Once the NFL regular season concludes, and the calendar flips over to a new year, my attention starts to focus on the upcoming NFL draft.
From January to April 26, my daily routine is to watch whatever shows are available on the NFL Network that will provide additional insight for this column. That includes practices for the East-West Shrine Bowl, practices for the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combines workouts. It includes recording every Path to the Draft show on NFL Network, and watching as many college bowl games as was possible.
Extra attention is paid to everything that NFL draft expert Mike Mayock (pictured) says, as I have come to respect his opinion very much. Other opinions that are valued here include Michael Lombardi at NFL Network and Chris Brown from Buffalo Bills.com. We check out Buffalo Bills.com on a daily basis.
For another opinion or outlook, I watch all of the relevant shows over at ESPN as well. Maybe this is overkill or the waters have become too muddied when it is all said and done, but I would like to think by absorbing as much popular public opinion, combined with reading up on articles from Pro Football Talk, NFL Network, ESPN Insider, National Football Post, etc., that we are operating from a position of a strong knowledge base.
But as much as there is a part of us all that would like to play the role of general manager for our favorite team, (myself included), there is only so much we can control at the draft itself. Months of scouting and preparation can be thrown out the window when that player you really wanted to draft is taken with the pick right before you are on the clock.
Teams trading up or teams trading down can throw the whole projected order of players coming off of the big board out of whack. So, you conduct your due diligence, have faith in your scouts and coaches and rely on where you have graded your players and draft according to what your big board tells you to do.
If you disagree with my picks, no problem here, as it is a mock draft after all. So many variables can throw a monkey wrench into our picks and even though we did our homework for the 2010 and 2011 versions of this, I look back at what I previously wrote and ask, what was I thinking?
We can tell you that this was done with the knowledge that the Bills have acquired Mario Williams and Mark Anderson to shore up the defensive line and improve the pass rush. The Bills have brought back Terrence McGee with a re-worked deal, and signed Steve Johnson, Rian Lindell, Kirk Morrison, Tashard Choice, Derek Hagan and Scott Chandler. The Bills have lost Demetress Bell to Philadelphia and Roscoe Parrish to San Diego.These moves no doubt will have an impact on the Bills draft plans.
Okay, so with all of that now out of the way, let's proceed to the mock draft.