While the owners and players have been futzing over who gets what slices of the fresh-baked cash pie that is the NFL revenue stream we've been moving closer and closer to the NFL draft. And while Kyle and I are both on record saying that our NFL allegiances are basically just a matter of counting the former Bulldogs in any particular Sunday matchup, we understand that some of you have actual National Football League rooting interests.
My secondary interest in the NFL draft results from my status as the Dawg Sports Director of Recruiting Coverage That Chris Hansen Isn't Worried About. The NFL draft is, after all, essentially recruiting in which the recruits really have no choice about where they go. And can collect $180,000 from their potential employers with impunity. No, it's not conducted live from the decaying shell of a Colonial Bank outside Auburn. Not yet, anyway.
Kyle already brought you the news that Justin Houston appears to have tested positive for marijuana at the NFL combine earlier this month. While this news doesn't mean Houston won't be drafted, it may mean that he falls from the late first round to the mid to late second round, thereby costing himself a whole lot of money. My guess is that Justin will end up going to a team that plays a base 3-4 defense and likes the idea of getting a college linebacker with actual 3-4 experience, a real rarity. Also, do not underestimate in this weird labor strife year the value of a collegian who could come in and play without a ton of coaching in his new team's system. Justin Houston could be that guy.
A lot of draft analysts, including ESPN's Todd McShay, have A.J. Green pegged to go to the Cincinnati Bengals with the 4th selection, which would be a nice payday for him and a nice pickup for the Bengals. The Big Lead has an intriguing mock in which they let 32 random people on the internet do the picking so as to simulate the chaos of having 32 different decisionmakers involved. The result is A.J. Green joining Mo Massaquoi in Cleveland, perhaps because Massaquoi and Warner Robins native/Clemson standout Chansi Stuckey aren't getting the job done. FOXSports contributor Pete Schrager agrees, along with Russ Lande of the Sporting News. Interestingly the Big Lead's Reader M thinks that Justin Houston could go to the Buccaneers at #20 if for no other reason than that Raheem Morris could end up running any defense known to football, and if he's going to do that needs versatile players like Houston. It's an interesting hypothesis, I have to admit. The Sporting News by the way projects Houston falling into the mid-2nd round to the Cardinals (#47 overall).
Clint Boling has been making the rounds meeting with teams who are intrigued by his ability to play literally every single position on the offensive line. SB Nation's own Bleeding Green Nation picked up on precisely this characteristic in selecting Boling 54th overall in the SB Nation mock draft. Boling has also been pretty darned durable during his career in Athens, which should be a selling point.
Kris Durham looks likely to be a free agent, along with offensive tackle Josh Davis, though SB Nation's Seattle Seahwaks site, Field Gulls, offers Durham as a sleeper pick for Seattle.
Remember, the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft kicks off at 8:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow night, and you may prepare for and follow the draft at SB Nation's NFL Draft Hub and NFL Draft weblog, Mocking the Draft. Additionally, we'll have an open comment thread here at Dawg Sports for those of you who want to mock the Carolina Panthers for picking Cam Newton with the first selection in the draft, or Mel Kiper's hair, or Will Muschamp's disciplinary philosophy. Mock away, you bunch of mock-niks. Until later . . .