Very few in the business have been doing NFL draft analysis as long as Mel Kiper Jr. He’s a legend in his field, and his expert analysis of players and picks has been a staple of draft coverage since before the draft was a popular spectator event.
Kiper published several mock drafts in the months leading up to the draft. While they are good indicators of draft stock for a lot of players, a lot can change in the next two months. No current mock draft will look anything like the ones we will see toward the end of April.
Still, it’s worth analyzing some of Kiper’s most recent predictions, if for no other reason than to delve a little deeper into the pre-draft process. His latest mock draft has some big surprises.
Alec Ogltree: LB, Georgia (No. 8 to Buffalo)
Ogltree is extremely versatile and he has one of the highest ceilings of any linebacker in this year’s class. He came to college as a safety, but transitioned to linebacker and gained experience at several different positions.
That said, Ogletree isn’t a top-10 talent, and he isn’t the kind of impact player Buffalo will likely be looking for with the No. 8 selection. He has the potential to be a terrific NFL player, but the value simply isn’t there this high in the first round.
Buffalo certainly needs to address its linebacking corps, especially with the recent release of Nick Barnett (via NFL.com). It just shouldn’t plan to address the need so high in the first round.
No Quarterbacks in the First Round
I can understand Kiper’s reasoning behind not including a quarterback in the first round. No signal-callers really stand out as legitimate franchise options, however there is a ton of value at nearly every other position in this draft class and—perhaps most important to remember—it’s nearly impossible to reflect trades in mock drafts.
Several NFL teams are desperate for a franchise quarterback, and while some of those teams are picking in the top half of the first round, interest for this year’s top signal-callers could come from anywhere. It’s almost a certainty more than one team will look to maneuver into the top of the round to acquire a quarterback.
Still, I would bet my last dollar the first round won’t pass without a quarterback being selected. Geno Smith is a virtual first-round lock, and there’s a good chance he doesn’t make it past the Raiders at No. 3.
Changing of the Guards
Chance Warmack is one of the best offensive linemen in this draft class, but guard isn’t a position teams usually look to address early in the first round. He’ll likely slip outside the top 10 and into the middle of the round before being selected.
Will he slip to Dallas at No. 18? Probably not.
That’s what Kiper has in his latest mock draft, and he has North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper being the first interior lineman selected (No. 11 to the Chargers).
Seven picks doesn’t make a huge difference, and every NFL team ranks players differently than we might expect. On top of that, Cooper is versatile and can play multiple positions on the interior line. It’s just hard to imagine any team skipping over Warmack if it is to take a guard at No. 11.