With one week and counting until the NFL Combine gets rolling from Indianapolis, now is as good a time as any for our first mock draft. Since trades are virtually unpredictable, I'm not going to try to guess them. It'd be kind of like trying to guess what the weather will be like in 2 months. Instead, I will try to make my best estimate of what each team might do from their current draft slots.
Of course, things are certainly subject to change once we see who wows us with their 40 times, who can throw up 225 30+ times....and who can leap over a small car on youtube! Like it or not, and although I don't think peripheral combine exercises necessarily equate to success in the league by any means, it does give players some attention and bump their stock up. However, this is where I see things right now.
I encourage you all to submit your own comments/changes/mocks in the comment section. Without further ado.......
1. St. Louis Rams - QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma. Suh or Bradford....Bradford or Suh. So much of the draft is dictated by what the Rams do here. Will the Rams select a QB #1 and pay all that guaranteed money? They'd probably love to trade down a spot or two, but it could be more difficult than folks imagine. Given the lack of assets and extra draft picks they have to engineer a pre-draft trade for a viable starting QB, and with Keith Null and Kyle Boller as possibly the only incumbent signal callers come draft time, this could be a decision they have to make for their future. Of course, like all picks, this could change drastically based on combine and individual offseason workouts. If they take Bradford, they could target a guy like Terrence Cody at the top of the 2nd round. If they select Suh, they could go for a guy like Texas QB Colt McCoy or Cincy QB Tony Pike at the start of the 2nd round. So many options for the Rams...
2. Detroit Lions - DT Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska. Although the Lions might give Okung a serious look, you've got to start adding stars to that defense at some point, right? There might be no one more talented and with more all-pro potential in this draft than Suh. It's possible, with the second pick of the second round, to nab a first-round talent on the offensive line.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma. The Bucs get their guy in McCoy, who should thrive in the Tampa 2 system. S Eric Berry and ILB Rolando McClain are very attractive options, but improving the defensive line is a bigger area of need.
4. Washington Redskins - OT Russell Okung, Oklahoma State. Pressure was a significant part of the reason behind Jason Campbell's struggles, so he might get some help. Skins undoubtedly looking for their next Chris Samuels. Jimmy Clausen could get consideration as well.
5. Kansas City Chiefs - ILB Rolando McClain, Alabama. Not a complete no-brainer with talent like Joe Haden and Eric Berry on the board, but the Chiefs need an overhaul on defense and McClain would bring a physical presence and attitude in the heart of that defense.
6. Seattle Seahawks - QB Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame. The Seahawks have to take one of the remaining two stud QBs if one is still there, so Clausen would be a steal for them here. The battered and bruised Matt Hasselbeck is on his last leg and Seneca Wallace has shown next to nothing. Clausen could be the future in Seattle.
7. Cleveland Browns - S Eric Berry, Tennesssee. The Browns, like many teams near the top of the draft, have many holes to fill. A guy like Eric Berry gives them an incredibly diverse defender who can step into any position in the secondary and perform well.
8. Oakland Raiders - DE Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech. Greg Ellis isn't getting any younger and a long-term deal with Richard Seymour isn't in place. Morgan could be the top-rated pass rusher by draft day and, if so, would be a good value pick here.
9. Buffalo Bills - OT Bryan Bulaga, Iowa. They need offensive line help in the worst way, especially after the sudden retirement of RT Brad Butler, and a physical, run-blocking OT like Bulaga would upgrade one side of the line for the Buffalo offense and give the running game a big boost. OTs Trent Williams and Anthony Davis are also possibilities.
10. Denver Broncos - DT Dan Williams, Tennessee. May be a bit of a reach here, but Williams has the size (around 330 lbs) to clog interior running lanes and slow down opposing rushing attacks. He should help anchor the middle of a Bronco defensive front that got trucked over the last part of the 2009 season.
11. Jacksonville Jaguars - CB Joe Haden, Florida. Althought DE still remains an area lacking production, the Jags may look to give ends Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves a little more time to blossom. Haden, as the top-rated cover corner, would be good value here. Perhaps not the Gator that some want to see Jacksonville take in the first round, but he should step into the starting spot immediately at corner in a secondary that allowed the 6th-most passing YPG in 2009. This could push Rashean Mathis to safety and improve two positions at once. A need pick when facing Manning-to-Wayne/Garcon and Schaub-to-Andre-Johnson a total of four times per year. DEs Carlos Dunlap or Jason Pierre-Paul are possibilities.
12. Miami Dolphins - WR Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State. The Ted Ginn, Jr. experiment has failed and the Fins lack a playmaking, go-to WR in an otherwise decent offense. Bryant would step right in and be that lifeline for Chad Henne.
13. San Francisco 49ers - OT Anthony Davis, Rutgers. They need offensive line help, and a mountain of a man like OT Anthony Davis (who's dropped to around 325 pounds from 368 at one time) would do well here.
14. Seattle Seahawks - OT Trent Williams, Oklahoma. A great year for offensive tackles lends well to teams in the top half of the draft, and Seattle more likely will take advantage as well by snaring Williams. I think CJ Spiller is also a significant possibility here, but Forsett's emergence may convince the Seahawks to first seek protection for Hasselbeck or whatever young buck they run out there.
15. New York Giants - ILB Brandon Spikes, Florida. With safety and linebacker as such pressing needs, the Giants could go a number of directions here. OLB Sergio Kindle is a distinct possibility, and DBs Earl Thomas and Taylor Mays could be in play. However, the departure of Antonio Pierce creates a gaping void in the middle of that defense that will have to be replaced by an inspiring, physical, playmaking presence. Brandon Spikes appears to be the perfect guy to fill that position.
16. Tennessee Titans - DE Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida. Could go Carlos Dunlap here, but Titans had enough off-the-field headaches with Pacman Jones. Pierre-Paul might have the most All-Pro raw potential out of all DEs in the draft. Question is....can they get it out of him?
17. San Francisco 49ers - RB CJ Spiller, Clemson. Dynamic player that could run between the tackles and split out in routes, giving the Niners a formidable thunder-and-lighting RB combination with Frank Gore. Would also be a lethal return man.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers - S Taylor Mays, USC. The Steeler defense hit the skids last year when the oft-injured Polamalu missed significant time to injury. Mays, while certainly not considered to be the safety with the best ball skills in this draft class, is an outstanding hitter that could be a redux of Polamalu in run support . O-line is also a possibility here...perhaps a multi-positional guy like Mike Iupati.
19. Atlanta Falcons - DB Earl Thomas, Texas. The Falcons seriously need depth on their defensive line, but Atlanta can't pass on adding a versatile player like Earl Thomas , who they can plug in anywhere in their shaky secondary.
20. Houston Texans - G Mike Iupati, Idaho. Texans need a boost to their 30th-ranked running game, and, rather than add yet another back to their overstocked roster, they could upgrade the interior of that line with arguably the best interior linemen in the draft, big offensive guard Mike Iupati. At 6-5, 325 pounds, Iupati would give the Texans the flexibility of moving him to tackle in a pinch if needed.
21. Cincinnati Bengals - TE Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma. The top-ranked tight end would fit with the Bengal offense like franks and beans. He'd be a great weapon for Carson Palmer in the middle of the field.
23. Green Bay Packers - OT Bruce Campbell, Maryland. OT keeps flying off the board, and after the Packer offensive line's porous play nearly put Aaron Rodgers in the hospital multiple times last year, getting better on the line is a must for Green Bay. Campbell carries a few less lb's than the previously-mentioned tackles and he has less experience than other tackles (17 career starts at Maryland), but he's got the quickness to become a good pass-blocker, which is a premium in the Packer offense.
24. Philadelphia Eagles - DE Brandon Graham, Michigan. It's all about pressure and getting in the backfield with the Philly defense, and the defensive MVP of the senior bowl, who led the nation last year in tackles-for-loss, can do just that and would be an ideal threat opposite Trent Cole. DE Carlos Dunlap also worth consideration.
25. Baltimore Ravens - WR Golden Tate, Notre Dame. The total package at WR...incredible hands, solid routes, good speed. He will become a solid NFL player and give Flacco a reliable target.
26. Arizona Cardinals - OLB Ricky Sapp, Clemson. With a possible exodus of Cardinal LBs taking place in the next couple of years, Sapp could step in and take over in at the OLB spot flanking Calais Campbell, giving the Cardinals an explosive left side of their defense.
27. Dallas Cowboys - ILB Daryl Washington, TCU. Logical long-term solution in the middle with Keith Brooking on the backside of his career and Bobby Carpenter only being used in passing down situations. Washington is an impressive specimen that can cover well and hold his own against the run.
28. San Diego Chargers - RB Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech. With LT almost certainly on the way out of town, Dwyer is, at worst, an excellent insurance policy for Darren Sproles and could certainly win the starting job. CB is also in play here due to Cromartie's potential departure (perhaps FSU CB Robinson?).
29. New York Jets - WR DeMaryius Thomas, Georgia Tech. Thomas would move Cotchery into the slot, giving the Jets a formidable receiving trio. Moreover, Thomas is a physical, hard-nosed run-blocker who's used to spending the majority of the game blocking, which is what he would be expected to do in Rex Ryan's offense.
30. Minnesota Vikings - S Chad Jones. May not have the one-on-one man cover skills of Earl Thomas, but is very fast, has good ball skills, and can hit hard. Could end up being the second-best safety in this class when all is said and done.
32. New Orleans Saints - DT/DE Jared Odrick, Penn State. A versatile player who could adapt to Gregg Williams' versatile defensive schemes. Has an explosive first step that could put him as a 3-4 defensive end. Also, as the Saints employ some 4-man fronts, he has the size to step in at the tackle position next to Sedrick Ellis.