I did a mock a few weeks ago just for kicks. I've put a bit more thought into this one and hopefully it will bring a new perspective to the site on how the draft could turn out. Would love to know what you all think and thanks in advance for the feedback.
1. St. Louis Rams: Jimmy Clausen QB, Notre Dame
Its debatable which QB will have the best chance to succeed, Clausen or Sam Bradford. But right now Bradford is coming off a season ending injury and will have to have a very strong combine if he hopes to regain his position as the top QB prospect. But unless something drastic happens, Clausen will be drafted first. Many scouts like that Clausen has been in a pro-style offense like the one Charlie Weiss ran in Notre Dame, as this might help him transition better into the NFL (Weiss is also largely credited with grooming Tom Brady). The Rams cant afford to pass on top QBs for another year (they passed on both Matt Ryan and Mark Sanchez the past 2 years) and second year coach Steve Spagnuolo will want to bring in "his guy" to be the face of this franchise and lead the team over the hump. If the Rams are comfortable enough with Sam Bradford, they might try to trade down with someone who is looking to grab Ndamukong Suh.
2. Detroit Lions: Ndamukong Suh DT, Nebraska
Suh is far and away the best prospect in this draft and is as dominant on the inside as they come. The fact that he was nominated for the Heisman Trophy as a DT shows just how explosive he is. He's technically sound and disruptive up the middle. He can plug holes and get to the QB and will be a cog in the Detroit defense for years to come. The Lions already have pieces in place on offense with Stafford, Megatron, Pettigrew and Kevin Smith, so now they can focus on their defense; which if you haven't noticed is non-existent.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Eric Berry S, Tennessee
The Bucs just had to go and win a couple games at the end of the year, so now they've missed out on Suh. But Berry is just about as dominant in the secondary as Suh is on the Dline, so they can live. The Bucs could really use Suh to fortify their secondary since they have to play the likes of Drew Brees and Matt Ryan four times a year. Berry is a great safety and is being called the next Ed Reed so they'll gladly take him.
4. Washington Redskins: Russell Okung OT, Oklahoma State
I'll preface this pick by saying one thing: this is what the Skins should do. Although as everyone knows Dan Snyder is the most fickle owner in the league and is ready to put Jason Campbell behind him and take Sam Bradford. However, I think Mike Shannahan will recognize how poor this offensive line is and address that here. Shannahan already said he will try to keep Campbell since the new free agency will make Campbell a restricted free agent. This will allow him to keep him at a reasonable price while he brings youth and talent back to the Oline. This strategy wouldn't be unheard of as the Rams passed on Mark Sanchez last year in favor of LT Jason Smith. Okung is just about as dominant as they come at the OT position and will fortify the left side for whatever QB is under center. Still, knowing Dan Snyder, it is extremely likely they will take Bradford, even though this move will probably benefit them more in the long run.
5. Kansas City Chiefs: Bruce Campbell OT, Maryland
The Skins' can at least blame their Oline deficiencies on injury and old age. But the Chiefs just lack talent at nearly every position. Look for them to fortify their LT position with Campbell and move former 1st round pick Brandon Albert to LG where he is more comfortable. GM Scott Pioli made a big investment in Matt Cassell and cant afford to lose him to injury. So, he'll look to protect his blind side and give him time to throw downfield to up and coming receiver Dwayne Bowe. Campbell is also a great run blocker and will create lanes for the also up and coming RB Jamaal Charles.
6. Seattle Seahawks: Sam Bradford QB, Oklahoma
The Seahawks may have lucked out with the Skins passing on Bradford. Now is a good time to draft a replacement for Matt Hasselbeck. Like I said in my analysis of Clausen, Clausen has been running a pro-style offense in college so should be better prepared to take the reigns in his rookie season. Bradford however hasn't run a pro-style offense and could benefit from sitting behind Hasselbeck for a year until he is comfortable with the offense and the drastic increase of defensive speed in the NFL. The Seahawks are also in dire need of Oline help and could look at a player like Trent Williams, but this is probably too high for him and Bradford is too good. If the Skins do take Bradford, look for the Seahawks to take either Okung or Campbell.
7. Cleveland Browns: Gerald McCoy DT, Oklahoma
The Browns will probably be switching to a 4-3 this year with Mike Holmgren leading the way, so McCoy will likely line up with Shaun Rogers at DT and instantly create a lot of pressure up the middle for opposing offenses. McCoy is just barely a step below Suh at DT and will demand double teams frequently. The fact that Suh is rated higher than him is more a testament to his explosiveness and dominance rather than McCoy's lack there-of.
8. Oakland Raiders: Taylor Mays S, USC
I've been trying extremely hard to find someone the Raiders would take ahead of Mays, but there just isnt anyone else. I keep hoping Al Davis will come to his senses and not draft Mays this high because he is almost certainly going to be boom or bust. Still, Davis will love Mays's potential and athleticism despite his obvious shortcomings in the coverage game. If there were any DEs worthy of this pick I'd have the Raiders take him, but Mays is unfortunately the best and most likely option for the Raiders. They might be possible trade partners for the Steelers or another team interested in a top tier player though.
9. Buffalo Bills: Trent Williams OT, Oklahoma
The fact that they couldn't get TO and Lee Evans the ball and couldnt get Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson off and running means one thing, they had a horrible line. At the beginning of the season the entire line was made up of either rookies or players out of position and as we know Sean Kugler improved the line as the season went on and you saw an improvement for Evans and TO at least a bit. Still, since the Bills traded Jason Peters they desperately need a LT and will look at Davis to fill that hole on the line.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars: Brian Price DT, UCLA
The Jags really dont have many options here. Their pass rush is terrible so Derrick Morgan might be another option, but the Jags used 2 first round picks on DEs in the 08 draft so I doubt they can afford to draft another one this high. This is a bit high for Price but if he can bring pressure up the middle maybe those other young DEs can start to live up to expectations and make this Dline formidable. Also, I think the Jags are possible trade partners for the Steelers since the Jags will likely want to trade down and take Tim Tebow as late as they can in the 1st.
11. Denver Broncos (from Chicago): Rolando McClain ILB, Alabama
The Broncos will want the best defensive player available, so McClain is the pick. He's being compared to Patrick Willis and could be a beast on the inside of the 3-4. The Broncos could also look at Joe Haden or even Earl Thomas since their secondary is getting old, but they can address that later with a deep safety class. The Broncos might look to trade up to get Sam Bradford though, since a strong armed QB could really open up their offense. That is unless Marshall walks, which is all but a done deal at this point.
12. Miami Dolphins: Sergio Kindle OLB, Texas
Many will think this is a bit high for Kindle, but I think as the draft process goes on Kindle will start to move up draft boards. The Dolphins could easily take Dan Williams to play at NT, but seeing that Jason Taylor will likely retire and Joey Porter isn't getting any younger, I think the phins will want to draft their replacements now. Kindle is very versatile and could excel in the 3-4 at OLB. The Dolphins also need a receiver since Ted Ginn cant catch worth anything, but Bill Parcells has never been one to draft a receiver in the first round, let alone the top 12.
13. San Francisco 49ers: Joe Haden CB, Florida
The 49ers secondary has been pretty terrible lately, but it is improving. Mike Singletary is a defensive coach and with pieces starting to be put in place on offense (hopefully Alex Smith continues his resurgence) the 9ers just need the defense to catch up; it can be dominant at times but other times falls apart. Plus, they do have to face Larry Fitz and Anquan Boldin twice a year, so a stud CB is a must. Haden is the best CB prospect in this draft and will bring come credibility to their pass defense.
14. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver): Charles Brown OT, USC
Now that they have their QB of the future, they'll look to bring in some protection for him. The Seahawks need to replace Walter Jones as soon as possible and while Brown isnt held quite this high on the OT boards, his former coach Pete Carroll is now the Seahawks coach. Carroll will likely want to bring in someone he knows and has already coached. Brown will anchor the left side for years to come and protect Matt Hasselbeck until Bradford is ready to take over.
15. New York Giants: Earl Thomas S, Texas
This is a no brainer. We all saw how terrible the Giants' secondary was this year. They'll team Thomas with Kenny Phillips, who missed this year due to injury, and hopefully develop into one of the better secondaries in the league. Thomas is a great prospect in a very deep safety class and the Giants could really use him against Romo and McNabb 4 times a year.
16. Tennessee Titans: Derrick Morgan DE, Georgia Tech
The Titans need to find a replacement for Kyle Vanden Bosch since he'll be going into the last year of his contract next season and is getting old. Morgan is a stud pass rusher and the Titans love having a dominant Dline.
17. San Francisco 49ers (from Carolina): Anthony Davis OT, Rutgers
The 9ers already addressed their secondary so now they could use a great RT. Davis projects to be better on the right side anyway which is perfect for the 9ers to grab him here. Davis will be good for Frank Gore and instantly improve the run game.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dan Williams NT, Tennessee
My hope is that the Steelers can resign Casey Hampton and they wont need to take Dan Williams with this pick so they can address their secondary or the Oline. But I doubt that will happen. If Hampton walks then NT is a must since we cant run the 3-4 without a dominant NT. This will be a bit of a toss up between Williams and Terrence Cody, but since Cody has some weight issues I think Tomlin will prefer Williams. If we can keep Hampton though, I think we should either trade up for McClain or Haden provided they fall to a reasonable spot. McClain would be Farrior's heir apparent and Haden could probably start at our second CB spot from day one, then eventually bump Ike down to #2 after a year or two, which would make our secondary pretty scary. However, if we dont trade up, and we keep Hampton, then trading down would be our best option. I dont think Earl Thomas is worth trading up for, and we could use extra picks in rounds 2-4 since this draft is really deep. Here's my ideal situation: resign Hampton to a 3 year deal (wait to get his replacement next year), trade down to about 25 and select Mike Iupati at RG, while we pick up an extra 3rd round pick (maybe even 2nd round?). Then with our 2nd round pick select Myron Rolle at FS. Rolle has become my most coveted player in this draft since he's a damn good safety and a Rhodes Scholar. I cant imagine it will take him long to learn Lebeau's system and could probably replace Ryan Clark within the year. With our extra 3rd rounder and our 4th, we could move back into the second round and take the best ILB available (maybe Brandon Spikes?). In the rest of the rounds we should focus on any of these positions depending on how the rest of the draft plays out: CB, OT (for depth), QB (a legit backup for ben while we keep Dixon for wildcat), DE, RB (hopefully we can get a speedster late in the draft to replace Willie and then a FB even though Arians hates them)
19. Atlanta Falcons: Sean Witherspoon OLB, Missouri
The Falcons offense can be potent, especially with Matt Ryan developing, but the defense needs work. They could use a pass rusher to go opposite and eventually replace the aging John Abraham, but I think they'll take Witherspon since he's largely considered the best 4-3 OLB in this draft. There's an off chance he could be asked to transition to a DE, but for right now he's a LB and will stay that way.
20. Houston Texans: Dez Bryant WR, Oklahoma State
The Texans real need is in the secondary, either at safety or a CB to play opposite Dunta Robinson. But, with a deep safety class the Texans can afford to wait, while the CBs in this draft dont look to be 1st rounders at this point (although a strong combine could change that. see: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie). So without any DB options the Texans will look to find a receiver to play opposite Andre Johnson. Bryant got in some trouble with the NCAA, but that shouldn't hurt his draft status. He's still considered the best WR prospect in this draft and is explosive enough to take some of the double teams off Andre. Houston could also look at a RB like CJ Spiller or Jahvid Best, but I'm not so sure they're ready to give up on Steve Slaton just yet.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Jermaine Gresham TE, Oklahoma
The Bengals dont have many holes. They could use a WR to take some pressure of Ochocinco, or maybe another playmaker on the developing defense. However, the Bengals have a couple young receivers and I think they'll hope those guys start making an impact next year. But the only position they really have no talent and no depth on is TE. Gresham is considered the best prospect at this position and if he proves to be as explosive as some of the top tier TEs in the league he could be just as effective in taking pressure of Ocho as another WR.
22. New England Patriots: Ricky Sapp OLB, Clemson
Sapp would be a perfect fit for New England's 3-4 defense, and Belichek is in dire need of more playmakers on that side of the ball. They could try to get a CB since their secondary was up and down most of the year, but like I said before this is a bit high for any of the other CBs in this class. Some have said the Pats will look at Tim Tebow, but I doubt he'll go in the first round unless its to Jacksonville via trade.
23. Green Bay Packers: Brian Bulaga OT, Iowa
Everyone heard about the Packers' troubles on the Oline last year, so this pick should come to no surprise to anybody. This is great value for the Packers here since many think Bulaga could go as high as 14 to Seattle, and Bulaga will instantly be an upgrade at the OT position and help protect Aaron Rodgers.
24. Philadelphia Eagles: Greg Hardy DE, Ole' Miss
Would love for the Eagles to get a safety to replace Brian Dawkins here, but it would be a bit of a reach for most of the safeties left in this draft. Hardy would work well in the 4-3 and could help the Eagles bring pressure with the front 4. They need a pass rusher opposite Trent Cole and get a possible stud in Hardy. The only worry is Hardy's injury history.
25. Baltimore Ravens: Damien Williams WR, USC
Finally, the Ravens get a WR to replace Derrick Mason. I personally think Mason will retire this season, making this pick even more pressing. But even if he doesn't the Ravens need to surround Joe Flacco with as much talent and weapons as possible and it would be good to start as soon as possible. The Ravens might also consider using this pick to trade with Baltimore and get Brandon Marshall.
26. Arizona Cardinals: Navorro Bowman OLB, Penn State
The Cardinals could use a LT, but I think with Kurt Warner likely retiring that will become less of a priority. Matt Leinart, a lefty, should retake his starting job and the left tackle wont be quite as important. The Cardinals could use an OLB to replace Clark Haggans and Chike Okeafor are getting old however.
27. Dallas Cowboys: Donovan Warren CB, Michigan
Yes, I've been saying that the CB class this year isn't talented enough to be 1st rounders; but this late in the round I'm ok with moving Warren up from the 2nd, and the Cowboys should be comfortable with that too. Warren has some potential but has to work on taking his game to the next level. Terrence Newman isnt getting any younger and the Boys' secondary could use a boost.
28. San Diego Chargers: Jahvid Best RB, California
The Chargers will unfortunately put the LT era behind them and take what could be the best overall runner in the draft. They could use a NT to replace the often-injured and aging Jamaal Williams, but they won't be able to resist Best's potential (I mean, its in his name isn't it?).
29. New York Jets: Terrence Cody NT, Alabama
The Jets could use Cody to replace Kris Jenkins, who is coming off his second straight season ending injury. Cody has had some weight issues, but he cant be bigger than Rex Ryan so I cant see Ryan having a problem with it. Cody will improve what is already the league's best defense.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Mike Iupati OG, Idaho
The Vikes' Oline hasn't been what you would call consistent, and Steve Hutchinson is getting a bit old, so they'll take Iupati to improve what is already a great running game and bring some assurance for the future on the Oline.
31. New Orleans Saints: C.J. Spiller RB, Clemson
Younger, cheaper Reggie Bush. Enough said.
32. Indianapolis Colts: Jared Odrick DT, Penn State
The Colts could probably use some youth in their secondary and some depth behind the almost always injured Bob Sanders, but they can address that later. They need Odrick to line up on the Dline and help with their run defense which has been consistently bad the past few years. However, dont be surprised if Peyton Manning pulls some strings and makes the organization add another piece to his offense though.