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Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Four-headed mock draft

By Mike Reiss

One day before the start of the NFL Draft, we decided to try something a bit different.

I recruited three regular "commenters" on the blog to help construct a mock draft. These "commenters" regularly add thought-provoking insight to the blog each day and the idea is to bring their work into the main section here in a mock draft that will be updated over the course of the day.

"PatsFanTRichter", "Mr. Scratch" and "gln826" made their picks in the comments section -- I made every fourth pick -- and I cut-and-paste them here after they were made.

Here are the results.

1. St. Louis (PatsFanTRichter) -- QB Sam Bradford (Oklahoma) -- This first pick is kind of a no-brainer, barring some kind of breakdown with the contract situation or a team coming in with a big trade offer. I'd personally select Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen because of his experience in a pro-style offense and the health questions concerning Bradford, but there's no denying that Bradford is one of the top offensive prospects in the draft.

2. Detroit (Mike Reiss-ESPNBoston) -- DL Ndamukong Suh (Nebraska) -- The Lions are in the second year of a transition phase in which they are trying to build a bigger, more physical defense following the Rod Marinelli regime, which didn't value size as much. After signing end Kyle Vanden Bosch in free agency, Suh gives them a powerful piece on the interior.

3. Tampa Bay (Mr. Scratch) -- DL Gerald McCoy (Oklahoma) -- At this spot it's probably the biggest no-brainer of the draft. The pick is essentially already made for them and McCoy is actually probably a better fit for their style than Suh.

4. Washington (gln826) -- OT Russell Okung (Oklahoma State) -- With trading for Donovan McNabb, and the retirement of Chris Samuels, this leaves a huge hole at LT. While Mike Shanahan likes very athletic OL, Okung would be the safest pick at OT.

5. Kansas City (PatsFanTRichter) -- OT Trent Williams (Oklahoma) -- Up until last week, I would have slotted Iowa's Bryan Bulaga here. Scott Pioli, however, has favored more athletic linemen in the past, and despite inconsistent play in college, Williams tested out very well athletically at the combine. The Chiefs likely are looking to protect their investment in former Patriot Matt Cassel, and this move allows them to upgrade two positions by sliding Branden Albert inside to left guard.

6. Seattle (Mike Reiss-ESPNBoston) -- S Eric Berry (Tennessee) -- While the primary focus is on the running game and revamping the offensive line - which makes a left tackle a top priority - just a hunch that Carroll's connections to former Volunteers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, a significant need at safety, and a top talent like Berry who would step in from Day 1 as a starter is a combination that can't be passed up.

7. Cleveland (Mr. Scratch) -- DE/OLB Derrick Morgan (Georgia Tech) -- Morgan has seemed to established himself as the clear, top outside rusher in the draft. He's strong in both run/pass situations and is a very safe pick here. I'm not buying the "Jimmy Clausen smokescreen" but Clemson RB C.J. Spiller could be the choice here as well.

8. Oakland (gln826) -- OT Bryan Bulaga (Iowa) -- Not quite the "Raiders" type of athlete, but Bulaga is probably the best run-blocking OT. Robert Gallery failed as an OT and is now playing OG, and with JaMarcus Russell as your QB with Bruce Gradkowski being hurt, the Raiders need to start having more of a commitment to the run.

9. Buffalo (PatsFanTRichter) -- QB Jimmy Clausen (Notre Dame) -- Nose tackle Dan Williams is also a consideration here, as would be an offensive tackle if one of the elite prospects was on the board. When asked to address the quarterback position, Bills GM Buddy Nix has said that he doesn't want to handicap his coach by forcing him to play a player just because he's already on the Bills roster. Clausen is the most pro-ready QB in this draft, and in a division where the Bills are a clear underdog, a move for a franchise quarterback is the right step to make up lost ground.

10. Jacksonville (Mike Reiss-ESPNBoston) -- RB C.J. Spiller (Clemson) -- After trading a 2010 second-rounder to the Patriots for promising CB Derrick Cox (William & Mary), reports indicate they'd like to move back in the draft. The dire need seems to be for a pass-rushing defensive end (too high for Brandon Graham?), so let's go with an electrifying playmaker to pair with Maurice Jones-Drew, which could help the Jaguars in trying to keep pace with the high-scoring Colts in the AFC South.

11. Denver (Mr. Scratch) -- S Earl Thomas (Texas) -- Heavily considered Rolando McClain, in fact, had him slotted here up until a few days ago. But the best value on the board is Thomas and the Broncos entire starting secondary in now both old (past 30) and expensive. Adding the Dolphins pick in the second will allow Denver to pursue LB or WR options there. He offers the ability to immediately help as a S and nickel CB, assuming he doesn't take someone's job in camp immediately.

12. Miami (gln826) -- NT Dan Williams (Tennessee) -- Miami has a lot of "needs" on the defensive side of the ball. They need a playmaking S and a couple of OLB's with Joey Porter and Jason Taylor gone. With Jason Pierre-Paul being too raw, and Earl Thomas off the board, it will have to be a the best NT available.

13. San Francisco (PatsFanTRichter) -- CB Joe Haden (Florida) -- With C.J. Spiller off the board and no tackle prospect worthy of this selection available, upgrading the secondary makes sense. Nate Clements is on the wrong side of 30 and injury prone, and Tarell Brown is the only promising young player the 49ers have in the secondary. Haden gives them a potential playmaker in the defensive backfield to compliment a solid front seven.

14. Seattle (Mike Reiss-ESPNBoston) -- DE Jason Pierre-Paul (South Florida) -- Covering Pete Carroll's teams in New England from 1997-99, much was made about the "elephant" end position, which was manned by Willie McGinest and considered a key part of the defense. They need a left tackle, but there doesn't seem to be a good system fit here. Thought about giving them RB Ryan Mathews, but went defense and felt more comfortable taking a risk knowing they already had a first-round pick (No. 6, Eric Berry).

15. N.Y. Giants (Mr. Scratch) -- Rolando McClain (Alabama) -- The Giants' most immediate need is in the middle to replace Antonio Pierce and McClain looks like the best fit on the board by far. While there are questions about how he fits in an NFL scheme, his combination of size, athleticism and production makes me believe we will be able to contribute somehwere in one of the 4-3 LB spots for a team and the Giants LB core is getting pretty thin. Also considered Maurkice Pouncey and Mike Iupati here, but it seems that OL would be better target later.

16. Tennessee (gln826) -- DE/OLB Brandon Graham (Michigan) -- With the departure of Kyle Vanden Bosch to Detroit, and Albert Haynesworth to Washington the year before, there is a big need on the defensive line. The Titans need someone who get off the edge and get pressure. Brandon Graham's playing style is similar to Kyle Vanden Bosch's.

17. San Francisco (PatsFanTRichter) -- OT Anthony Davis (Rutgers) -- Given the concerns with Davis' conditioning, work ethic and love of football, this is something of a reach. San Francisco is desperate for offensive line help, however, and Davis is as naturally talented as they come. He can slide into the starting lineup immediately as a right tackle, and potentially move to the left side if and when the 49ers move on from Joe Staley.

18. Pittsburgh (Mike Reiss-ESPNBoston) -- C Maurkice Pouncey (Florida) -- A big, physical interior offensive lineman is a safe pick, an immediate starter at any of the three spots inside, and could help Pittsburgh get back to a physical, run-first identity as they navigate the choppy waters with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's suspension.

19. Atlanta (Mr. Scratch) -- WR Dez Bryant (Oklahoma State) -- Don't think the Falcons noticed what the Saints did last year with sick offensive depth? Limited to Sergio Kindle and Eversen Griffen at pass rush, no safety worth risking here and with Pouncey off the board, the pick may not be a huge need (although Michael Jenkins is very average, Harry Douglas is an unknown and there's not much else) but it starts looks pretty attractive at No. 19. If you have a guy like Matt Ryan, you want to give him every opportunity to succeed.

20. Houston (gln826) -- CB Kareem Jackson (Alabama) -- Although Houston was poor in running the ball -- ranking 30th, I believe -- Steve Slaton had a bad neck that had a lot to do with it. The loss of Dunta Robinson hurt. The fact that the NFL is a passing league, and you have to play the Colts twice a year makes drafting a quality CB a must.

21. Cincinnati (PatsFanTRichter) -- TE Jermaine Gresham (Oklahoma) -- With Dez Bryant coming off the board earlier, this pick comes down to a safety or a tight end. Taylor Mays likely is tempting to the Bengals here, but they need a free safety more than the strong safety Mays projects as. Gresham is a receiver first and foremost, with the size to be a potent red-zone weapon. His blocking ability is subpar, but the Bengals will ask him to make plays down the field for Carson Palmer rather than keeping him in to block.

22. New England (Mike Reiss-ESPNBoston) -- OLB Sergio Kindle (Texas) -- All offseason, we've talked about what the Patriots need and it seems to come down to one word -- playmaker. A running back like Ryan Mathews is intriguing here, and a cornerback like Kyle Wilson might be a bit safer of a pick, but Kindle looks like the one player on the board in this scenario who could provide a quick spark to the defense -- and he has the physical makeup that is closer to the average at the position (Hughes is a bit short). An added bonus is that Bill Belichick has a background with Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, so you know he's getting the straight scoop.

23. Green Bay (Mr. Scratch) -- OT Charles Brown (Southern California) -- The Packers love to take LBs in the 1st (A.J. Hawk, Nick Barnett, Clay Matthews) and draft OL lineman later so they could surprise here, but the OT spot is very thin and very old. Brown is the quintessential need pick here for the Packers and this could even be a place they move down if somebody is looking to bump up a few spots and wait on Brown with Bruce Campbell or Roger Saffold as fall back options.

24. Philadelphia (gln826) -- CB Kyle Wilson (Boise State) -- Jerry Hughes makes a lot of sense here, but with the Eagles trading away Sheldon Brown, it makes this pick a "need." Ellis Hobbs is hurt, plus he more of a nickle corner. Kyle Wilson can be the press corner that Asante Samuel isn't. Also Kyle Wilson can help with run support.

25. Baltimore (PatsFanTRichter) -- DE Jared Odrick (Penn State) -- The defections of Dwan Edwards to the Bills and Justin Bannan to the Broncos leaves the Ravens fairly thin on the defensive line. Baltimore asks its linemen to penetrate and stunt to disrupt plays on a regular basis, and that's what Odrick excels at. He's not particularly stout against the run when engaged by a blocker, but in the Ravens' defensive scheme, he'll spend more time blowing up plays in the backfield than wrestling with offensive tackles.

26. Arizona (Mike Reiss-ESPNBoston) -- LB Sean Weatherspoon (Missouri) -- With Karlos Dansby signing with the Dolphins in free agency, the Cardinals select an athletic linebacker who should have a chance to contribute rather quickly.

27. Dallas (Mr. Scratch) -- G Mike Iupati (Idaho) -- The Cowboys' biggest need is help on the OL and Iupati would be great value at the 27th pick

28. San Diego (gln826) -- RB Ryan Mathews (Fresno State) -- Mulling over Terrence "Mount" Cody from Alabama because of the Jamal Williams going to Denver, but how can you go wrong when you don't have a starting RB on your team? Ryan Mathews only led college football in rushing yards. He also only averaged 6.6 yards per rush. At the combine, he proved that he can catch the ball out of the backfield.

29. N.Y. Jets (PatsFanTRichter) -- OT Rodger Saffold (Indiana) -- The Jets have invested heavily in veteran talent, and look like they're trying to make a run this year. Jerry Hughes was a strong consideration, and two days ago I think this would have been their selection. With Jason Taylor coming on board, and numerous rumors emerging that Alan Faneca will be jettisoned after the draft, the Jets look to bolster their offensive line. Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson are stalwarts on the line, while Damien Woody and Faneca are aging veterans that will need to be replaced in the near future. Saffold has the versatility to play at guard and tackle, and held his own against the best the Big 10 had to offer.

30. Minnesota (Mike Reiss-ESPNBoston) -- QB Tim Tebow (Florida) -- They'll have Brett Favre for the short-term, and I think the idea that Tebow can be groomed for the future helps them in two ways: 1) It gives them a future leader and quarterback-in-waiting when Favre retires; 2) Business-wise as they've realized how powerful that can be with Favre and their quest for a new stadium. I think they can get a quality corner deeper in this draft.

31. Indianapolis (Mr. Scratch) -- DE/OLB Jerry Hughes (Texas Christian) -- The Colts' lack of depth on the edge was exposed when Dwight Freeney was hurt and both he and Mathis are headed to wrong side of 30. While the interior is more of an immediate need and Tyson Alualu wouldn't surprise me at all here, Hughes is best value on the board and the best fit at this spot

32. New Orleans (gln826) -- S Taylor Mays (USC) - I wanted to go with DL Brian Price (UCLA), who is a great fit for the Saints, but I have to go with Mays. They will be surprised he fell to them. Will be too good to pass up.

(The final draft card was turned in at 2:43 p.m. We'll see how this matches with what unfolds Thursday night. Great work, all around. -- Mike Reiss)