Wow...it seems like the regular season is still ages away, but I've already participated in my first mock draft of the year. This one was for Sporting News' Annual Draft Guide, which will be in print in June.
I pulled the 2nd overall pick in the 12-team league. It's a standard, non-PPR league with a starting lineup of 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 K and 1 D/ST.
Here's what I did:
Pick 1.2: Ray Rice, RB, Ravens. Foster went first, and as much as I love Shady, I went with the safer option in Rice.
Pick 2.11: Greg Jennings, WR, Packers. Elite receivers were flying off the board in this round (Megatron went 6th overall), but I loved getting Aaron Rodgers' favorite target here. That said, as soon as Jordy Nelson was taken in the 4th round, I had some buyer's remorse. Nelson offered much better value.
Pick 3.2: Michael Vick, QB, Eagles. A bit of a gamble here, but Rodgers, Brees, Stafford, Brady and Cam were already gone. I wasn't sure what I'd be left with if I didn't grab him now.
Pick 4.11: Fred Jackson, RB, Bills. I love the value of this pick, assuming he comes back healthy. Jackson was a beast before his injury last season, and I'll be expecting greatness again.
Pick 5.2: Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys. I needed another receiver, and Austin was the best available (though I momentarily toyed with taking Dez; decided I didn't need a knucklehead on my squad). Ohbytheway, Gronkowski went in the mid-3rd and Jimmy Graham in the early 4th.
Pick 6.11: Doug Martin, RB, Bucs. I was targeting a TE here, but Gates and Witten went in the two picks right before mine. So I went with my 7th-round plan and took Martin. Tampa Bay didn't trade up to the first round to grab a backup RB. I expect the rookie to supplant LeGarrette Blount by Week 1. Martin is projected as a 3-down back.
Pick 7.2: Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts. I moaned as I made this pick, with memories of Indy's implosion still fresh on my mind. Hopefully he'll have some Luck with his new QB. Not a bad WR3, I suppose.
Pick 8.11: Robert Meachem, WR, Chargers. Here's hoping he'll find some consistency with Philip Rivers. No reason he can't vault over Malcom Floyd to be the No. 1 WR in this offense.
Pick 9.2: Matt Schaub, QB, Texans. At this point, Schaub had dropped so far that I felt he represented too much value to overlook. What a backup QB!
Pick 10.11: Ryan Williams, RB, Cardinals. He was one of the hottest rookie prospects last year around this time, but then he was lost before the season even started with a major injury. If he comes back 100%, there's no reason to think he won't challenge the even-more-injury-prone Beanie Wells for the starting job.
Pick 11.2: Owen Daniels, TE, Texans. Pretty slim pickings among TEs at this point. Had to take what I could get.
Pick 12.11: Sidney Rice, WR, Seahawks. He kept sliding and sliding and sliding until I could overlook him no more. Who knows? He could prove to be a steal in the 12th round, if he and Matt Flynn develop some chemistry.
Pick 13.2: Steelers defense/special teams. The Ravens were the first D/ST off the board in the 9th round, so this is pretty good value. Wanted the Eagles, but they were snatched up a few picks before mine.
Pick 14.11: Mikel LeShoure, RB, Lions. One thing we can be pretty confident about: Jahvid Best won't make it through the season in one piece. If LeShoure can just stay healthy, he'll be a starter in the Detroit backfield at some point.
Pick 15.2: Mario Manningham, WR, 49ers. This is what you call bench depth, although I wouldn't be completely shocked if he emerges as the best fantasy receiver in that offense. Who do you like more...Crabtree? Moss? A rookie?
Pick 16.11: Sam Bradford, QB, Rams. I don't need another passer, but if he gets on a roll, he could be nice trade bait for a QB-needy rival.
Pick 17.2: Jason Hanson, K, Lions. Mason Crosby inexplicably went in the 14th round. Hanson is one of several kickers available in the late-16th and 17th rounds who should be just fine.
There you have it. I'm sure by the time we're drafting for real, I'll feel completely differently about this squad. For now, I think it's pretty solid from top to bottom.