Friday, January 23, 2009

An early look at the draft

Don Banks released his first mock draft, a bit before he typically does. The week of the Senior Bowl and before the Superbowl hype really picks up, it’s a good time to start thinking through this stuff.

I think the thing that’s striking to me about this year is that there really isn’t what I see as any sort of consensus as to who the top picks should be. We’ve seen some confusion at the very top before, as late as last year. Who would the Dolphins take (before they signed Long)? Would someone (Baltimore) trade up to get Matt Ryan? Would the Raiders bite on McFadden?

There were questions about where some of those guys would go, but the top five was pretty well established as clear top five picks. You can actually see this in Banks’ first crack at the draft last year, which he waited till early Feb to release. Note that three of top four picks were dead on, and all five of the top five were projected as such.

This year, though, there seems to be much more ambiguity at the top of the draft. I think this is a function of a few things. First, there’s no marquee quarterback. Stafford lucks out that Bradford sticks around for another year. But even Stafford has significant questions. We all remember the last time the top of the draft was QB empty with no true top flight talent, right? Alex Smith busted hard as the #1 overall pick, and Aaron Rodgers fell into the mid-twenties. Stafford may still go top five, but would it be at all surprising if he fell a bit? The exact same thing could be said of Mark Sanchez.

The second is that there is significant talent on the OL, but no one stands out as clearly the top. There are three that could all cement themselves at the top of the position with a strong showing at the combine or even Senior Bowl. But no one’s jumping out right now.

Third is the tremendous talent spread across the defense at key positions, and the fact that many of the teams picking at the top need significant help at a variety of defensive positions.

I actually think Michael Crabtree – barring a massive disappointment in his workouts (guessing he will not even bother with the combine) – is the only one that looks to be locked into his slot. Banks is correct when he says “The perfect marriage of need and draft slot, the receiver-starved Seahawks should find Crabtree waiting.” Is Detroit going to take their fourth WR in the last six years? The Rams have many greater needs, and Holt still anchors their flankers. And the same could be said of the Chiefs, with Bowe. Barring a big move to the top (which is certainly possible), I don’t see Crabtree anywhere but Seattle next year. But the rest of the top five and even top ten, I expect there will be a significant amount of shifting between now and late April. There always is, but my guess is there will be even more than we’ve seen in the past, as the talent just looks interchangeable most of the way through the first round.

1 comment:

  1. Banks' mock is much more realistic than Kiper's. Kiper had Stafford #1 overall (not going to happen) and Sanchez #3 to Kansas City (not going to happen). His drafts almost seem random.

    There is not reason to expect Detroit to waste their top overall pick on a marginal first round QB when they are likely to pick top ten again next year when the class is expected to be much stronger. Likewise Kansas City. Does anyone really expect Pioli to invest the #3 pick in a player who has 'bust' written all over him (16 college starts)?

    Other oddities in Kiper's mock is Orakpo out of the top ten, Beanie Wells as the second running back and Rey Malauga slipping to 20. One of those things might happen, maybe.


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