Commentary

Underclassmen dominate first mock

21 non-seniors show up in the first round of Mel Kiper's initial mock

Originally Published: January 20, 2010
By Mel Kiper Jr. | ESPN.com
Getty ImagesNdamukong Suh is Mel's choice for the first overall pick by the Rams.

Things certainly will change as the workout season commences, but it's time to get the ball rolling for the 2010 NFL draft. Remember that my Big Board and position group rankings (now adjusted so all declared players are grouped) are a good primer. That said, off we go.

Two things that stand out early in the first mock draft of the season are the degree to which the first round is dominated by underclassmen -- they make up 21 of the 32 picks -- and how we're seeing a truly deep class of defensive linemen. Even though many NFL teams now employ the 3-4, the options up front for either 4-3 or 3-4 defenses are pretty significant in this draft.


St. Louis Rams

Record: 1-15

Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska

Nobody questions that the top need for the Rams is a quarterback. But unless St. Louis trades down -- an extremely difficult proposition on multiple levels -- it shouldn't take a quarterback with its first pick. Suh is maybe the most dominating defensive tackle I've seen in 32 years of doing this. He can be effective immediately for the Rams, and they may address the QB with a trade.

Detroit Lions

Record: 2-14

Gerald McCoy*, DT, Oklahoma

Getting McCoy both fills a big need for the Lions and is an extraordinarily good consolation prize for any team unable to get Suh. McCoy makes his living in opponents' backfields and is such a talent he could have landed in this position last year had he declared as a redshirt sophomore.

Eric Berry*, S, Tennessee

This is very early for a safety to go off the board, but Berry is that kind of talent. A player compared often (not unfairly) to Ed Reed, Berry is a difference-making safety headed to a league that has seen those types (Reed, Troy Polamalu, Bob Sanders) become more and more prevalent in recent years.

Sam Bradford*, QB, Oklahoma

Mike Shanahan and the Redskins can get a quarterback here who might have been the top player taken had he opted to come out last year. The Redskins need to find their franchise quarterback, and when healthy, Bradford is an exceptionally accurate passer with an underrated arm. Shanahan also hit on his last QB selection when he drafted Jay Cutler in Denver.

Kansas City Chiefs

Record: 4-12

Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State

I think the Chiefs could use help at safety as well, but Berry likely won't fall this far, and they'd be reaching on either of the two other safeties with first-round grades. Okung could solve two problems, making him a good value -- he could step in at LT and allow the Chiefs to move Brandon Albert to the right side. A pick that can pay immediate dividends for the Chiefs.


To read more about Mel's first mock draft and see the rest of the first round, you must be an ESPN Insider.

Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst

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