NFL 2010 Mock Draft v. 1
The cap looms.
The prospect of an uncapped year looms over the NFL landscape, even as the playoffs approach. Now may be a time of excitement and intensity for 12 teams, but for the other 20, next season is already here. I guarantee each and every one of the teams that didn’t make the playoffs has been in the office making tough decisions and laying the groundwork for next year.
Anyway, in honor of the end of the regular season and the birth of Big Boards throughout the country, here’s my own meager 2010 NFL Mock Draft, as of 1/7/2010. I’m just gonna do the top 10 at first, because…well, because I’m lazy. Either way, I’ll do the rest of the first round in a day or so.
1: St. Louis Rams – Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson has gotten a fair bit of press lately for being only the sixth player in NFL history to rush for 2,000+ yards in a single season (the other five are O.J. Simpson, Eric Dickerson, Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis & Jamal Lewis, so…not the worst list to find yourself on), and rightfully so; it’s a hell of an accomplishment. Interesting tidbit, though – the number 2 rusher on the year? Rams RB Steven Jackson, who rumbled for 1,416 yards (but only 4 TD’s, oddly enough). In terms of things that went well for St. Louis this season, that is it. The Rams were failures in nearly every aspect of the game, ranking 29th both in total offense/defense, and their special teams were nothing to smile about either. Their sole win was a lackadaisical 17-10 affair against the Detroit Lions, and just to get that Jackson had to run for 150 yards, including a 25-yd TD with less than two minutes in the game. In other words, the Rams are not so good.
The Pick – Over the 2008 season, Rams QB’s were sacked 38 times. Turns out it’s hard for your QB to lead a team while he’s on his back or injured and riding the pine, so St. Louis used the #2 pick on Baylor OT Jason Smith. This year? 44 sacks. Now, I know this is a very gross stat that fails to take numerous factors into account, but the basic truth is that the leaky offensive line has played a huge role in the destruction of QB Marc Bulger, who has battled numerous injuries since signing that huge 6-year contract extension in 2007 and desparately needs a change of scenery at the very least. I know everyone is talking about Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh, but the writing is on the wall for Bulger and everyone in the organization knows it. Despite a spotty win/loss record, Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen has posted impressive stats in Charlie Weis’ pro-style offense, with some people even calling him the most NFL-ready junior QB ever. For a front office and coach that badly wanted NY Jets QB Mark Sanchez in last year’s draft, but couldn’t get out from under Bulger’s contract, the 6’3, 217 lb. Clausen represents a great opportunity to possibly start a new era in St. Louis football.
Season Lowlight – A person could easily make the argument that the entire season was a lowlight for the hapless Rams…that person would also be right. However, in terms of sole crappy moments, the brightest standout in a crowded field is St. Louis’ 20-23 OT loss to Jacksonville in Week 6. It was a confluence of painful shots that pushed this game to the top of the list; the Jaguars threw up nearly 500 yds of offense, as QB David Garrard threw for over 300 yards, RB Maurice Jones-Drew rushed for 133 yds and 3 TD’s, and former Rams WR Torry Holt posted five catches and 101 yds on his former team. In spite of all that, the Rams led twice in the fourth quarter, only to watch as their defense wilted down the stretch. The Jags won the coin toss, marched down the field, and extended the NFL’s then longest running losing streak to 16 games.
2: Detroit Lions – Brace yourself…the Lions may be a few pieces away from being decent. I know, I know, it felt like Matt Millen’s stewardship was so woeful as to be literally radioactive, turning the Lions into an inhospitable wasteland fit only for the most godforsaken of mutants, and the stats (26th ranked offense, 32nd ranked defense) would seem to back that up. But rookie QB Matt Stafford impressed, posting solid QB numbers at 2200+ yds and 13 TD’s (the 53% completion rate and 20 picks are worrisome, but he was a rookie) and seemingly making a connection with beastly WR Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, who nearly had a 1,000-yd season. But two wins in a season ain’t gonna cut it…on the plus side, though, they did double their win total from a year ago.
The Pick – A lot of jokes have been made about Millen’s receiver lust, but while the offense only looks one or two guys away from being able to hang with anyone a la the Houston Texans…oh man, is that defense porous. This was a D that was almost completely unable to both pressure the opposing QB or defend against either the air or the ground game, leaving it up to a rookie QB and an unbalanced offense to try and steal away games. So the pick is probably Nebraska T Ndumakong Suh, right? Wrong. While Suh would obviously be a fantastic pickup for the Lions D-line (Tennessee S Eric Berry could also be a Polamalu/Reed type player for a pathetic Detroit secondary that only managed 9 INT’s this season), I think the Lions end up grabbing Oklahoma State Russell Okung to shore up an offensive line that gave up 44 sacks this season. Stafford is the hillbilly face of that franchise now, and you can’t have him getting smacked around like that over the course of a season. ESPN’s Todd McShay says the 6’8, 299 lb. Okung is the “most complete offensive tackle prospect in this class,” and even if he isn’t as otherworldly as some people are starting to convince themselves he is, current Lions T Jeff Backus gave up eight sacks all on his lonesome. That is way too many from a team’s designated “blindside” protector (I’m not going to have to pay Sandra Bullock royalties or anything, right?). Check out this interesting quote from Detroit O-line coach George Yarno:
“I think he’s at the very top of his game right now…he has done a tremendous job for us this year. I think he’s very comparable to some of the upper-echelon tackles in this league”
Some might say those are the words of something who has no idea what actually constitutes “upper-echelon” in his field. I’m willing to give Yarno the benefit of the doubt, and say Detroit’s front office is just testing the ground for a possible trade.
Season Lowlight – Did you know the last time the Lions won a game in their division was October 28, 2007? The Kitna-led Lions defeated the Chicago Bears 16-7 in Soldier Field, and ever since then it’s been bupkus. But hey, at least they broke that 19-game losing streak! (Yeah, I know it’s not really from this season, but still…)
3: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – It’s hard to imagine another team in recent years having as chaotic a year as the Bucs. It wasn’t as though the team had great expectations; after getting rid of head coach Jon Gruden, watching defensive coordinator and NFL legend Monte Kiffin leave to work with his son Lane at the University of Tennessee, and releasing a ton of veterans (Derrick Brooks, Cato June, Joey Galloway, Ike Hilliard and Warrick Dunn), Tampa Bay made 33-year-old defensive backs coach “Radio” Raheem Morris the youngest HC in the NFL, and decided to let the rebuilding begin. But then new OC Jeff Jagodzinski, who was brought in to replace Kiffin’s famous “Cover 2” defense with a new zone-blocking scheme, was abruptly dumped less than two weeks before the season opener. The Bucs seemed to wilt from all the attention, suffering through an 0-7 start before finally placing rookie QB Josh Freeman at the helm. Despite letting go of DC Jim Bates in week 10, Tampa Bay seemed to improve over the second half of the season, winning 3 of their last 9 and playing hard every week, probably saving Morris’ job as well…at least, until Bill Cowher shows some interest.
The Pick – SUUUUUUHHHHHHH!!! Is it possible for a #3 overall pick to be the steal of the draft? Nebraska DT Ndumakong Suh is a beast, pure and simple. A defensive lineman in the mold of Reggie White, Suh does everything you could ever want from a defender. He can rush the passer and stuff the run, he’s light on his feet even though he plays with crazy power, he’s got a high football IQ – hell, he even defends the pass. Although Tampa Bay’s defense played much better in the second half of the season after Morris took over playcalling duties, they’re still woefully undermanned; adding Suh gives this team a presence along the line it hasn’t enjoyed since the great Warren Sapp skipped his way through opposing warmups in Raymond James Stadium.
Season Lowlight – In Week 13, the Bucs essentially laid out the blueprint for ridiculous losses in a 6-16 stinker against the Carolina Panthers. It is surprisingly difficult to get inside the red zone eight times and garner a grand total of six points (unless you’re trying to suck); one thing that helps is when your rookie QB throws five INT’s, the most by a franchise QB since Vinny Testaverde threw six in 1990. P.U.
4: Washington Redskins – Let’s see here; a free-spending owner drunk off the smell of his own swollen coffers and alternately despised/tolerated by a fanbase that’s been beaten down by failure after embarassing failure, fires his emasculated coach and splurges on a flashy big-name free agent, somehow managing to once again coax his team’s weary diehards into convincing themselves that they’ve found that magical piece that will turn their poorly-assembled cast of overrated killer contracts and oft-injured bargain bin pickups into a well-oiled machine capable of making it to the playoffs. You almost said I had to be talking about the Oakland Raiders, right? Really, is there a more devastating condemnation then that in the modern NFL? Incidentally, I’m not 100% sold on Mike Shanahan being able to turn this seemingly perpetual bastion of mediocrity around in two seasons or so, which is generally how long the Snyde one gives his coaches.
The Pick – Everyone and their lost great-aunt seem to be saying that Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford is the choice here, and…I’ve gotta agree, at least as far as the Redskins taking a QB, seeing as how there’s no need for a defensive grab since they’ve got a top-10 D. Jason Campbell’s clearly on his way out, and it’s pretty much a proven fact that new regimes equal new QB’s, so new GM Bruce Allen and Shanahan are obviously going to want to get “their guy” behind center. Bradford’s spent his college career in a shotgun offense, and his arm strength is less than optimal (although Mel Kiper Jr. says his arm strength is “underrated”), and on top of all that he’s barely played over the last year after suffering numerous injuries. As a matter of fact, I’ve pegged Bradford as my “surprisingly falls out of the first round” guy; there’s one every draft. So with Bradford getting passed over, and local favorite University of Washington QB Jake Locker returning to UW for his senior season, who are the Redskins going to take? How about the forgotten QB of this year’s draft, Texas’ Colt McCoy? He’s big, strong, accurate, and he’s even mobile to a degree. Yeah, it’s a bit of a reach, but I feel like Shanahan has the offensive skills to turn McCoy into something special.
Season Lowlight – When a team goes winless over an entire season, nobody wants to be the team that finally gives up the ghost. In Week 3, that team was the Redskins, who lost in embarassing fashion to the Detroit Lions, 14-19, letting the Lions get one in the win column after a 19-game losing streak that was beginning to seriously challenge Tampa Bay’s epic 26-game losing streak.
5: Kansas City Chiefs – This is what I wrote about KC last year:
See, the problem with these crappy teams is they suck. They suck so hard, in fact, that nobody except die-hard fans want to talk about them. So when someone wants to do a mock draft, they have to sift through all this bullshit “woe is me” garbage to get the info they need. Take KC, for example. After they knocked NE QB Tom Brady out for the season, I hardly heard anything about them; just reports about their deteriorating QB situation and jokes about Herm Edwards. After some time spent on various Chiefs message boards (my advice: stay away from any team’s message boards unless they’re .500 or better, unless you enjoy seeing grown men say things like “our D-line suckz bitch nutz”), I learned the only thing anyone knows is that former NE executive Scott Pioli is the new KC GM. Beyond that, nobody’s sure of anything. Which is always a recipe for greatness.
Nothing has changed. Despite the high-priced addition of QB Matt Cassel and the extremely public exit of RB Larry Johnson, this is still a team desparately in search of an identity. Or, to put it more succinctly, this team is boring. And it’s not as though they don’t have any pieces, either – besides Cassel, WR Dwayne Bowe might be one of the most underrated studs in the league, and WR Chris Chambers isn’t exactly a slouch either, despite what production in recent years might led one to believe. Maybe new OC Charlie Weis can put something together, if he hasn’t been completely traumatized by the whole Notre Dame experience. And the rumors that Pioli wants to bring in Romeo Crennell, too? How unlikely would you say the odds are that KC turns into New England West? 100-to-1? 1,000-to-1?
The Pick – For me, this was one of the easiest picks in the draft; the Chiefs gave up a mind-boggling 45 sacks this season, after spending over $60 million luring Cassel from New England. The guy they got at left tackle now, Brandon Albert? He gave up nine sacks all on his lonesome this season, while racking up ten penalties at the same time. Just like Backus in Detroit, it’s time to make a change, and Maryland OT Bruce Campbell seems like he’d be a good choice here. A couple of negatives here; one, he has a history of injuries, and two, your odds of being attacked by a swarm of demons summoned by the Necronomicon increase dramatically with him on your team.
Season Lowlight – …I got nothing. Seriously, nothing sticks out to me about the Chiefs this season. They might as well have not even played. Let’s just move on.
6: Seattle Seahawks – Every couple of seasons or so, you’ll see a team clearly and definitively reach the end of a particular “era.” That time has now come in Seattle, as it’s become pretty evident that QB Matt Hasselback, either due to his own history of injuries or the apparent fact that Seattle’s offensive line never recovered from Steve Hutchinson’s departure – the only question is whether or not head coach Jim Mora Jr. will recognize this. As a Bucs fan who watched his chosen team play against Mora’s Atlanta Falcons twice a year, I can tell you with a great deal of confidence that he will not, because he is stupid. He is the type of coach that will insist on trying to platoon RB’s Julius Jones and Justin Forsett, even though it’s obvious that Jones is just about fully washed up and Forsett is, uh, not. Still, this was a perfectly mediocre team, one that went out and beat the teams people expected them to beat and lost to the teams people expected them to lose to (with a couple of notable exceptions to the former). Incidentally, expect the number of teams people expect the Seahawks to beat to drop quickly over the next few seasons, especially with division rivals Arizona and San Francisco turning the corner. Oh well; at least there’s always St. Louis…
The Pick – OK, first of all, this team doesn’t have a GM right now, which means odds are Mora’s gonna be calling the shots this draft, or at least have the most influence in whatever committee Seattle’s front office puts together. Again, keep in mind that Mora is known for being, shall we say, un-smart. That being said, this team needs help on both sides of the ball; either an offensive lineman to keep Hasselback upright or a WR to keep opposing defenses from double-teaming WR T.J. Houshmanzadeh (since Nate Burleson and Deion Branch haven’t really worked out). On the either side of the locker room, and maybe more importantly, Seattle’s defense got scorched by opposing QB’s, giving up 7.2 ypa and just under 250 ypg through the air. That is goddamn ridiculous. Just for that stat alone, I see Seattle grabbing Tennessee S Eric Berry. Let me tell you, as a Florida Gators fan (and former student), the only player on the Volunteers that’s remotely worried me the last few years has been Berry. The guy is an absolute beast, and a perfect fit on a defense filled with underachieving talents. Wait…you know what I mean.
Season Lowlight – Losing to a one-win team like the Bucs in Week 15 is pretty bad, although I heard a couple of fans that week try and mitigate it by mentioning the whole “West team traveling to the East coast” deal. Fine – whatever. What can’t be mitigated, though, is the fact that that was the fourth time that season that the Seahawks scored less than ten points in a game, losing 24-7. That’s the most times Seattle’s scored less than ten in a game over a season since 2001, which also happens to be Hasselback’s rookie year. So how long ago does that Super Bowl appearance feel?
7: Cleveland Browns – A lot of people don’t like Browns HC Eric “Mangenius” Mangini; in fact, they seem to hate him. Me, though? I love him, in the same way that I love “Jersey Shore” and the paternity test episodes of Maury. I mean, sure, as someone who roots for a team absolutely in rebuilding mode, I can’t help but wince when I see that the Browns were ranked 32nd in total offense and 31st in total defense. But here’s the thing – the Browns, along with the Rams and the Raiders, have…moved into their own separate football category, I guess is one way to put it. Really, they’ve become the trash TV of the NFL. Everyday it seems like there’s some new dramatic storyline erupting out of Cleveland – Mangini won’t say who is starting QB is, now QB Brady Quinn’s put his house up for sale so he’s probably leaving, and the front office is repeatedly lowballing the team’s unquestionably best player WR/KR Josh Cribbs, and hey how about we trade TE Kellen Winslow and WR Braylon Edwards for half their value, and on and on and on. Let me just say this – has their been a more amusing NFL franchise to watch over the last season? I say no.
The Pick – This team has some players on offense; Joe Thomas is a rock at left tackle, and Cribbs…well, Cribbs does stuff like this. Hell, they’ve even got two quarterbacks! All jokes aside, this is a team that traded away two of its top three playmakers, and has no idea who they’re going to play at QB. New GM Mike Holmgren probably feels like he doesn’t have a lot of choices here, despite the Browns’ massive needs; you always want your first #1 pick with a team to be a standout, someone who sets the tone for your managing “era.” You want all your picks to be standouts, naturally, but the first one’s usually extra-special. That’s why I see Holmgren and Mangini taking Alabama LB Rolando McClain, who can become a top-level player in Cleveland’s 3-4 defense and help toughen up a run defense that gave up 144 ypg. I also considered the possibility of Georgia Tech DE/LB Derrick Morgan, but the situation was so similar to Mangini’s pick of Vernon Gholston a couple of years back when he was coaching the Jets that I think it would scare him off.
Season Lowlight – How to choose from a bounty of choices – nay, a plethora, even! Our survey says…Adrian Peterson completely disrespecting the entire Cleveland defense, CB Eric Wright in particular:
8: Oakland Raiders – Speaking of barely-cognizant septugenarian owners standing like naked emperors in front of their pained subjects blithely casting gold coins at the first shiny thing that catches their eye, here comes Al Davis! Just take a look at this: this is a timeline of the last 30 years of Raiders drafts (will you marry me Google?). Look at the “bust rate” from 1995 onwards. That’s freakin’ nuts! And it’s not just a terrible draft history that’s been wrecking them, either – Davis has gone through 7 coaches since the 1995 season, a whopping 4 since 2004. That’s basically one a season. Now, it would seem evident that you’re not gonna build a winner by going through a new coach each season, but apparently you can’t tell Al Davis anything. I like to think of this team as a sorta developmental league-type team; hyped-up prospects get drafted there, and the other teams keep an eye on them. If they suck, nobody has to pay the big checks but Crazy Al in Oakland. But if they’re good, then a title contender can scoop them up in the offseason when their rookie contracts expire and they’re so grateful to escape the Black Hole that they’re willing to sign anything.
The Pick – This team gave up 155 ypg on the ground, and 4.5 ypa. That’s halfway to a first down every time your running back touches the ball! The Raiders are probably going to go with the platoon route at both the RB and QB positions, so that should work out great (he said sarcastically), but it’s clear that this team should be worrying more about keeping points off the board than putting points on the boards. And look! There just happens to be a big-name prospect with a slightly checkered past who’s probably going to have a sick couple of days at the combine! Florida DE Carlos Dunlap, it’s your lucky day – hope you like old folks smell. Oh, and make sure WR Louis Murphy shows you around; you probably remember him from your Florida days together, and it looks like he’s been able to avoid the Raiders curse so far. Maybe some of his luck will rub off on you.
Season Lowlight – It’s hard to properly state just how much Raiders fans absolutely fucking despise QB Jamarcus Russell. Their eyes bulge, and bloody foam starts leaking out of the corners of their mouth, just before they go into convulsions. Don’t believe me? Here’s a video someone caught of Russell sacking himself; check out the comments. Here’s an iPhone video of fans behind the Raider’s bench screaming at Russell while his coaches try to talk to him (classic moment – one fan starting a chant of “Do not console him!”). Oh, and here’s a fan burning his Russell jersey…in the Raiders parking lot. While others gather round and cheer like Islamofascists burning an American flag. But my favorite one is this guy, who set up shop in the Black Hole after a Week 3 20-point loss to Denver, and just asked people what they thought of Russell:
There are 10 more videos like that. Enjoy.
9: Buffalo Bills – Ugh. Buffalo still has football? What’s that? They had T.O.? Weird; I thought he just wasn’t able to find someone to take him on this year. At any rate, this is a team that’s not even sure they’re going to be in the same city a couple of seasons from now, so good luck figuring out what direction they’re going in. Sideways, would be my guess; by the looks of things, this looks like a team that’s gonna be tightly secured in that 5-7 win/season range. You know the type – cannon fodder for the big boys in the conference, like the Patriots and Colts and whatnot, except for one or two games each season where their offensive line and running backs catch fire at the same time. Bo-ring.
The Pick – Speaking of O-line, when Buffalo traded excellent OT Jason Peters, everyone assumed they had a plan to replace him. Turns out they didn’t, unless you count Demetrius Bell as a plan – I don’t. That’s why, in a so-so crop of lineman, I’ve got my third big man getting drafted in the top 10: Oklahoma LT Trent Williams, a beastly tackle who can blow open paths to the next level for runners, a need for a team that only managed six rushing TD’s on the year.
Season Lowlight – How depressing must it be to have arguably the worst moment of the season come in the first game? This pain of this nut-punch, last-second 25-24 loss to local/divisional rivals the New England Patriots couldn’t be denied, though, especially when the Bills looked so dominant…until the last four minutes or so of the game:
10: Jacksonville Jaguars – Can someone explain to me how Jack del Rio is still the head coach in Jacksonville? This city is this close to losing the Jaguars over blackouts and attendance issues, and a big-time shakeup is necessary, if not a total renovation. The first step – dropping del Rio. He’s not a bad coach, per se, but it’s become more than clear that he can’t take a team to the top; he’s an 8-8 coach, essentially. Not a franchise coach, but closer to a good transition guy, the type that makes for a good hire in-between, say, Jim Zorn and Mike Shanahan. Otherwise, this team isn’t bad.
The Pick – The second step? Draft QB Tim Tebow. Don’t even bother trying to talk to me about how he brings his throwing hand down way too low before he throws the ball, or his lack of experience taking snaps from behind the center, or how his old-school Cornhuskers-type single-wing QB style is gonna give him problems in the pro game. Tebow playing for a Florida NFL team is damn near a license to print money in the Sunshine State, and if he contributes emotionally and in short-yard situations, the same way he did in his freshman year at Florida, all the better.
Season Lowlight – How about the second worst loss in team history, a 0-41 shellacking in Seattle? Yeah…you don’t want to watch clips from the game.
To Be Continued…