No other event in the world of sports is as curious as the NFL Draft. No actual sporting goes on: no tackling, no bombs, no blitz. Yet so many love it. Anyway, here goes the first mock draft of the season.
1. St Louis Rams — Sam Bradford QB — Oklahoma
As much as Coach Spagnuolo is a defensive coach, franchises are built around quarterbacks. Ask New Orleans and Indianapolis. The Rams grab the best in the draft, providing his shoulder checks out.
2. Detroit Rams — Ndamukong Suh DT — Nebraska
The Lions luck out and grab the DT of their dreams. They place him right next to former Cornhusker, Kyle Vanden Bosch as the rebuilding of the Lion defense starts to take shape.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Gerald McCoy DT— Oklahoma
It's 3 for 3 for the Big 12 as Oklahoma DT McCoy lands with the perfect team for the speedy lineman. In any other season, McCoy would be considered the number one defensive player, so the Bucs catch a break here snagging him at number 3.
4. Washington Redskins — Jimmy Clausen QB — Notre Dame
No way does Mike Shanahan not take his own quarterback to prepare and groom. Clausen tutored under Charlie Weis and is familiar with an NFL system. Shanahan starts to put his mold on the Redskins, so expect a lot of offensive picks out of this Redskin draft.
5. Kansas City Chiefs —Russell Okung OT — Oklahoma State
After one pick, it's back to the Big 12, as the Chiefs grab the top O-lineman on the board. Okung showed spectacular strength at the Combine and solidified himself as the premier LT prospect in the draft.
6. Seattle Seahawks — Eric Berry S — Tennessee
This scenario plays out the worst for the Seahawks, who wanted either one of the 2 franchise quarterbacks or Okung to rebuild their offensive line. The consolation prize is Berry, who many consider the best pure prospect in the draft. Look for a trade down from this spot. Thhis pick might also be Denver's who would receive it in exchange for Brandon Marshall.
7. Cleveland Browns — Joe Haden CB — Florida
Eric Mangini knows the importance of having a shutdown corner—he drafted Darell Revis. Haden, who had a miserable combine is still the number one CB in the nation. Mangini will ignore the Combine, get the best pure CB-athlete and feel he can coach Haden up to be the shutdown corner the Browns need.
8. Oakland Raiders — Jason Pierre-Paul DE — South Florida
Now here's where the Draft gets fun. No one ever knows what Weird Al is going to do, but the safe money is going to say he will get enamoured with a great workout and take the guy regardless if he can actually play football or not. Paul had a knockout of a combine, showed strength, fluidity and pure speed. Davis will ignore academic challanges and questions that Paul could learn a complicated defense and just take the guy who looked the best in shorts.
9. Buffalo Bills — Bryan Buluga OT — Iowa
The Bills were caught off guard by the retirement of RT Brad Butler at the age of 26. This one year after the trade of Jason Peters to the Eagles. Buluga has showed the ability to be an above-average LT, something the Bills sorely need.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars — Derrick Morgan DE — Georgia Tech
The Jags recorded the fewest sacks in the league last season—just 2 seasons after the spent their first and second round picks on Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves. The absolutely need someone to step in and pressure opposing QBs, and as such, take Morgan, who had 12-1/2 sacks and 18-1/2 TFL. Even with Aaron Kampman in the fold, the Jags need pass rush help. Morgan can provide that.
11. Denver Broncos — Dez Bryant WR — Oklahoma State
This pick, acquired from the Bears in the Jay Cutler trade, is contingent on the possible trade of Brandon Marshall. Strong and quick, Bryant is nigh-impossible to cover by one DB. Character issues abound, but if his Pro Day impresses, Bryant could be considered a lock to be gone by pick 11.
12. Miami Dolphins — Dan Williams DT — Tennessee
To be sure, Bill Parcells has huge files on Derrick Morgan and Jason Pierre-Paul—the Tuna loves him some athletic pass-rushing OLBs. Those 2 gone, Parcells could go for Sergio Kindle or Ricky Sapp, but knows that the heart of any Parcells defense is the NT. And with an aging Jason Ferguson, Williams, a ideal wide-body is in Parcells' sight. Look for a trade-down (possibly with, say Green Bay, who is interested in Campbell) and for Parcells to target Williams. Williams was a one-year wonder when Monte Kiffin came to Tennessee. Parcells, however, has never been shy to take on a project, sees the NT of the future.
13. San Francisco 49ers — Taylor Mays S — USC
San Francisco needs help in their secondary, and after Mays put on a great show at the clinic—6'3", 230, 4.43-40 yrd dash and 24 reps, second highest of all safties, he made sure he'd leave in the first half of the draft. Can cover and hit. Comparisons to Ronnie Lott will be forthcoming.
14. Seattle Seahawks — Bruce Campbell OT — Maryland
The Seahawks must, MUST come out of this draft with a left tackle. And Pete Carroll loves natural athletic ability. Campbell had a combine for the ages, ran a 4.85. did 34 reps and showed a ripped body, capable of fluidity and strength. Campbell is raw, but Caroll has taken raw and made football players before.
15. New York Giants —Brian Price DT — UCLA
The last half of the 2009 season showed that the Giants defense as it was, was busted. Opposing offenses ran at will, and protected their quarterback without much trouble. Price, a disruptive shifty DT, is a perfect fit for the Giants system and could be in the rotation from day 1.
16. Tennessee Titans —Everson Griffen DE — USC
The Titans have lost a ton of talent on their defensive line in the past couple of years. Griffen has talent to burn and can be coached up by the Titan staff. Kindle and Sapp are considered here, but are more 3-4 OLBs, than a pure DE. Sleeper Alex Carrington has been a fast-riser and could be the shock pick of the draft.
17. San Francisco 49ers — Jerry Hughes OLB — TCU
Most have Hughes going early in the second round. The 49ers, who need an edge rusher, give Mike Singletary the type of player he loves. High-motor, intense and aggressive. Hughes had an outstanding Combine. He showed himself to be a natural pass-rusher. Sapp and Kindle is an option here as well.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers — Mike Iupati OG — Idaho
Unless the Steelers absolutely hate Ben Rothelsiburger, they will draft and offensive lineman—any offensive lineman—with this pick. Iupati has Steeler written all over him; tough, mean, imposing. Iupati is a natural guard who can play some tackle if necessary.
19. Atlanta Falcons — Brandon Graham DE— Michigan
Look for a trade down here. All the top players are off the board and from here till the second round, the talent level becomes interchangeable. That said, the Falcons are in need of a bookend to John Abraham. They whiffed hard a couple years back on DE Jamaal Anderson, who is trying now to become a DT. Graham lit up the Senior Bowl and followed that with a nice Combine. He doesn't have the measureables, but just knows how to get it done on the field.
20. Houston Texans — Kyle Wilson CB— Boise State
The Texans let Dunta Robinson go, which pretty much solidifes that they are going with a CB somewhere in the draft, probably the first round. While C.J. Spiller, Ryan Matthews or Jahvid Best get a look, the Texans fill their bigger need at CB. With a nice 25 reps at the combine, if Wilson runs well at his Pro Day, he may solidify his status as a top 3 CB in the draft.
21. Cincinnati Bengals — Golden Tate WR — Notre Dame
The Bengals need offensive weapons. With T.J. Houshmandzadeh gone, Laverneous Coles a bust and Ocho Cinco not his former self, the Bengals need to surround Carson Palmer with some more weapons. Tate is fast, sure-handed and familiar with a pro offense.
22. New England Patriots — Rolando McClain ILB — Alabama
Sergio Kindle and Ricky Sapp get serious looks here as the Patriots lack anything resembling the pass rush they used to be famous for. However, all Bill Belichek needs to do is watch the Ravens run up the middle of their defense during the playoff game to know that they need someone else besides Eric Alexander or Paris Lenon manning the inside LB in their 3-4. McClain, well-coached by Saban in Alabama will fit right in.
23. Green Bay Packers — Anthony Davis OT — Rutgers
Green Bay desperately needs offensive Lineman, and may move up to get one. If not, they may go with the Rutgers product. Davis showed up fat, slow and immature at the Combine. His talent and ability are there, unquestionably. The only question is, will Green Bay take a chance on his head?
24. Philadelphia Eagles — Sean Witherspoon OLB — Missouri
Witherspoon has the size and fluidity to slide into the WLB spot. Active and agressive, he fits into the Eagles attack style.
25. Baltimore Ravens — Patrick Robinson CB — Florida State
A 4.42 40 yard dash, a 30 inch vertical and great instincts secure Robinson a 1st round pick. Could go higher with a great Pro Day.
26. Arizona Cardinals — Sergio Kindle OLB — Texas
The slide ends for Kindle, who didn't have the exciting combine day that people were hoping. Not huge and not super fast, Kindle is a force to be reckoned with, but not in the class of former Longhorn, Brian Orakpo. Kindle may slide a little bit in the draft, but should still be in the first round.
27. Dallas Cowboys — Earl Thomas CB/S — Texas
Fast and instinctive, Thomas drops only because he doesn't have the size of the other safties. Good coverage skills and a solid tackler, Thomas is versatile enough to play the safety positions or throw in at cornerback.
28. San Diego — Ryan Matthews RB — Fresno State
In a weak RB class, Matthews is the best workhorse running back. At 218 pounds and 4.45 speed. Matthews is exactly what the Chargers need and could be a complement to scatback Darren Sproles.
29. New York Jets — Ricky Sapp OLB — Clemson
With Anotonio Cromartie in the fold, the Jets can turn to other holes to fill. A wide receiver might be nice, but none is worthy of this pick. Carlos Dunlap has all the skills and looks the part, but has had off the field issues and shows every indication that once he cashes his check, he wont use his talent on the field. Sapp showed that he could handle the OLB in a 3-4. He is fluid, can rush the passer or drop into coverage. Sapp could take over the role of the bust Vernon Gholston and would fit in well in Rex Ryan's defense. Keep an eye on Tyson Alualu as well.
30. Minnesota Vikings — Maurkice Pouncey — Florida
The Vikings lost the ability to run halfway through last season. Pouncey can step in from Day 1 and help solidify the Viking O-line. Smart, big and surprisingly quick, Pouncey can shift John Sullivan over to RG and try to get Adrian Peterson running again. With Artis Hicks gone, it is imperitiv
31. Indianapolis Colts — Jared Odrick — Penn State
Solid but not spectacular DT who hustles and can get into the backfield to disrupt plays. High-motor quick (4.98 40) seems like a perfect fit for the Colts defense.
32. New Orleans Saints — Terrence Cody DT — Alabama
The Saints gave up 4.5 yds per carry last season. Lucky for them, most teams were playing catch up and had to pass to stay in the game. Cody could be a 2-down lineman and negate and chance of a run up the middle by any team. He could keep the linebackers clean and limit opposing offenses. He is the kind of pick a Super Bowl winner can afford.
That's it. And as I promised, no Tim Tebow. Write back with comments or counter-arguments.