For the latest mock draft projection click here.
The draft isn’t a perfect science. Unexpected things happen.
This latest projection may prove to be the most inaccurate I’ve compiled so far yet if one of the bolder moves actually happens, it’s worth the discussion we’ll have today.
The first eye catching pick is probably Jimmy Smith at #8 to Tennessee. At the moment everyone is down on Smith because of character concerns but it’s impossible to watch Colorado tape and not think this guy has a shot at going in the top ten. The Titans have been anything but predictable this off season and it could be argued cornerback is their second biggest need after replacing Vince Young. With the top two quarterbacks off the board in this scenario – do they entertain the prospect of drafting Jake Locker or Ryan Mallett at #8 or will they look elsewhere?
Smith has elite potential. We can talk about character and make a legitimate case for a substantial fall if the allegations are serious enough. Yet the old adage goes, “only one team has to buy in” and I don’t see why that won’t be the case here.
Von Miller at #11 – this is the area I’d feel more comfortable grading him personally. I understand everyone else sees him as a consensus top five pick, but that was never the case actually during the college football season. He has tremendous potential as a speedy pass rusher and undoubtedly was one of the most enjoyable prospects to watch during 2010-11. Yet I still have this nagging doubt about his ability to carry that into the NFL. Can he play rush 3-4 OLB? Is he more of a 4-3 OLB? How teams answer that question will determine whether he actually goes as high as the consensus believes.
Nick Fairley at #14 – huge talent who dominated throughout 2010 for Auburn. Then you look at the draft board and see several 4-3 teams who would be a logical destination for Fairley, but which one actually pulls the trigger? He’s a popular pick for Tennessee, yet they have much greater needs at quarterback and cornerback. It’s not an opinion most people will agree with, but I wouldn’t be stunned if he’s a player teams would be willing to draft throughout the top-ten yet there’s always someone else they prefer left on the board.
Ryan Mallett at #15 – Miami needs a quarterback and that isn’t discussed enough in the draft world. Chad Henne was given a big opportunity to fill that void and failed. They have a very good receiver in Brandon Marshall and need someone who can get him the ball. Mark Ingram is the popular pick at #15 and while he is a very exciting talent, is Miami’s biggest issue a lack of potency at running back? Mallett has to be a consideration for Minnesota at #12 and Miami at #15.
Corey Liuget at #17 – may suffer if Nick Fairley falls a bit. Legitimate top-15 pick and a viable alternative to Julio Jones for St. Louis at #14 if Fairley’s off the board. New England’s 3-4 scheme isn’t a tight fit for Liuget, but the Patriots may think he’s too good to pass and you know they’ll work him into that system.
Julio Jones at #21 – I really like Julio and in terms of talent he’s a sure-fire top-15 pick. However, receivers can fall. Jones’ athletic performance at the combine was sensational and he made major improvements to his consistency in 2010. It really wouldn’t surprise me if he went in the top-10 picks, but is a fall into the teens or early 20′s out the question? This is probably his floor.
Ryan Kerrigan drops out of the first round in this projection. This week he reached 274lbs which is around 15lbs more than he weighed at Purdue. He’s clearly trying to convince teams he can play that base 4-3 RE position. I’m not sure he’d be trying to keep adding weight at this stage of the process if he was still hoping to play in a 3-4. With a number of rising prospects at his position (Reed, Sheard, Houston etc) he may struggle to stick in that 16-32 range.
I’ve gone back to Jabaal Sheard for the Seahawks at #25. His stock is rising more than most at the moment and it’s not hard to see why. He’s got great speed and explosion off the line, a nice repertoire and he holds up well against the run. It’s a discussion we’ve had many times on here about the value of the LEO and whether Seattle should be spending a pick on that position. Over the next few days we’ll use this latest mock to see what scope the Seahawks possibly have to move up or down to target different positions/prospects.
Wednesday links and other mocks
Round two is available for ESPN insiders. The Seahawks take Clint Boling (OG, Georgia) which seems like a positional reach with more talented players left on the board.