March 10, 2010
For our second Shutdown Corner mock draft, we're going throw a couple semi-likely scenarios into the mix. First of all, as most mocks tend to reflect need as opposed to the Best Player Available mantra, free agency decisions will weigh heavily on many picks. Second, we'll throw in two hypothetical trades, just to make life a bit more interesting. Let's assume, for whatever reason, that the St. Louis Rams get cold feet on Sam Bradford and trade a second-round pick to the Eagles for Michael Vick(notes), in order to run more of an option offense in the short term to mitigate their lack of playmakers not named Steven Jackson. Then, let's say that the Seattle Seahawks pull the trigger on the Brandon Marshall(notes) deal, but give up the 14th overall pick they got from Denver last season in a trade, instead of the sixth-overall pick they'd have to give up for Marshall if there were no negotiations.
How would the first round look under those conditions? Here's one man's opinion, in two parts (picks 17-32 below; picks 1-16 here):
17. San Francisco 49ers: S Taylor Mays, USC -- Mays' straight-line athleticism might be a bit overrated in an NFL prospect sense, but certain pre-draft stories take on a life of their own and can drag a player down. Specifically, the notion that Mays' lack of elite hip turn and instincts for the position seems to have grown in some circles to the point where he's not even considered a first-round pick. But he's strong against the run, has good recovery speed, and could develop into a top-tier safety under the right conditions. With Mike Singletary as a supreme motivator, Mays has every chance of justifying his draft position here.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers: ILB Brandon Spikes, Florida -- The Steelers' obvious need is on the offensive line, but there's an ancillary need in the middle of their defense that will grow as time goes on. Brandon, cousin of Takeo, shares the elder Spikes' mean streak and tough inside game. Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau has an unbelievable track record with guys like Spikes who, as Spikes himself recently said, want to "go to the league and grab it by the neck."
19. Atlanta Falcons: DE Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida -- The Falcons had two problems with their defense last year -- a subpar pass rush, and a secondary that couldn't hold up under the pressure. With the signing of cornerback Dunta Robinson(notes), GM Thomas Dimitroff can turn his attention to the front four. Pierre-Paul has the edge speed and athleticism to complement the team's improved coverage with consistent quarterback pressure.
20. Houston Texans: CB Kyle Wilson, Boise State -- And speaking of Robinson, the Texans will need a replacement. Wilson hasn't had the press enjoyed by Joe Haden, but he might be just as good in the long term. Not a run support guy, but his cover skills make up for it.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: S Earl Thomas, Texas -- Assuming that the Bengals sign either Antonio Bryant(notes) or Terrell Owens(notes), the next need goes to the middle of their defense, where the best cornerback duo in the business (Leon Hall(notes) and Johnathan Joseph(notes)) need coverage assistance. Thomas has the kind of range safety skills so attractive in today's pass-happy offenses.
22. New England Patriots: WR Golden Tate, Notre Dame -- The most pro-ready of this class' receiver corps, Tate has already taken a course in Patriots Offense 101 under Professor Charlie Weis. Fearless in traffic and with a running back's instincts after the catch, Tate would be the perfect bridge between the deep threats and underneath targets currently no New England's roster.
23. Green Bay Packers: G Mike Iupati, Idaho -- Green Bay's offense is just about set -- great quarterback, the second-most efficient running back in the NFL last year according to Football Outsiders, and an outstanding group of receivers. Problem is, there are holes along the offensive line that simply re-signing Chad Clifton(notes) won't solve. Iupati will help with run-blocking and pass protection right away even as he works to refine certain technique issues.
24. Philadelphia Eagles: DE Carlos Dunlap, Florida -- With great size and speed, Dunlap could be the perfect match for Trent Cole(notes) as the Eagles look to solidify their front four in a way that neither Juqua Parker(notes) nor Victor Abiamiri(notes) have allowed them to do.
25. Baltimore Ravens: WR Demaryius Thomas, Georgia Tech -- The trade for Anquan Boldin(notes) gives the Ravens one of the toughest inside receivers in recent NFL history, but an arm like Joe Flacco's(notes) still demands more downfield targets. Thomas wasn't a supreme route runner at Tech, but his ability to get downfield and be physical after the catch brings a young Michael Irvin to mind. Pairing him with Boldin would make an already strong Ravens team a favorite to go deep in the AFC playoff hunt.
26. Arizona Cardinals: OLB Sergio Kindle, Texas -- After the Great Arizona Free Agency Pilgrimage of 2010, it's safe to say that the Cards have quite a few needs. Kindle could fill one they had before just about every star on the team left the building -- this defense needs an elite pass rusher, if for no other reason than to keep Darnell Dockett(notes) happy.
27. Dallas Cowboys: OT Anthony Davis(notes), Rutgers -- Davis doesn't flash the kind of consistency you want from an elite tackle, but he's got what the Cowboys like in their linemen. He's a s big as a house and can maintain the point in pass and run situations. Motivation will be the key to getting the best out of him.
28. San Diego Chargers: RB Ryan Mathews, Fresno State -- While I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Mathews take a trip into the top 20 when all is said and done, this is the best and most obvious fit at this point. In a world of split-time backs, Mathews is one of the few around with the ability to take over an offense all by himself.
29. New York Jets: DE Everson Griffen, USC -- At the Combine, Rex Ryan said that this would be Vernon Gholston's(notes) make-or-break year. Given how most people predict that will turn out (as we've said before, if you're a defensive player and Rex can't coach you up, you're beyond help), it's time for the Jets to get their next versatile end in Coach Ryan's multiple fronts. Griffen isn't an elite pass rusher -- he tends to get washed out in blocks -- but he does enough things well to be a value pick at this spot.
30. Minnesota Vikings: CB Devin McCourty, Rutgers -- With their front seven in total overdrive, it's inexcusable that the Vikings ranked 22nd in Football Outsiders' DVOA metric against the pass. The solution? Take that best defensive back available. That's McCourty, whose speed, intelligence, and zone awareness would make him a perfect fit in the Twin Cities.
31. Indianapolis Colts: DT Brian Price, UCLA -- At 6-foot-1 and 300 pounds, Price fits the Colts' profile for interior defensive linemen. And with 14 tackles for loss in his 2009 season alone, he'll provide the kind of inside penetration needed in Larry Coyer's more aggressive defense.
32. New Orleans Saints: OLB Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri -- Scott Fujita's(notes) signing with the Cleveland Browns leaves a hole in Gregg Williams' front seven. With his ability to hit the run hard and drop into short zones (an absolute requirement in Williams' frequent fake blitz looks), Weatherspoon would be an ideal replacement.
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