By Rob Staton
The scouting combine is complete and it's time for an updated mock draft. A lot of people refer to Pete Carroll being a defensive minded coach and suggest that this will have an influence on the way he drafts. I don't buy that. Rex Ryan is the definitive defensive coach in the NFL and his team last year made a major splash to draft a quarterback (Mark Sanchez) and a running back (Shonn Greene). They later traded for Braylon Edwards. The Jets felt that a few choice additions in free agency and Ryan's coaching would be enough to significantly improve the defense - that came true by the end of the year. However, New York also knew they wouldn't be able to coast along on offense and needed to act.
The Seahawks find themselves in a similar situation today. Of course, the Jets already owned an above average offensive line - a luxury not afforded to Seattle. However, I believe the new regime will accept that they can't put their faith in ageing veterans for the long term. Matt Hasselbeck is in a contract year and has missed significant game time in recent years. With all due respect to Matt, the team simply must find a long term solution at the most important position in football. The Seahawks need to find a left tackle too, despite a lack of confirmation as to Walter Jones' future plans. The team also must find some playmakers that can put points on the board - they cannot rely solely upon T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Julius Jones.
Yes - a greater presence at defensive end is needed. Could the Seahawks use an addition to the secondary? Sure. Are there prospects that would fit at #6 and #14 at those positions? Absolutely. But I firmly believe Pete Carroll will back himself to rectify some of those problems with the current staff and roster and with later picks. He'll put Aaron Curry in more pass rushing situations; he'll move Darryl Tapp around too. He'll find ways to be creative with his defensive backs. Not being able to fill every need, he'll have to determine what gets priority. Seattle's slumping offense needs a serious shot in the arm. For those reasons, it wouldn't surprise me if that side of the ball got the most attention in this year's draft, something I've exampled in my latest projection.
#1 St. Louis: Sam Bradford (QB, Oklahoma)
The early talk of the combine was all about the likelihood St. Louis will select Sam Bradford first overall. The Rams can't wait until later to get a quarterback. Even if they bring in a veteran, they must find a long term solution at the position.
#2 Detroit: Ndamukong Suh (DT, Nebraska)
Suh and McCoy are very closely matched and personal preference will likely decide which order they are drafted. However, if polled I expect most teams would go with Suh and this is an obvious landing spot for one of the top defensive tackles.
#3 Tampa Bay: Gerald McCoy (DT, Oklahoma)
The Buccs will settle for McCoy if Suh's off the board. This fills a huge need in Tampa Bay, but don't be surprised if they pull off a surprise and draft a weapon for their quarterback.
#4 Washington: Anthony Davis (OT, Rutgers)
Last year, teams voiced serious concerns about Andre Smith's attitude and work ethic - yet he never really fell out of top ten consideration. I see a similar situation with Davis, who has massive upside and ability in pass protection.
#5 Kansas City: Rolando McClain (LB, Alabama)
Don't be swayed by recent negative reviews of McClain in some quarters. It's not like Tyson Jackson was getting a top five grade this time last year. The Chiefs are committed to creating a strong 3-4 defense but lack that presence at inside linebacker.
#6 Seattle: Jimmy Clausen (QB, Notre Dame)
If the Seahawks believe Clausen can make their offense tick one day, they have to take him at #6. Seattle's long term situation at quarterback needs to be addressed with Hasselbeck in a contract year and having missed significant playing time in recent years.
#7 Cleveland: Dez Bryant (WR, Oklahoma State)
The Browns need a greater threat at receiver and Bryant offers a solution. Missing the combine and character concerns doesn't help, but the talent on offer will almost certainly keep Bryant near the top of team's draft boards.
#8 Oakland: Taylor Mays (S, USC)
Al Davis loves to draft defensive backs. He also loves to draft athletic freaks with lightning speed. Safety isn't amongst Oakland's greatest needs, but Mays' athletic qualities make him a very likely option here.
#9 Buffalo: Bryan Bulaga (OT, Iowa)
The Bills need to improve their offensive line. Bulaga will interest teams as a left tackle despite his short arms.
#10 Jacksonville: Eric Berry (S, Tennessee)
I expect the Jaguars to explore every trade avenue possible to move down. If they can't move away from this spot - Berry makes sense as Jacksonville are looking to rebuild their secondary.
#11 Denver: Dan Williams (DT, Tennessee)
The Broncos need that presence at the front of their defense. Williams is the best prospect on the board to cope with NT duties in the 3-4.
#12 Miami: Earl Thomas (S, Texas)
Despite investing two high picks on defensive backs last year, the Dolphins could show interest in a playmaker like Thomas who can line up anywhere in the secondary.
#13 San Francisco: Joe Haden (CB, Florida)
Haden's poor runs in the forty yard dash will send teams back to the tape for further study. He is an exceptional athlete and football player, who should maintain a position on draft day in this range.
#14 Seattle: Charles Brown (OT, USC)
The Seahawks need to draft a left tackle. This isn't too high for the under rated Brown, who is a perfect fit for the Alex Gibbs zone blocking scheme. Seattle could trade down a few spots and still make this selection.
#15 New York Giants: Derrick Morgan (DE, Georgia Tech)
Morgan has great potential, but amongst the cluster of 3-4 teams and alternative picks - he might suffer a slight fall on draft day. This would be a perfect fit for both prospect and team.
#16 Tennessee: Jason Pierre-Paul (DE, USF)
Pierre-Paul is raw but he has unlimited upside and teams will look at him as someone they can coach into greatness. His lack of experience might keep him out of the top ten, but he owns top ten talent.
#17 San Francisco: Trent Williams (OT, Oklahoma)
The 49ers will consider drafting a right tackle to compliment Joe Staley on the left hand side.
#18 Pittsburgh: C.J. Spiller (RB, Clemson)
The Steelers will take whoever is top of their board when they're on the clock. They're also good enough to justify another high pick at running back, as they look to replace Willie Parker's reduction in speed with Spiller.
#19 Atlanta: Brandon Graham (DE, Michigan)
The Falcons could look at cornerback here, but Graham's stock has suitably risen to justify placing him here. The only area of concern is height (6'1") which could lead to an Everette Brown-style fall.
#20 Houston: Devin McCourty (CB, Rutgers)
This selection could lead to a run on cornerbacks. McCourty ran in the 4.3's in Indianapolis this week and made sure he'll hear his name called in round one.
#21 Cincinnati: Arrelious Benn (WR, Illinois)
Benn showed what he's all about at the combine - big target, strong build and no slouch as a runner. He has to warrant consideration in round one, even after a disappointing final season with Illinois.
#22 New England: Jared Odrick (DT, Penn State)
The Patriots are in the process of major changes on their defensive line. Drafting the versatile Odrick gives New England some options long term.
#23 Green Bay: Russell Okung (OT, Oklahoma State)
Kyle Rota's scouting report on Okung is an absolute must read and highlights some of the reasons why Okung might not be a top ten lock. He performed well at the combine before his injury, but if any of the tackle class is facing an unexpected fall - I think it could be Okung.
#24 Philadelphia: Everson Griffen (DE, USC)
The Eagles need a better pass rush, that was evident in their playoff defeat at Dallas. Griffen boosted his stock at the combine with a very solid overall performance.
#25 Baltimore: Kareem Jackson (CB, Alabama)
Jackson ran very well at the combine and could go earlier than this. Quietly had a very good 2009 season for the Crimson Tide.
#26 Arizona: Carlos Dunlap (DE, Florida)
The Cardinals are about accumulating talent. Calais Campbell had similar question marks but Ken Wisenhunt's staff turned him into a contributor. Dunlap isn't a huge need, but Arizona could be getting a steal.
#27 Dallas: Demaryius Thomas (WR, Georgia Tech)
Jerry Jones could target a big target at receiver. He's traditionally avoided drafting offensive lineman and he likes a flashy pick.
#28 San Diego: Jahvid Best (RB, California)
The Chargers will address the running back position early after cutting LT and likely losing Darren Sproles. Best offers a home run threat and could be paired with a more experienced back.
#29 New York Jets: Kyle Wilson (CB, Boise State)
Wilson didn't work out at the combine, but Rex Ryan loves adding to his secondary. Finding another cornerback appears to be a priority for the Jets despite already owning one of the best in the league.
#30 Minnesota: Brian Price (DT, UCLA)
Price is a disruptive force, but he gets nicked up easily and will have to be used in a rotation. This is great value, but a fall into the latter reaches of round one wouldn't be a total shock.
#31 Indianapolis: Maurkice Pouncey (C, Florida)
The Colts like their lineman to fit the scheme, they don't mind smaller guys. That's good news for Pouncey, who arrived at the combine smaller than advertised. He could play some guard from day one and eventually move to center.
#32 New Orleans: Sean Weatherspoon (LB, Missouri)
I was never blown away watching tape of Weatherspoon from 2009. He should warrant consideration here though and offers an instant impact as a rookie.
#33 St. Louis: Jermaine Gresham (TE, Oklahoma)
Getting Sam Bradford a safety net - especially one he's worked with in college - makes sense. Injuries are the only reason Gresham is still available here.
#34 Detroit: Brandon Ghee (CB, Wake Forest)
Ghee's excellent combine could put him in round one. Detroit continue to build their defense.
#35 Tampa Bay: Brandon LaFell (WR, LSU)
LaFell didn't run particularly well at the combine, but he's a big target for Josh Freeman who can get on the field in week one.
#36 Kansas City: Sergio Kindle (DE, Texas)
The Chiefs will be very happy if Kindle is still on the board to offer a solid outside rush.
#37 Washington: Mike Iupati (G, Idaho)
Re-building the offensive like could be a priority with Washington's two early picks.
#38 Cleveland: Dominique Franks (CB, Oklahoma)
Having taken a receiver in round one, Cleveland turn their attentions to the secondary.
#39 Oakland: Bruce Campbell (OT, Maryland)
The Raiders could trade up to secure Campbell, who still has major issues despite an impressive combine.
#40 Seattle: Lamarr Houston (DT, Texas)
Houston only falls because of needs elsewhere.
#41 Buffalo: Rob Gronkowski (TE, Arizona)
Chan Gailey needs a good blocking tight end for his offense.
#42 Tampa Bay: Damian Williams (WR, USC)
Williams is a difficult one to project. A YAC and return threat who runs good routes, but doesn't own blazing speed and body catches too much. He could go in round one, or he could go later than this even.
#43 Miami: Jerry Hughes (OLB, TCU)
Hughes looked smooth in drills this week. The Dolphins need a pass rusher off the edge.
#44 New England: Ricky Sapp (OLB, Clemson)
I'm a fan of Sapp's. I think he could go earlier than this, potentially late first round.
#45 Denver: Golden Tate (WR, Notre Dame)
Tate's impressive 4.3 speed was unexpected. However, I still don't think he'll go in round one.
#46 New York: Chad Jones (S, LSU)
I expected Jones to flash greater speed at the combine and he was smaller than I thought. However, this is a need area and Jones has big potential.
#47 New England: Chris Cook (CB, Virginia)
Cook's work out in Indianapolis will have scouts returning to consult tape - he was impressive.
#48 Carolina: Mardy Gilyard (WR, Cincinnati)
Some teams are really high on Gilyard and others just don't like him. He makes sense for the Panthers.
#49 San Francisco: Mike Williams (WR, Syracuse)
High risk, big reward for the team who drafts Williams. Singletary will thrive on the challenge of coaching this particular wide out.
#50 Kansas City: Cam Thomas (DT, North Carolina)
The Chiefs complete their 3-4 rebuild with a nose tackle.
#51 Houston: Ryan Mathews (RB, Fresno State)
I'm not as high on Mathews as some, but Houston appear ready to draft a new running back.
#52 Pittsburgh: Perrish Cox (CB, Oklahoma State)
The Steelers might look to add a cornerback and Cox is worth the 52nd overall pick.
#53 New England: Alex Carrington (DE, Arkansas State)
The Patriots continue to accumulate picks and add talent that fits their scheme.
#54 Cincinnati: Major Wright (S, Florida)
I'm a big fan of Wright's and he performed well enough in Indianapolis to potentially shoot up many draft boards.
#55 Philadelphia: Nate Allen (S, USF)
The Eagles need a safety, although this might be half a round too early for Allen.
#56 Green Bay: Patrick Robinson (CB, Florida State)
Some people think Robinson will go a lot higher than this.
#57 Baltimore: Jacoby Ford (WR, Clemson)
Running a 4.28 at the combine will interest teams that own a quarterback with a huge arm.
#58 Arizona: Jason Worilds (DE, Virginia Tech)
Arizona can get instant benefit from putting Worilds in space and letting him rush the passer.
#59 Dallas: Brandon Spikes (LB, Florida)
Spikes' stock is difficult to judge. However, he's a big name leader at a position of need for Jerry Jones' team.
#60 San Diego: Corey Wootton (DE, Northwestern)
Wootton wasn't as big as I expected at the combine, but if he adds bulk he can be used as a much needed five technique for the Chargers.
#61 New York Jets: Linval Joseph (DT, East Carolina)
One to watch - Joseph is a potential nose tackle who ran a 5.09 and benched 39 reps - whilst weighing 328lbs. Strong and fast guys who play this position go early.
#62 Minnesota: Joe McKnight (RB, USC)
I like McKnight and his fumbling issues were dealt with in 2009. He would compliment AP very nicely.
#63 Indianapolis: Geno Atkins (DT, Georgia)
The Colts like smaller, faster lineman on both sides of the ball. Atkins ran well at the combine and weight in under 300lbs.
#64 New Orleans: A.J. Jefferson (CB, Fresno State)
Raw prospect with a high ceiling at a position of need.