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Thursday, April 22, 2010

2010 NFL Draft Day 7:00 Today ESPN



2010 NFL Mock Draft: Giants, Eagles may trade up in first round
Peter King www.si.com
One of the reasons Gil Brandt, the godfather of the NFL Draft, thinks this one will have more "I'm shocked" moments is because of the pre-draft smokescreens by the teams picking high this year. Washington GM Bruce Allen and coach Mike Shanahan have always been pros at disguising their draft intentions. Scott Pioli, in his second draft in Kansas City, has his front office locked down. The Seahawks, Bills and Jags have muzzles on too. With those five teams in the top 10, Brandt's theory -- which is correct, I believe -- will bear fruit this year. One or more of those teams will pull off a shocker.
It's during times like these that doing a mock draft becomes most difficult. But I've learned over the years to ignore much of what's said in April when I put the mock jigsaw together.
Take the Redskins. Washington has a crying need for a tackle, its biggest need by far. There are three or four very good ones projected as top picks. Washington has the fourth pick in the first round, its only pick in the top 100. Shanahan twice shocked the world with Denver, picking John Mobley (1996) and Jay Cutler (2006) when no one had a clue he cared about either. His son, new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, has been talking about how swell he thinks his line is, particularly tackles Stephen Heyer and Artis Hicks. Allen and Mike Shanahan have said they might take a quarterback at number four.
Well, they might. But if you just traded for a veteran passer (Donovan McNabb) with three or four years left, with no one to protect his blind side, drafting into the teeth of a top-tackle draft, with one pick in the top 100 ... I mean, would your pick be Jimmy Clausen?
Mine wouldn't be either. So here's my mock draft, finalized last weekend in time for the magazine's deadline, with a tackle to Washington and two trades I project in the top half of the round. Trades -- always stupid to project. But I know Denver and Miami are talking about moving down, and I'm rolling some dice. In, as Brandt says, a very dicey first round. (Click players' names for complete profiles)

1. St. Louis
Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
Rams need a face of the franchise -- and an accurate deep arm. Bradford's both.
2. Detroit
Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
Coach Jim Schwartz had Albert Haynesworth in Tennessee. He thinks Suh's better.
3. Tampa Bay
Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
Easiest pick in the draft. For Bucs, value of McCoy is twice any other player left.
4. Washington
Trent Williams, T, Oklahoma
Got a sick feeling Shanahan wants to deal down, pick a QB. Crazy, but that's him.
5. Kansas City
Bryan Bulaga, T, Iowa
Sinking on most boards, but GM Pioli sees meat-and-potatoes left tackle for a decade.
6. Seattle
Russell Okung, T, Oklahoma State
'Hawks rejoice. A month ago, Okung was top tackle on most NFL draft boards.
7. Cleveland
Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
But if Williams or Okung's around, this will be a very tough call for GM Tom Heckert.

8. Oakland
Anthony Davis, T, Rutgers
Chalk pick -- big, athletic OT -- but since when do Raiders make the chalk pick?
9. Buffalo
Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee
Chan Gailey gets the only top nose tackle in draft to anchor his 3-4 defense.
10. Jacksonville
C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson
I know he has Maurice Jones-Drew ... but Jack Del Rio thinks Spiller can be the next Chris Johnson



11.* Giants (from Den.)
Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama
TRADE: G-men desperate to get long-term middle linebacker. Figure they can't wait until 15th pick.
12.^ Philadelphia (from Miami)
Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech
TRADE: Eagles lost out on two free-agent gems -- Julius Peppers and Aaron Kampman -- and need a defensive end.
13. San Francisco
Joe Haden, CB, Florida
Lucky Niner night, getting the best corner in the draft in the middle of the first round.
14. Seattle
Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame
It doesn't fit after Charlie Whitehurst deal, but 'Hawks think he's a top-5 player in draft
.
15.* Denver
Brandon Graham, OLB, Michigan
Broncos would be happy with Kyle Wilson, Dez Bryant or Maurkice Pouncey here.
16. Tennessee
Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida
Titan task: Replenishing the defensive line one pass-rusher at a time, with a Jevon Kearse clone.
17. San Francisco
Mike Iupati, OL, Idaho
I came very close to putting Dez Bryant here. Imagine a Bryant/Michael Crabtree combo. Scary.
18. Pittsburgh
Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida
The Pouncey fan club is growing. Six mid-first-round teams could take him by early 20s.
19. Atlanta
Earl Thomas, S, Texas
No one thought he'd fall this far. I'm still not sure he will. But Falcons have to pounce.
20. Houston
Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
Texans steal Wilson, a physical force with good closing speed, this low in the round.
21. Cincinnati
Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma
Watch Oklahoma on tape. Gresham's so athletic you'll think you're watching a wideout.
22. New England
Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State
"Coach Belichick? Dez Bryant's babysitter on line two.'' I don't care. I love the pick.
23. Green Bay
Sergio Kindle, OLB, Texas
Bookend for Clay Matthews had 34.5 tackles for loss his last two years at Texas.
24.^ Miami
Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno State
I know Dolphins love Mathews and would settle for him ... but like others here too.
25. Baltimore
DeMaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech
Anquan Boldin. Donte' Stallworth. Thomas. Talk about rebuilding the weakest point of a playoff team.
26. Arizona
Sean Weatherspoon, OLB, Missouri
Cards begin to rebuild the defense that got laid waste this off-season with pass-rusher.
27. Dallas
Taylor Mays, S, USC
I say they rue the day they don't take tackle of the future, but Dallas likes speedy safety.
28. San Diego
Jared Odrick, DT, Penn State
Ideal draft for Chargers is Dan Williams in first, Stanford RB Toby Gerhart down the line.
29. New York Jets
Jahvid Best, RB, Cal
This pick makes no sense -- unless you think Leon Washington and LaDainian Tomlinson are short-timers.
30. Minnesota
Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
A hunch. Nothing more. Brett Favre lasts another year (two at the outside) while Tebow grows
.
31. Indianapolis
Rodger Saffold, T, Indiana
Colts tab an athletic left tackle candidate to fill a position they've been longing to cement for years.
32. New Orleans
Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers




Five bold draft predictions: Starting at No. 1
By Rob Rang
NFLDraftScout.com
5. St. Louis trades out of the first pick
I reported that the Browns were having internal discussions about offering a package of picks to the Rams for the rights to the No. 1 selection two days before Cleveland general manager Tom Heckert publicly acknowledged the talks. While trading out of the top pick is rarely feasible, the 2010 draft is unique in that the Browns appear to be enamored with Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford and have the ammunition (five picks in the top 100) to make St. Louis a tempting offer.
Most important, sources tell me the Rams are not significantly more sold on Bradford than some of the other quarterbacks in this draft, namely Texas' Colt McCoy. If the Rams believe they can get McCoy with the first pick of the second round -- the 33rd pick overall -- don't be surprised if they trade out of No. 1, collect their extra picks and take advantage of this year's deep talent level to reshape their roster.

4. New TV-friendly format leads to plenty of drama, multiple trades
The NFL may have changed the draft format to better suit primetime television, but the impact could produce far more than just increased viewership as the new format will give teams more time to formulate trades.
The Seahawks and 49ers, with two first-round picks each, are obvious candidates to make moves. The Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots are all exploring trade-down opportunities, sources tell me. The Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys, on the other hand, are looking to move up.

3. Trent Williams will be drafted over Russell Okung
Oklahoma State's Russell Okung is the top-rated offensive lineman in the 2010 draft by NFLDraftScout.com and most teams. He will not, however, be the first offensive tackle off the board, as the Washington Redskins will take Oklahoma's Trent Williams with the fourth overall pick.
Williams is seen as a better fit in Mike Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme. Okung won't be on the board for long, however. The Kansas City Chiefs or Seattle Seahawks will take him with one of the next two picks.

2. Ryan Mathews leapfrogs C.J. Spiller
I stand behind the comparison to Tennessee Titans star Chris Johnson that I've been making with C.J. Spiller since September. The Clemson running back is the most dynamic runner and returner in this draft and is such an explosive athlete that he's an obvious candidate to be the Offensive Rookie of the Year wherever he may end up.
However, I've spoken to several clubs who feel that Fresno State's Ryan Mathews could sneak ahead of Spiller simply because of the fact that at 6-feet, 218 pounds, Mathews has the bulk to be an every-down back.
Most believe Mathews could wind up with the Houston Texans at No. 20 or the San Diego Chargers at No. 28 due to the fact that both teams have obvious concerns at running back. Six running backs have been drafted in the first round the past two years, and each went to teams with established runners already on their roster.
Spiller and Mathews are going in the top 32 -- and where they end up might prove to be two of the more surprising stories of the Thursday's opening round.

1. Some team is going to severely reach for South Florida defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul
Let's be clear about this. I'm not so in love with Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan's game that I think he warrants a top 10 selection -- and considering that he plays one of the true premier positions in the game, that is saying something about my top-rated pass rusher.
To rate Jason Pierre-Paul over Morgan, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, is lunacy in my opinion. Pierre-Paul has seven career starts at the D-I level. Those starts were not consecutive, but spread out over 11 games, and he wasn't a dominating presence.
He's wonderfully athletic, possessing the quick burst off the snap and long arms that every team operating out of the 4-3 alignment is looking for. He has very little understanding of gap alignment, however, and offers next to nothing in terms of run defense.
The team that selects Pierre-Paul with a top 20 selection can expect similar results from his rookie season that Vernon Gholston in 2009 (Jets) and Aaron Maybin (Bills) and Robert Ayers (Broncos) last year -- three other severely overrated (by some) -- produced.





How come Sam isn't a Ram already?
Alex Marvez www.foxsports.com
It's the NFL draft's $50 million question.
Why haven't the St. Louis Rams already told Sam Bradford that he will be the first player chosen Thursday night?
Mind you, I still think Bradford is ultimately heading to the Gateway City. Since the Rams pick first, they could inform Bradford of their intentions at any point before going on the clock. Or they could make Bradford sweat, which the University of Oklahoma quarterback admits is a worst-case scenario.
"I would like to know or have a good idea of where I'm going before tomorrow night gets here," Bradford said late Wednesday morning at an NFL community event in Central Park. "If I walk into that (green) room having no idea, my heart's going to be going nonstop until I hear my name."
Not that the Rams have done anything lately to make Bradford's heart flutter with joy. Bradford said St. Louis has given no indication about his draft standing.
"They've held their cards really close to the vest," he said.
If the Rams felt strongly enough about Bradford as a franchise quarterback, St. Louis already would have plopped its hand on the table. The Rams wouldn't be open to trade talks with another interested suitor like Cleveland even with all the holes that could be filled with extra picks by moving down in the draft. The Rams wouldn't still be singing the praises of defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy as possible No. 1 selections. They wouldn't be talking up Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen during a Tuesday pre-draft news conference.
The Rams would have settled on Bradford at some point last week. They would have started contract negotiations with Bradford's agents to get him signed before the draft and eliminate any possibility of a ruinous JaMarcus Russell-like holdout. Bradford said that he was amenable to signing with the Rams early but the team "never presented a contract."
"If they haven't pulled the trigger, how could there be a contract?" Bradford said.
The Rams have won six games in three seasons, finishing progressively worse each year. They let two marquee signal-callers (Matt Ryan and Mark Sanchez) slip away in the past two drafts. St. Louis can't make the same mistake again -- unless they're not completely sold on Bradford and the massive price tag that could include $50 million in guaranteed cash for an unproven NFL commodity.
I asked Bradford why a team that desperately needs a franchise quarterback and has a chance to draft a highly-touted one like himself hadn't already done so. Bradford flashed a polite smile and said, "It's probably a little more complicated than that. Obviously, it's a big decision for their organization. They can wait as long as they want. They don't have to make a decision until tomorrow night. I think they're just weighing their options, making sure that they're 100 percent sure of what they want to do."
Bradford can do nothing more on his end to convince the Rams of his worth. Bradford did every pre-draft passing drill asked of him and proved his surgically repaired throwing shoulder was sound. He met extensively with Rams officials and coaches during private interviews. He got stronger, bulking his 6-foot-4 frame up to 236 pounds. Bradford can't do anything about missing last season and the "fragile" label placed upon him. But his outstanding 2008 campaign -- 50 touchdowns, eight interceptions, 4,720 yards, 67.9 completion percentage – was good enough to potentially make Bradford the No. 1 pick in last year's draft ahead of Matthew Stafford had he turned pro.
"It's definitely been a rollercoaster for me coming off the injury," Bradford said. "There are so many different emotions I've felt over the past couple months. When I decided to have the surgery, you're not nervous but you're anxious to see how your shoulder is going to come back. Sometimes it's a little stressful because when you don't throw a ball in so long, you're not sure how you're going to be able to throw. With only four or five weeks to get ready for my pro day, at times that wore on me mentally.
"But in the end, I realize I'm extremely fortunate. There are guys who would kill to be in this situation. I realize I'm blessed and have tried to have as much fun and go with the flow as much as I can the past couple of months."
The pre-draft ride ends Thursday night, here. A new journey then begins – whether in St. Louis or elsewhere.
"At the end of the day, I realize that's not my decision," Bradford said about wanting to become the draft's No. 1 pick. "I've done everything I can at this point. I've shown them the type of player and person I am. Now it's up to the organization."
Should it be the Rams, that organization sure has a funny way of showing Bradford it's genuinely excited to have him under center.

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