Since nothing's been confirmed yet, the players taken in this mock are based on the assumption that the rumored Donovan McNabb(notes)-to-St. Louis trade (which the Rams are now shooting down) will not come to pass. If it does, that would obviously throw a big kink in the first few picks - but hey, that's why we're doing mocks all the way up to draft day, right? At the just-concluded Owner's Meetings, Andy Reid said that the Eagles are entertaining offers for all their quarterbacks, but the alleged deal that has McNabb going to the Rams for the 33rd overall pick and safety O.J. Atogwe seems to have the most legs. In the meantime, we'll add some comments from other coaches during the media breakfasts in Orlando this week, and see what might be revealed. Here are picks 1-16, the second half of the first round will soon follow.
1. St. Louis Rams: QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma -- At the Owner's Meetings, ESPN's Chris Mortenson got a picture of this "casual" conversation between Rams GM Billy Devaney and agent Tom Condon, who just happens to represent Sam Bradford. Go figure! We won't absolutely know about Bradford's shoulder until he throws at his private workout on March 29, but unless and until he comes up with any physical debits, he's got the potential to be the franchise quarterback the Rams desperately need.
2. Detroit Lions: DT Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska -- Just a quick note for those who automatically assume that Suh isn't as quick as Gerald McCoy off the snap, based on game tape -- it's a matter of scheme. At the Combine, Suh talked about this: "He had the freedom to penetrate. I was more or less in the scheme of reading and playing through my man and then getting to the ball and disengaging. If I were to be in that same scheme as him or vice versa, I think it would be (the opposite of what) it is right now." Let loose to split the blocks and get to the quarterback, Suh would have even more elite disruptive potential than he already does.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma -- No matter which tackle they take with the third pick, the Bucs should see immediate improvement in a defense that proved to be all too porous against the run in 2009. McCoy has top-level ability to wade through blocking and keep his momentum going forward, and the short-area speed to chase down quarterbacks and running backs through the entire backfield. As coach Raheem Morris said on Wednesday of whoever the Bucs take third overall, "You're talking about a guy that's exciting, a guy that's going to run out the tunnel, that's going to contribute to your football team immediately. He'll have his ups and downs. He'll go through his rookie woes, but those are the things you look forward to as a coach, those are the things you're challenged by. You don't want to be in this position a lot but when you are you have to take advantage of it."
4. Washington Redskins: OT Russell Okung, Oklahoma State -- New head coach Mike Shanahan has a million different plays in his palette, but there's no point in trying half of them when his quarterback is running for his life all the time. Last season, Jim Zorn's relatively rudimentary playbook was even more limited by defenders getting hands on Jason Campbell(notes) on a two-step drop basis. Step one for the new Shanahan offense is to get elite blindside protection, which Okung will be able to provide.
5. Kansas City Chiefs: S Eric Berry, Tennessee -- Tasked with rebuilding a young defense very much under construction, new defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel will benefit from the best safety prospect in years. Berry has cornerback tools, but with an increase in the productivity and importance of the passing game, deep safeties that can cover like Berry (think of an embryonic Ed Reed(notes)) are worth high picks in a way they may not have been previously.
6. Seattle Seahawks: OT Bryan Bulaga, Iowa -- Bulaga may not have Okung's upside from a pass-protection perspective, but he may be the safest pick at his position in this draft. Familiar with zone-blocking from his Iowa days, Bulaga will prove to be a willing pupil for O-line demigod Alex Gibbs with his strong sense of fundamentals. In an offense trying to transition from the end of the Walter Jones(notes) era, those qualities will mean a great deal.
7. Cleveland Browns: CB Joe Haden, Florida -- Now that he erased the memory of his slow Combine 40s at his Pro Day, personnel people can go back to watching Haden's game tape. And as Eric Mangini said about Haden on Tuesday, ""I use those times as part of the guy. But I look at the playing speed a lot more than I look at anything else." Strong in man and zone coverage, Haden should impress everyone in Cleveland's front office gauntlet and provide a great deal of help to a defense that finished 28th in Football Outsiders' metrics against the pass.
8. Oakland Raiders: OT Trent Williams, Oklahoma -- Sometimes, it's not about where you've been -- it's about where you're going. Williams kicked over from right to left tackle after four-fifths of the NCAA's best offensive line left Oklahoma, struggled initially, and developed as a blind-side pass protector. He's got the workout numbers that Al David is sure to love, but unlike Maryland's Bruce Campbell (a common name for the Raiders in mock drafts), Williams looks like a pro prospect on tape.
9. Buffalo Bills: QB Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame -- We're keeping him here for now, but when you look at the landscape, it sure seems that the window for Clausen as a top-10 pick is closing. Cleveland and Seattle have spent millions to reinforce their QB depth charts in a way they wouldn't in a strong draft class. Mike Holmgren's recent comment that he "wished I liked him more" resonated just as much as Washington's first-round tender on Jason Campbell. Clausen will get a chance to throw on April 9, but it seems that the NFL might have made its mind up already.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars: DB Earl Thomas, Texas -- The Jags are looking for any port in a storm when it comes to replacing Reggie Nelson(notes), but Thomas much better than plug-and-play. Some teams might try to play him at cornerback, but as Eric Berry will prove, range safeties are more valuable than ever. Thomas can come up in the box and play center field in a way that Nelson never could. Head coach Jack Del Rio: We've got work to do got to play better on defense that's obvious we will I believe that we're going to go back to attacking 4-3 front. We're going to go back to more tight coverage we're going to be aggressive at how we're going after people and so we've been spending the offseason kind of discussing and getting on same page with the staff."
11. Denver Broncos (from CHI): WR Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State -- The Broncos might not trade Brandon Marshall(notes) until just before the draft in order to get the best deal possible, but we've seen what happens to those who don't buy into the Josh McDaniels experience. Bryant doesn't have Marshall's downfield speed, but he shares an elite ability to come down with catches in traffic.
12. Miami Dolphins: DT Dan Williams, Tennessee -- At the AFC media breakfast on Tuesday, Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano talked about the value of Jason Ferguson(notes), a 35-year-old free agent who will serve an eight-game suspension to start the 2010 season. That's how hard it is to replace a legitimate 3-4 nose tackle, and that's why the Fins will come away with Williams in the draft if he's available here. Miami has a need for an edge rusher, but this is a Bill Parcells team, and that means it all starts in the middle.
13. San Francisco 49ers: OT Anthony Davis(notes), Rutgers -- Frank Gore(notes) had a good season last year despite an offense line that didn't impress at all. A true playmaker like C.J. Spiller might be tempting here, but the Niners had better know that speed won't mean much if there are no lanes to run through. Davis could be the sleeper of a deep tackle class if he overcomes consistency concerns.
14. Seattle Seahawks (from DEN): DE Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech -- Not a sexy pick, and the Seahawks faithful will no doubt howl in protest at the thought of another defensive end taken early, but Pete Carroll's 4-3 defenses rely heavily on ends who can hold the point and still get to the quarterback. Morgan put up 12.5 sacks in 2009, and though he's not as explosive off the snap as other pass rushers in this class, his consistency should be a big help for a sputtering Seahawks defense.
15. New York Giants: ILB Rolando McClain, Alabama -- The G-men won Super Bowl XLII with toughness. Between a terrifying front seven and a bruising rushing attack, power was their calling card. Now, that defense has dissipated, and Brandon Jacobs(notes) runs like there's a four-way stop at the line of scrimmage. Putting McClain in the middle of their defense will bring back some of the smashmouth mindset that's been absent recently. A downhill hammerhead with a great work ethic, McClain should be able to please noted training camp screamer Tom Coughlin.
16. Tennessee Titans: DE Brandon Graham, Michigan -- With Albert Haynesworth(notes) blowing off workouts in Washington, and Kyle Vanden Bosch(notes) getting wooed by the Lions, Jeff Fisher needs to rebuild his defensive line again. Blessed with rare burst off the snap and a great array of moves, Graham has the potential to be everything Fisher needs to keep enemy quarterbacks nervous. As the man himself said about the challenges of coaching as long as he has, "The roster turns over now. I have no one left on my roster that was on the '99 team. You're turning over 25, maybe 28 percent of your roster every year. Once you get through three or four years, you basically have a new team."
- Ndamukong Suh