Time to go to Rehab: Detoxing with Mock Draft Madness

Felix Jones.

Aqib Talib.

Mario Manningham.

Rashard Mendenhall.

Expect to hear these names a lot as the NFL 2008 Draft approaches.

Seems like these are the consensus picks for the ‘Boys, seeing our needs at RB, WR and CB.

With two low first round draft picks, the ‘Boys have a chance to pick two difference-makers. In the last 20 years, the team has had multiple first round draft picks three times. The high picks? Russell Maryland, Alvin Harper. DeMarcus Ware. The low picks? Kelvin Pritchett. Robert Jones. Marcus Spears. A lot of success with the high picks. A mixed bag with the lower picks. This year’s draft position is somewhat comparable to ’92, because of our midrange to low picks. That year we picked at #17 and #24, while this year we have the 22nd and 28th picks.

Here’s a quick lowdown on these projected picks.

Jones is really fast, really quick, really productive and really unlucky to have played on the same team as Darren McFadden. But his size and durability has some leery. Key quote:

But I keep coming back to the Ray Rice and Steve Slaton comparisons.  Are a few pounds really that big of a deal?  Production wise you could argue that Jones would have similar numbers to Rice, who broke 2,000-yards this year and has 44 TDs over the last two seasons.  Low end, Jones might be similar to Slaton, who produced 3 straight 1,000-yard seasons and averaged 17 TDs a year at West Virginia.  Why is this important?  Jones has to separate himself from these men, and Jonathan Stewart... and Rashard Mendenhall... and Chris Johnson... and Jamaal Charles and Kevin Smith and Justin Forsett and... well, you get the idea.  Yes, his production in a limited role is amazing.  But can he be ‘the guy’?  How do his stats extrapolate to a full plate of carries?  How much does D-Mac factor into his success? So why is Jones rated as a first rounder over the other players mentioned? Speed, it's as simple as that, Felix Jones has game breaking speed. Outside of McFadden, Felix Jones, Chris Johnson and Jamaal Charles are likely the fastest running backs in this 2008 NFL Draft. The NFL loves speed. But the big question is, will Jones be more than a Reggie Bush-type who is little more than a 3rd down back?

Some see Mendenhall as a bigger MB3 -- powerful, strong and ready to punish defenders. He has the size but he lacks elite speed and had a bit of a fumbling problem early in his career. Pro Football Weekly does a nice wrap-up of the crop of running backs entering the draft here including Mendenhall.

Manningham usually gets the "most complete receiver in the draft" award. Jimmy at the Tennessee Titans blog has an excellent diary on Manningham here. Everyone loves his speed and competitiveness. He’s quick and he’s dangerous after the catch. He’s small though, has injury concerns, attitude problems and some wonder if he’ll struggle with physical corners.

Talib is an accomplished defensive back: a ball hawk, big time playmaker and good tackler who’s versatile enough to play cornerback or safety. His athleticism is a big part of why so many are so high on him.

A big corner with good speed and intense playmaking skills is important to have in the NFL. He has good ball skills and his size allows him to physical on the line while his excellent speed allows him to do that without having a huge gap to close out. Oddly enough, his physicality led him to have some trouble against the smaller wideouts he faced but nothing to sever to scare me or most NFL GM’s off. The reasoning there is that the NFL is so focused on big guys at WR that he may not have to face too many smaller guys on the outside where he is best suited to cover. It is obvious that New Orleans needs a corner but I think that New England could also take a look at him. Look for Talib to go somewhere between seven and twelve depending on how he runs.

Most mock drafts have us taking Jones and Manningham. I wouldn’t mind Manningham. He was a beast in the college games I saw him play. I do worry about his mental toughness though. I like Jones too. He’s a burner. A Jones/MB3 combo would be like thunder and lightning. Just a vicious combo of speed and toughness.

In mock drafts, FoxSports.com has us taking Manningham and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, a cornerback from Tennessee State, whose name is apparently catching buzz. Don Banks of CNNSI has us taking Manningham and Jones. Other mock drafts have us taking Mendenhall and Sam Baker, a tackle from USC.

Baker is interesting. He’s a Top 10 prospect – ahead of Glenn Dorsey and Chris Long – in some people's eyes and also here. Scouts rave that he’s a sound accomplished player, groomed in a pro system and does everything well – lateral movement, pass protection, you name it, he can do it and do it well. The rap on him is he’s had some injury history and he needs to hit the weight room because he’s not going to set combine records ablaze. For my money, give me a player, or as Parcells would say, a FPD (football playing dude) as opposed to someone who can run faster than anyone, bench press more than anybody and jump higher than anyone. This mock draft has us taking Talib and Jones in the first, and Andre Caldwell, a wide receiver from Florida in the 2nd. Caldwell has some buzz after he played well in the Senior Bowl.

In the end what good are mock drafts? In some ways, not much. Nobody'll care once the draft is over for the most part. We'll of course hear about the names that steadily rose, those that dropped and those that came out the middle of nowhere. But once the draft hits, that's the big story -- the Draft. Not the umpteen number of mock drafts floating around on the internet.

That being said, the Draft isn't until April and a nation of football fans are in mourning. So in this instance, these mock drafts do mean something. At least we'll have something to entertain ourselves with until the draft comes. We can debate amongst ourselves. Who do we want? Who do we need? Who best fits our system?

In that sense, mock drafts are the best detox to a world full of football addicts.

Cue up Amy Winehouse.

Time to go to rehab.

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