they are currently slated to use. Because of the extra pick, they now have the versatility to take the best player available with their first pick and look to fill a need with their second first round pick. When I look at the draft board, I see a few players who stand out as the BPAs. Those players are Cordy Glenn, Stephon Gilmore, Courtney Upshaw, Jonathan Martin, and Fletcher Cox. Cox is by far the best player available, but also happens to play at the Bengals strongest position, defensive tackle. Upshaw is a great player, but does not fit at all in the Bengals 4-3 scheme. That leaves Glenn, Gilmore, and Martin as the three possible selections. When I look at those three players, the one who is clearly the best player is Glenn. Gilmore and Martin could both be there at 21 and in my opinion, present much better value at 21. However, Glenn is a phenomenal prospect who can play guard or tackle and with his athleticism, he could become a stud.

Without further ado, the Cincinnati Bengals select Cordy Glenn, G/T, Georgia.

I put a lot of thought into this selection and was furious when Trent Richardson went one pick ahead because that would have made the selection an easy one but ultimately, Glenn was a perfect blend of talent and need for the Bengals. He has all the tools to become a dominant offensive linemen at guard or tackle and will be just another piece in the Bengals build towards a championship caliber team.



BTSC 2012 Community Mock Draft Picks:



Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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BTSC 2012 Community Mock Draft Pick No. 15 — Philadelphia Eagles Select Mark Barron, S, Alabama


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PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 13: A Philadelphia Eagles fan shows his frustration as the Eagles lose to the Arizona Cardinals 21-17 at Lincoln Financial Field on November 13, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)

Back-to-back players from 'Bama come off the board! And many thanks go to LV Steelers Fan for the analysis of the cross-state "Dream Team". Next up: New York Jets and they'll be represented by steelers1963.

By the way, take note of the cool little minute-long draft profiles from SBN NFL that are embedded with these picks. It's been Michael Bean's personal project to make these videos happen, and let us know what you think of them! -barnerburner-

********************

OK, I'll admit it. I have a soft spot for the Philadelphia Eagles. Maybe it's because I was forced to watch them every Sunday growing up in Allentown, one hour away from Lincoln Financial Field. Or more likely, it's because of the infinite joy they provided me as they caused their fans(i.e. most of my friends) to go through an all-too-predictable roller coaster of emotion each and every year. Before every season, expectations were sky high. This was going to be the year that the Birds finally broke through and ended their 50 year championship drought. Then they would stumble out of the gate and everyone would jump off the bandwagon saying "Same old Eagles" while calling for Andy Reid to be fired and Donovan McNabb to be benched and/or traded. But come November, a magical turnaround would capture the imagination of the Birds' long-suffering fans, and their Super Bowl plans would be back online. Until, that is, the Eagles would lose a game in which they were heavily favored either in the last few weeks of the season or in the playoffs, and my friends would go into spiraling paroxysms of rage and despair. "I knew this would happen all along, this %$ #^@& team never changes!"

Because of this, I was completely unsurprised when the self-proclaimed "Dream Team" had its dramatic flameout last fall. Time after time, the Eagles had their foe on the verge of defeat, only to have their defense collapse and allow a late game-winning score or 4th down conversion. Atlanta, New York, San Francisco, Buffalo, Chicago and Arizona all escaped the Eagles' clutches early in the season, and by the time they started looking like the team most had expected to see all year, it was too late.

Defense thus has been expected to be the Eagles' focus in the 2012 draft, and the injury to All-Pro LT Jason Peters doesn't figure to change that thanks to the recent signing of Demetress Bell (who had been going by Demetrius Bell until very recently). Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly was the trendy pick for Philly in practically every mock draft early in the offseason, but their trade with Houston for MLB DeMeco Ryans has given the Birds some flexibility at #15.

Outside linebacker is a definite need for Philly, and both Courtney Upshaw and Zach Brown should be available at their first pick. Defensive tackle is also an interesting possibility, as picking up a Fletcher Cox or Michael Brockers could give the Eagles a fearsome defensive front when combined with Jason Babin, Trent Cole, Derek Landri and Cullen Jenkins. Where the Eagles could really use defensive help, however, is in the secondary, and more specifically at safety. 2010 draft pick Nate Allen has done a creditable job there in his first two seasons, but injuries have been a major problem. The Eagles drafted Jaiquawn Jarrett to play next to him in 2011, and the jury is still out on the Temple product. Getting a stud safety to play next to Asomugha and DRC in the secondary would go a long way towards putting the Eagles' defensive debacles from last season firmly in the past. For this reason...

The Philadelphia Eagles selection in the 2012 BTSC Community Mock Draft is Mark Barron, safety, from Alabama.

Barron was a three-year starter for the Crimson Tide who also played in every game during his freshman campaign, proving himself in the process to be an extremely tough and durable player. He is currently recovering from a double-hernia operation following Alabama's national championship season, and characterized himself as 80-90% at his pro day in late March. His size is superb at 6'1" and 213 pounds, and while his speed is merely adequate for an NFL safety, he runs well. Barron uses his size to his advantage, and has developed into a hard hitter who can still be counted upon to make the tackle after delivering a blow. Not surprisingly, his strength as a safety is his ability to line up inside the box and play the run like a linebacker. This would make him an excellent complement to Nate Allen (assuming Allen can stay healthy), who is known more for his coverage abilities.

Barron's pass defense skills should not be underestimated, however. He intercepted 12 passes in his three years as a starter and has a knack for reading the quarterback's eyes and keeping plays in front of him. He demonstrated good jamming and press coverage skills at Alabama, especially against slot receivers, and proved himself to be intelligent, hard-working, and a student of the game in the film room. Barron has no character concerns, although he was arrested a year ago for a misdemeanor stemming from a car accident in his hometown of Mobile, AL.

All in all, Barron appears to be a great fit for the Eagles. The Birds need safety help and he brings a toughness that has been lacking on the defensive side of the ball in Philly since Brian Dawkins and Jeremiah Trotter were released several years ago. To be a great team in 2012, Philadelphia does not need a great defense. They merely require one that can hold on to leads late in games. Had they done that last year they would have gone 14-2 even with all of their other problems - such as the inability of Michael Vick to remain healthy. Drafting Barron could be exactly what the Eagles and their long-suffering fans need to finally break through and win the city's first NFL championship since 1960.

Mark Barron 2012 NFL Draft Profile (via sbnnfl)

BTSC 2012 Community Mock Draft Picks:



Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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BTSC 2012 Community Mock Draft Pick No. 15 — Philadelphia Eagles Select Mark Barron, S, Alabama

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 13: A Philadelphia Eagles fan shows his frustration as the Eagles lose to the Arizona Cardinals 21-17 at Lincoln Financial Field on November 13, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)

Back-to-back players from 'Bama come off the board! And many thanks go to LV Steelers Fan for the analysis of the cross-state "Dream Team". Next up: New York Jets and they'll be represented by steelers1963.

By the way, take note of the cool little minute-long draft profiles from SBN NFL that are embedded with these picks. It's been Michael Bean's personal project to make these videos happen, and let us know what you think of them! -barnerburner-

********************

OK, I'll admit it. I have a soft spot for the Philadelphia Eagles. Maybe it's because I was forced to watch them every Sunday growing up in Allentown, one hour away from Lincoln Financial Field. Or more likely, it's because of the infinite joy they provided me as they caused their fans(i.e. most of my friends) to go through an all-too-predictable roller coaster of emotion each and every year. Before every season, expectations were sky high. This was going to be the year that the Birds finally broke through and ended their 50 year championship drought. Then they would stumble out of the gate and everyone would jump off the bandwagon saying "Same old Eagles" while calling for Andy Reid to be fired and Donovan McNabb to be benched and/or traded. But come November, a magical turnaround would capture the imagination of the Birds' long-suffering fans, and their Super Bowl plans would be back online. Until, that is, the Eagles would lose a game in which they were heavily favored either in the last few weeks of the season or in the playoffs, and my friends would go into spiraling paroxysms of rage and despair. "I knew this would happen all along, this %$ #^@& team never changes!"

Because of this, I was completely unsurprised when the self-proclaimed "Dream Team" had its dramatic flameout last fall. Time after time, the Eagles had their foe on the verge of defeat, only to have their defense collapse and allow a late game-winning score or 4th down conversion. Atlanta, New York, San Francisco, Buffalo, Chicago and Arizona all escaped the Eagles' clutches early in the season, and by the time they started looking like the team most had expected to see all year, it was too late.

Defense thus has been expected to be the Eagles' focus in the 2012 draft, and the injury to All-Pro LT Jason Peters doesn't figure to change that thanks to the recent signing of Demetress Bell (who had been going by Demetrius Bell until very recently). Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly was the trendy pick for Philly in practically every mock draft early in the offseason, but their trade with Houston for MLB DeMeco Ryans has given the Birds some flexibility at #15.

Outside linebacker is a definite need for Philly, and both Courtney Upshaw and Zach Brown should be available at their first pick. Defensive tackle is also an interesting possibility, as picking up a Fletcher Cox or Michael Brockers could give the Eagles a fearsome defensive front when combined with Jason Babin, Trent Cole, Derek Landri and Cullen Jenkins. Where the Eagles could really use defensive help, however, is in the secondary, and more specifically at safety. 2010 draft pick Nate Allen has done a creditable job there in his first two seasons, but injuries have been a major problem. The Eagles drafted Jaiquawn Jarrett to play next to him in 2011, and the jury is still out on the Temple product. Getting a stud safety to play next to Asomugha and DRC in the secondary would go a long way towards putting the Eagles' defensive debacles from last season firmly in the past. For this reason...

The Philadelphia Eagles selection in the 2012 BTSC Community Mock Draft is Mark Barron, safety, from Alabama.

Barron was a three-year starter for the Crimson Tide who also played in every game during his freshman campaign, proving himself in the process to be an extremely tough and durable player. He is currently recovering from a double-hernia operation following Alabama's national championship season, and characterized himself as 80-90% at his pro day in late March. His size is superb at 6'1" and 213 pounds, and while his speed is merely adequate for an NFL safety, he runs well. Barron uses his size to his advantage, and has developed into a hard hitter who can still be counted upon to make the tackle after delivering a blow. Not surprisingly, his strength as a safety is his ability to line up inside the box and play the run like a linebacker. This would make him an excellent complement to Nate Allen (assuming Allen can stay healthy), who is known more for his coverage abilities.

Barron's pass defense skills should not be underestimated, however. He intercepted 12 passes in his three years as a starter and has a knack for reading the quarterback's eyes and keeping plays in front of him. He demonstrated good jamming and press coverage skills at Alabama, especially against slot receivers, and proved himself to be intelligent, hard-working, and a student of the game in the film room. Barron has no character concerns, although he was arrested a year ago for a misdemeanor stemming from a car accident in his hometown of Mobile, AL.

All in all, Barron appears to be a great fit for the Eagles. The Birds need safety help and he brings a toughness that has been lacking on the defensive side of the ball in Philly since Brian Dawkins and Jeremiah Trotter were released several years ago. To be a great team in 2012, Philadelphia does not need a great defense. They merely require one that can hold on to leads late in games. Had they done that last year they would have gone 14-2 even with all of their other problems - such as the inability of Michael Vick to remain healthy. Drafting Barron could be exactly what the Eagles and their long-suffering fans need to finally break through and win the city's first NFL championship since 1960.

Mark Barron 2012 NFL Draft Profile (via sbnnfl)

BTSC 2012 Community Mock Draft Picks:



Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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BTSC 2012 Community Mock Draft Pick No. 14 — Dallas Cowboys Select Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

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I've been on vacation this weekend and am a bit late getting this up, but thanks go to Mike Frazer for the solid write up here for Not Really America's Team. Next up: Philadelphia Eagles and they'll be represented by LV Steelers Fan.

By the way, if you look back at previous community mock draft picks, you'll see that some of them now have minute-long draft profiles embedded that were not there before. It's been Michael Bean's personal project to make these videos happen, and we'll be going back and embedding more as new ones come out everyday! Let us know what you think of them! -barnerburner-

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Jerry Jones likes just about anything shiny.

No, I don't mean fishing lures, bass boats or beer cans -- all things that I can personally attest from a decade in the Lone Star State, are nearly synonymous with Texas, mind you -- but rather the kinds of players who make you remember who they are, one way or another. In the days of his glory, Jones fancied playmakers like Emmitt Smith and Troy Aikman, guys who managed to provide plenty of flash with little or no actual risk. They were great at what they did, and they were humble enough that you felt alright when you watched your kid strut around wearing their jersey. For the most part, Jones' early players were consummate team guys, despite the occassional Mchael Irvin.

As time went by, Jones has tended to lean toward guys with tremendous upside, but who brought along just enough baggage -- or, in some cases, well more than their fair share -- to make even the keenest observer of talent raise an eyebrow, muttering comments ranging from "really?" to "why, God, why?!"

But one thing most of his draft picks have never lacked is talent, despite whether they were ever actually able to tap into it once they reach the pros. Quite often -- more so than the average, I'd wager -- Jones and his staff have opted for the best available player, even in years of trememndous need. And he's had a tendency to become too enamoured by a player for reasons that many of us never quite understood -- see "Felix Jones" for a recent example.

Which is really what makes this pick so intriguing. The area of greatest need for the Dallas Cowboys going into the 2012 season is in the secondary. Last year, the squad was ravaged by injuries, sometimes two and three in a single game. They gave up an average of 7.6 yards per pass in 2011, good for 23rd in the league. And it wasn't that they gave up a lot of 8-12 yard plays, either; in fact, the Dallas secondary gave up 57 plays of 20 yards or more, 8th worst in the league. Of those, 9 covered 40 yards or more (compare that to the best in the league, the Steelers, who gave up just two plays of 40 yards or more). The bottom line: this secondary was bad, and now they have lost their best player with the departure of Terence Newman.

So it seems as if it would be a slam-dunk pick, considering only one cornerback has been taken so far - LSU's Morris Claiborne. But then you look at who else is left, and it makes you start to wonder, What Would Jerry Do? The problem is that guys like David DeCastro and Trent Richardson -- an offensive lineman and a running back, respectively, both positions Jerry typically prizes -- are still hanging around. DeCastro is essentially the consensus number-one at guard, which says a lot considering how deep this draft is at both O-line positions. Richardson is the prototype for a power back, at just a bit under six feet and 224 pounds. If the situation was to play out exactly like this, it might be enough to make Jones' head explode.

But, let's assume Jones is somewhat in control of his faculties and he chooses...

Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

Kirkpatrick has both height and speed going for him, standing at 6'2" and clocking a 4.5-second 40-yard dash. He's tenacious at the line and doesn't take crazy chances playing the ball too often (though it does happen from time to time), but rather he keeps his man in position to make the right plays. He has excelled in man coverage, locking down his side of the field and can easily play with most receivers without help over the top. He works hard and has the kind of swagger a cornerback needs to constantly line up against the best receivers the league has to offer. In fact, if I had to pick the one NFL corner who he most resembles, I'd be inclinded to lean toward none other than Ike Taylor.

Kirkpatrick has his risks, though: his run support could use some work, and sometimes he gets a little too aggressive in bump-and-run, forcing himself into playing catchup after giving up the inside. Despite his physical play, he often resorts to hitting a player rather than wrapping them up and tackling. And he has one small black eye off the field, too (which some might argue is actually prized by Jerry Jones): he was arrested for posession of marijuana, though the charges were later dropped after a friend confessed to leaving the drugs in Kirkpatrick's car without Kirkpatrick's knowledge.

As enticing as guys like DeCastro and Richardson may be, the combination of Kirkpatrick's talent and the Cowboys' need in the secondary should be enough to make even Jerry Jones see the proverbial light.

BTSC 2012 Community Mock Draft Picks:



Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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