Since it’s combine week, we figured we’d bring you Pewter Planks First Mock Draft of the offseason. The 2nd half of this first mock draft will be up at the start of next week. You can expect at least 3 more mocks from the Pewter Planks resident Draft Guru, John “Canseco” Crimmins. Enjoy.
1. St. Louis Rams – Jimmy Clausen QB Notre Dame – This is a QB driven league, the sports media has been driving this point home over and over since before the super bowl which featured the 2 best signal callers in the game. The Rams have spent high picks on D-linemen in Carriker and Long the past couple of years, so while Suh may be special, I think it’s the offense that really needs the most fixing. Clausen may not have the strongest arm ever, he’s not especially athletic either, he‘s also rubbed many people the wrong way with his demeanor, but that does not change the fact that he is a fantastic QB. Clausen played in a true pro style offense for Charlie Weiss, with lots of west coast principles, that asked him to make lots of timing and anticipatory throws, which simply isn’t used much at all in most college programs these days. As a Junior Clausen put up excellent statistics despite playing behind a very weak offensive line, he did have some solid weapons but Floyd and Rudolph missed a lot of games and it’s my opinion that Golden Tate (aka the next Josh Reed) was ‘made’ by Clausen more than the other way around. Because of Clausen’s familiarity with the pro style offense he should make a fairly seamless transition which is a must for first round Quarterbacks these days; which is also why I chose Clausen over Bradford who is coming from a spread offense, lost the last season with a major injury, and would desperately need to bulk up some more if he wanted to survive behind this truly awful Rams O-line. The O-line still stinks, so do the receivers, but with Clausen, Jason Smith, and S-Jax the Rams would have a lot of talent at the 3 most important positions on offense.
2. Detroit Lions – Kong Suh DT Nebraska – I am totally on board the Suh train, I think he is the real deal, a freakishly talented athlete who can make lots of splash plays from the DT spot; all that said I still think they should draft Russell Okung here, because they already let their crappy line break Matt Stafford once, they can’t afford to allow that to happen again and Okung is the most game ready pass protector in this draft. However, this is what I think they will do if the Rams do take Clausen. Suh is absurdly athletic for a man his size, he looks more like a DE than a DT as there doesn’t look to be anything but lean muscle on his frame, but he has more than enough mass to hold up on the inside. He made way more big plays in college than any DT of the past 15-20 years and is a near lock to become a force to be reckoned with in the pros. The Lions just better hope Jeff Backus and co. don’t ruin that super expensive franchise QB they took last year, or whatever positives Suh gives them will have to be weighed against the cost of losing Stafford’s potential.
3. Tampa Bay Bucs – Gerald McCoy DT Oklahoma - The Bucs get a studly consolation prize and a guy who may remind some of another stud penetrating DT who helped lead this franchise to its only championship, aka Sapp daddy. McCoy had a great college career making tons of plays from his DT spot. His burst off the ball is elite as is his athleticism, he may lack bulk but probably has the room to add more size, and he makes up for the lack of bulk with great handwork and tenacity. He’s also a great kid who poses no character issues, he’ll be a model citizen and a guy a team can promote in their community with pride.
4. Washington Redskins – Sam Bradford QB Oklahoma – Dan Snyder likes big names, Bradford won a Heisman and everyone says he would have been the top pick last year. I actually think the skins will hold onto Jason Campbell while letting Bradford adjust to the pro game. Bradford is the better pro prospect of the 2 Qbs, but he really needs a red shirt year to hit the weight room and learn the pro offense. Bradford has elite decision making ability, which has become the top trait looked for IN QB prospects, but coming from a spread offense he is not proficient in all the aspects of the pro passing game. Having Campbell still around will allow him to make the changes he needs and allow the Skins to get some better talent up front.
5. Kansas City Chiefs – Russell Okung OT OK St. – The Chiefs get the guy who they probably most want in this draft. They are paying Matt Cassell a whole lot of money and they didn’t give him great protection last year, which is something he really needs to be effective as he is not very mobile. Okung is the most game ready of the tackles, as he is already a fantastic pass protector. He really has it all, extremely long arms, good handwork, good feet, great attitude, he will make some GM and some QB very happy. This pick also allows the Chiefs to move Branden Albert to another spot on the line, where he should be much more effective, thus upgrading a couple of spots on the line.
6. Seattle Seahawks – Anthony Davis OT Rutgers. – The Seahawks are probably hoping one of the quarterbacks falls to them, but this might be the right pick even if they did. Sean Locklear and Ray Willis are not a good tackle duo, and playing one of them at left tackle is really scary. Davis is an absolute beast of a man and already is bigger and stronger than most starting left tackles in the league, yet has the agility to stay on the blindside, which gives him more upside than Okung. Davis simply needs to work on his consistency and focus and he will have a chance to be one of the best at his position.
7. Cleveland Browns – Eric Berry S Tennessee – This is sort of a perfect situation for The Browns who simply need to add talent pretty much everywhere, and Berry is the best football player in this draft. Berry is one of the best safety prospects to come along in a long time, he may not be a physical freak like a Taylor Mays but he is the best defensive playmaker from the safety spot that I have ever seen in college ball. He was guaranteed for at least one big play every game the past couple of seasons because of fantastic instincts and near perfect technique in both zone and man coverage as well as in run support. The only question with Berry is with his smallish frame and his willingness to put his body on the line every play will he end up constantly injured like Bob Sanders.
8. Oakland Raiders – Jason Pierre-Paul DE USF – The Raiders need help generating more of a pass rush so getting a guy who has the ability to be an elite pass rusher makes a lot of sense for them here. Pierre-Paul is a one year wonder, coming to USF from the JUCO ranks and showing the kind of size and athleticism that allowed him to look dominant at times this past season as a pass rusher. JPP is lanky and has a number of good pass rush moves already. All that said, he has a lot of question marks, a lot of guys can impress in one year, his own teammate George Selvie might have gone this high in the draft had he come out of school after his big season. JPP will likely show well at the combine at that usually means The Raiders will become enamored with him.
9. Miami Dolphins – Dez Bryant WR Ok St. – (Trade from Buffalo, Buffalo receives picks #12 & #43 Fins receive #9 & #72) The Bills are probably hoping one of the top 2 tackles falls to them here, but in this instance both are gone and they go searching for value for this pick. The Fins have a very good offense for having one of the weakest WR corps in the league, including a young QB in Chad Henne who has shown a lot of promise, but he needs a go to guy and the only sure-thing go to guy in this draft is Bryant. Bryant has all the physical tools to be a dominant WR in the pros; size, burst, speed, hands, agility, you name it. He is heads and tails ahead of the rest of the pack at this position, so if you want to get a young stud WR in this draft this is the guy for you, and if the Fins don’t move up here the Broncos will surely take him. Bryant obviously comes with some character issues and was released from his college team mid-way through the season, my feeling is most wide receivers are head cases and most teams know that, if Bill Belichek is willing to put up with Randy Moss then I think Parcells and co. can find away to make Bryant work on their team, and he better as they lose value in this deal but get a guy their team desperately needs.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars – Derrick Morgan DE Ga. Tech – Jax gets the guy they may most covet in this draft as they have always been a defense first team that uses its DL to pressure the QB, yet they have no productive players at the position despite using high picks on Harvey and Groves a couple seasons ago. Morgan is less of a risk than Pierre-Paul and put up better numbers in a tougher conference this past season, he also is known as a solid run stopper. He is a polished product that can come in and play right away and produce at a high level.
11. Denver Broncos – Dan Williams DT Tennessee – Williams is built like your prototypical 3-4 nose tackle, but was a guy who tantalized with potential with no production till this past season where he played in Monte Kiffen’s 4-3 defense. His game really seems more suited to staying in a 4-3, but because of how he is built and the need for bulky 3-4 nose tackles he will be seen as a 3-4 centerpiece guy, which is something this Broncos defense desperately needs. Williams may take to the nose tackle role in time, but I believe he will struggle right away as it is so different from what he was asked to do in college. McDaniels showed in his first draft that he will reach for guys he thinks fits his team and he also showed he isn’t the best college talent evaluator.
12. Buffalo Bills – Bryan Bulaga OT Iowa - Bulaga fills a desperate need for the Bills and is the type of player they have always really liked (read: he’s white). Bulaga’s stock will fall the most of any of the offensive tackles because of an “off” junior season after a thyroid injury, he also has short arms and is neither impressively big nor impressively athletic. All of that said, Bulaga is a fantastic football player who plays with a nasty demeanor and absolutely fantastic technique. Bulaga may not have the physical characteristics to allow him to stay at LT, but at the very least he makes for a very good RT which is something Buffalo needs too since the retirement of Brad Butler.
13. San Francisco 49ers – Joe Haden CB UF – The Niners luck out and get a guy very few people think will fall this far. While CB might not be their biggest of need, it shouldn’t be too far down the list either, Clements and Bly are both getting old and in Clements case way overpaid. Haden is easily the best corner in the draft, and has the talent and drive to be one of the best in the league. Solid size, great backpedal, smooth hips, good instincts, very good top end speed, ability to support the run – he is the total package and will upgrade any defense he gets added to.
14. Seattle Seahawks – Everson Griffen DE USC - The ‘Hawks took a OL with their first pick now they focus on their other line and get a guy new head coach Pete Carroll is very familiar with in Everson Griffen. Griffen was a top recruit who very much looks the part of the elite DE, he has the size and the athleticism to be an elite defender. The problem with Griffen is the proverbial light has not yet come on, he is wildly inconsistent, he hasn’t added a lot of pass rush moves to his repertoire, and he seems to lack good instincts. His upside is as good as it gets though and he will likely impress at the combine. Carroll knows what a special talent he is and will likely believe he can get him to play to his full potential.
15. New York Giants – Rolando McClain LB ‘Bama - The Giants luck out and get a guy that fills one of their top needs and brings the ability to be one of the best at his position in the league right away. McClain is big, strong, and extremely instinctive and smart. McClain is one of the safest picks in this draft as he is simply too athletically gifted along with being an instinctive and highly productive football player. He would come in and become a leader of whatever defense he ends up on.
16. Tennessee Titans – Carlos Dunlap DE UF – The Titans desperately need a corner to play across from Finnegan, but there are no players that are worth taking this high. Dunlap is a freakishly large dude, yet remains athletic enough to remain on the outside and provide a good pass rush while being very strong in the run game. The reason a guy who is as freakishly physically talented as Dunlap falls this far is due to lack of production as well as character and poor consistency issues. Dunlap took way too many plays off in college and has been flagged as a guy who isn’t a full effort ballplayer, he is also very slow off the ball and won’t be blowing past too many tackles. However this kind of talent is too good to pass on.