After six weeks of college football and five weeks of pro football, we are finally beginning to get a clearer picture of what next year’s NFL Draft may ultimately look like. Obviously the big event is still a long ways away, and clearly a ton can change between now and then – but nobody can deny that certain things are becoming increasingly apparent.
Here is what we know as far as the offensive side of the ball goes: there are two quarterbacks worthy of top-15 picks, there is one running back worthy of a top-10 pick, and there are three wide receivers who worthy of top-20 picks. That’s it.
There was a lot of preseason chatter about Tyler Wilson and Landry Jones, but neither will go at the top of the board. There was a lot of early pontificating about Marcus Lattimore not being able to return to his old self this season – obviously that nonsense has been silenced. There was a lot of initial chatter about Keenan Allen being stifled by his team’s questionable offense, but obviously that hasn’t happened either.
Things have become a lot clearer on the defensive side of the ball, too. The kids from LSU -- namely Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo -- stole a lot of the preseason headlines, however, it’s actually been Jarvis Jones, Star Lotulelei, and Johnathan Hankins who have been college football’s biggest studs through six weeks. Really, the only thing that hasn’t changed on defense between the preseason and now is how we view the cornerback class. It was weak. It’s still weak. And, unless someone steps up at some point in the foreseeable future, it will remain relatively weak.
Before we dive into our mock draft, a few points of note. First and foremost, the draft order was determined by ESPN’s most recent power rankings. Obviously things will change as the season progresses, but that is the structure we opted to use for now. Two, we didn’t hold anyone’s Week 6 performances against them. Georgia’s players, LSU’s players, Texas’ players – we didn’t mark any of them down for their failures this week. There is just too much material on prospects at this point to mark them down for one bad showing. Finally, we weighted team needs over best player available whenever it was clear that a team had a really glaring hole. In the case of teams that didn’t have particularly glaring holes, we emphasized best player available.
With all that in mind, here is how we envision picks Nos. 8-15 turning out.