Just don’t count on it happening too early on.
My old Dallas Morning News colleague, and the best draft guy in our business, Rick “Goose” Gosselin, provided this analysis of this year’s class:
Size could be the watchword in the first round of the 2010 draft. With only a small handful of worthy players at the skill positions (quarterback, running back, wide receiver), look for teams to focus on the offensive and defensive lines in the first 32 picks. Ends and pass rushers are always at a premium in the opening round, and tackle is the deepest defensive position on this draft board.
On the offensive side, the tackle board is heavy at the top. There could be two in the top 5, and as many as six in the first round. But it falls off dramatically from there. The interior offensive line, running back and quarterback boards also are thin. Tight end is the deepest position on the offensive side with the quality running deep into the fifth and sixth rounds. Also look for wide receiver to be a position of value and strength in the middle rounds.
Basically, what Goose is writing is that while this draft is strong overall, there are far more elite linemen than running backs or receivers, and so the best value in the first round is in the trenches. And that might make a linemen like Florida’s Maurkice Pouncey (who could go as high as 12 to Denver), or an edge player like Texas’ Sergio Kindle (who might also be gone) a better option than someone like Fresno State’s Ryan Mathews, who might be pushing up some draft boards because of a relative weakness of talent at his position.