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Thoughts, news and notes from the sports staff of The Saratogian newspaper, located in historic Saratoga Springs, New York. The gang in the corner office on Lake Avenue give you the post-game wrap-ups, news and notes from the games we cover and opinions about the sports we read about every day.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

DFM Mock NFL Draft Analysis: Best Players Available


Earlier this afternoon, I took part in a Digital First Media mock NFL Draft, along with writers from around the country. It was a ton of fun, and thanks to everyone who took some time to check it out Wednesday.

In case you missed it, you can check out the way everything unfolded here. There are some top prospects that didn’t get picked by any of our writers, and this will serve as a way to break them down.

Quarterback: Everyone

Yep, not one team wound up using a first-rounder on a quarterback. I had command of the Bills and the Jets and was certainly tempted to take Geno Smith, but the Bills are way more likely to use a later selection on Ryan Nassib and the Jets had needs elsewhere.

Obviously, trades we hadn’t foreseen will play a huge role in the draft. Still, you have to think the Jaguars, who hold the first pick of the third round, will be licking their chops for a chance at Geno if this plays out this way.

Running back: Giovani Bernard, North Carolina

I’m a huge Bernard fan. He’s got some amazing game tape, and his stats bear that out. He’s a guy who grabs chunks of yardage at a time, can catch out of the backfield, and return kicks if needed.

He’s a little small, and that hurts his status considerably. However, he’s a great value in the second round, especially for teams looking for depth at running back or a guy that can fill a committee.

Wide receiver: Terrance Williams, Baylor

97 catches doesn’t mean what it used to anymore, apparently. Williams made a ton of big plays at Baylor last year, and in 2011, he was RG3’s primary receiving option on his way to a Heisman Trophy.

Wide receiver is a very deep position this year, and we had four wideouts (and a tight end) taken off the board in the first round. However, Williams may be one of the most NFL-ready players in the draft. He’s not a #1 receiver, but he could shine in the right system as a possession guy.

Offensive line: Menelik Watson, Florida State

The Seminoles saw three players from last year’s team get taken in the first round, and Watson and E.J. Manuel could both sneak into it as well. Watson is a very interesting case, as he actually played Division I basketball at Marist College before transferring to a junior college and then to Florida State.

Watson’s been rising up draft boards, and apparently aced pre-draft interviews with several teams in need of offensive tackles. Currently, I have him mocked early in the second round to Detroit, but he could wind up getting a call much earlier than that.

Defensive line: Margus Hunt, SMU

Hunt is one of the most intriguing athletes in the entire draft. He’s very inexperienced, but took over games at times, most notably in SMU’s bowl game. Depending on the scheme of the team he goes to, he can play either defensive end or defensive tackle. He may be a project, but he’ll either be a late-first or early-second round pick.

Linebackers: Alex Okafor, Texas; Kevin Minter, LSU

I like both of these guys a lot. Okafor is a low-risk player with a high motor who doesn’t take plays off. He dominated at both the Alamo Bowl and Senior Bowl, and there’s an outside chance he sneaks into the first round. I think he’d be a great fit for Denver at #28, but there are other options available who would be as well.

Meanwhile, Minter is an old-school, run-stopping linebacker, which means he may not fit for a lot of teams who are geared more towards stopping the pass. However, what he does, he does well, and he may very well wind up in Baltimore as the replacement for Ray Lewis.

Defensive back: Jamar Taylor, Boise State

A fast-rising corner, Taylor shined at the Combine, displaying a ton of speed. He’s in play at the back end of the first round, for sure, as you can never have too many talented corners in this pass-happy era of football.

I’ll be live-tweeting the NFL Draft from my personal account tomorrow night. Follow me at @AndrewChampagne for analysis and grades of every first-round pick.


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