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2010 NFL Draft Review by Lloyd Vance

April 27, 2010 1 comment

It was “Christmas in April” as teams selected top players at the 2010 NFL Draft

Now that the biggest “non on the field” NFL event is done for this year and 255 players know their destinations, it is time for myself and other talent evaluators to recap the action and then take a well deserved rest.  But before we move onto a short break then OTA’s, let’s take a look back at what transpired at the 2010 NFL Draft.

The 2010 NFL Draft , themed “The Grand Crossroads of Hope”, definitely had a ton of buzz, hype, and excitement as Radio City Music Hall was electric when the new 3-Day event kicked off at 7:30 PM on Thursday. The new 3-day format (Round 1 on April 22, Rounds 2-3 on April 23, and Rounds 4-7 on April 24), including a Prime Time start on a weekday night, seemed to invigorate the teams to move swifter and look for trades as the first round took only 3 hours, 25 minutes. The opening round on Thursday also drew ratings that were 30% higher than last year plus beat out the NBA and NHL playoffs head-to-head.

It seems NFL fans viewing on television also liked the new format as ESPN reported that 3.7 million viewers watched Thursday-Saturday, which was up 27% from last year.  I know the great numbers will also made the league and commissioner Roger Goodell, who is thinking about more innovations for future drafts including having the 3-day event in multiple cities so more fans can access it, very happy too.

Some other new wrinkles outside of the new format were guest announces like Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees (the Saints 1st round pick), Make-A-Wish recipient Zachary Hatfield (the Steelers first pick), and Texas head coach Mack Brown (former Longhorns QB Colt McCoy’s selection in the 3rd round by the Cleveland Browns.  Plus Goodell bear-hugging several appreciative first rounders — you know Pete Rozelle wouldn’t have been doing that.  And lastly a Hollywood red carpet entry for the draftees hosted by NFL Network’s Deion “Prime Time” Sanders.

Other tidbits from this year’s draft included:

Big Conferences Reigning Supreme – NFL teams are looking for successful players from big conferences in the draft, because players are being taught pro techniques at these college and universities. Almost 75% of the players selected were from the 6 BCS Conferences. The SEC had the most players drafted overall with 49, followed by the Big Ten (34), ACC (31), Big 12 (30), PAC 10 (28), Big East (18), Mountain West (13), Conference USA (7), Mid-American (5), and Western Athletic (5)

Stay in School – The NFL is making a concerted effort to draft seniors in the draft and it shows.  There were only 46 underclassmen drafted compared to 209 seniors.  Some say older players need less coaching, but yet 17 underclassmen went in the first round including first overall pick St. Louis Rams QB Sam Bradford.

Florida had too much talent not to win it all in ’09, right?? – For the entire 2009 college football season, analysts talked of the enormous amount of talent on the Florida Gators’ squad.  But the group underachieved settling for a 13-1 record and a dominating Sugar Bowl win over Cincinnati.  Well the Gators did bring home the title of most players selected with 9 players including first rounders CB Joe Haden (selected by the Cleveland Browns at #7), C/OG Maurkice Pouncey (selected by the Steelers at #18), and QB Tim Tebow (selected by the Broncos at #25).  Surprisingly Colonial Athletic Conference schools William & Mary and James Madison each had two players selected, which was more than traditional college football schools Arkansas (1), Texas A&M (1), Texas Tech (1), and Michigan State (1).

Tebow steals the show – Everyone knew that the Rams were selecting Sam Bradford with the first overall pick, but who would be the second quarterback taken in the first round.  While everyone assumed that Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen would be the logical pick, he fell out of the first round.  To a lot of people’s surprise the second quarterback to come off the board was much-maligned college football “winner” Tim Tebow.  After raising his stock from the depths of a pretty ugly Senior Bowl week, Tebow wowed NFL teams with his Pro Day workout, interviewing skills and every intangible that you could name.  Florida’s Superman also improved his throwing motion by working with several quarterback coaches and the NFL noticed as the Denver Broncos traded up to the draft’s 25th spot to grab Tebow — Denver sent 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round picks to Baltimore (Nos. 43, 70 & 114) and the Broncos also received the No. 119 pick in the deal. It will be interesting to see if Tebow is given the opportunity to compete with holdovers Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn or he will be a team “leader” by holding a clipboard and running the scout team.  “Like everybody, he will be competing for a job,” Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels said.  “I don’t care if a guy is a rookie. If he’s earned the job, he’ll play. That goes for any position. But I’ll say this, he has a long way to go to get there. But he is starting the process.” An interesting subplot to Tebow’s selection is that his Broncos’ jersey (No. 15) is already a best-seller on NFL.com.

Lots of Trades – Teams were more than willing to trade up or down, which continued an offseason filled with player movement.  There were 33 trades – NFL record is 34 set in 2008 – during this year’s draft, which definitely can be attributed to the new 3-day format and more time between rounds 1 and 2. 

Tight Ends Galore – After the success of Pro Bowl tight ends like the Colts’ Dallas Clark, Chargers’ Antonio Gates, and Cowboys’ Jason Witten every team is looking for athletic players that can dominate the middle of the field.  This year more than ever GM’s seemed to understand that you need not one, but two quality tight ends as 19 were drafted. Here is the breakdown of the 2010 NFL Draft by position:  Defensive Backs (52, but half were Safeties and the other half CB’s),  Linebackers (35), Receivers (30), Defensive End (28), Tight Ends (19), Running Backs (15), Defensive Tackle (20), Offensive Tackles (19), Quarterbacks (13), Guards (12), Centers (7), Punter (3), Kick Returners (2), Kicker (zero), and Long Snapper (zero)

Clausen gets hit in the wallet – Another player that was probably glad he didn’t come to New York was Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen.  Opinions in NFL circles varied about  the former ND passer, but he landed in a great situation as the Carolina Panthers rescued him in the 2nd round with the 48th overall selection – should compete right away with holdover Matt Moore.  However in going from a “perceived” Top 10 pick to the 2nd round, Clausen lost some money that he will need to make-up.  CNBC’s Darren Rovell estimates that Clausen lost about $2.6 million by not being selected where some slated him — ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. projected him to go in the Top 10. Last year’s 48th pick, Bears DB Darcel McBath, signed for about $2 million guaranteed and earned $1.9 million in salary in 2009.

Ghee probably wished that he had stayed home — Wake Forest cornerback Brandon Ghee and Texas defensive tackle Lamarr Houston were the last two players from the 17 invitees to New York that were selected. However even in disappoint, Ghee (selected in the 3rd round by the Bengals) was given the honor of Goodell announcing the pick and giving words of encouragement to the youngster while posing for pictures. 

Draft Report Card

I don’t like to give “Letter Grades”, because as I always like to say, “It takes 2 to 3 years to evaluate a draft”. That being said, some teams definitely did seem to strengthen their teams in the 2010 NFL Draft. The teams that did well seemed to follow a blueprint that I believe has worked in the past for teams like recent Super Champs the New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, and the New York Giants:

  • Go for Larger School Players (BCS Level Players) in the 1st three rounds.
  • Judge the total player (Interview, Practice Habits, All Star Game, Combine, Pro Day, “Character”, and most importantly Game Film).
  • “Football Players” in the 4th round and higher. Players that may not have all the measurables, but who can provide quality depth by helping on special teams or playing multiple positions.
  • Always consider your team’s needs with picks (Use the draft to replenish and build to establish the cornerstone of your team).

Remember no “blueprint” is bulletproof, so regardless of how much homework is done before the draft, most talent evaluator’s will have just as many Charles Rogers, Freddie Mitchell, Mike Mamula, Akilli Smith, and Tim Couch (All High 1st Round Busts) type picks on their resume as Tom Brady, Terrell Davis, and Seth Joyner (All late round finds) type picks. The draft process is a roll of the dice, but the aforementioned group always seems to do just a little bit better than others.

WINNERS

Oakland Raiders – After being the butt of several years of NFL jokes, the Raiders had one of their best drafts in a long time.  Their stellar effort started with the selection of highly rated middle linebacker Rolando McClain from Alabama then improved their defense more by adding Texas stout defensive tackle Lamarr Houston. Al Davis also didn’t forget about an O-line that needed much improvement by adding small-school star Jared Veldheer (Hillsdale) and NFL Combine phenom Bruce Campbell from Maryland.  Of course, they also grabbed the draft’s fastest player in Clemson WR/KR Jacoby Ford too. And the cherry on top of the sundae was the Raiders trading a 2012 fourth round selection to the Washington Redskins for quarterback Jason Campbell.  The addition of Campbell also should spell the end of the JaMarcus Russell era in Oakland, which will be addition by subtraction.

Detroit Lions – What is not to like about the Lions grabbing my number #1 player in Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh with the 2nd overall pick.  Suh is a dominating presence that should help a defense that allowed almost 500 points in 2009.  Lions GM Mark Mayhew then grabbed one of the draft’s versatile playmakers by trading up at the end of the first round to select Cal speedster Jahvid Best, who should become quarterback Matthew Stafford’s Reggie Bush.  After their stellar first day haul, Detroit added physical Iowa CB Amari Spievey, tough Miami (FL) OT Jason Fox and “Mr. Irrelevant” Weber State receiver Tim Toone, who they are hoping is the NFL’s next Wes Welker.

San Francisco 49ers – After their O-line allowed 40 + sacks in 2009, the Niners knew they had to get better upfront to have a chance to win the NFC West.  With their two first-round picks (11th and 17th overall) they fortified their O-line with picks of developing offensive tackle Anthony Davis (Rutgers) and rock solid offensive guard Mike Iupati (Idaho). These additions should help RB Frank Gore run harder and protect quarterback Alex Smith who is trying to rebound into a franchise passer.  Later on, Mike Singletary added USC safety Taylor Mays, who brings an instant grudge against the Seahawks and their head coach Pete Carroll.  The Niners also added tough Penn State LB Navorro Bowman and scrappy smaller Arizona State receiver Kyle Williams.

Baltimore Ravens – I am not going to lie to you, after the Ravens traded out of the first round… I thought they were crazy.  But Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome had something up his sleeve as he added defensive impact players in the second round with the selection of Texas OLB Sergio Kindle and Alabama anchor nose tackle Terrence Cody.  Kindle is an explosive athletic pass rusher, who should compliment fellow linebackers Terrelle Suggs and Ray Lewis very well.  And Cody should team with Haloti Ngata to form one of the biggest defensive middles in the NFL, so I dare anyone to try and run on them.   Also to help aging tight end Todd Heap (53 rec, 593 yards, and  6 TDs), Newsome added young speedy pass-catchers  Ed Dickson (Pitt)  and Dennis Pitta (BYU).

Others I thought did a nice job on Saturday and Sunday were Bucs, Patriots, Eagles, Rams, Dolphins, and Seahawks

HEAD SCRATCHERS, BUT I WOULDN’T CALL THEM “LOSERS”

Jacksonville Jaguars – You have thought a coach on the Hot Seat like Jack Del Rio would have had more urgency in his picks.  The Jags pulled the 2010 NFL Draft’s biggest shocker by pick Cal defensive tackle Tyson Alualu with the 10th overall selection even though he carried a 2nd or 3rd round grade.  Then can you tell me who any of their remaining picks are – DT D’Anthony Smith,, Louisiana Tech; LB Larry Hart, Central Arkansas; DE Austen Lane, Murray State; RB Deji Karim, Southern Illinois; and WR/KR Scotty McGee, James Madison.   Lastly how could the Jags not select a quarterback when starter David Garrard is struggling of late.

Others I thought would have given low grades to, if I believed in them were Bears (didn’t pick until the 75th overall selection) and Buffalo Bill (only took one offensive lineman in the 5th round…wasn’t that their biggest need).

Best Value Selections

RB Jahvid Best (late first round by the Lions)

QB Jimmy Clausen (2nd Rd, 48th overall pick by the Panthers)

QB/WR Armanti Edwards (3rd, 89th overall by the Panthers)

safety Myron Rolle (6th Rd by the Titans)

Picks with Bust Potential

1st rd, #22 —  Denver Broncos – Demaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech

2nd rd, #54 — Cincinnati Bengals – Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida

3rd rd, # 72 —  Buffalo Bills – Alex Carrington, DE, Arkansas State

The 8th Round Begins for Some Players

Every year thousands of players are left heartbroken as “Mr. Irrelevant” — 2010′s version was Weber State WR Tim Toone who was picked 255th by the Detroit Lions — is selected thus ending their dreams of being selected in the NFL Draft.  Sure being drafted is an honor, but there have been many outstanding undrafted players including: Broncos great receiver Rod Smith, former Eagles tough strong safety the late Andre Waters, Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, and many others.  The great thing for undrafted players is that they can now choose their landing spot in the NFL and possibly enhance their chances by finding a good roster situation before signing.

Some 2010 undrafted players to keep an eye on in training camp are

Grambling State DE Christian Anthony

Bowling Green WR Freddie Barnes (signed as a UDFA by the Chicago Bears)

Norfolk State WR Chris Bell

Wayne State RB Joique Bell (Buffalo Bills)

LSU OG Ciron Black (Steelers)

Oregon RB LaGarrette Blount (Tennessee Titans)

UCLA LB Kyle Bosworth (Jacksonville Jaguars)

Shaw DT Callahan Bright

West Virginia QB Jarrett Brown (SF 49ers)

Penn State QB Daryll Clark (Washington Redskins)

Hampton RB LaMarcus Coker

St. Augustine’s OLB/DE Marcus Crump

Stillman OLB/DE Junior Galette (Saints)

Central Florida safety Michael Greco

Western Michigan QB Tim Hiller (Indianapolis Colts)

USC RB Stafon Johnson (Tennessee Titans)

Valdosta State QB/WR Kellen Lewis

Alabama A&M OLB/DE Jeremy Maddox

Jacksonville State QB Ryan Perrilloux, (Tryout with Minnesota Vikings)

Ole Miss QB Jevan Snead (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Western Illinois CB Patrick Stoudamire (SF 49ers)

Florida A&M CB/KR LeRoy Vann (SF 49ers)

Army WR/TE Ali Villanueva

Penn State CB A.J. Wallace (Miami Dolphins)

Abilene Christian OT Tony Washington

Western Illinois TE Joseph Wielgat

Harvard OT James Williams

Lloyd’s Leftovers:

Haynesworth stays put – Even though disgruntled players like Redskins QB Jason Campbell (to Raiders), NY Jets RB Leon Washington (to Seahawks) and Titans RB LenDale White (to Seahawks) were traded during the 2010 NFL Draft.  Surprisingly Redskins unhappy DT Albert Haynesworth was not traded over the draft’s 3 days.  I guess money (signed in ’09 for 7 years, $100 Million Contract w/ $41 Million guaranteed and was paid a $21 million bonus on April 1st ) got in the way of any deal for the sulking defensive tackle, who is ill-fitted for defensive coordinator Jim Haslett’s new 3-4 scheme.   Now Haynesworth, who was 2009 free agency’s Big Fish, and new Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan will need to work out some kind of relationship.  Other veterans that were rumored to be traded but stayed put were Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick, Buffalo Bills RB Marshawn Lynch (probably will be cut), Jacksonville Jaguars DT John Henderson (cut after draft) and New England Patriots LB Addalius Thomas (cut after the draft).

The “U” has an increase in players selected – Though the University of Miami (Fla.) did not get a first round pick for the second year in a row — in 2009 the school’s 15-year first round streak ended.  The school that invented “swagger” did have four players drafted led by emerging tight end Jimmy Graham (3rd Rd by the Saints).  Other Hurricanes coming to the NFL are LB Daryl Sharpton (4th Rd by the Texans), OT Jason Fox (4th Rd by the Lions), and TE Dedrick Epps (7th Rd by the Chargers).

Rookies Better Watch Their Pockets – With rookie guaranteed money reaching $40 Million dollars after the 2009 NFL Draft and 2010 NFL Draft first overall pick Sam Bradford expecting to get over that mark, fans can expect a rookie salary cap as part of the upcoming CBA.  Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a recent interview about a possible rookie cap, “I’m a big fan of the rookie salary cap… I think that it is very much in the best interest of our veteran players, being able to be rewarded for what they achieve on the NFL field.”  I know veterans will be happier after the 2011 NFL Draft, because then rookies will have to earn big dollars after paying their dues.

Players drafted for their “Wildcat” potential – We all know the NFL is a copycat league, so it was not surprising that the 2010 NFL Draft saw some players drafted for “versatility” reasons. Appalachian State’s Armanti Edwards (3rd round by the Panthers), University of Buffalo’s James Starks (6th round by the Packers) and UAB’s Joe Webb (6th round by the Vikings) were selected by their respective teams with the hope that they could be the next Joshua Cribbs (The Do-Everything Browns’ KR/WR/Wildcat QB).  It will also be interesting to see if Broncos first round pick Florida QB Tim Tebow (25th overall) will be asked to be a “pure” quarterback or if he will help out of the Wildcat formation too.  Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels said of Tebow, “He’s a quarterback. That’s all he’s going to do.”

What No Quarterback?? – Incredibly quarterback strapped teams the Jacksonville Jaguars, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers did not select a quarterback of the future.  Overall there were 15 quarterbacks taken – including  Appalachian State’s Armanti Edwards (Carolina) and UAB’s Joe Webb (Vikings) who are probably conversion candidates – with two in the first round (Sam Bradford at No. 1 by St. Louis and Tim Tebow at No. 25 by Denver).  Maybe a team looking for a quarterback can call the Oakland Raiders who traded for former Redskins passer Jason Campbell to go along Kyle Boller, Bruce Gradkowski, JaMarcus Russell, and Charlie Frye who were already on their roster.

No love for HBCU players – Throughout NFL history players from historically black college and universities (HBCU’s) have starred in the league (Walter Payton, Ernie Ladd, and Doug Williams to name a few). But this year there were only two HBCU standouts that were drafted: Morehouse OT Ramon Harewood (Ravens – 6th Round) and South Carolina State DB Phillip Adams (SF 49ers – 7th Rd).  It was the lowest number of HBCU players taken since 2004 when Southern DB Lenny Williams (252nd overall) and Hampton DE Isaac Hilton (253rd) were 7th round selections.  I guess Hampton RB LaMarcus Coker, Stillman DE Junior Gallette, Florida A&M QB Curtis Pulley and others will have to go the undrafted free agent route or to the CFL or the Arena Football League.

A Brief Look at the ’11 Draft – It is never too early for some research for the 2011 NFL Draft including:  Washington QB Jake Locker, North Carolina DT Marvin Austin, Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn, Alabama RB Mark Ingram, West Virginia RB/KR Noel Devine, Penn State RB Evan Royster and many others.  But we have 11+ months to bring you information and draft news about these guys.

That is it for 2010 NFL Draft and may all the league’s teams be enriched going into the 2010 season.

 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2010 NFL Draft – Day 1 Review by Lloyd Vance

Players like 1st overall pick QB Sam Bradford (St. Louis Rams) were all smiles as Day 1 of the NFL Draft took center stage

The 75th rendition of the NFL Draft, titled “The Grand Crossroads of Hope” took center stage of the sports world on April 22nd.  Hope sprung eternal from Oakland to New England as the NFL’s annual “Christmas in April” event arrived and for the first time it was in “Prime Time” on a weekday. 

The crowd made up of fans from every team imaginable with a large group of NY Jets fans packed venerable Radio City Music Hall to cheer or second-guess their teams.  As in years past the anticipation of the moment was not totally there as it was a foregone conclusion that Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford was the first overall pick — 10 out of 13 years that a quarterback went first overall. 

Bradford, the NFL’s newest million dollar quarterback, was all smiles as he and his family strolled to center stage greeted by Commissioner Goodell.  Who could blame the Bradford contingent for basking in the moment as the former Heisman Trophy winner will soon be getting a contract with over $41 Million guaranteed. 

The pace of the first round of the NFL Draft was brisk taking 3 hours, 25 Minutes which was 2 minutes slower than last year’s almost record 3 hours, 23 minutes mark.

Some tidbits from Day 1 included:

Oklahoma in the House – Led by Bradford, the Sooners garnered three of the first four picks in the 2010 NFL Draft.  Bradford went No. 1 to the Rams, DT Gerald McCoy went 3rd to the Bucs, and OT Trent Williams went 4th overall to the Washington Redskins.  The Big 12 also had a big night with 9 first rounders including the top four players.

Rip, Rip – That was the sound of mine and everyone’s Mock Drafts.  No one can predict what will happen on Day 1 of the NFL Draft especially in the first round.  It was fun for a little while seeing that I got the first three picks dead right.  But with the trading going on later, unpredictability ruled the day.  In the end I had 5 out of 32 picks, if you give me the Chargers taking Ryan Matthews, just not at the No. 28. 

First Surprise – A mild surprise was the Redskins selecting Williams at the 4th overall spot, but he is a better fit for Mike Shanahan’s new power running game than Oklahoma State’s Russell Okung.  The biggest shock had to be the Jacksonville Jaguars taking Cal DT Tyson Alualu with the 10th overall pick.  The quick D-lineman wasn’t even listed as a first round pick on several team’s draft boards.

Biggest Reach – Alualu was one big “reach”.  But the two biggest reaches of the first round were the Chargers trading up to No. 12 to take RB Ryan Matthews – probably would have been there later.  And the Eagles trading up to select Michigan DE Brendan Graham when players like Jason Paul-Pierre and Earl Thomas were available.

Best Value Pick – The NY Giants brought the Radio City Music Hall crowd to their feet by patiently waiting and getting South Florida DE Jason Paul-Pierre.  The very athletic freakish defensive end will join Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka to form one of the best pass rushes in the NFL.

Panic Move – This has to go to the Chargers, who got worried that someone was going to steal RB Ryan Matthews, who they had ear-marked to replace LaDainian Tomlinson.  San Diego scrambled to make a trade with the Dolphins to get to the No. 12 overall spot, by following for someone’s smokescreen.  The Chargers sent Miami their first-rounder (No. 28), a second-rounder (40) and a fourth-rounder (126), as well as linebacker Tim Dobbins. The Chargers also got 4th Rd (110) and 6th Rd (173) picks.

Picks Ready to Play Day 1 – Redskins OT Trent Williams and Detroit Lions DT Ndamukong Suh

Last in the Green Room – It had to be agonizing for Wake Forest cornerback Brandon Ghee and Texas defensive tackle Lamarr Houston to watch 15 other guys walk out the Green Room as they just sat there.  You have to give Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen credit for not attending.

Perenial Powers stuck on the sidelines – USC, Texas, Miami and Notre Dame had zero first round selections while Oklahoma (3), Florida (3), Tennessee (2), Rutgers (2), Alabama (2), Oklahoma State (2), and Georgia Tech (2) led the way.  Even Fresno State, Boise State and Idaho had first rounders.

Plenty of Trades – Teams were aggressive as they moved quickly to grab their guy.  There were seven trades in the first round including the Denver Broncos, who traded back twice,  then hustled back up to select QB Tim Tebow with the 25th overall pick (from the Ravens).

  • San Francisco swapped picks with Denver, so they could moving up two spots to draft Rutgers OT Anthony Davis. The Broncos also got a fourth-rounder (No. 113), then sent the No. 13 pick to the Eagles.
  • San Diego traded up 16 spots to draft Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews, at No. 12. The Chargers sent Miami their first-rounder (No. 28), a second-rounder (40) and a fourth-rounder (126), as well as linebacker Tim Dobbins. The Chargers also got fourth-round (110) and sixth-round (173) picks.
  • The Denver Broncos sent their first-round pick at No. 13 to the Philadelphia Eagles, who took Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham. In exchange, the Broncos got the No. 24 pick and the Eagles’ two third-round picks (Nos. 70 & 87).
  • The Denver Broncos traded with the New England Patriots to select Georgia Tech WR Demaryius Thomas at No. 22. The Pats picked up the Broncos’ No. 24 pick (via Philadelphia) and No. 113 picks in exchange.
  • The Dallas Cowboys picked up the No. 24 pick from New England to take Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant. The Patriots got the No. 27 and No. 70 picks in exhange, and used the No. 27 pick on Rutgers CB Devin McCourtney. Dallas also got New England’s fourth-round pick (No. 119).
  • The Broncos traded for the No. 25 pick from the Baltimore Ravens, which they used to draft Florida quarterback Tim Tebow. Denver sends 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round picks to Baltimore (Nos. 43, 70 & 114). The Broncos also received the No. 119 pick in the deal.
  • The Lions sent 2nd, 4th, and 7th round picks (Nos. 34, 100 & 214) to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for the No. 30 pick and the No. 128 pick. The Lions used the No. 30 pick to take Cal RB Jahvid Best.

Liked:  Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees announcing the Saints pick; The Make A Wish Kid announcing the Steelers first pick; NFL Network’s coverage; The New England Patriots stockpiling picks; and the appreciative attitude of the draftees.

Didn’t Like:  What was up with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell bearhugging every pick it seemed (you know Pete Rozelle wouldn’t have been doing that); The Red Carpet treatment for the picks (too much for the youngsters before they have earned their stripes); Detroit Lions draftee Jahvid Best lingering on the phone while everyone waited; and people downing the Oakland Raiders even though the pick of LB Rolando McClain was very “solid” at the 8th spot.

Potential 1st round Boom Player – KC Chiefs safety Eric Berry a the 5th spot

Potential 1st round Bust Player – Bengals TE Jermaine Gresham at the 21st spot

Best Players still available after the first round

Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen

USC S Taylor Mays

Alabama DT Terrence Cody

Wake Forest CB Brandon Ghee

Texas DT Lamarr Houston

Maryland OT Bruce Campbell

USC DE Everson Griffen

Notre Dame WR Golden Tate

UCLA DL Bruce Davis

Texas QB Colt McCoy

Texas LB Sergio Kindle

TCU LB Darryl Washington

Florida DE Carlos Dunlap

Day 1 Winners — Lions, Chiefs, Niners, Patriots and Packers

Day 1 Head Scratchers – Ravens (traded out of first round), Chargers, Jaguars, and Bills

That’s a Wrap, see you tomorrow for Rounds 2 and 3

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2010 NFL Draft Preview by Lloyd Vance

Radio City Music Hall will be electric for the start of the 2010 NFL Draft at 7:30 PM on April 22nd

Happy Draft Day!!! It will be Christmas in April as optimism and hope abound for all 32 NFL franchises and their fans as the 75th NFL Draft takes center stage on the sports calendar.  Sure the NBA playoffs, NHL playoffs, first month of baseball, and any number of sporting events are also occurring, but fans around the globe are most interested in the NFL Draft.  The new 3-day event, which will take place from the largest city in the United States at the venerable showbiz palace Radio City Music Hall, is so grandiose that it will be in “Prime Time” starting on Thursday for the first time. 

With all the hoopla around the NFL Draft, one has to wonder was there this much fanfare on February 8th, 1936.  That was the date the brainchild of league legend Bert Bell took flight as the first NFL Draft was held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia – A much quieter event where players like Tuffy Leemans were selected and didn’t know about it until receiving correspondence from the league.  The 1936 NFL draft was only a tiny ripple compared to the ocean’s worth of hype and expectation surrounding the 2010 NFL Draft. 

The whole thing is a “Can’t Miss Event” causing jersey-clad fans to line the streets of Manhattan for over 12 hours just for the chance to sit in the balcony of Radio City Music Hall with millions more watching on television.   However there is no need to worry about the NFL Draft television viewers as their extended 3-day couch time will include quality time with their favorite “draft guy” (NFL Network’s Mike Mayock or ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr).   As the seconds tick down on the clock, households in every NFL city will ponder questions like “Is my team trading up”, “Will they go for a need pick or the proverbial best player on the board”, “What are the stats on my team’s first round pick”, “Is that linebacker from my alma mater still available”, and many others.

For the most part all of the hoopla is just part of the show and 255 players will soon have new addresses after Saturday.  However I must offer some words of caution to all fans and media wanting instantly hand out or take away the Lombardi Trophy from NFL teams based solely on the draft.  Please take it easy on your rants and raves for a particular player or team, because as I always like say, “It takes 2 to 3 years to evaluate a draft”.  I know fans everywhere can remember the names of former “can’t miss players” that turned into just plain “missed picks” (Tim Couch, Courtney Brown, Andre Wadsworth, Charles Rogers, Ryan Leaf and many others).  

Consistently winning teams like the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, and the New York Giants tend to use the following draft principles in bringing in players.

  • Go for Larger School Players (BCS Level Players) in the first three rounds.
  • Judge the total player (Interview, Practice Habits, All Star Game, Combine, Pro Day, “Character”, and most importantly Game Film).
  • “Football Players” in the 4th round and higher (Day 2 and 3). Players that may not have all the measurables, but who can provide quality depth by helping on special teams or playing multiple positions.
  • Always consider your team’s needs with picks (Use the draft to replenish and build to establish the cornerstone of your team).

However remember that no “blueprint” is bulletproof, so regardless of how much homework is done before the draft, most talent evaluator’s will have just as many Freddie Mitchell, Mike Mamula, Akilli Smith, and Cade McNown type picks (All High 1st Round Busts) on their resume as Tom Brady, Terrell Davis, and Seth Joyner type picks (All late round finds).

So as always enjoy Draft Day, but remember a lot of times drafting prospects is a 50/50 proposition.

2010 NFL Draft Facts

Where: Radio City Music Hall, 1260 Avenue of the Americas, New York City (Between 50th and 51st Streets).

When:   7:30 PM ET, Thursday, April 22 (Rounds 1) 

              6:00 PM ET, Friday, April 23 (Rounds 2-3)

        10:00 AM ET, Saturday April 24 (Rounds 4-7)

Television:   NFL Network (5th year) and ESPN / ESPN2 (31st consecutive year)

The number of players attending the draft: The number of players attending the draft has increased this year to a record 17 players, but unfortunately college stars Tim Tebow or Jimmy Clausen have taken a pass.  The potential stars that will be in attendance include: Tennessee safety Eric Berry; California running back Jahvid Best; Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford; Iowa offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga; Wake Forest cornerback Brandon Ghee; Florida cornerback Joe Haden; Texas defensive tackle Lamarr Houston; Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy; Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan; Penn State defensive tackle Jared Odrick; Oklahoma State offensive tackle Russell Okung; Clemson running back C.J. Spiller; Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh; Georgia Tech wide receiver Demaryius Thomas; Tennessee defensive tackle Dan Williams and Oklahoma offensive tackle Trent Williams.

On the Clock: 

NFL trying for speed again – Last year the draft moved briskly (3 hours, 23 minutes), so it will interesting to see if the new 3-day format lends to teams taking their full allotted time — 10 minutes in Round 1;  7 minutes in Round 2; and 5 minutes in  Rounds 3-7  — in trying to wheel-and-deal.

Number of Picks:  There will be 255 selections with the St. Louis Rams holding the first selection and the Detroit Lions holding the last pick that is “Mr. Irrelevant” (Rd 7, 255)

Compensatory Picks – There will be a total of 32 compensatory choices in the 2010 NFL Draft from 19 teams. New England received the most compensatory picks with four (6th Rd,  205;  7th Rd,  229;  7th Rd, 247; 7th Rd, 248; 7th Rd, 250)

Teams with multiple selections in first round: Seattle Seahawks (6, 14) and San Francisco 49ers (13, 17)

Teams without a pick a first rounder: Carolina Panthers (don’t pick until the 2nd round, #48) and Chicago Bears (don’t pick until the 3rd round, #75)

Team with the most picks:  The New England Patriots have 12 picks including four picks in the 2010 NFL Draft’s first 55 picks (1st Rd, 22; 2nd Rd, 44; 2nd Rd, 47; 2nd Rd, 53)

Team with the most picks:  The Washington Redskins have 4 picks (1st Rd, 4; 4th Rd, 103; 5th Rd, 135 ; 7th Rd, 211) due to trades and selecting DL Jeremy Jarmon (3rd round) in last year’s Supplemental Draft.  New GM Bruce Allen and head coach Mike Shanahan will have to make ever pick to further improve a roster that have been very active already this offseason

Teams rumored trying to trade up: Cleveland Browns (might want a shot at Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford), Philadelphia Eagles (been rumored to be moving up to get a shot at Tennessee safety Eric Berry), and Buffalo Bills (may have to move-up to get a shot at Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clause)

Players Moving Up Draft Boards:  Florida QB Tim Tebow, Oklahoma OT Trent Williams, Texas QB Colt McCoy, Maryland OT Bruce Campbell, Alabama CB Kareem Jackson, and  Oklahoma TE Jermaine Gresham

Players Moving Down Draft Boards:  Georgia Tech RB Jonathan Dwyer, Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant, Abilene Christian OT Tony Washington, Notre Dame OT Sam Young, Rutgers OT Anthony Davis, Florida DE Carlos Dunlap and Alabama NT Terrence Cody

Possible trades: Everyone is telling me that the new 3-day format and more time between rounds 1 and 2 will allow more time to think over trades which could lead to teams making more moves.  Already this offseason (no Salary Cap and fewer quality unrestricted free agents) has brought some creative deals involving top level veteran players (Brandon Marshall, Donovan McNabb, and others) so I expecting more trading than ever – 88 trades in 2009 — during the 2010 NFL Draft.  Some veterans rumored to being on the trading block include:

Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger — After receiving a 6-game suspension for his much publicized behavior, the Steelers are “listening” to offers for Big Ben going into the draft.   They have even hedged their position by trading for and extending veteran Byron Leftwich through 2011.  Clearly there will need to be some fence-mending Roethlisberger and the team, but I don’t believe the Steelers really are ready to “Give Away” a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback  I believe the Steelers will give him, the proverbial, “One Last Strike”.  Anyway…I don’t believe right now that any team, not even the dysfunctional Oakland Raiders, is ready to take on Big Ben and the problems that he brings.  It would take a blockbuster deal for any team to bite and I don’t see that happening.

Washington Redskins QB Jason Campbell — After trading for QB Donovan McNabb, there really is no room for Campbell.  The former 2005 first round pick wants to start and it will not be with the Redskins as they will soon extend McNabb.  Watch for quarterback needy teams like the Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks, or Oakland Raiders to take a look.  I think the Redskins will take anything at this point (4th or 5th rounder) as Campbell has signed his 1-year restricted tender and Washington doesn’t want him around.  I see Campbell moving (Buffalo??) for a low round pick or being released.

Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick — I have heard that the Eagles really are not confident in Vick’s ability to run their offense if starter Kevin Kolb goes down.  Unfortunately the market for Vick is very bare due to his lack of playing time in 2009 (looked rusty only throwing 13 passes), his salary (over $6M in ’10) and the baggage that he brings.  I expect the Eagles to shop him around, but in the end he will return to the Birds to be a 3rd stringer behind Kolb and a veteran West  Coast back-up (Jeff Garcia??)

Washington Redskins DT Albert Haynesworth — Hard to believe after the ‘Skins paid him $21 million on April 1st that Haynesworth is on the trading block.  But there clearly is no love lost between the former 2009 free agency period’s Big Fish and new Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan.  To make matters worse, Haynesworth has said he does not want to be a nose tackle in new defensive coordinator Jim Haslett’s 3-4 scheme and is working out away from the team’s facility.  If any move is made (back to Tennessee?? or Colts or Saints), Haynesworth will need to restructure his contract (signed in ’09 for 7 years, $100 Million Contract w/ $41 Million guaranteed) and possibly payback the Redskins some of his bonus.  I don’t know how this one is going to play out, but my gut says Haynesworth is back in D.C for 2010 as there is too much money at stake.

Buffalo Bills RB Marshawn Lynch – The emergence of RB Fred Jackson (238 rushes for 1,062 yards and 2 TDs) plus the Bills’ new braintrust of GM Buddy Nix and head coach Chan Gailey could finally lead to the end of the road for the talented, but troubled Lynch (120 rushes for 450 yards and 2 TDs).  I could easily see the Bills taking the “Santonio Holmes” approach and taking a low-round draft to pick rid themselves of a pain in the butt player.

Lloyd’s Leftovers

Rookies Better Watch Their Pockets – With rookie guaranteed money reaching $40 Million dollars – look for expected first overall pick Sam Bradford to receive a deal north of Matthew Stafford’s deal from last year of 6-years, 72 Million Deal w/ 41 Million guaranteed — a rookie salary cap will definitely be a big bargaining chip in the upcoming CBA talks.  Can you believe Stafford made more up-front money than Colts future hall of fame quarterback Peyton Manning (Signed a seven-year, $99.2 million contract in March 2004 that included a $34.5 million signing bonus).  Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a recent interview about a possible rookie cap, “I’m a big fan of the rookie salary cap… I think that it is very much in the best interest of our veteran players, being able to be rewarded for what they achieve on the NFL field.”

Players being selected with the ‘Wildcat’ solely in mind – We all know the NFL is a copycat league so a lot of teams will be trying to find versatile players who can run the “Wildcat” formation.  Teams will be looking to draft mobile throwers like Florida’s Tim Tebow, Appalachian State’s Armanti Edwards, and Penn State’s Darryl Clark plus former high school quarterbacks (ex. Buffalo’s James Starks and Fresno’s Ryan Matthews) with the Wildcat in mind. 

Top 10 Greatest NFL Draft Picks to be Named –  In celebration of the 75th NFL Draft, which kicks off in primetime for the first time on Thursday, April 22, fans chose the 75 Most Valuable Draft Picks of all time presented by Verizon.  Nearly 45 million votes were cast from March 12 – April 18 on NFL.com.  Surprisingly guys like legendary NFL figure  Jim Brown (#12) and former Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman (#15) did not make the Top 10.

Heisman to first overall pick – Oklahoma quarterback Sam  Bradford, who won the Heisman Trophy in 2008, is looking to become just the 9th winner of the award to be selected first overall since the inception of the common NFL Draft in 1967.  Cincinnati Bengals QB Carson Palmer  was the most recent such player after being selected with the number one pick in 2003.

 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2010 NFL Draft Sleepers – Offense by Lloyd Vance

April 22, 2010 2 comments

Appalachian State QB Armanti Edwards is one of Sports Journey’s Sleepers for the 2010 NFL Draft

Though the majority of players taken in the NFL Draft usually come from BCS schools – in the 2009 NFL Draft little over 72% of the players selected were from the 6 BCS Conferences.— everyone is enamored with finding a “sleeper”.  Every year around draft time, whether it is friends or on the radio, everyone wants me to identify a “superstar in waiting” that no one is talking about.

Well everyone…I am here to tell you that there are no longer any true “sleepers” in the NFL Draft process.  Trust me — if you have talent, NFL teams with their gaggle of scouts, assistant coaches, GM’s, and others scouring football fields everywhere will find you.  Now smaller school players are even making it easier for NFL teams to scout them by creating recruiting type videos for YouTube and other media outlets.

Some “Diamonds in the Rough” prospects for the 2010 NFL Draft on the offensive side of the ball:

QB Tim Hiller, Western Michigan – This big (6-5, 230) strong armed passer has been touted by some scouts as a better pro prospect than fellow MAC passer Dan Lefevour (Central Michigan).  Hiller is definitely a pocket passer in the mold of Drew Bledsloe, so he will need O-line protection as he learns the NFL game.

QB Ryan Perrilloux, Jacksonville State — Former LSU quarterback (dismissed in 2008) resurrected his career at JSU and became one of the best players in the Ohio Valley Conference.  Perrilloux (6-3, 223) had a great senior year finishing with passing numbers: 138-of-236, 58%, 2,345 yards, 23 TDs, and 2 INTs plus 98 rushes for 443 yards and 8 TDs. The one-time MVP of the SEC championship game showed great arm strength and touch at the Texas vs. the Nation All-Star game.

QB/WR Kellen Lewis, Valdosta State – This former University of Indiana quarterback resurfaced for his senior year at Valdosta State after being dismissed.  In 3 years at IU, Lewis was on his way to being one of the conference’s best dual-threat quarterbacks — joined Antwaan Randle El as the only IU quarterback to produce over 6000 passing yards, 40 passing TDs, and 8,000 yards in total offense for their career.  In his one year at VSU, Lewis produced passing numbers: 232-372, 62.4%, 2514 yards, 14 TDs and 9 INTs along with 485 yards and 9 TDs rushing.  Also has experience as a receiver from IU.

QB John Skelton, Fordham – A former under the radar quarterback, who is getting attention on team’s draft boards due to his rocket arm.  Reminds some scouts of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger when he entered the NFL.  Skelton is tall (6’4) and has great instincts, but he will need to work on his accuracy especially on mid-range throws.  Likes to go for the big play and sometimes gets burned by interception-happy DB’s.

QB/WR Armanti Edwards, Appalachian State – After his breakout performance in a 2008 upset of Michigan, everyone can never forget Edwards.  This two-time 1-AA Player of the Year is lacks ideal pro quarterback size (5’11, 185), but he is a playmaker and a “winner”.  Edwards leaves ASU as their most decorated athlete having won two National Championships and outstanding numbers (over 14,000 total yards and 74 TDs – passing and rushing).  It will be interesting to see if Edwards gets a legitimate shot as a quarterback in the NFL or will he have to transition to receiver or kick returner or be just a Wildcat.   If Edwards does have to transition to another position he has the athleticism as he is a legitimate 4.4 in the forty guy.

RB Joique Bell, Wayne State – Outside of Fresno’s Ryan Matthews, Bell is the premier big back (6’1, 223) in this year’s NFL draft.  At Wayne State, Bell rushed for almost 7,000 yards while piling up 88 TDs in four years.  Has a chance to be a great short yard and goal-line back in the mold of the Titans’ LenDale White.  The only concern with Bell is that right now he looks like a plodder as he ran a 4.68 in the forty at the NFL Combine.

RB James Starks, Buffalo – Another big back (6’2, 218) that should be able to help on the next level.  Though a shoulder injury caused Starks to miss the 2009 season, there is still a “buzz” about him.  A versatile back who also has experience as a quarterback and defensive back, Starks had a stellar 2008 season (1333 rushing yards with 16 TDs rushing and 52 catches for 361 yards and 1 TD) when he led his team to the conference championship.  The former Niagara Falls HS quarterback ran well at the NFL Combine and showed good fluidity in drills.  In three years at Buffalo, Starks set school records for rushing yards (3,140) and touchdowns (34).

RB LaMarcus Coker, Hampton – Began his college football career at the University of Tennessee where he contributed including a 42-yard touchdown run in the 2006 Outback Bowl against Penn State. The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s leading rusher last season totaled 1,027 rushing yards with six touchdowns. Coker (5-10, 195) participated in the East Coast Bowl, where he ran the 40 for scouts in 4.28 seconds. Also caught a 33-yard TD pass in the HBCU Bowl All-Star Game and finished with a game-high 82 yards receiving on three catches.

WR Chris Bell, Norfolk State — A big receiver prospect, who originally started out at Penn State then transferred after an off the field incident.  Bell (6’2, 211) had a very good NFL Combine where he was timed at 4.47  seconds in the 40-yard dash (tied for 11th among receivers), put up 15 reps in the bench press, broad jumped 9-9 and ran a the 3-cone drill in 6.76 seconds.   In 2009, Bell had 51 catches for 958 yards and 13 touchdowns in a breakout junior season at Norfolk State.

WR Freddie Barnes, Bowling Green – Reminds a lot of Ravens receiver Anquan Boldin as he is not the biggest (6’0, 212) or the fastest (4.65), but he produces big-time.  In 2009, Barnes set an NCAA record by catching 155 passes for 1770 yards and 19 TDs – also had two other touchdowns rushing.  After converting from the quarterback position, Barnes put up 298 catches for 3,299 yards and 30 TDs in only two seasons as a full-time receiver.  Had a very good East-West Shrine game and is being looked at as a slot receiver and potential Wildcat at the next level.

WR Kyle Williams, Arizona State – Surprisingly the son of Chicago White Sox GM Kenny Williams has flown under the radar this draft season.  Williams was Arizona State’s leading receiver last year with 57 catches for 815 yards and 8 TDs.  Though some are viewing the form Sun Devil as only a punt returner due to his size (5’9/185), I believe that Williams should have an impact as a receiver too.

WR Ali Villanueva, Army – A huge developmental player who could wind-up as a blocking tight end or as an offensive tackle.  If you can believe it, Villanueva (6′9/277) was Army’s leading receiver in all categories for the 2009 season.  Had a solid East-West Shrine Game, but there are concerns about his military commitment and where to play him.

ATH Joseph Wielgat, Western Illinois – This rugby player has drawn the eye of NFL scouts after performing very well at his school’s Pro Day.  Wieglat, who projects to be an H-Back or TE at the next level, weighed-in at a solid 6-6 1/8 and 243 while running 4.66 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

OG/OT Vladimir Ducasse, UMass — After a solid Senior Bowl week, this native of Haiti showed that he has the size (6-5, 330) and strength to play at the next level.  Has experience as a 1-AA left tackle, but seems ideally suited to play offensive guard at the next level.  Has long arms and a good punch at the snap, but is still developing as a player.

OT Jared Veldheer, Hillsdale — A Division II offensive lineman who is shooting up a lot of team’s draft boards.  Veldheer fit right in at the NFL Combine running in the 4.9 range and looking comfortable in drills.  Seems to have better footwork and mechanics than most small-school O-linemen.

OT Tony Washington, Abilene Christian — A highly recruited player in the state of Texas who ended up at a smaller school after some off the field issues.  Washington is a long offensive lineman (6’6, 311) with the potential to be a bookend at the next level.  Has very good feet and athleticism.  Answered every team’s questions about his past at the NFL Combine, but it will be interesting to see which team takes a shot on him.

OT James Williams, Harvard – That’s right… even Harvard has a potential NFL caliber O-lineman.  Trying to follow in the footsteps of Ross Tucker (Princeton), Williams (6-5, 295, 5.20) is a big, smart, and athletic lineman from the Ivy League.  Though he is not a road-grader, Williams is getting scouts’ attention due to his long arms, good feet, and sound blocking techniques.  Looks like a very good pro right tackle prospect. 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2010 NFL Draft Sleepers – Defense by Lloyd Vance

Central Florida safety Michael Greco is one of Sports Journey’s Sleepers for the 2010 NFL Draft

Though the majority of players taken in the NFL Draft usually come from BCS schools – in the 2009 NFL Draft little over 72% of the players selected were from the 6 BCS Conferences.— everyone is enamored with finding a “sleeper”.  Every year around draft time, whether it is friends or on the radio, everyone wants me to identify a “superstar in waiting” that no one is talking about.

Well everyone…I am here to tell you that there are no longer any true “sleepers” in the NFL Draft process.  Trust me — if you have talent, NFL teams with their gaggle of scouts, assistant coaches, GM’s, and others scouring football fields everywhere will find you.  Now smaller school players are even making it easier for NFL teams to scout them by creating recruiting type videos for YouTube and other media outlets.

Some “Diamonds in the Rough” prospects for the 2010 NFL Draft on the defensive side of the ball: 

DE/OLB Arthur Moats, James Madison — A high-motor smaller (6’0, 246) pass rusher who was dominant at the FCS level.  Moats led JMU with 90 tackles, 11 sacks  and 23 tackles for loss (led all of FCS).  The 2009 Buck Buchanan Award as the FCS division’s best defender, Moats is a tenacious pass rusher who should be a good 3-4 OLB at the next level.

DE Austen Lane, Murray State – A small school two-way defensive end that combines size (6-7, 270) and quickness (4.65).  Lane was dominant at the FCS level as he was unblockable at times.  Has long arms that help him bat-down passes and block kicks (4 career blocked kicks.  A good run stuffer, who is also a double-digit sack guy.

DE Christian Anthony, Grambling State — An incredibly gifted defensive end that reminds some of former Alabama A&M and Indianapolis Colts star Robert Mathis.  Anthony (6-4, 246) finished fourth in voting for the Buck Buchanan Award and was voted the 2009 SWAC Defensive Player of the Year.  The Birmingham, Alabama native led the SWAC in solo tackles (55) and finished with 76 tackles overall.  Anthony also contributed 8 sacks, 15 tackles for loss, 5 forced fumbles, 3 recoveries and five interceptions (returning 2 for touchdowns).

OLB/DE Junior Galette, Stillman — A defensive end and who looks like an NFL outside linebacker candidate, Galette (6-2, 255) transferred from Temple for his senior season at Stillman. A high-motor player, Galette led the SIAC with 9.5 sacks and also ranked 3rd in conference for tackles for losses (17.5 for minus 100 yards). In just 9 games, he recorded 56 tackles including 37 solo stops. Also had 12 quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles plus blocked a field goal.  Had a strong 2010 NFL Combine where he was timed at 4.63 in the forty.

OLB/DE Marcus Crump, St. Augustine’s — A lanky high energy pass rusher that reminds me of a young Jason Taylor.  Crump (6-6, 240) finished the 2009 season second in the CIAA in sacks (10) and 3rd in tackles for loss (15). The All-CIAA defensive end also ranked in DII in those respective categories 7th in sacks and 25th in tackles for loss.

DT Callahan Bright, Shaw – After a circuitous college with stops at Florida State, prep school, and junior college, this former highly recruited high school prospect found a home at DII school Shaw.  Bright (6-2, 315) is a cat-quick defensive lineman who also plays with great strength.  Bright had a decent season by DII DT standards, posting 48 tackles including 7.5 for loss.  Likened to Eagles DT Broderick Bunkley.

OLB/DE  Jeremy Maddox, Alabama A — An explosive pass rusher with a good first step.  Reminds me of Kansas City Chiefs sack man Tamba Hali.  Maddox (6-0, 244) was a two-time All-SWAC selection and finalist for the Buchanan Award.  Just knows how to get to the passer as shown by his 12 sacks (2nd in FCS).

OLB/DE  Adrian Tracy, William & Mary – A very dominant small school pass rusher that was unstoppable the last 2 years  as he produced 22 sacks and 37.5 tackles for loss.  Tracy (6-3, 242) reminds some NFL scouts of Philadelphia Eagles sack man Trent Cole as he has a quick first step and is tenacious rushing the passer.

DT Sean Lissemore, William & Mary – After an impressive Pro Day(4.82 in 40-yd, 7.57 in the 3-cone drill, and 26 reps of 225), everyone has their eye on this penetrating defensive tackle.  Lissemore (6-3, 297) reminds some of former Bucs D-lineman Chris Hovan as he is strong and quick.   The former W&M star was first team all-conference honors finishing 66 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and two interceptions in 2009. Also played well in the Texas vs. Nation All-Star Game versus bigger competition.

CB Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Indiana (PA) – His first name means “Born on Sunday.” A very good small school corner that looks like a perfect Cover-2 player.  Owusu-Ansah (6-1, 195, 4.50) has the size and speed that NFL defensive coordinators are looking for.  Was impressive at the DII level as he dominated despite recovering from a shoulder injury.  A very good corner, but it is his special team’s play that NFL teams really like — scored 9 TDs in his career on returns, including four on punts and three on kickoffs. Owusu-Ansah holds school records for punt return yards (788), punt return average (11.4) and kickoff return yards (1,282).

CB Patrick Stoudamire, Western Illinois – Probably the top non-D1 defensive prospect in the 2010 draft.  Stoudamire (5-10, 200, 4.42) definitely has ability that is close to top corners Joe Haden (Florida) and Kyle Wilson (Boise State).  With good size, speed, and agility, this small school player has the instincts to be a very good cover corner.  Is very good at recovering and also breaking on the football.

CB/KR LeRoy Vann, Florida A — This former walk-on was arguably the most explosive player in all of college football (FCS or BCS).  Vann (5-9, 179) who was featured in Sports Illustrated and ESPN’s SportsCenter, finishing his college career as the FCS record holder for career returns for scores (11  overall with 8 punts and 3 kickoffs).  An elusive returner, who many are comparing to a slower version of Bears former Pro Bowl player Devin Hester, this season had 6 return touchdowns (3 punts and 3 kickoffs). While finishing with eye-popping numbers: 28 punts for 462 yards (16.5-yard average) and 3 TDs plus 38 kickoffs for 1,121 yards (29.5-yard average) and 3 TDs.  Vann – 1st team All-American selection in FCS — finished his stellar college career as the fifth player in FCS history to record over 1,000 yards on both kickoff and punt returns.  He also impressed scouts by being named the MVP of the inaugural HBCU Bowl all-star game after returning a punt 81 yards for a touchdown.

S Michael Greco, Central Florida – A former quarterback who has drawn comparisons to John Lynch when he entered the NFL.  Greco (6-3, 217, 4.40) didn’t convert to DB until late in his college career, but he is a smart tough player.  In 2009, the former UCF signal caller  finished with 45 tackles and  broke up 4 passes in only 7 starts.  Greco continued his rise up draft boards with a solid Pro Day — ran under 4.40 seconds in the 40-yd, jumped 41.5 inches vertically and banged out 22 reps of 225-lbs.

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Sports Journey – 2010 NFL Draft Mock v2.0 by Lloyd Vance

Michigan pass rusher Brandon Graham is one of several high profile prospects featured in Sports Journey‘s 2010 NFL Draft Mock v2.0

The NFL Draft is an ever-changing entity due to trades (McNabb), veteran cuts (Flozell Adams), and prospect workouts (Sam Bradford).  So with an abundance draft related tidbits coming in daily, I thought it was time to do version 2.0 of my 2010 NFL Draft  Mock.

1)  St. Louis Rams – QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma

    2009 Record: 1-15 | Needs: QB, CB, OLB, WR

After a workout for the ages on March 29th, there is no doubt that the Rams will begin their rebuilding by selecting Bradford.  In his Pro Day workout, the former 2008 Heisman winner displayed footwork, size (6’5, 236), poise, and arm strength that solidified his spot as the 2010 NFL Draft’s No. 1 overall pick. Bradford will be the franchise’s first quarterback to be selected in the first round since 1967—9 of the last 12 first overall picks have been quarterbacks.  The NCAA’s all-time leader in passing efficiency is an accurate, intelligent, and athletic passer plus he averaged an incredible 9.41 yards-per-attempt, had a TD-to-INT ratio of 88-16 in his career, and don’t forget he threw 50 TDs in 2008.  While there are some shoulder concerns (ACL joint), Bradford clearly looks recovered from his October surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews.  With the Rams recently cutting veteran Marc Bulger, look for Bradford to be a Day 1 starter for the Rams with A.J. Feeley and Keith Null serving as his backups.    I wonder if Bradford’s agent, CAA’s Tom Condon,  and the Rams will have a deal already in place when the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reads the pick.  Look for the former Oklahoma star to get a deal similar if not better than last year’s No.1 overall pick, Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford, who’s deal was 6-years, $72 million and $41.7 million guaranteed.

2) Detroit Lions – DT Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska

    2009 Record: 2-14 | Needs: OT, DL, CB, S

Some expected Detroit to go O-line, but they recently traded for up-and-coming offensive guard Rob Sims from the Seattle Seahawks.  Lions head coach Jim Schwartz and GM Martin Mayhew address a defense that allowed an NFL-high 494 points in 2009 by selecting Suh with the second overall pick.  Suh had one of the best years of any college defensive tackle in NCAA history as he produced 85 tackles, a NCAA leading 24 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, and 1 forced fumble. The decorated award-winner (Lombardi, Bednarik, Willis, and first team All American) also had 10 passes defensed, 28 QB hurries, 1 INT and three blocked kicks.  The cat-quick and strong defensive lineman possibly played his best game in Nebraska’s near upset of the Texas in the Big 12 Championship game, finishing with 4.5 sacks.  By adding Suh, the Lions defense will be able to apply the pressure needed to produce more sacks and turnovers.

3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma

     2009 Record: 3-13 | Needs: DL, WR, CB, S

Raheem Morris’ defensive unit was plagued by big plays and coverage lapses throughout the 2009 season.  With an eye on finding a “Warren Sapp” penetrating defensive tackle for their Cover-2 scheme, the Bucs will select Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy (6’4/297) to re-build their defense around.  The 2008 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year produced 16.5 tackles for loss and six sacks, despite constant double teams.  Look for the fourth-year junior to collapse the pocket with his cat-quick moves, helping improving linebacker Barrett Ruud to make more game-changing plays.  McCoy will instantly bring some teeth to a Bucs’ defense that ranked 32nd in the NFL against the run.

4) Washington Redskins – OT Russell Okung, Oklahoma State

    2009 Record: 4-12 | Needs: OT, OG, S, QB

After trading for veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb, more than ever the Redskins must find a way to help their offensive line.  Last year the O-line allowed 46 sacks then OT Chris Samuels retired and OG Randy Thomas was released.  Redskins’ new braintrust of head coach Mike Shanahan and GM Bruce Allen grab the 2010 NFL Draft’s first O-lineman by selecting big bookend tackle Russell Okung to protect McNabb.  The 2009 Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year and first-team All-American allowed just one sack and two QB pressures last year.  Running behind Okung, Oklahoma State led the Big 12 in rushing in all four of his seasons as a starter.  The former Oklahoma State star has good “pop” at the snap, good feet, and long arms.  By selecting Okung and starting him Day 1, the Redskins will finally be able to fix an offensive line that was in shambles in 2009.

5) Kansas City Chiefs – OT Bryan Bulaga, Iowa

2009 Record: 4-12 | Needs: S, WR, LB, DL

Some are saying that the Chiefs may flirt with the idea of selecting quarterback Jimmy Clausen or safety Eric Berry, but I believe, head coach Todd Haley and general manager Scott Pioli like what they have in young starter Matt Cassell.  With many spots still to fill, Kansas City selects 2nd rated offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga from Iowa and move former first rounder Branden Albert back to his natural guard position.  Though there is some concern over Bulaga (6’6/315) missing three games in 2009 due to a thyroid condition, he was the most dominant blocker in the Big Ten — named conference’s 2009 Offensive Lineman of the Year. This converted tight end has drawn comparisons to Browns former first rounder and Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas for his good feet and pass-blocking technique.   Plus Pioli knows Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz very well and would love to get one of his hard-nose players.

6) Seattle Seahawks – Safety Eric Berry, Tennessee

     2009 Record: 5-11 | Needs: OT, DE, OG, WR

Former USC college guru Pete Carroll and new GM John Schneider have already started turning over their roster – several players moved including OG Rob Sims.  Though some folks are expecting a quarterback of the future or a stud receiver or a penetrating defensive lineman, the Seahawks get their John Lynch type safety for their new Cover-2 scheme by selecting Tennessee safety Eric Berry. Though his numbers were a bit down in ’09, Berry took his game to a new level working with former Volunteers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, a veteran NFL teacher of the Cover-2 defense.  The 2009 Jim Thorpe award winner as the nation’s best defensive back, Berry will definitely help in over the top coverage as well as in box.  Expect the centerfielder to help in the nickel, dime, and on special teams as he has a “Can Do” attitude that will help a Seahawks defense that allowed 330 points last year.  Look for the Seahawks to continue filling some of their other needs, namely their O-line, later in the first round when they select at the No. 14 spot.

7) Cleveland Browns – CB Joe Haden, Florida

     2009 Record: 5-11 | Needs: QB, OT, DE, S

Though football czar Mike Holmgren says he doesn’t need a quarterback in the first round, you never know.  However I will take Holmgren at his word and the Browns pass on Clausen in favor of giving veteran Jake Delhomme another shot.  Holmgren and new GM Tom Heckert decide that fixing a defense that allowed 375 points in 2009 is more pressing – too many big plays.  The Browns grab another defensive back to add to holdover Eric Wright and veteran pickup Sheldon Brown by selecting Florida cover corner Joe Haden (5’11, 190).  Even though some people are wondering about Haden’s speed – ran a 4.57 at the NFL Combine, but recently was timed at high 4.3/low 4.4 range Florida’s Pro Day – there is no doubt that he is the best cover corner in this draft.  Some are comparing him to Jets Pro Bowl CB Darrelle Revis, but we will see on that comparison.

8) Oakland Raiders – WR Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State

     2009 Record: 5-11 | Needs: WR, OT, DE, S

After passing on Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin last year, the Raiders select the best receiver in this year’s draft, Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant.  This pick doesn’t make much sense with the Raiders having more pressing needs, but this is Oakland that we are talking about.  Raiders’ owner Al Davis loves to make a splash and grabbing the emerging Bryant could be another piece for comebacking quarterback JaMarcus Russell.   The former Oklahoma State star should immediately help lift an offense that only scored 197 points (31st in NFL) and 17 touchdowns (tied for 32nd) last year.  Bryant missed all but three games in 2009 after being suspended by the NCAA for inappropriate interaction with former NFL great Deion Sanders, but there is no denying his ability – recently had a solid Pro Day running in the high 4.4 /4.5 range and catch the ball well.  Drawing comparisons to Houston Texan Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson, Bryant also combines size and speed.  All anyone needs to do is look at his outstanding 2008 numbers of 87 catches for 1,480 yards and 19 touchdowns, plus an average of 17.9 yards per punt return with 2 TDs to see his game-changing ability. 

9) Buffalo Bills – QB Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame

     2009 Record: 6-10 | Needs: OT, QB, WR, DE

The braintrust of new head coach Chan Gailey and GM Buddy Nix decide that their current quarterbacks (Trent Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick) are not the answer.  The Bills have no choice as Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen falls in their lap.  Playing in a “pro style” offense – a huge plus for any college QB — Clausen from 2007 to 2009 improved greatly under the tutelage of Charlie Weis.  The junior-eligible is tough (played through a toe injury in 2009), accurate (68% completion percentage last year), and is a leader.  However even though Clausen sported an outstanding 28 to 4 touchdown-to-interception ratio last year, some evaluators  wonder about him not producing a lot of signature “big” wins during his starting tenure at ND, his arm strength, and rumored cocky attitude. 

10) Jacksonville Jaguars – DE Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech

       2009 Record: 7-9 | Needs: DE, S, QB, OG

There is no doubt that the Jags need help rushing the passer as they produced an NFL-low 14 sacks in 2009.  With head coach Jack Del Rio on the hot seat, Jacksonville cannot afford a selection of another under-achieving pass rusher.  So Jaguars’ GM Gene Smith tries to finally find an anchor defensive end for Del Rio’s defense by selecting Georgia Tech’s Derrick Morgan (6’4, 272).  Morgan was the ACC‘s Defensive Player of the Year after leading the conference with 12.5 sacks plus he added 18.5 tackles for loss.  The junior eligible should be helped by the presence of veterans DT John Henderson and free agent signee Aaron Kampman while pushing former first rounder Derrick Harvey, who has been a disappointment to say the least.

11) Denver Broncos (from Chicago) – ILB Rolando McClain, Alabama

2009 Record: 8-8 | Needs: DT, DE, LB, S

Already head coach Josh McDaniels and GM Brian Xanders have been busy this offseason acquiring players including former Browns QB Brady Quinn and a gaggle of defensive linemen (NT Jammal Williams, DE Jarvis Green, and DT Justin Bannan).  With an eye on improving a defense that allowed 324 points in 2009, the Broncos select Alabama LB Rolando McClain (6’3, 258) to replace the recently cut Andra Davis. The Butkus Award winner is a classic instinctive inside linebacker, who is a tackling machine – 2009 stats: 105 TKLs, 14.5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, and 2 INTs.  McClain seems to have overcome red flags — an eye-gouging incident (against Georgia running back Washaun Ealey) and a hamstring pull at NFL Combine – to be the first linebacker off the board. Look for the 2009 consensus All-American to help right away in the Broncos 3-4 scheme playing behind huge nose tackles Williams and 2nd-year pro Ronnie Fields.   

12) Miami Dolphins – DE/OLB Jason Paul-Pierre, South Florida

       2009 Record: 7-9 | Needs: LB, WR, OL, TE

One thing is for certain, we know Dolphins top executive Bill Parcells likes to have tough aggressive linebackers.  With veteran Joey Porter being cut and free agent Jason Taylor shopping himself around , the Dolphins will add the best pass rushing outside linebacker in the 2010 NFL Draft by selecting South Florida’s Jason Pierre-Paul (6’5, 270).  Though a bit raw (only one year in D-1), Paul-Pierre is an awesome athlete that reminds many of a young Jevon Kearse down to an 81-inch wingspan and 10-3/8 hands.  The much-traveled JUCO transfer started at College of the Canyons then transferred to Fort Scott Community College before settling-in at South Florida. The first-team All-Big East performer led his team in tackles for loss (16.5) and sacks (6.5) plus Pierre-Paul blocked a kick and returned an interception for a touchdown.  At the NFL Combine, Pierre-Paul looked fast (4.67 in the forty), explosive, and fluid in drills.

13) S.F. 49ers – OT Trent Williams, Oklahoma

       2009 Record: 8-8 | Needs: OLB, S, OL, QB

Armed with two first round picks, expect the resurgent Niners to rebuild their offensive and defensive lines.  Head coach Mike Singletary shores up his pass protection by selecting athletic Oklahoma offensive tackle Trent Williams (6’4 ½, 314) to replace OT Tony Pashos (Cleveland Browns).  A 40-game starter at OU with experience at both left and right tackle, Williams earned first-team All-Big 12 honors the last two years. Look for Williams to take his place as a solid right tackle (34 ¼-inch arms) in offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye’s unit.  Adapt at pass and run blocking, Williams showed great athleticism at the NFL Combine, where he ran the second fastest forty (4.88) and fifth best short-shuttle time (4.63) of any offensive lineman. 

14) Seattle Seahawks (from Denver) – OT Bruce Campbell, Maryland

       2009 Record: 4-12 | Needs: OT, DE, OG, WR

After having taken a defensive player earlier, expect the Seahawks to find a protector for 35-year quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.  The Seahawks attempt to replace future Hall of Famer Walter Jones, who retired, by selecting Maryland offensive tackle Bruce Campbell (6’6, 314).  An incredibly athletic left tackle prospect with extremely long arms (36 ¼-inches), Campbell was the talk of the NFL Combine after running an offensive lineman best 4.85 forty, pounded out 34 reps on the 225 lb bench, jumped 32 inches vertically and displaying awesome feet in drills.  Though there are concerns with Campbell only having 17 college starts, he should be able to help out right away on runs and screen passes.

15) New York Giants – safety Taylor Mays, USC

       2009 Record: 8-8 | Needs: CB, S, DT, LB

I know the G-Men already signed versatile former Cardinals safety Antrel Rolle during free agency, but more is needed in their Back 4.  The Giants routinely gave-up big plays down the field — allowed more than 40 points five times in 2009.  With uncertainty around former first rounder  Kenny Phillips returning to full strength from a bad foot injury, the Giants select USC defensive back Taylor Mays.  This big (6’3, 220) hard-hitting safety can really fly as shown by his forty time at this year’s NFL Combine — some unofficial hand-times had him at 4.24seconds, but “officially” his time was 4.43 seconds, which is still unbelievable for a safety.  Mays should easily replace recently cut safety CC Brown and also contribute on special teams and in nickel coverage.  Look for the former USC standout to improve on his angles to the ball and making more game-changing plays — caused just two takeaways as a senior (1 INT and 1 fumble recovery).

16) Tennessee Titans – DE Everson Griffen, USC

       2009 Record: 8-8 | Needs: DE, OT, CB, C

Season one without DT Albert Haynesworth produced an 8-8 record and a defense that allowed a whopping 402 points.  To make matters worse for Titans’ head coach Jeff Fisher, veteran defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch signed with the Lions.  In order to rebuild the Titans once feared defense, look for them to select USC DE Everson Griffen (6’4, 274).  The All-PAC 10 performer is a solid two-way defensive end, who finished his collegiate career with 18 sacks and 22 tackles for loss.  Griffen really shined at the NFL Combine, where he ran an impressive 4.66 forty and put up 32 reps of 225 pounds.  Also looked like the real deal at USC’s Pro Day as he ripped through every drill and displayed great balance.

17) S.F. 49ers (from Carolina) – OLB Sergio Kindle, Texas

       2009 Record: 8-8 | Needs: OLB, S, OL, QB

After securing their offensive line with their first selection (No. 13), look for Niners’ head coach Mike Singletary and new personnel chief Trent Baalke to improve a defense that had problems at times.  Former first rounder Manny Lawson has been a huge disappointment so the Niners try to fortify their defense to contend with the explosive Arizona Cardinals by selecting Texas outside linebacker Sergio Kindle (6’4, 255).  The 3rd-team All-American played a variety of roles for the Longhorns including rush linebacker, defensive end, defensive tackle and special teams.  Kindle led Texas with 22 tackles for loss and quarterback hurries. Though Kindle is smallish for a true NFL defensive end, with his knack for rushing the passer he is a natural fit for the Niners’ “Elephant” position (half OLB and half DE). 

18. Pittsburgh Steelers – OG Mike Iupati, Idaho

       2009 Record: 9-7 | Needs: OL, RB, CB, DL

The Steelers sure up the interior of their offensive line in hopes of returning to a run-first offense by selecting the draft’s best interior offensive lineman, Mike Iupati.  The big (6’5, 325) All-American from Idaho was one of the most impressive lineman at this year’s Senior Bowl. Some have said that Iupati could play on the outside as he has 35-inch arms, good footwork, and balance but he is a dominator on the inside.  By adding Iupati, the Steelers can run the ball with more authority between the tackles – leading rusher Rashard Mendenhall had a quiet 1,108 rushing yards in 2009 — and finally replacing the huge hole left by the defection of Pro Bowl player Alana Faneca (NY Jets) a couple years ago.

19) Atlanta Falcons – DE Carlos Dunlap, Florida

       2009 Record: 9-7 | Needs: S, LB, OL, DE

The Falcons have had a hole at the defensive end position since Patrick Kearney left years ago for the Seattle Seahawks.  Yes, veteran John Abraham has gotten to the quarterback however the Falcons need to give the often-injured defensive end some help and get stronger at the point of attack.  Also with an eye on pushing underachiever and former first round pick DE Jamaal Anderson, Atlanta selects Florida defensive end Carlos Dunlap.  Though some are saying Dunlap, a top-ten talent, is falling on some team’s draft boards due to some off the field issues and an off-and-on motor, I still believe fiery head coach Mike Smith will give him another shot.  The former All-SEC defensive end is compared to 2010 free agent big fish Julius Peppers in that he is big (6’6, 290) and explosive when motivated.  Last season, Dunlap had nine sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss, which were down from his 2008 numbers.  But there is no denying the upside of this former Gators sack man as shown by his 2 sacks in the Sugar Bowl against Cincinnati.

20) Houston Texans – RB CJ Spiller, Clemson

       2009 Record: 9-7 | Needs: OL, RB, TE, S

With the status of current running back Steve Slaton (neck) in jeopardy, Texans’ head coach Gary Kubiak and GM Rick Smith add another burner to their indoor track team by selecting Clemson speedster CJ Spiller (5’11/196).  At the NFL Combine, Spiller looked like the next “Reggie Bush” homerun threat type of player.  He showed breakaway speed with a 4.37-second forty – some unofficially timed him at 4.27 seconds – and great hands catching the ball.  Spiller is an explosive player as shown in 2009 season where he had 31 carries of 10+ yards and eight receptions for 20 yards or more plus contributed an NCAA-leading five TDs on returns. Look for Spiller (5.6 yards per carry average and 36 catches) to help out immediately on kickoffs and he should compete with Slaton and 2nd-year back Arian Foster for carries. As for any concerns regarding Spiller’s durability, he never missed a game in college due to injury.

21) Cincinnati Bengals – safety Earl Thomas, Texas

       2009 Record: 10-6 | Needs: OL, DE, TE, S

Even though the Bengals were able to get turnovers from their emerging cornerback tandem of Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall, their defense was pushed around by the NY Jets in their playoff loss.  With an eye on getting tougher on defense, head coach Marvin Lewis will select Texas safety Earl Thomas (5’10, 197).  Though the Bengals re-signed veteran Roy Williams to a one-year deal, Thomas will bring speed and coverage to Lewis’ defense.  He played strong safety at Texas, but he has “centerfielder” in the pros written all over him.  In 2009, Thomas finished second in the nation with eight interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns.  The former Longhorns star also is a very physical player too as shown by his five fumbles the last two seasons.

22) N.E. Patriots – OLB Brandon Graham, Michigan

       2009 Record: 11-5 | Needs: LB, CB, TE, RB

The Patriots seem to have targeted the linebacker position as one of the areas that needs an upgrade this off-season as they will probably cut under-achiever Adalius Thomas and future Hall of Famer Junior Seau finally retired.  The continued overhaul of Belichick’s prized unit will continue with the Patriots selecting Michigan’s Brandon Graham.  A “LaMarr Woodley” clone, Graham is a pure 3-4 rush linebacker.  Though a bit small at 6’1, 263 pounds, the former Wolverine has a knack for getting to the quarterback — second all time in Wolverines history in tackles for loss and sacks.  At this year’s Senior Bowl, Graham was the MVP of the game producing 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, five tackles with three of them for loss.  “He’s a football player,” Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said of Graham after the game. “You know, tweener, whatever — he’s a football player.”   With 3 second-round picks expect Belichick to possibly take a run at “winner” Tim Tebow in the second round.

23) Green Bay Packers – CB Kyle Wilson, Boise State

       2009 Record: 11-5 | Needs: CB, OL, DE, S,

After a shootout 51-45 overtime playoff loss to the Arizona Cardinals, you have to think that Packers head coach Mike McCarthy and GM Ted Thompson should be thinking defense.  Yes, the Packers finished the regular season right near the top in every defensive category, but one of the key areas on the Packers’ defense that will need to be looked at is cornerback.  Even though veterans Charles Woodson (2009 NFL Defensive Player of the Year) and Al Harris (35) have been one of the best combos for years, the Packers need to get younger in coverage.  The Packers select solid Boise State corner Kyle Wilson (5’10/190).  A 4-year starter, Wilson is great at both press and zone coverage and has great hands as shown by his 8 INTs over the last two years – returned two for TDs as a senior.   An academic All-WAC, Wilson is also smart and tough (never missed a game due to injury).  Plus he is an explosive punt returner and is willing to play on special teams.

24) Philadelphia Eagles – center Maurkice Pouncey, Florida

       2009 Record: 11-5 | Needs: DE, OL, LB, S

In starting the post-Donovan McNabb era, the Birds will need to face the cold hard fact that the Dallas Cowboys dominated them by a margin of 58-14 in their last two games (Week 17 and in the Wild Card round).  Though many are saying that the team’s first pick should go to fixing some of their holes on defense (DE, S, and LB), I believe Reid reverts to old form and selects an O-lineman.  There is no denying that the Cowboys’ D-line manhandled them, especially NT Jay Ratliff so the interior line must be addressed.  In trying to get better upfront, the Eagles select emerging Florida O-lineman Maurkice Pouncey.  The junior-eligible was the 2009 Rimington Award winner as the best pivot in college football and should be able to contribute right away.  Pouncey, who has started at offensive guard and center at Florida, is very smart, has very good feet, and plays with great leverage.  The All-SEC pick would be a great insurance policy against veteran Jamaal Jackson’s knee injury.  The upside with Pouncey is that he is only 20 years old and should mature while learning from veterans like Todd Herramins.

25. Baltimore Ravens – CB Patrick Robinson, Florida State

       2009 Record: 11-5 | Needs: LB, TE, CB, S

After another successful season, the Ravens knew they had a need at receiver so they made the big move of trading for Anquan Boldin.  By fixing up their receiver position, the Ravens can now concentrate on other area of need, their secondary.  Even though John Harbaugh’s unit produced a (+10) in turnover ratio, injuries to veteran safety Ed Reed, CB Fabian Washington (ACL) and rookie CB Lardarius Webb (ACL) were huge down the stretch.  Look for the Ravens to find Reed some help by selecting Florida State cover corner Patrick Robinson.  Robinson’s stock fell last season due to inconsistency, which was mostly due to teams throwing to the other side.  But the former FSU star rebounded by having a solid Senior Bowl and NFL Combine.  Robinson will end the Seminoles two-year absence from the first round.

26. Arizona Cardinals – DE Jared Odrick, Penn State

2009 Record: 11-5 | Needs: LB, DL, OL, CB

 Offensively, Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt and GM Rod Graves have already started to replenish with signings like QB Derek Anderson.  But a defense that allowed 45 points in the playoffs to the Packers and gave-up an average of 20 points per game in the regular season needs to get better.  Grabbing a linebacker to replace Dansby is an option (Missouri’s Sean Witherspoon), but I believe the Cardinals will select solid Penn State two-way defensive end Jared Odrick (6’5, 305).  This high-motor versatile defensive lineman is perfect for the Cardinals’ 3-4 defense.  The rangy 300-pounder had a great Senior Bowl week and has a quick first step.  Odrick is a pocket collasper, who was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.  Look for the former Penn State star to join up-and-coming DE Calais Campbell in making the Cardinals tougher upfront. 

27) Dallas Cowboys – OT Anthony Davis, Rutgers

       2009 Record: 11-5 | Needs: OL, CB, S, WR

In what has been a relatively quiet offseason for the Cowboys, owner Jerry Jones recently decided it was time to move-on from veterans OT Flozell Adams and safety Ken Hamlin.  If a safety like Taylor Mays falls to the Cowboys, they may pull the trigger.  But I expect them to grab one of the many offensive tackles that carry a first round grade.  With OT Doug Free obviously not the answer…Dallas gave up 6 sacks in playoff loss to the Vikings including a sack/fumble recovery by Jared Allen against Free.  With an eye on protecting quarterback Tony Romo better, the Cowboys will select Rutgers road grader Anthony Davis – an impressive 32 starts in college — to replace Adams.  A developing player, Davis didn’t have the best combine (only 21 reps of 225 pounds and ran a 5.2 or 5.3 forty) or Pro Day, but he does have a huge upside.  The former All-Big East player is a natural right tack with good size (6’6, 325) and 34-inch arms.  Davis (21) will be able to open holes for RB’s Barber, Jones, and Choice while also keeping Romo upright.

28) San Diego Chargers – RB Ryan Matthews, Fresno State

       2009 Record: 13-3 | Needs: DT, RB, CB, LB

Chargers head coach Norv Turner and GM AJ Smith made the tough decisions of releasing veterans RB LaDainian Tomlinson. So look for Turner and Smith to sure-up their ground game — Tomlinson and Michael Bennett gone leaving only Darren Sproles — by selecting physical every down back Ryan Matthews.  2009’s number-two rusher in NCAA football (276 carries for 1,808 rushing yards and 19 TDs) is a big (6’0, 218) runner that also has very good speed.  He recently ran a 4.45 forty at the NFL Combine and is known to not be afraid to run the ball up the middle.  Matthews can also do some things out of the “Wildcat” as he is a former high school quarterback and the Chargers should love his ability to carry the mail – in 2009 had eight games with 20 or more rushing attempts.

29) New York Jets – DT Dan Williams, Tennessee

       2009 Record: 9-7 | Needs: S, WR, LB, OL

Expect brash head coach Rex Ryan and GM Mike Tannebaum to stay aggressive in keeping their team in the playoff hunt.  Though I believe the Jets will probably sit back and see what falls in their lap – possibly a safety to replace the recently traded Kerry Rhodes (Cardinals) – I believe Ryan will not pass up the chance to improve his No. 1 ranked defense.  With Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kris Jenkins getting older, the NY Jets look for some help for him in NT Dan Williams (6’3, 327).  The NFL-ready Williams is a big strong defensive lineman that is great at the point of attack.  A four-starter after redshirting in 2005, the former Volunteer is well schooled on pro techniques having played under former veteran NFL defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.  At the NFL Combine, Williams produced solid numbers 5.17 in the forty and 27 reps of 225 pounds.

30) Minnesota Vikings – CB Devin McCourty, Rutgers

       2009 Record: 12-4 | Needs: S, CB, OL, RB

With all indications pointing to grandfather quarterback Brett Favre coming back in 2010, expect the Vikings to add pieces in the draft that can push them over the top.  My expectation is that head coach Brad Childress and GM Rick Spielman will concentrate on bringing in defensive help as  the Vikes were often in high scoring  games and allowed 321 points (ranked 10th in the NFL).  Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier will get some help for Pro Bowl corner Antoine Winfield by selecting Rutgers’ corner Devin McCourty (5’11, 193).  An All-Big East selection in 2009, McCourty can help a team in a variety of ways.  He can play man-to-man or Cover 2, is a very good tackler (80 in ’09), and has good hands (6 INTs in career and broke-up 10 passes).  McCourty also is a major special teams guys as he averaged 25.1 yards per kickoff return with a touchdown in ’09 and blocked seven kicks in his career.

31)  Indianapolis Colts – OT Charles Brown, USC

2009 Record: 14-2 | Needs: OL, LB, CB, S

The options will be plentiful for Colts head coach Jim Caldwell and GM Bill Polian as they look to improve last year’s Super Bowl runner-up.  One of the Colts’ major problems in their Super Bowl loss to the Saints was their offensive line.  Too often QB Peyton Manning was rushed on his attempts and other than Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday this unit has to play better everywhere.  The Colts grab USC emerging offensive tackle Charles Brown (6’5, 303).  A converted tight end, Brown is a very athletic big man with good feet and long arms (35 1/4-inches) that help him as a pass blocker.   At USC, Brown was the cornerstone of Pete Carroll’s O-line and he should immediately push Colts under-achiever Charles Johnson for playing time.  With Manning playing behind a patchwork line in 2009, he still won his record setting 4th NFL MVP award.  So imagine what he will be able to do with Brown taking care of his blindside. 

32) New Orleans Saints – LB Sean Witherspoon, Missouri

2009 Record: 13-3 | Needs: LB, DE, S, OL

The Super Bowl Champion Saints are in a state of flux on their defense.  Already this offseason has seen LB Scott Fujita (Browns) and defensive end Charles Grant leave the team.  Saints head coach Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis look to fix a defense allowed 341 points and replace Fujita by selecting versatile Missouri linebacker Sean Witherspoon (6’1, 239).  The former All Big 12 pick can play all three linebacker positions (SAM, MIKE, and WILL) and was very productive in college — 376 tackles, three forced fumbles, four interceptions in the past three seasons.  Witherspoon has great intangibles including leadership, a nose for the ball, and coverage skills (three interceptions in 2008, two of which were returned for touchdowns with one more INT in ’09).  He will be a great fit playing next to Jonathan Vilma in Gregg Williams’ defensive unit. 

Teams not owning a first round pick

Carolina Panthers – 2009 Record: 8-8 | Needs: DT, LB, QB, WR

For the second year in a row, the Carolina Panthers will not have a first round draft pick.  This year’s pick went to the San Francisco 49ers in a deal where the Niners traded their second round pick (No. 43 overall) in 2009 to Carolina for their 2010 first rounder.  The Panthers used the pick to take DE Everett Brown, but I am sure after an 8-8 campaign, they wish they had it back.  Carolina this offseason has been getting rid of veterans like QB Jake Delhomme, DT Damione Lewis, DE Julius Peppers, FB Brad Hoover, and others.  So expect them to be active in getting younger players that can contribute right away.  Carolina’s first pick will be in the second round (No. 48 overall) and you can expect them to be looking for D-line and linebacker help.

Chicago Bears – 2009 Record: 7-9 | Needs: WR, OL, DT, S

The Bears traded away their first round pick in the much ballyhooed acquisition of quarterback Jay Cutler.  The Broncos gladly took the pick and after a 7-9 season last year, you know that Chicago probably would like to have the pick back.  Though Cutler performed well at times, he also threw 26 interceptions.  With head coach Lovie Smith on the hot seat,  look for the Bears to add more help for Cutler (WR,O-line) and their retooling defense (CB, S, DL) when they first pick in the 3rd round (No. 75 overall).

The Best of the rest:  Alabama NT Terrence Cody; Cal RB Jahvid Best; Notre Dame WR Golden Tate; Georgia Tech WR Demaryious Thomas; TCU DE Jerry Hughes; Florida LB Brandon Spikes; UCLA DL Bruce Davis; Texas QB Colt McCoy; Florida QB Tim Tebow and Oklahoma TE Jermaine Gersham

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Sports Journey – 2010 NFL Draft Prospects List v2.0 by Lloyd Vance

Maryland offensive tackle Bruce Campbell is one of the players featured in Sports Journey’s 2010 NFL Draft Prospects list version 2.0

The NFL Draft is an ever-changing entity due to trades (McNabb), veteran cuts (Flozell Adams), and prospect workouts (Sam Bradford).  So here  is an updated version of my 2010 NFL Draft top prospects by position list (as of April 2010)

 Quarterbacks

1) Sam Bradford, Oklahoma, Jr

2) Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame, Jr

3) Colt McCoy, Texas, Sr

4a) Jarrett Brown, West Virginia, Sr

4b) Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan, Sr

5a) Bryant Lee, Southern, Sr

5b) Tim Tebow, Florida, Sr

 

Running backs

1) C. J. Spiller, Clemson, Sr

2) Jahvid Best, Cal, Jr

3) Ryan Matthews, Fresno State, Sr

4a)  Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech , Jr

4b)  Joe McKnight, USC , Jr

5a) Dexter McCluster, Ole Miss, Sr

5b) LeGarrett Blount, Oregon , Sr

 

Wide Receivers

1) Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State , Jr

2) Demaryious Thomas , Georgia Tech

3) Golden Tate, Notre Dame , Jr

4a) Arrelious Benn , Illinois

4b) Mardy Gilyard , Cincinnati , Sr

5a) Taylor Price, Ohio, Sr

5b) Freddie Barnes, Bowling Green, Sr

 

Tight Ends

1) Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma, Jr

2) Rob Gronkowski, Arizona, Jr

3) Dennis Pitta, BYU, Sr

4) Jimmy Graham, Miami (FL), Sr

5a) Aaron Hernandez, Florida, Jr

5b)  Anthony McCoy, USC, Sr

 

Centers

1) Maurkice Pouncey, Florida , Jr

2) J.D. Walton, Baylor,  Sr

3) Matt Tennant, Boston College , Sr

4a) John Estes, Hawaii , Sr

4b) Erik Cook, New Mexico , Sr

5a) Eric Olsen, Notre Dame , Sr

5b) Steve Brazzle, Florida A&M , Sr

 

Guards

1) Mike Lupati, Idaho , Sr

2) Mike Johnson, Alabama, Sr

3) Mike Petrus, Arkansas, Sr

4a) Jon Asamoah, Illinois, Sr

4b) Rodger Saffold, Indiana, Sr

5a) Ciron Black , LSU, Sr

 

Offensive Tackles

1) Russell Okung, Oklahoma State, Sr

2) Bryan Bulaga, Iowa , Jr

3) Trent Williams , Oklahoma , Sr

4a) Bruce Campbell, Maryland, Jr

4b) Anthony Davis , Rutgers , Jr

5a) Charles Brown , USC, Sr

5b) Vladimir Ducasse, Uconn , Sr

 

Defensive Ends

1) Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech , Jr

2) Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida , Jr

3) Everson Griffin , USC , Jr

4a) Brandon Graham , Michigan , Sr

4b) Jared Odrick, Penn State , Sr

5a) Carlos Dunlap, Florida , Jr

5b) Jerry Hughes , TCU, Sr

 

Defensive Tackles

1) Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska , Sr

2) Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma , Jr

3) Dan Williams , Tennessee , Sr

4) Terrance Cody, Alabama , Sr

5a) Geno Atkins, Georgia, Sr

5b) Lamarr Houston, Texas, Sr

 

Inside Linebackers

1) Rolando McClain, Alabama, Jr

2) Brandon Spikes, Florida, Sr

3) Sean Lee, Penn State, Sr

4) Pat Angerer, Iowa , Sr

5a) Darryl Sharpton, Miami (FL), Sr

5b) Mike McLaughlin, Boston College, Sr

 

Outside Linebackers

1) Sergio Kindle , Texas, Sr

2) Sean Weatherspoon , Missouri, Sr

3) Daryl Washington, TCU, Sr

4a) George Selvie, South Florida , Sr

4b) Eric Norwood , South Carolina , Sr

5a) Koa Misi ,Utah, Sr

5b) Junior Galette, Stillman , Sr

 

Cornerbacks

1) Joe Haden, Florida , Jr

2) Kyle Wilson, Boise State , Sr

3) Patrick Robinson , Florida State, Sr

4a) Devin McCourty, Rutgers, Sr

4b) Perrish Cox , Oklahoma State, Sr

5a) Chris Cook, Virginia, Sr

5b) Syd’Quan Thompson, Cal, Sr

 

Safeties

1) Eric Berry, Tennessee, Jr

2) Taylor Mays, USC, Sr

3) Earl Thomas, Texas, Sr

4a) Larry Asante, Nebraska, Sr

4b) Chad Jones, LSU, Jr

5a) Reshad Jones, Georgia, Jr

5b) Myron Rolle, FSU, Sr

 

Kickers

1)  Aaron Pettrey, Ohio State, Sr

2) Leigh Tiffin, Alabama, Sr

3)  Hunter Lawrence, Texas , Sr

4)  Dustin Keys, Virginia Tech, Sr

5a) Josh Aruco, Arkansas State , Sr

5b) Brett Swenson, Michigan State , Sr

 

Punters

1) Matt Dodge, East Carolina, Sr

2) Brent Bowden, Virginia Tech, Sr

3) Robert Malone, Fresno State, Sr

4) Zoltan Mesko, Michigan, Sr

5a) Jahmal Blanchard, Hampton, Sr

5b) Scott Ravanesi, Southern Illinois, Sr

 

Returners

1)  Trindon Holliday, LSU, Sr

2) Brandon James, Florida, Sr

3)  Jacoby Ford, Clemson, Sr

4) Javier Arenas, Alabama, Sr

5) Leroy Vann, Florida A&M, Sr

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)