I’m not ready to give out a mock draft, and with Lucky’s Mock being as detailed as any out there, there’s really no reason to step on his shoes or pretend for a moment that I know more than he does about that whole deal. However, nobody judges talent like me. I knew Brandon Jennings was going to make teams sorry for passing on him. I knew Josh Howard would be a good player. I even suggested that Rajon Rondo was vastly underrated prior to the Celtics’ stealing him late in the draft. This year, I have my Top 10 NBA ready players. I’ve listed from bottom to top in regards to their chances at winning the 2010-2011 NBA Rookie of the Year. Here are my predictions…
10. Eric Bledsoe: Listen, a lot of people think Eric is going to be a project at the point – but I disagree. He learned to play with great players last year at Kentucky, and still be a very productive and intelligent player. At Miami, or in Cleveland, even Toronto, maybe even Memphis – some team that needs a point and might move to draft Bledsoe, Eric will be playing with talented scorers. Opportunity and experience, he has them both, and that gives him a chance to be a big time surprise his rookie season.
9. Patrick Patterson: Patterson might not be a lottery pick, but I don’t see why not. All he did was play great basketball for the Wildcats all season long. He’s a smart player, he’s very confident, he wants to hit big shots, and he does all the little things that every team needs. He’ll have a chance to get big minutes and maybe even a starting spot depending on the team that drafts him.
8. Derrick Favors: Favors might be one of the Top 2 or 3 most talented players in this draft, but his lower level of maturity in his game limits his possibilities at being the rookie of the year. Still, with the right players around him, and possibly a quick passing guard, Favors could put up some big time numbers. His talent alone gets him onto this list.
7. Damion James: This kid is really underrated in my opinion. He doesn’t play like Dejuan Blair or anything, two very different players, but they seem very similar to me in that I expected Blair to be a good pro, and I expect the same from James. Damion’s team struggled last year, but he was awesome. He gives it his all every night out, is super competitive, and really understands the game. On the right team, James could be a big contributor.
6. Gordan Hayward: A lot of people call Hayward a project. Please – this kid struggled a little in the tournament, but he’s one hell of a player. He does so many things well, shoots it well, drives and attacks the rim even better – and his game absolutely translates to the NBA. Don’t get him twisted, he’s a freak athlete than can play and excel at multiple positions in the league.
5. Luke Babbitt: On scoring and shooting ability alone, Babbitt is poised to be an immediate contributor. He’s got great size, is a much better athlete than people realize, and can absolutely shoot the ball from anywhere on the court. In the right system that allows him to score freely, he could jump the big names in the ROY voting.
4. Wesley Johnson: Wesley Johnson is a pure scoring machine who’s game translates to the NBA very well. Johnson can play with his back to the basket, he’s a dead-eye shooter, he can drive well enough to make defenders honest – and he’s ready to hit big shots anytime. If he gets drafted by Minnesota, which many think might happen, he could be that big outside scoring threat they desperately need – and if they improve their record, his name will be right there for everyone to praise.
3. DeMarcus Cousins: Cousins is a beast. Who knows who’ll pick him, but if he happens to be the clean-up/only post presence on a team like Golden State, than he’s going to have huge numbers – especially if Nelly (or someone else) gets to him and tricks him into trying every night out. Cousins doesn’t get the same pub that Wall and Turner get, but goodness, he is a beast right now in a league void of productive 7-footers.
2. John Wall: Wall is awesome. He’s lighting fast, knows the game well, sees the floor – and will join a team in transition. Gilbert Arenas might move to the 2, and the team will let Wall dominate the ball. It will be interesting, but if we’re talking about ROY, you can’t look too far past Wall.
1. Evan Turner: I’ve said it for some time, this was the best player in college basketball last year. His game is ready for the league, and when it was crunch time, nobody could stop him. In the NBA defense doesn’t get a whole lot better, so I think Turner has a chance to continue scoring at a good number. He’s long and very balanced. His smart moves allow him to get past quicker defenders – and that will continue to work at the next level. If he starts from day 1, I expect him to win the ROY.
Alright, we got the Lucky Lester team together for one final mock draft. We all don’t completely agree on all the picks but these are the guys we felt most comfortable with.
- St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma: We’ve decided that this is not only the move that will most likely happen, but the best move. Think about it like this, would you rather have Albert Haynesworth or Peyton Manning. Al’s a home run at defensive tackle, Peyton’s a home run at QB. Makes sense, right?
- Detroit Lions: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska: The Lions might be too stupid to make this pick. They have a franchise quarterback, they have an elite playmaker at receiver, they need help on defense and this guy is the king of the draft. It’s a no-brainer, which means even the Lions should be able to pull it off.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma: Pick number 3 seems like a good one for the Bucs. They need McCoy, and he’s one of the top players in the draft, and he fits their scheme perfectly.
- Washington Redskins: Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State: We all think the Redskins should trade down, as the value for what they want just doesn’t hold here, but Okung’s a big bad man, and he’d certainly help the Redskins where they are hurting the most.
- Kansas City Chiefs: Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma: We’re a little torn here, but in the end, we think the Chiefs go with the best lineman available. Right now, we think that’s Anthony Davis – but all the “draftniks” say Trent Williams is the guy. They pass on Eric Berry, decide not to pay a safety Top 5 money, and get better up front.
- Seattle Seahawks: Eric Berry, S, Tennessee: The Hawks end up getting lucky, and grab one of the best players in the draft. Not only is that great for any team, but especially a team that has been getting killed in the secondary, and has questionable safety play.
- Cleveland Browns: Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma: This is a questionable pick in many respects, as nobody has the Browns taking a chance on the infamous Oklahoma wide receiver – however, he’s the best prospect left, and the Browns could use that big play ability.
- Oakland Raiders: Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers: I can’t believe that we agree on the Raiders making a good pick and taking a valuable offensive lineman – but that’s what we’re doing. I’m sure we’re off on this one, the Raiders NEVER do anything close to what I think is right.
- Buffalo Bills: Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa: The Bills need lots of things – nobody is questioning that, but their new head coach has done good things with questionable offensive weapons, so there’s no reason to think they reach for anything “special” here. We all agree they need offensive line and defensive line help immediately. The elite offensive lineman will be all gone by the time the Bills pick next and there are many great defensive tackles.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Earl Thomas, S, Texas: We like to “joke” with Jack Del Rio’s lack of intelligence, and expect him to do something mentally representative of that “joke”, but if he doesn’t he’ll just take the playmaker in the secondary they’ve been trying to draft since Jack stole the job…
- Denver Broncos: Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee: Denver gets a big bad nose tackle to help sure up their improving defense. We all agree that they’d like to see one of the top safeties on the board, but Earl just got sniped by the Jaguars leaving them with Williams.
- Miami Dolphins: Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech: We think Morgan can make up for the loss of Jason Taylor. He’s a very versatile defensive lineman that would likely play the OLB in a 3-4 for the Dolphins. I don’t know if he’ll have tons of versatility in coverage, but he’ll be able to rush the QB and hold up against the run.
- San Francisco 49ers: Joe Haden, CB, Florida: The 49ers could use some young stopper in the secondary, and everyone loves Haden – they need help at offensive line, but Haden is good value here (though I like Kyle Wilson more). I was voted off this island, so Haden’s the guy.
- Seattle Seahawks: C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson: I don’t like the Hawks taking a running back when they could use a lot of help in many places, but he’s a touchdown maker, and the Hawks could use some explosion. Sold.
- New York Giants: Rolando McClain, ILB, Alabama: They need a big playmaking linebacker and one of the best defensive players in the draft just happens to be on the board at that very position. Sold.
- Tennessee Titans: Jason Pierre Paul, DE, South Florida: The Titans could be big trade players this year, but without a trade they’ll have to improve their defense against the pass. They could do that by grabbing a corner like Kyle Wilson, but everybody knows good corners aren’t the only way to improve your pass defense – Pierre Paul has great upside and is a good value pick here. We think they go that way.
- San Francisco 49ers: Mike Iupati, G, Idaho: The 49ers wait until pick 17 to get one of the best offensive linemen in the draft. They need help at OT, but there are many that think Iupati has the versatility to play OT as well.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Maurkice Pouncey, C/G, Florida: The Steelers have some soul searching to do, no doubt about it – but what they do need, without a doubt, is good help up front. They haven’t been a good blocking team in a long time, and we all think Pouncey could help at multiple places along the offensive line. Papa Weimer think they’ll ignore that and go for the best player available and take Brandon Graham. I’m thinking Kyle Wilson – but in the end, we all agree, Pouncey is the likely guy here.
- Atlanta Falcons: Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan: Sometimes a team gets lucky in the middle of round 1, a great player just happens to fall into their laps and he just happens to be at a major position of need. This is the case with Graham.
- Houston Texans: Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State: 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.
- Cincinnati Bengals: Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma: The Bengals could really use help in making their offense more explosive. Gresham is the 2nd best receiving option in the draft – a good pick here.
- New England Patriots: Jerry Hughes, OLB, TCU: He’s the best player left on my board and he’s the best pass rusher in the draft. The Patriots get lucky with Hughes still on the board.
- Green Bay Packers: Charles Brown, OT, USC: He might not be the elite OT they need, but Brown has a bright future and enough talent to make him worth the Packers’ 23rd pick.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Sergio Kindle, DE, Texas: Kindle might not be the best fit for the Eagles, but he’s a dynamic defensive player for a team that lacks a pass rushing presence and big hitters. Sounds like a better fit than I thought.
- Baltimore Ravens: Jared Odrick, DE, Penn State: This big bad man will help the Ravens stay stout up front. He’s talented and has a non-stop motor, and he’s big enough and quick enough to hold up at DE for the Ravens.
- Arizona Cardinals: Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame: Hey, 2 out of 4 of us think Clausen will be good, and none out of four of us think Matt Leinart will be good. Kind of a nuts pick for the Cards, but I’m sure they could do worse with it.
- Dallas Cowboys: Taylor Mays, S, USC: Taylor Mays has really fallen. He’s not the best cover corner in the draft, don’t get me wrong, but he’s a big hitter, a top flight physical specimen, and I’m sure he’ll help the Cowboys right off the bat. A few of us think Mays is now being underrated after being overrated to the point of being labeled an overrated player. Do that math.
- San Diego Chargers: Ryan Matthews, RB, Fresno State: I like Jahvid Best, think he’s the best running back on the board – but Matthews has good size, good speed, good vision, and good power. He’s not amazing at any one area, but good at all of them. The Chargers need somebody in that mold.
- New York Jets: Carlos Dulap, DE, Florida: They aren’t going to take a wide receiver, I know that. I think they’d give Kindle the call if he were left on the board, but as is, he’s not. I think Carlos Dunlap is getting overlooked here – he’s got a great NFL body, and with Rex pushing the buttons, they could get a steal here.
- Minnesota Vikings: Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama: This kid is very good, and was a shut down player for one of the best defenses in college football. Nobody threw his way, and for good reason. The Vikings could really use more talent and youth at corner.
- Indianapolis Colts: Roger Saffold, OT, Indiana: A late mover, the Colts get future help for the NFL’s franchise player.
- New Orleans Saints: Lamar Houston, DT, Texas: Lamar is one of the most underrated defensive linemen in the draft and I expect him to be a late 1st Round pick. The Saints got a little shallow toward the end of the year at DT, and I think Houston helps them right away.