Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have had a mini-rivalry on ESPN for the last several years as the network's two primary draft analysts. Kiper, the senior of the two, has been around seemingly forever (as has his hair), and the two men often seem to disagree on prospect rankings, draft boards, and teams' needs.
This week, we got another example of the disagreements between the two, as they released their so-called "Grade A" mock drafts. Whereas the two analysts typically try to project what NFL general managers might do in their other mocks, this exercise has them decide what they think the teams should do, which can be a very different task.
Each of them picked the Green Bay Packers' first three picks as follows:
Round One (#27 overall)
- Kiper: OLB Kamalei Correa, Boise State
- McShay: DT Vernon Butler, Louisiana Tech
Kiper has been on the Correa-to-Green Bay train seemingly all throughout the offseason. He first projected Correa to the Packers back in March, and he did so again in this exercise. McShay, on the other hand, sees the Packers going with the versatile Butler in round one instead. What is perhaps most interesting here is the different places where each had the other's first Packers pick landing: McShay picked Correa at #40 overall for the Giants, while Butler went 56th to the Seahawks in Kiper's mock.
Personally, I don't mind the Correa pick all that much, but I feel that Kiper is passing up on numerous defensive linemen who would fill a bigger hole on the roster, who would be able to have a bigger impact in their first year, and who fundamentally are better value at 27. In McShay's case, the Butler pick makes sense, with fellow tackles like Andrew Billings and Jarran Reed going off the board just a bit earlier.
Round Two (#57)
- Kiper: TE Jerell Adams, South Carolina
- McShay: TE Nick Vannett, Ohio State
Here, both analysts agree, at least on the position. Both are selecting tight ends who had limited success as receivers in college, hoping that they will develop into pass-catching options with more opportunity in the NFL. Adams is more of the leaner, athletic type with good straight-line speed, while Vannett is bigger and a better blocker. For McShay, though, he might have chosen Adams for the Packers if he had not already picked him to go 52nd overall to Houston. Vannett was around late in the third round for Kiper, though, going 83rd to the Jets.
Round Three (#88)
- Kiper: CB Maurice Canady, Virginia
- McShay: ILB B.J. Goodson, Clemson
If we're looking purely at positional need here, there is no doubt that McShay's pick would be the better option. Why Kiper thinks that cornerback is a significant need is beyond me - he even mentions that the pick would "offset the loss of Casey Hayward," but that position currently has better depth than inside linebacker. Still, Canady would be an interesting option as a boundary corner, as he stands 6'1" and ran the 40 in 4.49 at the Combine.
McShay goes for the linebacker instead, however, and Goodson could indeed be a good fit for the Packers. He's not huge (6'1", 242), but he has good speed (4.69 40) and terrific production as a senior with over 100 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks.
Overall, I would be much happier with McShay's picks for the first three rounds than Kiper's.