Approaching the 5th season of my football diary, I had never done a mock draft.
I figured now was a good time for several reasons:
1) I’m doing everything through WordPress now, so it’s easy to distribute what I write to alot of people. Thus, I’m more motivated to write.
2) This is a historically important draft in the uncapped year. The free-agency period passed and the owners made a collective grand statement that baseball-like contracts aren’t coming anytime soon. If this draft has alot of busts at the top, the more aggressive owners will change their mind and go buy players. If this draft has alot of stars, the salary cap may not even be necessary in a restructuring. For the most part, teams appeared to play it smart.
3) This is probably the most uncertain draft from the 2nd pick down that I can remember. You pretty much know the #1 pick, but from there it’s a mystery, mainly because it’s a heavy trenches draft. We don’t know alot about these guys because they’re linemen. Period. We just don’t pay attention to them like that.
4) This is the best chance for a Giants-Jets Super Bowl in 20 years, so I’m starving for football early. Both of these teams can’t bottom out. One of them is going to make a serious run.
So heeeeeeere we go…
#1 – Sam Bradford – QB
They need a face, they released Marc Bulger, they’re indoors, which will be lighter on his shoulder, and they’ve already drafted the left tackle to protect him last year. This is a no-brainer for them as a need. If only there was a good QB in this draft to fill the spot. The last shot that ended Bradford’s season wasn’t even that hard. I just don’t think he’ll last, but this pick fits anyway.
#2 – Russell Okung – T
I can’t believe how many people think they’re picking someone else. Jim Schwartz is a defensive coach, and defensive coaches think they can get anyone above a talent threshold to fit their system. Thusly, when they get these really high picks, naturally highly talented offensive players to give them less to worry about (See: Ryan-Sanchez, Parcells-Simms, Parcells-Bledsoe, Belichick-Camera). Setting up a 10-year QB-LT battery makes the rest of this rebuilding process a piece-by-piece plug in thing. They’re only going to get better from here.
#3 – Ndamukong Suh – DT
Yet another paralysis by analysis. Suh positively dominates his final year of school, got better as the games got bigger, even when the media dismissed the Huskers as an afterthought (they kinda were), then takes a backseat to Gerald McCoy because supposedly he won’t be able to overpower linemen in the pros. Both are 6-4, Suh is 307, McCoy is 295.. Is McCoy gonna have any better of a chance? Is Suh not by far the more explosive playmaker? Did Suh not have a sideline-to-sideline freakshow against Texas? Does Gerald McCoy jogging after QBs when they get out of the pocket excite you? Me neither. Suh is a character guy with 3-4 end/4-3 tackle versatility, dude lives in the backfield, and has the character to work out his kinks. He wants to be big time, and a defensive franchise like the Bucs will be a nice fit.
#4 – Eric Berry – S
The first shake-up move of this draft. I don’t think they’ll go McCoy here because they already have Carter, Orakpo and Haynesworth up front. I don’t think they’ll go Clausen because he’s not worth Kolbing up the McNabb situation for, especially during the honeymoon. What this move DOES, however, is free up LaRon Landry to become the premier hitting safety he looked like he was going to be his rookie year. The Skins haven’t been the same since they lost Sean Taylor, and Berry is probably one of the best bets in the draft overall. The Skins are also the kind of team that will ignore the conventional wisdom that stands against picking safeties this high.
#5 – Trent Williams – T
I keep reading that they love Bryan Bulaga, and if they have their hearts set on him, they’re not picking him here. They’ll trade way down and still get him. The Chiefs picked the hot riser in Tyson Jackson last year, and with Trent Williams’ stock rising at a place where you kinda know you’re not getting Okung, this is a nice pick.
#6 – Gerald McCoy – DT
If we’re going to learn one thing during the 2010 season, we’re going to see what Seahawk fans are made of. They had their run with Holmgren, got furious with the failures of Mora, and now are saddled with the mediocrity of Carroll. Pete Carroll is totally using the Seahawks to get away from what would be the egg on his face at USC when they finally unveil all those (alleged) recruiting violations. He’s gonna hover between 7-9 and 9-7, and his players will LOVE him. Why? Because he lets them do whatever they want, and he creates fun defenses. McCoy’s a little undersized for the position, but Pete will figure a way to use him immediately. He also has the #14 pick to play with, and McCoy slipping to him is essentially playing with house money.
#7 – Jimmy Clausen – QB
Mark my words. Clausen does not slip past the Browns. If Holmgren wants to set up his version of the West Coast offense in Cleveland, he’s not passing up someone with this kind of zip on his passes with Delhomme as his incumbent starter. If you can get someone young to start developing with Massaquoi and Robiskie instead of getting them warmed up with Jake, then starting over, you do it.
#8 – Dan Williams – DT
They spent 2011’s #1 on Richard Seymour, so this is really the only chance to get him any good help at a reasonable price (not that the Raiders are ever reasonable) for two years. It’s a DT-heavy draft, so you might as well get yours. Dan Williams is a space-eater at 327. He doesn’t have the versatility that the elite picks have, but he’ll be a nice complement to what they already have, and he plays mean like Al Davis would want.
#9 – Anthony Davis – T
I would not be shocked if Tebow went here as a PR move, but I think even the Bills, who are currently the abandoned warehouse of the NFL, are that desperate. They need to get back to what got them to 5-0 a few years back: good pass protection and smarter play from Trent Edwards. Keeping him upright with someone the size of Anthony Davis is a start. Rutgers players go higher and higher every year, don’t they?
#10 – CJ Spiller – RB
Jacksonville needs some excitement, and they can get Tebow in round 2 or 3 if they want, but man is this not an excellent complement to Maurice Drew? I like Garrard better than most, I think Mike Sims-Walker is only gonna get better, and their defense has already been upgraded through free agency. Not a huge season ahead, but this is a nice thing going that a Tebownehead PR move could screw up. This team was 11-5 and beat the Steelers toe to toe in Pittsburgh two years ago. Remember that.
#11 – Dez Bryant – WR
Alot of people have Rolando McClain here, and I just don’t see it. Assuming DJ Williams isn’t going anywhere, McClain would play outside, and the Broncos spent last year’s #1 on an OLB. Doesn’t add up. The numbers don’t lie: with Brandon Marshall gone, the next best long term answer at receiver they have is Eddie Royal, who after a fine rookie season was outproduced by Jabar Gaffney 732:345. Did I mention they’ve also traded their best receiving tight end? McDaniels loves airing it out, and they need weapons fast. You might say this is trading one headache to draft another, but I think Dez’s little outburst showed he wanted to prove he can make it, and I think Josh McDaniel getting him from NFL infancy will help shape him. Look, none of us know what would happen to us if we came from nothing and got a 1st round NFL contract amount of money. None of us.
#12 – Derrick Morgan – DE
Jason Taylor said the Dolphins weren’t interested, and if you believe in the pass rush as much as Bill Parcells does, that pass rush has to come from somewhere. Voila! The best pass rusher in the draft falls to them.
#13 – Bryan Bulaga – T
The 27th ranked offense in the NFL last year has the stars at the skill positions but no meat to make noise. With the NFC West wide open, and the 49ers already sporting the 4th best scoring defense in the league, the Niners are already behind schedule for their takeover. Thankfully, one of the better tackles in the draft falls to them here.
#14 – Earl Thomas – S
Yikes, how did he fall this far? The 30th ranked pass defense in the NFL just lost Deon Grant to free agency and needs to start over. Being a top defense in the league now REQUIRES an elite safety, and I think 2 of them going in the top 15 is less far-fetched than it ever has been in NFL history.
#15 – Rolando McClain – LB
For the third year in a row, the player the Giants eyeball from the start falls to them. That’s the benefit of being strong in the trenches. They’re going to need a DT later on, offensive line depth, a nickel corner, maybe a back, maybe another safety, but the hole in this defense that Antonio Pierce’s corpse has been inhabiting since 2005 needs to be filled. McClain has the smarts, winning pedigree, and tackle-machine build to be an immediate impact.
#16 – Joe Haden – CB
The Titans quietly had the 2nd worst pass defense in the NFL last year, mostly quiet because the whole world caved in on their 0-6 start. Cortland Finnegan is hitting his prime, and needs a better Robin than Roderick Hood.
#17 – Kyle Wilson – CB
Corner! Corner! Nate Clements and his albatross of a contract is 30 years old, and he only started 6 games in ’09. Not counting bonuses, this has cost them over $7M a year. He has 7 total interceptions in that time. The Niners’ have no CBs under 25. Add up?
#18 – Jason Pierre-Paul – DE
Aaron Smith is 34, Brett Kiesel is 31, and the Steelers don’t do free agency. JPP reeks of Vernon Gholston to me, because he’s all raw athleticism and he had an All-American caliber end in George Selvie with him at USF (who has the possibility of being an absolute mid round steal if a 4-3 team with a good pass rush wants some depth on 3rd down). Lucky for JPP, he has a huge frame to add the 10-15 pounds necessary to play a 3-4 end and Pittsburgh’s reputation for coaching up guys to fit their system speaks for itself.
#19 – Brandon Graham – LB
The Falcons must must MUST get a pass rush going if they’re going to do anything with this run (insert joke about Jamaal Anderson being a bust bust BUST). Since they’ve lost Michael Boley and Keith Cooking (shut ya mouth n take ya beatin!), they’ve been so strapped at linebacker that NFL.com turned Coy Wire making the team into compelling television. That should be a new rule in the NFL: if your locker room is unstable enough to be compelling television, you’re toast.
#20 – Kareem Jackson – CB
Dunta Robinson left to go home to the ATL. Peyton still plays them twice a year. Houston doesn’t have alot of needs. They’ll be happy with this. Don’t be surprised if they uber-reach for Jahvid Best here.
#21 – Nate Allen – S
This looks like a bit of a reach, but I think the Bengals wouldn’t have a problem with it. They added WRs through free agency, so that’s out. Taylor Mays is available here, but rumblings about him being the next Roy Williams… when they already have Roy Williams… just seems silly. In fact, Williams and Ndukwe are as good a 1-2 punch at strong safety as there probably is in the NFL, so why not draft a more pure free to complement them? Boy’s got “ball skills” after all.
#22 – Jermaine Gresham – TE
Benjamin Watson skipped town and the top two TEs in this draft are coming off of season ending injuries. Do you take the one with the bad knee or the bad back? Do you stick with a 32-year-old Alge Crumpler coming off a 222 yard season? Gresham doesn’t have the big play potential that Ron Gronkowski does, but he is slightly bigger, has just as good a pair of hands, and could be a nice red zone complement to Randy Moss. Wes Welker is not a lock to come back, so the middle of the field is full of opportunities for young players to step up in the Pats’ offense.
#23 – Charles Brown – T
Just as the Giants signed Deon Grant so that the Kenny Phillips thing wouldn’t wreck their season again, the Packers need depth at O-Line to make sure the Chad Clifton thing doesn’t happen again. People made way too much of the Packers’ inability to protect Aaron Rodgers, as it was really only a problem when Chad Clifton was hurt. Put some depth here with an athletic guy like Charles Brown who appears to be a pure pass blocker, and you pretty much fit what the Packers plan on doing for the next 10 years: Throw.
#24 – Taylor Mays -S
The first PR move of the draft. While the McNabb situation was divisive, the Brian Dawkins situation was pretty one-sided. Eagles fans still haven’t forgiven the organization for letting Dawk go, even though the Broncos signed him to an offer through the age of 40. Mays fits Dawkins’ mold, even if he’s not as loudmouthed, and it’s certainly better than bringing in a corner from a dome team to play safety. Quite frankly, I’ve never seen a 3-time All-American 2nd generation NFL player with a wicked combine get basted by the media like this. No one did more with young talent than Andy Reid this year, and drafting someone with this kind of ability is very reasonable.
#25 – Demaryius Thomas – WR
Derrick Mason’s on his last legs. Kelley Washington is gone (and 30), and the Anquan Boldin trade is screaming “NOW!” for Joe Flacco. They have to start building around him instead of plugging him into the team and hoping he does enough for the defense to win it. Get a receiver that has Kelley Washington’s build and Calvin Johnson potential… Hmm…
#26 – Sergio Kindle – LB
No one lost more playmakers than the Cardinals this year, and Kindle’s flashy OLB skill set complements the Joey Porter signing nicely, even if it doesn’t plug up all the holes (Kerry Rhodes’ 2010 is going to fascinate me, btw, I want to see if he gets it back together). Some have Sean Weatherspoon going here, but his greatest asset is pass coverage, and the three best receivers in this division might still be on this team, sadly.
#27 – Everson Griffin – DE
From what I read, the only thing keeping this guy out of the top 10 is character. Jerry Jones isn’t going to look around for project players at this point. The McNabb trade has turned the 2010 NFC East into a 2-horse race. He feels he has a Super Bowl offense (with Doug Free playing left tackle…), and an overwhelming pass rush to complement it and get over the top makes alot of sense. Alot of people have them going O-Line here, but man, if you can get another Marcus Spears (his NFL mold, apparently) in that pass rush, plug in the hole left by Chris Canty and get some depth incase DeMarcus Ware reaggravates that neck injury, I say take it. David Diehl worked out for the Giants, why can’t Doug Free, right?
#28 – Ryan Matthews – RB
Darren Sproles alone can’t stand. They’re kicking themselves. If you look at the RBs taken since Tomlinson first started riding exercise bikes in playoff games, you’d kick the Chargers, too. Matthews has a nice 220lb. frame to keep Sproles from having to get too many tough yards. Don’t be surprised if Jacob Hester gets alot of carries this season.
#29 – Terrence Cody – NT
I know they need a pass rusher. I don’t care. You like this defense, Jet fans? Yeah? You want it to last? Yeah? You like being Super Bowl contenders twice a century? Yeah? Then you had better, BETTER, BETTER, BET-TER find the heir to Kris Jenkins in this draft somewhere. I’m using the #1 pick because that’s all I’m mocking, but it better happen. Cody has a upper 2nd round rating on most boards. Fuck it, reach and get him. Playmakers don’t come this big too often, and I guarantee no Jet fans would take odds with me for Kris Jenkins starting all 16 games. I don’t care about your bench. Get a long-term answer at nose tackle. Take one look at what Haloti Ngata does for Baltimore and tell me it wouldn’t help. Cody is 6-5 and 360. Jenkins is 6-5 and 360. One of them is 30 with a torn ACL. Your move, Rex.
#30 – Colt McCoy – QB
Brett Favre has come back from a renaissance season in Green Bay, and a splooger of a season in New York, so dictating his return off of performance is futile. The Vikings can’t piss away Brad Childress’ quarterback coaching ability waiting for Brett to return. If he does, great. If he doesn’t Tarvaris Jackson vs. Colt McCoy is not a bad battle to go into training camp with. McCoy is supposed to be undersized, but most of the real pass rushers in his division will be wearing the same color uniform.
#31 – Maurkice Pouncey – C
Just had to check the spelling of that 3 times. Jeff Saturday is 35 and has always been undersized for the position, so to ask him to stay at a high level for too much longer is unreasonable. The Colts get the best center in the draft to fall to them in a tackle-heavy class on both sides of the ball. Well done, again.
#32 – Sean Weatherspoon – LB
It’s easy to preach about how the Saints won’t repeat. It’s more appropriate to say the Saints need a strong defensive draft more than any top contender in the NFL. The Saints beat you by pouncing, then narrow your passing playbook with the lead and guess off that. That’s how Darren Sharper had his renaissance and Tracy Porter sealed playoff games. Just about every big game they won this year was sealed with a pick, it seemed. If I were the GM, I’d go for a solid corner to complement Porter and Malcolm Jenkins, but the top four safeties are off the board at this point and Scott Fujita is gone. Weatherspoon possesses great pass coverage skills for a LB, and will fit their scheme well.
Wow. I actually did this. I better sleep.