It had to happen folks. I had to make some pretty nasty, hellish assumptions about how the draft turns out. Figuring out that Jerry Jones will trade to get EVERYONE'S First Round picks this year took some daring on my part, but still...
...hey, you never know.
What, you want an HONEST mock First Round? From ME?! Sigh. Keep reading.
1. St. Louis Rams - QB Sam Bradford. Reasons why? 1) new ownership, yes? (KAAAAAHHHHNNNN!!!!) The only thing new owners crave more than sparkling-new taxpayer-paid state-of-the-art stadiums is a rookie franchise QB. 2) Quarterback is a must-need position. While Bradford isn't coming in as a sure-fire OMG Second Coming of Peyton Manning, he's good enough to earn the top pick. While it will be hard to pass up on can't-miss DTs Suh or McCoy, the DT draft board is deep enough that the Rams can get a good defensive tackle at the start of the Second Round: you can't say the same for the QB pool.
2. Detroit Lions - DT Ndamukong Suh. There's buzz about the Lions thinking about snagging best-available OT in this draft. Two problems with that logic: 1) It was Detroit's DEFENSE that was atrocious last season and 2) the Lions' offensive tackles weren't THAT bad. Detroit cannot afford to let Suh slip by. It's that simple.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - DT Gerald McCoy. There will be two groups of fans celebrating after the Rams take Bradford: Rams fans and Bucs fans, who will celebrate because it means either top-rated DT (Suh or McCoy) will slip to them here. For all the woes of the Bucs' offense (primarily WR), the Bucs' defense was terrible against the run and in creating QB pressure. There's no WR worthy of this high a pick: both Suh and McCoy would fit perfect here. It all depends on whom Detroit takes.
4. Washington Redskins - OT Russel Okung. Missing Bradford actually makes the 'Skins organization breathe a little easier: the temptation won't be there for them to start yet another rebuilding program around ANOTHER rookie QB. Getting Okung fixes a lot of their O-line woes and should finally give Campbell a good chance to play better.
5. Kansas City Chiefs - S Eric Berry. The Chiefs are vulnerable to the pass in a division that tends to be pass-happy (hi, San Diego!). There might be a question about going after CB Joe Haden, but given the buzz on Berry's skills, he makes more sense.
6. Seattle Seahawks - OT Trent Williams. While drafting a QB might make sense even after the trade they just pulled for a benchwarmer like Whitehurst, the next one on the board of any value (Clausen) isn't worth this high a pick. There's still a good chance they'll take a DE player to help with their d-line needs, but if Walter Jones follows through on his retirement plans the 'Hawks need to replace him ASAP.
7. Cleveland Browns - WR Demaryius Thomas. You might all be looking at me funny "huh" rather than funny "haha" about this pick. But the top-rated talented WR - Dez Bryant - has got character issues across the board and all that bad buzz surrounding him during the Combine sounds like a guy who's going to slip twenty spots on a lot of draft boards. Delhomme is gonna want, no NEED, a WR worth counting on.
8. Oakland Raiders - OT Bruce Campbell. How else can I predict this? The Raiders are one of the most reckless drafting teams ever. Whatever fits Al Davis' whims is what gets picked. But even Davis has to realize his offense needs better performances from his O-line. While common sense says "Take Bulaga" as he's scouting better than Campbell, Raiders Logic usually reads as "Take the fastest guy at the position." That plus Davis seems to like to screw with conventional wisdom. At least he takes care of a need spot.
9. Buffalo Bills - WR Dez Bryant. Yes, they've got questions at QB. Yes, they've got questions at OT. But their WR roster is currently made up of... name please? Lee Evans. I'm not sure about the rest of them. Bryant is going to be coming in with baggage, but I'm predicting the Bills think after handling a diva like Terrell Owens they can deal with any similar receiver. We'll see.
10. (Trade from Jacksonville) New York Giants - LB Rolando McClain. I plan on Jacksonville trading down for one reason: to have a good excuse for drafting Tebow when and where they do. The Giants took care of their need at Safety with signing Rolle, but their linebacker corps has a glaring need in the middle. This trade only works if McClain slips past other teams with LB needs (Oakland, Kansas City). Giants will be willing to trade up because Miami would certainly take McClain at 12. Jacksonville gets the Giants' pick at 15 and their Second Rounder.
11. Denver Broncos (from Chicago) - LB Sean Weatherspoon. While WR is a need, so is fixing their defense. Denver's linebacker issues are a bit higher than their backfield, and they've taken defensive line help in FA, so that leaves this pick here.
12. Miami Dolphins - LB Sergio Kindle. I don't envy the Dolphins. Their next best need - WR - doesn't have anyone on the board here worth this high a pick. I'd suggest they trade down but am not sure which other team would. So taking care of linebacker will help a rather nondescript defense.
13. San Fransisco 49ers - CB Joe Haden. There may be a few teams ahead of the Niners that would want a corner, but all of them do have needs elsewhere meaning they'll love having this guy slide down this far.
14. Seattle (from Denver) - DE Derrick Morgan. It feels a bit odd that a defensive end could slide this far down on the draft, given how teams value the position, but while the talent pool is deep it isn't that all impressive at the top. Morgan is best-available player at this point for the D-line needs this team has.
15. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Giants) - QB Tim Tebow. I guarantee the Jags will think about trading down a bit further if they could, but I doubt few teams will be that desperate to shift upward from this point on. The reason for this pick is purely financial: if the owner takes fan fave home-town hero Tebow, he'll guarantee at least one sellout home game. Taking Kampman via FA took care of their D-line: while Garrard is a solid if unremarkable QB he can lead the team for another year or two and allow Tebow to learn from the bench/come in for special plays.
16. Tennessee Titans - CB Kyle Wilson. Free agency addressed issues at DE and LB, so the other problem spot in the Titans' defense - corner - gets answered here. They could look at WR but there's not much of a value pick at this spot.
17. San Francisco (from Carolina) - OT Bryan Bulaga. It's possible the Niners would take QB Clausen after making sure they took care of their corner spot, but my gamble is that the team is staying put with Alex Smith who played better (slightly) last season. But that does mean taking care of his back, so getting an OT makes the most sense. By the by, was Clausen invited to Draft Night...?
18. Pittsburgh Steelers - a lawyer for Big Ben. Okay, okay, I kid. CB Kareem Jackson. Pittsburgh's secondary doesn't have a lot of outstanding players besides Polamalu. Their corners didn't impress last year. Jackson is coming from a champion-caliber defensive unit and has mad skillz.
19. Atlanta Falcons - DE Jason Pierre-Paul. The Falcs have two pressing needs: better receiving corps and better defensive front. WR Tate is a possibility here, but for both short-term and long-term needs the team needs to get a good DE while they can.
21. Cincinnati Bengals - LB Sean Lee. Cincy doesn't have much for their linebacking corps, especially the Middle/Inside guy. Lee is the next best available MLB on the boards.
22. New England Patriots - LB Brandon Graham. For some reason this DE from Michigan is getting scouted as an OLB. Either way, the Patriots have some issues on their defensive front and their LB corps, so either way this guy could work.
23. Green Bay Packers - OT Anthony Davis. Their O-line starting anchors are aging veterans and some of the offense's problems last year stemmed from giving up too many sacks.
24. Philadelphia Eagles - RB CJ Spiller. I wonder when the Eagles cut Westbrook if they planned out the draft just like this, as the best-rated running back slides this far down? A Safety like Taylor Mays could go here but given the fact that Philly doesn't have an established RB right now (FA Mike Bell only has a 1-year contract) this makes the most sense.
25. Baltimore Ravens -CB Devin McCourtney. The Ravens' defensive backfield needs depth help for certain. Getting WR Boldin in trade clears the team to go for best available corner.
26. Arizona Cardinals - S Earl Thomas. Some scouts have him as a Corner, some have him at Safety. He can go to either spot and Arizona's defense will get a nice boost. The Cards could go for WR Tate who's slid this far, but defense is their higher need.
27. Dallas Cowboys - WR Golden Tate. Wow, did I really mess around with the draft for *this* to happen. There's every reason for the 'Boys to look at getting an OT considering their recent cut of Flozell, but other than WR Austin they've got no other reliable receiving target.
28. San Diego Chargers - WR Damien Williams. Their WR roster right now isn't too impressive. They cut LT from their RB corps, so there's a good chance they'll take either RB Matthews or Best.
29. New York Jets - LB Jerry Hughes. There's some thought about going for a WR or Safety, but there's question marks about the talent at OLB (Gholston is not impressing).
30. Minnesota Vikings - A two-headed coin for Brett Favre whenever he tries to make up his mind. No kidding. Anywho. CB Chris Cook. The Vikings have backfield needs at both CB and Safety, but the knee injury to CB Griffin during the playoffs makes the argument for corner.
31. Indianapolis Colts - DE Everson Griffen. Colts have starter and/or depth issues with their D-line right now, and Griffen is best-available left based on scouting reports. Dunlap may have the natural talent but his on-field laziness and off-field hassles don't deserve First Round moneys.
32. New Orleans Saints - LB Daryl Washington. Coming off a Super Bowl win, the Saints have an awful lot of spots to fill on a defense that wasn't air-tight to begin with. Safety could go here with a guy like Nate Allen still available, and there's a need at DE but I wouldn't wish Dunlap on anybody. So having lost an OLB like Fujita to FA, that would be the more sensible pick here.
Oddities of the draft. I know I screwed things up a bit, mostly to perform three things: 1) Ensure the Bucs get a DT (WOOHOO!), 2) Ensure the Jaguars take Tebow (gotta sell those season tickets!), and 3) Keep Carlos Dunlap from getting drafted in the First Round, that freaking (expletive deleted) YOU COST US THE SEC TITLE GAME YOU (further descriptives not mentioned in order to keep this fan poster from facing jail time).
As a result, I have players slipping who in the Real World probably won't slip as far as they do. RB Spiller falling that far? Probably not. WR Tate slipping that far? Definitely not. Dunlap not suckering a team into wasting a pick on him? Oh lord, help us.
Noticeably, I kept a TE from getting picked in the First Round, specifically Jermaine Gresham. There's a chance a team looking at TE would take him, but I can't be certain which team that would be. I may be blinded by looking at teams' defensive needs more than their offensive needs.
So, how bad is this draft?