NFL Mock Draft IV: Sam Bradford Strengthens Hold on No. 1 Spot

NFL Mock Draft IV: Sam Bradford Strengthens Hold on No. 1 Spot Free agency is under way, allowing some teams to start addressing their biggest needs, and that has caused a handful of changes on the draft board — although, the top 10 remains the same from a week ago. With that, here is the NESN.com Mock Draft Version IV. Check back every Thursday from now until the draft for an updated version.

1. St. Louis Rams
2009 record: 1-15
The pick: Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford
Previous mock draft picks: Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh

Analysis: With the NFL potentially looking to move a team back to Los Angeles — and St. Louis rumored to be among the crop of teams that could be relocated — it’s worth wondering how much the Rams’ value would increase with the addition of a franchise quarterback like Bradford.

2. Detroit Lions
2009 record: 2-14
The pick: Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh
Previous mock draft picks: Oklahoma State left tackle Russell Okung, Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy

Analysis: After adding former Titans defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch, the Lions would seriously bolster their line with a guy like Suh. Two players won’t result in a drastic improvement for Detroit’s dismal defense, but this is a great start.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2009 record: 3-13
The pick: Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy
Previous mock draft picks: Tennessee safety Eric Berry

Analysis: McCoy is said to have some extreme strength on the field, but his combine workout showed it’s not all there in the weight room. He still looks like an elite prospect, and he’s the safest pick at this spot. Don’t rule out Berry, but McCoy would likely add more of an instant impact on this particular defense.

4. Washington Redskins
2009 record: 4-12
The pick: Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen
Previous mock draft picks: Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford

Analysis: Losing out on left tackle Chad Clifton was a huge blow for the Redskins, and that keeps Oklahoma State tackle Russell Okung in the mix here. You can bet Clausen was rooting for the Skins to add Clifton because that could make the Fighting Irish quarterback a lock at No. 4.

5. Kansas City Chiefs
2009 record: 4-12
The pick: Oklahoma State tackle Russell Okung
Previous mock draft picks: Tennessee safety Eric Berry

Analysis: This is the third consecutive week Okung has been here. There doesn’t seem to be any scenario in which he falls out of the top five.

6. Seattle Seahawks
2009 record: 5-11
The pick: Tennessee safety Eric Berry
Previous mock draft picks: Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen

Analysis: If the Seahawks lose out on the Brandon Marshall sweepstakes, they could potentially try to snag Oklahoma State wideout Dez Bryant. Or, if Seattle thinks Texas safety Earl Thomas has comparable talent to Berry, the Seahawks could wait to address this position at No. 14. They have so many options, and Seattle’s first round is like a poker game in that their pick here could be determined by how well they believe they can read the teams drafting seventh through 13th.

7. Cleveland Browns
2009 record: 5-11
The pick: Florida cornerback Joe Haden
Previous mock draft picks: Same

Analysis: His stock might be falling in the eyes of draft analysts, but as we’ve said before, Browns head coach Eric Mangini knows how important it can be to have a top-level cornerback.

8. Oakland Raiders
2009 record: 5-11
The pick: Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant
Previous mock draft picks: Same

Analysis: If quarterback Bruce Gradkowski has a say, you know he’ll lobby for a big target like Bryant. But of course, we aren’t sure if owner Al Davis even knows who Gradkowski is.

9. Buffalo Bills
2009 record: 6-10
The pick: Maryland tackle Bruce Campbell
Previous mock draft picks: Rutgers left tackle Anthony Davis

Analysis: Let’s be serious. The Bills could use Tim Tebow as their left tackle and still improve their awful offensive line. 

10. Jacksonville Jaguars
2009 record: 7-9
The pick: South Florida defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul
Previous mock draft picks: Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain, Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan

Analysis: It was mildly surprising to see the Jaguars land defensive end Aaron Kampman, but it was a solid job on their part. By pairing him on the opposite side of Pierre-Paul, the Jags can boast an edge rush that was MIA in 2009.

11. Denver Broncos (From Chicago Bears)
2009 record: 8-8
The pick: Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan
Previous mock draft picks: Tennessee defensive tackle Dan Williams, UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price

Analysis: After giving a five-year contract to nose tackle Justin Bannan, the Broncos likely won’t go after Price or Williams. The Broncos still need help on the defensive line, and putting Morgan — a pass-rush specialist — on the field with Elvis Dumervil is a scary thought.

12. Miami Dolphins
2009 record: 7-9
The pick: Clemson outside linebacker Ricky Sapp
Previous mock draft picks: Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain

Analysis: They need a safety after releasing Gibril Wilson, so Earl Thomas could be in play. However, the Dolphins need linebackers more than anything, and Sapp would help represent the turnover on this roster in that department.

13. San Francisco 49ers
2009 record: 8-8
The pick: Texas safety Earl Thomas
Previous mock draft picks: Florida defensive end Carlos Dunlap, South Florida defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul

Analysis: Even though the Niners could use an edge rusher, they do have a good thing going with their front seven, so a playmaker in the secondary like Thomas would add a new dimension to this defense.

14. Seattle Seahawks (From Denver Broncos)
2009 record: 5-11
The pick: Iowa tackle Bryan Bulaga
Previous mock draft picks: USC defensive end Everson Griffen

Analysis: Bulaga is one of the draft’s elite offensive linemen and, based on projections, significantly better than anyone the Seahawks could grab in a later round. The group of defensive ends is far deeper, and it’s a position they could add down the line.

15. New York Giants
2009 record: 8-8
The pick: Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain
Previous mock draft picks: Tennessee defensive tackle Dan Williams, UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price

Analysis: McClain’s speed seems to make scouts a bit wary. But middle linebackers who are studs in college tend to translate well in the NFL. The Giants should be happy to get him at No. 15.

16. Tennessee Titans
2009 record: 8-8
The pick: Texas outside linebacker/defensive end Sergio Kindle
Previous mock draft picks: South Florida defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan

Analysis: They were looking to add an edge presence — at defensive end or outside linebacker — and the departure of Kyle Vanden Bosch increases that need. Kindle is a hybrid who can play both spots.

17. San Francisco 49ers (From Carolina Panthers)
2009 record: 8-8
The pick: Oklahoma tackle Trent Williams
Previous mock draft picks: Iowa tackle Bryan Bulaga

Analysis: This might not bring the same excitement as Earl Thomas, but Williams — a collegiate rival — is a need pick for the 49ers. It actually wouldn’t be inconceivable for the 49ers to add a pair of offensive linemen with these selections.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers
2009 record: 9-7
The pick: Idaho guard Mike Iupati
Previous mock draft picks: Oklahoma tackle Trent Williams

Analysis: Ben Roethlisberger needs some offensive linemen who are willing to block for him. The Steelers might hope Roethlisberger returns the favor by staying out of trouble.

19. Atlanta Falcons
2009 record: 9-7
The pick: USC defensive end Everson Griffen
Previous mock draft picks: Clemson outside linebacker Ricky Sapp, Texas outside linebacker/defensive end Sergio Kindle

Analysis: Griffen’s speed and athleticism should intrigue the Falcons, who can mold their outside pass rush in the fashion of fellow dome teams New Orleans and Indianapolis.

20. Houston Texans
2009 record: 9-7
The pick: Boise State cornerback Kyle Wilson
Previous mock draft picks: Texas defensive back Earl Thomas

Analysis: The Texans have an obvious desire to improve their secondary, and their reported interest in cornerback Leigh Bodden shows that. Wilson is projected as the second cornerback off the board.

21. Cincinnati Bengals
2009 record: 10-6
The pick: Florida offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey
Previous mock draft picks: Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham, Idaho guard Mike Iupati

Analysis: Pouncey figures to go off the board late in the first round or early in the second. The Bengals need an interior lineman, and Pouncey is probably the best available at this point.

22. New England Patriots
2009 record: 10-6
The pick: Florida defensive end Carlos Dunlap
Previous mock draft picks: Florida middle linebacker Brandon Spikes

Analysis: The Pats did a nice job locking up defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, but they still need some more help at defensive end. The Pats have been linked to Brandon Graham, but his size is just too much of a concern. Dunlap is an absolutely sure talent who needs some guidance, but he’s someone Bill Belichick might love to have at his disposal.

23. Green Bay Packers
2009 record: 11-5
The pick: Penn State outside linebacker Navorro Bowman
Previous mock draft picks: Michigan defensive end/outside linebacker Brandon Graham, USC defensive end Everson Griffen

Analysis: Edge rushers remain the theme in this draft. The Packers are strong up the middle and in the secondary, so they could use another guy to create some havoc on the outside.

24. Philadelphia Eagles
2009 record: 11-5
The pick: UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price
Previous mock draft picks: USC safety Taylor Mays, Clemson running back C.J. Spiller, California running back Jahvid Best

Analysis: Price would be a good get this late in the first round, and if he doesn’t get taken by the Giants with the 15th pick, he’s in real danger of sliding down the board. Philly needs some solidarity on the interior of its line with its first-round pick more than it needs a running back.

25. Baltimore Ravens
2009 record: 9-7
The pick: Illinois wide receiver Arrelious Benn
Previous mock draft picks: Notre Dame wide receiver Golden Tate, USC safety Taylor Mays

Analysis: The addition of Anquan Boldin is a great start, but the Ravens shouldn’t settle. They were more than one wide receiver away from a solid core before last week’s trade, and that hasn’t changed yet. If Tennessee defensive tackle Dan Williams is on the board here, the Ravens might be tempted to add some depth at that position, but upgrading the offense gets them closer to a Super Bowl than giving depth to the defense. And yes, the Ravens need help at cornerback, but they’ve always built that position with mid-round selections.

26. Arizona Cardinals
2009 record: 10-6
The pick: Florida middle linebacker Brandon Spikes
Previous mock draft picks: Maryland tackle Bruce Campbell

Analysis: No reason to avert from last week’s plan, especially after the loss of Spikes. This is a need position, and Spikes has first-round talent.

27. Dallas Cowboys
2009 record: 11-5
The pick: Rutgers tackle Anthony Davis
Previous mock draft picks: Maryland tackle Bruce Campbell, Penn State outside linebacker Navorro Bowman

Analysis: Davis has the game tape of a top-10 pick and the desire of an undrafted free agent. We’ll see which one wins out next month.

28. San Diego Chargers
2009 record: 13-3
The pick: Clemson running back C.J. Spiller
Previous mock draft picks: Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews

Analysis: It was a good move to place a tender on running back Darren Sproles, but even the Chargers know he’s not even close to an every-down back. Spiller might not be, either, but the tandem should give them more than they got last season.

29. New York Jets
2009 record: 9-7
The pick: USC safety Taylor Mays
Previous mock draft picks: Wide receiver Brandon LaFell, Boise State cornerback Kyle Wilson, Alabama cornerback Kareem Jackson

Analysis: By many accounts from the combine, Mays showed an inability to turn his hips and run backward in coverage at an NFL level. Those flaws aside, the Jets have an amazing pass rush and two superior cornerbacks, so they can live with Mays’ growing pains.

30. Minnesota Vikings
2009 record: 12-4
The pick: Texas quarterback Colt McCoy
Previous mock draft picks: Same

Analysis: Until the Vikings come out and do something about their quarterback of the future, McCoy will be the pick here. (And Brett Favre’s decision is completely independent of this thought process.)

31. Indianapolis Colts
2009 record: 14-2
The pick: USC tackle Charles Brown
Previous mock draft picks: Idaho guard Mike Iupati

Analysis: Like the Ravens, the Colts have done a good job building their secondary later in the draft. A guy like Kareem Jackson is a possibility here, but it seems more likely Indy will target an offensive lineman.

32. New Orleans Saints
2009 record: 13-3
The pick: Tennessee defensive tackle Dan Williams
Previous mock draft picks: UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price, Penn State defensive tackle Jared Odrick

Analysis: The Saints have the luxury of adding depth to a roster that doesn’t have any holes. As long as they lock up safety Darren Sharper, they can concentrate on filling up the middle of their defensive line.

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