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Mock Draft 1.0: What the other 30 teams are thinking
Let's face it. Between now and April 22, a handful of prospects are going to have run-ins with the law, a few will fail drug tests, several veteran starters are going to be released and Al Davis is going to interview 10-15 guys for the already occupied Raiders head-coaching position. In short, a lot can (and will) change between now and Draft Day.
But for fan bases of 30 NFL teams, the draft is not what's "next" on the agenda; it's what's now.
So let's dig in. With many more to come, here's the 2010 Schrager Mock Draft, Version 1.0:
1. St. Louis Rams -- Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska: Hey, no one was exactly blown away by the start of the Keith Null Era in St. Louis. The sixth-round rookie gunslinger out of West Texas A&M (college quarterbacks coach? Ryan Leaf. I wish I was kidding.) did little to inspire the masses in his four starts at quarterback for the Rams at the end of St. Louis's abysmal 1-15 2009 campaign. But I just don't see GM Billy Devaney and coach Steve Spagnuolo letting "The Boy Named Suh" slide by them. For as bad as the Rams offense was in '09, the defense was probably worse. Suh has been compared favorably to just about every great DT in the past 20 years, most commonly Warren Sapp and Haloti Ngata. For as tempting as Jimmy Clausen or Sam Bradford might be for the quarterback-starved Rams, Suh's the pick. They'll get their quarterback later on. More on that in a bit.
2. Detroit Lions -- Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma: The Lions D improved from their epically awful 2008 season in '09, but the unit was still among the league's worst. Prepare for this over the next 2-3 months: draftniks and armchair analysts breaking down the pros and cons of Nebraska's Suh and Oklahoma's McCoy, side-by-side-by-side like slabs of meat. Suh's the safe bet, but McCoy may have the greater NFL upside. Detroit will pair him with rising second-year talent Sammie Lee Hill and re-work Jim Schwartz's ailing defense from the inside out.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Eric Berry, S, Tennessee: A safety drafted third overall? It's rare, but it's been done before. The Browns drafted Eric Turner No. 2 overall in 1991 and Detroit took Bennie Blades No. 3 overall in 1988. Add Eric Berry to that esteemed and exclusive list of safeties taken in the top three. He's that good. In Tampa, look for Berry to play the safety position like a centerfielder ... who also happens to play shortstop, second base, catcher and first base. He'll be everywhere. With bone-breaking tackling ability and an uncanny ability to turn interceptions into six points, he's a little bit Troy Polamalu mixed with some Ed Reed. Not a bad cocktail, huh?
4. Washington Redskins -- Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame: Contrary to popular belief, Mike Shanahan doesn't have a long and storied history of plucking and grooming first-round quarterbacks. He inherited John Elway, drafted Brian Griese in the third round, and picked up Jake Plummer via Free Agency. Jay Cutler was Shanahan's first and only first-round quarterback selection in Denver.
That said, I can't see the new head man in Washington passing on a talent like Jimmy Clausen at No. 4 overall. You've got to think Jason Campbell's days in D.C. are done and it's time for a new "face of the franchise". Insert Clausen. Let Shanahan groom the golden armed golden domer, and flourish under the newly worked Redskins offense. With young receivers Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas picking it up toward the end of their second seasons, there are actually some weapons for Clausen to work with. Exciting times in D.C. Kinda.
5. Kansas City Chiefs --
6. Seattle Seahawks -- Taylor Mays, S, USC: After three All-American, Pac-10 championship seasons at USC, Mays battled injuries during a down senior campaign and slipped on mock drafts across the Internet in '09. And though some assume Mays struggled because he didn't have the Cushing, Maualuga and Mathews trio in front of him this season, I can't see Pete Carroll letting him slide past Seattle's pick at No. 6. There's talk of the Seahawks drafting a quarterback here, and either Sam Bradford or Jimmy Clausen could be available, but I see Carroll snagging his old defensive stalwart, teaming him with 2009 first-round pick Aaron Curry, and giving the all-of-the-sudden old and creaky Seahawks defense an extreme makeover up the middle.
7. Cleveland Browns -- Joe Haden, CB, Florida: Haden may very well be the top corner to enter the league since Darrelle Revis left Pitt early in '07. In 2009, he held big-name SEC wideouts Brandon LaFell, Julio Jones and A.J. Green all but catchless. Watching him blanket highly touted Cincinnati wide receivers Mardy Gilyard and Armon Binns in the Sugar Bowl served as a clinic on how to play the position. The Browns have decent young corners in Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald, but neither is the game-changing potential All-Pros that Haden is.
8. Oakland Raiders -- Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State: Forget Tom Cruise scaling a moving locomotive. Want the real Mission Impossible? Trying to crawl inside Al Davis's head and accurately guessing how he'll spend a top 10 pick. A wise choice would be taking Russell Okung, an All-American left tackle out of Oklahoma State. Tom Cable would love a prized O-lineman to groom. Then again, who knows if Tom Cable will even be the coach in '10?
9. Buffalo Bills -- Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma: Been here, done that, right, Bills fans? Long searching for the next great quarterback of Western N.Y. -- whether it be Rob Johnson, J.P. Losman or Trent Edwards -- the Bills take another shot at a potential quarterback of the future in Bradford. I'm told his shoulder should be fully healed by Draft Day. We'll know for sure after a few individual workouts. If both Clausen and Bradford are gone, look for Buffalo to scoop up an offensive tackle.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars* -- Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama: Everyone and their mother has the Jaguars grabbing Tim Tebow with this pick, selling his jersey by the millions and suddenly filling the home stadium with invigorated Tim Tebow-crazed Jaguar fans. Um, this isn't minor-league football, here. I guess it's a plausible scenario (the Jaguars roster is already loaded with ex-Gators), but I don't see Jacksonville spending top 10 money on another quarterback when David Garrard's already been given big bucks and is doing just fine under center.
Rolando McClain's been described as a prototype for the NFL 4-3 middle linebacker. Jack Del Rio will fall in love with his toughness and mental strength. Nick Saban and Kirby Smart both referred to the 'Bama junior as their "coach on the field" this season. McClain led a fearless defense to a title in 2009. The Jags would love for him to do the same at some point in the next decade in Jacksonville. Do that, and his jersey will sell quite a bit, too. Who knows? Maybe fans will actually come to Jaguars games, as well.
Suspension or not, Wide receiver Dez Bryant remains a top talent in this year's draft crop.
11. Denver Broncos* -- Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State: By the time April rolls around, Brandon Marshall -- with 100 catches in three straight seasons -- may be suiting up for another NFL franchise. If that's the case, Denver will want to fill that void with a top-flight NFL talent. At 6-2, 220 pounds, Bryant isn't the physical presence that Marshall is, but he may have better speed and game-breaking ability. He can return kicks, as well.
12. Miami Dolphins -- Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee: The Dolphins could use a top wideout for Chad Henne to grow old with, but there should be several solid options available in later rounds. DT? There's not quite the same depth at the position. Dan Williams follows in the great tradition of Tennessee DTs before him (Albert Haynesworth, Justin Harrell, Aubreyo Franklin) and could anchor the Miami D-line for years to come.
13. San Francisco 49ers -- Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa: Joe Staley's a reliable young OT, but the Niners could use another one of those to serve as a bookend on the offensive line. They passed on Michael Oher last year to grab Michael Crabtree at No.10 overall. I don't think they let Bulaga, a star at Iowa coming off of a wonderful Orange Bowl, slip past No. 13. I know I'm currently in the minority, but I actually like Bulaga a lot more than Oklahoma OT Trent Williams.
14. Seattle Seahawks -- C.J. Spiller, RB/KR, Clemson: The Seahawks have been searching for a game-breaking running back since Shaun Alexander hit the wall in 2007. Justin Forsett showed signs in '09 and Julius Jones can still carry the rock when called upon, but Spiller's the exciting game-changer that's been missing from the Seattle offense. Capable of returning kicks, punts and catching the ball out of the backfield, he's like Felix Jones. Only better. Remember how Pete Carroll used Reggie Bush at USC?
15. New York Giants -- Brian Price, DT, UCLA: The Giants are desperate for help at middle linebacker and safety, but with McClain, Berry and Mays already off the board, I can't see Jerry Reese reaching for a second-round talent here simply to fill a need. Price dominated the Pac-10 in 2009, earning him the conference's Defensive Player of the Year award. He had 22 tackles for a loss, 11.5 sacks over the past two years, and seemed to spend much of the season in the opponent's backfield. The Giants defense, once the core of this team, needs talent across the board. Price can play DT or DE and get to the quarterback. Sign him up.
16. Tennessee Titans* -- Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech: The Titans defense struggled early, but picked it up for first-year coordinator Chuck Cecil over the second half of the '09 season. The pass rush took a considerable hit without Albert Haynesworth clogging the middle. Kyle Vanden Bosch isn't getting any younger and could be elsewhere next year. Morgan is quite possibly the best pure pass rusher in this draft class.
17. San Francisco 49ers* -- Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida: I've seen lots of insiders attaching Tebow to San Francisco, thinking there's a need at QB and Mike Singletary's personality matches the Florida legend's. It's possible, but I think the Niners hang tight with
18. Pittsburgh Steelers -- Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma: The Steelers returned five starting offensive linemen from their Super Bowl XLIII winning team, but struggled in both pass and rush protection in 2009. Ben Roethlisberger was sacked eight times against Cleveland this year. Against Cleveland! A better run blocker than a pass protector, Williams could help get the once-storied Pittsburgh running game back to where it has to be.
19. Atlanta Falcons* -- Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State: Robinson battled injuries this season, but always exhibited top flight corner talent when on the field. The Falcons got burned by the pass against New Orleans twice in '09. Mike Smith's D could use a lockdown corner that could step in right away. Robinson fits the mold.
20. Houston Texans* -- Earl Thomas, CB/S, Texas: Capable of playing either safety or cornerback, Thomas is a local guy who can fill a pressing need for the Texans. A first-team All-American and a Thorpe Award finalist, Thomas manned the middle for the Longhorns' top-ranked defense. Houston got some good contributions from Bernard Pollard and John Busing in November and December, but could use top-notch young talent at safety to go with their star-studded front 7.
21. Cincinnati Bengals -- Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma: It takes a rare talent to miss an entire season with a knee injury and still be drafted in the first round of the next year's draft. Gresham's that rare talent. Oklahoma's all-everything tight end should be fully recovered by Draft Day, and ready to go for training camps. Hit with a preseason rash of injuries at the position, the Bengals adjusted and found a diamond in the rough in J.P. Foschi. Chase Coffman's still in the mix, as well, but Gresham's got All-Pro potential. With him streaking across the middle, Carson Palmer could return to his Pro Bowl form.
22. New England Patriots -- Everson Griffen, DE/OLB, USC: 2009 was Griffen's first and only as a full-time starter at USC and he made the most of it. The hybrid DE/OLB had 8 sacks, 9.5 tackles for a loss, and 45 tackles overall. The Pats are old and spotty on defense and can use help just about everywhere except MLB. Griffen can rush the passer, stop the run, and play either OLB or DE.
23. Green Bay Packers -- Donovan Warren, CB, Michigan: "Hello, Charles Woodson. Here's a fellow Michigan man with considerable talent. Now, please, teach him and make him the next great NFL corner. In short, make him the next ... you." I assume Ted Thompson's phone call to the 2009 NFL Defensive Player of the Year would go something like that.
For all the kudos and pats on the back the Packers D received by an all-loving media this year, they still gave up 503 passing yards in a loss in Pittsburgh and 51 points in a wild-card loss in Arizona. When Al Harris went down, the pass defense suffered. Warren's one of several cornerbacks who'd make sense here. The Michigan link with Woodson would make for a heck of a story. Kind of like D-coordinator Dom Capers and his former player, linebackers coach Kevin Greene. In Warren, Clay Matthews, and B.J. Raji, the Packers defense would be loaded with young first-round talent.
24. Philadelphia Eagles -- Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho: Nothing to get the local rabid fan base excited like an interior offensive lineman from Idaho in the first round. Iupati may actually be worth getting exciting over. Want the evidence? Check out some of the holes he created for Idaho running backs in the Vandals' 2009 Roady's Humanitarian Bowl win. The Cowboys defense had their way with the Eagles offensive line three different times this season. Some young talent in the trenches -- Iupati's my top-rated guard in this draft class -- would help Philly immensely.
25. Baltimore Ravens -- Syd’Quan Thompson, CB, California: The Ravens have been passing on drafting receivers in the first round for years. Don’t expect that to change this year. With a deep wideout class (there will be solid WR options in rounds 2 and 3 available), look for Baltimore to pick up a young, ready-to-play right away cornerback here. Thompson had an outstanding junior season, returned for his senior year and was a top Pac-10 performer for Cal in ’09. Though undersized at just 5-9, Thompson has a knack for the ball and is currently having a hell of a week at the Senior Bowl. A four-year regular at Cal, he could start opening day for the Ravens.
26. Arizona Cardinals -- Sergio Kindle, DE/OLB, Texas: At 6-4, 255, Kindle has the size and speed to play either defensive end or outside linebacker at the next level. After getting torched in two playoff games, look for the Arizona front office to upgrade the leaky Cardinals D with some young talent. Bill Davis' unit struggled in the postseason and quite frankly, needs more players across the board. Kindle's a player. The Cardinals would be fortunate to see him on the board here.
27. Dallas Cowboys -- Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland: Though not confirmed by the AP, I'm fairly sure Flozell Adams and Mark Colombo's jockstraps are still lying around the Metrodome 50-yard line. Neither player is getting any younger and the Dallas offensive line needs some reinforcements. Doug Free's shown glimpses, but there's got to be more. Some of the things I've read have Campbell as high as a Top 10 pick. I was never that impressed with him at Maryland, but think the Cowboys would be pleased to see him sitting there at 27. And I'm putting this out there now -- can we call him Bruce "Evil Dead" Campbell? Or Bruce "Old Spice commercials" Campbell? One of the best actors of the past 20 years deserves to be mentioned somehow after each and every pancake block by this kid.
Bama's Terrence Cody is quickly gaining buzz around scouts and the web regarding his hefty belly baggage.
Kevin C. Cox
28. San Diego Chargers -- Terrence Cody, DT, Alabama: The recent topless photos of Cody from the Senior Bowl won't earn him any GQ covers a la Mark Sanchez, but neither did former Tide teammate Andre Smith's combine shots last year. Listed anywhere from 350-375 pounds, Cody's a beast of a human being and was terrific at clogging the run for Nick Saban's Crimson Tide. He may not be able to go three downs per series at first, but with some conditioning and experience, could evolve into the next Sam Adams and an All-Pro fixture in the middle.
San Diego's run defense took a hit when Jamal Williams went down and bigger, stronger teams -- i.e. Cincinnati and the Jets -- pounded them up the gut. Cody could be the long-term fix for the 'Bolts.
29. New York Jets -- Perrish Cox, CB, Oklahoma State: Go dig up the footage of the two picks Cox had in the Cowboys' win over Texas Tech this year. Both were special and exhibit the big play abilities of the 5-11 speedster. A potential knock on Cox? He missed the 2010 Cotton Bowl and was sent home early for missing curfew twice in the week leading up to the game. Not exactly the best thing you want on your resume, but certainly not worth slipping multiple rounds for. Trust me, if there are any rough edges, Rex Ryan will smooth them into shape. Pronto.
30. Minnesota Vikings -- Jared Odrick, DE/DT, Penn State: With talk of 37-year-old Pat Williams considering retirement, re-stocking at DT wouldn't be the worst idea in Minnesota. Jimmy Kennedy played well this year, but isn't the long term answer. Insert Odrick, a Penn State guy just liked Kennedy. The Big Ten's 2009 Defensive Player of the Year showed off his pass rush skills during his senior season with six sacks and held his own on run defense. He'll play either DT or DE at the next level.
31. New Orleans Saints** -- Ricky Sapp, OLB/DE, Clemson: New Orleans has resisted drafting a top-flight outside linebacker for years. If Sapp, an ultra-fast athletic pass rushing freak, is available at No. 31 or No. 32, they won't be able to resist. The thought of Sapp, who had five sacks for Clemson in '09, on that Superdome carpet rushing passers is a scary thought.
32. Indianapolis Colts** -- Jerry Hughes, DE/OLB, TCU: Hughes fits in perfectly with the Colts defense. The former high school running back is undersized, unheralded and has a fantastic motor. Hughes is the only two-time consensus All-American in TCU history and had 11.5 sacks in '09. Larry Coyer will find a place for him -- whether at DE or OLB -- in the Colts D.
Second Round33. St. Louis Rams -- Colt McCoy, QB, Texas
34. Detroit Lions -- Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Georgia Tech
35. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Corey Wootton, DE/DT, Northwestern
36. Kansas City Chiefs -- Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame
37. Washington Redskins -- Selvish Capers, OT, West Virginia
38. Cleveland Browns -- Brandon Spikes, LB, Florida
39. Oakland Raiders -- Brandon Graham, LB, Michigan
40. Seattle Seahawks -- Eric Decker, WR, Minnesota
41. Buffalo Bills -- Vladimir Ducasse, OT, Massachusetts
42. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Jon Asamoah, G, Illinois
43. Miami Dolphins -- Brandon LaFell, WR, LSU
44. New England Patriots -- Rob Gronkowski, TE, Arizona
45. Denver Broncos -- Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
46. New York Giants -- Morgan Burnett, S, Georgia Tech
47. New England Patriots -- Dexter McCluster, RB/WR, Ole Miss
48. Carolina Panthers -- Aaron Hernandez, TE, Florida
49. San Francisco 49ers -- Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
50. Kansas City Chiefs -- Maurkice Pouncey, C/G, Florida
51. Houston Texans -- Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno State
52. Pittsburgh Steelers -- Jahvid Best, RB, California
53. New England Patriots -- Anthony Dixon, RB, Mississippi State
54. Cincinnati Bengals -- Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida
55. Philadelphia Eagles -- Nate Allen, S, USF
56. Green Bay Packers -- Mike Johnson, OG, Alabama
57. Baltimore Ravens -- Arrelious Benn, WR, Illinois
58. Arizona Cardinals -- Roger Saffold, OT, Indiana
59. Dallas Cowboys -- Damian Williams, WR, USC
60. San Diego Chargers -- Joe McKnight, RB, USC
61. New York Jets -- Jason Worilds, DE, Virginia Tech
62. Minnesota Vikings -- Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri
63. New Orleans Saints** -- Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers
64. Indianapolis Colts** -- Dominique Franks, CB, Oklahoma
· *Subject to Coin Flip
· **Subject to Playoffs
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