Originally Published: February 10, 2010
O-line and D-line take over top 10
Updated top 10 includes only one skill player and one defensive back
By Todd McShay
Much has been made of the strength of the 2010 defensive tackle class, and the fact that the first two picks in Scouts Inc.'s latest first-round projection are defensive tackles is no surprise.
However, the offensive tackles are coming on strong, and we now project four offensive tackles to come off the board in the first eight picks. Add a pair of defensive ends to the players mentioned above, and you have eight linemen among the first 10 picks.
That leaves little room at the top for skill players and defensive backs, and some of the biggest names on our board have slipped significantly in our latest projection.
Here's how we see things shaking out now that the college all-star games are over and prospects are preparing for the upcoming NFL combine.
St. Louis RamsRecord: 1-15Gerald McCoy*, DT, Oklahoma
The Rams have a poor track record when it comes to drafting defensive linemen early, and now they have a tough choice to make between the stronger, more instinctive Ndamukong Suh and the quicker, more disruptive McCoy. Coach Steve Spagnuolo is looking for defensive linemen who can penetrate, which is why we think McCoy could be the top overall pick.
Detroit LionsRecord: 2-14Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
The Lions will gladly take Suh here. He won't provide the pass-rush production of McCoy, but he is a force versus the run and he consistently disrupts passing windows thanks to his excellent instincts and long arms.
Tampa Bay BuccaneersRecord: 3-13Jason Pierre-Paul*, DE, South Florida
The Bucs will consider Tennessee S Eric Berry here, but they are in dire need of a speed rusher and Pierre-Paul is the most explosive one this draft class has to offer.
Washington RedskinsRecord: 4-12Anthony Davis*, OT, Rutgers
Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford has enough physical and mental tools to develop into a good NFL starter eventually. However, he also enters the league with enough question marks (shoulder injury, spread offensive system, etc.) for a team like the Redskins to pass and fill one of several other holes. Solidifying its offensive line should be Washington's top priority, and Davis is the most naturally gifted tackle in this year's deep group. Two other options at tackle are Russell Okung (Oklahoma State) and Bryan Bulaga (Iowa).
Kansas City ChiefsRecord: 4-12Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State
Berry could make a huge impact in the Chiefs' secondary as well, but Kansas City has too much work still to do at core positions to spend No. 5 money on a safety. The offensive line needs to be solidified, and that could happen by bringing in Okung, who has a quick first step, good power and a mean streak.
Seattle SeahawksRecord: 5-11Bryan Bulaga*, OT, Iowa
Look for Seattle to pass on a quarterback in the top 10 for the second straight year. Finding a replacement for Walter Jones at left tackle is the more immediate need, and the team will get a safer prospect there than at quarterback. Bulaga still has room to improve in pass protection, but he displays the feet and balance to develop into a very good overall starting left tackle in the NFL.
Cleveland BrownsRecord: 5-11Eric Berry*, S, Tennessee
Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant will be tough to pass up here, but the Browns did spend a pair of second-round picks on WRs Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi last year. Berry has the talent and experience to make the kind of impact for the Browns that perennial Pro Bowler Ed Reed made for the Ravens early in his career.
Oakland RaidersRecord: 5-11Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma
Considering the team has used high draft picks on a quarterback (JaMarcus Russell), running back (Darren McFadden) and wide receiver (Darrius Heyward-Bey) in recent years, it would make sense to shift the focus to the offensive line this April. Both of the Raiders' starting offensive tackles (Mario Henderson and Cornell Green) are below average, and Williams has the physical tools and toughness to provide an upgrade at one of those two spots immediately.
Buffalo BillsRecord: 6-11Sam Bradford*, QB, Oklahoma
Offensive tackle and quarterback are chief among the Bills' needs, and they should draft a tackle if Davis, Okung or Bulaga is available. This scenario has them selecting the top quarterback prospect in the 2010 class, though. Bradford is a bit of a project because of his slight frame and the spread system he played in at Oklahoma, but he has the football intelligence and accuracy to be molded into a good starter in the NFL.
Jacksonville Jaguars**Record: 7-9Derrick Morgan*, DE, Georgia Tech
Morgan will not wow scouts with his results at the combine, but he is a high-motor, technically sound player who can pressure the quarterback and set the edge against the run. He has the physical tools to develop into a good every-down starter at the next level.
Denver Broncos** (from 7-9 Chicago)Record: 6-7Dez Bryant*, WR, Oklahoma State
Denver still has needs along its offensive and defensive fronts as well as in the secondary, but it will be tough to pass on the clear-cut No. 1 wideout in this year's class should Bryant fall to the Broncos.
Miami DolphinsRecord: 7-9Rolando McClain*, ILB, Alabama
Bryant falling to No. 12 would be a dream scenario for the Dolphins, but if he is off the board, look for Miami to target a top talent in the defensive front seven. McClain is NFL-ready with the size, straight-line speed and work ethic to win a starting inside linebacker job immediately.
San Francisco 49ersRecord: 8-8Joe Haden*, CB, Florida
The 49ers could go in several directions with this pick, including quarterback, offensive line or a pass-rusher, but they wouldn't go wrong taking a top-10 skill player like Haden at this spot.
Seattle Seahawks (from 8-8 Denver)Record: 5-11C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson
Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen might be a possibility here, but we do not believe he's worthy of a first-round selection. After finding a left tackle at No. 6, it would make sense for the Seahawks to use this pick on a difference-maker like Spiller. Running backs generally are not worth drafting this high, but Spiller has additional value due to his home run ability as a receiver and return man.
New York GiantsRecord: 8-8Brian Price*, DT, UCLA
The Giants need to retool the middle of their defense, and Price would be a good player to start with. He possesses the quickness and power to develop into a disruptive playmaker who can get into opposing backfields.
San Francisco** (from 8-8 Carolina)Record: 8-8Mike Iupati, OT/G, Idaho
Iupati is a fast-rising guard/right tackle prospect who is strong and nasty and would fit in nicely with coach Mike Singletary's hard-nosed brand of football.
Tennessee Titans**Record: 8-8Carlos Dunlap*, DE, Florida
Dunlap is a bit immature and there are questions about his work ethic, but he also possesses a rare combination of size and athleticism for a defensive end. The Titans have enough veteran leadership on that side of the ball to pull the trigger here on a developmental project like Dunlap.
Pittsburgh SteelersRecord: 9-7Dan Williams, NT, Tennessee
The Steelers would like to use this pick on a top offensive line prospect like Iupati or Trent Williams, but with both off the board, they will avoid reaching for another offensive lineman. They also will avoid stretching for a tackle like Maryland's Bruce Campbell to go for value with Dan Williams, who has the size and strength to develop into the eventual replacement for NT Casey Hampton, who is set to become a free agent.
Atlanta Falcons**Record: 9-7Kareem Jackson*, CB, Alabama
The Falcons need to improve their secondary talent after getting shredded through the air this past season. Jackson is one of the most underrated prospects in the 2010 class, and has the size, agility and balance to hold up in bump-and-run coverage on the perimeter. Plus, Jackson's instincts and technique are outstanding, so he should be ready to play as a rookie despite leaving school a year early.
Houston Texans**Record: 9-7Earl Thomas*, S, Texas
Thomas is undersized but physical enough to play safety in the NFL if used properly. Regardless, he's one of the three most talented defensive backs in the 2010 class, and the Texans could use an upgrade at both free safety and cornerback, so Thomas is a fit no matter where he ends up playing.
Cincinnati BengalsRecord:10-6Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma
The Bengals are likely to use an early-round selection on a tight end, and while Gresham is a risk due to knee injuries (torn left ACL in high school, season-ending cartilage damage to right knee in 2009), his combination of size and athleticism is rare and he can stretch the seam effectively.
New England PatriotsRecord: 10-6Brandon Graham, OLB, Michigan
Graham is a bit undersized to play a traditional defensive end role, and he does not have the ideal athleticism you want in an outside linebacker. If used properly, though, Graham can excel in the NFL, and he appears to be in Bill Belichick's wheelhouse with his nonstop motor, excellent technique and good overall football intelligence.
Green Bay PackersRecord: 11-5Bruce Campbell*, OT, Maryland
Campbell will turn some heads with his performance at the combine. However, while he might have the best combination of physical tools in this year's offensive tackle class, we expect Campbell to slip to the bottom half of the first round due to injury concerns and below-average technique.
Philadelphia EaglesRecord: 11-5Taylor Mays, S, USC
The Eagles need a replacement for the physical presence former defensive leader Brian Dawkins took with him when he left for Denver. Mays is a bit of a liability in deep coverage and he needs to learn to wrap up more consistently as a tackler, but it is hard to imagine a player with his combination of size, straight-line speed and explosive hitting falling out of the first round.
Baltimore RavensRecord: 9-7Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
Wilson is a fast-rising prospect after showcasing his upper-echelon bump-and-run coverage skills at the Senior Bowl. A cornerback-needy team like the Ravens could easily pull the trigger on Wilson late in the first round.
Arizona CardinalsRecord: 10-6Sergio Kindle, DE/OLB, Texas
Kindle is a bit overrated, but we do think he is worth a pick at this point in the first round. The Cardinals could put him to work as a situational edge rusher early in his career while he works on getting bigger and stronger in order to hold up better versus the run.
Dallas CowboysRecord: 11-5Nate Allen, S, South Florida
Allen is far from a first-round lock, but the Cowboys need to improve their athleticism at safety, and Allen has the right combination of speed and fluidity in coverage to help fix the problem.
San Diego ChargersRecord: 13-3Jahvid Best*, RB, California
Best's draft stock could take a big hit depending on how the medical reports (back/neck, concussion) from the combine look. Assuming he checks out, Best likely will be high on the Chargers' board, along with Dan Williams, fellow RBs Ryan Mathews (Fresno State) and Jonathan Dwyer (Georgia Tech), and DT/DE Jared Odrick (Penn State). A healthy Best gets the nod thanks to his game-breaking speed.
New York JetsRecord: 9-7Arrelious Benn*, WR, Illinois
The Jets need perimeter weapons for QB Mark Sanchez to throw to, and Benn is a better prospect than his 2009 production might indicate. He played through a nagging ankle injury and his quarterback was inconsistent, but Benn shows good initial burst and the ability to generate yards after the catch. Still, he needs to be more consistent catching the ball away from his body and must become a more savvy route runner.
Minnesota VikingsRecord: 12-4Jared Odrick, DT, Penn State
The Vikings have proved they will take the best player available on the board, and in this scenario, Odrick fits the bill and would be groomed as an eventual replacement for aging DT Pat Williams. Other possibilities include Clausen, ILB Brandon Spikes (Florida), TE Anthony McCoy (USC) and C/G Maurkice Pouncey (Florida).
Indianapolis ColtsRecord: 14-2Maurkice Pouncey*, OL, Florida
Odrick would make sense if he was still on the board, or the Colts could reach for an athletic offensive tackle like USC's Charles Brown. But Pouncey is a gifted interior lineman with the quick feet, versatility and football intelligence to help the Colts solidify their interior offensive line.
New Orleans SaintsRecord: 13-3Sean Weatherspoon, OLB, Missouri
Weatherspoon is expected to turn some heads at the combine with his speed, and we're hearing that some teams grade him out as a mid-first-round pick. We're not quite as high on Weatherspoon because we question his ability to play in space, but the Super Bowl champs are expected to focus on upgrading the speed and athleticism of their defense, and Weatherspoon fits the mold.
* Denotes underclassmen
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