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.