It's fair to say that defensive prospectscontinue to dominate regardless of who is projecting the early stagesof the 2010 NFL draft. But a wrench has been thrown into previoussuggestions that the top of the draft would be a decision between apair of defensive linemen, and both Mel Kiper and Todd McShay haveadded several surprises to the top 10.
Both of our draft experts have changed their top pick, and even as adeeper consensus forms as teams address some needs through free agency,the two are split on over two-thirds of the first-round picks.
Some differences include where Earl Thomas could land, Jimmy Clausen'sstock and how a deep group of tackles stacks up. But perhaps as nosurprise, Kiper and McShay agree on an unconventional choice by theRaiders.
Kiper: The Rams passed up Matt Ryan for Chris Long and Mark Sanchez for Jason Smithduring the past two years, and the results are obvious: They'll drafthere. Their feeling has changed, and they have a chance to pickBradford, who could have been No. 1 over Matthew Stafford last year. Questions still surround Bradford, but the Rams are now thinking it could be a greater risk not to take a guy like Bradford.
McShay:Taking a quarterback at No. 1 overall has proved risky, and adding tothe uncertainty are concerns about the spread system in which Bradfordplayed, the fact that he was generally well protected and the shoulderinjury that ended his 2009 season. However, Bradford has the accuracyand overall intangibles that NFL starters need, and if his shoulderexams and workouts are satisfactory, we expect him to be the Rams'choice.
Kiper:Detroit has made a pair of moves in the past week to upgrade along thedefensive line, and adding a player of Suh's caliber here would putthem in position to make massive strides on defense in 2010. They can'tlose with Suh or McCoy here, but I give the slight edge to Suh.
McShay: Suhmight not penetrate opposing backfields as consistently as GeraldMcCoy, but he should quickly emerge as a three-down force along theinterior. Suh could make the same kind of impact that Albert Haynesworth made in Tennessee when current Lions head coach Jim Schwartz was on the Titans' staff.
Kiper:It would be hard to pass up a potential Pro Bowl player and a guy whommany consider the best overall player in the draft at No. 3. McCoyshould provide an immediate upgrade against both the run and as aninterior pass-rusher, which should help the secondary in the process.
McShay:McCoy is the best pass-rushing defensive tackle in this class. Hisquick first step and relentless pursuit of the quarterback would be awelcome addition to a Buccaneers defense that tied for 26th in theleague with just 28 sacks last season.
Kiper:I continue to believe that Clausen will see his stock rise when he isphysically ready to perform for NFL personnel. He has all the tools tobecome a solid NFL quarterback, and the ******** need one and have achance to develop one.
McShay:Bradford would make sense if he's available, but reaching for JimmyClausen would be a mistake. If Bradford is off the board, the *******swould be wise to solidify their offensive line with Okung, who is thetop-rated tackle on the board and a player who is ready to step into astarting role immediately.
Kiper:The Chiefs will race to the podium when Berry is still there at thisposition. He's a clear need fit and is exceptional value here, andBerry showed in Indy that his physical capabilities match hisoutstanding film. The Ed Reed comparisons are legit.
McShay: TheChiefs have bigger needs, including offensive tackle, but Berry isclearly the best available player in this scenario. Berry's range andball skills would significantly upgrade a safety group that comes upshort in both areas.
Kiper: Seattle won't find the heir to Walter Jonesanywhere on the virtually empty free-agent market, and Okung is anideal replacement here. I see Okung as a steady player whose stockhasn't slipped all year. He'd be a safe, solid pick who would directlyimpact the team.
McShay:Bulaga is not a special athlete, but he has enough size, balance andtechnique to develop into a solid starter in the NFL. Seattle's biggestweakness is at tackle, and it needs to stay ahead of the curve ratherthan take a chance that another top tackle will be available at No. 14.
Kiper:Pierre-Paul has the chance to be a dynamic star in the NFL if hecontinues to develop, and he would be a dangerous pass-rusher as he isnow. With off-the-charts physical skills for his size, he's an excitingtalent. I said before that he could be the Mario Williams of thisdraft, and I maintain that thought.
McShay:Haden ran surprisingly slow 40-yard dashes at the combine, but wecannot find any issues with his playing speed on tape. Cleveland couldopt for top WR Dez Bryant here, but from a positional value standpoint,we believe the team is better off spending top-seven money on acornerback.
Kiper:You could see the Raiders taking Trent Williams or Anthony Davis here,but Campbell fits the Al Davis profile. He's a need pick and maybe areach, but he's also a stunningly impressive physical package, topsamong all tackles available. Campbell has star talent, but hisproductivity is still a question. In a nutshell, he makes sense inOakland.
McShay: Whynot? A fringe first-round prospect on most boards, Campbell was theworkout warrior at this year's combine, and Al Davis' obsession withheight-weight-speed combos is well-known. Trent Williams would be abetter choice but also would be a reach, and Campbell's physical toolsare off the charts.
Kiper:Dez Bryant could be a temptation here, but a versatile talent likeWilliams, who has lined up at left and right tackle, would help theBills immediately. He would aid the run game and help whichever Billspasser is taking snaps stay upright.
McShay: Wethink the Bills should go in a different direction, but they need along-term answer at quarterback, and Clausen is the second-bestprospect in this class. Assuming his surgically repaired toe checksout, he likely will be the pick.
Kiper: Jacksonville won't stop with the signing of Aaron Kampman,not when it got two sacks out of defensive ends last season. Morgan isgreat value at No. 10, a remarkably productive and versatile player,and he would allow them to rotate in Derrick Harvey. Don't forget, it's not just about a pass-rush with Morgan; he's also great against the run.
McShay:The surprise Kampman signing fills a need at defensive end, andalthough quarterback and outside linebacker are need areas as well, noplayer at either position would be worth drafting here. An upgrade atsafety is needed, too, and Thomas has the instincts, closing burst andball skills to be a starter from day one.
Kiper: I had the Broncos taking Dan Williams here until they used free agency to add the likes of Jamal Williamsto that interior line. Problem solved. Bryant fills another need andwould be a downfield threat and the top wide receiver available for ateam that is likely to lose Brandon Marshall.
McShay:Marshall is generating interest from other teams and may not be in aBroncos uniform next year. Even if Marshall doesn't leave, the Broncoshave to get help at receiver, and Bryant is the best receiver in hisclass by far.
Kiper: Getting Karlos Dansbyin free agency frees the Dolphins to take Williams, who will in turnhelp an improved linebacking corps by occupying blockers and disruptingboth the passing and running games. Williams is stout, strong andunderrated as a disruptive force.
McShay:Jason Fergusonis a 35-year-old coming off a season-ending injury and facing aneight-game suspension. In other words, Miami would be wise to get helpat nose tackle through the draft, and Williams is the premier two-gapplayer on the board.
Kiper:A less-than-great 40 showing in Indy was the first %#+@* in the armorfor Haden, but he's still clearly the top cornerback in the draft ifyou watch the film. If San Francisco opts to let Nate Clements go,Haden would be the perfect pick. Even if it doesn't, Haden has greatvalue.
McShay: SanFrancisco's greatest need is at right tackle, so taking Williams wouldmake sense in terms of both value and need. Williams has the physicaltools and toughness to push for immediate playing time on the rightside and quickly develop into an effective starter.
Kiper:Seattle needs a pass-rusher on the edge of a 4-3 scheme, and Griffenboth fits the bill and has a history with Pete Carroll. Griffen provedto scouts at the combine that he's a physical force. He could be evenbetter in the pros than he was at USC.
McShay: Thismight be a bit early to take a running back, but Spiller could help theSeahawks in a number of ways. Aside from giving the ground game aboost, he also would provide explosiveness in the return game and as aslot receiver.
Kiper:McClain is the top inside linebacker in the draft, and the Giants wouldbe thrilled to see him available at No. 15. Speed is the only questionsurrounding McClain, but he's an instinctive player with greatdiagnostic skills that make up for those question marks. He's also afiery leader.
McShay:McClain has yet to run the 40 for teams and shows some inconsistencieson film, but the Giants would do well to get him here after thedeparture of the productive Antonio Pierce. McClain is an excellenttackler who shows elite instincts when playing at his best.
Kiper:Kindle has proved surprisingly effective against the run despitequestions about his size. But he has a long frame, could add someweight and has great value as a pass-rusher. He could be a greatthird-down edge guy in the absence of Kyle Vanden Bosch.
McShay:With unrestricted free agent Vanden Bosch leaving in free agency, theTitans need an end who's capable of pushing for immediate playing time.Morgan is the most consistent and reliable end in this class on filmand would step in nicely in Tennessee.
Kiper: Iupati isn't a tackle, but he is the most dominant offensive lineman in the draft class and could be the Steve Hutchinsonof this draft. That he could go this high as a guard is indicative ofhis talent. A former defensive player, Iupati can immediately improvethe run game and plays with a mean streak.
McShay: SanFrancisco is looking to upgrade an inconsistent pass rush that didn'tperform as well as statistics suggest last season. Pierre-Paul is arisky pick because of his lack of experience at the FBS level, but hehas rare upside, and 49ers head coach Mike Singletary is the kind ofmotivator who can help Pierre-Paul reach his potential.
Kiper:Davis has all the physical tools to become a Pro Bowl left tackle andwill represent great value at No. 18. Pittsburgh needs to protect andrun-block better in 2010, and Davis' size and mobility make him capableof protecting the blind side and mauling in the run game.
McShay:Owner Art Rooney Jr. has said publicly that he wants to see Pittsburghreturning to the smashmouth ground game that made the organization sosuccessful in the past. Iupati is the top-ranked guard on the board anda mauler who could help the Steelers get back to their old ways ofrunning inside.
Kiper:Spiller would give this team a home run threat and is a steal here,based on his Big Board status. His speed was confirmed in Indy, and hehas the hands to be both a danger in the passing game and a returnoption. One reason he could fall this far: he's not seen as anevery-down option. For an RB, that matters.
McShay:Atlanta struggled to mount a consistent pass rush last season, so theFalcons should be in the market for an edge rusher. At 275 pounds,Griffen has the closing speed, athletic ability and power to make animmediate impact, contribute against the run and develop into astarter.
Kiper: Atlanta's free-agent addition of Dunta Robinsonis now Houston's hole to fill, and Wilson should be able to step inimmediately to help the Texans' secondary. Wilson's stock is in solidshape after the combine, in which he also showed off surprisingstrength.
McShay: WithRobinson gone, there is a void at cornerback, and Wilson is more thanjust a simple need filler. At the Senior Bowl, he showed the fluidhips, burst and toughness to make him an impact player and a good valuepick at this point in the first round.
Kiper: Even if the Bengals add a veteran wideout to pair with Chad Ochocinco,they'll still need to find a younger threat in the passing game. Benndisplays speed, strength and strong hands and has the ability to helpin the return game.
McShay: Widereceiver may be a more pressing need, but safety isn't far behind, andMays would be tough to pass on at this point. There are clear concernsabout his inconsistencies in coverage, but he has a rare blend of sizeand speed.
Kiper:New England needs help at OLB, and Graham could fill that hole. He hascarried the momentum from a dominating season -- he led the nation intackles for loss -- to an impressive Senior Bowl and combine. Graham isstrong, uses great quickness and leverage and pursues well against therun.
McShay: New England re-signed OLB Tully Banta-Cainbut needs to continue to address the position and bolster its passrush. Graham has been impressive during the pre-draft process and hasthe burst, tenacity and consistency to make an immediate impact.
Kiper: Green Bay is lucky Aaron Rodgerswas still standing at the end of last season. The Packers can't takethat chance again. Upgrading the offensive line is a huge priority, andalthough Bulaga has had his off days, he's an impressive talent whomoves well and has long arms that disrupt pass-rushers.
McShay:Davis is free-falling because of character concerns, but he's worth therisk here, especially for a team that needs immediate help at tackle.Davis is an excellent pass-blocker with quick feet and great lateralmobility.
Kiper:The Eagles have a hole to fill in the center of their offensive line,and Pouncey can step in. He's not a mauler but is a cerebral, versatiletalent who can play any of the three interior line positions. He's anideal fit.
McShay:Kindle's versatility and ability to get to the quarterback make him agood fit. He would give the Eagles much-needed help at outsidelinebacker and could make it tougher for teams to double-team DE Trent Cole by lining up opposite him in obvious passing situations.
Kiper: The Ravens aren't finished in their mission to find weapons for Joe Flacco. Gresham is the best pure tight end in the draft and answered physical questions in Indy. The heir to Todd Heap is the perfect weapon for a young passer.
McShay: Baltimore addressed its wide receiver need by trading for Anquan Boldin and signing unrestricted free agent Donte' Stallworth. Gresham is the best pass-catching tight end on the board and would be a great addition to an already upgraded receiving corps.
Kiper:Productivity was never a question for Hughes -- he was a sack machinein Fort Worth -- but he also has proved he has the physical skills tosucceed as an OLB and as a dangerous situational pass-rusher. The Cardscould use one. Hughes could help fill the productivity void in Arizona.
Kiper:At the combine, Thomas answered questions I had raised about his size.Although the Boys could use a tackle, if a top one isn't availablehere, the Texas product is a great fit for the Cowboys as a playmakerwith cover skills at the safety position.
McShay:Brown is a bit of a reach here, but his size and athletic ability givehim the potential to develop into starting left tackle. With Flozell Adams on the downside of his career, Brown gives the Cowboys an insurance policy at the position.
Kiper:Talk about his physical limitations, weight questions and lack of speed-- but that's beside the point. Cody is the quintessentialblock-occupying clogger who makes everyone else better. He'd be aperfect centerpiece for San Diego's 3-4.
McShay: San Diego's decision to release LaDainian Tomlinsonleaves it without a franchise back. Mathews' size and bruising runningstyle make him a good fit for the scheme and a nice complement toscatback Darren Sproles.
Kiper:The best size-speed combination in the draft, Mays would fit with theJets, who have solid cover corners and could use his impressive arrayof physical skills as a presence in the secondary. Rex Ryan could bringout the best in him.
McShay: TheJets need help at defensive end, and Odrick would be a perfect fit as afive-technique in their base 3-4 scheme. He has the quickness, frame,long arms and toughness to push for immediate playing time.
Kiper:McCourty's stock has surged, and he proved during the combine that hehas the speed to change directions and run with NFL receivers. TheVikes also could go for Patrick Robinson here, but I have McCourtyrated higher.
McShay: Stalwart DT Pat Williamsis 37 years old and reportedly has considered retiring this offseason.Price is a disruptive force who could help keep Williams fresh, givethe interior pass rush a boost and step into a starting role afterWilliams moves on.
Kiper:Previously, I had the Colts taking Jared Odrick here, but Price is asuperior option, a player who can beat or shed blockers and causeproblems on the interior. The Colts should upgrade along the defensiveline, and Price represents great value.
McShay:Indianapolis needs help at guard and must address its future at center,and Pouncey would help solve both problems. He's talented and versatileenough to start at guard this season and slide inside once aging C Jeff Saturday moves on.
Kiper:Weatherspoon is a perfect fit for the Saints, who need to add talent totheir linebacker corps, particularly after the defection of Scott Fujita. Weatherspoon is a steady tackle who showed better speed during his combine workouts than many had expected.
McShay:With Fujita now in Cleveland, outside linebacker is one of the Saints'top priorities. They are also reportedly focusing on upgrading theirathletic ability on defense, making Weatherspoon and his blend of sizeand speed a perfect fit.
Bradford #1 overall?! I must have been sleeping on the stupid ridiculous updates on Sportscenter lately. It's funny how Suh was a dead lock at #1 during Nebraska's final regular season game, and now has dropped below a system QB with a bum shoulder. Not saying Bradford isn't worthy, but Suh seems like the truth (and reppin OR!).