The draft process has a way of turning conventional wisdom on its head multiple times before we actually get to the draft. It wasn't too long ago that Khalil Mack, Greg Robinson were relatively unknown -- now they are each considered the top player at their respective positions and likely to be drafted in the top five.
Stay tuned, though. The eight weeks before the start of Round One gives NFL teams plenty of time to do more evaluating and possibly change their minds about certain players that we might think we already have pegged. As history shows, the only draft guarantee is that some of the things we think we know will happen won't turn out the way we expect.
Here's a look at five of those potential draft myths:
1. The list of first-tier QBs is capped at three.
The widely accepted belief is that the first tier of quarterbacks in this year's draft includes Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel, and deservedly so. But are we sure that Derek Carr doesn't also belong in that first tier? I think the jury is still out. In fact, I think there are NFL teams that like Carr better than at least one of the QBs in the top three. Carr has plenty of experience. He improved throughout his college career just as his team did -- a key when it comes to evaluating quarterbacks -- and was very productive. He showed everyone that he was the best quarterback at the Reese's Senior Bowl. Now, Bortles, Bridgewater and Manziel (all underclassmen) weren't there, but that's not Carr's fault. He went and performed, and the Senior Bowl has been a place where we've seen quarterbacks convince decision makers that they belong in the first-round mix (Christian Ponder and EJ Manuel are just a couple examples that come to mind). I wouldn't count Carr out of the first tier just yet.
Robinson is rising fast and deserves to be. Athletically, he's just a marvel. He showed at the combine that he's just as athletic as the draft's other top-tier tackles, Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan, and in some facets, Robinson is superior to them. But, you have to take into account that Auburn was a spread-style running team. He was a mauler, but he's moving into a passing league. So, he still has something prove as a pass protector. Given his athleticism, it's expected that he'll be just fine in that area, but there's not the volume of tape to review that there is with Lewan and Matthews. So, is Robinson clearly better? Matthews been doing this for a long time and I think before the draft process started, he was considered the top left tackle in the draft. He had a good combine. Lewan is a four-year starter and he put on a very impressive show at the combine. The consensus pecking order could still change in this race.
We want more and more out of Clowney because we've seen that he has the ability to dominate, but the fact is to this point in his career he hasn't had to work as hard as other guys because he's just been flat-out better than everybody else. Will he learn the work ethic it will take for him to continue to be dominant as a pro? The great ones do. I don't recall hearing a lot about Clowney's motor until this past season, when he might have had people in his ear telling him not to get hurt with the draft awaiting him. I think it changed him. When you need a guy to make a play in a big moment, Clowney is still the type of player you want.
Mack is an outstanding prospect and seems to keep rising up draft boards the more teams study him. Anthony Barr was supposed to be the No. 1 outside linebacker available, but the consensus is Mack has surpassed him. Before it's all said and done, though, I think Barr, who apparently was very impressive at his pro day this week, gets back into his conversation because it's the nature of the process. It's a rollercoaster, and the ride hasn't stopped for Barr or Mack.
This year's class of receivers is extraordinarily deep, but it seems as though the consensus is there's Watkins, and then there's everybody else at the position. Watkins is a great prospect and deserves the praise he has received, but I still think USC WR Marqise Lee isn't getting enough credit. Also, Texas A&M WR Mike Evans is being discussed as a top-10 pick now, and we weren't hearing that prior to the combine, where he impressed with his 40-yard dash. We might look back and say this year's class of receivers was even better than we once thought -- and we thought it was great.