The combine's over. And with it, so is the opportunity to see wild swings in prospect evaluation.
Oh, some O-lineman ran a great 40? HELLO STOCK ASPLOSION. A cornerback didn't bench 225 pounds as many times as his peers? Gittimoffadafeeldcoach.
It's part of the allure of the combine, best summed up by the most memorable image of the 2013 NFL Combine:
Te'o was a top tier recruit, made immediate impacts on the field in his freshman campaign and in his 3-year career helped resurrect a faltering Notre Dame program bringing them to the National Championship.
The combine has a way of putting all that in the waste bin if can't run incredibly fast even if your position doesn't require it. Eyeballs and such.
What are we left with? A few spheres of conventional wisdom. Despite the looming specter of trades and the near certainty that there will be the whackadoomagooglemynoodle™ picks that shock and confound (that those fan bases will ultimately warm themselves up to ), the groupthink that settles in during this period is tough to shake.
If you mock something unique and you run the risk of being called out for being unknowledgeable, lacking seriousness or (worst of all, GASP!) a pageview whore. So despite the integrity of so many pundits behind the mock drafts that circulate the internet from January to April, it's right around now when the consensus starts to solidify.
Consider the following mock drafts:
- Todd McShay, ESPN (March 6th)
- Pat Kirwan, CBS Sports (March 5th)
- Charles Davis, NFL.com (March 5th)
- Rob Rang, CBS Sports (March 4th)
- Dane Brugler, CBS Sports (March 4th)
- Bucky Brooks, NFL.com (March 4th)
- Matthew Fairburn, SBNation.com (March 4th)
- Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com (March 1st)
So that's eight mock drafts containing 16 picks by the Rams. Let's breakdown the selections by name:
|16||Kenny Vaccaro x 2, Keenan Allen, Tavon Austin, Jonathan Cooper, D.J. Fluker, Lane Johnson, Chance Warmack|
|22||Tavon Austin x 3, Keenan Allen x 2, Eric Reid, Kenny Vaccaro, Menelik Watson|
All names we've seen mocked to the Rams plenty of times. And while there's some variance in the names, here's the groupthink effect:
|16||WR x 2, OT x 2, OG x 2, S x 2|
|22||WR x 5, S x 2, OT x 1|
Given that there are 16 picks here, that's not much variance. Nearly half the 16 go toward a WR, more than a quarter toward O-lineman and a quarter mock a safety. Obviously for a needs perspective, that makes sense.
But the NFL Draft tends to not make sense the majority of the time.
I'm not suggesting the Rams two first round picks aren't among that group, or even more likely, among those positions. But with a month and a half to go until the Kansas City Chiefs are on the clock to open the 2013 NFL Draft, it's worth grabbing that grain of salt with which to take everything (sentence construction!).
So if you see something unusual, don't immediately break out the knives and chains and whips and...well, I don't know why you'd be that angry just by reading a mock draft, but don't do it anyway. Trying to predict the unpredictable is an exercise in futility, but an effort that, when defensible, deserves scrutiny.
That being said, Geno Smith at 22 is still a step too far.