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Draft King Analysis
April 1, 2012
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com

Reader feedback is always welcomed here on Draft King. Sound off with your thoughts on Twitter (@LouPickney) or via email at LouPickney@gmail.com.


Happy April Fools' Day everyone. We're closing in on the 2012 NFL Draft, and I anticipate that there will be plenty of jockeying and adjusting to be done. Also, in the NFL, April Fools' Day lasts for the entire month leading up to the draft. Swerves and trickery are commonplace -- no team wants to see a rival trade above them for a player they covet. The levels of deception that some individuals go to in this process can be impressive.

I spent several hours today working on a modification to my current 2012 NFL Mock Draft, in no small part because some adjustments needed to be made. But, in pouring through seemingly endless reviews and observations and mock drafts others have created and in general trying to figure out the most likely scenario possible, I picked up on a few noteworthy things.

-Most mock drafts have settled into something similar to this: 1. IND: Luck, 2. WAS: Griffin, 3. MIN: Kalil, and then some combination of Alabama RB Trent Richardson, LSU CB Morris Claiborne, and Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon in the 4-6 spots. The only exceptions have been mocks projecting Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill to Cleveland at #4, which seems unlikely to me but which must be given some consideration.

When my updated mock goes online, it will fit the Richardson/Claiborne/Blackmon 4-6 template, even though I believe Michael Floyd is a superior NFL WR prospect over Blackmon. But I'm an analyst first and an evaluator second with this, as I've always been, and Blackmon appears most likely destined to go before Floyd.

The rise of Michael Floyd on several draft boards in the past week or so hasn't gone unnoticed by me; it's nice to have others concur with my line of thought there. Floyd trumps Blackmon in size and speed, and while he was banged up at times at Notre Dame, Floyd posted remarkably reliable numbers during his four year career with the Fighting Irish.

Blackmon by all indications should be a reliable NFL receiver, but my perception is that his ceiling/upside isn't as high as it is for Floyd. But both players look primed to have great NFL careers, and while neither may be on the same level as last year's first two wide receivers drafted (A.J. Green to Cincinnati and Julio Jones to Atlanta), both appear to me to be ready to contribute right away. And Blackmon at 6'1" isn't exactly short, just not in the prototype range for elite wide receivers.

But, as much as I like Floyd and his NFL potential, there is no doubting Blackmon's ability and durability and reliability as a receiver. His upside isn't as high as the taller and faster Floyd, but Blackmon proved to be a reliable force for Oklahoma State and he should be appealing for any team needing a wide receiver.

-Jerry Jones let it be known that the acquisition of offensive guards Mackenzy Bernadeau (from the Panthers) and Nate Livings (from the Bengals) gave the Cowboys latitude to trade down. It's not a surprise that he did that, since outside of the Bill Parcells era where very little information leaked out, Jones has spilled the beans multiple times about the team's draft plans (e.g. Roy Williams in 2002, Tyron Smith in 2011).

With that in mind, the Cowboys belong to Jones and he can say whatever he wants about his team's plans for the draft. And, as evidenced by Williams and Smith, Dallas ended up landing the player who Jones wanted without incident. But I anticipate Dallas sliding down from #14 into the #15-19 range, putting themselves in position to draft Wisconsin center Peter Konz while not risking having the Titans snatch him up at #20 overall.

-Scouts Inc. moved South Carolina DE/OLB Melvin Ingram ahead of North Carolina DE/OLB Quinton Coples on their big board. While I personally agree with that, I also see the copycat instinct of the NFL to kick in on Coples, who has Jason Pierre-Paul type size at 6'5" 280-285, seeing the Giants win the Super Bowl and thinking that size in a 4-3 DE who can also pass rush might be the way to go over Ingram and Alabama DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw.

All three have great promise for the NFL, though Coples can't take plays off like he did in 2011 and be an effective pro. I have Coples sliding down my draft board considerably in the forthcoming update, though he could end up being a top ten pick despite his perceived lack of effort. Plenty of people have Jacksonville going with Coples at #7 overall, which isn't outside the realm of possibility if the Jaguars decide to go with a top-tier defensive end to put opposite Jeremy Mincey, who had a great showing with eight sacks in a contract year in 2011.

-Evaluation of defensive tackles has been interesting, particularly for 3-4 NT types like Memphis NT Dontari Poe and Washington NT Alameda Ta'amu. Some mocks have Poe going to Carolina at #9 overall, which would be good except that Poe in a 4-3 set doesn't make a great deal of sense to me, particularly since he had motor/motivation questions of his own as part of Memphis' horrible 2011 football season. But for a team like Kansas City at #11 that really could use a bona fide nose tackle? That makes more sense to me, particularly since Poe is the antithesis of a defensive tackle who could provide a strong pass rushing threat from the interior of the line.


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