Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Updated Post-Combine NFL Mock Draft

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 defensive end Derrick Morgan over Eric Berry given that they recently signed free agent Sean Jones at safety.

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, although 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. Rumors that Jared Gaither of Baltimore could be available for a second round pick appear to be false, as there are reports out of Baltimore that the team put him on the trading block for the sole purpose of getting their less than inspired left tackle to attend OTA’s.

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.

11. Denver Broncos (From Chicago) – Rolando McClain, MLB, Alabama: The Broncos need another interior linebacker to play along side D.J. Williams after they released Andre Davis. Alabama middle linebacker Rolando McClain is becoming a hot commodity, with three or four teams hoping that he slides past Denver. With McClain a perfect fit for the 3-4 defense the Broncos are trying to convert to, he will be difficult to pass up. If the Broncos trade wide receiver Brandon Marshall, they will likely receive a high pick in round two that can be used to find his replacement.

12. Miami Dolphins – Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee: With the Dolphins having signed middle linebacker Karlos Dansby in free agency, they can look to fill a need at defensive tackle with Dan Williams, a defensive end/linebacker like Sergio Kindle, or a safety like Earl Thomas. Unfortunately, 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 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 will likely be too enamoured with his playmaking abilities to pass him up.

15. New York Giants – Sean Weatherspoon, OLB/MLB, Missouri: The Giants need to replace middle linebacker Antonio Pierce, who was cut in the off-season. Rolando McClain of Alabama would be the ideal choice, but it looks as if Denver might take him at No. 11. Sean Weatherspoon of Missouri is projected as an outside linebacker at the NFL level, but has been vocal in saying that he envisions himself playing in the middle. Regardless, the Giants could use his playmaking ability on the inside or the outside. The Giants could also use a third down back, and ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr. is convinced that they would take Clemson running back C.J. Spiller if he is still available at No. 15.

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 like Brandon Graham.

17. San Francisco 49’ers (From Carolina) – Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers: San Francisco needs a right tackle. Davis could start out on the right side of the line, and eventually trade sides with current left tackle Joe Staley once he’s ready to protect his quarterback’s blind side in the NFL.

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. He is one of the rare guards who could go as high as the top 15. As a down side, I’ve also heard several scouts/insiders on Sirius NFL Radio comment on how Iupati’s film shows that he could have been called for holding on nearly every single play in college. Accordingly, teams should expect a year of growing pains before he becomes acclimated to the NFL. Pittsburgh could also consider Jared Odrick to some depth at nose tackle and serve as an eventual successor to Casey Hampton, but he would probably be a reach at No. 18. Cornerback is also a need and consideration if the value is right.

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 – Earl Thomas, S, Texas: Safety Earl Thomas from Texas would be the preferred pick if he is still available. If not, Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews would fit in Gary Kubiak’s “one cut” zone blocking system.

21. Cincinnati Bengals, Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State: Even after signing Antonio Bryant this off-season, the Bengals could use some playmakers 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 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 – Charles Brown, OT, USC: 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, but finding a long term solution at left tackle will still be a priority in the early rounds. Charles Brown is an athletic tackle who could step into a rotation and provide the insurance in pass protection that the Packers desperately needed last season.

24. Philadelphia Eagles – Sergio Kindle, DE/OLB, Texas: The Eagles need a cornerback to replace Sheldon Brown after he was traded to Cleveland, but they can probably wait until the second round when they pick again at No. 37 and still grab a player like Kareem Jackson, who could be the best fit for their system. Don’t rule out the possibility of the Eagles using some of the early to mid round draft picks that they’ve accumulated from other teams to trade up for Florida cornerback Joe Haden. The Eagles would be delighted if Sergio Kindle of Texas fell to No. 24 and was able to come in and help their front seven as a pass rusher.

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.

26. Arizona Cardinals – Jerry Hughes, OLB, Texas Christian: The Cardinals are looking for an outside linebacker who can get to the quarterback. TCU’s Jerry Hughes, who was a pass rush machine from the edge in college, fits that description.

27. Dallas Cowboys – Taylor Mays, S, USC: Dallas needs a free safety to replace Ken Hamlin. Taylor Mays of USC is a physical freak who would be reminiscent of Roy Williams when he was young. With the top six or seven tackles likely off the board by pick No. 27, the Cowboys could fill their need for an offensive tackle with someone like Jared Veldheer of Hillsdale College or Vladimir Ducasse in the second or third rounds as developmental projects, while riding Doug Free as a starter at left tackle this season.

28. San Diego Chargers – Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno State: With LaDainian Tomlinson having been released, the Chargers need a feature back. Ryan Mathews has been linked to the Chargers on Sirius NFL Radio. Mathews is a fast back with the ability to run between the tackles and protect the quarterback on passing downs. While Jared Odrick of Penn State or Brian Price of UCLA could be considered as replacements for Jamal Williams, the Chargers should still be able to get a quality nose tackle like Terrence Cody of Alabama early in the second round with the pick that they acquired from Seattle in the Charlie Whitehurst trade at No. 40.

29. New York Jets – Demaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech: The Jets would like to add a weapon for Mark Sanchez at wide receiver to compliment Braylon Edwards. Demaryius Thomas is a fast and physical receiver who may be undervalued in the draft due to playing in a run based offense at Georgia Tech. A nickel back like Devin McCourty, a safety like Taylor Mays or an edge rusher like Everson Griffen could also fill needs for the Jets on defense.

30. Minnesota Vikings – Maurkice Pouncey, C/G, Florida: The Vikings have a need on the interior of their offensive line. Maurkice Pouncey of Florida has the versatility to play guard or center in the NFL. In Minnesota Pouncey would be asked to play guard, where he’d be an ideal interior run blocker for Adrian Peterson.

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 big and disruptive player they are looking for.

32. New Orleans Saints – Everson Griffen, DE, USC: New Orleans needs a pass rushing defensive end, defensive tackle and an outside linebacker who can rush the passer. Jerry Hughes of TCU would be an ideal fit for the Saints at outside linebacker, but it’s unlikely that he makes it past the Arizona Cardinals. Quite simply, the Saints will be at the mercy of how the draft plays out. Sean Weatherspoon of Missouri could be the first strong/middle linebacker drafted, or he could be the third. If Weatherspoon is available when the Saints pick at No. 32, they will be happy to take him as the best player available. As it stands, USC defensive end Everson Griffen is the best player available on this board, although the Saints would probably prefer to see one of the outside linebackers fall to them after signing free agent defensive end Alex Brown. 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.

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