A 2011 NFL mock draft can be as good or as bad as what the mock drafter decides to put into it. Generally, I think the web's awash in garbage mock drafts, usually ripped off from some other mock draft. Recently, I joined Will from Rams Herd, Tyson from Pro Football Focus and Tim S (who'll be contributing some to the front page at TST) to game out the St. Louis Rams' approach in a very thorough 2011 mock draft, mysteriously title "Mock Three."
Though I think it had far more trades than can be realistically expected (we tried to make a trade ourselves), it's handled in a solid, logical manner...and at least it's something different. We're through three rounds. So far, the Rams have addressed some key needs and arguably have been able to take some of the best players on the board. Let's review.
Round One: #14, Illinois DT Corey Liuget
Yes, this pick will be panned for the very reason it's considered the "safe" pick, but it was also probably the best one we could have made. It looked like Da'Quan Bowers might slip, but Detroit nabbed him at #13. Beyond that, the possibilities included RB Mark Ingram, DE Ryan Kerrigan or DT Muhammad Wilkerson. It should be pretty obvious why we didn't go for Ingram. The general feeling about Kerrigan was that didn't offer enough complement to Chris Long, and Wilkerson's a little more raw than Liuget, who is generally viewed as the better 3-technique DT at this point.
Rounds two and three below the fold.
Round Two: #47, Illinois RB Mikel Leshoure
Another mock draft with the all-Illini top two. To me, he was absolutely the best player available. Wide receivers like Hankerson and Torrey Smith were still on the board, but they just, for some reason or another, seem to upgrade the Rams receivers in the way that the group needs upgrading. There were a couple other players on the board at this point worth of some consideration. UNC linebacker Bruce Carter possesses the raw talent to answer the Rams' big need on the weakside. I don't know what kind of difference he would have made this year, and some will argue about the relative value of drafting 4-3 OLBs this high. Had the Rams not picked Liuget in the first, Stephen Paea would have to get strong consideration, probably over Leshoure. Some pundits think OL Ben Ijalana is one of the best linemen in this draft class. Marcus Cannon was available too.
Round Three: #78, Wisconsin OG John Moffitt
Wisconsin's offensive line was an absolute wall, no, iron curtain this year...and I mean the mean and nasty, shot from a tower, chased by dogs kind of iron curtain. The offensive line up there is kind of like linebackers from Penn State. I was lobbying pretty hard for North Carolina WR Greg Little, but he got snapped up at #75. Both DeMarco Murray and Kendall Hunter were on the board at this point. North Carolina LB Quan Sturdivant, picked right after Moffitt, was another possibility.
Through three rounds, three big needs addressed. I also like the ability of these players to make instant contributions to the Rams in 2011. Round four should get underway later tonight or tomorrow, and the Rams still have needs at WR, OLB and S to think about before the draft ends.