Michigan pass rusher Brandon Graham is one of several high profile prospects featured in Taking It to the House’s 2010 NFL Draft Mock v2.0
The NFL Draft is an ever-changing entity due to trades (McNabb), veteran cuts (Flozell Adams), and prospect workouts (Sam Bradford). So with an abundance of draft related tidbits coming in daily, I thought it was time to do version 2.0 of my 2010 NFL Draft Mock.
1) St. Louis Rams – QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
2009 Record: 1-15 | Needs: QB, CB, OLB, WR
After a workout for the ages on March 29th, there is no doubt that the Rams will begin their rebuilding by selecting Bradford. In his Pro Day workout, the former 2008 Heisman winner displayed footwork, size (6’5, 236), poise, and arm strength that solidified his spot as the 2010 NFL Draft’s No. 1 overall pick. Bradford will be the franchise’s first quarterback to be selected in the first round since 1967—9 of the last 12 first overall picks have been quarterbacks. The NCAA’s all-time leader in passing efficiency is an accurate, intelligent, and athletic passer plus he averaged an incredible 9.41 yards-per-attempt, had a TD-to-INT ratio of 88-16 in his career, and don’t forget he threw 50 TDs in 2008. While there are some shoulder concerns (ACL joint), Bradford clearly looks recovered from his October surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews. With the Rams recently cutting veteran Marc Bulger, look for Bradford to be a Day 1 starter for the Rams with A.J. Feeley and Keith Null serving as his backups. I wonder if Bradford’s agent, CAA’s Tom Condon, and the Rams will have a deal already in place when the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reads the pick. Look for the former Oklahoma star to get a deal similar if not better than last year’s No.1 overall pick, Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford, who’s deal was 6-years, $72 million and $41.7 million guaranteed.
2) Detroit Lions – DT Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska
2009 Record: 2-14 | Needs: OT, DL, CB, S
Some expected Detroit to go O-line, but they recently traded for up-and-coming offensive guard Rob Sims from the Seattle Seahawks. Lions head coach Jim Schwartz and GM Martin Mayhew address a defense that allowed an NFL-high 494 points in 2009 by selecting Suh with the second overall pick. Suh had one of the best years of any college defensive tackle in NCAA history as he produced 85 tackles, a NCAA leading 24 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, and 1 forced fumble. The decorated award-winner (Lombardi, Bednarik, Willis, and first team All American) also had 10 passes defensed, 28 QB hurries, 1 INT and three blocked kicks. The cat-quick and strong defensive lineman possibly played his best game in Nebraska’s near upset of the Texas in the Big 12 Championship game, finishing with 4.5 sacks. By adding Suh, the Lions defense will be able to apply the pressure needed to produce more sacks and turnovers.
3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma
2009 Record: 3-13 | Needs: DL, WR, CB, S
Raheem Morris’ defensive unit was plagued by big plays and coverage lapses throughout the 2009 season. With an eye on finding a “Warren Sapp” penetrating defensive tackle for their Cover-2 scheme, the Bucs will select Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy (6’4/297) to re-build their defense around. The 2008 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year produced 16.5 tackles for loss and six sacks, despite constant double teams. Look for the fourth-year junior to collapse the pocket with his cat-quick moves, helping improving linebacker Barrett Ruud to make more game-changing plays. McCoy will instantly bring some teeth to a Bucs’ defense that ranked 32nd in the NFL against the run.
4) Washington Redskins – OT Russell Okung, Oklahoma State
2009 Record: 4-12 | Needs: OT, OG, S, QB
After trading for veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb, more than ever the Redskins must find a way to help their offensive line. Last year the O-line allowed 46 sacks then OT Chris Samuels retired and OG Randy Thomas was released. Redskins’ new braintrust of head coach Mike Shanahan and GM Bruce Allen grab the 2010 NFL Draft’s first O-lineman by selecting big bookend tackle Russell Okung to protect McNabb. The 2009 Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year and first-team All-American allowed just one sack and two QB pressures last year. Running behind Okung, Oklahoma State led the Big 12 in rushing in all four of his seasons as a starter. The former Oklahoma State star has good “pop” at the snap, good feet, and long arms. By selecting Okung and starting him Day 1, the Redskins will finally be able to fix an offensive line that was in shambles in 2009.
5) Kansas City Chiefs – OT Bryan Bulaga, Iowa
2009 Record: 4-12 | Needs: S, WR, LB, DL
Some are saying that the Chiefs may flirt with the idea of selecting quarterback Jimmy Clausen or safety Eric Berry, but I believe, head coach Todd Haley and general manager Scott Pioli like what they have in young starter Matt Cassell. With many spots still to fill, Kansas City selects 2nd rated offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga from Iowa and move former first rounder Branden Albert back to his natural guard position. Though there is some concern over Bulaga (6’6/315) missing three games in 2009 due to a thyroid condition, he was the most dominant blocker in the Big Ten — named conference’s 2009 Offensive Lineman of the Year. This converted tight end has drawn comparisons to Browns former first rounder and Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas for his good feet and pass-blocking technique. Plus Pioli knows Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz very well and would love to get one of his hard-nose players.
6) Seattle Seahawks – Safety Eric Berry, Tennessee
2009 Record: 5-11 | Needs: OT, DE, OG, WR
Former USC college guru Pete Carroll and new GM John Schneider have already started turning over their roster – several players moved including OG Rob Sims. Though some folks are expecting a quarterback of the future or a stud receiver or a penetrating defensive lineman, the Seahawks get their John Lynch type safety for their new Cover-2 scheme by selecting Tennessee safety Eric Berry. Though his numbers were a bit down in ’09, Berry took his game to a new level working with former Volunteers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, a veteran NFL teacher of the Cover-2 defense. The 2009 Jim Thorpe award winner as the nation’s best defensive back, Berry will definitely help in over the top coverage as well as in box. Expect the centerfielder to help in the nickel, dime, and on special teams as he has a “Can Do” attitude that will help a Seahawks defense that allowed 330 points last year. Look for the Seahawks to continue filling some of their other needs, namely their O-line, later in the first round when they select at the No. 14 spot.
7) Cleveland Browns – CB Joe Haden, Florida
2009 Record: 5-11 | Needs: QB, OT, DE, S
Though football czar Mike Holmgren says he doesn’t need a quarterback in the first round, you never know. However I will take Holmgren at his word and the Browns pass on Clausen in favor of giving veteran Jake Delhomme another shot. Holmgren and new GM Tom Heckert decide that fixing a defense that allowed 375 points in 2009 is more pressing – too many big plays. The Browns grab another defensive back to add to holdover Eric Wright and veteran pickup Sheldon Brown by selecting Florida cover corner Joe Haden (5’11, 190). Even though some people are wondering about Haden’s speed – ran a 4.57 at the NFL Combine, but recently was timed at high 4.3/low 4.4 range Florida’s Pro Day – there is no doubt that he is the best cover corner in this draft. Some are comparing him to Jets Pro Bowl CB Darrelle Revis, but we will see on that comparison.
8) Oakland Raiders – WR Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State
2009 Record: 5-11 | Needs: WR, OT, DE, S
After passing on Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin last year, the Raiders select the best receiver in this year’s draft, Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant. This pick doesn’t make much sense with the Raiders having more pressing needs, but this is Oakland that we are talking about. Raiders’ owner Al Davis loves to make a splash and grabbing the emerging Bryant could be another piece for comebacking quarterback JaMarcus Russell. The former Oklahoma State star should immediately help lift an offense that only scored 197 points (31st in NFL) and 17 touchdowns (tied for 32nd) last year. Bryant missed all but three games in 2009 after being suspended by the NCAA for inappropriate interaction with former NFL great Deion Sanders, but there is no denying his ability – recently had a solid Pro Day running in the high 4.4 /4.5 range and catch the ball well. Drawing comparisons to Houston Texan Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson, Bryant also combines size and speed. All anyone needs to do is look at his outstanding 2008 numbers of 87 catches for 1,480 yards and 19 touchdowns, plus an average of 17.9 yards per punt return with 2 TDs to see his game-changing ability.
9) Buffalo Bills – QB Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame
2009 Record: 6-10 | Needs: OT, QB, WR, DE
The braintrust of new head coach Chan Gailey and GM Buddy Nix decide that their current quarterbacks (Trent Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick) are not the answer. The Bills have no choice as Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen falls in their lap. Playing in a “pro style” offense – a huge plus for any college QB — Clausen from 2007 to 2009 improved greatly under the tutelage of Charlie Weis. The junior-eligible is tough (played through a toe injury in 2009), accurate (68% completion percentage last year), and is a leader. However even though Clausen sported an outstanding 28 to 4 touchdown-to-interception ratio last year, some evaluators wonder about him not producing a lot of signature “big” wins during his starting tenure at ND, his arm strength, and rumored cocky attitude.
10) Jacksonville Jaguars – DE Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech
2009 Record: 7-9 | Needs: DE, S, QB, OG
There is no doubt that the Jags need help rushing the passer as they produced an NFL-low 14 sacks in 2009. With head coach Jack Del Rio on the hot seat, Jacksonville cannot afford a selection of another under-achieving pass rusher. So Jaguars’ GM Gene Smith tries to finally find an anchor defensive end for Del Rio’s defense by selecting Georgia Tech’s Derrick Morgan (6’4, 272). Morgan was the ACC‘s Defensive Player of the Year after leading the conference with 12.5 sacks plus he added 18.5 tackles for loss. The junior eligible should be helped by the presence of veterans DT John Henderson and free agent signee Aaron Kampman while pushing former first rounder Derrick Harvey, who has been a disappointment to say the least.
11) Denver Broncos (from Chicago) – ILB Rolando McClain, Alabama
2009 Record: 8-8 | Needs: DT, DE, LB, S
Already head coach Josh McDaniels and GM Brian Xanders have been busy this offseason acquiring players including former Browns QB Brady Quinn and a gaggle of defensive linemen (NT Jammal Williams, DE Jarvis Green, and DT Justin Bannan). With an eye on improving a defense that allowed 324 points in 2009, the Broncos select Alabama LB Rolando McClain (6’3, 258) to replace the recently cut Andra Davis. The Butkus Award winner is a classic instinctive inside linebacker, who is a tackling machine – 2009 stats: 105 TKLs, 14.5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, and 2 INTs. McClain seems to have overcome red flags — an eye-gouging incident (against Georgia running back Washaun Ealey) and a hamstring pull at NFL Combine – to be the first linebacker off the board. Look for the 2009 consensus All-American to help right away in the Broncos 3-4 scheme playing behind huge nose tackles Williams and 2nd-year pro Ronnie Fields.
12) Miami Dolphins – DE/OLB Jason Paul-Pierre, South Florida
2009 Record: 7-9 | Needs: LB, WR, OL, TE
One thing is for certain, we know Dolphins top executive Bill Parcells likes to have tough aggressive linebackers. With veteran Joey Porter being cut and free agent Jason Taylor shopping himself around , the Dolphins will add the best pass rushing outside linebacker in the 2010 NFL Draft by selecting South Florida’s Jason Pierre-Paul (6’5, 270). Though a bit raw (only one year in D-1), Paul-Pierre is an awesome athlete that reminds many of a young Jevon Kearse down to an 81-inch wingspan and 10-3/8 hands. The much-traveled JUCO transfer started at College of the Canyons then transferred to Fort Scott Community College before settling-in at South Florida. The first-team All-Big East performer led his team in tackles for loss (16.5) and sacks (6.5) plus Pierre-Paul blocked a kick and returned an interception for a touchdown. At the NFL Combine, Pierre-Paul looked fast (4.67 in the forty), explosive, and fluid in drills.
13) S.F. 49ers – OT Trent Williams, Oklahoma
2009 Record: 8-8 | Needs: OLB, S, OL, QB
Armed with two first round picks, expect the resurgent Niners to rebuild their offensive and defensive lines. Head coach Mike Singletary shores up his pass protection by selecting athletic Oklahoma offensive tackle Trent Williams (6’4 ½, 314) to replace OT Tony Pashos (Cleveland Browns). A 40-game starter at OU with experience at both left and right tackle, Williams earned first-team All-Big 12 honors the last two years. Look for Williams to take his place as a solid right tackle (34 ¼-inch arms) in offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye’s unit. Adapt at pass and run blocking, Williams showed great athleticism at the NFL Combine, where he ran the second fastest forty (4.88) and fifth best short-shuttle time (4.63) of any offensive lineman.
14) Seattle Seahawks (from Denver) – OT Bruce Campbell, Maryland
2009 Record: 4-12 | Needs: OT, DE, OG, WR
After having taken a defensive player earlier, expect the Seahawks to find a protector for 35-year quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. The Seahawks attempt to replace future Hall of Famer Walter Jones, who retired, by selecting Maryland offensive tackle Bruce Campbell (6’6, 314). An incredibly athletic left tackle prospect with extremely long arms (36 ¼-inches), Campbell was the talk of the NFL Combine after running an offensive lineman best 4.85 forty, pounded out 34 reps on the 225 lb bench, jumped 32 inches vertically and displaying awesome feet in drills. Though there are concerns with Campbell only having 17 college starts, he should be able to help out right away on runs and screen passes.
15) New York Giants – safety Taylor Mays, USC
2009 Record: 8-8 | Needs: CB, S, DT, LB
I know the G-Men already signed versatile former Cardinals safety Antrel Rolle during free agency, but more is needed in their Back 4. The Giants routinely gave-up big plays down the field — allowed more than 40 points five times in 2009. With uncertainty around former first rounder Kenny Phillips returning to full strength from a bad foot injury, the Giants select USC defensive back Taylor Mays. This big (6’3, 220) hard-hitting safety can really fly as shown by his forty time at this year’s NFL Combine — some unofficial hand-times had him at 4.24seconds, but “officially” his time was 4.43 seconds, which is still unbelievable for a safety. Mays should easily replace recently cut safety CC Brown and also contribute on special teams and in nickel coverage. Look for the former USC standout to improve on his angles to the ball and making more game-changing plays — caused just two takeaways as a senior (1 INT and 1 fumble recovery).
16) Tennessee Titans – DE Everson Griffen, USC
2009 Record: 8-8 | Needs: DE, OT, CB, C
Season one without DT Albert Haynesworth produced an 8-8 record and a defense that allowed a whopping 402 points. To make matters worse for Titans’ head coach Jeff Fisher, veteran defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch signed with the Lions. In order to rebuild the Titans once feared defense, look for them to select USC DE Everson Griffen (6’4, 274). The All-PAC 10 performer is a solid two-way defensive end, who finished his collegiate career with 18 sacks and 22 tackles for loss. Griffen really shined at the NFL Combine, where he ran an impressive 4.66 forty and put up 32 reps of 225 pounds. Also looked like the real deal at USC’s Pro Day as he ripped through every drill and displayed great balance.
17) S.F. 49ers (from Carolina) – OLB Sergio Kindle, Texas
2009 Record: 8-8 | Needs: OLB, S, OL, QB
After securing their offensive line with their first selection (No. 13), look for Niners’ head coach Mike Singletary and new personnel chief Trent Baalke to improve a defense that had problems at times. Former first rounder Manny Lawson has been a huge disappointment so the Niners try to fortify their defense to contend with the explosive Arizona Cardinals by selecting Texas outside linebacker Sergio Kindle (6’4, 255). The 3rd-team All-American played a variety of roles for the Longhorns including rush linebacker, defensive end, defensive tackle and special teams. Kindle led Texas with 22 tackles for loss and quarterback hurries. Though Kindle is smallish for a true NFL defensive end, with his knack for rushing the passer he is a natural fit for the Niners’ “Elephant” position (half OLB and half DE).
18. Pittsburgh Steelers – OG Mike Iupati, Idaho
2009 Record: 9-7 | Needs: OL, RB, CB, DL
The Steelers sure up the interior of their offensive line in hopes of returning to a run-first offense by selecting the draft’s best interior offensive lineman, Mike Iupati. The big (6’5, 325) All-American from Idaho was one of the most impressive lineman at this year’s Senior Bowl. Some have said that Iupati could play on the outside as he has 35-inch arms, good footwork, and balance but he is a dominator on the inside. By adding Iupati, the Steelers can run the ball with more authority between the tackles – leading rusher Rashard Mendenhall had a quiet 1,108 rushing yards in 2009 — and finally replacing the huge hole left by the defection of Pro Bowl player Alana Faneca (NY Jets) a couple years ago.
19) Atlanta Falcons – DE Carlos Dunlap, Florida
2009 Record: 9-7 | Needs: S, LB, OL, DE
The Falcons have had a hole at the defensive end position since Patrick Kearney left years ago for the Seattle Seahawks. Yes, veteran John Abraham has gotten to the quarterback however the Falcons need to give the often-injured defensive end some help and get stronger at the point of attack. Also with an eye on pushing underachiever and former first round pick DE Jamaal Anderson, Atlanta selects Florida defensive end Carlos Dunlap. Though some are saying Dunlap, a top-ten talent, is falling on some team’s draft boards due to some off the field issues and an off-and-on motor, I still believe fiery head coach Mike Smith will give him another shot. The former All-SEC defensive end is compared to 2010 free agent big fish Julius Peppers in that he is big (6’6, 290) and explosive when motivated. Last season, Dunlap had nine sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss, which were down from his 2008 numbers. But there is no denying the upside of this former Gators sack man as shown by his 2 sacks in the Sugar Bowl against Cincinnati.
20) Houston Texans – RB CJ Spiller, Clemson
2009 Record: 9-7 | Needs: OL, RB, TE, S
With the status of current running back Steve Slaton (neck) in jeopardy, Texans’ head coach Gary Kubiak and GM Rick Smith add another burner to their indoor track team by selecting Clemson speedster CJ Spiller (5’11/196). At the NFL Combine, Spiller looked like the next “Reggie Bush” homerun threat type of player. He showed breakaway speed with a 4.37-second forty – some unofficially timed him at 4.27 seconds – and great hands catching the ball. Spiller is an explosive player as shown in 2009 season where he had 31 carries of 10+ yards and eight receptions for 20 yards or more plus contributed an NCAA-leading five TDs on returns. Look for Spiller (5.6 yards per carry average and 36 catches) to help out immediately on kickoffs and he should compete with Slaton and 2nd-year back Arian Foster for carries. As for any concerns regarding Spiller’s durability, he never missed a game in college due to injury.
21) Cincinnati Bengals – safety Earl Thomas, Texas
2009 Record: 10-6 | Needs: OL, DE, TE, S
Even though the Bengals were able to get turnovers from their emerging cornerback tandem of Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall, their defense was pushed around by the NY Jets in their playoff loss. With an eye on getting tougher on defense, head coach Marvin Lewis will select Texas safety Earl Thomas (5’10, 197). Though the Bengals re-signed veteran Roy Williams to a one-year deal, Thomas will bring speed and coverage to Lewis’ defense. He played strong safety at Texas, but he has “centerfielder” in the pros written all over him. In 2009, Thomas finished second in the nation with eight interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns. The former Longhorns star also is a very physical player too as shown by his five fumbles the last two seasons.
22) N.E. Patriots – OLB Brandon Graham, Michigan
2009 Record: 11-5 | Needs: LB, CB, TE, RB
The Patriots seem to have targeted the linebacker position as one of the areas that needs an upgrade this off-season as they will probably cut under-achiever Adalius Thomas and future Hall of Famer Junior Seau finally retired. The continued overhaul of Belichick’s prized unit will continue with the Patriots selecting Michigan’s Brandon Graham. A “LaMarr Woodley” clone, Graham is a pure 3-4 rush linebacker. Though a bit small at 6’1, 263 pounds, the former Wolverine has a knack for getting to the quarterback — second all time in Wolverines history in tackles for loss and sacks. At this year’s Senior Bowl, Graham was the MVP of the game producing 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, five tackles with three of them for loss. “He’s a football player,” Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said of Graham after the game. “You know, tweener, whatever — he’s a football player.” With 3 second-round picks expect Belichick to possibly take a run at “winner” Tim Tebow in the second round.
23) Green Bay Packers – CB Kyle Wilson, Boise State
2009 Record: 11-5 | Needs: CB, OL, DE, S,
After a shootout 51-45 overtime playoff loss to the Arizona Cardinals, you have to think that Packers head coach Mike McCarthy and GM Ted Thompson should be thinking defense. Yes, the Packers finished the regular season right near the top in every defensive category, but one of the key areas on the Packers’ defense that will need to be looked at is cornerback. Even though veterans Charles Woodson (2009 NFL Defensive Player of the Year) and Al Harris (35) have been one of the best combos for years, the Packers need to get younger in coverage. The Packers select solid Boise State corner Kyle Wilson (5’10/190). A 4-year starter, Wilson is great at both press and zone coverage and has great hands as shown by his 8 INTs over the last two years – returned two for TDs as a senior. An academic All-WAC, Wilson is also smart and tough (never missed a game due to injury). Plus he is an explosive punt returner and is willing to play on special teams.
24) Philadelphia Eagles – center Maurkice Pouncey, Florida
2009 Record: 11-5 | Needs: DE, OL, LB, S
In starting the post-Donovan McNabb era, the Birds will need to face the cold hard fact that the Dallas Cowboys dominated them by a margin of 58-14 in their last two games (Week 17 and in the Wild Card round). Though many are saying that the team’s first pick should go to fixing some of their holes on defense (DE, S, and LB), I believe Reid reverts to old form and selects an O-lineman. There is no denying that the Cowboys’ D-line manhandled them, especially NT Jay Ratliff so the interior line must be addressed. In trying to get better upfront, the Eagles select emerging Florida O-lineman Maurkice Pouncey. The junior-eligible was the 2009 Rimington Award winner as the best pivot in college football and should be able to contribute right away. Pouncey, who has started at offensive guard and center at Florida, is very smart, has very good feet, and plays with great leverage. The All-SEC pick would be a great insurance policy against veteran Jamaal Jackson’s knee injury. The upside with Pouncey is that he is only 20 years old and should mature while learning from veterans like Todd Herramins.
25. Baltimore Ravens – CB Patrick Robinson, Florida State
2009 Record: 11-5 | Needs: LB, TE, CB, S
After another successful season, the Ravens knew they had a need at receiver so they made the big move of trading for Anquan Boldin. By fixing up their receiver position, the Ravens can now concentrate on other area of need, their secondary. Even though John Harbaugh’s unit produced a (+10) in turnover ratio, injuries to veteran safety Ed Reed, CB Fabian Washington (ACL) and rookie CB Lardarius Webb (ACL) were huge down the stretch. Look for the Ravens to find Reed some help by selecting Florida State cover corner Patrick Robinson. Robinson’s stock fell last season due to inconsistency, which was mostly due to teams throwing to the other side. But the former FSU star rebounded by having a solid Senior Bowl and NFL Combine. Robinson will end the Seminoles two-year absence from the first round.
26. Arizona Cardinals – DE Jared Odrick, Penn State
2009 Record: 11-5 | Needs: LB, DL, OL, CB
Offensively, Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt and GM Rod Graves have already started to replenish with signings like QB Derek Anderson. But a defense that allowed 45 points in the playoffs to the Packers and gave-up an average of 20 points per game in the regular season needs to get better. Grabbing a linebacker to replace Dansby is an option (Missouri’s Sean Witherspoon), but I believe the Cardinals will select solid Penn State two-way defensive end Jared Odrick (6’5, 305). This high-motor versatile defensive lineman is perfect for the Cardinals’ 3-4 defense. The rangy 300-pounder had a great Senior Bowl week and has a quick first step. Odrick is a pocket collasper, who was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Look for the former Penn State star to join up-and-coming DE Calais Campbell in making the Cardinals tougher upfront.
27) Dallas Cowboys – OT Anthony Davis, Rutgers
2009 Record: 11-5 | Needs: OL, CB, S, WR
In what has been a relatively quiet offseason for the Cowboys, owner Jerry Jones recently decided it was time to move-on from veterans OT Flozell Adams and safety Ken Hamlin. If a safety like Taylor Mays falls to the Cowboys, they may pull the trigger. But I expect them to grab one of the many offensive tackles that carry a first round grade. With OT Doug Free obviously not the answer…Dallas gave up 6 sacks in playoff loss to the Vikings including a sack/fumble recovery by Jared Allen against Free. With an eye on protecting quarterback Tony Romo better, the Cowboys will select Rutgers road grader Anthony Davis – an impressive 32 starts in college — to replace Adams. A developing player, Davis didn’t have the best combine (only 21 reps of 225 pounds and ran a 5.2 or 5.3 forty) or Pro Day, but he does have a huge upside. The former All-Big East player is a natural right tack with good size (6’6, 325) and 34-inch arms. Davis (21) will be able to open holes for RB’s Barber, Jones, and Choice while also keeping Romo upright.
28) San Diego Chargers – RB Ryan Matthews, Fresno State
2009 Record: 13-3 | Needs: DT, RB, CB, LB
Chargers head coach Norv Turner and GM AJ Smith made the tough decisions of releasing veterans RB LaDainian Tomlinson. So look for Turner and Smith to sure-up their ground game — Tomlinson and Michael Bennett gone leaving only Darren Sproles — by selecting physical every down back Ryan Matthews. 2009’s number-two rusher in NCAA football (276 carries for 1,808 rushing yards and 19 TDs) is a big (6’0, 218) runner that also has very good speed. He recently ran a 4.45 forty at the NFL Combine and is known to not be afraid to run the ball up the middle. Matthews can also do some things out of the “Wildcat” as he is a former high school quarterback and the Chargers should love his ability to carry the mail – in 2009 had eight games with 20 or more rushing attempts.
29) New York Jets – DT Dan Williams, Tennessee
2009 Record: 9-7 | Needs: S, WR, LB, OL
Expect brash head coach Rex Ryan and GM Mike Tannebaum to stay aggressive in keeping their team in the playoff hunt. Though I believe the Jets will probably sit back and see what falls in their lap – possibly a safety to replace the recently traded Kerry Rhodes (Cardinals) – I believe Ryan will not pass up the chance to improve his No. 1 ranked defense. With Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kris Jenkins getting older, the NY Jets look for some help for him in NT Dan Williams (6’3, 327). The NFL-ready Williams is a big strong defensive lineman that is great at the point of attack. A four-starter after redshirting in 2005, the former Volunteer is well schooled on pro techniques having played under former veteran NFL defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. At the NFL Combine, Williams produced solid numbers 5.17 in the forty and 27 reps of 225 pounds.
30) Minnesota Vikings – CB Devin McCourty, Rutgers
2009 Record: 12-4 | Needs: S, CB, OL, RB
With all indications pointing to grandfather quarterback Brett Favre coming back in 2010, expect the Vikings to add pieces in the draft that can push them over the top. My expectation is that head coach Brad Childress and GM Rick Spielman will concentrate on bringing in defensive help as the Vikes were often in high scoring games and allowed 321 points (ranked 10th in the NFL). Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier will get some help for Pro Bowl corner Antoine Winfield by selecting Rutgers’ corner Devin McCourty (5’11, 193). An All-Big East selection in 2009, McCourty can help a team in a variety of ways. He can play man-to-man or Cover 2, is a very good tackler (80 in ’09), and has good hands (6 INTs in career and broke-up 10 passes). McCourty also is a major special teams guys as he averaged 25.1 yards per kickoff return with a touchdown in ’09 and blocked seven kicks in his career.
31) Indianapolis Colts – OT Charles Brown, USC
2009 Record: 14-2 | Needs: OL, LB, CB, S
The options will be plentiful for Colts head coach Jim Caldwell and GM Bill Polian as they look to improve last year’s Super Bowl runner-up. One of the Colts’ major problems in their Super Bowl loss to the Saints was their offensive line. Too often QB Peyton Manning was rushed on his attempts and other than Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday this unit has to play better everywhere. The Colts grab USC emerging offensive tackle Charles Brown (6’5, 303). A converted tight end, Brown is a very athletic big man with good feet and long arms (35 1/4-inches) that help him as a pass blocker. At USC, Brown was the cornerstone of Pete Carroll’s O-line and he should immediately push Colts under-achiever Charles Johnson for playing time. With Manning playing behind a patchwork line in 2009, he still won his record setting 4th NFL MVP award. So imagine what he will be able to do with Brown taking care of his blindside.
32) New Orleans Saints – LB Sean Witherspoon, Missouri
2009 Record: 13-3 | Needs: LB, DE, S, OL
The Super Bowl Champion Saints are in a state of flux on their defense. Already this offseason has seen LB Scott Fujita (Browns) and defensive end Charles Grant leave the team. Saints head coach Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis look to fix a defense allowed 341 points and replace Fujita by selecting versatile Missouri linebacker Sean Witherspoon (6’1, 239). The former All Big 12 pick can play all three linebacker positions (SAM, MIKE, and WILL) and was very productive in college — 376 tackles, three forced fumbles, four interceptions in the past three seasons. Witherspoon has great intangibles including leadership, a nose for the ball, and coverage skills (three interceptions in 2008, two of which were returned for touchdowns with one more INT in ’09). He will be a great fit playing next to Jonathan Vilma in Gregg Williams’ defensive unit.
Teams not owning a first round pick
Carolina Panthers – 2009 Record: 8-8 | Needs: DT, LB, QB, WR
For the second year in a row, the Carolina Panthers will not have a first round draft pick. This year’s pick went to the San Francisco 49ers in a deal where the Niners traded their second round pick (No. 43 overall) in 2009 to Carolina for their 2010 first rounder. The Panthers used the pick to take DE Everett Brown, but I am sure after an 8-8 campaign, they wish they had it back. Carolina this offseason has been getting rid of veterans like QB Jake Delhomme, DT Damione Lewis, DE Julius Peppers, FB Brad Hoover, and others. So expect them to be active in getting younger players that can contribute right away. Carolina’s first pick will be in the second round (No. 48 overall) and you can expect them to be looking for D-line and linebacker help.
Chicago Bears – 2009 Record: 7-9 | Needs: WR, OL, DT, S
The Bears traded away their first round pick in the much ballyhooed acquisition of quarterback Jay Cutler. The Broncos gladly took the pick and after a 7-9 season last year, you know that Chicago probably would like to have the pick back. Though Cutler performed well at times, he also threw 26 interceptions. With head coach Lovie Smith on the hot seat, look for the Bears to add more help for Cutler (WR,O-line) and their retooling defense (CB, S, DL) when they first pick in the 3rd round (No. 75 overall).
The Best of the rest: Alabama NT Terrence Cody; Cal RB Jahvid Best; Notre Dame WR Golden Tate; Georgia Tech WR Demaryious Thomas; TCU DE Jerry Hughes; Florida LB Brandon Spikes; UCLA DL Bruce Davis; Texas QB Colt McCoy; Florida QB Tim Tebow and Oklahoma TE Jermaine Gersham