The draft is less than a month and a half away and as the dust from free agency spending settles, team’s needs are starting to become clearer. This is my first mock draft but expect many more in the coming weeks along with position rankings.
1. St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford QB Oklahoma: The Rams are in a situation similar to what the Lions were in last year. While Aaron Curry was considered to be the best player, the team went with quarterback Matthew Stafford with the first pick instead. While Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy are considered the best players in the draft, it is hard to pay a defensive tackle that much money when you are in need of a quarterback at a time where the NFL is so pass oriented. If Bradford gets the approval from the Rams team doctors, look for him to be the pick.
2. Detroit Lions: Ndamukong Suh DT Nebraska: While the Lions have addressed their defensive line by adding Kyle Vanden Bosch and Corey Williams, Jim Schwartz knows how important defensive tackles are and can’t afford to pass up a prospect that comes along once a decade.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Gerald McCoy DT Oklahoma: The Bucs will be ecstatic if one of the top tackles falls to them and regardless of it is Suh or McCoy they will be the pick.
4. Washington Redskins: Russell Okung T Oklahoma State: After Chris Samuels retired the Redskins are in need of a left tackle and Okung is the best option in this year’s draft. The Redskins could also be interested in Jimmy Clausen or Bradford if he happens to fall here.
5. Kansas City Chiefs: Bryan Bulaga T Iowa: Even though Jamaal Charles managed to run for more than 1000 yards last year, the Chiefs offensive line struggled allowing over 40 sacks. Bulaga is a solid player who could come in right away and start opposite 2008 first rounder Branden Albert. The Chiefs could also go with Eric Berry here and possibly Jimmy Clausen as he worked under Charlie Weis at Notre Dame for three years and the team has an option on Matt Cassel’s contract at the end of the year.
6. Seattle Seahawks: Jimmy Clausen QB Notre Dame: With Matt Hasselbeck’s contact ending at the end of the year, the Seahawks are in need of an heir apparent. Pete Carroll has experience with Clausen as he tried recruiting him at USC and he could push Hasselbeck for the starting job right away.
7. Cleveland Browns: Joe Haden CB Florida: Many people have Haden falling due to his poor 40 yard dash time at the combine. Regardless he is still the best corner in this draft and Eric Mangini a few years ago with the Jets drafted a corner in Darrelle Revis who didn’t have great speed and look how that worked out.
8. Oakland Raiders: Bruce Campbell T Maryland: Many people have Jason Pierre-Paul going here but as impressive as his 13 straight back flips on youtube are to Al Davis, he won’t be the pick. While Davis loves physical specimen, he usually goes after them by need and after franchising Richard Seymour they aren’t in the need for a pass rusher. However, the team does need a tackle which is where Campbell with his 6’6 314 pound frame to go with his 36 ¼ inch arms and 4.85 forty time fit in to the team’s plans.
9. Buffalo Bills: Anthony Davis T Rutgers: Last year the Bills offensive line was inexperienced and was banged up. Davis has seen his stock slip lately after a poor combine showing and backing out of his pro day but he has the most upside of any tackle in this year’s draft. While Davis’ situation will be examined closely, the Bills haven’t exactly let character concerns get in the way of personnel decisions the past few years.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars: Eric Berry S Tennessee: If Berry falls to the Jaguars there is no way they will pass him up. He is one of the elite players in this year’s draft class and will immediately replace Reggie Nelson whose play has regressed since his rookie season.
11. Denver Broncos: Dan Williams DT Tennessee: The Broncos have gotten bigger upfront this offseason, but they still need some youth at the position. Williams has sky rocketed up draft boards the past few months in a matter similar to former college teammate Robert Ayers who the Broncos took in the first round last year.
12. Miami Dolphins: Jason Pierre-Paul DE South Florida: With the release of Joey Porter and Jason Taylor aging, the Dolphins need to find somebody who can get to the quarterback. Pierre-Paul is very raw but is athletic enough that he could play as an outside linebacker in the Dolphins 3-4.
13. San Francisco 49ers: Trent Williams T Oklahoma: With two first round picks the 49ers are able to address positions of need and Williams could come right in and play at right tackle opposite Joe Staley. With athleticism that would interest the Raiders and Anthony Davis slowly becoming this year’s Andre Smith, it wouldn’t be surprising if Williams goes even higher on draft day.
14. Seattle Seahawks: CJ Spiller RB Clemson: While they still have issues to address at tackle, Spiller gives the Seahawks a home run threat out of the backfield that they didn’t have last year. Other possibilities here could be Anthony Davis if he falls here along with Taylor Mays who fills a need and was also coached by Pete Carroll.
15. New York Giants: Rolando McClain LB Alabama: After signing Antrel Rolle in free agency, the Giants main concern became linebacker after releasing Antonio Pierce. McClain is one of the top prospects in this year’s draft and has the ability to come in and start from day one.
16. Tennessee Titans: Derrick Morgan DE Georgia Tech: After losing Kyle Vanden Bosch in free agency, finding a pass rusher should be the Titans first priority come draft day. Morgan is a productive player who could come in and contribute right away. However, if Jason Pierre-Paul is still around he could be the pick as he will remind some in the organization of a young Jevon Kearse.
17. San Francisco 49ers: Sergio Kindle LB Texas: This past year the 49ers outside linebackers put lots of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Kindle would only continue that trend as he could come in right away and be a potentially be a double digit sacks guy.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Iupati G Idaho: The Steelers offensive line has been a weak spot but Iupati could help fix that. He is still very raw but is athletic enough that he could possibly kick out and play tackle along with guard.
19. Atlanta Falcons: Sean Weatherspoon LB Missouri: Other than Curtis Lofton in the middle, the Falcons don’t have any long term options at linebacker. That would change with the addition with Weatherspoon who plays with high intensity and could emerge as a defensive leader.
20. Houston Texans: Earl Thomas S Texas: In a division where you play Peyton Manning twice a year, it is important to be strong in the secondary. The Texans could use a corner with the loss of Dunta Robinson and depth at safety where Bernard Pollard who was picked up off the street mid season was the bright spot. Thomas is always around the ball and could play at both positions.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Taylor Mays S USC: The Bengals have addressed the wide receiver position with Antonio Bryant and can now move to the defensive side of the ball. Mays lost a lot of money coming back for his senior season as scouts were able to dissect his game tape and find more flaws. Regardless, he is a physical specimen who fits well in Mike Zimmer’s system and very well could be the next defensive player from USC making an impact on the Bengals.
22. New England Patriots: Brandon Graham DE Michigan: The Patriots love versatility and are in need of a pass rusher and Graham gives them both things. He played defensive end in college but he has shown in pre draft events that he could make the switch to outside linebacker. Graham is shooting up draft boards so it wouldn’t be surprising if he makes another big climb before draft day.
23. Green Bay Packers: Charles Brown T USC: The Packers had a hard time protecting Aaron Rodgers and the tackle position needs to be addressed considering they play Jared Allen and Julius Peppers two times a year. Brown might not be the best value here but he fills a need and has enough upside for the move to pay off. The Packers could also address the cornerback position as Al Harris and the reigning defensive player of the year Charles Woodson are both in their 30’s.
24. Philadelphia Eagles: Eversen Griffin DE USC: The Eagles are in need of a pass rusher and Griffin fits the bill. He is a very athletic player who if he stayed in school could have possibly gone in the top 10 in the 2011 draft. Griffin is still a bit raw and if he becomes more consistent he would be a great value here.
25. Baltimore Ravens: Jermaine Gresham TE Oklahoma: The Ravens addressed the wide receiver position this offseason and can now go after the best player on their board. Todd Heap is getting older and Gresham who would have been a top 15 pick in last year’s draft could be his heir apparent. When Heap first entered the league he played behind Shannon Sharpe which could be a similar situation if Gresham is the pick. If they are high one of them, the Ravens could also go cornerback in this position as well.
26. Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Robinson CB Florida State: The Cardinals had a lot of key loses this offseason so they could go many ways with this pick. With Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie recovering from a torn ACL and Bryant McFadden disappointing after being brought in as a free agent cornerback has become an issue. Robinson is a very good athlete with the ability to play in man and zone coverage and even if Cromartie fully recovers would bring great depth to the secondary.
27. Dallas Cowboys: Dez Bryant WR Oklahoma State: Just thinking about this situation has to strike fear in defensive coordinators around the league. Roy Williams has been a major disappointment since joining the Cowboys and this upcoming year could be his last with the team. Bryant is the most talented receiver in this year’s draft and while questions are brought up about his character at this point in the draft it is worth a shot.
28. San Diego Chargers: Ryan Mathews RB Fresno State: While many thought the Chargers should have addressed the running back position last year, they now don’t have a choice. Darren Sproles hasn’t shown the ability that he can be an every down back and Mathews is emerging as the number two back on many draft boards.
29. New York Jets: Devin McCourty CB Rutgers: While they traded for Antonio Cromartie this offseason, it is possible the opposite side to Darrelle Revis hasn’t been addressed. Cromartie only has one year left on his deal and really needs to prove himself on and off the field to get a long term deal. McCourty would give the Jets an option in the nickel right away and if the team doesn’t retain Cromartie would likely start opposite Revis in 2011.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Kyle Wilson CB Boise State: With Antoine Winfield getting older and Cedric Griffin recovering from an ACL tear, cornerback is a position of need for the Vikings. Wilson is similar to Winfield in the way that they are both very strong against the run. Another possible pick here could be Brian Price as Pat Williams is nearing the end of his career.
31. Indianapolis Colts: Brian Price DT UCLA: The past few years one of the Colts only flaws has been stopping the run. Price who could possibly go in the 14-20 range could clog the middle and in most year’s is one of the first two defensive tackles off the board.
32. New Orleans Saints: Maurkice Pouncey C Florida: One of the main things teams face after the “Super Bowl Hangover” is core players leaving for big contracts. The Saints have made some moves on the offensive line this offseason and Pouncey is by far the best center in this class who could come in right away and start for the defending Super Bowl champs.