Mock Draft, 01/24
This is a three round mock draft, which I will update periodically. Please comment, especially on your perception of team needs.
* Denotes a coin flip will decide draft order
1) STL -- Suh (DT, Nebraska)
St. Louis badly needs a DT to anchor their defense. Suh is the best player in the draft, and the best DT prospect in a long, long time. Although they could also go T or QB here, the Rams take a guy who has the ability to be as much of a game and team changer as Albert Haynsworth would be if he tried every play.
2) DET -- McCoy (DT, Oklahoma)
To say Detroit's defense is bad is an understatement. They are especially horrendous against the run, and so they take McCoy, who is not on Suh's level, but is still very good. Their other main position of need is T, and they would be a prime candidate to trade down if anyone is targeting Berry or Morgan. If Suh drops to #2, Detroit sets the record for quickest draft selection.
3) TB -- Berry (S, Tennessee)
The theme of the top of the draft: defense. Tampa Bay's is aging and lacking playmakers. They go with an Ed Reed-type safety who will instantly give their defense an identity they have lacked. They could also go with Morgan here, or trade down to select Dez Bryant.
4) WAS -- Okung (T, Oklahoma State)
A lot of people expect Washington to go QB here, but I think Shanahan gives a talented Jason Campbell a chance. Campbell's biggest downside, and it is a major downside, is that he doesn't appear to be the kind of leader you would want in a QB. Having said that, Washington's bigger need is on the offensive line, especially with Chris Samuels getting up their in age, so the Redskins select the best available tackle. Shanahan knows the importance of a great LT like he had in Ryan Clady in Denver.
5) KC -- Davis (T, Rutgers)
Kansas City's run blocking was 31st in the league and their pass blocking was ranked 26th (h/t Drew K). Brandon Albert isn't cutting it as an NFL LT, and would be better suited at RT. The Chiefs select Davis to fill that need and protect Cassel. Kansas City also needs help on defense and at WR, so I think they would take Berry if he was available, and they are also a candidate to trade down if they like other Ts or want Dez Bryant at WR.
6) SEA -- Clauson (QB, Notre Dame)
With two first round picks, Seattle has the amo to trade up if they really want Berry or one of the top DTs. Their offensive line has been terrible and soft this year, so I think they could select the best OT available. Matt Hasselback's skills have declined and he is getting up there in age. Seattle selects his eventual replacement in Clauson. The guy just seems like a Pete Carrol type of QB.
7) CLE -- Bryant (WR, Oklahoma State)
Cleveland seemed to improve at the end of the season, but they still have a lot of team needs. CB, S, DE, WR, QB. I'm not a fan of either of their QBs, but I think Holmgren and Mangini will give Brady Quinn one more year to prove himself. The pick could easily be Clauson, Bradford, Morgan or Joe Haden, but I think Cleveland goes with fulfilling their dire need of a #1 WR
8) OAK -- Morgan (DE, Georgia Tech)
The Jamarcus Russel experiment should be over. He's horrible, but Al Davis doesn't know that. Oakland also has needs at QB, T, DT, DE, CB (#2), and WR. Other possible selections here are Clauson, Williams (T, Oklahoma), Dunlap (DE, Florida), and Joe Haden, who could cause Al Davis to dream of having two shut-down corners. I'm very nervous about this pick of a premier DE in Morgan, because it would actually make sense. And this is Oakland.
9) BUF -- Bradford (QB, Oklahoma)
Buffalo has a major need at QB here. Trent Edwards seemed like he was the future for a while, but he really regressed this past year. I think they may take a T here because their offensive live is awful, but the Bills choose to address that need later and take Bradford.. Buffalo could also go DT, DE, CB, WR, or T here.
10) DEN -- McClain (ILB, Alabama)*
Denver had two first round picks because of the Bears trade, but traded one away to the Seahawks to select Alfonso Smith, CB, in the second round last year. If anyone saw the running clinic the Kansas City Chiefs put on Denver, they know the Broncos main need is defense. They go with a tone setter and extremely talented ILB in Rolando McClain. They could also select a DT, DE, S, or WR (if they trade away Brandon Marshall)
11) JAX -- Price (DT, UCLA)*
Jacksonville's defense was at its strongest when they had two rock solid DTs. They still have Henderson, but he is less effective than he has been in the past. Jacksonville needs DT, DE, CB, S, and TE (some say QB, but Garrard is good enough). I think they will give their young DEs more time, trust that Cox will improve in his second year at CB, and pray that Nelson gets better at S. Therefore, I think they'll take the Bruins DT, but they could easily go Dunlap, Haden, Thomas, or Mays here. Some think they'll pick Tebow here, but I don't buy it. Price had 7 sacks last year and will help a defense that was last in the NFL in sacks last year.
12) MIA -- Kindle (DE/OLB, Texas)
Jason Taylor and Joey Porter are getting up there in age. The Dolphins select Kindle, who can start out lining up as a 3-4 DE while learning the 3-4 OLB position to take oven when either Taylor or Porter eventually leaves or retires. They could also go for WR Dez Bryant here, but I think they go Kindle.
13) SF -- Thomas (S, Texas)
San Fran badly needs an impact safety, so they select the highest ranked safety in the draft in Thomas
14) SEA -- Campbell (T, Maryland)
Seattle's O-line was awful this year, and they go with the best O-lineman available. After workouts/the combine, this might be Bulaga, but for the time being it is Williams. They could also go DT, DE, or CB here.
15) NYG -- Mays (S, USC)
The Giants have a big need at safety, so they go with the talented but unpolished Mays.
16) TEN -- Haden (CB, Florida)
As a Titans fan, I think the Titans should trade up to get Haden. Nick Harper was absolutely awful this season as the Titans #2 corner, and Rod Hood didn't do much better when he got the start in Week 17 vs. Seattle. The Titans also have needs at OLB, DE, DT if Tony Brown is not re-signed, S (Griffin has regressed and Hope's skills are declining with age) and they may select a MLB and either move him to OLB or move their MLB (Tulluch) to OLB. If Haden falls here, I will scream at my TV for the Titans to take him, and I think they would. However, the Titans lack of a pass rush was a major reason for their decline from 2008/9 to 2009/10, and in a division with Schaub and Manning, the Titans may take a DE. They could go with Dunlap or Pierre-Paul here, but in this scenario I think they go with Haden.
17) SF -- Williams (T, Oklahoma)*
San Fransisco is a young, talented team that still has a lot of needs. They have a LT in Joe Staley, but they badly need a RT, and pick an All-American one up in Williams. They could also select a S, DE/OLB, WR, CB, or NT here.
18) PIT -- Dunlap (DE/OLB, Florida)*
The Steelers have an awful offensive line, and this pick may need to be used to help that need. At the same time, their once great defense also declined last year, especially in the secondary, and that was not completely due to Polamalu's injury. The Steelers could take CB Robinson here, but I think they go with a T. They could also take a DE like Pierre-Paul, or a G like Iupati here. In the end, I think Dunlap's talent would be too much for the Steelers to pass up.
19) ATL -- Bowman (OLB, Penn State)*
The Falcons secondary is bad, but there is no CB here worth taking (I think Robinson is overrated and not worth a 1st round pick). The Falcons decide to sure up their run defense and a weak position at OLB and take Bowman, who has off-field problems but comes from LB U and appears to be very talented.
20) HOU -- Spiller (HB, Clemson)*
Chris Brown and Ryan Moats were the Texan's starting running back at different times last year. Arian Foster did well in his last start for the Texans in Week 17, but the Texans would jump at the chance to select an electrifying, multipurpose back in Spiller. After all, they face one twice a year in Chris Johnson. Spiller has similar skills, although he doesn't quite have 4.24 speed. The Texans could also take a DE or S here. The Mays v. Pierre-Paul v. Spiller call would be difficult, but I think they would go with Spiller.
21) CIN -- Gresham (TE, Oklahoma)
At first, I thought Cinci would take a DE here. Antwan Odom will presumably be healthy next year, but the Bengals other DEs, Jonathan Fanene and Robert Geathers, don't exactly make defensive coordinators nervous. The Bengals would love to see such a talented, yet raw, defensive end fall to them as Pierre-Paul. The Bengals could also take a G like Iupati, a DE, or a WR here. However, after watching their offense struggle in the playoffs, I think the Bengals will take an extremely talented TE in Gresham instead.
22) NE -- Sapp (DE/OLB, Clemson)
The Patriots have 3 second round picks, so they could move up if they are interested in a specific player like CJ Spiller. Here, with their pass rush not being what it once was, I think they take a pass rushing DE/OLB in Sapp. They may also take a FS like Taylor Mays in this scenario, go for a WR, or draft a RB, but I think they improve their linebacking core here.
23) GB -- Bulaga (T, Iowa)
The Packers biggest weakness is their offensive line, specifically their tackles. Bulaga is the best tackle avaliable.
24) PHI -- Spikes (MLB, Florida)
Many analysts have noted how Spikes doesn't seem to catch up with players he should be able to catch. I still think Spikes will be very good. Paul Posluszny and James Laurinaitis had speed questions, but are some of the best MLBs in the league.
25) BAL -- Benn (WR, Illinois)
Derrick Mason is still producing, but he's old, and may retire. Mark Clayton can now surely be labeled a bust. The Ravens two main needs are WR and CB, but there aren't any CBs here worth taking. The Ravens go with the top WR on their board.
26) ARI -- Pierre-Paul (DE/OLB, South Florida)
The Cardinals could go tackle or guard here after their offensive line was horrible against the Saints. However, their defense was awful throughout the playoffs. The Cardinals take a risk here, taking a guy most project to DE but a player that also had tremendous athleticism to develop into an edge rusher in their 3-4 scheme.
27) DAL -- Iupati (G, Idaho)
The Cowboy's offensive line in the playoffs was awful. They improve by taking the best guard in the draft
28) SD -- Dwyer (RB, Georgia Tech)
This is where the Bradford trade watch begins. San Diego doesn't bite on various trade offers, however, as they have too big of a need at RB, and select the best avaliable here.
29) NYJ -- LaFell (WR, LSU)
The Jets need a receiver. Braylon Edwards can't catch anything.
30) MIN -- Williams (DT, Tennessee)
Minnesota could go CB here, but they choose to take a DT to groom to eventually take over for one of the Williams brothers. Hey, it only makes sense. Having DTs named Williams has worked well for them so far.
31) IND -- Brown (T, USC)
Tony Ugoh has been a complete bust at T. For a team with a lot of of talent, they have a major need at tackle, and use this pick to fill that need.
32) NO -- Weatherspoon (OLB, Missouri)
Who Dat? The Super Bowl champs improve their linebacking core by taking the talented Weatherspoon.
2-1) STL -- Snead (QB, Mississippi)
2-2) DET -- Griffen (DE, USC)
2-3) TB -- Hardy (DE, Mississippi)
2-4) KC -- Washington (ILB, TCU)
2-5) WAS -- Best (RB, California)
2-6) CLE -- Robinson (CB, Florida State)
2-7) OAK -- Jones (DT, Syracuse)
2-8) SEA -- Ducasse (G, Massachusetts)
2-9) BUF -- Hernandez (TE, Florida)
2-10) TB -- Williams (WR, USC)
2-11) MIA -- Tate (WR, Notre Dame)
2-12) NE -- McCluster (RB, Mississippi)
2-13)DEN -- Cody (DT, Alabama)
2-14)NYG -- Norwood (OLB, South Carolina)
2-15)NE -- Gilyard (WR, Cincinnati)
2-16)CAR -- Gronkowski (TE, Arizona)
2-17)SF -- Thomas (WR, Georgia Tech)
2-18)KC -- Warren (CB, Michigan)
2-19)HOU -- Jones (S, LSU)
2-20)PIT -- Lindley (CB, Kentucky)
2-21) CIN -- Shipley (WR, Texas)
2-22) NE -- Graham (DE, Michigan)
2-23) GB -- Hughes (DE/OLB, TCU)
2-24) PHI -- Odrick (DT, Penn State)
2-25) BAL -- Burnett (S, Georgia Tech)
2-26) ARI -- Asamoah (G, Illinois)
2-27) JAX (in a trade w/DAL) -- Tebow (QB/TE/FB, Florida)
2-28) SD -- Jackson (CB, Alabama)
2-29) NYJ -- Arenas (CB, Alabama)
2-30) MIN -- Wilson (CB, Boise State)
2-31) IND -- Curran (OLB, Georgia)
2-32) NO -- Houston (DT, Texas)
3-1) STL -- Johnson (G, Alabama)
3-2) DET -- Cox (CB, Oklahmoa State)
3-3) TB -- Smith (DT, Louisiana Tech)
3-4) WAS -- Forfeited for 2009 Supplemental Draft Pick
3-5) KC -- Allen (S, South Florida)
3-6) OAK -- McCoy (QB, Texas)
3-7) PHI -- Wooton (DE, Northwestern)
3-8) CLE -- McCoy (TE, USC)
3-9) BUF -- Black (T, LSU)
3-10) MIA -- Selvie (DE/OLB, South Florida)
3-11) CHI -- Mathews (RB, Fresno State)
3-12) DAL (via trade with Jacksonville) -- Young (T, Notre Dame)
3-13) NYG -- Render (G, Virginia Tech)
3-14) CAR -- Muckelroy (OLB, Texas)
3-15) TEN -- Cunningham (OLB, Florida)
3-16) SF -- Gibson (DE/OLB, Ohio State)
3-17) DEN -- Beadles (G, Utah)
3-18) HOU -- Ghee (CB, Wake Forest)
3-19) PIT -- Washington (T, Abilene Christian)
3-20) ATL -- McCourty (CB, Rutgers)
3-21) CIN -- Rolle (S, Florida State)
3-22) OAK -- Coleman (OLB, Auburn)
3-23) GB -- Thompson (CB, California)
3-24) PHI -- Jones (S, Georgia)
3-25) BAL -- Lewis (CB, Vanderbilt)
3-26) ARI -- Capers (T, West Virginia)
3-27) DAL -- Lee (ILB, Penn State)
3-28) SD -- Woods (DT, LSU)
3-29) CLE -- Sharpton (ILB, Miami)
3-30) MIN -- LeFevour (QB, Central Michigan)
3-31) IND -- Spivey (CB, Iowa)
3-32) NO -- Pouncey (C, Florida)