True, Ndamukong Suh would be a welcomed addition to a hopeful Steve Spagnuolo defense, but this team isn’t going anywhere for a long time if it doesn’t answer itself the biggest question of all: Who’s your quarterback?
Getting a nice, big defensive tackle like Suh would be great, but St. Louis desperately needs a new quarterback, as well as a face of the franchise, other than Steven Jackson.
If they trade for an Eagles quarterback or a young back-up, they could easily be swayed to grab Suh, but it’s looking like the top overall pick will be a quarterback for the second year in a row.
Other option: Ndamukong Suh
2. Detroit Lions—Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
Jim Schwartz got his quarterback of the future last year, and after a season of injuries and inconsistency, there are still a lot of questions surrounding Detroit. However, somehow landing Suh would give Schwartz an Albert Haynesworth-type man in the middle, and could help turn the tide for the Lions on defense.
It’s all about getting a guy who can eat up ball carriers and penetrate the line to get to the quarterback, so if Suh is gone, Gerald McCoy is a close second, and the Lions would be thrilled to have him.
Other option: Gerald McCoy
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
If the Rams take a quarterback, the Buccaneers will be forced to grab McCoy, a big, strong guy in the middle who gives them an immediate upgrade at talent and increases their depth immensely on the line.
They’d love to have Eric Berry and solidify their safety position, and if Suh goes first and McCoy is gone at the second pick, Berry would be an excellent consolation prize.
Other option: Eric Berry
Mike Shanahan would love to land “his guy,” but if he can’t find the next coming of John Elway, or even Jay Cutler, he may take a pass. Besides, there’s a decent chance Colt McCoy could stumble to the second round, and even if he doesn’t, there are a few prospects worth snatching to see if Shanny’ can work his magic.
Regardless of how tempting Jimmy Clausen will be at this pick, Shanahan knows from his final years in Denver that building a good defense is a huge key to winning. Eric Berry gives the Redskins their first star at safety since Sean Taylor’s death, and is an absolute must-draft player if he’s on the board.
Other option: Jimmy Clausen
5. Kansas City Chiefs—Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State
Kansas City could go in a number of directions, as they have slow corners, inconsistent safeties, lagging lines (both offensive and defense), and desperately need another stud receiver.
However, since they just pulled a trade and paid the big bucks to get Matt Cassell as “their guy,” it’s time to either get him some serious protection, or grab him some weapons. He can’t throw if he’s not protected, so the best tackle in the draft, Okung, is the choice here.
Other option: Dez Bryant
Pete Carroll has walked into Seattle with a winning attitude, as he’s assembled a “dream team” of assistant coaches and trainers, and now just needs a solid draft to get the city of Seattle to fully back him.
The defense needs revamping and there are questions on the offensive line, but one major area that Carroll will want to address immediately is the quarterback position.
Matt Hasselbeck is in his mid-30s and battling injuries and inconsistency, so if Clausen is available, it will be hard for Carroll to pass up a franchise passer.
He could also dig into his own USC pockets and grab one of his former players, an impact safety in Taylor Mays, although it’d be considered a bit of a reach if he were drafted this early.
Seattle does have two picks in the top 14, so this gives Carroll a ton of flexibility.
Other option: Taylor Mays
7. Cleveland Browns—Joe Haden, CB, Florida
There’s no way around it: The Browns are a mess, and if they’re ever going to get out of it, they’ll have to make right decision after right decision.
That began with the hiring of Mike Holmgren to oversee all operations, and it will continue in the draft. Cleveland needs all kinds of upgrade on the offensive side of the ball, although there have been rumors abound about possible trades that could land the Browns a quarterback, which could steer them from selecting one come April.
Regardless of how bad the offense appears, it did make strides in a four-game win streak to end the season, so Cleveland has the option of vastly upgrading their atrocious secondary by grabbing the hands-down best corner in this draft class.
C.J. Spiller is another “up in the air” option that would give the Browns an immediate impact player on offense, although Haden appears to be the consensus pick.
Other option: C.J. Spiller
8. Oakland Raiders—Taylor Mays, S, USC
The general thought is that Oakland will either be smart and get their offensive line some help, be half-way smart and get a new franchise quarterback, or be totally Al Davis-like and grab another useless player full of “measureables.”
Taylor Mays fits the bill, and actually is a fairly big need for Oakland, giving them another impact player on an already improving defense.
If they go against the norm that they’ve established, however, they could be wise and grab a stud tackle like Anthony Davis.
Other option: Anthony Davis
9. Buffalo Bills—Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers
After investing a pick in Aaron Maybin last year to help the pass rush and overall defense, it’s a safe bet the Bills hold onto the hope that he keeps developing and pans out, while addressing bigger needs, such as their still sketchy offensive line, and possibly even an upgrade at quarterback.
Buffalo’s pass defense was very stingy last year, and if Aaron Schobel decides to return, the Bills could be returning a fairly solid defense, which means offense should be their immediate focus.
Colt McCoy would be a reach here, but with Jimmy Clausen and Sam Bradford almost certainly off the board, he could be their best bet.
However, whoever is playing quarterback will need good blocking, something the Bills don’t have, making Anthony Davis the best pick if he’s still available.
Other option: Colt McCoy
10. Denver Broncos—Rolando McClain, ILB, Alabama
The possible departure of Brandon Marshall has many Denver fans worried that the Broncos already inconsistent offense will suddenly take a nose-dive, but with talented players such as Eddie Royal and Brandon Stokley still on the roster, Denver can afford to give offense a break in the first round.
Besides, it is Josh McDaniels’ firm belief that his system makes the players produce, rather than the players make the system work. And really, he actually proved it by benching Marshall in Week 17, where Jabar Gaffney tore up the Chiefs for 14 catches and 213 yards.
Adding Rolando McClain gives them an excellent linebacker in the middle, something they lack severely. If Josh McDaniels wishes to go offense and replace the potentially departed Marshall, however, Dez Bryant would almost certainly be his first choice.
Other option: Dez Bryant
11. Jacksonville Jaguars—Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
No logic or reason in terms of upgrading a football team can explain why Jacksonville will/would draft Florida’s Tim Tebow, but place your bets folks, because it’s going to happen.
Tebow isn’t ready to be an NFL passer, and is probably a project that needs to be on the shelf for two to three years before he can ever begin thinking about making an impact as a passer, but his athleticism and running ability could also make him an asset right from the start.
But more than that, his name will put fans in the stands, and in the end, ticket sales are what matters for a team struggling to prevent black-outs.
If the Jaguars’ brass opts not to go for Tebow, Derrick Morgan, the best defensive end on the board, is a solid, logical choice.
Other option: Derrick Morgan
12. Miami Dolphins—Sergio Kindle, OLB, Texas
Miami has been rumored to be interested in both Anquan Boldin and Brandon Marshall, so if they do land one of those star receivers (or a different one), then drafting a receiver in the first round suddenly is no longer a necessity.
However, upgrading their pass rush and linebacker depth likely will be.
Jason Taylor isn’t certain to be returning, and Joey Porter has been extremely vocal about not wanting to play a situational role, and has even asked for a trade.
Kindle would provide an immediate impact, and would even arguably be an upgrade over two other aging pass rushers.
Other option: Dez Bryant
13. San Francisco 49ers—Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa
The 49ers have two picks in the top 17 selections, giving them some wiggle room, which could mean they take a chance on another body to help Frank Gore out in the backfield, another star receiver to pair with Michael Crabtree, or even beef up their already growing defense.
That, or they can ensure the protection of the improving Alex Smith, as they’ve been lacking in pass protection since, well, Jeff Garcia was in town.
Other option: Trent Williams
14. Seattle Seahawks—Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech
Pete Carroll will be very tempted to grab up a fellow USC player with this spot, especially if he stopped himself from doing it with the first pick, but when he sees Morgan still available, he won’t think about it for a second.
Damian Williams would give him a play-maker and probably would upgrade the receiving corps instantly, but there’s little doubt Morgan’s impact on the defensive line would be greater.
Other option: Damian Williams
15. New York Giants—Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma
Despite a collapse after a 5-0 start that saw the Giants miss the playoffs in embarrassing fashion, they actually aren’t that far off from contending for the division again in 2010.
They’ve had some consistency issues on their defensive line, could use upgrades in their linebacking corps and secondary, and struggled with their ground game all year due to an apparent knee injury to Brandon Jacobs.
But that doesn’t mean they need a dramatic overhaul. Just a few additions, here or there.
Gresham can give them what Kevin Boss or back-up Travis Beckum will undoubtedly never be able to give them; an elite pass-catching tight end who can also block.
If the Giants opt to beef up their defense, they could always add some talent to their line, which is still solid, but could use some fresh blood.
Other option: Jason Pierre-Paul
16. Tennessee Titans—Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida
If the Giants don’t snag Pierre-Paul, there’s little doubt the Titans will. Jevan Kearse isn’t the long-term answer, even after two tries, and Kyle Vanden Bosch isn’t getting any younger, either.
Tennessee needs to get back to being an elite defense that runs a ball control offense. Landing Pierre-Paul or Sean Weatherspoon, a guy who would bring an immediate impact to a regressing linebacker unit, would be a huge boost.
Other option: Sean Weatherspoon
17. San Francisco 49ers—C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson
With San Francisco, it’s all about fundamentals. Sure, they had their fun by taking Michael Crabtree last year and Vernon Davis a few years back, but with a decent amount of offensive talent, it’s now time to focus on their defense or beefing up their inconsistent offensive line.
At least, that’s the logic you’d think they’d use.
A lot of teams are improving their offenses and easing their star running backs by teaming them with a guy who can break home-run’s.
C.J. Spiller is that guy.
The secondary also remains an issue for San Francisco, but at this spot, grabbing a corner would be a bit of a reach.
Other option: Partick Robinson
18. Pittsburgh Steelers—Earl Thomas, S, Texas
Thomas has enough speed and versatility to be used anywhere in the secondary, and could even start opposite of Polamalu eventually.
Adding another runner to the mix could ease the potential release of the fading Willie Parker, while you can never put it past the Steelers to draft for their offensive or defensive lines.
Other option: Jahvid Best
19. Atlanta Falcons—Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida
Atlanta was talking about their improved defense heading into the 2009 season, and after five to six weeks, it was clear that they had a long ways to go.
Dunlap is a big, strong end with enough versatility to be used inside if he hits the weight room, but is also an elite pass rusher that would give Atlanta an immediate presence on the line.
Whatever they do, there will likely be a strong focus on their defense, as their line, linebackers, and entire secondary could all use some work.
Other option: Patrick Robinson
20. Houston Texans—Dez Bryant
Houston has had some issues with it’s offensive line and running game, so adding a stud offensive lineman or running back to help the cause could be the main focus here.
However, when Andre Johnson constantly receives double-teams, a receiver like Bryant left on the board becomes fairly tempting.
If Bryant can make any kind of an impact right away, it would free up Johnson, Kevin Walter, and a hopefully healthy Owen Daniels. If the passing game gets that good, the running game would fix itself, right?
Perhaps, but if Gary Kubiak isn’t sold on that happening, he could bring in the versatile one-man wrecking crew, Toby Gerhart.
Other option: Toby Gerhart
21. Cincinnati Bengals—Aaron Hernandez, TE, Florida
Chase Coffman is looking like a complete bust, and the Bengals haven’t had much luck with tight ends since the days of Tony McGee.
Cincy could easily use some more depth all over their defense, and if an elite defensive tackle can be had, they might bite.
Grabbing a star receiver to pair with Chad Ochocinco could also be an option here, as well.
Other option: Brice Price
22. New England Patriots—Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee
A lot of analysts are talking up Tim Tebow at this spot, but I just don’t see it. Perhaps it’s possible if Jacksonville doesn’t bite, but the only way Tebow lands in New England is if they trade up.
Some options could be a bruising back like Toby Gerhart, a Wes Welker-clone receiver like Jordan Shipley, or something they truly could use, especially with quiet rumors of Vince Wilfork possibly moving on, a defensive tackle in Terrence Cody, Dan Williams, or Brian Price.
With a slew of good “inside men” to choose from, Williams is our pick.
Other option: Jahvid Best
23. Green Bay Packers—Brandon Graham, OLB, Michigan
I actually read somewhere that Graham was a run-stopper and not a pass-rusher. I’ve never laughed so hard and been so annoyed in the same instance.
Graham may not be an ideal fit for Green Bay’s 3-4, due to a lack of great size and elite athleticism, but he has enough solid tools to start opposite of Clay Matthews, and his pass-rushing ability is clearly there. Just watch the Senior Bowl tape on him.
However, he’s not the only OLB with talent in this draft, as Green Bay could opt for a bigger, stronger OLB in Ricky Sapp, or even go with Sean Weatherspoon.
If they pass by OLB (as I think they should), they could address their aging offensive line with an elite tackle, or add some youth/talent to their also aging secondary.
Patrick Robinson and Donovan Warren are both still reaches here, but they would be fairly justified reaches. I also wouldn’t be shocked for Ted Thompson to pull the “best available player” card if Jahvid Best is still on the board.
Other option: Patrick Robinson
24. Philadelphia Eagles—Sean Weatherspoon, OLB, Missouri
Philadelphia had loads of issues covering tight ends and receivers over the middle last season, and that had a lot to do with a season-ending injury to Stewart Bradley, as well as older, slower linebackers working on the outside.
Philly needs some serious help in their defense, which is either aging or very average in many areas. Adding a stud defensive tackle here would definitely be a good move, but a rumor going around that suggests trading away Kevin Kolb (or Donovan McNabb) for Cleveland’s Shaun Rogers is interesting enough to make you forget about the DT position for a second.
Regardless, LB as a whole is a need, and they could even go for Ricky Sapp, who has enough versatility and athleticism to play all over the field.
Other option: Ricky Sapp
25. Baltimore Ravens—Arrelious Benn, WR, Illinois
Does Baltimore swing a deal for Brandon Marshall or Anquan Boldin? Do they sign Terrell Owens? Or do they take their chances on a kid like Benn?
Chances are that they do swing a big trade to ensure they have elite talent at receiver for the first time in years, but until they do, this is the pick.
Golden Tate would also be a solid option, while adding depth to their still elite defense (preferably in the secondary) would always be welcomed.
Other option: Golden Tate
26. Arizona Cardinals—Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland
If Matt Leinart is really going to take over for Kurt Warner, then he needs better pass protection. Warner was a studly pro who had a quick release and made great decisions—Leinart has none of that.
Arizona could also opt to throw caution to the wind, and grab a stud replacement for the possible (or likely?) departing of Anquan Boldin, or they can upgrade their linebacker or secondary corps.
Other option: Ricky Sapp
27. Dallas Cowboys—Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame
Jerry Jones wants to get Miles Austin signed to a long-term deal. Fantastic, we’re all on the same page.
Now get Tony Romo another guy who can do some damage. Enough about Roy Williams and Patrick Crayton. Williams should be on the way out, and Crayton is a slot receiver.
If the Cowboys don’t believe in Marion Barber anymore, they could dangle him (and possibly Tashard Choice) and get something in return, while using this pick on a stud back.
Upgrading their defensive line (which is already very good) would be a luxury, while adding youth/talent to the offensive line would be a preemptive good decision.
Other option: Everson Griffin
28. San Diego Chargers—Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Georgia Tech
LaDainian Tomlinson is done as a Charger, Darren Sproles is not an every-down back, and we’re not sure what the Chargers think Jacob Hester is.
While they have some issues with their defense (in the run support) and their offensive line, the big issue here is getting a running back they can trust.
Dwyer gives them a great blend of speed and athleticism, but could lack the elite vision needed to help this team improve from a dreadful rushing ranking.
Stanford’s Toby Gerhart is my sleeper “back-up” pick for the Chargers, as he’s one of the best pure runners in this draft, and possesses underrated speed and excellent versatility.
Other option: Toby Gerhart
29. New York Jets—Brandon LaFell, WR, LSU
Sure, the Jets have Jerricho Cotchery, and Mr. Drop, oh, I mean Braylon Edwards. But are either of them really the answer?
LaFell is a strong receiver who has flashed the ability to dominate at the next level, and he’d fill a need. New York hasn’t had a receiver of his caliber since Keyshawn Johnson, so getting Sanchez a young receiver with a ton of upside is important.
Grabbing a replacement for the oft-injured Kris Jenkins may not be a bad idea, either.
Other option: Dan Williams
It all comes down to this: Is Brett Favre coming back?
If he does, there’s a good chance veteran DT Pat Williams gives it one more go for a Super Bowl, and if Favre returns, getting a quarterback (and reaching) becomes slightly less of a pressing issue.
Regardless of what happens, the needs are obvious: CB, S, DT, and QB.
Taking a look at the MLB spot with E.J. Henderson’s serious knee injury wouldn’t be a bad idea, either.
Other option: Terrence Cody
31. Indianapolis Colts—Jared Odrick, DT, Penn State
Odrick is a huge beast of a man who should not fall this far, but he likely will due to some character flaws.
Indianapolis has been looking for a stud defensive tackles for forever now, after being ditched by the likes of Quinn Pitcock and going through guys like Tank Johnson and Corey Simon.
They may be weary of adding another troubled DT to their history, but with few trouble areas on a Super Bowl-roster, what have they got to lose?
They could go for a less-troubled DT, or they could get some insurance for the oft-injured Bob Sanders and nab the best safety on the board.
Other option: Brian Price
32. New Orleans Saints—Donovan Warren, CB, Michigan
The Saints secondary isn’t in bad shape at all, but with so few pressing needs, it’d be wise to add some talent to an area that as recent as one year ago was a huge problem.
Adding youth to the line-backing corps would be well-advised, while adding depth to a defensive line that got killed against the run without Sedrick Ellis would help, as well.
Other option: Terrence Cody