Hey all, I know you want to talk draft, so I thought I’d publish the first half of my first mock draft. These mean very little at this stage of the game, and in the interest of time, I’m only going to do the first half of the round. I’ll break it down into groups of 5:
1. St Louis Rams – Jimmy Clausen – QB / Notre Dame
2. Detroit Lions – Russell Okung – OT / Oklahoma State
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Ndamakong Suh – DT / Nebraska
4. Washington Redskins – Sam Bradford – QB / Oklahoma
5. Kansas City Chiefs – Eric Berry – S / Tennessee
Comments: Okay, I get that the super hot sexy pick right now is Ndamakong Suh first overall, but I don’t buy it. Maybe that’ll change before draft day, but I kind of doubt it. The last time a DT was taken first overall was in 1994 (Dan Wilkinson), two years earlier, Steve Emtman was taken. Neither made a Pro Bowl. Suh is amazing, but that doesn’t mean much when the Rams are on the clock. They instead take the best QB in the draft, a position they sorely need. A lot of people are hating on Clausen, which is fair in some ways, but its hard to argue that he isn’t the best QB in this draft class, given Bradford’s recent injury issues.
The Lions take Okung, because they must protect Stafford. Okung is easily the most pro-ready tackle in the draft, even if there are other high-upside guys who might turn out to be better (see: Jason Smith). The Lions must protect him now, so Okung it is. The Bucs take Suh at 3, finally (hopefully) replacing Sapp. Shanahan takes Bradford at #4, finding his franchise QB to replace Campbell and battle him for the starting job right out of the gate. The Chiefs take Eric Berry, the best player on the board at this point. Berry is a star in the making, despite dropping off a hair from his excellent sophomore season. Blame Kiffin.
6. Seattle Seahawks – Gerald McCoy – DT / Oklahoma
7. Cleveland Browns – Dez Bryant – WR / Oklahoma State
8. Oakland Raiders – Carlos Dunlap – DE / Florida
9. Buffalo Bills – Derrick Morgan – DE / Georgia Tech
10. Jacksonville Jaguars – Tim Tebow – QB / Florida
The Seahawks need an offensive tackle, and come draft day, they may very well take one at this point. That’s not the pattern on teams with Alex Gibbs coaching the O-Line, and the class is so incredibly deep, there will be plenty more when their second and third picks come along. In this phase of the mock draft, the Seahawks take Gerald McCoy, an absolute stud DT from Oklahoma. In the long run, there is a good chance that McCoy is the best DT taken from this draft. Very good at collapsing the pocket and getting to the QB (6 sacks in each of the last two years). He doesn’t put up the same numbers as Suh, but is consistently impactful. This isn’t a top need for the Seahawks, but it would allow Mebane to return to the 1-tech where he thrived.
The Browns need a WR bad, and Bryant is the only top-10 pick. It seems very un-Holmgren, but mind you that the Browns already have a star left tackle in Joe Thomas, and a good-enough defense. Their offense is atrocious, and while QB must be addressed, Holmgren won’t reach to take a McCoy (who may be around when they pick in the 2nd round). Defaults to the most explosive offensive playmaker, and that’s Bryant (or Spiller, but they’ve got RBs out the hoohah). Carlos Dunlap is a physical specimen, incredibly overrated, and has some character issues: in other words, there’s no way Al Davis DOESN’T draft him. The Jags take Tebow. Why? Because they are desperate. If they want to keep the team in Jacksonville, that’s their move, otherwise, all bets are off.
11. Denver Broncos – Joe Haden – CB / Florida
12. Miami Dolphins – C.J. Spiller – RB / Clemson
13. San Francisco 49ers – Taylor Mays – S / USC
14. Seattle Seahawks – Earl Thomas – S / Texas
15. New York Giants – Brandon Spikes – ILB / Florida
16. Tennessee Titans – Corey Wooton – DE / Northwestern
Blah blah blah, let’s talk Hawks first: The Seahawks may or may not take a tackle here, but if they do, the next best on the board is Bruce Campbell (shop smart, shop S-Mart!). I don’t have us grabbing him here, because Charles Brown may be available at 40, who is a) a known commodity to Carroll and b) probably the purest ZBS tackle in the draft. Instead, I have us taking Earl Thomas, a safety from Texas who is better than Mays, but will not get the same Combine bump from the Seattle Freak’s insane measurables. In two years, Thomas has forced 5 fumbles, intercepted 10 passes (8 last year), ran two back for touchdowns (including a 92-yarder) and has recorded 134 tackles. That’s the same tackles-per-year as Mays, but with twice as many turnovers in half as many years.
I’ve got the Broncos filling Champ Bailey’s spot long-term with Joe Haden easily the best CB in the draft; if Bailey sticks around another year or two, Haden starts across from Champ. The Dolphins grab Spiller to fill the holes being left by a retiring Ricky Williams (after next year) and a potential free agent loss in Ronnie Brown (unlikely though). They could go a number of ways, but Spiller fits their playmaker profile. They could also go WR here, where they desperately need help, but that doesn’t fit Parcells’ mode. Dezmon Briscoe would be a possibility there. The 49ers grab Mays (gulp) to shore up their secondary. The Giants need help all over the defense, but Brandon Spikes is probably the best fit for them right now. The Titans grab Wooton, a smaller-school guy who is going to fly up draft boards. If I’m wrong about that, it could be Jason Pierre-Paul (insane upside) or Greg Hardy (character risk, but nothing new to Tennessee).