In the two weeks since Mock Draft 4.0 was published, Donovan McNabb was traded to a division rival, the Browns picked up a starting linebacker and a starting cornerback from Philadelphia, and the Jags acquired an established pass rusher in Aaron Kampman. Sam Bradford and Everson Griffen had outstanding Pro Day workouts, while Oklahoma State teammates Dez Bryant and Perrish Cox didn’t fare quite as well. With just three weeks until the best weekend of the NFL offseason, let’s dig into Mock Draft 5.0.
1. ST. LOUIS RAMS
Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
The McNabb trade eliminates the Redskins from any draft-day trade discussions with the Rams for the top pick. Coming off of what longtime league personnel man Gil Brandt described as the best quarterback Pro Day workout since Troy Aikman’s for the Cowboys back in 1989, suitors likely won’t even have the chance to move up to No.1. At his workout in Norman last week, Bradford threw 63 passes and every one of them was catchable. He weighed in at a sculpted 236 pounds, looking far stronger than he was at Oklahoma, and stood at 6-foot-5. He looked and played like a bona-fide NFL quarterback. The Rams have passed on QBs Matt Ryan (2008), Joe Flacco (2008), Chad Henne (2008) and Mark Sanchez (2009) in recent drafts. St. Louis won’t — and really can’t — pass on Bradford on April 22.
Mock Draft 4.0 Pick: Sam Bradford, Oklahoma Bradford’s Mock Draft 4.0 Placement: No. 1 to St. Louis 2. DETROIT LIONS
Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
With more than a few holes to fill across the roster, there’s a possibility Detroit trades out of the second pick, scoops up a few additional picks, and drafts the top offensive tackle on the board somewhere later in the first round. If they stay at No.2, Russell Okung or Trent Williams are certainly possibilities. I still think they’ll opt for Suh. I wouldn’t read too much into the acquisition of DT Corey Williams. Suh’s in another league. Newly acquired DE Kyle Vanden Bosch certainly bolsters the pass rush, but there is still a glaring hole in the middle. Suh is the top rated player on my 2010 NFL Draft board and can be the franchise’s defensive cornerstone to build around for the next decade. Jim Schwartz is a defensive coach at heart. I can’t see him passing on the ‘Huskers star. Look for Detroit to address offensive tackle with the 34th pick overall.
Mock Draft 4.0 Pick: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska Suh’s Mock Draft 4.0 Placement: No. 2 to Detroit
3. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
McCoy would have been a top-five pick last year had he entered the draft after his redshirt sophomore season. In 2009, he recorded 14.5 tackles for a loss despite a constant barrage of double teams. Offensive lines built entire game plans around stopping McCoy while he played at Oklahoma. Tampa coach Raheem Morris got the heart of his offense in QB Josh Freeman last April. He’ll get the counterpart for his defense in McCoy in 2010. This one’s really a can’t-miss for Tampa. If Detroit picks an OT at No. 2, they’ll have the fortune of picking between two franchise DT’s in Suh and McCoy. Tampa’s been missing a dominant presence in the middle since Warren Sapp left town in 2004.
Mock Draft 4.0 Pick: Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma McCoy Mock Draft 4.0 Placement: No. 3 to Tampa Bay
4. WASHINGTON REDSKINS
Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State
In a matter of days, the Redskins have transformed from a young, inconsistent offense into a veteran, dangerous all-cylinder attack. With the acquisitions of veteran gunslingers Donovan McNabb and Rex Grossman, experienced runners Larry Johnson and Willie Parker, and an offensive gameplan led by masterminds Mike and Kyle Shanahan, Washington suddenly has a scary O. Even the receivers and tight ends — a mix of young (Malcolm Kelly, Devin Thomas, Fred Davis) and old (Chris Cooley, Sean Ryan, Santana Moss) — are loaded with talent. The only thing missing? A prized offensive tackle. Washington gets its guy April 22 with Okung. In the Oklahoma State star, a player I had rated higher than No. 2 overall pick Jason Smith last year, Shanahan and Co. would get a franchise cornerstone who gave up just one sack in 336 pass attempts in 2009. Shanahan struck gold in Ryan Clady at No. 8 overall in Denver. He’ll do the same with Okung at No. 4. If he’s gone at No. 4? Trent Williams or Bryan Bulaga are nice consolation prizes. The ‘Skins got their franchise quarterback without having to sacrifice the fourth overall pick. As for Jason Campbell? Don’t be shocked if he’s shipped to a team looking for a veteran quarterback — potentially Buffalo or Oakland — for a late-round 2010 pick. It’s safe to say the 2005 first-round pick’s days are numbered in D.C. As for all those suggesting McNabb is "over the hill," remember John Elway was the same age in 1995 when Shanahan was hired in Denveras McNabb is now. That guy went on to win two Super Bowls after being labeled "over the hill" by some.
Mock Draft 4.0 Pick: Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State Okung’s Mock Draft 4.0 Placement: No. 4 to Washington
5. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa
"Branden (Albert) got the worst rap out of anybody on our football team over the last two years," Kansas City veteran LG Brian Waters told reporters this week. "Without a shadow of a doubt, he’s a left tackle. Without a shadow of a doubt, he can play football. We have not helped him, to be honest with you, as a football team, as an organization. It’s one of the toughest positions to play on the football team. This negative tone I’ve been hearing about him not being able to play tackle, moving to guard . . . Moving him to guard is totally ridiculous, to be honest with you." As much as I love the enthusiasm and the support of Albert by a veteran like Waters, I can’t see Kansas City passing on Iowa’s Bulaga if he’s still available at five. Thus far in the 2010 offseason, Kansas City has retained six of its own free agents and has signed five unrestricted free agents, including RB Thomas Jones and a pair of veteran linemen (center Casey Wiegmann, guard Ryan Lilja). Drafting Bulaga at No. 5 and getting a no-doubt franchise left tackle makes sense.
Another reason to like Bulaga-to-K.C.? GM Scott Pioli and Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz are close friends dating back to their time in the mid-’90s with Cleveland. With three of the top 53 picks, look for K.C. to address other needs in later rounds.
Mock Draft 4.0 Pick: Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa Bulaga’s Mock Draft 4.0 Placement: No. 5 to Kansas City
Charlie Whitehurst took just four snaps last season and did not attempt a single regular-season pass. Pete Carroll and Co. must have seen an awful lot in his preseason work, though, as the Seahawks gave up quite a bit to acquire the 27-year-old, shaggy-haired gunslinger from San Diego. Believe it or not, there was actually a bit of a bidding war with Arizona for the guy. With a young quarterback for the future now locked in, I see Carroll and personnel man John Schneider passing on Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen and addressing the team’s dire offensive line needs with the sixth overall pick. Seattle’s quarterbacks were sacked an embarrassing 44 times in 2009. In Oklahoma’s Williams, they get a premier prospect who can play left tackle or right tackle at a high level right away. C.J. Spiller’s certainly a possibility, but I think Williams — the third Sooner taken — is the guy at No. 6.
Slowly but surely, the Cleveland roster is getting better this off-season. Having already brought in two veteran quarterbacks, Super Bowl champion linebacker Scott Fujita, and veterans Tony Pashos and Ben Watson, the Browns addressed two more areas of need by acquiring outside linebacker Chris Gocong and cornerback Sheldon Brown from the Eagles last weekend. Gocong, a standout in Philly, should slide right into the OLB void left by the Kimerion Wimbley trade to Oakland. Meanwhile, Brown could start at corner on opening day. Things would certainly get interesting in the Cleveland War Room if both QB Jimmy Clausen and Tennessee safety Eric Berry slipped to No.7. I’ve wavered on this in recent mocks, but now think Berry’s the guy. With four picks in the first three rounds, look for Cleveland to grab a quarterback in either round 2 or 3. Berry will start — and flourish — right away under Eric Mangini.
Mock Draft 4.0 Pick: Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame Berry’s Mock Draft 4.0 Placement: No. 8 to Oakland
8. OAKLAND RAIDERS Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers
Oakland suffered through a 5-11 season in 2009, extending the Raiders’ NFL record of consecutive seasons with 11 or more losses to seven. This offseason, a bit like last year’s in which they only acquired veterans Lorenzo Neal, Jeff Garcia and Greg Ellis (only Ellis ended up making the active roster), Oakland’s been fairly quiet on the free-agent market. The Raiders acquired Kimerion Wimbley from Cleveland, but beyond that have been all but silent. Trying to get inside Al Davis’s head is a tricky venture, but if I were to take my best bet it’d be an offensive tackle at No. 8. Bruce Campbell, a guy just about everyone and their mother has linked to Oakland, is always a possibility. But in a welcomed departure for Raiders fans, I think the team takes the better player instead of the “Underwear Olympics” gold medal winner. Davis, a standout at Rutgers who played his best ball against All-Big East pass rushers Greg Romeus of Pitt and George Selvie of South Florida, would be an immediate upgrade at left tackle in Oakland.
Mock Draft 4.0 Pick: Eric Berry, S, Tennessee Davis’s Mock Draft 4.0 Placement: No.9 to Buffalo
9. BUFFALO BILLS
Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame
There’s a new boss in town in Western New York and his name is Chan Gailey. "It is completely different," second-year guard Eric Wood said of the Bills’ re-arranged weight room last week. "We went from 12 TVs to zero. We updated (everything) so we have a pretty advanced weight room in there now, a lot more free weights. There are different things that work and this is the approach they are taking so hopefully we will run into a string of better luck as far as injuries goes and I don’t see how we can’t." Now that the weight room is all figured out, Gailey and new GM Buddy Nix have more than a bit of work to do on the roster. The Bills have needs just about everywhere on the field. The offensive line is a disaster, Buffalo opted not to retain two of its top wideouts this offseason and the pass rush was all but nonexistent in 2009. They’re also moving from a 4-3 to a 3-4 and don’t have a run-stuffing 3-4 clog for that scheme. And, oh yes, none of the three quarterbacks on the roster — Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick, or Brian Brohm — can strike up visions of Jim Kelly (or even Frank Reich) in Buffalo. So, where do they go? I think if Clausen is on the board at No. 9, Gailey and Nix grab the kid. None of the current QBs on the Bills roster were drafted by the new regime and none of them have done much to prove that they’re the starting QBs of the future. After his Pro Day on April 9, Clausen is scheduled for a one-on-one meeting in Orchard Park. Unless Buffalo goes out and acquires a veteran quarterback between now and then — perhaps Jason Campbell — I see Clausen as the guy at No. 9. If Buffalo opts to pass on the golden armed Golden Domer, he could suffer a Brady Quinn/Aaron Rodgers-like slide down the first round.
Mock Draft 4.0 Pick: Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers Clausen’s Mock Draft 4.0 Placement: No. 7 to Cleveland
Jacksonville addressed its need for an elite pass-rushing DE by acquiring Aaron Kampman this month. If both Derrick Morgan and Jason Pierre-Paul are on the board, as is the case here, the Jags could be tempted to pounce on one. But I still think Jacksonville goes for the best middle linebacker in the draft and grabs the heart of the Alabama D in McClain. Jack Del Rio can plug McClain, a guy Nick Saban referred to his "on-the-field coach" throughout Alabama’s BCS championship season, at MLB right away and get immediate results. Instantly, he’ll be the franchise’s most productive ‘backer.
By going out and signing Justin Bannan, Jarvis Green and Jamal Williams in recent weeks, Denver addressed its defensive line needs with veterans. Cornerback Nathan Jones and QB Brady Quinn, like the three D-linemen, are good locker room additions, too. Though Dez Bryant will be tempting at 11, I’m switching gears a bit after his forgettable Pro Day last week and pegging Texas DB Earl Thomas to Denver instead. Why would a team that already has two starting veteran CBs (Andre Goodman and Champ Bailey), a promising young second-year corner (Alphonso Smith), and a Pro Bowl veteran safety (Brian Dawkins) go with another DB at 11th overall? Because Thomas may be too talented to pass up here. Long term, he can end up playing either DB or safety. Short term, he’ll contribute right away wherever and whenever necessary. Thomas was a takeaway machine at Texas and some pundits — NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, included — have him rated even higher than Eric Berry.
Mock Draft 4.0 Pick: Dez Bryant, WR/KR, Oklahoma State Thomas’s Mock Draft 4.0 Placement: No. 18 to Pittsburgh
Though he was re-signed this month, 35-year-old NT Jason Ferguson is obviously not the long-term DT solution for Miami. Williams is. The run-stuffing big boy follows in the great tradition of the Tennessee DTs before him (Albert Haynesworth, Justin Harrell, Aubreyo Franklin) and could be that anchor of the Miami D-line for years to come. With Ferguson being docked with an eight-game suspension to start the 2010 season, Williams may see action sooner rather than later.
Mock Draft 4.0 Pick: Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee Williams’ Mock Draft 4.0 Placement: No. 12 to Miami
The Niners have had a bit of a tumultuous offseason, highlighted by the mutual parting of ways with GM Scot McCloughan. Mike Singletary’s been a beast on the scouting trail, picking up for McCloughan alongside Niners personnel man Trent Baalke, and checking out players first-hand. A defensive star in his day, Singletary’s got to be impressed with Joe Haden. Haden stole the show from teammates Tim Tebow, Carlos Dunlap and Brandon Spikes during Florida’s March 17 Pro Day and could contribute right away for San Francisco. The top-rated cornerback on my board, Haden is drafted by the 49ers to address their primary needs in the secondary.
Mock Draft 4.0 Pick: Joe Haden, CB, Florida Haden’s Mock Draft 4.0 Placement: No. 13 to San Francisco
Seattle would be more than thrilled to see top-flight 4-3 pass rushers Derrick Morgan and Jason Pierre-Paul still on the board at No. 14. They’d be downright giddy to see Spiller. Of his 50-plus TDs in college, 23 went for 50 yards or more. He’s a game-breaker. There’s a definite need for offensive firepower in Seattle and Spiller brings no shortage of just that. Trent Williams and C.J. Spiller in the first round would be a major haul in the Pacific Northwest. If Carroll and new GM John Schneider can emerge from Day 1 with those two, there will be a lot of happy fans in Seattle.
Giants fans clamoring for an overhaul at all three linebacker spots in 2010 shouldn’t worry too much about the strong side linebacker spot. Everyone’s very pleased with what they’ve seen out of Clint Sintim this off-season. When asked what his goal for 2010 was, the 2009 second-round pick responded by saying, "Just to be a raw beast. People can interpret that however they want to. I need to start all over. I’m not saying that last year was a lost cause or that there weren’t some good things to take from my rookie season, but I really just want to start all over and rebuild my game from the bottom up." He’ll get the chance in 2010. As for who’ll be manning the middle in Perry Fewell’s defense? Despite having Gerris Wilkinson and Jonathan Goff on the roster, I think Big Blue goes for the upgrade and grabs the versatile Weatherspoon out of Mizzou. Weatherspoon is a 239-pound producer who has a high football IQ, runs a 4.6 40 and recorded over 400 tackles in his college career. He also squats 770 pounds and was one of the bigger personalities at both the Senior Bowl and the Combine. Other pundits have Weatherspoon going as low as the middle of the second round. No. 15 to New York still seems right to me.
Mock Draft 4.0 Pick: Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri Weatherspoon’s Mock Draft 4.0 Placement: No. 15 to New York Giants
16. TENNESSEE TITANS
Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech
With Pro Bowl DE Kyle Vanden Bosch off to Detroit via free agency, Keith Bullock’s future uncertain, and Jevon Kearse and Nick Harper’s days as Titans looking like things of the past, defense, defense and defense appear to be the points of emphasis in Tennesse. Veteran DE Jason Babin, LB Will Witherspoon and CBs Rod Hood and Tye Hill have all been signed, but some young depth is needed across the D-Line, as well. Insert Morgan, the perfect pass rusher for Chuck Cecil’s 4-3 scheme.
Mock Draft 4.0 Pick: Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida Mrogan’s Mock Draft 4.0 Placement: No. 19 to Atlanta
17. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Mike Iupati, OT/OG, Idaho
The 49ers have earmarked at least one of their first-round draft picks on improving the O-Line. Iupati’s an intriguing prospect and certainly a possibility at No. 17. Though he played guard — and not tackle — at Idaho, scouts see him as more than capable of anchoring either side of the line at an OT spot. Mike Solari, an ex-Seahawks offensive line coach, joins the San Fran staff and can work with Iupati. Joe Staley’s going to start at one tackle spot in San Francisco. I’ve been saying this for weeks and I’m still very confident that Iupati — after a few months of on-the-job-training — can man the other one. If not, he’ll work the interior at guard. Either way, it’s a can’t-lose for the 49ers at No. 17. They need upgrades at both tackle and guard.
Mock Draft 4.0 Pick: Mike Iupati, OG/OT, Idaho Iupati’s Mock Draft 3.0 Placement: No. 17 to San Francisco
The Pittsburgh running game struggled mightily in both ’08 and ’09, and the offense gave up too many sacks. Both are signs of an ailing and failing offensive line. Iupati is the best guard in the draft, but Pouncey’s a close second. Capable of playing either position — he manned both at Florida — one half of the Gators’ Pouncey Brothers could be a top-20 selection to Pittsburgh.
Mock Draft 4.0 Pick: Earl Thomas, CB/S, Texas Pouncey’s Mock Draft 4.0 Placement: No. 24 to Philadelphia
With 2007 first-round pick Jamaal Anderson likely moving to defensive tackle, the Falcons could be looking to improve their pass rush off the edge with the 19th overall pick. John Abraham isn’t getting any younger, either. If he’s still on the board at No. 19, look for Atlanta to take a gamble on Pierre-Paul. With just one year of D-I college ball (and just seven starts) under his belt, Pierre-Paul made a major splash on the scene in 2009. A 272-pound defensive end who clocked a 4.64 40 (and in a video captured at his bowl game, did 13 straight back flips), Pierre-Paul could be a pass rushing demon for Mike Smith’s defense.
Mock Draft 4.0 Pick: Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech Pierre-Paul’s Mock Draft 4.0 Placement: No. 16 to Tennessee
By opting not to pursue veterans Thomas Jones, Larry Johnson, Willie Parker, LaDanian Tomllinson, and Chester Taylor in free agency, running back remains a giant question mark on the Houston depth chart. The highest the Texans have selected a RB in the draft has been in the third round: Vernand Morency (2005) and Steve Slaton (2008). Look for them to grab Fresno’s Mathews if he’s on the board at 20. They’ll take a corner in Round 2.
Mock Draft 4.0 Pick: Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno State Mathews’ Mock Draft 4.0 Placement: No. 20 to New England
Make all the “Bungles” jokes you want, folks. At 21st overall, Bryant’s an undeniable talent and none of Cincy’s AFC North opponents will be laughing if he ends up in Bengals orange and black. Sure, he’s a bit of a knucklehead. But the talent is undeniable. A top 10-worthy physical specimen, Bryant won’t get by Cincinnati at 21. Whether he forgot to bring his cleats to his Pro Day last week or not (he claims that wasn’t the case), Bryant is a terror to deal with when he’s on the field playing receiver or returning kicks. Having been absent from action since October, he’s hungry to prove the skeptics and critics wrong. Pre-draft concerns hurt another pretty good college receiver’s stock in 1998. That guy went 21st overall to Minnesota. That guy was Randy Moss. Am I really comparing Dez Bryant to Randy Moss right now? Yes, yes I am.
Mock Draft 4.0 Pick: Taylor Mays, S, USC Bryant’s Mock Draft 4.0 Placement: No. 11 to Denver
22. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Sergio Kindle, DE/LB, Texas
The Patriots have re-signed Pro Bowl nose tackle Vince Wilfork, 10-sack linebacker Tully Banta-Cain and top corner Leigh Bodden. They’re still looking for a premier 3-4 OLB that can contribute right away. Kindle could be the guy. The classic example of a ‘tweener, Kindle’s pass rushing ability and coverage skills sync up well with Bill Belichick’s 3-4 scheme. Kindle ran a 4.71 40 and made an unheard of 57 plays behind the line of scrimmage while at Texas. He’d be a great fit in New England.
Mock Draft 4.0 Pick: Brandon Graham, DE/OLB, Michigan to New England Kindle’s Mock Draft 4.0 Placement: No.26 to Arizona
23. GREEN BAY PACKERS
Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland
Sure, he’s only started 17 collegiate games. Yes, he was never voted to an All-ACC team at Maryland. And of course, his technique reveals a raw, unproven entity. That said, if he’s sitting there at No. 23, Ted Thompson’s going to have a hard time passing up on this year’s combine workout warrior. At 6-foot-6 and capable of running a 4.78 40 and bench pressing 225 pounds 34 times, Campbell’s upside is insane. The Packers’ offensive tackles are both beyond “long in the tooth”. Campbell presents Aaron Rodgers a franchise left tackle to grow old with.
Mock Draft 4.0 Pick: Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland Campbell’s Mock Draft 4.0 Placement: No. 23 to Green Bay
24. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Taylor Mays, S, USC
Philly’s been, by far, the busiest team this offseason and will have an entirely new look in 2010. It’s not often you can say that about a playoff qualifier from the previous year. The offense loses longtime stars Donovan McNabb and Brian Wesbtrook (amongst others), while the defense will be without former starters Sheldon Brown, Chris Gocong, Darren Howard, Sean Jones, Chris Clemons, Jason Babin, and Will Weatherspoon. A year removed from Brian Dawkins’ departure, safety is still a major need in Philly. In Taylor Mays, the Eagles will get a three-time All-American and a playmaker that can contribute right away. Recently signed Marlin Jackson could end up being the opening day starter, but coming off of two major ACL surgeries in two years — is hardly a sure bet.
The Ravens’ five 2010 draft picks are: first round (25th overall), second round (57th), fifth round (156th and 157th) and sixth round (194th). The Ravens traded their third- and fourth-round picks to Arizona for Anquan Boldin and their seventh-round pick went to Tampa Bay in a 2009 trade for defensive end Marques Douglas. With just five picks, look for Baltimore to focus on finding players that can both contribute right away and fill glaring needs. Gresham is the top tight end talent in this draft. Add him into the mix with recently acquired wideouts Anquan Boldin and Donte Stallworth, and watch Joe Flacco’s passing numbers reach new heights.
Mock Draft 4.0 Pick: Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida Gresham’s Mock Draft 4.0 Placement: No. 33 to St. Louis
Karlos Dansby’s gone in ‘Zona. So is safety Antrel Rolle. So are veterans Anquan Boldin and Kurt Warner, and most likely 2009 starters Mike Gandy and Bryan Robinson. That’s a lot of veterans to lose in one off-season. The Cardinals will look to recently acquired Joey Porter for veteran leadership in the locker room and at linebacker. And despite his recent off-the-field issues, he should be able to provide just that. For sheer talent, though, they’ll need to re-load via the draft. Defensive line is a glaring need. Odrick was the 2009 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and has wonderful technique. Capable of playing either DE or DT, he provides the versatility that could get him on the field on opening day.
Mock Draft 4.0 Pick: Sergio Kindle, DE/OLB, Texas Odrick’s Mock Draft 4.0 Placement: No. 33 to St. Louis
The Flozell Adams Era is officially done in Dallas. Drafted in 1998 as a second-round selection, Adams was a fixture for 12 seasons on the Cowboys’ offensive line. Mark Colombo will work one tackle spot in 2009, while promising youngster Doug Free is the apparent starter at the other one. Beyond Colombo and Free, four-year veteran reserve Pat McQuistan is the only other veteran on the roster with experience at tackle. Saffold is rapidly climbing draft boards. He was a standout at both the combine and the East-West Shrine Game. A surprise to some, he’ll add some depth to the Dallas offensive line. He’d be the first offensive lineman taken by Dallas in the first round since 1989.
Mock Draft 4.0 Pick: Roger Saffold, OT/OG, Indiana Saffold’s Mock Draft 4.0 Placement: No. 34 to Detroit
28. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
Jahvid Best, RB, California
Best ran a 4.35 40 at the Combine and bench pressed 225 pounds an impressive 18 times. He opted not to run at Cal’s recent Pro Day but that fact shouldn’t ding his draft stock whatsoever. Lingering concussion concerns from a bizarre 2009 injury in which he flipped and landed on his head very well might, though. He has been cleared by one of the nation’s leading concussion specialists and was actually given the OK to play in Cal’s bowl game, though he opted not to suit up. Best has first-round talent. At No. 28, he’d be quite a dazzling player to pair with Darren Sproles in the San Diego backfield. Look for the Chargers to grab him if he’s available, then to pick up a DT with the 40th pick.
Mock Draft 4.0 Pick: Jahvid Best, RB, California Best’s Mock Draft 4.0 Placement: No. 28 to San Diego
29. NEW YORK JETS
Terrence Cody, DT, Alabama
I’ve had Cody going to the Jets for a good month and don’t see that changing. Kris Jenkins is coming off an injury, isn’t getting any younger and Rex Ryan’s 3-4 scheme simply suits Cody perfectly. Mount Cody weighed in at Alabama ’s recent pro day at a respectable 348 pounds, 22 pounds lighter than he did at the Senior Bowl, and demands attention from multiple interior offensive linemen. He is an absolute clog in the middle and a 3-4 defense dream at NT. GM Mike Tannenbaum and Ryan know this. If he slips to No. 29, I’d be surprised if the Jets let him slip any further.
Mock Draft 4.0 Pick: Terrence Cody, DT, Alabama Cody’s Mock Draft 4.0 Placement: No. 29 to New York Jets
With Cedric Griffin banged up, Antoine Winfield battling injuries and not much depth beyond them on the roster — look for Minnesota to grab a top-flight cornerback if there’s one left on the board. The way this draft plays out, four of my top five rated corners — McCourty, Boise’s Kyle Wilson, Alabama’s Kareem Jackson, and Florida State’s Patrick Robinson — should all be sitting there at No. 30. I’ve gone back and forth on which of the four players I have as my second rated corner, but think the physical McCourty is the guy who fits Minnesota’s defense best.
Mock Draft 4.0 Pick: Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State McCourty’s Mock Draft 4.0 Placement: No. 55 to Green Bay
DTs Antonio Johnson and Daniel Muir performed well last season, but neither are a match for Price. A 6-foot-3, 300-pound former Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year, Price showed flashes of brilliance while at UCLA. He turns just 21 in April, and has a world of upside. Perhaps not an opening-day starter, Price could be the long-term fixture needed in the middle of Indy’s defensive line to divert at least some attention from ends Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney.
Mock Draft 4.0: Brian Price, DT, UCLA Price’s Mock Draft 3.0 Placement: No. 31 to Indianapolis
32. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Everson Griffen, DE, USC
Defensive end was a need in New Orleans even before the recent departure of Charles Grant. Griffen, the first true freshman to start at defensive end for USC in decades, played both DE and LB while under Pete Carroll. Truly a physical specimen, consistency was his biggest issue in college. Joining fellow ex-Trojans Reggie Bush and Sed Ellis in New Orleans, look for the super-freak to add some much needed pass rushing ability to the defending champs’ front 7.
Mock Draft 4.0: Everson Griffen, OLB/DE, USC Griffen’s Mock Draft 4.0 Placement: No. 32 to New Orleans
33. St. Louis Rams — Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida 34. Detroit Lions — Charles Brown, OT, USC 35. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Demayrius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech 36. Kansas City Chiefs — Daryl Washington, LB, TCU 37. Philadelphia Eagles — Koa Misi, LB, Utah 38. Cleveland Browns — Tim Tebow, QB, Florida 39. Oakland Raiders —Tyson Alualu, DT, California 40. San Diego Chargers — Cam Thomas, DT, North Carolina 41. Buffalo Bills — Jared Veldheer, OT, Hillsdale 42. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State 43. Miami Dolphins — Brandon Graham, OLB/DE, Michigan 44. New England Patriots — Rob Gronkowski, TE, Arizona 45. Denver Broncos — Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame 46. New York Giants — Corey Wooton, DE/DT, Northwestern 47. New England Patriots — Dexter McCluster, RB, Ole Miss 48. Carolina Panthers — Colt McCoy, QB, Texas 49. San Francisco 49ers — Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford 50. Kansas City Chiefs — Nate Allen, S, South Florida 51. Houston Texans — Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama 52. Pittsburgh Steelers — Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State 53. New England Patriots — Jerry Hughes, DE/OLB, TCU 54. Cincinnati Bengals — Morgan Burnett, S, Georgia Tech 55. Philadelphia Eagles — Vladimir Ducasse, OG/OT, Massachusetts 56. Green Bay Packers — Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, CB, Indiana (Pa.) University 57. Baltimore Ravens — Alex Carrington, DE, Arkansas State 58. Arizona Cardinals — Chris Cook, CB, Virginia 59. Dallas Cowboys — Arrelious Benn, WR, Illinois 60. Seattle Seahawks — Chad Jones, S, LSU 61. New York Jets — Damian Williams, WR, USC 62. Minnesota Vikings — LaMarr Houston, DT, Texas 63. Indianapolis Colts — Jon Asamoah, OG, Illinois 64. New Orleans Saints —Reshad Jones, S, Georgia
65. St. Louis Rams — Brandon LaFell, WR, LSU 66. Detroit Lions — Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Georgia Tech 67. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — John Jerry, OG, Mississippi 68. Kansas City Chiefs — Brandon Ghee, CB, Wake Forest 69. Oakland Raiders — Jerome Murphy, CB, South Florida 70. Philadelphia Eagles — Jermaine Cunningham, DE, Florida 71. Cleveland Browns — Ricky Sapp, DE/OLB, Clemson 72. Buffalo Bills — Geno Atkins, DT, Georgia 73. Miami Dolphins — Carlton Mitchell, WR, South Florida 74. Jacksonville Jaguars — Major Wright, S, Florida 75. Chicago Bears — Mardy Gilyard, WR, Cincinnati 76. New York Giants — Marshall Newhouse, OG, TCU 77. Tennessee Titans — Brandon Spikes, LB, Florida 78. Carolina Panthers — D’Anthony “Boo” Smith, DT, Louisiana Tech 79. San Francisco 49ers — Mike Johnson, OG/C, Alabama 80. Denver Broncos — Riley Cooper, WR, Florida 81. Houston Texans — Mitch Petrus, OG, Arkansas 82. Pittsburgh Steelers — Joe McKnight, RB, USC 83. Atlanta Falcons — Navarro Bowman, LB, Penn State 84. Cincinnati Bengals — Aaron Hernandez, TE, Florida 85. Cleveland Browns — Eric Decker, WR, Minnesota 86. Green Bay Packers — Jason Worilds, DE/OLB, Virginia Tech 87. Philadelphia Eagles — Amari Spievy, CB, Iowa 88. Arizona Cardinals — Dorin Dickerson, TE, Pittsburgh 89. Arizona Cardinals — Ed Wang, OT, Virginia Tech 90. Dallas Cowboys — Selvish Capers, OT, West Virginia 91. San Diego Chargers — Kevin Thomas, CB, USC 92. Cleveland Browns — Torrell Troup, DT, Central Florida 93. Minnesota Vikings — Montario Hardesty, RB, Tennessee 94. Indianapolis Colts — Eric Norwood, LB, South Carolina 95. New Orleans Saints — Anthony Dixon, RB, Mississippi State 96. Cincinnati Bengals — Thaddeus Gibson, LB, Ohio State 97. Tennessee Titans — Anthony McCoy, TE, USC 98. Atlanta Falcons — Ben Tate, RB, Auburn