I enjoy a good combine as much as the next person other than maybe PRoar, but I don't really get all the "pre-combine" mock drafts. I fully understand the importance of the combine to the team officials that are in attendance. How fast can they run, who is smart enough to stop running before they run into the goal post, who shrank since college, who ate to many extra cheese Pizza's, who lost 16lbs in one month since the Senior Bowl (wholly crap, how do you even do that?)
To me, the most important part of the combine are the tests and interviews. Unfortunately, the general public and press are not invited to these private meetings between the players and the teams. So the best we can do is look for rumors (which may or may not be true) and alter our picks based on them. Well this seems very flawed at best to alter ones predictions based on rumor even though it would be interesting to find out if Dez Bryant's mother was a prostitute although not very relevant at predicting future NFL performance.
Then there are the physical tests. Some will perform very well and some, not so much. If you ever ran track or played a sport, you know that some days, you just don't have it. Maybe you didn't eat right the day before, maybe you are dehydrated from fasting to get your weight down on the weigh in, maybe you didn't sleep a wink because you are to keyed up about your upcoming performance. There are many logical reasons that some won't perform at their best during the Combine. Not to mention that even if you are one of the fastest in the Combine that doesn't mean you will be one of the best in the NFL like Chris Owusu last year. Last I checked, the Combine doesn't measure heart, intensity, tenacity or motor. It is simply just another tool to help teams evaluate players and nothing more.
The more important thing, in my opinion (why do I have to put this in here as I wouldn't be giving you anybody else's opinion) is what the Panther's are able to accomplish in free agency. Obviously, this is directly related to our Cap which is a work in progress. If we are able to sign some quality players that can come in with game experience and not only contribute, but elevate our level of play as a team, it would change the need aspects of our draft and free us to take the Best Player Available. This is a big advantage in reducing our chances of making a bad pick, improving our talent level, and opening our draft options. Lets be honest though, no draft is 100% BPA.
I believe that these mock drafts should be Pre-Free Agency Mocks and not Pre-Combine Mocks as this is a bigger influence on the draft picks involved. So here is my pre-FA Mock draft which has already been altered by the renegotiation of Nakamura's contract.
(Note to BW: None of the decisions made in the writing of this article were based in whole or in part on anything written and subsequently read from BleacherReport. Any similarities that may or may not exist are purely coincidental.)
Round 1: Lane Johnson OT (Really want Cordarrelle Patterson here, but believe he will be gone) (I am going to gag if I see one more DT mocked to us.)
Round 2: Larry Warford OG (Underrated player who is field tested against excellent SEC talent and may be even better than Warmack)
Round 4: Justin Hunter WR (Tall, skinny, and faster than your sister)
Round 5: Bacarri Rambo FS (Good player, but slips in draft due to off-field problems which are believed to be a result of being drunkenly misnamed after his parents favorite rum)
Round 6: Dustin Hopkins K (Just for kicks)