Essential Reads before the 2013 NFL Draft

I know you’re hungry for more draft intel. Tired of hearing who the Bills will pick at No. 8? Me too.

Rather than dwell on that, here are a few essential reads to get you in the know before the draft.

First, Dr. Jene Bramel lays out which players could drop due to concerns about their health. A few top prospects may not go in the first round this year because NFL GMs can’t be sure they’ll return to their peak college form.

Next up, feast on some mock drafts from around the Web. We get two perspectives on who will go where via Rotoworld’s dueling mocks. And if that doesn’t wear you out, try on FFToday’s mock draft for size. Follow that up with Bruno Boys’ final mock of Rounds 1 and 2, and I think you’ll have reached your quota.

If you’re a history buff, jump into the top 10 picks of all-time by each franchise in the NFL and Pro Football Focus’ look at first round hits and misses.

And if reading isn’t your thing…how about we play some bingo?

The 2013 NFL Draft kicks off at 7 p.m. CST. See you then.

Most mock drafts are nonsense. You can stop reading them. We don’t know any better than the Jaguars do who’s going to take who in the draft. This year, everyone seems to be accepting that, and we didn’t put together a mock draft here at Fools. But they are fun to do, aren’t they?

For your entertainment, I offer up Ufford’s take on mock drafts, which I believe gets it right — they’re mostly fan fiction for the people watching at home…hoping desperately that their home team doesn’t screw it up. It’s nice to think for a while that they might do the right thing with that first round pick, isn’t it?

NFL Draft 2012: 3 Things You Missed on Twitter During the First Round

Last night, we entered into the official “relapse” period for all NFL addicts, also known as the NFL draft. While it’s not as good as watching an actual game, drafting a fantasy football team, or surfing the waiver wire, it’s enough of a fix to get me excited.

And even better than the TV coverage of the event itself is all the chatter going on via Twitter.

Since I understand that some folks couldn’t set aside Thursday night obligations to enjoy the first round experience and because some of you may not be on Twitter just yet, I thought I’d share what you might have missed so even you, the unlucky few, can get your #NFLDraft Twitter fix.

1. Cryptic tweets from Jim Irsay

One of the NFL’s most colorful owners, Irsay often tweets song lyrics and other peculiar messages from his Twitter account @JimIrsay. I can only imagine his sexting is like a book of haikus. But this one tweet in particular stuck out for me.

Were the doors he tried to exit through locked on the way out of Radio City Music Hall? Does he want to take the Colts to the IFL?

We may never know.

2. Important asides from Pete King

Everyone’s favorite and most connected NFL reporter was, of course, on Twitter last night during the draft sharing his “lofty” musings. It really added to the NFL draft experience, at least for me.

Like this one…

Clearly, Claiborne’s knowledge of “kines” will make him a better corner in the NFL…or at least a “nice guy.” That’s pretty obvious from that statement.

3. Reaches talkin’ ’bout reaches

Say what you will about Ryan Tannehill, probably the most talked about “overdraft” candidate in this year’s crop, but the most shocking draft pick discussed on Twitter was Seattle’s Bruce Irvin pick.

Say what you will about whether it really was a reach or not, but the reaction on Twitter was explosive.

Shane P. Hallam of Draft Countdown had a good rant on the subject:

It wasn’t so much that he’s a bad player as much as it was the expectation that the Seahawks could have gotten him a round or two later. But the best part of the whole experience was his own tweets to his “haters.”

Oh, we’ll see. Thanks to Twitter, we now live in a world where draft picks can argue the validity of their draft position as the draft is taking place.

If you feel left out or liked what you saw here, you’re welcome to join me for more tweeting tonight during Rounds 2 and 3 of the NFL Draft. You can follow along with the conversation even without a Twitter account just by following the stream at #NFLDraft.

What else did you miss from the first round last night? Oh, just some trades, some special moments, and the beard.

Pondering Christian Ponder: NFL Draft 2011 First Round Fantasy Football Gut Reactions

I don’t get excited about who “won” the draft. I get excited about who I’ll draft for  my fantasy football team.

When it comes to fantasy relevance, the first round didn’t overwhelm us. The 2011 draft set a record for defensive linemen taken in the first round with 12, but it’s hard to say that one defensive end or nose tackle will change the whole dynamic of a team defense. If you play IDP (Independent Defensive Players), those guys will matter to you, but the majority of fantasy players haven’t embraced IDP yet.

In the full list of draftees below, I’ve highlighted a few names in bold that I believe WILL have fantasy value sooner rather than later. Values may change as we (hopefully) enter into a free agency period and as teams decide how soon some of these “quarterbacks of the future” will start. Until then, I only have my gut reactions to the first round.

CAM NEWTON to CAROLINA

The Panthers desperately needed a quarterback that the team could get behind. Sorry, Jimmy Clausen. Cam Newton should get a chance to start soon, but he will have a hard time moving the ball through the air if Steve Smith forces a trade out of Carolina. Newton could start the year in a more limited role, perhaps even as a package quarterback running options and more Wildcat-style plays.

When he does get the chance to start, I could see Cam Newton having some fantasy relevance in 2011 alongside running back Jonathan Stewart, but I’d bank on Stewart carrying the load for this team with some help from Mike Goodson until Newton 1) masters the offense and 2) has some weapons around him in the passing game.

A.J. GREEN to CINCINNATI

Green was a huge get for the Bengals, who may or may not lose Chad Ochocinco this offseason in a trade. As the most talented receiver in his draft class, he’s destined to become an impact player for the Bengals, whether Carson Palmer sticks around or not. If Ochocinco  gets  traded, Green’s fantasy stock will obviously rise, but with the Bengals current roster, he’s worth drafting as a WR3 with WR2 upside.

That said, don’t forget about Jerome Simpson in Cincinnati.

JULIO JONES to ATLANTA

At first glance, you might say that Atlanta overpaid for this pick, and I don’t think anyone would disagree with you. But when you consider what Atlanta needed in this draft and their current roster, it makes sense. In an interview with ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning, Falcons GM Thomas Dimitrioff pointed out how young the Falcons are as a team. They don’t need a bunch of new blood and roster turnover. They just need to fill some holes on defense and to get another playmaker alongside Roddy White on offense.

Obviously, if it works out, no one will complain, and I could see Jones having significant value in the Atlanta offense if they really give Matt Ryan the reigns. I’m a little concerned that Jones’ presence might prevent Roddy White from being the lock for 100 yards and a touchdown he was last season, but if White balances out any Reggie Wayne-like disappearing acts with multiple-touchdown games thanks to Jones, his fantasy owners won’t  complain.

JAKE LOCKER to TENNESSEE

While the Titans drafting Locker is surprising, we don’t yet know if Locker will start right away. Much like Newton, Locker might work behind a veteran quarterback this season while he learns the playbook and the masters the speed of the game at the NFL level. And if he does get a chance to start with a limited playbook, Chris Johnson won’t mind carrying the load for the Titans like he has the past two seasons.

So Locker’s fantasy value is largely dependent on whether he starts this year or not. I don’t see him as a must-draft this season unless you’re looking for a QB2 in a two-quarterback league, but he should be on your radar for 2012.

BLAINE GABBERT to JACKSONVILLE

Some experts say Gabbert will be the best quarterback in this class, but I don’t think we’ll see him on the field for a year, or maybe two, while he learns the Jacksonville offense. I believe it was on ESPN’s draft coverage that they said Jacksonville intended to take the Aaron Rodgers approach with him. I assume that doesn’t mean they’ll keep David Garrard around for a several more years and then trade him to the first team that promises Garrard ample opportunity to text genitalia to female reporters. What do you think?

Dynasty leaguers and keeper leagues might keep an eye on Gabbert, but I doubt he’ll have any fantasy value in 2011.

CHRISTIAN PONDER to MINNESOTA

A bit of a head scratcher, but Ponder will have to be the quarterback of the future now that he’s in Minnesota. They don’t have much else. There’s still some question about whether Sidney Rice will return to the Vikings, and that could greatly affect Ponder’s value.

Of all the rookie quarterbacks with the potential to start right away, Ponder would be last in my rankings. He’s also got Adrian Peterson in the backfield, so there’s no rush as long as he’s got a good hand off. Much like Locker, you might look at Ponder if you’re in a two-quarterback league, but he’d be very, very low on my list.

NICK FAIRLEY to DETROIT

In general, I try to stay away from saying one player will change the value of a team defense, but Detroit’s building on an area of strength by taking Fairley, who some considered to be the best player in this draft up until a few weeks ago. Next to Suh on the Detroit Lions defensive line, Fairley will put up some numbers. If the Lions offense holds up their end, and the defense gets to the quarterback with Suh and Fairley, they’ll be worth consideration as a team defense in 2011.

JONATHAN BALDWIN to KANSAS CITY

I don’t know a whole lot about Jonathan Baldwin, but I’ve seen mixed reactions to him being taken in the first round. According to some analysts, he’s not necessarily a perfect fit for what Kansas City does on offense. Bowe had a huge last half in the 2010 fantasy season, but Baldwin may not immediately share in the fantasy points there.

If you read any of my posts last season, you know I’m not a huge fan of Cassel. I’m probably selling Baldwin a little short just because I see Cassel regressing from his 2010 season. But if you’re looking to draft Baldwin, I’d take him as nothing more than a late-round stash with the potential to be a WR3.

MARK INGRAM to NEW ORLEANS

Depending on who you ask, Ingram will either be a fantasy stud or be just another fantasy dud. Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory are both still in New Orleans. Reggie Bush may or may not get a deal done to return to the Saints. That’s a lot of mouths to feed in an offense that ALSO likes to score points through the air from time to time.

Regardless, I think this eats into Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory’s value significantly. Only time will tell how the Saints adjust around Ingram, but he’s worth RB2 consideration and definitely worth drafting this season. I tend to believe the folks who say he might have RB1 upside. If you can get him for the right price in your fantasy draft, why not take the chance?

FIRST ROUND OF THE 2011 NFL DRAFT

  1. Carolina Panthers >> Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
  2. Denver Broncos >> Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
  3. Buffalo Bills >> Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
  4. Cincinnati Bengals >> A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
  5. Arizona Cardinals >> Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
  6. Atlanta Falcons (from Cleveland) >> Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
  7. San Francisco 49ers >> Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri
  8. Tennessee Titans >> Jake Locker, QB, Washington
  9. Dallas Cowboys >> Tyron Smith, OT, USC
  10. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Washington) >> Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
  11. Houston Texans >> J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
  12. Minnesota Vikings >> Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State
  13. Detroit Lions >> Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
  14. St. Louis Rams >> Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
  15. Miami Dolphins >> Mike Pouncey, C/OG, Florida
  16. Washington Redskins (from Jacksonville) >> Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
  17. New England Patriots >> Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
  18. San Diego Chargers >> Corey Liuget, DE, Illinois
  19. New York Giants >> Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
  20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers >> Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
  21. Cleveland Browns (from Kansas City) >> Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
  22. Indianapolis Colts >> Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
  23. Philadelphia Eagles >> Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor
  24. New Orleans Saints >> Cameron Jordan, DC, California
  25. Seattle Seahawks>> James Carpenter, OT, Alabama
  26. Baltimore Ravens >> Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
  27. Kansas City Chiefs (from Cleveland, previously Atlanta’s pick) >> Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
  28. New Orlean Saints (from New England) >> Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
  29. Chicago Bears >> Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
  30. New York Jets >> Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple
  31. Pittsburgh Steelers >> Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
  32. Green Bay Packers >> Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State

I’ll have another wrap after the entire draft. Consider this the tease. What do you think of the draft so far? What teams have changed their fantasy value the most in the first three rounds? Let me hear it in the comment below.

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.

Foolish Thoughts: The Brady Bench, Law of Averages and Josh Johnson

Since graduating college, I’ve occasionally had a dream that I was still taking finals. In the dream, I wake up and realize that I have a final that very day, but it’s for a class that I didn’t know I was taking and haven’t attended even one day that semester.

Right about the time that I start to try to cram for the test or figure out a way to drop the class at the last minute, I wake up. I still don’t even know what subject it is. I’m going to guess it’s something scary like basket weaving.

I like to imagine that dream is exactly how Brady Quinn feels when he hits the field, except for that whole wake up part.

In the preseason, Quinn barely edged out Derek Anderson for the starting job. Since then, he’s put on a clinic on how to lose said starting job. His conservative play and quick passes haven’t been able to overcome the failings of the Browns as a whole. Without Kellen Winslow, his short-passing ways have neutered the offense of its ability to generate big plays, and in Sunday’s brutalization by the Baltimore Ravens, Mangenius had finally had enough to pull Quinn and his 34 passing yards, no touchdowns and one interception for Anderson in the second half.

But Anderson provided little relief for the Browns. He promptly fired three more interceptions into the Baltimore Ravens’ defense and called it a day. After this 34-3 loss, the Browns still have no answer at the quarterback position. And, of course, a harbinger of death over Mangini’s head for some reason.

Maybe it’s not so far-fetched to think that Brett Ratliff, who came over from Mangini’s former team when the Jets traded with the Browns in the 2009 NFL draft, could become Mangini’s guy in Cleveland.

Fantasy owners have no reason to be involved with this Browns offense right now. It’s not going to be pretty, and very few fantasy points are going to go around. Braylon Edwards is the only Brown worth waiting on this season. The rest are simply waiver wire fodder.

Truffle Shuffle in Tampa Bay
Byron Leftwich went from first to worst after Sunday’s deflation against the New York Giants. He’s now the third quarterback on the depth chart behind rookie and heir to the throne Josh Freeman and newly-named starter Josh Johnson.

So who is Josh Johnson? A bit of a sleeper at the position, Johnson was drafted by Jon Gruden to be Tampa’s quarterback of the future — among a pack of quarterbacks during Gruden’s time in Tampa Bay. He had a little hype coming out of college as a great athlete with a pass-first mentality, but the Bucs coaching staff felt he needed a little more work on his accuracy.

Fast-forward to this past Sunday, and Johnson was able to triple Byron Leftwich’s performance in just the final minutes of play against the Giants, which really only means that he has a pulse and moves without having to use the sonar moans of a whale.

Draftguys TV took a look at Josh Johnson before the 2008 draft to break down all his mechanics.

Henne Replaces Penny —   It’s finally that time, but don’t expect things to get better in Miami. Chad Pennington’s good decisions kept the Dolphins from turning the ball over last season, and Chad Henne may not be so lucky against the Dolphins’ tougher schedule now that Pennington is no longer an option.

Well, Once in Every 20 Games — The Lions finally defeated that monkey on their back — not Matt Millen, but the 19-game losing streak. Law of averages says it was bound to happen, but for the Redskins, this loss could be the beginning of the end for Jim Zorn.

Rated PG-13 — The 49ers should be without Frank Gore for the next three weeks while he recovers from a high ankle sprain he suffered early in Sunday’s game against the Vikings. That gives Glen Coffee a few weeks to shine for those who stashed him on their bench and gave ol’ “Silver Fox” just enough to take a victory on Sunday. Also of note, Vernon Davis came alive in this one, but we cannot confirm or deny if he’s on the rise. Such is the way of the elusive Vernon.

It Puts the O in T.O. — It won’t be long before T.O.’s breaking into other Buffalo Bills’ houses to look for all those passes he’s not getting. For the first time since 1997, T.O. didn’t catch a single pass. I’m pretty sure Trent Edwards forgot that Lee Evans and Terrell Owens are on the team. Someone send that kid a memo.

Is it over? — How bad were most of the early games this week? I found myself wanting to take a nap during Sunday’s afternoon games, when most of the players looked like they were down for the count themselves. When not even Drew Brees can save us, there’s a problem.