So last night, I had a revelation.
I single-handedly have the power to change sports as we know it.
I say that because so far in 2010, I picked the smartest bracket I’ve ever picked for March Madness with the most logical mix of upsets and safe picks as well as the smartest Round 1 NFL Mock Draft I’ve ever picked with the most logical predictions based not on what I thought teams SHOULD do, but what I thought they WOULD do.
To no one’s surprise, this year’s March Madness tourney was arguably the most unpredictable of all time (The team I picked to win has now been knocked out in the second round in three out of the last four years. I had Kansas winning) and this year’s first round of the 2010 NFL Draft was the most unpredictable in recent memory.
1) Rams – Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma – I maintain that this pick should’ve been Jimmy Clausen… and the fact that Clausen, the better prospect and most NFL ready QB in this draft, didn’t go in Round 1 is a joke. I’ll have plenty more to say about this matter but at least the Rams made the right move and went QB. With a QB depth of AJ Feeley & Keith Null (who was mentored by Ryan Leaf… legit), you kind of have to. You can’t win many games when you score less than 13 points consistently… but I’m still leery of the fact that the last 2 hits Bradford has taken in a game have knocked him out of the game/for the season. Don’t get me wrong. He’s a superb decision-maker with great accuracy and played under center his freshman year… but it’s easy to be successful when you’re surrounded by an All-American defense and O-line on an elite team with LOTS of weapons and have never faced elite competition like you will in the NFL playing on a BAD team with no O-line to speak of. Is Bradford really good enough to turn around a bad team? Does the fact that he played on such a great Oklahoma team hide his flaws? 3 of the first 4 picks were Oklahoma players. Let’s not forget also that Bradford was kept upright for most of his magical sophomore Heisman-winning season… a season in which he steamrolled through the Big 12 and lost to the best team he played from a superior conference on the national stage under immense pressure. I’m not saying he won’t be a great player and/or be ready to start right away. I just think that Clausen is the better prospect and Bradford has a higher bust probability with all things considered. He hasn’t played in a year and has a learning curve coming from a spread offense. I give this pick an A- … right position, wrong player. Before we move on, a thought just occurred to me. I know that hindsight is 20/20, but if the Rams had picked Suh at #1, they could’ve ended up with him AND Clausen. They were reportedly considering trading down to #7 to take Clausen and had they known he would fall out of the first round entirely, I really now think Suh would’ve been the #1 pick. Crazy to think about what could have been.
2) Lions – Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska – Matthew Stafford’s health insurance just rose about $1,000 per month. I maintain that this pick should’ve been Russell Okung for a lot of reasons. I don’t care what management thinks… Jeff Backus can’t play LT. He’s the reason Stafford got hurt last year. Clay Matthews abused him on Thanksgiving last year and that caused Stafford to be lost for the year. If the Lions want Stafford to bust because they don’t want to protect him, that’s their prerogative. You’d think they would’ve learned from passing on Michael Oher at #20 last year. They really think Backus is good enough to block Jared Allen, Clay Matthews, and now JULIUS PEPPERS!? … who was just traded into the division!? … They better hope Stafford isn’t in a wheelchair by Thanksgiving. Then again, they pick in the Top 5 every year for a reason. Move Backus to RT and have Gosder Cherilus and Rob Sims play at guard. Plus, with the contract that they’re set to give Suh, they’ll be devoting over $100 million to the DT position (remember, they traded for Cory Redding who is a great 4-3 DT); 2nd only to the Skins who are paying all that money to one guy that might be traded. Plus, now you have to bench either Redding or Sammie Lee Hill, who came on well last year. That being said, I give this pick a B+ because it’s not like they picked a scrub. Suh is one of the 3 Elite talents in this draft along with Eric Berry and Gerald McCoy. He has great length, explosiveness, & strength. People are comparing him to Reggie White but I see him more as a Richard-Seymour type of player. His main issue is durability but if his knees hold up, he will be an elite NFL player. But again, it’s hard to win games when you don’t score and you can’t score if your franchise QB isn’t protected.
3) Bucs – Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma – Easily the best pick in the Top 5. The dream scenario for the Bucs. They fill their biggest need with an elite player who doesn’t come with knee concerns and is a better fit for the team’s scheme (although sources say Suh would’ve been the pick if he was on the board here). Great athleticism, instincts, and pass rush ability with elite intangibles. Not much else to say here except this pick deserves a unanimous “A.”
4) Redskins – Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma – 3 OU guys in 4 picks. Wow. By the way, McCoy to the Bucs was the last pick in my 1st round mock that I got right. I give this pick of Trent "Silverback (...why?)" Williams a C. Once again, right position but wrong player. Yes, he may be a "better fit" than Okung for Shanahan's zone blocking scheme but is inconsistent, lacks instincts, doesn't play up to his measurables, and struggled at LT in college. How does he expect to hold up against elite NFL pass rushers. Okung is easily the better player and should've been the choice here.
5) Chiefs - Eric Berry, S, Tennessee - Last year, the Chiefs picked Tyson Jackson over Aaron Curry, the best defensive prospect, at #3 proving that they put emphasis on positional value... this year, they did the COMPLETE opposite by taking Eric Berry over Russell Okung. This pick goes against everything Scott Pioli believes in. Berry is arguably the top talend in this draft. Coached by one of the best D coordinators of all time last year in Monte Kiffin who has coached guys in the pros like John Lynch and Jermaine Phillips. He has a surreal knack for this game and has elite ball skills, range, and playmaking ability. Barring injury or unforseen circumstance, he will be a Pro Bowler, an All-Pro, and is already being called the next Ed Reed.... Ok... he can go to all the Pro Bowls he wants... but can he bring KC back to AFC West supremacy by himself even though they have no QB, O-line, or pass rush? There's a reason safeties don't get drafted this high (Sean Taylor was the last to go in the Top 5) and it's not because of a lack of ability. It's because they can't turn a team around by themselves and if you draft a safety this high, you demonstrate poor judgement of judging positional value. Pioli must have been abducted by aliens in order for them to pick Berry here. I give the pick a B+ because while they passed on Okung, who plays a position of greater need, it's not like they got a scrub. Berry is legit and also fills a need albeit a slightly less important one.
6) Seahawks - Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State - Luckiest pick so far. I;m in utter shock that he fell all the way to Seattle here. Okung is a franchise player and a Day 1 starter at LT with good intangibles and the upside to dominate in the NFL for 10+ years. Unanimous "A."
7) Browns - Joe Haden, CB, Florida - Good pick here though, again, I thought it should've been Clausen. Haden is a Top 8 talent with lots of talent and a well-rounded game. My only knock on him is his lack of instincts even though he's one of the best CB prospects in the last few years due to his consistency and level of production. The Browns can also now move Sheldon Brown to free safety as Haden teams up with Eric Wright to form a sick cornerback combo. This pick gets an A- only because I feel it should've been Clausen.
8) Raiders - Rolando McClain, ILB, Alabama - First big shock of the draft: The Raiders didn't draft a workout warrior like Bruce Campbell who I had projected to go here. McClain becomes the first inside linebacker to be drafted in the Top 8 since the early 90s. He has great instincts, intangibles, and size but I give this pick a "C." First of all, they needed a QB or LT here so they take an inside linebacker? This pick makes no sense from a value or need standpoint. This would be graded lower if McClain wasn't a great player. And no, I'm not just saying this because I was hoping the Giants would draft him...
9) Bills - CJ Spiller, RB, Clemson - If you ever need an example of why a team picks in the Top 12 every year, look no further than the Bills. They need a QB, LT, & NT... so they draft a RB? The best one in a really weak class who doesn't even project as a #1 RB in the NFL and didn't win the starting job at Clemson until the guy he shared carries with, James Davis, went to the NFL? LoL at the Bills. I laugh when I think about how people who get paid millions of dollars can screw up picks like this so badly. And no, I'm not just saying this because the Giants were also targeting Spiller and potentially moving up to draft him. That said, Spiller is a home run threat who will contribute immediately on special teams, loves to kick it outside and has elite athleticism (though he needs to work on pass protection). But he's strictly a finesse runner and you don't draft finesse runners in the Top 10 (see: Bush, Reggie). Now, I figured the Bills would be dumb enough to pass on Jimmy Clausen which is why my mock had them picking Dan Williams here. Buffalo fans deserve a special place in heaven... especially after Chan Gailey gets fired after one year on the job... if he even makes it through this season. Bills fans can look forward to a lot of draws on 3rd and 8 and punts from the opponents' 33-yard line. I honestly don't think I've seen a worse football coach with not a single reedeeming coaching attribute... but I digress... this pick gets a "D" and only gets a passing grade because Spiller is a home-run threat... by the way, good-bye Marshawn Lynch.
10) Jags - Tyson Alualu, DT, California - In my mock draft, I had Alualu going to the Patriots... in the 2nd round... at #53 overall! There's always a major shock value upset pick in the top half of Round 1... but even I wasn't expecting this. Alualu isn't even on my Big Board... and my Big Board runs 100 deep!!!! That's FOURTH ROUND TALENT AT THE EARLIEST!!! I mean, he's a solid player but has marginal athleticism... he shouldn't have even SNIFFED the 1st round. Was Matt Millen making this pick? Was he on LSD while he was doing it? And if you though the Jags were in a bad way financially before, just wait until you see what happens THIS year now that they DIDN'T get Florida icon Tim Tebow. This pick makes no sense from a business OR football perspective. Unanimous "F."
11) 49ers - Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers - Anthony Davis will be out of the NFL in 6 years. He doesn't care about football, can't stay in shape, & will go down as 2010's biggest bust. Look, I admire the fact that Mike Singletary wants to be the guy who thinks he can whip Davis into shape... but you don't draft a guy this high who doesn't love the game and has no intangibles. I give this pick a "D" and the only reason it doesn't fail is because it DOES fill a big need. In fact, I would've given it a "C" if SF had just waited for Davis to fall to them at #13 or #17, because he would have, instead of giving up a 4th round pick to move up 2 spots to grab him.
12) Chargers - Ryan Matthews, RB, Fresno State - Great move here by the Chargers moving up to #12 to get the guy they wanted before Seattle or Houston could grab him. He was the only sure-fire every-down RB left and will presumable get most of the carries and most of, if not all of, the goal-line work. He'll also catch a decent amount of passes. He could very well rush for 1,100-1,200 yards and score 10 TDs (Fantasy sleeper alert). That being said, I'll give this pick an "A" being that they not only swiped him from some teams that may have been eyeing him up, but they got the better end of the trade up with Miami.
13) Eagles - Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan - When I saw that the Iggles traded all the way up to #13, I was sure that Earl Thomas was gone. I think Brandon Graham will be a good player, but I think he's a tad overrated. He has midget arms and marginal athletic ability. Yeah he has a non-stop motor, lots of skill, and could get the Eagles over the hump of beating Dallas if he can get to Romo (which the Eagles couldn't do last year), but I just have a feeling that he's gonna struggle too early in his NFL career as it relates to getting off the blocks and around tackles at the NFL level to be the type of impact player the Eagles were hoping to get by trading up. I don't think he'll bust, but I don't think he'll be spectacular either. I give this pick a "B."
14) Seahawks - Earl Thomas, S, Texas - A speedy, athletic, instinctual, ballhawking safety with outstanding range. A good pick though I'm surprised that they passed on Derrick Morgan. I give it a B+
15) G-Men - Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, USF - As a Giants fan, I LOATHE this pick. Yes, he's your prototypical pass rusher. He has the speed, athleticism, and long arms to be a Pro Bowl, double digit sack-master that can do backflips. But he had NO production in college and JUCO transfers have dubious NFL histories. I hate to doubt Jerry Reese because JPP has a LOT of upside and is a freak. Plus, Reese's record with the Giants' drafts has been stellar. But you don't use the #15 on such a boom or bust pick when the top pass rusher in the draft is sitting there waiting for you and your DIVISION RIVAL TRADED UP just to pass him over for a guy with midget arms. I give JPP a "B" but I give the pick a C+ ... and even though the G-Men say they won't trade Osi, I won't believe anything until the smokescreen clears or Osi is actually traded.
16) Titans - Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech - The guy the G-Men SHOULD have picked goes the pick right after to Tennessee. They address their biggest need and get the top rated 4-3 DE in the draft. This is why the Titans are always in the playoffs or close to it. This pick gets an "A."
17) 49ers - Mike Iupati, G, Idaho - This pick gets a "D." Once again, Clausen gets screwed. Five years ago, they drafted Alex Smith, a weak-armed spread QB coming from a gimmick offense, over Aaron Rodgers: the strong-armed pro-ready QB. Do teams not learn from the past? Especially the team that wants to try and avoid... you know... REPEATING IT!? Instead, they take an overrated player who isn't NFL ready. Yeah, the 49ers need guards but you can find good guards that can pass protect, and who DIDN'T get embarrassed by Geno Atkins at the Senior Bowl, in the middle rounds. The only reason this pick gets a passing grade is because most of his mistakes are correctible and there is some upside here.
18) Steelers - Maurkice Pouncey, C/G, Florida - The Steelers fans provided the highlight of the night when they started chanting "she said no." Brilliant move by Goodell to let the Make-A-Wish kid make this pick because otherwise the chants may never have stopped. Pouncey has size and athleticism, is talented, and should start right away because of his versatility. And he has prototypical height and athleticism for a center. The only reason he gets a "B" is because I think they could've traded down and still drafted him. This pick is a bit high for an interior lineman.
19) Falcons - Sean Weatherspoon, OLB, Missouri - Very talented weakside LB with a sense of leadership and swagger that is rare in rookies. Has the playmaking ability, ability to blitz, and athleticism that teams look for. An "A" for Hotlanta.
20) Texans - Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama - Kyle Wilson falls into Houston's lap and they take Kareem Jackson? Not a bad move... just one that I didn't expect... I'd say right position, wrong player but Jackson has the talent and skill set to be a very good corner... maybe even better than Wilson. An "A" for the Texans.
21) Bengals - Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma - The Bengals hate TE's who can't block, yet they take the draft's top TE... who can't block... I don't get it. TE's with Gresham's size, athleticism, and production are rarities. Right now, I give this pick a B+ only because I'm afraid Gresham won't be used correctly and will get lost in the shuffle. This could be an "A" if they decide to use him as an offensive weapon for Carson Palmer (which they should).
22) Broncos - Demaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech - I can understand not taking Dez Bryant because you just traded away a WR with similar character "issues" ... but to give up a 4th round pick where you could have given up a 5th or 6th rounder... to draft a WR who can't run routes, has tunnel vision, & dropped catchable passes routinely in an offense that ran the option 80% of the time? ... it's amazing that Josh Mishandles still has a job. Unanimous "F."
23) Packers - Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa - Match made in heaven. Bulaga looks like the kind of guy that hunts down his food and eats raw meat... the kind of guy you WANT on your O-line... physical with good intangibles. How he dropped this far is beyond me, but this is the football gods smiling down on/rewarding Aaron Rodgers for his slide in 2005 by having the best OT left, a guy who was born to play on Lambeau Field and fills a position of dire need, fall almost 20 spots lower than at least I had him projected (#5 to KC). Easy "A."
24) Cowboys - Dez Bryant - WR, Oklahoma State - How could the other 3 NFC East teams allow the most talented WR in the draft to go to a team with Miles Austin, Roy E. Williams when he wants to play (which may not be for too much longer in Big D), Jason Witten, and Felix Jones? Tony Romo just gained a little more fantasy value... not TOO much more because he's a choke-artist at heart... this pick gets a short-term A- and not an "A" just in case the character concerns of Bryant happen to be legit... and I say short-term because now that he's in Dallas, a team with a history of super talented, albeit troubled, receivers (see: Johnson, Keyshawn, Bryant, Antonio, Owens, Terrell, and Irvin, Michael), you can almost expect Dez to be out of the league in 3 years.
25) Broncos - Tim Tebow, QB, Florida - I love Tebow as a person but the fact that he got drafted before Jimmy Clausen is an absolute joke. I have a feeling Tebow will succeed as an NFL QB only because he will prove everyone wrong or die trying. He's the reverse JaMarcus Russell. Russell was all ability and no intangibles while Tebow is ALL intangibles with marginal ability that translates to being a successful NFL QB. Luckily for Tebow, he ended up on a team that doesn't require their QB to do much other than throw hitches and slants. In that respect, maybe it's a good thing that Clausen's ability doesn't have the chance wasted here. I will give this pick a B- with the potential to become an "A" because Tebow will be a team leader and if that translates into NFL success and a Super Bowl or two for Denver, then the NFL will really have to look into changing the way they scout talent... or just stop listening to the talking heads like Todd McShay that don't think Jimmy Clausen is first-round material. And the reason this pick gets a B- as opposed to a "B" is because the Ravens and Ozzie Newsome absolutely killed Denver with this trade. 3 draft picks (43, 70, & 114) for a QB that can't throw a spiral?
26) Cardinals - Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee - Once again, Clausen should've been the pick here. Matt Leinart and the "Nick Lachey Hot Tub Offense" are NOT the answer to Kurt Warner's retirement and neither is Derek Anderson, who may win the starting job at this rate. Having said that, I still am in shock that Dan Williams, a top-10 pick (I had him going to Buffalo at #9) and the top nose tackle in the draft, was sitting here at #15 for the Cards. This pick gets a "B" only because, once again, it should have been Clausen.
27) Patriots - Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers - This is a nice value pick, but not necessarily one that the Pats needed. I thought someone like Jerry Hughes or Jared Odrick had a shot at going here. Nevertheless, I give this pick a "B."
28) Dolphins - Jared Odrick, DE/DT, Penn State - Another pick that should have been Jerry Hughes. Not a need pick, but Odrick is thebest player available for Miami at this juncture. I give this one a B- being that they should have addressed their pass rush first... or at least nose tackle and/or free safety.
29) Jets - Kyle Wilson, CB/PR, Boise State - Even Fat Bastard couldn't screw this one up. If Joe Haden was the #1 CB in this class, then Wilson was #1A, fell into Rex Ryan's lap because of the idiocy of teams drating before him, and Ryan took advantage. That's not fair. Now you have your choice of throwing to either Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Kyle Wilson... have fun with that. And also, now the Jets can blitz the house while keeping these 3 highly talented DBs back in coverage. With all of these big moves, they could be setting themselves up for huge, embarrassing failure if they don't win the Super Bowl as everyone and their mother expects them to this year. Wilson's a good press-corner man who is very confident, highly athletic, & finds ways to make plays. Easily an "A."
30) Lions - Jahvid Best, RB, California - I thought that with Bruce Campbell and/or potentially Rodger Saffold falling out of Round 1, Detroit would use their early 2nd round pick on one of them. Guess not. Best is a 2-down RB with durability concerns. Great runner, but not a great running back. Good hands and some very intriguing tools. Interestingly enough, Minnesota traded down with a division rival after Detroit refused to trade down with them a few years back. That was they year that the Vikings drafted Daunte Culpepper... if Jahvid Best turns out to be a Pro Bowl player, the Vikings may wish that they took a page out of Detroit's book from way back then and not traded down with a division rival. I give this pick a "B" because of Best's durabilty concerns.
31) Colts - Jerry Hughes, DE, TCU - So much for Rodger Saffold not making it past this pick. Hughes is a great pick here though due to his experience, motor, production, & athleticism. Remember that wheb Dwight Freeney got hurt during the Super Bowl, the Colts weren't able to get to Drew Brees which ultimately wound up costing them the game. This pick could change that. And for anyone who says he's too small to make an impact as a rush linebacker in the NFL... see Exhibit A: Dumervil, Elvis... just sayin... anyways, this is an example of the rich getting richer and Bill Polian striking gold once again. This was an ideal scenario for Hughes who ends up on the perfect team and field surface. I think he'll wind up being a better pro than Sergio Kindle. Easy "A" for the Colts here.
32) Saints - Patrick Robison, CB, FSU - I give this pick a "C." First of all, CB is NOT a need for the Saints. I thought they'd attempt to either improve their pass rush or fill a need at linebacker. Besides, I can think of 5 CBs still available that I'd want instead of Robinson. He refuses to play the run, isn't as dominant in pass coverage as you'd like to see, & is inconsistent. I think they were just confused because they're not used to drafting this late in any round. I'm also glad to see that Drew Brees didn't tear his ACL on the way to the podium to announce the pick. The Madden Curse hasn't struck yet.
Based on yesterday, here's what I feel could happen today in light of the recent trades in Rounds 2 & 3 with some of the bigger name players left whose names you may recognize (I won't list every team). By the way, this is just speculation and I don't expect many, if ANY, of these picks to wind up being accurate. But what the hell. Let's give it a shot.
Rams) Arrelious Benn, WR, Illinois
Vikings) Chris Cook, CB, Virginia
Bucs) Corey Wootton, DE, Northwestern
Chiefs) Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame (I think Weis convinces management to draft JC so they can cut Cassel if he has another mediocre year and let JC take over in Year 2... if the Chiefs nab Clausen AND Eric Berry, they may be pretty scary going forward)
Eagles) Brandon Ghee, CB, Wake Forest (I don't think Asante Samuel will be around much longer in Philly)
Browns) Colt McCoy, QB, Texas
Raiders) Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland (Do I get points if the guy I mocked to a team in Round 1 makes slides
to Round 2 and gets picked by the same team?)
Dolphins) Cam Thomas, NT, UNC Bills) Rodger Saffold, OT, Indiana
Ravens) Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame & Lamarr Houston, DE/DT, Texas
Pats) Sergio Kindle, DE/OLB, Texas & Rob Gronkowski, TE, Arizona
G-Men) Brian Price, DT, UCLA
Panthers) Mardy Gilyard, WR/KR, Cincinnati
49ers) Dominique Franks, CB, Oklahoma Texans)
Ben Tate, RB, Auburn Steelers)
Perrish Cox, CB/KR, Oklahoma State
Bengals) Taylor Mays, S, USC (same question as I asked about the Raiders applies here)
Eagles) Nate Allen, S, USF (The Iggles still need to replace Brian Dawkins)
Packers) Dexter McCluster, RB/WR/KR, Ole Miss
Cowboys) Major Wright, SS, Florida
Seahawks) Everson Griffin, DE, USC
Colts) Charles Brown, OT, USC (THIS would be a HUGE steal)
Saints) Daryl Washington, OLB, TCU
Lions) Navarro Bowman, OLB, Penn State (to replace Ernie Sims)
Bucs) Jordan Shipley, WR/KR, Texas
Browns) Damian Williams, WR, USC (this would be the steal of the draft)
Bills) Jarrett Brown, QB, West Virginia
Dolphins) Ricky Sapp, DE/OLB, Clemson
Jags) Sean Lee, ILB, Penn State
Bears) Morgan Burnett, FS, Georgia Tech
49ers) Joe McKnight, RB, USC
Texans) Chad Jones, FS, LSU
Steelers) Brandon Lafell, WR, LSU (to replace Santonio)
Falcons) Jermaine Cunningham, DE, Florida
Bengals) Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida (will fit right in at Cincy with his lethargic nature)
Pats) Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford
Chargers) Terrance Cody, DT (I REALLY should get extra points if a guy I picked a team to draft in Round 1 drops all the way to Round 3 and gets drafted by the same team)
Time to watch all of this be for naught for the second night in a row.