It's the most wonderful time of the year. Yes, right now. And you thought that phrase referred to the December holiday season?
Oh, no. It's surely right now — mock draft season.
There are few things I look forward to more than the NFL Draft. Obviously, I look forward to mini-camp, training camp, the preseason, the regular season, the playoffs and "Modern Family," but I — like many of you — get a special kind of excited for the NFL Draft season.
We're about a week away from the NFL Combine in Indianapolis (which will be attended by Matt Moore and myself) and that really kicks off the push toward the Draft.
But in the months leading up, there are a wealth of mock drafts that get released by everyone from purported draftniks — the experts in the field of draftology — and the average guy living in mom's basement.
Everyone's got a mock these days; everyone — that is — except me.
I toyed with the idea of creating a mock draft this year. I even said on Twitter that I had been working on one. But some of my followers started ridiculing my picks before I had even copied down the draft order. My emotions bruise easily, so I decided against creating my own mock and instead opted to break down everyone else's.
I've taken a strong sample of mock drafts with good reputations and compiled their picks so you can see what everyone's thinking. I'll update every Tuesday and keep an archive, so when the Falcons pick in April, we can look back at the picks in February and point and laugh.
In Version 1.0 of the Mock Monitor, the first thing you'll likely notice is that the projections are all over the place.
Now, it's important to recognize where the prognosticators believe the Falcons' needs lie.
Judging by the mock draft picks this week, the Falcons could use help at WR, OT, CB and OG/C. But the prevailing thought is that the Falcons need some help in pass rush.
While DE Cameron Heyward, son of former Falcons running back Craig "Ironhead" Heyward, gets a couple of nods, the leader is Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan.
Since he's so popular this week, let's take a closer look at him.
Kerrigan goes 6-foot-4, 255 pounds unofficially (meaning prior to the Combine). He has accolades for miles, including 2010 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and 2010 Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year. Those honors, among others, were well deserved for the senior as he led the country in tackles for loss with 26.
He also finished the season tied for second in the nation in forced fumbles with five.
But let's look at Kerrigan's pass rush abilities. He tied for third in the country with 12.5 sacks in 2010. The year before that, he also tied for third in the country with 13 sacks.
Yes, pass rush is one of Kerrigan's strengths, which is why prognosticators are thinking Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff will pull the trigger on him if he's available at the 27th overall pick come April.
Combine him with veteran John Abraham, who finished third in the NFC in sacks in 2010 with 13, and the Falcons potentially have a pass rush powerhouse.
We'll see in the coming weeks how much the mocks change and whether the prognosticators think the Falcons will stick in the pass rush category or focus elsewhere.
In the meantime, give us your opinion by voting in our poll below.