Well, I said it would happen and it has.
After the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine late last month, I had a feeling the mock drafts would begin to shake themselves out and get a little wacky. They certainly have.
This week, we add ProFootballTalk.com, two NFL.com mocks, Rotoworld.com and the AJC's D. Orlando Ledbetter to the Mock Monitor madness, and there's very little agreement among the new five.
ProFootballTalk.com and Rotoworld.com both have the Falcons taking highly touted offensive tackle Gabe Carimi out of Wisconsin with the No. 27 pick overall. The other three are on different places on the map, much like the rest of this week's Monitor, which previously showed the consensus pick being Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan as the Falcons' pick for each of the three weeks the Monitor existed in February.
Boy, has that changed.
ESPN draft analysis Mel Kiper Jr. is the only remaining expert placing Kerrigan at the No. 27 spot — primarily because he hasn't updated a mock since before the Combine.
Why have so many prognosticators bailed on Kerrigan coming to Atlanta?
There are a couple of reasons: First, Kerrigan is quickly moving up a lot of boards after his Combine performance, so there's good reason to believe he'll be gone by the time Atlanta picks; Second, his workout in Indianapolis seems to put him more in the category of a 3-4 linebacker than a 4-3 defensive end. Since Atlanta runs the 4-3, Kerrigan doesn't appear to some as a good fit here anymore.
Now that it appears our experts have hopped off the Kerrigan train, what does this week's Monitor tell us about where the Falcons could go in the first round of April's Draft?
Well, everything and nothing all at the same time. According to our sampling of experts, the Falcons could pick one of five different linemen, three different defensive ends, three different wide receivers, two different cornerbacks or one tight end with the 27th overall pick.
So, while we can identify where the experts think the Falcons need improvement, we get absolutely no better idea of which position or player is most likely to get scooped up by Atlanta. In fact, this week there was a four-way tie for the consensus pick among our experts.
While you sit there extremely frustrated by these results, I'll go ahead and shoot a couple of guesses as to why things look the way they do right now:
Because the Falcons pick 27th overall, there are a lot — and I mean A LOT — of different things that can happen before they go on the clock. Teams could take players even the savviest of experts would never expect, teams can trade up or trade down, etc. Any number of scenarios can play out before that 27th pick comes about, which means our experts might be better off throwing darts at a draft board and selecting their mock pick that way. *
According to the experts, the Falcons have needs at all offensive line positions, defensive end, wide receiver, corner and tight end. Some experts will have different opinions on how to address those needs. For example, the defensive end position is very deep in this year's Draft class. Because of that, some think there could be good value in the second or third rounds at that position. With that knowledge, do the Falcons address another need in the first round and wait until a later round to pick up a DE — who, any other year, might have been an early rounder? Or, do they go for an elite pass rusher who might be able to contribute right away with that first-round selection? These are the questions one has to ponder when deciding to take on the unenviable task of mock drafting. *
Many people pay attention to the Draft simply because of the top 5 or top 10 picks. Those picks are, of course, where the best players available to NFL teams are generally drafted. But those people are quick to brush off the late first round, where there is plenty of talent — and this year is definitely no exception. Projected by our experts, players like Kerrigan, Titus Young, Mike Pouncey, Justin Houston, Gabe Carimi (pictured above), Aaron Williams, Jimmy Smith and Derek Sherrod could still be kicking around between the 21-32 picks. That's great news for teams picking late this year, and the sheer level of talent in that group could explain why there are so many split opinions.
OK, I've given you my opinion, now you give me yours. Vote in the poll below for who you would take at the No. 27 overall pick if you were making the calls for the Falcons.