Much like the first five picks of the first round, the second five picks are largely dependent on what ultimately winds up happening with the No. 2 overall selection.
The Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins both want to move up and acquire Robert Griffin III, but the Browns’ trade assets make for much more lucrative trade bait than the Redskins' assets. That’s why our first five picks had the St. Louis Rams and Browns swapping picks, which in turn would mostly leave picks six through ten unchanged. If for some reason the Browns opted not to pull the trigger on bringing in RGIII, though, then the Redskins would almost certainly swap picks with St. Louis and that would impact picks six through ten.
For the purposes of this mock draft, however, we’ll assume that the Browns make the more logical, reasonable move and trade up to grab a franchise quarterback. It will leave them admittedly bare and without much in the way of resources to upgrade Griffin’s surroundings with in the here and now, but that’s the price you pay to pick up players you deem to be valuable enough to make franchise cornerstones.
With that in mind, here is how the second half of the top ten will look:
6. Washington Redskins – Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M. This is too high for Tannehill, obviously, but the Redskins have put their cards on the table: they want a quarterback. Peyton Manning, even if he is viewed as healthy enough to be a reliable contributor, a.) isn’t a long-term solution at quarterback and b.) probably wouldn’t want to join this team either way. And that if about his health is a pretty big if. There are reports coming out of Washington right now that if the Redskins don’t get RGIII (which they won’t), they’ll reach for Tannehill, whom the Miami Dolphins are also seemingly eying. One quick note to keep in mind: if Washington lands a quarterback before the draft, then they’ll most likely (read: hopefully) take Rilly Reiff out of Iowa in this spot.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars – Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina. There was a time before the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine when it felt like Quinton Coples was a lock to go here. (Jags, given their division, obviously take someone to go after the QB.) Not anymore. When you couple the persistent questions that were always out there about his effort last season with the fact that Melvin Ingram was just as impressive at both the Senior Bowl and the Combine as he was, you automatically see why the latter pass rusher will be the first DE off the board despite questions about his size. Buffalo can't afford a risky pick when there is a guy just as good on the board; grittiness, versatility and a strong work ethic make Ingram the smart selection here.
8. Miami Dolphins – Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa. The Dolphins will prove to be one of draft night’s biggest winners when all is said and done, mostly because of the Redskins’ decision to reach for a good but not great quarterback. Reiff addresses a need, obviously, and when Miami finally gets its quarterback (be it Manning or whoever) he’ll sleep well at night knowing that the squad has inserted a long-term fixture at the right tackle spot. Reiff is one of this draft’s three most NFL-ready players and should go higher, but other teams’ loss will be the Dolphins’ gain. (Quick note: I realize some aren’t fans of Reiff at this spot, but when you start your argument by listing all the reasons he fits here and then list your first point against him as “value” (??) even though he’d be the most talented player available, that just makes no sense.)
9. Carolina Panthers - Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis. Giving Cam Newton some sort of a boost to preemptively strike against any type of sophomore slump would be great, but Ron Rivera will address the defense here. Defensive tackle is a position that the Panthers need to upgrade at, but none of the defensive tackles available are really worthy of this high a pick. That’s why you’ve seen such a fluctuation in value as it applies to Fletcher Cox, Michael Brockers, Devon Still and the newest flavor of the post-Combine moment, Dontari Poe. Clearly Poe is a freak of nature physically and his Combine performance sort of justifies the attention he’s getting now, but this pick will be more about need than Poe’s actual value at this point in the draft.
10. Buffalo Bills – Courtney Upshaw, DE, Alabama. Coples slipping makes him an intriguing prospect at this pick, but the Bills seem to be leaning more towards Upshaw as the piece they want in their new 4-3. Obviously Upshaw’s Combine performance wasn’t exactly Poe-esque and it wound up disappointing some people, but at a certain point you have to brush off a guy not being able to bench press to expectations and see what kind of impression he left coming out of college. Upshaw is a strong edge rusher, plays tough, is better at moving big offensive line players than his 22 reps at 225 pounds would indicate, and is a lot more versatile than folks give him credit for. If the Bills are smart, they’ll shrug off the post-Combine doubts and opt to add an immediate difference maker without overthinking arbitrary predictors of how successful someone will be at the next level.