NFC West: 2013 bloggermock

2013 #bloggermock: 49ers at No. 31

April, 23, 2013
4/23/13
2:45
PM ET
What's going on: Our eight divisional bloggers are participating in an ongoing mock draft Tuesday. Each blogger can make selections or trade picks for the four teams in his division.

How to access: Blogger mock console, and via #bloggermock on Twitter.

The latest: I used the San Francisco 49ers' first-round pick, No. 31 overall, for LSU safety Eric Reid.

My rationale: The 49ers have lots of options here because they hold multiple picks in each of the next few rounds. We could easily justify sending a safety, defensive lineman or even a tight end to the 49ers in this range. I went with the safety in part because the 49ers were able to get the second player taken at the position after Kenny Vaccaro, who projected to St. Louis at No. 16. There were other highly regarded safeties available. Reid caught my attention because scouts think he can play either safety position. Trent Baalke, the 49ers' general manager, recently said he preferred safeties with versatility so that coordinators could better disguise their intentions. Several big defensive linemen were off the board by this point, including Star Lotulelei, Sharrif Floyd, Sheldon Richardson, Sylvester Williams and Johnathan Jenkins. Of course, the 49ers have the draft capital to move up for one of those players or another lineman to help their rotation, should they choose to go that route.

What's next for the NFC West: That's it.

2013 #bloggermock: Rams at No. 22

April, 23, 2013
4/23/13
1:55
PM ET
What's going on: Our eight divisional bloggers are participating in an ongoing mock draft Tuesday. Each blogger can make selections or trade picks for the four teams in his division.

How to access: Blogger mock console, and via #bloggermock on Twitter.

The latest: I used St. Louis' second first-round pick, No. 22 overall, for initial first-round pick, No. 16 overall, for Tennessee receiver Justin Hunter.

My rationale: Tavon Austin would have been a consideration here, but he went to the New York Jets at No. 13. Hunter wasn't ranked among the Scouts Inc. Top 32 the last time I checked, but I've seen him ranked higher elsewhere -- including at No. 20 in the Pro Football Weekly Draft Preview. I've gone back and forth in my mind over whether the Rams truly have a pressing need at receiver after adding tight end Jared Cook in free agency. There are three legitimate WR candidates on the roster. The Rams have faith in Chris Givens, Brian Quick and Austin Pettis. They could still use greater depth at the position. They could still use additional prospects in case Quick in particular fails to reach his potential. Hunter is a rangy 6-foot-4 with outstanding speed. Beyond that, who knows? All these picks are risky.

What's next for the NFC West: The San Francisco 49ers are scheduled to pick at No. 31.

2013 #bloggermock: Rams at No. 16

April, 23, 2013
4/23/13
1:26
PM ET
What's going on: Our eight divisional bloggers are participating in an ongoing mock draft Tuesday. Each blogger can make selections or trade picks for the four teams in his division.

Vaccaro
How to access: Blogger mock console, and via #bloggermock on Twitter.

The latest: I used St. Louis' initial first-round pick, No. 16 overall, for Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro.

My rationale: The Rams must emerge from this draft with a starting safety, in my view. That led me to force this selection a little bit. I wasn't sure which safety should be rated first in the draft. Nolan Nawrocki of Pro Football Weekly listed LSU's Eric Reid as his 14th-rated prospect in his draft preview guide, seven spots higher than he ranked Vaccaro. However, I wasn't going to over-think the situation. Scouts Inc. is among those ranking Vaccaro No. 1 among safeties. That was good enough for me to make a selection that addressed a glaring need for the Rams. St. Louis could have had its choice of running backs here, but that didn't seem like the right move for a team planning to go with a committee approach at that position -- particularly in the absence of obvious candidates.

What's next for the NFC West: The Rams are scheduled to pick 22nd, followed by the San Francisco 49ers at No. 31.

2013 #bloggermock: Cardinals at No. 7

April, 23, 2013
4/23/13
12:40
PM ET
What's going on: Our eight divisional bloggers are participating in an ongoing mock draft Tuesday. Each blogger can make selections or trade picks for the four teams in his division.

How to access: Blogger mock console, and via #bloggermock on Twitter.

The latest: I used Arizona's first-round pick, No. 7 overall, for Alabama guard Chance Warmack.

My rationale: There was some debate in my mind between targeting offensive tackle, guard, outside pass-rusher or defensive tackle in this slot. Tackles Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson were not available, however. That helped narrow the choices. I figured Warmack would have been the highest-rated offensive lineman remaining. Guard is arguably a greater need than tackle for the Cardinals if we count Levi Brown, Bobby Massie and Nate Potter as viable players at tackle. Every outside pass-rusher except for Dion Jordan remained available. All else relatively equal, I figured the Cardinals needed more help on offense than defense, so Warmack was the choice. His arrival would allow projected starting right guard Adam Snyder to back up all five positions.

What's next for the NFC West: The St. Louis Rams are scheduled to pick 16th and 22nd, followed by the San Francisco 49ers at No. 31.

Live: ESPN.com #bloggermock draft

April, 23, 2013
4/23/13
11:45
AM ET
Join our ESPN.com NFL experts as they play general manager for their divisions and execute a 2013 first-round mock draft.

Contribute your thoughts and questions beginning at noon ET. You can also participate via Twitter using the hashtag #bloggermock. See you there.

NFL players will never have to press a 45-pound bar loaded with four 45-pound plates off their chests during a game. They will never have to execute during games any number of the training exercises that help prepare their bodies for NFL life.

That doesn't render these exercises irrelevant. They're an important part of preparation.

My thinking regarding mock drafts is similar. Focusing on how many selections they correctly forecast risks missing the broader point. Mock drafts have value as exercises. They help us think through some of the nearly endless potential scenarios.

If some of the "projections" line up with how the draft actually unfolds, all the better. But who are we fooling here? Not even the NFL teams themselves could predict with accuracy how a draft will actually unfold. As noted previously, there would be 263,130,836,933,693,530,167,218,012,160,000,000 ways to order the first round if we knew which 32 players would become first-round picks. But we cannot even know that.

A year ago, ESPN's divisional NFL bloggers got together for a mock draft in which each of us made the selections for the teams we cover. It was lots of fun. We wound up projecting eight of the first 13 picks to the correct teams, five of them in the correct slots. But so what? The fun was in the process.

I'll be shocked if we come anywhere close to matching eight first-round picks to the right teams from our 2013 blogger mock draft, set to begin at noon ET.

The 2013 draft seems tougher to predict without prized quarterbacks such as Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III available as slam-dunk choices for the teams holding the first couple selections. That's OK. We're going to have fun thinking through the possibilities. Rules allow for trades, which will enhance the experience at the expense of accuracy. Matt Williamson, who scouts the NFL for ESPN.com, will critique the process in real time.

Those of us participating in the draft will face dilemmas when certain players become available later than we anticipated. Should we select them based on value, or should we stick with the selections we think are most likely to happen on draft day?

We'll post to the blog at noon ET a console allowing you to come along for the ride. I'll be making the seventh, 16th, 22nd and 31st picks for NFC West teams. Those slots could change based on trades. Last year, I traded the 12th pick from Seattle to New England for the 27th and 31st picks. I wound up having the Seahawks select Chandler Jones at No. 27. The Patriots wound up selecting him 21st instead.

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