Mel Kiper's first 2010 Mock Draft
Underclassmen dominate first mock
21 non-seniors show up in the first round of Mel Kiper's initial mock
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Kiper By Mel Kiper
Getty ImagesNdamukong Suh is Mel's choice for the first overall pick by the Rams.
Things certainly will change as the workout season commences, but it's time to get the ball rolling for the 2010 NFL draft. Remember that my Big Board and position group rankings (now adjusted so all declared players are grouped) are a good primer. That said, off we go.
Two things that stand out early in the first mock draft of the season are the degree to which the first round is dominated by underclassmen -- they make up 21 of the 32 picks -- and how we're seeing a truly deep class of defensive linemen. Even though many NFL teams now employ the 3-4, the options up front for either 4-3 or 3-4 defenses are pretty significant in this draft.
St. Louis Rams
Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
Nobody questions that the top need for the Rams is a quarterback. But unless St. Louis trades down -- an extremely difficult proposition on multiple levels -- it shouldn't take a quarterback with its first pick. Suh is maybe the most dominating defensive tackle I've seen in 32 years of doing this. He can be effective immediately for the Rams.
Gerald McCoy*, DT, Oklahoma
Getting McCoy both fills a big need for the Lions and is an extraordinarily good consolation prize for any team unable to get Suh. McCoy makes his living in opponents' backfields and is such a talent he could have landed in this position last year had he declared as a redshirt sophomore.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Eric Berry*, S, Tennessee
This is very early for a safety to go off the board, but Berry is that kind of talent. A player compared often (not unfairly) to Ed Reed, Berry is a difference-making safety headed to a league that has seen those types (Reed, Troy Polamalu, Bob Sanders) become more and more notable in recent years.
Sam Bradford*, QB, Oklahoma
Mike Shanahan and the Redskins can get a quarterback here who might have been the top player taken had he opted to come out last year. The Redskins need to find their franchise quarterback, and when healthy, Bradford is an exceptionally accurate passer with an underrated arm. Shanahan also hit on his last QB selection, when he drafted Jay Cutler in Denver.
Kansas City Chiefs
Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State
I think the Chiefs could use help at safety as well, but Berry likely won't fall this far, and they'd be reaching on either of the two other safeties with first-round grades. Okung could solve two problems, making him a good value. He also could step in at LT and allow the Chiefs to move Brandon Albert to the right side. A pick that can pay immediate dividends for the Chiefs.
Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech
Many in Seattle will view the offensive line as a greater need, but Morgan fills another huge hole for a team that simply couldn't get to the quarterback in 2009. He represents great value because he can rush the passer, is productive against the run and can even drop back -- a versatile talent. Pete Carroll knows defense and should love what Morgan can offer.
Joe Haden*, CB, Florida
I'm not convinced the Browns will be willing to draft a quarterback simply because the position is unsettled. In Haden, they can't go wrong with by far the top CB on the board, a player they can plug in from day one. A deft cover corner and great tackler, Haden is the complete package.
Anthony Davis*, OT, Rutgers
Davis might not be the most complete tackle in the first round, but he is the most naturally gifted and should get better. Great feet, ideal size and he has the ability to maul defenders in the run game. After a whiff in the first round last year, the Raiders should address a big need here.
Jimmy Clausen*, QB, Notre Dame
People will debate Clausen's merits long after he shakes the commissioner's hand, but he has continued to improve, has showed toughness, has an NFL arm and, perhaps most importantly, has experience under center in a pro-style offense. That was a key for Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez, and is a huge consideration for scouts.
Denver Broncos (from Chicago)
Dez Bryant*, WR, Oklahoma State
In all likelihood, Brandon Marshall is headed elsewhere, so the Broncos will attempt to fill the void with the best deep threat in the draft. Bryant has great size and was unstoppable in the Big 12. He represents an immediate weapon in the passing game.
Jason Pierre-Paul*, DE, South Florida
This is no place to draft a guy like Tim Tebow just to sell tickets. Pierre-Paul is local enough and could be the Mario Williams of this draft class, a raw talent but one with remarkable athleticism and an incredible burst off the line. Could be a terror for QBs in the future.
Rolando McClain*, LB, Alabama
A potential home run for Miami, which needs an inside linebacker and could get the best one in the whole draft after the top 10. The Dolphins also could go after Bryant if he were to fall to them here.
San Francisco 49ers
Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma
I consider the right tackle position a big need for the 49ers, and getting Williams here should strengthen them immediately both in the run game and as they look to further develop a potentially dangerous passing game with Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis.
Seattle Seahawks (from Denver)
C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson
He's not an offensive lineman, but Spiller could be a Reggie Bush-like option for the Seahawks. For a coach uniquely familiar with what Bush can do, Spiller is a missing home run threat in the run game, a good receiver and a valuable returner. He has elite speed.
New York Giants
Carlos Dunlap*, DE, Florida
This is a high-value pick for the Giants, whose defensive line depth I feel has been overstated. There are makeup questions surrounding Dunlap, but for much of this past season, he was considered the premier pass-rusher in the college game. He has the potential to be like Jevon Kearse.
San Francisco 49ers (from Carolina)
Earl Thomas*, S, Texas
The 49ers need help in pass coverage, and Thomas fits because he's a great value here, whereas reaching for a CB at No. 16 wouldn't represent good value at all. Thomas isn't a huge guy but can cover a tremendous amount of real estate.
Everson Griffen*, DE, USC
Pierre-Paul likely won't fall this far, so the Titans get a gifted underclassman who looked like a pro coming out of high school and now is living up to his potential. He already has an NFL frame, and when Griffen is consistent, he's a strong pass-rusher.
Bryan Bulaga*, OT, Iowa
Pittsburgh clearly needs help up front if it wants to return to power running and protecting the quarterback, and Bulaga is an emerging tackle with great feet from a pro-style system. The Steelers will improve immediately, and he wears the black and gold well already.
Sergio Kindle, OLB, Texas
The Falcons could use some help at OLB, and Kindle's continued improvement throughout the season is appealing. He's not quite in the class of Brian Orakpo, but he is a similar type of player and has proved to be very physical.
Brian Price*, DT, UCLA
Price is hidden away a bit in such a deep class of defensive linemen, but he's a disruptive force who utilizes great leverage. He should add depth to an improving defense.
Aaron Hernandez*, TE, Florida
They need to give Carson Palmer options in the passing game aside from who already is there, and Hernandez is the most athletic TE available, a guy with surprising run-after-catch ability. The favorite target of Tebow at Florida, he could offer immediate help in the passing game.
New England Patriots
Ricky Sapp, OLB, Clemson
The Patriots clearly need help when it comes to getting to opposing quarterbacks, and Sapp is an ideal fit on the edge in the 3-4. He's the kind of athlete who can adjust to being upright and flat-out knows how to get to the quarterback.
Green Bay Packers
Taylor Mays, S, USC
If you had told Green Bay in August that it could get Mays at No. 23 overall, the Packers would have been thrilled. An extraordinary athlete, Mays might have suffered against expectations, but the Pack hit a home run with Clay Matthews Jr. out of USC last year, and Mays both fills a need and has great potential.
Navorro Bowman*, OLB, Penn State
The Eagles need an athletic OLB, and they get a lot of value by landing Bowman here. Bowman lacks size, but any parsing on measurables can't overcome his great play on film. Could end up as the best at his position in this class.
Jermaine Gresham*, TE, Oklahoma
Gresham is so good that while he sat out his junior year, I left him on the Big Board the whole time. Now healthy, he's a great find this late in the first round and a perfect target for Joe Flacco as an heir to Todd Heap. At a hair over 6-6 and 262 pounds, he's the total package at TE.
Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee
I see this position as the second-biggest need for the Cardinals, and Williams is a great value here. Tremendously strong in the lower body, he is a disruptive force against the run.
Bruce Campbell*, OT, Maryland
Jerry Jones knows he needs to address the tackle position after the debacle he witnessed against Minnesota in the divisional round of the playoffs, and Campbell, while still learning, is a tremendous talent at this position.
San Diego Chargers
Jonathan Dwyer*, RB, Georgia Tech
With the possible departure of LaDainian Tomlinson on the horizon, Dwyer represents the player who can handle 20-plus carries in an offense that already has a great speed back in Darren Sproles. Dwyer has ideal size and shows explosiveness.
New York Jets
Golden Tate*, WR, Notre Dame
The Jets must give Mark Sanchez some weapons in the passing game, and while Tate has question marks on his ability to separate, he is more physical than many think and has always been a playmaker. In the mold of Laveranues Coles.
Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State
Need meets value here. Robinson is the second-best corner in the draft, and Minnesota should be happy to grab him this late. Robinson has the chance to step in and contribute.
New Orleans Saints
Jared Odrick, DT, Penn State
Odrick is an ideal pick here for the Saints, who are looking to add stability to the rush defense. His presence helped standout LBs Bowman and Sean Lee run free, and the Saints will ask for the same.
Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan
Graham was a one-man show for the Wolverines, leading the nation in tackles for loss. Always in the backfield, he's a guy who can learn under master pass-rushers in Indy and build on the tradition.
* -- Draft-eligible junior/redshirt sophomore
I know people were asking about it. Here you go