Not too much change from last weeks mock draft. The day after the Superbowl I will post my first 3 round mock draft. As always I look forward to your comments, questions, and conversations.
1. St. Louis Rams: Jimmy Clausen QB, Notre Dame
This pick is not going to change from QB unless the Rams find a QB in free agency like Jason Campbell or trade for one. Their number one priority has to be to find a new Quarterback. In the last two years they have passed on Matt Ryan and Mark Sanchez. Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh is a great player but he’s not going to single-handedly wins games for them. Clausen had a great season despite his teams overall poor play and scouts will love the fact that he plays in a pro-style offense under center. Heading into an uncapped year means the Rams can dump Marc Bulger’s salary without any future consequences.
2. Detroit Lions: Ndamukong Suh DT, Nebraska
What the Lions need most is an impact player. This team needs playmakers everywhere other than QB and TE. They need a cornerstone LT to protect their 40 million dollar man in Matt Stafford but Suh is too great a player to pass on. After watching Suh absolutely dominate Texas’ lineman in the Big12 championship to the tune of 4 & ½ sacks and being the first defensive player since 1997 to be invited to the Heisman ceremony, he looks to be the best defensive lineman prospect since Warren Sapp. At this pick, the only other options I can see them going with are Russell Okung or Eric Berry. But if Suh is available they would be crazy to pass on him.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Gerald McCoy DT, Oklahoma
The Bucs messed themselves up winning just enough games to take them out of the Suh sweepstakes. Unfortunately he is no longer available but getting McCoy is not a bad option. Many consider him to be the most technically sound DT in this draft, even more so than Suh. Not having a need for a QB or LT means that this pick would pretty much only be Eric Berry or perhaps even Derrick Morgan if they decide to not go with McCoy. Trading back with a pick this high isn’t really much of an option as other teams will not want to play the amount of guaranteed money expected to a top 3 pick.
4. Washington Redskins: Sam Bradford QB, Oklahoma
Regardless of whether or not you’re a Jason Campbell fan the fact remains that this team is not winning with him. I know a lot of the problems are because of the injuries to the offensive line but Snyder is going to go with a flashy, big name like Bradford, especially now that Jim Zorn has been fired and Mike Shanahan has been hired as the new head coach. 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’s shoulder will hold up they will target Russell Okung or Bruce Campbell since no other QB is worthy of a pick this high.
5. Kansas City Chiefs: Russell Okung OT, Oklahoma State
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. Okung is the top OT in the draft and would be a great addition to the Chiefs O-line. He's athletic, uses his hands very well, and has quick feet to get out in front of speed rushers. If they are somehow still confident that Albert can play LT then this pick could change to Eric Berry or even Terrence Cody. This would be extremely high for Cody but GM Scott Pioli has shown last year with Tyson Jackson that he isn’t afraid to draft on need over value.
6. Seattle Seahawks: Eric Berry S, Tennessee
I’ve changed this pick to Berry because with two early first round picks, there is plenty of OT talent but Berry is too good to pass on. If Okung were available they would probably go for him, but given Bruce Campbell’s injury history they will elect to go with Berry would many consider an Ed Reed clone. Not only myself but every draft pundit you hear, including Mel Kiper and Todd McShay of ESPN, have said that Berry is an absolute stud and top player of this draft. Berry is a nightmare for opposing QB's. College teams don't even throw in his direction. He's got a nose for the ball and is a serious threat to take a pick back to the house every time.
7. Cleveland Browns: Joe Haden CB, Florida
Cleveland needs help everywhere except for LT where they have Joe Thomas. A lot of draft lovers think they will target a QB, but I’m not sure the franchise is quite ready to give up on Brady Quinn, especially when there is no more 1st round talents QB’s left, although they may target one in the later rounds. Haden is the only elite corner in this draft class and landing him would be a decent consolation prize after missing out on Berry. If they elect to keep the 3-4 defense this pick may turn to Rolando McClain.
8. Oakland Raiders: Taylor Mays S, USC
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. He will stumble out of the top 10 to 15 on draft day if he falls past Oakland. Unfortunately with Clausen and Bradford gone Oakland won’t get a replacement for the failed JaMarcus Russell experiment. Don’t be surprised if Davis goes with Florida DE Carlos Dunlap, whose freakish measurables Davis with also love. If Joe Haden can run a sub 4.4 at the combine he would immediately jump to the top of Oakland’s/Al Davis’ list if he’s available.
9. Buffalo Bills: Bruce Campbell OT, Maryland
The Bills will look to fill their biggest need, the gaping hole left by the Jason Peters trade to Philly. Many consider Campbell to be the top OT, ahead of Okung, if not for his injury history. They may also consider McClain to help shore up that horrendous run defense. There’s also an outside chance they may pick Derrick Morgan but it’s unlikely since they selected pass rusher Aaron Maybin in the first round of last years draft.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars: Derrick Morgan DE, Georgia Tech
The Jags young receiving corps has come on this year and as such seems to be no longer a dire position of need. This team needs a DE as the Jags make the transition back to after a woeful attempt at using a 3-4. Morgan has distinguished himself as the top DE for a 4-3 as he is an excellent pass rusher. Florida QB Tim Tebow may become are real option for them, especially since team owner Wayne Weaver had said previously that he would draft him given the opportunity. They could really use a big name to lure fans to the game so they don’t eventually become the L.A. Jaguars. I know he isn’t a first round talent but picking him wouldn’t be about talent, it would be about selecting a local hero who will bring fans to the game.
11. Denver Broncos(via Chicago Bears): Rolando McClain ILB, Alabama
Look for the Broncos to take the best defensive player available. McClain is a natural leader, is continuing to rise up draft boards, and would be a perfect fit considering he already plays in a 3-4 defense at Alabama. The Broncos have very few holes to fill as they have plenty of young talent that will develop over time. But 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 as they really need a strong armed QB that can sling it downfield, especially with a receiving core of Eddie Royal, Brandon Stokley, and Brandon Marshall, but only if Bradford manages to slip this far. Another consideration would be WR Dez Bryant since they make look to trade troubled receiver Brandon Marshall.
12. Miami Dolphins: Dez Bryant WR, Oklahoma State
I know team Architect Bill Parcells typically doesn’t draft WR’s in the first round but none of the talent available that fills a position of need is worthy of this pick. They could trade back to the end of the first round and target Jerry Hughes which would fill their greatest position of need. Previously I’ve had them taking Alabama’s Terrence Cody but Parcells may not look favorably on Cody’s weight issues They may also consider Tenn. NT Dan Williams. The 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. He’s the type of receiver who would be perfect for the progression of young QB Chad Henne considering their patience has worn thin with supposed no.1 WR Ted Ginn.
13. San Francisco 49ers: Anthony Davis OT, Rutgers
The 49ers biggest need is for a RT and they find a great mauler in Davis, who has continued to shoot up draft boards due to his enormous potential. They may also consider taking a NT like Dan Williams or Terrence Cody considering current nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin will be a free agent. The 49ers also need help in the secondary so Earl Thomas may be an option for them as well.
14. Seattle Seahawks (via Denver Broncos): Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa
Neither Walter Jones nor Sean Locklear can seem to stay healthy, with Jones retirement seeming like a certainty at the end of the season. Taking Bulaga, who 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, would really help rebuild their line for the future. They may also look for a RB, especially since the electrifying Spiller is still on the board, but they should be able to grab either Cal’s Jahvid Best or Georgia Tech’s Jonathan Dwyer in the second round at a greater value.
15. New York Giants: Earl Thomas S, Texas
Selecting Thomas would fill a big need for the G-men. They could also use a replacement for Kareem McKenzie who is over 30 and starting to show his age. They may also follow the trend and continue to stockpile defensive linemen in which case Carlos Dunlap would be an option. MLB Antonio Pierce’s play has dropped of considerably this year but with McClain already off the board they will have to wait as this is too high for Brandon Spikes.
16. Tennessee Titans: Carlos Dunlap DE, Florida
Who would have thought that after an 0-6 start that Vince Young would salvage their season? They have multiple needs but Young’s play means they won’t be looking for a QB. Cornerback is their biggest need but without one worthy of this pick they’ll address their D-line which has been exposed by the loss of Albert Haynesworth to free agency. 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 maybe the Titans can get him to mature.
17. San Francisco 49ers(via Carolina Panthers): C.J. Spiller RB, Clemson
After having taken care of their need for a RT with their first pick in the round, they get the luxury of bolstering their RB corps. What they need is secondary help and rush linebackers, but with none worthy of this pick they will target Spiller who would be an immediate change of pace, impact player to compliment Frank Gore.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dan Williams NT, Tennessee
Without question the Steelers greatest need is in the secondary but with Earl Thomas already of the board this pick has to be Williams. Current NT Casey Hampton is 32 years old and with two Super Bowl rings already on his chubby fingers he may seek a big pay day somewhere else. The Steelers also really need a safety who would eventually replace Ryan Clark given that he’s in the final year of his contract and he’s over 30 years old, and replace Tyrone Carter who played horribly week in and week out in Troy Polamalu’s absence. I’m positive Ryan Clark will take a discount to finish his career in the Burgh which would allow any safety we draft the time to learn the Steelers complex scheme. In the event that they don’t draft a safety in the first round there’s still going to be some talent in round two such as South Florida’s Nate Allen and Georgia Tech’s Morgan Burnett, or in the third with Georgia’s Reshad Jones. 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. It wouldn't surprise me to see the Steelers trade up and target Joe Haden. The offensive line for the most part got better with every week during the season and no longer seems like a dire position of need. 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. Although this is a little high to consider any lineman other than tackle. Of course there’s also a chance the Steelers may be able to get him or Alabama OG Mike Johnson in the second or third round. To a lesser extent would be to find an eventual replacement for James Farrior. His play declined dramatically this year, he’s 34 years old, and since it takes a couple years for linebackers to learn the system anyway it would be nice to find his replacement now. Keyarn Fox has filled in admirably at ILB for Lawrence Timmons but is not a permanent solution. Besides, Fox is too valuable as a special teamer. If he’s available we should definitely take Rolando McClain or even try to trade up for him. 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. An option in the third round would be TCU ILB Daryl Washington. A player I really like in the later rounds would be Baylor’s ILB Joe Pawelek although I suspect the Steelers would rather target a homer like PSU’s Sean Lee. After watching him in the Orange Bowl, I really like Iowa’s Pat Angerer in the later rounds as well. Clemson RB C.J. Spiller would be a slightly long-shot option if he were 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.
19. Atlanta Falcons: Navarro Bowman OLB, PSU
The Falcons will take the best defensive player available, particularly an OLB or DE. Previously I had them taking Ole’ Miss. DE Greg Hardy but he has some injury issues the last two years and wasn’t even able to finish out this season. Bowman is often overlooked but had an absolute beast of a season and would be a great addition to this defense. They would also consider a DB is one manages to distinguish themselves at the combine.
20. Houston Texans: Damian Williams WR, USC
The Texans need help in multiple areas, specifically on defense if they let the unhappy Dunta Robinson leave via free agency, but without any of the top safeties or Joe Haden available look for them to add to an already potent offense. They also have needs in the interior defensive line after sending former 1st round pick Travis Johnson to the Chargers earlier in the year. Damian Williams would pair nicely with Andre Johnson, and fill a position of need if Kevin Walter isn’t resigned. He’s considered the most polished receiver in the draft and would give an immediate boost in the return game.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Brandon LaFell WR, LSU
The Bengals only real needs are for WR’s and safeties and with the talent currently available they will opt for LaFell to help make their offense more explosive. Outside of Chad OchoCinco, none of their WR’s has had much of an impact this year. They may also take a hard look at DT Brian Price to replace the aging Tank Johnson and solidify their front seven. If LaFell is off the board at this point they would certainly consider Jermaine Gresham as well.
22. New England Patriots: Sergio Kindle DE/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. He had a great showing in the Championship game and solidified himself as a first round pick. It wouldn’t shock me to see them draft Tim Tebow if he slips past Jacksonville. 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. Given how much the Patriots like to trade back, it would actually surprise me if they keep this pick, especially considering how deep the talent pool is in this draft.
23. Green Bay Packers: Charles Brown OT, USC
Fortunately because of such a deep draft class the Packers are lucky enough to get Brown here. They have had to compensate for the lack of talent at OT by adjusting their scheme to keep TE’s in to block. Adding some OT depth would really help open up that potent offense. They may look to add an OLB to replace Aaron Kampman who’s in the final year of his contact and clearly not comfortable after making the switch from DE to OLB. Green Bay also needs to start looking at replacents for their aging secondary but will find better value for the in the next 2 rounds.
24. Philadelphia Eagles: Greg Hardy DE, Ole’ Miss.
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. They need to fill the DE spot opposite of Trent Cole. Hardy has some injury issues but is adept at playing both the run and the pass. They would also consider Sean Weatherspoon and Jared Odrick.
25. Baltimore Ravens: Jermaine Gresham TE, Oklahoma
This is a toss-up between a WR and Oklahoma TE Jermaine Gresham. Todd Heap has been surprisingly healthy this year which is the first time in a long time. They could really use a WR replace the aging Derrick Mason who is giving serious consideration to retirement again. Even though Gresham has been out with a knee injury for 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 there won’t be any other first round CB’s left which is why they won’t consider a safety here to possibly replace Ed Reed.
26. Arizona Cardinals: Trent Williams OT, Oklahoma
Arizona’s biggest need is for a LT. 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. Williams hasn’t fared so well on the left side this year so they may also consider a rush linebacker like Sean Weatherspoon or Jerry Hughes, especially considering that Haggans, Okeafor, and Berry are all 33 years old or older.
27. Dallas Cowboys: Terrence Cody DT, Alabama
The cowboys find themselves in a bad spot because their needs, ILB’s, Safeties, and OT’s, do not line up with the talent at this point. Their biggest need is an OT to replace the aging Flozell Adams who’s just too old to hack it anymore. Current NT Jay Ratliff is better suited to play DE and Cody would allow him to do so.
28. San Diego Chargers: Jared Odrick DE, PSU
Assuming they resign or tag LT Marcus McNeill, what they need most is a NT to replace the aging Jamal Williams who was put on IR at the beginning of the season. Unfortunately the only two DT’s who project to play NT in the NFL have already been taken. Their second need is for DE’s that can play in a 3-4. Odrick would be a perfect fit and slips to the end of the first due to a few minor off the field issues.
29. New York Jets: Arthur Jones DE, Syracuse
Unfortunately the Jets biggest needs, particularly a corner to play opposite Darrell Revis and at DT where Kris Jenkins had the second season-ending injury of his career, do not match up with the talent that is currently available. Their 3rd biggest need gets filled with Jones. They may also consider a WR if one manages to slip a bit.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Sean Weatherspoon OLB, Missouri
The Vikings will look to shore up the few weak points on a very strong defense. Weatherspoon is the top OLB suited to play in a 4-3 defense. They would also consider Idaho OG Mike Iupati to help improve an O line that has faltered recently.
31. New Orleans Saints: Everson Griffen DE, USC
With an already potent offense the Saints will look to upgrade a defense that has been hot and very cold all season long. Their biggest need is probably a DE to replace Charles Grant, although they also have needs for OLB’s and DB’s as well.
32. Indianapolis Colts: Brian Price DT, UCLA
As usual, the weak point of this team is its defense. The Colts could get a real steal with Price at this pick, who had an awesome season where he lead the nation in tackles for losses and would be a great fit in a cover 2 scheme. They could also really use an OT since Tony Ugoh has been a disappointment after a promising rookie year and his replacement Charles Johnson will be a free agent. The Colts will also consider a CB such as Wake Forest’s Brandon Ghee or GT free safety Morgan Burnett.
33. St. Louis Rams: Donovan Warren CB, Michigan
Now that the Rams have their QB of the future in Clausen, it’s time to turn their attentions to Spagnuolo’s specialty, the defense. Warren is a good all-around corner and would’ve probably gone in the 1st round in any other year.
34. Detroit Lions: Mike Iupati OG, Idaho
The Lions are getting a great interior lineman in Iupati. He is a big road grader with solid bulk who moves very quickly for a man who is 6’5”, 330lbs.
35. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Arrelious Benn WR, Illinois
The Bucs need WR’s to help the progression of young QB Josh Freeman. Michael Clayton has been underwhelming so far in his career and Antonio Bryant is well past his prime.
36. Washington Redskins: Mike Johnson OG, Alabama
With a new QB in hand, it’s time to rebuild that ancient O line. Instead of reaching for an OT they will opt for Johnson who would go great in Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme.
37. Kansas City Chiefs: Jerry Hughes OLB, TCU
This is a great value pick for the Chiefs as Hughes is another player who’s slipped into the second round due a deep draft. Hughes could be groomed to eventually take over for the ageless wonder Mike Vrabel.
38. Seattle Seahawks: Jason Pierre-Paul DE, USF
JPP is a one-year wonder who may be a bit of a reach here in my opinion, but he has a lot of upside and could help improve Seattle’s pass rush.
39. Cleveland Browns: Brandon Spikes ILB, Florida
This is a pick of value over need. Spikes has a lot of potential even though the Brownies have a greater need at safety and running back.
40. Oakland Raiders: Jon Asamoah OG, Illinois
He will probably run the fastest 40 time of any O lineman at the combine and that’s all that matters to Al Davis. This is actually a good pick for them as he holds up very well against the pass rush.
41. Buffalo Bills: Jevan Snead QB, Ole’ Miss.
The Bills need someone to come in and challenge Trent Edwards. Snead had an awful season and should have stayed for his senior year but he has a lot of potential and new coach Chan Gailey will want to look for “his guy”.
42. New England Patriots (via Jacksonville Jaguars): Brandon Ghee CB, Wake Forest
The Pats continue to improve on a defense that got old and thin in a hurry.
43. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (via Chicago Bears): Brandon Graham, DE Michigan
With Graham they continue to rebuild the d-line and give some outside help to 1st round pick Gerald McCoy.
44. Miami Dolphins: Rickey Sapp DE/OLB, Clemson
Given Porter and Taylor’s age, this pick should be a no-brainer. The Dolphins need rush linebackers.
45. San Francisco 49ers: Perrish Cox, CB, Oklahoma State
This pick was between Cox and Javier Arenas, who are almost identical in skill, with the nod going to Cox based on the 3 inch height difference.
46. Denver Broncos: Chad Jones SS, LSU
Drafting Jones would help give some youth to the DB’s as well as give a big boost in run support.
47. New York Giants: Kyle Calloway OT Iowa
They find a replacement for Kareem McKenzie.
48. New England Patriots (via Tennessee Titans): Aaron Hernandez TE, Florida
A suitable replacement for current TE Ben Watson.
49. Carolina Panthers: Golden Tate WR, Notre Dame
Regardless of whether Delhomme or Moore is the staring QB next season, they need someone to throw to besides Steve Smith.
50. Pittsburgh Steelers: Morgan Burnett FS, Georgia Tech
The Steelers definitely need safety help so this pick is an almost given, especially since the top 3 guards and Brandon spikes have already been taken.
51. Kansas City Chiefs (via Atlanta Falcons): Javier Arenas CB, Alabama
With Jamaal Charles becoming the top RB on the team, they are going to need someone to handle the return duties full time. Plus, Arenas would be a great addition to a secondary of relative no-names.
52. Houston Texans: Trevard Lindley CB, Kentucky
They need DB help, especially if they let Dunta Robinson go.
53. Cincinnati Bengals: Nate Allen FS, USF
With their second pick, they fill their second biggest need with a good ball hawking safety.
54. New England Patriots: Tim Tebow QB, Florida
Yes I’m sure I’ll hear a lot about this pick. Keep in mind that Belichick loves versatility. And how many years does Brady have left, probably 3? That's how many years it’s going to take for Tebow to acclimate to the Pros. Plus he would fit in well with the type of spread offense the Patriots run.
55. Green Bay Packers: Dominique Franks CB, Oklahoma
Does this pick really need an explanation? They need youth in the secondary, and Franks has a good size/speed combo.
56. Philadelphia Eagles: Jahvid Best RB, Cal
I know this seems like an unlikely pick with young RB LeSean McCoy already on the team, but with Brian Westbrook seriously considering retirement they have virtually no depth behind the two of them and Best would fit their system nicely.
57. Baltimore Ravens: Kareem Jackson CB, Alabama
Their need for a WR is probably more pressing, but taking Marty Gilyard or Eric Decker would a bit of a reach here.
58. Arizona Cardinals: Eric Norwood OLB, South Carolina
The weak spot on their D is the age of their OLB’s. Norwood is a smart, hard-hitting player who is great against the run.
59. Dallas Cowboys: Jordan Shipley WR, Texas
This a bit of a reach but a smart move for Jerry Jones as Shipley is a local favorite and will help sell more tickets. But he’s also a Wes Welker type that could only help Tony Romo.
60. San Diego Chargers: Jonathan Dwyer RB, Georgia Tech
They will probably let Tomlinson go this offseason. Dwyer would be a good compliment to Darren Sproles much like Michael Turner was for Tomlinson.
61. New York Jets: Corey Wootton DE, Northwestern
The Jets fill their need for a 3-4 DE with Wootton.
62. Minnesota Vikings: Jeremy Beal DE, Oklahoma
Would provide an upgrade over Ray Edwards.
63. New Orleans Saints: A.J. Edds OLB, Iowa
Edds is a good strong side linebacker who could eventually replace 30 year old Scott Fujita.
64. Indianapolis Colts: Selvish Capers OT, West Virginia
Considered giving them ILB Daryl Washington given that Gary Brackett is a FA and 30 years old, but he’ll probably resign and they have a pressing need for tackle depth.