So, my 2011 mocks are now underway. No doubt, every pick will manifest itself as reality 11 months from now. Seriously. This is a true statement. Fuh real. Can cutta (Louisiana speak - we won't go there since I'd probably be the only translator).
Yeah, things look a certain way in the summer and after a season of play, extra assessment and some wackiness off the field, things change. How much? For some, not so much, but for others, a hell of a lot. Let's look at my first mock and investigate what I missed ; in part 2, we'll see if we can draw some analogies to my 2011 version. Is the first pick and jump intro getting too formulaic? It depends on what your definition of "is" is...
3k's 2010 mock draft from May 2, 2009
1.) Oakland Raiders (1-15) - Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma St.
Immediately, part of the problem jumps out - the order messes everything up. Oakland won five games and picked 8th; I think that gives me license to blame Al Davis for everything that follows.
Because I try to both assess and predict needs for each time come the next draft, certain players get pushed up and others get pushed back. Still, in terms of value, this was a hit. Eventually, this would morph into the Bruce Campbell pick which did happen...in the 4th round.
Jump back in time with me...oh damn. Almost forgot the jams. How about the instrumental from Over by Drake. Great production (warning: the hook has profanity, so if you are offended by such language, put on something more your style).
2.) Seattle Seahawks (2-14) - Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
This was pretty damn close. Seattle picked 6th (and took Okung) and Bradford went first. Seattle also only won 5 games. Not bad early mockery.
3.) Detroit Lions (2-14) - C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson
Again, not bad. Detroit did win 2, but picked second (Suhperbly disappointed); Spiller went 9th to the Bills. I'm looking good. This is so easy! I can see the future...
4.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-14) - Arrelious Benn, WR, Illinois
Kinda sorta? Benn actually went 39th overall (7th pick in the 2nd round) to the Bucs, so I guess that counts as the right match. Still, I thought Benn would time better this offseason. Oh well - there are worse picks coming.
5.) Cleveland Browns (3-13) - Brandon Spikes, ILB, Florida
I'm still a bit bewildered at Spikes' drop. I really think he could be a beast in the NFL, and if he does, it just adds more hatred fuel to the Patriot fire. Spikes was the 30th pick in the 2nd round (62nd overall), and the third ILB selected in the draft, just one spot ahead of Iowa's Pat Angerer. I still don't get this one. Cleveland won 5 games and took Joe Haden at #7.
6.) Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13) - Taylor Mays, S, USC
I really didn't think the Jags would do as well as they did this season (7 wins), so obviously they picked a bit deeper than 6th. They also declined to take a safety, although they pretty much hit up the rest of their defense. Mays fell to the mid-2nd to the 49ers, and brings even more power to Singletary's defense.
7.) Miami Dolphins (4-12) - Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
I had the Dolphins choosing between Suh, Gerald McCoy and Terrence Cody. Like the Jags, the Dolphins won 7 games and ended up with the 12th pick before trading it to the Chargers. By that point, only Cody was available, but the Fins opted for Jared Odrick instead. Ah, trades. You make my mocks impossible.
8.) Seattle Seahawks (via Denver; 4-12) - Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Georgia Tech
I guess this counts as my first big miss. I still like Dwyer even though he dropped all the way to the 6th round as the 11th RB taken. What happened? Really, it's just about speed. Dwyer is a classic power runner without much top-end speed. I still think, if you know that's what you're getting, he can be very valuable.
9.) San Francisco 49ers (4-12) - Colt McCoy, QB, Texas
Hehehe. You can chuck this one away. San Francisco doubled the four games I thought they'd win, and Colt as we all know dropped into the third. I did say in the mock, "In Colt, I see Chris Simms v2.0," so maybe he was drafted at value. The Niners didn't take a QB this draft, opting
10.) St. Louis Rams (6-10) - Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma St.
Oh, homerism, how you destory my integrity. Yes, I predicted a half dozen wins and we got, uh, one-twelfth of a dozen. Yes, I predicted Dez would go this high, and he dropped to the back end of the first round as the second WR off the board. I could've done worse, but damn, I had some serious expectations for the Rams...
11.) Kansas City Chiefs (6-10) - Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma
The Chiefs finished with just four wins and took Eric Berry (who I had two spots after this). Gresham went 21st to the Bengals. Not too far off.
12.) New York Jets (6-10) - Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida
This counts as a miss on all fronts. The Jets finished 9-7, and didn't even take a DE. Dunlap went late 2nd round to the Bengals. Still, I think the hype was here and built to the point some were calling for the Rams to take him with our pick early in the season. Change is good.
13.) Cincinnati Bengals (7-9) - Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
So I was a little deep on Berry even though he was #2 on my big board (I actually had Bradford there pre-season). I just didn't think someone would pull the trigger on a safety. As it was, the Chiefs pulled that trigger at #5 - good call IMO. Cincy opted not to take a safety in the draft, so I missed on that front.
14.) Washington Redskins (7-9) - Rolando McClain, ILB, Alabama
Well, the Redskins decided to roll the dice another year and opted to not draft a MLB. Should be interesting (that's being nice). The McClain pick was relatively easy; he's a hell of a talent.
15.) Buffalo Bills (7-9) - Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa
Oh so close. Buffalo won 6 games, not 7, and Bulaga went 23rd to the Pack. They waited until the 5th round to take a tackle, and have taken plenty of criticism for their draft.
16.) Denver Broncos (via Chicago; 8-8) - Terrence Cody, DT, Alabama
So I missed Denver's draft day wackiness. Who didn't? At least I mocked Chicago's record accurately (8 wins predicted, 7 wins in reality). As for Cody, I thought all the way through draft day he would be a first round pick. Instead, he slipped all the way down to Baltimore near the end of the second.
17.) Green Bay Packers (9-7) - Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma
Almost. The Pack won 11 games, but still took an OT - Bulaga. Nod bad mockery.
18.) Tennessee Titans (10-6) - Everson Griffen, DE, USC
Wrong on record, right on position, wrong on prospect. .333 is a hell of a batting average...
19.) New York Giants (10-6) - Sergio Kindle, OLB, Texas
Does the right idea count? The Giants looked to upgrade their pass rush at the DE spot instead of at OLB with Jason Pierre-Paul. Kindle, like Cody, fell deeper to the Ravens.
20.) Dallas Cowboys (10-6) - Trevard Lindley, CB, Kentucky
The popular miss. Lindley was supposed to be the speedster of the corner class, a quick, fluid, agile back who could play man up and threw his frame around in the run game despite being a bit underweight. Joe Haden took his place and some - Lindley dropped all the way into the 4th round to the Eagles. As for the Cowboys, they addressed CB in that fourth round with a small school prospect, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (who I kinda wish we had landed just to hear Van try to say his name). Another example of the CW being off. It's hard to shake because it's right the large majority of the time (see about 17 of the above picks).
21.) Minnesota Vikings (9-7) - Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
Minnesota outperformed by prediction by more than the 3-win difference suggests. Gerald McCoy outperformed my predictions in 2009. I'm glad I underestimated them both, because I wouldn't want the Vikings to get a talent like McCoy.
Lewis went back to Norman in 2009 as one of the unheralded returnees (overshadowed by Bradford, G. McCoy & Gresham). His return this time wasn't nearly as unappreciated. Now a redshirt junior, Lewis is one of the best OLBs in football. He's 6th on MTD's big board and I've got him going 32nd to the Vikings in my first 2011 mock. His name will be brought up throughout the season. Instead of Lewis, the Falcons ended up with Sean Weatherspoon. I doubt they'll be too upset.
23.) San Francisco 49ers (via Carolina; 11-5) - Adam Ulatoski, OT, Texas
One of the biggest busts of the 2009 season, Ulatoski went from being a coveted OT prospect to an undrafted pickup by the Houston Texans. What happened? He wasn't even the same prospect from 2008. He looked slower, and his body didn't fill out proportionally (in other words, he put fat on up top, but not enough overall bulk muscle. Being that top heavy is not a good thing). He's got a shot at making the Texans' roster, but I'm not holding my breath. Another CW pick gone awry. The Niners made out fine with Anthony Davis instead.
24.) New Orleans Saints (12-4) - Brandon LaFell, WR, LSU
LaFell had a pretty weak season, and was overshadowed by Terrance Toliver IMO. He ended up falling to the 3rd round. The Saints went after a TE (ex-Miami Hurricane Jimmy Graham) instead of a TE. Not my best mock. I forgot I was this high on the Saints overall - Louisiana homerism?
25.) New England Patriots (12-4) - Mark Herzlich, OLB, Boston College
Herzlich is still in good prospect standing (I've got him at #63 overall in for the '11 draft) after missing the 2009 season to fight off bone cancer. I don't care if he turns out to be a bust or a HoFer - this is a man worth following. The Pats took Florida's Jermaine Cunningham who will likely transition from DE to OLB.
26.) Baltimore Ravens (12-4) - Lawrence Marsh, DE, Florida
I thought Marsh would come out and make a good 3-4 for the Ravens - he still might in 2011 if the Ravens are looking to fill their front 3 with pure youth (the Ravens took NT Terrence Cody and DT/DE Arthur Jones). With so much defensive talent gone (and a new co-DC in Teryl Austin whose name you might recognize from his time with the Seahawks and Cardinals), there's a lot of uncertainty for Marsh to deal with at Florida.
27.) Indianapolis Colts (12-4) - Greg Hardy, DE, Ole Miss
Hardy's off-field transgressions really came back to bite him in the ass, falling all the way to the 6th round. Sure, Panther fans are excited to get that much talent out of a 6th round pick, but he's likely bringing more than that with him. Indy ended up winning the AFC Championship, so they picked a bit later (taking Jerry Hughes). Not taking a pure DE, I could see the Colts going that route in the 2011 draft. I just don't see them hanging on to Freeney and Robert Mathis too much longer.
28.) Houston Texans (12-4) - Ciron Black, OT, LSU
Yikes. Houston went 9-7, and Black, well, read this and you'll see how he went from a top OT prospect to possibly not playing football despite being signed by the Steelers. The Texans ended up getting a lot out of Duane Brown this season. Along with Eric Winston, they should be alright at tackle for a while.
29.) Arizona Cardinals (13-3) - Sam Young, OT, Notre Dame
Young played out a really weak season in South Bend and dropped all the way into the 6th round - he's now in Dallas with Alex Barron. I'm confused as to what Jerry is going to do with his O-line when Romo has his spleen halved. As for 'Zona, they picked a tackle in the 1st...a defensive tackle. I still question their LT spot, but if Leinart holds down the starting job, LT isn't as big as RT since he's a lefty.
30.) Pittsburgh Steelers (14-2) - Damian Williams, WR, USC
D-Will ended up falling to the Titans in the 3rd and was viewed as one of the best value picks on day 2. I suspect the Steelers would have picked him at #82, but after Williams went at #77, they picked Emmanuel Sanders out of SMU. They're going to need a top WR soon - Holmes is gone, Hines is old, and Limas Sweed is, well, no.
31.) San Diego Chargers (14-2) - Dominique Johnson, WR, UCLA
Ah, life. You are not a predictable thing, my friend. 'Nique ended up transferring to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo because of "family issues." Who knows, small schools are making some solid players these days - he could be next. The Chargers never grabbed a WR - they better hope Vincent Jackson doesn't bolt on the Bolts....
32.) Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) - Navorro Bowman, OLB, Penn St.
Oh, Philly. What happened? I was sure you were Super Bowl bound. Instead, you lost to the Cowboys two weeks in a row including the wild card playoff game. Thanks. And I thought Navorro would be a good in-state SLB to help your pass rush. Instead, you went for Michigan's Brandon Graham. Why insult me? Now Navorro's on the 49ers, and if he does develop into a headhunter, the Rams have to see him twice a year. Why don't you want me to like you? Is it the whole Spagnuolo/Shurmur/ex-player thing?
So looking at the difference between the early mock and the actual results, I see a couple things that stand out:
1.) I overrated teams' willingness to go for WRs in the first. I mocked five WRs being taken in the first - only two were (Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant). I had my top two at the time, Arrelious Benn and Bryant, going 4th and 10th overall, respectively; the top two (again, Thomas & Bryant) didn't come off the board until 22nd and 24th. Is this a reflection of the class? Was it teams at the top waiting to see if they can get one of the top 2011 WR prospects? Is it a reflection of the modern trend to develop high quality receiving options from deep in the draft (Miles Austin, Marques Colston, Brandon Marshall, etc.)? Not sure, but this doesn't affect my belief that the first round next year will have some WRs at the top.
2.) The CW is hard to sift through, hence why it's CW. Guys like Okung, Bradford and Suh were high before the season, and obviously went high in the draft. But there were guys who weren't nearly as high on the CW radar that went in the top half of the first: Joe Haden (CB, Florida/Cleveland); Tyson Alualu (DT, Cal/Jacksonville); Jason Pierre-Paul (DE, S. Florida/NY Giants) just to name a few. I try to cut through the CW sometimes to make "unconventional" picks (see: Dwyer above, or Sam Acho and Nick Foles in my 2011 mock). There's so much uncertainty in trying to trying to predict the results of an NFL draft a year before it happens, and the CW provides one of the only shreds of comfort in mocking knowing that if your pick ends up being way off, you're not alone (Trevard Lindley, Ciron Black and Sam Young just to name a few).
3.) The big school trap is a tough one to shake. In my mock, I got bit by the trap on three OTs: Sam Young (Notre Dame), Ciron Black (LSU) and Adam Ulatoski (Texas). You could even suggest the trap hit me up on Brandon Spikes, Taylor Mays, Carlos Dunlap and Brandon LaFell. Granted, the big schools also turn out arguably a steady stream of top players, but it's a seductive temptation to see a very talented player from a historically good program that plays top competition year in year out and not think big of him.
Given those three things (and any other observations you guys might have), what pitfalls have I already fallen into in my 2011 mock? What positions are going to dominate the early going in 2011 besides WR...or is that even a sure thing? What surefire picks are going to fall through the gaps? Consider the problem with going against the CW - it makes you look crazy unless it happens. What if I were to mock Jake Locker in the 2nd round? Sure, nearly everyone would criticize my explanation no matter how valid it is because the CW has already established him as a top 10 prospect. And what big school prospects drew me in? Am I too high on the UNC prospects? What about Acho and Casey at 12-13?
That'll be the focus of part 2 where I wrap up my draftiness for the summer (temporarily) before retreating to a secret fortress in Salah ad Din to work on a groundbreaking TST project...holler.