Well, it’s time.
With the NFL scouting combine in full swing and free agency set to begin Friday at 12:01 a.m. EST, we at OBOD figured it would be a good idea to pull together an early mock draft. Like we said in our first mock last year, this baby is likely to change a ton between now and the NFL Draft (April 22-24). I will be handling the duties for this first mock; Adam and Gene will be weighing in with their thoughts in the weeks ahead.
You might be asking: Why don’t you guys just wait a little bit longer to write one then?
Answer: These things are just too damn fun to do. We can’t wait any longer.
Besides, we’ll be rolling out a least a few more of these between now and draft day, again, because mock drafts are just the best. And if you’re wondering why we haven’t yet ripped into the NFL for having the draft Thursday-Saturday this year? Don’t worry – we’re going to – very soon.
With that brief introduction out of the way, let’s tee this thing up, shall we?
As always, enjoy.
1. St. Louis Rams - Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska. The Rams have a defensive-minded head coach who loves to get pressure on the quarterback, particularly from the defensive linemen. It must have killed Steve Spagnuolo, then, to see his team finish with just 25 sacks, third worst in the league. Suh will be NFL-ready from day one and should instantly help remedy St. Louis’ blues (hey, did I just make a hockey reference by accident?).
2. Detroit Lions – Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma. Sort of a similar story here. Jim Schwartz is a defensive guy and likely hated the fact that Detroit went offense with both its first round picks last season. He wants – and needs – to find his Haynesworth 2.0 (i.e., a game-changing d-lineman). McCoy isn’t nearly as big as Fat Albert – just 295 pounds – but is a very good two-way lineman with explosive pass rushing ability.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Eric Berry, S, Tennessee. Everyone’s talking about Suh and McCoy right now. In five years, though, Berry could very well end up the best defensive player to come out of this draft. Athletic, fast and rangy, he’s the type of do-it-all player who could make an impact on Tampa Bay’s defense right away. His playmaking numbers dipped a bit last season (just two picks as opposed to 12 combined in the two years previous), but don’t let that fool you. This kid’s for real.
4. Washington Redskins – Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State. Originally, I had the ‘Skins going with Sam Bradford. Then I read that new head coach Mike Shanahan wants Jason Campbell back. Good decision as Campbell, for all the dogging he takes from ‘Skins fans and the media, could be a good quarterback if given some actual protection. Enter Okung, the most complete – and best – lineman in the draft.
5. Kansas City Chiefs – Rolando McClain, ILB, Alabama. Consider this curveball No. 1 of the mock as McClain is looked at by many as a mid-first rounder. The Chiefs would likely love to land one of the top two tackles or Okung. But with those three off the board, they turn their attention to finding an impact inside ‘backer, something they desperately need. McClain is an absolute beast, particularly in stuffing the run. And, really, is it a reach if you grab an impact player who fills a need?
6. Seattle Seahawks – Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers. It’s been a great, potentially Hall of Fame-type run for Walter Jones. But he’s 35 now and breaking down, physically. A replacement must be found. Davis could be that guy, a 6-feet, 6-inch, 325 pound monster who is looked at by many as the best pass protecting lineman in the draft. Some wonder about his weight issues and love for the game, but his upside is too much for Pete Carroll and Co. to pass up here.
7. Cleveland Browns – Joe Haden, CB, Florida. The Brownies need secondary help in a major way as they finished 29th in passing yards allowed per game (a whopping 244.7). Eric Wright is and up-and-comer on one side, but Cleveland has nothing on the other. Haden is, hands down, the best corner in the draft. He’s physical, aggressive and extremely fast and the Browns will jump at him here.
8. Oakland Raiders – Jason Pierre-Paul, OLB, South Florida. JP-P only played one year at South Florida and didn’t really record major numbers (42 tackles, six sacks and one interception). But what JP-P lacks in numbers, he makes up for in measureables (6-feet, 6-inches, 265 pounds and lightening fast). Well, we all know Crazy Al loves measurables. I’d say more, but really, to do so would be to try and crawl inside Davis’ head. Yeah, no thanks.
9. Buffalo Bills – Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma. Brian Brohm, Trent Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Yep – that’s the quarterback group for the Bills as of now. None of those three bring any hope for the future, if you’re a Bills fan. And, really, that’s what Buffalo needs to give its fans here – some hope. I have my doubts about Bradford (coming off a shoulder injury and played in a spread-style offense), but he will provide optimism.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars – Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State. Jacksonville hasn’t had a gamebreaking receiving threat since the days of Jimmy Smith. Well, those days were a looooooong time ago. Bryant is an athletic, tough wideout with very good hands who could loosen the strain on Maurice Jones-Drew. He’s got some character concers, but Jack Del Rio doesn’t strike me as a coach who would be swayed by that stuff.
11. Denver Broncos (from Bears) - Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame. Curveball No. 2 right here. While it’s true that Kyle Orton did a very solid job in his time as starter last season, he’s likely never going to be the type of quarterback who can get on a long playoff run. Who was Clausen’s coach in college? Charlie Weis, who previously was in New England with who? That’s right – Josh McDaniels. Clausen would know this offense and could spend a year or two being groomed behind Orton.
12. Miami Dolphins – Brian Price, DT, UCLA. The Dolphins need some help at nose tackle, where Jason Ferguson is now 35 years old. Price is similar in size – Ferguson’s 310 pounds and Price is 300 – and the Pac 10 Defensive Player of the Year also has the explosion to get into the backfield on passing downs. A meat-and-potatoes, Bill Parcells-type of pick right here.
13. San Francisco 49ers – Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa. The Niners are definitely a team on the up, but they could still use some help at o-line. Some questions exist as to how high Bulaga’s ceiling really is. But the 6-feet, 6-inch, 312 pound Bulaga was also voted Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year last season. A couple of recent winners of that award, Jake Long and Joe Thomas, have done pretty well in the pros and Bulaga should follow suit.
14. Seattle Seahawks (from Broncos) – C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson. Filling the offensive line void was key, but it didn’t help the fact that the Seahawks have a major lack of gamebreakers at the skill positions, offensively. Spiller, on the other hand, would help that very much. A dual threat back, Spiller could be Pete’s new Reggie Bush.
15. New York Giants – Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee. Heading into last season, the defensive line was looked at as perhaps the biggest strength for the Giants. Turns out it wasn’t. At 325 pounds and strong as a freakin’ bull, Williams is the type of player who can command double teams and open things up for players like Justin Tuck.
16. Tennessee Titans – Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho. The Titans have some needs, defensively, but also have some holes along the offensive line. And since their best player is running back Chris Johnson, they need to ensure he has the best five guys in front of him in order to fully succeed. The 6-feet, 5-inch, 330 pound Iupati has the strength to be able to play, and flourish, right away. He could end up being very, very good.
17. San Francisco 49ers (from Panthers) – Earl Thomas, S, Texas. In addition to o-line, the Niners could use a big-time playmaking safety in the secondary. His size (5-feet, 10-inches, just under 200 pounds) isn’t exactly what you’d like at that position. But his numbers (63 tackles, eight interceptions last season) and speed definitely are. He’s also a very hard worker – something you know head coach Mike Singletary will love.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers – Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland. I’m still shocked the Steelers won the Super Bowl two seasons ago with that offensive line. Their current left tackle, Max Starks, is decent but not great. Campbell is a freak, physically (6-feet, 7-inches, 310 pounds, with a sub-4.8 40 time). In fact, some think he’s got the most upside of any lineman in the draft. He might not be NFL ready just yet, but he could sit behind Starks for a year if need be.
19. Atlanta Falcons – Derrick Morgan, DE/OLB, Georgia Tech. At 275 pounds, Morgan is right on the fence as far as where he can play in the pros (depending on whether or not he adds weight). Either way, Atlanta needs help at both these spots (particularly at defensive end, where Jamaal Anderson has been a major bust). With 12 sacks and two forced fumbles for a team that plays in Atlanta’s backyard, Morgan could help bolster the Falcons’ defense in a major way.
20. Houston Texans – Jared Odrick, DT, Penn State. As usual, the Texans are set, offensively. Again, as usual, their defense still needs more work if they are to finally get over the top and into the playoffs. Last year’s first rounder, linebacker Brian Cushing, was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, but the team still needs one or two more pieces. Odrick (306 pounds with seven sacks last year) could very well be the nose tackle to open things up for Mario Williams and Amobi Okoye.
22. New England Patriots – Sergio Kindle, DE/OLB, Texas. This pick changes if the Pats, as some expect, end up with Julius Peppers. If they don’t, though, Kindle could be the guy here. At 255 pounds, he’s an OLB in the pros. He’s got great athleticism, knows how to get to the quarterback and could be for the Pats what Brian Orakpo was for the ‘Skins last season.
23. Green Bay Packers – Charles Brown, OT, USC. Since this is a Packers’ blog, I’ll go a little more in-depth here. While the team could go in a few different directions (corner, outside linebacker and even safety) in this spot, finding a left tackle of the future is paramount of importance, even if Chad Clifton comes back for one more year. At just 290 pounds, Brown must bulk up a bit before he’s game ready. But his athleticism and NFL-ready pass protection skills would cover him if forced to play right away. He’s got a ton of upside and could protect Aaron Rodgers’ blindside for the next decade. It’s a smart, safe choice, one that would pay off both now and in the long term.
24. Philadelphia Eagles – Brandon Graham, DE/OLB, Michigan. The Eagles’ linebacking corps, as a whole, took a step back last season. Injuries played a part in that, of course, but still, Philly needs to reinforce the position. Over his last three seasons at Michigan, Graham averaged over nine sacks a season, with ever-improving tackle numbers. He’s got short arms, yes, but he’s also a hard-worker who comes at you on every play. Philly fans will love this guy.
25. Baltimore Ravens – Damian Williams, WR, USC. One thing struck me, more than anything, about the Ravens during last season’s Monday night game with the Pack: Their near total lack of playmakers on offense, outside of Ray Rice. That needs to change if they are ever going to make a serious run at a Super Bowl. Williams isn’t the biggest receiver at just 6-feet, 1-inch, but has very good speed and recorded over 1,000 yards receiving for the Trojans last year.
26. Arizona Cardinals – Jerry Hughes, DE/OLB, TCU. If Karlos Dansby is re-signed (and he should be), the Cards are fine at inside linebacker. They still need help on the outside, though, where Clark Haggans and Chike Okeafor are merely decent. Hughes played defensive end in college, but at 257 pounds, he’ll be moved to OLB in the pros. With 26 sacks over his final two years at TCU, he’s shown a knack for getting to the quarterback.
27. Dallas Cowboys – Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma. In their playoff loss to Minnesota, the Cowboys showed their weaknesses along the o-line. Flozell Adams, for all the hype and money, just isn’t very consistent in pass protection. Plus, he’s getting older, so the team needs to upgrade there, at least for the future. Williams would have gone much higher if not for his subpar 2009 season, but he still has a lot of tools and could be a good pro, if he regains his 2008 form.
28. San Diego Chargers – Terrence Cody, DT, Alabama. At first glance, this pick could be surprising. After all, the Chargers have Jamal Williams at nose tackle and he is one of the best in the league. However, Williams turns 33 in April and is coming off a torn triceps injury that caused him to miss most of last season. They need a future and “Mount Cody” could be just that, provided he stays motivated and keeps his weight down.
29. New York Jets – Ricky Sapp, DE/OLB, Clemson. It’s time for New York to just suck it up and admit that Vernon Gholston is a bust. That being the case, the J-E-T-S need someone to go opposite Calvin Pace at OLB. Sapp was never 100 percent, health-wise, last year, yet he still finished with five sacks. Once back at 100 percent, he could become the pass rushing threat New York’s defense needs to become great.
30. Minnesota Vikings – Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State. Antoine Winfield is still very good, but also getting up there in age. Cedric Griffin is steadily improving, but could miss the first six weeks due to his torn ACL suffered in the NFC Championship Game. Wilson is a bit small at 5-feet, 9-inches, but is an aggressive, playmaking corner. He wouldn’t be forced to matchup against great players right away, allowing him to learn the game. In time, he could be very, very good.
31. Indianapolis Colts – Carlos Dunlap, DT, Florida. I said before last year’s draft and I’ll say it again now: Yes, the Colts have two great ends in Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. Between them? Not much. Indy needs to upgrade at tackle and it must do so this season to lessen the strain on the two outstanding ends. There are some questions surrounding Dunlap (lack of motivation and a DUI arrest in particular). But he’s also had nine sacks in each of the past two seasons and can play tackle or end (in the event Freeney or Mathis gets hurt)
32. New Orleans Saints – Taylor Mays, S, USC. Before last season, it would have been unthinkable to have Mays this low. But a bad 2009 season (just one interception) and doubts about his ceiling land him here. With Darren Sharper getting older, the Saints need future insurance and Mays brings great value at this spot.