Friends don’t let friends draft Ben Tate

It happens in almost every draft. It’s the magazine curse. Some league member — let’s call him Pete — is convinced that Ben Tate is going to be the next superstar after they read a profile of him that was written in June. Pete is excited. Pete gets busy with other things until draft day. And then…the unspeakable happens.

It’s kind of like watching a slow-speed accident — like watching two cars back into each other in a parking lot. Nobody wants to see that, but it’s also impossible to stop.

Approaching the draft board, Pete pulls a player sticker and slaps it up on the wall. As he turn around, he’s a little confused that he didn’t hear the gasps and sighs of a thousand voices as he took a “steal” in the mid-rounds. He was sure everyone was waiting for Ben Tate to fall to their next pick, but instead of sighs and complaints, all he gets are a few shocked faces, laughter, and a hand to the forehead.

“Ben Tate is out for the year.” Someone had to say it. Then you just feel bad for Pete. Really bad. It’s hard to watch that happen.

Sometimes in life you can save a buddy from this kind of shame and humiliation. You can take him away from the dance floor when he’s starting to think every girl in the room is attractive. You can warn him not to take that class with the crazy dictator of a professor. You can tell him when he has spinach stuck in his teeth.

That is, you have the option if you so desire, not that you HAVE to take that road. You still have the ability to jump in there and take them out of that situation. But when it’s a missed draft pick? He’s screwed. He just burned a mid-round pick on a guy that won’t play a single down in 2010. With the exception of this being a keeper or dynasty league, he just wasted a pick.

Depending on your league, you may get a chance to make amends. They may let you pick again over that “Ben Tate” you just burned, but in all fairness, you really shouldn’t get another chance. You struck out. Just sit down.

So don’t be that guy. I witnessed it firsthand in my draft this past weekend, and it’s not cool for anyone involved.

Here’s a list of other IR players you don’t want on your team this season unless you’re tucking them away in a dynasty league.

  • Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans — Fractured right fibula AND torn right ankle ligaments, which sounds as serious as it is.
  • Sinorice Moss, WR, New York Giants — Groin injury
  • Jim Sorgi, QB, Indianapolis Colts — Apparently, patting Peyton/Eli Manning as they come off the field can get you a shoulder injury
  • Donnie Avery, WR, St. Louis Rams — Knee injury, and a general lack of the ability to stay on the field
  • Malcolm Kelly, WR, Washington Redskins — Hamstring injury from McNabb’s “Hell Week” will put him on IR, which, on the plus side for him, keeps him on the roster *technically* since he was on the bubble at the beginning of the preseason
  • Leigh Bodden, CB, New England Patriots — If you play IDP or if you were considering drafting the Patriots D/ST, which isn’t quite as good without its best corner

And some cautionary warnings…

  • Sidney Rice, WR, Minnesota Vikings — Out for at least half the season with a hip injury. Draft accordingly.
  • Vincent Jackson, WR, San Diego Chargers — Missing at least three games as of now and at least six if he doesn’t show up to sign and play by this Saturday
  • Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers — For generally being a creeper and getting himself suspended for four to six games to start 2010
  • Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver Broncos — Some reports have him suiting up; others have him nowhere close. Either way, he’s not going anywhere quick with a hamstring injury.
  • New York Jets D/ST — Without Darrelle Revis and without Calvin Pace to start the sesason, this defense may not be the No. 1 unit everyone thinks it’s cracked up to be. I am not on this bandwagon without those two.
  • Brett Favre, QB, Minnesota Vikings — You probably like him less already with an ankle injury and without Sidney Rice, but hearing that the Vikings are going to “manage the pain” on a bone spur they recently discovered as well makes Favre even less safe as a QB1 this season.

Consider yourself warned. Don’t be that guy.

How to Win Your Fantasy Football League on Draft Day – vers. 2010

When it comes to fantasy football draft strategy, I’ve tried almost everything. RB-RB? Of course. Draft a quarterback in the first round? Sure. WR-WR? Most definitely. But all this trial and error has paid off.

After hammering out what I think is my best strategy to date last season in the “cutting out the middle men” fantasy football draft strategy and deciding how to play the first round, I think I’ve finally refined the best way to win your league on draft day this season.

And I’m going to share it with you.

What you need to win

Traditionally, we all took running backs because they were scarce. Not every team had a workhorse running back, and in a 12-team league, we needed to start at least 24 of them.

But now, there are 50+ running backs available since every team in the NFL has a time share. So after the five elite running backs are off the board — Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Ray Rice, and Frank Gore — we don’t have to use a first-round pick on a running back.

Not to say that you don’t need a decent running back. You just don’t have to pay a first-round price for one. It’s always nice to have a promising guy like Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Ray Rice, Frank Gore, Shonn Greene, Ryan Mathews, Ryan Grant, or Cedric Benson on your roster. But you can make do if you miss out on them.

You’ll notice I didn’t list Steven Jackson or Rashard Mendenhall on that list. I did that on purpose. They are on the cusp of what I would consider the top, reliable running backs, but they scare me more than they excite me this season. And much like the ladies, that’s not going to work for me when it comes to running backs.

Quarterbacks, while valuable, aren’t as scarce as running backs because each team only needs one. I love me some quarterbacks. Don’t get me wrong, but only a select few — Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, Philip Rivers, and Tom Brady — are worth taking in the first three rounds. If you miss out on them, you should wait. (But DON’T miss out on them. More on this later.)

That leaves wide receivers. If you’re following me so far, you understand that wide receivers are the new running backs. Receivers have become more reliable and valuable as the NFL becomes more and more passer-friendly. The top receivers are worth building a team around and can give you an advantage if you know how to draft your running backs late.

Guys like Andre Johnson and Greg Jennings are more consistent than the rest of the pack you’ll be able to draft later. My list of elites for this season also includes Randy Moss, Reggie Wayne, Miles Austin, Roddy White, DeSean Jackson, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Marques Colston, and Sidney Rice with Larry Fitzgerald right on the edge of greatness. (I’m not a fan of Matt Leinart at quarterback this season.)

So draft your elite wide receivers early and often, and you’ll have an advantage.

Every team needs at least one of these top wideouts to “win” their draft, but you’re even better off if you can nab two of them to fill your starting roster. Of course, that’s assuming that you start two wide receivers. If you start three wide receivers, I’d still limit myself to taking two elites early because you can wait on the third just to make sure you don’t miss out entirely on running back value.

I’ll explain the strategy I recommend to make this happen, but before I do that, a side note.

Plans: Made to be broken

No draft ever goes exactly to plan. You can’t know whom the rest of your league is going to draft. Several teams could draft quarterbacks in the first round, or no one could draft a quarterback for three rounds. We really don’t know. So you have to be able to adjust to what your league is giving you. That’s why I recommend the tiered draft cheatsheets, and that’s why I can’t tell you exactly how to draft each position.

So much like my first round strategy from last season, this strategy is just a starting point. Deviate from it as you have to in order to draft the best team possible.

Strategy on draft day

In 2010, I believe a championship team needs one of the elite quarterbacks and at least two of the elite wide receivers. If you get a reliable running back, more power to you.

And it’s all about how you play the first three rounds.

If you have a shot, go with one of the elite five running backs. You can build a solid team around a guy that is highly involved in the offense. While you might miss out on an elite quarterback because you’ll have to look at wide receivers in the second and third rounds, you can recover from that.

If you don’t get a shot at one of the elite running backs, you have you’re pick of WR-WR-QB, WR-QB-WR, or QB-WR-WR in the first three rounds. I like these sequences this season, and I think they maximize the value you get in the first three rounds.

Don’t use QB-WR-WR unless you really want Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees or Peyton Manning this season and your league scores passing touchdowns at six points. I don’t think any of the other elite quarterbacks should be considered until the second round.

In the fourth round, when it comes time to draft running backs, try to take the two best guys on the board right away. More than likely, other members of your league have moved on to drafting what’s left of the wide receivers and quarterbacks. You’ll have your pick of a good group of mid-level running backs who have the potential for greatness.

As you enter the chewy center of your draft, I’d suggest using the “cutting out the middle men” fantasy football draft strategy principles. Draft value and aim for sleepers rather than “safe” and “dependable” guys. You got your safe picks at the top of draft. For example, I’d rather have Jamaal Charles than Joseph Addai. I’d rather have Beanie Wells than Clinton Portis or Ricky Williams.

Make a special effort to get a lot of running backs. Since you didn’t draft them high, you’ll best protect yourself by drafting more of them. You want to load your roster with as many guys as possible who have the potential to be a top performer even if they’re currently a backup on their NFL roster.

You can also draft a few sleeper wide receivers later in the draft to compliment your studs. These wide receivers could become trade bait or free you up to trade your studs for one of the elite RBs you missed out on earlier in the draft. You can find a few good ones in Chris Harris’ article on “moneyball” wide receivers at ESPN.

With this strategy, you’ll “win” your draft just like I won mine.

Brett Favre Retires: What It Means for the Vikings’ Fantasy Values

ESPN reports this morning that Brett Favre plans to retire rather than rejoin the Minnesota Vikings. He managed to keep the Vikings on the hook until training camp before finally dropping the hammer. What a team player. IF and when Brett Favre actually takes the stage and says…for the third time…that he plans to retire, his absence will cut into the value of all the Vikings’ fantasy studs.

ESPN is bringing in the whole cavalry to cover the situation (Oh boy!), but here’s my take on the fantasy impact of losing the man, the myth, the legend, and the bane of offseason news.

Fantasy Impact on Vikings

Favre was the engine that got this offense moving in 2009. Without him, everything grinds to a halt. It remains to be seen how much Tarvaris Jackson can do to get it going again.

Jackson is no Brett Favre. He won’t be as creative with the offense, and I don’t see as many first downs in their future. That means fewer touchdowns for the entire unit, including newly anointed stud wide receiver Sidney Rice and running back Adrian Peterson.

Now there’s a chance that Sage Rosenfels, forgotten quarterback on the Vikings payroll, gets a shot. Many NFL minds lift him up as one of the best backup quarterbacks in the league, worthy of starting on a team somewhere. Despite rumors that he would have been on the roster bubble if Favre had returned, he could win the job as starter.

Last season, prior to Brett Favre’s decision to return to football, I covered the Vikings’ fantasy potential without Favre and argued that Rosenfels might be able to do just as well. With Rosenfels under center, Sidney Rice could still be a champ. Rosenfels has the arm, and he kept Andre Johnson fantasy relevant in stints as the starter in Houston.

But Tarvaris Jackson is a downgrade in the passing game. Unless Jackson has truly found his way as a quarterback and mastered Brad Childress’ offense, I don’t know that you can trust him to keep the Vikings in it this year.

Some would argue that Adrian Peterson stands to benefit from this blow, but I don’t see it. As I mentioned in my arguments for taking Chris Johnson at No. 1, A.P. had 18 touchdowns and 1,383 rushing yards last season with Favre. In 2008, he had just 10 touchdowns and 1,760 yards. Without Favre to open up this offense and keep defenses honest, A.P. will struggle.

And as A.P. gets worked into the ground game after game, there’s also a chance he could be injured. His running style is unforgiving, and he doesn’t avoid contact. A.P. could be this year’s Steven Jackson. He’ll get plenty of yards, I’m sure, but his touchdowns will be way down from his 2009 numbers.

I’d consider both Chris Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew before A.P. with this development, and I wouldn’t blame anyone for taking the safe out with one of those two rather than taking a chance on Peterson this season.

For Real?

We’re all assuming that these text messages to teammates and sources within the Vikings administration have it right. We’re taking their word that Favre is done. I’m not sure I buy it just yet. At least not until I hear it from the old man’s mouth.

Favre may just want to get us all writing about him two or three more times this offseason. He could wait out training camp and change his mind. So I’ll believe it in…let’s say Week 2 when Brett Favre isn’t in purple.

Until then, there’s always a chance “the most magical player to ever play the game” (Seriously, Hoge?) returns for a final campaign. I, for one, have made peace with the fact that he is going to play until 2025.

Whether you think Favre is really done or not, there’s one thing we can all agree on, he is one helluva drama queen.

Should you draft Chris Johnson at No. 1?

Yes. So much yes. Don’t get caught up in the hype of this Adrian Peterson vs. Chris Johnson debate.

Sure, Chris Johnson had a phenom year. He broke 400 touches in 2009. He may not do that in 2010; in fact, he probably won’t. There’s a good chance he could suffer a setback or injury this season.

You could say all of that. You can even use history to back it up, but why not give him a chance? The Tennessee Titans offense, other than their center, is returning, and the offense can do nothing but improve around “Every Coach’s Dream.”

Vince Young will be the starting quarterback from Week 1, which should allow Chris Johnson some more freedom. The offense really didn’t open up last season until V.Y. went under center. Johnson won’t have to do everything. The offense will support him, not be all about him. That means his numbers might go down, but I’d still take a drop in production from Johnson over an unknown quantity from someone else.

Are you going to find a better deal at running back at the No. 1 pick? No, not really. Is Chris Johnson going to be the No. 1 fantasy player at the end of this season? Probably not. But do you know who is? No. You don’t.

You could guess that Adrian Peterson finishes the year at No. 1, but it’d be almost as risky as taking Johnson. Both backs will have the majority of the attention from opposing defenses, and both will see a lot of work this year. Now that Chris Johnson isn’t holding out, the main arguments for A.P. are Chris Johnson’s 400+ touches in last season and his size, even though reports claim that Johnson bulked up this season as well.

Forget these 10 reasons not to draft Chris Johnson No. 1 overall. Let’s talk 10 reasons not to draft A.P. instead…

  1. Brett Favre: Adrian Peterson had an 18-touchdown season with Favre at the helm, but what if Favre doesn’t return? Pre-Favre, in 2008 with Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback, he had just 10 touchdowns. Sure, he had more yardage that season, but they didn’t get it done in the red zone. That’s worrisome, no? [BREAKING: ESPN reports that Brett Favre will retire. Believe at your own risk.]
  2. Brett Favre + Sidney Rice: If Brett Favre does return, he makes Sidney Rice one stud of a wide receiver. Rice happened to rack up the yardage last season while missing out on the touchdowns. He left the ball at the 1 or the 2 yard line fairly often, and he gave Adrian Peterson some easy touchdowns. In his second year with the legendary gunslinger, Rice’s likely to improve on those numbers and take away scoring opportunities from Adrian Peterson.
  3. Brett Favre: If Brett Favre does return, and he falls apart faster than anticipated throughout the 2010 season, he could turn back into old Brett Favre, turning over the ball too often for his team to handle, which would also take opportunities away from A.P.
  4. The Williams Wall: The pending suspension of defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams could have a drastic effect on the Vikings this season. If the four-game suspensions end up being enforced, the Vikings could spend the first quarter of the season playing from behind and unleashing Favre (or Tarvaris Jackson/Sage Rosenfels) to make it rain rather than grinding out the game with A.P. They won’t benefit from a strong defensive front.
  5. Running Style: Peterson still runs too upright, which makes him prone to injury throughout the season when defenses are gunning to stop him. While he didn’t miss any games last season or in 2008, that might mean he’s due.
  6. Fumbles: A.P. had 7 fumbles last season. He had 9 in 2008. I’d say the slight improvement inspires confidence, but it doesn’t. His fumbles are a consistent problem, and they won’t stop.
  7. Contract Issues: We’ve talked all offseason about Chris Johnson and the possibility he might hold out for a bigger contract, but A.P. was also absent from offseason workouts this year. Brad Childress’ lack of information about his absence suggests the relationship between coach and star running back might be turning sour. A.P. isn’t holding out, but a conflict with Childress or the team about the way he’s being used or his contract could lead to issues during the season.
  8. Rookie Competition: What kind of issues? Minnesota drafted Toby Gerhart, a ground-and-pound runner who won’t fill the void Chester Taylor left as the back on third downs. Instead, he could vulture a touchdown here and there, especially if Adrian Peterson has ball control issues. There’s no telling how he might creep onto the field right now, and when he’s on the field, A.P.’s not getting you any fantasy points.
  9. Involvement in the Passing Game: He’s not involved enough in the passing game. Both Chris Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew excel at catching passes out of the backfield. Even without Chester Taylor, A.P. won’t have as big a role in the passing game, which cuts into his value. If you’re going to draft someone other than Johnson, you should at least consider MJD instead of A.P.
  10. College Allegiance: He’s a Sooner. Isn’t that enough?

In short, I’m not saying you have to draft Johnson. The first pick is yours to do with as you please. Draft a kicker if you want. That’ll go over well. But don’t take a pass on Chris Johnson just because history tells us he won’t repeat his 2009 campaign.

Whatever Johnson does in 2010 is probably going to be good enough to anchor your team at the RB1 spot, and that makes him a safe pick, worthy of being taken first overall in the draft. When you get first dibs, you have to make sure you get consistent points every week from that star player, and Johnson should do that.

If he does what he says he will and breaks 2500 yards…yeah, that’ll work, too.

Brett Favre made me do it

I told myself I wasn’t going to do this.

After the Saints won the Super Bowl, I wanted to take a little more time off than usual from blogging this offseason. So I decided to wait until Brett Favre had officially let his inner child back out of the bag and committed to one more season with the Vikings before I got back on the horse. Easy, right?

Sure, I caved right around the draft for a bit, but I held strong. I wanted to ramp up right after Old Man Winter let the news slip. Surely, he can’t drive us insane all offseason again.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like Favre’s presence in the NFL shakes up my rankings or my draft strategy. It doesn’t. It’s safe to assume he should be ranked, and I wouldn’t want to draft him for any of my teams no matter how good — or old — he looks on paper. I just thought it’d be nice to know that it was settled…that the Favre mess that happens every offseason was out of the picture.

I didn’t make it…and I’m blaming Favre.

It’s not like it’s a secret. Was that ankle injury really enough to end his career? No. We know it. He knows it. We all suspect he’s milking this injury for all that it’s worth so that he can stay out of training camp.

Favre’s turned into your grandpa who always moans and groans about  his war wound…or his erectile dysfunction. Oh, it’ll never be the same. That’s life, pops. You play football. Talk to grandma or a medical professional about that. Let’s move on.

We all know Favre gets a special childlike pleasure out of beating the Green Bay Packers every year — so much so that he’d probably play for the Detroit Lions on one good leg as long as he got to see the Packers twice a season. There’s no way he’s going to leave  unfinished business on the table, especially after tasting the playoffs last season.

So I beg of you, Mr. Fav-rah, suck it up. The rest of your team is   fighting for a roster spot or coming to terms with your last-minute airdrop on the Vikings a year ago. Just stop practicing with high school kids in your Wranglers and commit already. Go to camp. I’m sure you can get out of the drills you don’t want to do or even sit camp out altogether. You’re an “exception” on your team.

Maybe you need your  own ESPN primetime special to talk through the decision. That’s never blown up in anyone’s face.

Regardless, you won’t stop. You can’t. We know it. You’re all about the football. You’re addicted to this stuff.

But…I guess I’m the one who’s truly addicted here. I couldn’t wait it out with you. This blogging thing is half of what I live for every NFL season. Hell, I’d blog for the Detroit Lions with one leg as long as I get to keep going. So you win this one.

Here we go. 2010. Buckle up. (I always wanted to say that at some pivotal moment. “Buckle up.” Typing it…not so much the same.)

NFL Draft 2010: This live blog will not be Tebowed

Last year’s live blog of the draft was so incredibly enjoyable that we’re doing it again this year. Only this time, we’re going to wear pants.

You’re welcome…but I’m not doing it for you, America. I’m doing it because Cameron and I will be blogging from a secret draft headquarters located deep inside Mel Kiper Jr.’s underwater hair gel storage lair.

We do this for you.

This live blog will be a rockin’ a few minutes before Tim Tebow is most likely not announced as the first overall pick, and you can sign-up in the CoverItLive widget below if you’d like to get a notification to come a knockin’ when we start at 7 p.m. EST/6 p.m. CST.

We don’t want you to miss this. You’ll want to be around while our commentary is mostly sober… Make sure you get here before pick 15.

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.