It's here. The NFL Draft is finally upon us and The Stack is here with a preview. Unlike in previous years where I've predicted the entire first round, that will not be the case this year. I'll do the top ten and after that all bets are off. Heck, even trying to predict the top ten will be difficult. That and some top storylines to look for so let's get right to it and see what's in "the stack" for today, Thursday, April 25:
NFL Draft starts tonight
The first round of the NFL Draft is tonight at 8:00 PM ET on ESPN and the NFL Network. The Kansas City Chiefs will officially be on the clock. This is kind of a down year for the draft make no mistake about it. There are a lot of good players in the draft, but none that are really flashy. The strength of this draft is the interior, the offensive and defensive lines. There is so much depth and five of the top players are either tackles or guards. The tackles are Eric Fisher (Central Michigan), Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M) and Lane Johnson (Oklahoma) and the guards are Chance Warmack (Alabama) and Jonathan Cooper (UNC).
Then you talk on the defensive side of the ball and there are some great tackles like Star Lotulelui (Utah), Sylvester Williams (UNC) and Sheldon Richardson (Missouri). There are more than just those two as defensive tackle is definitely up there as the most talent, but these two stand out.
Cornerback is another area of strength in the draft. If you miss out on Dee Milliner from Alabama or Desmond Trufant from Washington, there are plenty of other good players that you can take later in the first round and in subsequent rounds. That's the thing about the draft this year. There is a lot of depth at a lot of different positions so you can get good value players in the second, third and later rounds.
A couple of players to really keep your eyes on are Manti Te'o (LB, Notre Dame) and Tyrann Mathieu (S, LSU). Te'o obviously has had the spotlight on him being on Notre Dame, but he has been heavily scrutinized since the fake girlfriend hoax came out. I think he won't go later than 23 to the Minnesota Vikings. Mathieu was kicked off the team at LSU following substance abuse and we've heard a lot of stories about his marijuana habits and not wanting to play in the national championship game and throwing a party for himself tonight after he gets drafted. It's not good. He won't be drafted tonight. He has tremendous talent, but he has to earn the trust of a lot of teams. Round three? Maybe, but I think it is far more likely he doesn't get drafted at all.
Then there are the quarterbacks. Unlike last year with Andrew Luck and RGIII, this is the weakest group of quarterbacks we've seen in years. Ryan Nassib (Syracuse) as the top quarterback drafted? That's what could happen. Overall, I think we'll see two quarterbacks taken in the first round with Nassib and Geno Smith (West Virginia) being drafted. If Smith doesn't go in the top ten, a team will trade with someone in the middle 20s (possibly Minnesota at 25) and take him. Remember Matt Barkley (USC)? Where will he go? When will he be drafted? Probably second round. Then you have guys like E.J. Manuel (Florida State) and Tyler Brey (Tennessee) who can go later in the second round. Overall, weak class. It's going to be very interesting to see where the quarterbacks get drafted.
Now to my top ten NFL mock draft (excludes trades)
1. Kansas City Chiefs- Eric Fisher (OT, Central Michigan)
2. Jacksonville Jaguars- Luke Joeckel (OT, Texas A&M)
3. Oakland Raiders- Dion Jordan (DE, Oregon)
4. Philadelphia Eagles- Lane Johnson (OT, Oklahoma)
5. Detroit Lions- Ezekial Ansah (DE, BYU)
6. Cleveland Browns- Dee Milliner (CB, Alabama)
7. Arizona Cardinals- Jonathan Cooper (G, North Carolina)
8. Buffalo Bills- Ryan Nassib (QB, Sryacuse)
9. New York Jets- Tavon Austin (WR, West Virginia)
10. Tennessee Titans- Desmond Trufant (CB, Washington)
I don't feel good about these picks at all. That's the beauty of the draft this year. Really don't know where anyone is going to go. Enjoy it everyone and I'll be back tomorrow to recap and react to round one of the draft and look ahead to the second and third rounds.