The NFL season is halfway over.
Okay, Week Eight is over. And technically there's 17 weeks. So technically that's not halfway.
But I digress.
At this point in the season there is a clear view of where every team stands. We've seen teams' successes and failures. We've seen their strengths and weaknesses.
This gives us a pretty good idea of where they'll be at the end of the year. So by now, it's safe to speculate on what teams will need to address in the upcoming off-season.
I'm going to tackle (some pun intended) April's draft in my first 2010 NFL Mock Draft.
For clarity's sake, unlike many mock drafts, I calculate my selection order by mapping out the wins and losses of every team for the rest of the season. This provides a much more accurate selection order.
So, with the first pick in the 2010 NFL Draft...
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Ndamukong Suh, defensive tackle, Nebraska.
The Buccaneers should finish a spectacularly awful 1-15.
They will need to address the horrific defense that got them there. Though they spent their third and fourth round picks on defensive linemen last year, they need a more immediate impact to improve their 30th ranked rush defense.
At 6'4" and 305 pounds, Suh will help to plug up all those holes opposing offensive lines are creating. Ndamukong may also bring back memories of Warren Sapp to the Buccaneer faithful.
Kansas City plays in a weak division and still may only win one more the rest of the way.
They'd finish a paltry 2-14.
Despite having playmakers on offense, something's not clicking. They are scoring a meager 15 points per game. Their defense isn't much better, but they have some young talent they hope will pan out.
The need for a receiver opposite Dwayne Bowe has been taken care of with the waivers acquisition of Chris Chambers. This leaves protecting highly-paid Matt Cassel their paramount concern.
We've seen talented quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers struggle when they hardly have time to blink. Cassel's mediocrity may be the result of a similar situation.
Okung should provide him with more time to make smart decisions and deliver accurate passes to Bowe and Chambers.
Okay, before you tear me apart and quit reading, I don't like this any more than you do.
I struggled mightily in making this decision, but the Rams should finish 2-14 and must, must, must address their quarterback situation.
They are last in the league in scoring. Hold your hats for this, they score 9.6 points per game. NINE POINT SIX. They have Steven Jackson and still can't score ten points.
Now I don't think there is a single sure-bet franchise quarterback in this draft. That being said, Clausen has a fantastic arm and creates outstanding plays with his arm and his feet.
Yeah, I know, he doesn't react well to pressure, yada, yada, yada. Name a quarterback who doesn't get over-analyzed leading up to draft day.
Clausen will impress at the combine and will be the first quarterback selected.
Keep in mind, Clausen may stay for one more year at ND. If he does, expect St. Louis to think long and hard about Sam Bradford.
The Lions have an impressive core of young offensive talent, and some on defense, but need help on their lines to become truly successful. That process starts with tackles. In this case, the defensive sort.
Gerald McCoy was a hot prospect last year, but ended up staying another year at Oklahoma.
He is a disruptive force, as you can see, and will help the Lions climb out of the defensive dumps.
I'm sure you saw this and laughed.
You saw this and said, "Wait, but they're offense is so bad."
Or you said, "But their defense, especially their pass defense, is almost respectable."
Or you said, "Don't they have Tyvon Branch, Michael Huff, and Hiram Eugene? And didn't they draft Mike Mitchell in the second round last year?"
To this I say yes. All of that is true.
But remember who owns this team. The Lord of the Undead, Mr. Al Davis, and Davis will, almost assuredly, draft the most impressive athlete available.
Not the best player or the biggest need, but whoever makes his old, floppy ears perk up when he hears their 40 time.
And that man is USC's Taylor Mays. At 6'3" 230 pounds, Mays runs a 4.4 40-yard dash. That's unbelievable. That's gaudy. That's the kind of thing that gets you drafted by the Raiders, unfortunately.
Though Eric Berry is a better safety and there's about 12 other players Oakland needs who are still available, I get the feeling Al will continue not to shock us by making the shocking choice.
Allow me to go on a tangent.
During the early NCAA regular season, I don't catch many games that don't involve Penn State. However, this often helps me learn who will be a spectacular professional football player.
In the few games I do watch, I sometimes notice a player that makes me think, "Wow, this guy is so much better than the players around him."
Elvis Dumervil of the Broncos made me think this when he was with Louisville. His performance in one game was so dominant that when he came up in the fourth round of that year's draft, I thought scouts were crazy for letting him fall so far.
Now look at him.
Eric Berry is similar. In one Tennessee Volunteers game, I was so impressed by his ability to constantly find the ball that I was not surprised to see many call him the top overall talent in the 2010 draft.
At the No. 6 spot, the 3-13 Titans would have to reach too far to remedy their least talented positions, and Berry might be too tempting to pass up. Though the Tennessee secondary is filled with big names, they rank last in the league in pass defense. Berry can fix that.
The Browns will finish at 3-13 and receive the seventh pick. They will use this pick on Sam Bradford.
Okay, hold on. Here's the second pick I'm not crazy about. Because the quarterbacks in this draft make things messy.
Teams need them, some badly. But barring some really impressive combine performances, I don't trust any of them.
Chances are Eric Mangini won't be coaching the Browns next year. The new guy, whomever he may be, will want a quarterback he can mold to his own liking.
His current choices are Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson. I don't think I need to say more.
I will say, that if Mangini is still coaching the Browns, expect him to take an offensive lineman. Either Trent Williams of Oklahoma or Bryan Bulaga of Iowa sounds about right.
Hey look at that, back-to-back Sooners.
The 3-13 Redskins have needs all over the place, but when a team is as much of a mess as Washington is, offensive line is always a good place to start.
It's painful as a fan to see a first round pick used on a lineman. Being a Jets fan, I've experienced it. But it often pays off.
Plus, Jason Campbell is a talented player, no matter what people in D.C. say. Maybe if he had another second to make his decisions (and a decent receiver), he could finally reach his potential.
San Francisco received the No. 9 pick in a trade with the Panthers (who look to finish 4-12).
The Niners are spectacular run-stoppers. They also have the personnel in Frank Gore and Glen Coffee for a successful ground game. This leaves pass offense and pass defense.
At this point, the 49ers would have to reach for a safety or corner. Pair that with the emergence of Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree and Alex Smith (what!?) and offensive line seems like a good place to start.
Bulaga will give Smith (or Shaun Hill, if Smith begins to falter) more time in the pocket to find Davis and Crabtree. And wouldn't it be exciting to have a pass-happy 49ers again?
The Jaguars, at 5-11, will need to address their abysmal defense.
The offense has no trouble gaining yards, and if Mike Sims-Walker can emerge as a red zone threat, scoring will come.
With good young linebackers working with Reggie Nelson and Rashean Mathis in the secondary, defensive line is the position to address.
They have a young talent in Derrick Harvey on one end and his former teammate Dunlap would help to create pressure situations for opposing quarterbacks.
The other (strong) possibility here is Tim Tebow. The Jags owner said he is not opposed to choosing Tebow, and though he did not explicitly admit it, this would be primarily a ticket-selling instead of team-improving move.
The Bills have needs all over the field, especially on offense. But a big part of the reason they will lose 11 games this year is their rush defense.
They are giving up a league-worst 174.1 yards per game on the ground.
Mount Cody will assist Marcus Stroud in clogging the middle. It's not bad to have a young player learn from a perennial pro bowler either. The Bills can find ways to address a terrible offense in the later rounds.
I'm a big fan of hometown picks. But, this one, I'm not so sure about.
Locker may end up being no more than a glorified Tim Tebow. He makes plays with his heart and his legs, but as for his arm? That's another story. He has a lot to prove at the combine.
Seattle will finish 7-9. Most of those wins will be because of Matt Hasselbeck and a slightly-above-average defense. But Hasselbeck will be 35 years old next year and the team needs to invest in his replacement.
Maybe Hasselbeck's veteran knowledge can help Locker translate his athletic ability into quarterbacking prowess.
In case you haven't noticed, any time I get the opportunity to show someone tackling Tim Tebow, I take it. It's nothing personal really, I just think it's funny.
The Jets (and it pains me to say this) will finish 7-9 this year. After Week Three, I was running around saying the Jets would win 12 games and...you know what, I don't want to talk about it.
The offense is mostly complete, the players just need time to gel with each other and Brian Schottenheimer's system.
But if we've learned anything from Rex Ryan's Baltimore squads, his defense is always a work in progress.
The Ravens could have had three third-string wide receivers starting, but would still use their first-round pick on a defensive lineman.
Following suit, the Jets will select Ole Miss pass-rusher Greg Hardy to create more consistent pressure in their 3-4 scheme.
Dez Bryant is yet another wide receiver with issues. But I don't think that will stop him from being the first one off the board. In fact, I think it may help him.
His season-long suspension will give him time to focus on the NFL combine and his personal skill.
Sure, the lack of game experience will hurt, but he's shown on more than one occasion he has game-breaking ability.
San Diego will finish 9-7 and need to address the loss of Chris Chambers (though voluntary) through waivers. Bryant is a very similar, and potentially better, receiver than Chambers.
With their second first-round pick, the Niners can immediately address their other need, pass defense.
Joe Haden may be the most talented corner in this year's class, and San Francisco may need a corner more than any other team in the NFL. Odd for a team starting Nate Clements and Dre' Bly.
The Texans will have their first winning season in 2009, finishing 9-7.
It's fairly obvious that the Texans don't need any help on offense. They can score at will, and must prevent points to become elite.
They struck gold with linebacker Brian Cushing last year and having another supremely talented backer to play opposite him would create a devastating pass-rush.
The Texans could use help in the secondary as well, but would have to reach too far to get it.
The Bengals started incredibly hot, but face tough competition the rest of the way. They will sputter to a 9-7 record and earn themselves the 17th pick. They'll draft Oklahoma TE Jermaine Gresham.
Gresham is another prototypical tight end in the mold of Vernon Davis, Dustin Keller, and Antonio Gates.
He is big, fast, incredibly strong and can be another huge target for the resurgent Carson Palmer.
Though it's tempting to have Al Davis select the player who shares his name with the star of "Evil Dead," Bruce Campbell makes too much sense for the Cowboys.
Hollywood's team has major issues on their offensive line (ehhem...Flozell Adams) and they need to be addressed.
If it wasn't for all the holding and tripping penalties Adams gets, Tony Romo might be able to shift around in the pocket enough to lead Dallas to 12 wins instead of just 10.
The 10-6 Packers find success despite Aaron Rodgers spending the majority of the time on his back. Imagine if he had more than a quarter-second to throw the ball? They might go undefeated.
Or at least make the playoffs. Charles Brown will help them get there.
It's tough to see him, but that's Arthur Jones hiding behind Brian Brohm there.
The Broncos receive this pick via the 10-6 Chicago Bears. The Bears are the first team outside the playoff race in 2010.
The only needs Denver really has are in the trenches. Their more pressing need is the offensive line, but I have no more first-round offensive talent. Because of this, the Broncos will use Chicago's first-round pick to add to an already effective pass-rush.
Not to take away from Arthur Jones' talent, but he may be the first "necessary evil" pick of this years draft.
With Rex Ryan in New York, the 10-6 playoff-bound Ravens may actually use their first-round pick on offense.
Benn is an exciting receiver who's production has been affected by his quarterback's awful play. He deserves to be chosen in the late first round and would thrive with Joe Flacco at the helm.
If Benn has a lackluster combine, he may drop to the second round. In that case, expect Brandon LaFell of LSU to go here.
Many people expected Brandon Spikes to be the first middle-linebacker off the board. But Rolando McClain's excellent play may send him to 11-5 Arizona before Spikes' name is called.
Arizona is another team, like Houston, that doesn't need much help on offense. McClain will help an already strong Cardinals rush defense and his athleticism will help a below-average pass defense.
You can expect Arizona to bolster their offensive line and secondary in later rounds.
The struggling Giants will eek out 11 wins this year, though their nemesis, the Eagles, will kick them out of the playoffs in the first round.
The Giants, statistically, are still a very good football team. Their biggest area of need is stopping the run. This is surprising, considering the team was so confident in their front seven.
Lewis will help get to speedy running backs like Brian Westbrook by flying all over the field to make tackles.
Lewis will also be the fifth Sooner to be selected in the first round. This comes dangerously close to Miami (Fl.)'s record six first-round selections in 2004. If one more Sooner impresses at the combine, they may tie that number.
The Seahawks received this pick from the 13-3 Denver Broncos.
With two picks in the first round, the 'Hawks will look to patch-up another aging position: running back. A useless Julius Jones and a gray-dreadlocked Edge James have Seattle 29th in the league in rushing.
Having a home-run back like Spiller will help the progress of rookie QB Jake Locker, and will assist in special teams as well.
The Miami Dolphins and Tim Tebow are a match made in Heaven, which is just the way Tebow likes it.
He'd get to stay in Florida; He'd get to keep wearing orange. It's perfect.
Realistically, I don't think Tebow has the skill to be a first round pick. The athleticism, sure, but the actual skill at any given position? I don't think so. However, if the 10-6 Dolphins are lucky enough to have Superman fall past the Jaguars, they should pounce.
Imagine if Miami could line up any combination of Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, Pat White, Chad Henne and Tim Tebow behind center? The Wildcat could become unstoppable.
The Eagles should finish the year 11-5 and will lay their third smack-down on the Giants in the first round of the playoffs.
Philadelphia is an explosive offensive team that tends to win in shootouts. On the occasion their defensive talent steps up, they win in blowouts. The reason the defense isn't consistent is their poor linebacking corps.
Brandon Spikes would be a huge step towards adding stability to this position. Though Spikes is marred in some trouble right now with the whole eye-gouging thing, the Eagles showed no hesitation in drafting an overly flashy DeSean Jackson with his own issues. That seems to have worked out alright.
Some mockers have LaFell as the No. 1 receiver in 2010. However an abundance of receiving talent and teams with more pressing needs will cause him to drop to an already talented Atlanta team.
The 12-4 Falcons will pair LaFell with Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez to form a scary group of targets for Matt Ryan.
If this happens Atlanta could become a Colts-circa-2004 type squad. With a good defense. Yikes.
Speaking of the Colts, the 15-1 Indianapolis Colts get killed by critics every year, and every year they do what they do best: win.
It's tough to say what the Colts really need. They have a good defensive line, decent linebackers, a good offensive line, and incredible offensive playmakers (obviously).
The only area I'd say they need talent is defensive back, but they have a top-10 pass defense and allow the fewest points per game in the league.
Regardless, I think the Colts look at a corner here. Having a ball-hawking, shut-down corner is something the Colts never had. Lindley could become that under the tutelage of a smart Colts coaching staff.
Quarterback is clearly not a need for the Vikings right now. A resurgent Brett "I'll take it...I don't know..." Favre is playing at an impossibly high level and is signed for one more year.
But look at it this way: The 12-4, NFC runner-up Vikings are built for the long run. Favre isn't.
Many recently successful quarterbacks have been four-year starters in college. And although Favre has a history of ignoring his successors, he only actually dealt with that situation once.
If Favre can put his ginormous ego aside for just a moment and realize that his real, actual, honest-to-God retirement is around the corner, then maybe, just maybe, he could teach Colt McCoy what it takes to be a successful NFL quarterback.
If the Vikings can go into say, six of the next seven years with Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, Jared Allen and a learned, prepared Colt McCoy, they could compete for a Super Bowl for a very long time.
The 12-4 AFC runner-up Patriots will ride deep in the playoffs on the shoulders of, who else, Tom Brady.
Their pro-style spread offense is nearly impossible to stop when it's at peak performance. The only thing that could make it better is an elite, home-run type running back.
That's something the Patriots haven't had in years, but will change when they draft Jahvid Best. The kid is freakishly talented.
He can run circles around people, and has the type of breakaway speed to escape defenders in the NFL.
The only worry for the Pats is if his combine is too good and they end up missing out on Spiller and Best.
The 12-4 Pittsburgh Steelers will have their hands full with the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV.
After falling short they will decide to invest in a replacement for the aging Hines Ward.
Damian Williams is another receiver who some consider the best in the class. But like LaFell, circumstances will land him with an already supremely talented team.
With Large Benjamin's explosion into an elite passing quarterback, the Steelers should look to get him an elite pass-catcher.
Though USC receivers not named Steve Smith or Keyshawn Johnson have traditionally struggled in the pros, Williams could be the exception.
The 14-2 Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints don't need much to be able to repeat in 2010-2011. They rank first in points scored per game, first in yards per game, sixth in passing yards per game, and fourth in rushing yards per game.
Clearly offense is not an issue here.
Defensively, they rank an impressive 11th in rushing yards per game, but 17th in passing yards per game and 20th in points allowed per game.
A shutdown corner would help New Orleans lower teams passing yards and stop quality receivers in the end zone.
If the Saints keep the majority of their talent plus add a player like Robinson, they could keep marching on for as long as Drew Brees' arm lets them.
Check back for version 2.0 and possibly round two next week!