Mocking the Draftniks

Ye gods and little fishes, they're at it again.

Every year this happens, and it's always the same. Every sports site on the web jumps into the pool, and most of them pee. You can see yellow clouds spreading from wall to wall until they merge into a single, lemon-colored, contaminated cesspit of bad premises, faulty logic and hallucination. It's mock draft time.

Since Mel Kiper's hair burst onto the scene in 1984, the NFL draft has been An Event. We owe that much to Mel, for good and bad. Good, because it's so inherently fascinating--it's like a second Super Bowl, a chance for even the lowliest of teams to get it right. Bad, because...well, there's Mel Kiper. And all the other know-it-alls who make a living telling real professionals what they should do and why. In other words: they're acting just like fans, but they get paid!

There's only one thing to do about it: gotta jump in the pool.

But instead of making our own mock draft--and here I'm going on record stating that I have no idea what other teams are going to do, or should do, with one exception--we're going to rate the mockers. Which ones can be trusted? Which ones have the emptiest bladders? (My own personal favorite--for now--is Matt McGuire of WalterFootball.com. We'll see how he stacks up against his better-known, and better-paid, competition.)

Here's how it works: I've chosen thirteen experts, arbitrarily designated "major," and analyzed their drafts according to three criteria. First, do they at least understand that the Saints need to draft defense? If a "major expert" can't even give us a defensive player, you know he must be having a seizure. Second, what particular player do they have the Saints choosing, and why? For now, the correct answer is Malcolm Jenkins, because we need a frickin' free safety, all right? And finally, how high do they have obese 2-year-old Alabama offensive tackle Andre Smith going? (For those of you not familiar with Smith's situation, he's the guy who left the Combine without working out, and showed up for his pro day overweight and jiggling. His 40 time was about one week. His stock has been dropping so fast Congress will probably bail him out, but most mockers are still nattering about his "upside." The only upside relevant to Andre Smith is the 2x4 that needs to be applied upside his head to kno ck some sense into him.) All the mock drafts were selected from those published by Thursday, March 12.

Contestants are ranked according to the first criterion; then the order juggled around a bit depending on how they did with the second; and finally, fine-tuned according to the Andre Smith rule. Rankings are from bottom to top, worst to best. The absolute worst, stupidest, most fatuous, addlepated, crazed, and thoroughly inexplicable expert opinion was voiced by none other than...

13

MEL KIPER (ESPN)
Knowshon Moreno, Georgia

"There isn't anything remotely close to the talent and depth at running back available in the draft last year, but Moreno is a good fit for the Saints at this spot."

 

A good fit!? The Saints have the best offense in the league; they need help in the defensive backfield. And Kiper still has Malcolm Jenkins on the board at this point! This is a perfect example of someone trying too hard to be cute, to distance himself from the competition by making a bold, daring pick that is, in fact, nothing but wacky. Mel has been smoking Saintsational's toenails again.

Will Moreno be an elite back in the NFL? Yeah, probably. Will the Saints be an elite team if they keep stocking up on offensive skill positions at the expense of their defense? Nope. And that's what Mel Kiper has never understood. The draft is all about improving your team, not picking up bargains. This isn't the Home Shopping Network. I think hair gel must be toxic.

I usually only like Kiper when he kicks ass on Todd McShay; but this time McShay puts a powerbomb on him.

Kiper has Smith going 13th, to the Redskins, and Jenkins going 16th, to the Chargers.

 

 

12

RANDALL WEIDA (FFToolbox.com)
Chris Wells, Ohio State

"New Orleans has done a nice job of strengthening their defense during the off season, and may not need as much help on that side of the ball as some people think. Adding Chris Wells would give them a power back to compliment Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush. This would allow Bush to see more action as a return man and a slot receiver, while Thomas and Wells carry the rushing load."

 

Weida tries hard, but he's ill-informed. The Saints added a cornerback, and lucked out with a linebacker coming back from retirement. (They also had successful surgery on their bullocks.) Other than that, next year's defense is unchanged from last year's—with the free safety situation still very much up in the air.

But at least Weida actually considers the type of running back Payton might be tempted to take. Wells is much more of an inside power runner than Moreno. I'm not su re he'll be as good as Moreno, but he better fits the Saints. Still, this ain't happening.

And besides, he repeats that Reggie-Bush-as-slot-receiver canard.

(By the way...FFToolbox actually has six mockers, but none of the others had updated their drafts. At this time of year, a mock draft that's a week out of date might as well considered paleolithic.)

Weida has Smith going 8th, to the Jaguars, and Jenkins going 10th, to the 49ers

 

 

11

STEVE SILVERMAN (MSNBC)
Eugene Monroe, Virginia

"It’s hard to pass up a great offensive tackle. The Saints won't be able to when they see Monroe is still available. When you have a quarterback like Drew Brees you must get the best protection possible."

 

Well, at least it's a tackle, and a left tackle at that. But it's still an offensive player. And Jenkins is still available on Silverman's board (in fact, he goes next, to the Texans).

Also: Silverman has Monroe coming out of Alabama. No, that would be that other tackle.

Silverman has Smith going 6th, to the Bengals.

 

 

10

ROBERT DAVIS (Football's Future)
Vontae Davis, Illinois

"Despite the signing of Jabari Greer, CB is still a need for the Saints. They continue to sign marginal to decent free agents, and every year they are left disappointed. Davis has the potential to be a shut down corner, and that is something the Saints cannot pass on."

 

Finally, we're in defensive territory! And it's a defensive back, too! It's just the wrong one.

Davis may turn out to be fine in the NFL, but he's not for the Saints...unless Gregg Williams can light a fire under him and cure his attitude problem. Then he might be awesome.

Davis has Smith going 6th, to the Bengals, and Jenkins going 5th, to the Browns.

 

 

9

DON BANKS (Sports Illustrated)
Vontae Davis, Illinois

"The Jabari Greer signing in free agency gave the Saints another cornerback, but Davis adds options in the secondary because he can also play free safety, which was a glaring weakness in 2008. New Orleans won't get appreciably better on defense until it stems the flow of long balls allowed on pass defense."

 

Well, I suppose Banks had to give us Davis, since he sent Jenkins to the Packers; but isn't he getting a little confused with the free safety reference? Vontae Davis is a cornerback, and nobody that I know of has suggested he be turned into a safety in the NFL. That would be Jenkins. Maybe he meant to send Davis to the Packers. That must be it.

Banks has Smith going 13th, to the Redskins, and Jenkins going 9th, to the Packers.

 

 

8

PETE PRISCO (CBS Sports)
Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State

"Jenkins is being projected as both a safety and a corner. The Saints could use some help at both."

 

And now, at last, we've reached what would seem to be, for the present, the Saints' best pick. Prisco doesn't seem to have much to say, though, other than a couple of truisms. At least he's reading the right sportswriters.

Prisco has Smith going 6th, to the Bengals.

 

 

4 (Tie)

CLARK JUDGE (CBS Sports)
Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State

"So they signed Jabari Greer. They still need help in the secondary, and Jenkins can play either safety or cornerback. He's too good to pass up at this spot."

 

And now, at last, we've reached what would seem to be, for the present, the Saints' best pick. Judge doesn't seem to have much to say, though, other than a couple of truisms. At least he's reading the right sportswriters. Wait, I just said that. These guys are hard to tell apart. But Judge places ahead of Prisco due to the Smith Rule.

Judge has Smith going 10th, to the 49ers.

 

 

4 (Tie)

TODD McSHAY (ESPN)
Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State

"Jenkins could fall out of the top 10 following his subpar showing at the combine. He's an outstanding all-around defensive back, but his below-average speed and questionable burst out of his pedal might make him a better fit at free safety. However, the Saints will welcome his playmaking skills at either position if he falls in their laps."

 

McShay gets it right. Wonders haven't ceased. But he still has Andre Smith in the Top Ten. Not good.

McShay has Smith going 10th, to the 49ers.

 

 

4 (Tie)

ROB RANG (NFLDraftScouts.com)
Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State

"Few teams probably celebrated the slower-than-expected 40 time at the combine by Jenkins, but the Saints may have been one of them. Whether at cornerback or free safety, the Thorpe Award winner would be an immediate improvement for New Orleans and a terrific value here, even with the signing of Jabari Greer."

 

Rang has been paying attention, at least where the Saints are concerned. He correctly points out that Jenkins' poor Combine showing was actually a good thing, depending on your point of view. He's not the only one to do so, of course, but...well, there it is.

Rang has Smith going 10th, to the 49ers.

 

 

4 (Tie)

CHAD REUTER (NFLDraftScouts.com)
Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State

"Jabari Greer might have filled the hole at cornerback, but the Saints look to bolster other parts of the defense. Jenkins could slide to free safety -- for this team, for now -- as Josh Bullocks is still on the free agent market."

 

Well, actually Chad is a bit behind the times, and needs to update his mock. But he has the right pick, the right reason, and he even finds a way to tie Bullocks into the piece without being snarky. More than I could do.

Reuter has Smith going 10th, to the 49ers.

 

 

3

WALTER CHEREPINSKY (WalterFootball.com)
Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State

"Malcolm Jenkins' stock has fallen a bit. He ran a mediocre 40 (4.55) and his poor hips were exposed in the combine drills. Said Deion Sanders of Jenkins, 'He's killing himself.' However, I can't see New Orleans passing on Jenkins, given the team's problems in the secondary. Jenkins can play both free safety and corner, though the team will be drafting him for the former in the wake of the Jabari Greer signing. The bottom line is the Saints desperately need an upgrade at free safety; I really think their fans would start having nose bleeds and seizures if Josh Bullocks and Kevin Kaesviharn were allowed to start for another year. "

 

Walter is one of my favorite mockers, so it's no surprise he's so close to the bottom of this list. Plus he's a snarkmaster of the old school, and he correctly diagnoses the emotional state of Saints fans.

Cherepinsky has Smith going 13th, to the Redskins.

 

 

2

RUSS LANDE (Sporting News)
Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State

"Though Jenkins did not run a great 40 at the Combine, he is still the best cornerback in the draft and the Saints need a lot of secondary help. He would give them a player who can start at corner and slide to safety in certain schemes."

 

Finally! Someone with the guts and foresight to drop Smith out of the first round!

Lande has Smith going 34th (2nd pick of Round 2), to the Patriots.

 

 

1

MATT McGUIRE (WalterFootball.com)
Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State

"This is a beautiful pick for the Saints here. None of the questions surrounding Malcolm Jenkins' long speed were answered at the awful 2009 NFL Scouting Combine. Twenty corners last year ran a faster time than the fastest corner at this year's Combine. All 40s are thrown out the window, and we have to wait for Pro Days. The Saints could also go with Darius Butler here, but Jenkins gives them versatility at free safety if he does not work out at corner."

 

Lo and behold! My favorite draft mocker—despite his affection for Kiper—turns out to take first place in this totally fair and unbiased judging procedure.

What I like about McGuire is that even if you disagree with him, you have to admit he puts serious thought into his picks, rather than just pulling a name out of his bullocks (couldn't resist). He always has a reason for his picks; and usually that reason is pretty good. He also throws in other information—such as the suspect 40 times at the Combine—that other, more cavalier [read: more MSM] mockers don't bother giving.

McGuire has Smith going 49th (17th pick of Round 2!), to the Bears. In fact, he has this to say: "...up to this point I simply do not have a word to describe how much I dislike him."

 

 

Gosh, that was fun. Where are the showers? Somebody hand me a towel...

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