While we won't be treated to Dallas Morning News' Rick Gosselin's mock draft this year—the perennial Rosetta stone to deciphering the first round of the draft—we will still get final mocks from very connected people like The Sideline View's Adam Caplan.
His second mock, released this morning, contains some clues as to what will happen Thursday night:
3. Minnesota: Matt Kalil Offensive Tackle | Southern California
Analysis: This pick could go either way (Kalil or Claiborne), but Vikings have one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. And after making Christian Ponder their franchise QB last year (or at least they hope so), they must do a better job of protecting him.
Other Possibilities: The Vikings must significantly address the secondary if they want to compete at a high level vs. the better passing games in the NFL, so Morris Claiborne has to be a strong consideration here. I’m not buying the Justin Blackmon talk here.
Don’t be surprised if they wind up trading this pick to the Buccaneers. And even if they wind up doing so, they could still take Kalil or possibly Claiborne at #5.
My Take: Of all of the Vikings trade rumors, this one makes the most sense, because they still get one of their prime targets, assuming Trent Richardson goes third or fourth.
GM Rick Spielman would still be asking for the moon, or at least the mineral rights to the moon, so I don't expect it to happen, but it is interesting to imagine.
10. Buffalo: Dre' Kirkpatrick Cornerback | Alabama
Analysis: I checked with a high-level personnel source on Kirkpatrick who said the defensive back’s off-the-field issues were overblown. The Bills have depth at CB, but not one really good cover player at the position.
Other Possibilities: Trade up for Matt Kalil or select Luke Kuechly here, who would fill a need.
My Take: This is much more in line with Kirkpatrick's real value in my opinion, and I would endorse the pick. Kuechly continues to be a name connected with the Bills as the draft approaches.
28. Green Bay: Quinton Coples Defensive End | North Carolina
Analysis: This is a value pick. Coples, because of his size, can play end in a 3-4. And the Packers badly need depth and an influx of talent at DE.
My Take: Caplan's point about scheme versatility is huge here. Coples could be a best player available for any team in the 20s. I highly doubt Cincinnati would pass on him twice, but Coples does have a lot of negative buzz right now.
31. New England: Dontari Poe Defensive Tackle | Memphis
Analysis: Poe has way too much athleticism for the Patriots to pass on him there. And also keep in mind they will play the hybrid 3-4/4-3 defensive scheme a lot.
My Take: I'm with Caplan on the idea that Poe could fall well into the second half of the first round. The Patriots have a similar player in Vince Wilfork, so they would have to be confident that they could get the most out of Poe.