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Senior Bowl shifts 2018 NFL Mock Draft landscape for top 10

With the premier game now behind us, it’s full speed ahead to the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine. Let’s mock!

Oklahoma Sooners QB Baker Mayfield during the 2018 Senior Bowl
Oklahoma Sooners QB Baker Mayfield during the 2018 Senior Bowl
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The Senior Bowl came and went this weekend, and now we’re in full Super Bowl mode this week. But while the 2017 season comes to a close on Sunday, 30 teams’ seasons have been over for a while now and that means looking ahead to the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine, free agency and the 2018 NFL Draft.

So on Mondays, that means mocks. And Mocking the Draft’s Dan Kadar is always here to hook us up. So starting with his mock today, I think there are three keys to mocks that I’m going to try to point out that will affect the Los Angeles Rams’ selection at 23.

The top...whatever

Is it the top 5? The top 10? The top 7?

I dunno where the threshold is in this year’s draft yet. In Kadar’s mock, I think it’s a top 6: USC QB Sam Darnold, UCLA QB Josh Rosen, North Carolina St. DE Bradley Chubb, Penn St. RB Saquon Barkley, Notre Dame G Quenton Nelson and Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield. If that holds through the pre-combine period, I’d feel comfortable that that represents the top tier of the draft prospect pool.

But it’s something that will certainly solidify leading into April that’s worth recognizing if only because it will set up the labor pool of what will come thereafter.

The QBs

This year’s QB class is the main draw. Yes, Darnold and Rosen are the front-runners in general and here specifically going 1st and 2nd overall, respectively. Kadar also has Mayfield at #6, Louisville QB Lamar Jackson at #13 and Wyoming QB Josh Allen at #15. We’ve also seen mocks that include Oklahoma St. QB Mason Rudolph in the 1st round.

Obviously for the Rams, the more the merrier. We’re set with QB Jared Goff, so the more QBs that get drafted, the more non-QBs that will be available at 23. Or put another way, some of the teams we’re seeing mocked to QBs in the top 22 might pick a cornerback or other coveted prospect for the Rams should they not take one of the QBs listed above.

We’ll have to see if the stock for all of those QBs holds through the combine.

Cornering the cornerbacks

As we’ve seen from the majority of mocks, the conventional wisdom has the Rams taking a cornerback with the 23rd pick. So it will be very interesting to see how the cornerback class is evaluated over the next few months.

To the Rams alone, we’ve seen the following corners mocked: Colorado CB Isaiah Oliver, Iowa CB Josh Jackson, Auburn CB Carlton Davis, Louisville CB Jaire Alexander and Ohio St. CB Denzel Ward. I’ve also seen a lot of positive evaluation for San Diego St. CB Kameron Kelly, Texas CB Holton Hill, North Carolina CB M.J. Stewart and Alabama CB Anthony Averett.

Which leads me to Kadar’s pick for the Rams:

23. Los Angeles Rams: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio St.

Ward is arguably the best cornerback in the draft, but he could slip a little bit if he measures shorter than the 5’11 he was listed at Ohio State. If so, that’s good for the Rams. Ward has speed and can play in the slot or outside.

For reference, Kadar has Jackson going 9th overall and UCF CB Mike Hughes going at #31.

We’re a month out from the combine. A week from now when we get our next Monday mock, we’ll know who the champions were for the 2017 season.

The offseason is nearly upon us in full...