Rick Gosselin's final mock draft: Dez Bryant to Cowboys
12:29 AM CDT on Thursday, April 22, 2010
By RICK GOSSELIN / The Dallas Morning Newsrgosselin@dallasnews.com
1. ST. LOUIS RAMS
Sam Bradford, Quarterback, Oklahoma
The Rams have passed on potential franchise quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Mark Sanchez in the last two drafts. Both have started NFL playoff games. St. Louis must stop ignoring the quarterback position.
Other needs: QB, Pass rush, WR, DT
2. DETROIT LIONS
Ndamukong Suh, Defensive tackle, Nebraska
The Lions need defensive size to tackle Adrian Peterson, plus an inside pass rush to pressure Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler in the division. Suh fills both bills for the NFL's 32nd-ranked defense.
Other needs: RB, CB, DL, OL
3. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Gerald McCoy, Defensive tackle, Oklahoma
The Buccaneers were one of the NFL's best teams throughout the 2000 decade on the strength of a dominating defensive front. Tampa Bay is no longer dominant up front. Time to reload.
Other needs: DE, DT, LB, WR
4. WASHINGTON REDSKINS
Russell Okung, Offensive tackle, Oklahoma State
If the Redskins can't protect Donovan McNabb, he will suffer the same fate as Jason Campbell (46 sacks and a loss of confidence). Incumbent Chris Samuels has retired at left tackle, so this pick becomes a walk-in starter.
Other needs: LT, QB, NT, RB
5. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Eric Berry, Safety, Tennessee
The Chiefs brought in Mike Vrabel for leadership a year ago. But he's 35 this season. Berry will be running the KC defense inside of a year. He's never not started in his football career and also offers corner cover skills.
Other needs: DT, LB, S, WR
6. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Trent Williams, Offensive tackle, Oklahoma
Like the Redskins, the Seahawks also need to find a blindside pass protector for their veteran quarterback. Seattle QBs were sacked 41 times last season, and Matt Hasselbeck couldn't stay healthy under that assault.
Other needs: OT, QB, RB, DE
7. CLEVELAND BROWNS
Derrick Morgan, Outside linebacker, Georgia Tech
The Browns need help across the board on defense. They traded their top pass rusher (OLB Kamerion Wimbley) to Oakland this off-season. Morgan is coming off a 12 ½-sack season at Georgia Tech.
Other needs: QB, S, CB, DE
8. OAKLAND RAIDERS
Anthony Davis, Offensive tackle, Rutgers
No quarterback – not JaMarcus Russell, Bruce Gradkowski or Charlie Frye – has a chance until the Raiders start protecting him. Oakland allowed 49 sacks in 2009. Davis is the best athlete of any left tackle on the board.
Other needs: LT, QB, LB, DE
9. BUFFALO BILLS
Dan Williams, Defensive tackle, Tennessee
The Bills are switching to a 3-4 defense in 2010, and that scheme starts with a nose tackle who can attract double- and triple-teams. Williams is that guy. At 327, he's a space-eater who makes plays.
Other needs: QB, NT, OT, WR
10. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Brandon Graham, Defensive end, Michigan
Graham is the most polished pass rusher in this draft. He'll have the quickest impact – and a Jacksonville defense that ranked last in the NFL in sacks is in dire need of someone who can have an instant impact.
Other needs: Pass rush, LB, S, DT
11. DENVER BRONCOS
Rolando McClain, Middle linebacker, Alabama
The Broncos cut starting inside middle linebacker Andra Davis at season's end. McClain is a walk-in starter. He won the Butkus Award as the best linebacker in college football last season.
Other needs: MLB, DT, WR, Power RB
12. MIAMI DOLPHINS
Demaryius Thomas, Wide receiver, Georgia Tech
The Dolphins have a young quarterback in Chad Henne. The way to accelerate his development is to surround him with playmakers. With the arrival of Brandon Marshall and Thomas, Henne could be a Pro Bowler very soon.
Other needs: NT, RB, S, CB
13. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Joe Haden, Cornerback, Florida
The 49ers will look at RB C.J. Spiller – but he'd arrive as a backup to Frank Gore. Haden walks in as a starter and fills a void in an area of need. You can't win the NFC West unless you can cover Larry Fitzgerald.
Other needs: OT, CB, S, WR
14. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Ryan Mathews, Halfback, Fresno State
Mathews is better suited to be an every-down back than C.J. Spiller because he has the bulk at 220 pounds. Spiller is a Reggie Bush clone at 198 pounds. The Seahawks need an every-down back to improve the NFL's 26th-ranked rushing attack.
Other needs: OT, QB, RB, DE
15. NEW YORK GIANTS
Jason Pierre-Paul, Defensive end, South Florida
Pierre-Paul played only one season of college football but has the most upside of any pass rusher in this draft at 6-5, 270 with 4.64 speed. Osi Umenyiora (Troy) was supposed to be a project, too, and he became a Pro Bowler.
Other needs: MLB, Pass rush, CB, TE
16. TENNESSEE TITANS
Kyle Wilson, Cornerback, Boise State
The Titans need to improve the front and back end of their defense. But the D-line quality has vanished by this point of the draft. So the focus shifts to a very talented first-round cornerback board.
Other needs: DE, CB, S, KR
17. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Bryan Bulaga, Offensive tackle, Iowa
The 49ers need a right tackle to bookend Joe Staley on the left side, and the best right tackle in the draft slides to them at 17. They'd look again at C.J. Spiller, but quality tackles are harder to find than running backs.
Other needs: OT, CB, S, WR
18. PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Maurkice Pouncey, Center, Florida
With Ben Roethlisberger's future in flux, the Steelers are likely to revert to the power offense that won Super Bowls in the 1970s. But you need blockers, and Pouncey gives them flexibility at center and guard.
Other needs: Int. OL, CB, S, QB
19. ATLANTA FALCONS
Mike Iupati, Guard, Idaho
Like the Steelers, the Falcons need to get their run game back on track. They fell from first in the NFL in 2008 to 15th in 2009. Better blockers produce better runners. Iupati is the best drive-blocker in the draft.
Other needs: CB, S, Int. OL
20. HOUSTON TEXANS
C.J. Spiller, Halfback, Clemson
The Texans can't have another season from Steve Slaton like 2009. Maybe it was a sophomore slump. Spiller gives them insurance against that. He's also a fine complementary piece if Slaton does bounce back.
Other needs: RB, CB, Int. OL, S
21. CINCINNATI BENGALS
Jermaine Gresham, Tight end, Oklahoma
The Bengals need to give QB Carson Palmer a reliable safety-valve option. Cincinnati got fewer than 50 catches from its tight ends last season. Gresham can be to Palmer what Jason Witten is to Tony Romo.
Other needs: TE, DE, Int.OL, S
22. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Earl Thomas, Safety, Texas
The Patriots have defensive needs in this draft but also the luxury of taking the best player on the board. It's Thomas, who gives them a combination of a cover safety and ballhawk. He had eight interceptions last fall.
Other needs: TE, DL, Pass rush, CB
23. GREEN BAY PACKERS
Jerry Hughes, Outside linebacker, TCU
Dom Capers would like to give the Packers a version of the Blitzburgh scheme he ran in Pittsburgh in the 1990s. He has one elite pass rusher in Clay Matthews, and Hughes would give Capers pressure from the other side.
Other needs: Pass rush, OT, CB
24. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Devin McCourty, Cornerback, Rutgers
Not only is McCourty an elite cover cornerback, he may be the best special teams player in this draft. He blocked seven kicks and returned a kickoff for a touchdown in his career. He replaces Sheldon Brown.
Other needs: OL, DL, CB, TE
25. BALTIMORE RAVENS
Kareem Jackson, Cornerback, Alabama
The Ravens have always won with a physical brand of defense, and Jackson is the most physical corner in this draft. He goes from the No. 2-ranked defense in college to the No. 3-ranked defense in the NFL.
Other needs: DT, TE, CB, Pass rush
26. ARIZONA CARDINALS
Sean Weatherspoon, Outside linebacker, Missouri
The Cardinals have two huge holes in their defense with the departures this off-season of OLB Karlos Dansby and FS Antrel Rolle. Weatherspoon gives Arizona a linebacker with the same physical and athletic traits as Dansby.
Other needs: OLB, S, WR, TE
27. DALLAS COWBOYS
Dez Bryant, Wide receiver, Oklahoma State
Bryant won't slide to the Cowboys at 27, so look for Jerry Jones to move up if Bryant tumbles deep into the teens. Bryant has immaturity issues that are scaring teams off. Jones still regrets passing on Randy Moss.
Other needs: LT, S, WR, Youth on OL
28. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
Jared Odrick, Defensive end, Penn State
The Chargers need help up front, and Odrick falls into the category of best player available. The Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year brings 304 pounds of run defense excellence to NFL's 20th-ranked run defense.
Other needs: RB, NT, Blocking TE, CB
29. NEW YORK JETS
Patrick Robinson, Cornerback, Florida State
There's a flat spot on this board from Nos. 29-32 where first-round talent runs out, and teams will be drafting what they consider second-round players. Look for the Jets to try to trade out. Failing there, give them Robinson.
Other needs: C, CB, Pass rush, RB
30. MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Jimmy Clausen, Quarterback, Notre Dame
The Vikings were hoping a cornerback would slide to them but instead hit the jackpot with the slide of Clausen. He gives them their QB of the future when Brett Favre finally does retire, probably in 2011.
Other needs: CB, S, DT, RB
31. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Rodger Saffold, Offensive tackle, Indiana
The Colts released a starting guard (Ryan Lilja) this off-season, so there's an immediate opening on the AFC champions. Saffold has value in his versatility. Scouts think he can play center, guard or tackle.
Other needs: OL, DL, 2 CB
32. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Brian Price, Defensive tackle, UCLA
If the Saints want to repeat as NFC South champions, they must bulk up the defensive front to slow down the elite running backs at Atlanta and Carolina. Price was the Pac-10's Defensive Player of the Year.
Other needs: OLB, S, DT, Pass rusher
Note: Carolina and Chicago, which follow, do not have first-round picks
48. CAROLINA PANTHERS
Chris Cook, Cornerback/Safety, Virginia
The Panthers don't pick until the second round. Cook is the biggest corner in the draft at 6-2, 212 pounds. Some teams project him as a safety. He can give the Panthers a physical presence at corner or as a cover safety.
Other needs: WR, QB, DE, TE
75. CHICAGO BEARS
Major Wright, Safety, Florida
The Bears don't pick until the third round. The offensive line, running back, quarterback and linebacker boards will be picked clean by then. So the Bears take the best player on the board – a playmaking safety.
Other needs: CB, S, WR, Int. OL