This is the second part of a mock draft. Click here to view Picks 1 through 16.
17. NEW YORK JETS – WR Arrelious Benn, Illinois*
A player like Florida’s Carlos Dunlap would be a good pick here if he declares. I also thought of Idaho’s Mike Iupati as well under the pretense that he could be developed as either a guard or tackle in New York. But in the end, I went with Benn. Braylon Edwards has played fairly well in New York since being traded, but probably hasn’t done enough to earn the huge extension he’s seeking. But Edwards has indicated that he won’t pout if he has to play under a one-year tender in 2010. Jerricho Cotchery is a nice No. 2 option, but nice is all he is. Benn is a big-time target with loads of upside. He’s probably a bit raw at this point to expect to contribute early, but he has loads of upside and I think could develop into an Andre Johnson-type player. He has the size, speed, and strength to be a force at the next level. He had an inconsistent final year at Illinois, but part of that is to blame on inconsistent quarterback play more than him. Benn represents both an upgrade and insurance policy in New York. Giving Mark Sanchez more options won’t hurt his development whatsoever.
18. MIAMI DOLPHINS – DT Terrence Cody, Alabama
The Dolphins need a wide receiver and despite this being a good class, particulary with several juniors declaring, I’m not sure one fits well in Miami and merits this high a pick. The Dolphins want three things in their wide receiver prospect: size, speed, and polish. They don’t need another project here, so whoever they pick has to be able to come in right away and contribute. And unless Dez Bryant falls this far, I don’t see that player being available. Maybe someone emerges in the off-season? But anyway, that leaves Terrence Cody. The Dolphins have a need at nose tackle with Jason Ferguson near retirement. Paul Soliai has played well in his absence, but not well enough to run away with the gig. Cody’s weight might mean that ever the disciplinarian like Parcells will shy away from him. But he does fill a need and at least with Soliai already there, they don’t need him to be a starter right away. They can work him slowly into the lineup. Cody is a massive guy that can be a dominant nose tackle at the next level, but only if he can keep his weight in check.
19. TENNESSEE TITANS – LB Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri
The Titans will almost certainly go defense with their top pick and likely will add someone that can help their poor pass defense which gave up big play after big play this season. That could mean a pass rusher or cornerback, but since without some more declarations from underclassmen, neither of those positions look particularly strong this year. So that likely means they settle for a linebacker. Keith Bulluck’s season just ended due to injury and he will be a free agent in the off-season. The team drafted Gerald McRath last year and he’s worked behind David Thornton most of this year, so he could be an option if they don’t retain Bulluck. But Weatherspoon is a great fit here. He has the ability in coverage that matches the role that Bulluck performs in the defense, and has the speed and range to be a force against the run. He’s a bit undersized and probably needs to bulk up, but he would be a very good fit here.
20. BALTIMORE RAVENS – WR Brandon LaFell, LSU
The Ravens almost certainly will use their top pick on a receiver. Derrick Mason may retire. He did last year, but decided to come back for one more year. I don’t think the Ravens can assume the same will happen again. Mark Clayton has shown he’s better served as a third option in the slot rather than a starter. And neither Kelley Washington nor Demetrius Williams have shown themselves to be potential starting options. So that leaves the Ravens looking for someone that can assume Mason’s role as No. 1 option. There are going to be options and someone like USC’s Damian Williams might be a better prospect, but he’s undeclared which leaves LaFell. LaFell has struggled with bouts of inconsistency in the past, but put together a solid senior season and with his size and speed has the upside to be a force at the next level.
21. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (from DENVER) – OT Bruce Campbell, Maryland*
The Seahawks get their wish and find a young left tackle available late in the first round. Campbell is a really nice fit in Seattle. There have been indications that Walter Jones will return for at least one more year, and Campbell is probably best sitting and watching for a year before he’s asked to take over. He’s a top athlete, but is a bit raw and has dealt with his share of injuries during his career at Maryland. That could make the Seahawks a bit gun-shy since they’ve had plenty of injuries themselves at this position, but he really is the best option and fit for their offense.
22. NEW YORK GIANTS – LB Brandon Spikes, Florida
The Giants defense has been a bit of a disappointment this year. And it likely means that they will use a high pick to try and fix it. Because they don’t have a glaring need they have the luxury of going best player available. And more than likely that will mean picking someone to help out their front seven. While Jonathan Goff has flashed potential as a short-term fill-in for Antonio Pierce in the middle and Chase Blackburn has been a capable backup for a number of years, Spikes offers a potential upgrade. Spikes is a solid player that has the range and ability to impact in the pros right away. He also offers the versatility to play more than one position in the Giants scheme, if they do decide Goff is the best option. Other potential solutions could be drafting a pass rusher like Michigan’s Brandon Graham, a defensive tackle, or going with a right tackle on offense.
23. GREEN BAY PACKERS – OT Charles Brown, USC
The Packers offense has struggled at times because of their pass protection. Aaron Rodgers has a tendency to hold onto the ball too long leading to a high number of sacks, but they certainly could use an upgrade on the outside. They’ve had a steady stream of bodies at both tackle positions with Chad Clifton, T.J. Lang, Mark Tauscher, Allen Barbre, and Daryn Colledge all getting chances as starters. And the best two options are the two guys that have the least left in the tank: Clifton and Tauscher. They like Lang’s potential and he could be an option at right tackle, so that leaves the left side as their most glaring hole. Brown is a good left tackle prospect and has the athleticism you like at the position. The Packers don’t discriminate in regards to size with their blockers, which is probably the thing that hurts Brown the most in his bid to be No. 1 pick. He probably won’t be asked to start right away as the Packers seem intent on bringing Clifton back for another year, which is a good thing for Brown’s development.
24. ARIZONA CARDINALS – DT Dan Williams, Tennessee
In their bid to move to the 3-4 since Ken Whisenhunt’s arrival, they have been saved by the veteran savvy of Bryan Robinson. Gabe Watson has been developing, but not as quickly as hoped. And it seems likely he’ll always be a rotational player rather than an impact starter. Both he and Robinson will be free agents this off-season, so the time is right for them to look in a new direction here. Dan Williams has the size to play nose in the pros and has put together a strong senior season. With Watson expected to return, Williams can platoon with him for a year.
25. CINCINNATI BENGALS – WR Golden Tate, Notre Dame*
The death of Chris Henry not only impacted the Bengals off the field, but on the field. With Henry out of the lineup, the Bengals sorely lacked a big play threat in their passing game. And they essentially had become the old Jacksonville Jaguars: a strong running team that lacked the explosive big play option to be a well-rounded and balanced offense. A player like Tate could potentially fix that problem. Tate has good speed and had a good junior season at Notre Dame. He’s not the greatest pure wide receiver prospect, but one could draw comparisons between him and Percy Harvin in their versatility and playmaking ability. Tate can help out in the slot for the Bengals, add a vertical and versatile threat that can bring the long ball back to Cincinnati.
26. DALLAS COWBOYS – S Taylor Mays, USC
The Cowboys will probably prefer to use this pick on a receiver. Someone like Tate or Benn probably are the ideal candidates. Miles Austin has had a breakout year, but Roy Williams is still causing his share of headaches. Mays stock has fallen upon his return to school for a senior season. He has just been too inconsistent in both coverage and as a run stopper to merit a very high pick. He’s got all of the talent in the world and drew past comparisons to Sean Taylor, but at this point he’s probably closer to Roy Williams. In truth, he’s not an ideal fit for the Cowboys who need less talent and more consistency at the safety position. But they could hide some of his flaws by moving him to strong safety.
27. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – DT Jared Odrick, Penn State
When the Patriots traded Richard Seymour this past summer, they knew they would miss his presence on the field, but didn’t think they’d miss the hit he’d cause their wallet. They were right. They also expected that Jarvis Green would off-set some of that on-field loss. Well they were wrong there. Green is a decent option, but most of their production has come from reserve Mike Wright, who is really a backup. Green probably will walk this off-season, leaving an opening here. Odrick plays tackle in the 4-3 at Penn State, but has the build and ideal skillset to move to end in the 3-4 in the NFL. He is a disruptive player with a long, athletic frame. He’s not in Seymour’s class, but he’s a good player in his own right. This class could be relatively strong in 3-4 defensive end prospects if certain underclassmen declare. Players like Carlos Dunlap and Cameron Heyward could bolster this group, so the Patriots should have their pick of players if they want to address this spot.
28. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES – OG Mike Iupati, Idaho
Shawn Andrews career may be in jeopardy due to lingering back issues. And if that’s the case, that opens a void at right guard. Winston Justice has done a good job on the outside as a replacement for an injured Andrews this year at right tackle. The Eagles expected Andrews brother Stacy to be a fixture here, but they were wrong. He, Max Jean-Gilles, and Nick Cole have been serviceable, but none have shown themselves to be the consistent long-term option in case Shawn Andrews can’t return. Iupati fits nicely in Philadelphia because like all of their linemen, he’s massive and a physical run blocker.
29. MINNESOTA VIKINGS – TE Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma
The Vikings have other needs that are more pressing, like addressing their left tackle and defensive tackle positions. But unless some players fall or others declare at those position, the crop of talent available this late in Round 1 doesn’t merit a pick. Either Bruce Campbell or Dan Williams is probably their preferred picks at this point in the draft. If not, then that leaves the Vikings going best player available, and that could wind up being Gresham. Gresham missed the entire season with an injury, and may not be 100% by the time April rolls around, which means he could be a longshot to go in the first round. But he fits well in Minnesota because of his potential as a two-way tight end. The Vikings operate a lot out of a two-tight end offense, and while the emergence of Percy Harvin limits just how many looks that set will get in the future, Gresham is valuable because of his long-term upside. He probably won’t contribute much this year anyway. But blocking tight end Jim Kleinsasser probably only has another year or two left in him, and he has the potential to contribute there. He can succeed him in that role, but also offer the potential to supplant Visanthe Shiancoe in the pass-catching role. LIke Shiancoe, Gresham has good size, strength, and athleticism and would be the ideal candidate to groom as his replacement a few years down the road.
30. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS – RB Ryan Mathews, Fresno State*
The Chargers are probably hoping either Terrence Cody or Dan Williams fall this far in the draft since they desperately want to address their nose tackle position behind Jamal Williams this off-season. But they also have a glaring need at running back. LaDainian Tomlinson is done as the focal point of their offense, and Darren Sproles only showed that he’s a third down back this season rather than a potential starter. They need someone that can being their go-to option on the ground and Mathews is a good fit. He has nice size and speed with good vision and hands to fit well in a Norv Turner offense.
31. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS – DE Brandon Graham, Michigan
The Saints top need is adding an outside linebacker to the mix. But with a few more juniors declaring, I’m not seeing one that merits this pick. So instead, they add a pass rusher which they could also use. Graham is a player that some grade highly because of his production, but his lack of size is going to hold him back. Many see him moving to linebacker in the 3-4 scheme at the next level, but I personally think he has a better future at defensive end. Graham can come in and add some youth and speed on the outside for the Saints as they try to continue to build up their defense.
32. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS – CB Donovan Warren, Michigan*
The Colts are almost certainly going to go defense with their top pick. They could use help at pretty much every position, and probably their secondary are least likely to be addressed given their needs up front. But at this point with Graham and Weatherspoon off the board, not sure there is a player that fits still on the board. The Colts stand to lose Marlin Jackson in the off-season, and why not replace him with another big Michigan corner. Warren has the size and measurable to be a top corner. He too is a bit raw, but the Colts can afford a year or two to develop him since there is no dire need here.