Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Phanatic Magazine's 2010 NFL Mock Draft

By John Gottlieb
Assistant Managing Editor

New York, NY (The Phanatic Magazine) - I'm not sure what excites me more about this year's draft...maybe it's because it's the beginning of the football season; or maybe we can stop talking about Ben AllegedRapistberger for five minutes.

Maybe it's that Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay can finally stop listening to themselves speak about Jimmy Clausen; or maybe it's that I won't have to hear that horrible Jay-Z song one more time.

Either way the NFL Draft hits primetime this year, which means that you won't open your eyes on Saturday morning and by the time the first round is done it's already Sunday.

This draft is heavy on offensive and defensive linemen and a handful of defensive backs that can make a difference, but after Sam Bradford, Clausen, Dex Bryant and C.J. Spiller you shouldn't see a run on skill players, which may dull down the first round.

When and where Tim Tebow goes will be a topic that is regurgitated for the first three hours by the talking heads, but it’s all music to my ears when I hear, “With the first pick in the draft the St. Louis Rams select…”

Projected pick: Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
Steve Spagnuolo will rue the day that he chose Bradford with the first pick in the draft. If you are a Rams fan how confident can you be in drafting a quarterback that missed virtually his entire senior year? He will be expected to come and play right away on a team that has so many holes and can’t protect him. By the time this team moves back to Los Angeles, Bradford will be a very expensive backup.

Projected pick: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
The Lions got their franchise quarterback last year and they will follow this year with the defensive stud of the draft. Suh is quite possible the most dominating defensive lineman to come out of the draft since Mario Williams was taken first overall by Houston in 2006. Suh will be a monster that helps the Lions finally turn it around on defense. The Lions ranked 29th in the league with 26 sacks in 2009, this season Suh will total at least half that many.

Projected pick: Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
The Bucs gave up more than 158 yards on the ground per game last season and if that tide doesn’t change then Raheem Morris will not be coaching the team too long. The once vaunted Tampa-Two defense has become liability since Monte Kiffin left. McCoy, who totaled 15 ½ tackles for loss last season, will fit right in the middle of the defensive line as a run stuffer.

Projected pick: Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma
Chris Samuels was forced into early retirement, and the Redskins must protect the newly-acquired Donovan McNabb if they have any hope of retaining him after the season. As a three-year starter for the Sooners, Williams will be able to step right into action in a stacked NFC East. Williams is an excellent pass blocker and run blocker. Clinton Portis must stay on the field if the Redskins hope to contend for the playoffs.  

Projected pick: Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State
The Big 12 showcase continues as Okung will be responsible for protecting Matt Cassel, who was sacked 42 times in 2009. The Chiefs ran for 120 yards per game and Okung is an exceptional run blocker. He was a four-year starter that helped pave the way for the Cowboys to lead the Big 12 in rushing each year.

Projected pick: Brian Bulaga, OT, Iowa
Bulaga is versatile enough to play on either side of the line and is adept at both run blocking and pass blocking. Pete Carroll returns to the NFL with an aging quarterback that spends just as much time on the sideline as he does on the field in Matt Hasselbeck and the unproven Charlie Whitehurst. The Seahawks allowed 41 sacks last season while gaining just under 98 yards on the ground per game. Bulaga will fill the void that will be left once Walter Jones officially retires.

Projected pick: Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
Berry is the cream of the crop in the draft for the players in the defensive backfield. He is widely regarded as a can’t-miss prospect that will fill in for the departed Brodney Pool. He fits the mold of a Rodney Harrison. He can deliver the big hit and his speed allows him to close in on the ball-handler in a hurry, totaling 87 tackles for the Volunteers.

Projected pick: Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State
This is the type of player the Raiders salivate over. Bryant has the skills to be a dominant receiver in the NFL as long as he can keep his head on straight. Bryant only played in three games for the Cowboys before being suspended for an NCAA rules violation. He may lack the speed but he has the size and hands to be an elite receiver. You never can be sure what Oakland will do, and they do have bigger needs, but that’s never meant anything in the past.  

Projected pick: Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame
Much off the pre-draft hype has focused on Clausen, who never seemed to reach the potential bestowed upon him as the Golden Domer with the golden arm. The Bills need a true signal caller instead of throwing Trent Edwards or Ryan Fitzpatrick back out there. Offensive guru Chan Gailey returns to the head-coaching ranks and will need to teach Clausen how to be the leader of an NFL team.

Projected pick: Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech
The Jags registered a league-low 14 sacks in 2009 and signed free agent Aaron Kampman to turn around the defense. However, Kampman is injury-plagued and in his 30s. Morgan registered 12.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for a loss for the Yellow Jackets. He is terrific against the run, which Jacksonville was not in 2009. They allowed 116 yards per game on the ground and 12 rushing scores. 

11. Denver Broncos (8-8) (from Chicago)
Projected pick: Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama
McClain is a leader that will fit right into the Broncos’ 3-4 defense. After releasing Andra Davis, Denver has a gaping hole in the middle of the defense. The Broncos need a run-stuffer after giving up 129 yards on the ground per game. He will step in as the play-caller on defense with an exceptional football mind.  

Projected pick: Sergio Kindle, LB, Texas
Kindle has a motor that doesn’t quit. He is an edge rusher that can excel in the 4-3 or the 3-4. Kindle has had a number of off-the-field issues, but as long as he continues to mature should transition nicely to the next level. The Dolphins need to add some talent that can get to the QB after losing Joey Porter and Jason Taylor this offseason.

Projected pick: Joe Haden, CB, Florida
Nate Clements is getting older and will eventually move to safety as Haden infuses some youth in the San Francisco secondary. Haden is a physical corner that has decent size but just average speed. He’s not afraid to make a hit, making him adept at stopping the run. He is the top talent in a deep draft for cornerbacks.   

14. Seattle Seahawks (5-11) (from Denver)
Projected pick: C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson
Spiller is a speed-demon, rushing for 1,212 yards and 12 touchdowns. Carroll needs playmakers, as Julius Jones should be a backup. The Seahawks gained just under 100 yards per contest. Seattle is filled with aging players and Spiller is the top running back in the draft. His speed will not only open up the offense for Matt Hasselback but can also make him a solid special-teams player.

Projected pick: Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers
The Giants’ defense really let them down last year, resulting in the release of captain Antonio Pierce. And if Rolando McClain falls New York will scoop him up, but the offensive line seems to be getting old all at the same time. Kareem McKenzie is nearing the end of his career and who better then local product Anthony Davis to fill the hole.
The G-Men have seven picks so don’t be surprised to see them trade up to get McClain.

Projected pick: Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan
The Titans need to replace Kyle Vanden Bosch at defensive end after the team collected just 32 sacks last season, and Graham has the toughness and range to fill that gap. Over the last two seasons Graham had 20.5 sacks and 46 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, including a nation-high 26 in 2009. He doesn’t have the ideal size but makes up for it with his strength.

17. San Francisco 49ers (8-8) (from Carolina)
Projected pick: Mike Iupati, OT, Idaho
Iupati will fill the void at right tackle for the 49ers after Joe Staley moved to the left side. He only started playing football when he was 14, so he has a big upside. He is terrific at getting a push in the running game. He’s also a great blocker that did not allow a sack last season.

Projected pick: Demaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech
After trading Santonio Holmes to the Jets the Steelers need to bring in another skill player for Ben Roethlisbeger. Thomas has great size, speed and hands. He is also a very good run blocker, which will help a ground attack that lost Willie Parker. He will be the deep threat the Steelers’ offense needs.

Projected pick: Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida
A raw talent with a ton of upside. Pierre-Paul played only one season of D-I ball after spending time at a couple of different JUCO schools. He knows how to work the angles with his speed and athleticism. Despite starting only seven games for the Bulls, JPP is one of the most highly-regarded prospects in the draft.

Projected pick: Earl Thomas, S, Texas
The Texans secondary took a big hit once Dunta Robinson left via free agency. Thomas picked off eight passes as a redshirt sophomore for the Longhorns. The Texans finished -2 in the takeaway/giveaway department. Thomas has terrific range and a great vertical leap.

Projected pick: Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma
Gresham is a no-brainer for the Bengals as another weapon for Carson Palmer. Gresham can stretch the field vertically and has great hands. However, he did miss his senior season due to a knee injury. He’s good at getting off the line but his blocking leaves something to be desired.

Projected pick: Jared Odrick, DT, Penn State
The Patriots’ defense needs to get younger while obtaining a player that can collapse the pocket like Richard Seymour used to. Odrick is that player adept at disrupting an offense. He’ll have a smooth transition in the 3-4 scheme the New England runs. Bill Belichick needs to show that it wasn’t all Scott Pioli making the picks during the Super Bowl years.

Projected pick: Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
Even though Charles Woodson was the Defensive Player of the Year and Al Harris, who only played in 10 games last year, both are in their mid-30s. Wilson was a four-year starter for the Broncos with a knack for a physical style of play. His speed allows him to take more chances on the field, while also making a contribution on special teams. 

Projected pick: Taylor Mays, S, USC
The Eagles have been looking for someone to take over the void left behind when Brian Dawkins left before the 2009 season. Dawkins leadership and wherewithal were greatly missed last year, and Mays has the size (6-3) and speed (4.2) to take over that role in the secondary. He may not pick off a lot of passes but will not shy away from contact.

Projected pick: Everson Griffen, DE, USC
When you think of the Ravens you think of a stalwart defense that takes pride in creating havoc for offenses. However, the defense started showing its age last season. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are both nearing the end of their careers, but it was the defensive line last season that came up small. They registered just 32 sacks. Griffen is just the answer after collecting eight sacks last season. He’s got a full catalog of moves to go along with 4.66 speed.

Projected pick: Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State
The Cardinals want to get back to the Super Bowl but know that their defense needs to improve after getting torched by the Packers for 423 yards. Robinson comes from a fraternity of great cornerbacks at Florida State. Robinson has room to improve after failing to pull down a pick last season, but can play man-to-man or zone with excellent speed.

Projected pick: Charles Brown, OT, USC
The Cowboys had enough of Flozell Adams and jettisoned him this offseason. Brown will be the man responsible for filling the gap. It will take some growing pains but Brown can be the man to protect Tony Romo’s blindside for years to come.

Projected pick: Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee
The Chargers’ defense, which finished 20th against the run, never recovered after Jamaal Williams was injured last year. During the postseason the Bolts gave up close to 170 rushing yards a game. Dan Williams can be the run stuffer in the middle of the line that was sorely missed. He can take the double team and shed the blockers to collapse the pocket on the running game.

Projected pick: Jerry Hughes, LB, TCU
Rex Ryan will use this late first-round pick on the anti-Vernon Gholston. The Jets really struggled at getting to the quarterback on their run to the AFC title game. They addressed some of those concerns with the addition of Jason Taylor, but Hughes can team up with David Harris to form a very formidable linebacker tandem. Hughes, who has great speed and range, complied 26.5 sacks over the last two seasons for the Horned Frogs.

Projected pick: Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers
Cedric Griffen and Antoine Winfield are both coming off injuries, and the aging Vikings need to begin bringing in young blood. McCourty won’t be outrun by too many receivers with 4.48 speed and can jump right in as a nickelback. McCourty is also a fantastic special-teams player. He can return punts and kickoffs and finished his college career with seven blocked kicks.  

31. Indianapolis Colts (14-2)
Projected pick: Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida
The Colts have very few holes to fill after another stellar campaign. However, President Bill Polian was very vocal about his disappointment with the offensive line after the Super Bowl loss. They cut guard Ryan Lilja and center Jeff Saturday is about to begin his 13th season. Pouncey has the versatility to play either position as the Colts begin to groom new bodies to protect Peyton Manning.

32. New Orleans Saints (13-3)
Projected pick: Sean Witherspoon, LB, Missouri
The loss of Scott Fujita, a beloved member of the defense, was a big blow to the Super Bowl champs. Fujita seemed to be in the middle of every play in the Saints run to the title. Witherspoon has the speed and versatility to go sideline-to-sideline and rarely misses a tackle. He finished his college career with 410 tackles in 54 games, including 155 in 2008.

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