I would like to take credit for this, but I have to give credit to the great Bill Michaels at WTMJ Milwaukee for this stuff. Nice job.
The NFL Draft is an inexact science, taking into account things like speed, height, intelligence, character, past injuries, what is actually on a particular players game film, how did they perform at the combine, their one-on-one interviews…..it all goes in to selecting who you feel, as a GM, will best suit your team.
This team needs a corner or that team needs a O-tackle…needs are glaring and the draft is one way to fill those needs but in the long-run, you’re stockpiling talent for your future and you have to remember that it’s very rare for a rookie to make a huge impact in today’s NFL. That said; I’ve always believed in the philosophy, “The BEST player available”. If you’ve got 5 solid wide-receivers and the best player available is a wide-out, take him. PERIOD! Competition in camp usually breeds success. If you then have 6 solid wide-outs, trade one and bolster a need or pick up another draft pick to garner more support down the road. Remember this, super-stars will always find their way on to the field and mediocre players will find the side-lines. If it comes down to two players whom you’ve graded similarly and one fills your need, then take that player but don’t reach. Too many GM’s have reached to fill a void right now to save their job and thus put too much pressure on a rookie to perform rather than allowing him to get indoctrinated into the NFL slowly and on his learning terms. Thus…failure! And believe me, growing up in Cincinnati, I’ve seen a massive amount of quality player thrust into the spotlight only to fail miserably because too much was expected of them right away.
Under that premise, studying team’s tendencies, weaknesses, strengths and past draft picks, here’s my 1st round mock draft for this Thursday night.
1. ST. LOUIS RAM – SAM BRADFORD QB Oklahoma
Even though the Rams only generated 9 ½ sacks last year, they are in desperate need of a long-term QB.
If Cleveland, who currently drafts 7th, talks the Rams into trading down for Bradford look for the Rams to go after a guy like Derrick Morgan, the DE from Georgia Tech. The Rams aren’t one player away so it might make sense for them to garner more picks. While Bradford seems to be the most NFL ready QB on the board, there are still lingering questions about his throwing shoulder and his ability to take punishment in the NFL.
2. DETROIT LIONS – NDAMUKONG SUH DT Nebraska
The Lions secondary was atrocious last season, ranking 32nd (dead last) vs. the pass. While you wouldd love to have a top notch corner in your stable, with a pass rusher like Suh, the Lions secondary should automatically get better. A better rush up front means less time for a QB to throw the ball which means your current corners have to smother a receiver for a second less. As I’ve said before, BEST PLAYER AVAILABLE and Suh’s, by far, the best player available. Also, another of my favorite cliché’s, “It all starts in the trenches”.
3. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS – GERALD McCOY DT Oklahoma
The Bucs run defense was awful ranking 32nd (dead last) in the NFL. McCoy is a solid run stuffer and has the ability to disrupt offenses. While he’s no Suh, he’s the best player available and, in this rare case, fills a need.
4. WASHINGTON REDSKINS – RUSSELL OKUNG LOT Oklahoma State
Mike Shanahan traded for Donovan McNabb and now he’s going to go for protection. Chris Samuels is gone and Okung will fill the void. BUT…don’t be surprised to see Washington trade out of this pick if someone makes them the right offer. Trent Williams, the LOT from Oklahoma should still be available down the line, around 15 or 16.
5. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS – ERIC BERRY S Tennessee
If for some reason Okung’s on the board, then KC will snatch him up. While the Chiefs need O-line help and Bryan Bulaga would help them immediately, their top priority seems to be safety. DaJuan Morgan hasn’t panned out and Berry, through many analysts’ account, would be the best player available on the board and certainly fills a need. If you read many of the national draft experts, this pick seems to have many different opinions. The only thing that might change KC’s mind is the fact that it’s hard to spend top 5 money on a safety.
6. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS – BRYAN BULAGA LOT Iowa
This is a no brianer if Bulaga is still on the board. Even if Walter Jones returns for another year, you need the heir apparent at left tackle. Seattle needs a pass rusher, there’s no doubt about that, but with the uncertainty on their offensive line, especially at left tackle, Bulaga gives them stability at this vital position.
7. CLEVELAND BROWNS – EARL THOMAS S Texas
There’s a bit of a split of opinion as to whether or not Cleveland will actually trade up to get Sam Bradford with the 1st overall pick and while Jimmy Clausen will still be on the board at this point, there’s a huge drop off in talent between Bradford and Clausen and let’s be honest, Clausen isn’t going to challenge newly acquired Jake Delhomme for the starting job. Therefore, the Browns need a safety. The top rated safety on the board will be Earl Thomas. He covers a lot of ground, plays solid in big games and can be an intimidator in the secondary.
8. OAKLAND RAIDERS – BRUCE CAMPBELL OT Maryland
Al Davis is hell bent on not admitting he made a mistake with JaMarcus Russell and will do everything to prove himself right. Campbell’s an incredible physical specimen but plays upright and stiff at times. He’s quick but doesn’t have that beastlike strength you need to push NFL pass rushers up-field. That said, Davis, as in years past, will get his way and try to protect his anointed one.
9. BUFFALO BILLS – JIMMY CLAUSEN QB Notre Dame
While I don’t think that Clausen’s going to amount to much in the NFL, the Bill’s are looking for their franchise QB and have become enamored with Clausen. Stupid pick in my opinion but they’ll go for it to sell some tickets.
10. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS – DERRICK MORGAN DE Georgia Tech
Even with the addition of former Packers DE Aaron Kampman, the Jags need sacks and pressure. Morgan is the best player available on the board and fills their need. They’ll go for him here. The Jaguars D ranked 27th vs. the pass last season and it all starts with pressure up front.
11. DENVER BRONCOS (f/ CHICAGO) – DEZ BRYANT WR Oklahoma State
Trading away Brandon Marshall left a void that needed to be filled. Bryant gives them that downfield threat that they now lack and return capability.
12. MIAMI DOLPHINS – DAN WILLIAMS NT Tennessee
The Dolphins need an assortment of players, FS, OLB, ILB…but nose tackle is an area that needs to be addressed as well. Jason Ferguson is getting up there in years and the Dolphins would like to get more athletic in the middle of their defense. Williams, being the best player available on the board, would bolster that position.
13. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS – TRENT WILLIAMS ORT Oklahoma
The 49ers need an upgrade at the ORT position and Williams is one of the best players still available on the board, this sets up nicely for them.
14. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (f/ DENVER) - CJ SPILLER RB Clemson
Spiller would make a nice 1-2 punch with Julius Jones. Justin Forsett is a decent “once in a while” back but can’t handle the load should Jones go down. Spiller would give them a legitimate number 2 back and versatile, game-breaking threat.
15. NEW YORK GIANTS – SEAN WEATHERSPOON LB Missouri
With the absence of Antonio Pierce last year, the Giants struggled to stop the run. Weatherspoon is a sure tackler and can play inside or out.
16. TENNESSEE TITANS – JASON PIERRE-PAUL DE South Florida
Losing Vanden Bosch was a blow to their defense. With DE being one of the Titans top priorities and PIERRE-PAUL being available, this makes perfect sense. While Tennessee ranked 10th against the run last year, they were 31st against the pass. Much needed pressure up front with all but guarantee this pick.
17. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS – JOE HADEN CB Florida
The 49ers solidified their offensive line with Williams earlier and now they’ll grab another need, cornerback. Remember, big contract or no big contract, they benched Nate Clements last year for ineffective play. Coming from a no nonsense system like Urban Meyer’s in Florida, Haden will fit in nicely with Mike Singletary’s bunch. (The Steelers need a CB, so look for them to possibly trade up for Haden and give the 49ers, which are already paying a first-round pick, the opportunity to gain draft picks and move down.)
18. PITTSBURGH STEELERS – MAURKICE POUNCEY C Florida
Justin Hartwig has been “OK” at best at center but an upgrade is needed. At 6-5 and 318 pounds, not only can Pouncey get downfield on running plays, he can solidify, with some aging, the interior of the offensive line for some time to come. The Steelers ranked 19th last year running the ball, this is where Pouncey will help.
19. ATLANTA FALCONS – BRANDON GRAHAM DE Michigan
Atlanta has made it clear that they want to create a better pass rush. Graham, while not one of the top rated DE’s, he fits into the 3-4 defensive scheme a little better than some of the others still available. His speed will hopefully be a solid counter to John Abraham’s pass rushing abilities.
20. HOUSTON TEXANS – KAREEM JACKSON CB Alabama
While the Texans aren’t in desperate need of a corner, they are in need of a solid cover corner with a physical presence. Jackson fills that need and is one of the best players available on the board at this time.
21. CINCINNATI BENGALS – JERMAINE GRESHAM TE Oklahoma
Dez Bryant’s gone so the Bengals, as President and GM Mike Brown so often does, will go away from the best player available scenario and reach for Gresham. While he’s the best TE in the draft, the Bengals will pass on guys like Rolando McClain (LB), Sergio Kindle (LB) and so on to fill a need at an injury ravaged position.
22. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – SERGIO KINDLE OLB Texas
The Patriots need an OLB to pass rush and Kindle’s the best player available on the board. Kindle’s versatility will endear him to coach Belichick as well. This is the type of player that the Pat’s head coach enjoys coaching; a guy who’s not great at one thing but good at many.
23. GREEN BAY PACKERS – TAYLOR MAYS FS USC
If the Packers go with best player available it’s Rolando McClain the LB from Alabama. It’s also tempting here to reach for Charles Brown the OT from USC but he’s not really 1st round quality. The Packers could use someone like Mays to bolster their secondary and put pressure on Atari Bigby to “put up or shut up”. Nick Collins is solid at the other safety position and with the return of Al Harris and Pro Bowler Charles Woodson, the Packers would, at the very least, add depth to an above average secondary.
24. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES – KYLE WILSON CB Boise State
Philly was below average in pass defense last year and could use another corner now that they’ve traded away Sheldon Brown. Wilson is the highest rated CB left on the board.
25. BALTIMORE RAVENS – JARED ORDICK DT Penn State
The Big-10 D Lineman of the year, he’ll be a great addition to anchor the Raven’s 3-4 defense. With the free agent departure of Justin Bannan, Ordick will help re-stock a somewhat depleted defense. NOTE: Sources say that the Ravens are targeting offensive help for Joe Flacco, don’t be surprised if the Ravens take Demaryius Thomas (WR from GA Tech) here.
26. ARIZONA CARDINALS – ANTHONY DAVIS OLT Rutgers
The Cardinals, with Kurt Warner last year, ranked 28th running the football. Warner’s quick release fended off a lot of pass rushes, including the Packers in the post-season, but with Matt Leinart set to take over the offensive reins, the Cardinals had better get him some protection. Davis isn’t polished yet but has a lot of potential if coached right.
27. DALLAS COWBOYS – ROLANDO McCLAIN LB Alabama
Even though the Cowboys need someone to back up Doug Free at OT, now that Flozell Adams is gone, McCLAIN is the best available player on the board. He’ll add needed depth to a defense that ranked 20th vs. the pass last year. Also, McClain is a fiery guy, the type that jerry Jones loves to put in his stable.
28. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS - CHARLES BROWN OT USC
In the post-season the Chargers failed again. Pressure on Phillip Rivers and the inability to run the ball were the demise of the Bolts. Brown isn’t a huge impact player but he’ll certainly be a welcome addition. He’s athletic enough to get downfield and block if he’s able to shed defenders. Remember, this guy used to be a tight end so you know his footwork will be solid.
29. NEW YORK JETS – EVERSON GRIFFEN DE USC
Rex Ryan loves guys who come out of college already understanding the 3-4 defense. Griffen will fit right in to Ryan’s scheme. With Brandon Marshall solidifying the offense, Ryan will concentrate on defense here. Let’s not forget, Shaun Ellis is approaching his mid-30’s and may lose a step. Griffen will be a solid rotational guy.
30. MINNESOTA VIKINGS – PAT ROBINSON CB Florida State
With Cedric Griffin coming off of a torn ACL and age and injuries have been an issue with Antoine Winfield, corner is a major need for Minnesota. Robinson will give them, at the very least, the depth they need.
31. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS – DEMARYIUS THOMAS WR TCU
While offensive line is going to be a priority in the draft for the Colts, you can’t pass up a talent like Thomas who many expected to go higher in the 1st round. Just another weapon for Manning to throw too, he’ll be too enticing to pass up.
32. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS – JERRY HUGHES OLB TCU
Hughes is probably better suited for the 3-4 but he’s considered to be a flexible edge rusher in the 4-3 defensive scheme. There really isn’t any competition as far as a weak-side pass rush threat so Hughes should battle for the starting position.
That’s it, read it, print it out, compare it to Thursday night’s NFL extravaganza. We’ll see where the chips fall.
With there being so much talent between picks 9 and 45, don’t be surprised if you see an above average amount of teams making trades for additional picks and moving down in the draft…..the Packers