This mock draft, unlike my previous four, will project trades. That simultaneously makes it more fun and less likely to be accurate. However, we do know one thing for sure—a mock draft that does not project trades will definitely be inaccurate.
The trade of Jay Cutler to the Chicago Bears has a far more profound impact on the draft than simply the players and picks involved. The Bears become one more team out of the first round and the Broncos become one more team with two first-round picks.
You have teams with a history of wheeling and dealing on draft day, holding piicks in what they think are the wrong places, such as Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and New England.
You have teams that would love to trade down and acquire more picks, as both Detroit and St. Louis have made abundantly clear in the last few days, and you have plenty of teams with new philosophies that came along with new coaching regimes, which turns a whole lot of prime talent into trade bait.
Peter King of Sports Illustrated got Mike Moyock to say he’d rather be drafting at 15th or 22nd this year than first. Moyock is right, this draft is deep but by no means top heavy. You are just as likely to get the player you need in the middle of the first round as you are at the top. Players in the fourth round this year might be just as valuable as those players taken in the third or even second rounds.
Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to trade down if you can, and fortunately, the teams that might want to trade up have the ammunition to do it.
The technology, methods, manpower, and time teams use to scout players have all grown dramatically in recent years. With draft preparation so intense and the differences between the prospects in this draft class so thin, there will be some wild-haired imaginations that come to life on draft day. Teams will think they see something no one else sees and act accordingly.
All of this means there will be picks that look like absurd reaches and players who freefall unexpectedly.
I hope you have your calendar cleared for April 25-26, because I believe this will be the wildest and woolliest NFL draft of all.
1 Detroit (0-16)—QB Matt Stafford, Georgia
(Last mock’s pick: QB Mark Sanchez)
It is still true that no one wants to trade up this high. The Lions are stuck with this pick and will make the most of it.
The recent buzz out of Detroit’s media says they will go offensive tackle here, but they also report how impressed the team is with Stafford. Enter the first impact of the Cutler trade on the draft.
The fact that a quarter of the Lions’ schedule now stars Cutler and Aaron Rodgers makes their need for a franchise QB even more glaring.
So I’ll change my tune and give the Lions a QB this time for the right reasons. If they intend to let Stafford carry a clipboard for Daunte Culpepper for a year, this will turn out to be a good pick...