Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Yes, it's only June 6, but it was time. Time to check out my favorite off-season site and experience the first mock draft of 2012.
It's still three months until the first game of 2012 between the Super Bowl champion New York Giants and division rival Dallas, but I'd been feeling the urge for a couple of days now and it was time to satisfy my itch.
Mock drafts are an important tool as they teach you what other fantasy owners are thinking. You get bombarded with plenty of opinions from "so-called" experts, but you don't play against experts, you play against people like yourself.
So I entered a 12-team, 15-round draft.
Here are a few of my thoughts from the experience:
Just behind the three running backs which everyone seems to agree will go first, second and third in some order (Arian Foster, Ray Rice, LeSean McCoy) was Chris Johnson of Tennessee. It seems Johnson has convinced at least one fantasy owner with his new off-season workout schedule. For those who weren't aware, Johnson worked out with the team for the first time in his career instead of at home in Florida.
Adrian Peterson was still a first-round selection despite suffering ACL and MCL damage in Week 16 of last year (for more on this, read my colleague Thomas Harrigan's piece "The Absurdity of Adrian Peterson" at http://tinyurl.com/7xatd5e). The short version is that Peterson may be ready to go shortly after the whistle blows to begin the 2012 season.
Cleveland rookie running back Trent Richardson went ahead of Drew Brees. Really? Brees has averaged 4,888 yards passing and 36 touchdowns over the past four seasons while Richardson's next yard gained will be his first. Richardson is a talented back, but he'll be playing in a Cleveland offense that doesn't provide a defense with many other weapons to game plan against.
Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham went back-to-back. I have a feeling that's going to happen in many, many drafts this season as the two are head and shoulders above all the other tight ends.
Denver wideout Demaryius Thomas was the last pick of the fourth round (No. 48 overall). Last year at this time, Thomas had a rank of No. 266. Teammate Eric Decker went No. 68, up from No. 214 in 2011, and newly acquired Broncos tight end Jacob Tamme, went before Brandon Pettigrew and future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez. Thank the power of Peyton Manning's golden arm.
In the musical chairs that is a Mike Shanahan backfield, Washington running back Roy Helu went No. 62 and Tim Hightower No. 152. Only Shanahan knows which one is the bargain and which is overpriced.
Robert Griffin III was selected at No. 100. If as many think he's another Cam Newton, that's a bargain.
Rashard Mendenall (ACL) went in the 10th round. If he returns for more than half a season (he still hasn't even been ruled out for the Sept. 9 season opener), those who selected Isaac Redman in the fourth round will be very unhappy.
Coby Fleener and Andrew Luck went back-to-back at picks No. 140 and 141. It's not the first nor the last time the pair will be thought of together. However, Luck's a starting quarterback in the NFL with quality receivers in Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie and should have gone a bit sooner in my opinion.
Mr. Irrelevant was Chicago Bears rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery.
I'll enter plenty more drafts as we approach the start of the NFL season. You should, too.