By Paul M. Banks and Peter Christian
On Saturday night, “a boy named Suh” (apologies to Johnny Cash) nearly disrupted the entire BCS picture all by himself. There are a lot of people who can’t pronounce Ndamukong Suh’s name, but his DOMINATING performance in the Big 12 Championship made his name household nonetheless. As always, comments, debate, questions, praise criticism is welcome in the comment threads. And while you’re at it, you can comment on my Washington Times college football blog and NFL blog on the same website by clicking here. and here.
Team Player Position School
1. St. Louis Rams Ndamukong Suh DT Nebraska
If the Rams can’t handle the train wreck that is the 2009 Chicago Bears, then they’re clearly headed towards finishing the season with the worst record in the NFL. And Suh, who seems to spend most of the time his playing time in opponents’ backfields, is impossible to pass up. After the game Texas Coach (and charter member of Bill Simmons’ “Reggie Cleveland All-Star team”) Mack Brown, said about Suh: “He was all over the place. We just couldn’t handle him. I tried to find him to wish him good luck in the NFL, because I don’t want to see him again.”
For an interview/profile of Suh, click here
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Eric Berry S Tennessee
The Bucs run defense (or should I say lack thereof) is exceedingly apparent, so they’ll need help stuffing the run. And Eric Berry is the heir apparent to Ed Reed as the elite defensive play-maker in the NFL. Scouts think he’s pretty solid against the run; not so bad against the pass either.
3. Cleveland Browns Jake Locker QB Washington
Brady Quinn has looked better recently, and Cleveland is playing well enough that the Browns will likely not pick #1. But the team with the ugliest uniforms in the league still needs a legitimate franchise quarterback and all the other QB prospects have issues: Clausen’s character, Bradford’s health, and Snead’s disappointing season. Therefore, Locker is the pick. Not to mention he has astounding speed and mobility to complement what he can do with his arm.
4. Kansas City Chiefs Russell Okung OT Oklahoma State
He’s a big reason why the Cowboys’ offense produces over 200 yards a game on the ground. Twice during his career he has not allowed a sack against the nation’s leader at the time – the latest was an effort against Texas A&M end Von Miller this season. Okung combines all his physical gifts with a high football IQ, making him a franchise OT.
5. Detroit Lions Trent Williams OT Oklahoma
The Lions need a lot, they can start on the O Line. The Okung or Williams debate over who is the better choice at offensive tackle is one where there really isn’t a loser. By the way, if you’re planning on seeing the new film about a Left Tackle “The Blind Side,” I’m warning you know it’s “Jerry Maguire” all over again- a thinly disguised chick flick mass-marketed as a football movie.
Trent Williams, like Okung, has good feet, strong hands and the talent to become elite in the NFL.
For more Lions coverage click here
6. Washington Redskins Gerald McCoy DT Oklahoma
This would be a nice complement to Albert Haynesworth, and the Skins could use more talent on the defensive line because the last time they had an overwhelmingly dominant d lineman was something like 40 years ago. McCoy is a pillar of strength that can dominate from the center of the field. He is very agile for a guy just shy of 300 pounds and will be a combine favorite.
7. Buffalo Bills Sam Bradford QB Oklahoma
Trent Edwards (and Ryan Fitzpatrick) are obviously not the answers, not with that 30th ranked passing attack. After season ending surgery, Bradford’s draft stock was, to paraphrase Snoop Dogg “dropping it like its hot,” but it hasn’t fallen as fast as you might think. His body of work still speaks volumes about what he could do on the next level.
I guess it’s a good thing, that Bears GM Jerry Angelo doesn’t get this pick, because it’s one prospect he won’t have the chance to screw up. The people I’ve spoken with say Bryant’s off-the-field issues won’t hurt his draft stock too much. And Dez is #1 the receiver on most board; partially due to his sure-handedness and fearlessness about going down the middle. His speed ain’t too shabby either.
For more Bears coverage, click here
9. Oakland Raiders Jimmy Clausen QB Notre Dame
Bruce Gradkowski is not a long term solution, (yes, I know the team has been on fire since he took over the reins, but seriously, he’s not the answer) and JaMarcus Russell is a bigger bust than Jenn “FSU Cowgirl” Sterger. (well, Sterger before she had her implants removed) Therefore, Oakland needs a quarterback. Clausen’s bar fight is just the latest in a series of incidents proving that he is certainly no boy scout. And where in the NFL do you go when you’re a malcontent and/or trouble-maker? Oakland of course. If Al Davis gave Jeff George a shot, than Clausen’s personality will be right in his wheelhouse. By the way, Clausen officially declared today.
For more on Jenn Sterger’s implant removal, go here.
10. Seattle Seahawks Greg Hardy DE Ole Miss
Greg Hardy may be the purest sack artist in the draft. He has a lethal combination of speed and power that he mixes up to get to the quarterback. Hardy also has a sort of “Overdrive” that he shifts into once he smells a possible sack. Because of Carlos Dunlap’s highly publicized off-the-field issues, Hardy now overtakes him on the DE draft board.
11. San Francisco 49ers Bruce Campbell OT Maryland
Campbell could go higher, because he easily has as much talent and ability as Okung and Williams, but he doesn’t have their track record of durability. Therefore, he slips down the board a little. Still this is essentially shaping up to be “the offensive tackle draft” (yeah, so sexy I know) like 1983 was “the quarterback draft”.
12. Tennessee Titans Carlos Dunlap DE Florida
Dunlap is one of the biggest reasons Gator opponents have backfield mishaps. He is fast AND strong which will allow him to cause nightmares for opposing tackles for years to come. Until the whole passing out drunk behind the wheel with the car running incident, Dunlap has been a model citizen. Roger Goodell’s “zero tolerance” behavior policy has done absolutely nothing to curb criminal behavior and general thuggery in the league, but it has made him look slightly better from a PR standpoint. And it’s forced team to REALLY consider character now. Therefore, Dunlap falls out of the top ten.
13. San Francisco 49ers (From Carolina) Sergio Kindle OLB Texas
Kindle is a versatile linebacker that is an excellent attacker. He takes very good angles to the ball and makes tackles all over the field. Sergio’s mix of energy and instincts allows him to overcome the fact that he is a little slower than coaches would want.
14. Houston Texans Jahvid Best RB Cal
Best is exactly what is name proclaims at his position. He has very good vision and an even better instinct on when to turn on the jets. He is very good at making defenders miss at every level. He isn’t a bruiser back but if coupled with a versatile offense he has the makings of the next young play-making running back.
15. Miami Dolphins Terence Cody DT Alabama
Cody is a big time anchor guy who could go higher if he stays in good shape throughout the combine and workout process. He is a perfect 3-4 true nose tackle and can really control the flow and direction of a play.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars Jonathan Dwyer RB Georgia Tech
The Jags offense works much better when they have two main backs in their stable. And Dwyer, an old school workhorse running back, would be an upgrade over MoJo’s current backups. He can run inside and outside and can handle as many carries as the coach gives him. Dwyer’s a big back, but he has good speed as well and can be the muscle of a two back system or handle the bulk of the carries as well.
17. New York Jets Arrelious Benn WR Illinois
I actually spoke with Benn on Saturday about his potential decision to go pro. “I’m not leaning toward any kind of way right now,” he said. But either way, expect an answer by the holidays. “I’m finishing up finals, and after that I’ll probably make the decision. You know there’s a lot to think about,” You can the read entire interview by clicking here.
Did you see Benn’s saving-an-INT-by-ripping-the-ball-from-the-Fresno-DB’s-arms TD catch in the Illini’s final game? It was a thing of beauty; like ESPNU’s Jenn Brown.
For a preseason interview/profile of Benn click here
For more Illini coverage, go here
For more on Jenn Brown, go here
18. Atlanta Falcons Rolando McClain LB Alabama
McClain is an amazing tackler in space and can cover a lot of ground from the middle linebacker spot. He’s got great fundamentals and has a knack of shedding blockers to make big tackles. As the picture below will attest.
For an interview/profile of McClain, click here
19. Green Bay Packers Bryan Bulaga OT Iowa
As you might have heard, the Pack’s OL is terrible. GB will get a huge boost in their ability to run and pass protect on the left side when they take Bulaga, one of the best OL in college football.
For more Packers coverage click here
20. Seattle Seahawks (From Denver) CJ Spiller RB Clemson
Spiller’s a fast runner built on a solid frame. His outside running game and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield is where he’ll make his mark, but he’s not afraid to go right at a defender. He’s a balanced runner, who mixes good North-South inertia with high elusiveness. After that insane performance in the ACC Championship, Spiller’s stock shot up, but I’m not convinced he can leapfrog Best or Dwyer. And Fresno’s Ryan Mathews is creeping up on him on the RB chart as well.
21. Dallas Cowboys Arthur Jones DT Syracuse
Jones’ is a gap filler and is stronger than Atlas. He is in a Pat Williams type run stopper that will be look like a man amongst boys at times. He plays hard on every play and is of the rare breed of football players that will never quit on any play.
22. San Diego Chargers Brandon Spikes LB Florida
They’ll be questions a plenty about Spikes’ character, but no one doubts his ability. And he’ll probably end up wowing scouts at the combine with his measurables too. Spikes is also a bit more versatile than you might imagine. Let’s just hope Norv Turner doesn’t find a way to screw him up.
23. Arizona Cardinals Taylor Mays S USC
The Arizona Cardinals badly need to upgrade their 29th ranked pass defense. And if you asked a scout to write down their ideal size and speed numbers for an NFL free safety they’d list: 6-3, 235, 4.4. Oddly enough that is Taylor’s height, weight and 40 time on record. Enough said.
24. New York Giants Brandon Graham DE Michigan
Graham is a big body that plays very well upfield. Scouts will love that he is versatile enough to play the end position in either scheme. Graham himself will love the opportunity to play in a place where defense traditionally comes first and athletes with skill sets usually thrive. Plus, it will be nice to leave Ann Arbor before all the investigation begins, and players begin to find themselves in sticky situations answering questions about Rich Rod.
For more Michigan coverage click here
25. Pittsburgh Steelers Jermaine Cunningham DE Florida
Cunningham isn’t as explosive as his teammate Carlos Dunlap but he is more reliable on a play by play basis. He gets to the quarterback with regularity and makes a lot of tackles in the run game as well. With back to back Gators being picked, that brings the total to four: Florida defenders being drafted in the 1st round. Is it any wonder they had arguably the best defense in the nation the past four years? Cunningham, Haden, Dunlap and Spikes gives us a foursome of talent rivaling Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Seyfried, Rachel McAdams, and Lacey Chabert in the Christmas program in “Mean Girls”
26. Baltimore Ravens Joe Haden CB Florida
Baltimore needs a corner and Haden is near the top of the board amongst other corners with solid coverage and ball skills. He makes good reads and adjusts well to the ball when its in the air. And if weren’t for all of the college football media devoting 90% of their coverage to telling us what a model American Tim Tebow is, we’d all be more well aware of these facts.
Watching the Pats D struggle lately reminded us all that they need depth at LB. Bowman has spent much of the year ranked the #1 OLB prospect from ESPN.com He’s was an absolute force down the stretch for PSU, (earning a few Big Ten defensive player of the week awards) and it’s becoming impossible not to compare him to Lavar Arrington- same school, position, and jersey number. Arrington went on to six Pro Bowls, so that’s quite a complement
For an interview/profile of Bowman, click here
28. Philadelphia Eagles Jermaine Gresham TE Oklahoma
Gresham is an elite pass catching tight end. He can run a perfect seam route or he can cover a lot of space over the middle. He needs to work on his blocking but he should be a touchdown machine with his hands, size and route running skills. And he would be an upgrade over Brent Celek.
29. Cincinnati Bengals Ryan Mathews RB, Fresno
The Bengals might have scared Cedric Benson straight, as he’s putting up a Pro Bowl year; perhaps because he realized this would be his last chance? But what the depth behind him? Is Cedric the entertainer a long term solution? Matthews is the nation’s leading rusher, and the best runner you’ve never heard of. With his durability, balanced running style and explosive bursts, he now finds himself the Fresno State season record holder for rushing, with a game left to play.
30. Minnesota Vikings Patrick Robinson CB Florida State
Robinson is a super fast coverage man that is above average in nearly every aspect of the game. He anticipates routes but isn’t a huge risk taker and tackles well in the open field. He is also a very good return man.
For more Vikings coverage click here
31. New Orleans Saints Sean Weatherspoon LB Missouri
Give how potent their O is, NOLA will obviously draft for D this spring. And Witherspoon would be a great chance for them to give their LB corps some depth.
A good chance to start grooming Peyton’s successor, if you’re not sold on Jim Sorgi. And I’m not sure you are. McCoy hasn’t had the best statistical season, but he’s still the Heisman front-runner, and unlike Tebow his skills translate to the next level.
For an interview/profile of McCoy click here
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