With the first round of the NFL draft scheduled to begin at 8/7 Central this Thursday evening, speculation remains rampant on whether a select number of players will find their names called tonight or be forced to wait until tomorrow to find out where they will make their new homes in professional football. Among those players is K-State MLB Arthur Brown, who is projected to go to the Baltimore Ravens with the 32nd and final pick of the first round in SI’s final mock draft.
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King – the face of the organization’s draft team – believes two scenarios will shake out. The Giants, which are strong contenders to draft a linebacker, go with Florida State DE Bjoern Werner at 19 under his assumptions. However, the team to really watch is #20 Chicago, who is in desperate need of a middle linebacker. Yet King plugs Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert here. Even if King is wrong on the first 19 picks, a player other than a linebacker to the Bears is the most likely decision to impact whether Brown goes in the first round.
The top three linebackers in this range are Brown, Manti Te’o, and Alec Ogletree. There are questions surrounding all three – Brown’s shoulder didn’t allow him to particpate in the NFL combine, Manti Te’o was slow at the combine and can’t figure out whether or not the girl he’s dating is a dude from California, and Ogletree has some serious character issues. I believe Brown would be the best fit in Chicago, but King doesn’t see it happening. The next most likely team to go linebacker is Minnesota, who King believes takes the chance on Te’o at #23 (they also have the #25 pick).
These dominoes set up serious issues for Brown and Ogletree, with the next 7-8 teams looking for players to fill different positions than the linebacker spot. Both would most likely drop into the second round but for the Baltimore Ravens, where Brown would replace the vaunted Ray Lewis and assume his position as the next great middle linebacker for the defending Super Bowl champions. You think he could make some noise in that position?