NFL draft starts Thursday. And I couldn’t be more excited. RGIII in DC…it’s going to happen! I know, I know. There’s a lot of hype surrounding this guy (can we say, cover of SI and ESPN mag this week?) and only time will tell as to whether it is deserved. Somehow we’re all bored talking about Luck, since we talked about him all last year, and now we’re latching on to the new phenom. I thought for sure, somehow, Harbaugh and Luck would be reunited in the NFL this year, but as fate would have it, the Niners over-performed last year and will never grab Luck out of the Colts’ death-grip. Anyways, should be a great draft and I haven’t been following the mocks as closely as in years past, but I figure we’re getting down to the wire. The dust is settling a bit from free agency and the CBA mess, so I’ll get back to business.
The mocks this year are looking surprisingly similar. Most of the ones I’ve seen place the first seven or eight picks exactly the same. Here’s a decent composite mock:
1. Andrew Luck to the Colts (duh)
2. RG!!! (that’s how I’m writing it now) to the Skins
3. Matt Kalil of USC to the Vikes
4. Trent Richardson to the Browns
5. Morris Claiborne to Bucs
6. Justin Blackmon to the Rams (after Dez Bryant blew it up for the Cowboys and the Falcons moved up for Julio Jones in last year’s draft, rookie WRs are all the rage now, and Blackmon has the physicality and the talent to be better than both of the aforementioned rooks). They have some good choices here at 6. They could easily go with Fletcher Cox at defensive tackle as well. The Rams need help there and could really start building their defense with Cox. The Rams have discussed over the past week about their need at this position and their consideration of Cox as a contender. In my opinion, the sexy allure of Blackmon at WR might be too much to pass up. Reports have put Floyd above Blackmon on the “most ready to play in the NFL” list…as they tend to do with every Notre Dame player. So I don’t buy it. I like Blackmon to take this one. Everyone loves an offensive superstar. Defense takes the backseat, undeserving, again.
7. Here’s where it gets interesting. There are several choices for the Jags at 7. They need a lot of help, in a lot of areas. Let’s talk about Michael Floyd first. A sexy pick out of Notre Dame due to his size and speed. See above pick for why this would be a temptation. I don’t think the Jags should go with Floyd though. Their real need is in their secondary. If they can’t trade down (which they should) to accumulate picks to fill a number of gaps in their roster, they should go with a cornerback with Gilmore or Kirkpatrick. A defensive end like Ingram wouldn’t be a bad addition either. There has been speculation that the Jags will draft yet another QB. This is insanity. They shouldn’t do it, and won’t. You made your bed with Gabbert, now lay in it for a while until conditions improve. With Luck and RG!!! going at 1 and 2 (and the Skins aggressively moving up for a QB), get out of the QB riot this year and opt for some smart rebuilding picks. Coples has been in the mix too, highlighting the need at DE. Cox is another really great pick for them, but the cornerbacks seem to be getting more attention from the Jaguars.
8. There’s little doubt among mocks that if the Dolphins stay at 8 they will draft Tannehill at QB. Dolphins owner Stephan Ross already made it clear that would be his choice. If they really wanted him, they should try to squeeze about the Browns, another team that has been in talks about Tannehill. In my opinion, it would not be the end of the world if the Fins opted to draft a different position given their need is so great in so many areas. Staying out of the QB mad-dash has it’s upside. But from what I’m hearing, the Dolphins are pretty desperate to get attendance numbers up and to start improving on seasons past, and they can only do that starting with a new QB. They failed to get Manning (but I consider that a short-term failure but a long-term blessing), so they will probably jump the gun in 2012 and take a QB that I’m not completely sold on as being talented enough to be a franchise player for them. Yes, I know that the rumored Wonderlic test score among other solid stats make him good on paper. But I think what we’ve seen though the years is, it doesn’t always translate. Luck and RG!!! are the clear standouts (and many still doubt Griffin’s ability to perform in the NFL). The Dolphins are not in a great position here to make a smart decision but hopefully they will “luck” out with Tannehill and get their team back on track.
9. Most of the mocks seem to be in agreement here that a Defensive tackle will get drafted at 9 by the Panthers. Seems like a smart pick and Fletcher Cox out of Miss. St. seems to be the solid choice. He’s big, he’s strong and would be great on the Panthers defense as long as the Jags don’t get smart, quick and scoop him up. Have we not learned anything about defensive tackles and what that could do to a team’s effectiveness?! Suh, anyone? Cox and Suh are comparable in size. Suh got much more attention at Nebraska than Fletcher did at Mississippi State, but I think their strength and abilities are comparable. Cox might even be a little more stable on the field (which is a plus). Jags don’t need a DT as much as other teams, but you have to draft the best possible player at the position you have if you can’t trade up or down. And Cox would be a steal in my opinion, at 9.
10. The Bills. You know, I’ve grown to really love this team. They were such a wild card contender last year and so fun to watch. Too bad too many of their games uncovered their glaring weaknesses and the mock drafts reflect that, going across the board from WR to OT. They addressed some holes in their defense in free agency, but I’m hearing from a lot of source that Floyd at WR could be the Bills pick. Adding another fast WR to Stevie Johnson is an interesting choice (ala Falcons last year). Let’s play this one out in a few weeks.
The rest of the picks are all over the board (as they should be). I think there are going to be some major steals in the late first round and there will be little complaining at what is available late in the game.
Should be interesting and I can’t wait. Once again, the Redskins have accumulated no picks, so I’ll have a while to celebrate the arrival of the RGIII era in Washington until our third round pick.