Well I finally broke down (out of unemployment and boredom) and mocked my first round. This mock assumes a couple of pre-draft trades, but nothing crazy. This is as realistic as I can figure, and each pick has a reason for it, and I do recognize that this is the eve of free agency and much of this can and will change drastically. Please comment on what you think, and I'm sorry for the length, in advance.
UPDATE: As of a few developments even today, I have changed a couple picks to reflect the ever changing NFL landscape.
St. Louis Rams
1 Ndamukong Suh - DT - Nebraska
There are too many possibilities for St. Louis at the quarterback position for them to pass on Suh. Brady Quinn, Derek Anderson, Michael Vick, even Donovan McNabb and guys like Jason Campbell or Chad Pennington are all available as stopgap solutions until next year's draft when a possible rookie salary cap will be in place - and you can bet the Rams know they'll be drafting at or near the top again in 2011.
2 Eric Berry - S - Tennessee
Jim Schwartz goes with his instincts and drafts the most talented player on the board. After the combine, Gerald McCoy showed a lack of athleticism, and Berry showed us just how athletic he can be. Russell Okung (or any other player, for that matter) just isn't worth the #2, and our defensive secondary is suddenly becoming formidible.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
3 Gerald McCoy - DT - Oklahoma
This is almost a foregone conclusion by this point. McCoy is a great talent, and fits Tampa's scheme perfectly.
4 Russell Okung - T - Oklahoma State
Chris Samuels has announced his retirement from an already aging Redskins' offensive line, and Jason Campbell has been tendered with first-round status, indicating Mike Shanahan's intent towards the still developing QB. Okung is a great pick here to begin rebuilding in Shanahan's image.
Kansas City Chiefs
5 Dez Bryant - WR - Oklahoma State
Another good fit here - the Chiefs invested boatloads into "franchise" QB Matt Cassell, who to this point has no one to throw it to minus Chris Chambers. Bryant is worth the pick, a relatively local guy, and will instantly upgrade the offense, who is hoping that Jamaal Charles can continue the run he had last year.
6 Jimmy Clausen - QB - Notre Dame
No brainer. Matt Hasselbeck is nearly a corpse, and with a new head coach typically comes a new quarterback. I know everyone is pulling for Bradford now, but Clausen is a sure thing, and since Pete Carroll doesn't want to have flashbacks of his last coaching stint in the NFL, he'd rather go with the more polished, prepared prospect.
7 Sam Bradford - QB - Oklahoma
It goes without saying that Mike Holmgren likes quarterbacks. He's been actively sniffing guys out at the combine, and he'll be thrilled when Bradford falls to him, even with the recent combine hype. In this scenario, I see Quinn to the Rams, and Cleveland washing their hands of the (to date) ill-begotten quarterback.
8 Jason Pierre-Paul - DE - USF
Yes, I believe Al Davis will draft the combine all-star. I thought for a moment he'd take Bruce Campbell after HIS combine, but with their OT's held down by 2009 newcomers Khalif Barnes and Buffalo castoff Langston Walker (both solid, relatively young tackles in their own right), Davis takes a counterpart to Richard Seymour, who's gone next year if he isn't franchised for a 2nd year in a row.
9 Bruce Campbell - OT - Maryland
Personally, I think Bryan Bulaga should be the pick here, but with the hype surrounding Campbell and the seeming ineptitude that is following the new regime in Buffalo (they hired Stan Kwan for God's sake), I see them looking at Campbell's frame and upside and taking him. They NEED an offensive lineman or three, and with Bradford and Clausen off the board, they fortify their next biggest need.
10 Tim Tebow - QB - Florida
Yep. They're gonna do it. That's all I'll say about that. It may involve a trade down, since they know no one else wants it, but I'll put my chips down that they are too concerned that someone MIGHT take a risk on him that they'll cut their losses and do what they feel they have to do.
I feel like Rolando McClain would be a great fit here, but Andra Davis and DJ Williams were definitely serviceable last year, and should continue to be. Ronald Fields, however, is a veritable nobody, and although I think Dan Williams is a reach here, he holds a lot of value for the Broncos.
12 Rolando McClain - LB - Alabama
This is a great pick for Miami. With two subpar inside linebackers (Akin Ayoldele and overhyped Channing Crowder) McClain could seriously give the Miami defense a facelift. McClain reminds me of Ray Lewis, and has the intensity to contribute immediately to a defense featuring an up and coming Vontae Davis and Jason Taylor in his twilight years.
San Francisco 49ers
13 Joe Haden - CB - Florida
Haden is going to be a great corner in the NFL, and Mike Singletary just got another great defensive weapon on a young, hungry defense. When your top defensive backs are Walt Harris, who didn't play last year, Dre Bly, and Nate Clements, a hungry Joe Haden makes one of those guys expendable, I assume Bly. A natural pick.
Seattle Seahawks (From Broncos)
14 Taylor Mays - S - USC
One of Carroll's old players, a familiar face, and someone who can shore up an area on his team that needs it. Mays will have his talent maximized by Carroll, and Pete has already expressed an interest in picking up some of his old players from his college days.
New York Giants
15 Derrick Morgan - DE - Georgia Tech
The Giants' defense isn't what it used to be. Morgan is a stellar athelete, and goes quite a ways to make up for what New York has lost the last year or two on that previously vaunted d-line. Osi may be gone by this point, or getting Morgan may make him expendable.
16 Maurkice Pouncey - C - Florida
This was my first real head-scratcher. The Titans have a few pretty big needs, possibly at corner, also possibly at LB with the chance that Keith Bullock may not return to form (or return at all). One big one sticks out though, and that's that ultra-reliable center Kevin Mawae is almost certainly gone. With much of the talent in their places of need off the board, Pouncey stabilizes a young offensive line that should be able to keep a mobile Vince Young and Chris Johnson upright.
San Francisco 49ers (From Panthers)
17 Bryan Bulaga - OT - Iowa
San Francisco is afforded the ability to wait on taking a top-tier offensive lineman and benefits, grabbing possibly the 2nd best overall o-lineman in the draft.
18 Mike Iupati - G - Idaho
It's no secret that Ben Roethlisberger is constantly on his back. The Steelers' running game has certainly suffered in recent years as well. Pittsburgh takes the safe pick and solidifies its' interior line with Iupati.
19 Sean Weatherspoon - LB - Missouri
I think Sergio Kindle gets eschewed here by Weatherspoon, who's been impressing scouts with his intangibles and leadership abilities, two things that the Atlanta D could use quite a bit of. I don't think the Falcons reach and take Kyle Wilson here, as they do need a cornerback pretty bad (Brent Grimes is 5'8"!) but it is a possibility.
20 Earl Thomas - S - Texas
Once again, I think there's a possibility the Texans reach and take Kyle Wilson here. There's a relative dearth of defensive backs in this draft, but they certain could use a safety to pair with a resurgent Bernard Pollard, and at pick 20, Thomas just has more talent to give the Texans than Wilson can assure them.
21 Jermaine Gresham - TE - Oklahoma
Gresham gives Carson Palmer another solid target to throw to in the red zone, after Laverneuas Coles failed to make the grade last year. Palmer has a ton of talent, and the front office needs to do what it can to maximize that before he starts getting too old.
New England Patriots
22 Brandon Graham - DE/OLB - Michigan
Graham is the exact kind of player Bill Belicheck loves: a quiet, tough, versatile player that just so happens to play a position he just traded one of his biggest playmakers out of. Graham is going to be a monster on that defense, and Belicheck knows just how to use him.
If you stop and think of how well the Packers' season could have gone last year if Aaron Rodgers' entire offensive line wasn't in shambles, it's a little scary. Rodgers has all the capability to be a top-5 QB in this league, if he isn't running for his life every other play. With CJ Spiller slipping so far and Green Bay's lack of a run game so evident, you could definitely make a case for him here, but the #1 priority is protecting your quarterback, and Green Bay does that here.
24 CJ Spiller - RB - Clemson
I would personally go with a defensive pick here, as the Eagles aren't fantastic on that side of the ball, but at this point, with Brian Westbrook leaving and Spiller still here, it's a no-brainer. He and LeSean McCoy should pair up to give Donovan McNabb the best backfield he's ever seen, and grouping them with breakout WR's Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson makes the Eagles my favorite to win the ever competitive NFC East this year.
25 Arrellious Benn - WR - Illinois
No-brainer here. Benn is the best reciever on the board, and Baltimore just lost the franchise's most decorated reciever in its 10 or so year long span. Benn should be a great target for the inconsistent Joe Flacco, and make Ray Rice that more dangerous.
26 Sergio Kindle - LB - Texas
The Cards are probably going to be losing Karlos Dansby this offseason, and on a team with relatively few needs, that departure is glaring. Kindle slipped some and stands as great value as a 3-4 LB for Arizona.
27 Brandon Spikes - LB - FLorida
Another difficult pick, as Dallas has a very balanced team. The one hole I see is Keith Brooking, who is old and was burned plenty near the end of the season. Spikes is a solid, polished player, and may even push Brooking down on the depth chart this year. He would round out a very, very good front seven.
San Diego Chargers
28 Terrence Cody - DT - Alabama
With Jamal Williams' rumored imminent departure, Cody becomes the pick. He can anchor an ailing front seven for years with his size, and San Diego will be getting quite a deal near the bottom of the first.
Previous pick: Ryan Matthews, RB - Fresno State
New York Jets
29 Carlos Dunlap - DE - Florida
At this point, the Jets can't afford to pass on Dunlap's talent coupled with their need at DE. Rex Ryan has quite an ego, and if anyone thinks they can tame a DE with plenty of talent and a lack of motivation, it's him. Dunlap will go to a team with an instant chance of winning, and that will motivate him.
30 Brian Price - DT - UCLA
After Cody is taken by the Chargers, the Vikings take the next best player at that position. Price is a little bit of a reach here, but with a dwindling pool of players to choose from at the defensive tackle position, the Vikings go with position need over talent.
Previous pick: Terrence Cody, DT - Alabama
31 Jared Odrick - DT/DE - Penn State
As much as I'd like to see this pick work out, I feel like if Kyle Wilson isn't taken by this point, this may be it. Bill Polian isn't afraid to take a player who has character and talent, and with the deficiencies the Indianapolis has in it's secondary, I feel like this would be the trigger pick. If not, Odrick's capability to play DT and DE would be enticing, especially to the Colts' soft interior defense.
New Orleans Saints
32 Everson Griffen - DE - USC
With Darren Sharper leaving via free agency, the Saints would like to fill that hole, but all the quality prospects are taken by this point. With Bobby McCray as one of their starting defensive ends, Griffen is a decent consolation prize that should contribute and potentially get a starting spot this upcoming year.