OK, so we're seven weeks out from the draft. Might as well have some fun, while we wait to see if the guys in suits are interested in football being played this year.
(And frankly, as much as I'd rather be standing on the corner of 21st and K with the assembled sidewalk scribes, I know labor reports are more interesting to reporters than fans.)
So what say we mock? We'll do one each Thursday for the next few weeks, showing some possibilities for the teams at the top. It'll change, as teams will shuffle their boards as they look at guys. Consider it a guidebook rather than a map, a suggestion, if you will.
Or in other words, it'll change, so no hyperventilating:
QB Cam Newton, Auburn
There's a lot of talk about him at the moment for a reason.
No one's sure if he's going to be good or not. But look around. There are questions about every quarterback in this draft, and he's got more physical gifts than any of them.
Is it a risky pick? It is.
Can it go horribly wrong? It can.
But here's the thing with Newton, you almost have to convince yourself he's not the guy first, because top-end QBs are rare. He has the chance to be one if he works, and the chance alone may make it a gamble worth taking.
DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama
They did hire John Fox, right?
The Broncos are changing from a 3-4 to a 4-3, and we know how Fox likes to build defenses -- from the front to back.
It didn't take a long look for him to start cutting dead weight, and you figure he drafts linemen in bulk to try to run his system.
Dareus is the consensus top DT pick based on his strength and versatility. Fox drafted a DE first in 2002, but there's no Julius Peppers in this draft.
QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
He has all the tangibles. As one scout said recently: "He's 6-5, 235, good arm, quick release, ... Those guys go in the first round."
But can he play? The offense he ran in college doesn't translate to the NFL, and his 6.7 yards per attempt scares me.
But the Bills need a quarterback, and he's the next guy up. Not saying I think it will work, ...
WR A.J. Green, Georgia
If for no other reason, then it gives them an excuse to move on from the headaches and headcases Marvin Lewis has been coaching.
A big target with sure hands, he's capable of making a quick mpact if they have a quarterback.
LB Von Miller, Texas A&M
They're in kind of the same situation as the Panthers. As bad as their QB situation was, they have some needs on the other side of the ball just as glaring.
They'll look long and hard at the passers, but may be better off with a pass-rushing OLB who could make some plays.
CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
There's a decent chance he's in play for the No. 1 pick, and him falling this far makes it easy.
Could they use a pass-rusher? Sure. But Peterson's a better corner than the ends are at their position.
7. San Francisco
DE Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson
Sometimes if you sit and wait, the guy you need falls into your lap. Pass-rushers are rare. There seems to be a sense that Bowers isn't in the Peppers-Williams class of no-doubt stars. As much as any player in the draft, he's a bit of a one-year wonder. But that year was very good.
DT Nick Fairley, Auburn
He moves like a rush end, but may not be built for his job.
He's kind of narrow in the pants, and isn't what you'd describe as defined. At the same time, his production is hard to question.
Put him in the right system, and he can provide inside rush as well as anyone.
CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska
Peterson's gotten all the talk, but some think he's every bit the cover player. Not as athletic as Peterson, but it's not as if people want to make him a safety.
QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas
The Redskins are sniffing around all the QBs, and with Donovan McNabb a short-timer, you know Mike Shanahan is itching to do something here.
Mallett may have a little Jay Cutler in him (arm, attitude), so it's a fit.
-- Darin Gantt