Happy Draft Eve!
With the departure of Marc Bulger, and even Kyle Boller too, it seems the Rams are thinking quarterback. Kyle Boller has been nothing short of a disaster since entering the league and Keith Null, who they drafted just this past season, threw nine picks in four games. Of course in this situation, you can’t really blame either of them considering they were spending more time on their backs than on their feet. Usually, for the skill players to be successful, you need men in the trenches who can control the line of scrimmage. Will someone please inform Rams GM Billy Devaney of that? The Rams are clearly lacking linemen on both sides of the field and passing on the likes of Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy may be foolish. Both are more than good enough to anchor a defense that already boasts former 2nd overall pick Chris Long. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State OT Russell Okung also has the potential to be a force for the next 10 years, but the Rams will select an injury-prone Sam Bradford to be thrown out into a war zone with no troops or protection. Not exactly the best thing to do to develop a young quarterback… Just ask Marc Bulger, who found out first hand after being sacked 71 times in 27 games from 2007 to 2008. He would have been sacked even more in 2009, but he could only manage playing in nine games due to hitting the turf way too many times.
Jim Schwartz is a defensive guy and he will clearly not settle for another season as the worst defense in the NFL. Last season, they gave up 392 yards a game and 30.9 points – both the worst. Ndamakong Suh is a can’t miss pick that would bolster an ever improving defensive line that already added Kyle Vanden Bosch this offseason. This is the easiest pick in the draft. Select the best player in the draft with the second overall pick.
This may be a best player on the board scenario for the Bucs. Clearly they could use a receiver to help their young QB Josh Freeman, but it’s too early for this type of a pick. Gerald McCoy will be available to solidify the interior line for years to come. He’s an excellent run stopper and he’s actually ranked the top prospect by Scouts Inc. He’s also quicker than Suh, so there’s been some speculation he may even be drafted before Suh because his style of play translates better to the NFL. I personally am a Suh fan. The guy is larger than life and can plow through anyone, but with that said, McCoy is still a great pick for the Bucs. They will hope he will be the second coming of Warren Sapp.
Donovan McNabb has asked the Redskins, and according to his agent, has been assured they will add an offensive tackle to protect his blindside. Russell Okung makes the most sense here, but it may also be possible for Mike Shanahan to sign Flozell Adams before the draft and spend this pick on another need. Last season, the Redskins started four different players at right guard throughout the season, so they could trade down to the middle of the first round, gain extra picks and add a guard if they decided Adams is fit and motivated enough to protect McNabb.
Matt Cassel will be praying that the Chiefs add an offensive tackle. He was sacked 42 times last season and may have taken more of a beating than anyone throughout the course of the 2009 season. The question is do they take Iowa OT Bryan Bulaga or Oklahoma’s Trent Williams? Since Williams is more agile, the Chiefs will select him over Bulaga, who underwhelmed some scouts at the combine with his strength and short arms.
It’s the first pick of the Pete Carroll era and there are plenty of needs to fill in Seattle. The most glaring need, however, is offensive tackle. The Seahawks will desperately need to replace Walter Jones and will have a couple of options. Bryan Bulaga, who never gave up a sack his entire collegiate career is still available, but Maryland’s 6″7′ 310lb Bruce Campbell, who ran a 4.8 at the combine, is also available. Campbell may be a bit of a stretch considering he didn’t perform anywhere near his capabilities in a mediocre conference, but his potential and speed – two things Carroll absolutely loves – may tempt him to take a chance with this pick. I’m in favor of the proven commodity in Bulaga for this pick.
The Browns will hope the combination of Jake Delhomme and Senaca Wallace can get them through the next few seasons, so they won’t be drafting a quarterback this high. If they can draft Colt McCoy in the second round or even Tony Pike in the third, I see them both as viable value picks who will be willing to sit and learn for a couple of seasons. With this pick the Browns can probably go two ways. Either take WR Dez Bryant or take S Eric Berry. Mike Holmgren may be torn here considering Jake Delhomme without any valid receivers could be a disaster, but I think he picks the best player available in Eric Berry. Berry would also fill a major hole in their passing defense, which gave up 245 yards a game last season. (third worst)
It’s time for everybody’s favorite pick of the draft. Do the Raiders select the most pro-ready quarterback Jimmy Clausen, or do they go in another direction? This is a scary pick for Raider fans because if recent draft history means anything, Al Davis will jump on the opportunity to draft the fastest player in any position. OT Bruce Campbell from Maryland, who ran a 4.8 fits that mold, yet he underperformed throughout his entire career at Maryland, much like last year’s first round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey.
This is the last chance for Jimmy Clausen to get drafted in the top 10, otherwise he may take a free fall like his predecessor Brady Quinn. He probably won’t drop as far as Quinn, but I think the Bills may try Trent Edwards out one more time. I know Edwards was benched in 2009, but he did have injury problems and many experts were impressed with his accuracy just a year earlier. In 2008, he completed 65 percent of his passes and he’s still only 26. In this spot, the Bills should probably trade down because OT is their most pressing need, and the three best have already been selected, but if they can’t they’ll take OT Anthony Davis, who was dominant in college and has the body to be an amazing NFL tackle.
There’s no way the Jaguars will take Tim Tebow! No way! Don’t even think about it! Nothing against Tebow, but he’s clearly not a better passing quarterback than Clausen, who is still on the board. They’ll take Derrick Morgan to establish any semblance of a pass rush they can get. The Jaguars only recorded a measly 14 total team sacks last season, which Elvis Dumervil (17) and Jared Allen (14.5) singlehandedly outperformed. Meanwhile, Morgan had 12 sacks of his own in route to becoming the ACC defensive player of the year, so it seems logical for Jack Del Rio to improve his defensive line.
The Broncos could potentially pick Dez Bryant, but McClain is more of a sure thing. He put up big numbers throughout his three years at Alabama. The linebacking corp may be one of the best in the NFL if they select him. They already have Elvis Dumervil and D.J. Williams, so McClain would make this a full throttle pressure defense.
The Dolphins finally got the legitimate receiver they’ve been without for years in Brandon Marshall, so Dez Bryant’s drop continues. They take 327 lbs of brute strength in Dan Williams. Williams will be a solid player who will probably fill in for the suspended Jason Ferguson immediately. Ferguson will miss the first eight games for violating the league’s substance abuse problem.
The 49ers take their chances hoping to get Clausen with their 17th overall pick. The only team who may remotely want Clausen is the Seahawks, but Matt Hasselback is still around and Pete Carroll just traded for Charlie Whitehurst, who he loves, so it seems like a safe bet. Earl Thomas will give the 49ers what they hope to be a second shutdown corner. He’s only 5″10′, so that may be a concern to some, but plenty of short NFL cornerbacks, like Asante Samuel, have performed well.
Now that Carroll added a huge OT, he can draft his running back to run behind him. C.J. Spiller should get instant playing time in Seattle because he’s so versatile. He’ll easily be returning punts, but the question is: does he have the size and strength to be an every down back? Reggie Bush is an inch taller than Spiller and also carries five pounds more, so Spiller may have his work cut out for him.
The Giants will look to repair the embarrassing defense from a season ago that gave up 26.7 points a game. (3rd worst only to Detroit and St. Louis – both of whom shouldn’t even count) With Sergio Kindle and Brandon Graham still on the board, some may doubt this pick, but Hughes is for real. I saw him on a consistent basis wreaking havoc on the Mountain West. I also feel like he’s more of a prototypical 4-3 OLB than the other two. In fact, I would make a case that Kindle and Graham would both fit well in a system like New England’s because of their lateral quickness.
With the loss of Kyle Vanden Bosch, it’s clear that the Titans need to address their DE issue. They’ll select Jason Pierre-Paul because of his size and the fact that he looks the part on paper. The problem is, he had less than an impressive time at the combine in pretty much every facet of the game. It may be wise to trade down here and pick up Carlos Dunlap later to get the total value out of this pick.
Don’t look now, but it appears the 49ers are only one piece away offensively from being a good team and with the pick of Jimmy Clausen, they thrust themselves into the driver’s seat of an incredibly bad NFC West. Clausen may start from day one, it’s not like Alex Smith or David Carr scare anybody – and with Carr and Smith – there’s two former first overall picks who fell flat on their faces and can advise Clausen what not to do.
Nobody’s been sacked more than Ben Roethlisberger during the past three years. He’s been unceremoniously dumped on his keister 143 times, so the Steelers will look to find him protection for whenever Roethlisberger gets cleared to play by the Comish. Rimington Award winner Maurkice Pouncey should serve that role adequately.
The Falcons lack depth at OLB and have their choice of the second OLB selected in the draft. They’ll take Sergio Kindle because he’s a very athletic pass rushing linebacker who could wreak havoc on the outside. One drawback for the Falcons selecting him would be he translates better as a 3-4 OLB, but aside from maybe drafting a DE, the Falcons really have no other glaring needs. That’s the added bonus with drafting Kindle, if OLB doesn’t work out, he can also play DE.
You always hate to be the 20th overall pick in the draft because that means you were the best team not to make the playoffs. The Texans will gladly add Joe Haden to their pass defense, which allowed 63 percent of the passes they faced to be completed in 2009. Many draft pundits rank Haden as the best CB, so getting him at 20 would be a steal.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State
It figures Todd McShay would make this pick. I hate to agree with him, but I do think it’s what the Bengals will do. They could use a tight end or a safety, but Bryant will be too tempting to pass up on. Carson Palmer will want to have another target after having his worst passing performance as a pro last season, even though his team made the playoffs.
Bill Belichick will be gritting his teeth that Sergio Kindle has already been take. He seemed like the perfect fit for New England’s 3-4 defense, but Belichick will settle on Brandon Graham. Graham is another hybrid OLB/DE who recorded 26 TFL his senior year at Michigan, the most in the nation. One concern may be his ability to drop in pass coverage since he was a DE at the collegiate level.
It looks very strange to see a player from Idaho projected to be taken in the first round, but Mike Iupati is the real deal. He has the size at 6″5′ 331 lbs to be a dominant lineman. I can’t wait to hear what Mark Schlereth is going to say about his beloved Idaho. He reps his former school like none other, and he has to be especially happy that Iupati is an offensive lineman like himself. Iupati will pray that he has the type of career Schlereth, a former 10th round draft pick, (only seven rounds exist now) put together.
The Eagles are still looking to replace Brian Dawkins and Taylor Mays may be that man. He’s definitely a hard-hitting, intimidating presence in the secondary, but his coverage is lackluster. He lets people get past him, he lets people catch the ball in front of him, he plays too loose in pass coverage. That may be because he played in one of the worst cover two defensive schemes known to man at USC, but it may be a problem far worse – that Mays just isn’t capable of reading the passing routes at this point in his career.
The Ravens added Anquan Boldin before the draft, which was their most pressing need, as usual. They’ll look for the best possible player available and conclude Everson Griffen is that man. Some people feel his lack of discipline may hinder his abilities and allow offensive linemen to blow him off the ball, but I think he will be more than focused once he reaches the NFL. He has the talent, size and speed to be successful, and don’t just take my word for it, Rex Ryan compared him to Terrell Suggs and Adalius Thomas.
With the departure of Anquan Boldin, the Cardinals will relish the opportunity to draft Jermaine Gresham as a reliable check down target for Matt Leinart. Leinart will clearly have his hands full, but the team still features the best WR in the game, Larry Fitzgerald, while Steve Breaston and Early Doucet also emerged as potential deep threats. Even though Kurt Warner retired, this team is in by far the worst division in football and has a chance to make the playoffs for the third consecutive season.
27. Dallas Cowboys – Charles Brown, OT, USC
Many of the top tier OTs are gone, but Jerry Jones selects Charles Brown to take the place of the departed Flozell Adams. Brown is a huge OT that should be able to open holes for the run game. Another position the Cowboys need to address is safety, but protecting Tony Romo is priority #1.
This makes a lot of sense. Darren Sproles isn’t going to be carrying the load for the Chargers, so they pick one of the toughest runners in the draft. Ryan Matthews has the strength to break through tackles at will, part of the reason that allowed him to accumulate a nation-best 151 yards per game. What’s great about Matthews is he’s not just pure brute force, but he also runs a 4.37 and makes sharp, decisive cuts on the field.
The signing of Jason Taylor allows the Jets flexibility with this pick. They no longer have to draft a DE and may even look to trade down for a couple second round picks. If they stay put, they will probably look for an anchor up front on their top-ranked defense. Jared Odrick is considered the third best DT by most and would fit in well with Rex Ryan’s defensive scheme because he’s a high energy guy who thrives at stopping the run.
30. Minnesota Vikings – Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama
The Vikings have the option to draft either Alabama’s Kareem Jackson or Boise State’s Kyle Wilson. Many experts rate Wilson and even Devin McCourty from Rutgers ahead of Jackson, but I think it would be too hard to pass up on a player who contributed to a national championship over two players who faced inferior competition. Jackson is a physical corner, who can lock up receivers in press coverage as well as anyone, which is an added bonus of drafting him.
The Colts have been one of the best teams in recent years at getting the most value out of their picks. Selecting Brian Price should be no different. Price has the ability to plug a hole and was really the sole spark to UCLA’s defense last season. He should savor the opportunity to learn from an all-pro defensive lineman like Dwight Freeney.
Sean Weatherspoon is last, but not least for the first day of the draft. That sounds weird, doesn’t it? Only 32 picks the first day. I used to love sitting on the couch all Saturday watching the first three rounds of the draft. People would ask me, don’t you have a life? And I’d promptly answer, yeah, this is it. I’m really not fond of the new process, especially in the west coast where people will still be at work, but I’ll see how it plays out this weekend. I do know that all this extra time, should allow even more trades to occur, which may make the draft more exciting on Friday night. (or afternoon if you’re in the west like me) But back to Weatherspoon, the Saints clearly don’t need help with their top-ranked offense, so they will address OLB. Weatherspoon led Missouri in tackles three seasons, so the Saints know he’ll have a knack for finding the ball carrier.