2010 mock NFL Draft

The draft, according to Kevin Van Valkenburg

April 22, 2010|By Kevin Van Valkenburg, The Baltimore Sun

1. St. Louis Rams -- Sam Bradford, Oklahoma, quarterback

Drafting a quarterback with the first pick is always seen as a gamble, but no more so than drafting a defensive tackle and handing him $50 million. Even the best defensive tackle in the league doesn't affect the game the way a great quarterback does, and Bradford has the potential to be a great quarterback. Mark Sanchez, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco are prime examples of how a young quarterback can help turn your franchise around quickly. Bradford is accurate throwing the ball various distances, and he has a strong arm and a quick release. Those skills are essential to be successful at this level. The quarterbacks who failed in recent years all lacked one of them. (Brady Quinn, for instance, wasn't very accurate throwing passes beyond 10 yards. Kyle Boller wasn't accurate at all.) The main knock on Bradford was his injury history, but when he showed up at the combine weighing 236 pounds, he convinced a lot of people he had the size to play in the NFL.

$50 million is a ton of money, and a great example of just how screwed up the salary structure is in the NFL right now, but the Rams can't pass on a guy with Bradford's potential.

2. Detroit Lions -- Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska, defensive tackle

I'm not sure I buy the idea that Gerald McCoy has more "upside" than Suh because he can be more disruptive in the passing game. For starters, they played in different systems. Suh's responsibility wasn't shooting gaps, it was blowing up the middle and reacting to the ball. Even with that responsibility, he had more sacks and more tackles for loss than McCoy, so it's unclear how McCoy earned this reputation as a quarterback slayer and Suh as a run stuffer. McCoy might be quicker, but Suh is as unblockable as a Kodiak bear. He's much stronger than McCoy in the upper body and to be honest, I think he's the safer pick. The Lions need a sure thing, especially with this much money at stake.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma, defensive tackle

Getting McCoy here would probably feel like a steal for the Bucs, since plenty of projections had him going first overall two months ago. McCoy has exceptional footwork, and he's very athletic for being as big as he is. He'd be a great fit in Tampa's 4-3 defense. I'm still not sold on his upper-body strength, though. At the combine, he benched 225 pounds 26 times, which is a pretty poor showing for a defensive tackle in the running to be the top pick in the draft. But the tape doesn't lie — he's a player. The Bucs need someone to be their next Warren Sapp, and either McCoy or Suh sould be that guy.

4. Washington Redskins -- Russell Okung, Oklahoma State, tackle

If the Redskins take Jimmy Clausen here, I really think we'll look back on it five years from now and laugh at how foolish it was. Getting Donovan McNabb probably rules that out. Mike Shannahan still needs a long-term answer at quarterback, though, so who knows. Okung could solidify their left tackle spot for a decade. He has great feet, long arms, and he benched 225 pounds 38 times at the NFL Combine, which was the most of any tackle prospect.

5. Kansas City Chiefs -- Eric Berry, Tennessee, safety

In my amateur opinion, Berry is the best player in the draft, and the Chiefs should sprint to the podium when it's time to pick. It's difficult to pick safeties this high in the draft, which is why it's rarely done, but Berry is probably the best college safety since Ed Reed, and he could even play corner if you needed him there. He's fast, strong, a leader, a big hitter and solid tackler, and he has that innate ability to anticipate and make plays in space. He nearly broke the NCAA record for career interception return yardage, and he's already essentially played in an NFL defensive scheme, having played under former Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kifflin at Tennessee. The team that drafts him will start him from day one and never regret it.

6. Seattle Seahawks --Bryan Bulaga, Iowa, tackle

C.J. Spiller makes sense here too, but I'm going to wager that Seattle thinks he'll still be there at No. 14, and in this scenario they not only get a speedy running back, they get a tackle to replace Walter Jones, and one who could anchor the left side of their line for a decade. Bulaga didn't have a great senior year, but he was a dominant junior. He can drive his feet run blocking as well as anyone and and has great balance. The Seahawks might have Trent Williams from Oklahoma rated higher than Bulaga, and Williams is more athletic, but Bulaga is a safe pick that's unlikely to be a bust. The Pete Carroll Era needs to get off to a good start, and protect Matt Hasselbeck in the process.

7. Cleveland Browns -- Joe Haden, Florida, cornerback

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