At long last, that lame NFL.com clock is going to run out – soon to be replaced by a running clock pointing out days until the next big event comes, which, to some, might be a uniform fashion show with all the glitterati in attendance.
With the three days of love, music and highlight films ready to get underway, the mock draft business is picking up. All the big names have checked in – they may update their picks 20 minutes into the draft, but that's not my concern (I tended to doze off in the back row of journalism ethics class). As a way to present to you, gentle readers, how genuinely unpredictable this year's draft is, I decided to enlist the help of a handful of the shot-callers of the mock draft world.
Imagine Michael Buffer doing the intros and holding on specific words (like "Rumble!").
"Entering the ring, he's known as the Hair to the Throne, the coif that never turns off, from Baldwin, Maryland, ladies and gentlemen, Rockin' Mel Kiper! Next up, from Bristol, Connecticut, the boy wonder Todd ‘Still getting' I.D.'ed' McShay! Next up, direct from the league mother ship, the Beast From the East, Mike ‘The Mauler' Mayock! Entering the ring from Parts Unknown, the spell-check challenged big boss man of the Sports Xchange – where the big E is nonexistent – Rob ‘The Road Warrior' Rang! And finally, he hails from the All-American town of Springfield, Mass., and has the size advantage on others in the Octagon, please welcome Peter ‘It's Good To Be The' King!"
These are five of the most respected mock draft minds in the business. This year, I would put my picks up against theirs. Why? I may be the scrawny kid with a rock and a bad attitude eyeballing the giant, but there is such an uncertainty to this draft that, barring a slew of trades, it will be more than a little bit interesting and the differences in predictions this year will be nothing short of trend-setting.
A Cowboys janitor may give Kiper a scoop after emptying Jerr-uh's wastebasket, but I'm going off what we have this morning. Truth be told, I finished my final Monday night – I gave the Big 5 the benefit of the doubt and waited until the clock said April 25 before I pot-committed them. So convinced that there will be a bevy of trades that render mock drafts moot other than holding onto the value of the players you picked to go in the first round, I broke down and projected a trade that would have San Diego and Cleveland swapping spots to try to be proactive. Ironically, Big Petie King picked the same two teams to cut a deal. So, I got that going for me.
How different are the projections on the day of the draft? Unbelievable.
The commonality in their picks is that a lot of respect is being given to the Big Three offensive tackles – Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson. King has all three gone in the top seven picks. Rang has them in the top five. Kiper, McShay and Mayock have the skeleton de-fleshed by pick No. 4.
From there, things diverge … big time.
How about quarterback? In his projected trade with the Chargers, King has Geno Smith being the only QB to come off the board in the first round at pick No. 11 to Cleveland. Mayock has the Browns taking Smith at No. 6. Rang has Smith going to the Jets at No. 13. McShay (subject to change today) has Ryan Nassib going to Buffalo at No. 8. Like me, Kiper doesn't have any QBs going in the first round – I jumped ship from the rotten QB crop faster, but none of us projected trades at the end of the first round that will start the feeding frenzy for a bare cupboard of QB talent in the Class of 2013.
What about Eric Fisher, the small-college man-among-boys offensive tackle from lightly respected Central Michigan? Any school with a vague direction – Where is it? Somewhere in the middle of Michigan, as its name implies – isn't a challenger for the Final Four January showdown in college football. No disrespect intended for any of the directional Michigan schools – our own Grand Poobah Bob Lurtsema matriculated at Western Michigan – he has a big competition curve in front of him. In good conscience, the highest I could put him was No. 5 to Detroit. King has him at No. 6, the M&Ms (Mel and McShay) and Rang have him going No. 2 and Mayock thinks he's going to eat K.C. barbeque at No. 1.
Here's where it gets weird. Star Lotulelei, a dominant defensive tackle that, if not for a potential heart ailment discovered at the NFL Scouting Combine, would have been an ideal No. 1 pick for the Chiefs of early 2013 vintage. His stock seems to be rising, but not as much as his skill would lead you to believe. Rang has him going No. 4 to Philadelphia. Kiper and McShay have him going No. 14 to Carolina. Mayock has him going No. 18 to Dallas. King has him going No. 26 to Green Bay (note to Peter: if the Vikings keep their two picks at Nos. 23 and 25, he's one of them barring a bad medical report).
What about Cordarrelle Patterson, who has been linked to the Vikings? McShay has him going No. 21 to Cincinnati. Kiper has him at No. 22 to Cincinnati. King has the Vikings passing on Patterson and taking teammate Justin Hunter, with Patterson landing with San Francisco at No. 31. Rang also has the Vikings taking Hunter with Patterson landing in Houston – a dangerous prospect for AFC teams.
It goes on and on like that with just about every pick. Ezekiel Ansah goes anywhere from No. 2 to No. 7. Dee Milliner goes anywhere from Nos. 5 to 10. Dion Jordan goes anywhere between Nos. 4 and 9.
But the one that would appear to be of most interest to Vikings fans is whether Manti Te'o ends up a Viking. When I did my final mock, I saw no other option than the Vikings using the No. 23 pick on Te'o. So how did the big boys sign off?
King has Te'o being the first real-life model of the new Vikings uniform with the 23rd pick. McShay and Rang have Te'o as a Viking, but at pick No. 25. Kiper and Mayock have Te'o landing in Chicago at pick No. 20.
In a "black-is-white-and-white-is-black" bizarro-world opus that the draft of 2013 is setting up to be, there is little that any can agree on.
Ring the bell! Let's get it on! Let the chips fall where they may and see who predicted how the dominoes would click best. One thing is certain – there is no consensus in 2013.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.