NFL mock draft: SN correspondents make their picks

Sporting News‘ team of 32 beat writers play GM for the day, making all the picks for the teams they cover in our annual mock draft:

Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh is considered to be the top defensive tackle in this year's draft.
Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh is considered to be the top defensive tackle in this year’s draft.

1. Rams — Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma. After passing on Mark Sanchez and Matt Ryan in the past two drafts, the Rams finally take a quarterback. In Bradford, the Rams see a franchise quarterback they can build a team around. They like his accuracy, arm strength, athleticism and intelligence.

2. Lions — Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska. The Lions will consider an offensive tackle, but Suh appears to be a can’t-miss prospect and the league’s worst-ranked defense over the last three years certainly could use an upgrade in the line. Suh will start on Day 1 and provide strength against the run and a big inside push against the pass.

3. Buccaneers — Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma. The decision to go back to the cover-2 scheme means the Bucs need a dominating, Warren Sapp-type presence in the middle. McCoy is the best 3-technique tackle in the draft, a superb penetrator who should immediately upgrade the team’s pass rush and run-stopping ability.

4. Redskins — Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State. With Chris Samuels retiring and no quality tackle on the roster, the Redskins take an offensive lineman in the first round for the first time since 2000. Okung’s athleticism is a good fit in Mike Shanahan’s zone-blocking system, and he’ll provide the blind-side protection the team desperately needs for new QB Donovan McNabb.

5. Chiefs — Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa. After allowing 45 sacks last season, the Chiefs need another building block for their offensive line. Bulaga might never become a star, but he should be a solid player who can help stabilize their line.

6. Seahawks — Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma. After years of failing to acquire a successor to LT Walter Jones, Seattle urgently needs one. The Seahawks started four different players at that position last year, two of whom weren’t on the 53-man roster when the season began. Williams’ athleticism makes him a great fit for Alex Gibbs’ zone-blocking scheme.

7. Browns — Eric Berry, S, Tennessee. There are concerns about Berry’s thirst for hitting ballcarriers, but the Browns think he will develop into an all-around playmaker. They love the fact he has the skills to also become an elite cornerback should they come up with a solution at safety. The Browns will press to trade down, but Berry is a logical pick if they can’t fetch the right price.

8. Raiders — Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers. The Raiders are second-guessing themselves for passing up an offensive tackle in last year’s draft. They won’t make the same mistake again in a draft loaded with top-flight tackle prospects. Davis’ size and potential make him a perfect candidate to help revamp a line that has been neglected for too long.

The Browns need help at safety; will they draft Eric Berry?
The Browns need help at safety; will they draft Eric Berry?

9. Bills — Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech. With the top four offensive tackles off the board, it’s the worst-case scenario for the Bills. QB Jimmy Clausen is a consideration here, but the Bills decide to take the best player available. With Aaron Schobel’s possible retirement, the Bills bolster their pass rush with Morgan.

10. Jaguars — Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama. Unhappy with the play of Justin Durant—last year’s starter at middle linebacker—the Jaguars moved him outside, leaving a void in the middle. McClain’s leadership abilities, physical play and instincts make him a starter from Day 1. The club initially had some trepidation about McClain’s speed, but he alleviated those concerns at his pro day.

11. Broncos — Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State. Denver had a need for a game-breaking receiver even before dealing Brandon Marshall. This pick fills that vacancy with the draft’s top wideout. It’s possible the Broncos attempt to trade down and take Florida center Maurkice Pouncey. But with two second-round picks as ammunition, the Broncos could just as easily attempt to move up and potentially grab both players, filling two major holes.

12. Dolphins — Dan Williams, NT, Tennessee. Bill Parcells generally likes to select nose tackles later in the draft, but the increased number of 3-4 defenses has made that task far tougher. It’s a major need, though.

13. 49ers — Joe Haden, CB, Florida. The 49ers love physical and feisty cornerbacks, and Haden fits that mold perfectly. The team must decide what to do with its top corner, Nate Clements, who was benched in a critical game last season and whose contract becomes unwieldy in coming years. Having Haden on the roster would make that decision easier.

14. Seahawks — C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson. Spiller isn’t a workhorse type, but that’s not a problem because Pete Carroll liked to use multiple backs at USC and keep them hungry. Spiller is a dynamic runner and return threat who would give Seattle’s offense an explosive threat it lacks. Carroll has specifically cited the need to add more firepower.

15. Giants — Mike Iupati, G, Idaho. The offensive line showed some wear and tear last season and left guard Rich Seubert is nearing the end of the line. Iupati, an athletic guard with excellent size, long arms and an attacking mentality, won’t have to step in and start right away if he isn’t completely ready.

16. Titans — Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan. The Titans are intrigued by South Florida’s Jason Pierre-Paul but need a player capable of playing immediately. Graham is a high-character, productive player and as close to being NFL-ready as any of the defensive ends.

17. 49ers — Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame. The 49ers are counting on Alex Smith to deliver their first playoff appearance since 2002. But Clausen would give the team a future option if Smith, who is entering the final year of his contract, doesn’t come through. The 49ers also could trade down and take an offensive tackle, their biggest need.

18. Steelers — Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State. With McClain, Haden and Iupati all gone, it comes down to Wilson or Pouncey. There is a great need to find a corner who can play right away, and the team thinks there are enough good offensive linemen available to get one in the second or third round.

19. Falcons — Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri. With his speed, quickness and striking ability, Weatherspoon is a perfect fit at outside linebacker. Coming from the Big 12, he’s adept in coverage and is used to covering backs out of the backfield—a big problem for the Falcons the past two seasons.

20. Texans — Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno State. Mathews, who has 4.47 speed with good vision and instincts, is ideally suited for Houston’s one-cut zone-blocking scheme. The Texans must improve a running game that ranked 30th last season and believe Mathews can make an immediate impact.

21. Bengals — Earl Thomas, S, Texas. This is the perfect marriage of talent and need. With veteran safeties Roy Williams and Chris Crocker in the final stage of their careers, Thomas gives the Bengals an aggressive ballhawk with corner skills. He’ll settle in as a nickel back this season before taking over as the leader of the deep secondary.

If he goes to Baltimore, Jermaine Gresham will likely be used as a pass-catching tight end.
If he goes to Baltimore, Jermaine Gresham will likely be used as a pass-catching tight end.

22. Patriots — Jared Odrick, DT/DE, Penn State. The ’09 Patriots never fully recovered from the trade of Pro Bowl end Richard Seymour to the Raiders. With a Seymour clone available, Bill Belichick can’t pass on the opportunity to add Odrick as an anchor for his 3-4 defense. Odrick has the long arms to keep tackles off him, the strength to fight double-teams and the burst to rush the passer.

23. Packers — Taylor Mays, S, USC. Ideally, G.M. Ted Thompson would like to add an offensive tackle here, but there are better players on the board than tackles such as Charles Brown (USC) and Rodger Saffold (Indiana). If he doesn’t trade down, Thompson will take Mays and pair him with Nick Collins to create perhaps the NFL’s fastest safety duo.

24. Eagles — Maurkice Pouncey, C/G, Florida. Questions surround center Jamaal Jackson, who turns 30 next month and whose status for the season opener is uncertain while he recovers from major knee surgery. Pouncey can play center or guard, giving the Eagles a potential immediate starter at three positions.

25. Ravens — Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma. The Ravens must find an eventual replacement for tight end Todd Heap, who is 30 and has lost a step. The Ravens think Gresham can add to the vertical game, and they want a young receiver to groom along with young quarterback Joe Flacco.

26. Cardinals — Sergio Kindle, OLB, Texas. The Cardinals are looking to shore up a defense that collapsed late last season. Kindle has pass-rush skills, and he has the size to possibly move inside and replace the departed Karlos Dansby. However, club officials will be surprised if Kindle drops to them.

27. Cowboys — Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame. With all of the first-round offensive tackles and safeties gone, the Cowboys go for a playmaker. Tate can operate out of the slot, pick up yards after the catch and provide help as a kick and punt returner. He also played in a pro-style offense at Notre Dame.

28. Chargers — Terrence Cody, NT, Alabama. Everyone thinks the team will go for a running back here, and it might if Mathews is available. But there will be a good back available when the Chargers pick in the second round (40th overall), and they have a great need for a big man in the middle of their D-line.

29. Jets — Brian Price, DT/DE, UCLA. The Jets need to get younger in the defensive line, where Kris Jenkins, Shaun Ellis and Sione Pouha are all 30 or older. Price has a terrific motor and the versatility to play end in the team’s 3-4, then slide inside on passing downs when the Jets often shift to a 4-3.

30. Vikings — Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers. The Vikings are dangerously thin at corner. Antoine Winfield turns 33 in June and missed six games last year because of a broken foot. The other starting corner, Cedric Griffin, tore an ACL in the NFC championship game. McCourty has the athleticism, competitiveness and ball skills to become a solid starter.

31. Colts — Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida. Pierre-Paul is considered a work in progress, but that’s fine. He can develop his game behind two of the best pass rushers in the league—Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. The defense lacks a viable No. 3 pass-rush threat.

32. Saints — Jerry Hughes, DE/OLB, TCU. The Saints’ top priority is to add a dynamic playmaker to their front seven. Hughes might be undersized for a 4-3 end but can make an instant impact as a situational pass rusher, and coordinator Gregg Williams is creative enough to find a role for him at end or outside linebacker.

Sporting News’ AFC correspondents: Kevin Ace, Mike Chappell, Steve Corkran, Jeff Darlington, Steve Doerschuk, Gerry Dulac, Chick Ludwig, John McClain, J.P. Pelzman, Mike Preston, Ian R. Rapoport, Lee Rasizer, Adam Teicher, Allen Wilson, Michael C. Wright and Jim Wyatt.

Sporting News’ NFC correspondents: Matt Barrows, Gene Chamberlain, Mark Craig, Roy Cummings, Darin Gantt, John Keim, Tom Kowalski, D. Orlando Ledbetter, Geoff Mosher, Danny O’Neil, Paul Schwartz, Tom Silverstein, Kent Somers, Jean-Jacques Taylor, Jim Thomas and Mike Triplett.

Sporting News‘ team of 32 beat writers play GM for the day, making all the picks for the teams they cover in our annual mock draft:

Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh is considered to be the top defensive tackle in this year's draft.
Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh is considered to be the top defensive tackle in this year’s draft.

1. Rams — Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma. After passing on Mark Sanchez and Matt Ryan in the past two drafts, the Rams finally take a quarterback. In Bradford, the Rams see a franchise quarterback they can build a team around. They like his accuracy, arm strength, athleticism and intelligence.

2. Lions — Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska. The Lions will consider an offensive tackle, but Suh appears to be a can’t-miss prospect and the league’s worst-ranked defense over the last three years certainly could use an upgrade in the line. Suh will start on Day 1 and provide strength against the run and a big inside push against the pass.

3. Buccaneers — Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma. The decision to go back to the cover-2 scheme means the Bucs need a dominating, Warren Sapp-type presence in the middle. McCoy is the best 3-technique tackle in the draft, a superb penetrator who should immediately upgrade the team’s pass rush and run-stopping ability.

4. Redskins — Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State. With Chris Samuels retiring and no quality tackle on the roster, the Redskins take an offensive lineman in the first round for the first time since 2000. Okung’s athleticism is a good fit in Mike Shanahan’s zone-blocking system, and he’ll provide the blind-side protection the team desperately needs for new QB Donovan McNabb.

5. Chiefs — Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa. After allowing 45 sacks last season, the Chiefs need another building block for their offensive line. Bulaga might never become a star, but he should be a solid player who can help stabilize their line.

6. Seahawks — Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma. After years of failing to acquire a successor to LT Walter Jones, Seattle urgently needs one. The Seahawks started four different players at that position last year, two of whom weren’t on the 53-man roster when the season began. Williams’ athleticism makes him a great fit for Alex Gibbs’ zone-blocking scheme.

7. Browns — Eric Berry, S, Tennessee. There are concerns about Berry’s thirst for hitting ballcarriers, but the Browns think he will develop into an all-around playmaker. They love the fact he has the skills to also become an elite cornerback should they come up with a solution at safety. The Browns will press to trade down, but Berry is a logical pick if they can’t fetch the right price.

8. Raiders — Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers. The Raiders are second-guessing themselves for passing up an offensive tackle in last year’s draft. They won’t make the same mistake again in a draft loaded with top-flight tackle prospects. Davis’ size and potential make him a perfect candidate to help revamp a line that has been neglected for too long.

The Browns need help at safety; will they draft Eric Berry?
The Browns need help at safety; will they draft Eric Berry?

9. Bills — Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech. With the top four offensive tackles off the board, it’s the worst-case scenario for the Bills. QB Jimmy Clausen is a consideration here, but the Bills decide to take the best player available. With Aaron Schobel’s possible retirement, the Bills bolster their pass rush with Morgan.

10. Jaguars — Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama. Unhappy with the play of Justin Durant—last year’s starter at middle linebacker—the Jaguars moved him outside, leaving a void in the middle. McClain’s leadership abilities, physical play and instincts make him a starter from Day 1. The club initially had some trepidation about McClain’s speed, but he alleviated those concerns at his pro day.

11. Broncos — Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State. Denver had a need for a game-breaking receiver even before dealing Brandon Marshall. This pick fills that vacancy with the draft’s top wideout. It’s possible the Broncos attempt to trade down and take Florida center Maurkice Pouncey. But with two second-round picks as ammunition, the Broncos could just as easily attempt to move up and potentially grab both players, filling two major holes.

12. Dolphins — Dan Williams, NT, Tennessee. Bill Parcells generally likes to select nose tackles later in the draft, but the increased number of 3-4 defenses has made that task far tougher. It’s a major need, though.

13. 49ers — Joe Haden, CB, Florida. The 49ers love physical and feisty cornerbacks, and Haden fits that mold perfectly. The team must decide what to do with its top corner, Nate Clements, who was benched in a critical game last season and whose contract becomes unwieldy in coming years. Having Haden on the roster would make that decision easier.

14. Seahawks — C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson. Spiller isn’t a workhorse type, but that’s not a problem because Pete Carroll liked to use multiple backs at USC and keep them hungry. Spiller is a dynamic runner and return threat who would give Seattle’s offense an explosive threat it lacks. Carroll has specifically cited the need to add more firepower.

15. Giants — Mike Iupati, G, Idaho. The offensive line showed some wear and tear last season and left guard Rich Seubert is nearing the end of the line. Iupati, an athletic guard with excellent size, long arms and an attacking mentality, won’t have to step in and start right away if he isn’t completely ready.

16. Titans — Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan. The Titans are intrigued by South Florida’s Jason Pierre-Paul but need a player capable of playing immediately. Graham is a high-character, productive player and as close to being NFL-ready as any of the defensive ends.

17. 49ers — Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame. The 49ers are counting on Alex Smith to deliver their first playoff appearance since 2002. But Clausen would give the team a future option if Smith, who is entering the final year of his contract, doesn’t come through. The 49ers also could trade down and take an offensive tackle, their biggest need.

18. Steelers — Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State. With McClain, Haden and Iupati all gone, it comes down to Wilson or Pouncey. There is a great need to find a corner who can play right away, and the team thinks there are enough good offensive linemen available to get one in the second or third round.

19. Falcons — Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri. With his speed, quickness and striking ability, Weatherspoon is a perfect fit at outside linebacker. Coming from the Big 12, he’s adept in coverage and is used to covering backs out of the backfield—a big problem for the Falcons the past two seasons.

20. Texans — Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno State. Mathews, who has 4.47 speed with good vision and instincts, is ideally suited for Houston’s one-cut zone-blocking scheme. The Texans must improve a running game that ranked 30th last season and believe Mathews can make an immediate impact.

21. Bengals — Earl Thomas, S, Texas. This is the perfect marriage of talent and need. With veteran safeties Roy Williams and Chris Crocker in the final stage of their careers, Thomas gives the Bengals an aggressive ballhawk with corner skills. He’ll settle in as a nickel back this season before taking over as the leader of the deep secondary.

If he goes to Baltimore, Jermaine Gresham will likely be used as a pass-catching tight end.
If he goes to Baltimore, Jermaine Gresham will likely be used as a pass-catching tight end.

22. Patriots — Jared Odrick, DT/DE, Penn State. The ’09 Patriots never fully recovered from the trade of Pro Bowl end Richard Seymour to the Raiders. With a Seymour clone available, Bill Belichick can’t pass on the opportunity to add Odrick as an anchor for his 3-4 defense. Odrick has the long arms to keep tackles off him, the strength to fight double-teams and the burst to rush the passer.

23. Packers — Taylor Mays, S, USC. Ideally, G.M. Ted Thompson would like to add an offensive tackle here, but there are better players on the board than tackles such as Charles Brown (USC) and Rodger Saffold (Indiana). If he doesn’t trade down, Thompson will take Mays and pair him with Nick Collins to create perhaps the NFL’s fastest safety duo.

24. Eagles — Maurkice Pouncey, C/G, Florida. Questions surround center Jamaal Jackson, who turns 30 next month and whose status for the season opener is uncertain while he recovers from major knee surgery. Pouncey can play center or guard, giving the Eagles a potential immediate starter at three positions.

25. Ravens — Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma. The Ravens must find an eventual replacement for tight end Todd Heap, who is 30 and has lost a step. The Ravens think Gresham can add to the vertical game, and they want a young receiver to groom along with young quarterback Joe Flacco.

26. Cardinals — Sergio Kindle, OLB, Texas. The Cardinals are looking to shore up a defense that collapsed late last season. Kindle has pass-rush skills, and he has the size to possibly move inside and replace the departed Karlos Dansby. However, club officials will be surprised if Kindle drops to them.

27. Cowboys — Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame. With all of the first-round offensive tackles and safeties gone, the Cowboys go for a playmaker. Tate can operate out of the slot, pick up yards after the catch and provide help as a kick and punt returner. He also played in a pro-style offense at Notre Dame.

28. Chargers — Terrence Cody, NT, Alabama. Everyone thinks the team will go for a running back here, and it might if Mathews is available. But there will be a good back available when the Chargers pick in the second round (40th overall), and they have a great need for a big man in the middle of their D-line.

29. Jets — Brian Price, DT/DE, UCLA. The Jets need to get younger in the defensive line, where Kris Jenkins, Shaun Ellis and Sione Pouha are all 30 or older. Price has a terrific motor and the versatility to play end in the team’s 3-4, then slide inside on passing downs when the Jets often shift to a 4-3.

30. Vikings — Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers. The Vikings are dangerously thin at corner. Antoine Winfield turns 33 in June and missed six games last year because of a broken foot. The other starting corner, Cedric Griffin, tore an ACL in the NFC championship game. McCourty has the athleticism, competitiveness and ball skills to become a solid starter.

31. Colts — Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida. Pierre-Paul is considered a work in progress, but that’s fine. He can develop his game behind two of the best pass rushers in the league—Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. The defense lacks a viable No. 3 pass-rush threat.

32. Saints — Jerry Hughes, DE/OLB, TCU. The Saints’ top priority is to add a dynamic playmaker to their front seven. Hughes might be undersized for a 4-3 end but can make an instant impact as a situational pass rusher, and coordinator Gregg Williams is creative enough to find a role for him at end or outside linebacker.

Sporting News’ AFC correspondents: Kevin Ace, Mike Chappell, Steve Corkran, Jeff Darlington, Steve Doerschuk, Gerry Dulac, Chick Ludwig, John McClain, J.P. Pelzman, Mike Preston, Ian R. Rapoport, Lee Rasizer, Adam Teicher, Allen Wilson, Michael C. Wright and Jim Wyatt.

Sporting News’ NFC correspondents: Matt Barrows, Gene Chamberlain, Mark Craig, Roy Cummings, Darin Gantt, John Keim, Tom Kowalski, D. Orlando Ledbetter, Geoff Mosher, Danny O’Neil, Paul Schwartz, Tom Silverstein, Kent Somers, Jean-Jacques Taylor, Jim Thomas and Mike Triplett.

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