Now that we are past the NFL Combine and the first wave of free agency, it is time for an updated Post-NFL Combine Mock Draft. I will informally update these picks until I issue my Final Draft Day Mock.
Unlike most NFL mock drafts, my philosophy does not involve substituting my own judgment and trying play general manager for each of the 32 NFL teams. Instead, 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 NFL beat writers and insiders. In order to support my analysis as to why I think a particular player may end up going to the team that I have him slotted to, I do my best to provide a supporting link whenever possible.
At this stage in the pre-draft process the particular players and positions that teams may be targeting in the draft are starting to become a little clearer. The tricky part now is reading between the lines and figuring out what reports are accurate, and what information has been intentionally leaked by various front offices as misinformation. Over the course of doing this for the past ten or so years I feel as if I have a pretty good read on what insider information can be considered credible, and what reporters are being used by teams as pawns for their “smokescreens.”
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 at Sports Jabber as a "preferred" mock draft in their Mock Draft Database. An earlier version was published at It's Just Sports on Mlive.com. I'd like to thank them all for their traffic, so click the hyperlinks to check out their extensive draft and sports related content.
1. St. Louis Rams – Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma: Financial considerations make taking a quarterback with the No. 1 selection in the draft a better investment than taking a defensive tackle, and the Rams off-season moves suggest that they have adopted that reasoning. The Rams have released starter Marc Bulger and signed quarterback A.J. Feeley in what appears to be a move to bridge the gap for an eventual successor. They have also signed free agent defensive tackle Fred Robbins, which reduces the likelihood that they will draft Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy. Sam Bradford’s Pro Day work-out, which many scouts are saying was one of the most impressive in the last twenty years for a quarterback, locks in his status at No. 1. barring the Rams trading down.
2. Detroit Lions – Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska: If Ndamukong Suh falls to No. 2 the Lions will draft the top defensive tackle coming out of college in recent memory or trade down. Adding Suh in addition to off-season acquisitions like Kyle Vanden Bosch and Corey Williams would transform the Lions defensive line from a liability to an asset. The Addition of Rob Sims in a trade with Seattle makes it highly unlikely that the Lions will take a left tackle and move Jeff Backus to guard.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma: Tampa Bay would love to see St. Louis draft a quarterback so they are assured that one of the defensive tackles falls to them. With Detroit likely taking Ndamukong Suh, Tampa Bay will be happy to select Gerald McCoy. If neither tackle is available the Buccaneers could pick offensive tackle Russell Okung over safety Eric Berry given that they recently signed Sean Jones as a free agent.
4. Washington Redskins – Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State: Now that Washington has acquired a franchise quarterback in Donovan McNabb, a left tackle like Russell Okung seems to be the logical choice given their chronic problems on the offensive line over the past several seasons.
5. Kansas City Chiefs – Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa: The Chiefs have been solidifying their offensive line through free agency, bringing back center Casey Wiegmann after a stint in Denver and signing guard Ryan Lilja from the Colts. Drafting an NFL ready left tackle like Bryan Bulaga would allow the Chiefs to move Branden Albert to the right side, where he would be better suited as a run blocker. Tennessee safety Eric Berry is thought by many to be a fit for Kansas City, but SI.com’s Peter King has reported that General Manager Scott Pioli is not a big fan of drafting safeties early in the draft.
6. Seattle Seahawks – Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma: With the Seahawks having traded for Charlie Whitehurst, they may or may not be in the market to draft a quarterback like Jimmy Clausen in the first round. At this point Seattle still needs an offensive tackle and an edge pass rusher, while playmakers at running back and wide receiver are also considerations. There is no guarantee that one of the top five tackles will still be available when the Seahawks pick again at No. 14, and Trent Williams of Oklahoma is best suited for Seattle’s new zone-blocking scheme to replace Walter Jones. Clemson running back C.J. Spiller and Tennessee safety Eric Berry could also factor into the mix if Seattle looks at best player available instead of need, although top players at running back, defensive end, safety and wide receiver should still be available when Seattle picks again at No. 14.
7. Cleveland Browns – Eric Berry, S, Tennessee: Cornerback is no longer a priority now that the Browns have traded for Sheldon Brown to play opposite Eric Wright. Eric Berry appears poised to become the next superstar at safety in the NFL, and the Cleveland defense would love to add another playmaker to their secondary.
8. Oakland Raiders – Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland: NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock successfully predicted that the Raiders would reach for Darrius Heyward-Bey in last year’s draft. This year Mayock suggests that Oakland could take offensive tackle Bruce Campbell based upon his amazing workout at the NFL Combine. Nobody knows what Al Davis is going to do in the draft, so I’m willing to ride whatever insight Mayock has given his success in predicting what the Raiders would do last year. The question is whether Campbell, who did not even garner any votes for the All-ACC team, is one of the players at the Combine who “looks like Tarzan but plays like Jane.” Physical freak of nature Taylor Mays could also garner some consideration at safety given Al Davis’ propensity to draft for size and speed.
9. Buffalo Bills – Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame: Buffalo desperately needs a left tackle, but if Jimmy Clausen is still available that probably that means that the top three or four tackles will already be gone. If the Bills draft Clausen they could still sign a free agent tackle like Flozell Adams as a one year stop gap or hope that Baltimore is willing to trade Jared Gaither for their second round pick.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars – Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech: The Jaguars only recorded 14 quarterback sacks last season. Even with the free agent signing of defensive end Aaron Kampman, the Jags could still look to add another pass rush threat at defensive end or at outside linebacker. Cornerback Joe Haden will be a strong consideration if Cleveland decides to pass on him, but for now budding star Derek Cox and Rashean Mathis should be able to hold down the fort.
11. Denver Broncos (From Chicago) – Maurkice Pouncey, C/G, Florida: Even after the Brandon Marshall trade it does not appear as if the Broncos are very high on wide receiver Dez Bryant of Oklahoma State. It looks as if the Broncos will use one of their second round picks to find a replacement for Marshall at receiver. The Broncos need and center and another interior linebacker to play along side D.J. Williams after they released Andre Davis. Alabama middle linebacker Rolando McClain could be the pick at middle linebacker, but as far as trades go, I almost expect to see the Broncos trade down in the first round and take Maurkice Pouncey of Florida given their lack of a player at a key position like center.
12. Miami Dolphins – Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee: With the Dolphins having signed middle linebacker Karlos Dansby in free agency they can look to fill other needs. The Dolphins could target nose tackle Dan Williams, a defensive end/linebacker like Sergio Kindle, or a safety like Earl Thomas. Because none of the aforementioned players represent a great value at No. 12 the Dolphins could look to trade down and still pick up the player they are targeting later in the draft. As it stands, a true nose tackle like Dan Williams could fill one of their biggest needs at No. 12, and a safety could be targeted later in the draft.
13. San Francisco 49’ers – Joe Haden, CB, Florida: It’s no secret that the 49’ers would love to see Florida cornerback Joe Haden still on the board when they pick, and it’s possible that he could fall that far given his slow 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine. Haden could be a bargain if he falls to No. 13, as NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders pointed out that his slow 40 time was likely due to an awkward position that he took in the starting blocks. Haden subsequently improved his 40 time at his Pro Day workout, and most experts agree that Haden’s film confirms that he is the best cover corner in the draft.
14. Seattle Seahawks (From Denver) – C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson: If the Seahawks draft an offensive tackle at No. 6 they will still be in the market for a defensive end with their second pick in the first round. Nonetheless, if C.J. Spiller is on the board the Seahawks could be too enamored with his playmaking ability to pass him up.
15. New York Giants – Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama: Assuming that the Giants don’t sign restricted free agent middle linebacker Kirk Morrison from the Oakland Raiders, Rolando McClain of Alabama could be a tempting replacement for Antonio Pierce. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr. is convinced that the Giants would take Clemson running back C.J. Spiller if he is still available at No. 15, but the Giants have bigger needs than at running back, especially if Brandon Jacobs is healthy this season.
16. Tennessee Titans – Jason Pierre Paul, DE/OLB, South Florida: South Florida defensive end/outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul would serve as a replacement for Kyle Vanden Bosch, whom the Titans let go in free agency. With the Titans lacking draft choice in the second round they would love to trade back and acquire additional picks. If they trade down later in the first round they could still be in the mix for a defensive end/outside linebacker that they like such as Brandon Graham.
17. San Francisco 49’ers (From Carolina) – Anthony Davis, T, Rutgers: San Francisco needs a right tackle. Anthony Davis of Rutgers could start out on the right side of the line until he’s ready to replace Joe Staley and protect his quarterback’s blind side on the left.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers – Mike Iupati, G/T, Idaho: Pittsburgh’s running and passing games would both benefit with an improved offensive line. Iupati is one of the rare guards who could potentially go as high as the top half of the first round, although several scouts/insiders have commented on how Iupati’s film shows that he could have been called for holding on nearly every single play in college, so teams should expect a year of growing pains before he becomes acclimated to the NFL. Pittsburgh could also consider Jared Odrick to add some depth at nose tackle and serve as an eventual successor to Casey Hampton, but he’d probably be a reach at No. 18. Cornerback is also a need and consideration if the value is right. Following the Santonio Holmes trade NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora has reported that he has been told by multiple sources that the Steelers would not pass on wide receiver Demaryius Thomas is he is still available at No. 18, while other reports have the Steelers waiting until round three to draft a receiver.
19. Atlanta Falcons – Brandon Graham, DE/OLB, Michigan: After solidifying their secondary by signing cornerback Dunta Robinson, the Falcons are hoping that Brandon Graham falls to them in order to improve their pass rush. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap of Florida could also fill that need, although there are questions surrounding his motor and character.
20. Houston Texans – Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno State: A safety like Earl Thomas from Texas would be the preferred pick if available. Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews would be an ideal fit in Gary Kubiak’s “one cut” zone blocking system assuming that Thomas is not available at No. 20.
21. Cincinnati Bengals, Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State: Even after signing Antonio Bryant this off-season, the Bengals could use a playmaker at wide receiver and a tight end. If Dez Bryant falls to No. 21 due to character concerns the Bengals will have transformed a position of weakness last season into a position of strength this season.
22. New England Patriots – Jared Odrick, DE/DT, Penn State: Jared Odrick has been described as one of the best defensive tackles in Penn State history. His ability to play tackle or end makes him the versatile type of player that New England looks for in their 3-4 defensive system. Ricky Sapp could also be a consideration at defensive end/outside linebacker, although his injury history could lead him to fall to the second round where New England could still target him with one of their three picks. Running back Ryan Mathews could also be a consideration if he is still available.
23. Green Bay Packers - Sergio Kindle, DE/OLB, Texas: Green Bay has temporarily solidified their offensive line by resigning free agent tackles Chad Cliffton and Mark Tauscher. Both should be better this season after missing significant time in 2009 due to injury. Green Bay now has the luxury of drafting for talent instead of need. Sergio Kindle of Texas projects to be an OLB who can rush the passer in a 3-4 scheme and would replace Aaron Kampman. The Packers could then target a developmental left tackle like Vladimir Ducasse of Rutgers or Jared Veldheer of Hillsdale College in rounds two or three.
24. Philadelphia Eagles – Earl Thomas, S, Texas: The Eagles need a cornerback to replace Sheldon Brown after he was traded to Cleveland. The Eagles could target Kyle Wilson of Boise State to fill that need or they could wait until they pick again at No. 37 to draft a player like Kareem Jackson of Alabama, who might just be a better fit for their defensive scheme. The Eagles could package some of their extra draft picks to move up and grab Earl Thomas at safety to fill a major hole on their defense, which would allow Marlin Jackson to play more as a nickel back. ESPN's Bill Williamson of ESPN is reporting that the Eagles are looking to move up to the 10-12 range where Jacksonville, Denver and Miami are all looking to trade down, and Earl Thomas would still be available.
25. Baltimore Ravens – Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State: Baltimore filled a hole at defensive end when they signed Corey Redding, who is best suited as an end in a 3-4 system. Cornerback and tight end still remain needs. With the draft being deep in tight ends, the Ravens can focus on their philosophy of drafting the best player available. Cornerback Kyle Wilson would fit that philosophy and fill a major need in their secondary with Samari Rolle having been released.
26. Arizona Cardinals – Sean Weatherspoon, MLB, Missouri: With Karlos Dansby having signed with Miami in free agency the Cardinals have a huge hole at middle linebacker. Like Dansby, Weatherspoon is a three down linebacker who has the skill-set to play inside or outside, making him an ideal replacement.
27. Dallas Cowboys – Charles Brown, OT, USC: Dallas needs a left tackle to replace Flozell Adams. Charles Brown could come in and immediately compete with Doug Free at that position. With the top six tackles possibly off the board the Cowboys could also look for a tackle like Jared Veldheer of Hillsdale College or Vladimir Ducasse in the second round as developmental projects, and draft a safety like Nate Allen of South Florida at No. 27.
28. San Diego Chargers – Terrance Cody, DT, Alabama: With LaDainian Tomlinson having been released the Chargers need a feature back. Ryan Mathews has been linked to the Chargers. If he goes to another team like the Texans look for the Chargers to take quality nose tackle like Terrence Cody of Alabama to replace Jamal Williams and targer a running back in the second round.
29. New York Jets – Everson Griffen, DE, USC: Even if the Jets sign Jason Taylor as a free agent, Everson Griffen of USC could contribute immediately as a pass rusher and eventually become a long term answer at defensive end/outside linebacker. While a nickel back like Devin McCourty or a safety like Taylor Mays could also fill needs for the Jets on defense, a pass rusher like Griffen would be much more difficult to find in the later rounds than positions like cornerback and safety.
30. Minnesota Vikings – Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers: A competent cornerback to play opposite of Antoine Winfield could make an outstanding Vikings defense ever better. Devin McCourty of Rutgers would not only provide the Vikings with some much needed help in their secondary, but he is an excellent special teams player as well. A defensive tackle like Brian Price of UCLA could also be considered as an eventual replacment for Pat Williams, but the Vikings are looking to win now if Brett Favre comes back for a final season.
31. Indianapolis Colts – Rodger Saffold, OT, Indiana: While the Colts are among the most secretive teams in the NFL when it comes to the draft, they are emphasizing rebuilding their offensive line this off-season. Rodger Saffold would fit that plan and Bill Polian's propensity to draft players from the Big Ten.
32. New Orleans Saints – Jerry Hughes, OLB/DE, Texas Christian: With New Orleans having signed defensive end Alex Brown they currently need a defensive tackle and an outside linebacker. Jerry Hughes of Texas Christian would be an ideal fit for the Saints at outside linebacker. Sean Weatherspoon of Missouri could also be a possibility depending upon which linebackers go off the board first. While NFL franchises do not like to use first round picks on players who are not on the field for 3 downs, Alabama nose tackle Terrence Cody would be an interesting option here to work into a rotation on running downs with Sedrick Ellis and Anthony Hargrove. http://www.nola.com/saints/index.ssf/2010/04/new_orleans_saints_mailbag_whe.html