The "Mock Draft Muncher" was recently shared with me by one of my fellow publishers in the Scout.com network. It is an easy-to-read compilation of numerous Web mock drafts, created by Barry McBride of TheOBR.com, Scout's Cleveland Browns site.
We all know most mock drafts are about as useful to the NFL community as Curtis Enis was to the Bears' late-90s offense. But when the sample size is large enough, it gives us a good idea of the general thought process most experts, analysts and fans are utilizing heading into next month's draft.
In the NFC North, Washington's Jake Locker is the most popular pick (7) for the Minnesota Vikings at 12th overall, followed by Arkansas' Ryan Mallett (7), UNC's Robert Quinn (3) and Alabama's Julio Jones (3). Of the first 17 picks, Locker for Minnesota is the least-agreed-upon selection, meaning no one really has any idea what the Vikings will do with that pick.
USC's Tyron Smith (13) is the consensus selection for the Detroit Lions with the 13th pick, followed by Boston College's Anthony Costanzo (10) and Colorado's Nate Solder (6). Obviously, most folks around the NFL feel the Lions will make it a priority to beef up its offensive line, so as to keep its oft-injured QB Matthew Stafford healthy going forward.
As for Chicago, the online community has selected Mississippi State offensive tackle Derek Sherrod (9) as its first over all pick. If he's available at 29, this is a very safe, easy pick for the Bears to make. Second on the list was Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi (6). The Outland Trophy winner would be an immediate upgrade at the left tackle spot, although the odds of him being available this late in the first round are slim.
The masses then jumped to the other side of the line, choosing next for Chicago former Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea (6). Paea doesn't necessarily have the quickness to penetrate as a one-gap tackle but he sure does have the strength, benching 225-pounds 49 times, a Scouting Combine record. Next up was Illinois DT Corey Liuget (4), who has all the makings of a very good 3-technique in the NFL. The Bears will probably feel pretty good drafting either of these defensive tackles if they are still available at 29.
It's obvious the NFL community recognizes the deficiencies Chicago has at the interior of its offensive and defensive lines. While there are needs at cornerback and wide receiver as well, hardly anyone feels the team will address those positions in the first round.
This draft is heavy on talent for the trench positions though, which leads me to believe that if all four of the aforementioned players are gone when the Bears pick, they may trade down, pick up an extra pick in the second or third round, and draft an interior linemen in the second round. That said, if Sherrod or Carimi are staring Chicago in the face at 29, it's hard to see them passing up either player.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.