The St. Louis Rams, who happen to have the first overall pick, have made it known they’re willing to move down, as are the Kansas City Chiefs at five, the Cleveland Browns at seven (who like Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford but have way too many holes to even contemplate asking the Rams what it would take to get him), the Buffalo Bills at nine, the Jacksonville Jaguars at ten, the Denver Broncos at eleven and the Miami Dolphins at twelve.
Conversely, not too many squads have expressed interest in moving up, though the Philadelphia Eagles are believed to be the one exception, as they’re very high on Tennessee S Eric Berry and Georgia Tech DE Derrick Morgan. If the 49ers do indeed want to grab one of the top three offensive tackles – Oklahoma State’s Russell Okung, Oklahoma’s Trent Williams or Iowa’s Bryan Bulaga – however, then they too will have to do what they can to move up, as all three of those gentlemen will be long gone by the 13th pick.
Most of the local beat writers have San Francisco taking Florida CB Joe Haden with the 13th pick and Rutgers OT Anthony Davis at 17. I don’t think they’re in love with Davis however and I don’t see them spending such a high price for a player as unfocused and sloppy as he was last season. I would look for the 49ers to trade down with their second pick, especially if they trade up with their first. To get into the top ten they’d most likely have to surrender – at the bare minimum – their second (49th overall) and fourth (113th overall) round picks, plus maybe a player (OLB Parys Haralson is rumored to be on the trading block). Under such a scenario they’d be looking to recoup some of those lost picks, so moving down from 17 makes sense.
However, predicting trades is even more of a pointless endeavor than projecting a draft, so for the purpose of this exercise we’re just going to keep it simple, with everyone making the picks at the slots the good lord assigned them. Without further ado, here’s one man’s mock first round:
1. St. Louis Rams: QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma – They’ve been rebuilding for awhile now, but the process can’t begin in earnest until a franchise quarterback is in the building.
2. Detroit Lions: DT Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska – No one will take the Lions seriously until their defense tackles somebody and with Suh collapsing the pocket, everyone else will be free to make plays.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma – The Bucs have found their new Warren Sapp, though this one won’t be as mouthy.
4. Washington Redskins: OT Russell Okung, Oklahoma State – Coach Mike Shanahan will be tempted by Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen, but will ultimately opt to protect Donovan McNabb’s blind side.
5. Kansas City Chiefs: OT Bryan Bulaga, Iowa – Berry is the best player available, but general manager Scott Pioli may think the fifth pick is too high for a safety.
6. Seattle Seahawks: DE Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech – I see the Seahawks pulling off the first surprise on Thursday. They lost both of their starting ends in the offseason and despite the Trojans flashy reputation, Pete Carroll made his mark at USC more with defense than offense. Morgan’s the best 4-3 end of the draft class and he makes sense for them.
7. Cleveland Browns: S Eric Berry, Tennessee – I don’t think new Browns head honcho Mike Holmgren is too high on Clausen either, so they’ll be thrilled to nab the best safety prospect in years instead.
8. Oakland Raiders: OT Bruce Campbell, Maryland – It wouldn’t be an NFL Draft if Al Davis didn’t do something crazy.
9. Buffalo Bills: QB Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame – The Bills were hot after Donovan McNabb, and here they get a quarterback who can’t say no to them.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars: CB Joe Haden, Florida – Having seen Clausen go a pick before, the Jaguars grab the best guy available, knowing they have Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne in their division.
11. Denver Broncos: WR Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State – Having just traded away receiver Brandon Marshall and tight end Tony Scheffler, the Broncos need to get someone for Kyle Orton to throw to.
12. Miami Dolphins: DT Dan Williams, Tennessee – General manager Bill Parcells and coach Tony Sporano are both hard-nosed guys, and Williams gives them a keystone for their run defense – if they don’t shop the pick.
13. San Francisco 49ers: OT Trent Williams, Oklahoma – As was the case last year, a player many draftniks had in the top five falls to the 49ers. Whispers of a lazy work ethic have dropped his stock a bit.
14. Seattle Seahawks: RB C.J. Spiller, Clemson – Having already gotten the best pass rusher on the board with his first pick, here Carroll nabs the closest thing to Reggie Bush in this draft class.
15. New York Giants: ILB Rolando McClain, Alabama – Just like that, Giants fans will forget all about Antonio Pierce, who was released in the off-season.
16. Tennessee Titans: DE Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida – Coach Jeff Fisher will be thrilled if he can provide as many sacks as back-flips.
17. San Francisco 49ers: S Earl Thomas, Texas – Having addressed their biggest need already with Williams, here the Niners grab the best defensive back left in the rangy Thomas.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers: G/T Mike Iupati, Idaho – Iupati’s an athletic mauler who should open holes for the Steelers’ running game, which will be helpful considering Ben Roethlisberger’s suspension.
19. Atlanta Falcons: DE/OLB Brandon Graham, Michican – Regardless of where he lines up, Graham can bring the heat, and the Falcons desperately need someone besides John Abraham to chase after quarterbacks.
20. Houston Texans: CB Kyle Wilson, Boise State –There are plenty of running backs they can find in round two. The first priority is to replace the departed Dunta Robinson.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: WR Demaryius Thomas, Georgia Tech – Oklahoma TE Jermaine Gresham also makes a lot of sense here, but Cincinnati can’t pass up on the next “Megatron” with all the old receivers they’ve got.
22. New England Patriots: DE/OLB Sergio Kindle, Texas – Graham would’ve been their first choice, but Kindle isn’t a bad fallback plan.
23. Green Bay Packers: OT Charles Brown, USC – The Packers had a lot of success with their last Trojan pick in Clay Matthews Jr., and Brown will make them look smart as well.
24. Philadelphia Eagles: CB Kareem Jackson, Alabama – DE Everson Griffen, from USC is a possibility here too, but Jackson is more of a sure thing and the Eagles really need a corner who can start right away.
25. Baltimore Ravens: TE Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma – Baltimore finds the successor to Todd Heap and Joe Flacco gets a security blanket for the rest of his career.
26. Arizona Cardinals: OLB Sean Witherspoon, Missouri – Arizona’s defense lost a lot of playmakers in the off-season, but Witherspoon should help them get over Karlos Dansby’s departure.
27. Dallas Cowboys: OT Anthony Davis, Rutgers – Jerry Jones likes USC S Taylor Mays a lot, but he will be beside himself that Davis plummeted all the way down to him.
28. San Diego Chargers: RB Ryan Mathews, Fresno State – Darren Sproles will never be more than a change-of-pace back for the Chargers. They need someone who can carry the freight.
29. New York Jets: DE/DT Jared Odrick, Penn State – Odrick would be a tackle for a 4-3 defense, but for Rex Ryan’s 3-4 he’ll most likely slide over to end.
30. Minnesota Vikings:CB Devin McCourty, Rutgers – There’s a lot of speculation about Florida QB Tim Tebow here, but the Vikings have more pressing needs.
31. Indianapolis Colts:C/G Maurkice Pouncey, Florida – He’ll probably start out at guard for a couple years before taking over for Jeff Saturday once he hangs ‘em up.
32. New Orleans Saints: LB/DE Jerry Hughes, TCU – Talk about the rich getting richer, the Super Bowl champion Saints will be overjoyed to find a pass rusher of this quality at the bottom of the first round.