Mock draft preview and Wednesday’s links

February 16th, 2011 | Written by Rob Staton

Mock Draft Preview

Expect an update tomorrow with some significant changes.

I like to mix things up with the mocks because lets be really honest here, there’s no real definitive way to predict what will happen on April 28th. The people who do their homework will get the majority of first round prospects correct, if not in the right order. Some prospects will fall unexpectedly, there will be at least one big shock and nearly everyone will have one pick to hang their hat on.

In 2009 I studied every high profile mock draft on the internet and couldn’t find anyone else who projected Denver would take Knowshon Moreno with the 12th overall pick. The rest of the mock was pretty awful though, particularly the two prospects I had the Seahawks drafting. It was to my detriment that I failed to sufficiently acknowledge Tim Ruskell’s draft history or the manufactured opening at outside linebacker by trading Julian Peterson. It’s always obvious after the event.

Last year I had the Seahawks correctly taking a safety and an offensive tackle, just in the reverse order. I’m led to believe the team were enamoured with Eric Berry and would’ve drafted him 6th overall if the Chiefs had gone in a different direction. I understand the team had originally hoped to take Berry with the first pick and draft Trent Williams at #14, but the Oklahoma lineman’s stock exploded after the combine and he went from a consensus mid-first round selection to a nailed on top five pick. In the end it worked out with Okung still on the board at #6 and Thomas there later on, but I do believe those were the two preferred positions to be filled in round one.

With the team owning a pick much later in round one this year, they might not have the opportunity to be so specific with the area they want to address with their first choice. Sure, there will be preferences and a board structured to consider all eventualities. But with twenty-four teams scheduled to pick before Seattle there’s a lot of time for plans to change.

Perhaps they will have their focus on one prospect all along and will make the sufficient moves up the board to get that player? Maybe they’ll sit tight and be prepared to take simply the best player remaining, considering the numerous needs the team has?

I suspect that at least one prospect will fall down the board in the first round. Perhaps the Seahawks will capitalise on that? Last year Dez Bryant tumbled down the board having missed most of the 2009 college season through suspension and having failed to perform at the combine. Dallas eventually moved up three spots to select Bryant with the 24th overall pick.

In 2009 there was some talk of Michael Oher falling, but nobody expected such a steep drop towards the later stages of round one. Baltimore traded up three spots to select Oher with the #23 pick. In the same year, Chris Wells was touted by many as a potential top-15 prospect but he sank all the way to Arizona at #31.

The year before that concerns over DeSean Jackson’s attitude meant a legitimate top-15 talent fell all the way to #49.

I suspect the Seahawks will be presented an opportunity like this, whether they stay at #25 or have the chance to try and move up the board like Dallas or Baltimore. In a way Bryant, Oher, Wells and Jackson were all calculated gambles – the cost was limited but there were enough concerns to put most of the league off in round one. Jackson has been an unmitigated success and Oher is now Baltimore’s starting left tackle. Wells has been a big disappointment while Bryant had a successful rookie year, yet there was some talk he has not impressed many of the coaches or front office personnel in Dallas.

My mock tomorrow will consider the potential for a prospect falling down the board for a legitimate reason and becoming an unexpected option for the Seahawks at #25.

Who goes first overall?

The combine is really when we get a good grasp on how the draft is going to pan out. We still don’t know what Carolina will do with the #1 overall pick but I’m beginning to think the Panthers will have to find reasons not to take Cam Newton. When Andrew Luck opted not to declare for the 2011 draft, I immediately pinned Newton as my tip to go first overall. This is the article I wrote on the day.

I appreciate the arguments that suggest Nick Fairley or Da’Quan Bowers will be the choice and really I think they’re the only likely alternatives. Carolina’s big needs aside from quarterback are on the defensive line and Bowers and Fairley could easily be the best two prospects in the draft anyway.

Yet are Fairley or Bowers that much better or at least that much more likely to work out than Cam Newton? I’m not so sure, although the long term benefits of the QB working out are much greater.

Think about the possibilities here for a moment - the Panthers wouldn’t have to start Newton immediately because Jimmy Clausen remains on the roster. Should Clausen work out (something I highly doubt) he will be good trade bait down the line. In the meantime you work on Newton and start him when he’s ready or at least when the team has had it’s fill of Clausen.

When a team needs a quarterback, you have to do everything you can to fill that void. If Carolina find sufficient reasons not to select Newton or indeed Blaine Gabbert – so be it. However, at this stage it’s hard to look past the Auburn playmaker at that #1 pick. Certainly I cannot see him lasting past Buffalo at #3.

Big movers

Two defensive prospects in my next mock will make significant moves up the board. Both jump ten places in fact.

Wednesday draft links

Brandon Adams at 17 Power wonders whether Jonathan Baldwin is set for a big move up the boards.

Mel Kiper updates his mock draft with the Seahawks taking Mike Pouncey at #25. I’m a big fan of Pouncey, but I also think it’s unlikely he will last that far. I still maintain that I can’t see Locker falling out of round one as Kiper suggests here and I certainly don’t expect the Seahawks to pass on him. Just a hunch.

Walter Cherepinsky has updated his mock draft with Seattle getting Jimmy Smith (CB, Colorado) in round one. I still suspect Smith will be long gone by the time the Seahawks make their choice.

Tony Pauline publishes his top-50 big board at SI.com. Pauline is one of the best draft insiders in the business and it’s worth keeping an eye on his ‘Draft Insider’ blog.

2 Responses to “Mock draft preview and Wednesday’s links”

  1. Cliff says:

    Rob, I remember hearing that Phil Taylor wanted to drop to about 320 for the combine. If he runs a good 40 time for DT would we consider him for the 5 tech? or is he more of a pure NT?

    • Rob says:

      Hi Cliff,

      I think he’s a logical fit at either the nose tackle or 5-technique whether he plays at 320lbs or 337lbs. He’s got the size and power to take up blockers through the middle, but he carries his big frame incredibly well and moves around with surprising ease so there’s no reason to think he couldn’t play the Red Bryant role. If the Seahawks drafted him, you’re looking at him potentially spelling both positions early in his career.