I don’t usually do mock drafts until after the combine, so sorry for the long wait, but here’s the first of hopefully several in the last weeks leading up to the draft. My mocks aren’t something that I really take a lot of pride in (that would be my Top 100), as the most accurate ones usually require “inside” information, but they’re fun to do and to argue over. Please leave any kind of feedback, questions, suggestions or input in the comments area on here. Here’s Mock Draft 1.0:
1. Oakland: JaMarcus Russell, QB/LSU: I’ve already said that it’d be a good idea to take Calvin Johnson, but I doubt Al Davis will make the right decision. Russell seems like the kind of guy Davis loves, and he’s the one that makes all the decisions. Andrew Walter isn’t exactly a great quarterback, either.
2. Detroit: Gaines Adams, DE/Clemson: The Lions’ past history with 1st round WR’s won’t allow them to take one, but they probably should. Joe Thomas would be the safe pick, but all signs point to taking a DE, even if they try to trade down. Adams here is a bit of a reach, but with Jeff Backus solidified as the LT and the recent trade for George Foster, the Lions OL looks pretty set for once.
3. Cleveland: Adrian Peterson, RB/Oklahoma: Jamal Lewis is not the long term answer in Cleveland. Peterson has limitless potential if he can stay healthy, and Charlie Frye could be a solid starter down the road. Local boy Brady Quinn is a strong possibility, but I think a Frye/Peterson combo would be better than a Quinn/Jamal Lewis.
4. Tampa Bay: Calvin Johnson, WR/Georgia Tech: This is a no-brainer if I’ve ever seen one. The best player is left on the board at #4? Also, WR just happens to be one of Tampa’s biggest needs, with Joey Galloway getting older and Michael Clayton underachieving. Johnson has as much talent as anyone I’ve ever seen, his only weakness is that he might not be around whenever your team picks.
5. Arizona: Joe Thomas, OT/Wisconsin: The Cardinals desperately need OL help and may try to trade up and get it. It’s a strong possibility Thomas will be left here if no trades go down. Leonard Davis’ departure was like kicking the Cards OL while they were down. Thomas at #5 would be a blessing to Matt Leinart and Arizona fans everywhere.
6. Washington: Alan Branch, DT/Michigan: The Redskins needed a DT anyways, and then they lost 2 in free agency. Branch has a ton of talent, but this pick would be mainly based on potential. He could clog up the middle right away, but he needs some work rushing the passer.
7. Minnesota: Jamaal Anderson, DE/Arkansas: It’ll be hard not to take Quinn here, especially with the probable pressure from the fans, but Tarvaris Jackson has a ton of potential, and I think they’ll stick with him for a little while longer. DE is also a major need, with the average Darrion Scott and the underachieving Kenechi Udeze (who combined for 5.5 sacks) slated to start next season.
8. Houston: LaRon Landry, S/LSU: Landry had an excellent combine performance, and the Texans need some talented safeties badly. C.C. Brown and Glenn Earl just won’t cut it. Levi Brown is another possibility here, as they really need a top LT, but he’d be a little bit of a reach in the top 10. If Quinn is left, it’ll be a very tough decision for them, but I think they’ll go the safe route and not take another top 10 QB.
9. Miami: Brady Quinn, QB/Notre Dame: The Dolphins are praying that Quinn falls to #9, and I’m guessing they’d rather have him starting than Cleo Lemon. If he doesn’t fall to here, Amobi Okoye and Jamaal Anderson are options, but if he does, there’s no doubt who they’ll take.
10. Atlanta: Patrick Willis, LB/Ole Miss: Ed Hartwell was released, and Jordan Beck is undersized. Willis is as good of a LB as I’ve seen in years, and he has the potential to be a Ray Lewis type of leader and player. They really need a safety, but if LaRon Landry’s gone, I don’t think they’ll reach for Reggie Nelson.
11. San Francisco: Ted Ginn Jr, WR/Ohio St: The 49ers have a history of letting their up and coming WR’s go in free agency (Brandon Lloyd, Antonio Bryant), but now that Arnaz Battle and Taylor Jacobs are starting, I think they’ve got to break down and take a star player like Ginn. Also, think about an Alex Smith to Ted Ginn/ Vernon Davis combination. He could do some damage in the return game right away, too.
12. Buffalo: Marshawn Lynch, RB/California: I don’t think they’re satisfied with the Anthony Thomas and Shaud Williams combo. Lynch has way more talent than both of those backs, and along with J.P. Losman and Lee Evans, would form one of the most exciting young offenses in the game.
13. St. Louis: Chris Houston, CB/Arkansas: St. Louis always seems to think they can get by with patchwork cornerbacks. An NFL Defense just can’t do that. Drafting Tye Hill last year was a step in the right direction, but they still need another top CB alongside him.
14. Carolina: Paul Posluszny, LB/Penn St: Poz might be a reach this high, but the Panthers are in desperate need of an LB, and don’t really have any other major holes to fill. Dan Morgan’s future looks very doubtful, Chris Draft is getting old, and Na’il Diggs is nothing better than an average starter. Posluszny’s workouts might not have been great, but he did enough over his career at PSU to be a first rounder.
15. Pittsburgh: Adam Carriker, DE/Nebraska: With no big time 3-4 LB’s in the mold of Merriman or Ware, the Steelers opt for the next best thing; an extremely talented DE that can rush the passer and stuff the run. Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel are alright, but they aren’t stars like Carriker has the potential to be.
16. Green Bay: Greg Olsen, TE/Miami: Favre needs a safe, over the middle target now that Bubba Franks is slowing down, and Olsen can do that and much more. His workouts at the combine really moved him up. Marshawn Lynch would be an ideal pick if he was left, but I think the Bills are going to grab him with McGahee leaving.
17. Jacksonville: Reggie Nelson, S/Florida: After losing Deon Grant to free agency, the Jag’s only safety with meaningful PT is 3rd year man Gerald Sensabaugh. This is a good spot for Nelson, and it only helps that he was a star college player in Florida.
18. Cincinnati: Amobi Okoye, DT/Louisville: If Okoye is left this low, you can pencil it in. They won’t even need a minute to think about it, Okoye is extremely talented and has a ton of potential, but he’s also a smart, high character guy and team leader. That’s exactly what this troubled Bengals team needs, and not to mention, Sam Adams isn’t getting any younger.
19. Tennessee: Robert Meachem, WR/Tennessee: He’s a big play WR, and V.Y. needs a go to guy, especially now that Drew Bennett’s gone. All 4 of their current receivers combined for 4 touchdowns last year (all 4 were Brandon Jones). I’m almost positive they’ll take a receiver here; I’m just not sure which one. They’ll probably go with the hometown playmaker.
20. NY Giants: Dwayne Bowe, WR/LSU: Sinorice Moss was hurt all season, Amani Toomer is getting older by the second, and Tim Carter was traded. Plaxico is very talented, but he can be a head case at times and doesn’t really like going over the middle. He’s the complete opposite of Bowe, which is why they’d make such a good pair.
21. Denver: Levi Brown, OT/Penn St: The Broncos will be drooling all over themselves if Brown is left at #21. The Texans could take him at 8, or he could fall down to here. The last 1st round lineman they took, George Foster (#20 overall), was a big time disappointment, but their need at the position is too great to have second thoughts, and Brown is very talented.
22. Dallas: Darrelle Revis, CB/Pittsburgh: Anthony Henry is losing speed, but still has talent and may be moved to safety. Aaron Glenn just isn’t good enough to start anymore. Revis is very talented and could start right away at CB. Chose not to work out at the combine, which might hurt his stock, but if he does well at his pro day, it shouldn’t be a big deal.
23. Kansas City: Tony Ugoh, OT/Arkansas: He’ll be the ideal left tackle in KC’s scheme. He’s very athletic but also has top notch power, size and strength. His potential is through the roof, but hasn’t put it all together yet. He might not be able to start right away.
24. New England*: Leon Hall, CB/Michigan: Even with Asante Samuel coming back, CB remains one of the Pats’ biggest needs. Ellis Hobbs isn’t great, and Chad Scott is getting old. Hall would provide another corner that can be counted on in man coverage, and would only have to cover team’s #2 targets thanks to Samuel’s shutdown ability.
25. NY Jets: Brian Leonard, FB/Rutgers: This might be a reach, but he’d be an excellent compliment to Thomas Jones, and even though he wants to play RB, New York needs a versatile FB. He’s also a hometown fan favorite, and the hard to please Jets fans would probably be happy with this pick.
26. Philadelphia: Sidney Rice, WR/South Carolina: Reggie Brown is a good player, but I just don’t think he’s a good #1 receiver. Right now I think Rice is one of the more underrated players in the draft. He doesn’t get the attention that some of the other top WR’s get because he isn’t as flashy and didn’t run a blazing 40, but he’s just as talented. He catches anything in sight, and after Philly’s last run with a head case WR (T.O.), I think they’ll pass on Dwayne Jarrett to take the team player.
27. New Orleans: Michael Griffin, S/Texas: The Saints offense is as good as any in the land, but their defense could definitely use some work. Griffin would be a great compliment to Josh Bullocks, as he is more of an in the box, playmaking safety and Bullocks is more of a center fielding, cover guy type.
28. New England: Jarvis Moss, DE/LB/Florida: He’s probably not ready to make an impact yet, but in a few years, watch out. I think he’ll end up at LB in a 3-4, and at 6’7”, 250, with a sub-4.70 forty, the skills are all there. The Patriots’ aging LB’s have gotten the job done for years, but it’s time to start bringing in some new guys.
29. Baltimore: Justin Blalock, OG/Texas: The Ravens power running game shouldn’t drop off with the loss of Edwin Mulitalo. He was getting old anyways, and Blalock has great talent. His 40 reps of 225 at the combine were the 2nd most of anyone, and he’s also very versatile, experienced, and NFL ready.
30. San Diego: Dwayne Jarrett, WR/USC: San Diego desperately needs a big time, playmaking WR to compliment Antonio Gates. Keenan McCardell isn’t getting any younger, Eric Parker is not a #1 WR, and Vincent Jackson isn’t ready yet. Jarrett might have some issues with his top end speed and attitude, but there is no denying his big play ability. His decision not to work out at the combine might hurt his stock in a draft with so many great receivers.
31. Chicago: Lawrence Timmons, LB/Florida St: With Lance Briggs threatening to hold out, the Bears choose the easy way out and draft a LB. Briggs won’t be missed as much with the aggressive, athletic, and instinctive Timmons stepping in.
32. Indianapolis: Aaron Ross, CB/Texas: Nick Harper will be missed more than many people think, as he was their main shutdown CB last year, and could also support vs. the run. Ross is more physically gifted but might need some time to adjust to the pro game. He has a lot of talent, and would be a solid pick here, but might not be able to start right away like they’ll need him to.