Every year I spend a lot of time going to different NFL forums, checking out what the different fans want on draft day. The talking heads simply don't know enough about all 32 teams in the NFL. This year however, I'm changing things up a little bit. I still did the same [mock] type of research, but I'm going to try and incorporate the drafting philosophies of the teams a bit more.
To me, that's the biggest mistake that most people make in their mocks—they see a position of need and they just grab the highest ranked player from that position on Mel Kiper's draft board. That's just not how teams function on draft day. Each team has certain preferences (outside of positional needs) that they place a lot of importance on. Either way, here is my first attempt of this year's mock.
1 St. Louis Rams —Sam Bradford QB
Don't really need any explanation for this one. It's not my pick, it's theirs. Bradford is the safest, I guess, of all the QB prospects.
2 Detroit Lions —Ndamukong Suh DT
I would have no issues with them taking McCoy here. Those Lions fans seemed to have a preference for Suh and that's what I ran with.
3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers —Gerald McCoy DT
Positional need meets BPA (best player available). I actually prefer McCoy over Suh even if Suh gets taken first. The smarter DT's tend to give you more help in the rookie year. Either way the Bucs hit a home run here.
4 Washington Redskins —Russell Okung OT
This is just a pick that made sense. To me Okung may be the safest pick in the entire draft. With McNabb and Campbell at QB, it is safe to say that they don't have to take one this year. Even if those guys are just stop gaps for someone else, it's smart to build an offense before you throw some kid in the fire.
5 Kansas City Chiefs - Eric Berry S
Here is where things start to get interesting. Eric Berry was by far the most popular pick on the Chiefs forums. I have to say that I agree with them too. OT prospects like Trent Williams and Brian Bulaga are simply not top five talents. I don't hate them, but they're no threat to Okung as the best OT. Berry has all the physical tools to succeed in the NFL.
6 Seattle Seahawks —Trent Williams OT
This may be first major turning point in the entire draft. The Seahawks have a million directions they could go with here. Spiller can be the lightning to the thunder of Forsett for example. DB is also an option and it would certainly not go against Carroll's drafting history. In the end, I went with some insider information offered by fellow H2H member Volsung. Trent Williams is a bit of a gamble and I think we have to realize that, but it's also a reasonable one.
7 Cleveland Browns —C.J Spiller RB
I wouldn't be surprised if the Browns traded down here to be honest, there are just so many options they can go with. Earl Thomas has to be considered here since the Browns have needs at safety and CB, but it's not like Thomas is a prototypical SS anyway.
Clausen would make a lot of sense here if Holmegren wasn't so open in saying that he wouldn't draft him. In the end, I went with who I thought would give the Browns the most impact as a player. I like Spiller's speed but I also think he's underrated in his ability to break tackles. He's not quite as aggressive as Chris Johnson, but he does remind me of him. The Browns get their feature back to build their team around.
8 Oakland Raiders —Bruce Campbell OT
It's Al Davis. Davis is only unpredictable if you underestimate his abilities to be a blind douche. Bruce Campbell is a workout warrior in a position of need. That's more than enough to justify this pick.
9 Buffalo Bills —Jimmy Clausen QB
If I was a Bills fan, I would be jumping for joy at this point. The Bills have a history of drafting (and reaching) for position. I think QB is their biggest need and I actually like Clausen a lot. Of all the QB's in this year's draft, Clausen has the best chance of making regular Pro Bowls, at least in my eyes.
He has all the tools you look for in a QB, including football smarts. Does this mean he's a good leader though? Can he lead them to a Superbowl? I really don't know, what I do know is that he has been very good at convincing you otherwise during interviews. He may just be a good actor, I mean a lot of guys look like saints before they're getting drafted. Either way, I think the Bills also have a small history of taking chances on intangibles (see Lynch) and it would make a lot of sense for Clausen to go at No. 9.
10 Jacksonville Jaguars —Earl Thomas S
There are few things the Jags can do here really, with Dez Bryant, Rolondo McClain, Derrick Morgan, and Earl Thomas still on the board. I took Thomas because I think the Jags like to fill positional needs (more so than other teams) and Earl Thomas can fill one of two safety or CB. Thomas also has really good speed and even better instincts. I love me some smart football players.
11 Denver Broncos —Rolando McClain LB
Yes I did get the memo about Marshall leaving and no this is not a typo. Although it makes sense to draft Bryant from a purely positional point of view, it only takes a few more steps to realize how silly it would be. Get this straight, McDaniels does NOT like divas on his team. I think that's evident in the Cutler fiasco last year and only reinforced by the Marshall trade this year.
If you look at his draft picks from last year, none of them are outright saints, but none of them have obvious intangible problems either. Why McDaniels draft a Marshall clone (one with similar problems) after getting rid of the original? It just does not add up. McClain is a player that meets all of McDaniels requirements as an early draft pick. He doesn't have those intangible problems (whether it is laziness or "divadom"), he's talented and he fits a position of need.
12 Miami Dolphins —Sergio Kindle OLB
Bryant could be the pick here, but I think Sergio Kindle just fits in so well with how Parcells and company draft. The prerequisites for any draft candidate in Parcells eyes are strength, speed, and smarts. Those guys may have problems with effort or leadership qualities, but that's what a coach is for.
He also loves pass rushers. He was one of the few who had Mario Williams above Vince Young and Reggie Bush, even after Young got rookie of the year. Kindle ticks all of those boxes. I understand that Parcells is only one of the three top guns in this organization, but why would the others be opposed to taking Kindle? He fits a position of need too. Next!
13 San Francisco 49ers —Joe Haden CB
Earl Thomas would also be a good pick if he was available, but the Jags snagged him up already. The Niners hence solve their DB needs with top corner Joe Haden. It's also possible for the Niners to pick one of the remaining OT's, but I don't think any of them are better value than Haden. They also have another pick at 17, so they have a good chance to pick one up later anyway.
14 Seattle Seahawks —Derrick Morgan DE
With the retirement of Kerney, DE becomes an even bigger need, especially for the Seahawks who put a lot of value on their defensive front seven. Morgan may not be the one with the biggest upside, but he's the safest pick of the lot and to me, he's the best DE in the draft. This would not be a rock star pick, but a solid pick.
15 New York Giants —Sean Weatherspoon LB
The Giants don't actually have a lot of needs, but they do need a LB. Those guys on the Giants forums do seem to be sold on drafting a LB, so I listened to their opinions. Weatherspoon may go much later in the first round, but that doesn't mean he's a bad pick here.
16 Tennessee Titans —Brandon Graham DE
Oh Tennessee, why must your BPA strategy be so annoying to predict? Given the Titans' draft history, nothing would surprise me at this pick. Absolutely nothing.
They could take Dez Bryant here for pure BPA purposes, or they could take Anthony Davis or Bulaga for the same reasons. The problem is that Bryant and Davis do have slight problems with their intangibles, and I really haven't seen the Titans gamble like that of late (may have something to do with Pacman? I don't know).
OT is also not a position of need for them, not even close. They have one of the best lines in football. In the end, I took the safe pick and a popular pick from the Titans fans. Graham may not be a physical freak, but he was very productive. The beauty of this pick is that Tennessee has one of the best D-line coaches in the NFL. They can make this pick work.
17 San Francisco 49ers —Anthony Davis OT
As foretold, San Fran gets their OT either way. Davis has some problems with his effort and maturity but who in the league would be better to address that than Mike Singletary? It certainly didn't stop them from picking Michael Crabtree last year. The Niners need a RT to stabilize that offensive line and I think Davis can do that.
18 Pittsburgh Steelers —Brian Bulaga OT
The reason I didn't give the Steelers Bryant here is the same reason I didn't pull the trigger for the Broncos. These teams value intangibles and don't want trouble makers on their teams. That's exactly why they let Holmes go in the first place. The last thing the Steelers need right now is more drama.
The Steelers need help on the offensive line and I think Bulaga's versatility gives them a good tool to work with. The reason Bulaga slipped so much here is because I can't see him as a franchise LT, but the Steelers don't have to ask him to play that role.
The reason I don't have Pouncey here is that I simply don't think the Steelers value the center position that much. It was only two years ago when they passed on the best centers of the draft for Mendenhall. I can't see why they would change their mind now.
19 Atlanta Falcons —Dez Bryant WR
Finally, Bryant gets picked up by someone. This actually works out well for Atlanta as there simply isn't any value at their biggest needs—DE and OLB. The last few picks from Atlanta have all been on guys who were ready to play right away. There weren't any picks made purely on upside. I think Bryant fills a need and gives this team great value.
20 Houston Texans —Kyle Wilson CB
It's a toss-up here between CB and RB. Steve Slanton hit that big sophomore slump and now needs surgery so RB would actually be a great pick here, and I wouldn't be surprised if they choose to do so on draft day. Corner however is also a big need and those Texan fans were convinced that CB would be the wisest decision on draft day.
21 Cincinnati Bengals —Taylor Mays S
Cincy is like a slightly less retarded version of the Raiders. They like the blockbuster, super athletic picks too, but at least they look at more than the combine. Jason Pierre-Paul would be a logical pick here just because he fits into what Cincy looks for in a player, but make no mistake, Mays is the fan favorite here. I think Mays is a much safer pick than Jason Pierre-Paul, so that's the route I went with.
22 New England Patriots —Jerry Hughes DE/OLB
I struggled with this pick just because both Hughes and Odrick would fit into the New England system (good players, even better intangibles). I was impressed by both players and ended choosing based on positional preference. Having that OLB pass rusher is vital in the 34, so Hughes is my pick here.
23 Green Bay Packers —Charles Brown OT
Here's another team that runs the BPA philosophy and to be honest, this was a very annoying pick to figure out. To me, the best players left in this draft are all from positions the Packers are strong at (G, C, WR). What's even more interesting is that Ted Thompson went out of his way to pick players that filled positional needs last year rather than just sitting there and drafting BPA like he usually does.
I think Brown's value is justified at this point of the draft for the Packers to take him and of course he fills their biggest position of need. GB was amazing offensively last season, but their pass protection was horrid. Protect Aaron Rodgers and see this team improve in strides.
24 Philadelphia Eagles —Maurkice Pouncey C
Pouncey is a guy that could have gone much earlier in the draft, all the previous teams just seemed to have better options due to how this draft played out. It's no secret that Andy Reid loves his linemen and OL is a position of need for them. Pouncey is one of the safest picks in the entire draft (as most centers are) and can play guard as well if he is asked to.
25 Baltimore Ravens —Golden Tate WR
The Ravens have been one of the best drafting teams throughout the years and I think a big reason is that they won't reach for need. The best players left which fit the Ravens' need positions are Golden Tate and Jermaine Gresham.
I took Tate here because of his strong combine workout and simple because of his overall skill set. A lot of WR's get taken the 1st round of the draft but not a lot of them pan out. I think Tate has the physical tools as well as the knowledge of the game to succeed in the NFL.
26 Arizona Cardinals —Dan Williams NT
This may be a bit low for Dan Williams, but unless someone trades up, I think it's justified. Either way, that's just fine for the folks in Arizona. NT is just such a pivotal position in the 3-4 defense.
27 Dallas Cowboys —Jared Odrick DT/DE
The most logical pick here would actually be Mike Iupati, the guard from Idaho. The interior linemen for the Cowboys are good, but they're getting old, so an injection of youth would do them a lot of good.
However, I went against this pick because Jerry Jones has NEVER picked up an offensive lineman in the first round of the draft. Never. I think that shouldn't be overlooked, especially if you think he's going to break that rule for a guard. Once again, this isn't what about what I want or the fans want, this is about what Dallas wants. Odrick is a decent value pick at this point, just because he could have been picked earlier and he fills a position of need.
28 San Diego Chargers —Ryan Matthews RB
This was perhaps the easiest pick I've made yet. LT is long gone, the Chargers had the 30th rushing offence last year. Ryan Matthews should be snatched up within 30 seconds if he's still there at 28.
29 New York Jets —Terrence Cody NT
This is not a good position for the New York Jets. Odrick, Kindle, Hughes, and Willams have all been taken. In reality, I don't think the aggressive Jets would ever put themselves in this position in the first place. I would think that they would trade up with the Bengals at 21 to leapfrog the Patriots, preventing them from taking one of those players specifically for the 34.
If not however, I think they should take the mammoth DT from Alabama. They do need help at OLB too, but it would be fairly unwise for them to gamble again on a project OLB. You would think the whole Ghoulston thing would make them learn their lesson.
30 Minnesota Vikings —Tim Tebow QB
Sorry guys, I made a last minute audible and put Tebow ahead of Iupati. Minny improved too much last year for them to not see QB as a need. If Favre retires, they would take a major step back, putting their playoff hopes once again on the shoulders of Tavaris Jackson. That does not appeal to me. I think Tebow would fit in very nicely here. He can sit back for a few years and learn from Favre or just with his QB coach. I think with the right coaching and time, Tebow can be a great one.
31 Indianapolis Colts —Mike Iupati OG
I have to say that visiting the Colt forums were one of the highlights of making this mock for me. There was one thread in particular arguing the importance of drafting a pass rushing DE in the first round.
I know, it sounds crazy right?
After all, the Colts have two of the best pass rushers in all of football. Their argument was simple: when Freeney goes down with the injury, the Colts bomb out of the playoffs. In the superbowl for example, the Saints couldn't do anything in the first half of the game because Freeney was active. As the game went on however, Freeney got tired and the Saints came back to win the whole thing.
As neat as this argument was though, I really couldn't think of any DE's that would be justified to be taken at this point of the draft. There are projects left like Jason Pierre-Paul, but I'm not sure Polian and co. would spend their first rounder for such a project playing 3third string DE.
Corey Wooten would be an interesting pick here and would work well in rotation, but he doesn't provide much as a pass rusher either way. In the end, I went with their other position of need—a run blocking interior lineman. Iupati is very good value here.
32 New Orleans Saints —Daryl Washington OLB
The saints could take Gresham, but they really don't need another fringe player on their offence. The players who I think are the most likely to be picked here are Washington and Alualu. Alualu would be a bit of a surprise pick, but I think he's good enough for him to be a late first rounder. LB however is a bigger position of need for the Saints, so I chose Daryl Washington as the final pick of the first round.
The most notable thing about this mock is that Gresham falls out of the first altogether. Is that what I expect to happen on draft day? No, some team will trade back into the first just to grab him. Sadly enough, I just can't see any of those teams at the bottom of the draft taking him. This is a no trades mock though.
I actually think mocks like this are kinda silly, because there will ALWAYS be trades in the 1st, fans just like this format for the sake of comparison. I'll try and make one with trades later on for the sake of realism, I'm sure there will be a lot of changes. For now however, enjoy the mock and tell me what you think.
Composed by H2H Member Nagai