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Most mock drafts have been relatively close in the positions and players that teams are going with. Mine is not too much different. I have however dug a little deeper than some to really focus on the extreme needs of each team. Sometimes best player available is taken over need, but usually teams are trying to draft for both. Some teams will reach in this up and coming draft, and some will do just fine.
A majority of mock drafts end up having a lot of holes due to the fact that there is usually a couple blockbuster trades which shakes things up and shifts some players forward and some back. There could be some guys that are slotted to go in the first round that could slip in to the second because of trades... and vice versa, some players that are slotted to go in the second may move up.
The draft has been the most exciting offseason event for professional football since I can remember. The coverage each and every year has gotten better and better. This year is no exception. However, it does have some folks upset on the west coast. Typically the draft has been held on the weekends and been a two day event (Saturday and Sunday). The NFL decided to try something a bit different this year and host the Draft in a three day extravaganza starting Thursday (primetime to the east coast) at 7:30pm EST, Friday beginning at 6:30pm EST, and Saturday at 8:00am EST to finish it off.
Well, that is enough talk, let's get to the mock... shall we?
I just want to preface this mock draft with a thought. I believe that there is very good chance that the Browns could move up tomorrow to grab quarterback Sam Bradford. The Rams would take over the 7th pick and would more than likely grab Jimmy Clausen should this happen... unless of course Seattle takes him first. Either way, I fully anticipate at least one trade in the top ten that will scrap most people's mock drafts. We could see a few fireworks on day one. There is also the chance that the 49ers and or Seahawks could move up considering that they each have two picks to work with.
Here is my latest mock draft:
1. ST. LOUIS RAMS
SAM BRADFORD | QUARTERBACK | OKLAHOMA - While I expressed my concerns with the possibility of a trade, I have gotten away from my firm commitment to placing Ndamukong Suh at this slot. The Rams absolutely need a franchise quarterback and Bradford is the closest thing to a Matt Ryan or Mathew Stafford in this years draft. He could potentially be better someday. The one concern Bradford should have with the Rams, is that their offensive line is not that good and he will virtually have nobody to throw it to. He better hope for Steven Jackson to stay healthy this year to carry him through. Bradford is a true leader and he has a passion for winning. Hopefully all the losing that the Rams will do this year will not get to his head... for his sake.
2. DETROIT LIONS
NDAMUKONG SUH | DEFENSIVE TACKLE | NEBRASKA - Ndamukong Suh is in my mind the best player coming out in this years draft. I think a lot of NFL Teams share the same sentiment. Suh, with the recent additions of Kyle Vanden Bosch and Corey Williams, will instantly make the Lions a top five defensive line in the NFL. I think the chances of Ndamukong Suh slipping out of the first two picks would be a huge injustice. With a top five defensive line, and the addition of Louis Delmas last year, the Lions are just a couple pieces away from having a very good defense. If they get lucky with a couple more defensive picks in this years draft that pan out, the NFC North better be very cautious of waking the sleeping Lions.
3. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
GERALD MCCOY | DEFENSIVE TACKLE | OKLAHOMA - The Bucs have longed for the same type of defense since they had when Warren Sapp and company ruled the gridiron. McCoy in some people's mind is more athletic and has more upside than Ndamukong Suh. While they're close, it just doesn't seem accurate to me for some reason. There is just an untouchable star quality that Suh possesses. McCoy will be a leader and very good football player but it's hard to say if he will ever reach a Pro Bowl in the NFL. It really just depends on him. Anyway you chop it up, the Bucs will come out of this draft with a new and improved defensive line.
4. WASHINGTON REDSKINS
RUSSELL OKUNG | OFFENSIVE TACKLE | OKLAHOMA STATE - Well, the Redskins went all out and got themselves a franchise quarterback in Donovan McNabb, so they won't have to worry about that in the first round. What they need to do now, is protect their investment in McNabb and cover his blind side. Okung is just the type of pick that Shanahan loves to build on. He has been notorious for building powerhouse offensive lines. Okung is the corner stone to accomplishing that in Washington D.C. Okung is the most well-rounded prospect at his position coming out. This is a can't miss pick for the Skins here.
5. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
BRYAN BULAGA | OFFENSIVE TACKLE | IOWA - Another team that went out and got a franchise quarterback with no protection. It really astonished me last year when the Chiefs selected Tyson Jackson and didn't use a first rounder on a lineman to protect Matt Cassel. Hopefully Todd Haley and company have learned their lesson and will get smart this year in selecting a solid tackle to protect their quarterback. Bulaga has tremendous upside and I can't say that I agree with any of the reports that he has hit his ceiling in college. Bulaga is a hard worker that accomplishes his goals. If he stays healthy, he has the chance to be great.
6. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
TRENT WILLIAMS | OFFENSIVE TACKLE | OKLAHOMA - Yes, there is a firesale on offensive tackles this year. They are going to go fast. The Seahawks had very significant problems in protecting their quarterbacks and helping their running backs out. Most of that can be chalked up to the lack of enthusiasm and the rest to injuries. Walter Jones certainly is far from being a spring chicken and Williams will step in and contribute immediately on either side of the line. This isn't the most exciting pick for the fans, but they have another one of those in the middle of the round to play with. It's all business with this pick.
7. CLEVELAND BROWNS
ERIC BERRY | SAFETY | TENNESSEE - If the trade doesn't go down, Eric Berry would be the perfect fit to a Browns defense that struggled last year. He is just the ball-hawking, hard-hitting, play-making type of safety that the Browns haven't had in a long time... possibly ever. Holmgren was around with the Niners during the Ronnie Lott days, and Berry could be the closest thing to come around in the NFL in a very long time. If the Browns hold steady at pick seven, Berry is virtually a no-brainer... or should be anyway.
8. OAKLAND RAIDERS
JIMMY CLAUSEN | QUARTERBACK | NOTRE DAME - I think that Tom Cable may be the most persuasive coach to set foot in Oakland since John Madden. He convinced Al Davis not to fire him. That in and of itself is big time progress in Oakland. Tom Cable needs a quarterback he can trust and that will work hard. JaMarcus Russell is not the answer and Cable may just be able to influence Davis enough to make this pick here. Clausen to me would be the best possible scenario for Oakland. And as many people that think there will be some kind of crazy antics pulled by the Raiders front office, this may be crazy enough to some folks. Step aside Mr. Russell and watch a real quarterback in action.
9. BUFFALO BILLS
JOE HADEN | CORNERBACK | FLORIDA - Some people could be scratching their heads with this pick. But wait a minute... before you do... and before you start yelling, "why not a tackle or quarterback?" I have something to say. Last year Jarius Byrd had to fill in for Donte Whitner and did an exceptional job for a rookie. The Bills corners were among the worst, if not the worst, in the entire NFL. Between seven of them, they only had 5 interceptions total and a considerably less amount of passes deflected than the rest of the NFL. The Bills are in a conference to where they cannot afford to not have a good secondary. If they want to compete, they need a guy like Haden.
10. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
ROLANDO MCCLAIN | LINEBACKER | ALABAMA - With the rumors of McClain having Crohns Disease being squashed, and that it was indeed his mother who had the disease, McClain will jump back up to the top of the boards. Coach Jack Del Rio is a former linebacker and I am sure wants to anchor his defense with a player of McClains caliber. The Jags, despite having a so-so season, have holes here and there throughout their roster. There are many directions that they could go but if McClain is still around at 10, it's hard to imagine that they'll go anywhere else.
11. DENVER BRONCOS
ANTHONY DAVIS | OFFENSIVE TACKLE | RUTGERS - Whoops! Did I put another offensive tackle here. Yep, I did. The Broncos have their left tackle in Ryan Clady but who is going to play the right tackle position? Easy. Anthony Davis. If Josh McDaniels and company are smart, they will go offensive line here. There will be other inside linebackers and receivers in the draft that can fill voids. The trench people, as I like to call them, will be gone very quickly. I have my doubts about Davis, but his stock is high enough for the Broncos to pull the trigger here. Guards, Receivers, and Linebackers will follow this pick here.
12. MIAMI DOLPHINS
C.J. SPILLER | RUNNING BACK | CLEMSON - Look out! The wildcat just became a three headed sabertooth tiger. With Ronnie Brown facing suspension, the Dolphins will need someone to step in and hit a few pinch hit homeruns. C.J. Spiller is just that guy. The Dolphins also lost their best punt returner in Ted Ginn Jr. and coughed him up like it was nothing... possibly to open it up for this selection? Perhaps...and we will find out here shortly. In any case, I feel like the Dolphins would be hard-pressed to let him slip past them.
13. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
EARL THOMAS | SAFETY | TEXAS - The Niners need help mostly on their offensive line and in the secondary. I think most people that follow the 49ers would agree with that statement. However, with all of the premier tackles off the board, the 49ers are forced to go in another direction in this scenario. Earl Thomas has great range, and range is the main thing that hindered the Niners in a few painful losses last year. His instinct would play right in to what the 49ers like to do on defense. With Goldson and Thomas lurking in the secondary, and Nate Clements and Shawntae Spencer taking care of everything underneath, the 49ers would have a solid crew in the secondary next season.
14. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
DEZ BRYANT | WIDE RECEIVER | OKLAHOMA STATE - While the Seahawks lost in the Brandon Marshall sweepstakes, all hope is not lost for them. In fact, Bryant could end up being a Pro Bowl caliber player some day. With the piece in place to help keep Hasselbeck healthy earlier in the draft, the Hawks can now focus in on adding some heavier artillery for the veteran quarterback. The Seahawks biggest issue last year was just health... simply health. The motivation wasn't exactly there either. Pete Carroll seems to have the troops rallying in support and buying in. Dez Bryant would be the perfect counter-part for T.J. Houshmandzadeh and John Carlson.
15. NEW YORK GIANTS
MIKE IUPATI | GUARD | IDAHO - The Giants had some issues in keeping Eli Manning upright last year. Some of it had to do with faulty pass blocking from running backs but most of it was credited to the offensive line. Iupati will play the game with bad intentions and the intent to maul. This should fire up the offensive line enough to help Eli, Brandon Jacobs, and Ahmad Bradshaw all return to form.
16. TENNESSEE TITANS
DERRICK MORGAN | DEFENSIVE END | GEORGIA TECH - The first defensive end off the board, and rightfully so. The Titans desperately need some pass rush and Morgan will provide just that. Usually it's hard to match best player available with a position of need but the Titans luck out with this pick here. If Morgan falls in to the lap of this franchise, it will be a good first day of the draft for Titans fans and the organization. Teams will be looking to add players to contribute immediately and Morgan will do just that.
17. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
BRANDON GRAHAM | LINEBACKER | MICHIGAN - Once again the Niners are forced to go with a best available pick here. There are no lineman left as far as first round prospects are concerned. Some folks and fans would chalk this draft up to being a fail so far. However, when you basically fill a hole in the secondary, and add a pass rusher to go on the other side of Ahmad Brooks, you put yourself to be in a position to be the best defense in the NFL. If these two picks are made, the 49ers better hope that Vladimir Ducasse or Rodger Saffold are available in the second round.
18. PITTSBURGH STEELERS
DEMARYIUS THOMAS | WIDE RECEIVER | GEORGIA TECH - This pick here is not really a major need per se. But the Steelers aren't afraid to make a best player available selection. With the departure of Santonio Holmes, I feel like the Steelers may just be tempted to take Bey Bey Thomas with this pick. The Steelers could try and give the secondary some help but it may be easy for them to do that in the second or third round as well.
19. ATLANTA FALCONS
SEAN WEATHERSPOON | LINEBACKER | MISSOURI - Weatherspoon is a multi-facet talent and can do just about everything. He can rush the passer and he can drop back in coverage. Heck, he could probably run the ball and play wide receiver if you asked him to. Even though the latter portion was exaggeration, he can do a lot. This is exactly what the Falcons need. With the addition of Dunta Robinson to the secondary, the Falcons hit a homerun with the selection here.
20. HOUSTON TEXANS
KYLE WILSON | CORNERBACK | BOISE STATE - With the departure of Dante Robinson, Wilson provides a bit more ball-hawking than did Robinson. Wilson is also a deadly kick and punt returner so there is a multi-value in the pick here. The Texans could stand to get stronger on the interior portion of their line, but Wilson just makes whole lot of sense here. I believe that regardless if it's Wilson or someone else, it really should be a Corner or Safety.
21. CINCINNATI BENGALS
SERGIO KINDLE | DEFENSIVE END | TEXAS - The Bengals haven't quite got there yet with a deadly pass rusher. Kindle will add an element of tenacity to the defensive line in Cincinnati. Some people have Kindle dropping even further than this selection, but I just cannot see him falling much farther than this. Will this finally be the pick that comes in and wreaks havoc immediately that the Bengals have been longing for? Quite possibly. The Bengals continue to struggle in dominating and the word has not entered in to the picture for them since the 80's. Kindle can potentially be a Charles Haley type of player if he works hard at it.
22. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
RYAN MATHEWS | RUNNING BACK | FRESNO STATE - The Pats really struggled in the run game last year. It certainly did not help matters out in the playoffs. The Patriots will need a dynamic running back like Ryan Mathews to get over the hump. There are a couple of defensive picks that could happen here. But the front office may be drooling over Mathews for the 22nd overall pick in the draft. It would definitely help Tom Brady out. And sometimes it seems Brady has got what he wanted. If he wants a dynamic running back to take off some of the pressure, then this pick could happen.
23. GREEN BAY PACKERS
CHARLES BROWN | OFFENSIVE TACKLE | USC - The Packers need help on their offensive line... that is a pretty truthful statement. Charles Brown fits what the Packers like to do very well. He is an athletic tackle that has great lateral movement. Much like Joe Staley of the 49ers, Brown started out as a tight end and converted to the tackle position early on in his collegiate career. Brown would more than likely be an upgrade over someone on that offensive line. He would obviously have to prove himself in the preseason but I think he has what it takes. This pick makes a bunch of sense for the Pack at this pick... at the least positionally.
24. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
TAYLOR MAYS | SAFETY | USC - Mays is a big hitting safety that will bring back some the fear that the Eagles defenses of old used to instill in opposing teams. For some reason, I can picture him in this uniform already with his dark visor lurking in the secondary waiting to peel someones head off. Many people have already chalked Mays up to a bust, but not me. He has a drive to be the best and is very focused on accomplishing that. He is going to listen to his coaches and be molded in to one of the better safeties coming out this year. This slot is about right for Mays in my opinion.
25. BALTIMORE RAVENS
JERRY HUGHES | LINEBACKER | TCU - The Ravens defense is getting up there in age. Hughes will add youth and fire to that defense. What better mentor to have than the future Hall-of-Famer Ray Lewis. Any linebacker that ends up on that team has the potential to reach star quality. Lewis will make sure of that. Any defensive front seven player that has gone to that team has turned in to an exceptional player. I think a lot of it should be credited to Ray Lewis. He puts his team in great position on nearly every single play. It's basically like having a coach on the field. Hughes would have every opportunity to become a great player if selected here.
26. ARIZONA CARDINALS
JERMAINE GRESHAM | TIGHT END | OKLAHOMA - Being that Coach Wisenhunt is a former NFL Tight End, and that the Cards don't currently have a good one, this may be a guy who Arizona is targeting. Whatever new quarterback earns the job this year, they will need to add a weapon in the middle of the field. Gresham is very well-rounded but has had some concerns with injury. It's possible that the Cards go somewhere else with the pick, but I feel solid in making this prediction.
27. DALLAS COWBOYS
GOLDEN TATE | WIDE RECEIVER | NOTRE DAME - If Jerry Jones adds one more piece to the offense for Tony Romo to turn the corner and he still can't, he may find himself looking for another job. Tate made it easy for Clausen to look very very good while at Notre Dame. I personally think that Clausen should owe Golden Tate some money if Clausen get's drafted as a top ten. Seriously though, if Tate is picked here, the Cowboys will once again be the front runner in the NFC East.
28. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
DAN WILLIAMS | NOSE TACKLE | TENNESSEE - Nose Tackles are very hard to find. If Dan Williams isn't here, there is still a chance that they go for a guy like Terrence Cody. With the departure of the Chargers former nose tackle to the Denver Broncos, they will be hard-pressed not to pull the trigger if Williams is here. If Cody is looking good to them, they could go there as well. A lot of mocks have had running backs at this selection. I think for the type of running back they are in the market for, there will be guys like Gerhart, Tate, and Hardesty later on to chose from.
29. NEW YORK JETS
EVERSON GRIFFEN | DEFENSIVE END | USC - Griffen may be the best 3-4 defensive end prospect entering the league this year. The Jets could stand to get better at the position. DeVito is mainly a situational guy and Ellis is coming in to his 12th season in the NFL. If the Jets don't go here, they may try and convert a guy like Jared Odrick. This will be the final piece to putting the Jets in very good position to go all the way.
30. MINNESOTA VIKINGS
DEVIN MCCOURTY | CORNERBACK | RUTGERS - The Viking secondary was by and large one of their glaring weaknesses. The rest of the defense pulled them though a lot of times. With such a great pass rushing front seven, if they can add a few potential elite defensive backs, they will be very hard to beat, with or without Brett Favre. McCourty is a gifted corner that will earn his keep should the Vikes pick him with the 30th overall pick.
31. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
MAURKICE POUNCEY | GUARD | FLORIDA - The Colts need an interior lineman fairly bad. I am sure they would love to get a player like Mike Iupati, so it would not surprise me to see them move up to get him. Pouncey at this spot could go down as a steal though. Jeff Saturday is getting older and Pouncey would benefit tremendously by playing next to him. Eventually the idea with this selection would be for Pouncey to take over when Saturday moves on. Manning has had a great offensive line in front to protect him for a majority of his career. If the Colts plan on continuing success, they'll continue to draft exceptional lineman to take care of business.
32. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
DARYL WASHINGTON | LINEBACKER | TCU - With Scott Fujita leaving the Super Bowl Champ Saints, they will need to find a youthful firecracker to replace him. Washington is nothing short of that. He shared a spotlight with teammate Jerry Hughes and they complimented each other great. Washington played a very solid game in the Fiesta Bowl this past year and caught a lot of attention from pro scouts. Washington will add a unique dimension to the Saints defense. This would be the best way for them to go with the 32nd pick.
And so there you have it folks. I am shooting for a so-so percentage in the real thing tomorrow. Once again, I anticipate some big shake ups that will undoubtedly effect this mock draft and many others.