1.) St. Louis Rams – Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
Sam Bradford should be the logical pick here. Ndamukong Suh is the best player in this draft, but Bradford isn't too far behind. This is more of a need pick for the Rams – the need to put a face to the franchise, and to make the fans forget that this is the same organization that passed on Matt Ryan and Mark Sanchez (not that I think either are game-breakers…particularly Sanchez).
Bradford has some durability issues, so this pick is not a foregone conclusion. I've heard rumors of the Browns showing some interest in moving up to take this pick, but I sincerely doubt anything will come to fruition with the amount of money on the line.
Matt Stafford signed a 6 year, $72 million contract with $41.7 guaranteed last year, and his contract serves as a guideline for what to expect Bradford would command in the upcoming draft. After factoring in inflation, expect Bradford to sign a deal giving him roughly $50 million guaranteed.
I would hate to be in Bill Devaney's shoes. Not only is he the general manager of arguably the least talented roster in the NFL, but he's the point man behind this $50 million decision. And that is 50 million in recession dollars…in ST. LOUIS.
This signability issue along with Bradford's durability concerns is sure to keep Devaney constipated until the selection is officially made. The last time I checked, Rams merchandise wasn't necessarily flying off the shelves, so this decision better be the right one because that loot is going to be hard to recoup.
2.) Detroit Lions – Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
And the Lions get one step closer to getting out of the dungeon. Last year, Martin Mayhew passed on the opportunity to essentially “insure” his pick of Matt Stafford by passing on Michael Oher and taking a tight end, Brandon Pettigrew. This tells me that Mayhew sticks to drafting based on talent rather than need. Luckily for them, Suh is the best player in the draft. The additions of Kyle Vanden Bosch and Corey Williams have bolstered their defensive front, but Suh could make them something really special.
Another possibility here is drafting Russell Okung. Gosder Cherilus was supposed to be that “left tackle” of the future, but the Lions have essentially relegated this guy to right tackle duty because of his inability to…well…block. The recent addition of Rob Sims tells me that the Lions are comfortable with keeping Jeff Backus on the left side. In addition, there is a lot of depth at offensive tackle in the draft – the Lions could find a value pick later on.
3.) Tampa Bay – Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
Most mock drafts have Tampa Bay selecting Gerald McCoy, and for good reason. Unless Suh is available here, this will be a no-brainer pick for the Tampa Bay brass. If you remember, the Buccaneers finished 2nd to the Redskins for the right to pay Haynesworth $100 million to loaf his way through the season. Some reports have even stated that Tampa Bay's offer actually exceeded that of Washington's. What Haynesworth would have brought to the Bucs is what McCoy will bring to Tampa Bay.
The addition of McCoy is perfect because he brings the ability to get to the quarterback in the NFC South. In a division with Drew Brees and Matt Ryan, somebody on your roster should have the ability to upset offensive tempo. Tampa Bay has so many holes that it only makes sense to take a “best available player” approach to the draft. Luckily, Tampa Bay will have the opportunity to do so and sign him to a fraction of what Haynesworth was signed to last season.
4.) Washington – Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State
This is the ideal scenario for the Redskins. Unless they show that they are willing to unload Albert Haynesworth and essentially eat his contract, I can see them being hesitant to select either Suh or McCoy if they were available with this pick. Washington desperately needs help along the offensive line, and Okung is the best available prospect at left tackle. The retirement of Chris Samuels, coupled with the refusal of Stephon Heyer to show any signs of progression have left a giant question mark at left tackle. Fortunately, Okung is a giant man.
Under Mike Shanahan, Okung could be to the Redskins what Ryan Clady was to the Broncos two years ago. If I'm Donovan McNabb, I would be doing Jason Pierre-Paul-like backflips if Okung becomes half the player that Clady has become in Denver…or simply put, better than Stephon Heyer.
5.) Kansas City – Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma
Three players from Oklahoma taken in the top five picks. Oklahoma was a disappointment last year. This just proves how different the pro-game is from the college football landscape. Based entirely on potential, Trent Williams has a higher ceiling that Russ Okung leading some general managers to rate Williams as the best pure left tackle prospect available. The Chiefs have glaring holes all over their roster, especially on the offensive line that allowed the most sacks in 2009.
The Chiefs selected Branden Albert with a first round selection last year, but it seems as if he is a better fit on the right side than protecting quarterback Matt Cassel's blind side. Williams enters the draft with the reputation of being incredibly fluid with his footwork, and he surprised some people with his overall athleticism in the NFL Combine. With the selection of Williams, Kansas City should have a pair of young bookend tackles to carry them for the next few years.
6.) Seattle – Brian Bulaga, OT, Iowa
Seattle must prepare for a future without Walter Jones. They have other needs, but none would be as pressing as offensive tackle if Walter Jones were to retire. New general manager Jon Schneider is a disciple of Ted Thompson in Green Bay, and if their draft philosophies are similar, Seattle will take the best available football player in this slot. Although Bulaga's most natural position may be at right tackle, he has shown the athleticism to at least warrant consideration manning the blind side.
Kirk Ferentz, the head coach of Iowa as well as a former NFL offensive line coach, has a reputation for producing NFL ready players. Because of the depth of this year's draft and with Seattle holding a second first round pick, Schneider and new coach Pete Carroll will not be too pressed into making picks they feel they should make and lean towards improving the overall talent of this roster. If any of the top two defensive tackles are available here, this decision will come down to the highest rated player on the board.
7.) Cleveland – Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
In contrast to popular perception, Cleveland actually showed some signs of being competitive in the last month of the 2009 season. Their Achilles heel was the inability to produce anything on offense without directly snapping it to Josh Cribbs. I don't care that Cribbs is an absolute animal with the ball in his hands. If a special teams standout is your most explosive offensive weapon, the offense in general will not be explosive.
Cleveland has sleeper depth in the offensive backfield with Jerome Harrison, Chris Jennings and James Davis, but the weapons on the edge leave a lot to be desired. None of their receivers are legitimate down-field threats, so Dez Bryant seems like the logical pick…except that Cleveland has reportedly taken Dez Bryant off of their draft board because of character concerns.
Eric Berry is the most explosive player left on the board – unfortunately, he plays defense. The Browns ranked 29th in the league in pass defense, allowing 244.7 yards/game through the air. The selection of Eric Berry will improve the offense by generating turnovers and giving Jake Delhomme a manageable field to work with. Plus, somebody is going to have to counteract the 3+ interceptions that Delhomme will undoubtedly throw every game.
8.) Oakland – Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers
I am absolutely torn with this pick. Left tackle is of obvious need for the Raiders, and they should have the opportunity to take a top ten worthy talent like Anthony Davis. Based purely on his performance on the field, Davis deserves to be a high draft selection. His presence would instantly improve the offensive running attack, something head coach Tom Cable wants to emphasize in his game plan.
A lot of people think that this pick is going to be Bruce Campbell, based entirely on his reputation as being a workout warrior. My question to you is this – does Al Davis really have the balls to take back to back Maryland products with top ten selections? Last season, Darrius Heyward-Bey had less catches (9) than the number on his jersey (12). If I'm Al Davis, I would have such a bad taste in my mouth that I wouldn't even be scouting in the state of Maryland this season. If the definition of insanity is to repeat the same mistake over and over while expecting a different result, then Al Davis IS Coo Coo for Cocoa Puffs.
9.) Buffalo – CJ Spiller, RB, Clemson
Buffalo could go in a lot of directions here. They need help at virtually every position on field, but at the end of the day, I don't think they can pass on a dynamic play-maker like CJ Spiller. I feel that Buffalo will seriously consider any of the top offensive tackles if they were to fall to this slot, but I highly doubt that will happen. Head coach Chan Gailey has a reputation for liking dynamic, versatile running backs, and CJ Spiller fits that description perfectly.
Buffalo's 2009 roster moves were puzzling. They trade a franchise left tackle in Jason Peters under the excuse of building for the future. Then they sign Terrell Owens to a one year contract to win now. They top it off by refusing to draft a replacement left tackle. In reality, anything can happen with this pick. This is the same franchise that took Donte Whitner in the top ten.
10.) Jacksonville – Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama
Rolando McClain to the Jaguars makes too much sense for it not to happen. Head coach Jack Del Rio, a former NFL linebacker, would love to mold somebody in his image – who better than the 2009 Butkus Award winner? McClain is a ferocious defensive presence, and would fit in perfectly with the style of defense that Del Rio loves to put on the field. Jacksonville has a history of falling in love with larger, physically imposing players, and McClain is a monster.
The Jags have gone on record stating their desire to move down from their current position. A potential trade partner could be Philadelphia, who wants to move up in order to get one of the top two safeties. If I am Jacksonville, I would jump all over this opportunity. This is the point in the draft where the talent all seems to blend together – if the chance to trade down is available, the incredible depth of this draft will weigh heavily into their decision.
My 11 through 32 picks
11) Denver – Earl Thomas, S, Texas
12) Miami – Derrick Morgan, DE/OLB, Georgia Tech
13) San Francisco – Joe Haden, CB, Florida
14) Seattle – Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State
15) New York (Giants) – Jason Pierre-Paul, DE/OLB, South Florida
16) Tennessee – Sergio Kindle, DE/OLB, Texas
17) San Francisco – Mike Iupati, OT, Idaho
18) Pittsburgh – Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida
19) Atlanta – Brandon Graham, DE/OLB, Michigan
20) Houston – Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
21) Cincinnati – Ryan Matthews, RB, Fresno State
22) New England – Jared Odrick, DE, Penn State
23) Green Bay – Jerry Hughes, OLB, TCU
24) Philadelphia – Nate Allen, S, South Florida
25) Baltimore – Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers
26) Arizona – Rodger Saffold, OT, Indiana
27) Dallas – Demaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech
28) San Diego – Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee
29) New York (Jets) – Everson Griffen, DE/OLB, USC
30) Minnesota – Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame
31) Indianapolis – Charles Brown, OT, USC
32) New Orleans – Sean Weatherspoon, OLB, Missouri