With most of the 2010 NFL Draft order set, mock drafts finally start to become relevant. While we aren’t sure exactly which underclassmen are in—some have declared—the 2010 NFL Draft is looking like one of the most talented ever.
The quarterbacks, running backs and receivers are tough to place right now, and, as this mock shows, there is some potential for very talented picks to slide.
Let’s take a look.
1. St. Louis Rams—Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
With Suh, we are looking at the best defensive NFL draft prospect No. 1 pick Steve Emtman in 1992.
Like Emtman, Suh is a dominating defensive tackle, who could not be blocked by one man in college. He stuffs the run and can get to the quarterback. Suh's pursuit is like a linebacker, and he can even get out to the flank to tackle the WR screen.
What separates Suh from other DTs is his propensity for making big plays. From interceptions to blocked kicks, I have never see a defensive player impact the game the way he does.
Sure, St. Louis needs a QB, but alongside Chris Long and former Husker Adam Carriker, the Rams will have the best young defensive front in football.
2. Detroit Lions—Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State
There are a lot of different way the Lions can go with the second pick. Although Okung isn't the second highest player on my board, it's the smartest pick for the franchise.
The contracts given to Calvin Johnson and Matt Stafford over the last three years represent a $130 million investment for Detroit. It's time to start protecting (and cashing in) on that investment with a blue chip left tackle.
Okung has the size and ability to be a Pro Bowl-caliber player. Not only will he shore up Stafford's blind side, but he will positively impact the Lions' sorry running game.
Detroit struck gold with former Cowboy Brandon Pettigrew last season. You can be sure he is trying to get his former line mate on the team to right the ship. I'm sure Stafford will also be calling for it.
3. Tampa Bay Bucs—Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
It may be hard for the Bucs to pass on Tennessee safety Eric Berry, especially with former Tampa Bay defenise coordinator Monte Kiffin talking him up. But they already have Tanard Jackson doing a good job at free safety.
More importantly, the Bucs were the worst team against the rush this year. A player like McCoy will prevent that from happening again.
The difference between McCoy and Suh is that McCoy doesn't make as many of those “OMG” plays. On an every down basis, there isn't much separating the players.
McCoy's biggest football inspiration is Bears all-pro Tommy Harris, who acted as a mentor for McCoy when he got to Oklahoma. There is no reason this Sooner shouldn't be just as good, if not better.
4. Washington Redskins—Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers
Assuming Mike Shanahan is the next head coach in Washington, he will want to build a line that can run his system. Whether it's Jason Campbell, an old vet or a wide-eyed rookie at QB, they snd the rushing attack are going to struggle without a line in front of them.
The 'Skins were able to land the fourth pick. With all of the talent on the board, it is great trade bait to move down and get the tackle they want, unless Okung is still on the board.
Davis wouldn't be a terrible pick at four, but bringing back Campbell and trading down to get more out of this robust draft would be the best plan of action for a team that isn't as far from the playoffs as some think.
5. Kansas City Chiefs—Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama
Many mocks have KC's biggest need being an OT, but the problem with their rushing attack was Larry Johnson. Jamaal Charles proved that with 658 yards on the ground in the last four weeks of the season.
If KC wanted a tackle, they would have chosen Brandon Albert's college teammate Eugene Monroe last season. Now that Johnson is gone, the thing holding KC back the most is their inability to stop the run.
General manager Scott Pioli has a tough decision to make between McClain and DE Derrick Morgan. However, by putting the stud LB behind two stud tackles, KC should make running in the AFC West a little tougher.
Elite LBs have high floors, and with McClain's size and intensity, he is almost unbustable.
6. Seattle Seahawks—Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
It's time for Seattle to launch their rebuilding plan. While drafting Sam Bradford to learn behind Matt Hasselbeck will not help them much in 2010, it can put them back on top of the NFC West in 2012.
Had Bradford came out last season, there is a good chance we would have seen him on his back all year long in Detroit. With his injuries this year, there is reason to worry. But, if the 'Hawks can build a respectable offensive line, they will have a Pro Bowl-caliber passer.
Bradford still needs practice throwing with a man in his face. But if he can take the Aaron Rodgers/Philip Rivers route and sit before starting, it will pay dividends.
7. Cleveland Browns—Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
Berry is a stud. While the Browns would love to add a dynamic end like Carlos Dunlap or Derrick Morgan, it will be hard to pass on the playmaker.
The seventh pick would be considered a slide for Berry—his film warrants top three. However, he doesn't have the physical attributes of Sean Taylor, who went fifth (highest for a safety) in one of the most talented drafts ever.
You see pieces of other great safeties in Berry's play. His ability to play in the box and behind the line of scrimmage has defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's mouth watering.
8. Oakland Raiders—Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida
Initially, I had the Raiders taking Taylor Mays because of his cyborg-ish features. But there is a new bad boy catching Al Davis' eye, and that's Dunlap.
There is a good chance Richard Seymour will not resign in Oakland this summer, and I see a lot of Seymour in Dunlap. Some see him playing the pass rusher position in the 3-4, but I like him more as a 5- or 3-technique, where he excels on film.
If Dunlap leaves Florida, it will be an intense draft process because of character issues. However, fabulous workouts and focused interviews can go a long ways. In Oakland’s case, a fabulous workout is all you need.
9. Buffalo Bills—Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame
The Bills just cleaned house. With a new staff moving in, the head coach will want to handpick his franchise QB. Bills fans should accept Clausen with open arms, and the Bills brass needs to keep Terrell Owens around for the rookie.
The makeup of Buffalo is not much different than Notre Dame. Cold weather and talented receivers will allow Clausen to have some success as a rookie in a small market.
The Bills also need to draft an OT, but their talent evaluators found good linemen last year. They can still get quality starting tackles in the second round or even by trading back into the first.
If I'm Ralph Wilson and Russ Brandon, I am calling Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis ASAP to get the two in as coaches next year, which would make the Clausen pick that much better.
10. Denver Broncos (From Chicago)—Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech
This pick is primarily about the best player on the board, but there is also some need there. Elvis Dumervil had an amazing season, posting 17 of the Broncos’ 39 sacks—Vonnie Holliday was the only other player with at least five.
Morgan is a relentless three-down end who can play standing up or with his hand down. Ultimately, I would like to see DE Robert Ayers add some weight to play the five and have Morgan and Dumervil coming off the edges next year.
The Broncos' rush D was 26th in the NFL this season. Morgan disrupts at the point of attack and is great in pursuit. I would love to see a clogger like Terrence Cody here, but it's hard to pass on a talent like Morgan.
11. Jacksonville Jaguars—Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
The NFL is a business, and right now, the Jags are a failing one. Their games are blacked out, and they didn't even film the preseason. The team is stuck in mediocrity.
It's no secret that Jacksonville needs help on the defensive side of the ball. There are Gator defenders at CB, LB, and DE who would make great first-round picks. But there is only one Gator who is guaranteed to put people in the stands.
Tim Tebow isn't an elite NFL draft prospect. His arm is competitive, his lefty delivery has a big wind-up, and he isn't especially tall.
On the other hand, Tebow's will to win games is the best we've seen entering the NFL since Vince Young. Tebow knows how to make plays under pressure.
The Jags signed current QB David Garrard to a megadeal before the 2008 season. He has been a quality starter but not much of a spark plug for the offense. There are teams who may be willing to trade for Garrard, making Tebow heir apparent if this pick goes down.
12. Miami Dolphins—C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson
The Miami Dolphins refuse to do anything conventional. After an injury to Ronnie Brown hurt their playoff hopes, it's time for Miami to add another piece to their wild-card puzzle.
The Phins have a strong rushing attack, and mixing in Spiller for 10 rushes and five receptions per game will only make them that much more explosive. Miami doesn't have a giant need for a return man, but letting Ted Ginn handle kicks and Spiller handle punts is the most dangerous return tandem of all-time.
Miami could use some more tools on defense. A nose guard, inside backer and safety would all upgrade their D at this point of the draft.
I just don't see how Spiller will fall much farther than 10th. If he runs a sub 4.4 40-yard time, teams may be trading up to get him.
13. San Francisco 49ers—Joe Haden, CB, Florida
Mike Singletary has the Niners' D playing good football, but with more talented players, they could be great.
There is still time for Taylor Mays to work his way into this pick. Some grew frustrated with his lack of production this season, while Hadden was the undisputed best corner in the country.
Like many great corners, Haden thrives on the one-on-one situation. He has the speed and burst to close gaps on deep balls, and his vision and hands allow him to make fantastic plays on the ball.
The thing I love most about Haden is his willingness to play the run. He will mix it up with anybody.
14. Seattle Seahawks (From Denver)—Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma
If you watched the Seahawks play, it should be no surprise when they spend one of their two first-round picks on a tackle. Realistically, using both of their first-round picks and their second-round pick wouldn't be a bad plan. That's how ugly it has gotten in the Pacific Northwest.
Williams played both tackle positions at Oklahoma, but he projects to be much better on the right side. There is no reason the Hawks shouldn't draft him.
As a right tackle, he has All-Pro potential. He is polished in both the run and pass and comes with that blue collar mentality so many Oklahoma linemen carry.
There is a chance Seattle will take Williams at six. He is a top-tier tackle, and the need is there. It wouldn't be a bad pick.
15. New York Giants—Bruce Carter, LB, North Carolina
It's hard to tell just how bad the Giants are after an up-and-down season, but it is apparent there are some holes on their roster.
The G-men have a nice group of ends and pass rushers, but they need some quality three-down backers to play behind them. Carter mostly played outside for the Tar Heels. He shows the skills to man the middle in the NFL and has the size the Giants love.
There are also needs in the defensive backfield. A corner or safety would make a very solid pick in the middle of the first round.
16. Tennessee Titans—Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida
At times, it seemed like the Titans refused to mount a pass-rush this season. Iit was apparent how much they missed Albert Haynesworth.
A defensive tackle like Brian Price might be able to do some things that Haynesworth did, but adding an end with some real pass rush skills will have a bigger impact.
Pierre-Paul jumped onto the scene this year and was rarely slowed. He has the size to play the run and uses his length to shed blockers and get to the QB. He does carry a few red flags like playing opposite George Selvie—another very good end—and only one year of D-1 experience. But he looks like the real deal.
The Titans can pick from many quality ends here including some pure pass rushers, but Pierre-Paul will give them three downs worth of production.
17. San Francisco 49ers (From Carolina)—Brandon Spikes, LB, Florida
This would be a slip for Spikes in my eyes, but after an eye gouge, some owners may have concerns of his overall character. Plus, he isn't the fastest player on the field.
Spikes is the long lost cousin of current Niner Takeo Spikes. He is pushing the organization hard for this pick, and Mike Singletary knows a good LB when he sees one.
The combination of Brandon Spikes and Patrick Willis would be devastating to rushers out West for years to come. Also, Spikes is very good at playing the pass, as well as blitzing.
The Niners could opt for an edge rusher or a safety here, but they have an opportunity to have the best inside combo since Ray Lewis and Bart Scott were side by side.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers—Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho
There was a time once when the Steelers played smashmouth football, but the last few seasons, it has looked like Swiss cheese football.
Pittsburgh didn't do a great job of running the ball this season. The way Ben Roethlisberger likes to sit in the pocket, they need to do a much better job of protecting him.
With a handful of good tackle, guard and center prospects on the board, it will be a tough decision to make. But Pittsburgh needs to build from the run up. That means drafting Iupati.
He is a 6'5", 330-pound guard and physical head-up blocker. I was also especially impressed with his pulls this season. He can kick out, seal the edge and block multiple defenders on one play.
Running the ball more effectively will set up more things in the passing game, where Iupati is a better blocker than the current Steeler guards.
19. Atlanta Falcons—Navorro Bowman, LB, Penn State
Coming off back-to-back winning seasons, the Falcons still need to improve their defense if they want to get to the next level. With a player like Bowman still on the board, they can do just that.
The Nittany Lion is blazing fast sideline to sideline, tracks down ball carriers like a missile and is above-average covering the pass.
His size isn't prototypical at the backer position, but many are doing it with less.
20. Houston Texans—Taylor Mays, S, Southern California
This is the absolute floor for Mays in my eyes, but the scouts have knocked him hard after his senior year. Using the Senior Bowl and workouts to his advantage, Mays can get back into the top 10. If he takes it easy and slips, the Texans would love to make this pick.
Houston likes to play the shootout style that allows their opponents to take shots of their own. The Texans need an intimidating safety to make players think twice before coming over the middle.
We didn't see much against the run out of Mays at USC because he was designated to centerfield. He is bigger than most backs he will be facing and just as fast.
Mays could be a Pro Bowler through the next decade, but he needs to start playing like it.
21. New York Jets—Terrence Cody, DT, Alabama
After losing 30-year-old Kris Jenkins to a knee injury this season, the Jets' lack of depth at nose—the most important position in the 3-4—became apparent. While Jenkins will be back next year, it is unsure when he will be at 100 percent. his age is starting to become a factor.
If I was the GM of a 3-4 team, Cody would have top-10 value. The fact that he is a two-down player is a turnoff to many scouts. Still, the Jets want to win with D and stuffing the run is the way to do that.
Can you imagine a front that includes both Jenkins and Cody (close to 800 pounds)? It's hard to find a true nose and lock one up for the future. This should be a premium for the Jets.
22. Baltimore Ravens—Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State
The 22nd pick is a long time for the first WR to come off the board, but it could happen. Had Bryant been allowed to finish out the season, he would have been a top-15 pick. He still could be, but a lot of teams filled their need for WRs last year. Those who need one now may need other positions more.
If the Ravens do luck out and get Bryant, it's really a steal for Joe Flacco. He gets an all-around receiver with elite abilities who looks to be NFL ready.
If Bryant is off the board by this pick, the Ravens may still want to draft a WR in the first round. They've had poor luck with it in the past, but it looks like there will still be lots of WR talent where they are picking.
23. Arizona Cardinals—Brandon Graham, DE/OLB, Michigan
Quietly out in the desert, the Cards have built one of the more aggressive defenses in the NFL, but their veteran outside rushers are nearing their mid-30s. It's time to inject some new blood on the edge.
It's a bit of a cliché, but Graham looks very similar to former Wolverine LaMarr Woodley. He doesn't rush the passer quite as well, but, overall, he may be better because of his vision, quick reactions and ability to make tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
The Cards are going to have their pick of very good rushers, but Graham is the most all-around player of the bunch.
24. Cincinnati Bengals—Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame
After last year's draft and this season's success, I have more faith the Bengals will make the right moves in April than ever before. The traditional approach may lead them to take a defensive lineman, but there could be a starting DT there in the second round.
Golden Tate can be everything for their offense that Laveranues Coles hasn't been.
Tate reminds me of Steve Smith because of how he fights for jump balls and finishes plays after the catch. We may see Tate first come on the scene in the return game, but it won't be long before he makes his presence felt on offense.
Coles shouldn't be around for long, and losing Chris Henry was a blow to the team. Tate can contribute now and become the team's premier deep threat when Ochocinco loses a step.
25. New England Patriots—Sergio Kindle, DE/OLB, Texas
While the Pats have been supremely successful using the 3-4 scheme, they've never had a freaky athlete rushing the edge. Kindle could be a difference maker in their system.
The Longhorn is long, fast, and lean. At the same time, he strong enough to tussle with tackles. Kindle is following in the footsteps of Brian Orakpo as a hybrid Texas end, and he may be better at rushing the passer.
There are linebackers on the board, but a high pick on a rookie doesn't fit New England's style. It should for someone in the front seven for Bill Belichick.
26. Green Bay Packers—Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa
To be fair, some of the Packers' league-high 51 sacks allowed are on Aaron Rodgers, but that's just some of them.
Long-time Packers' tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher will be 34 and 33, respectively entering next season. Between injuries and age, they have lost a step.
The Packers would love to take Spiller. They could even draft a playmaker like Jahvid Best. If Bulaga comes out, he is a perfect fit for the Green Bay offensive line.
One of the three tackles may have to move to guard so all three can start and upgrade the Packers' line.
27. Philadelphia Eagles—Jerry Hughes, DE/OLB, Texas Christian
With Trent Cole getting all of the attention off the right side, a pass rusher like Hughes (26 sacks past two seasons) should have no problem getting to the quarterback. Early in his career, he may be used as more of a specialist on second and third downs. But Hughes does have the potential to be an every down player if he becomes more aware of the run.
The Eagles' defense still plays that Jim Johnson-style defense, but Hughes reduces the need for trickery with his ability to fly off the line and stay low against tackles.
28. Dallas Cowboys—Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland
Flozell "the Motel" Adams can't play forever, and Marc Colombo was injured this year. The Cowboys need to add depth to their line, and Campbell is capable of starting today.
Since declaring, there has been a lot of hype surrounding Campbell. He could be taken as the first or second tackle off the board.
As a former high school standout at defensive end and son of an NBA player, Campbell has better athleticism than your average first-round tackle prospect, and a great combine will move him up out of the Cowboys' reach.
If he is on the board here, you can be sure Jerry Jones will snatch him up.
29. Minnesota Vikings—Everson Griffen, DE, Southern California
The Vikings have a few different areas they can improve on their team this draft. Many like drafting a QB here, but I think they need to go for depth on their defensive line.
Pat Williams is still clogging the middle, but he isn't playing as many downs and is nearing retirement. The Vikings could go after Dan Williams to replace him, but drafting Griffen reduces the need of resigning Robert Edwards.
Griffen isn't as flashy as some end prospects, but he is a true 4-3 end and strong against the run and pass.
The Vikings' defensive success is built around their D-line. Maintaining it should be a priority in the draft.
30. San Diego Chargers—Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee
With so many running back prospects still on the board, some may think it's crazy for the Chargers to draft a nose guard. But after losing the often-injured Jamal Williams for the season, it's apparent they need a new one to anchor their defense.
Big Dan Williams isn't your typical nose guard. He has a great burst off the line and commonly disrupts plays behind the line of scrimmage.
If the Chargers do go for a running back, they will likely choose between the lightning-quick Jahvid Best and thunderous Jonathan Dwyer.
31. New Orleans Saints—Earl Thomas, S, Texas
With a capable stable of running backs and receivers, New Orleans has to look defense first, even with all of the offensive talent on the board. I would like a tight end or big back like Dwyer here, but the Saints have had to piece together a defense at times. They need depth all over.
If Thomas comes out, he will be one of the most intriguing prospects in the draft. He is built in the new safety mold. If he is not asked to start at safety as a rookie, he can fill in as a nickel and even be effective in blitzing situations.
New Orleans could also go for a corner, linebacker or pass rusher. But Thomas gives them backfield depth now and a starting safety for the future.
32. Indianapolis Colts—Brian Price, DT, UCLA
Typically, the Colts will take an offensive player here, even if D is their biggest need. With all of the injuries to their defensive unit this season, they must get some depth in the draft.
The Colts could go after a defensive back or tackle, but if Price is on their board, he will be hard to pass on because he fits Indy's scheme perfectly.
In Price you get a compact, powerful tackle with a great motor. He plays more like an end in a tackle's body and will thrive on the one-on-one matchups he will see in the passing game.
Price does a good job of penetrating on defense, and his strong hands allow him to bring down the ball carrier for a loss.
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