2010 NFL Draft Mock Draft: Because it’s only fun to mock if you can pretend you’re smarter than other people

Oh, it’s that beautiful time again. Time for the birds to start chirping in the trees. Time for the flowers to begin to bloom.

Time for me to ignore all of these things because it’s finally time for the NFL draft.

Who cares about nature? There’s no reason to go outside until the NFL Network takes a break from exchanging puzzled looks about Al Davis’ first-round pick and projecting these college studs’ future salaries.

In anticipation of the big day this Thursday, Cameron has put together the mock draft below for your enjoyment. And it’s not your typical “this team will take this guy because they said they would” kind of analysis. This mock draft is purely based on Cameron’s judgment of who each team should take.

We would make a drinking game out of how many picks he gets right, but as Shutdown Corner argued earlier today, that’s not the point of these things.

And besides, we don’t want Cameron to be completely smashed while we live blog the draft on Thursday night. That’s what the fourth round is for.

I’ll let Cameron take it from here. — Jacob

The Fantasy Football Fools’ 2010 Mock NFL Draft

1. St. Louis Rams — Ndamukong Suh — DT – Nebraska
Welcome to the league, Mr. Suh. I’m sure you are hoping that every NFL line is as good as the Texas Longhorns line in the Big XII championship game. It won’t be that easy, but Suh has the ability to dominate the line of scrimmage in any game. Everyone is picking the Rams to go quarterback here, but I’m not sold on anyone enough to warrant the first pick and the money that comes with it. Bradford would get eaten alive if the Rams trotted him out during his first season. The Rams hurt themselves by getting rid of Bulger, but Bradford is not the answer.

2. Detroit Lions — Russell Okung — OT – Oklahoma State
The Lions should have only one goal in mind for this coming season: Protect Stafford. With all the money invested in Stafford, they can’t afford to lose him to injury for even one game. Okung will protect Stafford’s blindside for many years to come and, hopefully, allow Stafford to throw it to Megatron 25 times a game.

3. Tampa Bay Bucs — Gerald McCoy — DT — Oklahoma
Quick, name the most recognizable defensive player ever for the Bucs…Warren Sapp. Tampa has been missing a vocal leader for the defense, a guy with a motor that doesn’t stop. Gerald McCoy can be that guy, and he could be the face of the defense for years to come.

4. Washington Redskins — Bryan Bulaga — OT — Iowa
After getting the quarterback they feel can take them to the next level, the Redskins are suddenly in need of a left tackle. Many feel the top three tackles (Okung, Bulaga, Williams) are interchangeable, so the Redskins pick the next best available. Bulaga is a smart offensive tackle who will help out McNabb for the next few years and whoever the Redskins bring in to take McNabb’s place.

5. Kansas City Chiefs — Trent Williams — OT — Oklahoma
The Chiefs spent a pretty penny last year to bring in Matt Cassel, and he was on his back more often than not. Their No. 1 priority is to give Cassel time to show that he was not a one year wonder. Williams will upgrade the line and play either left or right tackle, wherever he is needed the most.

6. Seattle Seahawks — Eric Berry — S — Tennessee
The Seahawks have a big hole in the middle of the defensive backfield. Berry is seen as an Ed Reed type safety that has the speed and athleticism to not only pick off opposing quarterbacks, but also take the ball to the house. New head coach Pete Carroll loves speed, as seen by his college players. This is a perfect fit.

7. Cleveland Browns — Sam Bradford — QB – Oklahoma
The Browns would love nothing more than for the highest-rated QB on draft day to fall in their laps. Of course, this will not happen, but it does in this mock draft. Cleveland picked up Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace, but neither of those guys are long-term solutions. Bradford would benefit from sitting for at least a year. I don’t believe Bradford is the type of QB who should be thrown to the wolves. He needs to learn to read defenses and continue to heal his body.

8. Oakland Raiders — Anthony Davis — OT — Rutgers
Al Davis could end up picking another kicker in the first round for all we know. The Raiders need help on their line, plain and simple. With this big run on tackles in the first round, Oakland selects the next best available tackle. JaMarcus Russell needs some more protection, as he can’t throw the ball while on his back. Although he can throw the ball 70 yards on his knees, over those mountains.

9. Buffalo Bills — Dez Bryant — WR — School of Deion Sanders (Oklahoma State)
The Bills have glaring needs at a lot of positions. I’m not high on Clausen, so I’m not taking him here. The Bills could use someone to actually catch a ball downfield. With T.O. gone, they really have no threats (if you could call T.O. a threat last year). With needs on the O-line and at QB, Dez Bryant may be the guy who bails out whoever is under center next year.

10. Jacksonville Jaguars — Derrick Morgan — DE — Georgia Tech
Jacksonville needs some support on the front four. They went out and got Kampman, but he is going to need some help. Derrick Morgan has a motor and doesn’t stop until the play is over. His pass rush skills will immediately improve the Jaguar defense.

11. Denver Broncos — Rolando McClain — LB — Alabama
Denver has been rebuilding their defense through free agency, but there is still a big hole at inside linebacker. McClain could start early in Denver, and he could possibly be a candidate for defensive ROY a la Jerod Mayo of the Patriots.

12. Miami Dolphins — Dan Williams — DT — Tennessee
Everyone loves a big fat guy to put at NT when running a 3-4 defense. Dan Williams is that guy. Clogging up the middle and absorbing double teams allows the outside guys to do their job.

13. San Francisco 49ers — Joe Haden — CB — Florida
San Fran needs some help with DBs, and Haden is sitting here ripe for the picking. Haden could go earlier in the draft, but some people are iffy about his speed. It’s a huge get for the 49ers to take him this far into the draft.

14. Seattle Seahawks — C.J. Spiller — RB — Clemson
Pick No. 2 in the first round for the Seahawks turns out to be a grand slam. Spiller is a pure home-run threat in every sense of the word. He can take it to the house on any play, including kick and punt returns. Pete Carroll made a career out of using this kind of back, and there is no sense in stopping now.

15. New York Giants — Sean Weatherspoon — LB – Missouri
Like Denver, the Giants are another team with a need at linebacker. New York needs a linebacker probably more than any team in the draft. Drafting Weatherspoon here may seem like a reach since this goes against drafting the best player available, but a need is a need.

16. Tennessee Titans — Sergio Kindle — LB — Texas
The Titans defense was not good last year. If it wasn’t for Chris Johnson and V.Y., the Titans might have only won two games. They could use an upgrade at basically every defensive position. They need depth at CB and definitely at DE, but I take Kindle here. Kindle is one of those pass rush specialists that can wreak havoc in the backfield. A better defense means better field position for the fireworks on offense to do their thing.

17. San Francisco 49ers — Jason Pierre Paul — DE — South Florida
Defensive end is not a huge need position for San Fran, but the raw talent that Pierre-Paul exudes is tempting at this point in the draft. He only played Division 1 ball for a year, but what he showed at that level was very promising.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers – Mike Iupati — OG — Idaho
Pittsburgh needs to strengthen the O-line, and Iupati is their man. He is a great guard, but he can also play some tackle. He is a very versatile lineman who will be able to switch positions at will for many years to come.

19. Atlanta Falcons — Brandon Graham — DE — Michigan
Atlanta needs a pass rusher opposite of John Abraham. Graham is an explosive end who could start immediately for the Falcons. This pick fills a great need that Atlanta has been seeking for a while.

20. Houston Texans — Earl Thomas — S — Texas
Houston needs defensive back help in the worst way. I know they are praying Earl Thomas falls to them with the No. 20 pick on Thursday, and he just so happens to make it there in this draft. Most people see Thomas as a pure safety, but some analysts see Thomas as a safety that can play corner. Regardless, he is a ball hawk who flies to the ball wherever it is on the field, and he hits harder than most linebackers.

21. Cincinnati Bengals — Jermaine Gresham — TE — Oklahoma
The Bengals have a rejuvenated running game thanks to Cedric Benson, and with Chad Ochocinco and the addition of Antonio Bryant, there is some pop in the passing game. What Carson Palmer lacks is a big pass-catching tight end. Gresham is a great pass-catching tight end who would have found himself higher on the list if he had decided to come out for last year’s draft.

22. New England Patriots — Jimmy Clausen — QB — Notre Dame
New England has no immediate need for a quarterback as Tom Brady will be around for the foreseeable future. With Clausen still on the board, I can see the Pats taking him here as the quarterback of the future. Sitting behind Brady for a while could do wonders for Clausen as well as teach him a thing or two about leadership. At the very least, I could see Belichick taking Clausen and using him as trade bait for more picks in a couple of years.

23. Green Bay Packers — Bruce Campbell — OT — Maryland
Everyone wants to know when this workout warrior will be taken. While Campbell didn’t perform at an all conference level in college, his measurables are off the charts. Green Bay’s line is getting older by the minute, and Campbell is some fresh blood who can afford to sit a year or two and learn from some veterans.

24. Philadelphia Eagles — Everson Griffen — DE — USC
The Eagles need a safety, but I’m not sold on Taylor Mays. He looks like a Roy Williams clone, a hard-hitting safety with no coverage skills. The Eagles could look to shore up their pass rush here and Griffen is a defensive end with great NFL potential.

25. Baltimore Ravens — Jared Odrick — DE — Penn St.
The Ravens are known for their defense, the same defense that won them a Super Bowl…in 2001. Now they need to upgrade their defense at every position. Odrick is quick off the ball, and he will give this old defense a shot in the arm.

26. Arizona Cardinals — Jerry Hughes — OLB — TCU
The Cardinals are in need of a linebacker, and Hughes is the next best available. A lot of people see him as more of a pass-rushing defensive end, but he is an explosive player no matter what position he plays in Arizona’s 3-4 defense.

27. Dallas Cowboys — Charles Brown — OT — USC
The Cowboys’ No. 1 need is at offensive tackle, especially with the release of Flozell Adams. Brown is a bit of a reach here, and if he is the best available tackle, I fully expect Jerry Jones to trade out of the first round and acquire some extra picks as he has done in the past.

28. San Diego Chargers — Toby Gerhart — RB — Stanford
San Diego could use a between-the-tackles bruiser to compliment the speed and agility of Darren Sproles. No one has a first round grade for Gerhart, and most people are high on Ryan Mathews. But it was obvious just watching college football last year that Gerhart was a team player that played with his heart on his sleeve. Hell, he could probably even get along with Philip Rivers.

29. New York Jets — Carlos Dunlap — DE — Florida
The Jets addressed their WR needs by picking up Santonio Holmes. If they hadn’t, Demaryius Thomas would have been their pick here. Dunlap has all the physical tools to be a great pass rusher and would have gone earlier if not for some questions about laziness. He is a good value pick at the end of the first round.

30. Minnesota Vikings – Maurkice Pouncey — OG/C — Florida
The Vikings need to get younger at the interior O-line positions. Pouncey can play guard and center, which makes him the perfect pick here.

31. Indianapolis Colts — Rodger Saffold — OT — Indiana
The Colts are getting really old at every line position. Saffold has the talent to be a left tackle for the next ten years. The Colts just need to show him the way.

32. New Orleans Saints – Daryl Washington — OLB — TCU
The Saints’ biggest need is at outside linebacker. Daryl Washington may be called a reach here at the end of the first round, but he should be seen as a steal. He has ideal speed and is great in coverage. Filling a hole at the end of the first round with a great prospect is all you can ask for if you’re the Saints.

Fantasy Football Fools Mock NFL Draft 2008 – Part 4 of 4 (First Take)

This post finishes up our first run at the mock NFL draft for 2008. Look for updates after the combines. If you missed any of Parts 1-3, check them out: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

25. Seattle Seahawks — Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois

Shaun Alexander hasn’t done much since his amazing season a few years ago. He seems to be stuck in that 20 carries and 60 yards per game mentality. The Seahawks could definitely use some new blood at RB, and Mendenhall is their man. He looks to be from the same mold as Alexander with some speed to burn and new tread on the tires.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Seattle could be risky and go for a WR or TE here. One thing’s for sure, RB was the greatest problem for Seattle last year and made them a one-dimensional team. They need better production from their RB crew, and a committee with Alexander, Maurice Morris and Mendenhall would definitely be able to get the job done for Holmgren’s last year. We all know Alexander isn’t going to be getting it done much longer.

26. New York Giants — Dan Connor, LB, Penn State

The Giants need a linebacker and can either go with Connor or former USC star Keith Rivers. I would take Connor because he seems to have that Penn State Linebacker U mentality. He is tough, athletic and will make tackle after tackle. This guy will be a great value pick for the Giants.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: The Giants defense wasn’t on a lot of short lists this draft season, but they certainly ended the season on some. The secondary has stepped up in the playoffs after looking bad early in the season. You can thank Aaron Ross and Webster for that. With the secondary holding together, they could use Connor to reinforce their run and pass defense more at the line. The Giants might just stay near the top of a few draft cheatsheets for fantasy drafts in 2008.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars — Early Doucet, WR, LSU

Jacksonville had a great season this year–especially from QB David Garrard. The best thing the Jaguars could get would be a nice possession guy that can be a downfield threat as well. Early Doucet would be a great addition opposite of Reggie Williams, another young WR.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Garrard really needed more targets out there on the field to make Jacksonville the true double threat it should have been this year. Jacksonville has known their wide receivers were a problem for a few years. I apologize if any of you took Matt Jones this year. He looks like he misses the bench every time he gets out there.

Early Doucet should be able to get in there and shake things up. With some good route running, he should replace Matt Jones as the third receiver if he doesn’t land a starting role by the end of preseason. He will be a good possession receiver like Northcutt but will also be able to pull the big plays so that all the hopes and dreams of Jacksonville are not put on the sometimes slippery hands of Reggie Williams. Not sure if I would consider drafting him, but he is definitely one to watch for a waiver wire acquisition in your 2008 fantasy season.

28. San Diego Chargers – Keith Rivers, LB, USC

This pick would be taking the best available player for the Chargers right here. Their defense is already top notch with Merriman and some more young players. Throw in Rivers opposite of Merriman, and that is one scary linebacking duo for years to come.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Scary indeed. If Rivers emerges early in 2008 for the Chargers, I would fear NOT having them as my defense and form a prayer group for just the weeks I had to play against them. The Chargers already led the league in takeaways in 2007. Be very afraid of what they can do with Rivers in 2008.

29. Dallas Cowboys — Quentin Groves, DE/LB, Auburn

The Cowboys could go either WR or RB right here. I don’t feel any WRs are worth taking here, and this draft has so many backs that one could easily be found in a later round. What Groves gives Dallas is a great 3-4 defense player that could be a good fit for one of the linebacker positions. He is extremely quick and would be a huge asset to the Dallas D.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: I lean towards the Cowboys taking a RB here with Julius Jones on his way out. Talk is that Jerry Jones might want Miami’s pick to get McFadden, so I don’t think they leave the first round without a RB.

That said, Groves would be a good call. Dallas’ defense slacked off on stopping the run late in 2007, and depth would certainly help since injuries weakened the unit throughout the season. Groves’ quickness would be welcomed and could possible catapult the Dallas defense from being steadily better to being drastically better. If Dallas takes two defensive picks in the first round, be sure to take a look at them on your fantasy short list in 2008.

30. San Francisco 49ers — James Hardy, WR, Indiana

The 49ers were thought to be a team on the rise, and then last season came and washed that away. What they need is another big man that young QB Alex Smith can use in the passing game. James Hardy is a 6’7″ monster that can go up and get the ball. He carries some off-the-field baggage, but the 49ers can’t be too picky. If they can get his head straight, he will be a great wideout.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Arnaz Battle, Ashley Lelie and Darrell Jackson just aren’t doing it anymore for the 49ers. Not with Martz coming in there. Even if he does base the offense around Frank Gore–like he should–he is going to need some talent in the WR spot to keep the defense from loading the box.

Whether Alex Smith returns as QB or not, Hardy would be a great target. His big size would help in the red zone, and maybe, with some new blood, the entire team will finally come together to be a competitor. With Martz at the reigns of this offense, any player on it is worth at least sleeper consideration for your roster in 2008 as Gore should return to form and bring a strong run game.

31. Green Bay Packers — Marcus Griffin, S, Texas

The Packers can do one of two things here. They can go after Fred Davis, TE, USC, who would be a great addition to their team or pick Marcus Griffin and help shore up their defense. Davis would be a great weapon for Favre to throw to, but I believe the Packers need to address their D first. Their pass defense was nothing to write home about this year–especially their safety play. Marcus Griffin can come in and play as well as his brother Michael Griffin did for the Titans this year. He will be an immediate upgrade to the defense.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: With Bubba Franks returning late in the season and the emergence of Donald Lee, Green Bay probably will look to lock up their defense here. While they had good INT numbers this year, they should have been better with one of the best cornerback tandems in the league.

A quality safety to add to this young defense could increase the number of takeaways they get in 2008 and elevate them to the top tier of fantasy defenses.

32. New England Patriots — No Pick

Cheaters never win, right???

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Ouch, too soon.

That’s it. The end. Look for an aggregate post of mock drafts from other notorious fantasy football sources later this week, and expect an update of our mock draft after the combines.

Fantasy Football Fools Mock NFL Draft 2008 – Part 3 of 4 (First Take)

Now, we present Part 3 in our first take of the NFL draft for 2008. See Part 1 and Part 2 if you missed them earlier this week.

17. Minnesota Vikings — Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida

The Vikes are another team that need help at DE, despite drafting them in the first round in 2004 and 2005. Harvey is another great pass rusher that can get around the tackle quickly. Look for him to have an impact this coming season.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Harvey will only serve to further strengthen the Minnesota defense so that not even Ryan Grant and the Favre screen pass can make them look bad. If CB Talib is here, I would have expected him to go, but without him to take, Minnesota will take a defensive player and put their hope in the arm of Tavaris Jackson and the legs of Adrian Peterson–maybe some Chester Taylor in there too.

Don’t be afraid of taking the Minnesota defense in your 2008 fantasy draft.

18. Houston Texans — Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon

It’s about time for the Texans to have a new, fresh young running back. The Texans have had about 37 running backs in just the last couple of years. Right now, they have Ahman Green and Ron Dayne. One is old, and the other is fat. I see Stewart as the second best running back in the draft and would be a good fit here for the Texans.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Alas, the missing piece for the Texans has finally arrived. I had begun to contemplate whether they might consider trading spots with Miami to get McFadden, but taking Stewart is not too much of a raw deal. Matt Schaub has become a great starting QB for the Texans with Andre Johnson and the emerging Jacoby Jones as targets. With a running presence, expect Houston to be a contender. Hopefully, the Texans will give him room to run and not stick him in a committee with Ron Dayne or Ahman Green. Once he gets his NFL legs, Stewart is worthy of fantasy draft consideration and could be a sleeper in 2008.

19. Philadelphia Eagles — Kenny Phillips, S, Miami

The Eagles would love it if Phillips landed here. The Eagles safeties aren’t getting any younger, and Phillips has the generic Miami safety attitude. He will hit, and he will hit hard. This could end up being one of the best picks in the draft.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: With Phillips, the Eagles could develop a legitimate presence on defense in 2008. The improved defense could make the entire team look better. Westbrook could have some more time on the clock and maybe even more opportunities with more take aways. They won’t be a top defense, but they could be worthy of being paired with another defense for a nice tandem for your fantasy team in 2008. Watch their defensive intensity this preseason to be sure.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma

Talk about being old at one position, the two leading wideouts for the Bucs last year were Joey Galloway and Ike Hilliard. They need to get another receiver to compliment the young Michael Clayton, and what better way to do it than by taking Malcolm Kelly. He is a tall guy that will catch the ball when needed.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Jeff Garcia has given the Bucs a lot of opportunities in the air this season. Bringing Kelly into the mix will only make him better and give Galloway and Hilliard more time to rest and recover from injuries. He won’t be incorporated into this offense immediately, but expect him and Clayton to have a bigger presence this season as Galloway and Ike Hilliard inch towards retirement. A larger number of choices in the passing game could better open up the running game of Cadillac Williams and/or Earnest Graham for 2008 as well.

21. Washington Redskins — Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina

This is a value pick for the Redskins. They don’t need an immediate upgrade at DT, and Balmer is the kind of guy that could benefit from a slow introduction to the field. He has a few more things to learn before becoming an impact, but once he does, the NFC East better look out.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: As Cameron says, this isn’t going to immediately affect the team in 2008. I agree. The Redskins had a nice presence on defense during the 2008 season. As long as the new coach keeps developing them, the Redskins could make the playoffs again in 2008. This defense should be worth owning if you don’t take a top defense in your fantasy draft, but expect to need other defenses to fill in depending upon the match up. The Redskins won’t shut anyone down completely without significant improvement.

22. Dallas Cowboys — Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona

If I’m the Cowboys, I’m taking a corner here. Cornerback is their biggest need, and Cason is full of talent. It may take a year to adjust to the NFL, as it does for most corners, but Cason has the tools to be a good one. He is also a great return man, which could help the Cowboys.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: My Cowboys were hurting this season when Terrance Newman was out with injury. Adding a CB to the mix should improve their game and give them depth so they don’t have to play so close with the Giants next season. Look for Cason’s impact to be felt later in the season, but he could provide a spark to special teams sooner than that. The Cowboys were a great choice for defense this year, and they will be even better next year for your fantasy team.

23. Pittsburgh Steelers — Michael Oher, OL, Mississippi

The Steelers need a linemen, and the junior Oher is the next best available. He is a tough and athletic player who can play guard or tackle. This isn’t a sexy pick (linemen rarely are), but it is the smartest one. The Steelers are a smart organization, so they take Oher.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Cameron is right. Oher is not sexy. He is really big. No mystery. Very bad wing man at the bar but a great offensive lineman.

Big Ben might not like this pick since he is asking for a big receiver, but that is a problem more likely to be solved with a later pick or free agency rather than in this draft. Oher will keep Big Ben Roethlisberger from having to run around so much and prevent him from hurting that windshield-smashing head of his by getting sacked. He isn’t the most mobile QB. After his breakout season as a big throw QB in 2007, look for Roethlisberger to look better in 2008 with Oher.

24. Tennessee Titans — Limas Sweed, WR, Texas

The Titans are bringing in a new offensive coordinator to help Vince Young become more comfortable with the offense. What better way to help him get comfortable than by getting his favorite target from college. Sweed can be the impact WR that the Titans sorely need. Vince can only get better if the talent around him gets better, and this would definitely be an upgrade.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: The Titans are in desperate need of receivers this offseason. VY looked pretty rough around the edges, but it was less any Madden curse and more the butter fingers and bad routes of his receivers. Bringing in Sweed is certainly a start since Sweed never looked as good as he did when Vince was opening up coverage with his legs.

The Titans might even try to make some stealthy free agent moves for another WR in the offseason to really improve Vince’s situation. Sweed will gel faster than most young WRs since VY and him already have chemistry. Expect improvement in the Tennessee offense for 2008, and maybe VY will live up to all the scoring predictions that analysts put on him before the start of this past season.

Fantasy Football Fools Mock NFL Draft 2008 – Part 2 of 4 (First Take)

Picking up where we left off with Part 1, here’s Part 2 of our first take on the upcoming NFL draft.

9. Cincinnati Bengals — Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State

The Bengals really need a DT, but with Ellis gone, they should go with Gholston here. He seems to take plays off sometimes, but he is too talented to fall any farther. Gholston will have a good combine workout and could possibly go higher after that, but he is a good pick here for the Bengals. If he learns to play every down in the game, this could be a steal.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Oh man, the Bengals need a defensive star. ANY help to that defense might help them put the team back together in the offseason. The Bengals got by for awhile by winning scoring contests, but they couldn’t survive this season when their offense lost its swagger. Rudi Johnson could be healthier this season, and Chad Johnson should stick around to help put this offense back together.

Look for Gholston to help this defense stop something every now and then, but it still needs a lot of help before it will be anything worth writing home about. The good news for Bengals fantasy stars is that the Bengals might see their offense getting more opportunities and maintaining a high level of play while winning more games.

10. New Orleans Saints — Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas

The Saints need help on defense, and they really need help at corner. Talib has the size and athleticism to be a great corner in the NFL. He could also play a little offense like he did at Kansas–a la Devin Hester–and have an impact on both sides of the ball.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: This is a simple call. Fantasy owners ALWAYS started their receivers when they faced the Saints in 2007. With a better corner, the defense could snag some more interceptions, and more take aways equals more scoring chances for the offense. With Deuce back and Stecker discovered as a gear to turn the Saints offense, 2007 should be a bounce back year for all the Saints’ offensive fantasy hopes, but the defense still needs a few more improvements and work in special teams play before I give them my full endorsement.

11. Buffalo Bills — DeSean Jackson, WR, Cal

The Bills have a young quarterback, Trent Edwards, and could use a homerun threat downfield. DeSean Jackson is still a little raw, but he is a deep field threat on every play. He would be a good compliment to Lee Evans on the other side of the field. Jackson’s ability to run after the catch turns short passes into long gains, and he could also help in the punt return game.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Lee Evans had a miserable 2007 after his breakout performance in 2006. In 2008, expect Buffalo to try and take some heat off of him. Marshawn Lynch will give Trent Edwards throwing space, and a WR opposite of Evans to draw coverage could balance out this offense. Evans and Jackson should have big play potential, and depending upon the development of Edwards into a pro QB, 2008 could be a much better fantasy year for Buffalo’s passing game. Plus, with less heat on the running game, Lynch might be able to get some really good drives (see video).

12. Denver Broncos — Ryan Clady, OL, Boise St.

Broncos need a linemen, and Clady is the next best available. Still a little raw and needs some footwork, he could still thrive in Denver’s offensive Scheme. Clady will be a great asset to the running backs in Denver.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Watching Houston demoralize Denver in that Thursday game late in the season, it occurred to me that they should really improve their offensive line. Defensive line could use some help too, but Clady can tighten up the blocking for Cutler in the pocket and allow him to prove that his sparks of greatness in 2007 were the start of his emergence in the NFL. Cutler should breakout in 2008, and Selvin Young/Travis Henry will have no complaints either.

13. Carolina Panthers — Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville

The Panthers need a quarterback, and Brohm is still sitting on the board. It would be tough for them to pass on him since their quarterback situation is rather confusing. Testeverde is required to wear a leather helmet if he plays next year, David Carr just plain sucks at football, who knows about Delhomme and then there is Matt Moore. We don’t know much about Moore, but he is not as good as Brohm. Brohm could take over the reins in Carolina next year if they pick him.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: The QB situation in Carolina is a little uncertain right now. Delhomme should return, but no one can guarantee he will play game 1 to game 17 in 2008. Matt Moore was a decent replacement near the end of the season, but someone like Brohm would give Carolina the courage to let Testaverde retire–again–and tell Carr he can clear his locker and take his little white gloves with him. He would be the good backup they sought out so desperately this season.

As a side note, if they don’t take Brohm or Woodson here, they could take another RB who has a good combine show or a top WR to compliment Steve Smith and replace Drew Carter.

14. Chicago Bears — Sam Baker, OT, USC

This would be a perfect fit for the Bears. They really need to address their QB situation, but with the 3 main QBs already off the board, they should look to the OL here. Baker is a great pass blocker and could improve whoever is behind the line. Some might see this spot as a little high, but OL is sorely needed by Chicago. I would take Baker here.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Chicago is unsure of what to do with their QBs. None showed great promise in 2007. Expect them to take a QB somewhere in this draft to develop into an eventual starter, but there is no need to spend this pick on one.

Baker will be a quality blocker for the Chicago offensive line. His game will bring up the QB and probably make Cedric Benson look better than he did in 2007.

15. Detroit Lions — Jeffery Otah, OL, Pitt

I know what you are thinking. Aren’t the Lions supposed to draft a WR in the first round? Isn’t that a rule? Well, because of the Lion’s hot start, they are now picking 15th which is pretty rare for them.

The Lions are one of those teams that sorely need an O-linemen, and Otah is the next best available. The Lions would be passing over some good talent at other positions, but this is my mock draft. This is who I would take. Otah will immediately upgrade a line that needs it.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Pretty simple. Better offensive line means less concussions for Kitna. At some point–maybe this season–you might even see Detroit begin developing another QB under Kitna’s tutelage, and he will need better protection.

Kevin Jones might look like a decent RB with Mike Martz gone and a better line, and Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson could have stellar seasons–even without Martz–as long as Kitna has time to throw. This pick raises the bar for fantasy potential out of the entire Lions offense.

16. Arizona Cardinals — Calais Campbell, DE, Miami

The Cardinals need an immediate impact on defense, and Campbell is that guy. He is a huge guy that can come off the end with some speed. Arizona could reach for home grown product Antoine Cason from Arizona, but Campbell would be more of an instant impact.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: I like instant gratification, and Campbell is just that. Warner will keep the offense going strong if Matt Leinart doesn’t earn his spot back for the 2008 season or re-injure his pretty face. Campbell on defense will help prevent Arizona from constantly playing shootouts. This news may be bad for fantasy owners, but don’t expect the impact to be too drastic. Arizona’s offense will still produce well into 2008, and Campbell might just help them win some games in categories other than fantasy points.

For IDP leagues, I don’t think Campbell will be star right at the start, but without many bodies to stop people in Arizona, you might keep an eye on him throughout 2008.

Look for the next 8 picks in Part 3.

Fantasy Football Fools Mock NFL Draft 2008 – Part 1 of 4 (First Take)

Here is my take on what players teams will take in the 2008 NFL draft. I’m basing this on team needs and selecting the best player available. Look for an updated list after the combines.

Jacob provides the fantasy impact on each of these picks (in italics) after each choice.

1. Miami Dolphins — Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU

Let’s face it, the Dolphins are bad. They could use pretty much a guy at any position. They do have a young quarterback in John Beck who I think will be pretty good, and of course, they have Ronnie Brown. QB and RB aren’t high priorities.

Dorsey is a beast and can disrupt an entire offensive line. I think it is a crapshoot between him and DE Chris Long as the most talented players in the draft. Miami could trade out of this pick because of their many needs, but if they stay, look for Dorsey’s name to be called.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: As Miami tries to get rid of this pick on the market, we all know they still want Dorsey first. His defensive presence will make it hard for RBs to make their line look like Swiss cheese like they did in 2007. Miami allowed 150+ yards to opposing RBs in 2007–worst in the NFL in case you didn’t know. With this pick and a few other defensive improvements, look for Miami’s defense to start a progression towards being good again but still not be worth taking a chance on in the 2008 fantasy draft.

2. St. Louis Rams — Chris Long, DE, Virginia

I’m a little biased on Chris Long as he was a member of my college fantasy team and was the main reason I didn’t lose every game. This guy is just an athletic freak. He will find a way to get by the linemen and to the ball.

The Rams had a crazy season last year in which their best players didn’t play so hot. I think with some changes and a kick in the butt, they could look to contend next year. They could go O-line with this pick, but I look for them to take Long. Orlando Pace will be back, so they could do without a first-round lineman. I fully expect Long to start next year and have a better career than his dad Howie.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: The Rams defense caused many fantasy owners to jump up and down with glee during their horrible stretch of the season. They finished 2007 allowing 115+ yards per game–not horrible but below average–and also let teams pass all over them.

Long will add a star athletic presence on defense that will take away opposing QBs time to throw and force RBs to run the other way. If St. Louis can get their star players back to their original form, Long could help make more opposing teams go 3-and-out and give the ball back to The Greatest Show on Turf. Don’t expect to draft the Rams defense next year, but they might be a good bye week filler later in the season when Long adjusts to the NFL speed.

NOTE: The next 3 teams will have their order determined by coin flip, so this will probably be changed.

3. Atlanta Falcons — Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College

The Falcons need a quarterback in the worst kind of way. Joey Harrington has been given at least 17 chances in this league to play QB and has sucked in 18 of them. He is just bad.

Enter Matt Ryan. I believe this guy is the most NFL-ready QB out of this class. Watching him this season, he showed great poise and rarely helped his team lose. I believe he is worthy of building a franchise around, which is what the Falcons will be doing. They need a new image, and Matt Ryan could help immensely.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Poor Harrington and poor Leftwich. Harrington never had a chance, and Leftwich seemed slower than he did at Jacksonville.

I am not sure that the Falcons take a QB here. Chris Redman, showed some poise and a nice arm. He might have argued his way into a nice backup role somewhere if not Atlanta and possibly a starting gig if Atlanta was daring enough to put off a QB in this draft and take a top WR to compliment Roddy White or a top RB like McFadden. McFadden might fit well in a committee with Jerious Norwood, and Atlanta could finally put Warrick Dunn out to pasture. Matt Ryan is not playing in the Senior Bowl under the advice of his agent who gave the same advice to Brady Quinn, so there is potential that he could fall in the draft.

If they do take Matt Ryan, he will definitely bring some stability to the offense. I see him starting right away and having a shaky but good rookie year. Look for Roddy White’s numbers to improve and possibly some better RB numbers from Atlanta if they finally had a decent, consistent arm under center. Ryan might be worth a look as a second QB for your fantasy team.

4. Oakland Raiders — Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas

This could be an interesting pick. The Raiders could really, really use someone like OT Jake Long, and that would be a great pick right here. This pick would be the classic “take the best player available” pick.

Everyone knows McFadden, but here is the real question: Who are the running backs for the Raiders? Answer: LaMont Jordan and Justin Fargas. Doesn’t exactly strike fear into hearts like the dreaded Tecmo Bowl pair of Bo Jackson and Marcus Allen. Jordan and Fargas combined for 7 rushing touchdowns last year. I believe McFadden could come in and score more than that in his rookie year. The Raiders will select him if he is here at this point, and they couldn’t be happier.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Seriously, how many RBs does Oakland like to sit on? This year, they took Dominic Rhodes just to sit him on the bench until both Fargas and Jordan were injured or completely ineffective, but don’t forget that they also have star prospect Michael Bush who broke his leg early in 2007. The sad fact is that they will probably take McFadden, let Fargas go in free agency and address what to do with McFadden/Bush/Jordan/Rhodes after the fact.

If Jordan, Rhodes or Fargas stay, they will probably just be benched reserves. There is potential for a Bush/McFadden tandem that could kill opposing defenses, especially once McFadden gets his legs under him the NFL.

Oakland isn’t really improving it’s greatest weakness with this pick–improving the defense or snatching an additional deep threat for Russell wouldn’t be a bad call–but look for McFadden to make a huge rookie impact on whatever team takes him. He could definitely take the strain off Jamarcus Russell in his first year under center and give Oakland a very explosive offense next season in the run department. Someone in every fantasy league will take McFadden expecting him to be huge in 2008, and I wouldn’t call that a bad decision unless a committee forms around him. He is very likely to be the Adrian Peterson (MIN) of 2008 especially with the strong running offensive line of Oakland.

Just fair warning: If McFadden DOESN’T go to Oakland, don’t forget about the potential of Michael Bush in 2008!

5. Kansas City Chiefs — Jake Long, OL, Michigan

Kansas City needs linemen. Well, almost every team needs linemen, but Kansas City needs linemen. Jake Long is going to be the prototypical great NFL linemen. With the young quarterback situation in KC, Long will give Croyle the extra time he needs to read the D and find the WR. This is a no brainer pick.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Brodie Croyle loves this pick. He wants to be able to throw the ball, and Long will make that possible. Larry Johnson would appreciate some open running room as well. Look for both Croyle and Johnson to have better seasons next year if Long comes to KC.

6. New York Jets — Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC

The Jets could go after a DE such as Vernon Gholston, but Sedrick Ellis is a more consistent player than Gholston. He is a big body up front and is very disruptive. He is a poor mans Dorsey, and he will get the job done for the Jets.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: The Jets need a better defense than they had this year. With a rookie QB and Thomas Jones at RB, they don’t put a lot of points on the board. They would love someone like McFadden here, but they’ll take Ellis and look to snag a RB to develop later in the draft.

With a better defense, the Jets could improve their offensive problems with either with Clemens or Pennington at QB and return to being a contender like they were in 2006. More time on the field means more carries for Jones and maybe more scores for this offense.

7. New England Patriots — Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida

Is this really fair? The best team of the year drafting 7th. Well, that’s the Patriots voodoo working. CB Asante Samuel will be more than likely leaving the team after the season, as he was franchised last year, so NE will need a corner to replace him. Mike Jenkins is a great corner and can play all over the field.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Expect more of the same from the Belichick’s crew. If Asante leaves, it would hurt them to not replace him with a quick CB who can fill those shoes. Jenkins can take on that roll. While the Patriots may have a weaker secondary next season until he gets a feel for the NFL game, the crafty, veteran linemen and linebackers can make up for any weaknesses in the secondary, and we all know the Patriots can overcome teams in a scoring contest. The Patriots defense is almost always worth taking as a mid-level defense unless you don’t like them playing nice in the fourth quarter and letting opposing teams score back some dignity.

8. Baltimore Ravens — Andre Woodson, QB, Kentucky

The Ravens need a young QB, and I think Woodson should be that guy. He played consistently well in the toughest conference in football and has the size and power to be an NFL QB. I’m not entirely sold on Brohm right here, as I think Woodson better fits the Raven’s mold. I wouldn’t be surprised if Brohm went here, but if I’m the Ravens, I’m taking Woodson.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: I wonder what Ray Lewis would say about this pick. Whether it’s Woodson or Brohm here, it’s definitely a QB. New head coach John Harbaugh will want to start the season off building up that offense and rejuvenating it with some new blood.

Mark Clayton and Derrick Mason didn’t live up to their positions consistently in 2007, but they could in 2008 with a better QB and consistent timing. Kyle Boller and Troy Smith both showed potential, but they need to show a lot more in camp to land a starting role.

2008 will be a rebuilding year for the Baltimore offense, but with such a great defense keeping games close, an improved quarterback could give them a decent offense that can put some points on your board. Whatever QB starts in Baltimore might be worth a look as a backup QB for fantasy or a bye-week fill.

Check out the next 8 picks in the Part 2 later this week.

UPDATE: Follow these links to Parts 2, 3 and 4 of our mock draft: Part 2Part 3Part 4

And the Heisman goes to…

This year’s Heisman chase is coming down to what looks like a two-man race. Most pundits have either Tim Tebow of Florida or Darren McFadden of Arkansas as the eventual winner. In their eyes, these are the only two players worthy of such an award. Making use of a trite and overused saying, especially if you have played NCAA ’02 through ’08, “Not so fast my friend.”

I’m not saying that Tebow or McFadden shouldn’t win the award; I’m merely stating that other candidates should be looked at as well. Here is a list of some of the candidates that are or should be up for the award.

THE SHOE-INS

Tim Tebow: The Cannonball

If there is one thing that you can’t ignore about Tim Tebow, it’s the numbers: 29 passing touchdowns, 22 rushing touchdowns. That will grab anyone’s attention, especially the voters. There is just one number I can’t ignore: 3, as in 3 losses. I know this has been a crazy year and all, but it’s hard for me to say that someone is a Heisman winner when his team is 9-3.

Let’s look at those losses:

  • Auburn: 1 rushing TD, 1 passing TD, 1 INT
  • LSU: 2 passing TDs, 1 rushing TD, 1 INT
  • Georgia: 1 passing TD, 2 rushing TDs (-15 yard rushing)

Tebow did not play exceptionally well in any of those games. I know they were tough games, but that is when the Heisman winner is supposed to shine.

Lets take a look at the rushing touchdowns. I know he is being praised for having 22 rushing touchdowns, but let’s look at the numbers. Eighty percent (16/20) of these rushing TDs were distances of 5 yards or less. If Florida used a fullback, he would be getting most of these carries. Only two of his touchdowns were plays of 15 yards. When I see Tebow, I think of a cannonball that was just shot out of the 1st and 2 from the goal cannon.

Heisman-Tim Tebow
Ready…Aim…Touchdown!

I’m not trying to take away from the fact that he put up amazing TD numbers because he did. I just think that the voters need to recognize that they all weren’t amazingly difficult touchdowns. All in all, Tebow will either be first or second in the voting, and deservedly so, but other candidates should not be brushed aside because of it.

Darren McFadden: The Quarterback?

Next, there is Darren McFadden. The Pro. The Prospect. The Future. These are all things I hear about McFadden. He is being touted as the most NFL-ready running back this year and rightfully so. I believe he can be as productive as Adrian Peterson at the next level.

All that behind us, the Heisman should go to the best college player of the year. McFadden had an outstanding year, but lead his team to an 8-4 record. Usually, the quarterback is the leader of the team, but hell, McFadden played quarterback half of the time, so he should shoulder some of the blame.

During Arkansas’ four losses, McFadden scored 3 times. Two of the losses he was held scoreless. For someone to be considered the best, I believe he should perform on the biggest stage and perform well. Not scoring when it is absolutely crucial is a big no no. I do give props to McFadden for playing some quarterback during the LSU victory. I also give props to McFadden for living in Arkansas for three years–that is worthy of a Heisman in its self. While McFadden was an outstanding back and will be an excellent pro, I do not believe that he was the best college back this year. We’ll talk about that back later.

Heisman-Darren McFadden
Arkansas, home of Heisman hopefuls…and pigs, that’s about it

THE REST OF THE PACK

Now these guys in the rest of the pack won’t be scrutinized as hard seeing as they are not being actively considered as the front runners in the race. These are players that I feel should get some recognition for having good years.

Graham Harrell, Paul Smith, Colt Brennan: The Three Headed Scoring Machine

What do most fans of college football want to see? The answer isn’t a foot race between Mark Mangino and his chins; the answer is touchdowns. Where else are you going to find touchdown than the high-octane offenses featuring Graham Harrell, Colt Brennan and Paul Smith. Let’s take a look at the stats of these guys.

  • Graham Harrell [QB Texas Tech]:
    45 TD (Rank:1), 5,298 yds (Rank:1)
  • Paul Smith [QB Tulsa]:
    42 TD (Rank:2), 4,753 yds (Rank:2), 12 Rushing TDs
  • Colt Brennan [QB Hawaii]:
    38 TD (Rank:3), 4,174 yds (Rank:4)

Heisman-Graham Harrell, Colt Brennan, Paul Smith
And to the right, you will see ZERO Heisman votes

I know you can’t go off of numbers alone, but these numbers are incredible. All of these quarterbacks have also put up similar or better records to the two main contenders. Because of these high-flying offenses, these players are labeled as system quarterback and always will be labeled that way. It’s an easy way for the Heisman voters to dismiss their successful seasons without feeling bad about it. Maybe one of these quarterbacks will just have to go undefeated…Oh wait, sorry Colt.

Chase Daniel: The Mighty Midget

Oh Chase Daniel, how mighty you were two weeks ago. Two weeks ago, you were in the drivers seat for the Heisman, and all you needed was a victory over Oklahoma. How soon everyone forgets about that.

Chase Daniel had a magnificent season throwing for 33 TDs and leading his team to the Big XII championship game, something neither Tebow nor McFadden did. Too bad he had to run into OU and Sam Bradford, who will be in the Heisman discussion soon enough. While Daniel didn’t put up in-your-face numbers, he still led his team to victory week after week while being the best quarterback on the best team (for one week). Daniel did all of this while barely being able to see over the offensive line and standing in at 5 foot 3 inches.

Heisman-Chase Daniels
I can see your ass from here

While he will no doubt get an invite because of the late season hype, he will not come close to sniffing the jocks of the big two. I say to Chase, “maybe next year.” But then again, Tebow may win his second Heisman, so good luck with that.

Kevin Smith: Barry Who?

Now let’s take a look at my choice for the 2007 Heisman award.

  • Most rushing yards in the NCAA, check.
  • Leads nation in scoring and touchdowns scored, check.
  • Led team to 10 wins and conference championship, check.

What else do you want from a Heisman winner? What most people don’t realize is that Kevin Smith has rushed for 2,448 yards. What most people also don’t realize is that 2, 448 yards is the SECOND most all time for yards in a season, behind the elusive one-year-wonder Barry Sanders. In fact, Kevin Smith is 181 yards away from breaking Sander’s single season mark. One big bowl game for Kevin Smith, and he breaks it.

He will not be invited to the ceremony, and that is a shame. The best college football player this year has to wait until next year, but I doubt he will stick around to get snubbed again.

Heisman-Kevin Smith
Hey Barry, if you sell your Heisman like OJ, let me know.