Final NFL Mock Draft
On the morning of the 75th NFL Draft I've put out my final mock draft. Now, there are a few surprises in the first round, at least a few in the top 10 even.
With that said, when doing a mock, I try to look at past trends by coaches and GM's, as well as needs, and best players on the board. A bit of media coverage influences things as well, as I recognize they may be privy to information I'm not.
I also try to imagine myself as the team's GM, what would I do? Maybe that guy isn't the best on the board, but will he be there when I pick again, and do I want him that bad? That sort of thing.
Anyway, pick by pick is outlined below, and the slides following outline all the reasons why that guy should, could, or will go to that team. The First Round goes out now, the Second Round mock will go out tomorrow at about noon.
1. St. Louis Rams
QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
The Rams have passed on many great young QB’s in recent drafts, and simply can’t afford another 2-14 season without someone there to put butts in the seats.
If they have to take a QB first overall and pay him first overall money to do that, then I don’t see how they don’t do just that.
The only other option for the Rams is for them to trade down, but given the price for the pick I don’t see them finding any buyers.
Look for Bradford to line up under center for them next season. In successive years of top 5 picks, the Rams have now added what was/is supposed to be an All Pro LT and an All Pro QB to their team.
If both players pan out half as well as they were projected to, adding that sort of presence around one of the best young running backs in the league could turn the Rams into a dangerous team again in the near future.
If they’re able to add some talent at WR in the second round, they just might shoot for a .500 record next season.
2. Detroit Lions
DT Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska
The Lions completely restructured their d-line early in the off-season, in anticipation of the opportunity to draft Ndamukong Suh, who many consider to be the best talent in the draft this year.
Adding Suh to a line containing newly acquired Kyle Vanden Bosch and, well, let’s face it the way they’re billing Suh it shouldn’t really matter who else is there.
I think that the Lions know you need to build from the inside out to build a successful team, and that after this draft they will have done all they can to solidify their defensive line, and sew up a line that hemorrhaged rushing yards last season, ranking 25th in the league with 2,025 allowed.
This pick could obviously change if Detroit lands Albert Haynesworth, as it's being reported they're interested in pursuing. I'd imagine they could do so with their second round pick, as the Redskins have quite a few needs themselves and with only 1 pick in the top 100 could use more ammunition as the draft opens up.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
S Eric Berry, Tennessee
I think this will be the surprise pick of the top 5, as most seem to have Bradford/Suh/McCoy pinned into the top 3 picks in some order.
There are a few factors that scare me off of McCoy personally-the fact that Detroit was willing to rebuild their defensive line to avoid taking him, and to take Suh instead, coupled with his measly 23 reps at the combine (seriously, I could almost do that many) just have me worried about McCoy as an NFL prospect.
I know that Tampa Bay loves Suh, but I don’t believe they feel the same way about McCoy. I know that many question the use of a top 5 pick, let alone a top 3 pick on a safety, but I say “If that guy turns out to be the next Ed Reed, then take him” and mark my words-Eric Berry has the best chance of any safety drafted since Reed to become the next Reed.
All around, Berry is incredibly talented and polished, and instantly changes the face of any defense he joins.
He will become an instant starter, impact player, and potentially Pro Bowler at the safety spot in the NFL, and on top of that he could play either at safety or cornerback, so he’s versatile to go along with skilled.
Berry could potentially step in immediately in place of Sabby Piscitelli, the current listed starter at SS.
This would put Berry and young stud in the making Tanard Jackson at the safety spots, with experienced vet Ronde Barber and young Aqib Talib at the corner spots, and would potentially make what was the 10th ranked passing defense in the league last year, one of the top 3, if not the top 3 (with the New York Jets being the most obvious contender for the top spot).
If they could add a pass rusher in the second round, perhaps an Everson Griffen or maybe Carlos Dunlap if he falls that far their defense could really make a significant turn for the better.
4. Washington Redskins
OT Trent Williams, Oklahoma
Everyone agrees that Washington desperately needs help at the tackle position. It seems that Trent Williams is the best fit for Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme, and thus he will likely be the pick over other top tackle prospects Bulaga and Okung, who other draftniks have slotted fourth overall.
Williams is a talented lineman who has had some issues off the field, but should solidify a line that hasn't been able to protect a QB for years.
Other possibilities at this pick: Okung or Bulaga, as mentioned above, Eric Berry if available.
5. Kansas City Chiefs
OT Bruce Campbell, Maryland
Campbell is the kind of guy who has natural build and skills that one can fall in love with. After running the fastest 40 time ever in the combine, Campbell turned several heads. He's built like a brick shithouse, to coin a phrase, and could be attractive enough to take early in the draft.
Maybe if they give Cassel some time on his feet this season, he can get the ball to young receiver Bowe, or older receiver Chambers a bit more often. Protecting him should be the No. 1 concern on Pioli’s mind, and Campbell may be able to get that job done.
6. Seattle Seahawks
CB Joe Haden, Florida
I know there have been questions about Haden’s speed, prompted by a less than impressive performance at the combine, but he’s an undeniable talent who should be a shutdown corner at the next level.
Worst case scenario? He’s a little slow and plays safety, but really he could play anywhere for the Seahawks and it would be an improvement to a passing defense that ranked near last in the league last season in points and yards allowed through the air.
A great deal of that lack of passing defense was possibly due to a lack of a pass rush, but in a draft filled with pass rushing talent, but slim on talent at the cornerback position the Seahawks should be able to fill the rushing need with the 14th overall pick, or perhaps with a pick in the second round.
The Seahawks are certainly positioned better than most teams in the league to fill up on talent in the draft, with three picks in the top 40.
Haden fills a big need, and helps solidify a defense that needs to fill in some holes around one of the most talented, and highest paid linebacking groups in the league.
7. Cleveland Browns
WR Dez Bryant, Oklahoma
Okay, draw a target board on a piece of paper. You know, like they use in archery. Now write the initials for every position on an NFL roster on that target board. Now erase LT for left tackle.
Okay, now throw stuff at it (not breakable stuff please, I’d rather reading my article wasn’t an expensive experience for you). Any position you hit, that’s a position of need for the Browns.
Now there are worse needs than others, Now something tells me, as Holmgren watched Berry and then Haden (assuming my Mock is correct) come off the board, he began to get more and more antsy wondering who he would pick.
Looking back through almost 20 years of drafting, Holmgren almost always selects one of three positions in the first round: Tackle, Offensive Guard, Cornerback.
With no need at LT, a top 7 pick being too high for any guard, and no worthy CB’s left on the board Holmgren just might turn to the one other position he’s used a top ten pick on-WR.
One of the big problems with the passing game over the past several years was that Braylon Edwards couldn’t catch a cold in the dead of winter. Bryant is a similar talent, and if you put him into that lineup, there’s the possibility that Delhomme pulls himself together next season and stops throwing to the wrong team, and instead finds Bryant occasionally.
There’s a real strong possibility the Browns go with either a pass rusher like Derrick Morgan, or QB Jimmy Clausen here as well, but I think you can get pass rushing later in this draft, and that Colt McCoy would probably be a better fit in Cleveland’s system anyway, and he’ll probably be available in the second round so why take Clausen here?
Take Bryant, Take McCoy later, and surround Jerome Harrison-who showed flashes of absolute brilliance last season-with a passing game that can be somewhat effective, sit back and see what happens.
It might just work out, and Holmgren might just look like a genius.
8. Oakland Raiders
DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma
One of the biggest needs on the Oakland defensive line, particularly after the addition of Seymour last off season is D-tackle, and I think that Oakland is the biggest winner with McCoy falling out of the top 5.
Adding him to a line that contains Seymour might just be a recipe for success, and at very least could help to convince Seymour that maybe he’s not bound for failure if he re-signs with Oakland.
A pick like McCoy here (if he works out, and for the record I think he’ll bust no matter where he goes) could potentially make both this draft, and trading next year’s draft pick look like genius moves, if it leads to a great defensive line, which Richard Seymour signs a long term deal to lead.
9. Buffalo Bills
QB Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame
The Bills really need to make some changes in Buffalo, their fan base is beginning to lose interest, and there’s a serious chance they’ll be the first professional football team to be forced to move out of the country entirely. We saw how that worked out for NBA teams.
Selecting Clausen just might be the sort of dynamite pick they need to make. Much like the Rams, Buffalo just needs to generate some interest again.
They’re stuck in the toughest division in football, and are last in that division by a mile. If people remember they exist right now, they’re doing well, Clausen might help them accomplish that.
Although they need to add a tackle as well, they may be able to do so in the second round if guys like Charles Brown of USC, Vladimir Ducasse of UMass, or Ciron Black of LSU are still available.
Also, Clausen’s Notre Dame teammate Sam Young should go later in the draft. A big bonus to a QB and his offensive line is communication, why not take a QB and LT that played in a pro style system for the past four years together?
Another possibility is that the Bills bring in Rodger Saffold, OT from Notre Dame in the second round, a tackle who also has connections to the team, as he went to high school with WR Lee Evans.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars
OLB Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri
Most draftniks have Weatherspoon going somewhere in the late 20’s, but I think the Jags do well to take him 10th overall, and here’s why. The most pressing needs the Jags have are at both linebacker positions.
They’ve also got needs at QB, both S spots, CB, and WR. With Bradford and Clausen (both QB’s), Berry (the top safety prospect), Haden (the top CB prospect), and Bryant (the top WR prospect) all off my board right now, there are only really a few players the Jaguars could potentially grab here.
They could either reach and grab a player to fill a need (Weatherspoon perhaps), or draft the best guy on their board.
They could also fold to pressure from their fan base and draft Tebow. A few targets they might eye would be Earl Watson, and maybe a guy like Sergio Kindle, who could help to dramatically change their pass rush.
Many experts have the Jags taking a DE here, but I think those are experts who forget the Jags signed Aaron Kampman in the off-season, and drafted Derrick Harvey eighth overall just two seasons ago. ;
That’s two DE’s that should be starting by my count, and with only two DE positions on your team, and the idea of maximizing value if they aren’t able to trade down the Jags should really think about drafting an OLB or a S like Watson.
In fact Watson might be a very good possibility at this spot. I think the important thing is, they go defense here, if they keep the pick (which I’d bet my left arm they’re actively selling).
The reason I’ve got Weatherspoon here is my line of thinking is, you take a guy projected in the late 20’s 10th overall, you can reach a more reasonable contract number than a WR who thinks they should have gone first (Bryant), or a QB with seemingly unlimited potential in the top 10 (like Clausen).
With financial concerns as well as on the field concerns, the Jaguars need to balance both and make a smart decision.
11. Denver Broncos
LB Rolando McClain, Alabama
McClain is considered to be one of the best pro prospects in this year’s draft. Known for his leadership of a championship caliber defense in Alabama under Nick Saban, McClain would make a great fit in Denver as part of McDaniels’ new character over talent philosophy.
McClain brings the talent as well however, something I’m sure McDaniels won’t hold against him.
Also, for the record I think the Broncos might be a great candidate to trade back, into the late teens with a team moving up to pickup either McClain, or one of the top tackles if they're still on the board, or even Jimmy Clausen, if he's still on the board.
McDaniels isn't afraid to shock people, and comes from New England where they believe in stock piling picks over keeping high picks. If he can trade back and pick up another pick in the second round, that would be ideal in a draft rich in talent.
12. Miami Dolphins
DT Dan Williams, Tennessee
After shoring up their offense by trading for Brandon Marshall last week, the Dolphins enter next week’s draft with many glaring needs on the defensive side of the ball.
With needs at the defensive tackle, OLB, and safety spots they’d really better fill one of those needs with this pick, as they’ll have few other opportunities to do so.
I think they fill the gaping hole on their defensive line with the 6’2” 329 pound Dan Williams out of Tennessee. While Williams had a very productive year in his last year at Tennessee, many question whether he was simply a product of the Tampa 2 defense run by Monte Kiffin.
He sure does have natural talent, and could be a great player for many years to come, plugging up the middle and getting after the QB for the Dolphins.
13. San Francisco 49ers
S/CB Earl Thomas, Texas
With 2 potentially great safeties on the board, and 5 or 6 potentially great offensive tackles still available, the 49ers really have to do the smart thing and take a safety here, waiting to select their tackle until their next pick, 17th overall.
In Earl Thomas they not only get a very talented young cornerback turned safety, but one of the men who let what will be new teammate Michael Crabtree get past him in the play that ultimately cost Texas a shot at the championship.
Thomas should be a ball hawking safety with bi- play ability at the next level, and may one day (if necessary) develop into a top-notch cornerback.
Right now, he could help the 49ers most at the safety spot where he can start in place of Michael Lewis, alongside Dashon Goldson who had a solid year last year.
14. Seattle Seahawks
LT Russell Okung, Oklahoma
If Okung falls this far in the draft, the Seahawks would be utterly foolish not to jump on him. Then again, perhaps the same could be said about the 49ers if they pass him at 13th.
However, there are still a few tackles on the board and they pick again at 17-the same can't be said about Seattle, who doesn't have another pick until 40th overall.
I think when they don't take a tackle 6th overall, Seattle might be planning on taking Brown at 40th (who played for new coach Pete Carroll at USC), however when Okung falls here, they jump at the chance to draft him.
Okung gives them a starter right away on the line, who could ultimately be a long term star at the left tackle position, something they desperately need as the Seahawks have been completely unable to keep a QB on his feet since Walter Jones last lined up for them in 2008.
Maybe I'm wrong and they grab a guard here, and Brown at 40th...a plan that would make a lot of sense to me, as you're able to retool the whole line basically, while adding the best cover corner in the league, but I think Okung is probably too tempting to pass on at 14.
15. New York Giants
DE Derrick Morgan Georgia Tech
The Giants are certainly in an interesting position this off season. They don’t have too many glaring needs-at least not too many that stand out, and yet they ended last season with a very poor record compared to what fans might have expected.
Most agree that the Giants are in desperate need of a good linebacker, but with the best ones off the board right now, and manager Jerry Reiss’s recent insistence that they’ll draft for talent just as much as need, one must imagine they don’t go with a linebacker here.
There’s been a great deal of speculation that the Giants may end up trading Umenyiora prior to the draft, creating a need at defensive end. The best player on my board at the DE spot right now is Derrick Morgan, a pass rusher out of Georgia Tech.
Morgan is considered a top 10 talent by most, and the fact that he falls to 15 here makes this decision a no brainer for the Giants, especially if they’ve traded Umenyiora at this point. If they haven’t however, picking up a DE might devalue Umenyiora as other teams know that will likely lead to Umenyiora leaving the team in one way or another. If they haven’t traded Osi, I think they might think about going with Iupati here. The Giants lost more than 800 yards of rushing between the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Their offensive line play just hasn’t been what it should be.
They might also think about Anthony Davis, Bruce Campbell, or another big tackle here to plug the hole they’ve got at right tackle.
They’ve certainly got some interesting decisions to make in New York this year, but if Morgan falls to them and they’ve traded Osi they really have no choice but to take Morgan.
16. Tennessee Titans
DE Jared Odrick, Penn State
At some point the Titans are going to have to admit they need some help on the line.
After Haynesworth, and now Vanden Bosch have left they certainly need to begin plugging some holes on the defensive side of the ball to give their young stars on the other side some sort of chance to win games.
Odrick helps to fill the void left by Haynesworth’s departure. He’s a good, solid football player who knows his job and does it well.
Another way the Titans could go here is DE, either way they should be able to grab someone here who really improves their team.
17. San Francisco 49ers
OT Anthony Davis, Rutgers
There are some questions surrounding Davis, and those questions knock him out of the top ten, as the one thing there isn't any questions about regarding Davis is his talent.
He's got the skills to be a top ten offensive tackle, perhaps even a top five, and if he can keep his head on straight he could become one of the better tackles in the league.
Singletary has a history of turning around players with issues (Vernon Davis), so I think he has no issue taking Davis with his second pick this year.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers
G Mike Iupati, Idaho
Wow, with all the questions revolving around the Steelers it's hard to know what's going to happen in Pittsburgh. Ben might be there, but he might not. The one thing that might affect their draft is if he isn't there.
Most believe the Steelers will be forced to pick a QB, specifically Jimmy Clausen at that point, while I'm not so sure.
I do know that they publicly stated they'd like to become more of a smash mouth team, like the Steelers of old.
In order to be that sort of team, you need a tough offensive line, particularly the interior, and Iupati gives you a presence at guard.
Another option might be Maurkice Pouncey, of Florida who is a center but may play guard-at least initially-in the NFL. It really depends on who you like better, but both should be great at the next level.
19. Atlanta Falcons
DE Everson Griffen, USC
It’s recently been reported that the Falcons have been showing a great deal of interest in Everson Griffen.
It seems the may have finally given up on the hope that Jamaal Anderson will turn out to be what he was billed to be when they selected him 8th overall in the 2007 draft.
Griffen should help at very least to give some depth on the line, although he may be able to jump in and start right away, producing pressure on the QB on every play, something that would be a welcome sight to a team that only brought down the opposing QB 28 times last season despite featuring several former first round picks in their front 7.
20. Houston Texans
RB C.J. Spiller, Clemson
If only the Texans could find a running back that can catch the ball out of the backfield and provide a homerun threat from the running back position to balance out the Schaub-Johnson connection that has terrorized the AFC South for a few years now, their offense would be unbelievably tough.
With all the numbers those two have put up without any other options, imagine what could happen with another person to guard on the offense! Oh...wait, you say there's a guy out there? And he's still on the board?
Spiller you say? And he returns kicks too? Sign me up. That's what will be going on in the heads of Texas management as they realize nobody has taken Spiller yet and trip over themselves running to the stage to announce their selection.
Spiller is a great value at 20, and legitimizes a team many have felt are only a play, or player or two short of greatness for a few years now.
21st Cincinatti Bengals
TE Jermaine Gresham Oklahoma
The Bengals made it clear this off season-they wanted to beef up the passing game. While they did sign Antonio Bryant, it has to be clear given his body of work that he’s not really the answer. Bringing in a top flight tight end could be just the addition a team like this needs to make it over the hump. An addition at the tight end spot like Gresham can not only help with blocking and the running game, but also in the passing game, as Gresham is as capable as most receivers in the league of catching the ball in traffic and making a game changing play with that ball in his hands. Drafting Gresham will make a nice apology for making Palmer worry about the possibility of both TO and Ocho Cinco (causing headaches for him) in Bengals uniforms next season.
22nd New England Patriots
OLB/DE Brandon Graham Michigan
After ranking 23rd in the league in sacks last year, the New England defense sure could use a pass rushing specialist on whom they can rely to play three downs and get after the quarterback regularly. Graham is just that guy, and although not the typical size of a linebacker you’d find in the New England defense, he’d be a great fit both on the field and in the locker room. Former fellow Michigan Wolverine Shawn Crable is already a part of the linebacking core, and should help make the transition to the league a bit easier than normal on Graham. If the Pats are able to add talent like Graham at 22, look for him to make an immediate impact and possibly put up double digits in sacks next season, challenging Banta-Cain for the leader on the team, and putting pressure on the QB from both sides of the line.
23rd Green Bay Packers
OT Bryan Bulaga Iowa
Bulaga would be disappointed to fall this far, but the Aaron Rodgers sure would be happy. He spent the better part of last season running for his life, while still managing to throw for over 4,000 yards for the second straight year-a rare feat that a QB manages to do this in his first two seasons as a starter. Imagine if the Pack could keep him upright! If Bulaga isn't here, or they just don't like him look for the Packers to take a different tackle, such as a guy like Rodger Saffold (Indiana), Sam Young (Notre Dame), or even an interior lineman like Mike Iupati if he's still available, or Maurkice Pouncey from Florida.
24th Philadelphia Eagles
S Taylor Mays USC
When Brian Dawkins left Philadelphia for Denver, the heart and soul of the Philly D left with him. What also left was a physical, tough safety who would punish anyone that dared come near him with the ball. Mays would give the Eagles that presence in the secondary again. He lead his team in tackles last season with 91, and is known for his love to lay down hard hits on unsuspecting receivers. Mays can help legitimize this defense, and along with newly acquired Ernie Sims, helps to assure that if you catch the ball against this Philly defense, you won’t be getting very far against it.
25th Baltimore Ravens
NT Terrence Cody Alabama
Cody has a few weight issues and a few attitude issues, but weight issues come with a man who is built like Cody (6’4” 354), and since the build is both a rare find and what attracts an NFL scout’s eye to Cody, you can deal with a bit of foolishness sometimes-especially when you have a leader like Ray Lewis who won’t stand for slacking off on that side (or any other side) of the ball in Baltimore. Imagine a defensive line in Baltimore containing Trevor Pryce, Terrence Cody, and Haloti Ngata. Cody-if he works out-should be a guy that completely plugs up the middle and occupies two offensive linemen. Ngata requires another 2, and Pryce often, another two. Wait…that’s 6 offensive linemen required to cover a 3 man defensive line? Yea that’s the point. Okay, maybe they won’t be that hard to play as to require 6 offensive linemen, but they shouldn’t be far off from that. The addition of Cody shores up the middle of the defense for many years to come as the three linemen combine to become one of the best, if not the best defensive lines in the league.
26th Arizona Cardinals
OLB/DE Sergio Kindle Texas
With needs all over the map on defense it almost looks like the Gods have finished smiling down on the Cardinals and they are now ready to fade back into anonymity from whence they came. Their biggest need is in the linebacking core, where they’ve signed Joey Porter to help out, but at his age he really can’t be the future plan, h e’s just enjoying the sun as long as someone will pay him to do that, right? Kindle can come in and put pressure on opposing QB’s right away. Some fear that’s all he may be able to do at the next level however, so this could be even a little bit high for Kindle to go. The Cards may also take a long look at guys like Pierre-Paul, Ricky Sapp, Carlos Dunlap, and Brian Price.
27th Dallas Cowboys
OT Bruce Campbell Maryland
Despite the fact that Free filled in well (very well at times) last year when he was needed to, the Cowboys don't want to find themselves in that position again, and I don't think they can avoid drafting an offensive tackle after letting Flozell Adams go. Campbell is an athletic and physical freak, running a 4.84 40 at the combine (fastest ever for an offensive lineman). The guy is certainly huge, and quite possibly made of steel but he's not a particularly good football player, so he falls to the Cowboys and could certainly fall even farther. Other options at this pick could be Rodger Saffold (Indiana), Sam Young (Notre Dame), or an interior lineman like Iupati (Idaho) or Pouncey (Florida).
28th San Diego Chargers
RB Ryan Mathews Fresno State
When the Chargers released all their running backs (and then ran to tell Darren Sproles "whoops-that was an accident, sorry" they were probably hoping Mathews of Fresno State would be available when they selected 28th overall and here he is. In the 90's Mathews might have been the first overall pick, as he's the prototypical 300 carry back who can take an offense on his back and pound the ball between the tackles. He'll be the perfect compliment to Sproles in the backfield, and the draft couldn't possibly start out better for the Chargers.
29th New York Jets
LB Ricky Sapp Clemson
I read somewhere that when Sapp visited the Jets’ facility he thought to himself “Boy I’d love to play here”. I’d bet that Rex Ryan was sitting in his office as Sapp left, looking out the window and thinking to himself “boy I’d love to draft that kid”. Sapp is the perfect fit for the New York Jets, who might be leaning towards signing veteran Jason Taylor to help provide some pass rush next season, but would love to add a young talent like Sapp in addition, or in lieu of Taylor. After trading for Antonio Cromartie, and with now famous and highly talented Darrelle Revis already on the roster, the Jets are almost ready to just tell both young CB’s “okay, you cover the two top receivers, Bart Scott will keep his eye on the RB, and everyone else will get after the QB, okay, BREAK” Sapp would fit into this plan perfectly, and with such amazing cover corners in the secondary, coupled with talented safeties, the Jets could almost make a pass rush specialist an every down linebacker, blitzing the QB from the opening coin flip til the ending whistle.
30th Minnesota Vikings
DT Brian Price UCLA
Ageless wonder Kevin Williams has got to see the years creeping up on him in his rear view mirror at some point, and Pat Williams isn’t getting any younger either. The Vikings need to bring in possible replacements at some point, and why not bring one in now, with time to develop behind the two Pro Bowlers? Granted nobody could quite replace the Williams Wall in Minnesota, but there’s no time like the present for someone to start trying to learn how. Other options here include Tyson Alualu, Jeff Owens, or even a young QB like Tim Tebow, Tony Pike, or Dan LeFevoure. They might also think about taking a linebacker or secondary player, after seeing injuries hurt their depth in the playoffs last year. Best guess however, they add some depth to the defensive line, and perhaps a guy who can spell the Williams boys every now and then. Price is a talented lineman with a non stop motor who might have been a top ten pick if he’d have played in a bigger conference. The Vikings could find themselves the steal of the draft taking him here.
31st Indianapolis Colts
C Maurkice Pouncey Florida
While offensive line may not seem to be the biggest need for the defending AFC Champions (only 13 sacks allowed last season), team president Bill Polian was highly critical of the unit following the superbowl loss, and it seems clear that it's a priority to address the issues that are there. Now, you might be saying "But a center? Don't they already have a guy named Jeff Saturday in Indianapolis?" The answer to that is yes, they do. But here's the deal. You take Pouncey in the first round, he's well rounded and described by most as the "complete package" along the line. He's athletic and strong, and could probably start right away-particularly if you start him at guard his first year or two. Indianapolis is really the perfect place for a guy like Pouncey (although Baltimore wouldn't be bad either). You can afford to draft Pouncey, start him at RG in place of Kyle DeVan, who started there last year and when Saturday (who will be 35 when the season starts) decides to hang them up, you have an experienced, legit option to move over and take charge of the offensive line. In the meanwhile you add a quality player to a guard spot, and possibly help to boost the running game that has suffered so much in recent years.
32nd New Orleans Saints
DE Jason Pierre-Paul
With the final pick of the first round, I expect the Saints to go with a pass rusher here. After releasing Charles Grant this off-season, they could certainly use the bodies on the defensive line, and Pierre-Paul can cause serious disruption in the opponent's backfield, and nightmares for opposing quarterbacks. The 6-5 260 pound end is likely one of the most agile and athletic prospects in the draft, famous for putting together a string of 13 hand springs that was alter posted on you tube, Pierre-Paul is an athletic freak, a physical talent that can't be denied when he wants to get after the QB. That being said, Pierre-Paul is far from a complete football player. He only recently began playing following his sophomore year of high school (prior to that he played basketball), and due to that he has a very poor understanding of even the most basic football concepts-so poor that he visibly shocked many an NFL GM and coach when interviewing at the combine in Indianapolis. Furthermore, he was academically unqualified to even enter and play college ball following high school, which forced him to spend two years in junior college working to get his grades up to par. While it's certainly commendable that he was able to do that, he lost two years of division 1 coaching, and the whole situation kind of concerns me in that I believe some people have a mental capacity to learn so much, and then they're full. Pierre-Paul may just be that kind of person, the kind of player who has made it this far on physical talent alone, but it unable to put that together with football knowledge, and basic intelligence. Athletic prowess simply isn't enough on an NFL football field, and coaches and GM's know this, so while many see Pierre-Paul as a middle of the first round talent, I look for him to slip to late in the back half of the first round, and perhaps even as far back as the beginning of the second. Still, he should be able to pressure the QB, and if New Orleans wants that kind of presence opposite Will Smith in clear passing situations, they may just go after Pierre-Paul
And that's my first round. Like I said, a few upsets-but with good reason. Just like in real life, there will always be a few expecting to go in the first that don't (Kyle Wilson, Carlos Dunlap, those are two talents in my mock that didn't make the cut for the first round-just off the top of my head). We'll see how it all shakes down however, I'll be breaking down the real picks in real time as they happen, on a team by team basis, and will look forward for input on how your team picks, or how I have your team picking in this mock. I'll be posting my round 2 mock tomorrow morning, after seeing how the first rounds shakes out tonight, and who actually lands with what picks in the second round, and then I'll try to figure out which potential superstars land where.