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Mock draft 4.0: If Clausen slips, Bills could take him at No. 9

  • By Pat Kirwan NFL.com
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» Kirwan's mock drafts: 1.0 | 2.0 | 3.0


ORLANDO, Fla. -- There's nothing like talking with a few coaches and personnel people at the NFL Annual Meeting to help you get a better feel for the draft.

Sunday night, before I finished this mock draft, I got to speak with more than a dozen of the key people running their team's draft. Those decision-makers aren't going to tell me (nor would I ask) who they are taking in April, even if they knew for sure at this point. But they will talk about how much they like or dislike certain players.

A typical response when I ask about a certain player would be, "We don't even have a first-round grade on the guy," or "You missed on a few guys we really like." Hear that comment from three or four different people and it is grounds for an adjustment in the mock draft.

Plenty has changed in one week. We saw a general manager with two first-round picks (San Francisco's Scot McCloughan) leave his job last week. A couple of influential pro days occurred. Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes certainly didn't help himself with his 5.05 40-yard dash time at the Gators' pro day. Free-agent signings and trades slowed down a bit this past week but Philadelphia's acquisition of DE Darryl Tapp and the loss of Tapp in Seattle had to affect the next mock draft. The Charlie Whitehurst trade shed some more light on what Seattle's first-round intentions are with its two picks. Joey Porter getting paid in Arizona could mean the Cardinals are headed in a different direction at the bottom of the first round.

Most of the volatility in this draft rehearsal took place with the defensive linemen, excluding top picks Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy.

Two players -- Nate Allen and Charles Brown -- dropped out of the first round. They are replaced by two players who had been in earlier versions, Anthony Davis and Devon McCourty. As for each team's selections, keep in mind one or two decisions that change in the top 10 picks can have a big ripple effect all the way through the round. Seventeen players are in different spots this week. That may sound like a lot, but until we get closer to April 22, it is a reality.

1. St. Louis Rams
Sam Bradford, QB Oklahoma

I'm more convinced than ever that Bradford is the pick for the Rams and they may not even entertain offers to move out of the spot. Look at the quarterbacks in the NFC West; it wouldn't be long before the Rams have the best one. (Previous pick: Bradford)

2. Detroit Lions
Ndamakong Suh, DT, Nebraska

Suh remains in this spot for the fourth mock draft in a row, but for the first time I get a sense that it's not a lock. There are other good defensive tackles in this draft and there may be some consideration here for offensive tackle Russell Okung. (Previous pick: Suh)

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma

McCoy is a fit in the 4-3 defense that the Bucs run, but again there are some other solid defensive tackles if the Bucs decide to move down or go elsewhere at this spot. Tampa Bay can't go wrong with McCoy but what would they do if Suh is on the board? (Previous pick: McCoy)

4. Washington Redskins
Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State

Jimmy Clausen was in this spot last week, but that was met with some resistance when I walked into the hotel where the owners are staying for the NFL Annual Meeting. The Redskins plug in the left tackle just like Mike Shanahan plugged in Ryan Clady at Denver. They will be pressed to get a quarterback in the second round, with no third-round selection. Is their second-round pick a landing spot for Colt McCoy? (Previous pick: Jimmy Clausen)

5. Kansas City Chiefs
Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa

With Okung having very little chance of falling to the Chiefs now, Scott Pioli will grab a very solid tackle who is NFL ready. Not a flashy pick but a building block type guy. (Previous pick: Russell Okung)

6. Seattle Seahawks
C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson

A few people feel I have Spiller too high in the draft but this guy can play right away and can handle 20 touches a game as a runner, receiver and returner. The Whitehurst trade takes them out of consideration for a first-round QB. (Previous pick: Spiller)

7. Cleveland Browns
Eric Berry, S, Tennessee

Cleveland locked up its first two quarterbacks with the signing of Jake Delhomme and the trade for Seneca Wallace. The Browns can grab a QB like Tony Pike or Dan LeFevour later in the draft. Berry is a plug-in starter for a team that signed a right tackle, tight end, running back and linebacker during free agency. (Previous pick: Berry)

8. Oakland Raiders
Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers

Davis gets mixed reviews from the offensive line coaches around the league. The coaches I talked with say he's a first-round selection but more on potential than readiness to play. Risky picks have never scared Al Davis before, so here they go again. (Previous pick: Bryan Bulaga)

9. Buffalo Bills
Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame

The Bills have lots of needs and quarterback is one of them. Clausen threw 28 touchdowns, with just four picks last year and has escape skills that he will need in Buffalo. Chan Gailey is excellent with quarterbacks and will get him ready fairly quickly. Lots of fans don't want to see another California (where Clausen is from) quarterback in Buffalo, where the weather is a factor. (Previous pick: Dan Williams)

10. Jacksonville Jaguars
Demaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech

Texas' Earl Thomas has been in this slot for a few weeks, but he is dropping slightly in the minds of some, and Georgia Tech's Thomas is moving up. So for now, the Jags switch Thomases. I could see Rolando McClain as the next guy in this spot as people continue to talk about his versatility. (Previous pick: Earl Thomas)

11. Denver Broncos
Rolando McClain, ILB, Alabama

The Broncos bought a new defensive line in free agency and can now focus on the big inside linebacker to play on the strongside. McClain is a perfect fit and the inside linebacker class for the 3-4 teams is lean. (Previous pick: McClain)

12. Miami Dolphins
Sergio Kindle, OLB, Texas

Sure, the Dolphins could use a nose tackle, but they also need a special outside linebacker to rush the passer. Bill Parcells has drafted DeMarcus Ware, Lawrence Taylor and Carl Banks to name a few for his 3-4 defense. Hard to resist a guy that made a combined 50 sacks and tackles for loss throughout his college career. (Previous pick: Kindle)

13. San Francisco 49ers
Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma

Williams was the pick last week but with Scot McCloughan no longer the general manager in San Francisco and Mike Singletary having more influence on the draft, the Niners' draft philosophy could change. They need a right tackle and he's the best one left on the board. (Previous pick: Williams)

As part of the NFL Draft's 75th anniversary, you have a chance to decide the greatest choices of all time.

14. Seattle Seahawks
Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech

The Seahawks may take a defensive end with the No. 6 pick, but if they stay in this order, Morgan makes sense for a team that just traded away Darryl Tapp and isn't sure if Patrick Kerney is coming back. Morgan had 12.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for a loss last year in 14 games. (Previous pick: Demaryius Thomas)

15. New York Giants
Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri

Some think I have Weatherspoon too high, but I had one coach tell me on Sunday he's not high enough. We'll see what the truth is in a month. For now, after watching his game tapes and practices, I will tell you that this versatile athlete can play any of the linebacker spots -- and the Giants have multiple openings. A 239-pound guy that is very smart, runs a 4.6 40, had over 400 tackles in his college career and squats 770. (Previous pick: Weatherspoon)

16. Tennessee Titans
Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida

The Seahawks' trade of Tapp could force Seattle to take a defensive end, and that should affect the Titans two picks later. Pierre-Paul is rich on potential and physical attributes but raw on experience and production. The Titans have a great defensive line coach and he will get the most out of Pierre-Paul, who will be asked to replace Kyle Vanden Bosch. (Previous pick: Derrick Morgan)

17. San Francisco 49ers
Joe Haden, CB, Florida

The Niners saw the improved speed at Haden's pro day and they need a corner. One astute personnel director said, "I love Joe, but he was mostly a boundary corner in college and I'd be careful." (Previous pick: Haden)

18. Pittsburgh Steelers
Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State

The Steelers have other needs, but they need a corner now. They lost Bryant McFadden last year in free agency and their other corners are either old or inconsistent. The Ravens and the Bengals are both bolstering their receivers, meaning the Steelers need to improve at corner. (Previous pick: Wilson)

19. Atlanta Falcons
Brandon Graham, OLB/DE, Michigan

The signing of Dunta Robinson took care of the cornerback situation and now the Falcons turn their interest to the rest of the defense. There are solid defensive tackles on the board like Dan Williams and Brian Price, but Graham gives them a hybrid OLB/DE to rush the passer and eventually replace John Abraham. Graham made 85 plays behind the line of scrimmage in college. (Previous pick: Graham)

20. Houston Texans
Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee

It wouldn't surprise me if the Texans take a corner here, but Williams could slide to them. Taking Williams would solidify their defensive line, which will make any secondary look better. (Previous pick: Brian Price)

21. Cincinnati Bengals
Taylor Mays, S, USC

The Bengals may have Earl Thomas and Carlos Dunlap on the board to choose from, and some would say Mays should be lower in the draft. The truth is the Bengals will get better on defense at this spot no matter what they do. Mays will impress the coaches with his knowledge of the game, and his dedication is unquestioned. (Previous pick: Jason Pierre-Paul)

22. New England Patriots
Jared Odrick, DT/DE, Penn State

Odrick solves a glaring need on the defensive line with the loss of Richard Seymour and Jarvis Green. Odrick is versatile and can line up at end or tackle. (Previous pick: Odrick)

23. Green Bay Packers
Maurkice Pouncey, C/G, Florida

Pouncey is a Day 1 starter at guard or center. Two line coaches confirmed what I saw on tape about his first-round grade, even though few guards or centers go in the opening round. (Previous pick: Mike Iupati)

24. Philadelphia Eagles
Mike Iupati, G/T, Idaho

Iupati is a Day 1 starter at guard and a potential answer at tackle down the road. The Eagles are building a very young offense right now and Iupati is a 10-year answer on the line -- especially after the release of Shawn Andrews. (Previous pick: Everson Griffen)

25. Baltimore Ravens
Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida

He has some maturity issues, but the Ray Lewis influence will take care of that if he wants to get on the field in Baltimore. The facts are the Ravens lost starting defensive ends Dwan Edwards and Justin Bannan in free agency, Trevor Pryce is long in the tooth and this 6-foot-6, 277-pound guy that ran 4.61 at his pro day fits a need. (Previous pick: Patrick Robinson)

26. Arizona Cardinals
Brian Price, DT, UCLA

Price looks like a great fit in a 4-3 defense and the Cardinals play a 3-4 defense, but he can still be a disruptive nose tackle. Bryan Robinson is still unsigned and the team just gave significant money to OLB Joey Porter, otherwise I might have Ricky Sapp in this spot. I would really like to see them take a tight end like Jermaine Gresham if he were available. (Previous pick: Charles Brown)

27. Dallas Cowboys
Earl Thomas, DB, Texas

This is a big slide for Thomas, whom I had going at No. 10 to Jacksonville last week. He may go higher than this spot, but if he's here, he solves a problem in the Dallas secondary. Thomas is a fine player (but not without his critics here at the owners meetings). (Previous pick: Nate Allen)

28. San Diego Chargers
Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno State

I talked with Mathews this week and he told me he wore No. 21 in college because he idolized LaDainian Tomlinson growing up in California. He winds up in this spot every week and as long as a team like Houston doesn't take him earlier, he would be a solid fit for the Chargers. He had 1,808 rushing yards as a senior. (Previous pick: Mathews)

29. New York Jets
Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State

He's too good to pass up this late in the first round. He pairs up with Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery to give Sanchez lots of targets. Head coach Rex Ryan can handle whatever personality quirks come with Bryant. (Previous pick: Bryant)

30. Minnesota Vikings
Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State

The Vikings re-signed Jimmy Kennedy for depth at defensive tackle and there have been five drafted already, so they head to their biggest need, a corner. They could look at Robinson or Devin McCourty from Rutgers and not go wrong. (Previous pick: Taylor Mays)

31. Indianapolis Colts
Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers

Center Maurkice Pouncey has been in this spot for three weeks but other teams ahead of the Colts value him now, according to the line coaches. Corner is a need and McCourty has been rising up draft boards. (Previous pick: Maurkice Pouncey)

32. New Orleans Saints
Everson Griffen, DE, USC

Gone is Charles Grant after being released. Carlos Dunlap was in this spot last week, but he is moving up draft boards. Griffen is a solid choice at the end of the round. (Previous pick: Carlos Dunlap)

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