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With the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine both come and gone, we're getting a clearer picture of how the NFL Draft might shape up. Players Pro Day workouts are the only piece of the puzzle left before Roger Goodell calls out their names in seven weeks, and with that in mind, SB Nation's bloggers have taken their first shot at predicting the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
We've had our resident draft expert, Mocking The Draft, lay out how he thinks the first round will develop, with each team blogger reacting to the pick, analyzing how that player would fit in, and who else the team might look at that slot.
Without further ado, the Rams are on the clock:
1. ST. LOUIS RAMS -- Sam Bradford, Oklahoma Quarterback
Mocking The Draft says: In consecutive years, the Rams have passed on the likes of Mark Sanchez and Matt Ryan, players considered franchise quarterbacks. It may be somewhat unlikely the Rams will be contending for a playoff spot in the coming season. But taking a quarterback this year would allow him to ease into the starting spot. It will also give head coach Steve Spagnuolo another season to work over the team's defense while the team adds more talent.
Turf Show Times says: Bradford is a great pick for the St. Louis Rams, though I think it's one that could be fairly controversial among a big part of the fan base with a crush on Ndamukong Suh. There will also be some armchair GMs wringing their hands about Bradford's injury history and paying first overall pick money - sure to be more than $40 million guaranteed - to a guy yet to see an NFL snap. Lots of people had Bradford above Stafford on their draft boards last season, until Bradford announced his return to OU for another season. At the Combine, team doctors will get to poke and prod him to answer looming questions about his health, and the coaches and front office guys will get at least a few minutes inside his head. Rams GM Billy Devaney was part of the San Diego front office that drafted Ryan Leaf, so they have some experience in knowing what to look for in a QB's mental makeup. That and Bradford's March 25 workout will put lots of questions to rest and make it easier for the Rams leadership, fans and draft pundits to accept Bradford as a first overall pick.
Of course, the Rams could do much worse than drafting Suh or McCoy with their first pick. Defensive tackle is a big need for a team that's already invested two first round picks in its defensive line...and had a disappointing return on the more than $30 million in guaranteed money they have invested in those two picks.
2. DETROIT LIONS -- Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska Defensive Tackle
Mocking The Draft says: Suh should be a fairly obvious choice, if he's available. He has the ability to transform a defense. He can penetrate and get sacks, collapse the pocket to make the quarterback get rid of the ball faster or take up double teams to help linebackers get after the run. Suh is the beset defensive tackle to come out in some time and will be an immediate starter.
Pride Of Detroit says: The dream first-round scenario for the Lions is for St. Louis to pick a quarterback, leaving both Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy on the board when they go on the clock. If this were to happen, then Suh would be a tremendous pick for the Lions. One of the Lions' biggest needs is at defensive tackle, and Suh would be a great way to fill that void. He tore it up at Nebraska, and I would certainly look forward to seeing the Lions build their defensive line around him.
Ndamukong Suh would be an immediate starter at defensive tackle. As mentioned, the Lions could build their defensive line around him and instantly would upgrade their pass rush and run defense with this selection. More than anything, adding Suh would go a long way toward making the Lions' defense better as a whole. Although Suh is merely a defensive tackle, a player as good as him helps the secondary by giving opposing quarterbacks less time to throw and he helps the linebackers by making the rush defense much tougher than it currently is.
I can't see the Lions picking someone other than Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy, or Eric Berry. If the Rams choose a quarterback, I can't see Detroit taking a non-defensive tackle.
3. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS -- Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma Defensive Tackle
Mocking The Draft says: With a front four with no discernable stars, the Buccaneers would be foolish to go after a safety instead of McCoy. He can do just about everything Suh can and will help the league's worst run defense. The Buccaneers need several pieces on defense, but McCoy is about as good of a place to start.
Buc'Em says: About three-quarters of the way through the Bucs season, head coach Raheem Morris took over play-calling duties from defensive coordinator Jim Bates. Morris went back to his traditional Tampa Two roots, with some variables that previous defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin did not run. The Tampa Two defense is predicated on getting pressure from the front four and not relying on blitzes. This is done with a three technique defensive tackle that shoots the gap between the left guard and left tackle, while the nose guard occupies the center and same guard. This position in the Tampa Two was made famous by Warren Sapp, who was instructed to line up on the left guard's shoulder, and shoot through the three-gap, hence the name. While many feel Ndamukong Suh is the best DT on the board, McCoy is a true three-technique tackle and would be the best fit for Raheem Morris' system.
Safety Eric Berry has the personal recommendation of former Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin as a great fit for the Bucs defense 'right out of the box'. While some would say you never pick a safety this high in the draft, Berry is considered to be a play-making star in the mold of an Ed Reed. Berry would be an instant fit in the Bucs Tampa Two defense, and hits well for his size.
4. WASHINGTON REDSKINS -- Russel Okung, Oklahoma State Offensive Tackle
Mocking The Draft Says: The Redskins will give Jason Campbell one last shot and in the mean time solidify their offensive line.
Hogs Haven says: At No. 4 overall, the Washington Redskins are in position to select one of the elite players in the draft. The age-old debate of "take the best player available" vs. "fill the biggest need" is amplified in the top 5 picks every year. Luckily for the Redskins, Russell Okung is a talented enough offensive tackle prospect to satisfy both sides of this argument.
The 6'5", 300 lb lineman out of Oklahoma State is an elite draft prospect at a position of incredible need for the Redskins, and has the potential to pick up where Chris Samuels left off and hold down the left tackle spot here for years to come. He projects as an Opening Day starter at left tackle and is widely expected to be good right away. In Washington, the offensive line is a major area of concern, so his selection would immediately lay to rest any rumblings from the fan base that the team is not committed enough to rebuilding this unit.
While defense is certainly the strength of the Redskins, when you finish 4-12, there are few positions you can choose to ignore at the top of the 1st round. Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy and Eric Berry are all players that would not only start for the Redskins, they would be upgrades for our already potent defense. Washington struggled at safety last season, so Eric Berry represents an opportunity to increase the likelihood of turnovers and defensive scoring from the secondary. Suh and McCoy project nicely as battery mates for Albert Haynesworth, adding bulk, strength and talent at a critical position. Despite repeated mentions of the Skins taking a quarterback here, it simply makes no sense given the glaring needs along the offensive line, as well as at running back and safety. Putting a rookie quarterback behind our current line would be nothing short of criminal.
5. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS -- Eric Berry, Tennessee Safety
Mocking The Draft says: Whether it's Berry or Rolando McClain, the Chiefs can't lose. Although McClain would better-help Kansas City's poor run defense, Berry is a playmaker. Their safeties are lacking in all-around talent, which Berry displayed in his junior year. While a linebacker and left tackle could also be possibilites, some think Berry is the best player in this draft.
Arrowhead Pride says: This is a solid pick for the Chiefs. Safety is a major area of need and Berry could make an instant impact -- something the Chiefs haven't seen from their last two top five draft picks. Fifth overall is a bit high for a safety but if Berry turns into the "next Ed Reed", like many pundits predict, then it will be well worth it.
6. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS -- Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame Quarterback
Mocking The Draft says: Current starter Matt Hasselbeck has one more year left on his contract, so drafting his replacement is a necessity. He could even be cut considering he's had a 22:27 touchdown-to-interception ratio the past two seasons and has missed 11 games over that time. Clausen is NFL ready, and a known favorite of new coach Pette Carroll.
Field Gulls says: Clausen grew up in Southern California and was a pupil of quarterback guru Steve Clarkson. Clarkson also coached Matt Cassel and Matt Leinart. Clausen’s high school is less than an hour from the USC campus, or on a normal traffic day in LA, less than four hours. Carroll recruited Clausen, sending then USC quarterbacks coach and current Huskies head coach Steve Sarkisian. Clausen picked Notre Dame; Carroll ran through three quarterbacks in three seasons.
Seattle needs a replacement for Matt Hasselbeck. This is a surprisingly controversial statement. Hasselbeck played 14 games last year, but was unhealthy for 12 of them and his already limited arm strength suffered. Games took a turn for the embarrassing at the end of the season. He turns 35 this season and is only under contract for one more season. He could have a late career renaissance, but it’s unlikely and categorically foolish for a rebuilding team to count on.
Clausen has strong ties to Carroll and Seattle has a strong need for a young quarterback. The only remaining variable is if new offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates and his somewhat vertical interpretation of the West Coast offense can be accomplished by Clausen and his middling arm strength.
7. CLEVELAND BROWNS -- Joe Haden, Florida Cornerback
Mocking The Draft says: If one of the quarterbacks fell to Cleveland, new president Mike Holmgren might want to start his regime with a fresh signal caller. However, the team still hasn't totally given Brady Quinn a chance. By selecting Haden, the Browns could finally move Brandon McDonald inside covering the slot, a position where he'd be more suited. The Browns' front seven started to come on during the second half of the 2009 season, and Haden would certainly help the back half.
Dawgs By Nature says: Toward the end of last season, Eric Mangini and Rob Ryan had the front
seven of the Browns playing tremendous defense despite the fact that players were out of position or had been picked off the waiver wire. The problems stemmed from the secondary, where two of the four positions are
weak – one at safety, and one at cornerback. Fulfilling one of those positions is imperative, whether it is through free agency or he draft. Right now, I’m thinking it’ll be through the draft, but No. 7 might be a higher pick than desirable. Granted, he is the best cornerback and would fulfill one of our primary needs, but it’s also hard to imagine him
morphing into a shut down corner.
Last year, Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald were typically considered the Browns’ starting cornerbacks. Wright is perfectly fine at cornerback – McDonald is the person who would lose his spot and shift to nickel back. This should be beneficial to McDonald, who thrived as a nickel back in his first season and was opportunistic when placed in that position last year. Ideally, Haden would jump right into the starting lineup.
Outsiders might believe the team needs a starting quarterback or a starting running back. I’d cringe at the thought of developing another quarterback – as bad as Brady Quinn played last year, I’d still like to see him receive an opportunity to start without having to look over his shoulder and with a few veteran receivers at his disposal. At running
back, Jerome Harrison did well enough last year to warrant a crack as the opening-day starter. In the first round, the other two positions that interest me are S and ILB. Candidates for those positions at No. 7 probably include S Eric Berry and MLB Rolando McClain.
8. OAKLAND RAIDERS -- Rolando McClain, Alabama Linebacker
Mocking The Draft says: This may be an unconventional pick, but Kirk Morrison misses far too many tackles to remain at inside linebacker. The Raiders may have more pressing needs – defensive line, offensive tackle, cornerback – but there isn't a better player than McClain here.
Silver And Black Pride says: If Rolando McClain is available at No. 8, he has to be the pick. The Raiders need a heart and soul leader at the linebacker position and they don't currently have one. I love Kirk Morrison, he is an Oakland native and was a member of the Black Hole before he was drafted out of San Diego State, but he has not developed into a leader at the MLB position.
Leadership is what McClain is made of. He is a hard worker who studies endless film and will be a great influence on the "veterans" Howard and Morrison.
The Raiders are committed to running a 4-3 defense and by drafting McClain, they will have Morrison and Howard, if they are retained, as speed Linebackers on the edges with McClain calling assignments and being a ball hawk in the middle of the field.
The Raiders may go offensive line here, with either Campbell, Lupati, Bulaga or Tony Davis.
9. BUFFALO BILLS -- Anthony Davis, Rutgers Offensive Tackle
Mocking The Draft says: The Buffalo line clearly wasn't as good in 2009 without Jason Peters, so why not take a player very similar to him? Davis is an impressive physical lineman who can be a force in run blocking. He's also an excellent pass blocker and should stick on the left side for years if he can keep his weight in check. Demetrius Bell was solid at times, but Davis can be great.
Buffalo Rumblings says: Anthony Davis would be an excellent pick for the Bills. Dan is right - the offensive line is one of Buffalo's three most critical needs, ranking just behind quarterback and just ahead of nose tackle. Left tackle is the jewel position on the offensive line, and it's also the area where Buffalo is the weakest up front. If we can't get Sam Bradford at No. 9 (which is highly unlikely), left tackle by far makes the most sense, at least from a needs standpoint.
Davis would come into Buffalo as the team's starter at left tackle from day one. I think he's capable of doing so; he's probably the most polished tackle in the draft in terms of run blocking, and with a serious question mark at quarterback, Buffalo is probably going to be a run-first offensive team in 2010. There are some intangible issues to iron out - work ethic, weight management and the like - but if Buffalo's new coaching staff could motivate Davis from day one and keep him that way, his transition would be pretty seamless.
If Sam Bradford, Russell Okung or even Rolando McClain had been on the board, they may very well have gotten the nod over Davis. Tennessee NT Dan Williams and Iowa OT Bryan Bulaga would have been smart picks as well; both would fill huge needs and fit the style of play the Bills plan to employ under new GM Buddy Nix.
10. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS -- Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech Defensive End
Mocking The Draft says: Yes, the Jaguars drafted defensive ends Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves in 2008. However, both have underperformed and are nowhere near the player Morgan can be. The team only had 14 sacks in 2009, a number Morgan could get by himself.
SB Nation says: The two most important positions in football are quarterback and guys who can rush the quarterback. As Mocking The Draft points out, the Jaguars were woefully deficient in this latter category last season, which goes a long way towards explaining their 27th-ranked pass defense in 2009. Morgan would definitely be the safest pick at defensive end, although the admittedly raw Jason Pierre-Paul might tempt them with his higher upside.
For more on the Jaguars, check out Big Cat Country.
11. DENVER BRONCOS (from Chicago) -- Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State Wide Receiver
Mocking The Draft says: It's common knowledge at this point that the Broncos will be trading troubled wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Bryant, who was suspended for all but three games in 2009, could be an immediate factor in the NFL. Denver could go a few directions with this pick, including defensive tackle and middle linebacker. However, with McClain off the board, no players at those positions are worth this early of a pick.
Mile High Report says: I have to admit, the prospect of lining Dez Bryant out wide for the Broncos is tempting. While many say this will be a need because Brandon Marshall will soon be out of Denver, having a receiver that can stretch the field is still a need, even with Marshall still on board. The Broncos were criticized for not attacking down-field last season, but who were they going to throw the ball to? Marshall is not a guy that will out-run coverage, nor is Eddie Royal. The Broncos have a bunch of guys that can make plays underneath, but no one that can run past coverage - like Steve Smith, Randy Moss or DeSean Jackson. Dez Bryant could be that guy - which would make Marshall or Royal that much more dangerous.
Bryant to likely start from Day One. If Marshall remains with the Broncos, Eddie Royal could move to the slot, a better fit for him in my opinion, giving the Broncos quite a dangerous 3-wide set. If Marshall is traded, Royal could still move to the slot with Jabar Gaffney lining up on the other side of Bryant. Either way, Bryant would be an effective weapon in the Broncos offense.
If the Broncos don't take Bryant, they could go a couple of different directions. I would jump at the chance of grabbing LB Rolando McClain if he were still available. I doubt any of the defensive linemen will still be on the board at No. 11, so the Broncos could go offensive line as well. Bruce Campbell from Maryland is my favorite, though he is flying up draft boards. Bryan Bulaga or Mike Iupati could be available, though each is a stretch at No. 11. I'm not a big fan of Bulaga either, due to his short arms.
Of course, with Josh McDaniels, the prospect of drafting a Quarterback cannot be ignored, especially if Sam Bradford should fall.
12. MIAMI DOLPHINS -- Dan Williams, Tennessee Defensive Tackle
Mocking The Draft says: The need for a nose tackle in Miami has been widely discussed. Jason Ferguson has been mulling retirement, but even if he returns he probably won't play more than a year. Williams may not be as big as Terrence Cody, but he's emerged as a better player. He was an inconsistent before his senior year, but really turned it on in 2009.
The Phinsider says: With Rolando McClain and Dez Bryant already off the board, nose tackle Dan Williams is a logical place to turn. He'd fill an obvious need for this Miami defense. Jason Ferguson is currently rehabbing a season-ending torn quad, is 35 years old, and is a free agent. Paul Soliai didn't show nearly enough as the starting nose tackle after Ferg went down. But is the 12th overall pick too high for a player who doesn't even play on all three downs - especially for somebody like Williams who wasn't even considered a top prospect heading into his senior season?
Like I said, he'd obviously fill an obvious need in the middle of Miami's 3-4 defense. It's not a coincidence that the Dolphins allowed 42 more rushing yards per game without Ferguson in 2009. Tony Sparano and the coaching staff also got a chance to get to know Williams first hand when his staff coached the South squad in the Senior Bowl. So the Dolphins should know more about him than most other NFL teams. And if they believe he's worthy of the No.12 pick, it would be hard to argue at this point.
With the two top players most linked to the Dolphins - McClain and Bryant - already gone, the Dolphins could use the 12th overall pick on an offensive play-maker...who isn't a receiver. C.J. Spiller will generate a lot of discussion in Miami's war room if he's still on the board when the Dolphins are on the clock. Ricky Williams will be 33 before the start of next season and is only under contract for one more season. He's also already said publicly that 2010 is likely his last season. Starting RB Ronnie Brown, meanwhile, is 28 and is rehabbing his second season-ending injury in three years. The 2010 season is also his final season under contract as of now. Spiller, meanwhile, is an electrifying back who would complement Ronnie well if Brown is re-signed beyond 2010.
I also wouldn't rule out an outside linebacker like Jason Pierre-Paul or Sergio Kindle. And a sleeper to keep an eye on -- even at No. 12 -- might be Sean Weatherspoon. Bill Parcells would love the versatility he would bring to Miami's linebackers. Never rule out a trade down to acquire more picks, too. This front office loves their draft picks and is always looking to add more mid to late-rounders.
13. SAN FRANCISCO 49ers -- Trent Williams, Oklahoma Offensive Tackle
Mocking The Draft says: It's clear that the 49ers need an upgrade at right tackle. Bryan Bulaga and Bruce Campbell may still be available, but Williams is the best pure right tackle in the draft. He may have played on the left side in 2009, but he showed earlier in his career that he was a natural on the right side.
Niners Nation says: Arguably the biggest hole on the 2009 San Francisco 49ers was the offensive line. An improved line means more holes for the running game, and more time for the quarterback. Accordingly, the 49ers are expected to expand quite a bit of resources improving the line. Trent Williams is certainly a big behemoth of a man. After Okung and Davis, he's certainly a talented performer worth grabbing. At Niners Nation we've had plenty of discussions about Williams and there is some concern that he lacks some of the necessary fundamentals and has bust written all over him. Maybe folks are still a bit burned from Kwame Harris?
If the 49ers draft Williams he would have as good a chance to start from Day One as most any other rookie in this draft. The 49ers biggest offensive line weakness was at right tackle, where Adam Snyder is a liability as a starter. Williams could get a chance to join Joe Staley as a bookend for the next decade. While drafting offensive linemen isn't exactly "exciting," it fills a huge need for the team and could prove to be a difference-maker for a team looking to get back to the playoffs.
At just offensive tackle, Bryan Bulaga is a guy a lot of folks like. Many like him more than Trent Williams. So, the next two months of the evaluation process are going to be important for the 49ers determining exactly which OT they want on the right side in 2010. The 49ers could also very well take a look at CJ Spiller with this pick. The team needs an explosive player like Spiller who could be worked in to the return game, and also provide a splashy change of pace option for Frank Gore. Additionally, the team could use help in the secondary, specifically at safety. Finally, although the sack totals were solid, the team could conceivably use another pass-rush threat.
14. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (from Denver) -- Bryan Bulaga, Iowa Offensive Tackle
Mocking The Draft says: With the career of future Hall of Fame tackle Walter Jones comig to an end, Seattle could benefit by taking his replacement this year. It's a strong tackle class early, but there is a considerable dropoff after the first-round tackles. Bulaga is considered by some a top 10 talent and could give Seattle it's next great left tackle.
Field Gulls says: The position is correct, in that Seattle needs talent at offensive tackle, but I’m not sure how well Bulaga fits within Alex Gibbs zone blocking scheme. Bulaga moves reasonably well, but is not nearly the prototypical zone blocking tackle Charles Brown is. Brown played for Carroll at USC. He has great pure talent and is the kind of unfinished player at tackle Gibbs could shape into an All-Pro. Bulaga makes some sense, but given the option between the two, I think Carroll would pick his player and the player that better fits Gibbs system.
15. NEW YORK GIANTS -- Earl Thomas, Texas Safety
Mocking The Draft says: With Rolando McClain unlikely to fall this far, the Giants would be wise to go after a player like Thomas. The Giants' safeties don't get after the ball, Thomas' specialty. The Giants gave up a lot of big plays in the passing game and having Thomas patrolling the deep part of the field, like Ed Reed, should help there. Thomas can also handle playing man against wide receivers.
Big Blue View says: If the Giants really were to select Earl Thomas with the 15th pick of the April draft a HUGE smile would cross the faces of most New York Giants fans. With safety Kenny Phillips out most of last season, and his future in doubt because of an arthritic knee, safety is an unquestioned need. And Thomas is a player who fits right in this area of the draft. Even if KP is healthy, adding Thomas is a good idea. Shoot, any help for the historically bad Giants defense is an outstanding idea.
Giants fans would absolutely jump for joy if Alabama middle linebacker Rolando McClain somehow fell to New York at No. 15. If he doesn't, and the Giants call Thomas's name, they will at least do a little hop, skip and a jump. Obviously, the Giants could go in a lot of directions here. But, I doubt anyone will be unhappy if this is the choice they make.
16. TENNESSEE TITANS -- Everson Griffen, USC Defensive End
Mocking The Draft says: With the impending departure of veteran Kyle Vanden Bosch, the Titans need a starting-caliber end. Griffen is a solid power rusher who can easily slide into Vanden Bosch's side. A cornerback is a possibility, but this still too early for someone like Kyle Wilson or Patrick Robinson.
Music City Miracles says: Everson Griffen is a solid pick. Pretty much all of the Titans needs this offseason are on the defensive side of the ball, and as we saw in the playoffs, a good defense starts up front with a pass rush from the front four. The Titans had a lot of trouble getting pressure when they only brought four guys in 2009 so Griffen is a guy that could come in and help them from Day One.
Griffen will be competing for a starting spot from the first day of camp. Depending on what happens with Kyle Vanden Bosch in free agency, the Titans could be starting 2010 without both of their starting defensive ends from 2009. They have a couple of young guys they like, but neither was able to really step forward and claim a
starting spot last season..
17. SAN FRANCISCO 49ers (from Carolina) -- C.J. Spiller, Clemson Running Back
Mocking The Draft says: Although the 49ers still have Frank Gore and drafted Glen Coffee in the third round last year, they don't have a player as explosive as Spiller. He can clearly run the ball, but has a lot of value as a pass catcher. Spiller will also help the team improve ite's league-worst punt return average.
Niners Nation says: Spiller brings an explosive element that the team could use out of the backfield and in the return game. A lot of mock drafts have the 49ers grabbing Spiller with either first round pick, so this is certainly a very real possibility. I don't know if Spiller's game will translate to the NFL, but given his upside and the 49ers needs, I would not view this as a bad choice.
Spiller would probably immediately become the No. 1 guy in the punt and kick return units. As far as the running game, it would be an interesting mix of players between him, Frank Gore and 2009 3rd-round pick Glen Coffee. Gore would retain the majority of the carries, but I could see the team splitting carries between Coffee and Spiller fairly evenly. The team wants to see what Coffee brings to the table, so a time-share between the two of them would seem to be in order.
18. PITTSBURGH STEELERS -- Bruce Campbell, Maryland Offensive Tackle
Mocking The Draft says: Playing Max Starks at left tackle has to stop if Pittsburgh wants to return to the Super Bowl. He's wildly inconsistent and had plenty of injuries in the past. Although he's signed through 2012 and started every game in 2009, the Steelers should look for his replacement. Campbell could be that player, maybe even in a year after playing behind Starks. Don't be surprised, though, if Pittsburgh looks at Georgia Tech's Morgan Burnett. They need a player who can either compliment Troy Polamalu or start for him if he gets injured again.
SB Nation says: Offensive line has been a major weakness for the Steelers for several seasons now. Their dominant defense masked the problem in 2008 (Ben Roethlisberger was sacked 46 times), but last season, with the defense banged up, the offensive line's woes sank Pittsburgh's hopes of defending their title (Roethlisberger was sacked 50 times in 2009).
Campbell is the highest-rated tackle left on the board for the Steelers, but his play has rarely matched his measurables. Idaho guard/tackle Mike Iupati might be a safer pick, as well as giving the Steelers increased versatility along the offensive line.
For more on the Steelers and their draft needs, check out Behind The Steel Curtain.
19. ATLANTA FALCONS -- Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida Defensive End
Mocking The Draft says: It's time to give up on the Jamaal Anderson experiment. He is officially a bust. Also consider that John Abraham, while still effective, is getting up there in age. Pierre-Paul would give the team a great pass-rush combo. The Falcons could also look at cornerback, as that is probably the team's biggest area of concern. The problem is the quality depth a cornerback in this draft is lacking after Joe Haden.
The Falcoholic says: This would be a great pick for the Falcons. Jason Pierre-Paul is a dynamic pass rusher who teams must account for at all times, and the Falcons' single greatest weakness is a lack of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. With John Abraham slowing down and relying more on strength and agility than speed, Pierre-Paul would provide a nice contrast on the other side.
If selected, Pierre-Paul would immediately figure into the defensive end rotation in Atlanta. He'd have to work to supplant Kroy Biermann and Chauncey Davis, a pair of young ends with some talent, and prove he was a more complete player than rookie Lawrence Sidbury, a pass rushing specialist who underwent a steep learning curve his first season in the NFL. With his talent, I'd imagine Pierre-Paul would see significant snaps immediately.
I'd generally support a pass rushing defensive end of linebacker with the pick, but cornerbacks Perrish Cox, Kyle Wilson and Patrick Robinson could all also prove to be strong picks for the Falcons.
20. HOUSTON TEXANS -- Brian Price, UCLA Defensive Tackle
Mocking The Draft says: Defensive line continues to be the Texans' biggest need, so once again the team should use a first rounder on the front. Price is a good value with the 20th pick, but filling this need is a necessity. The team can address it's needs in the secondary later in the draft.
Battle Red Blog says: If the Houston Texans do take Brian Price with their first-round pick, we will have a very disappointed fan base on our hands. Not that Price can't or won't be a fine player in the NFL, but he seems awfully similar to what we already have in Amobi Okoye--a smaller, quicker defensive tackle who could have/has had trouble thriving without a large, space-eating DT next to him to tie up blockers. As such, there's a big question as to whether Price would be a good fit on the current Texans' defensive line.
Mocking The Draft is, however, right on the money with its focus on the defensive line. Despite the Texans' drafting efforts, the defensive line remains a work in progress and is extraordinarily inconsistent in applying pressure on the QB. We feel like we're in decent shape at DE, with Mario Williams at one spot and a combination of Antonio Smith and Connor Barwin at the other. We need real help at DT, where the prevailing thought over the last couple of years has been that Okoye needs a planetoid next to him to truly thrive. We're certainly in play for a DT in the first round. It just has to be a big, run-stuffing, blocker-occupying type.
Assuming the Texans don't try to move back (and Rick Smith has shown he's not shy of moving down, which is probably still the most preferable solution for the majority of Houston fans), it stands to reason that No. 20 will be a defensive tackle, offensive lineman, or a defensive back. To that end, keep an eye on Dan Williams, Terrence Cody (breasts sold separately), Earl Thomas, Mike Iupati, and Kyle Wilson. All could come in and probably start from the outset at their respective positions.
21. CINCINNATI BENGALS -- Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma Tight End
Mocking The Draft says: While the Bengals rarely utilize a tight end, it's clear their offense is transforming. Gresham is the draft's best tight end and a good all-around player. The Bengals are a team that has a lot of strengths and glaring needs. They're set at quarterback, running back, cornerback, center, offensive tackle and middle linebacker. After tight end, the Bengals may consider a guard like Mike Iupati or a wide receiver like Golden Tate or Damian Williams
Cincy Jungle says: Jermaine Gresham is a solid pick for a position that’s clearly thin and without punch in the passing offense. In his best offensive season in 2008, Gresham recorded 66 receptions for 950 yards receiving and 14 receiving touchdowns. With the Bengals lacking a serious offensive threat after Chad Ochocinco, they could use a threat that occupies linebackers and safeties to free up other receivers, like Laveranues Coles and Andre Caldwell.
Considering Gresham missed most of his senior season after tearing cartilage in his right knee, and that the Bengals philosophy to use tight ends more as blockers than as a downfield threat, Cincinnati could opt to go after the best available safety to sure up a position that’s thin, at best. In 2010, the Bengals will see improved offenses with games against the Colts, Chargers, Saints and Patriots with tough divisional games against the Steelers and Ravens. The Bengals could opt to keep focusing on a defense that finished fourth overall in 2009 in an effort to keep opposing offenses off the field.
22. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS -- Sergio Kindle, Texas Defensive End/Linebacker
Mocking The Draft says: This would be a steal for New England. Kindle was sensational at linebacker in 2008 and held his own at end in 2009. He would give New England the pass rushing playmaker it didn't have last season.
Pats Pulpit says: This would be an outstanding pick. Kindle would be a major upgrade in a defense that's struggled with generating a solid pass rush; he would really be a terrific fit. With the likely departure of Adalius Thomas, there's a hole to fill in that position. If the Pats could lock up a young stud for several years, they would be that much closer to a dominant defense.
23. GREEN BAY PACKERS -- Charles Brown, USC Offensive Tackle
Mocking The Draft says: This may be somewhat early for Brown to be taken but that's just how bad Green Bay's offensive line was in 2009. No team gave up more sacks than Green Bay last season and Brown could replace the injury-prone Chad Clifton. While cornerback may be just as big of a need, there is good depth at that position in this draft.
Acme Packing Company says: I can't see Brown as the pick. Offensive tackle is a need position, but Brown will likely weigh under 300 lbs. at the combine, and the Packers have been trying to get bigger on the line. For example, they moved RG Josh Sitton into the starting lineup last season because he weighs 20 lbs. more than the player he effectively replaced, Scott Wells, before an injury to Jason Spitz forced Wells back into the starting lineup.
24. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES -- Brandon Graham, Michigan Defensive End/Linebacker
Mocking The Draft says: Trent Cole is the only front four pass rusher the Eagle have. Graham would fit perfectly in Philadelphia. He's an agile end who can get into the back field quickly and can drop back into light zone when needed. He's a three-down player who has the talent to contribute right away.
Bleeding Green Nation says: I like the pick a lot. I certainly do see defensive end as a need for the Eagles and Graham does seem to fit the mold of a guy who could excel in the Eagles system. With all the DE/OLB 'tweeners coming out the past few years, Graham seems like a near prototypical 4-3 end. I also like that he occasionally played tackle on obvious pass rush downs, as that's something the Eagles often do with their defensive ends.
If there's a top notch guard on the board or a good tackle who could convert to guard, I think the Eagles would think very hard about that. In this mock, Mike Iupati would be an obvious choice in the first round. Some other needs they could look for would be free safety or a strong side outside linebacker. I also wouldn't be shocked to see them take a corner as that's a position they value highly and don't have much depth at. Other than the possibility of an interior offensive lineman(which is strong), I'd be surprised if these picks weren't both on the defensive side of the ball
25. BALTIMORE RAVENS -- Golden Tate, Notre Dame Wide Receiver
Mocking The Draft says: Every year people say Baltimore needs a wide receiver. This year is no different as Derrick Mason is only a year older and quarterback Joe Flacco obviously needs a deep threat. Tate can do much more than run vertical routes as he has good hands and is dangerous after the catch. He can also contribute on punt and kick returns.
Baltimore Beatdown says: There is no doubt the Ravens need to upgrade their wide receiver group for next year, and Golden Tate would be a solid pick for the Ravens if he is there at No. 25. Tate fits the AFC North style of football because he will go after the ball and is not afraid of running across the middle of the field. His height is not something we are looking for in our WR for next year, but he will make a great compliment to whoever else the Ravens bring in to fill up the depth chart.
Indeed,Tate fits the Ravens pretty well. Ozzie Newsome will like the fact that Tate was a running back in high school, which shows that he is not afraid of contact and has great vision for finding the open hole. The Ravens love to move the ball with short passes, allowing our players to get large amounts of yards after the catch. Tate can do that. He also has very deceptive speed. He doesn't not look to be the fastest guy out there, but always finds a way to beat his man and get a huge catch. Tate would work well out of the slot and occasionally as a No. 2 receiver, but does not fit what we are looking for in a No. 1 WR.
Looking at the Mock Draft, there are some players the Ravens passed on that may be higher on Newsome's best available list at No. 25. Guys like Taylor Mays, Brandon Spikes and Carlos Dunlap will most likely be rated higher on the board than Tate. Ozzie Newsome does not believe in drafting players based on need, and that is what the Tate choice looks like, a little bit of a reach. Look for the Ravens to go CB, DE, TE or LB if the WR they want is not there at No. 25.
26. ARIZONA CARDINALS -- Ricky Sapp, Clemson Linebacker
Mocking The Draft says: Following the retirement of Bertrand Berry, outside linebacker becomes a big need for Arizona. The best players left, Chike Okeafor and Clark Haggins, are solid but not great. Sapp has the makings of an excellent 3-4 rush linebacker.
Revenge Of The Birds says: Sapp would be an excellent pick for the Cardinals. With Bertrand Berry retiring and Chike Okeafor most-likely lost to FA, the Cardinals have a glaring hole at OLB. Sapp has a freak frame with ridiculous speed. He's fast enough to even play cornerback, but has the strength to line up as a defensive end.
Ken Whisenhunt would prefer to let the rookie take a seat to a more experienced player in his first year, but with the loss of two starters already, Sapp would see significant playing time. He'd shore up the lack of a dominant pass-rusher that the Cardinals desperately needed last season, and also brings youth and athleticism to an aging linebacker corps.
27. DALLAS COWBOYS -- Mike Iupati, Idaho Guard
Mocking The Draft says: Kyle Kosier is decent at left guard but Iupati would be a huge upgrade. He perfectly fits the Dallas power blocking scheme. Even more importantly, he would add some nastiness to the Cowboys line.
Blogging The Boys says: Mike Iupati would be a great pick for the Cowboys. Dallas has a talented offensive line, but one that is getting old and that is lacking in depth. Iupati is a big guard and the Cowboys like big offensive linemen as part of their power run game.
Iupati could come in and challenge starting left guard Kyle Kosier for playing time right away. If he doesn’t succeed in supplanting Kosier this year, he would become the key backup at the guard spot allowing the Cowboys to finally cut some low-quality backups that have been hanging around the roster.
The Cowboys could also go in the direction of selecting an offensive tackle considering the age and health of Flozell Adams, or they could look at a safety on defense where depth is lacking
28. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS -- Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech Running Back
Mocking The Draft says: LaDanian Tomlinson's days in San Diego are likely coming to an end and Darren Sproles probably can't handle an every down load for 16 games. Dwyer would give San Diego a strong running back to pair with Sproles.
Bolts From The Blue says: Is Dwyer a good pick for the Chargers? Yes and no. The Chargers will need to draft a RB that can play right away, which probably means they need to use their 1st round pick on a RB. So in that regards, it's the right pick. However, Norv Turner's pass-happy offense relies more on versatility at each position than spreading the field and that's what worries me about Dwyer.
Last season Chargers tailbacks caught 70+ passes and were probably thrown to 90+ times. Dwyer has caught 15 passes in three full seasons and caught only one in his first 12 games of the 2009 season. Was this because of the Georgia Tech offense (a rushing offense), or because they've seen enough of his hands to know he can't catch? In addition, has playing in an offense so heavily focused on the rushing game given him any experience in pass-blocking?
The Chargers need a RB, and Dwyer is probably going to be the best RB available at the No. 28 spot in the first round, but I'm not sure that he fits in with what the Chargers want to do.
There were two main reasons Michael Turner was allowed to leave San Diego via free agency in 2008. One was that LT had not yet shown signs that he was starting to lose his physical talents. The team couldn't afford to keep pay both RBs big money, so they chose the future Hall of Famer. The second reason was that as good of a RB as Michael Turner was, he was a runner and nothing else. He was not a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield, wasn't much of a pass-blocker and wouldn't scare anybody if he was lined up on the line as a WR. He would limit what Norv Turner wants to do with his offense. Dwyer reminds me of Michael Turner, which is why I think the team might shy away from taking him.
The Chargers are currently shopping for an RB. Many things could happen before the draft in regards to that position. They could trade Antonio Cromartie for a RB, they could trade Cromartie for picks (and maybe move up in the draft) or they could even go after Chester Taylor in free agency. How that situation plays itself out will determine how they go with this pick. I think the best-case scenario might be trading Cromartie for another pick, then using a package of picks to move up and take C.J. Spiller.
If the Chargers get Taylor or a different RB as a result of trading Cromartie, they will be eyeing a big DT to take over the Nose Tackle position from an aging (and often-injured) Jamal Williams. Dan Williams is probably who they want, but they might take a shot at Terrence Cody (if Williams is gone) if they like what they see from him at the combine.
29. NEW YORK JETS -- Jared Odrick, Penn State Defensive Tackle
Mocking The Draft says: Starters Shaun Ellis and Marques Douglas are getting older. Odrick profiles as a top five-technique due to his build and quickness at the snap.
Gang Green Nation says: A lot of mock Drafts have Odrick at the end of the first round so the value seems to be there to make this a good pick. The Jets have a good defensive line, but only one player in the rotation up front, Mike Devito, will be under 30 on opening day so he would inject some needed youth.
Where does he fit? He projects to play either 3-4 end or 4-3 tackle. The Jets like to mix up their looks so he's a very good fit. A lot depends on whether the team brings back starting end Marques Douglas. If they do, Odrick can come along at his own pace. If not the team will expect him to contribute more right off the bat.
There are a lot of questions about whether Lito Sheppard will be back. After the way Peyton Manning torched them in the Playoffs, a lot of people think cornerback is a position of need anyway. Another option is outside linebacker. The Jets don't have an elite pass rusher. Also, the Jets got nothing out of the slot in 2009. Giving Mark Sanchez another weapon at receiver is an option.
30. MINNESOTA VIKINGS -- Kyle Wilson, Boise State Cornerback
Mocking The Draft says: Antoine Winfield is very good. Cedric Griffin is solid. However, both have begun to have injury problems. In fact, Griffin may not be ready for the start of the season after tearing his ACL. Wilson had an outstanding Senior Bowl week and elevated his stock. He's at worst a very good nickel cornerback for Minnesota and could nicely fill in for Griffin until he comes back.
Daily Norseman says: The Vikings' secondary has been a weak link for quite a while, and with the injury to Cedric Griffin, the Vikings need a player that can step in and at least contribute in the secondary immediately.
While Wilson would be a welcome addition, he might have a fight on his hands for playing time upon his arrival in Minnesota with the likes of Asher Allen, last year's third-round pick, Benny Sapp, and possibly Cedric Griffin depending on his injury status going into 2010.
In the scenario presented, if the Vikings want to focus on their defense. . .and they should, because they're in pretty good shape offensively. . .they could potentially look to someone like Taylor Mays at safety (since Minnesota's safety play in 2009 was atrocious), Brandon Spikes at linebacker (depending on how E.J. Henderson's broken fibula is progressing and/or their faith in Jasper Brinkley to play the middle), or possibly even Terrence Cody if they think D-line coach Karl Dunbar can get him motivated and in shape.
31. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS -- Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri Linebacker
Mocking The Draft says: The Colts have to be hoping that one of the offensive tackles falls, but that might not be the case. Brandon Spikes is a higher-rated linebacker, but Weatherspoon fits their defensive scheme much better. He can play inside if Gary Brackett isn't brought back. Or he can play outside if needed.
Stampede Blue says: With the news that the Colts will likely make middle linebacker Gary Brackett on of the highest paid LBers in football, plus the rumors that they might make an effort to sign Karlos Dansby, it is extremely unlikely that the Colts will draft a linebacker in the first round. Hell, the last time the Colts drafted a backer in the first was ten years ago when they took Rob Morris out of BYU.
For me, an alternative to Weatherspoon is Eric Norwood of South Carolina. As we all saw in the Super Bowl, when the Colts were unable to generate a consistent pass rush due to Dwight Freeney's injury, Drew Brees completed 86% of his passes on his way to an MVP and a Lombardi Trophy. Norwood can play DE in the Colts system, using his speed and pass-rushing skills to get to the QB. He could also be utilized on special teams.
32. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS -- Carlos Dunlap, Florida Defensive End
Mocking The Draft says: The Saints need some help on defense, particularly in the front four and at cornerback. Dunlap is best pass rusher available at this spot. If there's a defensive coordinator who could get Dunlap going, it's Gregg Williams. Dunlap would also allow the Saints to more easily go to more three-man fronts like they did in the Super Bowl. Or he could transition to defensive tackle, much like Calais Campbell did for Arizona.
Canal Street Chronicles says: The Saints will most likely try to pick up a player to help their defensive line this year. With the last pick in the first round -- worth winning the Super Bowl for -- it's impossible to tell who will be left standing when the the Saints are finally on the clock. If Brandon Graham from Michigan is still available, that might be the direction the Saints head.
The Saints would love to draft a defensive end with the ability to start immediately, allowing them to get rid of the ridiculously overpaid Charles Grant for free in this uncapped season. To be honest, any hard working, talented player would have a good chance at earning a starting position over Grant on the other side of the line opposite Will Smith.
The Saints could also go with drafting an outside linebacker or a defensive tackle.
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