22.) New England Patriots - Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma
I got a bunch of comments from Patriots fans that were eager for this pick, so I think I may just write a little extra about my reasoning. Well, I would like to say that I did a TD about this and got CRUSHED. I didn't realize that so many people disagreed with this pick. As soon as my opponent said "Brandon Graham" I was down four to nothing.
Here is why I think they will draft Gresham. They have one tight end on their roster, Alge Crumpler. Don't even think about saying that Crumpler is a solution to the tight end issue. Alge is on the decline, and has been for a couple years. He had only 27 catches last year on a team with a pretty weak receiving corps. Also, ever since Belichick took over (2000), the Patriots have drafted two tight ends in the first round and at least one tight end in seven different drafts. Bill likes his tight ends.
Now, in this TD, my opponent used the fact that these picks did not pan out against me (this will come up again later). I do not see this changing BB's mind. He's one stubborn sumbitch. This only means that there is no quality tight end of his preventing him from taking another. It is not like he spent a ton of money on one last season and now has too much money tied up at the position. All the Patriots have there is Alge Crumpler at $4.8 million.
Now for Graham, most people seem to believe that he will be the Patriots pick. This is why I disagree. Graham is 6'2 and runs about a 4.7 forty. BB has been quoted as saying that he wants a linebacker at least 6'4, preferably 6'5, that runs at least a 4.6 40. Graham has neither of these. Oh, and he has short arms.
Also, in BB's entire career as a head coach, he has never drafted a pass-rushing outside linebacker with his first rounder. As a matter of fact, he has never taken one before the third round. Now this is where the tight ends not panning out comes back to bite those arguing against the Gresham. Why doesn't Belichick do this? Because he knows that pass-rushing outside linebackers have one of the highest bust rates (e.g. Vernon Gholston, Kamerion Wimbley), possibly second to defensive ends. So BB won't choose a tight end because they have been busts (supposedly) often, while linebackers do so MUCH more.
I rest my case.
23.) Green Bay Packers - Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers
Fifty. Aaron Rodgers was sacked a total of fifty times. Oh, and Matt Flynn was sacked once, but it's Matt Flynn. The Packers have a great offense. Rodgers is one of the best young quarterbacks in the league and he has room to improve (He won me the championship in Fantasy Football, too). Jennings, Driver and Rodgers form a formidable trio and Ryan Grant is no slouch in the running game. They had one of the best offenses in the NFL last season despite one of the worst offensive lines.
The Packers are lucky to snag Davis this late. He was a top-ten prospect, but scouts were extremely disappointed by both his Combine and Pro Day performances. He did not look fluid or quick. I do not think his stock should fall this far, but I don't make the decisions. Davis could be a steal here and would be an upgrade at both tackle positions along the Packers' weak line.
24.) Philadelphia Eagles - Mike Iupati, G, Idaho
Well, all the news about the Eagles has been around the trade rumors about Donovan McNabb. Their strategy could change a lot depending on what they get for McNabb, but for now I will assume that McNabb does not get traded before the draft. As of right now, the Eagles have only one effective pass rusher in Trent Cole, an outside linebacker, and along the offensive line. Carlos Dunlap is a possibility here, as is Sergio Kindle, however the Eagles were 3rd in the NFL last season in sacks and I see them going elsewhere with this pick. Iupati fills a need and is just what Reid likes. Personally, I think he sucks in pass protection and Maurkice Pouncey is a better player. Most seem to disagree with me.
Andy Reid is pretty unpredictable on draft day. However, there is one position regarded as a need that Reid has never addressed in the first round, outside linebacker. He has taken a defensive end, but after taking defensive lineman in three of the last four first rounds, it is time to like at right guard. Reid loves big offensive lineman. The other guard he drafted was a 6'4, 340 pounder, Shawn Andrews. Iupati is a great prospect and is 6'5, 331 pounds.
25.) Baltimore Ravens - Brian Price, DT, UCLA
It is strange to think of the Ravens as needing to improve their defense. Haloti Ngata is an excellent NT/DE for the Ravens and being able to have him play alongside a run-stopper like Brian Price would be a great luxury for Baltimore. The Ravens could also use an upgrade at cornerback, which everyone was screaming for last season but never happened, a linebacker to groom behind Ray Lewis, who is turning 35, or a tight end to replace Todd Heap.
However, along the defensive line, Dwan Edwards and Justin Bannan both left. Edwards is now a Bill and Bannan fled for Denver. Kelly Gregg is 32 and Trevor Price is 35. They need some youth other than Ngata. Price has the talent to be taken of the board at #12 if the Dolphins like him more than Dan Williams. Price is much smaller than Ngata, but he is very good against the run and explodes off of the snap. He is capable of playing DE in a 3-4, but will be more effective when the Ravens switch to a 4-3 and place him at DT for a few plays.
26.) Arizona Cardinals - Charles Brown, OT, USC
Brown does not seem to get as much attention as other top offensive tackles, but his stock has consistently stayed near the bottom of the first round. He has tons of talent and was very, very successful for the Trojans. The Cardinals need to improve their offensive line. According to NFL.com, their #1 left tackle is Jeremy Bridges, listed as a guard. Levi Brown may be moved to the left side to start next season. Yikes. He isn't even that great of a right tackle, having given up 26 sacks the last three years.
Brown has a lot of skill. He is very agile and quick. His pass-blocking is his strength and he is capable of blocking the left side, but his run-blocking was very underrated throughout his college career. He received good coaching and he has a lot of experience in the west coast offense. He is tall, too, at 6'5 and has long arms. However, he has two huge question marks, unfortunately. He was a former tight end and he has gotten bigger, but he is still only 295 pounds. Scouts are unsure if he can get any bigger. His second big question mark is his strength. Uh oh.
27.) Dallas Cowboys - Maurkice Pouncey, C/G, Florida
A lot of the talk has been that Jerry Jones is looking to replace Ken Hamlin by drafting a good safety here. However, the next best safety prospect, Nate Allen from South Florida, is a mid-second to early third round prospect. I don't see them stretching for Allen this early just to replace Hamlin. They also need to continue getting younger along the offensive line (they have drafted three offensive tackles the last three years).
Pouncey is a very powerful blocker. He did a great job at providing Tim Tebow room for his short-yardage runs up the middle. He has impressive size and athleticism and is capable of playing both center and guard. Florida's offense is not even close to pro-style and his technique is lacking so coaching will be very important in his development. The Cowboys are lucky to get the best interior lineman in this draft at #27.
28.) San Diego Chargers - Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno State
This pick seems to be a lock so far. Nearly every mock draft I have seen has Mathews going to the Chargers at #28 and I can't find any better pick. The Chargers are lacking at running back after LDT left and now they have no back on their roster that can carry the load. The Chargers may also take Terrence Cody to replace Jamal Williams at nose tackle. Also, Mathews could be taken at #20 by the Texans, leaving the Chargers to choose between Cody and Jahvid Best from Cal.
Mathews is perfect for the Chargers. He is very versatile. He can run inside and outside, he can catch the ball out of the backfield (Yeah, his receiving stats aren't impressive, but show me the last time a Fresno State back put up good receiving numbers), and he is a great pass-blocker. This one-cut back can do it all. His Combine really woke teams up to his potential. I think Mathews will prove to be a great back in the NFL.
29.) New York Jets - Brandon Graham, DE/OLB, Michigan
It's hard to believe that the Jets need to address defense with this pick, after having the #1 scoring defense in the league, but when you reach the AFC championship with a rookie quarterback in Sanchez and a rookie running back, Shonn Greene, and possibly the best offensive line in the NFL. However, before Rex Ryan took control of this team, they drafted a huge bust (*cough* that I predicted*cough*). That pick was another pass-rushing outside linebacker, Vernon Gholston.
Graham is pretty much the opposite of Gholston. The only things that they have in common are they are both prospects from the Big 10 and they are 3-4 OLB's or 4-3 DE's. Gholston was an athletic freak who had an amazing Combine and ran a great 40. Graham's athleticism doesn't jump off chart, but he has an outstanding motor, unlike Gholston's inconsistency and questionable work ethic. Graham would be a welcome change from Gholston on this team. He doesn't have great size, but he will play to the whistle on every down.
30.) Minnesota Vikings - Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers
This Vikings pick really came down to just three players. These players were Maurkice Pouncey, Brian Price, and Devin McCourty. The Vikings struggled running the ball at times last season and center John Sullivan and guard Anthony Herrera performed poorly in that aspect. Pat Williams is getting older and Brian Price would be groomed behind him. Then it comes down to Devin McCourty.
Cedric Griffin tore his ACL and had offseason surgery on it. Antoine Winfield is 32 years old and he won't be in the NFL much longer. McCourty has great athleticism and good size. His long arms and great closing speed enables him to deflect a lot of passes. However, his hands are not great and he will drop a few possible interceptions. His inconsistency is a question mark, but he was a three year starter and a leader on Rutger's defense last season.
31.) Indianapolis Colts - Vladimir Ducasse, OT, UMass
The Colts always seem to be expected to go defense in the first round, but in 7 of the last 10 drafts, the Colts have taken an offensive player with their first pick. I expect them to make it 8 offensive players since 1999. The Colts could use improvement at left tackle, right tackle and right guard. Charlie Johnson was a decent player last season, but he isn't the future of that offensive line. If Maurkice Pouncey is available, I expect the Colts to take him. If he is taken it comes down to either Ducasse or Roger Saffold of Indiana.
Ducasse is the biggest boom-bust offensive tackle in this draft. Luckily, the Colts have the luxury of having a good enough team to take a risk on him here. The former Massachusetts lineman has a lot of experience playing left tackle in college. He the athleticism required of a tackle and the strength needed to be a guard. He is a versatile player. His biggest question marks are instincts, a lack of concentration and inconsistent footwork. If he plays up to his skill level, Ducasse will be an awesome steal here at #31.
32.) New Orleans Saints - Sergio Kindle, DE/OLB, Texas
The defending champs have more glaring holes than the three teams picking before them, in my mind. It's amazing that the Saints had such a good year, despite their weaknesses on the defensive side of the ball. Their secondary was simply amazing and if they improve their front seven, they could be unstoppable. They Saints could take a defensive end, a defensive tackle, or a linebacker. Outside of Will Smith, they have no impressive pass rusher. They need another run-stopper to complement Sedrick Ellis at defensive tackle and they should improve their linebacker corps around Jonathan Vilma.
Kindle has been projected to go pretty much everywhere. His stock started out all the way in the top ten. However, it has fallen all the way to even possibly go in the second round. Most of the time, though, Kindle is going in the 20-32 range. Kindle has room to improve and great athleticism. However, his inconsistency is concerning. He showed trouble shedding blocks throughout his college career, which is a BIG question as is his weakness against the run. He is not as physical as he should be. He is often compared to Kamerion Wimbley. Yikes.