Mike Tanier: Sports on Earth


Mike Tanier opts for one of the premier edge rushers in the league with Clay Matthews as his first pick. Photo by Mike Morbeck.

Mike Tanier opts for one of the premier edge rushers in the league with Clay Matthews as his first pick. Photo by Mike Morbeck.

Twitter: @MikeTanier

Pick Summary

  • Round 1: OLB/DE Clay Matthews
  • Round 2: FS Earl Thomas
  • Round 3: DE Derrick Morgan
  • Round 4: LB D’Qwell Jackson
  • Round 5: QB Michael Vick
  • Round 6: C Max Unger
  • Round 7: OT Jonathan Martin
  • Round 8: S Morgan Burnett
  • Round 9: RB Bernard Pierce
  • Round 10: TE Jermaine Gresham
  • Round 11: CB Derek Cox
  • Round 12: G Harvey Dahl
  • Round 13: WR Andre Roberts
  • Round 14: WR Titus Young
  • Round 15: ILB Paul Pozluzsny
  • Round 16: OT Charles Brown
  • Round 17: Pending
  • Round 18:
  • Round 19:
  • Round 20:
  • Round 21:
  • Round 22:

Pick Details

Round 1, Pick 29: Clay Matthews, Outside Linebacker

The best available athlete is also the best player to fit my scheme? I love it when a plan comes together. Clay Matthews will be the heartbeat of the 2-4-5 defense I plan to install: a disruptor who will occupy a left tackle and either a tight end or a back on every pass play. With Matthews to build around, my defensive philosophy is chiseled. Now, to come up with some sort of offensive philosophy…

Earl Thomas is a sideline-to-sideline center fielder who can allow a defense to play Cover 1 with some confidence in many situations others can only play Cover 2. Photo by Aaronisnotcool.

Earl Thomas is a sideline-to-sideline center fielder who can allow a defense to play Cover 1 with some confidence in many situations others can only play Cover 2. Photo by Aaronisnotcool.

Round 2, Pick 36: Earl Thomas, Safety.

From the sound of the chirping on Twitter, or the tweeting on Chirper, I blew up some draft boards with this pick, baby. Sure, you thought I was going to go all Moneyball/Football Outsiders/staty-watty and stick with the big money positions early: left tackles, quarterbacks, defensive tackle planets.

But my scheme is going to require a lot of talent and flexibility at safety. We will run the heavy nickel a lot, with three safeties, and I want someone who can play close to the line, hit like a linebacker, but still excel in man coverage.Opposing quarterbacks will have to account for Thomas and Clay Matthews on every pre-snap read. When I eventually draft a quarterback, he will be happy that he doesn’t have to face these guys!

Round 3, Pick 68: Derrick Morgan, Defensive End

I have now addressed all three levels of my hybrid 3-4/2-4-5 defense. With the best nose tackles off the board, I instead went for someone I think can play in the five-tech, and can hold his own even if there are only two down linemen on the field. Morgan is a huge 24-year old with upside. Football Outsiders with 53 Stops, a high total for a down lineman, with much of his production coming against the run. This defense is now taking shape, even if the offense only exists in my imagination.

Tanier takes one of the tackle leaders in the NFL in Jackson. He should be a strong fit for his 2-4-5 scheme. Photo by Erik Daniel Drost.

Tanier takes one of the tackle leaders in the NFL in Jackson. He should be a strong fit for his 2-4-5 scheme. Photo by Erik Daniel Drost.

Round 4, Pick 122: D’Qwell Jackson, Linebacker

I decided at the start of the draft to impose a Brandon Weeden age limit on my selections: no one older than Weeden on my team! But rules are made to be broken at certain positions, like backup quarterback, and special teams captain. Add inside linebacker to the list: Jackson is a few days older than Weeden, but he has gobs of experience as a multi-purpose inside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. He will be the leader and signal caller for what is shaping up to be a devastating defense.

Can Vick stay heathy? Tanier believes the mobile quarterback is worth the risk as his starter.

Can Vick stay heathy? Tanier believes the mobile quarterback is worth the risk as his starter.

Round 5, Pick  134: Michael Vick, Quarterback     

Well, there goes the Brandon Weeden age limit all to heck. I need a quarterback, and Vick is the best available option at this point, in terms of athleticism and experience. He also brings an important benefit to my offense: he makes it left-handed. That means I can focus on getting a top right tackle, which is important because all of the left tackles are gone. No, I am not running some crazy read-option with Vick, who would get hurt in about six plays. I am thinking of a lefty variation of the Texans/Shanahan/Kubiak offense, where Vick can roll out, read half the field, sling some bombs, and be enough of a threat with his legs to draw coverage up and create room for tight ends on crossing routes and such.

Round 6, Pick 189: Max Unger, Center

Tanier likes the unassuming quality of the name ‘Unger’ for a center. He’s also a fine player anchoring a line that makes Marshawn Lynch look like a whirling dervish with the ball in his hands.

Round 7, Pick 196: Jonathan Martin, Offensive Tackle

Another blue collar name for a blue collar job taking on those edge rushers with names like Osi, Ziggy, Bjoern, Pierre-Paul, and Julius.

Tanier says Burnett can throw-down the alley-oop and cut off the deep post with the best of them. Hoyas beward. Photo by Elvis Kennedy.

Tanier says Burnett can throw-down the alley-oop and cut off the deep post with the best of them. Hoyas beward. Photo by Elvis Kennedy.

Round 8, Pick 253: Morgan Burnett, Safety

Commentary for this pick is after round 11.

Hey ain't Jim Thorpe, but Tanier says Pierce will provide the dressing for his Gibbs Turkey. Photo by TommyTex2001.

Hey ain’t Jim Thorpe, but Tanier says Pierce will provide the dressing for his Gibbs Turkey. Photo by TommyTex2001.

Round 9, Pick 260: Bernard Pierce, Running Back

Commentary for this pick is after round 11.

Since only one of these picks are tight ends we can safely assume that Tanier is still on the wagon. Photo by Football Schedule.

Since only one of these picks are tight ends we can safely assume that Tanier is still on the wagon. Photo by Football Schedule.

Round 10, Pick 316: Jermaine Gresham, Tight End

Commentary for this pick is after round 11.

Derek Cox was a corner on several writers' lists at this stage. Photo by Happyfunpaul.

Derek Cox was a corner on several writers’ lists at this stage. Photo by Happyfunpaul.

Round 11, Pick 323: Derek Cox, Cornerback

I lost my bearings for a few picks there, but now I feel like I am back on track. Participating in a league like this is humbling and exasperating. It’s like some Tekken-style video game: everybody’s a freakin’ ninja who can shoot lightning out of his pinkie. I’m trying to get an edge in a draft using Aaron Schatz’s stats, with Aaron Schatz in the same draft.

Trying to draft linemen against Ben Muth, who blocked many of them and beside others. I come up with a guy who I think should be on the board — Stephon Gilmore, for example — and discover he’s gone. Long gone. So is every impressive prospect from the past two years, because this darn league of people who scouted them longer and harder than I did.

The same thing happens in fantasy leagues. I go to my neighborhood league, and by the third round, some guy is drafting Carson Palmer because he heard of him, and someone’s wife is asking who Vernon Davis is. I stomp around like a gold-plated Godzilla. Then I participate in some expert’s league, and by the second round I realize that I have drafted two kickers in confusion as every buzzy-riser-sleeper leaps off the board. In those leagues, I end up drinking heavily and drafting tight ends, which (as Schatz will attest) is why I was not allowed to draft any official Football Outsiders fantasy teams.

Worst of all, my turn to pick keeps snaking up when I least expect it. I went on the clock while covering the NCAA Tournament in Philly; I think I picked Morgan Burnett thinking that he just threw down an alley-oop dunk for Florida Gulf Coast against Georgetown.

It came up again while I was spending Easter weekend with my kids in Jim Thorpe, PA. Can I draft Jim Thorpe? He could be quarterback, punter, and commissioner! Nope. As an old man, I may misremember all of this and try to tell my sons that I took them to hike along a river in the town of Morgan Burnett.

But still, my mighty Turkey Vultures take shape. Bernard Pierce is a great fit for the Alex Gibbs-style offense I hope to run. Jermaine Gresham will play a key role in that offense as both a blocker and a possession receiver. I think Gresham is a better player than what we have seen from the Bengals (not that he looks bad). He can be used down the field more, and he could slide to the slot or go in motion the way a Greg Olsen is used. I plan to go with a two-tight end offense, so I will soon be selecting more of an H-back type.

Derek Cox was a great value when I picked him up: a very good starter on a team that hides his light under a barrel. Cox’s height makes him a good match-up cornerback; his only big negative is his durability. My heavy nickel secondary is nearly set, and I will probably veer off soon to stabilize my offensive line.

My brain is back to football, so watch out, colleagues and comrades! I will be a force to be sorta reckoned with, at least until horse racing season heats up.

The RSP Writers project is brought to you by the 2013 Rookie Scouting Portfolio. Learn more about the 2013 RSP Writers Project and check out the completed 2012 RSP Writers Project where we built teams under a realistic salary cap. You can try it yourself.

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