So I’ve been laboring over this whole mock draft thing for several weeks – it’s fitting that I would do one, especially given that I began this blog with my series of “Absurd Predictions” for the coming season, and what’s more absurd than trying to predict which teams are going to take which players in a 32-pick crapshoot?
The whole thing’s been frustrating. In an early draft of my mock draft, which made it through ten picks, I had the brilliant idea that New England would trade up with Kansas City to leapfrog the Jets, as a partly strategic but mostly spiteful move. Then someone else published that idea first (I think Peter King?) and I realized I’d just sound like I was ripping him off.
And the fact of the matter is, for me it’s a cram session. I don’t actually know who’s good. I keep telling myself I need to watch more college football, but when the season comes around, more pressing matters arise. The only player I feel like I have a truly valid opinion on is Matt Ryan, who I watched in two games. In both, he started out great, and I thought “This guy is going to be an NFL star.” Until late in the game, where he single-handedly threw both games away with interceptions. Sure, that’s just two games, but he did throw 19 picks. 19 INTs in a 12-game season in the Big East is going to translate into 30 in a 16-game NFL season. So I know I wouldn’t spend a top 5 pick on him, especially with some of the guys later on the board.
So the plan was, I’d watch video of the top prospects at each position, courtesy of SI.com’s draft page, and also look at their stats from the season, and make some judgments based on that. I don’t believe in overvaluing combine numbers – like a tenth of a second is really something to worry about. I got through the QBs, RBs, and WRs one day when I was on someone else’s computer. But when I got back to my own… you remember 2002? Bush’s approval rating was high, the first Spiderman movie came out, the Angels were on their way to their first-ever World Series title… That’s the year I bought my computer. Yup, this lovely Toshiba Satellite and I have been together almost six years now. Point being, video doesn’t run well. I tried to make some judgments on the tight ends and linemen, but it got old fast. So that was another frustration.
But really, when you come down to it, the most valuable piece of information in figuring out what a team’s going to do in the draft is something we don’t have access to: player interviews. The teams get to meet these guys face to face and talk football, and that is going to tell so much more about how well a guy will contribute to a program than stats, video, or workout numbers.
So I’m not going to do a mock draft, per se. This week, I’ll be putting out a series of other draft-related Absurd Predictions, and some of them might involve exact picks. If you want a mock draft, there are hundreds of other places you can find them.
I will, however, give you my predicted top 5 picks:
1 – Miami – Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
Like the rest of the world, I’ve gone back and forth on who’s going to be the top pick. It won’t be Matt Ryan, that’s all I’m sure of. I guess I'm also sure it won't be Carrot Top, but what I mean is, of all the names bandied about as #1-ers, I'm sure they won't take Ryan. For a while I was set on Chris Long, because I believed Parcells was looking for the guy who will take the most reasonable contract. And it’s not like Long is a bad choice, but the Fins need a rock at nose tackle for their system, and Dorsey can be that guy. Keith Traylor’s kind of old. Dorsey fills a need, and has been described as the best defensive talent in the draft – why wouldn’t they take him? Because of contract concerns? I think with where Miami is right now, they’re less concerned about a holdout this year than having a guy who will help turn the team around in three.
2 – St. Louis – Chris Long, DE, Virginia
Honestly, this is just here because everyone has Jake Long here. And usually, if so many people agree on a pick, the truth will be something different. St. Louis needs a better pass rush, and Long fits their profile better than Vernon Gholston. He’s a good safe pick, and he instantly improves the defense.
3 – Atlanta – Jake Long, OT, Michigan
Here are the tackles currently on Atlanta’s roster: Renardo Foster, Quinn Ojinnaka, Todd Weiner, Tyson Clabo. So… they’re elated that Long draps to them, let’s just say that. Screw quarterback, they can get one later, Matt Ryan throws too many interceptions anyway.
4 – Oakland – Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State
We all know Al Davis is going to draft someone fast, and probably craves Darren McFadden, but maybe, and I’m just putting this out there, maybe Davis is still just in touch enough to know that he needs other things more than running backs. Gholston’s exciting and explosive enough to tickle Davis’ fancy, and he’ll make the defense scary again.
5 – Kansas City – Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State
They'd love to be able to trade out of this spot with somebody who wants Matt Ryan or Darren McFadden, but their demands will be too high. So Kansas City, not wanting to give up on Brodie Croyle yet and preferring to stock the lines, will have to decide between Sedrick Ellis and Ryan Clady. I have them taking Clady to help keep Croyle on his feet.