In possession of 11 picks, including six in the top 100, the 49ers are positioned as the draft’s power brokers, writes NFL.com’s Albert Breer, who lists five more teams with the means to dictate action and manipulate the board: The Rams, Browns, Jets, Ravens and Jaguars.
Here’s a handful of miscellaneous draft links:
- In his final mock draft, Mel Kiper of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required) has the Texans selecting Jadeveon Clowney No. 1 and the Rams (if they stay at No. 2) taking tackle Greg Robinson. From there, he has the Jaguars going with linebacker Khalil Mack at No. 3, Sammy Watkins to the Browns at No. 4, and Mike Evans going to the Raiders at No. 5.
- Kiper’s ESPN colleague Todd McShay’s final mock draft (Insider subscription required) has an identical top five. In McShay’s estimation, three quarterbacks will go in the first round, and if he’s right, there will be no shortage of drama, as he’s projected Blake Bortles to the Titans at No. 11, Johnny Manziel to the Cowboys at No. 16 and Teddy Bridgewater to the Browns at No. 26.
- “College left tackles picked in the first round and asked to play right tackle almost always struggle that first year and sometimes never quite arrive at all,” asserts Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. With the exception of Patriots RT Nate Solder, Salguero makes a convincing argument by citing recent history littered with college left tackles (drafted highly) who struggled converting to the right side. Accordingly, with the Dolphins in desperate need of a right tackle, Salguero has projected Tennessee’s Ja’Wuan James, who started 49 career games at right tackle, as the team’s first-round pick.
- This year’s draft crop includes three big-bodied defensive backs who stand to benefit from copycat nature of the NFL in the wake of the Seahawks winning a Super Bowl with a dominant, physically imposing secondary. Eric Branch of sfgate.com profiles Nebraska’s Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Utah’s Keith McGill and Lindenwood’s Pierre Desir.
- Despite technological advances, freely available game tape, overwhelming amounts of information, dizzying oversaturation and decades of precedent to (presumably) learn from, the draft remains an inexact exercise, writes the Star-Ledger’s Conor Orr: “The best general manager sifts through all of the information and makes the right decision, though most admit that, even after all the preparation, there is indecision that lingers well into the allotted 10-minute pick.” Orr also unearthed a significant statistic to illustrate the crapshoot nature of the draft, noting 180 of the 255 players drafted in 2010 are no longer with their original team.
- Everyone but the NFL league office hates the draft in May, says SI.com’s Robert Klemko, who lists the reasons why.