Except for the first pick, the rest of the draft is a total guess. However this year is different. Because of the lack of a collective bargaining agreement in the NFL, no free agents signings or trades will be allowed. So in April, what will be seen is a strait-forward, stay in your slot draft. The only permissible trades are ones with draft picks and not players. That means only minor deals will happen, but no veterans will be dealt. That makes this draft easier to predict.
With the combine over Monday in Indianapolis and reports coming out about how most players fared, it was thought a mock draft would be interesting now. Then in April this draft can be pulled back out and used for strictly experimental purposes only.
Let’s look at the top 8 picks, starting at number 8. With that pick is the Tennessee Titans. New Coach Mike Munchak might want to look for a stud offensive lineman, but the best player in the draft may slip to this spot. Patrick Peterson, corner out of LSU.
Number 7 is San Francisco and their immediate need is quarterback, however the labor situation won’t allow them to grab one yet. Jim Harbaugh will want a pro type player to be his first pick with the Niners. None better than Nick Saban coached Marcel Dareus, a defensive end out of Alabama.
Cleveland holds the number 6 pick and switching to a 4-3 defense means they needs defensive lineman. Attitude could be a problem and that is the reason Nick Fairley of Auburn, a defensive tackle, slips to the 6th spot. But it’s a need the Browns have and they fill it.
Quarterback, Quarterback, Quarterback is what the Arizona Cardinals with the 5th pick are screaming. They will go out and grad a veteran as soon as they can, but they also want a youngster they can develop. That will be Blaine Gabbert out of Missouri.
Will they have Carson Palmer or not? The Cincinnati Bengals could go in several directions, most of them hinge upon whether they will cave in to Palmer’s demands to be traded. If not, they will select A.J. Green out of Georgia. Green could be the number one pick overall.
Buffalo has the third pick and without any doubt Chan Gailey will go with Cam Newton of Auburn. He didn’t show up well at the combine but still is to intriguing for the Bills to pass up.
Denver’s John Fox wants a tried and true veteran to anchor his defense for years to come. Yes the Broncos were poor on defense and have a definite need at Linebacker. Look for them to go with Von Miller, a senior out of Texas A & M. Miller could be the quietest pick on the board, but the one who will make the most noise.
Finally at number one is the Carolina Panthers. They could go quarterback or defense. Had Newton lit up the combine, he was the pick. But Ron Rivera is a defensive minded coach and he wants a dominant player on the line. DeQuan Bowers is also a local player (Clemson) that can generate ticket sales. Bowers, the defensive end goes to the Panthers with the number one pick.
All these picks could move up or down, depending upon several variables. Any could be the top pick. April is still in the horizon.