With the Combine behind us and free agency kicking off, it’s time to revisit our mockery of the NFL Draft.
Previous NFL Mock Draft: Version 2.0 | Version 1.0
1. St. Louis Rams — Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
Ultimately, I think the Rams end up trading this pick. If they don’t deal for Michael Vick, they could move down to No. 3 and still take Sam Bradford. And if they can’t get enough from the Bucs (the reported offer to switch places in Round One is a third and developmental quarterback Josh Johnson, who would be a nice fit behind Vick for a couple years), Suh is a heckuva fallback plan.
2. Detroit Lions — Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
Recent word in Detroit is that an elite defensive tackle isn’t a necessity in a Jim Schwartz defense; did they miss the Albert Haynesworth years? With a bevy of quality pass rushers in this class, it would make sense to snag McCoy here and a defensive end like Corey Wootten or Everson Griffen at the top of Round 2 as opposed to reaching for Derrick Morgan here and maybe Jared Odrick in the second.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
Tampa would love to get their hands on one of those elite defensive tackles and it would make sense to throw a little something at the Rams or Lions—both of whom have multiple needs to address—to ensure one falls their way. With the Redskins likely to snag a quarterback, this might be a hot spot to trade up (or in the Rams’ case, down) to if a team has its sights set on Sam Bradford. If the Bucs are unable to swing a deal, they could address their pass rush with Jason Pierre-Paul... but it’s more likely that they upgrade their secondary with the versatile Berry.
4. Washington Redskins — Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
Yes, the Redskins signed Jason Campbell to a first-round tender; that doesn’t mean Mike Shanahan thinks he’s the long-term answer. Assuming Bradford throws well at his Pro Day and the shoulder checks out, it’s tough to see Shanny passing on him—if he gets past the Rams. Daniel Snyder’s decidedly unsexy backup plan is a much-needed offensive tackle.
5. Kansas City Chiefs — Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State
Don’t be surprised if Scott Pioli deals out of this spot; if he stands pat and makes the pick, a left tackle (allowing Branden Albert to move to the right side, something the team has already announced) makes the most sense. Pioli’s ties to Kirk Ferenz could lead him to pick Bryan Bulaga over Okung, but the former’s shortish arms have led to some discouraging comparisons with Robert Gallery. It’s a tackle-rich class anyway, and if Pioli thinks he can get value at the position in a later round he may pass on both Okung and Bulaga to get younger at linebacker with Rolando McClain.
6. Seattle Seahawks — Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa
Previous mock: Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame
Pete Carroll wants to make a splash, and if he thinks Charles Brown, whom Carroll coached at USC, will stick around until Seattle’s second-round pick he could go with Jimmy Clausen or C.J. Spiller here. Bulaga has the athleticism, if not the reach, to handle left tackle and could play on the right side if Walter Jones wrings another year or two out of his career. Another alternative would be a pass rusher: Derrick Morgan here, even though Bulaga handled him in the Orange Bowl, or another Trojan, Everson Griffen, with the Seahawks’ other first-round pick.
7. Cleveland Browns — Sergio Kindle, OLB/DH, Texas
Previous mock: Joe Haden, CB, Florida
Haden needed to answer questions about his speed (or lack thereof) at the Combine, and he failed to do so. Doesn’t mean he’s not the best corner in the draft, just means that maybe he’s a better fit for a team that plays more zone than the Browns do. Plus, with this being a deep draft at the cornerback position Cleveland may be perfectly happy with Devin McCourty or Dominique Franks in the second round. That leaves the Browns with multiple options: another Notre Dame quarterback, a big-time receiver, or a speedy pass-rushing hybrid.
8. Oakland Raiders — Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland
Based on the Raiders’ recent drafting history, you know whomever Al Davis picks will be an athlete. And coming out of the Combine, the two most athletic potential first-rounders on display were Campbell and USC safety Taylor Mays. Campbell better fits an area of need for Oakland, but that logic doesn’t necessarily mean the Raiders will make the most prudent move.
9. Buffalo Bills — Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma
If Clausen slides to the Bills, Chan Gailey may have some thinking to do. However, with no offensive line to protect a potential franchise quarterback, the smarter build would be to augment the starting guards plucked in last year’s draft with a tackle or two from this class. Williams might fit best at right tackle, but he showed enough athleticism at the Combine to at least warrant a shot on the left side.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars — Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida
Previous mock: Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech
The concern on Pierre-Paul is that he may be a one-year wonder, with just seven collegiate starts to his credit. But he has athleticism you can’t coach, and his potential as a pass-rusher makes him the narrow pick over Morgan. Plus, he did a dozen consecutive backflips at the Combine, so he must be good!
11. Denver Broncos (from Bears) — Joe Haden, CB, Florida
Previous mock: Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama
Maybe Brandon Marshall will be back in Denver; maybe the Broncos will get an additional pick for him, which they’ll likely turn into another system receiver for Josh McDaniel. Dez Bryant is too much of a risk here, and with the best corner in the draft still on the board look for Denver to upgrade their secondary.
12. Miami Dolphins — Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama
Previous mock: Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State
Miami is another team that would need to fully vette Bryant before bringing him on board, despite their desperate need for passing game playmakers. With McClain still on the board the Dolphins will be more than happy to improve their linebacking corps and find another route—a trade for Anquan Boldin, perhaps?—to upgrade at receiver. Of course, if Karlos Dansby signs with the Phins as a free agent, it’s back to the drawing board.
13. San Francisco 49ers — Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho
This is a good draft for the Niners to use to revamp their offensive line, as depth at the position will allow them to fill needs into the second or third round. Nonetheless, it’s shrewd to add the versatile and fast-rising Iupati here, then comb through what’s left to address other holes in the offensive line.
14. Seattle Seahawks (from Broncos) — Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech
Previous mock: Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers
The Seahawks addressed left tackle with the earlier selection of Bulaga, and while it wouldn’t be inconceivable to take another lineman here Carroll has a couple other itches he could scratch. Clausen is still on the board, and while the Seattle offense might benefit from a speed back like Jahvid Best or C.J. Spiller Carroll might hold out for former Trojan Joe McKnight in the next round. That choice becomes easier with a pass rusher like Morgan still on the board.
15. New York Giants — Earl Thomas, S, Texas
A relatively deep linebacker class and a desperate need for safety help come together to make this pick for the Giants. Thomas has cornerback skills and safety experience; Big Blue will put both to good use next fall.
16. Tennessee Titans — Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida
The scouting reports on Dunlap all read the same: jaw-dropping athleticism and awesome pass-rushing potential... so long as you can keep him focused and motivated. Between Jeff Fisher and Titans’ defensive line coach Jim Washburn, Tennessee likely believes it has the staff to tap into Dunlap’s potential. The alternatives are the similarly risky Everson Griffen and the smaller, more athletic Brandon Graham.
17. San Francisco 49ers (from Panthers) — Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers
Previous mock: Taylor Mays, S, USC
With the offensive line need addressed, expect San Francisco to upgrade their secondary. While Mays might give the 49ers an athletic presence at safety, there’s a bigger need for a speedy cornerback. Patrick Robinson isn’t physical enough for a Mike Singletary defense, but after McCourty’s showing at the Combine he seems like the best fit here. A fast 40 at Kyle Wilson’s pro day (he tweaked a hammy at the Combine and didn’t run) could elevate him into the conversation as well.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers — Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee
Previous mock: Brian Price, DT, UCLA
Casey Hampton is under contract, but he’s also on the wrong side of 30. The Steelers can plan now for his eventual departure with Williams, who’s a better fit for the Steelers’ 3-4 than Price and athletic enough to play all three downs unlike Terrence Cody.
19. Atlanta Falcons — Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan
Previous mock: Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida
If the Falcons don’t sign free-agent corner Dunta Robinson as anticipated, this pick could very well be Kyle Wilson; in fact, it may still be. But if Atlanta does address their secondary via free agency, here’s an opportunity to upgrade the pass rush. Graham’s strong showing at the Senior Bowl improved his stock, and his high motor play will be a welcome contrast to failed Falcon first-rounder Jamaal Anderson.
20. Houston Texans — Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
The Texans got a boost from the Combine when multiple big backs ran well... and Jonathan Dwyer didn’t. Now they can address their secondary in the first round with Wilson and still find a complement to Steve Slaton in Round Two.
21. Cincinnati Bengals — Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State
Previous mock: Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma
Gresham failed to dazzle at the Combine, looking like a player who sat out the last season with an injury; meanwhile, enough other tight ends flashed ability that the Bengals should be able to fill that need later in the draft. The pick here could be a linebacker, with Sean Weatherspoon and Navarro Bowman the top options on the board. Unless Cincy has fallen in love with one of them, this is an opportunity to address their receiving corps. Bryant is the most talented option, but his baggage—and a clean bill of health from Demaryius Thomas—might move him down the list.
22. New England Patriots — Jerry Hughes, DE/OLB, TCU
Previous mock: Sergio Kindle, LB, Texas
If you were wondering why the Patriots loaded up with picks in this draft, look no further than their first pick. Needing a pass-rushing linebacker, Bill Belichick has no less than three quality options to choose from: Ricky Sapp, Thaddeus Gibson, and Hughes. The latter’s strong Combine showing—specifically his fluid performance in linebacker drills—demonstrate what the Patriots see in him.
23. Green Bay Packers — Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers
Previous mock: Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa
Ted Thompson doesn’t pick for need, but when the health of his franchise quarterback is at stake he might be inclined to make an exception. The question then becomes, can Thompson get value with this pick or would he be better served trading down and drafting Charles Brown or Rodger Saffold? Davis showed good athleticism at the combine, but the Packers need to be sold on his filmwork before committing to him here; there are enough other options that they could wait, especially if the availability of Jimmy Clausen or C.J. Spiller have teams looking to trade up.
24. Philadelphia Eagles — C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson
Previous mock: Brandon Spikes, LB, Florida
There are several defensive options for the Eagles—Spikes, Taylor Mays, a pass rusher like Everson Griffen—but with Brian Westbrook gone and Best sliding this far it’s tough to see Andy Reid passing on a guy who fits so well into the Philly offense. Obviously, Jahvid Best would work here as well, but Spiller has proven to be more durable; then again, maybe that’s something the Eagles wouldn’t understand in a running back.
25. Baltimore Ravens — Arrelious Benn, WR, Illinois
It sounds like the Ravens are taking themselves out of the running for Brandon Marshall, but the receiving corps needs more of an upgrade than just Donte´ Stallworth. Benn is a physical receiver who showed well at the Combine; he’s the safer choice, but if Demaryius Thomas checks out health-wise he could give Joe Flacco a real downfield target.
26. Arizona Cardinals — Brandon Spikes, LB, Florida
Previous mock: Brandon Graham, DE/LB, Michigan
The Cardinals are undergoing some dramatic changes, and not just on the offensive side of the ball where Matt Leinart is taking over for Kurt Warner. Their defense, particularly the front seven, is being gutted by free agency. Spikes is the best defender available, though if Arizona needs a pass rusher they could reach for Corey Wootton or Thaddeus Gibson.
27. Dallas Cowboys — Taylor Mays, S, USC
Previous mock: Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri
The Cowboys don’t have any glaring needs, except for perhaps the offensive line and at this point they’d be reaching for a tackle like Charles Brown. Mays dazzled at the Combine, and Dallas had enough issues at safety last season that a physical specimen like Mays at least warrants a shot.
28. San Diego Chargers — Ryan Matthews, RB, Fresno State
Previous mock: C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson
LaDainian Tomlinson is gone, Michael Bennett is gone, and Darren Sproles was almost an afterthought of a tendered free agent; clearly, the Chargers are looking for a new back. Matthews looked solid at the combine and has the size to run inside while Sproles dances around the edges, as well as enough ability to take over full-time duties once the Bolts realize they’ve dramatically overpaid for Sproles.
29. New York Jets — Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame
Gang Green addressed their cornerback need with the trade for Antonio Cromartie, and they may still find a way to acquire a receiver as well with Anquan Boldin and Brandon Marshall on the market. But on the other hand it seems incongruous for a team built on defense and the running game to sink the kind of money it would take to keep Braylon Edwards and either Boldin or Marshall into the wide receiver position. Tate, by comparison, will be reasonably inexpensive—and also contribute on special teams.
30. Minnesota Vikings — Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame
Previous mock: Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee
Whether or not Brett Favre returns in 2010, the Vikings need to address the future of their quarterback position. Clausen could serve an apprenticeship under Favre or Sage Rosenfels, then take over whenever No. 4 decides to ride off into the sunset for good. Minnesota also has some defensive needs, but this draft is deep enough at corner and defensive tackle that should Clausen fall into their laps they can afford themselves the luxury of planning for life after Favre.
31. Indianapolis Colts — Jared Odrick, DT, Penn State
The Colts loaded up on interior offensive linemen in the mid- to late rounds a year ago, and with this class deep in tackles Indy can afford to take a similar approach to beefing up Peyton Manning’s protectors. That frees them up to address their defensive line here, with Odrick a perfect candidate to plug inside and free up Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis on the outside.
32. New Orleans Saints — Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri
Previous mock: Everson Griffen, DE, USC
Any needs the Saints may have will come on the defensive side. They could look for a pass rusher, get younger in the secondary, or address their linebacking corps. Weatherspoon is the best available player, so the Super Bowl champs will exercise that luxury.