One year ago today, the Blog Network did a mock draft of the first round. The New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons each were without a first-round pick, so I had to only make picks for the Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
I hit on one out of two.
I picked linebacker Luke Kuechly at No. 9 for Carolina. Conventional wisdom at the time was that the Panthers would go with a defensive tackle. But I chose Kuechly because I heard some rumblings in league circles that the Panthers were totally sold on him. When the real draft rolled around, the Panthers picked Kuechly, and he ended up being selected as the Defensive Rookie of the Year.
At No. 5, I fell into the same trap as many and gave the Buccaneers cornerback Morris Claiborne. It turned out the Bucs weren’t nearly as infatuated with Claiborne as many assumed. They could have taken him at No. 5. Instead, they traded down to No. 7 and took safety Mark Barron, who had a decent, but not spectacular, rookie season. After the fact, I heard some rumblings that the Bucs didn’t think Claiborne was physical enough to thrive in their system. Passing on him might have been the right call. But a year has passed and the Bucs have an even bigger need at cornerback than they did last spring.