Yeah Big Red.
Welcome to the surprising NFL turn to March Madness here. For what it's worth...wow. The tournament has been amazing. So, here's why I'm going NFL and mock draft here. I feel like I can slip this in at a brief conscience-of-football that I'm having. Let's dive right in.
(Also, I want to apologize for anyone who likes or knows Everson Griffen, the defensive end from Southern Cal, as I egregiously omitted his name from the top 10 D-Ends in my first draft column. Really missed that one...oh well...hopefully this will be some kind of retribution here...)
- St. Louis- Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma: I can't see this changing. It seems like from what the words have been out of St. Louis and Rams' people, this is their guy. Again...they have got to draft a QB in the top 5 at some points...if anything, just to kick the tires on the idea of finding a franchise QB, especially now that the Arena League is done...I mean, there goes that avenue.
- Detroit- Russell Okung, OT, Detroit: This is funny...I feel like the Lions are in the same boat as the Rams are. They almost have to draft a franchise, or at least they will hope be a franchise, player at left tackle. Their QBs, despite having numerous first round WRs on one team at any given point in the last five years (sure, some didn't work out...but they were there) have been getting destroyed because they have no line. I thought Suh here automatically because he's my #1 this year, meaning he should probably go at least #2. I'm also feeling that the perception that the Lions seemingly were locked into getting either Suh or Warren here have started to fade off.
- Tampa Bay- Gerard Warren, DT, Oklahoma: I think that Warren is the Bucs' guy even if Suh drops to them. I think they have Warren #1 on their board. Warren represents a more raw side, something that jives well in Tampa. The feeling is they have to find Warren Sapp here if they go DT, as invariably, those will be the comparisons. I feel like Warren represents Sapp more than Suh.
- Washington-...Okay, I'm going to have to break this into two parts, as if all this goes according to said plan, you now have two guys (Suh, Eric Berry) who are absolutely worth not only trading into the top 5 for, but also worth the ridiculous amount of money they will have to drop to sign him. So, possible trading partners include, ugh, the Jets because they're wild on draft day, and always do whatever it takes to get their guy. who I'm suspecting is Berry to replace Kerry Rhodes...also, with all the Ed Reed comparisons, Rex Ryan's at least trying to get the next best thing. Then, there's Buffalo, who, so desperate for a QB they are, could potentially take Jimmy Clausen here to block a possible Seattle pick at #6...speaking of the Seahawks...they have two first rounders, and while it would ludicrous to expect them to trade both to move up, they will at least be able to keep one of them when trading up to the top 5 (most likely #14), so they are in a flexible position. Suh is the wild card simply because there is an inkling of voices getting out saying that, despite the amazing numbers and production, he won't work out. I can't say I'm one of them yet, but it's not totally ill-conceived it seems. Miami I think is in the most desperate need for a D-Tackle this close to the 'Skins pick, but you have to wonder if they are looking for a run stuffer to play in the 3-4...honestly, I think he would do amazing things in Miami. You need athletes to play in that sun...him and Jason Taylor, even though Taylor is getting up there...you can't argue that it is at least somewhat intriguing. So, here's the answer: The 'Skins have to get out of this pick, get at least two more high draft picks in addition to the first-rounder they surely will receive, and re-build. However, if Washington ops to stay here, they're going Brian Bulaga, OT, Iowa simply because Shanahan knows that without line help, his offense won't work. Clinton Portis and Larry Johnson?...hey...maybe it works. I really didn't like it the first time when it was called Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson. I'm believing NFL teams thinking this guy could be like Okung...the "10 Year Plan" left tackle.
- Kansas City- Eric Berry, S, Tennessee: The Chiefs desperately need a tackle, but once Bulaga is gone (by the way, also put him with Berry and Suh as "the guys to move into the top 5 for"). Berry has the biggest "known" upside (generally, when you think a safety is going to do something in the league, he does something in the league), and he couldn't be the worse consolation prize right?
- Seattle- Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska: It's inconceivable he drops this far without someone trading up to, maybe even here, to take him. However, if you think it's far-fetched Seattle goes D-Tackle over QB here, their DTs on the roster are Red Bryant, Colin Cole, Brandon Mebane, and Craig Terrell...and no one's mentioned the Seahawks being a player for one of the top two DTs? I had to look that up on two sites just to make sure the first one was right!
- Cleveland- Joe Haden, CB, Florida: Haden is back in the saddle again now that he ran much better at his pro day, and with that, "garnering" a top 10 pick, despite the fact that he was worth it beforehand.
- Oakland- Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida: I had Bruce Campbell here, and was almost completely sold that the freakishly athletic OT would go to the guy who loves athletes...but then it struck me...Al Davis not only like athletes, he likes the athletes you don't expect him to draft (last year, Jeremy Maclin is who everyone thought Oakland would go with because he did extremely well at the Combine, and yet they ended up taking Darrius Heyward-Bey, which caught everyone by surprise). I think the need to be unpredictable is almost as high as the need for speed. Everyone has Campbell here because he was so outstanding at the Combine, that you know Al was loving it...but not everyone thinks he'll take him...I think he has to go at least somewhat off the reservation here. Taylor Mays is a huge sleeper here.
- Buffalo- Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame: The Bills' rep in New York will be knocking over small children to make this one. The Bills want either Okung or Bulaga, but I believe there is too much interest, and they'll get shut out. The Bills so much wanted Trent Edwards to be the man, but it seems like the thinking is that he may only be a 8-9 game guy...the momentum QB (the Bruce Gradkowski). Trent Williams may end up slipping into the top 10, but I suspect the Bills will be on the move looking for Bulaga or Clausen (if they believe he will go before here).
- Jacksonville- Rolando McClain, ILB, Alabama: I think the character issues plague Dez Bryant, because he probably should go here, but thinking about the Jags...receivers seem to kind of work so long as they are not overly hyped (Jimmy Smith, Keenan McCardell, Ernest Wilford, Mike Sims-Walker...so help me God, Mike Sims-Walker!). McClain is exactly what they need...the guy they could never find to replace Mike Peterson...the man in the middle.
- Denver- Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech: Okay, same as the Jags through the first two commas...and...wait for it...but thinking about the Broncos, questionable-character receivers seem to be kind of out of style in Denver...knowing this, does Josh McDaniels really tap Bryant here? I keep thinking Morgan is probably the best overall athlete in this draft. He's Julius Peppers but 21.
- Miami- Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee: This one, however, I'm completely unconvinced about switching. Williams is that run-stuffer the Dolphins need, and despite what may become a fever-pitched wanting of Ndamukong Suh, Williams is reminiscent of Vince Wilfork, and the Dolphins really wanted Wilfork to leave New England this year not only to not face him, but to sign him.
- San Francisco- Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma: Again, there seems to be a growing consensus that Williams is top 10 bound, it's just a matter of who is willing to move up to get him, or if someone who's already there takes him. I think the Niners have to go tackle with one of these, whether it be Williams here, trading up to get Williams, or waiting until #17 to get Charles Brown.
- Seattle- Charles Brown, OT, Southern Cal: This is why I think the Niners have to go tackle at #13, because more than likely, Williams is off the board by 13, and Brown will be the only guy left who has a somewhat top 15 grade...if the Niners think they can pass on Brown, and expect Pete Carroll to not give him serious consideration here, they're nuts.
- New York Giants- Sean Weatherspoon, ILB, Missouri: I think Weatherspoon's leadership abilities will be brought more to the fore-front come draft day, as will Rolando McClain's, which is why he won't be here. Weatherspoon is "McClain Lite" for the sake of this arguement...I'm not saying he won't have a fine career, but all things considered, about 90-95% of teams are taking McClain over Weatherspoon.
- Tennessee- Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State: I'm now convinced Wilson is on Haden's level. I know that Haden right now is better, but once they both hit the pros, my feeling now is that Wilson has as much, if not, more impact than Haden. Shocking, I know.
- San Francisco- Earl Thomas, S, Texas: If the Niners come home with a tackle and a hard-hitting safety in the first round, they automatically get at least a B+ for their overall draft grade.
- Pittsburgh- Mike Iupati, G, Idaho: Bruce Campbell was originally my mortal lock of the first round...this is now by mortal lock.
- Atlanta- Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State: If he's not off the board via someone trading up to get him (Dallas comes to mind), Bryant going to Atlanta is arguably the most fascinating of all his potential destinations. Michael Jenkins obviously has not lived up to his lofty expectations...with Matty Ice behind center, Roddy White on one side, Bryant on the other, Gonzalez up the middle...wow...that's pretty much all there is to that.
- Houston- Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State: I can't help but feel that the loss of the University of South Carolina's own Dunta Robinson (6 years, $57 million, 100% guaranteed satisfaction going to the Falcons) will cause the Texans to overcompensate, and perhaps reach for a corner here (also, remember how outstanding each of their defensive first rounders have been, including...the University of South Carolina's own Dunta Robinson! (we had a tough basketball season, sorry if I'm holding onto some pride here).
- Cincinnati- Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma: The pressure to get Palmer something over the middle will become almost unbearable for Marvin Lewis, as, although he may want to go on a risk and draft Mays here, he has to realize that all his "high risk, high reward" guys have flamed out, and Gresham, despite the knee injury, is safe here.
- New England- Brandon Graham, OLB, Michigan: I'm warming to Graham, but I'm still not convinced he's the guy. Come draft day, I may change, but right now, if you tell me Graham or Sergio Kindle, I'm going nuts about Kindle. Maybe that's me, but Kindle seems to simply be better right now...but we're a system team, and if Graham fits the system, then so be it...ERIC NORWOOD! That's it...draft Norwood...give me something as a USC alum I can root for on my hometown team (I may be wrong about this, because I don't have both research teams or the time for this...I'm pretty sure we haven't had anyone from Carolina since the first Super Bowl appearance when I was 1...come on Bill!)
- Green Bay- Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers: Wow. Davis went from the #1 tackle and almost a sure-fire top 5 pick...but again..."character issues." They are plaguing some guys right now (Dez, Davis, Aaron Hernandez to name three). The Packers may be able to work this guy in, as they really have to address this need before anything else.
- Philadelphia- Taylor Mays, S, Southern Cal: Very likely Mays gets scooped up before this just based on the fact that he's a physical beast. The Eagles let Brian Dawkins somehow meander off to Denver, and they've obviously been reeling since then. Mays' upside could have Eagles fans excited about their secondary once again.
- Baltimore- Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida: Dunlap slips this far because of "questionable motor," which, if you're the Ravens, you have to believe won't slide with Ray Lewis still breathing...so maybe they take a chance here.
- Arizona- Sergio Kindle, OLB, Texas: I had Jerry Hughes here, and I'm not entirely convinced he won't be the guy, but I have Kindle ahead of Hughes in terms of his draft stock...potential though, they're about dead even.
- Dallas- Maurkice Pouncey, G, Florida: Upgrading their line makes way too much sense. Pouncey and Iupati are the two interior linemen who not only will go in the first round, but will have every opportunity to start right away (although, as I mentioned in my last draft column, Iupati is ready to go right now, while you may experience a few more growing pains with Pouncey).
- San Diego- C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson: Before anyone says anything, I am fully aware Spiller won't be here, but if we're doing this without trades, I honestly believe that no one else from picks 10-30 has their biggest, or even second biggest need be a running back. Meanwhile, the Chargers have either a runner or a nose tackle being by far and away their biggest needs. Having said that, Spiller will likely be gone...I have Ryan Matthews or Terrance Cody here. I think Cody did enough at his pro day to be a late first-rounder, while I thought all along that this kid can be motivated into being great, and thus spending a first round pick on Cody was not so far-fetched.
- New York Jets- Jared Odrick, LB, Penn State: Again, this could be Hughes, but I feel like Odrick is more of Rex Ryan's kind of guy than Hughes simply because of how he played in the rough and tough Big 10.
- Minnesota- Brian Price, DT, UCLA: Sticking with Price here because he had a giant upside, and again, the Williams' will be split either this year or next, meaning they are going to need someone to at least attempt to fill in.
- Indianapolis- Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers: They want to see either Iupati or Pouncey fall to them here, but both of those guys I could absolutely see someone trading into the top 25 to take. It's not like taking McCourty will be a loss. They just lost Marlin Jackson, so corner is a need.
- New Orleans- Jerry Hughes, LB, TCU: Another guy I can't see lasting this long, but if you're the Saints, you have got to be thinking edge rusher here, regardless of who is available. They may get lucky and have a top 15 guy like Kindle or Hughes fall to them here, but even a guy like, yes, Eric Norwood, or Daryl Washington, another TCU guy. In any event...you're the champs...this is what it's all about. Going last in the first round, with the entire time you're on the clock being a trip down memory lane through the playoffs, and into that Super Bowl win...cherish it...sometimes things you thought may become common ground do not end up in such fashion (see: my current situation).
The other picks the Pats have need to be spent on WR, TE, or just a general athlete. If you go receiver, it's got to be Demaryius Thomas from GA Tech if he happens to drop to them. So much raw upside, so little tape on him...it's a big risk, but consider they are anticipating Brandon Tate to try and come back, they will at least have some depth in case Thomas doesn't pan out...but I just can't see that happening. The TE to me comes down to Aaron Hernandez and Jimmy Graham. They have tried to have the burly, Ben Coates-type, but that has really not paid any dividends (Daniel Graham was here...allegedly, and Ben Watson's greatest accomplishment was running down Champ Bailey in that playoff game...which I'm still convinced was a touchback and not a touchdown, but I digress). So, perhaps changing philosophies would make a positive impact. In fact, overall, they need a change, which is what I think their draft needs to be all about...change. I feel like the Pats were ahead of their time about five years ago, but have allowed the rest of the league to catch up with them, and now are relegated to perhaps getting out of maybe one round of the playoffs before getting bounced. I'm not saying four draft picks will turn everything around, but if they hit on three of them, they will be looking at five years at least where they will be an 11+ win team.
Here's a list of guys the Pats need to consider at #'s 44, 47, and 53:
- Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
- Dan LeFevour, QB, Central Michigan
- Jordan Shipley, WR, Texas
- Demaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech
- Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame
- Eric Decker, WR, Minnesota
- Jimmy Graham, TE, Miami
- Aaron Hernandez, TE, Florida
- Rob Gronkowski, TE, Arizona
- Dexter McCluster, RB, Ole Miss
- Ricky Sapp, DE, Clemson
- Eric Norwood, OLB, South Carolina
- Daryl Washington, OLB, TCU
- Navorro Bowman, OLB, Penn State
- Sean Lee, ILB, Penn State
- Brandon Spikes, ILB, Florida
There will be at least one more mock on the way before the actual draft begins. Next up, Fantasy Baseball Dossier 3.0. Until then, take care everyone. Peace.