2010 NFL Draft: How Trades Will Affect Broncos, Dolphins, Jets, Steelers
The past two weeks have seen a series of trades that will not only effect the first round strategy of those involved, but it will also continue shifting the balance of power in the American Football Conference.
With Denver trading WR Brandon Marshall to Miami (and the Dolphins subsequently moving WR Ted Ginn to San Francisco), the Jets acquiring WR Santonio Holmes from Pittsburgh and the Steelers fielding offers for troubled QB Ben Roethlisberger, the winds of change will batter the conference with gale force intensity once the draft gets under way on Thursday night.
The four teams will also force the way other teams approach the draft, as the evaluation boards of the other 28 teams have experienced aftershocks from the impact of the trades.
With that in mind, here's an updated mock draft, with emphasis on Denver, Miami, Pittsburgh and the Jets.
1. St. Louis: QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
Bradford's visit to the Rams' facilities last Friday only reinforced the fact the QB-starved franchise will take the big gunslinger from Sooner Land. It would be a major shock if the Rams swerved everyone and went a different direction.
Should the Rams hold to logic, the selection of Bradford would mark the first time the franchise has used a first round pick on a quarterback since the then-Los Angeles Rams chose Bill Munson with the seventh overall selection in the 1964 draft.
St. Louis would hope for better results from Bradford than they received from Munson, who started only 18 games in four unremarkable seasons with the club.
2. Detroit: DT Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska
The Lions continue their 53-year rebuilding process with the selection of the mammoth Suh, who instantly provides credibility to a defense that allowed 31 points and nearly 400 yards per game last season.
Suh would benefit greatly by playing alongside free agent acquisition Kyle Vanden Bosch, who will line up at DE opposite Suh. The Lions would also be adding another young piece to the defensive puzzle to complement DE Clint Avril and S Louis Delmas.
3. Tampa Bay: DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma
There are numerous scouts and personnel men who believe McCoy will be a better NFL player than Suh. Count the Buccaneers' staff as members of that camp, as McCoy gives the club its best defensive lineman since Warren Sapp.
McCoy has been frequently compared to Sapp with his ability to rush the passer from the interior and his ability to run down ballcarriers. He should have no problem making an impact on a Bucs team that lacked big plays from its defense in 2009.
4. Washington: OT Russell Okung, Oklahoma State
Acquiring QB Donovan McNabb means little if the Redskins can't keep defenders from having group therapy sessions in their backfield.
The consensus pick for best available offensive lineman, the 6-5, 300-pound Okung would instantly fill in the left tackle position that became vacant with the retirement of Chris Samuels. Okung would also assure the position would not be an issue for the next decade.
5. Kansas City: OT Trent Williams, Oklahoma
Tennessee S Eric Berry would be a popular pick for Chiefs fans, but QB Matt Cassel was battered frequently last season and may end the 2010 campaign needing a spatula to scrape up what's left of him.
Williams makes the best fit in that he serves two purposes: He becomes a much-needed bodyguard at left tackle and would allow Braden Albert (last year's first round pick) to move to his natural position at right tackle.
The duo could serve as the backbone of the Chiefs' O-line for years to come.
6. Seattle: DE Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech
The Seahawks have a gaping hole at left defensive end, and Morgan would be the perfect fit to solve it. Pete Carroll could be tempted to go QB (Jimmy Clausen) or OL (Mike Iupati or Bruce Campbell), but it will hard to pass up a top-shelf pass-rusher that has drawn comparisons to Julius Peppers.
The club struck gold with Wake Forest LB Aaron Curry last season, so there's no reason not to dip into the ACC well again to get a player who would improve the Seahawks' middling pass rush.
7. Cleveland: S Eric Berry, Tennessee
Berry could eventually move to corner, but he'll be an impact player regardless of where he lines up in the secondary. Few safety prospects in recent memory have come into the league with the combination of speed, tackling ability and nose for the ball like Berry.
The Browns may consider Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen, but the depth at the position is such that the club would be foolish to let a player with a rare skills set like Berry slip past them.
Then again, it is the Browns....
8. Oakland: WR Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State
Forever unpredictable, Raiders owner Al Davis can't resist the potential of Bryant, who missed most of his junior season due to NCAA violations. A less than stellar pro day still can't convince Davis of shying away from a player who has top 10 talent yet lacks discipline and maturity.
At this point, the Raiders will also look long and hard at Clausen. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him get selected here, but most of the decision will depend if Davis wants to plunk down at least $20 million on a QB that he'd hope would make up for the disaster that has been the JaMarcus Russell Experience.
9. Buffalo: OT Bryan Bulaga, Iowa
At 6-5, 314, Bulaga has prototypical size for his position and grades out as above average or better in most categories. The Bills aren't sure who'll play quarterback this season, but it's a given they'd prefer to keep him upright, and Bulaga goes a long way in assuring that wish.
Again, Clausen could be a possibility here.
10. Jacksonville: ILB Rolando McClain, Alabama
Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio spent more than a decade in the NFL as a linebacker, and in McClain, he can't help but see a hard-hitting defender whose leadership skills would provide a jolt for a franchise seek direction and swagger.
As impressive as McClain's ability to blow up ballcarriers, his passion for the film room and desire to succeed is better. Florida CB Joe Haden would also be a sound pick here, but McClain is the type of defender that should spend much of the next decade earning Pro Bowl trips.
11. Denver: S Earl Thomas, Texas
Thomas has rapidly moved up the charts in recent weeks and would be an ideal fit for the Broncos. Despite another Pro Bowl season, Brian Dawkins is on the back side of his career, and the addition of Thomas would allow Dawkins to groom his eventual replacement.
If Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant falls here, the Broncos would be hard-pressed not to take him, but head coach Josh McDaniels may not want to risk dealing with another basket case so soon after shipping Marshall out of town.
Denver has two picks in the second round (numbers 43 and 45), which would give them a shot a fleet of quality receivers. Cincinnati's Mardy Gilyard, USC's Damien Williams and LSU's Brandon LaFell are three strong options.
The Broncos will likely stay put, but with three of the top 45 picks in their pocket, the club could also use the selections to move up if they see a player they covet (Eric Berry).
Don't rule out Clausen here, either. A possible Clausen-Brady Quinn battle for the starting job would make for one intriguing storyline.
12. Miami: DT Dan Williams, Tennessee
The additions of LB Karlos Dansby (free agency) and last week's trade for WR Brandon Marshall has the Dolphins in the conversation of possible AFC title contenders. With two of their biggest needs addressed, the club will focus its attention on further improving the defensive line.
At 6-2, 327, Williams is the type of tackle that can eat up space in the interior and may be a better run stopper than Suh or McCoy. His love of eating may be the only barrier between him and stardom.
The Dolphins traded their second round pick to the Broncos as part of the Marshall deal, but look for them to continue adding depth across the board defensively. With DT Jason Ferguson expected to be suspended for the first eight games and DE Jason Taylor possibly moving on, those two positions will be high priorities.
Trading Ted Ginn to San Francisco cost the team a return specialist. Don't be surprised if the team targets either Appalachian State's Armani Edwards or USC's Joe McKnight in the later rounds.
13. San Francisco: OT Anthony Davis, Rutgers
Head coach Mike Singletary has already established a rapport with Davis, who would fit a huge need for the Niners. Since 2007, no team has allowed more sacks than San Fran, which has given up 150 during that span.
With picks 13 and 17, the Niners can also use the picks as leverage to move up, but the addition of Davis would further improve an offense that appeared to have found an identity during the later stages of last season.
14. Seattle: RB C.J. Spiller, Clemson
Spiller is a threat to score every time he touches the ball and his versatility will remind Carroll of Saints RB Reggie Bush, whom he coached to a Heisman Trophy in 2005.
Expect Carroll to utilize Spiller in the same way, which means lining him up as a slot receiver and a return specialist. The owner of a 4.34 time in the 40-yard dash, Spiller -- who would be the front runner for Offensive Rookie of the Year -- will also elicit comparisons to Titans All-Pro Chris Johnson.
15. New York Giants: CB Joe Haden, Florida
Quarterbacks had open season on the Giants secondary in 2009. With his hide on the hot seat, head coach Tom Coughlin would welcome the addition of the best corner available. Haden can run with most receivers and has the closing speed to make up for mistakes.
In a perfect world, the G-Men would love to have McClain, but Haden gives the team a corner that has the swagger to thrive in big games and also shake off giving up big plays.
16. Tennessee: DE Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida
"Freak" may be the best word to describe Pierre-Paul. The 6-4, 270-pounder has remained high atop everyone's draft board and has yet to really begin tapping into his immense potential.
The Titans lost DE Kyle Vanden Bosch to free agency and need a top-shelf pass rusher. With his athleticism and high ceiling, Pierre-Paul would be the ideal pick for a franchise looking to build upon last season's impressive finish after starting 0-6.
17. San Francisco: QB Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame
Neither Alex Smith or David Carr is the long-term answer at QB, and in a division that lacks an elite passer, the addition of Clausen could be a difference-maker for the 49ers.
Clausen has the arm strength to allow WRs Michael Crabtree, Ted Ginn, Jr. and TE Vernon Davis to thrive under. Add the presence of RB Frank Gore, and the theory of taking Clausen begins to take hold.
Potentially, this could be the selection that puts the franchise on the fast track to a return to glory.
18. Pittsburgh: OL Maurkice Pouncey, Florida
Perhaps no other team will be intriguing to follow during the draft than the Steelers, who have spent the offseason dealing with the transgressions of Super Bowl 43 heroes Santonio Holmes and Ben Roethlisberger.
Holmes was shipped to the Jets last weekend, and Roethlisberger -- at the very least -- is looking at a suspension, leaving the Steelers without their two biggest offensive weapons. It's no guarantee that Big Ben will open the 2010 season in the Steel City, as the club has been noncommittal about his future with the club.
Head coach Mike Tomlin would love to go back to the power running game that has defined the franchise, and adding Pouncey would give the team a solution to its issues at center. Pouncey's versatility could eventually move him to tackle, but his presence would bring a much-needed combo of talent and attitude on the line.
There's no doubt the Steelers will look for a receiver early. With their second round pick (52nd overall), the club could focus on Cincinnati's Mardy Gilyard or Syracuse's Mike Willams. Quarterback will also be addressed, with Cincinnati's Tony Pike and Troy's Levi Brown options in the later rounds.
19. Atlanta: DE Brandon Graham, Michigan
The Falcons finished 28th against the pass last season and began addressing the issue by signing CB Dunta Robinson early in free agency. Lacking a young pass rusher, the club focuses on Graham, who is versatile enough to either play end or outside linebacker.
Graham doesn't have the jaw-dropping skills of a Derrick Morgan or Jason Pierre-Paul, but is a steady and relentless defender who has a nose for the ball. The Falcons could bounce back in a big way if Graham could pair up with DT Peria Jerry, the team's first round pick in 2009 who missed much of his rookie season due to injuries.
20. Houston: CB Kyle Wilson, Boise State
Losing CB Dunta Robinson via free agency left the Texans' secondary without a top-flight cornerback, a must for any team that faces Peyton Manning twice a season.
Wilson is a ballhawk that won't get discouraged if he gives up a big play. He never missed a game in his four seasons at Boise State and would also give the Texans the luxury of being a special teams ace as both a kick blocker and return specialist.
21. Cincinnati: WR Demaryius Thomas, Georgia Tech
The tragic death of WR Chris Henry late last season took away the club's only legitimate deep threat; the offense sputtered significantly once Henry was injured in midseason. Chad Ocho Cino is no longer a deep threat and free agent signee Antonio Bryant has just one solid season (2008) under his belt.
Thomas would give QB Carson Palmer the vertical weapon the club needs to energize the offense. At 6-3, 224, Thomas is not as polished as former Georgia Tech standout Calvin Johnson, but his ability to blow past defensive backs -- combined with his build -- could cause defensive coordinators long nights without sleep.
22. New England: DE Sergio Kindle, Texas
Kindle, who can also play linebacker, is the type of versatile player Pats head coach Bill Bellichick loves to have. With the club expected to jettison LB Adelius Thomas, Kindle could come in and deliver consistent pressure on the quarterback, something Thomas was unable to do in his time in New England.
Kindle does come with two red flags: he had issues avoiding injuries early in his collegiate career and has had two off-field incidents (including a 2007 DUI) that could cause some teams to shy away from him.
23. Green Bay: OT Bruce Campbell, Maryland
OTs Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher are nearing the end of their careers, and the team needs to begin addressing the issue now. Campbell (6-6, 318) has the perfect size for the position and his 4.85 40 time at the rookie combine has left a lasting impression on scouts and personnel men.
Campbell needs to work on his run blocking, but his ability to protect the passer would give QB Aaron Rodgers a sense of calm once the man-mountain asserts himself in the starting lineup.
24. Philadelphia: S Taylor Mays, USC
Having paid dearly for letting veteran S Brian Dawkins depart last season, the Eagles would salivate if the hard-hitting Mays is available at this point. Mays' bone-jarring hits and his off-the-charts size are without question, evoking memories of the late Sean Taylor.
Mays' disappointing senior season sent his stock down in some eyes, but his biggest weakness (a lack of instincts) can be taught.
25. Baltimore: TE Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma
Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome has spent much of the offseason bolstering the offense, adding WRs Anquan Boldin and Dante Stallworth to the arsenal. With Todd Heap in decline, Newsome provides third-year QB Joe Flacco with another weapon in the form of Gresham, who missed all of 2009 with a knee injury.
He won't win awards for his blocking, but Gresham is clearly the best prospect at the position. Had he not sustained the injury, he may well have been a top 10-15 selection.
26. Arizona: DE/OLB Jerry Hughes, TCU
A pass-rushing demon, Hughes would fill a huge need for a Cardinals team that struggled to get to the quarterback. He would also provide the type of impact plays that Karlos Dansby gave the team before heading out for the fun, sun and huge pay raise the Dolphins presented him.
Hughes has drawn comparisons to Colts All-Pro DE Dwight Freeney; after looking at his game film, it's easy to see why the Cards would be thrilled if he could give them that type of production.
27. Dallas: OG Mike Iupati, Idaho
The release of veteran OT Flozell Adams signaled a changing of the guard (no pun intended) for a Cowboys' line that did not have a starter under the age of 30 last season. Should Iupati fall to 27, Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones would have every reason to smile, because this would constitute a downright steal.
Iupati has the nasty streak that would endear him to Cowboys fans and has the versatility to eventually move to tackle. His top-shelf strength assures that he won't lose too many 1-on-1 confrontations.
28. San Diego: RB Ryan Mathews, Fresno State
LaDainian Tomlinson's divorce from the Chargers left the team in search of a back who could compliment Darren Sproles. Enter Mathews, who ran for 1,808 yards and 19 touchdowns last season for Fresno State.
Unlike a C.J. Spiller, Mathews doesn't have the one attribute that makes him a standout. Instead, he does almost everything well and would give the Chargers an instant starter capable of handling 25-30 carries from the outset.
29. New York Jets: DE/OLB Ricky Sapp, Clemson
The Jets continued to send the message they are Super Bowl contenders with last week's trade for Steelers WR Santonio Holmes, giving general manager Mike Tannebaum one less position to focus on in the early stages of the draft.
Adding a hybrid DE/LB type like Sapp bolsters the defense and also serves to light a fire under the rear of Vernon Gholston, the team's first round pick in 2008 who now faces a make-or-break season. Sapp has the talent to step right into the lineup and replace the soon to be departed Marques Douglas and give the team a needed presence to its pass rush.
Trading FS Kerry Rhodes puts the Jets in the market for a replacement. Mississippi's Kendrick Lewis could be a second round option, but Jeromy Miles of UMass might be a better choice in the third or fourth rounds. Despite playing in the FCS, Miles has been regarded as one of the draft's biggest sleeper prospects.
The club will also be on the lookout for a block-first fullback who can lead the way for RBs Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson. Virginia's Rashawn Jackson is the top player at the position and would merit consideration in the fourth round.
New York will still grab a receiver, but will wait until the later rounds. Among the wideouts the club would consider are Kansas' Dezmon Briscoe, South Florida's Carlton Mitchell and Andre Roberts of The Citadel.
30. Minnesota: CB Patrick Robinson, Florida State
Cedric Griffin's torn ACL in the NFC title game loss at New Orleans could leave him sidelined for much of the season, while Antoine Winfield is coming off an injury-plauged 2009. Robinson would give the Vikings a potential playmaker who has a physical presence and may be -- outside of Eric Berry -- the best with the ball after an interception.
Chester Taylor's departure leaves the club thin at running back; if Ryan Mathews or Cal's Jahvid Best are available here, the Vikings would take a long look at both.
31. Indianapolis: CB Devin McCourty, Rutgers
Marlin Jackson and Tim Jennings both left as free agents, leaving the club vulnerable at corner. McCourty, who has moved up the draft charts, has the athleticism and intensity necessary to be a contributor as a rookie.
McCourty is also a standout special teams performer who relishes making the big hit in the open field. His prowess could make him one of the league's top special teams players immediately.
32. New Orleans: OLB Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri
The defending World Champs don't have a glaring weakness, but will look to add depth in the defensive front seven. The loss of Charles Grant and Scott Fujita will have the Saints focusing on someone who can bolster the outside pass rush.
Weatherspoon, who had 9.5 sacks and four interceptions his last two seasons at Missouri, is the type of player that would fit the Saints well. He is a tremendous pass rusher that will need some seasoning on other aspects of his game before being considered as a starter.