With the postseason in full swing, it only means draft season is right around the corner! As such, I have compiled my third 2010 mock draft. I'm using the most up to date order I can find, with all picks past 24 being in order of record remaining, not who I think will win each game in the playoffs.
This year's draft is chock full of tasty side stories that will make the draft interesting. Where does Tebow end up going? Who do the Rams pick? Who does the crazy Al Davis select this year? These are the reasons that I follow the draft, and reasons that the draft has become one of the top draws in sports today.
Without further ado, I now present to you my forecast of how I believe the first round will shake out come April.
People said the same thing last year; the Lions should pass on Matthew Stafford and draft Aaron Curry! While Suh is a much better prospect then Curry was, Clausen is a top-notch quarterback and in the end, as Scott Wright has said in the past, "you don't pass on a franchise quarterback if you don't have one." Clausen improved by leaps and bounds each season, and to those who say his toe injury will knock his stock down, ask yourself this question: What does it say about a young quarterback in a struggling situation that plays through injury? I'd like to hear Todd McShay say Clausen's intangibles aren't quite there again.
In a quick aside, I want to give a shoutout to Matt McGuire, who wrote an excellent blog post about Clausen and how he's one of the top junior quarterback prospects of all time. Very good read that I wholeheartedly recommend.
The Lions really have two options here: Ndamukong Suh, who provides an explosive cog in the middle of their line, or Russell Okung, who'll provide Stafford's blindside for the next ten years. While Okung would be the smart pick, the Lions have shown they ignore positional value when they passed on Michael Oher for Brandon Pettigrew, and therefore will likely take Suh, who Jim Schwartz will use like he used Albert Haynesworth in Tennessee.
This is a very interesting spot for the Buccaneers, and this pick will be dictated by how the first two picks shake out. If the Rams go Suh, the Lions pick could go to Okung or McCoy, shaking up what this pick will be. In this mock, I see the Bucs grabbing Gerald McCoy, who's excellent play has been largely ignored due to Oklahoma's offensive struggles and Suh's dominance. McCoy's non-stop motor and ability to penetrate in both run and pass defense will remind Tampa resident's of Warren Sapp.
The Redskins have a few choices here; if Clausen falls, he's the pick. More then likely though, it'll come down to Russell Okung, the top tackle in the class, or Sam Bradford. Mike Shanahan's propensity for cannon armed quarterbacks will give him pause at drafting Bradford. Okung provides a fleet footed tackle who's footwork is miles above the other tackles in this class.
With Okung off the board, the Chiefs look towards improving their secondary with a playmaker like Berry. The Chiefs as a team had 15 interceptions all year, with only four coming from their safeties, Mike Brown and Jon McGraw. As a Bears fan, I know exactly what Mike Brown can do when healthy, but Brown's full 16 games this season were an anomaly. At 31 with a knack for injuries, Mike Brown might be retiring soon. Adding Berry will help this team now and in the future.
As the Seahawks add Pete Carroll, that more then likely signals Matt Hasselbeck's end in the teal. New regimes mean new quarterbacks, and considering Matt was on the down end of the hill, Pete Carroll will revel in the chance to bring in Bradford. His laser accurate passes will be an excellent fit in Carroll's West Coast offense.
I absolutely love Rolando McClain as a prospect; he's a tough, hard-nosed leader with excellent instincts and solid fundamentals. All those traits I just rattled off are exactly what Eric Mangini looks for in his players, and with D'Qwell Jackson's contract running out after this season and Eric Barton needing to be upgraded, McClain makes sense at the seven slot.
If the Raiders get solid protection from their offensive line next season, I have no doubt that they'll be 7-9 or better. On offense, Bruce Gradkowski plays solid, mistake free football and the ground game has so many different options that, in all honesty, their second and third string running backs could start on various teams in this league. On defense, the Raiders are solid and have a shut down corner in Nnamdi Asomugha. Bruce Campbell is the pick here, mainly because he's a solid tackle that can step in and keep Bruce upright, and, come on, a tackle that could run a sub-5.00 40? Sign Al Davis up!
Bulaga, in my opinion, is one of the more underrated players in this draft. His run blocking is outstanding, and his pass-blocking is on a NFL-sufficient level. Many people view him as a right tackle with an upside to man the left side, but I have no doubt he can find success as a blindside protector. Whichever position he plays, it'll be an improvement for the Bills, who's offensive line is hands down one of the most pitiful in the league.
I'm going to give the Jaguars the benefit of the doubt and assume they do the smart thing by passing on Tim Tebow. Sure, Tebow may boost ticket sales for a year or two, but once people realize that Tebow isn't a successful quarterback, the ticket sales will drop once again. The one way to improve ticket sales would be to put a consistently solid team on the field, and the biggest issue the Jags need to focus on is their pass rush, which mustered 14 sacks all season. Derrick Morgan is a relentless pass rusher who'd give the Jags a threat off the edge.
It's becoming more and more likely that the Broncos won't resign top flight receiver Brandon Marshall. Even if they do, Eddie Royal could wreak Wes Welker-esque havoc in the slot, and adding Dez Bryant would allow them to put Royal in the slot and give their offense an explosive trio of receivers.
Don't be shocked if the Broncos threw together a package of players or picks to trade up and draft Sam Bradford; he fits Josh McDaniels system perfectly and could find success as the Broncos quarterback.
With their firing of Paul Pasqualoni, the Dolphins made it clear that they feel the defense needs improvement. With Jason Ferguson's contract expiring, and him being at the age of 34 anyway, adding a prospect with the upside and ceiling of Cody will improve their defense by adding new youth and vigor (as much vigor as a 350 pound player can have) to their front seven.
With Nate Clements getting older and Dre Bly's contract up after this season, the 49ers will likely be looking to add a young corner in the draft, and as a result of demand for cornerbacks being low, the Niners get a great one to slip right into their hands. Haden has the speed and athleticism to become a shut down corner in this league, with a nose for the football that you don't see in all college corners.
A bit of a shocker pick? Not really. Take this into account; Pete Carroll knows his former players better then anyone, and he'll know their strengths and weaknesses. While Taylor Mays sometimes struggles in coverage, takes bad angles on tackles regularly and might not have a place at safety in this league, Pete Carroll knows the upside an athlete like Mays has, knows how to coach him and can turn him into something great in the NFL.
The Giants' final two games of the season were two of the most disgusting defensive performances I've seen, and their pass rush in general this season has been underwhelming. With Barry Cofield's and Fred Robbins' contracts up, the Giants will need to add a young, fresh set of legs at the defensive tackle position. Price has the ability to dominate at times, but other times seems to get pushed around a bit too easily. But, then again, that's what a few scouts said about Michael Oher.
The Titans top four pass rushers are all under contracts until this offseason, and the Titans will need to add youth, even if they resign all of them. Everson Griffen had all the potential in the world and this season finally put together a season worthy of the physical hype. With a great combo of size and speed, Griffen can find success at the next level in both a 4-3 and a 3-4.
I'm not sure what to think of Davis. At times, he really impresses me, and I assume that's why some draftniks have Davis as their top tackle in this class. However, at times, Davis seems more suited to the position he played his freshman year, guard. However, the 49ers just need some sort of protection for Alex Smith next year, and Anthony Davis' has the grading run blocking ability to keep San Francisco's ground game going.
Casey Hampton has been the premier nose tackle in the NFL for his entire career, but unfortunately, the time has come for him to move on from Pittsburgh. At 31 with an expiring contract, the Steelers should be looking for an heir to Hampton's throne. Dan Williams doesn't have the size or the upside of Terrence Cody, but he doesn't have the risk of busting that Cody has either. Williams might not have the Cody's ceiling, but he doesn't have his basement either.
The Falcons top 10 run defense is really a testament to how porous their pass defense was. Warren provides them with a big, athletic corner who can help shore up the Falcons pass defense. With a defense that'll return a healthy Peria Jerry and an offense that will presumably have a healthy Matt Ryan and Michael Turner, the Falcons will have a convincing case for a 3rd straight winning season, which would add to their current franchise-record streak.
Where better for Houston to poach from in the draft but Texas? Earl Thomas has an unreal nose for the football, and at free safety will provide the Texans franchise with the best center fielder they've ever had. The Texans keep adding young talent to a nucleus of Schaub, Johnson, Mario, and Brian Cushing, and Thomas should be the next big name on that list.
First of all, my condolences go out to the Cincinnati Bengals organization. To deal with the loss of Vikki Zimmer and then to lose Chris Henry is more then most team's deal with over a course of a decade. This was a magical season for the Bengals and it's a shame they couldn't make some noise in the playoffs.
When Chris Henry went on IR, the Bengals lost an integral part of their offense. Cedric Benson is playing like a man possessed as of late and the Bengals should add some weapons to their aerial attack to help take some pressure off Chad Ochocinco (or is it Johnson?!?!?). LaFell reminds me a lot of Anquan Boldin with a combination of size, speed, strength, and yards after the catch ability.
The Patriots have plenty of options here. Almost every position on the defense can serve to be upgraded, and on offense there might be some concerns at wide receiver, running back, tight end, or offensive line. Lucky for the Patriots though, they have plenty of young draft picks from last year and a load of picks this year to build a new core around. Perrish Cox provides the Pats with a corner to eventually play alongside Darius Butler. This pick could go in any direction, so feel free to comment and give me feedback on what you think will happen with the Patriots pick!
The Packers offensive line really stepped it up in the final half or so of the season, but they can't imaginably go into next season with Tauscher and Clifton as their starting tackles. At some point, the age and injury issues will be the death of the Packers. To avoid this, Charles Brown, an undersized but elite pass blocking left tackle, will add youth to the Pack's line while protecting Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay's elite aerial attack.
With rumors that both Shawn and Stacy Andrews might be on the way out, the Eagles will need some depth on the interior and right side of their line. Trent Williams fits that bill fully. Some people vastly overrate Williams and assume he'll be a lockdown left tackle. I just don't see it; Williams pass blocking isn't up to the par set by other classmates Okung, Brown, and Campbell, and I have some concerns about his athleticism. However, he's a good run blocker and could find success in this league at guard or right tackle. Just don't expect him to replace Jason Peters in Philly.
The Jets might opt for a receiver here, but with aging players and unknowns at the five technique, the Jets could use some help there. With his size, Dunlap has the potential to be a star. However, I would like to address some other things here as well about Dunlap. Dunlap is not the top five pick that McShay and Kiper are hyping him up to be. He's a lazy, overrated prospect who mainly gets by on his physical tools. However, I feel that Rex Ryan is the kind of coach that can get something out of Dunlap. If the light goes off in Dunlap's head, he'll be a steal for the Jets. However, the worry that the light might not go off for Dunlap is what causes him to drop this far.
The Ravens need to help Joe Flacco keep developing into an elite NFL starter. With most of Flacco's key weapons likely retiring or becoming free agents after this season, they'll have to draft Damian Williams, my personal No. 1 wide receiver in this class (look for my positional ranking articles to begin after the Senior Bowl), who's soft hands and elite route running will give Flacco a reliable target outside the hashes.
Arizona's rush linebacker's didn't have many sacks; most of the Cardinals pressure came off blitzes and stunts. With most of their top rush linebackers being over the age of 30, the Cardinals will need to get younger, and adding a relentless pass rusher like Jerry Hughes would help shore up the pass defense that just gave up 400 yards and 45 points in a playoff game against the Packers.
Marcus Spears, Jason Hatcher and Stephen Bowen all become free agents this offseason, so the Cowboys will be looking to add either a new starter, if Marcus Spears resigns, or depth at the five technique position. Odrick's stoutness at the point of attack could allow him to find success at this position at the next level.
Tim Tebow is not a first round talent. His release is ridiculously slow, he has horrendous footwork, throws a very sloppy deep ball, struggles putting touch on his passes and can't take snaps from under center.
However, the Vikings are in a tough situation. Do you draft a complementary back to replace Chester Taylor? Do they reach for a nose tackle? Or do they reach for one of those second round QB prospects like Tebow or Pike? I think that they grab Tebow, considering Tavaris Jackson is probably gone after this season. Tebow becomes the Vikings future, and this is probably the best scenario for him. Sitting behind Brett Favre or Sage Rosenfels for a year or two to get a grasp on this offense will help Tim Tebow immensely.
With LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles' futures hazy with the Chargers, paired with Spiller's fall makes a very easy decision for AJ Smith. Spiller's got the speed and elusiveness to fill free agent Darren Sproles role, but also has the strength and toughness inside the tackles to soften a loss of the great LT on offense.
The Saints defense has been a major surprise this year, as they've gone through the past few seasons as a much maligned unit. With Jonathan Vilma, Scott Fujita, and Scott Shanle, the Saints have the makings of an excellent linebacking corps. However, both Shanle and Fujita are getting up there in age, and Sean Weatherspoon is a tackling machine with sound mechanics out of the SAM position. He can sit for a year or start right away for New Orleans.
Tony Ugoh's brilliant rookie season has proved to be a one hit wonder. Jason Fox has great footwork and was a huge part of Miami's turnaround this year. Without him in the lineup, the Canes struggled to move the ball against Wisconsin in the Champs Sports Bowl. Fox can provide a reliable blindside protector for the great Peyton Manning.