2013 NFL Mock Draft Version 1.0 by: “The Better Looking Mel Kiper”

After much angst, anticipation, and pressure from Scottie, I am happy to bring to you my 2013 NFL Mock Draft.  Every year I take on the mission of educating the NTCF faithful about college prospects, team needs, and inevitably what is going to happen in the NFL Draft.  If you take a look back at my previous predictions and who I thought would fit for particular teams, I’m not very far off.  With that said, sit back and enjoy the ride…

DISCLAIMER #1: For the majority of teams picking at or near the top of the 2011 NFL Draft, they are there for a reason, their inability to make good decisions on draft day.  Even though my man CV is always pushing for me to “dumb it down” to try and better predict what these teams will do, I can only make myself so stupid.  Here’s to you Kansas City, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Buffalo, Oakland, etc, you have officially taken the crown as the stupidest bunch in the league.  Good luck!

DISCLAIMER #2: Contrary to popular belief, I can not see more than 11 days into the future.  Therefore, if 12 days from now it becomes very obvious that something will occur in the draft that I did not account for, don’t hold it against me…I’m only partially superhuman.

DISCLAIMER #3: All I can ask of you is to sit back, get comfortable wherever you are, have an open mind, read through the whole mock, realize that Mel Kiper and Todd McShay obviously read this and let my knowledge influence their mocks, and let me know if you have some input.  Let’s do it…

1. Kansas City (2-14) (Needs: DE, OT, ILB, OG, WR)

Kansas City is starting fresh.  They have a new GM, new coach, and have parted ways with Matt Cassel and decided that they will move forward with Alex Smith.  Is Smith the long-term solution?  Probably not.  Does he make the Chiefs better than 2-14?  Probably.  The Chiefs have already worked out a deal with Dwayne Bowe and placed the franchise tag on OT Brandon Albert.  KC could look at an OT here (i.e. Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher), however I think they need a game changer.  Star Lotulelei was widely considered the best player in the 2013 NFL Draft, and then it was discovered that he had an abnormally low ejection fraction at the combine.  Lotulelei’s heart issues seem to be resolving and he performed wonderfully at Utah’s pro-day last week (measures: 6’2” 311 lbs, 40: 4.65, bench” 38 reps, vertical: 30”, 3-cone: 7.76 seconds).

SELECTION: Star Lotulelei, DT Utah

2. Jacksonville (2-14) (Needs: QB, DE, CB, OT, OLB)

Jacksonville just never gets anything right.  Blaine Gabbert was a disaster waiting to happen, and they pick him.  Justin Blackmon looks like a good young receiver, but without anyone to get him the ball his productivity is limited.  The Jags need help all over the field, and taking Geno Smith would be tempting for the new coaching regime in Jacksonville.  However, Smith is flying up draft boards more due to the lack of QB talent in the draft and not necessarily because of his talent.  Suring up the offensive line for the next 5-7 years should be the move for the Jags.

SELECTION: Luke Joeckel, OT Texas A&M

3. Oakland (4-12) (Needs: DT, CB, LB, DE, OT)

Mark the Oakland Raiders down for a questionable selection based almost solely on combine numbers and physical appearance.  The Raiders have arguably more need than any team in the draft, but can obviously only grab one player here.  Word from Oakland is that Tommy Kelly’s time is coming to a close (and Seymour already departed) so the Raiders need help on their defensive line.  Sharrif Floyd is a physical specimen that is shooting up draft boards.  He produced in college, and he has the physical tools that the Raiders look for.

SELECTION: Sharrif Floyd, DT Florida

4. Philadelphia (4-12) (Needs: DT, OT, CB, S, LB)

Word on the street is that the Eagles have some very serious interest in Geno Smith, as he would be a better fit for Chip Kelly’s offense than Nick Foles.  I personally just don’t see it.  I’m not sold on the fact that Kelly would so strategically make his way into the NFL (by essentially picking which team he wanted to coach, which GM he would work with, etc.) and then hitch his wagon to Geno Smith.  If there is a better quarterback to run Kelly’s offense than Mike Vick, I haven’t seen them.  I look for the Eagles to go through 2013 with Vick under center, draft a more suitable QB in 2014 (i.e. Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Football, Tajh Boyd, etc.), and move forward from there.  With the 4th pick in the 2013 draft the Eagles address a huge need and find someone to cover an opposing receiver in their secondary.

SELECTION: Dee Millner, CB Alabama

5. Detroit (4-12) (Needs: DE, OT, S, CB, OLB)

The Detroit Lions are back to rebuilding what developed into a playoff team just 2 years ago.  They have their franchise quarterback in Stafford, franchise receiver in Megatron, and I really like what Mikel Leshoure did last season.  Aside from those players, the Detroit Lions are a mess.  LT Jeff Backus retired, Kyle Vanden Bosch was cut, and Cliff Avril is not a Seattle Seahawk.  The Lions get lucky here, as Eric Fisher (considered by some to be the best OT in the draft) has fallen to them at number 5.

SELECTION: Eric Fisher, OT Central Michigan

6. Cleveland (5-11) (Needs: QB, OLB, WR, CB, OG)

One year after selecting a nearly 30 year old quarterback in the first round, it seems as though the Browns are in complete rebuild mode once again.  Trent Richardson is a stud, Joe Haden is very good on the outside, and Joe Thomas is arguably the left tackle in the game.  Paul Kruger was a good addition for Cleveland this offseason, but I think he got paid a bit too much.  Cleveland could use a quarterback, but I doubt they make that decision two years in a row.  The Browns could also use a wide receiver, but I think that there is too much “bust” potential taking a receiver in this draft that high.  Even after the addition of Kruger, taking a stud pass rusher in the draft could immediately boost their defense to one of the best units in the league.  The Browns could move down here and stockpile picks, especially is a team wants to move up and grab Geno Smith, however if not I think that they select…

SELECTION: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB Oregon

7. Arizona (5-11) (Needs: QB, OT, OLB, RB, ILB)

New head coach Bruce Arians will do his best to identify the Cardinals quarterback of the future in the 2013 NFL Draft.  The problem is that many football “insiders” are saying that the Cardinals are not taking a quarterback with the 7th overall pick in 2013.  That surprises me, considering the need, but I can understand Arians reluctance to hitch his career onto Geno Smith.  With that being said, the Cardinals can look to address other needs, either OT or OLB.  This draft is deep at both spots, but with Joeckel and Smith already off of the board, I think the physical specimen otherwise known as Ezekiel Ansah will be the selection.  Ansah has Jason Pierre-Paul-like athleticism, however his bust potential is huge considering he only became a starter in BYU’s 5th game last season.

SELECTION: Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB BYU

8. Buffalo (6-10) (Needs: QB, WR, ILB, DE, S)

The Buffalo Bills’ biggest need by far is at quarterback.  Luckily for them, in my mock draft, Geno Smith has fallen right into their lap.  As we always see in the NFL Draft, as the time before the draft dwindles, quarterbacks shoot up the draft board because teams are always looking for the next new thing.  This year, it seems that Geno Smith is the guy flying up draft boards.  Smith was productive in college, had a decent showing at the combine, and has many of the attributed needed to be an NFL quarterback.  My questions with Smith surround his mental make-up and consistency.  Sadly, no one takes my opinion into account when these decisions are made.

SELECTION: Geno Smith, QB West Virginia

9. New York Jets (6-10) (Needs: QB, OT, OLB, S, RB)

The New York Jets are turning into the Oakland Raiders.  Constantly picking athletic freaks that aren’t necessarily turning into good football players (i.e. Quentin Coples, Stephen Hill, Vernon Gholston, etc.).  2011’s first round pick, Muhammad Wilkerson, is turning into a very good football player, but aside from him their defensive talent in dwindeling.  I think that the Jets will look long and hard at taking a game changing wide receiver to give Mark Sanchez some help in 2013, but I don’t believe that they can ignore their need at OLB (although it wouldn’t surprise me if they sign James Harrison).  Jarvis Jones is a bit undersized for a 3-4 defense (6’2”, 245 lbs) and his spinal issue presents some medical question marks.  However, the Jets cannot ignore his athleticism and pass rushing ability.

SELECTION: Jarvis Jones, OLB Georgia

10. Tennessee (6-10) (Needs: S, OG, CB, C, WR)

The Tennessee Titans have a glaring need, and it’s at offensive guard.  They signed former Bills guard Andy Levitre to play on the left side, but they still have a need at right guard.  The Titans have addressed some other needs this offseason, by signing SS Bernard Pollard, RB Shonn Greene, and TE Delanie Walker.  The Titans could use some more help at wide receiver to combat the production of Kenny Britt and Kendall Wright, but that is a need that can be addressed later in the draft.  Thankfully for Tennessee fans, drafting a guard at 10 isn’t much of a reach considering the caliber of player that Chance Warmack is.  At 6’2”, 320 lbs Warmack is a physical specimen that brings a mean streak with him on the field…sounds like just what Chris Johnson was hoping for.

SELECTION: Chance Warmack, OG Alabama

11. San Diego (7-9) (Needs: OT, OG, CB, OLB, ILB)

Philip Rivers was not the guy that we were used to seeing during the 2012 season, and that can be largely blamed on the poor play of the Chargers offensive line.  The top priority for the Chargers in the 2013 NFL draft should be finding some protection for Rivers.  As it stands now, Justin Gaither is in line to be the starting left tackle for San Diego, and that just isn’t going to get the Chargers enough wins to be successful in 2013.  Lane Johnson wowed at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine by posting what I believe is the fasted 40 time for an offensive lineman ever (4.72 seconds) at 6’6”, 303 lbs, and he followed that up by getting 28 reps on the bench.  Johnson was a former high school quarterback, college tight end, college defensive end, and current offensive tackle.  He has the athleticism to be very successful in the NFL.

SELECTION: Lane Johnson, OT Oklahoma

12. Miami (7-9) (Needs: OT, WR, CB, DT, TE)

It was a tough offseason for the Dolphins.  Free agency took a toll on Miami.  Jake Long, Reggie Bush, and Sean Smith were just a few key pieces that left the Dolphins in 2013.  They were able to add Mike Wallace and Darnell Ellerby to the team, but there are still a lot of holes that need to be filled.  In my opinion, especially in a division where you need to play the Patriots twice per season, the Dolphins’ most glaring need is at cornerback.  Dee Millner is by far the best corner in this draft, but since he’s off of the board the Dolphins need to grab the next best corner available.  Xavier Rhodes reminds me a little of Sean Smith.  He is a bigger corner (6’1”, 210 lbs), possesses good speed (4.43 corner), great explosiveness (40.5 inch vertical), and ideal strength (14 reps on the bench).

SELECTION: Xavier Rhodes, CB Florida St.

13. Tampa Bay (7-9) (Needs: CB, TE, DE, DT, LB)

Tampa doesn’t have as many needs as would be anticipated for a team that finished 7-9 in 2012.  Their two most glaring weaknesses are al CB and TE.  Tyler Eifert would fit well with Tampa, I just know that teams are reluctant to grab a tight end that high in the draft.  The Bucs never filled the vacant corner spot made when the traded Talib to the Pats, so they can address that here.  Desmond Trufant has a great pedigree, performed well at the combine (4.38 40 yard dash, 16 bench reps, 3.85 second 20-yard shuffle), and is watching his draft stock rise over the past couple of weeks.

SELECTION: Desmond Trufant, CB Washington

14. Carolina (7-9) (Needs: DT, CB, S, RT, RG)

The Carolina Panthers surged at the end of the 2012 season, giving them some renewed optimism for 2013 and placing them in the middle of the first round in the 2013 NFL Draft.  The Panthers need to address the defensive tackle position, considering they were one of the worst run defense teams in the NFL.  Putting a couple of hogs up front will help free Luke Kuechly to roam and make plays.  Sheldon Richardson has prototypical size (6’3”, 294 lbs) and ideal athleticism for an NFL defensive tackle.  Richardson would fit well in Carolina’s scheme.

SELECTION: Sheldon Richardson, DT Missouri

15. New Orleans (7-9) (Needs: OLB, S, OT, CB, NT)

The New Orleans Saints had a disappointing 2012 season, but with Sean Payton back roaming the sidelines they should have a better 2013.  Now that Steve Spagnuolo has been hired as the Saints defensive coordinator, the Saints are switching over to a 3-4 defense.  The Saints do not have the proper personnel to run that defense currently, so it needs to be addressed in this draft.  The first order of business is finding someone to play the 3-4 OLB spot.  Barkevious Mingo has decent size for a 3-4 OLB (6’4”, 241 lbs), good speed (4.58 40 yard dash), and great explosiveness (37.0 inch vertical).  Mingo could use to add a little bit of size, but that usually isn’t much of an issue in the NFL.

SELECTION: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB LSU

16. St. Louis (7-8-1) (Needs: OT, S, WR, LB, OG)

Jeff Fisher led a much improved Rams team through the 2012 season.  Sam Bradford is morphing into a top NFL quarterback (despite Scottie’s feelings) and their defense is formidable.  The next order of business for the Rams should be getting Sam Bradford some reliable receiving targets (in addition to signing Jared Cook), especially now that Danny Amendola is a New England Patriot.  Tavon Austin is shooting up draft boards and is now widely considered as the best WR available in this draft.  Austin will fit perfectly in the slot because of his size (5’8”, 174 lbs), speed (4.34 seconds in 40), strength (14 reps on bench), and quickness (4.01 second 20 yard shuffle).

SELECTION: Tavon Austin, WR West Virginia

17. Pittsburgh (8-8) (Needs: OLB, WR, S, OT, DE)

At this point in time, I have no idea what direction the Steelers will go in the 2013 NFL Draft.  Some experts believe it will be OLB, considering the loss of Harrison.  I think that the Steelers believe in Jason Worilds to play opposite of LaMarr Woodley.  Some believe it will be WR, however it is rare to see a team as disciplined as the Steelers spend such a high pick on a wide receiver.  If Desmond Trufant were still available, the Steelers would take a long like at infusing some youth into their secondary.  But he is gone so I think that the Steelers will look to take the best player available (which in this draft just so happens to be a wide receiver).

SELECTION: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR Tennessee

18. Dallas (8-8) (Needs: OG, S, DE, DT, RT)

The Cowboys are transitioning to a 4-3 defense under new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.  They have some pieces already in place (i.e. DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Jay Ratliff, Sean Lee, Carr, Claiborne, etc.) so they look to be OK defensively.  However, offensively the Cowboys were not as good as their talent level indicated, and a lot of that blame can be placed on their offensive line.  I believe that Tyron Smith will be a good LT with a year or two more of seasoning.  Aside from him and Phil Costa at C, the ‘Boys need some offensive line help.

SELECTION: Jonathan Cooper, OG North Carolina

19. New York Giants (9-7) (Needs: OT, LB, CB, DE, OG)

The Giants seem to be content with Will Beatty at left tackle (they gave him a 5-year $38 million contract this offseason).  David Diehl is serviceable at RT.  The Giants could address their offensive line needs later in the draft.  In the 1st round, the Giants need to address some needs that they have on the defensive side of the ball.  The Giants signed Dan Connor to play middle linebacker this offseason.  They could use some help at OLB, as well as corner.  Defensive end is a need because they lost Osi to the Falcons, but not one that needs to be addressed in the 1st round.  Alec Ogletree (the former safety turned inside linebacker) is listed as in inside linebacker, however he has the athleticism and instincts to move to the outside.

SELECTION: Alec Ogletree, ILB Georgia

20. Chicago (10-6) (Needs: OT, OG, LB, TE, DT)

The Chicago Bears seem to be turning over a new leaf and trying to infuse a little bit of youth into their team.  Seeing Brian Urlacher play for a different team just isn’t going to look right, however all good things come to an end.  If Lane Johnson happens to slip down to 20, I think that the Bears would consider taking him.  If not, the Bears have big needs at left guard, linebacker, and defensive tackle.  What better way to move on from a team legend than implanting a first round pick in his position.

SELECTION: Manti Te’o, ILB Notre Dame

21. Cincinnati (10-6) (Needs: RB, LB, S, OT, DE)

The Cincinnati Bengals were known as terrible draft day performers for so many years.  Over the past couple of years however, the Bengals have been making some better decisions (i.e. AJ Green, Andy Dalton, Jermaine Gresham).  Former 1st round pick Andre Smith is a free agent, so the Bengals do have a need at offensive tackle, as well as running back (behind BJGE), linebacker, and safety.  This late in the draft, I don’t believe that the Bengals can find a difference maker at OT, and some other needs can be addressed later in the draft.  This is actually a decent draft in terms of safety depth, so 21 seems like the right spot for the 1st one to come off of the board.  Also, pairing a rookie with one of my all-time favorite players in Taylor Mays would be awesome.

SELECTION: Kenny Vaccaro, FS Texas

22. St. Louis (from Washington [10-6]) (Needs: OT, S, WR, LB, OG)

With 2 picks in the 1st round of the 2013 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams have an opportunity to make some big choices for their franchise, that will hopefully put them over the .500 mark and into the playoffs in 2013.  The Rams filled a big need with Tavon Austin at #16.  The Rams have some serious needs on the offensive line, even with the addition of Jake Long at LT.  They could look to address a need at offensive guard here, however I believe that they could get a serviceable guard later in the draft.  The Rams projected starting safeties as of today are Rodney McLeod and Darian Stewart.  Exactly, I’ve never heard of them either.  As mentioned in the previous pick, the 2013 draft is pretty deep with safeties.  From the film that I’ve watched, I think Matt Elam will emerge as the best safety of the 2013 class.  The guy can hit, has a knack for being in the right place at the right time, and is an absolute ball hawk.  The Rams grade for round 1 = A+.

SELECTION: Matt Elam, FS Florida

23. Minnesota (10-6) (Needs: WR, LB, DT, OG, S)

The Minnesota Vikings made the playoffs in 2012 based on Percy Harvin’s early season production and Adrian Peterson’s MVP season.  In 2013, Harvin is no longer a Viking and Peterson is caught searching for who is going to shoulder the offensive load with him.  The Vikings went out and signed Greg Jennings, but they are still pretty thin at WR.  The Vikings also have needs at LB, DT, and S.  Based on where the Vikings fall, I think taking the best player available is the best strategy here.

SELECTION: Justin Hunter, WR Tennessee

24.Indianapolis (11-5) (Needs: OT, CB, NT, OLB, OG)

The Indianapolis Colts moved from the worst team in the NFL in 2011, to a playoff team in 2012.  Much of that was due to the play of Andrew Luck, but Chuck Pagano and the Colts defense deserve some credit for that as well.  In this draft the Colts will need to build on their success in last year’s draft to keep the momentum rolling.  The Colts addressed some of their offensive line needs via free agency by signing Gosder Cherilus to play RT and Donald Thomas to play LG.  The also addressed some defensive needs by signing NT Aubrayo Franklin, 3-4 DE Ricky Jean-Franciose. And SS Laron Landry.  The Colts could use to address a future need/buy some insurance following the loss of Dwight Freeney.  Robert Mathis is aging and Jerry Hughes hasn’t proven that he can produce in the NFL yet.

SELECTION: Tank Carradine, DE/OLB Florida St.

25. Minnesota (from Seattle [11-5]) (Needs: WR, LB, DT, OG, S)

Minnesota picked up a second 1st round pick from the Seahawks in the Percy Harvin trade.  Just two picks ago, Minnesota picked up Cordarrelle Patterson to solidify their second wide receiver spot.  Now, Minnesota can address an area of concern on the defensive side of the ball.  Letroy Guion is in line to start at defensive tackle alongside (aging) Kevin Williams.  The Vikings could use an upgrade at this position.

SELECTION: Johnathan Hankins, DT Ohio St.

26. Green Bay (11-5) (Needs: C, RB, WR, OLB, OT)

The Green Bay Packers are a very talented football team, and have few desperate needs heading into the 2013 NFL Draft.  Losing Greg Jennings hurts, but the emergence of Randall Cobb and James Jones softens that blow.  They could also use an OT for depth purposes considering it seems as though one of their current OTs is hurt every single game.  In my opinion, the Packers most glaring weakness is at running back (however they have faired very well without a great running back over the best several seasons).  The Packers do a great job of picking athletic guys and morphing them into football players.  Luckily for them, Eddie Lacy is as good of a football player that you could ask for at pick #26.

SELECTION: Eddie Lacy, RB Alabama

27. Houston (12-4) (Needs: WR, ILB, OT, OG, S)

The Houston Texans finally developed into the type of team that people were expecting to see over the past few seasons.  JJ Watt has emerged as one of the best defensive players in the league.  Houston has some other really good pieces on both sides of the ball (Brian Cushing, Brooks Reed, Kareem Jackson, obviously Arian Foster and Andre Johnson).  Houston fans have been calling for the Texans to draft a wide receiver to play opposite of Andre Johnson for years, and 2013 may finally be the year that they go in that direction.

SELECTION: Robert Woods, WR USC

28. Denver (13-3) (Needs: DT, ILB, S, RB, OT)

Damn those Broncos!  Scooping up Welker from the Pats.  I think that Danny Amendola will be a great addition to the Pats, however it’s tough to see a guy like Welker go.  Anyways, the Broncos needs are primarily on the defensive side of the ball.  They were able to pick up Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie this offseason, which fills a void at cornerback.  They still present needs at inside linebacker (after losing DJ Williams to the Bears) and at defensive tackle.  As is the theme, the Broncos should look to take the best available player that fits their needs this late in the draft.

SELECTION: Sylvester Williams, DT North Carolina

29. New England (12-4) (Needs: WR, CB, OT, DT, DE)

For a team drafting this low in the 1st round, it always seems that the Patriots have so many needs and so many directions that they could go in.  After the release of Brandon Lloyd, the Pats have a big need at wide receiver.  With Alfonzo Dennard’s unknown future, the Pats have a big need at cornerback.  Vollmer has been resigned, so their needs on the offensive line are diminished, but they could use some improved depth.  On the defensive line, they could use another rush guy on the outside (i.e. John Abraham) and another big body up the middle.  I’m projecting a wide receiver here for the Pats, but who the hell knows.  Their track record with selecting wideouts isn’t very good (i.e. Chad Jackson, Taylor Price, Brandon Tate).  DeAndre Hopkins is the best route runner and has the best hands of the remaining wideouts.  Sounds like a Pats guy to me…

SELECTION: DeAndre Hopkins, WR Clemson

30. Atlanta (13-3) (Needs: DE, LB, DT, OG, C)

First order of business for the Atlanta Falcons, bring back Matt Hansen.  Second order of business, find a cornerback, as I don’t think Robert McClain is going to get the job done.  Desmond Trufant is long off of the board, so the Falcons need to look in a different direction.

SELECTION: Johnthan Banks, CB Mississippi St.

31. San Francisco (11-4-1) (Needs: NT, DE, CB, OG, K)

The San Francisco 49ers were arguably the NFL’s most talented team in 2012, and have addressed some needs in free agency to bring in some more talent.  Guys by the names of Anquan Boldin, Glenn Dorsey, and Criag Dahl will try and help propel San Francisco to yet another super Bowl (and hopeful victory) in 2013.  However, the 49ers did lose some key pieces to free agency (i.e. Delanie Walker, Ricky Jean-Francois, Isaac Sopoaga, Dashon Goldson, etc.) and those positions need to be addressed in the draft.  At pick 31, the top tier of talent has been picked through, but there are certainly immediate starters left.  I look for the 49ers to look to upgrade their offensive line, while many experts believe Tyler Eifert may be the pick to give San Fran another offensive weapon.  After running a 4.9 40-yard dash at Alabama’s pro day (and banging out 30 reps on the bench at the combine), nose tackle Jesse Williams is making a case to be a 1st round pick.

SELECTION: Jesse Williams, NT Alabama

32. Baltimore (10-6) (Needs: ILB, S, C, OLB, WR)

Nearly 2 months after winning the Super Bowl the Baltimore Ravens look like a completely different team.  They’ve identified Joe Flacco as their franchise guy, lost seasoned veterans Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.  The Ravens were hit hard by free agency, losing guys like Reed, Bernard Pollard, Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe, and trading Anquan Boldin.  With that said, the Ravens made some good additions as well (Marcus Spears, Chris Canty, Elvis Dumervil, Michael Huff).  There are two positions that Baltimore has a big time need at, ILB and WR.  With Alec Ogletree and Manti Te’o off of the board, the Ravens could look to address their needs at wideout.

SELECTION: Keenan Allen, WR California

2011 NFL Mock Draft Version 2.0 by: “The Better Looking Mel Kiper”

Version 1.0 of the mock has been blowing up lately (last I checked I pulled in over 1,000 views by 4pm on Tuesday alone), so I’ve been catching a lot of heat from “The Better Looking Mel Kiper” fans to update the mock and put out version 2.0.  As I’ve been telling Scottie, if you create a mock, they will come view it.  But, these things take time and you can’t rush greatness, so get off my back…

DISCLAIMER #1: The draft order has been determined as of 1/19/11.  Obviously, the playoffs are not finished yet, so the placement of the final four picks is still to be determined.  The final four picks will be placed based on where I think each team will finish.

DISCLAIMER #2: Contrary to popular belief, I can not see more than 11 days into the future.  Therefore, if 12 days from now it becomes very obvious that something will occur in the draft that I did not account for, don’t hold it against me…I’m only partially superhuman.

DISCLAIMER #3: This is a Brett Favre-free mock draft.  Favre has no influence on which players will be selected where.  At no point in this draft will I name a team the “Favre’s.”  Although Favre’s sister tried to shuttle some meth my way recently, I refused on the basis of principle.  I’m pretty confident that by the time you are done reading this draft, Favre will have revoked his retirement papers and tried to make moves on other masseuses, but I’m not letting it affect me.

DISCLAIMER #4: Although I try my hardest, I can not possibly be as stupid with draft picks as some teams.  Yes, Carolina, Detroit, Cincinnati, Arizona, Tennessee, Miami, and Oakland, I am talking to you.  I try to predict where players will go, but sometimes I can not dumb myself down enough to know what the aforementioned idiotic teams will do.

DISCLAIMER #5: All I can ask of you is to sit back, get comfortable wherever you are, have an open mind, read through the whole mock, realize that Mel Kiper and Todd McShay obviously read this and let my knowledge influence their mocks, and let me know if you have some input.  Let’s do it…

1. Carolina (2-14)

This may very well be the toughest #1 overall pick to predict since I’ve been putting these mocks out (2008).  There is no definitive #1 overall quarterback that the NFL draft is used to.  No Sam Bradford, Matthew Stafford, or JaMarcus Russell (it’s painful just typing that).  What is even crazier is that there isn’t a Jake Long or Mario Williams type either.  At 2-14, your team needs are virtually irrelevant because you could probably use an upgrade at every position.  The players worthy of a top selection consist of a wide receiver in A.J. Green, a cornerback in Patrick Peterson, a defensive tackle in Nick Fairley, and a defensive end in Da’Quan Bowers.  For me, it’s narrowed down to either A.J. Green or Patrick Peterson for the top spot.  There are few positions that allow for immediate impact aside from cornerback and wide receiver.  My head is telling me Green, but with new defensive minded coach Ron Rivera at the helm, I’m going with my gut.

SELECTION: Patrick Peterson, CB LSU

2. Denver (4-12)

Denver, it is time to say thank you to the football gods.  John Elway has actually brought some of his fourth quarter magic with him to the Broncos front office.  The Broncos have seemingly been transitioning to a 3-4 defense for about 6 years now, but have yet to find a dominate nose tackle or defensive end to build around.  There is no shot anyone would ever consider taking a nose tackle this high in the draft, even Oakland isn’t that stupid.  Nick Fairley is considered by most to be the best player in the draft, period.  One concern that some have with Fairley, pointed out to me by my man Scottie, is that he can be considered a one year wonder.  In 2009, Fairley recorded only 28 tackles and one sack compared with his 56 tackles and 12 sacks in 2010.  That is the risk that needs to be taken with these high picks.  But, imagine the disruption that Denver’s defense could cause in 2011 with Fairley eating up 8 blockers and Elvis Dumervil and Robert Ayers coming off of the edge.

SELECTION: Nick Fairley, DE/DT Auburn

3. Buffalo (4-12)

I feel the need to apologize to the Bills.  All season I was encouraging them to tank games so they could get the #1 overall pick and grab Andrew Luck.  Well Buffalo, you must have known something I didn’t because all of your hard work has Luck back at Stanford and the Bills picking third.  Good hustle guys!  Anyways, the Bills, like the Broncos, are in the midst of the transition to a 3-4 and really don’t have the players to do it.  Fairley would fit in wonderfully with their defense, but he’s off of the board.  I would be reluctant to select an edge rushed like Bowers because they missed so badly on Aaron Maybin in 2009.  The emergence of Steve Johnson alongside Lee Evans diminished the need for a wide receiver.  What to do?  Use the draft depth in 3-4 defensive ends and outside linebacker to your advantage.  Marcel Dareus may be the best 3-4 defensive end in the draft (Fairley included) simply because he is a beast and he is familiar with the 3-4 scheme.

SELECTION: Marcel Dareus, DE/DT Alabama

4. Cincinnati (4-12)

Gotta love the Bengals.  A year after winning the AFC North they remember that they are the Bengals and finish 2010 with a dismal 4-12 record (they had to win 2 out of their last 3 games to get that record).  Cincinnati has needs all over the field.  T.O. and Chad Ochocinco may both gone by they start of the 2011 season.  Carson Palmer looked terrible all season.  Andre Smith is looking like a bust.  Their defense is decent, but not the unit that it was in 2009.  I truly believe that Marvin Lewis and Carson Palmer have both had enough of Ocho’s antics, so how about taking the most talented receiver in the draft to replace him?

SELECTION: A.J. Green, WR Georgia

5. Arizona (5-11)

The popular pick here to the Cardinals is Blaine Gabbert, the quarterback out of Missouri.  I agree, the Cardinal’s quarterbacks were all horrendous this past season, but as bad as they were the Cards still had a chance to win the division until week 14 or something crazy like that.  I can’t imagine that Ken Whisenhunt wants to go through the transition of trying to bring a rookie quarterback along again this season (Max Hall and John Skelton last season).  It is much more likely that the Cards go after a veteran free agent quarterback that can help their team immediately (or trade for a guy like Kevin Kolb).  The Cardinals were near the bottom of every offensive and defensive statistical category this past season, but in my opinion they need to become younger and more dynamic on defense.  Joey Porter can be a huge pain sometimes, but he was also one of the best pass rushers of the past decade.  Porter could help Da’Quan Bowers make his transition to a rush linebacker in the NFL (Porter made the same transition coming out of Colorado State).

SELECTION: Da’Quan Bowers, DE/OLB Clemson

6. Cleveland (5-11)

Cleveland made some strides this season, but it wasn’t enough for Eric Mangini to keep his job (can someone hire this guy so he NEVER goes on ESPN ever again).  Colt McCoy looked good when he played this season, so that would dispel rumors that the Browns would be looking to pick up a quarterback with the 6th pick.  Joe Haden had a good rookie campaign and really came on towards the end of the season.  Everyone knows what Peyton Hillis did in 2010, and while I’m skeptical that he won’t be able to have a repeat performance in 2011, he is still serviceable.  If A.J. Green somehow falls down to #6 and Cleveland doesn’t pick him, Mike Holmgren should be fired.  Otherwise, finding defenders than can get to the quarterback should be Cleveland’s top priority.  Robert Quinn was once considered the #1 overall prospect for the 2011 NFL Draft.  After being suspended for the entire season, he is still a top 10 prospect.  That should show you how awesomely athletic this guy is.

SELECTION: Robert Quinn, DE/OLB North Carolina

7. San Francisco (6-10)

San Francisco, I’m officially done with you.  Yes, Jim Harbaugh is going to make a good NFL head coach, but you got rid of my favorite coach in NFL history.  Pulling your pants down in front of your entire team in the locker room…classic.  Ranting about Vernon Davis in a press conference…awesome.  Proclaiming that you will play with 10 players the entire game if one guy doesn’t buy it…amazing.  Telling Troy Smith that you have eaten his children because he threw an interception…great.  Anyways, there is no shot that Patrick Peterson falls to seven, but luckily for San Francisco Prince Amukamara would likely be the top cornerback taken in most other drafts.  At 6’1″, 205 lbs, Amukamara is big and physical, but also has the speed to run with wide receivers.  Prince provides an immediate boost to the 49ers already decent defense.

SELECTION: Prince Amukamara, CB Nebraska

8. Tennessee (6-10)

I’ve seen so many mock drafts that have Cam Newton going 8th overall to the Titans.  Isn’t is awesome that Cam Newton is most often compared to Vince Young?  Yes, that’s a great idea for the Titans, because the Vince Young experiment worked out so wonderfully the first time around.  Anyways, the Titans could go a lot of different directions with this pick.  Kerry Collins is a free agent, so their quarterback is currently Rusty Smith.  I think that it is much more likely that the Titans pick up a veteran quarterback to fill that void rather than starting over with a rookie.  The Titans had the 29th ranked pass defense in the NFL, but I don’t see cornerback as a huge issue for them.  In my opinion, their biggest area of need defensively is on the defensive line.  Jason Babin lead the Titans with 13 sacks this past season but he is a free agent and it will likely take big money to keep him around.  Ryan Kerrigan is the first unanimous All-American at Purdue since 1980.  He has forced a Big Ten record 14 fumbles in his career.  In 2010 he had 26 tackles for a loss and 12.5 sacks.  At 6’4″, 260 lbs. Kerrigan has the body to put on another ten pounds and could become a dominant pass rusher in the NFL.

SELECTION: Ryan Kerrigan, DE Purdue

9. Dallas (6-10)

Dallas’ 6-10 finish to the 2010 season comes to a surprise to almost all of us football fans, as many thought Dallas would be picking the high 20’s after having a successful season.  But, that’s why they play the games and Dallas sits at #9 in the 2010 draft.  Marcus Spears is on his way to free agency, so depth on the defensive line is an issue for the Cowboys.  If Amukamara drops to nine he would be a great pick for the ‘Boys to accompany Mike Jenkins and an aging Terrance Newman in the secondary.  Some think that wide receiver is a need position, but with the amount of money that Dallas has invested in Roy Williams, Miles Austin, and Dez Bryant I just don’t see it.  Cameron Jordan is a beast at the end position.  At 6’4″, 285 lbs Jordan has the ability to get to the quarterback (5.5 sacks in 2010) and stop the run (62 tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss in 2010).  Jordan has experience in a 3-4 system so he should be able to contribute in Dallas right away.

SELECTION: Cameron Jordan, DE California

10. Washington (6-10)

The Redskins are a mess.  Donovan McNabb is allegedly coveted by Mike Shanahan but was benched for the last couple of games last season.  Albert Haynesworth is apparently still going to be a member of the Redskins in 2011 even though neither he nor Shanahan wants him there.  Unless the ‘Skins plan  on building their franchise around Rex Grossman, I have to believe that quarterback is their biggest area of need.  I’m not as high on Blaine Gabbert as everyone else seems to be, but honestly I’ve only watched a little bit of tape on him, so I’m not completely familiar with him.  But, Shanahan is saying his prayers and thanking the big man upstairs that nobody in the top 9 reached for Gabbert and he fell into Washington’s lap at 10.

SELECTION: Blaine Gabbert, QB Missouri

11. Houston (6-10)

I had very high hopes for the Texans in 2010.  I was looking over my preseason playoff picks for 2010-2011 a few days ago and realized that I had the Ravens beating the Texans in the AFC championship game.  Terrible, I know.  Anyways, Houston’s pass defense can be described on one word: pathetic.  Rookie corner Kareem Jackson had a mediocre season, but when your best secondary player is a rookie cornerback, I’m not sure if you can expect much success.  With Wade Phillips heading to Houston to run the Texans’ defense, it is unknown whether they are sticking with a 4-3 or moving to a 3-4.  I would like to see them stick with the 4-3 because I don’t really see guys like Mario Williams, Amobi Okoye, and Brian Cushing fitting into a 3-4 (Cushing moving inside gives me an A.J. Hawk vibe).  If the Texans move to a 3-4 they will need to draft some players to fit that scheme, but for now I’m planning on them sticking to the 4-3.  As I mentioned earlier, their secondary is pathetic so help there is desperately needed.  They could also use help at wide receiver and outside linebacker, but those needs can be addressed later in the draft.  Brandon Harris is a bit of a reach here, but he fills a huge need for Houston.

SELECTION: Brandon Harris, CB Miami

12. Minnesota (6-10)

My gut is telling me that Donovan McNabb is going to be on a plane to Minnesota at some point this off-season, but that is a post for another day.  The Vikings need help at quarterback, wide receiver, defensive tackle (assuming Pat Williams may retire), outside linebacker, cornerback, and safety.  Off those positions, the most dire needs are probably at quarterback and cornerback.  The old adage goes, when a new regime begins it is usually accompanied by a new quarterback.  I’m actually a fan of Tavaris Jackson, but it seems that he is falling out of favor in Minnesota.  Many people think Cam Newton would be the selection for Minnesota here, but I truly believe that once the combine rolls around Jake Locker is going to be able to prove how amazing of an athlete he is.  Locker had a tough 2010 season, but the weapons that he was working with weren’t even close to those that Newton and Mallett had.  If Locker can improve his accuracy, he could be a very good quarterback in the NFL.

SELECTION: Jake Locker, QB Washington

13. Detroit (6-10)

I want to be one of the first to congratulate the Detroit Lions.  The 2011 NFL draft marks only the second time since 2001 that the Lions are picking outside of the top 10.  I also want to give myself some credit for acknowledging before the season started that this Lions team is better than many people had predicted.  Getting Matthew Stafford back next season along with keeping Jahvid Best healthy could immediately translate to 8 wins, but why stop there?  N-Suh was a great pick for the Lions last draft as he is likely to be the 2010 NFL defensive rookie of the year.  The Lions have needs on the offensive line, at wide receiver, cornerback, linebacker, and defensive end.  I think that Brandon Harris would be the selection is he was still available, but Harris is already off of the board.  I have an inner desire to say that Julio Jones will be the selection here because Jones and Calvin Johnson on the field at the same time would be awesome to see.  Sadly, I don’t think that is going to happen, and the dominate defensive ends are off of the board.  Offensive tackle is a great choice to help protect the fragile Stafford.

SELECTION: Gabe Carimi, OT Wisconsin

14. St. Louis (7-9)

I can’t think of a better way to help out a young quarterback than to draft a big-time wide receiver.  Take Matthew Stafford for example.  Through his first two years in the NFL, if he is in trouble he just throws the ball up towards Calvin Johnson and Megatron goes and gets it.  The Rams need help all over the field, especially on defense.  To be honest, with the talent that they have, I’m not really sure how the hell the Rams won seven games.  At this point, with all the help that the Rams need, taking the best player available is the way to go.  Julio Jones has been tagged as the next big thing since he stepped foot on the Alabama campus.  Although he was bumped down the board by A.J. Green, Jones is still a great talent that is deserving of the 14th pick.

SELECTION: Julio Jones, WR Alabama

15. Miami (7-9)

To be honest, I’m not sure where to start with the Dolphins.  Sparano is on a short leash down in Miami, so blowing the team up and starting over may not be the best move, although I think it may be necessary.  I’m not sure is Chad Henne has what it takes to get the job done in the NFL.  Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown are both free agents and it is unknown whether either will be back for the Dolphins.  Brandon Marshal underperformed this season.  Their defense was pretty good, but they could use help at inside linebacker and safety.  In my mind, Mark Ingram makes the most sense here.  Ingram isn’t fast enough to have game-breaking ability, but he is smart and not afraid to run between the tackles, which is something that Ronnie Brown has been plagued by since his array of injuries.

SELECTION: Mark Ingram, RB Alabama

16. Jacksonville (8-8)

I can’t stand the Jaguars.  Come on guys, make up your minds.  Do you want to be terrible and basically get a brand new team and coaching staff, or do you want to be decent and contend for a playoff spot every year?  Seriously, the Jags are the most bi-polar team in the NFL.  The Jags could use a quarterback, need help at wide receiver, defensive end, linebacker, cornerback, and safety.  Similarly to the situation in Miami, Jack Del Rio is on a short lease, so a quarterback change is probably not the best move for him.  Von Miller is so talented that they actually created a position just for him at Texas A&M called the “joker” position.  Miller essentially had free rein to simply create havoc on defense, and that sounds like something the Jaguars could use.

SELECTION: Von Miller, OLB Texas A&M

17. New England – from Oakland (8-8)

As I’ve said in nearly all of my previous mock drafts, there is a higher chance that my man CV is going to start throwing up 225 on the bench at the combine than there is of me being able to predict what the Patriots will do in the draft, but I’ll take a crack at it.  The needs that I’ve identified on this Patriots team are at running back, wide receiver, offensive line, defensive end, outside linebacker, and cornerback.  The main positions that need to be addressed early in the draft are wide receiver, outside linebacker, and defensive end.  I mentioned previously that this draft is stocked with 3-4 outside linebackers and defensive ends.  Some of the names that warrant consideration here are Adrian Clayborn, JJ Watt, Cameron Heyward, Aldon Smith, and Justin Houston.  Either one of these guys would be an upgrade at each of their respective positions.  The direction that they should go is the position that is their most pressing need, outside linebacker.  UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers is one of the few players in the draft that has the size to play 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL, and has actually played linebacker in college.  At 6’4″, 250 lbs, Ayers has the size, strength, and speed to contribute immediately.

SELECTION: Akeem Ayers, OLB UCLA

18. San Diego (9-7)

Losing Vincent Jackson could open a huge hole at wide receiver on the Chargers’ offense, but Philip Rivers and co. did pretty well this past season without Jackson for the majority of the year.  Jacques Cesaire is a free agent after this season, and even if he wasn’t the Chargers could use an upgrade on the defensive line.  I feel like the Chargers never really filled the void that opened after Olshansky left for the Cowboys.  With the depth in this draft, 2011 is the year to do it.

SELECTION: J.J. Watt, DE Wisconsin

19. New York Giants (10-6)

The situation in New York is like a ticking time bomb.  It all starts with Tom Coughlin.  He may very well be the most overly dramatic/emotional coach I have ever seen.  Every time the camera takes a look at Coughlin he’s throwing papers, yelling at guys, looking dumbfounded, or just giving up.  It makes for some great television, but I wouldn’t enjoy it so much if I was a Giants fan.  Then you have Antrel Rolle saying that he would rather go play for Rex Ryan.  Bad move dude.  The Giants just paid you a hell of a lot of money to not be that productive, and this is how you thank them?  The three biggest need areas for the Giants in my opinion are at cornerback, linebacker, and offensive line.  William Beaty has been non-existent since he arrived in New York.  The Giants have yet to find a linebacker to replace Antonio Peirce.  If Ayers was still around, he would probably land in New York.  Without a corner worth the 19th pick, offensive line becomes the default selection.

SELECTION: Anthony Costanzo, OT Boston College

20. Tampa Bay (10-6)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have been the most surprising team of the 2010 NFL season.  I said before the season started that I liked the way coach Morris was going about his business down in Tampa and I also liked some of the young pieces that they had in place, but even I didn’t see a 10-6 team coming out of Tampa.  Although the Bucs had a great, they need to string together another 2-3 good drafts to keep the success going.  The Buccaneers were tied for 30th in the NFL with 26 sacks on the season.  Getting a pass rusher in the top of the 2011 draft needs to be one of their top priorities.  Other needs that I see are at wide receiver, outside linebacker, and on the interior of their offensive line.  With the depth at defensive line in this draft, the Bucs should be able to get a pass rusher at #20.

SELECTION: Aldon Smith, DE Missouri

21. Kansas City (10-6)

Similarly to the Buccaneers, not many people expected the Chiefs to have the success that they had in 2010.  The Chiefs ousted perennial AFC West champion San Diego to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004.  Although the Chiefs lost, playoff experience is always a plus for a young team like the one in Kansas City.  The Chiefs relied heavily on the run game in 2010, and when they didn’t run the ball it most likely ended up in the hands of Dwayne Bowe.  Without another receiving threat, the Chiefs could use to add some depth to the wide receiving corps, as well as grabbing a nose tackle, offensive line depth, another safety to play alongside Eric Berry, and another corner to play alongside Brandon Flowers.  Drafting a big nose tackle to strengthen their front three could help vault the Chiefs defense to the next level.  Stephen Paea is considered by many to be the only nose tackle prospect in the first round, but Paea isn’t just a run stuffer.  The Oregon State product has the ability to plug holes as well as get after quarterbacks.

SELECTION: Stephen Paea, DT Oregon State

22. Indianapolis (10-6)

It seems to me that every season the Indianapolis Colts have several needs on the defensive side of the ball and yet they often avoid drafting defensive players early in the draft.  Granted, last year Jerry Hughes was the Colts first round selection, but Hughes managed only 6 tackles in 12 games this season, and he plays a position that the Colts already have two Pro Bowl players at.  On defense, the Colts need help at defensive tackle (they ranked 25th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game), cornerback, and outside linebacker.  Offensively, the Colts need help along the offensive line, and could always use to add depth at wide receiver.  It is well-known that the Colts prefer almost all of their defenders to be fast, providing them the ability to play a very effective “Tampa 2″ defensive scheme.  You can’t get much faster than by drafting a college defensive end to play defensive tackle in the NFL.  Cameron Heyward was an absolute monster through his years playing defensive end at Ohio State, but at 6’5”, 290 lbs, Heyward definitely has the body to put on 10 lbs and play defensive tackle in the league.

SELECTION: Cameron Heyward, DE/DT Ohio State

23. Philadelphia (10-6)

The Philadelphia Eagles may be the NFC team that I am most familiar with because one of my roommates is a die-hard Eagles fan.  Philadelphia’s playoff game against the Packers exposed a couple of huge weaknesses that the Eagles need to address in the draft.  Offensive line is a major area of need for the Eagles, as well as linebacker, cornerback, and I believe that they could use a big back to compliment LeSean McCoy.  Resigning Mike Vick should be the Eagles’ top priority this offseason, and that would make Kevin Kolb expendable.  Trading Kolb could bring the Eagles some players to fill their holes, or draft picks to give them more opportunities to bring in even more young players.  Whatever the Eagles decide to do, the 2011 offseason is one of the most important over the franchise’s last ten years.  Derek Sherrod is a prototypical right tackle.  With Michael Vick as your quarterback, keeping rushers out of the pocket isn’t as high of a priority as it is on other teams.  Sherrod is a bruising run blocker and is serviceable in the run game.

SELECTION: Derek Sherrod, OT Mississippi State

24. New Orleans (11-5)

The New Orleans Saints were bounced from the 2010 playoffs earlier than nearly everyone expected.  The Seattle Seahawks exposed the Saints run defense, and showed that when you make a team one-dimensional on offense, everyone is beatable.  The Saints rushing offense was one of the worst in the NFL, and with Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush hurt for the majority of the season, you can understand why.  Both Bush and Thomas are free agents after this season, and it is looking more and more likely that neither will be back with the Saints next season.  Therefore, running back will become the New Orleans’ biggest priority this off-season.

SELECTION: Mike Leshoure, RB Illinois

25. Seattle (7-9)

The Seahawks fans of the world should be ecstatic with what Pete Carroll was able to do with the Seahawks in the 2010 NFL season.  The talent level in Seattle certainly didn’t warrant them being 7-9, so making the playoffs provided sort of a catch-22 for the ‘Hawks.  At pick 25, it becomes less likely that your first round pick will be able to help your team immediately, but the picks are still very valuable.  Matt Hasslebeck is a free agent this season, and I’m not betting any money on Charlie Whitehurst being able to win games in the NFL, so quarterback is a huge need area for the Seahawks.  Along with quarterback, the Seahawks have needs at running back (pending the future of Marshawn Lynch), wide receiver, offensive line, and cornerback.  With Ryan Mallett still available, and Pete Carroll now having the confidence from the Seahawks owner, Mallett’s talent may be undeniable at #25.

SELECTION: Ryan Mallett, QB Arkansas

26. Baltimore (12-4)

The Baltimore Ravens caught a bad break this post season, similarly to the Patriots.  It may be the most difficult task in all of sports to play one NFL teams three times in one season.  By that time, each team knows the other’s tendencies, secrets, philosophy, etc.  I thought that the Ravens were talented enough to make it to the Super Bowl this year, but they have enough youth on their team to make a run at the title next year.  Defensively, the Ravens have needed to get a cornerback for quite some time now, so that is one of their biggest needs.  They also have needs at outside linebacker (pending the health of Sergio Kindle) and wide receiver.  Without a cornerback worthy of a first round pick left in the draft, wide receiver becomes their biggest need assuming that Houshmanzadeh is heading out-of-town.  At 6’5″, 225 lbs, Jonathan Baldwin is a physical specimen that can run like a wideout and jump up to catch any ball thrown his way.  Baldwin would be a great compliment to Boldin and Mason.

SELECTION: Jonathan Baldwin, WR Pittsburgh

27. Atlanta (13-3)

The Atlanta Falcons outperformed expectations for the 2010 regular season, but underperformed in the post season getting eliminated in the divisional round by the Packers.  The Falcons have a great nucleus.  They have a quarterback to build around in Matt Ryan, a bruising runner in Michael Turner, and an elite wideout in Roddy White.  Defensively, Curtis Lofton is a great piece to build around and John Abraham had a great season.  Dunta Robinson got paid a lot of money this off-season to shut down opposing wideouts, but the Falcons finished the regular season with the 22nd ranked pass defense in the NFL.  Cornerback is a need position for the Falcons, as is wide receiver, offensive line, and linebacker.  Aaron Williams has been on my radar for three years now, so at 27 this is a need selection for the Falcons.

SELECTION: Aaron Williams, CB Texas

28. New England (14-2)

As i mentioned earlier, there is a higher chance that my man PC is hooking up with a chick out at the bar than there is of me predicting what the Pats will do with their draft picks.  I’m confused by these so-called “experts” that are predicting that the Pats are going to take a running back with the 28th pick.  BenJarvus Green-Ellis gained just over 1,000 yards this season on only 229 carries.  That is an average of 4.4 yards per carry.  What more do you want out of your running back?  At pick 28, the Patriots could look at defensive linemen, wide receivers, offensive linemen, or simply the best player available.  The Patriots become very luck at #28 that the 2011 draft is so deep.  Adrian Clayborn was considered to be a lock top 10 pick before the season started at is a steal is 28.  Belichick also has ties with Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, so the Pats will know all about Clayborn before they pick him.

SELECTION: Adrian Clayborn, DE Iowa

29. New York Jets (11-5)

God, I hate the Jets.  I have to try to not let my hatred for the Jets influence who I have them selecting, but its tough.  Contrary to usual Rex Ryan defenses, the 2010 Jets have had trouble getting to the quarterback.  Shaun Ellis, who had a huge game against the Pats, is a free agent upon the completion of this season, so the Jets two biggest need areas are along the defensive line and at outside linebacker.  Justin Houston finished 2010 second in the SEC with 10 sacks, and at 6’3″, 260 lbs he looks like a great fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

SELECTION: Justin Houston, DE/OLB Georgia

30. Chicago (11-5)

Even though the Chicago Bears are in the NFC Championship game this season, they still have plenty of holes.  Surprisingly, even with Mike Martz at the helm, the Bears ranked 30th in the NFL in passing yards per game.  They need help along their offensive line, at wide receiver and at cornerback.  With the wide receiver pool depleted, offensive line should be the way to go for Chicago.

SELECTION: Nate Solder, OT Colorado

31. Pittsburgh (12-4)

I love Mike Tomlin.  That guy can flat-out coach.  Roethlisberger has come off of his four game suspension earlier this season pretty flawlessly and is now playing some of the best football of his career.  Mendenhall is a flat-out beast, and Mike Wallace is one of, if not the fastest wide receiver in the NFL.  Defensively, Ziggy Hood is playing great in place of seasoned defensive lineman Aaron Smith and Troy Polamalu is playing unbelievably.  Similarly to the Bears, the Steelers still have holes even with their success.  But, at #31, with Mike Pouncey still available, the Steelers have fallen upon a dream scenario.  Maurkice Pouncey is the best young center in the game and bringing in his brother to play guard ill give the Steelers a great young nucleus to build their line around.

SELECTION: Mike Pouncey, C/G Florida

32. Green Bay (10-6)

Even with all of the injuries that they have endured throughout the entire season, the Packers have managed to come through all of those difficult times and win the Super Bowl.  After the completion of the Super Bowl, it’s back to business preparing for next season.  The Packers could use to add a running back, an offensive lineman, a defensive end, and a rush linebacker.  With Cullen Jenkins headed towards free agency, defensive end will become a position that needs addressing.

SELECTION: Allen Bailey, DE/DT Miami

Time for Reflection

Thankfully, the 2011 draft is only 362 days away (pending some craziness involving the Collective Bargaining Agreement) and quite frankly I’m pumped.  It is pretty safe to say that my mock draft flopped, but it’s equally as safe to say that anyone that created a mock draft didn’t do so wonderfully either.  Before I start preparing for the 2011 NFL Draft, it is important to first consider what occurred in the past three days and take a little time to reflect.

There was a whirlwind of excitement surrounding the Patriots’ draft heading into Thursday night.  With 4 picks in the first two rounds they were certain to improve their team drastically.  But, coach Belichick certainly wasn’t content with staying put.  He moved all around the draft board and ended still with four picks in the first two rounds (different spots than before), but also picked up an extra second round pick for the 2011 draft (they now have two first rounders and two second rounders).  Here is a breakdown of each pick:

1st Round (27th Overall) – Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers
The numbers: 5’10” 193lbs.  40: 4.38.  BP: 16 reps

-Drafting a cornerback in the first round was certainly a shocker with needs at so many other positions.  Also, anytime a players position includes special teamer (McCourty position is listed as      cornerback/special teamer) I question his status as a first round draft pick.  I gave the Pats a low grade for their round one selection and I stick behind that.  McCourty has a ton of upside, but his ability to contribute immediately doesn’t look promising.

2nd Round (42nd Overall) – Rob Gronkowski, TE, Arizona
-The numbers: 6’6” 260lbs.  40: 4.65.  BP: 23

-Gronkowski missed the entire 2009 college football season after having back surgery.  That fact alone scares me, but had Gronkowski not missed all of 2009 he may have been the first tight end selected in the first round of the draft.  He is probably the most balanced tight end in the draft, possessing exceptional ball skills along with great blocking ability.  Day two was off to a great start with this selection, addressing one of the Patriots’ biggest needs.

2nd Round (53rd Overall) – Jermaine Cunningham, OLB, Florida
The numbers: 6’4” 260lbs.  40: 4.60.  BP: Unknown

-Many thought that taking Cunningham with the 53rd pick was a bit high, but he possess the ideal size and athletic ability necessary for the Patriots’ defense.  Cunningham didn’t get much praise playing of Florida’s star-studded defense, but as a three year starter he was a model of consistency.  Cunningham addresses one of the Pats’ biggest needs, and Urban Meyer is one of Belichick’s closest friends so you know that Bill knows absolutely everything about this kid.  Cunningham will get a chance to compete for playing time come June.

2nd Round (62nd Overall) – Brandon Spikes, LB, Florida
The numbers: 6’3” 250lbs.  40: 5.00.  BP: Unknown

-This was my favorite pick of the Patriots’ entire draft.  Spikes caught a ton of flack for running a 5.00 40, but I watched at least ten of his games over the last two seasons and he plays must faster on tape.  He is an ideal fit for the Pats’ defense.  Jerod Mayo can move to the weak side linebacker spot (which will utilize his quickness and sideline to sideline speed) while Spikes can hopefully fill the strong side spot (where his ability to take on lineman, blitz, and stuff the run are key).  The only thing that could hold Spikes up from starting at some point in the 2010 season will be his ability to absorb the playbook.

3rd Round (90th Overall) – Taylor Price, WR, Ohio
The numbers: 6’1” 205lbs.  40: 4.40.  BP: 16 reps

-Another need selection.  Some analysts had Price going as high as late in round two, while others had him supplanted in the third round.  I haven’t watched much tape on Price, but from the little that I’ve seen he displays elite speed, good agility, and great hands.  My concerns are in two areas: low level of competition, and he attended a smaller school.  Ohio certainly doesn’t play at the same level of competition as big schools, which means that Price’s ability could be overvalued.  Also, many small school players have problems absorbing NFL playbooks, and Belichick’s is certainly one of the most complicated.

4th Round (113th Overall) – Aaron Hernandez, TE, Florida
The numbers: 6’3” 245lbs.  40: 4.64.  BP: Unknown

-If there is one thing that Aaron Hernandez can do it is catch the ball and then run with it after the catch.  Hernandez was never, and I mean never asked to block at Florida and that is a major flaw in his game.  Thankfully, Alge Crumpler and Gronkowski are good blockers, allowing Hernandez to use his athletic ability in the pass game.  I think that Hernandez may actually compete with Julian Edelman to play in Wes Welker’s role until he returns from injury.  Another great selection in the fourth round for Bill and company.

5th Round (150th Overall) – Zoltan Mesko, P, Michigan
The numbers: 6’5” 240lbs.  40: 4.79.  BP: 16 reps

-Mesko averaged nearly 45 yards per punt in his senior season at Michigan.  Punter was a huge need for the Pats and Belichick showed once again that he is not afraid to spend a reasonably high draft pick on a special teams player (Stephen Gostowski was a 4th round selection in 2006).  I think the Mesko selection was a great pick and fully expect him to be the starting punter in 2010.

6th Round (205th Overall) – Ted Larsen, C, NC State
The numbers: 6’3” 304lbs.  40: 5.19.  BP: 26 reps.

-Larsen was wildly considered as the third best center in this draft and was expected for be an early 5th round pick.  He played defensive tackle for his first two season as NC State before switching over to center.  Larsen is still raw, but a few season of seasoning behind Dan Koppen and Larsen may be a force to reckon with in the NFL.

7th Round (208th Overall) – Thomas Welch, OT, Vanderbilt
The numbers: 6’7” 307lbs.  40: 5.42.  BP: 29 reps.

-Welch has played both right tackle and left tackle at Vanderbilt.  He is a mean run blocker and is very strong with a huge frame.  His pass blocking footwork is skeptical and he is a bit stiff, but he certainly provides some depth behind Light, Kaczur, and Vollmer for the Pats.

7th Round (247th Overall) – Brandon Deaderick, DL, Alabama
The numbers: 6’4” 314lbs.  40: 5.08.  BP: Unknown

-Similar to the relationshop between Urban Meyer and Bill Belicheck, Nick Saban is also a close friend of Bill.  Saban is one of the few college coaches to have implemented a 3-4 defensive scheme.  Deaderick played the 3-4 end at Alabama, which will certainly help with his learning curve.  But, he will have to compete for playing time behind newly acquired Gerard Warren, Mike Wright, and Ron Brace among others.

7th Round (248th Overall) – Kade Weston, DL, Georgia
The numbers: 6’5” 316lbs.  40: 4.99.  BP: Unknown

-Belichick stayed true to his philosophy, grab your skill position players early in the draft and then add depth to your two lines later in the draft.  Weston has ideal size to play the 3-4 end, but will have a lot of competition to just make the team.

7th Round (250th Overall) – Zac Robinson, QB, Oklahoma State

The numbers: 6’3” 214lbs.  40: 4.68.  BP: Unknown

-Zac Robinson showed flashes of brilliance throughout his career at Oklahoma State.  Robinson doesn’t have a cannon, but he has enough zip on the ball to make all of the necessary throws.  His accuracy is scarce at points, but improving his mechanics and footwork will go a long way towards improving that.  Robinson will press Brian Hoyer for that backup quarterback spot, but I see him spending 2009 on the practice squad.

I was certainly disappointed in the first round selection that the Pats made, but I think their picks on day two and three, and their accruement of draft picks for next year leave me energized for the 2010 NFL season and beyond.  They addressed almost all of their team needs in the draft, but don’t expect Belichick to sit back and relax.  Look for some undrafted free agents to be picked up within the next couple of weeks.  Then we can all look forward to the position battles once minicamp and training camp roll around.

Draft Grade: B

Review of Round 1 & Remaining Draft Expectations

The first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, as always, was 32 picks of unpredictable selections, trades, rising players, and falling talent.  By pick 7 I knew that my mock draft was soon headed for disaster (although I’m pretty sure that my 7 correct picks equaled that of Mel Kiper and Todd McShay).  Every year I like to think that teams will actually draft players that fit their system and address their needs.  But, every year teams jump up and drop down and end up selecting guys that in many cases just don’t fit what that particular team is trying to do.  Here are some of my thoughts about the first round:

-Sam Bradford #1 was a necessary pick for the Rams and I think he will play a key role in the future of their franchise.

-The Chiefs made the best selection in the first round.  Berry was considered as one of the elite players in this draft.  He can cover and hit.  He is an intelligent kid and pairing him with Brandon Flowers in that secondary will vastly improve the Chiefs defense.

-The Oakland Raiders finally made a pick that wasn’t exceptionally stupid, although I still think an offensive tackle was the way to go.  How do you expect Jamarcus Russell to not be terrible when you cannot give him time to throw?

-No wonder why Jacksonville cannot sell tickets.

-San Diego jumped up way to high to get Ryan Mathews.  I understand that he was the highest rated running back on their board, but I am convinced he would have been available at pick 18, or at least somewhere around there.

-Josh McDaniels said that Demaryius Thomas reminds him of Brandon Marshall.  Josh, you jumped dumped your best offensive player because of issues you were having with him, but they drafted a guy that plays just like him on the field?  I question his decision making (although the Tebow pickup was huge for Denver).

-The Dallas Cowboys draft yet another wide receiver with character issues.  Are any of you truly surprised?  I’m just shocked that a guy with talent compared to Larry Fitzgerald dropped that far for just chillin’ with Deion Sanders.

-And the New England Patriots continue to baffle with their drafting scheme…

First Round Winners

Seattle Seahawks (selections: Russell Okung, OT Oklahoma + Earl Thomas, S Texas)

Russell Okung, in my opinion, was the best tackle in the draft.  I thought they would snag Trent Williams with the 6th pick to address their biggest need, but Washington picked Williams and Okung fell right into Pete Carroll’s lap.  Then, at pick 14, Earl Thomas (a top 10 talent) was still available and the Seahawks did not hesitate to take the best player available when safety was not one of their biggest needs.

Grade: A

Detroit Lions (selection: Ndamukong Suh, DT Nebraska + Jahvid Best, RB Cal)

Ndamukong Suh was undoubtedly the best player in this draft.  The economics of the first pick forced the Rams into taking a quarterback, and allowed the Lions to grab the most talented player.  Defensive tackle was the biggest need and they got the most talent at the position.  Then, the Lions traded up with Minnesota to grab Jahvid Best.  With Kevin Smith’s injury issues and mediocre production, Best will provide them with a great change-of-pace option with the ability to be an explosive player (if he can stay healthy).

Grade: B++

San Francisco 49ers (selections: Anthony Davis, OT Rutgers + Mike Iupati, G Idaho)

The common theme here is that teams with two picks in the first round displayed the ability to capitalize on their picks.  The 49ers were rumored to be interested in a quarterback, but Singletary and company decided to give Alex Smith a chance (which I believe the deserves) and surround him with some young and talented offensive lineman.  Singletary also went a long way in changing the philosophy of his football team.  Davis and Iupati are both punishing run blockers, so Frank Gore and Glen Coffee’s role in the run game will certainly expand, while Mike Crabtree and Vernon Davis will look to flourish off of play-action passes.

Grade: B++

Arizona Cardinals/Indianapolis Colts (selections: Dan Williams, NT Tennessee / Jerry Hughes, DE/OLB TCU)

The reason that I put these two picks together is because they both displayed the same philosophy in yesterday’s first round: Sit in your spot and select a player that fits your scheme and addresses team needs.  The Cardinals got very lucky that Dan Williams fell all the way down to them at 26, but they were desperate for a nose tackle and ended up with the best one in this draft.  During the draft yesterday, one of my colleagues (my close friend Chris Veltri) told me something that makes a ton of sense.  He was explaining that every year, teams similar to the Colts that consistently pick in the bottom of the first round, just wait around in their slot and wait for guys to slip through the cracks and slide down the draft board.  Jerry Hughes, Donald Brown (2009), Anthony Gonzalez (2007), and Joseph Addai (2006) were all players taken pick 27 or later that have provided great value for the Colts and contributed to their success.  The ability to get value from guys that fall down draft boards is what keeps the Colts picking in the later part of the first round every season.

Grade: B+/B+

First Round Losers

Buffalo Bills (selection: C.J. Spiller, RB Clemson)

Don’t get me wrong, C.J. Spiller is a great player and I thought he was actually worthy of a top ten pick.  Sadly, the Spiller and Bills marriage just doesn’t make any sense to me.  Spending roughly 9-10 million dollars a season on a third running back is outrageous.  Now, reports are surfacing that the Bills want to trade Marshawn Lynch.  Lynch’s value immediately just took a two round hit.  Pre-draft Lynch may have been able to warrant a late 2nd round or third round pick.  Now that teams know Lynch is expendable, he may be worth a fifth rounder.  Questionable move for the Bills and unless they grab Clausen in the second round, Chan Gailey’s time in Buffalo may be short lived.

Grade: D-

Jacksonville Jaguars (selection: Tyson Alualu, DT California)

The Jacksonville Jaguars cannot sell tickets and their games therefore get blacked out.  Tebow was an option just solely to sell tickets.  I though Dez Bryant was an option just to get the fans excited.  Even a great pass rusher would have some people want to buy tickets.  But no, the Jaguars draft a defensive tackle that they could have gotten at the end of the first round, if not in the second round with the tenth pick in the draft.  Are you kidding me Jacksonville?  No wonder why you cannot sell tickets!

Grade: D-

New England Patriots (selection: Devin McCourty, CB Rutgers)

A very taboo move I am making right now, calling out the always right coach Belichick.  McCourty is a decent player, but you know that you’ve made a questionable first round pick when on the radio the name the player’s position as “cornerback/special teamer.”  Belichick cherishes McCourty because he can play”4 downs,” which means he can play on defense for three downs and will then contribute on special teams.  I don’t disagree with the McCourty selection, but I do disagree with the placement of the selection.  The Patriots have major needs at outside linebacker, wide receiver, tight end, running back, offensive line, and defensive line.  The only position they may not have a major need at is cornerback.  Now, the Pats have the ability to address those concerns with their abundance of picks in the second round, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Belichick continues to baffle and avoid the obvious needs.

Grade: C-

Remaining Patriots’ Picks and Possible Selections

Round 2, pick 12 (44th overall) – from Jacksonville – Golden Tate, WR Notre Dame
Round 2, pick 15 (47th) – from Tennessee – Ricky Sapp, DE/OLB Clemson
Round 2, pick 21 (53rd) – assigned – Alex Carrington, DE Arkansas State
Round 3, pick 26 (90th) – from Dallas – Aaron Hernandez, TE Florida
Round 4, pick 15 (113th) – from San Francisco through Denver – Lonyae Miller, RB Fresno State
Round 6, pick 21 (190th) – assigned – Danny Batter, ILB South Dakota State
Round 6, pick 36 (205th) – compensatory – George Selvie DE/OLB South FloridaRound 7, pick 22 (229th) – assigned – A.J. Edds, OLB Iowa
Round 7, pick 24 (231st) – from Philadelphia through Denver – Shelley Smith, OG Colorado St.
Round 7, pick 40 (247th) – compensatory – Doug Worthington, DE/DT Ohio State
Round 7, pick 41 (248th) – compensatory – Trindon Holliday, WR/KR LSU
Round 7, pick 43 (250th) – compensatory – Daryll Clark, QB Penn State

2010 NFL Mock Draft Final Version by: “The Better Looking Mel Kiper”

DISCLAIMER #1: The team needs are based on Scouts Inc. projections, which can be found on ESPN.com.  I would love to go through every team’s depth chart and determine their team needs on my own, but I actually have some productive things to do with my time.

DISCLAIMER #2: Contrary to what they may lead you to believe, these so-called “experts” actually usually only predict around 30% of first round selections correctly.  So, don’t rely completely on the bullshit that they feed you.

DISCLAIMER #3: These draft projections are based on trades, free agent signings, injury updates, and any other relevant information as of April 22, 2010.  So if anything happens in between now the start of the draft (which it inevitably will) that I did not account for, then I’m sad to say I have yet to refine my future predicting skills.

DISCLAIMER #4: As my man Kanye West once eloquently said, “It’s what you all been waitin’ for ain’t it?”

  1. 1. St. Louis Rams – (TEAM NEEDS: QB, CB, WR, DT)

This pick is pretty much a done deal but there are two things that I am skeptical about.  First, Sam Bradford was very reluctant to agree on a deal before the draft.  This tells me one of two things: either Bradford is attempting to be a complete asshole and squeeze every penny possible out of the lowly Rams or he is pulling an Eli Manning type move and will eventually refuse to play for St. Louis.  Either way I think that the new ownership of the Rams need to draft a franchise quarterback to put their faith behind and to give the fans at least something to root for.  With the first pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams select…

Sam Bradford, QB Oklahoma

  1. 2. Detroit Lions – (TEAM NEEDS: CB, DT, SS, OLB)

The lions could not have hoped for a better situation to occur.  Arguably their biggest need is a defensive tackle and Suh seems to be a can’t miss prospect.  There is a lot of speculation about the Lions attempting to grab Haynesworth from the Redskins, but I think that Detroit has too many needs to start giving up draft picks.  With the second pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select…

Ndamukong Suh, DT Nebraska

  1. 3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – (TEAM NEEDS: WR, DT, DE, CB)

Tampa Bay and second year head coach Raheem Morris lucked out big time with the selection of Bradford first overall.  It looked like Tampa Bay might have missed out on one of the big guys had they possibly gone one and two, but at least in this mock draft, McCoy is falling to three.  The Bucs may give a good look at either Eric Berry or Dez Bryant with this picked because of their immense level of talent, but filling a need with a possible Warren Sapp type guy is that best decision.  With the third pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select…

Gerald McCoy, DT Oklahoma

  1. 4. Washington Redskins – (TEAM NEEDS: LT, RB, RT, QB)

I think that dealing away Haynesworth is becoming more and more of a possibility for the Redskins.  An overlooked acquisition of Adam Carriker for the Rams helps them out in the 3-4 front with Carriker having the ability to play the end. Dealing Haynesworth would almost certainly land them another first round pick, where they could look to address a skill position, but for now protecting their new franchise quarterback is their biggest priority.  With the fourth pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins select…

Russell Okung, OT Oklahoma State

  1. 5. Kansas City Chiefs – (TEAM NEEDS: LT, NT, FS, OLB)

Trent Williams of Bryan Bulaga seem to be the two trendy picks here.  Now I know that Pioli is a Belichick guy and that they like to build through the trenches.  I know that Pioli very rarely if ever drafts a skill position player this high in the draft.  I know that Pioli will undoubtedly be looking to move down a couple of spots and grab an offensive tackle there.  But, I also know that Eric Berry is the best remaining player in the draft and his talent level in undeniable.  With the fifth pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs select…

Eric Berry, S Tennessee

  1. 6. Seattle Seahawks – (TEAM NEEDS: OT, DE, CB, WR)

The Seahawks are in a predicament at this first pick.  I know that Pete Carroll wants to draft Dez Bryant badly.  He loves playmakers and this is exactly what Seattle needs.  But, T.J. Houshmandzadeh is still around and that allows the Seahawks to look for a wide receiver in the early part of the second round.  Since Walter Jones recently announced his retirement the Seahawks are now very desperate for a left tackle.  Trent Williams is a great athlete and will be a good left tackle for many years to come.  With the sixth pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks select…

Trent Williams, OT Oklahoma

  1. 7. Cleveland Browns – (TEAM NEEDS: QB, WR, CB, S)

The toughest pick in the draft to predict is seven to Cleveland.  I’ve never had to deal with Mike Holmgren calling the shots like he is now.  I think Cleveland’s first priority will be to move down.  San Francisco is a team that strikes me that would look to jump up to seven and grab Clausen.  But, I’m not getting into making mock trades because then this draft will become a complete mess.  There are several players here that could go and all have about the same grade.  Earl Thomas, Jimmy Clausen, C.J. Spiller, and Dez Bryant are all possibilities.  With the seventh selection in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns select…

Earl Thomas, S Texas

  1. 8. Oakland Raiders – (TEAM NEEDS: QB, OT, DT, WR)

Jimmy Clausen to the Oakland Raiders just doesn’t sound right in my mind.  I don’t think that ol’ Al Davis has given up on Jamarcus Russell yet (plus he still has a ton of money invested in him) and Al wasted a draft pick on a terrible wide receiver last season.  There are no defensive tackles left worthy of a top ten pick.  Therefore, I need to rely on some inside information (and the fastest 40 time at this players position) to make this official.  With the eighth pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders (screw it up again and) select…

Bruce Campbell, OT Maryland

  1. 9. Buffalo Bills – (TEAM NEEDS: QB, OT, NT, WR)

I think the NFL should give the Bills twenty minutes to make this pick, ten minutes to recover from the Raiders making such a terrible pick, and another ten to realize if they don’t take Jimmy Clausen then they are pretty damn stupid.  With Bulaga still around the Bills will certainly take an extra look at him.  Nose tackle is also a serious need, but you just can’t pass on a quarterback that played for three years in an NFL type system and has a cannon for an arm.  With the ninth pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills select…

Jimmy Clausen, QB Notre Dame

  1. 10. Jacksonville Jaguars – (TEAM NEEDS: FS, C, QB, WR)

I simply have no idea what the Jaguars are going to do with this pick.  Their biggest need is at safety, but Eric Berry and Earl Thomas are off of the board.  Tim Tebow is always a possibility because he can sell tickets for a team that desperately needs it.  But, I think in order to capitalize on their high draft position as well as generate some excitement for their team, the Jaguars need to take a serious look at Dez Bryant.  Their only productive returning wide receiver is Mike Sims-Walker and I doubt he can replicate his production from 2009.  Bryant gives them a playmaker to take some pressure off of Maurice Jones-Drew.  With the tenth pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select…

Dez Bryant, WR Oklahoma State

  1. 11. Denver Broncos (from Chicago) – (TEAM NEEDS: WR, ILB, G/C, QB)

The Jags taking Dez Bryant was a blessing in disguise for the Broncos.  In my opinion, there was no way Denver was selecting the Oklahoma State wide receiver.  They just dumped their best offensive weapon because of character issues, so why would they spend a first round pick on picking another wide receiver with more character issues.  Rolando McClain is the best inside linebacker in this draft by far, and his addition to an already young Broncos defense makes them a team to fear in the near future.

Rolando McClain, ILB Alabama

  1. 12. Miami Dolphins – (TEAM NEEDS: WR, FS, NT, OLB)

A lot of speculation here surrounds the Dolphins picking up Dez Bryant if he is still around, or even a rush linebacker like Derrick Morgan.  Bill Parcells taught Bill Belichick many things that he knows, and Parcells (along with Belichick) knows that strong offensive and defensive lines.  The Dolphins are currently without a nose tackle and, while attempting to run a 3-4, that is a serious problem.  With the twelfth pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select…

Dan Williams, NT Tennessee

  1. 13. San Francisco 49ers – (TEAM NEEDS: OT, FS, OL, OLB)

Mike Singletary might drop his pants out of pure excitement if Bryan Bulaga falls to the 49ers at pick 13.  The 49ers had to pray that one of the three big offensive tackles (Okung, Williams, or Bulaga) fell to them or they might have to stretch for Anthony Davis, OT Rutgers.  With two first round selection, the 49ers can address a need on the defensive side of the ball at pick 17.  With the thirteenth pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers select…

Bryan Bulaga, OT Iowa

  1. 14. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver) – (TEAM NEEDS: OT, DE, CB, WR)

Seattle was hoping dearly that Dez Bryant would fall to then at pick 14.  Sorry Pete, it’s not going to happen.  But, luckily for the Seahawks, the second best playmaker falls into their laps, and he gets the opportunity to run behind their new big man Trent Williams.  With the fourteenth pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks select…

C.J. Spiller, RB Clemson

  1. 15. New York Giants – (TEAM NEEDS: MLB, DT, LB, OL)

If Rolando McClain is already selected, than the Giants certainly look to move down.  Their biggest need is clearly at middle linebacker, so I think they look to move down later into the first round, select a defensive tackle, and then somehow maneuver their way into the top of the second round and take Brandon Spikes, ILB Florida.  But, as I said, no way am I going to start making mock trades.  So, the Giants have no other choice but to sure up their offensive line.  With the fifteenth pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the New York Giants select…

Mike Iupati, G Idaho

  1. 16. Tennessee Titans – (TEAM NEEDS: DE, CB, DT, LB)

Every pick it’s getting a bit tougher.  The Titans lost Kyle Vanden Bosch this offseason and that was a major blow to their defensive line.  I fully expect if Albert Haynesworth gets traded than he will end up in Tennessee, but that still doesn’t solve the problem at defensive end.  Derrick Morgan is another Georgia Tech defensive end full of athleticism and talent (remember Michael Johnson…yea me neither) but Morgan performed well in his workouts, and that usually warrants a first round selection.  With the sixteenth pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans select…

Derrick Morgan, DE Georgia Tech

  1. 17. San Francisco 49ers (from Carolina) – (TEAM NEEDS: OT, FS, OL, OLB)

San Francisco is catching all kinds of breaks in this draft.  First, they get their hands on a top 10 talent at offensive tackle with the thirteenth pick, and now they end up with arguably the best pass rushing DE/OLB in the draft with Jason Pierre-Paul.  Pierre-Paul only played one year of division one college ball, but it was an amazingly productive year.  San Francisco gets that pass-rusher that they have been looking for to help their struggling secondary.  With the seventeenth pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers select…

Jason Pierre-Paul, DE/OLB South Florida

  1. 18. Pittsburgh Steelers – (TEAM NEEDS: CB, C, G, DL)

If any team is willing to give up a top 10 pick for Ben Roethlisberger, that if I were the Pittsburgh Steelers I would jump all over that.  The Steelers have been most effective when punishing defenses with the run game and then utilizing the play action pass very effectively (aside from the last season or two).  Trading Roethlisberger and beefing up their offensive line would allow the Steelers to get back to that style of play.  But, as of now ol’ Ben is still in town and the Steelers need a corner.  With the eighteenth pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select…

Joe Haden, CB Florida

  1. 19. Atlanta Falcons – (TEAM NEEDS: DE, OLB, OL, CB)

The Jamaal Anderson experiment was a disaster (I told you he was a 3-4 end) and now the Falcons are right back where they were three drafts ago.  Many scouts project Graham as a better 3-4 rush linebacker than a defensive end.  But, I think his size (6’1”, 250 lbs) actually makes him a better prospect with his hand in the turf in a 4-3.  With the nineteenth pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons select…

Brandon Graham, DE/OLB Michigan

  1. 20. Houston Texans – (TEAM NEEDS: CB, RB, NT, FS)

My prediction is that the Texans work a deal with the Giants to move up to 15 and pick Joe Haden before anyone else has the chance to scoop him up.  But, Haden is already gone and the Texans are in desperate need of a corner.  Houston’s defense has already supplanted itself as one of the better defenses in the league, but I believe that with some secondary help the Texans will vault themselves to being considered one of the best defenses in football.  With the twentieth pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans select…

Kyle Wilson, CB Boise State

  1. 21. Cincinnati Bengals – (TEAM NEEDS: TE, FS, DE, WR)

I hate this pick I’m about to make because I feel like I am giving into the trendy pick, which I absolutely hate to do.  But, tight end is by far the Bengals’ most glaring need and Jermaine Gresham is one of the better tight end prospects to hit the draft in the last five seasons.  Taylor Mays gets a serious look with this pick, but Gresham is too good to pass up.  With the twenty-first pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals select…

Jermaine Gresham, TE Oklahoma

  1. 22. New England Patriots – (TEAM NEEDS: WR, OLB, ILB, TE)

Sorry Scotty, but Dez Bryant is not even going to come close to falling to twenty-two.  I guess it’s time for plan B.  Brandon Graham is the guy that I would love see fall to the Pats.  I think he is a Patriot type of guy, first guy into the building in the morning and last guy out at night.  But, he too is gone.  I also don’t doubt Belichick’s desire to jump all around the draft board and with three second round picks, there is a serious possibility that New England could jump up to grab a player that they desire (maybe…Eric Berry?).  But, at twenty-two the most reasonable selection is Sergio Kindle.  With the twenty-second pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots select…

Sergio Kindle, DE/OLB Texas

  1. 23. Green Bay Packers – (TEAM NEEDS: CB, OLB, G/C, OT)

Kindle was the Packers’ guy if he ended up at twenty-three.  Now that he is gone, the Packers can look in a couple different directions.  They have a need at cornerback, not because of lack of talent with Al Harris and Charles Woodson there, but with health (Harris underwent knee surgery and may not be ready for the start of the season) and age (Charles Woodson will turn 34 this season and Al Harris will turn 36).  They also have a need at offensive tackle, not for a starter but for depth and the future.  But, with the loss of Aaron Kampman to the Jags, the Packers’ most glaring need may be at outside linebacker.  Putting the ever-dynamic Jerry Hughes opposite of Clay Matthews and besides Nick Barnett and A.J. Hawk will give the Packers arguably the best linebacking corp. in the NFL.  With the twenty-third pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers select…

Jerry Hughes, OLB TCU

  1. 24. Philadelphia Eagles – (TEAM NEEDS: FS, OLB, DE, T/G)

The Ernie Sims acquisition was an underrated move considering all they gave up was a fifth and seventh round pick.  Sims will help the Eagles’ desperate linebacking situation, but certainly won’t solve it.  But, I think that there is an outside chance that Sean Weatherspoon falls to Philly at 37 (pick received from Washington for McNabb) and if not they can grab Daryl Washington from TCU, who would fit great into the Eagles’ blitzing defensive scheme.  Selecting Taylor Mays at twenty-four not only fills a major need for the Eagles, but restores some of that defensive toughness that was lost when Brian Dawkins left town.  With the twenty-fourth pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles select…

Taylor Mays, S USC

  1. 25. Baltimore Ravens – (TEAM NEEDS: CB, TE, DE, FS)

I know that the Ravens could use a corner, because their corners are apparently unable to stay healthy.  But, I think at pick twenty-five, and with a veteran (and aging) defense, drafting for the future may be the way to go.  The more important position in a 3-4 defense is at nose tackle.  Kelly Gregg is nearing the end of his career and drafting Terrence Cody would give the Ravens an amazingly athletic (and huge) nose tackle that could use a couple of years of seasoning behind a veteran player.  With the twenty-fifth pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens select…

Terrence Cody, NT Alabama

  1. 26. Arizona Cardinals – (TEAM NEEDS: LT, OLB, QB, ILB)

The Cardinals are in desperate need of an outside linebacker, and it seems as though Everson Griffen has fallen right into their laps.  I question Griffen’s ability to drop back into coverage and I am concerned about the fluidity of his hips.  But, Everson Griffen can certainly rush the passer, and that’s something that the Cardinals need.  With the twenty-sixth pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals select…

Everson Griffen, DE/OLB USC

  1. 27. Dallas Cowboys – (TEAM NEEDS: S, LT, ILB, WR)

Bruce Campbell’s selection by the Raiders allowed for Anthony Davis to slide his way down to the bottom of the first round.  If Taylor Mays is still around then I think Jerry Jones will seriously consider him.  Also, Jerry Jones needs to consider Demaryius Thomas, WR Georgia Tech because wide receiver (with the depleted production of Roy Williams and the impending free agenct of Miles Austin) has become a need.  But, drafting an NFL ready offensive lineman is the smart choice here.  With the twenty-seventh selection in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys select…

Anthony Davis, OT Rutgers

  1. 28. San Diego Chargers – (TEAM NEEDS: RB, NT, CB, RT)

I know Ladanian Tomlinson’s production diminished over the last couple of seasons, but his departure from San Diego leaves a huge hole in the Chargers’ offense.  Terrence Cody may be the selection here if still available, but if not than Ryan Mathews would be a great pickup at twenty-eight.  With the twenty-eighth pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers select…

Ryan Mathews, RB Fresno State

  1. 29. New York Jets – (TEAM NEEDS: S, DE, OLB, WR)

Again, if Taylor Mays is still around than he may be the selection.  But, Mays is gone so the Jets’ attention has to switch to their 3-4 defensive end position.  Jared Odrick may have found himself in the top 15 in a draft that wasn’t so littered with talented skill players, but he has slid all the way down to twenty-nine.  Odrick is a perfect 3-4 defensive end and if he gets into training camp on time he should push for playing time immediately.  With the twenty-ninth pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the New York Jets select…

Jared Odrick, DT Penn State

  1. 30. Minnesota Vikings – (TEAM NEEDS: OL, QB, CB, NT)

When you get down this late in the first round teams begin to draft more of the best players available than to fill needs.  How Kareem Jackson fell down the board this far is beyond me, but the Vikings could certainly use an underrated young corner if they plan on beating the Saints any time soon.  With the thirtieth selection in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings select…

Kareem Jackson, CB Alabama

  1. 31. Indianapolis Colts – (TEAM NEEDS: OT, NT, OL, CB)

Maurkice Pouncey has the talent to be at least a top twenty pick, if not higher.  But, his position rarely warrants a selection that high in the draft.  The Colts offensive line is aging and their production is diminishing.  Indianapolis could not run the ball at all last season (I know they have Peyton Manning, but you still have to run sometimes) and they could use to improve that aspect of their offense.  With the thirty-first selection in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts select…

Maurkice Pouncey, G/C Florida

  1. 32. New Orleans Saints – (TEAM NEEDS: DT, OLB, DE, TE)

The Saints desperately need a defensive tackle to play alongside Sedrick Ellis.  Similar to the Jared Odrick situation, Brian Price has middle of the first round talent, but has fallen victim to an exceptionally deep draft.  Price has the ability to come in and compete for playing time immediately.  With the thirty-second selection in the 2010 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints select…

Brian Price, DT UCLA

PATRIOT PREDICTIONS:

1st Round (22nd Overall) – Sergio Kindle, DE/OLB Texas
2nd Round (44th Overall – JAX) – Tim Tebow, H-Back/TE/QB Florida
2nd Round (47th Overall – TEN) – Tyson Alualu, DE California
2nd Round (53rd Overall) – Montario Hardesty, RB Tennessee
4th Round (119th Overall) – Dorin Dickerson, TE Pittsburgh
6th Round – Danny Batten, ILB South Dakota State
6th Round (Comp – Jabar Gaffney) – Chris DeGeare, OG Wake Forest
7th Round (PHI – Greg Lewis) – Mike Williams, WR Syracuse
7th Round (DEN – Russ Hochstein) – Trindon Holliday, WR/KR LSU
7th Round (Comp – Heath Evans) – Mike Mclaughlin, ILB Boston College
7th Round (Comp – Lamont Jordan) – Sam Shields, CB Miami
7th Round (Comp – Lonnie Paxton) – Jeff Byers, C USC

2010 Infusion of Youth: Installment #2

In my first installment of the “2010 Infusion of Youth” series I discussed the Patriots’ desperate need for an outside (rush) linebacker.  In my esteemed opinion that is by far their most desperate need.  The Pats’ lack of a consistent pass rush exposed a young secondary and made the defense vulnerable to many big plays.  Just because an outside linebacker is their biggest need, we all know that with Belichick at the helm that might not be the direction in which they go.

Other needs that the Patriots have are at wide receiver, inside linebacker, offensive line, defensive line, tight end, and quarterback.  Now, my proclamation of some of these team needs may lead you to believe that I have lost my mind, but hear me out.  I don’t know if anyone can argue that the Patriots do not have a serious need for talent at wide receiver.  Granted they still have Randy Moss and Wes Welker, but Moss has struggled with injuries over the past 2 seasons (mind you with a bad back and shoulder in the 2009 season, Moss still managed to put up nearly 1,300 yards and 13 scores…and people say he’s washed up?) and Welker may miss the entire 2010 season because of a torn ACL (and even if he does return, injuries to the ACL usually take two years for a player to return to their initial form).  Besides those two, the Patriots have yet to establish a viable option at the third wide receiver spot since Dante Stallworth left after the 2007 season.  Since the end of the 2009 season everyone has been jumping on the Julian Edelman bandwagon.  Sorry ladies and gentlemen, but I am not hopping on for a ride, nor will I ever be.  I understand he performed relatively well in Welker’s slot position while Wes was hurt, but that’s all that Edelman is, an injury substitution that knows the playbook and can catch the ball when he is open.  If I was a defensive coordinator and Edelman was playing in place of Welker, I would let Edelman catch the ball every single time.  He is no threat to break a play deep.  He is still learning to play the position, which means his ability to block in open space and get off of pres coverage is limited.  The kid just isn’t good enough to play every down.  Sam Aiken is still a member of the team and he filled that third wide receiver spot for the majority of last season, but quite frankly, Aiken is no more than a special teams player.  Matthew Slater has hands like feet and will never see consistent time at wide receiver.  Brandon Tate probable has the most promise out of the group, but his inability to stay healthy has severely hindered his development to this point.

In this installment, I will highlight possible wide receivers that the Patriots could select within the first two rounds of the 2010 NFL Draft.  In my next and final installment in the “2010 Infusion of Youth” series I will highlight any remaining players that the Patriots may consider.  Here are some possible wideout candidates:

Arrelious Benn, WR Illinois

Two years ago, Arrelious Benn was being touted as one of, if not the best receiver in college football.  At nearly 6’2” and 220 lbs, Benn has the physical size accompanied by strength (20 reps of 225lbs at the combine) to be an elite wide receiver in the NFL.  Questions surrounding Benn revolved around his desire and his speed.  Arrelious silenced the questions about his speed at his pro day when he posted a very impressive 4.36 40 yard dash.  Before Benn’s pro day, he undoubtedly would have been around at pick 22, but now that his 40 yard dash time has improved, it might be a stretch if he is still available.

Golden Tate, WR Notre Dame

A lot of people are not as high on Golden Tate as I am.  When I watch him play I for some reason cannot get Anquan Boldin out of my head.  He is not as big or as strong as Boldin, and may not even be as talented, but he can certainly play football.  Sometimes during NFL draft time, these so called “analysts” get so caught up in workout numbers that guys like Vernon Gholston and Darrius Heyward-Bey get drafted in the top 10, while other players that were exceptionally productive in college (but didn’t post the workout numbers) get pushed out of the first round, like LeSean McCoy and Shonn Greene.  There were serious questions about Tate’s speed, and at 5’10” 199 lbs there wasn’t much wiggle room for him to not post a good 40.  But, he ended up posting a 4.42 at the combine and accompanied that with 17 reps at 225, which in my opinion supplants Tate solidly at the end of the first round.

Damian Williams, WR USC

There are very few things that scare me more in this world than the thought of the Patriots drafting a wide receiver out of USC.  Williams’ stock has dropped recently because of a mediocre combine performance, accompanied with the lack of NFL production by USC wide receivers.  I think that if desired, the Pats could certainly pick up Williams with one of their second round picks, probably even the second of their three picks (47th overall) in the second round.