I was recently trying to explain to a friend of mine why I am addicted to the NFL Draft (I haven't missed the coverage in over 15 years). As I became more self-conscious about this obsession of mine, it occurred to me that the joy I derive comes from the puzzle of how the draft will ultimately unfold. The next two months will be a haze of posturing, predicitions, rumors, and bluffs; however, when we get to April 22, we will finally see the puzzle unfold. Some of us will revel in our astute predictions, some will second guess GM decisions, and hopefully our team will be better in the long run. With this existential ramble in mind, I wanted to go through the players that almost assuredly will be off the board by pick 13. He is an attempt to identify players that are essentially out of our hands:
If this most recent Super Bowl taught us nothing else, it should be apparent that this is a Quarterback driven league. Bradford and Claussen will be the two sought after commodities. If they drop too far, teams will fall all over themselves to trade into the top 10 for them.
DT - at least 2
Suh and McCoy are seen as the can't-miss-prospects of the draft. Too many teams in the top 5 need to stop the run for them to fall very far.
S - at least 1
Berry might have the fewest question marks of any player. He has size, speed, athleticism, and production on his resume. If he gets past Cleveland at 7, Holmgren will be sold to Sea World.
CB - at least 1
Haden seems to be the concensus number 1 CB. Even though there are some worries about his toughness, this position is too much of a premium for him to last very long.
OT - At least 1
I'm sure other OTs will be taken in the top 12, but Okung seems to be the only guy that is consistently discussed that high. Campbell's combine could vault him, but the knock on him is that he's too raw. Bulaga is very polished, but concerns abound about his health, arm length, and the fact that he might not have as high a ceiling as others. Williams struggled at LT this year and Davis has off-field and weight issues. A case could be made for all of those guys falling, except for Okung.
OLB/DE pass rushers - at least 2
I say that at least two will be gone, but it's hard to say WHICH two. Morgan seems to be a lock to not get past J-ville, and Pierre-Paul seems to be flying up draft boards, but Graham's dominant Senior Bowl, Kindle's incredible athleticism and Dunlap's production could shoot them up there as well. The only sure thing is that teams ALWAYS need pass rushers. Getting to the QB is a premium and teams picking in the top 12 will be tempted.
If we count Bradford, Claussen, Suh, McCoy, Haden, Berry, Okung, and at least two pass rushers as gone, that makes 9 picks accounted for; Throw in the usual suprise pick (thank you Raiders!) and the wild card players for the two remaining spots seem to be Rolando McClain, C.J. Spiller, Dez Bryant, Dan Williams, the remaining pass rushers, and the remaining OTs. I just love puzzles.