The 2010 NFL Draft class lacks a signature marquee player, but overall it’s one of the deeper classes in years; why do you think the Patriots have hoarded four of the first 53 picks? And while the skill positions are somewhat thin, all those fat kids who were picked last in gym class back in grade school may have the last laugh: half of the first round’s 32 selections could very well be spent on offensive and defensive linemen. Here’s a look at how the first round of the 75th NFL draft — held in prime time this year on April 22 — might shake down.
NFL Mock Draft Version 1.0
1. St. Louis Rams — Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
The Rams desperately need a quarterback, but it’s the one shallow position in an otherwise deep draft. Unless Steve Spagnuolo falls in love with Sam Bradford or Jimmy Clausen at the Combine St. Louis will opt to fortify defensively with the best college player in the country last year.
2. Detroit Lions — Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
There are still plenty of needs in Detroit. The Lions could opt to protect franchise quarterback Matt Stafford with the best offensive tackle in the draft, but Jim Schwartz is a defensive guy and McCoy plugs a huge hole in the middle.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
This scenario couldn’t play out much worse for the Bucs, who are dearly hoping one of the two elite defensive tackles falls to them at No. 3. Berry is hardly a consolation prize, but if Tampa Bay feels set in the secondary they could also look at offensive line help like Russell Okung or a pass rusher like Jason Pierre-Paul.
4. Washington Redskins — Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
All the teams hoping to land an elite offensive lineman later in the first round did a little dance when Mike Shanahan signed on with the Redskins, because you just know he’s picking his quarterback of the future here. The alternative would be some desperately needed help up front, like Okung or Trent Williams.
5. Kansas City Chiefs — Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State
The old Patriots modus operandi was to draft lesser-known offensive linemen later and develop them, but a shot at the best tackle in the draft might be too tempting to pass up. The alternative would be a moderate reach for Rolando McClain, though it wouldn’t be surprising to see Scott Pioli trade down the board and stockpile extra picks.
6. Seattle Seahawks — Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame
With Walter Jones ready to start his countdown to Canton there’s a strong need for offensive line help here; however, with another selection eight picks later Seattle should be able to fill that need and still get their quarterback of the future. New coaches love to kick things off with a quarterback of their own choosing, and Clausen gave Pete Carroll’s Southern Cal squad all they could handle in a 34-27 loss last year. Matt Hasselbeck might still have enough left in the tank to afford the Seahawks and Clausen a year of clipboard duty, or he could become trade bait for a team that thinks it’s just a quarterback shy of contending.
7. Cleveland Browns — Joe Haden, CB, Florida
Mike Holmgren may not even get the chance to draft a quarterback here, and Jerome Harrison’s strong finish to the 2009 season lessens the need for a running back in this spot as well. A playmaking wideout is certainly a consideration, but the best cornerback in the draft is hardly a consolation prize.
8. Oakland Raiders — Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland
The Raiders’ recent track record—Darrius Heyward-Bey, Darren McFadden, JaMarcus Russell—is hardly a ringing endorsement of their scouting department. Al Davis loves speed; maybe he can have Campbell and Anthony Davis run a 40-yard race at the Combine, with the winner (?) going to Oakland.
9. Buffalo Bills — Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma
Last season Buffalo started two rookies and a second-year player with no previous NFL experience along their offensive line. In a draft class loaded at the position, the Bills will definitely find help for new coach Chan Gailey to build around.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars* — Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech
Had Tim Tebow shown anything at the Senior Bowl to suggest he was reasonably close to NFL-ready, the Jags would have a difficult decision to make. But with the hometown hero playing his way into range of Jacksonville’s next pick (early in the third round), they can spend their first selection on a much-needed upgrade to their pass rush—choosing between Morgan and Jason Pierre-Paul.
11. Denver Broncos (from Bears)* — Rolondo McClain, LB, Alabama
Dez Bryant to replace the soon-to-be-departed Brandon Marshall would make sense here, but the way Josh McDaniels runs off talent you get the feeling he’s confident he can plug anybody into his system and get results. That leaves the Broncos to go with defensive help; the options include Carlos Dunlap and Kyle Wilson in addition to McClain.
12. Miami Dolphins — Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State
If ever there were a team in need of passing-game playmakers it’s the Dolphins. With McClain off the board and the top wideout in the draft falling into Miami’s lap, Chad Henne will get the new weapon he’s been lobbying for.
13. San Francisco 49ers — Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho
The Niners need help along the offensive line, and at the rate Iupati is moving up the draft board—think Branden Albert a couple years ago—he may not even last this long. A guard at Idaho, Iupati’s long arms have some projecting him at tackle; his versatility provides an immediate fix for whatever o-line need the 49ers deem most pressing.
14. Seattle Seahawks (from Broncos) — Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers
Carroll’s gambit works, as the Seahawks are able to get in on the end of the elite offensive tackles and draft protection for Clausen. If Seattle reverses the scenario and addresses their line needs first, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Seahawks use this pick on C.J. Spiller.
15. New York Giants — Earl Thomas, S, Texas
There are multiple needs on the back half of the Giants’ defense, and a linebacker like Sergio Kindle or Brandon Spikes would certainly make sense here. But with the Giants’ borderline desperate in the secondary and a deep stash of linebackers available later on, Thomas makes the most sense.
16. Tennessee Titans** — Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida
Tennessee’s primary needs come along the defensive line, and with Jevon Kearse done and Kyle Vanden Bosch on his way out of town Dunlap is a great fit for a distinct need.
17. San Francisco 49ers (from Panthers)** — Taylor Mays, S, USC
With o-line help acquired four picks earlier, San Francisco now looks to upgrade the secondary. The options are to add a corner like Kyle Wilson or Patrick Robinson... or give Mike Singletary a punishing safety who hits like a truck. Guess which one is more likely to get Singletary excited?
18. Pittsburgh Steelers — Brian Price, DT, UCLA
The Steelers are set at the skill positions, but for a team just a year removed from a Super Bowl title they have plenty of other needs. With a plethora of options here—cornerbacks Wilson, Robinson or Donovan Warren, offensive linemen Bryan Bulaga or Maurkice Pouncey—look for Pittsburgh to upgrade the defensive line. And even there they have options, with end Corey Wootton pushing Price and fellow tackle Dan Williams for a black-and-gold jersey.
19. Atlanta Falcons*** — Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida
Atlanta has two ways to improve their pass defense: upgrade the secondary or upgrade the pass rush. With John Abraham aging and Jamaal Anderson underachieving, expect the Falcons to follow the latter plan—if not with Pierre-Paul, then possibly Everson Griffen.
20. Houston Texans*** — Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
Offense or defense? Running back or cornerback? There will be a serious temptation for Gary Kubiak to add a between-the-tackles runner like Jonathan Dwyer to complement the existing array of offensive weapons in Houston. Ultimately, however, the need for a corner is just too great and Wilson’s strong Senior Bowl showing earns him the nod over Warren and Robinson.
21. Cincinnati Bengals — Jermaine Greshem, TE, Oklahoma
This draft is relatively deep in most of Cincy’s areas of need—a speed wideout, offensive line help, another linebacker—which should free them up to fill a longstanding void at tight end. Past Bengals’ offenses haven’t had much use for the position, but in Greshem they get another weapon for Carson Palmer who can also contribute in Cincy’s newfound power running game.
22. New England Patriots — Sergio Kindle, LB, Texas
The Patriots’ primary needs come in the defensive front seven, and this draft is so deep in those areas they have options—not to mention four of the first 53 picks. Kindle fits the hybrid mold of Bill Belichick linebackers, but they could opt for Ricky Sapp or Brandon Spikes instead. Or, with so many early selections, why not take them all?
23. Green Bay Packers — Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa
It’s a deep class for offensive linemen, but enough teams will be targeting tackles the Packers should consider themselves fortunate if Bulaga is still on the board here. The alternative might be an interior lineman like Maurkice Pouncey, Matt Tennant, or Mike Johnson, with a tackle on Green Bay’s radar a round or two later.
24. Philadelphia Eagles — Brandon Spikes, LB, Florida
There’s a chance Philly opts for a running back to complement LeSean McCoy as he attempts to fill Brian Westbrook’s shoes. They’d also like to add a pass rusher, but at this juncture there isn’t much value left on the board. There is, however, plenty of linebacker talent available, allowing Philly to address a position that was a real problem area for them last year.
25. Baltimore Ravens — Arrelious Benn, WR, Illinois
The Ravens’ defense needs to get younger and prepare for life after Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, but their most glaring need is a pass-catcher. From a group of receivers with the size to stand up to AFC North defenses—one that includes Bandon LaFell and Demarylus Thomas—Benn stands out; we’ll see if that holds through the end of April.
26. Arizona Cardinals — Brandon Graham, LB/DE, Michigan
With Kurt Warner retiring the Cardinals won’t be putting up 40 points on a regular basis anymore; that means they need to upgrade a defense that was shredded twice in the postseason. Even this deep into the first round they’ll have options, with the focus on linebackers and defensive ends. If Senior Bowl standout Graham isn’t the pick, Jerry Hughes could be.
27. Dallas Cowboys — Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri
The Cowboys wouldn’t mind preparing for life after Flozell Adams, but doing so here would mean reaching for Charles Brown, Ciron Black, or Vladimir Ducasse. They might also be intrigued by an interior defensive lineman like Dan Williams or Terrence Cody, allowing Jay Ratliff to move outside. But ultimately they need to recognize Bobby Carpenter isn’t panning out and Keith Brooking is past his prime—a move made easier with Weatherspoon still on the board.
28. San Diego Chargers — C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson
It will be a whole lot easier for the Chargers to say goodbye to LaDainian Tomlinson if they’re bringing in his replacement—and surprisingly, this late in the draft the Bolts may actually have some tough choices as to who that might be. The question may be whether Spiller or Jahvid Best can handle a three-down workload, or if Jonathan Dwyer or Ryan Matthews might be a better option.
29. New York Jets — Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame
With the elite edge rushers picked over at this point of the draft, expect a tug-of-war among the Jets’ decision-makers between a run stuffing defensive tackle (Dan Williams, Jared Odrick, Terrence Cody) or downfield help for Mark Sanchez. Rex Ryan is a defensive guy, but picking Tate would give the Jets their own set of “triplets”—Sanchez, Tate, and Shonn Greene—all plucked from the last two drafts.
30. Minnesota Vikings — Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee
A key Viking is mulling retirement, and the team needs to line up a replacement in line sooner rather than later. Certainly that description fits the quarterback position, but unless Jimmy Clausen slips or the Vikings reach for Colt McCoy or Tony Pike it’s the massive void left by the possible retirement of Pat Williams Minnesota is angling to fill.
31. Indianapolis Colts — Jared Odrick, DT, Penn State
No glaring needs here, though most mocks have Indy targeting an offensive tackle. That position is deep enough—and the Colts have had enough success mining the later rounds for o-line help—that Indy can upgrade their underrated defense.
32. New Orleans Saints — Everson Griffen, DE, USC
The Super Bowl champions don’t have many holes, but they could stand some upgrades along their defensive front seven. Griffen makes the most sense, though linebackers like Ricky Sapp and Jerry Hughes could come into play as well.
* The 10th and 11th picks (Jaguars and Broncos via Bears) will be determined by a coin flip
** The 16th and 17th picks (Titans and 49ers via Panthers) will be determined by a coin flip
*** The 18th and 19th picks (Falcons and Texans) will be determined by a coin flip