Mocking the Mocks: Pre-Combine Edition

Disclaimer: The intent of this piece is not to poke fun or “mock”, as the title may hint at (it was catchy so we’re rolling with it). I urge you to keep an open mind both now, and throughout the offseason. The draft is so intriguing to many because it’s so fluid. Mock drafts, for the most part, are simply the culmination of a lot of guesswork (outside of maybe the top few selections). Anyway, viewing and analyzing other people’s opinions (and in this case, folks who are a lot more “connected” than most) will help paint a more detailed picture as we push toward April.

So, I found myself scrolling through a handful of (aforementioned) mock drafts and figured this would be a fun exercise to run through.

You can also click the chart below in order to make it bigger.

mocking - vol1 (pre-combine)

Here, I’ve rounded up five of the “big names” when it comes to draft coverage. If there’s a name that you think is worth adding to this list, please feel free to hit my mentions and let me know.

I’m hoping to update this list and provide a post-Combine view, as well as a “final mock” from each of these folks. Without knowing their actual schedules or intent, this is all very up in the air, so please bear with me. I’ve committed to the same schedule (Pre-Combine, Volume 1 is already live), so it would be cool to see where these guys’ heads are at as the months roll on leading up to the draft.

Let’s look at each pick, talk about why the fit makes sense or why it doesn’t, and add any other relevant notes or observations along the way.

DL Malik McDowell (via Steve @ PFF and Mel @ ESPN)

Prior to the week in Mobile, I was more than content with McDowell’s name being called at 24 overall.

Then, Optimum Scouting’s Eric Galko hopped on the Setting the Edge podcast and dropped a few gems that quickly changed all that for me (and I imagine – or hope – McKenzie feels the same way). I urge fans to hit the link below if you haven’t already done so:

With all those character flags (Galko’s a credible dude) easy pass for me – at least in the first.

With that laid out on the table, it’s still safe to assume that Stanford’s Solomon Thomas goes much earlier than 24, so we’re continue to cross our fingers for Jaleel Johnson (who I mentioned here) if addressing the defensive line is the goal in the first round.

CB Jalen “Teez” Tabor (via Daniel @ NFL)

Still the CB1 on my board, although that gap has closed considerably with the more tape I’ve consumed of other deserving cornerbacks (Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore comes to mind immediately).

As I’ve highlighted in other pieces, this incoming secondary group is absolutely stacked. Reggie McKenzie should have his choice of cornerback at 24 overall, if he chooses to walk down that road.

I love the Tabor selection. As Daniel Jeremiah highlighted, Tabor does give up a play or two at times, but he’s also super-instinctual and disruptive. I’ve read Asante Samuel comparisons and I think they work for the most part as such.

RB Dalvin Cook (via Matt @ BR)

As I noted in the chart at the top, Miller didn’t provide any sort of explanation for this selection which is a bummer as I would’ve loved to hear what he had to say.

Dalvin Cook is at the top of the board as far as running back’s are concerned in this 2017 draft (Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon isn’t too far behind, but we know about those asterisks; it may even be a coin-flip for the RB1 crown). Given Cook’s status, I wouldn’t at all be disappointed if he was called at 24 overall. He’s very Edgerrin James-y and would provide an incredible upgrade out of the backfield for Oakland (assuming they part ways with Latavius Murray this offseason).

That RB1 praise is real but, unfortunately, I do have some concerns.

Not only do I believe Cook’s long-gone before the Raiders select in the first, more importantly, I’m not even sure that Dalvin Cook’s on the board for Reggie McKenzie to begin with.

Tony Pauline, or Uncle Tony, is one of the more dialed-in names when it comes to the draft and player/team buzz. Here, he makes note of Cook’s background and those potential red flags:

For those who follow the agent business, I’m told Dalvin Cook of Florida State is in the process of changing agents. I’m also told there will be a significant inspection into his background leading up to the draft. If Cook falls further than expected on draft day, it’s because red flags were raised.

While charges were ultimately dropped, I’m not sure it makes a difference in the eyes of Reggie McKenzie and more importantly, Raiders’ owner Mark Davis. It’s always around this time of year where folks are reminded of Davis’s zero-tolerance policy:

Speaking of this time of year, it’s one I personally really enjoy. Prospect analysis, film breakdown and highlights you may have missed during the regular season, trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together in some sort of logical fashion. As I alluded to above, at the end of the day, it’s all really just educated guesses when it comes to that puzzle that is the draft.

What I can say for absolute certain: Mark Davis will never turn his back on Fred Biletnikoff.

LB Zach Cunningham (via Dane @ CBS)

Outside of the Reuben Foster, this linebacker group leaves a lot to be desired in my opinion.

Zach Cunningham, as I’ve emphasized prior, resides in that tier below the savage from Alabama. After Cunningham, it’s a mix of other popular players and some familiar names in Florida’s Jarrad Davis, Ohio State’s Raekwon McMillan, and Northwestern’s Anthony Walker Jr., among others.

Other than the secondary, linebacker remains arguably Oakland’s biggest need heading into the draft. Given that, it’s hard to really be upset with a selection that would result in some help (in this case, in the form of Vanderbilt’s Zach Cunningham). Looking at the grades I’ve given out thus far, there are a handful of players higher on the board than Cunningham.

Let’s circle back around after Indianapolis where the ultra-athletic Cunningham looks to build on his growing buzz.

Catch me on Twitter: @StillRyanFive