Mock drafts are like equations with multiple variables.
Changing one variable can throw off the final projection significantly.
The value comes in the exercise itself -- thinking through possibilities -- more than through the final result.
The thinking that went into a three-man Insider mock draft featuring Todd McShay and two NFL scouts produced two NFC West surprises, one mild and one wild:
The mild: With one scout sending LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson to Cleveland as purely a value choice at No. 6, McShay sent Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara to the San Francisco 49ers at No. 7. Peterson has generally been the projection for the 49ers. In this case, though, Peterson and the two top-rated quarterbacks were gone, as was Texas A&M pass-rusher Von Miller.
The wild: An NFC scout pulled a shocker by projecting Note Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph as the St. Louis Rams' selection at No. 14. Taking a tight end that early seems questionable anyway. Taking a tight end with injury concerns that early appears problematic. If I were the Rams, I would develop Mike Hoomanawanui, consider signing Daniel Graham in free agency and use the 14th pick for a position of greater value.
This mock sent Miller to Arizona with the fifth pick, a plausible projection if Miller remains available. Illinois defensive tackle Corey Liuget was the pick for the Seattle Seahawks at No. 25, another logical projection.
Only two quarterbacks were first-round picks in this mock, an indication McShay and the scouts leaned more toward ability than need. Sixteen defensive front-seven players went in the first round. There were seven offensive linemen, three defensive backs, two receivers, two quarterbacks, one tight end and one running back.
By the way, Julio Jones, the receiver often linked to St. Louis in mock drafts, went to Tennessee at No. 8 in this mock.