Have to admit, I always kind of dread when the second-to-last mock of NFL draft season rolls around. Because the only mock that truly matters is the last one you do, and for me that's not forthcoming until next Thursday morning, the day of the draft. But what if this winds up being my best, most accurate version of the events that will unfold the night of April 25 at Radio City Music Hall? Who cares, right? I'll be the only one who knows it.
If you get this one reasonably right, chances are you can only screw things up for yourself next week, when it counts and you start making changes. And there will be changes next week, because I will have talked myself in and out of several trade scenarios and re-considered handfuls of selections by then.
The more I study the top 10, the more I see plenty of potential for teams moving around come next Thursday night. As everyone has noted all along this year, the lack of truly elite players in the top 10 puts every team in the mood to move down, acquire more picks, and still get roughly the same quality player in a lower spot. But you can count on a run on offensive linemen in the top 10, and that should inspire a trade or two to ensure the most offensive tackle-needy teams like Detroit, Arizona, San Diego and Miami get their guy. With three premier tackles, all likely to be gone in the first seven picks, somebody's going to finish out of the money.
Throw in the potential Darrelle Revis trade to Tampa Bay, a deal I'm projecting that should allow Cleveland to drop out of the top 10 and still select West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, and possible late-first-round trades made by teams targeting the second- or third-highest rated quarterbacks (Ryan Nassib, E.J. Manuel, Matt Barkley?), and it could be a very active first-round swap meet once again this year. A little more than a week out, here's my penultimate prediction of who goes where next Thursday night. Perhaps I can only go downhill from here.