The NFL draft is getting closer, but exactly what may happen when it starts is not getting any clearer. While a couple of things may be pretty well known (like the first two picks), everything from then on is open to many possibilities.
One of the latest things to emerge, seemingly out of nowhere, is the buzz around the interwebs that Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots have suddenly seized on Mark Barron as a first round draft target. This could result in a trade up by the Pats to get ahead of the Dallas Cowboys, since Barron is increasingly seen as someone the Cowboys have on their short list of possibilities at the number 14 spot.
The likely initial reaction for Dallas fans to that news is to feel perturbed, pondering the possibility of a popular prospect being poached by perfidious Patriots. But on second thought, and after vowing never to write a sentence like that again, there is a possible benefit for the Cowboys. It all hinges on whether Barron is actually on the list of the fourteen best players available in the draft. If he is not, then Belichick is just doing us a favor.
And when I have a thought like that, I always start wondering just what else might happen. It is possible on draft day that the Cowboys may wind up with one of the players just below the top ten. It is not inconceivable that a true top ten talent (OK, I'll stop) could fall into our range.
After the jump, a nice chart to illustrate what I mean.
I have been writing posts about averaging different mock drafts and big boards. One of the things that stood out is how differently the two approaches can see a given player. I have built a table that puts the average big board ranking, using six different boards, alongside the draft position I came up with using twenty-four mocks.
|Position||Big Board average||Mock Draft average|
|1||Andrew Luck QB Stanford||Andrew Luck QB Stanford|
|2||QB Baylor||Robert Griffin III QB Baylor|
|3||Matt Kalil OT USC||Matt Kalil OT USC|
|4||Morris Claiborne CB LSU||Trent Richardson RB Alabama|
|5||Trent Richardson RB Alabama||Morris Claiborne CB LSU|
|6||Justin Blackmon WR Ok. St.||Justin Blackmon WR Ok. St.|
|7||David DeCastro G Stanford||Ryan Tannehill QB Texas A&M|
|8||Luke Kuechly ILB Boston C.||Melvin Ingram OLB SC|
|9||Quinton Coples DE NC||Riley Reiff T Iowa|
|10||Fletcher Cox DT Miss. St.||Quinton Coples DE NC|
|11||Melvin Ingram OLB SC||Michael Floyd WR ND|
|12||Riley Reiff T Iowa||Fletcher Cox DT Miss. St.|
|13||Michael Floyd WR ND||Luke Kuechly ILB Boston C.|
|14||Michael Brockers DT LSU||David DeCastro G Stanford|
|15||Courtney Upshaw OLB Ala.||Dontari Poe DT Memphis|
|16||Mark Barron FS Alabama||Mark Barron FS Alabama|
|17||Dre Kirkpatrick CB Alabama||Michael Brockers DT LSU|
|18||Dontari Poe DT Memphis||Courtney Upshaw OLB Ala.|
|19||Stephon Gilmore CB SC||Stephon Gilmore CB SC|
|20||Cordy Glenn G Georgia||Cordy Glenn G Georgia|
|21||Whitney Mercilus DE/OLB Ill.||Whitney Mercilus DE/OLB Ill.|
|22||Johnathan Martin T Stanford||Nick Perry DE USC|
|23||Kendall Wright WR Baylor||Dre Kirkpatrick CB Alabama|
|24||Nick Perry DE USC||Johnathan Martin T Stanford|
|25||Ryan Tannehill QB Texas A&M||Mike Adams T Ohio St|
|26||Dont'a Hightower ILB Alabama||Devon Still DT PSU|
|27||Devon Still DT PSU||Andre Branch DE Clemson|
|28||Coby Fleener TE Stanford||Peter Konz C Wisconsin|
|29||Janoris Jenkins CB N. Ala.||Janoris Jenkins CB N. Ala.|
|30||Andre Branch DE Clemson||Dont'a Hightower ILB Alabama|
|31||Mike Adams T Ohio St||Kendall Wright WR Baylor|
|32||Peter Konz C Wisconsin||Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse|
The boards are intended to rank the players strictly on the value their talent brings, without considering the needs of the teams. It is, as I pointed out in my first post averaging boards, a pure BPA gauge. The mocks, however, try to take the needs of the teams into account, along with at least a certain attempt by the author of each to anticipate what each team is going to do. This brings a bit of role play into the situation, because different teams certainly use different approaches to the draft.
The poster child for the difference in how these two sources look at players is Ryan Tannehill, the third ranked quarterback in this year's class. The boards generally consider him to be a later first round choice, but the mocks almost all consider him to be a lock to go in the top ten picks, most likely to the Miami Dolphins.
That is strictly to the Cowboys' advantage. A lower round talent going ahead of the team just pushes one more good player down to where Dallas sits in the draft.
Mark Barron is an interesting case. At the moment, he is seen by both boards to be at 16, but he is definitely moving up, and if the Patriots pull off a trade just to take him, it will be one more name pushed down.
If the consensus big board I derived is similar to the Cowboys', I think there are six players, highlighted in blue here, that the team is going to be looking at as possible options at 14. Five are defensive players, and I have also included, who is seen as a blue chipper, or the next player after that group, in this board. He is still shown as the fourteenth choice on the consensus mock, right at Dallas' position. The traditional prejudice against guards is still assumed to be in play here, but this may not hold true this year, as he has steadily climbed the big boards.
I think those six names give Dallas some good options for their first round pick. And with the uncertainty about just what the teams in the seven or eight slots ahead of the Cowboys will actually do (and who might really be in those slots, given possible trades), any or perhaps most of them may be there. So who is the one you would most want to see when they go on the clock?