Blue Duck Mock Draft 2010

April 22, 2010

The draft represents hope for every team in the NFL. Time has shown that only a few actually capitalize.

BlueDuckSport’s annual mock draft is here.  In a draft billed as “one of the deepest in years,” every team in the NFL has hope that this year could be theirs.  Of course we know that’s not true, but let’s look how at how the BlueDuck thinks it’ll play out (in a no-trade environment of course):

  1. Sam Bradford – QB – StL
    St. Louis has more problems than every team in the NFL, including Oakland.  No offensive line, questionable receivers, a sieve for a defense, and ownership in flux.  This team needs a “face of the franchise” type player, and Bradford is the safe pick.  He’s accurate and has no character issues.  If he’s lucky, he sits Year 1 and learns while the team develops an O-Line.
  2. Ndamukong Suh – DT – Det
    There’s debate over whether they should trade down or even allow this once-in-a-generation DT go and choose an offensive tackle to protect Mathew Stafford.  Barring a pre-draft trade for Albert Haynesworth, Jim Schwartz should take Suh to clog the middle and press the QB.
  3. Gerald McCoy – DT – TB
    Since Warren Sapp left before the ’04 season, DT has been a problem.  The Bucs were able to patch the hole for a few years before the bottom fell out on this unit in 2009.  The Tampa-2 depends on creating pressure up the middle, forcing the QB to rush and allowing the defensive backfield to make a play on the ball.  That’s why McCoy is the pick at three.
  4. Trent Williams – OT – Washington
    Russell Okung may be the better player, but this is a system pick.  Everyone knows Shanahan will implement his legendary zone-blocking scheme, so getting a cornerstone left tackle that fits the system is especially important for the coach whose bread and butter is plugging in average players at RB and letting his scheme create stars.  Williams is a start in getting the ball rolling.
  5. Russell Okung – OT – KC
    Belichick deciple Scott Pioli hasn’t tipped his hand at all this off-season, but you’d have to think that if Okung is available, there’s no other choice.  Sure, Eric Berry looks like a phenom, but you can’t expect to win many games if you can’t keep the QB upright.  Choosing Okung here allows you to have bookend tackles locked up for the next decade (Branden Albert goes to RT).  Then, Kansas City can finally see what they have in Matt Cassell in Charlie Weis’ offense.
  6. Bryan Bulaga – OT – Sea
    The team needs to fill the massive shoes of HOF tackle Walter Jones, who looks doubtful to resume his career.  There are certainly mixed reviews of Bulaga, some scouts rate him in the third round because he has “short arms”.  Nevertheless, I say Seattle gambles on Bulaga who, in a worst case scenario, would the most dominant Seahawks guard since Steve Hutchinson left.
  7. Eric Berry – S – Cle
    With newly added Sheldon Brown added to Eric Wright, the top corners are above average for this rebuilding team.  In a conference with game-changing safeties like Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu, Cleveland will run to the podium to submit this pick.  Berry is unquestioned best secondary player in this draft and would go a long ways to helping remake the defense.
  8. Anthony Davis – OT – Oak
    Roll a dice with the name of players with questionable work ethics on it, because they are the Raiders cup of tea.  The only question is which future bust will Al Davis saddle his team with this year?  Every team wants their left tackle to be looking out for the quarterback, and with a history of weight fluctuations, Anthony Davis is the perfect BFF for JaMarcus Russell.  That’s not necessarily a good thing.
  9. Jimmy Clausen – QB – Buf
    Buffalo can go in a number of directions here since they have so many problems.  Many in the NFL feel that the current regime in place is just a Band-Aid until Ralph Wilson can lure a big name coach to take over, which is why I’m skeptical about whether they’d really choose a potential franchise QB this year.  Yet, I think the lure of grabbing the Golden Domer to sell some jerseys is the motivation here.
  10. Rolondo McClain – MLB – Jax
    The Jags have needs at LB, DB, and O-line, any of which could be addressed here.  There are rumors that they love C.J. Spiller, but that should just be a smokescreen with MJD already on the team.  Jacksonville isn’t good enough to have the luxury of using first round picks on a second runner.  With play-calling experience in a pro-style defense at Alabama, McClain is the steady player they need to plug the hole in the middle of the defense.

For picks 11-21, click here.
For picks 22-32, click here.

This Year’s Rays: The Royals

April 6, 2009
Can Jose Guillen,center, be this year's Carlos Pena?

Can Jose Guillen,center, be this year's Carlos Pena?

The Tampa Bay Rays were the biggest surprise in years last season.  Being picked by many as the worst team in the best division in baseball and winning the league, then the pennant, and looking like seasoned veterans through all of it.  It is hard to imagine another team doing that so soon, but if there is one out there it is the Kansas City Royals.

You need kind of a perfect storm situation for this type of thing to happen.  Last year, the East was strong, but weakened at times by various injuries.  The Yankees and the Red Sox were never really at full strength.  The Rays actually also had injuries, but had the type of team that thrived off that kind of adversity.  My formula for pulling a Tampa Bay: good leadership, solid pitching, good bullpen, tough offense, and a somewhat weakened division.

Trey Hillman is the closest thing in the league to Joe Maddon.  Hillman is experienced dealing with young players, and even a language barrier couldn’t keep him from winning (won the Japanese title with Nippon Ham Fighters a few years back.).  The pitching staff is better than most think.  If Zack Greinke isn’t depressed he is a top flight starter, if Gil Meche is healthy he is an overpaid top flight starter, and they added Sidney Ponson who, when sober can give you innings.

The Bullpen is led by Joakim Soria.  Soria had 44 saves and a 1.60 era last season becoming one of the elite closers in the league.  He has Kyle Farnsworth and his extremely hittable high-90’s fastball setting him up.  The rest of the bullpen is made up of guys who have proven effectiveness in the past.  Ron Mahay, Juan Cruz, and Robinson Tejeda round out the pen.

The offense is extremely talented and ready to break out.  With the additions of Mike Jacobs and Coco Crisp, the Royals add power and speed to a lineup that was not deep in either last year.  The power game should expand this year with Alex Gordon showing life in the spring and Billy Butler ready to realize his potential.  Jose Guillen has long been a threat to both baseballs and anyone near him after a strikeout, but he may be the Carlos Pena- like leader of this young squad.  Mark Teahen, Miguel Olivo, and David Dejesus  could make this a dangerous lineup if they get hot.  This lineup also makes for a decent defensive team.  The outfield is quick, and Miguel Olivo is a proven backstop.    There are a few qustions in the infield, but they should take away more outs than they give away.

Finally, the AL central is there for the taking this year.  There is not a complete team in the division.  There is no team with a great starting rotation, and many of the new acquisitions to the league (Carl Pavano, Kerry Wood, Joe Crede) are big risk guys.  The league was close last year with the Tigers taking last place being down by only 14 1/2 games.  The Central was the closest division top to bottom in baseball.  The truth is, any team has a shot in this league.  It is just a matter of a team staying healthy and getting in a groove.  The Royals have as good a shot as any to do this.

If the pitchers provide enough innings to keep the pen fresh, we may be seeing Kansas City fighting down the stretch.  So throw a hundred bucks on the Royals to win the pennant, and thank me in October.