With more than half of the 09-10 NFL season in the books, we almost certainly know the contenders and the pretenders.
The Saint, Colts, and Vikings are all having superb seasons, making it look like a Super Bowl matchup between the Colts and either the Saints or Vikes.
But with the way things always end up going, February will commence with a matchup between the Ravens and the Packers, while Roger Goodell will be ripping his hair out and screaming obscenities in his office.
Anyway, being a Seahawks fan, and with their season almost certainly over thanks to Tim Ruskell taking a dump on the fans and the organization, I want to go team by team and point out the weaknesses going into next year's draft.
Each team will be ranked in draft order according to their projected finish.
On to the mock draft!
2010 NFL DRAFT
Note: All records are projected as of the end of Week 12. The Panthers and Broncos do not pick in the first round.
1) Cleveland Browns (1-15; Last AFC North)
Wow. The Browns are like the Nets of the NFL. They have poor management, poor ownership, poor players.
The only thing halfway decent about the Browns are their fans. I have the Browns losing the remainder of their games, and, based on strength of schedule, they get the first pick.
These are some things the Browns need (other than a new coach):
A) RB—At the moment, the Browns are 24th in the league in total rushing yards. They are 30th in yards per attempt and have a total of three rushing touchdowns. Good enough for 31st in the league.
Jamal Lewis is way too old; they need a dynamic running back. The problem is there is no running back worth the first overall pick in this draft, but maybe in the second round.
B) WR—Sure, they don't have spectacular QBs, but that is a result of poor WRs. They don't have one top-50 wide receiver in the YAC category. There isn't a prospect worth the first overall pick.
C) QB—A lot of people say this is their biggest need. I disagree.
I don't think Derek Anderson or Brady Quinn are ever going to be premier QBs in the league, but I think at least one could be a pretty good starter with some decent weapons around him.
D) DL—The Browns use a 3-4 defense and need more of a presence on the DL. Shaun Rogers is getting older and is very injury-prone.
The best rated player in the draft is Ndamukong Suh from Nebraska. He will be good for years to come. He should be their pick.
Pick: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska, Sr., 6'4", 302 lbs.
2) Saint Louis Rams (1-15; Last NFC West)
The Rams used to be the greatest show on turf. They suck now.
Stephen Jackson is by far their best player. They have had the No. 2 overall pick two years in a row.
They used those picks on their defensive line in Chris Long. Then, last year, they picked Jason Smith to solidify their offensive line.
These are the Rams' biggest needs:
A) WR—They do not have any very good receivers at the moment.
Donnie Avery could potentially be OK. But they need a deep threat like they had with Torry Holt. They wont use this pick for a WR, though.
B) Secondary—They are in the NFC West. This division consists of some great receiving talents. Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, Anquan Boldin, Nate Burleson, Michael Crabtree, T.J. Houshmenzadeh, etc.
They need a big, physical, fast CB. There aren't any who are worth drafting this high; maybe in the second or third round.
C) QB—This is their most glaring need. In all likelihood, the Rams won't be bringing back Marc Bulger.
Kyle Boller is a viable backup but definitely not starting material. I think the correct pick here would be QB.
They need a big arm QB with accuracy. This draft is loaded with QBs, but the name that sticks out the most for this position is Jimmy Clausen.
He would be perfect for the Rams. At Notre Dame this year he has amassed great numbers, including 28 TDs to four interceptions, 68 percent completion, and 3,722 yards. He has a big arm and is accurate.
Pick: Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame, Jr., 6'3", 223 lbs.
3) Detroit Lions (2-14; Last NFC North)
Geez, poor Detroit. At least you've got the Red Wings. The Lions are, by my account, on pace to finish 2-14.
Their next three opponents are all playoff-caliber teams (Bengals, Ravens, Cardinals). And they haven't beaten a playoff-caliber team in a few years.
Detroit has pretty decent weapons on offense. Brandon Pettigrew and Kevin Smith are Pro Bowlers in the making; Calvin Johnson already is one.
Matthew Stafford has a huge arm and the heart of a lion. What he did against the Browns was heroic. He will be great one day.
The problem with him is his decision-making, but luckily, he isn't retarded like Jamarcus Russell (seriously, who eats Skittles on the sideline?!?), so he can improve.
It all hinges on the effectiveness of his offensive line, which brings us to our first problem.
A) OL—The offensive line is pretty bad. Stafford has been sacked 21 times so far this year, while the team as a whole has given up 33 sacks—good for a tie for third-worst in the NFL.
No one in their right mind would use the third-overall pick to select an offensive guard. So this pick would go for an offensive tackle, probably a left tackle.
The Lions are still holding out hope that Gosder Cherilus could turn out to be a solid tackle, but won't trust him on Matthew Stafford's blind side because of inconsistency.
Jeff Backus has probably been the most solid Lions player of the decade, but he is getting up there in age (he allowed 6.5 sacks this year!), and they don't want to have Walter Jones Syndrome (noun: for one to be in denial that star offensive tackle is aging and needs replacement; usually leads to no viable replacement and the crumbling of the O-line).
A good solution would be to draft an offensive tackle and have Backus mentor him.
The top two offensive linemen in this year's draft will be Russell Okung from Oklahoma State and Trent Williams from Oklahoma.
Russell Okung has been the best lineman in football this year. In his four years at Oklahoma State, he has blocked for at least one 1,000-yard rusher.
Also, they have led the Big 12 in rushing every year he has been there. On top of that, in those four years, he has had three different 1,000-yard running backs.
Just think of the potential of him blocking for Kevin Smith (who was pretty damn good in college, too), and the Lions could be a fairly big offensive threat three years from now.
B) Secondary—The Lions are dead-last in the league in interceptions and are in the bottom 10 in passes defensed.
Louis Delmas actually might turn out to be a good safety. He is second on the team in tackles and already has a reputation for big hits. But the Lions need help at CB.
Philip Buchannon has been lousy, and William James has never intercepted more than two passes in a season.
Too bad there are no CBs worth taking in the first round for the Lions.
The Lions are giving up a league-worst 70.5 completion percentage on passes. Ko Simpson is an OK strong safety, but they could try to draft Eric Berry, who would help solidify the secondary.
C) Defensive Line—The Lions have a pretty abysmal DL that has only recorded five sacks this whole year.
Grady Jackson is too old and not doing much; this line needs to be revamped.
I believe Suh will already be off the board by the time the Lions select.
Gerald McCoy might be a good selection, but it could be a wee bit too early for him.
Pick: Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State, Sr., 6' 5", 300 lbs.
4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-14; Last NFC South)
The Bucs went from being a playoff contender a couple years back to now being in the NFL cellar.
How did it happen? I believe age finally hit them.
They actually aren't too bad at their corner position, and their offense is OK with Josh Freeman under center, but they aren't clicking yet.
It might be bad play-calling, it might be some unlucky breaks, but they keep losing games.
The rest of their season can swing either way. I don't see them beating the Saints or Falcons, but they could beat the Seahawks, Jets, and Panthers.
At the moment, I only have them beating the Panthers. So I think they will go 2-14, but there is a fine line between 2-14 and 5-11.
These are their biggest needs:
A) Secondary—Aqib Talib has been playing pretty well his first two seasons out of Kansas, collecting 62 tackles and nine interceptions for his 26 games.
On the other side, Ronde Barber has been one of the best at his position for the last decade.
Though he hasn't recorded any interceptions and is getting older, he is still a guy who can hold down that corner spot for the next couple of years.
This is where the secondary takes a bad turn.
A couple of interesting stats: The Bucs are in the top 10 to allow the least amount of passing gains over 20 yards. That is a testament to their corners.
But they are in the bottom five when it comes to passing gains over 40 yards.
Coincidence? Probably not.
They have also given up 80-yard passing plays!
On top of that, they have given up 24 TDs, good for third-worst in the league.
Tanard Jackson is a very good safety, but Sabby Piscitelli needs to be replaced.
A perfect fit would be Eric Berry. That would make this one of the top-five passing defenses in the league.
B) Defensive Line—While Stylez White and Jimmy Wilkerson are decent defensive ends (5.5 sacks each, two forced fumbles), they have a piss-poor interior.
They are in the bottom five of just about every run category.
They need a good DT to stuff the run and occasionally get to the QB.
Chris Hovan and Ryans Sims are not the answer. They have a sack-and-a-half between them and constantly get eaten up by the O-line.
A good pick here would be Gerald McCoy, or they could hope Terrence Cody slips into the second round.
I can guarantee, however, that Suh will not slip to this spot.
C) Linebacker—This position has a huge hole in it since the loss of Derrick Brooks. Barrett Ruud is a pretty good MLB, well on his way to a third-straight 100-plus tackle season.
The other linebackers are decent, but not long-term solutions.
The problem is the best linebacker is Rolando McClain, and he is projected to go in the top 10. That would be a waste of a pick here.
Although they do need some help on offense, I think no wide receiver or running back is worth the fourth-overall pick in this year's draft.
They are in desperate need of some run blocking so...
Pick: Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma, Jr., 6'4", 297 lbs.
5) Oakland Raiders (4-12; Last AFC West)
Hahahaaha. I'm sorry, but they just suck. Their head coach is a woman-beater.
Their franchise QB enjoys eating Skittles on the bench. Their owner looks like he died five years ago.
Their WRs are fast but have the hands of Megan Fox and Chevy Chase.
They have some of the most blind fans in the NFL. Poor Richard Seymour must feel like he is Dan Akroyd in Trading Places. So their pick is a toss-up.
Pick: The Road Runner, Safety, Jr., Toledo, 2'4", 40 lbs., or
Pick: Taylor Mays, Safety, Sr., USC, 6'3", 235 lbs.
Whoever runs a faster 4-40
NFL Articles Coming Up:
My Week 13 Picks: Friday
Next Week: Picks 5-10