First of all, sorry I'm a day late in posting this, I couldn't find the time to do it yesterday. There haven't been many changes from the previous weeks selections. Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett is the one player who is making this difficult for me. He's got all the talent you'd want in a QB but is still considered raw. Some team will most likely trade back into the latter half of the first round to get him. Of Course this is contingent on whether Mallett decides to leave school early. I'm sure that my Steelers pick for this week is going to draw a lot of conversation in the comments section, and as always I look forward to hearing what you have to say.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ndamukong Suh DT, Nebraska
I really don’t like the idea of mocking a DT as the number one overall pick. But the Bucs don’t need a QB or a LT so Suh wins by default since their other greatest need is a WR but there isn’t one worthy of this high a pick. Right now their most pressing need is for someone to collapse the pocket and Suh can do that very well. Suh is the type of 3 down, 2-gap player that is perfect for defensive coordinator Jim Bates’ scheme.
2. Cleveland Browns: Eric Berry S, Tennessee
Cleveland needs help everywhere. This franchise is a disaster. I could possibly see them going after a QB since neither Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson seem to want the job in which case they would go for Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen. Already having a cornerstone LT in Joe Thomas means they won’t target OK ST OT Russell Okung. Berry is pretty much the consensus best player in college football and is a once a decade talent in the mold of Ed Reed. Cleveland has seen first hand what a great safety can do for a franchise with division examples like Reed and Troy Polamalu. In the event that team owner Randy Learner cans coach Mangini at the end of his first season, this will most definitely change to QB. I know it sounds absurd that Learner would fire him after only one season, but what’s one more executive on the payroll who’s no longer on the team. Don’t be surprised to see Cleveland trade back again to acquire more picks with someone looking to snag Okung or Clausen.
3. St. Louis Rams: Jimmy Clausen QB, Notre Dame
The Rams number one priority this off season will be to find a new Quarterback. There’s no debate about it. In the last two years they have passed on Matt Ryan and Mark Sanchez. Clausen is having a great season and scouts will love the fact that he plays in a pro-style offense under center. If for some reason the Rams management thinks that Marc Bulger has any gas left in the tank they might consider taking the best defensive player available which would be Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy.
4. Detroit Lions: Russell Okung OT, Oklahoma State
The Lions need a cornerstone LT to protect their 40 million dollar man in Matt Stafford. Okung is the top LT prospect and plays a near-flawless game. He's athletic, uses his hands very well, and has quick feet to get out in front of speed rushers. If Okung is off the board at this point, look for the Lions to take the best defensive player available or trade back to acquire more picks.
5. Oakland Raiders: Gerald McCoy DT, Oklahoma
I continue to waffle on this pick. McCoy would be a great pick but Al Davis’ love for speed might be too big to pass on USC Safety Taylor Mays. Mays will stumble out of the top 10 to 15 on draft day if he falls past Oakland. If Oakland comes to its senses and picks a replacement for the failed JaMarcus Russell experiment, Davis will surely go with Washington QB Jake Locker. Locker has the arm strength to throw the deep passes and is very mobile with a 4.6 40 time. And don’t be surprised if Davis goes with Florida DE Carlos Dunlap, whose freakish measurables Davis with also love.
6. Kansas City Chiefs: Bruce Campbell OT, Maryland
Matt Cassell needs a LT that will give him enough time to throw the ball down field. KC spent a lot of money on Cassell and it would be nice if they got a return on their investment. It would also allow them to move 2008 1st round pick Brandon Albert to LG, his natural position, since it doesn't seem like he can make it playing on the outside. Campbell is showing strong play this season and is very similar to Okung. With Berry already off the board there are no other elite prospects available at a position of need for the Chiefs to consider with a top 5 pick. In the event that KC decides to skip on Campbell given his injury history, look for them to trade back several spots and target USC tackle Charles Brown or Florida CB Joe Hayden.
7. Washington Redskins: Sam Bradford QB, Oklahoma
With the way Jason Campbell is continuing his poor play the Redskins(Dan Snyder) will definitely look to replace him, regardless of the fact that Snyder’s impatience with head coaches and coordinators is the reason for it or not. In all likelihood Coach Zorn will be fired at the end of the season. Regardless of whom Snyder gets to replace him they will want to bring a new QB to start fresh. A better pick would be an OT but Snyder is going to go with a flashy, big name like Bradford. As ESPN has reported, Bradford is having his shoulder operated on by the renowned Dr. James Andrews, who also just happens to be the Redskins team doctor. So Snyder will definitely have the inside track on whether Bradford’s shoulder is going to hold up. If Snyder doesn’t think Bradford shoulder will hold up they may target Washington’s Jake Locker or even Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett.
8. Buffalo Bills: Charles Brown OT, USC
Look for the Bills to replace the gaping hole left by the Jason Peters trade to Philly unless one of the top tier prospects like McCoy fall. McCoy would be perfect to help the Bills horrendous run defense but they will have to trade up to get him. This is a little high for Brown but he’s the only OT prospect left who projects to play on the left side with the struggles of Oklahoma OT Trent Williams and the injuries to Iowa OT Bryan Bulaga.
9. Seattle Seahawks: Jake Locker QB, Washington
Without any top tier left tackle prospects left to replace the aging Walter Jones, look for the Hawks to find an heir apparent to often injured Matt Hasselbeck. Locker comes from a shotgun style offense and will take some time to develop, but he’s a solid player with a strong arm and great mobility. If Charles Brown or Bruce Campbell manages to slip then I would expect the Seahawks to go for one of them and try to find a project QB later in the draft such as Old Miss. QB Jevan Snead, Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett, or even Texas’ Colt McCoy.
10. Tennessee Titans: Joe Hayden CB, Florida
Who would have thought that Vince Young would turn this season around? The Titans are starting to show a glimmer of hope after the most disappointing start a team could have. They have multiple needs but Young’s play so far means they won’t be looking for a QB. Cornerback is their biggest need and Hayden is the best in this year’s crop. His stock is continuing to grow with each passing week as he is having a great year. The loss of Albert Haynesworth to free agency has exposed the lack of playmakers in the backfield of this defense so they may also look to trade up for Gerald McCoy as he is the most polished DT prospect and has a quick burst and is great at using his hands to shed blockers.
11. Denver Broncos(via Chicago Bears): Rolando McClain ILB, Alabama
The Broncos have very few holes to fill although they are starting to fall apart. After going 6-0 they have been exposed for their lack of the deep ball. If given the opportunity they may look to go QB with this pick if one of the top prospects at the position slips. With Eddie Royal, Brandon Stokley, and Brandon Marshall they really need a strong armed QB that can sling it downfield. Look for them to take the best defensive player available if none of the QB’s slip down this far. McClain is continuing to rise up draft boards and would be a perfect fit considering he already plays in a 3-4 defense at Alabama. Another consideration would be a NT like Alabama’s Terrence Cody, be he’s starting to fall due to conditioning concerns.
12. New York Jets: Donovan Warren CB, Michigan
Having found a legitimate down field threat, at least for now, in the trade for Braylon Edwards, the Jets will most likely look for someone to play opposite Darrell Revis. They may also look for defensive line help, especially at DT where Kris Jenkins has had the second season-ending injury of his career. They also need defensive ends that can play in a 3-4 but none are worthy of a pick this high. If the Jets decide to go wide receiver look for them to possibly take USC WR Damian Williams, whom QB Mark Sanchez had a great re pore with during his last year in college and will almost assuridy lobby for.
13. San Francisco 49ers(via Carolina Panthers): Bryan Bulaga OT, Iowa
The 49ers greatest need is a RT to play opposite Joe Staley. I know this seems high for a right tackle but having a road grader to open up more running lanes for Frank Gore is worth the price. Bulaga has had a down season with injuries and a thyroid condition but would be a perfect fit at RT at the pro level with his work ethic and run-blocking ability. Other options may be Florida CB Joe Hayden if he’s available or Alabama ILB Rolando McClain who is continuing to rise up draft boards although they have a greater need of an OLB.
14. San Francisco 49ers: Taylor Mays S, USC
Having already taken care of the o-line with their previous pick and the emergence of QB Alex Smith the 49ers will turn their attention to the defense. As many who have read my mock draft before already know, I’m not very high on Mays. He plays without discipline, has stiff hips, takes poor angles, and is usually more worried about laying someone out rather than holding his coverage. But there’s no denying his physical attributes, and Coach Singletary is just the right person to teach him how to play. Plus, he’s big and strong enough that he could possibly be moved to OLB where he could truly be a force.
15. Miami Dolphins: Terrence Cody DT, Alabama
With the secondary shored up in last years draft look for the Fins to plug up their defensive front. They have been using aging veterans to plug the gaps for some time and could really use a shot of youth. Alternatives here could be help at linebacker. Team architect Bill Parcells may not look favorably on Codys prior weight issues in which case he may go for a receiver to help the progression of young QB Chad Henne. The best option would be USC WR Damian Williams, who many consider to be the most complete WR in the draft.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dez Bryant WR, Oklahoma State
The Jags need a number one receiver despite being burned by plenty of them in recent years(Matt Jones, Reggie Williams) and find one in Bryant. I know Jags owner Wayne Weaver insists that he will draft Florida QB Tim Tebow if he gets the opportunity but Tebow is not a first round talent and will be available in the second or third round. The recent suspension of Bryant for lying about conversations with Deion Sanders will not hurt is draft stock. He’s got all the intangibles you look for in a receiver and looks a lot like Andre Johnson did when he came out of Miami. Another option here would be a 4-3 defensive end as the Jags make the transition back to after a woeful attempt at using a 3-4 in which case Georgia Tech DE Derrick Morgan would be a good option as his stock is continuing to rise.
17. Green Bay Packers: Trent Williams OT, Oklahoma
Green Bay will take the best tackle available after watching QB Aaron Rogers eat dirt every week. It’s obvious that Rogers is starting to show that the never-ending beatings he’s taken are taking a toll on him. The only other consideration would be to add an OLB to replace Aaron Kampman who’s in the final year of his contact and clearly not comfortable making the switch from DE to OLB.
18. New York Giants: Morgan Burnett S, Georgia Tech
Previously I would’ve thought the Giants would continue to stock pile D-linemen but they have been shredded through the air and could really use a Free Safety to play opposite Kenny Phillips who was lost for the year with a serious injury.
19. Baltimore Ravens: Jermaine Gresham TE, Oklahoma
Todd Heap has been surprisingly healthy so far but the Ravens will still need to find an eventual replacement for him. Gresham is the type of speedy, pass catching TE that is perfect for the development of QB Joe Flacco. Even though he's out with a knee injury for the rest of the year, he will have plenty of time to rehab before the NFL combine. A lot of people will think that the Ravens will draft a CB, especially considering how badly they have been torched through the air, but the Ravens draft on value and if Gresham wouldn’t have hurt his knee this year he would’ve been a top 10-15 pick. Plus there won’t be any other first round CB’s left. Another option would be to find a WR such as LSU’s Brandon LaFell.
20. Houston Texans: Earl Thomas S, Texas
The Texans need help in multiple areas but the biggest concern is in the secondary, especially if they let the unhappy Dunta Robinson leave via free agency in the offseason. Thomas is only a red shirt sophomore but is having a great year, even though many draft fans are wary of Texas safeties. If not Thomas they may consider GT S Morgan Burnett.
21. Atlanta Falcons: Navorro Bowman OLB, Penn State
The Falcons will take the best defensive player available. Previously I had them taking Old Miss. DE Greg Hardy but he has some injury issues and has just been lost for the season. Look for the Falcons to also target a CB if another prospect emerges. Bowman is a beast with great physical tools.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Derrick Morgan DE, Georgia Tech
Without any tackle prospects left to replace the often injured Shawn Andrews, look for the Eagles to take the top DE or Linebacker prospect available. Morgan is having a great year and would go much higher if not for the fact that so many teams now employ a 3-4 defense and he is better suited for a 4-3, although some team may decide to try and switch him to an OLB.
23. Dallas Cowboys: Damian Williams WR, USC
Even with the sudden appearance of Mile Austin, look for the Cowboys to upgrade their receiving ranks. Williams can also sub for often injured Felix Jones on kick return duties. Other options may be to take the best defensive player available. I could also see them taking an OT to replace the aging Flozell Adams if Trent Williams or Charles Brown falls to them.
24. Seattle Seahawks (via Denver Broncos): Anthony Davis OT, Rutgers
Having taken care of their QB needs earlier in the draft, the Seahawks will look to take the best OT available. Walter Jones will probably retire at the end of the season and Sean Locklear cannot stay healthy. They will need someone to keep Matt Hasselbeck upright long enough for them to develop Jake Locker. They may also look for a RB, but they should be able to grab either Cal’s Jahvid Best or Georgia Tech’s Jonathan Dwyer in the second round.
25. Arizona Cardinals: Jason Fox OT, Miami
Arizona needs LT help bad. They drafted Levi Brown a couple years ago to be a RT when they thought Matt Leinart, a lefty, would be the QB of the future. Well he hasn't been so far and Warner is suffering because of it. This is high for Fox so look for the Cards’ to also consider taking the best defensive player available. If Charles Brown manages to slip a few spots back don't be surprised to see the Cards trade up to snag him.
26. San Diego Chargers: Brandon LaFell WR, LSU
Assuming they resign LT Marcus McNeill and in all probability franchise tag Shawn Merriman, they will most likely target someone to play opposite budding wideout Vincent Jackson. Other options may be to take Clemson RB C.J. Spiller since they will most likely lose either Darren Sproles to free agency or cut LaDainian Tomlinson after the season, Bama NT Terrence Cody to replace the aging Jamal Williams. LaFell fits the mold of a taller wideout that the Chargers prefer.
27. Pittsburgh Steelers: C.J. Spiller RB, Clemson
For the last few weeks I’ve had the Steelers taking either a safety who could replace Ryan Clark given that he’s in the final year of his contract and he’s over 30 years old or a lineman to add to the teams’ depth. But after the continual disappointment of the special teams this pick has to be Spiller if he’s available. Willie Parker is most likely not going to be resigned in the off season and Spiller would be a great speedy compliment to Mendenhall’s power for a lot less cost than Parker. But more importantly he would also fill what has become a dire position of need over the years as a return man. Stephan Logan has been serviceable but it’s inefficient to have a return specialist on the active roster plus he can’t manage to down a kickoff for a touchback even when he’s 7 yards deep. I’m positive Ryan Clark will take a discount to finish his career in the Burgh. The same goes for Tyrone Carter as well. Plus they will still be able to find a quality Safety in rounds two or three. South Florida Safety Nate Allen may even still be available in round two. An option I’ve been high on is Alabama NT Terrence Cody if he manages to slip, which many think he will do considering his weight issues. He’s managed to lose almost 50 pounds in the last year and keep the weight off so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could continue that positive trend into the NFL, especially with the right guidance. Weight issues or not, we’re going to need someone large enough to anchor our defense so our linebackers can continue to flow freely to the opposing QB. Casey Hampton is 32 years old and in the final year of his contract, and with two Super Bowl rings already on his chubby fingers he may seek a big pay day somewhere else. I’ve seen mock drafts where Cody is a top 10-15 pick and some where he doesn’t even go in the first round. The offensive line has been getting better every week and no longer seems like a dire position of need, but Idaho’s Mike Iupati could fill the one weak point at RG where Darnell Stapleton and Trai Essex are lacking and rookie Craig Urbik didn’t show much during the off season. He’s a big road grader and could possibly slide over and play RT if Willie Colon leaves via free agency. Of course there’s also a chance we may be able to get him or Alabama OG Mike Johnson in the second or third round. Cornerback could also be another option considering none of the rookies from last year have seemed to distinguish themselves, although it’s definitely too early to tell. To a lesser extent would be to find an eventual replacement for James Farrior. He’s playing at a high level this year but he’s 34 years old and since it takes a couple years for linebackers to learn our system anyway it would be nice to find his replacement now. A lot of people are high on Florida ILB Brandon Spikes, who may be great against the run but is somewhat of a liability in zone coverage. A player I really like in the later rounds would be Baylor’s ILB Joe Pawelek. One player I would love for the Steelers to take in the second or third round would be Stanford RB Toby Gerhart. Anyone who watches him has to be in love with his power. He’s like Mike Alstott, only bigger.
28. New England Patriots: Sergio Kindle DL/OLB, Texas
The Patriots need more youth and depth in their linebacking corps. Kindle lines up all over the field for Texas and is the sort of versatile player Belichick loves. And speaking of versatility, it wouldn’t shock me to see them draft Tim Tebow. He could be their QB for life after Brady. And yes I know this is high for a QB who could be a back-up for a few years, but he can also serve as an H-back and be put in for trick plays such as the Wildcat. He also has that air of smugness that reminds me of Brady that I hate so much.
29. Cincinnati Bengals: Jahvid Best RB, Cal
The Bengals don’t have many real needs at this point, so look for them to take Best, who would be a good compliment to the emerging Cedric Benson. Best has sustained a concussion in consecutive weeks and is now seen as somewhat of an injury risk, be he’s probably the most complete back right now in this draft.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Carlos Dunlap DE, Florida
Anyone who’s read my mock draft before knows I’m not big on Dunlap and I have likened him to Vernon Gholston. But there’s no denying his physical gifts and perhaps the decorated D-linemen of the Vikings can get him to focus. The one weak link is the end spot opposite Jared Allen. They may also consider future replacements for the Williams boys such as Rickey Sapp of Clemson, Jared Odrick from Penn State, or Arthur Jones of Syracuse. Also, don’t be surprised if the Vikings pick a QB like Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett, who’s very raw but has all the qualities you would want in a QB.
31. Indianapolis Colts: Jerry Hughes DE/OLB, TCU
As always, the defense is the weak spot on this team. The Colts will take the best available defensive player which may also be a CB. Also, don’t be surprised to see them trade up for a LT prospect to replace Tony Ugoh.
32. New Orleans Saints: Sean Weatherspoon OLB, Missouri
The Saints will continue to add to an improving defense. Weatherspoon is probably the best OLB suited to play in a base 4-3 defense and would be a great addition to the Saints.