Here is my Pre-NFL Combine Mock Draft, which will be followed by a Post-NFL Combine Mock Draft and a Final Mock on draft day.
This is not a mock draft where I attempt play general manager and substitute my own judgment for the 32 NFL teams. I do my best to research what particular players or positions each team may be targeting by searching the internet, listening to Sirius NFL Radio, and watching shows like NFL Total Access/NFL Live for reliable tips from beat writers and NFL insiders. When possible I try to provide links and analysis as to why I think a particular player may end up going to the team that I have him slotted to.
Keep in mind that my Pre-NFL Combine Mock Draft is just a starting point. I will supplement these selections as more accurate insider information becomes available following free agency and the NFL Combine/Pro Day workouts.
My mock has been linked by The Football Fan Spot in their NFL Mock Draft Database as one of their "premium mock drafts;" at DC Pro Sports Report in their NFL Mock Draft Database as a "top shelf" mock; and a variation has been published at It's Just Sports on Mlive.com. I'd like to thank them all for their support, so click the hyperlinks to check out their draft and sports related content.
1. St. Louis Rams – Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska: There are rumors from people like ESPN NFL insider John Clayton that the temptation for the Rams is to go with a quarterback to justify the money slotted to the No. 1 pick, but for now the highest rated player in the draft prevails.
2. Detroit Lions – Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma: If the Lions can’t trade down they will take either Suh or McCoy.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Eric Berry, S, Tennessee: Tampa Bay would love to see St. Louis draft quarterback so one of the defensive tackles falls to them. Assuming that does not happen, the Buccaneers will still have many needs. Taking the highest ranked player on the board makes sense. Berry seems poised to become the NFL’s next elite playmaking safety.
4. Washington Redskins – Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma: Mike Shanahan is looking for a versatile quarterback to run his version of the west coast offense. ESPN NFL insider Chris Mortensen says Bradford is Washington’s guy if his shoulder is structurally sound.
5. Kansas City Chiefs – Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State: The offensive line is clearly Kansas City's biggest need. A left tackle like Okung would give the Chiefs the flexibility to move Brandon Albert to guard in order to solidify the left side of the line, or they could move Albert to right tackle where he would serve as an ideal bookend.
6. Seattle Seahawks – Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame: The Seahawks, who are in need of a quarterback, an offensive tackle and an edge pass rusher, are hoping to use their second pick in the first round at No. 14 to trade down to a spot where they can still draft one of the offensive tackles and acquire an extra pick somewhere in rounds 2-4.
7. Cleveland Browns – Joe Haden, CB, Florida: The Browns have many needs, but a lockdown corner tops their list.
8. Oakland Raiders – Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers: NFL Network insider Mike Mayock correctly predicted that the Raiders would reach for Darrius Heyward-Bey in last year’s draft. This year he sees Oakland taking the best available offensive tackle. With nobody truly knowing what Oakland is thinking, I'm inclined to trust whatever insight Mayock has with the Raiders organization.
9. Buffalo Bills – Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa: Buffalo desperately needs a left tackle who is ready to play at the NFL level, and Iowa is well known for grooming technically sound linemen under head coach Kirk Ferentz.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars – Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech: With the Jaguars defense only sacking the quarterback 14 times last season, they need a big time pass rusher. Tim Tebow is rumored to be in the cards with Jacksonville’s owner having hinted he’d like to have the former Gator quarterback to help with ticket sales, but he'd still be a reach even in the second round.
11. Denver Broncos (From Chicago) – Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State: With Brandon Marshall on his way out of Denver, the Broncos need to trade him for another first round pick and draft his replacement.
12. Miami Dolphins – Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee: Miami is in need of a true nose tackle, and former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah seems to think that Williams is going to go to Miami.
13. San Francisco 49’ers – Rolando McClain, ILB, Alabama: I’ve heard many rumors on Sirius NFL radio linking McClain to San Francisco, which supports the belief of team insider Matt Maiocco. Nonetheless, I still have a hard time believing that an inside linebacker will go as high as No. 13, especially one like McClain who is steady but not all that explosive. I’ll continue to monitor this projection following the NFL Combine.
14. Seattle Seahawks (From Denver) – Jason Pierre Paul, DE, South Florida: The Seahawks, still needing an offensive tackle and an edge pass rusher are hoping use their second pick in the first round at #14 to trade down and grab a tackle. If the Seahawks stay at No. 14 then DE could be the best value.
15. New York Giants – C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson: Mel Kiper, Jr. is convinced that the Giants won’t pass on Spiller should he fall this far. While the Giants were disappointed with Brandon Jacobs' performance last season, he recently divulged that he was playing on an injured knee, so running back may not be as much of a need as was thought a week or two ago. A middle linebacker like Rolando McClain could be a tempting replacement for Antonio Pierce should he fall past San Francisco at No. 13, as could a pass rusher like Florida defensive end Reggie Dunlap. http://insider.espn.go.com/nfl/draft10/insider/news/story?id=4880118&action=login&appRedirect=http%3a%2f%2finsider.espn.go.com%2fnfl%2fdraft10%2finsider%2fnews%2fstory%3fid%3d4880118
16. Tennessee Titans - Brandon Graham, OLB/DE, Michigan: Graham would be an ideal replacement for Kyle Vanden Bosch, whom the Titans will likely let walk in free agency after slumping without defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth playing next to him. Graham has been linked as a possible fit for the Titans on Sirius NFL Radio.
17. San Francisco 49’ers (From Carolina) – Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma: Williams is a natural right tackle who could step in immediately and play opposite Joe Staley.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers – Mike Iupati, G/T, Idaho: Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh running game would both benefit with an improved offensive line. Iupati made waves at the Senior Bowl with his physical ability and versatility, making him a potential top 15 pick. On the downside, I’ve heard several scouts/insiders on Sirius NFL Radio comment how Iupati's film shows that he could be called for holding on nearly every play. Accordingly, while Iupati has the talent to become a Pro Bowl caliber player, expect a year of growing pains before he becomes acclimated to the NFL.
19. Atlanta Falcons – Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State: As much as the Falcons would like for Brandon Graham to fall to them in order to improve their pass rush, they have just as big or a bigger need in their secondary. Cornerback could be the position that the Falcons target in the event that they don’t want to gamble on a defensive end like Carlos Dunlap of Florida, who has questions surrounding his motor and character.
20. Houston Texans – Earl Thomas, S, Texas: Cornerback could become a bigger need depending on how the Dunta Robinson free agency situation works out. A defensive tackle like Brian Price could also factor in as part of the Texans first round considerations.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Taylor Mays, S, USC: The Bengals could use some speed at wide receiver and a tight end, but no players at those positions project to where they are drafting in the first round. Taylor Mays would essentially play the role of a younger, faster Roy Williams at safety.
22. New England Patriots – Ricky Sapp, OLB/DE, Clemson: Sapp is the combination OLB/DE that the Patriots can never seem to have enough of in their 3-4 defense.
23. Green Bay Packers - Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland: Green Bay saw how desperate their needs on the offensive line were last season when left tackle Chad Clifton was forced to play injured and rookie Allen Barbre struggled mightily on the right side.
24. Philadelphia Eagles – Nate Allen, S, South Florida: South Florida safety Nate Allen could fill a big need if he has as good of a showing at the NFL Combine as I expect. Otherwise, a defensive end like Carlos Dunlap of Florida or Everson Griffen of USC could help out on the front seven in terms of pass rush.
25. Baltimore Ravens – Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida: If Dunlap falls to the Ravens at No. 25 due to character concerns it would not only fill the Ravens need for a pass rusher, but such a selection would also fit GM Ozzie Newsome’s strategy of drafting the best player available. Rutgers cornerback Devin McCourty or USC defensive end Everson Griffen could also be considerations based upon need.
26. Arizona Cardinals – Jerry Hughes, OLB/DE, TCU: With defensive end Bertrand Berry having retired, an additional pass rusher is one of the many needs of the Cardinals, which could include middle linebacker if Karlos Dansby leaves in free agency and safety if Antrel Rolle is released as expected.
27. Dallas Cowboys –Vladimir Ducasse, OT, UMass – Dallas needs an offensive tackle to replace aging Flozell Adams in the next year or two. Ducasse has size and talent, but would benefit coming of the bench his rookie season, which would make Dallas an ideal situation.
28. San Diego Chargers – Jahvid Best, RB, California: With LaDainian Tomlinson having been released and Darren Sproles likely to leave in free agency, the Chargers have a glaring hole in the backfield. Best is a rare back that in that he is big enough to run between the tackles, yet fast enough to kick it outside and take it to the house every time he touches the ball. If not for a serious concussion at the end of last season he would be slotted to go much higher.
29. New York Jets - Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers: With Lito Sheppard having struggled last season, McCourty has the ability to step in as a cover corner who can play opposite the “Revis Island,” which could secure one of the few weak links on the Jets defense.
30. Minnesota Vikings – Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State: A competent cornerback who can play opposite of Antoine Winfield could make an outstanding Vikings defense ever better.
31. Indianapolis Colts – Brian Price, DT, UCLA: The Colts have been in the need of a dominant defensive tackle for years. Price fits the profile of the player they are looking for.
32. New Orleans Saints – Jared Odrick, DT, Penn State: Mel Kiper has Odrick going to the Saints, which I would normally disregard were it not for former NFL GM Pat Kirwin on Sirius NFL Radio confirming that the Saints are in the market for a defensive tackle in order to move Anthony Hargrove back to his more natural position at defensive end.