Looking Towards the Future: 2010 NFL Mock Draft
Some teams have locked up a playoff berth, some are still in the hunt, and yet some are preparing for their off season vacations.
But all 32 teams are looking forward to April 22, where the stars of their respective franchises will be selected in the NFL Draft.
This year is heavy on lineman, particularly pass rushers, but after going through each team's needs, I decided to put most of them off to the second round (because of their abundance and lack of top-end talent, teams could wait and get one in the second round).
I appreciate any input anyone may have, and I very well could take your opinions into account on my next Mock, which will be published soon after the Super Bowl and the draft order is finalized. A third Mock will be published after the NFL Combine, and I will do a final one the weekend before the draft, taking into account all Pro Days and FA signings.
St. Louis Rams: Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame
2009 Stats: 28 TDs, 4 INTs, 3,722 YDs, 68.0 pct.
The first thing a rebuilding franchise needs is a franchise QB. This year the Lions, while still not good, showed some real big steps in the right direction. Matt Stafford revived that team, and I think that the Rams have to follow that precedent. Clausen is young (only a junior), played under a good pro offensive coordinator, and some think only scratched his potential last year. Imagine what he could do with a good team around him. Last year the Ram's got him a franchise tackle in Baylor's Jason Smith, which gives him a better chance to succeed than other early-drafted QBs.
Detroit Lions: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
2009 stats: 92 tkls (23 TFL), 12 sacks.
Consensus All-American, Outland Trophy winner, Nagurski Trophy winner, and Bednarik Award winner.
Last year they improved the offense with Stafford and Pettigrew in the first round: now its time to address the defense. Coach Jim Schwartz had a dominant defensive tackle in Tennessee in Albert Haynesworth, and he'd love to add another to his new defense in Detroit
Kansas City Chiefs: Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State
They traded for him: now they need someone to protect him. Matt Cassel disappointed many this season after the trade that brought him to KC, but after watching some of the hits he took, could you blame him? If this team wants to win, he has to stay upright, and so the Chiefs take a franchise OT who will do that. Okung was an all american and the only player that was able to beat him was NCAA sack leader Von Miller.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
83 tkls (7 TFL). 2 INT
The Buccaneers need to re-establish their identity as a smash mouth, play making defensive team. That's how they won the Super Bowl earlier this decade, and that's the route their going to go in this draft. A play making WR would also be worth taking, but with none available, they'll "settle" for the best college safety prospect since Troy Polomalu. Berry had down year last year, intercepting only two passes after 7 his sophmore year. He currently leads all NCAA players in INTs, INT yards, and INT TDs. He's a member of the Sports Illustrated All-Decade team. I expect some team to trade up for the right to get this guy, I'm thinking Packers, Giants, or Cowboys, because this kid is good.
Washington Redskins: Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
2009 stats: 2 TD, 0 INT, 562 yds, 56.5 pct (2 games)
2008 stats: 50 TDs, 8 INTs, 4720 yds, 67.9 pct
A one-time Heisman winner, and repeat hopeful, Bradford's the most NFL-ready QB left on the board with Clausen gone. If Jim Zorn gets another year, the QB "guru" will get another shot at grooming a young, talented QB. If not, the new coach will look to draft a guy who makes it his team to start building the franchise. Either way, Bradford's injury won't scare off Daniel Snyder's team.
Cleveland Browns: Joe Haden, CB, Florida
2009 stats: 87 tkls 3 INT,
The Browns are gonna have to start covering people if they want to win ballgames. Haden is as close to a shutdown CB as there is in college football, so he's a perfect fit.
Seattle Seahawks: Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma
The Seahawks had their eyes on Bradford and Clausen, since Hasselback needs to go, but since both of them and Russell Okung are gone, they'll settle for the next-best OT in the draft, Oklahoma's monster Trent Williams.
Buffalo Bills: Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
2009 stats: 34 tkl (15.5 TFL) 6 sacks
The Bills are thrilled that McCoy fell to them, as he's a top five talent, but my picks are assuming need as well as skill, not just best-player-available. Not much need to explain here, as the Bills need a run-stopper in the worst way.
Oakland Raiders: Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers
Al Davis would consider taking Tim Tebow here, because, well, he just would, I'm not about to try to figure out what Al Davis thinks. But here he tries to salvage his Golden Boy Jamarcus Russell's career by giving him a guy who'll protect his blind side, and in a division with Elvis Dumervil and Shawne Merriman, good luck Anthony.
Denver Broncos: Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame
2009 stats: 93 receptions for 1,496 yds, 11 TDs
Consensus All-American, Bilitnikoff Award winner
The biggest problem for the Broncos this year was the lack of a vertical passing game. With Brandon Marshall trying desperately to get out of Mile-High, they need a guy who can stretch the field opposite Eddie Royal. So King McDaniels takes the most explosive WR in the draft, who can take it from the slot or catch it downfield.
San Francisco 49ers: Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech
2009 stats: 52 tkls (18 TFL), 12.5 sacks, 2 FF.
The 49ers need to learn how to pressure the QB, and right here is a guy who knows how to do just that. Morgan will probably switch to 3-4 OLB, so his stock might fall depending on how he does in LB drills at the combine, but this is a guy who's size and athleticism should allow him to make the switch smoothly.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
2009 stats: 35 TDs (21 passing, 14 rushing), 5 INTs, 3805 yds (2,895 passing, 910 rushing), 67.1 pct.
The Jaguars have a young stud RB (Maurice Jones-Drew), a breakout WR (Mike Sims-Walker), and an overpaid, under-performing QB (David Garrard). Problem? Tebow's a guy who could bring the Wildcat to Jacksonville and make it work when running it with Jones-Drew by his side. The Jags need a spark, and Jack Del Rio pins his hopes on the best college football player in the country.
Tennessee Titans: Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida
2009 stats: 34 tkls, 9 sacks
The third Florida player taken in the top 15, the Titans choose to go defense and let the young offense have another year to develop. Dunlap is a safe pick, who could replace the aging Kyle VandenBosch. The Titans need a rusher who can get to the quarterback, and Dunlap's a load at 6-6, 290. I saw him use a spin move against Cincinnati that gave me flashes of Dwight Freeney. Not saying Dunlap's the next Freeney, but I think thats the direction he could be headed.
San Francisco 49ers: Charles Brown, OT, USC
Last pick they went defense, with their second in the top 15, they pick a former TE who will shore up a depleted O-line. Without a top quarterback left on the board, I think they go with the "any quarterback can be good if you give him enough time" approach. Brown's a great athlete in the mold of Jason Smith, the TE-turned-OT the Rams took number 2 overall last year.
Miami Dolphins: Terrence Cody, DT, Alabama
2009 stats: 25 tkls (10.5 TFL)
Mount Cody, aptly named, will be a huge run stopper in playing the NT spot in Miami's 3-4 defense, holding the point of attack. He was 6-5, 410 pounds coming out of junior college, but has gotten that down to 360. There are questions about his ability to be an every-down guy, but there's no doubt that he's the prototypical 3-4 nose tackle. He didn't record a sack this year, but he's one of the best run-stoppers in the game.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Earl Thomas, S, Texas
2009 stats: 71 tkls (5 TFL), 8 INTs
I earlier went with Taylor Mays here, but after reading up on the Steelers more, one stat jumped out at me: No interceptions by their cornerbacks. Their not getting it done there, so i think they could try to trade up for Joe Haden, but if not, Earl Thomas is a safety who can make the plays the corners aren't. he set the University of Texas single-season record for interceptions, and his playmaking ability would be great next to Troy Polomalu.
Atlanta Falcons: Patrick Robinson, CB, FSU
2009 stats: 46 tkls, no interceptions
When you play in a division with Drew Brees, you need to be able to cover the WRs, and that is one thing the Falcons do NOT do well. This may be a reach, but its an area of need for them, so they go with the best remaining CB in the draft.
Houston Texans: Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee
2009 stats: 62 tkls (8.5 TFL), 2 sacks
The Texans have weapons on offense to put up points, so they turn to the defense where Dan Williams is a solid player out of Tennessee. I either had Williams or Jared Odrick, but Tennessee has a good history of defensive tackles (Albert Haynesworth) and this is the biggest need on this defense. a cornerback could also be an option.
Baltimore Ravens: Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State
2009 stats: 17 rec, 323 yds, 4 TD (suspended by NCAA)
2008 stats: 87 rec, 1,480 yds, 19 TD
The Ravens need a threat in the passing game besides Ray Rice. Bryant is a solid WR whose suspension by the NCAA might hurt his stock, but he's still incredibly talented. Bryant doesn't have blazing speed to take advantage of Flacco's monster arm, but there isn't a top WR that has that speed and Bryant's a big target, so they go for the best all-around WR in the draft.
New York Jets: Corey Wootton, DE, Northwestern
Wootton's a beast at 6-7, 270, which is a good size for a 3-4 DT. The Jets have no glaring holes, as they wait for Mark Sanchez to come around. A WR might be an option here, and they might go for Arrelious Benn or Brandon LaFell here, but I think they want Dez Bryant and since he doesn't fall this far, they go with Wootton.
Seattle Seahawks: C.J. Spiller, HB, Clemson
2009 stats: 212 att, 1,212 yds, 5.6 avg, 12 TDs. 36 rec, 503 yds, 5 TDs.
Seattle looks again to help its anemic offense, as Spiller can jump start the team in the return game or on offense as a runner or receiver out of the backfield. He could have gone a lot earlier, but I didn't see a team who NEEDED him. He doubles as a kick return weapon, returning 7 kicks for scores in college, an NCAA record. He was also the only player in the NCAA to score in every game this year.
New York Giants: Taylor Mays, S, USC
2009 stats: 88 tkls, 1 INT
What started out so promising for the Giants ended in a playoff-less season after the defense forgot they were supposed to stop the other team from scoring. With Kenny Philips out, the secondary hemmoraged yards, and Aaron Rouse just didn't cut it. Mays will give Big Blue a pair of playmakes at safety that should be better-equipped to make a return to the playoffs next season.
Green Bay Packers: Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa
The Packers need a franchise OT, as this year's front line was only salvaged by two 35-year old tackles past their prime. Aaron Rodgers is good when he's on his feet, as proved by his two consecutive 4,000 yard seasons, so they go with All-American out of Iowa.
Arizona Cardinals: Jerry Hughes, OLB/DE, TCU
2009 stats: 54 tkls, 11.5 sacks
Lott Trophy winner, Ted Hendricks Award winner
A high school running back turned defensive end, Hughes has been a sack-monster the past two years. He's plays DE for the Horned Frogs, but projects as a 3-4 OLB. The transition shouldn't be hard with his athleticism, and the Cardinals could use a guy who can get to the QB like him. He's the only consuses All-American defensive end and he leads a top-3 defense for TCU
Cincinnati Bengals: Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma
2008 stats: 66 rec, 950 yds, 14 TDs
The Bengals, lo and behold, actually dominated on defense and struggled on offense, reverse their trend of the last few years. Gresham's a big target for Carson Palmer, who should provide immediate help. His injury shouldn't scare off anyone, as reports say he's fully recovered. A former basketball player like Tony Gonzalez or Antonio Gates, he's head-and-shoulders the best TE in the draft.
Dallas Cowboys: Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland
It's hard to find an area of concern here, with the way this team is playing, but I found one. The play of Flozell Adams is starting to decline, and it's a steep hill. Here Jerry Jones plays it safe with the big OT out of Maryland.
New Orleans Saints: Perrish Cox, CB, Oklahoma State
2009 stats: 31 tkls, 4 INTs
The Saints downfall this year was the defense, as it has been the past couple years. With injuries to the secondary to players such as Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter, they've had to rely on guys like Mike McKenzie and Chris McCalister who are past their prime. They've waived McKenzie, which i find an odd move even if Greer comes back for the playoffs. He's a valuable veteran presence on the roster and his play's been good enough. But I think the Saints are finding out that last year's top pick Malcolm Jenkins makes a better strong safety than corner, so this position is the foremost need for them this offseason.
New England Patriots: Sergio Kindle, OLB, Texas
2009 stats: 47 tkls, 3 sacks
Kindle has the size to play OLB in the NFL, and the Patriots' struggles this season have been defensive. Belicheck nailed his last LB pick , Jerod Mayo, so Kindle should thrive in NE.
Minnesota Vikings: Sean Weatherspoon, OLB, Missouri
2009 stats: 67 tkls, 4 sacks, 1 INT
The Vikings could stand to improve the third linebacker spot next to EJ Henderson and Chad Greenway. Weatherspoon's a good talent who may very well go earlier than this.
San Diego Chargers: Toby Gerhart, HB, Stanford
2009 stats: 343 att, 1,871 yds, 5.5 avg, 28 TDs
Consensus All-American, Doak Walker Running Back Award, Jim Brown Trophy.
Gerhart's a good power runner who would be a perfect complement to Darren Sproles. Couldn't find many holes to address for this Charger team. Gerhart came in second in theh closest Heisman race ever, losing to Alabama Sophmore Mark Ingraham.
Philadelphia Eagles: Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama
The Eagles suffered a lot of injuries to this position last year, and McClain's the best MLB in the draft. He could very well go earlier, but I saw a lot more needs for OLB's than MLBs on the board.
Indianapolis Colts: Jared Odrick, DT, Penn State
2009 stats: 43 tkls., 7 sacks
The reigning Big-10 Defensive Player of the Year goes to Indianapolis, where I couldn't find any holes to fill, so I went with a best-player-available pick. He could go earlier, as some people have him rated higher than Terrence Cody, but I don't see it.