March 03, 2010
With the Combine winding down, it's time to put up a first-round mock based on what we know so far. Part 1, which can be found here, encompassed picks 1-16. Here's 17-32. This won't be our last mock before the draft; just one that seems well-timed as the process moves along.
17. San Francisco 49ers: S Taylor Mays, USC -- Depending on which clock you believe, Mays ran a 40-yard dash anywhere from 4.24 (unofficial) to 4.43 (official). The official time is closer to the truth, but the extra milliseconds don't eclipse Mays' freakish athleticism. At 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, he's a blazing star in any direction. The question is, how does all that raw ability translate into football production? For all his gifts, Mays struggles to get off the blocks with quickness, his coverage form is iffy at best, and his tendency to go for the kill shot instead of the form tackle is not ideal. But the 49ers, who have taken shots on several defensive athletes in the last few seasons, would find Mays' potential impossible to resist.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers: G Mike Iupati, Idaho -- The Steelers' offensive line has been a mess since the departure of Alan Faneca(notes); that they were able to win a Super Bowl with minimal protection says more about Ben Roethlisberger's(notes) ability to take hit after hit than anything else. But with increased focus on their passing game, the Steelers know this can't go on forever, Iupati has some technique and form issues, but he's a classic mauler with surprising agility. I don't see him kicking out to left tackle as some assume, but as the best offensive lineman remaining on the board, Iupati is worth it here for a team in desperate need.
19. Atlanta Falcons: DE Brandon Graham, Michigan -- The question that could propel the Falcons to the NFC elite is: Focus on pass rush or pass coverage? Both units underperformed in 2009. It's time for Atlanta to admit the failure of the Jamaal Anderson(notes) experiment and move on to the next great pass-rushing defensive end. Graham is smaller than the average bear at his position, and there are some concerned that he's hit his ceiling, but he careens off the edge in a way that would put Atlanta's defense on another level.
20. Houston Texans: CB/S Earl Thomas, Texas -- With Dunta Robinson(notes) possibly on the way out in Houston, and an existing need for better pass coverage, Thomas would be a great get for the Texans. The question is, where? As a speed safety in the NCAA, he often benefited from mismatches up top. Potentially a better player in a zone defense rather than as a man-coverage corner, Thomas would find Houston's defense a better fit than some others, and could use his range to get downfield on receivers and avoid losing tight matchups.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: DE Carlos Dunlap, Florida -- Are you a raw but potentially amazing player at a position of need, whose past off-field issues could cloud your future? Welcome home, future Bengal! As the character and consistency portions of the draft derby become more important over the next two months, Dunlap could drop a bit. His DUI just four days before the SEC Championship raises questions, and his spotty production despite his 6-foot-6, 290-pound frame doesn't help. The potential upside is Julius Peppers(notes), and what better team to take the chance?
22. New England Patriots: WR Golden Tate, Notre Dame -- With Wes Welker(notes) coming off a catastrophic knee injury and Randy Moss(notes) making noises about a different mailing address in the not too distant future, the Pats look to insure the future of their offense. Tate is a polished, tough and skilled receiver who understands professional route concepts and will battle for every catch. As a student of the Charlie Weis offense, Tate is as conditioned for a Patriots future as he possibly could be. Reinforcements on the defensive line will prove tempting, but Bill Belichick knows where his bread is buttered. Without explosive playmakers for Tom Brady(notes), this team doesn't work.
23. Green Bay Packers: OT Anthony Davis(notes), Rutgers -- Davis has technique, effort and weight issues to contend with, but the Packers have needs along their line, especially in outside pass protection. As the best tackle left on the board, Davis will get the chance to redeem himself in an offense that won't be specifically vulnerable to his relative inability to use power in a functional blocking sense.
24. Philadelphia Eagles: C Maurkice Pouncey, Florida -- As their offense begins to turn over from the best of the Andy Reid era, the Eagles will need power inside on a no-matter-what basis. With the ability to play center or guard, Pouncey will prove highly valuable.
25. Baltimore Ravens: WR Demaryius Thomas, Georgia Tech -- LSU's Brandon LaFell will tempt Ozzie Newsome here, but Thomas has a downfield speed that the Ravens could really use. His problem is a foot injury that will most likely keep him from working out before the draft. Reminiscent of Michael Irvin in some ways, Thomas is used to working within a power running game.
26. Arizona Cardinals: TE Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma -- Gresham was Sam Bradford's main target in 2008, before both players got hurt and the Sooners' offense moved on. Now that Matt Leinart(notes) has control of the Cards' offense, he'll need as many options as possible. Gresham is a potentially dominant downfield production machine who can bull over linebackers at the second level. On a quick-strike, yards-after-catch team like Arizona's, he'd be a perfect fit.
27. Dallas Cowboys: CB Patrick Robinson, Florida State -- Dallas has real needs on the offensive line, but the draft offers a better shot to take care of its pass defense. Robinson took a hit by being suspended during Florida State's academic scandal, but he's also rounded into a truly versatile defender.
28. San Diego Chargers: RB Ryan Mathews, Fresno State -- LaDanian Tomlinson is out the door and Darren Sproles(notes) is exploring his options. The Chargers need a real workhorse going forward, and Matthews fits the bill perfectly with his size, speed, production, and durability.
29. New York Jets: CB Kyle Wilson, Boise State -- There's no doubt that the Jets have the NFL's best cover corner in Darrelle Revis(notes). But as Revis' reputation grows, enemy quarterbacks will look to throw away from him. Wilson has the trail skills to make those QBs pay, and the toughness to bring receivers down when they do beat him. An undervalued commodity.
30. Minnesota Vikings: CB Dominique Franks, Oklahoma -- With all the disruption that their front seven brings, the Vikings are still vulnerable against the pass. Franks isn't elite, but he does a lot of things very well and has no real debits on his scouting reports. When you've got Jared Allen(notes) terrorizing the beejeezus out of every quarterback, that should be enough.
31. Indianapolis Colts: DT Brian Price, UCLA -- Price is a natural 4-3 three-tech with a real nose for the backfield, putting up more tackles for loss than just about everyone in the country. As Indy's defense continues to be more aggressive, Price could be a key stopper.
32. New Orleans Saints: DT Jared Odrick, Penn State -- The only real liability the Super Bowl champs bring into 2010 is an inability to consistently stop the run. Odrick is a versatile defender who will succeed in Gregg Williams' multiple fronts.
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