I love this time of year!
NFL teams are trading away, March Madness is going strong, and the Draft is now less than five weeks away.
Not only is the NFL Draft the best time of the year, but it’s a chance for everybody’s team to get better and it’s our sneak peek at the stars of tomorrow.
This is actually Mock Draft Version 3.0 for me and while there have been a lot of changes, there’s still some familiar picks.
YES, before you even read further, I have come around on the QB issue and have both Jimmy Clausen and Sam Bradford going in the top 5 picks.
Once again, this isn’t what I would do if I were the GM, it’s what I think these teams will actually do in April.
1. St Louis Rams : Sam Bradford—QB—Oklahoma
The phrase “If He Clears Medically” will be used until the draft is over but I’m buying the rumors and the QB hype. Not only is Bradford a sharp kid but he’s got prototype size to go along with his accuracy. Rams fans are tired of watching other teams get franchise QBs and this is their chance to get a player they think can be “that guy."
I remain skeptical that he is truly unique of just the best option from a terrible QB class. I begrudgingly changed this pick from Ndamukong Suh to Bradford, because I still believe that Suh is a “once every few years” type of talent.
2. Detroit Lions : Ndamukong Suh—DT—Nebraska
The Lions find themselves in the fabled catbird seat, having their choice between the top-rated defensive tackles in this draft class and I think they go with Suh regardless of how well McCoy may fit their scheme.
I just don’t think we will see another defensive tackle like Suh come through the draft for at least a few more years.
I love what the Lions did in their draft last season and they won’t be getting this pick wrong either. While they need help at offensive tackle most, they simply have to take the best player on the board and that’s Suh without a doubt.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers : Gerald McCoy—DT—Oklahoma
The Bucs have some great options here but they could certainly use some help on their interior front and McCoy would make an addition in the Bucs’ revamped defense.
Their tandem of Chris Hovan and Ryan Sims is shaky at best, so it would make a lot of sense for the Bucs to tandem McCoy up with last year’s third rounder Roy Miller in that defensive line rotation.
McCoy might not be as good a fit as Suh would have been here but either way, the Bucs will be getting an elite defensive lineman to help improve a definite weakness.
4. Washington Redskins : Jimmy Clausen—QB—Notre Dame
There’s a lot of pressure on new head man Mike Shanahan to draft an offensive tackle here but if Shanahan believes Jimmy Clausen is that “Franchise Guy,” then he won’t hesitate to select him fourth overall.
Clausen has been creeping up my overall draft board with his experience and accuracy. I just can’t see him having a Brady Quinn-esque fall down in the first round, so expect Washington to pull the trigger on what will be the QB of their future.
5. Kansas City Chiefs : Russell Okung—OT—Oklahoma State
The Chiefs have needs all across their roster but they need to settle on a left tackle of the future and I personally don’t think it’s Brandon Albert. Okung is a phenomenal pass blocker and he also excels in the run game, so his best fit will be on the left side.
Either way, Okung will upgrade the Chiefs offensive line and he’ll also help give Matt Cassel more than half a second to throw the ball to Dwayne Bowe & Chris Chambers.
6. Seattle Seahawks : Eric Berry—S—Tennessee
The Seattle fans want an offensive tackle here but they simply can’t pass up on the elite talent of Eric Berry who really shouldn’t slip down in the draft this far. Seattle hasn’t gotten what they wanted from the safety position and they need to address the NFL’s 30th ranked secondary with an infusion of youth.
Berry is a big-time playmaker who is tough as nails and has all the athletic ability in the world at his disposal. Some scouts have described him as an Ed Reed type, who will be a natural leader at the next level.
7. Cleveland Browns : Derrick Morgan—DE—Georgia Tech
Don’t be surprised to see Cleveland trade up in efforts to secure Jimmy Clausen, as their biggest need is at QB but outside of that, the Browns most glaring need is at outside linebacker with Kamerion Wimbley now traded to Oakland.
Morgan would give their front seven a nice upgrade and provide them with a pass rushing presence in Rob Ryan’s 3-4 scheme. Morgan fits best in a 4-3 defense but he could still use his quick first step and pass rushing skills to beat offensive tackles as an outside linebacker for the Browns.
8. Oakland Raiders : Jason Pierre-Paul—DE—South Florida
Only Al Davis and his shiny stop watch have a clue as to who the Raiders will be selecting but while Oakland’s needs would appear to be offensive line, that doesn’t mean they’ll adhere to anything logical. I’m thinking they go best athlete remaining on the board and Al’s old over-head projector probably has Jason Pierre-Paul’s name on it.
I still don’t see this pick changing and if it does, Davis will take the other freak of nature from the combine Bruce Campbell. Regardless, either player would be a decidedly better value than last year’s seventh overall selection of Darius Heyward-Bey.
9. Buffalo Bills : Bruce Campbell—OT—Maryland
The Bills had a revolving door at offensive tackle last season and they need to get some depth at the position with the retirement of last year’s starting right tackle Brad Butler. They love the potential of Demetrius Bell and they also have a very young interior with second year players Eric Wood and Andy Levitre returning to the starting lineup.
Campbell would give them a player with prototype size, speed, and strength. He has a mountain of potential and if he can stay healthy while improving his technique, he’s going to be a perennial all-pro for years to come.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars : Joe Haden—CB—Florida
Jacksonville has at least addressed a need at defensive end with the addition of Aaron Kampmann and while they still may decide to stock pile the defensive end position, Rashean Mathis simply can’t play forever. They struck gold in the third round last year with Derek Cox and they could tandem him together for the next few years with Haden.
Haden really turned in a fine performance at his pro-day with a 4.4 40-yard dash and when you’re playing in the same division as Peyton Manning, having a stable of talented defensive backs is never a bad idea.
11. Denver Broncos : Rolando McClain—LB—Alabama
McClain is a sharp kid, with tremendous size, and very long arms. He has a high football IQ and that is what will get coach Josh McDaniels excited about drafting him. Denver seems to be prepping this selection with the release of Andra Davis and the move would make a lot of sense.
The selection of McClain would give them a nice influx of youth with Williams, Dumervil, and second year pro Robert Ayers wreaking havoc for years to come in the Broncos’ revamped 3-4 defense...reminding some Bronco fans of the 1977 “Orange Crush” Super Bowl defense that featured linebackers Tom Jackson, Randy Gradishire, Bob Swenson, and Joe Rizzo.
12. Miami Dolphins : Sergio Kindle—DE—Texas
With Joey Porter’s release and Jason Taylor getting long in the tooth, Kindle would be a perfect fit for the Dolphins.
He projects as an outside linebacker that will be a pass rushing specialist and while the Dolphins had a very respectable 44 total sacks on the year, you can never have too many athletes on a defense that likes to get after the QB.
Kindle has a great motor that only runs on high speed and he’s got enough size to not get man-handled at the line of scrimmage. He compares very favorably to his former college teammate and current Redskins’ player Brian Orakpo.
13. San Francisco 49ers : Brian Bulaga—OT—Iowa
The 49ers still need to find the answer on the right side to fix a position that has been a revolving door for quite some time.
Last year’s battle between Tony Pashos and Adam Snyder didn’t really produce a winner, but more of a stop-gap option. While they have other needs, this addition will solidify their line for years.
Bulaga has fabulous footwork for a man his size, his feet are like a sewing machine and he gets very low to the ground with his excellent technique. Definitely a franchise type tackle.
14. Seattle Seahawks : Anthony Davis—OT—Rutgers
Seattle needs a tackle and it isn’t really out of the question that they might select Charles Brown from USC or even draft two tackles, as it’s now a dire need for the Hawks.
They have some decent pieces on the O-Line and while I really like their 2009 selection of Max Unger, they need a franchise player here.
Davis had a terrible combine and his pro day wasn’t much better, which has caused his draft stock to slip. Even though he has looked sluggish in drills and workouts, there is a pile of film on him that shows off his technique, base-strength, and overall understanding of blocking angles that suggest he is a top 10 pick.
15. New York Giants : Kyle Wilson—CB—Boise State
The Giants sewed up their safety spot with their acquisition of Antrelle Rolle and if Kenny Phillips can come back from his knee surgery, they’ll have one of the best safety tandems in the entire league.
That being said, they still need to solidify the cornerback position and they’re in a great position to snag one of the better corners in the class.
Kyle Wilson is an aggressive corner who doesn’t shy away from contact and he can sniff plays out before they happen. Wilson is a very competitive player and he’s a very fluid athlete that will provide New York with a long term solution at cornerback.
16. Tennessee Titans : Everson Griffen—DE—Southern California
I love this guy’s pass rushing ability.
He could be one of the better pure defensive ends from this class and the Titans need to get stronger along the front four, especially after the loss of Kyle Vanden Bosch. Tennessee needs to improve their pass rush to help fix the team’s 31st ranked pass defense because it wasn’t all the fault of the secondary.
Not only does Griffen use his hands extremely well to shed would-be blockers very quickly, he’s got a tremendous first step that will get him into an opponent’s backfield before they can adjust. He is great fit for their defense.
17. San Francisco 49ers : CJ Spiller—RB—Clemson
The 49ers might have a bigger need at safety or outside linebacker but I think after addressing their tackle position, they will not only go best player available but they’ll go with a player that will address more than one need.
Not only were the 49ers disappointed with last year’s third round pick Glenn Coffee but they need a kick returner in the worst way.
Enter CJ Spiller, who might not be around this late but would be a terrific value mid-way through the draft. He’s got an extra year that other players simply don’t have and he would be a perfect compliment to Frank Gore between the 20s.
18. Pittsburgh Steeler s: Trent Williams—OT—Oklahoma
The Steelers have had a need for a tackle now for quite a few years and they’re in a great position to take a player who has the chance to be a pro-bowler a few seasons from now.
Their pass protection has always been suspect and while I respect the season that Willie Colon had, Pittsburgh needs to find a long term answer.
Williams turned in a fine showing at the NFL combine and did everything he could to improve his numbers at his pro day. Not only has he had a tremendous offseason but he’s a schooled lineman who can use his hands well, sets his anchor in pass pro, and is a physical run blocker who can control the line of scrimmage.
19. Atlanta Falcons : Dez Bryant—WR—Oklahoma State
The Falcons addressed a big need with the acquisition of Dunta Robinson and while they could still use another defensive end or even more help in the secondary, I think they’re in a great position to take the best talent available here.
Not only that, but we’re talking about a team that has its franchise QB and they’ll be looking to surround him with talent each year.
This guy’s stock is sinking like a stone in water but that doesn’t mean he’ll fall out of the first round. Having said that, I STILL love him! I think the team that ignores the off-field question marks and gives this kid a chance will be getting a future all-pro.
20. Houston Texans : Earl Thomas—S—Texas
A lot of folks are looking for the Texans to draft a ball carrier but I think that Gary Kubiak and company will be looking to take the best available talent like they did last year with Brian Cushing, even though they already had DeMeco Ryans, Xavier Adibi, and Zach Diles under contract for the next few years.
Point being, I see them going best available and that will entail looking at Brian Price, Devin McCourty, or...
I say they keep Earl Thomas in state and bring him over to Houston to tandem up with Bernard Pollard, who is a more of a run stopper. This would be the perfect fit in my opinion and it would also make a lot of sense playing in the same division as Peyton Manning.
21. Cincinnati Bengals : Brian Price—DT—UCLA
The Bengals have done a great job of compiling talented linebackers, so they need to add more talent up in front of them to further improve what has been a great defensive unit.
Domata Peko has a great motor and terrific strength but he needs a compliment, especially if Tank Johnson doesn’t return.
Price is a very good pass rusher and would be a perfect fit in the Bengals scheme under coordinator Mike Zimmer. Price has great size and plays with a mean streak, but he also has great technique. He would be a welcomed addition to the Cincinnati defense.
22. New England Patriots : Dan Williams—DT—Tennessee
The Pats are in a great position to take the best talent available and while Vince Wilfork isn’t going anywhere, they always love to stock pile defensive linemen like some kids collect comic books.
Williams is a nice fit in Bill Belichick’s “Swiss Army Knife” defense that requires a lot of versatile players to fill in on the front seven.
Williams has great size, base-strength, and a tremendous hand punch. He excels against the run and rarely gives up ground. While he doesn’t have an array of pass rushing moves, he is a powerful bull rusher who can collapse a pocket from the inside.
23. Green Bay Packers : Charles Brown—OT—Southern California
I really hope this is where the Packers go because Brown’s athleticism, being a former TE, would be a great fit for Green Bay’s zone blocking scheme and their need at tackle is still strong.
Regardless of resigning Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton, they need to find a long-term solution at the tackle position to provide Aaron Rodgers with more time.
Brown is very mobile and has a ton of upside, as he’s a natural pass blocker who will fit well on the left side. He’s still refining his craft at the position, so this could be an ideal situation for him to learn but take over at some point during the season.
24. Philadelphia Eagles : Carlos Dunlap—DE—Florida
Philly loves to have a deep roster of defensive linemen and no matter how bad their need at linebacker seems to be, they always tend to go offensive or defensive line in the first round.
I don’t see that trend changing here because they want another pass rusher opposite Trent Cole with neither Darryl Tapp, Jaqua Parker, or Victor Abiamiri having elite ability.
Carlos Dunlap is a 280 pound end who can flat out fly for a man his size. He has a great first step and the base strength to hold up against the run. He has the upside necessary to be a great pass rusher because of his amazing athletic ability and his prototype size.
25. Baltimore Ravens : Devin McCourty—CB—Rutgers
Having addressed their need at wide receiver with the acquisition of Anquan Boldin, the Ravens will look to improve their defensive backs.
They really struck gold with last year’s third rounder Lardarius Webb from Nichols State but he’s more of a nickle corner and they’re still in dire need of a shut down corner. Fabian Washington and Dominique Foxworth are good enough to hold the fort but this is still an area of concern.
McCourty not only can cover but he’s got phenomenal speed to recover and he also brings kick return skills to the table. McCourty has great instincts, he recognizes routes well, and can quickly diagnose a play before it happens.
26. Arizona Cardinals : Brandon Graham—DE/OLB—Michigan
The Cardinals recently lost a ton of playmakers on defense and while their need at middle linebacker is great, there will be players available in the second that they could add to fill the middle.
They drafted Cody Brown last year to play outside linebacker but they need to compliment him with an elite pass rusher.
Graham is just the kind of relentless edge rusher Arizona needs and he can do multiple things too, making him a perfect fit for the Cardinals’ “Steeler-Style” 3-4 defense. He has a great motor and can use a variety of moves to get to the quarterback.
27. Dallas Cowboys : Demaryius Thomas—WR—Georgia Tech
I know they have Miles Austin and they dumped a bunch of money into Roy Williams but this is the talent Jerry Jones has been looking for. The Cowboys been looking for a big-time wide receiver ever since Terrell Owens left town.
Dallas can run the ball and they have a bevy of running backs at their disposal, so they really need to add another elite wide receiver to help take pressure off of Jason Witten and Miles Austin because the answer is not Roy Williams.
Demaryius Thomas has all the tools needed to be an elite receiver at the next level. He has prototype size, huge hands, and great deep speed. He is currently healing from a broken foot but that won’t stop Dallas from sitting on him with the thoughts of him being a dominant deep threat for years to come.
28. San Diego Chargers : Ryan Mathews—RB—Fresno State
The Chargers have their eyes fixed on finding the right running back to spark their ground game and take pressure off of Phillip Rivers & Company.
With Tomlinson in New York, they can’t expect Darren Sproles to carry the load and if they do, he clearly won’t make it through the season alive. The Chargers need somebody to handle at least 50 percent of the carries and most of the first/second down plays.
Mathews has been rising up draft boards after a terrific 2009 season and an excellent showing at the Indianapolis combine. He has the potential to be an every-down back but he would be the perfect compliment to Darren Sproles to start off his career with the Chargers.
29. New York Jets : Terrance Cody—DT—Alabama
Mike Tennenbaum is a very savvy GM and he is not afraid to draft a player that may have some character questions.
While the Jets defense was one of the best in the league, they had trouble stopping the run later in the year after they lost Kris Jenkins for the year to a knee injury. While they expect Jenkins back, they need to add depth at a crucial position.
This would be an excellent fit for both sides, as Cody is a natural space eater that rarely gives up any ground and he’s just a natural two-gap defender that is a perfect fit as a nose in a 3-4 alignment.
30. Minnesota Vikings : Kareem Jackson—CB—Alabama
The Vikings need a running back with Chester Taylor now in Chicago and Albert Young being the only backup to Adrian Peterson.
I feel they can address that need in a later round and still get a fine player but the same can’t be said for the corner back position. There is a strong need here for the Vikes with the questionable health of starters Cedric Griffin and Antoine Winfield.
Jackson has great speed and is a fluid athlete who displays great footwork in his back pedal. He is a natural cover corner who should be able to fit in immediately as a nickle back or extra back. Tough to argue going with a national champion.
31. Indianapolis Colts : Jared Odrick—DT—Penn State
The Colts have been looking to get bigger and quicker up front on defense ever since defensive coordinator Larry Coyer got in town.
Last year’s draft pick Fili Moala didn’t pan out as expected and Bill Polian wants a more physical presence to hold the point against the run and give them a pass rushing presence.
Odrick would be a perfect fit as an under tackle in the Colts’ cover-2 scheme, as he displays excellent hand usage, quick feet, and a high motor. Odrick has great size but he’s not just a plugger, he can get after the quarterback and that’s exactly what the Colts want.
32. New Orleans Saints : Ricky Sapp—OLB—Clemson
This kid is a star in the making in my opinion and while I think he should be gone, linebackers that don’t rush the passer tend to slip down GM’s boards.
New Orleans might not admit to it but they’ll miss Scott Fujita & Charles Grant a lot, so I see them going with a strong side linebacker that also has the ability to be a pass rushing presence.
Sapp has been rising up draft boards and he would give the Saints an extra dimension on defense with his excellent top end speed. Sapp defends the run well and has the first step necessary to be a dominating pass rusher.
This article can be found at: www.RookieDraft.com
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