By Lance Epstein
My first Mock Draft was done before the combine and before free agency began. My second Mock Draft formulated three weeks after the big name players in free agency were gone and just after the NFL combine. Now, it is time to update the Mock Draft. Many players saw their stocks raise and fall with the combine. Some players have been gaining some momentum heading into the draft. Also, some teams have picked up some players in free agency that might change who and what position they go after.
During the course of the 2009-10 college football season, I attended multiple college football games and watched countless hours of the Big 12, Big 10, SEC, Big East football and even some smaller conference. This draft is one of the deepest drafts of the last few years for offensive lineman, particularly tackle, corner and safety. Meanwhile, I do not see a premiere quarterback of the group, Bradford has been getting a lot of praise since his outstanding Pro Day.
*Mock draft does not contain draft day trades.
#1 St. Louis Rams Rams, Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma, 6-4, 223—Before the combine, the easy pick was Ndamukong Suh, the outstanding defensive tackle out of Nebraska. While Suh is probably the best individual player in this draft, the Rams need a face to their franchise. Furthermore, I do not believe they want to pay a defensive tackle No. 1 pick money. Unless the Rams trade back with the Cleveland Browns, Bradford seems like the logical choice. Bradford can be a very good quarterback in the NFL, if he can fully recover from his 2009 shoulder surgery. In 2008, he threw for over 4,700 yards, 50 touchdowns and only eight interceptions.
Previous Pick: Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
#2 Detroit Lions- Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska, 6-4, 295— Suh is the best player coming into this draft. While the Lions could go with McCoy, but Suh is just too tempting to pass up. Unlike McCoy, he has more powerful and is better suited to play against the run. He is an absolute monster, if you do not believe me, just go back and look at how he manhandled Arizona in the Holiday Bowl. In his college career, Suh became the second Nebraska player to ever win the AP Player of the Year award. In addition, Suh won the Outland Trophy, Chuck Bednarik Trophy, the Lombardi Award and was a two-time All-American. Suh will make an immediate impact and make the Lions defense respectable for once. With the Lions organization you never know what they are thinking. I would not be shocked if they take McCoy, Suh or another wide receiver.
Previous pick: Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
#3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma, 6’3 296 lbs—After the combine, many experts moved McCoy ahead of Suh. Some say he has a relentless motor and is more of a disruptive force then Suh. While McCoy has the ability to be a better pass rusher than Suh and even become a better player than him. Still, I am not one of those pundits. McCoy is not a space eater like Suh is against the run or a player that offenses will consistently send two guys too. However, McCoy will provide the Buccaneers 4-3 defense with a pass rushing threat from the defensive tackle position. McCoy has a quick burst off the line and enormous strength, which allows him to get penetration in the backfield. The only other player that makes sense here for Tampa is Russell Okung. The Bucs could use the help on the offensive line.
Previous pick: Nmadukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
#4 Washington Redskins, Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma, 6’5, 320 lbs—While the Redskins could go with the best graded tackle in the draft in Russell Okung, they have been rumored to go with the more athletic and versatile tackle in Williams. Okung might be the better player immediately, but many scouts believe that Williams has a higher ceiling than Okung. Either way the Redskins now have their quarterback in Donovan McNabb and at 34 years old. He is not the same mobile quarterback he was in the early 2000s. He will need to be protected otherwise he might not make it through the year.
Previous Pick: Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State
#5 Kansas City Chiefs, Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State, 6-8, 300—The Chiefs have problems all over the field. On defense they have giant holes in the secondary and d-line. Despite this, the biggest issue concerning the Chiefs is their offensive line that could not keep franchise quarterback Matt Cassell upright. Even though the Chiefs have tried to upgrade the offensive line through the draft over the past couple of seasons, they have been unsuccessful. Former first round pick, Brendan Alberts might be better suited to play left guard or right tackle then left tackle. If the board falls like this, the Chiefs will have a decision to make. Whether they go with the best offensive tackle available or go with the premiere safety Eric Berry. With the way that safety is valued in the NFL, the pick should be Okung and probably would be. Russell Okung was a beast at the combine and solidified his status as one of the best tackles in the draft. At Oklahoma State, Okung won the 2009 Jim Parker award for best offensive linemen in the country and was twice selected as an All-American. Besides those honors, Okung only allowed one sack and more impressively, only gave up two quarterback pressures all year. Okung will give the Chiefs an immediate impact at left tackle and should be a steady force on the left side of the line for years. Still, there have been rumors that the Chiefs are willing to trade back with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Previous Pick: Bryan Bulaga, Iowa, OT
#6 Seattle Seahawks, Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa, 6’6, 312— First year head coach Pete Carroll has said he wants to make a big splash in his first season. With the sixth overall pick and the fourteenth pick, the Seahawks can get two big-time players. Since defensive end Patrick Kerney retired, there is a huge need for a defensive end. Still, they hold the No. 14 pick where they probably could still get either Jason Pierre-Paul or Derrick Morgan. More importantly, Walter Jones is on his last leg and may even retire, which leaves a gigantic hole at left tackle. Bryan Bulaga might not have as high of a ceiling as the other first round tackles in this draft, but he might be the most polished tackle. Bulaga was taught by one of the best at Iowa in Kirk Ferentz, so you know he has sound technique and knows the ins and outs of the position. In this year’s Orange Bowl, Bulaga dominated projected first round prospect Derrick Morgan.
Previous Pick: Jimmy Claussen, QB, Notre Dame
#7 Cleveland Browns, Eric Berry, S, Tennessee, 6’0 205— The Browns would be ecstatic if Eric Berry falls to them with the seventh pick. Berry had a spectacular combine where he showed fluid hips and was a head and shoulders above the rest of the draft’s safeties. Normally a prospect like him would shoot up the draft boards with a workout like his but with such great talent at the top of the draft, he actually will fall. I would not be shocked if the Browns and Mike Holmgren trade back in the draft to get more picks from a team desperate for a safety like Berry. Berry is a safety that is good enough to be an Ed Reed and Troy Polomalu player. His freakish talent and abilities at safety do not come along very often. He is actually good enough in coverage to be a cornerback in a nickel or dime package. Berry would be highway robbery for the Browns at seven. However, team president Mike Holmgren says he does not like Claussen enough to warrant taking him with their pick, but that might just be a smoke screen. Additionally, the Browns might be one team willing to trade back with a team like the Packers and Eagles.
Previous Pick: Same
#8 Oakland Raiders, Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland, 6’7, 310—Campbell made the biggest jump out of any prospect at the combine. He ran an extremely fast 4.8 40-yard dash and showed his explosion in the high jump. With that said, watching Campbell on tape he does not always utilize his talents to their full ability. This will not stop the Raiders from selecting him because they are enamored with players that run fast and are combine freaks. Look at last year’s draft where they took an University of Ohio safety in the second round, when he was projected as a seventh round pick. On top of that they took wide receiver Darius Heywood-Bay possibly 20 picks before they should have. Campbell is not deserving of going this high considering he did not get a single vote for All-ACC first team, but the Raiders will reach because they need help at offensive tackle and cause he runs fast. The pick here should be Anthony Davis, who is the most athletic tackle in the entire draft. Unfortunately for Raiders fans, Al Davis is obsessed with speed and Campbell is likely to be a big-time bust.
Previous Pick: Same
#9 Buffalo Bills, Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers, 6’5 330– The Bills love the fact that Claussen falls to them at nine, but they will take a pass on him. One reason is because reports have come to light that they might be looking to move back into the first round to take their quarterback of the future in Florida’s Tim Tebow. Also, the Bills could still make a trade for Vick or give the incumbent Trent Edwards one more chance in 2010. Although do not be surprised if the board shakes out like this if the Bills trade back to collect more picks, which could help them acquire another first rounder. Additionally, they are one of the teams that think Idaho guard Mike Iupati could play left tackle. Unlike Campbell, Davis did not have an impressive combine. Before the combine, many experts projected Davis as the top offensive tackle in the draft. At the combine though, he looked sloppy in drills and did not impressive. Still Davis is worthy of being in the top half of the first round. On tape, he might be the most athletic tackle in the draft and best suited to play the highly regarded left tackle position.
Previous Pick: Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma
#10 Jacksonville Jaguars, Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech, 6’4 272– With the NFL reaching for offensive tackles, quarterbacks and defensive tackles, Morgan will get overlooked, but he should be a top ten pick. However, he might turn out to be the best defensive end taken in this draft. In 2009, Morgan won the ACC defensive player of the year registering 12.5 sacks. Scouts love his football IQ in being able to read the play before he gets into his 3-point stance. On the other hand, in his last game at Georgia Tech against Iowa’s Bryan Bulaga, he was manhandled. The Jaguars picked up Aaron Kampman in free agency, but he is a question mark since they do not know if he will be able to fully recover from his torn ACL. For a team that had a league low 14 sacks, Morgan just makes more sense then any other player.
Previous Pick: Joe Haden, CB, Florida
#11 Denver Broncos (from Chicago Bears via Cutler trade), Rolando McClain, ILB, Alabama, 6-4, 255 – At the start of free agency, the Broncos went out an signed nose tackle Jamaal Williams. Williams can still play at a high level for two or three more seasons, so nose tackle is no longer a pressing need. Although Dan Williams has been moving up draft boards rapidly, so do not be surprised if he is the pick. Besides the addition of Williams, the Broncos made noise as they traded Brandon Marshall away to the Dolphins for two second round picks. Since, McDaniel has a huge hole at wide receiver, Dez Bryant makes a lot of sense. Yet, Bryant is a head case and his college coach said he quit on the team. It is hard to imagine that Josh McDaniels will bring in another headache after getting rid of one. The smart pick here is to take Rolando McClain because it allows D.J. Williams to move back out to outside linebacker where he excels. McClain skills are comparable to 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis. In 2009, McClain was selected as a consensus All-American and won the Butkus Award. Moreover, McClain can make an impact from day one. His work ethic is impeccable and coaches at ‘Bama describe him as a film room junkie. McClain vastly improves a very porous Broncos defense.
Previous Pick: Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State
#12 Miami Dolphins, Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee, 6’3 325—In free agency, the Dolphins did what everyone expected them to do and signed star linebacker Karlos Dansby. The Fins still could use another linebacker, but Rolando McClain will be gone and nose tackle is a much bigger necessity for their defense. Williams fits the bill for Miami. The massive 325-pounder has the ability to engulf linemen and allow his linebackers to penetrate up the field. He also possesses the exceptional ability to rush the passer from the defensive tackle position. Against the run he sheds blockers with his strength and usually is accounted with double teams. Williams will allow newly acquired Dansby to do what he does best and create turnovers.
Previous Pick: Same
#13 San Francisco 49ers, Joe Haden, CB, Florida, 5’11 190— While the Niners would love to get one of the premiere tackles in this draft, none will fall to them at No. 13. This is a major reason that the Niners have been mentioned to move up in the draft. Instead of reaching on an offensive tackle, they will take the best available player. That player is a cornerback in Haden, which is actually a need since Shawntae Spencer has proven not to be a starting caliber quarterback. Haden is considered to be the best cover corner in the entire draft. At the combine, Haden hurt his draft stock by running a slow 4.6 40-yard dash. He did however make it up at his Florida pro day by running a mid 4.4. At 11, Haden is an excellent value pick and can pay immediate dividends for the 49ers in their nickel and dime packages. He might even start week 1.
Previous Pick: Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers
#14 Seattle Seahawks (via Denver Broncos), CJ Spiller, RB, Clemson, 5’11 195— At six, the Seahawks found their replacement for the aging Walter Jones in Bryan Bulaga. At 14, Carroll will have to deal with the dilemma of whether to draft the most talented running back in the draft in Spiller, his former USC star defensive back Taylor Mays (looks like will fall to the second round) or defensive end Jason Pierre Paul. Even though the Seahawks just traded Darryl Tapp to the Eagles, Patrick Kerney retired and they lacked a consistent pass rush, Carroll will look to upgrade in second and third round to get a defensive end. The spot, which is also is a major need is running back. Justin Forsett is a nice running back on third downs but he cannot carry the rock 20 times a game and play a full 16 game slate at his size. Spiller has the explosiveness to take the ball to the house every time he touches it. His lightning fast 4.3 40-yard dash makes him an upgrade for the Seahawks. Plus Spiller will contribute immediately on special teams as a punt returner, an area that the Seahawks struggled with this past season. To boot, he is a deadly receiving threat out of the backfield as well.
Previous Pick: Same
#15 New York Giants, Earl Thomas, S, Texas, 5’10 190— The player that the Giants truly covet is Rolando McClain the middle linebacker out of Alabama. McClain would satisfy their giant hole at MLB since they released Antonio Pierce earlier this offseason. With him off the board, New York will go the route of the best available player in Thomas. While he is considered to be undersized for a safety at 5-10, he still has a propensity to be around the ball and is a playmaker. In 2009 with the Longhorns, he had eight interceptions and numerous jaw-dropping hits. At the combine, NFL Network’s draft analyst Mike Mayock raved about Thomas and even ranked him higher then Berry on his draft board. Mayock also reiterated multiple times that his playmaking skills are the best he has seen in the last five years of the draft. The Giants can also utilize his cover skills right away by playing him at corner. Thomas is a luxury for them because the Giants signed Antrel Rolle to a ridiculous deal and Kenny Phillips is returning from injury. Still Thomas’ style is comparable to former Longhorn safety Michael Griffin that now plays for the Titans, but can also play cornerback if need be.
Previous Pick: Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama
#16 Tennessee Titans, Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida, 6’6, 265— For the second straight year, the Titans lost one of their starters on the defensive line. This year they lost Kyle Vanden Bosch to the Lions. Luckily for the Titans, the board has shaped up to eliminate the loss of Vanden Bosch and even give them an upgrade. This pick comes down to either Michigan DE Brandon Graham or Paul. Graham and Paul both have their faults, but Paul’s has a higher ceiling then Graham. His frame and athleticism is similar to Bears defensive end Julius Peppers. So why are so many scouts calling him overrated. Simple, he has been in three different schools in three years due to academics. Furthermore, he only had 6.5 sacks this past season and did not always play up to his potential. Moreover, he is not great against the run. The Titan’s fans better hope that Paul is the real deal because Graham is probably the safer bet.
Previous Pick: Same
#17 San Francisco 49ers, Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho, 6’5 325—With their first pick in the first round, the Niners took the best available player in the cornerback Joe Haden. One of the biggest needs for the Niners is replacing right tackle Adam Snyder, who is an adequate backup, but not a starter. Iupati can play every position on the offensive line and is an intriguing prospect. Iupati was sensational at the Senior Bowl and was great at the combine as well. He demonstrated that he could play any position on the o-line at a high-level. Iupati can step in right away and dominate in the running game, which will only allow Frank Gore to improve. Additionally, the 49ers could use all the protection they can get for Alex Smith.
Previous Pick: Earl Thomas, DB, Texas
#18 Pittsburgh Steelers, Maurkice Pouncey, OG/C, Florida, 6-3, 304– The beginning of the offseason has been a tumultuous one for the Steelers. Their starting quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, for the second time in a calendar year has been accused of sexual assault. This has many in the Steelers organization wondering about if his off-the-field drama will be the demise of his career. Furthermore, he is suspended for the first six games of the year. That said the Steelers could use an upgrade on the offensive line. It is amazing to think the Steelers were able to win a Super Bowl two years ago with the offensive line that they had. Personally, the Steelers should have upgraded their line last year after winning the Super Bowl. That was one of the main reasons they struggled. Big Ben has taken far too many hits and has had too many concussions at this early stage of his career (maybe that is why he does what he does off the field). Pouncey is the guy the Steelers will target. Over the past week, he has been one of the fastest risers in the draft. He has been projected as high as to the Jaguars at ten. One of the reasons that the Steelers like Pouncey is because he is versatility. He can play both guard and center at a high level. Pouncey can start immediately, which will help whatever quarterback starts the first six games of the year and help Mendenhall have a breakout year.
Previous pick: Mike Iupati, OG/OT, Idaho
19 Atlanta Falcons, Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan, 6-1 263— In the first day of free agency, the falcons eliminated one of their biggest needs by signing free agent Dunta Robinson. Since the cornerback position is set, the Falcons could look to upgrade the defensive end position since, Jamaal Anderson has been a bust. The easy choice is to take Michigan prospect Brandon Graham. Graham was the player that benefitted the most from the Senior Bowl. His practice drills were good, but Graham was even better in the Senior Bowl game. He won the MVP of the game by registering two sacks, five tackles and a forced fumble. His college career was not too shabby either, as he led FBS in tackles for loss this past season. When I watched Graham at the combine and on tape, he reminds me of defensive end Dwight Freeney. He is a smaller defensive end (by prototypical NFL standards) that has a relentless motor. Not only that he is always uses great technique, utilizes his leverage and coaches’ rave about his football IQ.
Previous Pick: Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech
#20 Houston Texans, Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State, 5’10 190— Since corner Dunta Robinson left via free agency to the Atlanta Falcons, the Texans have one obvious need on defense, which is at cornerback. Besides cornerback, the Texans have a glaring need at running back since Steve Slaton took a giant step backwards last year. However, Gary Kubiak is a Mike Shanahan disciple that believes running backs can be found later in the draft, so the pick becomes Wilson. At the Senior Bowl, Wilson showed fluid hips that allow him to change direction on a dime. He also showed incredible strength for a corner at the combine. In addition, he was so impressive at the Senior Bowl that Lions Wide Receivers coach said that he was being a pain in the butt due to blanketing the wide receivers. His hips are fluid, making him able to change directions on a dime. More importantly, Wilson can step in from day one and play, which the Texans desperately need.
Previous Pick: Same
#21 Cincinnati Bengals, Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma State, 6’6 258 lbs—In the AFC Wild-Card playoff game against the Jets, Darrelle Revis shut down the Bengals only receiving threat and made them one dimensional. In order for the Bengals to make it out of the first round, they needed to find another playmaker. At the beginning of free agency, the Bengals were aggressive going after both Terrell Owens and Antonio Bryant. Eventually, the Bengals went with the younger alternative at wide receiver in Bryant, so there is really no need for another wide out. However, the Bengals still lack a playmaking tight end. In fact, since Marvin Lewis became head coach of the Bengals, he has not had a tight end with the play making abilities of Gresham. He would give Carson Palmer a safety valve. If Gresham did not tear his ACL in the 2009, he probably is a top 15 pick. During his 2008 campaign, Gresham finished with 950 yards and 14 touchdowns. Even though he has injury concerns, his size and ability to stretch the field is too great for a team desperate for a playmaking tight end to pass up. Gresham is not the greatest blocker but he should be able to help Chad OchoCinco and Palmer. However, if Dez Bryant is still on the board, the Bengals could pull the trigger on the elite wide receiver. Remember the Bengals are never shy about taking problem childs.
Previous Pick: Same
#22 New England Patriots, Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State, 6’2 220—The Patriots have much bigger needs than taking a wide receiver in the first round. However, Bill Belichick is never afraid to take a player that has been said to be a headcase. Bryant is a top ten talent that had off the field issues (lying to an investigator) at Oklahoma State, which suspended him for most of the 2009 season. Bilichick has had numerous players come into his franchise as bad apples and then transform into good soldiers. One of the players that Bryant has been compared to is Randy Moss, which would be his teammate if Belichick pulled the trigger. Another interesting reason why the Pats might select Bryant is because Wes Welker might not be ready for week one and Moss has already stated he doesn’t expect to be back in 2011.
Previous Pick: Everson Griffin, DE/OLB, USC
#23 Green Bay Packers, Charles Brown, OT, USC, 6’5 295—The Packers are hoping that one of the top tier offensive tackles fall to them like maybe Anthony Davis. Or that Kyle Wilson somehow slips past the Texans at 20 because the last time we saw the Green Bay Packers, Kurt Warner was torching their secondary. If I am Green Bay’s coach those are the only two positions to fix this off-season. My number one priority would be cornerback. Despite that, there are no cornerbacks that are worthy of taking with the 23rd selection. Karem Jackson might turn out to be a solid player, but the Packers might have a second round grade on the prospect out of Alabama. So if the Packers want a corner they might trade up or move back. Still, the Packers could also reach for Rutgers corner Devin McCourty in case Al Harris does not full recover from his torn ACL tear, but the offensive tackle position needs an injection of youth. That is why Brown is the best fit for the Packers. Brown has nastiness and an attitude that coach’s love in their offensive linemen. Mix that with his athleticism, he will maul opponents in the NFL. The intriguing thing about Brown is that he is only playing in his second season at left tackle. He came to USC as a tight end and converted to the tackle position. Many scouts believe he has just scratched the surface of his potential.
Previous Pick: Same
#24 Philadelphia Eagles, Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama, 5-11, 196 lbs—If the board falls this way, expect the Eagles to trade out of No. 24 and gain extra picks. Additionally, the Eagles have been rumored to the Dolphins at 12 and even the Kansas City at 5. If the Eagles move up that high they are probably selecting either safety Earl Thomas or Eric Berry. Still, anyone who tries to predict what the Eagles are going to do is kidding themselves. Just look at the last 3 years. In 2007, the Eagles traded back with the Cowboys to select quarterback Kevin Kolb in the second round. The next year, they traded back again and hit the jackpot with DeSean Jackson in the second round. Then last off-season they allowed Brian Dawkins who was the soul of the defensive and an icon in the city walk to the Broncos. Furthermore, they finally used a first round pick (traded up in fact) to take, nonetheless, a wide receiver in Jeremy Maclin. So far this offseason the Eagles have signed defensive back Marlin Jackson, 26, who is coming off two ACL surgeries. However, when healthy Jackson was an ascending player that could play any position in the secondary. His knee injuries are a concern and the Eagles probably will still search for a free safety high in the draft, but just not in the first round. The position that makes the most sense is getting a cornerback since the team traded starting corner Sheldon Brown to the Browns. However, the Eagles could use upgrades at right tackle/guard and at left defensive end. Ultimately if the Eagles stay put they will take Jackson. Jackson can play immediately for the Eagles and is a very physical corner. Many scouts have even compared him to a Brown, but with more size and strength.
Previous Pick: Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan
#25 Baltimore Ravens, Devin McCourty, CB, Rugters, 5-11 185—The Ravems were one of the few teams this offseason to address their biggest need, which was wide receiver. The additions of Donte Stallworth and Anquan Boldin will make the Ravens offense very potent. Of course the Ravens could look to get a younger wide receiver into the mix, but there are none worthy of being a first rounder. Demaryius Thomas is a straight-line runner that will out jump defenders, but scouts do not believe he can learn NFL routes. Also, while the Ravens might trade offensive tackle Jared Gaither to another team, they do not have a need at tackle since they have Michael Oher to replace him. McCourty might be a little bit of a reach, but he does have fluid hips and is durable. In addition, McCourty is not afraid to make a tackle in run support and is very physical against wide receivers. The only downside with McCourty is that he does not possess a good closing burst.
Previous Pick: Same
#26 Arizona Cardinals, Sergio Kindle, OLB, Texas, 6’4 255—The biggest losers of this year’s offseason is the Arizona Cardinals. Dansby? Gone. Antrel Rolle? Gone. Kurt Warner? Retired. On the positive side, the Cardinals kept the up and coming defensive star in Darnell Dockett. The quarterback position is a big unknown for the Cards since Matt Leinart has not done much over his career to prove he is capable of being a starting quarterback in the NFL. But there are no quarterbacks except maybe Colt McCoy. Still, Ken Whisenhunt will refuse to take a quarterback when Leinart has never really gotten a chance to be the starting quarterback since his rookie year. In addition, Kindle is a great replacement for the departed Dansby. Even though Kindle needs to add bulk his 6-4 frame to be a better player against the run, he can provide a pass rushing threat from the outside linebacker position like Dansby. He might be a little bit of a project but the investment in two or three years could payoff.
Previous Pick: Same
#27 Dallas Cowboys, Roger Staffold, OT, Indiana, 6-4, 315– The Cowboys finally won their first playoff game in the last 15 years but the Vikings exposed a glaring weakness. The loss to Minnesota showed that they needed to upgrade both offensive tackle positions. A couple weeks ago Dallas made a bold statement by releasing starting left tackle Flozell Adams and safety Ken Hamlin. While Dallas could take a chance on the freakish athlete/safety Taylor Mays, but Dallas has seen this problem before, his name was Roy Williams. Mays has unique speed and athleticism, but he does not have fluid hips and is below average in coverage. The smart move here will be Dallas taking the tackle Saffold out of Indiana. Saffold started three consecutive years at Indiana at left tackle. While he does not have the speed to be a left tackle, he could be a premiere right tackle at the next level. He uses his hands to push opponents off the blocks and does an excellent job recognizing stunts and blitzes. This late in the first round, Saffold could wind up being one of the better tackles to come out of this class.
Previous Pick: Taylor Mays, FS, USC
#28 San Diego Chargers, Everson Griffin DE/OLB, USC, 6’3 278— The Chargers have bigger needs than outside linebacker, but Griffin is the best available player. While San Diego could go running back in the first round, but in the second round they could get excellent value and a player that is nearly the same in talent. Also, another position that could be looked at is defensive tackle to replace the departed Jamaal Williams. Yet, the best player left in the first round is Griffin. The one question that scouts have with Griffin is that he lost his starting job in last two of the last three seasons. Nevertheless, Griffin is a work out warrior, like he demonstrated at the combine. Additionally he has a great work ethic. For Chargers fans, this could be the eventual replacement for Shawne Merriman, who is scheduled to be a free agent next year. He might even replace the aging Shawn Phillips.
Previous Picks: Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno State
#29 New York Jets, Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida, 6’6 290 — As I predicted in my first Mock Draft, the Jets are the team to beat next year and I believe that even more now. The Jets made one of the best moves of the free agency period by trading for cornerback Antonio Cromartie. If Cromartie has his head straight and finances too, he can be a playmaker. With Reevis on one side of the field, Cromartie will have his chances to make plays. On top of that, the Jets solidified their backfield by signing LT to replace Thomas Jones. While Jones might have more tread on the tires, Jones stunted the growth of Shonn Greene. Now Greene will be asked to be main guy for the Jets and can learn from one of the best in the history of the game. Furthermore, the Jets got quarterback Mark Sanchez another toy on the outside in Santonio Holmes. Acquiring Holmes for a mere fifth-round pick was highway robbery. Certainly, he has to get his head on straight after his four-game suspension, but he makes their offense very dynamic. The Jets have one other position that they need to cover in this draft, which is defensive end (Although rumors have sufaced that they could be after Iupati or Pouncey since they are trying to unload Alan Faneca). Dunlap is the best available player on the board at 29 and would have been a top 15 pick if he did not have character issues. He was suspended right before the team’s biggest game of the year against Alabama for a DUI. Even with those character concerns, Dunlap possesses the athleticism and speed that is comparable to Texans defensive end Mario Williams. At Florida’s pro day, Dunlap ran a 4.6 40-yard dash. For the Jets, they hope he becomes the next Williams and not the next Vernon Gholston.
Previous Pick: Same
#30 Minnesota Vikings, Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame, 6-2, 225– There is always one player that nobody expects to drop in every draft that does. From Aaron Rodgers to Brady Quinn to Jeremy Maclin, it is inevitable. I believe the best candidate this year will be Clausen. One of the reasons is that team do not like his attitude, they think he is very smug. So why would the Vikings take a chance on him or even a quarterback with future Hall of Famer Brett Favre returning? The reason is very simple, the Vikings do not have a quarterback of the future. While Favre, can be great next year, he might not be around in 2011 and head coach Brad Childress can groom Claussen as the replacement. Of course, the Vikings might still be high on Tavaris Jackson, but Claussen has run a pro-style of offense in college and is just a better prospect than Jackson. Even though Clausen was unable to work out at the combine due to toe surgery, some scouts compare his game to Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Although some scouts say he is closer to a Brad Quinn (bust) then Rodgers. Clausen is a fiery leader, who can make every throw and has learned from one of the best offensive coordinators in the NFL in Charlie Weis. Do not be surprised if Clausen did falls like fellow golden-domer Quinn.
Previous pick: Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State
#31 Indianapolis Colts, Brian Price, DT, UCLA, 6’2 300– After the Super Bowl, Colts President Bill Polian laid into his offensive line. He essentially said that they were the reason that the Colts lost in the Super Bowl. Indeed the offensive line was average, but reason why they lost the Super Bowl was due to the atrocious play of their secondary. Brees marched the Saints up and down the field against them. When the Saints did get into 3rd down and long, Brees would hit a wide receiver in stride for 17 yards. The Colts should try to start getting a better pass rush or fixing their soft secondary. Fortunately for the Colts, safety Bob Sanders will be back, so that helps their secondary. While the Colts hope Florida’s versatile Maurkice Pouncey (can play either guard or center) falls to them, which would help the o-line immensely, he will not be there. So the next best thing is to fix the defensive line. Price is a nice bargain this late in the first round. In Price’s junior seasons he finished with 23.5 tackles for a loss. The greatest asset in Price’s arsenal is his explosiveness, which allows him to regularly get penetration in the backfield. Besides his explosiveness, he also has the strength to just go pummel the blocker in front of him. Teaming Price up with Freeney will make it harder for quarterbacks like Brees to pick apart their secondary.
Previous Pick: Same
#32 New Orleans Saints, Sean Weatherspoon, OLB, Missouri, 6’1 241—Winning a Super Bowl usually means your team does not need a lot of improvement. Although the Saints defense needs an outside linebacker since Scott Fujita signed with the Cleveland Browns. Weatherspoon has the speed and athleticism, which allows defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to bring even more heat from his linebackers. His skills will help create more turnovers from the OLB position. Additionally, Weatherspoon can come in from day one and start and be an upgrade over Fujita. This makes a ton of sense for the Saints and is excellent value this late in the first round.
Previous Pick: Same