It's a whole new ballgame, or in this case, a whole new draft. That's the way many personnel people around the league feel today. With 19 hours to reevaluate and restack their boards, general managers, coaches and scouts have a very good idea of the talent still available as Round 2 approaches.
This is a luxury that they've never had before and the biggest difference between this year's draft and those that have come before. Decision makers are afforded time to completely evaluate the trends in picks, what needs have been addressed, both internally and around the league, and what the best course of action is to take full advantage of the next two rounds of action. There are still some very good players on the board, and you can expect plenty of jockeying among teams fighting for position.
Yes, you heard right. If you thought there was a lot of wheeling and dealing last night, wait until the trade winds start howling later today. Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and New England all have multiple picks in the second round and could be moving up to snatch a player of their choice.
There are also teams who could have the ammunition to climb back into the second. Denver has two third-round picks and one in the fourth, Atlanta has two threes, Cincinnati has two threes and two fours, Cleveland has three threes, Philadelphia has two fourth-round picks, Seattle has two in the fourth and two in the fifth, and Tennessee has two third-round picks. All of those teams will be in play tonight as everyone looks to gobble up the remaining players left in the top 100.
So who are the top players still waiting to be selected? Well, we all know about the two quarterbacks, Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy. NFL.com's Pat Kirwan expects McCoy to land in Cleveland with the 38th pick but thinks Clausen, who is dealing with durability and accuracy concerns, could be on the board until the Chiefs' 50th pick. According to our rankings, four of the top 25 players are 19 of the top 50 are still available. Here are the top 10 players on our restacked board at this point:
1. Sergio Kindle, OLB, Texas: Word today is that Kindle dropped out of the first round (and potentially the second) due to a knee injury that could require microfracture surgery.
2. Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame: He just doesn't stand out in any one area, which has kept teams from pulling the trigger.
3. Brian Price, DT, UCLA: A gap-shooting tackle who was the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year.
4. Taylor Mays, S, Southern Cal: The knock on Mays is his lack of big-play production with the Trojans, but in the right system he can dominate.
5. Everson Griffen, DE, Southern Cal: Griffen has been a borderline first- or second-round guy all along. He could be an ideal LDE in a 4-3; a solid run defender with some pass-rush ability.
6. Charles Brown, T, Southern Cal: The Trojan Trifecta continues with Brown, who is probably more NFL-ready than most people realize. Cleveland and Buffalo are reportedly in discussions with the Rams regarding the 33rd overall pick, and both need line help.
7. Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame: He does a lot of little things well, and he put up numbers in a pro-style system. A highly competitive guy who runs like a tailback after the catch.
8. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas: The winningest QB in college football history. Some will chirp about his lack of height and inconsistent arm strength, but he is a smart, high-character leader who has done everything right. He just wins.
9. Roger Saffold, T, Indiana: Been climbing boards of late. He's a guy who is most ideally a right tackle but can also play either guard spot.
10. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Arizona: An injury that forced him to miss all of 2009 dropped his stock, but when healthy, as he is now, he's got some of the best receiving skills in the draft at any position.
Positions to Watch
As we mentioned, several teams could be on the move in the early going tonight. Cleveland and Buffalo are both interested in the top pick, New England will be a player with three picks, and Kansas City is said to be interested in moving up to make sure it gets Clausen or Tate. Look for a trade involving the Seahawks, who have been crossing positions off their needs list in recent days. The Bills' Marshawn Lynch could be for sale, and Seattle's 60th pick could do it. He'd be an ideal fit in the 'Hawks' zone running scheme.
Quarterbacks: If they get past the Bills' pick (ninth in the round, 41st overall), they will be in complete freefall. Cleveland, Buffalo, Oakland, Kansas City and even Minnesota could be players.
Linebackers: With Kindle falling, there are still several 3-4 teams that need a standup pass rusher. Daryl Washington, Navorro Bowman, Donald Butler and Koa Misi will all have teams vying for their services in Round 2. Penn State's Sean Lee should garner some interest tonight in what is a very thin draft for inside linebackers.
Wide Receivers: Who's the better WR, Arrelious Benn or Golden Tate? There are varying opinions, but they and Damian Williams should be gone by Pick No. 50.
Offensive Tackles: Brown and Saffold have borderline Round 1 talent, but after that it's a steep drop, unless you like projects like Bruce Campbell (Maryland) or Vladimir Ducasse (UMass).
Eye on the Jets
It will be interesting to see who slides down the board tonight, but we expect the Jets to look for defensive help in Round 2. They don't currently have a third-rounder, so it will be critical to get a player who can contribute right away with the 61st pick. They could use another pass-rushing OLB (Jason Worilds or Thaddeus Gibson could be available in addition to those listed above) and a DE to eventually take over for the aging Shaun Ellis (Northwestern's Corey Wootten could slide, but keep an eye on Alex Carrington and Lamar Houston, a converted DT from Texas). There are also several safeties who could contribute.