Mock drafts are God's gift to sportswriters. Slow news day? Feeling too lazy to dig up a good story? Just churn out a new mock draft. The best part (or worst, depending on how you view the current state of society): Most of us would rather devour a dozen mock drafts than subject ourselves to a well-written account of some kid's courageous and heart-warming tale of triumph over adversity. But it's not my place to judge. Nor am I above that sort of behavior. So, submitted for your approval, I give you Mock Draft version 4.0. Get ready for a wild top ten that you won't find anywhere else. Because for the first time, we're putting on our trading cap and the results are a little wacky (but by no means implausible).
+ -- underclassman
1. Oakland Raiders (2-14) + JaMarcus Russell, QB, LSU
In my last mock, I had Calvin Johnson going number one and a big part of me still expects that to happen. He is, after all, the hands-down best prospect in his class. But one year ago, the Texans laughed in the face of such prehistoric, conservative and boring logic. Why on earth would anyone take the best player number one overall? Where's the fun in that? Dare to think outside the box, people. The Raiders, never ones to bow to convention themselves, decide to follow suit.
The entire world expects the Lions to trade out of this spot. There's only one problem: Nearly every team in this draft would rather trade down than trade up. But Atlanta has the resources (the #8 overall selection and two high second rounders) and the motivation (CJ is not only the best prospect, he's also a hometown boy... just because the Texans think those things are irrelevant doesn't mean every other team agrees) to make it happen. Would Detroit bite at an offer of a first, second and next year's second (the one acquired from the Texans)? I think they might. As for the Falcons, they'd get the ultimate weapon for Michael Vick and still have their own second rounder to grab some defensive help. I like it.
3. Arizona Cardinals (5-11) (trade from Cleveland) Joe Thomas, OT, Wisconsin
One good trade deserves another. Arizona moves up two spots to nab the franchise tackle it so desperately needs. It may well cost the Cardinals its first and second round pick just to move up two spots. That's a ton to surrender. But Arizona is in a position to win now and adding Thomas would make them a serious consider in the NFC West. And as you'll soon see, this deal works out very well for Cleveland, too.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12) Amobi Okoye, DT, Louisville
Jon Gruden reportedly fell in love with Okoye during Senior Bowl week. You may remember two years ago the same phenomenon took place only, at the time, Cadillac Williams was the object of his affection. We all know how that worked out. Yes, this is higher than most project Okoye to go. But the 19-year-old force of nature is worth it.
5. Cleveland Browns (4-12) (trade from Arizona) Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame
So the Browns trade down and still manage to grab their quarterback of the future. Not too shabby. To the surprise of anyone who has been to Cleveland, Quinn has openly expressed his desire to play there. I think what I'm supposed to say now is: Be careful what you wish for.
6. Washington Redskins (5-11) + Gaines Adams, DE, Georgia
On Tuesday, it appeared the Redskins were dealing this pick to the Bears for Lance Briggs and the 31st overall selection. But as of this writing, it now looks like that deal will not take place, at least not anytime soon. So for Washington, the path is clear. They choose the best pass rusher in the draft.
7. Minnesota Vikings (6-10) LaRon Landry, S, LSU
As long as the Vikes stay in this spot, their course of action is obvious, too. They have to take LaRon Landry.
8. Detroit Lions (3-13) (trade from Atlanta) + Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma
Oh boy. Can you hear the echoes of gunfire around Reliant Stadium? You trade out of the eight spot and subsequently miss the one man every Texans' fan covets? For the record, I don't think Peterson will fall out of the top five. He's just too good. But in this scenario, it's entirely possible. And if this happens, the Texans front office might want to think about relocating to Los Angeles. Or Baghdad. It would be safer there.
9. Miami Dolphins (6-10) Levi Brown, OT, Penn State
At some point, the Dolphins have to address their pathetic excuse for an offensive line. I'm still not entirely sold on Levi Brown, but he certainly fills a major need for the Fish.
10. Cincinnati Bengals (8-8) (via trade from Houston) + Jamaal Anderson, DE, Arkansas
The trade bug strikes again. Ok, so let me say something first: I don't expect this to happen. But we all know the Texans would love to trade down in an effort to recoup the second round pick they gave up in the Schaub deal. And Cincinnati's first and second is a perfect match according to the trade value chart. There's just one problem. I doubt the Bengals are truly looking to trade up.
But here's why this deal could happen: Yes, Cinci needs help in its secondary, but this isn't a great draft for DBs. So how do you fade a weak secondary? By getting after the quarterback, of course. And if you want a top pass rushing defensive end, this is where you need to be. So in this scenario, the Bengals move up to grab Anderson, giving the Texans a first and second in return. Houston should be so lucky.
11. San Francisco 49ers (7-9) Adam Carriker, DE, Nebraska
The 49ers began to overhaul their porous defense via free agency and now they continue the job in the draft. Carriker is rising fast and he'd be a perfect fit in San Francisco's 3-4.
12. Buffalo Bills (7-9) Patrick Willis, ILB, Ole Miss
A couple weeks ago, I figured the Bills would be replacing Willis McGahee with this pick. But having lost Takeo Spike and London Fletcher this off-season, Buffalo must have its eyes on Willis instead. Besides, you can always find productive running backs later on in the draft.
13. St. Louis Rams (8-8) Alan Branch, DT, Michigan
Branch appears to be this year's poster boy for top 5 talent and 7th round work ethic. But he's a playmaker at a premium position, so he won't fall too far.
14. Carolina Panthers (8-8) + Greg Olsen, TE, Miami
Olsen's eye-popping combine numbers have apparently moved him into the middle of the first round. All right then, let's award him to Carolina. And there's no question the Panthers could use him to control the middle of the field while Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson draw the defense's attention outside.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) Leon Hall, CB, Michigan
Very few teams draft better than the Steelers. And if Hall is the pick, they're getting the draft's highest rater corner. Considering Pittsburgh's secondary has been shaky for years, Hall would be a welcome addition, even though I'm not really much of a fan. Personally, I think he's overrated due to the complete and utter lack of top-notch skill at the position this year.
16. Green Bay Packers (8-8) + Marshawn Lynch, RB, Cal
After deviating from the "Lynch to the Packers" crowd last time, it's back to my warm and cuddly security blanket. I've said it before and I'll say it again: This pick just seems too obvious. But whatever.
17. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8) + Reggie Nelson, S, Florida
Jags stay in-state and nab a big-time playmaker. Some are questioning Nelson's smarts and speed, but all I know is the guy is constantly around the football. I'm a big fan.
The Texans are finally on the clock. The obvious pick is a wide receiver, especially since the club is talking about starting Kevin Walter opposite Andre Johnson. I really hope that's a joke. Of course, in that very same article, Kubiak mentions the Texans' desperate need for help at the tackle position. If they choose to address it here, then Joe Staley would be their guy. But I'm sticking with a wideout and Houston has its pick of a half dozen possibilities if they end up in this spot. Why Ted Ginn? I know there are concerns about his size and his foot injury, but he's a playmaker who has to be accounted for at all times and you might have heard the Texans are lacking in that area. Trust me, I'm doing my best not to make any Vince or Reggie jokes right now. Also, I should add that I prefer Dwayne Bowe to Ginn, for what it's worth.
19. Tennessee Titans (8-8) + Robert Meachem, WR, Tennessee
Titans need WR help even more than the Texans do. Meachem and VY would make sweet music together. Of course, I'm starting to believe that even VY and Michael Bolton could make sweet music together.
20. New York Giants (8-8) Chris Houston, CB, Arkansas
The Giants' secondary is a mess and it's time to retool. Houston would be a solid start, although the comparisons to Ahmad Carroll are more than a wee bit frightening.
21. Denver Broncos (9-7) Joe Staley, LT, C. Michigan
Staley is flying up everyone's chart right now. His athleticism would make him a great fit in Denver's zone blocking scheme, which is why you better believe the Texans have him in their sights as well.
22. Dallas Cowboys (9-7) + Darrell Revis, CB, Pittsburgh
Revis might end up being the best CB in the draft. Nothing personal, Darrell, but if you end up in Dallas, I hope you end up being the worst.
23. Kansas City Chiefs (9-7) Dwayne Bowe, WR, LSU
My personal favorite wide receiver in this draft (not named Calvin Johnson) goes to the Chiefs. Speaking of which, am I the only one who thinks K.C. is crazy for entrusting their QB position to Damon Huard and Brody Croyle?
24. New England Patriots (from Seattle) + Jarvis Moss, DE/OLB, Florida
In my first mock draft, I had the Patriots taking Moss here. He's back now and I'm shuddering as I think of how good New England's defense might be next year.
25. New York Jets (10-6) Aaron Ross, CB, Texas
Mangini and company continue to quietly develop a rock-solid defense.
26. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) + Lawrence Timmons, OLB, Florida State
Timmons didn't exactly light up the combine the way I expected, but I still think defensive coordinator Jimmy Johnson would love to add him to his endless array of blitz packages.
27. New Orleans Saints (10-6) Brandon Meriweather, FS, Miami
The Saints need secondary help any way they can get it. I'm guessing they would much rather prefer to see Ross's name here, but beggars can't be choosers.
28. New England Patriots (12-4) Paul Posluszny, LB, Penn State
Introducing the prototypical Patriot, Paul Posluszny. Back in January, I picked the Pats to win Super Bowl XLII. Nothing that's happened since then has convinced me otherwise. I know it's early and injuries can decimate even the strongest of teams, but this is shaping up (on paper) to be the best New England club of the bunch.
29. Baltimore Ravens (13-3) Anthony Spencer, DE/OLB, Purdue
Lose Adalius Thomas, draft another hybrid playmaker (though Spencer is not in Thomas's class). The Steelers, Patriots and Ravens just know how to land on their feet. It really is astounding.
30. San Diego Chargers (14-2) + Dwayne Jarrett, WR, USC
We're still waiting on Jarrett's pro day, which will determine whether he goes top 20 or slides dangerously close to the second round. I'm guessing the Chargers will be more than happy to take him no matter what he runs.
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31. Chicago Bears (13-3) Ben Grubbs, OG, Auburn
So this pick is pretty boring, when you consider that, 12 hours ago, I was plotting what the Bears might do with the 6th overall selection. But the Bears' blueprint revolves around winning in the trenches and Grubbs will help them do that.
32. Indianapolis Colts (12-4) Justin Harrell, DT, Tennessee
The Colts are NOT going to repeat as champs unless they do something about their run defense. Yes, they were a completely different team in the playoffs, but that historically bad regular season was no fluke either. Harrell should help. -- Jason Friedman