Feb 28, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; LSU Tigers defensive back Morris Claiborne waits his turn to do the vertical jump during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

No Surprises

The thing about predicting the draft is, one surprise pick ruins the rest of your well thought out, impeccably researched mock draft. So I don’t do mock drafts. Anymore. I used to do them. I would compile my data based on all of the available research. I watched the game tapes. Nah, that’s a lie, but I did watch highlights on ESPN, does that count?

I don’t think there will be many surprises in the 2012 NFL Draft. In fact, without further adieu here’s my top 5, which will either be correct or it won’t:

November 12, 2011; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers cornerback Morris Claiborne (17) during the second quarter of a game against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

1. Andrew Luck – Colts
2. RGIII – Redskins
3. Matt Kalil – Vikings
4. Trent Richardson – Browns
5. Morris Claiborne – Bucs

I think the 4th pick, not the third will be a possible turning point. I think there’s a good possibility that Trent Richardson will go there. But I wouldn’t be shocked if Justin Blackmon goes there. Or Ryan Tanneyhill for that matter (though he could take an unlikely Aaron Rodgers type tumble as well). I can also see the Browns trading out of that pick. I think the Vikings interest in others and perceived cooling on Matt Kalil is a smokescreen. Kalil is a top 5 talent and LT is definitely an area of need for the Vikings. But they do need secondary help too so Claiborne could be enticing.

So while there will in large part be no surprises the reality and seeming dichotomy is that there are always surprises at some point. I just don’t think there will be any at the top. On local sports radio I recently heard an anecdote regarding the 2005 NFL Draft. Jeff Ireland (now GM of the Dolphins) was running that draft for the Cowboys in conjunction with Bill Parcells and Jerry Jones. Apparently Ireland was enamored with Shawn Merriman and was convinced that the Cowboys should take him with the 11th pick. According to the anecdote Ireland got some intel on the morning of the draft regarding Merriman (perhaps about possible steroid use) that ultimately resulted in him and the Cowboys making an 11th hour decision to change from Merriman and instead take DeMarcus Ware, who at the time was considered a 2nd round pick. This would prove to be a fortuitous move. The point is all that research and conjecture went out the window on the basis of some information that came in at the last minute.

So yes, we will be surprised by someone’s pick at some point, probably by mid 1st round. But in all likelihood this won’t affect the Bucs at pick 5.

So what are you doing Thursday night? I’ll be watching either ESPN or NFL Network while I DVR the one I’m not watching. You know, for post draft study. Ah, NFL geek heaven.

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