On March 14, we held a 12-team mock draft to coincide with the kickoff of the NFL’s free agency period (standard scoring, QB, 2RB, 3WR, 1RB/WR, TE, K, DEF, 5 Bench). Though a number of big names were and still are unsigned and the NFL draft is still to come in nearly six weeks, it still serves as a nice tool to see where some of those tougher-to-rank guys could fall. Obviously, big names changing teams and April’s draft will impact a lot of players’ values, not to mention the statuses of several key injured players, but the results below can be looked at as a baseline to go off of and start some debate.
|RD||Viner||Andrew Laird||Rick Kinigson||carlyks||Luke Hoover||Mike Doria|
|1||Foster, Arian||McCoy, LeSean||Rice, Ray||Johnson, Calvin||Rodgers, Aaron||Jones-Drew, Maurice|
|2||Lynch, Marshawn||Welker, Wes||Stafford, Matthew||Turner, Michael||Cruz, Victor||McFadden, Darren|
|3||Vick, Michael||Graham, Jimmy||Harvin, Percy||Austin, Miles||Jackson, Steven||Nelson, Jordy|
|4||McGahee, Willis||Smith, Steve||Colston, Marques||Bowe, Dwayne||Jones, Julio||Jackson, Vincent|
|5||Lloyd, Brandon||Wells, Chris||Redman, Isaac||Sproles, Darren||Richardson, Trent||Greene, Shonn|
|6||Witten, Jason||Manning, Peyton||Bush, Reggie||Davis, Vernon||Helu, Roy||Jackson, DeSean|
|7||Blackmon, Justin||Holmes, Santonio||Crabtree, Michael||Cutler, Jay||Thomas, Demaryius||Schaub, Matt|
|8||Robinson, Laurent||Floyd, Malcom||Garcon, Pierre||Flacco, Joe||Leshoure, Mikel||Celek, Brent|
|9||Griffin, Robert||Tebow, Tim||Brown, Donald||Tolbert, Mike||Gerhart, Toby||Meachem, Robert|
|10||Thomas, Pierre||Moss, Santana||Rice, Sidney||Moore, Lance||Heyward-Bey, Darrius||Ridley, Stevan|
|11||Jones, Felix||Grant, Ryan||Luck, Andrew||Lewis, Marcedes||Hillis, Peyton||Miller, Lamar|
|12||Rudolph, Kyle||Dickson, ED||Daniels, Owen||Breaston, Steve||Cook, Jared||Flynn, Matt|
|13||Bennett, Earl||Steelers, Pittsburgh||Ravens, Baltimore||Texans, Houston||49ers, San Francisco||Giants, New York|
|14||Eagles, Philadelphia||Moreno, Knowshon||Scott, Bernard||Alexander, Danario||Jones, James||Gostkowski, Stephen|
|15||Akers, David||Crosby, Mason||Janikowski, Sebastian||Hanson, Jason||Rackers, Neil||Vereen, Shane|
|RD||Mertes-Mistretta||Chris Morgan||Jerry||jpontonbragg||zen||slander mcgerkins|
|1||Brees, Drew||Forte, Matt||Brady, Tom||Johnson, Andre||Fitzgerald, Larry||Newton, Cam|
|2||Charles, Jamaal||Mathews, Ryan||Johnson, Chris||Jennings, Greg||Murray, DeMarco||Gronkowski, Rob|
|3||Nicks, Hakeem||Green, A.J.||Peterson, Adrian||Gore, Frank||White, Roddy||Wallace, Mike|
|4||Hernandez, Aaron||Marshall, Brandon||Bryant, Dez||Romo, Tony||Manning, Eli||Jackson, Fred|
|5||Bradshaw, Ahmad||Gates, Antonio||Maclin, Jeremy||Johnson, Steve||Ingram, Mark||Stewart, Jonathan|
|6||Britt, Kenny||Rivers, Philip||Finley, Jermichael||Roethlisberger, Ben||Tate, Ben||Brown, Antonio|
|7||Bush, Michael||Blount, LeGarrette||Wayne, Reggie||Spiller, C.J.||Starks, James||Smith, Torrey|
|8||Moore, Denarius||Williams, Mike||Williams, DeAngelo||Gonzalez, Tony||Decker, Eric||Best, Jahvid|
|9||Thomas, Daniel||Brown, Vincent||Boldin, Anquan||Mendenhall, Rashard||Little, Greg||Moss, Randy|
|10||Manningham, Mario||Green-Ellis, BenJarvus||Davis, Fred||Washington, Nate||Benson, Cedric||Ryan, Matt|
|11||Henderson, Devery||Floyd, Michael||Baldwin, Jonathan||Gresham, Jermaine||Pettigrew, Brandon||Hardesty, Montario|
|12||Hunter, Kendall||Palmer, Carson||Freeman, Josh||Burress, Plaxico||Fitzpatrick, Ryan||Branch, Deion|
|13||Jets, New York||Redskins, Washington||Bengals, Cincinnati||Lions, Detroit||Cowboys, Dallas||Packers, Green Bay|
|14||Winslow, Kellen||Bennett, Martellus||Doucet, Early||Green, Alex||Carter, Delone||Ware, D.J.|
|15||Bryant, Matt||Nugent, Mike||Bailey, Dan||Gould, Robbie||Henery, Alex||Bironas, Rob|
Without further ado, here are the results and some observations:
- Everyone is waiting on Peyton Manning. His landing spot has huge fantasy implications since he could dramatically raise the stock of whatever receiving corps gets the benefit of catching his passes. For Manning individually, I don't think it will matter too much where he lands as long as he's healthy. Denver, Tennessee and San Francisco all have strong receiving weapons so he should flourish with any of them. To land him in the late sixth round (71st overall) is a ridiculous value. Expect him to climb much higher in August. (Editor's note: Manning is close to finalizing a deal with the Broncos).
- Mercurial wideout Randy Moss went in the ninth round (108th overall), which would have been a ridiculous value pick if Manning had joined him in San Francisco. As it is, Moss seems to have a chip on his shoulder and a highly motivated talent like that could put up some numbers, even with Alex Smith behind center.
- Adrian Peterson will be so hard to pass on when he's falling, but I for one will just keep letting him fall. I can't see him coming back in September and I wouldn't be surprised if he's brought back very slowly if Minnesota struggles out of the gate. With Toby Gerhart capable of producing in his absence, if the Vikings start 1-3 or 0-4, don't expect AP to be rushed into action. Since you'd have to draft him higher than guys you'll be starting, I can't see him being worth the risk earlier than the fifth round. In this case he went in the third (33rd overall). Unless he proves to be a ridiculously fast healer, expect him to fall farther as the season draws near.
- Recovering from an ACL tear can be different for every player, but someone like Jamaal Charles, who relies on his acceleration and long speed to break big plays could struggle more than others to regain his effectiveness. With the addition of Peyton Hillis, I simply can't see him being a top-10 running back this year. Where he came off the board in the second round (18th overall) is just too high for my taste.
- Darren McFadden went one pick after Charles as the 10th running back off the board. And that's right about where I see him, in that 10-12 range for the position. While I'd take Charles after him, I'd slot Marshawn Lynch (24th overall) ahead of him. Either way, if you can get Run DMC as your No. 2 back he's worth the risk. Even though he's likely to miss some time, if you're lucky enough for it to be just 2-4 games, his ability to produce huge games will make up for the missed ones.
- One early pick that particularly surprised me was the selection of DeMarco Murray (14th overall). I think too many people will focus on his great four-game stretch and forget that he started the year with a hamstring issue and finished it with a broken ankle. Additionally, he did most of his damage while Felix Jones was out, so there was no one stealing carries. Even if he looks good in the preseason I still prefer Lynch, Ryan Mathews and Chris Johnson ahead of him.
- Fred Jackson ending last year with a broken leg really opened the door for C.J. Spiller to finally prove his worth. And from what Spiller showed, his upside could be that of a poor man's Jamaal Charles. I expect these two to both go closer together than the 37th and 82nd picks they went at in this mock, with Jackson falling and Spiller climbing in the summer.
- Kenny Britt (66th overall) has developed a bad reputation during his short career for not keeping up the best conditioning during the offseason, so it will be really interesting to see where he's at in his ACL recovery by July. If he's good to go for training camp, he deserves to be a top-50 pick.
- Trent Richardson will be the first rookie selected regardless of who drafts him in April. He looks like a young AP in the making and I would have no qualms taking him among the top-10 running backs if he lands in Cleveland as the feature back. At 53rd overall in this draft, I felt like he was a steal.
- Justin Blackmon will undoubtedly be the top rookie receiver drafted and like Richardson, he has immediate impact written all over him. Assuming he's in Cleveland or St. Louis he'll be either team's No. 1 receiver from day one. Going as the first pick of the seventh round (73rd overall) is right on the money, particularly for any team that's already strong at running back. He should finish his rookie year as a top-20 receiver.
- Some other picks I thought were good values include Isaac Redman (51st), Vernon Davis (69th), Matt Schaub (78th), Michael Bush (79th), LeGarrette Blount (80th), Torrey Smith (84th), Fred Davis (112th), Darrius Heyward-Bey (116th), Peyton Hillis (125th), Michael Floyd (128th) and Earl Bennett (145th).
- Some other picks I thought were reaches include Michael Vick (25th), Percy Harvin (27th), Aaron Hernandez (42nd), Mark Ingram (59th), Michael Crabtree (75th) and Joe Flacco (93rd)
- Some names I thought should have been drafted include Ryan Williams, RB (AZ); Evan Royster, RB (WAS); Kahlil Bell, RB (CHI); Doug Baldwin, WR (SEA); Brandon LaFell, WR (CAR); Greg Olsen, TE (CAR)