Harrell to go before Meachem

Dozens of informed observers are assembling mock drafts for the upcoming NFL selection process these days. Almost all of them predict that junior wide receiver Robert Meachem will be the first Tennessee player selected.

The key word there is ALMOST, however. At least one analyst, Pat Kirwan of NFL.com, projects that senior defensive tackle Justin Harrell will be the initial Vol picked, even though he missed 10 games last fall after undergoing surgery on a torn left bicep muscle.

Kirwan could be right – not because Harrell is a better pro prospect but simply because of supply and demand. Harrell plays a position (defensive line) which is in great demand but has few elite prospects. Conversely, Meachem's position (wide receiver) is loaded with quality prospects this year. Bottom line: If you want one of the elite defensive tackle prospects, you'd better select him early. Conversely, hot-shot receivers will still be available in Rounds 2 and 3.

Regardless, Kirwan thinks the Pittsburgh Steelers will grab Harrell at pick No. 15 in Round 1, with the Tennessee Titans selecting Meachem four spots later at pick No. 19.

Here's Kirwan's justification for the Harrell prediction:

15. Pittsburgh: Justin Harrell, DT, Tennessee -- Harrell is now weighing in at 314 pounds and his workout has NFL people talking first round. He can play defensive end in the 3-4 scheme and can always move to tackle in the 4-3 if the Steelers ever go in that direction down the road.

And here's what Kirwin has to say about the Titans' selection of Meachem:

19. Tennessee: Robert Meachem, WR, Tennessee -- Drew Bennett is gone and offensive coordinator Norm Chow needs a top-flight target for Vince Young. Meachem had 34 receptions over 20 yards and has risen up draft boards in recent weeks. Marshawn Lynch looks real tempting at this spot but the Titans are pushing hard for Michael Turner from the Chargers.

Interestingly enough, one of Kirwan's cohorts at NFL.com, Vic Carucci, also sees Meachem going to the Titans with pick No. 19 but does not project Harrell as a first-round selection. Here's what Carucci has to say about Meachem:

19. Tennessee: Robert Meachem, WR, Tennessee The Titans desperately want to add a receiver to Vince Young's arsenal. Meachem greatly improved his draft status by running a 4.39 40 at the Combine and putting on an impressive display in pass-catching drills.

The NFL Draft is scheduled April 28-29 in New York City. ESPN will air Day 1, with ESPN televising Day 2.

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