Sporting News recently conducted its annual mock draft by the publication's NFL team correspondents. The Carolina Panthers writer chose Auburn QB Cam Newton and the Denver Broncos writer took Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus second. With the third pick, I selected Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller for the Buffalo Bills.
The top three picks are consistent with most mock drafts out there, though some have flip-flopped Dareus and Miller. Don't totally discount the Bills taking Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert, but the feeling here is they don't hold him in as high a regard as Newton. As a result, they'll take the best player on their board and maybe take a quarterback with their second pick, which could end up being a late first-rounder if they trade the Round Two pick (34th overall).
The rest of the top 10 looked like this:
4. Cincinnati: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia; 5. Arizona: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU; 6. Cleveland: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama; 7. San Francisco: Gabbert; 8. Tennessee: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn; 9. Dallas: Tyron Smith, OT, USC; Washington: Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina.
The biggest shocker in the correspondent's mock was Miami's pick of much-maligned Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett at No. 15. You would be hard-pressed to find any draft analyst that has Mallett in the first round, and certainly not a top-15 choice. But the Dolphins writer based his decision in part on the team having four different visits with Mallett, who possesses first-round talent but off-the-field issues (both real and perceived) has cause his stock to plummet with most teams.
If Miami made this pick it would bring back memories of 1983 when Dan Marino fell to the bottom of the first round because of drug rumors. Convinced there was nothing to the rumors, Dolphins coach Don Shula grabbed Marino with the 27th selection and ended up looking like a genius as Marino because a Hall of Famer.
In Mallett, who has Marino-like arm strength, perhaps Miami is thinking lightning can strike twice in the same place.
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