1. Rams - Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma - QB's just aren't popular #1 overall picks anymore. However, the Rams need one. They really can't go wrong with Suh or Bradford. Both are franchise needs for the Rams. The Lions demonstrated last year that teams will always value QB as the key building block in building a franchise. The Rams grabbed their future LT, Jason Smith last year and will now grab their future franchise QB.
2. Lions - Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska - The Lions need help on both lines. Although, their greatest weakness last year came from the defensive side of the ball. The Lions spent their two first round picks on offense and now they will direct their attention to defense. If not for the Rams franchise need at QB, Suh would be the clear cut #1 pick. The Lions get lucky and Jim Schwartz gets his version of Albert Haynesworth to help out the Lions #25 ranked rush defense. Suh should be instrumental in collapsing the pocket on passing downs as well.
3. Buccaneers - Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma - The Buccaneers are in a good position here. They will get one of the top two DT's or the best Safety. The Bucs need starters at both spots. McCoy should be the pick as this defense starts at the front four. McCoy's draws comparisons to Warren Sapp...and Sapp was an excellent fit in Tampa's Cover 2 defense. The Bucs had the worst ranked rush defense in 2009 and McCoy should help the team improve in that area.
4. Redskins - Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma St - The Redskins traded for QB Donovan McNabb who is a virtual plug and play in Shanahan's offense. The offensive line has been simply offensive over the past couple of years. McNabb will need better protection. Okung is the best all-around LT in the draft and the most NFL ready as well.
5. Chiefs - Eric Berry, S, Tennessee - I believe the Chiefs will try to trade out of this spot. If not, it's hard to imagine GM Scott Pioli reaching for another player as they did with Tyson Jackson last year. Berry is clearly the best player at this point. The question will be if they can provide him with a decent supporting cast in 2010.
6. Seahawks - Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa - The Seahawks are in full rebuild mode. Seahawks fans scoffed at me when I predicted they would win 6 games last year. They disappointed and only won 5. The Seahawks have many needs, and like the Redskins, neglected the offensive line for too long. Bulaga fits what the Seahawks want to do on offense. He's intelligent, hard working, and most of all, he fits the zone blocking scheme. I wouldn't even consider Clausen here. The Seahawks have too much vested in Charlie Whitehurst.
7. Browns - Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma St - Browns fans don't freak out here. Mangini didn't want to gamble on Crabtree last year due to maturity issues. Holmgren on the other hand, has been known to choose talent over character. He did it with Koren Robinson and Jerramy Stevens in Seattle. Bryant is a much better prospect than either of those guys and doesn't have the legal issues. Trading Braylon away last year was a blessing in disguise. Bryant's hands are much better.
8. Raiders - Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma - My gut instinct tells me to put Bruce Campbell here. Will Al Davis continue to make athleticism the be all end all? If Williams goes here, it will be a solid pick. Williams measurables were slightly less than Campbell's, but Williams has a lot more tape. Then again, maybe I'm overthinking it.
9. Bills - Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame - The Bills find themselves in a similar situation as the Rams and the Seahawks. The Bills experienced quite a housecleaning in the front office and coaching staffs. However, the talent level is better than the other two aforementioned teams. Normally, having the #9 pick in this position leaves more to be desired. The Bills are fortunate. The majority of teams in the top 10 this year do not have an immediate need at QB. Clausen is arguably a close second behind Bradford. Clausen is also more Pro ready and intelligent enough to adapt to any offense that new coach Chan Gailey can muster up.
10. Jaguars - Earl Thomas, S, Texas - I keep hearing how more and more teams are jumping on the Earl Thomas bandwagon. Typically, smallish Safeties tend to drop into to bottom third of the first round, or even out of the first round altogether. The Jaguars have a pressing need at Safety and do not shy away from smaller players. Thomas will be ready to start from day one. His versatility (FS, SS, CB) also benefits a defense that has to match up against Peyton Manning twice per year.
11. Broncos - Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama - The Broncos may have solved their D-line issues as long as Jamal Williams can stay healthy. They cut ties with ILB Andra Davis who started to play really well after the first few games of the season. Now they will draft McClain to fill that void. This is a similar defense that former Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan installed in San Francisco. McClain will be to the Broncos what Patrick Willis is to the 49ers.
12. Dolphins - Sergio Kindle, OLB, Texas - Kindle was one of the lone bright spots on Texas' defense in the National Championship game. Kindle may be Parcell's next L.T. OK, maybe that's stretching it a bit. However, Kindle does offer a skill set that would fit well in the Dolphins 3-4. Kindle has the abilities to become a star for the Dolphins. He has good instincts and he is very athletic. That combination had my attention in the National Championship game and I'm sure Dolphins' scouts noticed as well. Kindle comes with some baggage, but he can be a star in the making much like DeMarcus Ware for the Cowboys.
13. 49ers - Joe Haden, CB, Florida - If you would've asked me a year ago, I would've said "no way" GM Scot McCloughan drafts a CB this high. Well, McCloughan is no longer making decisions for the team. The new regime may be a little more generic in their decisions. At this point, Haden is the best player available and fills a lesser need.
14. Seahawks - C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson - What better way to solve a multitude problems on offense then to add a multi-dimensional threat in Spiller? The combination of Bulaga and Spiller on offense will increase longevity for Hasselbeck and reduce the need to start Whitehurst right away. Spiller will be to Seattle what Reggie Bush was at USC. OK, poor analogy. However, had Bush been draft here instead of top 10, we wouldn't be calling him overrated. Spiller is a solid pick here.
15. Giants - Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee - The Giants need a lot of help on defense. They could use an ILB and DE as well. Outside of McClain, there isn't another ILB worth taking at this spot. the Giants need immediate help on the line. Williams would be a solid upgrade and would be a valuable contributor in his first year. Williams will command some double teams and help to free up the Giants' DE's to do their jobs.
16. Titans - Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida - The Titans have their offense squared away. The obvious issues lie on the defensive side of the ball. Losing Haynesworth last year was bigger than most people realized. The Titans could use an upgrade at DT, but wil also need help at DE after parting ways with Vanden Bosch. Fisher is a defensive guru and the Titans do a good job of developing these athletic types of players. Pierre-Paul has shot up the charts in recent weeks and could serve as the Titans next "Freak".
17. 49ers - Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers - I sense the 49ers are really high on Davis. They could even justify grabbing him at #13. However, with Seattle taking Bulaga at #6, the threat of the remaining teams taking Davis in between are slim. Davis has the potential to be the best LT of the bunch. He may instantly be the best run blocker, which must warm to Singletary. Davis interview with the 49ers will be the x-factor here. Singletary must be convinced that he can get through to Davis psychologically.
18. Steelers - Mike Iupati, G, Idaho - The Steelers have lacked a true mauler at Guard since they let Alan Faneca leave via free agency two seasons ago. The Steelers just haven't seemed as physically dominant as we are used to seeing them. Iupati should change that. He plays with a certain nastiness. He is also a very smart player. This is a wise investment for the Steelers. Iupati may be the best Guard to come out of college since Steve Hutchinson.
19. Falcons - Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech - The Falcons missed the playoffs last year, but I wouldn't say they regressed. Their schedule was brutal. The Falcons will need to address their 28th ranked pass defense by adding a pass rusher. Morgan should make a solid bookend to aging John Abraham. Morgan is a solid all around end and will be a stalwart at DE for the next 8-10 years.
20. Texans - Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise St - The Texans need work in the secondary. They were content to let their former standout CB Dunta Robinson walk. Some have tabbed Kyle Wilson as the best CB in this year's draft. If not, he's a close second behind Haden.
21. Bengals - Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma - The Bengals are a solid well-rounded team. The most pressing need would be to surround Carson Palmer with more weapons. Last year's 3rd pick TE Coffman is a promisong prospect, but not on the same level as Gresham. Having two athletic TE's is a good problem to have. The Bengals will have to be absolutely sure that Gresham is fully healed before they make this pick.
22. Patriots - Jared Odrick, DT, Penn St - No matter how much of a defensive guru, Belichick's defense will not work without having quality linemen up front. Standout DE Richard Seymour was traded to the Raiders and the capable Jarvis Green signed elsewhere. Odrick fits what the Patriots do on defense and Belichick can turn him into an All-Pro.
23. Packers - Charles Brown, OT, USC - The Packers aren't in bad shape overall. However, they do need to address long-term concerns at OT and CB. The Packers bring back OT's Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher. Both are getting up there in years. Both have missed starts in recent years due to serious injuries. The Packers gave up 51 sacks leading the league in sacks allowed. Brown is probably a better pass protector than run blocker, but the pass protection is much needed to protect their franchise QB Aaron Rodgers.
24. Eagles - Taylor Mays, S, USC - Mays is quite the physical specimen. College players typically stay in school their Senior years to improve draft stock. Mays may be the rare exception where his stock took a dive by staying in school. Mays is an intriguing project and it will be interesting to see him implemented into the Eagles defensive scheme. Mays will be a boom or bust pick and offer nothing in between.
25. Ravens - Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers - The Ravens seem to have addressed many of there offensive needs in free agency.They traded for Anquan Boldin and signed Donte Stallworth to the receiving corp. The attention now turns to the defense where upgrades can be made at CB. McCourty fits what the Ravens do on defense.
26. Cardinals - Brandon Graham. OLB. Cardinals - Graham was a quick riser on draft boards throughout the offseason. He has the pass rush skills and athleticism to work as a 3-4 OLB. The Cardinals get good value here and have a long-term replacement after newly signed Joey Porter retires.
27. Cowboys - Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland - If there were any other owner drawn to ahtleticism as much as Al Davis, it would be Jerry Jones. To Jones credit though, he has taken more "calculated" risks. Campbell will be a project as he only has 17 starts at LT. However, the athleticism is too enticing to pass up at this spot. Like Mays, Campbell is a boom or bust pick.
28. Chargers - Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno St - Spiller may be the most electrifying RB in this year's draft, but Mathews is more of the typical every down RB that teams are looking for. Mathews may not have L.T.'s upside, but he will be more than effective in the Chargers' offense. He can run and catch. He has the potential to be an effective pass blocker too. Mathews also clocked a 4.40 40 time at the combine so he has deceptive speed as well.
29. Jets - Jerry Hughes, OLB, Texas Christian - I truly believe the difference between winning and losing in January's AFC Championship game against the Colts was due to an inconsistent pass rush. Vernon Gholston hasn't panned out and hasn't really flashed the potential that made him a top 10 pick. Hughes has a much more productive college career and should do well in Rex Ryan's 3-4.
30. Vikings - Chris Cook, CB, Virginia - With Brett Favre, it's difficult to find a weakness with the Vikings. They are one of the most talented teams in the league. However, the Saints were able to carve through the Vikings secondary in the NFC Championship game. If Favre returns (and he will), the Vikings will most likely matchup with the Saints in the playoffs this year. They will need to bolster the secondary. Cook does that. He won't need to be the #1 or #2 CB this year, but he will upgrade the Nickel and Dime defenses.
31. Colts - Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida - GM Bill Polian believes the greatest single factor that caused the Colts to lose the Super Bowl was the offensive line. If it wasn't for Peyton's high football I.Q. and quick release, he would have sack totals rivaling Aaron Rodgers. Well maybe not, but you get the picture. Pouncey is listed as a center, but can play and contribute at the Guard spot immediately. C Jeff Saturday isn't getting any younger either.
32. Saints - Sean Witherspoon, LB, Missouri - Why fix what isn't broken? The Saints have the best offense in the league so it makes sense that defense will be addressed early. Witherspoon is the quick, fast type of LB that works in Greg Williams defense. Witherspoon can play the run, cover and rush the passer.
Some additional notes...
- I juggled with the idea that the Rams would make Clausen #1 due to fit. If what the critics say about Bradford being as accurate as Troy Aikman, then he is the clear cut #1.
- Historically, teams tend to shy away from DT's early for various reasons. I believe this year will be the exception to the rule. Both Suh and McCoy are hard workers. Some mocks have the Lions taking Okung, but Saffold will be there in round 2.
- I never once believed that Shanahan would pick a QB at #4. That offensive line is too horrible to ignore. The trade for McNabb reaffirms this.
- Dez Bryant going to the Browns is my "surprise" pick. It seems many have him falling out of the top 10, or even top 20. Even though the talent is richer in this year's draft, Bryant is a more attractive prospect than Michael Crabtree.
- I was very much tempted to drop Campbell or Mays into the Raiders slot. It started with the McFadden pick in 2008, and then Davis took it to the next level with Heyward-Bey in 2009.
- The Dolphins need a NT. The reason I didn't drop Williams into their slot is because Parcells has never used a high draft pick on a NT. He has, on multiple occasions, used them on pass rushers.