By Coden Mruk
MORGANTOWN, WV – This is the final part of my 3 part look in to the first round of this year’s upcoming NFL Draft. In Part 1 we saw two quarterbacks taken in the top 10. Part 2 was dominated by defense, making up 8 of the middle ten picks. In this final part we will take a look at some really good teams and some really good prospects who could go to those teams with picks 21-32. I credit ESPN.com, draftdaddy.com, profootballweekly.com, footballdraftanalysis.com, Men’s Fitness, Scout.com, and draftboardinsider.com for the majority of my research.
For an in-depth look in to the rest of round 1 of this year’s NFL Draft please see the links below.
#21 Cincinnati Bengals – Jermaine Gresham TE Oklahoma – Cedric Benson and the Bengals were arguably the surprise of the year, and I say arguably because don’t forget about what the Jets did with rookie Mark Sanchez at QB. The Bengals don’t have a rookie at the helm, in fact they have Carson Palmer who when at the tip of his game is a top 5 QB in the league, don’t even try to argue it. The defense is in great shape and should be just as dominant as they were in 2009. Gresham would bring a much needed boost in the passing attack, as well as a big body to run blocking. Gresham stands 6’6 260 lbs and plays like a wide receiver. When healthy in 2008 Gresham caught 66 balls for 950 yards and 14 touchdowns. Go ahead and read it again. 950 yeards and 14 touchdowns. Sorry Bengal fans, J.P Foschi is not the answer at TE.
#22 New England Patriots – C.J. Spiller RB Cleamson – The Patriots still won the AFC East last year but not quite with the ease they are accustomed to. It’s obvious that defensive unit needs work but with the league leader in catches going down for the playoffs and then failing to advance past the Baltimore Ravens, this high flying offense is going to need help if they want to remain in that category. The Patriots should franchise Wilfork shoring up the defensive line, and Draft Spiller to immediately return kicks and eventually take the lead in that crowded back field. Spiller is a freak athlete with ridiculous upside, I would be shocked if they passed on the opportunity for a top running back/ return man.
#23 Green Bay Packers – Trent Williams OT Oklahoma – When LT Chad Clifton went down last season, the Green Bay Packers offensive line took a huge hit. They have their QB for the future in Aaron Rodgers and need to make it a priority to protect him. Williams is a 6’5 320 lb OT that can play any position down the line, including center. Trent was the captain of Oklahoma’s young offensive line this year and showed it by his play on the field. In 2009 Williams was an All-American player and has the skills to be a long time starter at the next level.
#24 Philadelphia Eagles – Carlos Dunlap DE Florida – When you talk Eagles in the off-season the conversationalways goes to Donovan McNabb. The bottom line is it looks like they will be OK offensively regardless of who they choose to go with between McNabb, Kolb, and Vick. However, the defense is a completely different story. No Jim Johnson, no Brian Dawkins, and what do you get? A defense that allowed more points than the 4-12 Washington Redskins. I know they managed to record 44 sacks this past season and would prefer to load up in the secondary, but Carlos Dunlap’s value at this point in the draft is through the roof, and I don’t see any DBs available worth the 24th overall pick. Dunlap is a monster on the field at 6’6 290 lbs and pushes offensive lines out of the way. By pairing Dunlap with last year’s team sack leader Trent Cole, the Philadelphia Eagles once again have a top pass rush and have significantly improved on that side of the ball.
#25 Baltimore Ravens – Arrelious Benn WR Illinois – Sorry Baltimore fans, even if Donte Stallworth is at all productive he is probably not the answer at wide receiver. The receiving core in Baltimore is led by Derek Mason who had to come out of retirement and RB Ray Rice who actually led the team in receptions. Mason and Kelley Washington are both unrestricted free agents this off season so that leaves you Stallworth and Demetrius Williams on the outside. Arrelious Benn is under the radar at this point but has the athletic ability to excel at the combine and he is the only receiver in the draft who can stand next to Dez Bryant physically. He is known for having a strong work ethic and runs precise routes. At 6’2 220, Benn is the big, physical wideout needed on the outside to put this offense over the top.
#26 Arizona Cardinals – Sergio Kindle OLB/DE – Karlos Dansby is going to get paid, but probably not by the Cardinals. They have franchised the outside linebacker the last 2 seasons in a row and by rule if they choose to franchise him a third straight time, will have to pay him the equivalent to the amount paid to quarterbacks who receive the tag. For about 16 million dollars I’m guessing the Cardinals let him test the free agent market and replace him right away with Sergio Kindle. He’s 6’4 255 and can play up or down. Kindle replaced Orakpo on the end after being drafted by Washington last year. He draws many comparisons to Orakpo and in the National Championship Game recorded 2.5 sacks.
#27 Dallas Cowboys – Dan Williams NT Tennessee. The Cowboys look like a really good team right now and could get even better in the draft and maybe even by trading one of their three backs for a first or second round pick. I would. They don’t have a traditonal hole clogging NT and Dan Williams gives them just that. Williams is 6’3 330lbs and would have been the top tackle in the SEC had it not been for Terrence Cody. The Cowboys need to address their offensive line which has an average age of 32 among the starters and the oldest being Flozell Adams who is 34. But with my top 6 offensive linemen off the board, they’ll have to worry about that later.
#28 San Diego Chargers – Jason Pierre-Paul DE South Florida – The Chargers have a bunch of free agents toaddress, among those being Shawn Merriman, Vincent Jackson, Darren Sproles, and Malcom Floyd. Depending on how they handle these situations will play a large part on their draft strategy. One thing is certain, they need to develop a better pass rush from the defensive end position. Pierre-Paul is 6’6 270lbs and can literally do back flips up and down the field. I’ve seen mocks where JPP goes as high as top 15. The San Diego Chargers three end rotation managed a total of 6 sacks on the season.
#29 New York Jets – Dezmon Briscoe WR Kansas – The New York Jets were the surprise of the playoffs lastseason and that was in large part due to a great defense and a really good running game. Mark Sanchez seems to be a fit for the QB of the future in New York and it’s time to build around him. The Jets don’t see Braylon Edwards sticking around and that play making potential needs to be replaced. Briscoe is good size wideout at 6’3 200 lbs and can play on the outside opposite Jericho Cotchery. Over the last two seasons at Kansas Briscoe caught 176 balls for over 2.700 yards and 24 touchdowns. He is only a junior and already holds most every receiving record at Kansas.
#30 – Minnesota Vikings – Brian Price DT UCLA – It’s no secret that the Vikings pride themselves on their defense, and the defensive line in particular. Kevin and Pat Williams have been dominant up front their whole careers, but Pat Williams is 37 years old and Kevin will turn 30 before season’s start. Brian Price is a stocky 300 pounder who recorded 7 sacks last season and can rotate in that line giving a rest to the ageing Williams pair.
#31 Indianapolis Colts – Navorro Bowman OLB PSU- The Colts will be good as long as Peyton Manning is standing back there at quarterback. It has been said that the defense of the Colts, though good, is the Achilles heal of the team. Bob Sanders is the play maker and Gary Brackett the leader but Bowman has a ton of upside as an outside linebacker. He comes from PSU and has drawn comparison to Lavar Arrington earning him the nickname “Lavorro”. His is 6’1 230 and looks like a body builder. He has the ability to stop the run as well as get down and rush the passer.
#32 New Orleans Saints - Everson Griffin DE USC – The word on this guys is freak. He’s known as a workout warrior and trains on a regular basis with teammate Taylor Mays. Griffen is 6’3 265 lbs and is as fast and athletic as he is strong. I full expect him to be a top performer at this year’s combine. The Saints are basically stacked on the offensive side of the ball and can add to the defense with this pick and hopefully keep teams fro double teaming fellow DE Will Smith who recorded 13 sacks last season.
Thank you for reading my 3 part look in to this year’s first round of the NFL draft. I hope my predictions and opinions have stirred some debate and argument in your head about who will end up where and I would love to hear what you have to say. Please comment with your opinion of your team’s pick. Look for more articles in the future in regards to the NFL combine, free agency, and a follow up article after the draft.