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Reviewing Round 1's Surprises and Hairiness


Kyle Wilson - 2010 First Round Draft Pick

Real Football's Round 1 recap exclusively for    

There weren't too many surprises during the first hour of the 2010 NFL Draft on Thursday night. As expected, Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford had his named called by Commissioner Roger Goodell less than 10 minutes into the party, and highly touted DTs Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy followed on his heels. Trent Williams reaffirmed some scouts' assertions that he was the best tackle on the draft board when he went fourth to Washington, and safety Eric Berry and OT Russell Okung rounded out the top six.

But then things got a little hairy.

Cleveland addressed a need at No. 7 with CB Joe Haden, who overcame some poor workout numbers. But the Raiders reached at No. 8 for Alabama LB Rolando McClain, which caught some teams with their pants down and created a ripple effect of reaches and trading action over the course of the next several picks.

Things That Surprised Us

Going into the draft, many thought the Oakland Raiders would look for offensive line help, particularly at tackle. No one would have been surprised, either, if they took a shot at QB Jimmy Clausen or one of the top pass rushers. Instead, they went with McClain.

This is a team that struggled against the run last season, so a little help at LB wasn't out of the question. We question whether they needed one in the first round. However, there is a rule in the draft that if you have a guy you are in love with, you go get him. So they went and got him. But the reverberations of the selections were felt several picks down the board.

The Jacksonville Jaguars were likely looking for a linebacker in the first round and probably thought they could have McClain to themselves before Denver, the Giants and Atlanta could get their hands on him. But with McClain gone and no partners interested in trading into their spot, the Jags were forced to pick and reached for Tyson Alualu of Cal. He's a good football player; a guy with the size and strength to play DE in a 3-4. His ideal fit is as a 3-technique tackle in a 40 front. He's relentless and intense and plays with a great motor.

But we had him as the 82nd-ranked played on our board. Jacksonville could have picked up an every-down DE like Derrick Morgan in Round 1 and still likely come back to Alualu in Round 2 if they loved him that much.

We don't really understand why the San Francisco 49ers felt the need to move up two spots to get T Anthony Davis. He's another good player with excellent physical tools, but the Broncos and Dolphins were most certainly looking to go defense, and if they did look at the offensive side of the ball, they appear to be set at tackle. Davis has some maturity issues that will get hammered out by Mike Singletary, but in a draft that has been described by head coaches like Bill Belichick as one of the deepest in recent years, there's no reason to give up mid-round picks on a move like this.

Some other curious trades were made in the opening stanza of the draft. The San Diego Chargers gave up the 40th pick to move to No. 12 to get Ryan Mathews of Fresno State. Our feeling is he would have been there for them at No. 28, and if not, they could have had Jahvid Best at No. 28 or other big physical backs like Mathews at No. 40 (Jonathan Dwyer) or No. 91 (Ben Tate, Toby Gerhart).

The Denver Broncos' trade back into the first round to take Tim Tebow didn't make sense to us. We believe he will be a very good NFL player over time, but there was better value available there and more pressing needs (LB, TE, CB). The Detroit Lions were in need of a running back, especially because they have had durability issues in recent years at that position. So trading up to get Best, a back who has had concussion issues and might have been available at the top of Round 2, doesn't make sense. He's a poor man's C.J. Spiller and a potential playmaking machine, but see the list of bigger, more durable backs above. There's rarely a good reason to trade up for a running back.

Finally, we think the New York Giants were another team caught off guard by the Raiders' pick and were unable to trade out of their pick. Many scouts are very high on the potential and natural tools they see from South Florida DE Jason Pierre-Paul.

But we have a tough time using the 15th overall pick on a player who has been to three schools in three years, has played just one season of Division I-A football, and despite his playmaking ability had just 6½ sacks. He made his name on some very good workouts and one very good game against a Florida State team that was just OK. The one thing this potentially does do is make Osi Umenyiora expendable.

Things That Didn't Surprise Us

All the trading: Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels all come from the same tree, so seeing the tradeback trend begin with Denver wasn't a surprise. Also, the list of players with true first-round grades was not particularly long. The value in this draft is in the second- and third-round depth, so seeing teams trying to stockpile picks in those rounds is expected.

The Bills' selection of Spiller: Owner Ralph Wilson is not particularly pleased with Marshawn Lynch's behavior off the field, and Fred Jackson is not a full-time feature back. Spiller can make plays as a runner and receiver and in the return game. If they aren't going to find a QB, they need another playmaker, and Spiller is it.

The run on secondary players: The NFL is now a QB-driven league. Teams are relying on the pass more and more, and the fact that five cornerbacks and two safeties who can cover were all taken in the first 32 selections just reinforces that idea. You don't need two starting corners anymore. Against the new spread attacks, you need at least three. The fact that the Jets and Saints were among the corner selectors isn't surprising, either. Nobody blitzed more than those teams in 2009. The Jets in particular can now play Cover-Zero across the back against three-wide and blitz eight!

Picks We Like

Brandon Graham, LB, Eagles: We love this pick. A highly productive player in a bad defense, he shined at the Senior Bowl and can absolutely get to the QB. Philly will be able to move him around as well. He's a versatile weapon for a good defense.

Derrick Morgan, DE, Titans: Tennessee stayed put and one of the most complete DEs in this draft fell right into their lap. He had 49 plays behind the LOS in college and is a strong run defender. An explosive guy to replace the departed Kyle Vanden Bosch.

Mike Iupati, G, 49ers: Some people don't like the idea of taking a guard this high, but Iupati can play just about anywhere along the O-line, and he's a mauler. Is there any question that Singletary is starting to have more of a say in how they are shaping this team in San Fran? They now have three first-rounders up front — Davis, Iupati and LT Joe Staley.

Maurkice Pouncey, C, Steelers: A traditional Steelers pick — tough, smart and versatile enough to play guard or center. When you watch his video, he hits three guys on every running play.

Jermaine Gresham, TE, Bengals: Finally, a vertical threat on the seam for Carson Palmer.

Brian Bulaga, T, Packers: A great value pick at No. 23. We had him as the eighth-ranked player on the board. He doesn't have great upside, but he's ready to play now and will be a long-time starter at tackle, which fills a need for the Pack.

Jerry Hughes, LB, Colts: Quick and explosive, he made 69 career plays behind the LOS in college, including nearly 30 sacks. He's not a powerful guy, but he's fast and tough and is a perfect fit for the Indianapolis defense.

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