With exactly two weeks left before the 2010 NFL Draft, we are coming down the home stretch as every prospect is getting his tires kicked by NFL scouts and GM's that want to land their next piece of the puzzle.
While I am convinced Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford will in fact be the first pick of the draft, Detroit's pick at No. 2 is the most intriguing because of all the talent they have to choose from.
Will they look to Oklahoma State OT Russell Okung to protect their franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford for years to come or add a run-stuffing defensive tackle such as Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh or Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy to compliment newly acquired free agent defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch?
So here it is, my first prediction as to how the first round of this year's draft will play out.
1. St. Louis Rams: QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
Although I believe DT Ndamukong Suh is the best player available in this draft, I do not think the Rams can afford to pass up on a potential franchise quarterback here. After releasing Marc Bulger earlier this week, the team definitely needs a gun slinger like Bradford who will take this franchise and put it on his back.
2. Detroit Lions: DT Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska
With unbelievable size and strength, Suh would no doubt improve the inside pressure in the interior of the Lions' defensive line. A prospect who explodes off the ball and has a nonstop motor, the Lions will get the best player in the draft.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma
The Bucs' run defense was atrocious last season and change needs to happen soon in the middle of their defensive line. Defensive tackles Chris Hovan and Ryan Sims simply did not get the job done last season. McCoy (6'4", 295 lbs) would bring the strength and quickness that would make offensive coordinators look to run the ball off-tackle more than they did in 2009.
4. Washington Redskins: OT Russell Okung, Oklahoma State
The Redskins certainly became a better team after acquiring QB Donovan McNabb from the Eagles on Sunday. However, they still have a huge hole at both tackle positions after the retirement of LT Chris Samuels and the inconsistent play of Stephen Heyer on the right side. Okung has the ability to jump right into the left tackle spot and be a force in both the running and passing games.
5. Kansas City Chiefs: OT Bryan Bulaga, Iowa
When Chiefs' GM Scott Pioli traded for QB Matt Cassel before the 2009 season, he knew he acquired a quarterback that could produce for years to come, as long as he had time in the pocket. The offensive line was one of the weak links of the team in '09. Tackle Branden Albert was average on the left side of the line while Ryan O'Callaghan struggled on the right side. Buluga is a quick player who is great in space and can handle inside moves better than any player in the draft and would fit right into the Chiefs' plans.
6. Seattle Seahawks: OT Trent Williams, Oklahoma
With LT Walter Jones' 2010 season up in the air as the future Hall of Famer ponders retirement, the Seahawks need to find their next stud to anchor the left side of the offensive line. Williams has excellent lateral quickness for how much he weighs (305 lbs) and has great balance to handle some of the league's best pass rushers.
With the inconsistent play on the back end of the Browns' secondary last season, the team decided not to tender FS Brodney Pool. If Berry is on the board, the team would be getting a legitimate playmaker in the secondary who has a knack for being around the ball, jumping routes, and being aggressive in run support.
8. Oakland Raiders: DE Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida
While DE Richard Seymour was an improvement for the Raiders' pass rush last season, he won't be around too much longer. On the other side, Greg Ellis also isn't getting any younger and the team will want to look towards the future. Although Pierre-Paul only started around half of South Florida's games last season, he could make a significant impact in his first season. With two veterans like Seymour and Ellis in front to mentor him, the future could be bright for the young defensive end.
9. Buffalo Bills: OT Anthony Davis, Rutgers
With Buffalo's offensive line dealing with inconsistent play and injuries all of last season, it is time that they bring in a young player with the potential to shore up this unit for many years to come. Davis has great size (6'5", 325 lbs) and has the ability to anchor the left side of the Bills' offensive line as well as create running room for RB Marshawn Lynch and Co.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars: OLB Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri
With average OLB Clint Ingram going down with a shoulder injury at the end of the 2009 season, the Jaguars would be getting great value here in Weatherspoon, who could take over on the outside. Weatherspoon is a very smart football player and an excellent tackler. If he can improve his ability to get off of blocks, he could be a franchise player in Jacksonville.
11. Denver Broncos: WR Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State
With the Broncos expected to trade disgruntled WR Brandon Marshall at some point this offseason, taking Bryant in this position would be a smart choice here to fill in for the star receiver for years to come. Bryant is the most athletic player in this draft in my opinion, with an excellent combination of size and speed along with tremendous route running ability.
12. Miami Dolphins: OLB Sergio Kindle, Texas
With the departure of Joey Porter to free agency back in March, the Dolphins looked to help out the linebacking core and brought in MLB Karlos Dansby. Look for the Dolphins to address the outside linebacker position in the first round. Texas' Sergio Kindle has excellent explosion and is a very effective pass rusher off the edge.
13. San Francisco 49ers: QB Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame
Many thought the Niners might make a play for QB Donovan McNabb in the past few weeks but head coach Mike Singletary put those rumors to rest after publicly saying the team would not make a run for the former Eagle. While they past on McNabb, I think they will take a chance on Clausen at this point in the draft. Clausen played in a pro-style offense at Notre Dame and might be the 49ers' answer in the future under center.
14. Seattle Seahawks:DE Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech
The Seahawks had a very difficult time getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks in 2009 with four-man pass rushes. Many believe Morgan is the second best pass rusher in the entire draft with his quickness and variety of techniques. With an offensive tackle already locked up in the top 10, the Seahawks could get a productive player on the opposite side of the trenches at No. 14.
15. New York Giants: DT Jared Odrick, Penn State
The Giants did not get the production out of both Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard that they expected in 2009 and with the departure of Fred Robbins to St. Louis, the team will definitely need to look on shoring up the middle of the defensive line. Odrick is a player with great burst and even better technique. He is a solid tackler who could take up double teams and allow New York's linebackers more room to make plays.
16. Tennessee Titans: WR Arrelious Benn, Illinois
While defensive end is a need right now for the Titans, I do think they look for a weapon for QB Vince Young at this spot in the draft and target some help at end in the second round. While Benn does not have the best speed and will not beat many NFL corners and safeties deep, he will make the tough catches in traffic and is great at making defenders miss tackles in the open field when the ball is in his hands.
17. San Francisco 49ers: CB Joe Haden, Florida
With the departure of CB Dre Bly and the inconsistent play of starting cornerbacks Nate Clements and Shawntae Spencer, the 49ers would be happy to land a player like Haden with their second pick of the first round. While Haden's stock dropped after a poor showing at the NFL Combine in February, he is still the best corner in the draft with excellent quickness and great ball skills.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers: G Mike Iupati, Idaho
I do not think there is any argument that the weak link to the Steelers offense is their offensive line. While many criticize QB Ben Roethlisberger for holding onto the ball too long in the pocket, he certainly has had his share of pressure over the past couple of seasons. Iupati would fit nicely in the offensive line unit with tremendous upper body strength that he uses to create wide running holes and protect his quarterback.
19. Atlanta Falcons: DE Carlos Dunlap, Florida
While the Falcons are anxious for the future of second-year DE Lawrence Sidbury, John Abraham has been in the league 10 years and they would like to get a younger body at the defensive end position. Dunlap has a good first step off the ball and has tremendous lateral movement. The Falcons would be getting a good pass rusher for years to come, granted he avoids trouble off of the field.
20. Houston Texans: RB C.J. Spiller, Clemson
While RB Steve Slaton has definitely impressed during his time in Houston, Spiller might be too explosive a player to pass up at this spot. He is a complete package running back, with explosion through the hole and the ability to catch passes out of the backfield. He also is a threat in the kick return game, returning four kickoffs for touchdowns during his senior season.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: LB Ronaldo McClain
With LB Rey Maualuga ready to replace veteran MLB Dhani Jones in middle in the near future, the Bengals would love a player of McClain's caliber to fall to them. McClain is the total package in the middle with great size and speed as well as the ability to lead, something that is important for an inside linebacker to have in the pros.
22. New England Patriots: OLB Brandon Graham, Michigan
The Patriots did not get the necessary pass rush out of either Derrick Burgess or Tully Banta-Cain last season and they will most likely look for an upgrade in this year's draft. Although he lacks size (6'1", 263 lbs), Graham has a ton of strength and has excellent ability of beating blockers with his technique. This would be a great fit for the Patriots and their 3-4 defensive scheme.
23. Green Bay Packers: OT Bruce Campbell, Maryland
The Packers gave up the most sacks in the league last season and offensive tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher are not getting any younger. Most know Campbell as the workout machine that put on a show at the scouting combine with an excellent 40-time and bench press. Campbell would be good value here for the Packers as a tackle ready to step in at any time and provide protection for QB Aaron Rodgers.
24. Philadelphia Eagles: S Taylor Mays, USC
When S Brian Dawkins left for free agency after the 2008 season, the Eagles were confident they had two young safeties ready to play in Quintin Mikell and Quintin Demps. While Mikell has shown he can start in this league, the same can not be said for Demps. Mays is a safety who makes his presence felt in the middle of the field with his aggressive play and leaping ability. He could jump right into the starting position in Philadelphia and make a difference in the secondary.
25. Baltimore Ravens: TE Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma
With Todd Heap turning 30 last month and the need to give QB Joe Flacco more weapons on offense, Gresham would give the Ravens a tight end that can stretch the field and make big plays. He is a phenomenal at finding the open zones in a defense and runs with aggression after the catch. He needs to improve his lower body strength to improve his run blocking but is a weapon that can provide immedicate production in the Ravens' passing game this season.
26. Arizona Cardinals: S Earl Thomas, Texas
While the Cardinals most likely have their starters for the 2010 season in Adrian Wilson and newly acquire Kerry Rhodes, Wilson is getting up there in age and a player like Earl Thomas would be a replacement that has the potential to produce like him. Thomas is a playmaker when the ball is in the air and isn't afraid to come up and hit a running back.
27. Dallas Cowboys: WR Golden Tate, Notre Dame
The Cowboys were more than happy with the production of Miles Austin this season, but Roy Williams has been very inconsistent since coming to Dallas in 2008 and Patrick Crayton disappears at times. Golden Tate is a receiver who can beat secondaries down the field and make athletic catches with his leaping ability. QB Tony Romo would love another weapon at the receiver position and Tate has the potential for be a productive receiver in the NFL.
28. San Diego Chargers: RB Ryan Mathews, Fresno State
With the departure of LaDainian Tomlinson, the Chargers are left with Darren Sproles to carry the current load. Sproles is serviceable running between the tackles but does not have the size to take that beating for an entire season and does his best catching passes out of the backfield. Mathews could bring a change of pace to San Diego. While he does not have real good breakaway speed, he has the ability to break tackles and punish defenders who get in his way.
29. New York Jets: CB Kyle Wilson, Boise State
While the Jets have arguably the best cornerback in the game in Darrelle Revis, the team needs someone on the other side to replace Lito Sheppard who was released last month. Wilson has great speed that, even when beat, can still make up ground. He also is a solid tackler in run support and would provide a good compliment to Revis in New York.
30. Minnesota Vikings: CB Patrick Robinson, Florida State
While the Vikings should be set with starting cornerbacks Antoine Winfield and Cedric Griffin for 2010, there is still room for competition for the nickel job. There is also concern Griffin might not be ready for the opener after he tore his ACL in the NFC Championship. Benny Sapp played well last season in a few games in which he replaced an injured Winfield and looks to lock up the nickel job in training camp. While some have questioned Robinson's toughness, he isn't afraid to break down and tackle bigger backs. He is also a great player in space and knows how to make a play on the ball.
31. Indianapolis Colts: C Maurkice Pouncey, Florida
Colts center Jeff Saturday is approaching the end of his career and the offensive line is young on both sides of the center. Pouncey is widely regarded as the best center in the draft with excellent size and strength. He also has great awareness when pass blocking and can drive defensive linemen off the ball in the run game.
32. New Orleans Saints: DT Dan Williams, Tennessee
The Saints definitely like what Sedrick Ellis has given to the inside of the team's defensive line but there are certainly questions at the other tackle position. Anthony Hargrove and others have been serviceable but the team would like a player who can handle the position by himself and produce. Williams is quick for his size (6'2", 329 lbs) and has great awareness. If he can build some endurance and stay on the field late in games, Williams has the potential to be a solid defensive tackle in the pros.
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