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Allen Park — A couple things have changed since our first mock draft, posted last month.
First, the NFL held its annual scouting combine. And while the event should have minimal influence on where a player is selected in the draft, it does matter. A strong or poor showing in the drills, or even the interview process, can separate a player from a pack of similar talents at his position.
And don’t think for a second that a great performance doesn’t influence some NFL decision makers. Wide receiver John Ross certainly helped himself by running the fastest 40-yard dash ever recorded at the event, and a player like Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu undoubtedly shot up more than a few draft boards with a well-rounded performance that included top numbers at his position in the 40, vertical and broad jumps.
Beyond the combine, the primary wave of free agency is complete with many teams plugging roster holes with long-term contracts. For example, by inking Rick Wagner and T.J. Lang, the Detroit Lions are no longer in the market for an offensive lineman in the early rounds of the draft.
With those two things in mind, reassessing where teams still have needs while making slight adjustments to prospect perceptions following the combine, we’ve taken a second crack at projecting the first round.