Final Mock Draft
Here goes the last mock draft of the season. This is what I expect to go down on draft day, Thursday, with the first round turning out some big time surprises. We’ve done a few mock drafts here at LL.com, most recently a team mock that had 4 different guys playing GM for a day. But this one is different, this takes into account all the hoopla involved in the pre-draft process. I’m talking about rumors and needs and “what I hear” and all that good stuff. This one will be the most accurate of any mock we’ve put out. This is always a great time, a bunch of poor kids get rich! Enjoy the draft.
1. Carolina Panthers select Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
I don’t know how you pass on Gabbert’s all around safety and upside, but Newton might very well have the highest ceiling in the draft. Is that always worth the #1 pick? I don’t think so, but I get it.
2. Denver Broncos select Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
Dareus is a beast in the middle, and the Broncos just flat out haven’t had anything close to that since, well, a long time. This team struggles against the run, Dareus will help them sure that area up. If you want safety, MD is the guy.
3. Buffalo Bills select Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
This youngster has a ton of upside as an all around player, and is a great fit for a team that really struggles defensively. Miller will help out against the pass, with his ability to put pressure on the quarterback, and he just plays football with a contagious effort level. I think an OLB is a tough pick at #3 overall, but he’s a game changer.
4. The Cincinnati Bengals select Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
You just don’t get a guy with no holes in his game, anymore. I’m sure Blaine doesn’t have the upside of Cam Newton or the immediate impact of Marcell Dareus, but shoot, he’s a possible franchise quarterback that is fast, big, has a strong arm, has some smarts, and a solid personality. I like Fairley a lot, but it looks like he’s got too many questions. I love A.J. Green –but I get going for a QB here. This “surprise” pick changes the rest of the draft going forward.
5. Arizona Cardinals select Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, Carolina
Arizona gets lucky by not being forced to go Gabbert with #5, I like Gabbert, but the team will get better faster if they get help in the trenches. Before Quinn was kicked off the football team for extra benefits, he was a Top 5 pick in the making – a stud DE that was a force, a big bad man that could play as a 4-3 end or a 3-4 OLB, similar to Terrell Suggs. Well, there’s no NCAA sanctions in the NFL, and Quinn is still that guy. Da’Quan Bowers’ knee questions certainly upped Quinn’s stock, but like I said, he’s always had the talent.
6. Cleveland Browns select A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Mike Holmgren isn’t above taking a wide receiver early, especially when he’s quite possibly the best offensive player in the draft and still on the board at #6. The Browns have some young WRs coming into their own, but they don’t have a guy like A.J. Green. While the Browns certainly don’t have an air-it-out attack, Green can help improve that area with his elite hands and ability to get open.
7. San Francisco 49ers select Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
The 49ers get lucky. This is the kind of guy their defense needs, a defense that is already tough in a bunch of areas, but Peterson just ups the entire group. He may be a Top 3 player from this class.
8. Tennessee Titans select Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
A lot of people have questions about Fairley’s personality, and he may be more difficult than your average bear, but he’s still a stud. Fairley is exactly what the Titans are missing since Haynesworth ran off to Washington DC – except I think there are less questions about Fairley’s personality than Big Al’s – Big Al is wild.
9. Dallas Cowboys select Tyron Smith, OT, USC
Dallas should get as much help in the trenches as possible. Amukamara is an option here, to help an ever-struggling secondary – but I think Romo’s health is of more importance, and Smith will assist in that category while improving the run game to boot.
10. Washington Redskins select Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
I’m not so sure that Splinter Shanahan will be enamored with the idea of going WR in the Top 10, but Jones really adds a lot to a small WR crew in Washington. Julio was supposed to be gone already, but A.J. Green’s small slip has JJ still available. DE or DT still an option here, JJ Watt or Cory Liuget possibly?
11. The Houston Texans select Cameron Jordan, DE, California
Jordan is all the hype right now, and he seems like a great fit opposite Mario Williams. Jordan does a lot of things well, and it’s not surprising that the more people look at him, the more they like what he brings to the table.
12. Minnesota Vikings select Jake Locker, QB, Washington
The Vikings could really use help on the offensive line, as evidenced by Brett Favre being used as a piñata by opposing defenses last season – but they also need a QB of the future, and the current regime doesn’t think they have one on the roster. Locker has great upside, works his A off, and is a strong leader. It’s a reach, but not as much as many think. If they hold off on QB, they could go in a number of different directions, J.J. Watt, Prince Amukamara, Anthony Castonzo (to name a few).
13. Detroit Lions select Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
Prince not only has a great name, but the guy has all the speed and shut down ability you need to grab a corner this high. The Lions defense is really improving, but they can’t take that next step without a stud CB – they just happen to luck out and get one here.
14. The St. Louis Rams select Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
Liuget fits that DL mold that Spagnola was a big part of during his time in New York. The Rams could use Corey’s ability to disrupt the run and pass with his speed and strength. I think Liuget is a can’t miss option on the DL.
15. The Miami Dolphins select Mike Pouncey, OG/C, Florida
I think this is high for a center/guard player, even if his upside is grand. I know his brother is a stud, but remember, his brother is better. Still, I watched the Dolphins’ offensive line really struggle in the middle last season, and Pouncey will guarantee an improvement in that area – so it makes some sense.
16. The Jacksonville Jaguars select J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
I liked the Jaguars grabbing Ryan Kerrigan here, but think that Watt is just a little more impressive as a prospect. He’s still on the board in this scenario, so I think he’s gone, as Jacksonville gets a very solid and safe player in the middle of Round 1.
17. The New England Patriots select Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple
I know that a lot of boards have Castonzo going here, and I certainly see the value in that from a Patriots’ perspective – but this team really missed Richard Seymour, and I think Wilkerson is going to be a stud DE in the 3-4 scheme – I also think the Patriots are really smart – those two thins add up to Wilkerson going here.
18. The San Diego Chargers select Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
Castonzo has starting LT upside, and right off the bat he could be plugged into the RT job in San Diego. This team has gone to the pass a ton over the last couple years, but bookends that can pass block and run block could help even things out in SD.
19. The New York Giants select Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
Carimi is a mauler, and the Giants need to improve their run-game. Some think the best way to do that is to go grab Ingram, but anybody in the know highlights the need of new blood on the offensive line. Jacobs and Bradshaw are decent enough, and there’s plenty of RB options to be won later in the draft – right here, it’s OL or bust for the Giants.
20. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
One could argue that they are just getting rid of the last troubled CB they picked in Round 1. I’m going to go ahead and argue that Jimmy Smith doesn’t have those same concerns, and that he’s quite possibly the best cover guy in the draft. The Bucs need me to be right.
21. The Kansas City Chiefs select Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona
I don’t know how I missed this guy in my first couple mocks. I’ve hit up some film on him, because I heard a lot about his climb into the 1st round. He looks like the real deal to me. I know that Arizona had a stud defense this season, and he’s a big reason why. Tamba Hali is a solid pass rushing force for the Chiefs, but Reed coming form the other side could mean great things for the Chiefs D.
22. The Indianapolis Colts select Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
The Colts protect Manning here. Seems like a good move for a smart front office. If they were wild and crazy, they could think about picking up Aldon Smith and grooming him behind two greats – but the league’s getting tougher, and if they want to compete they need to protect their #1 guy, and improve the run-game.
23. The Philadelphia Eagles select Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
I love the Eagles to trade back here, but if they don’t, it’s because they find a value pick too good to pass up, or maybe they like Akeem Ayers enough to grab him this high? Tough call with the Eagles, per usual, but Sherrod helps them in a huge need area, and I think he’s the last top-tier OT option in this draft.
24. The New Orleans Saints select Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Does this clear up the running back position? I think so. I just don’t really get it. I love Ingram, really, I do – I think he’ll be a stud – but the Saints have proven that they can get a lot of production out of a number of RB options, why go RB with a valuable 1st round pick? Maybe the rumors are for the birds, I don’t know – if they don’t take Ingram, Ryan Kerrigan is a great value pick here, and Aldon Smith is another huge upside, value option.
25. The Seattle Seahawks select Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
I think the Hawks would love Sherrod or Solder to be here so they can improve the other side of that porous offensive line – but that’s just not the case in this mock, and that leaves them thinking… Jake Locker is already gone, so the home town boy options is out the window. I know DE isn’t a huge need for this team, but I still think Ryan Kerrigan is a great value pick this late – if he does indeed slip down the draft. But, with Paul Allen’s money, and a great place to risk it, why not grab Da’Quan Bowers? The kid is a stud, and if his knees do stay healthy for the next 5 years, what an absolute steal for a team looking for gamebreakers.
26. The Baltimore Ravens select Aldon Smith, OLB/DE, Missouri
I’m not sure what they’ll do with him, he’s obviously not big and bad enough to be a 3-4 DE, and they aren’t in need of an OLB in their 3-4, but this is a team getting older, and Smith is a steal here – he could learn from some greats. If they think Ryan Kerrigan can play DE in the 3-4, they’ll grab his motor here. Adrian Clayborn is an option, too. Maybe Brandon Harris or Ras-I Dowling to fill their biggest need? It gets tougher this late.
27. The Atlanta Falcons select Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
The Falcons are looking for a DE to help them put pressure on the passer and be stout on the edge against the run. Kerrigan is going to be a starter, and while he might not project as a Pro-Bowler, the safety in this pick has to be reassuring, the fact that they might get a sure thing this late in a huge position of need will be too good to pass up.
28. The New England Patriots select Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
I’ll be stunned if the Patriots don’t trade one of their first round picks. But there are no trades in my mock, so the Pats fill one of their biggest needs with Akeem Ayers, the playmaker from UCLA. He has the versatility the Patriots want from their players, and is decent value here.
29. The Chicago Bears select Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor
The bottom line here is that Chicago has to upgrade their offense line in Round 1. There’s no OT guy worth their top pick, but I don’t think that will keep them improving their biggest hole. Watkins is a beast, and I think a surefire upgrade is the right decision.
30. The New York Jets select Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
I think Clayborn is a great fit both in value and position of need. It’s tough to find good 5-technique players anywhere in the draft, and if they can do that with pick #30, that’s a great option. Clayborn is the type of guy that will fit perfect on a team that goes all out all the time.
31. The Pittsburgh Steelers select James Carpenter, OG, Alabama
The Crimson Tide had one of the best rushing attacks in the land, and that’s partly due to what Carpenter did on a weekly basis. James might not be the best run or pass blocker in the draft, but he’s well rounded in both areas. The Steelers really need help on the offensive line, and I think Carpenter will sure up the middle.
32. The Green Bay Packers select Will Rackley, OG, Lehigh
It doesn’t look like any of the Packers’ dream scenarios fall here. Brooks Reed, Cameron Heyward, or even Akeem Ayers are all gone, and that leaves them picking the best available guy to help them defend their Super Bowl. They could always use help on the offensive line, and Will Rackley could be their guy as an OG that could solidify their offensive line right away. If Clayborn or Ayers fall this far, they become the targets.
This is it, the day is here, yet another professional sports draft. I love the draft, as many readers have probably realized, as I’ve spewed out thousands and thousands of words between the NBA and NFL draft over the last few years. A bunch of kids getting rich is always fun, and when it’s kids that I’ve watched give it all in college hoops, it’s even more interesting. I had a huge Mock Draft (Part 1 and Part 2) a while back, and while it’s still very relevant here’s a mock that only considers what I’ve heard and read about who is going where tomorrow, with a little of my predicting process involved. I’m sure a trade or three will muck up my mock, but I’m giving it a shot anyway.
1. John Wall – Washington Wizards: No-brainer. I, personally, would consider Turner at #1 for a couple teams in the league – but Wall’s appeal is real – he’s an explosive athlete that could very well be an even better NBA player than a college guy. And he was one of the best in all of college hoops.
2. Evan Turner – Philadelphia 76ers: It looks like the 76ers have smartened up a bit and decided on Turner. Favors was flirted with, and his upside at PF is understandably sexy, but Turner does it all and the 76ers need that desperately. I think Turner will be an All Star within the next 3 years. Not many guys in this draft you can say that about.
3. Derrick Favors– New Jersey Nets: There’s been lots of chatter here, but I find it hard to believe that the Nets would skip out on the opportunity to draft an NBA freak athlete PF like Favors for a small forward like Johnson. Could Johnson be better than Favors? Certainly, but small forwards are a lot easier to find than good power forwards, and right off the bat Favors will make an impact.
4. Wes Johnson– Minnesota Timberwolves: I think Wes Johnson will be a very solid pro player. I don’t think he has starting All-Star upside, but this guy might come in and be the biggest offensive threat on the team from day one. Makes sense to me.
5. DeMarcus Cousins– Sacramento Kings: How can the Kings not go for the gold here? Is Cousins a risk? Sure, but he’s also a dominant 7 footer that can score the basketball and has tons of upside. Sounds like a risk worth taking.
6. Al Farouq Aminu– Golden State Warriors: I’ve heard that Ekpe Udoh might be the guy here, but I find that hard to believe. I like Udoh more than a lot of “experts” and think he has some offensive upside that was shown off against Duke (and other teams), but I still don’t think Golden State will go Udoh with the 6th pick. If they trade down, maybe. But I think they’ll go upside here and pull Aminu off the board. His athleticism on both ends could really help them, especially with Maggette traded away.
7. Greg Monroe– Detroit Pistons: The Piston don’t have a real power forward. Ben Wallace doesn’t have PF skills, and certainly is old and without offensive game. Villanueva plays more like a SG than a PF, he’s soft. Austin Daye is too weak to be a PF. They have other guys that are too short. Monroe has every offensive skill you need, and he’s a great passer with good vision. He has the body to be a presence defensively and on the glass. He’s a good pick here for Detroit if they can’t move up to get their guy, Cousins.
8. Gordon Hayward– Los Angeles Clippers: If Aminu’s still here, they take him I’m sure. If Aminu’s gone, there’s lots of options. One that hasn’t been thought of much is Avery Bradley – that wouldn’t stun me. I have always really liked Hayward though, a guy that doesn’t get enough recognition for how elite he is athletically. Dude is springy. He can really shoot (though struggled last season a bit from the floor), but I think he’ll be a better pro than he was as a college player – and he was good for Butler. He’d help sure up a spot in LA that is pretty weak.
9. Ed Davis– Utah Jazz: I think Davis doesn’t get enough credit, or rather he gets too much blame for the failures of UNC last season. He wasn’t a first option offensive force anyway, and had a hard time getting the ball between sharing post opportunities and guards having trouble. Davis is a big kid that has lots of maturing to do, but he’s more explosive and even longer than people give him credit. He would be a solid defensive guy for a team that is terrible on D.
10. Avery Bradley– Indiana Pacers: If the Pacers don’t trade their pick (I think they do), Bradley would be a solid option. They don’t really have a PG of the future, and this kid is very explosive and great defensively. Paul George has been what I’ve been hearing, but I think 24 hours will be plenty of time for Indiana to realize they don’t need a lanky scorer off the bench. I think Bradey’s the move, though I would easily trade this pick for the likes of Ty Lawson or Darren Collison.
11. Ekpe Udoh – New Orleans Hornets: I have heard too many things about the Hornets and where they’ll go with their pick, but Udoh seems like a good option to me. He’s a defensive presence in the middle for a team that doesn’t have one, and I think he has upside to benefit offensively from a dominant point guard. He can finish above the rim, well.
12. Paul George– Memphis Grizzlies: I would be surprised if the Grizzlies didn’t find a way to package some of their picks to move up and pick the guy they really want in the 7-10 range (but who is that?). I’m not too sure what the Grizzlies want. They should believe they have a center of the future. They have Marc Gasol. Even Zach Randolph was solid for them. If they think they might lose Rudy Gay, than a guy like Babbitt or maybe Xavier Henry makes sense here. But the Grizzlies have enough solid players where absolute upside should be key, and that looks like Paul George to me.
13. Cole Aldrich– Toronto Raptors: Lots of guys make sense for this soft team. Chris Bosh is gone, and he was the Raptors. Now they’ll go to Bargnani, and he’s a very solid player – but as a center, he’s soft, a perimeter player. Enter Aldrich. He’s not flashy, doesn’t have high upside, but shoot – at pick 13, the NBA Draft History says getting an effective player at all is a good deal. I think Aldrich would help take defensive pressure of Bargnani, and make a nice tandem to build on in Toronto.
14. Patrick Patterson– Houston Rockets: The Rockets gave up Carl Landry last year, and I think Patrick Patterson would be a great player to put on this squad. This team tries to do all the little things, and Patterson would be a perfect guy in the front court rotation for their team concept. Plus he helps right meow.
15. Craig Brackins– Milwaukee Bucks: So many options for Milwaukee. After doing pretty well in trades, they don’t really need any one spot. They could take help anywhere, though, and so I think they grab the best player that can surely help them continue to be a playoff team. I think Damion James would be a great guy for them, but they might go for more upside than the hard working James. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they reached for the big Frenchman. His upside is impressive, and they have added plenty of pieces prior to the draft to justify that pick. Still, I think they can get needed help up front in this draft, and Brackins could give them an interesting option off the bench, spreading the floor for guys like Jennings to attack the paint.
16. Luke Babbitt– Minnesota Timberwolves: I think Babbitt would be a big time offensive force in the triangle offense. He can shoot and really understands the game – plus he’s lights out from range and while he’s not good defensively, he’ll help this team immediately.
17. Xavier Henry– Chicago Bulls: Who knows where the Bulls go, honestly. They could trade a couple guys, move a couple spots, get all gung ho about adding some big free agents. Shoot, they might even have an inside track on LeBron. But they could use the best player left in the draft, in my opinion, Xavier Henry. He shoots the ball really well, and with Derrick Rose, the more guys that can drain jumpers the better.
18. Damion James– Oklahoma Thunder: I’ve always said that the Thunder could really use some unheralded guys that are just flat out better than their size or speed insists. James is a stud, he can hit shots, he can take big shots, he will get rebounds, play defense. He’s a solid player that could eventually start, always come off the bench, anything. He’s glue. They need more glue.
19. Eric Bledsoe– Boston Celtics: I’ve heard lots about how the Celtics need a ‘Sheed replacement, but Bledsoe fits too well here for me to ignore. If he’s undrafted by 19, I’ll be a bit surprised, but it looks like he’ll still be on the board. He can back up Rondo at the point and play the 2 if need be. He can score and I see point in his future. For an older team with lots of questions in their back-court, Bledsoe makes too much sense.
20. Kevin Seraphin– San Antonio Spurs: The Spurs are smart. They’ll just build by taking a guy like Saraphin and having him grow up a bit before they start playing him. That’s why the Spurs are always good. They are smart.
21. Larry Sanders– Oklahoma City Thunder: I think Sanders gives the Thunder some toughness and athleticism at a position where they place Nenad Kristic and Nick Collison. Enough said, right?
22. Quincy Pondexter– Portland Trailblazers: The Blazers have plenty of talent in plenty of places, and Pondexter would just add a player that can do lots of things, be long and athletic, and produce energy plays any time he’s on the floor. He’s a quality player right now.
23. James Anderson– Minnesota Timberwolves: For those telling me that the Wolves don’t need a shooting guard – please, the Wolves need all the scoring they can get. Anderson might not be the next Michael Jordan, but that’s why he’s available late – he still knows how to score the ball, something the Wolves have a lot of trouble doing efficiently.
24. Solomon Alabi– Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks could really use more bigs. Guys that can make a dent on the defensive end against taller post players. They seem to get destroyed by teams with a post presence, and that’s probably because they don’t have a defensive post presence with length. Alabi would be a good fit.
25. Jordan Crawford– Memphis Grizzlies: I like Crawford. I don’t think the Grizzlies even know what they’re going to do, trades, free agency, etc. Crawford would give them a shot to explore some trade options and still have a high upside shooting guard. This late in Round 1, he’s a solid risk play.
26. Daniel Orton– Oklahoma City Thunder: They’ll have to hit with one of their bigs in this draft, right? The Thunder have a very good staff, and that’s why I don’t see them spending an early pick on Orton – too much risk. However, they have been stockpiling picks and if he’s there late, he’s a solid risk.
27. Elliot Williams– New Jersey Nets: Williams is a good defensive player, can really break down defenders 1 on 1, and that’s in college against zones and hand checking. I think he’s a steal this late, and New Jersey could use all the steals they can thieve.
28. Hassan Whiteside– Memphis Grizzlies: This kid has all the physical upside you could want, and so much length and hype… He also seems like a real donkey. To Memphis late, seems like a good fit.
29. Lance Stephenson– Orlando Magic: I think the Magic would be wise to grab a talent like Stephenson and see if they can get through to him and have him realize his potential. They could use some young off the dribble guys that can create.
30. Gani Lawal– Washington Wizards: Hard-nosed tough big man that is willing to do dirty work and not afraid to demand the ball. He’s super competitive and works very hard. Sound like any of the big guys in Washington? Not at all – that’s why he’d be a great pick up for the Wizz.
The Draft is close!!! As old as I am, I always start jumping around like a youngster when April hits the midway point. It’s the 12th, and I’m already getting a little giddy. This draft seems as crazy as any I’ve ever seen, as the first round could go any number of ways. Once again, the Raiders are the wild-card. Much will flow based on who they “reach for” at #8 – and I have a real surprise in the works! This is how I see it going…
1. St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma: This is an easy pick. I’m not as sold on him as Lucky is, but he’s going to be a solid quarterback in the league – he just has that leadership presence. The Rams need that on the field.
2. Detroit Lions: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska: There’s some whispers out there saying the Lions might like McCoy more than Suh. Gerald is probably a better interior pass rusher, but I still like Suh more. If they pick 2nd, they grab Suh. It’s possible they could sucker the Bucs into moving up a spot, get the guy they really want and a bonus pick later in the draft. Seems silly, but all the years I’ve been around I’ve seen it a couple times.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma: While the Lions definitely do well with Bradford getting picked #1, the Bucs don’t miss by much either. While it was originally thought they’d be choosing the best players on the board after the can’t-miss defensive tackles, the way it’s shaking out, they’ll walk away with McCoy. Lucky.
4. Washington Redskins: Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State: I think Lucky is on to something when he says Okung is not an ideal Shanahan lineman – but he’s still the best on the board, and for a team that is in full-blown win-now mode, a big talented cat to guard their new quarterback’s blindside is the right thing to do, the right guy to pick – that’s Okung.
5. Kansas City Chiefs: Eric Berry, S, Tennessee: It would stun everyone else, but not me, if the Chiefs went Dez Bryant here. The kid is going to be a stud, but with all the bad press he’s getting, he’d be a stunner this high. The smart move would be to grab a difference maker on defense, so I’m going to go on and pretend they do that and grab Berry. The guy is a perfect safety for this team.
6. Seattle Seahawks: Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma: The Hawks don’t win big in terms of value if Berry is gone and Okung is off the board. This is where they’ll have to choose the best player that just makes them a better team. They need offensive line help something fierce, and this guy is a good safe player. He can play a few different spots and will improve the Hawks worst area right off the bat.
7. Cleveland Browns: Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech: The Browns traded a little to get Sheldon Brown, making sure that they weren’t going to reach for a corner back too early. So what does that leave for the Browns? They could go defensive end, but this might be a little early. Unlike most teams picking this high, they are pretty dang good up front, so offensive lineman is out. It may be a reach, but I think Derrick Morgan would be a solid pick for Cleveland. He’s very good against the pass and run – he has good upside, and they traded away a pass rusher to Oakland.
8. Oakland Raiders: Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma: Throw reason out the window when the Raiders pick. I don’t know what great value would be here for Oakland, and obviously they can’t right all the wrongs of draft’s past, but picking another WR in the Top 10 doesn’t make much sense. So it’s the perfect pick. When you add to the equation that Dez Bryant truly is a game changing talent, and he’s still around at 8, seems like a perfect Raider pick to me.
9. Buffalo Bills: Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers: The Bills could really use some help up front and most of us here at LL.com think Anthony Davis is the most talented of a very deep OT class. Getting him here at 9, even with some questions, would be a great deal for the Bills.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars: Joe Haden, CB, Florida: Who knows what Jack Del Rio and his cast of tangerines are going to do, but they simply suck defensively and Haden is the best corner in the draft. In a division with Manning and Schaub, they desperately need help, and Haden is going to be a heck of a player.
11. Denver Broncos: Earl Thomas, S, Texas: I think the Broncos get lucky and pick up one of the Top 5 players in the draft with Thomas at #10. This defense could use lots of things, and maybe safety isn’t a dire need for this team, but this kid is too good to pass up for a smart draft staff.
12. Miami Dolphins: Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee: The Dolphins should jump for joy if Williams makes it to them. They need to get better defensively, and while there are a handful of outside/inside linebackers that would be solid here, there’s only one perfect defensive tackle left on the board, and they should grab Dan here.
13. San Francisco 49ers: Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa: If Bulaga actually falls this far, Singletary and the Niners will be even happier than the Dolphins. This team needs more talent up front, some push, a little running game identity, and BB can help do that.
14. Seattle Seahawks: C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson: Being a Hawks fan, I would HATE to see Claussen get picked here. Trading a 2nd round pick for a 3rd string quarterback was dumb, but at least that makes me think they won’t go get Claussen. I wouldn’t love it if they grabbed Spiller, because as good of a football player as he is, the Hawks need so much defensively. I think Early Thomas would be great if he was here, but he’s not. Haden would be good value here, but he’s gone. If one of the Top 4 offensive linemen fell this far, that would be great value – but one of them didn’t, and they took an OT with their 1st pick anyway. At least if they pick Spiller they get one of the most dynamic offensive players in the draft.
15. New York Giants: Rolando McClain, ILB, Alabama: I certainly don’t care about his numbers or any combine pre-draft camp stuff here. I watched this kid play, and he’s a machine at the ILB position, a spot where the Giants need some serious help.
16. Tennessee Titans: Jason Pierre Paul, DE, South Florida: The Titans were going to be hurting on the defensive line anyway, but even more-so now that Vanden-Bosch is gone. Paul is a physical specimen that could do very good things under Tennessee’s coaching staff.
17. San Francisco 49ers: Sergio Kindle, DE, Texas: The Niners filled their need with their 1st pick, and while I’m sure they have some more, they wouldn’t be filled by a player of Kindle’s upside. Sergio had some amazing games, and I think he’d be a perfect fit for an already talented defense in San Francisco.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Iupati, G, Idaho: The best guard in the draft, the Steelers will go big with help up front if he’s here. Pittsburgh lost the ability to run last year, checking to pass plays too often, and never having that confidence up front. With a very good young running back, a new physical presence up front would get them back to basics.
19. Atlanta Falcons: Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan: This kid has really moved up since original draft rankings, and I’m not one bit stunned. He’s a great football player, and while elite size will never be something he has, the ability to change the game is there. This would be a great pick for a Falcons D that really needs it.
20. Houston Texans: Maurkice Pouncey, C/G, Florida: I think Taylor Mays would be a good pick here. I think Kyle Wilson, or other help at CB (Kareem Jackson?) would be a solid pick for need here. But I also think this team needs more toughness up front, and Pouncey is one of if not the best interior lineman in the draft. I’m sold.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma: The Bengals could really use help in making their offense more explosive. They are strong up front, they have a good quarterback that should be even closer to his old self this coming season, and they have some talent at receiver. Gresham is the 2nd best receiving option in the draft – a good pick here.
22. New England Patriots: Jared Odrick, DE, Penn State: The Patriots missed Richard Seymour desperately last season. They get a 1st round pick from the Raiders next season because of it, and that might be great then, but right now they need some help up front to replace that guy. I’m not saying Odrick is Seymour, because he’s not, but he can be a tough-nosed all-out presence against the run and pass. A little higher than people expect Odrick to go, but so what.
23. Green Bay Packers: Charles Brown, OT, USC: Brown isn’t the highest rated tackle in the draft, but he’s a very good player that may have dropped down a bit because of USC’s offensive struggles in 2009. That’s silly, because Brown was still very stout, and he projects to be a talented OT in the league. The Packers need to keep Rodgers off his back, Brown can assist from the get go.
24. Philadelphia Eagles: Taylor Mays, S, USC: They have bigger needs at corner back and on the defensive line, but the Eagles have to see a lot of value in Taylor Mays, the total package at safety. He might have played a little out of position as a deep center fielder last year at USC – but he’s going to be a very good pro and is probably a Top 10 talent.
25. Baltimore Ravens: Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State: The Ravens have traded for just about everything they need. They got lots of help offensively with Anquan Boldin, and they are already very stout up front, so much so that they are looking to trade one of their best offensive linemen. That being said, they can definitely get better in coverage, and Wilson is one skilled corner. Big plays are the name of the game, and Wilson makes plenty of them.
26. Arizona Cardinals: Everson Griffen, DE, USC: Griffen has lots of tools, and while he might not be a linebacker to take over for Dansby, they can go get that in Round 2. Right now, at 26, to get a player like Griffen at defensive end is too good to pass up.
27. Dallas Cowboys: Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland: The Cowboys don’t need anything, so look for them to either go for the most upside here or take the best player on the board, or even (and they’ve done it before) trade this pick away to someone looking for the next best quarterback, and get value later. No trades is our rule at LL.com, so I think the Cowboys go with Bruce Campbell from Maryland. He may not be the most fluid or the best worker, but he’s a big body with some upside and the Cowboys could get younger on the offensive line – at least with depth. I think that one of the best football players left is Golden Tate, but would the Cowboys sign a 1st round receiver?
28. San Diego Chargers: Ryan Matthews, RB, Fresno State: He’s not as flashy as Spiller or Best, but he might damn well be the best every down running back in the draft. The Chargers no longer have one of those, and they might just grab the top guy late in Round 1.
29. New York Jets: Jerry Hughes, DE, TCU: Well, the Jets have officially traded for everything they could have wanted. They now have one of the best receiving corps in the league with Cotchery, Braylon, and newly acquired Santonio Holmes. Needless to say I don’t think WR is on their 1st round wish list. They have a great offensive line and a very talented defense that is getting better in the off-season, grabbing Antonio Cromartie from the Chargers, and possibly signing Jason Taylor. So I think they grab a game changer as a pass-rusher, because they’ve been looking for one to boost their pass-rush for sometime. Jerry Hughes may not have ideal size, but his motor and pass-rush prowess could be exactly what the Jets defense needs.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Jimmy Claussen, QB, Notre Dame: The Vikings might be without Favre, or the old man might play another year. Either way, there’s not a ton of value to be had for them here, aside from Claussen, who could be prepared to be the Vikings quarterback of the future.
31. Indianapolis Colts: Brian Price, DT, UCLA: Price has lost a lot of his luster, falling out of most 1st round mocks. But I think this kid is going to be a good one, and he can do a lot from the DT spot. Indy is always looking for help on the D-line, and Price should bring them an immediate reward.
32. New Orleans Saints: Sean Weatherspoon, OLB, Missouri: This kid is a great pick for the Saints. He’s a very smart and talented football player that would fill in right away for the loss of Scott Fujita. He might not have that veteran seasoning, but he’s a better talent at a spot of need.
March 29, 2010 by luckylester · Comments Off
This Mock Draft has been updated as of April 15th, early Thursday morning. A trade or two has gone down, and the draft’s layout has changed a bit. Check out my most recent update!
After an action packed off-season with signings and tradings galore, and seeing as though we are just a month away from the real deal, I’ve put together my second mock draft for you. I think this one will be a little more accurate, but don’t forget to head back to my first mock draft – as there was plenty of intelligent picks to be had. I can’t wait for the most exciting day of the off-season, even if ESPN is doing their best to make this a week-long event. Let the drafting begin!!!
- St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma: As I said in my original Mock Draft way back before the Super Bowl, Bradford is easily the best quarterback in this class and his future is bright – I loved him as the top quarterback in a much better QB class last season, and I like him just as much this year (but with more injury concerns). I also had him going #4 to the Redskins. But since then, the former Heisman Trophy winner has shown his true colors, and they now believe his upside and the fact that he could be a great quarterback ends up being too much for the QB-less Rams to pass up.
- Detroit Lions: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska: The biggest baddest sure thing star in the draft. I now understand why the Rams likely won’t pick the DT #1 overall, and that’s all fine and dandy, but I would take THIS DT #1 overall because he would fit a huge need, help a bad defense, and is the best player in college football. That last part is a big deal. I am a little sick of the idea of where a player should be drafted based on their position. You take the biggest difference maker, and I think Suh is that. I love Bradford, and get what the Rams are thinking, but the Lions benefit big time from that move. The big cat almost won the Heisman as a freaking defensive tackle. He’s a no-brainer for me.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma: This beast of a tackle would have been a Top 10 pick last season, but he stayed in school – unlike some other Oklahoma Sooners, this season only upped his stock, as McCoy gained strength and speed and proved even more dominating than before. He has the ability to be a force against both the run and pass. The Bucs likely benefit the most form St. Louis deciding to go quarterback here, they would have been looking at a safety or even reaching for an offensive lineman here, but now they get one of the best players in the draft at a position they have needs.
- Washington Redskins: Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State: It looks like the Redskins agreed with McShay and myself on Claussen’s worth, which is exactly why they removed the chances of grabbing him by trading for Donovan McNabb. So now what will they do? I still think they lose in this draft as there’s no great value pick for them to grab. Russell Okung is supposedly the best offensive lineman in the draft, but I don’t see the elite footwork and athleticism that Mike Shanahan asks for in his OTs. So what do they do? Eric Berry probably isn’t an option for a team with a highly paid safety in the prime of his career. So what do they do? I haven’t seen a team drafting at 4 with so many questions. The Redskins almost have to move down here, but who wants this spot? If they stay here, and in my Mocks everyone stays in their slot, I think the Redskins should go for Anthony Davis, the most gifted OT in the draft, out of Rutgers. He fits the athletic mold Splinter likes from his O-linemen, and it fits a big need for the Skins. But it’s beginning to look like they won’t pick a question mark as large as Davis with a pick this high. Despite his limited athleticism, Okung is the guy that everybody sees as the safest thing right away, the guy most ready to help. That’s what the Redskins have signed up for, so they likely go Okung.
- Kansas City Chiefs: Eric Berry, S, Tennessee: The Chiefs will probably shape a lot of the draft going forward, but I’ve decided it’s too hard to pass up a pro-bowl caliber player at a position of need for a team that needs a leader in the secondary. There it is. Eric Berry is a great pick for the Chiefs.
- Seattle Seahawks: Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State: I’m not sure why the Hawks traded 2nd round picks with San Diego to get Whitehurst, but hey, maybe that is worth it in the future. What it did was eliminate a chance at Brandon Marshall, because the Dolphins could put a better now and later package together. What it does is open the door for Seattle to go big with the draft’s most explosive offensive player, Dez Bryant. He could give Seattle a great deep threat to team with TJ Housh, and give the offense some explosion down field. A reach, maybe, but his character questions are blown out of proportion, and he’s a big time game-breaker.
- Cleveland Browns: Joe Haden, CB, Florida: The Browns would be smart to sure up their defense with the best corner prospect in the draft, really the only guy that has a guaranteed 1st round grade and first round production in college (though I like Kyle Wilson from Boise State). Haden has good value here as the only cover corner with a 1st round slot, plus I think he’ll be very good, and the Browns could always use help at any position really, and name a tougher position to find an elite player than corner. Okay, maybe QB – but there’s nobody the Browns should take at 7 there.
- Oakland Raiders: Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida: This physical freak of nature could become exactly what a 3-4 defense wants at the pass rushing end. He has the physical tools to dominate and has the motor to make it happen. I think this is a great upside pick for a defense looking for big plays. The problem with this pick is that I really like this guy, he grades out really high, and the Raiders could use more pass rushing presence. Yes, that wouldn’t be a problem unless it was Oakland picking a team that rarely drafts logically. Oh well, I’ll give them a lucky accident here.
- Buffalo Bills: Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma: I think Trent Williams would be a big help to the Bills. But it’s between intelligent helpful pick and Jimmy Claussen here, and I have an eerie feeling the Bills are going to go the wrong way with this one. Still, I like Williams as a pick for Buffalo, a team that could only get better on the offensive line, especially with the run-heavy scheme they will likely be running next season (likely scratching the hurry up they put together last year). Williams is big and strong and solid.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Earl Thomas, S, Texas: Don’t tell me that the Jaguars get smart and draft a kid that will immediately make their defense better as a leader and a great player for a secondary that really struggles to hold their own against the rest of the NFL. Don’t tell me it’s happening. I’m putting this pick down because it’s smart, it’s perfect, it’s easy – but I wouldn’t be stunned for a minute if Jacksonville grabbed Claussen here.
- Denver Broncos: Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee: I originally had the Broncos adding Earl Thomas, and still think he’d be a great pick for the Broncos here. In my draft, their new elite receiving prospect is off the board, and that’s probably good, because taking a receiver high wouldn’t be the greatest help to this team. Dan Williams projects as a great center piece in a 3-4 defense, and a great defensive lineman is something Denver could really use. Plus, it snags a player the Dolphins covet at pick 12 – perfect.
- Miami Dolphins: Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech: Before the Marshall trade I saw the best wide receiving prospect in the draft going here, but with Marshall on board, and Dez now off the board, they’ll have to go in a different direction. They could use some help at lots of places, but defense is probably their biggest need. They don’t have any outside linebackers that make their 3-4 great, and they could go for a guy like Kindle here, but I think Morgan is the better value. They can use him on the line somewhere – he might not be a prototypical guy in a 3-4, but he does everything well, against the pass and run, and has a great motor – which should help even out the Brandon Marshall trade…
- San Francisco 49ers: Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa: I like Brian Bulaga… This big offensive tackle has the feet I want in an offensive lineman, and he hasn’t reached his full potential yet. Yes, I like OL guys that don’t rely too heavily on overpowering college defensive linemen throughout their NCAA careers – because in the NFL, that won’t always be an option. Bulaga has the footwork to be very good, and should help a struggling run-game from the get go. People say that Bulaga isn’t an elite athlete, but balance is a key to athleticism in my mind and he’s great there. I had the Niners picking up Brian with their next pick, and that’s still possible, but this is a great fit for them in a big spot of need.
- Seattle Seahawks: Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers: I thought the Hawks would get a chance at Morgan, but he’s off the board now. That leaves them in a good spot to take the most talented offensive lineman in the draft. The Hawks have good offensive line coaches in Seattle, and they should be able to do a lot with Davis. There’s no doubt in my mind that an OL pick in the 1st round would really help the Hawks’ chances at success.
- New York Giants: Rolando McClain, ILB, Alabama: There’s not much I have to say besides that this kid is one of the best football players I watched on the college level this season. I’m not ready to say this is one of the biggest needs the Broncos have, or that I can justify this pick over a defensive end and physical specimen like Carlos Dunlap, but McClain is a beast and would certainly give this team a lot of options at line-backer. I think he makes the entire defense more physical and athletic. Carlos Dunlap: The Giants could use some push on defense. I think Dunlap’s size and physical upside makes him a great selection for a Giants team that definitely lost a bit of their defensive punch as the season went forward. This team had a lot of injuries, and I’m not sure they have terrible need anywhere, which makes Dunlap, and his upside, an even better selection.
- Tennessee Titans: Sergio Kindle, DE, Texas: This team definitely needs pass rush help, as the time opposing quarterbacks got when they dropped back definitely effected the defense and their 31st ranking against the pass. There are lots of options defensively, and I’m not sure which guy fits the Titans’ defense best – but I like Sergio Kindle as a playmaker in a defensive front that is lacking difference makers. I think Brian Price is a good pick, as is Jason Odrick or even Everson Griffen – and those all might be safer picks, but Kindle’s big play ability wins out here.
- San Francisco 49ers: Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State : I sure hope not, and I know some people thought I was crazy when I suggested the 49ers go OL-OL in back to back 1st round picks, but that’s because I really don’t think Claussen will work out, and two big guys will really help this team gain an identity. Claussen can run a pro-style offense, and that’s something to pursuade the Niners with, but I’m thinking true help for a team on the verge of the playoffs wins out, and they go a different direction. Kyle Wilson can help the 49ers where they really struggled down the stretch, deep. Wilson is a very solid ball defender that makes big plays and is downgraded a bit because he played for Boise State. I think if he played for Florida he’d be a Top 10 pick. This guy can play.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho: The Steelers need help right now, and I think Iupati steps in and plays from the get go. He’s a beast of a guard, and a technician for a rookie – he should sure up Big Ben’s time in the pocket, and if he does a really good job, they’ll put him in charge of keeping Ben out of trouble at bars and sorority houses and strip clubs alike.
- Atlanta Falcons: Brian Price, DT, UCLA: Mel Kiper has C.J. Spiller going here, but that doesn’t make too much sense to me. They already have a running back that gets a huge portion of carries, they have a guy in Jerious Norwood who, when healthy, has been dynamic with his limited touches, and they need a lot of help defensively to waste their 1st round pick on a situational running back (which is what Spiller would be for them). What the Falcons need more than anything is some help stuffing the run. Brian Price would give the Falcons everything they need up front, help against the run and a pass rushing presence from the interior.
- Houston Texans: Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan: I haven’t seen Graham going to the Texans in many mock drafts, but the kid could do big time things rushing the passer opposite Mario Williams. No double teams, no problem – Graham’s quickness will automatically make life tough for opposing quarterbacks, and put less pressure on a shaky secondary. If you can’t improve your secondary with a value pick at corner or safety, why not improve your secondary with a value pick at defensive line?
- Cincinnati Bengals: Jared Odrick, DE, Penn State: The Bengals could really use a dual threat at defensive end, and this kid’s want-to and absolute motor will make him a solid option right off the bat. They need help on the defensive line, at least some depth, because they are shallow up front and injuries derailed them late last season.
- New England Patriots: C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson: I still love this pick for the Patriots. I don’t see what’s taking Bill Belichick so long. The Patriots love to pass the ball, and they love to pass it short, why not have one of the most feared open space players in the draft come in and make the most out of Tom Brady’s ability to read defenses, and take advantage of mismatches. Spiller is a mismatch to big play waiting to happen. I know he doesn’t fit the normal Patriot mold, but what does that mean anyway? Does it mean they haven’t drafted one in a while? I see Spiller as a double-digit touchdown guy in the NFL – the Pats could use that at the RB position.
- Green Bay Packers: Taylor Mays, S, USC: The Packers need help up front really bad. Sure, Aaron Rodgers holds on to the ball a little longer than he should, but that doesn’t mean a grip of those sacks weren’t the fault of a faulty offensive line. The Packers do need help there, but OTs have already been reached out for, and the next best shouldn’t be drafted here. They could go for a guy flying up the charts like center/guard prospect Maurkice Pouncey. Pouncey keeps defensive tackles in front, and can help run and offense, rarely making pass protection mistakes. However, Taylor Mays is on the board, and I don’t think he gets passed up here. He’s a playmaker, an elite size and speed guy that excelled two years ago for one of the best defenses in college football. He struggled a bit last year in a down year for the USC defense, often trying to do too much – but in a league that considers upside, Mays has great value here.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Everson Griffen, DE, USC: The Eagles need youth and help lots of places defensively, but who knows, they might just go on and add a 4th quarterback here just to further complicate matters and mess around with us. I thought they’d try to grab Dan Williams if he fell, but he won’t – that’s what I’ve figured – and I don’t know if there’s another defensive lineman that’s way better than the next guy, but I think Everson Griffen has the upside you want if you’re part of the Eagles’ brass. A big, bad O-lineman wouldn’t be bad here, but I think Griffen is the right choice.
- Baltimore Ravens: Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma: I think Gresham is the biggest game changing receiving option left in the draft, and though Todd Heap has shown skills in the past, he’s about as reliable to play every day as Pacman Jones is at staying in line at a strip club. Heap’s best years are gone, his health is always a question, and I think Gresham is much more talented than him anyway. The Ravens could grab defensive help in numbers, a guy like Jerry Hughes or maybe even Brandon Spikes as a playmaker for the future. They could go for a wide receiver like Arrelious Benn, Bradon Lafell, or even Demaryius Thomas, an elite receiver physically that might have been held back in college by the offense he was in. But I think the Ravens don’t reach for a receiver here and instead take one of the best pass catching tight ends to come out in a long time.
- Arizona Cardinals: Brandon Spikes, ILB, Florida: Warner retired so did Bert Berry, Dansby and Boldin were traded, I don’t know what the Cardinals will need more. Similar to a wiffle-ball, they have lots of holes, I know that. I know Carlos does lots of things for the Cardinals, and I’m not sure that Spikes will get those all done right off the bat – but he’s a difference maker at the ILB position and he plays with the physicality and instincts that make good players great, and the Cardinals could use some more pop, especially now that Dansby is gone. I know Spikes isn’t projected this high, but if the Cardinals can get him, it’d be great for them. Some other options, Carlos Dunlap, Jerry Hughes, or even a quarterback if they like a guy like Claussen and he’s still waiting. Jermaine Gresham if he’s still there? You bet – definitely an option.
- Dallas Cowboys: Maurkice Pouncey, C/G, Florida: Oh what does the team that has everything draft? Good question. The Cowboys seem to be loaded at running back, possess a strong offensive line, look to be loaded on defense and have millions of dollars invested into receiver. Do they reach for an offensive lineman like Charles Brown and hope he develops into a starter for them? The Cowboys should probably trade down with no big time need, and acquire some picks in a very deep draft. But, if they do en up picking here, how about a guy like Maurkice Puncey? Good pick for them. He’d sure up the offensive line at a few positions, and help this team if things went wrong up front, plus add a great prospect for the future. This pick may not be flashy enough for Jones, but it’s a good one.
- San Diego Chargers: Jahvid Best, RB, California: I like Ryan Mathews and think he could be a very good running back in the NFL, but Best has special upside and he should be strongly considered here. Don’t decide against drafting him because he’s small and you already have a small back. I love Sproles and his ability to makes nothing into something, but if Best is small, Sproles is miniature. Best has amazing speed, and it translates on the field. People question him because of his concussion and his struggles against top ranked defenses – but this kid can run, and he’s going to be a good one. If you’re going to drop a 1st round pick on a running back, it might as well be a homerun talent you’re bringing in.
- New York Jets: Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame: I’m sticking with this one. The Jets have some good players at receiver, and Edwards and Cotchery both have good size and speed – and I don’t know what Tate will “measure” out at, but I have to be honest, I don’t care. Golden Tate should get a weekly thank you letter from Charlie Weis that says, “I’d like to thank you for getting me a job as an offensive coordinator after I got fired. You are the reason I looked good when I did.” Tate might not have great size or speed or whatever you want to have for receivers – but he does do one thing, he goes and gets the ball and he makes magic happen. The kid was unstoppable and he made Jimmy Claussen look really good on some “up for grabs” balls. I think the Jets could really use a guy like him in their run first, big pass play offense.
- Minnesota Vikings: Charles Brown, OT, USC: Brandon Spikes could slip, no doubt about it. As could a guy like Brian Price, and both would be good options for the Vikings. This team definitely needs some youth on defense and more specifically at linebacker. But, the Vikings could get that on the days following the first round, and I don’t think they’ll be able to get an OL prospect like Charles Brown unless they go now. Brown would give some nice depth on the line to a team with possibly question marks arising, as Brett got killed in the NFC Championship and the offseason wasn’t good to Bryant McKinnie’s respect level.
- Indianapolis Colts: Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama: Kareem’s ability to anticipate the throw, hold down a side, and make sure nothing gets over his head should really help him in Indy’s safe scheme. Jackson moves very well, not just fast, but with good balance and great hips. He looks like a very good corner to me, and Indy could always use help on the outside.
- New Orleans Saints: Sean Weatherspoon, OLB, Missouri: This seems like an easy pick for the Saints as Weatherspoon looks like the most NFL ready sideline to sideline OLB in the draft, and the Saints are looking for one because Scott Fujita bolted for greener (money) pastures in Cleveland. There are obviously lots of options at linebacker, and the Saints could find more value going for a guy like Carlos Dunlap, Jared Odrick, even a pass rush specialist like Jerry Hughes – some player ranked higher than Weatherspoon. But why risk it when you can get a great player to fill in when you need help?
- Best Players Left: Devin McCourty, Carlos Dunlap, Ryan Matthews, Jerry Hughes, Aaron Hernandez, Arrelious Benn, Terrence Cody, Demaryious Thomas, Brandon LaFell, Colt McCoy, Patrick Robinson, Jonathan Dwyer, Dexter McCluster, Jimmy Claussen, Mike Williams, Ed Dickson, Cam Thomas
Just like Lester, I think it’s foolish to be throwing up mock draft predictions three months prior to the draft. Unlike Lester, I’m a bit of a fool, so I jumped at the chance to weigh in with my thoughts on what direction teams would be leaning come late April. My first round mock takes into account moves that I think teams will make through free agency or via a trade leading up to the NFL draft. My mock draft, like many others I’ve seen thus far, is defense-heavy with only a handful of offensive “skill position” players coming off the board in round 1. Fantasy owners may have to dig a bit deeper this season in looking to fill their own needs and uncover potential impact players.
1. St. Louis Rams – Ndamukung Suh, DT, Nebraska
No reason to think the Rams will screw this up … yet. Suh is the most dominant player at his (or any) position in college football. I expect the Rams to address their quarterback woes via trade leaving them one of the easiest top pick choices in recent memory. Suh will give them a rock-solid foundation to build around on D.
2. Detroit Lions – Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
Unlike some of his peers that were considering entering the draft in 2009 but returned only to hurt their draft stock (Sam Bradford, Taylor Mays), McCoy’s value remained rock-steady. Amazing quick for an interior lineman, McCoy will fill a major need for the Lions and Matt Millen isn’t around to mess things up anymore.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State
The Bucs have interest in Brandon Marshall, but I expect the Broncos to tender him and the asking price will be too high for Tampa Bay. I think they take their shot here to nab an elite play-maker to team with developing quarterback Josh Freeman. Bryant is a special player with the size, speed and play-making ability to have an immediate impact.
4. Washington Redskins – Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State
Jason Campbell isn’t going anywhere, regardless of what the so-called experts think. This team has holes that start up front and Shanahan is smart enough to know that without improving the o-line it won’t matter who is taking snaps. Okung is nasty in the run game and has been very durable and consistent throughout his college career.
5. Kansas City Chiefs – Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
With an offense that is just starting to take shape following the breakout performance of Jamaal Charles down the stretch, the Chiefs should turn their attention to the defensive side of the ball with the early part of this draft. Berry is a true difference-maker in the secondary who flies to the ball and exhibits tremendous leadership skills.
6. Seattle Seahawks – Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
Bradford falling to the Hawks here represents too good of a value to pass up. There are bigger needs on this team but with two first round picks the chance to grab a franchise quarterback and give him time to study under Matt Hasselbeck makes a lot of sense. Bradford’s accuracy and decision-making translate very well to the next level.
7. Cleveland Browns – Joe Haden, CB, Florida
One need look no further than the New York Jets to see the impact a true cover corner can have on an entire defense. While I’m not about to compare Haden to Darrelle Revis, the point is Haden is by far the best at his position in this draft and the Browns have a need in the secondary. Haden is a solid tackler as well, important in a rugged division.
8. Oakland Raiders – Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech
One thing we’ve learned about the Raiders front office over the years is that they are awful at evaluating talent and addressing team needs. That said, Morgan is a much safer pick here than a certain speedy wide receiver that struggles to hold on to the ball. Richard Seymour and Greg Ellis were solid, but neither is a sure thing next season.
9. Buffalo Bills – Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma
The Bills are another team that I expect to address their QB needs prior to the draft. Chan Gailey will likely try to install his familiar spread offense but without help on the front lines this team is going nowhere. In a brutal AFC East, the Bills need to rebuild the foundation from the inside out and Williams will be a step in the right direction.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida
The Jags successfully rebuilt a faltering o-line early in last year’s draft and this season will turn their attention to the defense. Their most glaring need is for a defensive end that can get pressure on opposing QBs and ease the pressure on a pedestrian secondary. This team ranked last in the league in sacks last season (with just 14) and it wasn’t close.
11. Denver Broncos – Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma
There are a lot of directions that I can see the Broncos going with this pick (QB, DE, S), but I think they grab the uber-talented tight end from Oklahoma. Gresham is uncommonly gifted for his position, combining above average skills as a run blocker with exceptional receiving skills. This pick would ease the loss of Brandon Marshall in the mile high city.
12. Miami Dolphins – Rolando McClain, MLB, Alabama
The rare combination of team need and best player available status. McClain is a manimal and his skill were on display for all to see in the BCS title game against Texas. The Phins could use his leadership, especially with the potential departure of Jason Taylor this offseason. The rookie’s presence would instantly upgrade an already solid front-7.
13. San Francisco 49ers – CJ Spiller, RB, Clemson
Perhaps the most dynamic offensive weapon in college football this past season, Spiller will add an instant homerun threat to an offense that was already on the upturn. Glen Coffee failed miserably in a complimentary role to pounder Frank Gore, and Spiller’s slashing style and big play potential in the return game are both needs for the Niners.
14. Seattle Seahawks – Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers
Davis is a bit of a mauler that uses his size and strength to win battles at the point of attack. With a bit of work I think he could be a great fit for the zone blocking scheme favored by the new coaching regime in Seattle. Paired with Bradford and an exciting young play-maker in Justin Forsett, the Hawks could have a nice trio to build around.
15. New York Giants – Navorro Bowman, OLB, Penn State
Bowman closes like a freight train and is a sure tackler, both areas the the G-Men lacked down the stretch at the second level. Hard-rushing defensive ends Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora wreak havoc in opposing backfields, but without athletic backers in the flats the Giants allowed too many short passes to turn into big plays.
16. San Francisco 49ers – Earl Thomas, S, Texas
A pass-rushing end is another possibility here, but I think the more pressing need for the Niners is in the secondary. A veteran group of cornerbacks featuring Nate Clements and Dre Bly could use an athletic safety over the top to allow them to play the aggressive style that coach Singletary prefers. Thomas isn’t in Berry’s class but is a great value here.
17. Tennessee Titans – Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan
Originally pegged as a late-first or early-second round pick, Graham used a strong Senior Bowl showing to springboard his value heading into the combine. This guy has a relentless motor and would be a nice upgrade to a Titans front four that was inconsistent at times getting to opposing quarterbacks and ranked in the bottom third of the league in sacks.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers – Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland
The Steelers ranked in the bottom half of the league this past season in rushing attempts, rushing yards, yards per carry and rushing TDs. Think that will happen again in 2010? The o-line has been a bit shaky for a couple of seasons now and without a committment to the running game Big Ben is taking some punishment. Campbell fits a big need.
19. Houston Texans – Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Georgia Tech
I think Gary Kubiak is bad at managing his talent. That’s why I’m helping him out here with a selection of Dwyer. Pounding the rock 15-20 times a game with this kid and getting Steve Slaton 8-10 touches in space is a recipe for a playoff run when you consider the All-Pro connection of Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson and a young, talented D.
20. Atlanta Falcons – Taylor Mays, S, USC
The David is great and all, but if Michaelangelo were still sculpting today we’d be admiring his representation of “The Mays”. This kid is an absolute specimen and if he had come out early last season in all likelihood he would have been a top-10 pick. The talent hasn’t gone anywhere, and the Falcons could be getting a real steal nabbing Mays at 20.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Aaron Hernandez, TE, Florida
I’ve always thought TJ Houshmandzadeh (championship!) was a bit overrated … tough to make that argument with the way the Bengals passing game struggled this season without him. Hernandez is a nice consoloation prize for Cincy fans who were hoping Gresham would fall to them. Extremely athletic, he will give Carson Palmer an underneath target.
22. New England Patriots – Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida
The Pats will be thrilled if this scenario plays out the way I have it because Dunlap would fill a big need for them. Although there are some minor character concerns here, this kid is a freak flying off the end and would spark a Patriot pass rush that was non-existent at times following the strange dismissal of Richard Seymour prior to the season.
23. Green Bay Packers – Sergio Kindle, OLB, Texas
Kindle is a very physical player whose versatility would fit nicely into the Packers hybrid 3-4 system. As a rare edge rusher that also plays the run very well, Kindle has the ability to be a nice fit regardless of personnel grouping. If Kindle is gone by this point (a strong possibility), I can see the Pack adding a homerun hitter like Jahvid Best.
24. Philadelphia Eagles – Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa
I think the Eagles would love to draft an impact safety along the lines of Earl Thomas or Taylor Mays, but I think both will be gone by this point. That said, improvement along the offensive line is a must if the Iggles are planning to re-establish (establish for the first time?) their running game and bring some balance to their offensive attack.
25. Baltimore Ravens – Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame
The Ravens need to get up-and-coming QB Joe Flacco some weapons. Derrick Mason is a reliable chain-mover (if he returns) but the play-making ability Tate showed in his junior season for the Irish would be very difficult to pass up here. This kid is a gritty player that will fight for the ball in traffic and look to gain extra yards after the catch.
26. Arizona Cardinals – Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee
No doubt a position of need for the Cards, Williams is a tremendous value at the DT position. That said, the retirement of Kurt Warner recently has me thinking Arizona may be looking to snag a signal-caller sometime in this draft … whether they consider Jimmy Clausen here I don’t know but I certainly think it’s possible.
27. Dallas Cowboys – Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho
This may be the first top-round pick in the history of the University of Idaho. Iupati made a name for himself throughout the season by dominating opponents in the WAC before a tremendous showing against Bowling Green in the postseason. At 6’6″ and 330 lbs, it’s possible the Cowboys will try Iupati out at the tackle spot as well.
28. San Diego Chargers – Brandon Spikes, OLB, Florida
Running back is a huge need for the Chargers with an offseason full of uncertainty. If Dwyer falls to them I think there is no question they pull the trigger but I don’t expect that to happen. I think Merriman is on the way out and Spikes would be a nice replacement for the fiery edge-rusher. The Bolts will address RB in later rounds I believe.
29. New York Jets – Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State
Robinson is certainly not in the class of a Joe Haden but he is a very talented player and the Jets lack of depth at CB was exposed several times throughout the season, particularly against the Colts in the AFC Championship. I expect Braylon Edwards to be donning the green and white again next year so WR is a less pressing need at this stage.
30. Minnesota Vikings – Brian Price, DT, UCLA
A great value here for the Vikes who need to start thinking about fortifying a position that has been a strength for years now. Pat and Kevin Williams (no relation) have been as good as any DT tandem in the league, but they are getting older and could use a young pup to spell them from time to time. Price is a steal late in the first round.
31. Indianapolis Colts – Terrance Cody, DT, Alabama
Cody’s stock has been slipping due to concerns over his conditioning and motivation. I think the Colts could find themselves a bargain here if they believe Cody is committed to playing at the next level. Although not an every-down player, Cody is a massive run-stuffer that would make it difficult for teams to double Freeney and Mathis consistently.
32. New Orleans Saints – Jahvid Best, RB, California
This is a bit of a wildcard and I actually think the Saints should look to shore up their D-Line with one of the remaining glut of DTs but what the hell? … I think Reggie Bush has played his last game for the Super Bowl Champs and who better to fill his role than the shifty speedster out of Cal. Similar skill set at a discounted rate? … I’ll take it.
Updated on January 19, 2009
I’m dancing in the streets a little – it’s always nice to see something you never thought would happen, and until Ken Whisenhunt was tricked into coaching the Cardinals, I didn’t think I’d ever see that red jersey and helmet sporting that angry woodpecker in a Super Bowl game. But here we are, a Pittsburgh Steelers team that has won as many championships as any team ever, and an Arizona Cardinals team that looks for a ring for the first time. Awesome. But that pretty much locks up my first full mock draft. I’ll compile the draft as if the Cardinals pull off the huge upset, because, well, they’ve done it 3 times already and I’d be stunned if they did it again – so it will probably happen. The new mock draft is also coming out because the early entry list is locked in and the draft order is basically set. I’m done with my “If I’m making the picks” format because I can really do both predictions and analysis by suggesting what I think the Draft will look like- still, I agree with my ability to judge talent, and a couple teams definitely should call me up for some advice… Haha… Here goes the goods…
1. Detroit Lions: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama – This pick is exactly what the Lions need, and that’s how I’m doing my first mock draft. This is a team that has gone kookoo over the skill positions and they have been brutal on offensive and defensive lines. I’m sold on the thought that Detroit will get a good football guy to make their personnel decisions and that will lead them away from 1st Round receivers, quarterbacks, or running backs. Andre Smith might not be the guy making the best decisions (getting hooked up with an agent a couple days before his team’s big bowl game) but he is a beast of a man that dominated at the college level. If the Lions want to properly use Calvin Johnson and Kevin Smith, arguably their best players, they’ll have to get some time to throw and room to run. Matthew Stafford (the consensus pick here) has all the tools, but without a better offensive line the Lions will continue to get destroyed. Do the right thing Detroit, go big here, Smith is your guy.
2. St. Louis Rams – Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia - The Rams have lots of problems, no doubt in my mind, they would happily take Smith if he were available here – but he’s not, and nobody wants to trade into the 2nd pick so it’s not like they’ll find a valuable trading partner for the pick. That being said, Matt Stafford is the guy with all the tools that Marc Bulger doesn’t have, end the Marc Bulger experiment…. please. I personally like Mark Sanchez a little more than Stafford – but the tools Stafford has can’t be taught, and while the Rams need more than a QB in the waiting, the #2 pick is a place where immense talent needs to be selected.
3. Kansas City Chiefs: Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forrest - I don’t think the Chiefs go quarterback here – it’s stupid, A, and B- Tyler Thigpen played great when he got a chance to do so. Just ride out this guy for a while and hope that you hit the lotto with the kid, weirder things have happened. Plus, with a 30th ranked rushing defense and a 28th ranked passing defense, they might consider getting some dynamic help on that side of the ball first. Still, with Bradford and Stafford on the board it’s tough for me to pass up a chance at a franchise QB, but I’m going to, because I’m smart. Thigpen is good enough right now, he’s got a little something that I like as the guy in charge of my roster, so I’m taking Aaron Curry to be a playmaker on my defense. This guy is one of the surest things in the draft, a football player through and through, and he bleeds intensity. The Chiefs have some speed in their linebacking corps, but they don’t have a guy like this and he’ll immediately come in and make everyone better. This may be a little high for a linebacker, and probably higher than Curry will go, but I’ll take him because I’m looking for the guy that will improve the Chiefs the most, and they need a guy like Aaron.
4. Seattle Seahawks: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech - The Hawks need offensive line help badly. I know Michael Crabtree is out there and every single Hawk fan in the world wants Seattle to go get the big stud receiver from Texas Tech – I love Crabtree, think he’ll be a great one, but you can only win if you have a good offensive line. Monroe is the smart pick – or maybe Jason Smith, and both should be here for the Seahawks taking – but in the end I just can’t pass up on the chance to get an elite playmaker for the Hawks offense. People (like me) will say that Seattle never makes a pick like this, that they have a smart brass that knows how to pick right, that they wouldn’t go skill position at the top of the draft – but, in the end, history is just that – history. Right now is the now, and with that in mind, and the future in the eyes of the same guy that’s watching Crabtree work out, watching him torch defenses at will – watching him become a version of TO without the assish tendencies, I don’t think the Hawks can pass that up – not with the guys they have. Taking skill position guys at the top of the draft can be a recipe for losses to build. You spend too much money on a receiver and it will hurt you in the end if that player doesn’t become great. But I think the Hawks need to go for it.
5. Cleveland Browns: Malcom Jenkins, CB, Ohio State – The Browns secondary and overall defense was brutal last season. Weird, they went and spent a bunch of money on high-priced free agents and they still got kicked around pretty good. A lot of that has to do with their offense going 3 and out a lot, and putting the defense in bad situations, but still – tackling and angles were tough to come by in Cleveland and I think Jenkins comes in and starts immediately for the Browns. He’s as sure as a corner back can be in helping the run. He’s got great understanding and recognition, things that plague the Browns secondary.
6. Cincinnati Bengals: Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State – The Bengals need a lot of help in a lot of places, weird. But with Stacey Andrews struggling a bit and his knee giving him problem, and a visit with the doctor for re-constructive surgery in mid-January, it might be time to get a young stud to protect their biggest investment, Carson Palmer. Everyone watched what happened to the Bengals without Palmer – protecting him next season might be a good start. Eugene Monroe has proven he can start anywhere. He’s an athletic kid that held down left tackle for Virginia, and he could do the same in Cincinnati. Either way, I think Monroe would be a good pick this high, a need pick and a talent pick and a good use of their money – But lets just say (for the sake of good health and positive thinking) that the Bengals elect to re-sign Andrews (and they very well could because of his youth and possible good news on the diagnosis of his knee surgery) then they might elect to go for a pass rushing specialist like Everett Brown, Brian Orakpo, or Aaron Maybin – going for the health of the young right tackle, Aaron Maybin goes off the board here because his motor and upside are impressive.
7. Oakland Raiders: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri - Rey Maualuga is a machine. The Raiders need a guy like him just about as bad as anything – well, aside from a new coaching staff and a new owner and a guy to bring in talent on draft day that doesn’t base everything on some lifting and speed numbers – so they need a lot of things, but a sure tackler at linebacker, and big time playmaker, a special and California taught local kid like Maualuga – I think they’d have something going if they went here. However, I know the Raiders – and Jeremy Maclin or Crabtree (if he lasts) might get pushed to Oakland. I have this eery feeling that if Maclin is on the board for Oakland that he’ll be wearing black and silver come next season. It’s sad for Jeremy – but it’s probably true.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia – While Michael Oher is a stud, he has shown a lack of focus at times. He’s been beat by lesser defensive ends, and while the talent is obviously there, Oher’s lack of consistency might hurt him in the draft. I have that happening here as Eugene Monroe will get ahead of Oher on draft boards and be the first off the board after Andre Smith. If Maclin is on the board here, the Jaguars might be tempted – they have shown a history of going and reaching for their biggest needs, and they definitely need a playmaker outside. But the Jaguars showed some offensive line (and defensive line for that matter) woes in 2008. Maurice Jones Drew is still phenomenal and David Garrard didn’t have as bad of a season as his numbers insisted, but this team needs some help on their respective lines. Monroe has the ability to get plugged in anywhere he’s needed, and he’ll immediately improve that position. That’s rare in the NFL these days, and even tougher to get in the draft. For a team that needs to reestablish their rushing identity, the Jags could make a great pick right here. Many people expect the Jaguars to go linebacker here, but there’s room to rummage through the next couple rounds to find a playmaker there. The top O-Tackles, while the position is deep, will be gone long before the Jags pick again.
9. Green Bay Packers: Everett Brown, DE, Florida State – The Packers need to revamp their defensive front. I think Aaron Kampman is a stud, but he needs some help and I think Everett Brown can be a special contributor up front for the Packers. They need help getting to the quarterback and stopping the run. Basically they were a liability on defense. They have plenty of weapons on offense, and while every team could always use help on the line, this pick seems like a no brainer for the Pack – but it could be one of the many defensive end prospects in the draft. I also think that this spot, and this mock, would have the Packers being in a great position with someone who wanted to trade down to get Mark Sanchez – ie the Minnesota Vikings. No trades in my mock though, too tough to figure, so I’ll go with one of the more talent kids out there.
10. San Francisco 49ers: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC – I like Shaun Hill, like I said in my first mock, but Sanchez is a stud – he has a lightning quick release, great leadership qualities, and a passion for the game that fits perfectly with Mike Singletary’s system. Could the 49ers go in about a million different directions? You bet… Could one of those directions be not re-signing Takeo Spikes and maybe going with Rey Maualuga to form one of the best middle linebacker duos in all of football? Possibly, Rey seems like a Mike kind of guy, but he also seems a lot like Patrick Willis (but could it be bad to have two of him?). Shaun Hill is a solid guy right now, he does enough to keep San Francisco in the game, but Sanchez has tools to be a top pick, and very well could be, but right now I like him going to SF at 10 because that’s a great place to get your future signal caller and not have to play him right off the bat. If Sanchez isn’t their guy, and they love Orakpo, Michael Johnson of Georgia Tech, Maybin or Brown if they are there, don’t be surprised if the Niners snag a pass rusher.
11. Buffalo Bills: Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas – The Bills need more help on the defensive line. They started off the year okay, but they don’t make enough plays and they don’t have any one player that poses an elite pass rushing skill set. Okay, Aaron Schobel is a guy that has some good career numbers, but he spent much of 2008 hurt and is on the wrong side of 30 and the small side of 250lbs. I really like Micheal Johnson of Georgia Tech, but Orakpo is probably the more complete of the two, and the Bills could use that.
12. Denver Broncos: B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College – The Broncos have been brutal at stopping the run for sometime, and it’s very likely that Mike Shannahan’s insistence on grabbing opposing teams leftovers instead of drafting some help up front is what got him fired in the first place. I expect new HC Josh McDaniels to do his damnedest to strengthen the defensive front, and starting with a massive defensive lineman that will free up linebackers while putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks is probably a good start. McDaniels is and offensive mind, no doubt about that, but he’s also a smart guy and while assessing team needs he’ll vouch for the teams offensive firepower and express some worry about that line… Raji’s 6.5 sacks and numerous runs stuffed will certainly help Denver’s front – character issues might hurt Raji’s stock, but in Denver’s move to the 3-4 they’ll need a player of Raji’s strength to hold down the middle.
13. Washington Redskins: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor - The Redskins will be lucky if they get an offensive line prospect like Jason Smith. The kid knows how to play the game and he really does it right. I think he’s a better pass blocker than Andre Smith, and his athleticism is second to none. At 6’5 305lbs, he’s got room to grow into his body a little bit. He’s not super strong, but that will come – his feet are great and his energy and ability to stay on blocks long are two things that he has over any other elite tackle prospect in the draft. A steal at 13.
14. New Orleans Saints: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois – Defense, defense, defense. As much as Jeremy Maclin’s speed has to excite this offensive minded freak of a coach in New Orleans, it’s not offensive deficiencies that keep the Saints from getting into the playoffs. Defensively they are brutal, they don’t have much of an identity except that of a team that allows opposing offenses to do anything they damn well please. That’s not a good thing. Right now, the Saints don’t have corners that get the job done. They don’t tackle all that well, and find themselves in positions to make tackles far too often. As far as talent and confidence go, Davis is a corner that comes second to none. He’s a physical kid that likes to get into opposing receivers. He hasn’t had a ton of interceptions at the college level, but I’m going to go ahead and say that’s because opposing offenses don’t throw his way. He may have been too aggressive in college, being allowed to do too much on the field. He’ll get the little things down, but I like what he does have and think he would start immediately for New Orleans.
15. Houston Texans: Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech – How can you play an entire season on the other side of Mario Williams and have absolutely zero sacks to show for it? Weaver is a better run defensive end than a pass rusher, but 0 sacks? Yikes. Johnson might be a little bit of a reach here – but the kid is a freakish pass rusher that could start out helping right away as a pass rush specialist and he has the body to add weight and become a full time guy over time. The Texans could really use a pass rush option opposite their big dog. With much attention played to their former 1st overall pick, Johnson could find a lot of room to be the playmaker that he is. This would do wonders for the other half of Houston’s defensive line.
16. San Diego Chargers: Chris “Beanie” Wells, RB, Ohio State - If the Chargers are indeed getting rid of LaDainian Tomlinson, for age and contract reasons, I think Wells would be a perfect fit to get half of the carries in a time share with Darren Sproles. I, personally, would just keep Tomlinson for another year, go for some offensive line or defensive help here, and grab a running back in next season’s draft or in the later rounds, but I’m taking the plunge here because of Wells ability. Basically, I don’t like taking skill guys early, but Wells has special size, explosion, and speed – and while Sproles has shown a knack for the big play, there is no way he holds up through a season getting 15-20 carries per game. I make exceptions for special players, and while Wells’ injury problems might scare some teams off, I happen to believe that you go for the talent and if freak injuries happen you just got unlucky. If LT is re-signed, I think the Chargers should make a play on
17. New York Jets: Rey Maualuga, LB, USC- To get a guy that can make a difference like Maualuga is always a draft day blessing. To get him in the middle of the 1st round is even more impressive. Can he be Rex Ryan’s New York Jet version of Ray Lewis? It’s possible. I’m not sure anyone this side of William Wallace has ever had as much passion, toughness, and straight super-hero ability like Ray Lewis, but if there’s a guy in this draft that looks anything like Ray, it’s Rey – and not just for names sake. The Jets need to get better defensively – but they could also make a play on a young running back if their top choice sits here. I think Thomas Jones and Leon Washington are good for now, and I think Ryan will be ready to get a defensive stopper right off the bat.
18. Chicago Bears: Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi – Nate Davis? Oh, I think this kid could surprise. But I’m not ready to make that jump quite yet – plus, the Bears “are happy with their quarterback situation” – right. The Bears look to be aging a little bit, and that means they could use all types of players. But if the super-talented Oher is still on the board at 18, the Bears snag him up without thinking twice.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sen’Derrick Marks, DT, Auburn – Marks is a freak. He’s a superior athlete in the body of a defensive tackle. He’s not enormous, but his tenacity and elite quickness and coordination make him a great prospect and could very well allow him to be great at rushing the passer and making plays against the run. If the Bucs have shown me anything during their late slide that saw them go from 9-3 to 9-7 and missing the playoffs, it’s that they need help on the defensive line. Marks might be the best of the bunch and at 19th overall, he’s worth that risk.
20. Detroit Lions (via Dallas Cowboys): James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State - The Lions need guys like this to do things like win a football game. James is a sure thing. You know what you’re getting, a great tackler, great team guy with the ability to stop the run, read blocks, get his teammates behind him and make everyone better. A great offensive lineman and a great linebacker to be a team leader on defense, that would be a great draft for a team that doesn’t know much about great drafts. The Lions need to stop taking chances and picking skill position players – teams are built on guys that can block up front and get off blocks and tackle on defense – Andre and James are a good start.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia – Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia – Brian Westbrook #2? After seeing what Brian Westbrook has become since the Eagles drafted the undersized back in the 3rd round years ago, I wouldn’t be stunned if they tried to get him. I know they aren’t a team that usually guns for the skill positions early, but Moreno is special and despite being a little undersized, could be a great option in making the transition to the days without Mr. Westbrook. The Eagles have seen Westy have injury troubles, day to day issues just about every other week, and his age is becoming a little bit of an issue. The Eagles have a bevy of vets, and they surely need to get younger on the offensive line and all over on defense, but this kid is an elite playmaker that you aren’t able to snag in Round 2.
22. Minnesota Vikings: Sean Smith, CB, Utah – Sean Smith played a little under the radar at Utah, but he was a great part of one of the best defenses in college football. He helped shut down the Alabama passing attack, and played good football against the run as well. Smith is an elite player from a small school. The Vikings would help improve their semi-shaky pass defense by adding the Utes ball hawk. Smith has unreal size for a corner, and has shown a knack for making big plays by either intercepting 5 passes or leading his team in passes broken up. Smith could shoot up draft boards after the combine.
23. New England Patriots: Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest – The Patriots find themselves in an interesting place here, and free agency will definitely help decide where they go here. I know Smith is a great playmaker with lots of upside and the personality it takes to be good at the next level. I’m not sure if he fits perfectly into the Patriots system, but he definitely fits a need as almost every corner in New England will see free agency over the off-season. Smith does lots of good things, he’s got solid speed and breaks well on the ball.
24. Atlanta Falcons: Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State – The Falcons might not need Brandon Pettigrew to make life easier on Matt Ryan, but they could sure use him. He’s a good blocker and an even better pass catcher, but the bottom line is he does it all. He may not be a big play guy like Kellen Winslow or Jason Witten, but he’s a great blocker, probably the best blocking tight end in the class. He also has great hands and very good ball skills. He does it all. This guy is just the type of guy Atlanta (or any team in the league) needs.
25. Miami Dolphins: D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt - The Dolphins need help in the secondary, and maybe all over their defense to be honest. They played better than they were early in the year in ’08, but fell apart a little toward the end and, in my opinion, better exemplified exactly what their biggest problems are. In an offensive heavy draft class, the Dolphins need to build defensively. Moore is a very talented player that shut down #1 receivers all season for Vanderbilt. He’s an opportunistic player with a playmaking ability that could help the Dolphins create turnovers defensively.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland - While many people would like to point to Bey as being inconsistent and an underachiever in college, I would like to point to the poor quarterbacking in Maryland this last season. Bey is super talented and could definitely turn into a great pro. I like him more than most. I think he’d fit in in Baltimore, and be a big target that the Ravens need to pit with Mark Clayton and the aging Derrick Mason.
27. Philadelphia Eagles (via Carolina): Ebbin Britton, OT, Arizona – The Eagles need to get younger at lots of different places. Arizona’s offense was underrated this season, being stuck in the Pac-10, where even I admit was underrated. Britton has been road-grading paths for running backs over the last two seasons, and the Wildcats have been better than you’d think in that area. Britton is a big boy with some good quickness and a very football savvy demeanor. I think the Eagels would be bright to grab him before they really need an offensive tackle. Prep him for next season when age finally catches up with the green machine.
28. Indianapolis Colts: Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi – The Colts really struggled to stop the run, with or without Bob Sanders, and if you can’t stop the run with that heat seeking missile aimed right at the hearts of running backs, then you have to do something a little different. Peria Jerry is a very good defensive tackle that plays with the intensity and knowhow needed to excel in the Colts system. They need to start filling holes if they want to return to the Super Bowl.
29. New York Giants: Percy Harvin, WR/RB, Florida – The Giants need more playmakers. Percy Harvin might be the shiniest playmaker in this draft of offensive firepower. Getting him at 29 would be great. The Giants need them some Percy Harvin just like Flordia does.
30. Tennessee Titans: Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina – He doesn’t have as much upside as Darrius Heyward-Bey, but Nicks might be the better receiver in the NFL. Nicks runs solid routes, his hands or enforced with a special unique stick-em produced only by his body. That catch that everyone saw during the bowl season, that was amazing, but no way was that his only amazing catch. This kid is always open, and I think his game translates well to the next level. He would also make the 5th receiver selected in the first round, which seems like an unreal ammount – but with the lack of underclassmen coming out, and the overall mediocre feeling of this talent pool, matched with the heavy set of receivers and apt running backs, this could be a weird first round with receivers off early.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU – Beast. He may not be the “new” defensive end with the pass rushing forte and the speed and the basketball body, but Tyson is a run-stuffing fiend. A kid that is nearly 6’5″ and 300+ – he’s a beast. The Steelers could use a guy like that inside in their 3-4. They have pass rushers galore, and Tyson has above average talent for his size – that’s digable planet business right there.
32. Arizona Cardinals: Brian Cushing, LB, USC – This kid didn’t have great numbers on an impressive USC defense, but he is damn good at just about everything. He can turn in run in coverage, as he was often asked to do, and he can make big plays all over the field. He’s had some durability issues, but the Cardinals would make a good move grabbing a kid with Cushing’s upside – winning the Super Bowl gives you a chance to go with upside like Brian’s.