2010 NFL Mock Draft Version 1.0

The full mock is finally completed!

I waited a lot longer than I normally do to compile my first mock draft of the year. Normally I whip up my first batch of mock draft right after the scouting combine, but this year I wanted to see what happened at the start of free agency before I even remotely considered whom teams would select in April.

I get as excited as any true draftnik about mock drafts, but how could anyone venture a guess at what player a team will select without knowing what big free agents signed where? It’s like taking a long road trip to a place you’ve never been before without your GPS. (Wow, have the times changed. A couple of years ago, I would have ended that sentence with “without your map” but that damn technology continues to track us down like a bear preying on an injured deer.)

Below is my first crack at predicting the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. As usual, feel free to argue my picks as much as you like but please, debate with some dignity. Don’t be the doucher that ruins the fun of mock drafts by spewing venom in the comments section of a sports blog. There may not be anything more pathetic.

1. St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
I have Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh rated as the unquestioned best player in this year’s draft. (Well, I don’t have an official ranking per se, but in my head he’s No. 1.) But that doesn’t mean I think the Rams will take him. Teams usually get funny about the No. 1 overall pick. They feel as though they have to match the contract with the position in order to justify the player they’re taking, which is completely backwards when you think about it. A team should be most concerned with taking the right player that matches their scheme. But I digress. Bradford is the top rated quarterback and the Rams have a major need at the position with Marc Bulger proving over the past two years that he’s better suited to run the scout team offense in practice and then the first unit on Sundays. The Rams feel as though they need to breathe some excitement into their dull franchise and taking Bradford should do the trick. Is he the right player? That’s debatable.

2. Detroit Lions: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
Their trade for DT Corey Williams kind of throws me off a little, but I still think that if Suh is available the Lions won’t pass him up. Jim Schwartz built one hell of a defense in Tennessee centered around Albert Haynesworth and he could view Suh the same way. He’s a difference-maker up front and regardless of whether or not he and Williams play the same position, if Suh is as good as I think he is then Schwartz will find a way to utilize him.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
If the Rams do wind up taking Bradford with the top pick, you might be able to hear the sounds of screams and jubilation coming from Tampa. That’s because the Bucs would love to land one of the two stud defensive tackles in this draft and if Bradford goes No. 1, then either Suh or McCoy would slip to Tampa here. Some people are down on McCoy after he only benched 225 pounds 23 times at the combine, but that’s not a justifiable reason for his stock to slip. A lot of defensive tackles are forced to shed weight for the combine and when they do, they lose strength in the process. Besides, not taking a player because of how he performed on the bench in the combine is ridiculous notion anyway. McCoy would be a great fit for the Bucs.

4. Washington Redskins: Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame
I would love to write OT Russell Okung’s name here, but he’s not really a fit for Mike Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme. Plus, even though the Redskins extended a first-round tender to restricted free agent Jason Campbell, it doesn’t mean Shanahan and more specifically, Daniel Snyder, are satisfied with their QB situation. If the Skins take Clausen here, the clock on Campbell’s (if he doesn’t request a trade) time in Washington will start ticking. Campbell could start in 2010 until Clausen is ready to take over the reigns in 2011.

5. Kansas City Chiefs: Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State
The Chiefs sunk a ton of money into quarterback Matt Cassel last year, so it would be wise if they took the necessary steps to keep him upright. Okung is the top offensive linemen in the draft, although he’s not necessary an elite prospect. Still, he’s a good all-around player that could play at either tackle position and would surely upgrade Kansas City’s under performing (that’s a kind way of saying “brutal”) offensive line.

6. Seattle Seahawks: Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
Yikes – what do I do here? The Hawks have been linked to Brandon Marshall and Kevin Kolb this offseason, so there’s a possibility that they won’t have this selection come April. But I don’t predict trades in my mocks and seeing as how Bradford, Clausen and Okung are already off the board I’ll admit I’m a little lost as to whom Seattle would take here. However, with Berry slipping in this mock, he seems like an ideal fit for a team that needs starters at both safety positions. and he would also be the best player available. Berry is the type of player that could make an immediate impact in his rookie year, depending on how well he grasped a team’s scheme and playbook, of course.

7. Cleveland Browns: Joe Haden, CB, Florida
Given Mike Holmgren’s free agent moves thus far (OT Tony Pashos, LB Scott Fujita, QB Seneca Wallace), it appears that the Browns will target the secondary with this pick, whether it’s a safety or cornerback. Berry would be an ideal fit for Cleveland, but with him going to Seattle one pick before Haden makes a lot of sense here. Some scouts have expressed concern with his top end speed, but anyone who watched Haden play at Florida knows that he’s an excellent athlete with good size and coverage skills. The Browns need one starter at cornerback and one at safety and they should fill one of those voids with this pick.

8. Oakland Raiders: Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers
This pick might be too logical for Al Davis’ liking, but the fact of the matter is that the offensive tackle position has been a major need for the Raiders for quite awhile now. There are some concerns about Davis’ conditioning habits, but he’s the most physically gifted lineman in the draft and he’s the type of athlete that Al Davis covets.

9. Buffalo Bills: Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa
With the selections of Eric Wood and Andy Levitre in last year’s draft, the Bills showed that they are committed to rebuilding the offensive line. Bulaga put himself on the map by making top defensive end prospect Derrick Morgan a non-factor in the Orange Bowl this year and has the type of work ethic teams covet from draft prospects. While the Bills have needs at other areas (QB, WR, etc.), the thought of Bulaga anchoring their line might be too hard for Buffalo to pass up.

10. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State
Second year GM Gene Smith is an advocate for taking the best player available regardless of position, which is why he selected offensive tackles Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton in the first two rounds of last year’s draft, even though they play the same position. In this mock, the best players available would arguably be Bryant and Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan. And with the Jags already filling their defensive end need with the signing of free agent Aaron Kampman, Bryant would make the most sense. Many teams are concerned with what is being deemed as Bryant’s “diva” attitude, but he’s such an outstanding prospect that he’s kind of a steal at No. 10. In fact, many scouts believe that he’s just as good of a prospect as Michael Crabtree was.

11. Denver Broncos (from Chicago): Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama
If Bryant didn’t come off the board at No. 10, I could certainly see the Broncos tabbing him to replace Brandon Marshall if/when the receiver is traded. Denver would be hurting for playmakers on the offensive side of the ball without Marshall and Bryant could help them address that need. But with Bryant gone, McClain is the pick and I think he’s a perfect fit at inside linebacker in new offensive coordinator Mike Nolan’s scheme. McClain is versatile enough to play either inside or outside in a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme given his size (6’4”, 258 pounds) and speed (he runs a 4.6 40-yard dash), and should be the first linebacker taken in April.

12. Miami Dolphins: Jason Pierre-Paul, DE/OLB, South Florida
Many mocks have Derrick Morgan long gone by this point and most have him rated higher than Pierre-Paul. But Morgan isn’t the ideal fit for Miami as Pierre-Paul is, which is the reason I have the Dolphins taking the South Florida product at this spot and not Morgan. Bill Parcells understands Miami’s need for a pass rusher, especially after the team released Joey Porter this offseason. Paired with the new addition Karlos Dansby and veteran Channing Crowder, Pierre-Paul could give the Dolphins the edge-rusher they so desperately need.

13. San Francisco 49ers: Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma
The 49ers could go in a couple different directions here because they also pick at No. 17, but they’re desperate for offensive tackle help and won’t risk Williams coming off the board. The Oklahoma product is a tad short and doesn’t have real long arms, but he’s a great athlete and has outstanding strength. He’s also extremely tough and plays with a nasty demeanor, which are two characteristics that Mike Singletary will love to have in the trenches. Williams also got loads of experience while playing at Oklahoma and was a three-year starter.

14. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver): Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech
As I noted in the Dolphins’ write up, many mocks have Morgan coming off the board well before this spot. In fact, some have him going to the Seahawks with the No. 6 pick. But in this mock, he slipped to this spot and I doubt he’ll fall out of the top 15. I know many people believe the Hawks will address their offense with their two first round picks, but if both Berry and Morgan fall to them at No. 6 and No. 14, they could dramatically upgrade their defense. Running back C.J. Spiller is another candidate for the Seahawks if Morgan is long gone at this spot, as is safety Taylor Mays.

15. New York Giants: Brandon Spikes, LB, Florida
I know, I know – this would probably be a reach. But with McClain coming off the board at No. 11, Spikes makes sense for a couple of reasons. GM Jerry Reese has a history of drafting for need (see Aaron Ross and Kenny Phillips) and the Giants’ most pressing need right now is middle linebacker. Reese also likes players that were productive in college (again, see Ross and Phillips) and there’s no question Spikes (307 career tackles, 31.5 tackles for loss) was productive while at Florida. Yes, Spikes would be a bit of a reach here but with the team’s signing of safety Antrel Rolle, I believe Reese will target and fill the Giants’ most pressing need.

16. Tennessee Titans: Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida
The Titans have a huge void at defensive end now that Kyle Vanden Bosch has signed with the Lions and Dunlap is the best defensive end on the board (although some would argue for Michigan’s Brandon Graham). The Titans’ pass defense struggled mightily in 2010, but part of that was because the team couldn’t generate an effective pass rush. After receiving a DUI before the Sugar Bowl this year, Dunlap’s character has been questioned. But there’s no denying his talent and if the Titans can look past his one big mistake, they could wind up with a great prospect with a high ceiling.

17. San Francisco 49ers: C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson
There’s a possibility that Spiller won’t fall this far and there’s also a chance that the Niners could grab him at No. 13 and fill their offensive tackle need with this pick. But in this mock, everything works out perfectly for San Fran as Spiller falls. The Clemson product is a dynamic playmaker and could be a great complement to Frank Gore. The Niners could use him in a variety of ways, including lining him up in the slot and taking advantage of his excellent pass-catching abilities. He has durability issues and therefore shouldn’t be counted on to be a primary back, but that wouldn’t be a problem for the Niners with Gore already on the roster. Plus, Spiller would finally give San Fran the threat in the return game that it has sorely needed for years.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho
I realize this isn’t a very sexy pick, but the Steelers need a major upgrade on the interior of their offensive line. Right guard Trai Essex is as close to a disaster as you can get in both the run blocking and pass protection. In fact, there’s a good chance that as long as Iupati proves that he can chance his socks in the morning that the Steelers will trust him enough to start over Essex. While still a very raw prospect, Iupati has excellent size and has a huge frame with long arms. He’s an outstanding athlete with great mobility and explosion, and would immediately upgrade the Steelers’ run blocking.

19. Atlanta Falcons: Sean Witherspoon, LB, Missouri
A lot of people expect the Falcons to take a pass-rusher with this pick after they signed free agent Dunta Robinson to upgrade their secondary. But even though former first round pick Jamaal Anderson has been a massive bust, the Falcons really like youngsters Kroy Biermann and Lawrence Sidbury and believe they will develop. If that’s the case, then outside linebacker would move to the top of Atlanta’s needs. Mike Peterson won’t play forever and while he’s a steady player, Stephen Nicholas isn’t the game-changer the Falcons want alongside middle linebacker Curtis Lofton. Witherspoon, who is a fantastic athlete with great speed and burst, is the type of sideline-to-sideline playmaker that the Falcons covet. Other options at this spot are Sergio Kindle, Carlos Dunlap, Kyle Williams or even an offensive lineman.

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, Jahvid Best 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, OLB, Michigan
The Packers could go in a variety of directions with this pick, including left tackle and cornerback. But none of the available offensive tackles (Vladimir Ducasse, Bruce Campbell, Charles Brown) are first round prospects and thus, Ted Thompson would be reaching by selecting one of them here. Florida State CB Patrick Robinson has a first round grade and would provide depth behind Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams, but some teams are worried about his inconsistency and Thompson could find corners later in the draft. 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: Sergio Kindle, LB, Texas
For a team that made the playoffs last year, the Eagles have plenty of holes to fill before Week 1. They could stand to add depth or even a starter at several spots on their offensive line and they probably need to add another back at some point to complement “Shady” McCoy. Defensively, they needed a defensive end opposite Trent Cole, but they filled that void by acquiring Darryl Tapp from the Seahawks. Safety is another need area, but I think if Kindle is on the board than he would be more of a risk than a guy like Taylor Mays. There’s a good chance that Kindle (who is the best OLB prospect in the draft) won’t last this long, but if things break right for the Eagles, he would finally give Philly a playmaker that they desperately need from their linebacker position. Even with Cole and Tapp already on board, Kindle could give the Eagles another pass-rusher in their 4-3 scheme.

25. Baltimore Ravens: Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State
After the Ravens filled their biggest need of the offseason by acquiring receiver Anquan Boldin, they can turn their attention to addressing voids on their defense. Adding another pass rusher would certainly be beneficial, but I think cornerback is another huge area that Baltimore will have to address. Dominique Foxworth and his big contract are entrenched at one corner spot, but Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb are coming off serious knee injuries and there’s not much depth behind them. Robinson is a raw prospect and he’s a bit of a risk given his inconsistency in college, but he’s a fantastic athlete with tremendous speed and agility. He might not be a prospect that the Ravens could start right away but then again, if Washington and Webb return to health then they wouldn’t need Robinson to anyway.

26. Arizona Cardinals: Vladimir Ducasse, OT, Massachusetts
The Cardinals are in the midst of a major changing of the guard. Kurt Warner retired, Anquan Boldin was traded to Baltimore and Karlos Dansby moved on to greener pastures. Even though Ken Whisenhunt will keep the same offense intact, there’s no doubt that his philosophy will have to change. Matt Leinart isn’t a gunslinger and if he winds up beating out Derek Anderson for the starting quarterback job, then the Cards will become a run-first team with Beanie Wells being the focus. That said, look for them to upgrade their offensive tackle position with a prospect such as Ducasse or Maryland’s Bruce Campbell. They could also address their need for a pass rusher with this pick, but my money’s on them upgrading the offensive line seeing as how Wells is now their meal ticket.

27. Dallas Cowboys: Taylor Mays, S, USC
I’ve been conflicted on where Mays will wind up, but I think this is an appropriate spot for him. Some teams view him as a safety, others as an undersized linebacker. Some pundits still believe he could still be the elite prospect that he was before returning to USC his senior year, while others think he’s overrated. But after a great showing at the Senior Bowl and scouting combine, I think Jerry Jones will jump at the chance to add a high risk, high reward prospect such as Mays to upgrade his secondary.

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: Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame
Assuming the Jets don’t work out a deal for Brandon Marshall (don’t rule that possibility out), then they need to give Mark Sanchez more receiving weapons. Tate is undersized, but he can stretch the field and has outstanding athleticism. He has speed to create separation and he’s excellent in the open field. He struggles at getting off the line, which is a concern when you think about other great college wideouts like Ted Ginn Jr. But Tate would bring a lot to the Jets in terms of play making potential.

30. Minnesota Vikings: Dan Williams, DT Tennessee
The Vikings could go a couple of different ways here, including cornerback and maybe even quarterback. But Pat Williams is 37 years old and eventually Minnesota will have to replace him. Who better than someone with the same last name and that could be a massive force in the middle of their defensive line for years to come?

31. Indianapolis Colts: Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland
GM Bill Polian was publicly critical of the Colts’ offensive line play after the Super Bowl and now that Tony Ugoh has turned out to be a massive disappointment, there’s a good chance Indy will address its tackle need here. Campbell is a raw prospect, but he has outstanding size (6’6”, 314) and could benefit from being coached by an outstanding staff.

32. New Orleans Saints: Everson Griffin, DE, USC
After cutting Charles Grant in the offseason, the Saints could stand to upgrade their defensive end position. Griffen offers a ton of upside and has an excellent array of both size and speed. I could see the Saints also addressing their outside linebacker need with someone like Daryl Washington of TCU.

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