Projecting the outcome of the NFL draft is not an exact science. In fact, its difficulty to predict is what makes mock drafts so enjoyable. There are endless possibilities, and it seems that no one ever gets it exactly right.
Often, the most shocking picks come from the teams drafting at the top of the round. These teams are typically either short on overall talent, or possibly they're just missing a key piece—such as a quarterback.
Whatever the case is, these teams are much more inclined to take risks that no one will see coming. Here's my best shot at predicting what those bold moves will be come draft day.
Washington will trade up to the second overall pick to select Baylor's Robert Griffin III. This pick makes sense for a variety of reasons.
First off, I don't believe Peyton Manning will be heading to Washington. He doesn't instantly make them a contender if he does head there, as his heart will always be in Indianapolis. I'd be willing to bet that he restructures his deal with the Colts and tries to make it work with Jim Irsay.
The Rams—original owners of the second pick—are in an awkward position; they desperately need an elite receiver for their franchise quarterback, Sam Bradford, but taking him at the two spot would be a bit of a reach. Not that Blackmon lacks for talent, but in today's NFL, he is not a top five value pick. They could very easily land him at pick six and have whatever other goodies the Redskins throw in to sweeten the deal.
So, there stands Washington, with arguably the worst quarterback situation in the NFL and an obvious trading partner waiting for Dan Snyder's call. They have a knack for making big, attention-grabbing moves, and this would be the biggest since the Albert Haynesworth signing a few years back.
Minnesota won't be fully expecting Blackmon to hang around to the three spot with the receiver-depleted Rams slated to pick ahead of them, but the trade with Washington has shaken things up a bit and the Vikings decide to continue on the trend of unforeseen moves.
The likely option seems to be Matt Kalil, a well balanced and sizable offensive tackle from USC who appears ready to take over a starting left tackle position from Day 1—and we all know how valuable that is, especially with a young quarterback at the helm.
However, the Vikings have absolutely no receiving threats outside of Percy Harvin who is inconsistent, and at 5'11", he's not the possession-type receiver that Christian Ponder needs. Blackmon is a playmaker in his own right and would immediately make the Vikings' offense more balanced.
I have the inclination that Minnesota would want to take a chance on a potential superstar like this Oklahoma State wideout.
St. Louis cringes at the Vikings' pick of Justin Blackmon and elects to trade down again, looking for the right opportunity to snag either Notre Dame's Michael Floyd or South Carolina's Alshon Jeffrey.
The Rams look long and hard for a trading partner for the sixth pick before finding the Cowboys, who are drooling over Morris Claiborne, who is somehow still on the board. With the 14th pick, the Cowboys afford the Rams the opportunity to make a better value pick on Michael Floyd as well as pick up a few additional picks to add some depth to their roster.
Dallas is in need of a huge talent upgrade in its secondary, and the Cowboys aren't going to find it if they wait until pick 14, making them much more willing to strike a deal with the Rams. This helps both teams, as the Rams aren't forced to make a reach pick, and the Cowboys get possibly the most valuable player to their team of all incoming rookies.
Not only does Brock Osweiler have a great football name, but also he has a great football skill set as well, and people are beginning to notice.
The Arizona State quarterback has been rising up draft boards ever since he made the shocking decision to enter in 2012. Osweiler is a natural passer who has the upside to be a great quarterback, not just a game manager—something that the 'Fins currently have in Matt Moore.
He's well-rounded in all facets, and I wouldn't be surprised if he ended up being one of three Hall of Fame quarterbacks out of this class of quarterbacks. That may be high praise, but I honestly feel the ceiling is that high for the 6'7" Osweiler.
Vontaze Burfict is one of the most controversial players in the draft, but I see the Chiefs bypassing some minor character concerns when they delve further into his film and see the player he can become with some coaching and leadership, courtesy of one Romeo Crennel.
Burfict is arguably the only capable three-down linebacker worth taking in the top half of the first round—Luke Kuechly from Boston College has his limitations. He's a violent hitter who takes on blockers or running backs with great power.
The concern with Burfict is that he can not be relied on to avoid mental mistakes, and he occasionally gets lost in his own world, which you cannot do in the NFL. He'll need to show he can focus on a play-to-play basis and build on a body of work that makes me a big believer in an inside linebacker that has rare explosiveness.