Well, BTBers, draft season is definitely upon us. Earlier this week, we have covered initial forays into mockery by Wes Bunting, of National Football Post fame, and Nolan Nawrocki at Pro Football Weekly. In the past couple of days, two more of the reputable mockers who found themselves atop my draftnik rankings have joined the fun, doling out the first 32 picks. On Wednesday, Russ Lande of The Sporting News' War Room posted his latest mock; yesterday, Dan Shonka at Ourlads authored his first mock of the year. Some highlights from their respective mocks:
Lande's mock looks the least like any of the others we have seen. He has some peculiar names at the top half of the round: Pitt defensive end Jabaal Sheard goes seventh to the 49ers; with the next pick, Tennessee drafts Illinois DT Corey Liuget; Anthony Castonzo is the first tackle off the board, going at # 13 to Detroit. Moreover, he has consensus top-tier picks Marcel Darius, Tyron Smith and Cameron Jordan--all of whom have been repeatedly assigned to Dallas at #9--going in the second third of the round, at 18-20, respectively.
Who benefits the most from Lande's distinctive (some might say cataract-ridden) eye for talent? For my money, its our beloved Cowboys; at number nine, he assigns them LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson. I think everybody in Cowboy land would be doing triple flips if Peterson fell to the ninth spot--or, for that matter, fell far enough for Dallas to engineer a trade up to get him, as they did with Dez Bryant last year. As peculiar as it sounds, nobody believed this time last year that Bryant could possibly fall into the mid-20s. So, because you never know what's going to happen, we should probably take a look at what Lande says about Peterson:
Overall, Peterson is an elite athlete who is going to be an impact returner right away in the NFL, but he is going to have to improve a lot if he is ever going to become a good starting cornerback. In the end, I have a bad feeling that Peterson is always going to struggle with consistency in pass coverage and will end up being a backup cornerback who makes his biggest contribution as a returner. Despite my concern about if he will ever develop, he does have elite physical talent which is why he is worth taking a gamble on in the second round despite not producing at that level as LSU.
Lande's concern about Peterson's level of polish both explains why he's not as hot for him as other evaluators and serves as something we should consider in our discussions of the ex-Tiger.
The folks at Ourlads offer a mock with fewer surprises. As does TSN, they give MIssouri QB Blaine Gabbert to quarterback-starved Arizona at #5 and figure that Illinois' big running back, Mikel Leshoure, will find a place at the end of the first round. Their mock is not without surprises, however; Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller (who goes off the TSN board with the third pick) stays on the board until #17, and Southern Cal OT Smith waits until pick #28 to have his name called.
Who do they figure to be wearing a Dallas uniform, you ask? At number nine, the Cowboys would have the luxury of choosing from among several elite players: Cal DE Cameron, Miller, Alabama DT Darius, or Colorado OT Nate Solder. Shonka and Co. decide on Solder. Unfortunately, they present no rationale for the pick, nor do they offer any scouting analysis of these players (for that you'll have to buy their guide; mine is on the way). But, I'd guess that they feel that OL is the most pressing need and/ or that there will be 3-4 defensive linemen available in subsequent rounds.
Now that decent selection of reputable mocks have come out, various draft patterns are on the cusp of emerging. I'm going to wait a bit before I engage in any serious chart making. In the meantime, I will contentedly contemplate the outstanding prospects that are being thrown our way.