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Thursday, April 15, 2010
A few thoughts on mock drafts

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

I've been toying with various first-round mock draft scenarios and have pretty much promised a few people I'd join the fun at some point.

My first-round mock is tentatively scheduled to run during the second round.

There's a good chance I'll move up the date.

ESPN.com offers a slick resource for stacking players.

Getting most of the picks right early in a mock draft can be pretty easy. The projections can border on impossible once one surprise compounds another surprise. That's when projections that could have made sense no longer appear sensible.

I'll generally speak on background with a few personnel people I know, just to get their feel. The problem is that each personnel person has his own opinions about how a draft should go, and those opinions do not mirror the most likely scenarios.

One general manager I know likes Gerald McCoy over Ndamukong Suh. That's great, but I still think the Lions will take Suh second overall. Some have suggested McCoy might fit the Lions' scheme better than Suh because his upfield style more closely resembles Albert Haynesworth's style, and Haynesworth was a mainstay in Tennessee when Lions coach Jim Schwartz was there. That's great, but another executive very familiar with Schwartz said he thought Suh would actually fit the Lions' defense better.

No one knows for sure, and one wrong projection leads to others. That is why some personnel people I know attempt only to guess which 32 players will go in the first round, with less regard for whether those players wind up with specific teams.

I recently participated in a mock draft with the other seven ESPN.com divisional bloggers (to be posted early next week). It was fun, but having so many people participating only introduced more possibilities for going in random directions. Still, having eight participants was much more controlled than what will happen during the draft. Thirty NFL teams hold first-round choices. There will be trades.

Matching 10 or 12 players to teams in the first round could be a challenge.

My initial guess at the top six:
1. St. Louis -- Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma. The Rams have set up this pick to such a degree that heading in another direction would serve as another letdown for their fans. I don't think that's something the Rams want to indulge.

2. Detroit -- Suh, Nebraska. Let's not out-think ourselves here. Suh was the best player in the draft, right? He goes next.

3. Tampa Bay -- McCoy, Oklahoma. Versatility a plus. Mocks implode if the Bucs go in another direction. McCoy would fit in Seattle if he slipped.

4. Washington -- Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma St. Trent Williams is supposedly the top tackle on the Redskins' list, and I could still be swayed.

5. Kansas City -- Eric Berry, S, Tennessee. Scott Pioli's teams love defense early in the draft. A player in the front seven would best fit the profile, but Berry supposedly has the potential for greatness. Take him.

6. Seattle -- Williams, T, Oklahoma. The Seahawks are lining up at minicamps with Ray Willis at left tackle. That must change soon, and Walter Jones is not the answer. Whether it's Williams or Okung or any other tackle prospects, the need is striking.

The Browns pick seventh and there's a temptation for the uninitiated to think Mike Holmgren was blowing smoke when he said he wished he liked Jimmy Clausen a little more. Blowing smoke isn't really Holmgren's style. He says what he thinks or he doesn't say as much. What Holmgren said about Tim Tebow -- how tough it is to change a quarterback's mechanics -- was 100 percent consistent with how he thinks.