This is it – this one is for all the marbles. The two previous mock drafts I put together mean nothing, unless of course one of those is better than the one below. In that case, please consider that to be my final mock so I can save some face.
We’re just days away from the 2010 NFL Draft and as usual, the uncertainty surrounding which player will be drafted by which team is at an all-time high. Teams are sending out smokescreens, it’s hard to figure out which GM is telling the truth (probably roughly around none of them) and all the while, the media is trying to keep up with all the rumors.
But here it is – my final crack at predicting the first round. Feel free to share your opinions in the comments section, but remember that they’re only valid when you make predictions before the draft. Don’t be the tool that comes back here a week from now boasting that you knew that Team A would take Player X, or else you will be made fun of mercilessly by your peers.
Let the games begin and once again, Happy NFL Draft time fellow draftnits.
Originally posted: Monday, April 19
1. St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
Ndamukong Suh is the best player in the 2010 draft and if teams only drafted based on talent, then the Nebraska defensive tackle would be the first player selected in round one. But Suh plays a position that most teams can’t justify investing a truckload of guaranteed money in. That’s why Bradford will be the No. 1 pick, along with the fact that the Rams desperately need a quarterback to help revitalize their morbid franchise. I’ve never wavered with this pick – I’ve believed that Bradford was going to be the Rams’ selection at No. 1 all along. If they believe that he’s a franchise quarterback, then Suh and every other prospect in this draft becomes inconsequential in the Rams’ eyes. There’s no more important position on a football field than the one that lines up under center every week. Is taking a quarterback this high a risk? Absolutely. But at the end of the day, a franchise can’t function without a good QB. That’s why St. Louis won’t hesitate to take Bradford here.
2. Detroit Lions: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
The Lions want everyone to believe that they’ll take an offensive tackle like Oklahoma State’s Russell Okung with this pick and they may very well might. But if Suh is still on the board when the Lions are on the clock in the first round, then they’d be nuts to pass on him. Suh is the best player in the draft on either side of the ball and could be the player current Lions (and former Titans’ DC) head coach Jim Schwartz builds his defense around, a la Albert Haynesworth in Tennessee.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
McCoy has kind of become the forgotten top 5 prospect in this draft because he’s overshadowed by Suh. But he’s a difference maker and a force against the run. If the Rams take Bradford at No. 1, one of the two defensive tackles will fall to Tampa here, which is exactly what it wants. The Bucs need an interior presence in the middle of their line that can be effective both against the run and pass. McCoy can potentially be that player.
4. Washington Redskins: Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma
As long as Mike Shanahan’s claims that the Redskins will take a quarterback with this pick are untrue, then Williams could very well be the third Sooner to come off the board in the first four picks this year. Okung is regarded as the best offensive tackle in the draft, but Williams is a better fit for Washington’s new zone-blocking scheme, making him the choice here. He’s an excellent all-around blocker and has the potential to immediately fill the void left by Chris Samuels on the Redskins’ O-line.
5. Kansas City Chiefs: Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa
With Okung still on the board, the Chiefs’ selection of Bulaga would be viewed as a surprise. But there are always surprises in the top 10, so I’m taking a shot with this prediction. GM Scott Pioli has a close relationship with Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, so Pioli has probably heard plenty of positive things about Bulaga. With KC’s need for an offensive tackle, this selection makes a lot of sense outside of the fact that I have the Chiefs passing on Okung. Either way, my belief is that KC will wind up selecting one of the OTs with this pick if they don’t trade down.
6. Seattle Seahawks: Russell Okung, Oklahoma State
The Seahawks desperately need left tackle help and if Okung is still available (which I fully admit is a reach), then this is a slam dunk pick. But keep your eye on Tennessee safety Eric Berry and Clemson running back C.J. Spiller here too. If the Hawks wind up with one of these players, Pete Carroll could easily take his former USC offensive tackle Charles Brown at No. 14.
7. Cleveland Browns: Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
After all the moves new team president Mike Holmgren made this offseason, the final piece of the puzzle is acquiring a safety. If Berry slips past Seattle at No. 6, then I fully believe he’ll be the Browns’ pick here. If he doesn’t, then Cleveland might select Florida’s Joe Haden and move the newly acquired Sheldon Brown to safety. Of course, if another team wants Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen bad enough, Holmgren could possibly trade down, scoop up extra picks and address his need at safety later in the first round.
8. Oakland Raiders: Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland
I’ve updated this selection from Jimmy Clausen to Campbell. I think I liked the novelty of Clausen being selected by Oakland more than I believed it would happen, probably because nobody has really talked about the idea much. But at the end of the day, I don’t think wacky Al Davis will admit he was wrong about JaMarcus Russell by drafting Clausen. In fact, I think it’s more possible that the Raiders will wind up with Ben Roethlisberger than Clausen. After officially running a 4.85 40-yard dash and repping 225 pounds 34 times on the bench press at the Combine, Campbell has became a workout sensation and therefore, the perfect Davis prospect. Campbell is also viewed as the offensive lineman most likely to turn out to be a bust, which once again makes him a logical fit for Oakland. If the Raiders do draft Clausen I’ll be kicking myself for changing the pick, but something tells me I have a better shot of being right with Campbell here.
9. Buffalo Bills: Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame
Buffalo has been brought up by some as a possible landing spot for Big Ben, but chances are they’re not going to take a risk like that. The Bills don’t have enough pieces to fit around Roethlisberger and probably wouldn’t want to pony up to pay him either. If they’re going to invest money on a quarterback, it might as well be a development project like Clausen, who could mature along with the Bills’ young offensive line. Assuming another team doesn’t trade ahead of Buffalo in order to nab him, Clausen is a logical fit and certainly makes sense given the team’s need at quarterback. The Bills could start Trent Edwards again next season while Clausen learns for a year, then he can take over in 2011. If the Bills pass on Clausen or he’s off the board, then I think an offensive tackle like Anthony Davis of Rutgers makes sense as well.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars: Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama
If either Clausen or Spiller is still available here, I fully expect GM Gene Smith to try and trade this pick to a team that wants to move up. But if Jacksonville stays put, I envision them taking McClain or a pass rusher such as Georgia Tech’s Derrick Morgan. If McClain is the choice, then he would give the Jags a physical presence in the middle of their defense. He would also allow Daryl Smith and Justin Durant to play on the outside, giving Jacksonville a very talented linebacker corps.
11. Denver Broncos: Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State
Usually when a prediction makes too much sense, it won’t happen. But after the Broncos traded Brandon Marshall to the Dolphins last week, it seems like a forgone conclusion that they’ll take Bryant with this pick. The former Cowboy has been criticized for being lazy, unmotivated and even has come under fire for having a “diva” attitude. But if you read between the lines, it appears that the reports on Bryant have been overblown. While Denver doesn’t want to take the chance on drafting the next Marshall, the team is in desperate need of more offensive playmakers, which Bryant could certainly supply. He’s a fantastic athlete if he’s motivated and he could turn out to be a steal at this pick.
12. Miami Dolphins: Sergio Kindle, OLB, Texas
I’ve updated this pick from Derrick Morgan to Kindle. There’s a lot of buzz that if Morgan is available here, he’s a slam dunk for the Dolphins and that’s why I originally had him penciled in at this spot. But it’s usually the names you don’t hear about that wind up being selected. Miami needs a pass rusher more than anything and even though he’s regarded as the best defensive end in the draft, Morgan really isn’t a prototypical pass-rusher. After losing Joey Porter and Jason Taylor this offseason, the Dolphins need somebody that can come off the edge and give them a rush from the outside linebacker position. Kindle is that player – Morgan isn’t. Kindle is explosive, strong and a powerful tackler – all things Bill Parcells covets out of his defenders.
13. San Francisco 49ers: Joe Haden, CB, Florida
If Clausen falls this far, I fully believe that the 49ers would take him here. But with Clausen off the board, acting GM Trent Baalke will take the best player available, meaning Haden or Spiller depending on whom the Niners have at the top of their draft board. There’s a possibility that both Haden and Spiller could be gone and then San Fran would likely take the best offensive tackle available, but with the Florida CB still on the board in this mock, he’s the pick. Nate Clements has lost a step the past two years and there’s only marginal talent behind him on the depth chart. Haden is a true playmaker and easily the best corner prospect in the draft.
14. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver): C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson
I may have this pick backwards, as Seattle could take Spiller at No. 6 and then take an offensive tackle here. Either way, if the Hawks nab Spiller with either of their first round picks, they’d be taking an explosive playmaker that is a dangerous threat as a back, receiver and return man. He isn’t durable enough to take the pounding as a primary back, but Pete Carroll could use him in a similar fashion to how he used Reggie Bush at USC.
15. New York Giants: Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida
In my previous two mocks, I had the Giants selecting Florida’s Brandon Spikes, which makes sense given how badly the G-Men need a middle linebacker. But none of the middle linebackers that would be available at this pick – Spikes, Penn State’s Sean Lee, Washington’s Donald Butler or Mississippi State’s Jamar Chaney – are top 15 picks. That doesn’t mean the Giants won’t reach for one of those players (reaches happen all the time in the first round), but unless McClain falls to New York here, I’m starting to buy into the Pierre-Paul selection. If the Giants take the raw, but highly talented Pierre-Paul at No. 15, they could trade the disgruntled Osi Umeniyora later in the draft. So to recap this befuddled prediction, I think if McClain is still on the board here, the Giants will take him. If not, Pierre-Paul would be the pick and if not him, then Missouri’s Sean Weatherspoon. Or Spikes…or Lee…or a punter…
16. Tennessee Titans: Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech
I had the Titans taking Florida’s Carlos Dunlap in my previous two mocks, but Dunlap has seemingly fallen off the radar in terms of pre-draft discussion. There’s a good chance that Morgan won’t fall this far, but if he gets past Miami at No. 12 he could free fall a bit. Another possibility at this spot is Michigan’s Brandon Graham, but either way I think Tennessee addresses the defensive end position.
17. San Francisco 49ers: Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers
The 49ers are the hardest team to predict in round one as they could go in a variety of directions. If Spiller is somehow still available here, they could take him. If they don’t nab a cornerback at No. 13, then Boise’s Kyle Wilson is a possibility as well. But at some point, they need to address their deficiencies on the offensive line and while Davis might be off the board by this pick, he’s the best OT available and fills a needs.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers: Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida
The Steelers desperately need to upgrade the interior of their offensive line after the team’s ground game once again suffered in 2009. Pouncey is far and away the best center available in the draft and most teams have a first round grade on him. Given his ability to start immediately at either center or both guard positions, he’ll be a high commodity in the first round.
19. Atlanta Falcons: Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri
I feel as though the fate of the Falcons’ pick rests with the decisions of the Giants and Steelers. If the Giants take Weatherspoon at No. 15, then the Falcons will likely target Pouncey. But if both Weatherspoon and Pouncey are off the board, GM Thomas Dimitroff may trade this pick in order to move down and reclaim the second round pick that he parted with last year in the Tony Gonzalez trade. Pierre-Paul and Graham are also options, seeing as how the Falcons need a pass rusher. But in the end, Weatherspoon is available in this mock and Atlanta is likely to pounce on him seeing as how they need more playmakers in their defensive front seven. A sleeper would be wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, although that seems far-fetched given Atlanta’s needs.
20. Houston Texans: Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
The Texans could go in a variety of directions here, including offensive line and running back. But for the last two years I’ve predicted that Houston would take a running back in round one, only to see the Texans make a mockery (no pun intended) of my picks for them. This year I’m not taking the bait on the possibility of them drafting a running back to split carries with Steve Slaton. That said, Ryan Matthews is probably a freaking lock at this spot, but I digress. After losing Dunta Robinson to the Falcons via free agency, the Texans have a huge hole at cornerback and Williams’ stock rose dramatically during Senior Bowl week. He’s a flat out playmaker and while his size is a little concerning, he has the speed and athleticism to hopefully make the fans in Houston forget about Robinson.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma
The Bengals entered the 2010 offseason with one mission: dramatically improve their dismal passing game. The signing of receiver Antonio Bryant confirms that Cincy is committed to upgrading its offense and the addition of Gresham in the first round would be another positive step in giving quarterback Carson Palmer more receiving weapons. After having surgery on his right knee, Gresham missed the entire 2009 season, which obviously sends up red flags to teams. But so far, he has been impressive in pre-draft workouts and all scouts have to do is pop on tape of his 2008 season to realize how much potential he has. He’s an excellent athlete with soft hands and uses his body well in space. He also has prototypical size (6’5”, 260 pounds), is a decent blocker and has a great work ethic.
22. New England Patriots: Jared Odrick, DE, Penn State
With Michigan’s Brandon Graham still on the board, the Patriots might take a chance on him becoming the next LaMarr Woodley. But Ordrick is a great fit for the 3-4 and while he’s an unspectacular player, he’s steady and shows a lot of potential. After losing Richard Seymour and Jarvis Green over the past year, New England is desperate to upgrade its pass-rush. Odrick does a great job getting off the ball quickly, although he struggles getting off blocks sometimes. He uses his hands well and can get up field quickly to crash the pocket but he’ll have to learn how to play with proper leverage at the next level. He’s not an elite prospect, but Belichick knows how to get the most out of his players and could certainly teach a hard worker such as Odrick.
23. Green Bay Packers: Brandon Graham, DE/OLB, Michigan
The Packers could go in a variety of directions with this pick, including left tackle and cornerback. But while Florida State CB Patrick Robinson has a first round grade and would provide depth behind Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams, some teams are apparently worried about his inconsistency. Thompson could always find corners later in the draft, so I think he’ll wait to address that need. If they don’t trade down, Graham makes a ton of sense at this spot assuming he’s available. Despite my suggesting that he’s a weight lifter posing as football player, Clay Matthews turned out to be a great pick last year for the Pack. He gave Dom Capers an excellent pass rusher in his 3-4 scheme and Graham could be a solid complement to Matthews on the opposite side. Green Bay needs to find a replacement for Aaron Kampman (who wasn’t a great fit for the 3-4 anyway), and the hard-working Graham could help fill that void. He was arguably the most impressive player at this year’s Senior Bowl and while he doesn’t have the prototypical size that scouts look for, there’s no denying that he’s an all-around solid football player with good bulk and a non-stop motor.
24. Philadelphia Eagles: Earl Thomas, S, Texas
The Eagles were candidates to take an outside linebacker such as Texas’ Sergio Kindle with this pick, but after fleecing the Lions in a trade for Ernie Sims, that need has been addressed. Many people believe that Thomas won’t make it this far and I agree. (Houston may take him a few spots ahead of Philly at No. 21, as could Jacksonville at No. 10.) But in this mock, everything falls right for a Philadelphia team that has upgraded its defense with a couple of solid offseason moves. Thomas has excellent athleticism and matches up well in coverage, something he’ll be doing a lot of in the Eagles’ defensive scheme.
25. Baltimore Ravens: Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee
If Odrick gets past New England, then I think he’s the pick here. But with him off the board, I believe the Ravens will beef up their defensive line by adding a player in Williams that offers major value and address a need. If Williams is off the board, then I see Baltimore addressing their cornerback need.
26. Arizona Cardinals: Rodger Saffold, OT, Indiana
After signing Joey Porter and acquiring Kamerion Wimbley via a trade with the Browns earlier this offseason, the Cards filled their need for outside linebackers that can rush the passer. With quarterback Kurt Warner now enjoying retirement life, Ken Whisenhunt is likely to revolve his offense around running back Beanie Wells. The best way to ensure that a back remains happy and productive is to build him a solid O-line.
27. Dallas Cowboys: Demaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech
I’ve had Mays listed here in my previous two mocks, but the more I think about it the more I believe he’s a candidate to fall based on the uncertainty of whether or not he’ll play linebacker or safety. Thomas is going in the first round – I just don’t know where. I don’t know if he’ll fall this far, or if another team will trade back into the bottom of the first round to get him, but I do know that he’ll be taken among the first 32 picks. Miles Austin emerged as a true No. 1 receiver last year, but Roy Williams is still a dud on the other side. Jerry Jones could serve warning at this pick and also give Tony Romo another weapon in the passing game.
28. San Diego Chargers: Jahvid Best, RB, Cal
Normally when things look too good to be true when it comes to matching players up with certain teams, it usually is. But in the case of Best and the Chargers, I can’t resist pairing these two together. The Bolts are desperate for running back help and they need a complement to Darren Sproles now that LaDainian Tomlinson is off to New York. Best is a phenomenal athlete and up until he suffered a freak injury at the tale end of the 2009 season, he was on pace to challenge for the Heisman. Considering he went to Cal, this seems like the perfect fit but then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if San Diego took a long look at Fresno State’s Ryan Matthews either.
29. New York Jets: Mike Iupati, G, Idaho
Iupati just seems like a Rex Ryan type of player, doesn’t he? Now, there’s a good chance that Iupati won’t be available when the Jets pick here and I fully admit that this selection is based on the rumor that the team will either trade or release Alan Faneca at some point this offseason. That said, this would be a great sleeper pick for the Jets, especially if they do decide to part ways with Faneca. If Iupati is off the board, the Jets might take someone like TCU’s Jerry Hughes to give Ryan another pass-rusher to play with.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Taylor Mays, S, USC
The Vikings’ most pressing need is at safety and assuming Brad Childress and company view Mays as a safety and not a linebacker, then he makes a ton of sense here. Mays is a tough, instinctive defender that can absolutely lay the wood on ball carriers. He would bring some toughness to Minnesota’s secondary, something that has been lacking over the years. If he’s off the board or the Vikes pass, then I could see them selecting a cornerback like Virginia’s Chris Cook or Rutgers’ Devin McCourty.
31. Indianapolis Colts: Charles Brown, OT, USC
The Colts are always one of the hardest teams to predict in mock drafts because there never seems to be any rumors surrounding them at this time of year. That said, they have a need at offensive tackle and Brown is apparently moving up the draft boards. If he’s available, he could make fans forget about Tony Ugoh, who has turned out to be a massive bust following a very promising rookie campaign.
32. New Orleans Saints: Jerry Hughes, LB, TCU
After cutting Charles Grant in the offseason, I envisioned the Saints selecting Griffin to help fill the void left at defensive end. But after they recently inked Alex Brown to a two-year contract, that need has been filled. Outside linebacker continues to be a need, however, and Hughes would be a solid fit. He’s extremely athletic and his up-tempo style of play would work well on the Superdome’s carpet. He’s a little undersized and lacks bulk, but he’s aggressive and he works well in coverage.
Updated 4/21/10 7:30PM ET.
Photo from fOTOGLIF
Tags: 2010 NFL Draft, 2010 NFL Draft rumors, Anthony Davis, Anthony Stalter, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Brandon Graham, Brandon Spikes, Bruce Campbell, Bryan Bulaga, Buffalo Bills, C.J. Spiller, Carlos Dunlap, Chris Cook, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns Joe Haden, Daryl Washington, Denver Broncos, Derrick Morgan, Detroit Lions, Dez Bryant, eric berry, Gerald McCoy, Gerald McCoy Bucs, Golden Tate, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jared Odrick, Jason Pierre-Paul, Jermaine Gresham, Jerry Hughes, Jimmy Clausen, Jimmy Clausen Redskins, Kansas City Chiefs., Kyle Williams, Miami Dolphins, Mike Iupati, Ndamukong Suh, Ndamukong Suh Rams, New England Patriots, New York Giants, New York Jets, NFL Mock Draft, NFL Mock Drafts, Oakland Raiders, Patrick Robinson, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Rolando McClain, Russell Okung, Russell Okung Chiefs, Sam Bradford, Sam Bradford Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Sean Weatherspoon, Seattle Seahawks, Sergio Kindle, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Taylor Mays, Tennessee Titans, Trent Williams, Vladimir Ducasse, Washington Redskins