It's almost hard to believe that the 75th NFL Draft is just 30 days away, but if you spend any time around NFL personnel you feel the tension and intrigue building.
Yes, it's a deep draft at a number of positions (defensive line is a major example), but quarterback is not one of them. Nevertheless, a quarterback, one in particular -- Sam Bradford of Oklahoma -- will drive what happens in the rest of the draft. If he has a good pro day on March 29 it would be quite a surprise not to hear his name called by Commissioner Roger Goodell when the St. Louis Rams make the No. 1 overall pick. But what if the Rams go in another direction? Well, then most mock drafts will look like many peoples' NCAA tournament brackets after top-seeded Kansas' stunning loss to Northern Iowa.
1. St. Louis Rams
Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
Just a month ago, the two best defensive tackles in the draft -- Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy -- were being debated for this spot. Now, unless Bradford throws like Captain Wilhelm Knauer of "The Longest Yard" fame (the original 1974 film), he becomes the face of the Rams.
2. Detroit Lions
Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State
Coach Jim Schwartz is one of the best defensive minds in the game, and I'm sure that he would love to decide between Suh and McCoy. However, both Schwartz and general manager Martin Mayhew know that QB Matthew Stafford is the franchise. Thus, the Lions pick this talented left tackle to protect him.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
Finally, one of the top defensive tackles comes off the board. This could easily be Suh. Both fit what the Buccaneers want from their "under tackle" in the Tampa 2 scheme.
4. Washington Redskins
Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
Surprise! Many have an offensive tackle or quarterback ticketed for Mike Shanahan's first pick with the Redskins. But, can they resist perhaps the best player in the draft? With new defensive coordinator Jim Haslett installing the 3-4 scheme, though, Suh may not fit into their plans.
5. Kansas City Chiefs
Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa
General manager Scott Pioli has to be thinking hard about getting some help at safety (Eric Berry), but most in the league are leery of drafting one that high. So, the pick of Bulaga helps QB Matt Cassell get a bit more comfortable in K.C.
6. Seattle Seahawks
Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma
I was ready to ticket QB Jimmy Clausen to Seattle, but the Seahawks just made a big deal for Chargers third-stringer Charlie Whitehurst. Soon-to-be-Hall of Fame offensive tackle Walter Jones is retiring, so the fast-rising Williams gets first crack at replacing a legend.
7. Cleveland Browns
Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame
I know, I know. Browns president Mike Holmgren basically just said "Read my lips. No quarterback in the first round," by indicating that his team will not be using a top pick on a quarterback. But, Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace are not long-term solutions at the position, and if Clausen performs well at his April 9 pro day ... well, President George H. W. Bush changed his mind after "read my lips" on taxes, didn't he? A safety or corner will get heavy consideration here, too.
8. Oakland Raiders
Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
Maryland offensive tackle Bruce Campbell is the popular pick here, but it would be hard for the Raiders to resist one of the best athletes (and one of the most accomplished) in the draft. Thus, Campbell remains in play here.
9. Buffalo Bills
C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson
Fred Jackson, meet your new running mate. New coach Chan Gailey wants to be a good running team, and Spiller has the "it" factor. He can help by running "it," catching "it" and returning "it."
10. Jacksonville Jaguars
Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech
Defensive ends Quentin Groves and Derrick Harvey combined for just two sacks last year. The ACC Defensive Player of the Year instantly upgrades the pass rush along with newly acquired Aaron Kampman, and both possesses the motor that teams desire.
11. Denver Broncos
Sergio Kindle, LB, Texas
Kindle is an explosive athlete who should excel playing opposite Elvis Dumervil. Off the edge, Kindle's hard to contain.
12. Miami Dolphins
Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee
A stunning ascension for the big man who has clearly staked a claim as the third best defensive tackle in the draft. The Dolphins wouldn't mind another big body inside, especially with the suspension of Jason Ferguson. If it's a linebacker, then Alabama's Rolando McClain could get into the draft room talks.
13. San Francisco 49ers
Joe Haden, CB, Florida
The former QB/WR ran much better at Florida's pro day, and on a wet grass field. That will serve him well at Candlestick Park. Oh, and he can cover and tackle, too.
14. Seattle Seahawks
Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State
A top-five talent who's pro day will chart his future. If he runs well, Bryant could be the home-run threat that Seattle is seeking. Pete Carroll has the personality to get the best out of this young man.
15. New York Giants
Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama
McClain was tutored in pro-style defenses by Alabama coach Nick Saban. McClain ran the national champions' defense from his linebacker position. New Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell will enjoy coaching him up.
16. Tennessee Titans
Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida
Yes, the Titans need pass-rush help, but I am leery of guys who emerge seemingly out of nowhere so fast. But one NFL personnel guy gushed about this player's promise, so the raw, but potentially great Pierre-Paul, tries to emulate the original "Freak," Jevon Kearse.
17. San Francisco 49ers
Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho
Coach Mike Singletary and offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye love to run an offense that pummels the defense all game long. So, add the bruiser from Idaho into the mix, and watch Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore smile. Oh, and Iupati showed off better than expected feet at the Senior Bowl during some drills at left tackle.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers
Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
He has it all and really put on a show during Senior Bowl week. I had a coach tell me that he thinks Wilson is the best corner in the draft.
19. Atlanta Falcons
Brandon Graham, DE/OLB, Michigan
Momentum continues to build for this pass rusher who many believe can stand up and play outside linebacker like his Wolverines predecessor, LaMarr Woodley. The Falcons are dying for a pass rusher, and this guy was not often blocked in the Big Ten, or during Senior Bowl week.
20. Houston Texans
Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno State
The Texans' dynamic offense is still seeking that steady, dependable back who can eat carries. With Steve Slaton coming off an injury and a subpar year, this is a pick that can help take pressure off of Andre Johnson out wide. The Texans' defensive staff will argue for a corner.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma
Did you watch HBO's "Hard Knocks" last summer featuring the Bengals? Notice a theme throughout the shows? Unfortunately, their tight ends kept getting dinged. Here, they can get the best one in the draft, a gift for QB Carson Palmer.
22. New England Patriots
Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri
23. Green Bay Packers
Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State
Watch his feet on film ... wow. With Al Harris coming off a knee injury, this pick fits. Robinson had a good week at the Senior Bowl and was outstanding in the game.
24. Philadelphia Eagles
Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida
Despite being astonishingly quick and fast, Dunlap is having to answer questions about his perceived inconsistent motor and off-field incident that kept him out of the SEC title game. However, he ran a sub 4.7-second 40-yard dash on wet grass at Florida's pro day and was the MVP in Florida's victory over Oklahoma in the 2009 BCS National Championship Game.
25. Baltimore Ravens
Jared Odrick, DT, Penn State
26. Arizona Cardinals
Earl Thomas, S, Texas
A ball hawk with eight interceptions last year, Thomas can step in and replace Antrel Rolle at free safety and get an education from Pro Bowl strong safety Adrian Wilson. If a pass rusher is still on the board, the Cardinals could head in that direction.
27. Dallas Cowboys
Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland
A superstar at the NFL Scouting Combine, Campbell's size, strength, speed, footwork, and agility wowed all in attendance. Flozell Adams will need to be replaced in the near future. Despite only 17 starts in college, this big man is awfully intriguing.
28. San Diego Chargers
Terrence Cody, DT, Alabama
The 3-4 defense is made for "Mount Cody." The Chargers lost a really good nose tackle in Jamal Williams and went through a terrific season with a three-man rotation at that position. Cody could lessen the need for so many bodies. But, California running back Jahvid Best will also command attention here.
29. New York Jets
Demaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech
He likely won't run or work out before the draft, so this a bit of a leap of faith, but is there a more optimistic coach in the league than Rex Ryan? Thomas has it all in terms of size, speed and hands, but his work will come in learning how to run an NFL route tree and read defenses (he played in an option attack at Georgia Tech). This is a bit of a risk pick, but the reward could be great.
30. Minnesota Vikings
Taylor Mays, S, USC
The NFL Scouting Combine affirmed what we knew about this three-time All American: He is an amazing physical specimen. The Vikings are seeking help on the corner (perhaps from Rutgers' Devin McCourty?) as well, but this young force may be too talented to pass up. His pro day could bump his stock higher if he shows range and ball skills (which I believe he possesses).
31. Indianapolis Colts
Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida
I've been warned ... this may be too low for the versatile center/guard from Florida. But, if he lasts to this pick, expect the Colts to snatch him up. He can immediately start at guard and be groomed for the day when current Colts center Jeff Saturday decides to retire.
32. New Orleans Saints
Everson Griffen, DE, USC
Charles Grant is no longer with the Saints, and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams would love to have someone fill that void. This Trojan should have a lot of fun playing "sic 'em" for the uber-confident Williams, whose schemes helped secure a Lombardi Trophy for the Big Easy.