You may greet this first edition of the 2010 Bengals.com Media Mock Draft much like the man who made the 18th pick for us, the estimable Steelers beat man of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Ed Bouchette.
"Hey," Bouchette said, preparing for next week's NFL annual get together. "Don't you think it's a little early? Give me a chance to cover the meetings first, will you?"
But Bouchette made the pick because that's what we do in March and April. We go from the top to where the Bengals are picking on April 22 - No. 21 - where we give this pick to the architect of America's team in Dallas and the engine of NFL.com's draft coverage, the inexhaustible Gil Brandt. Ready or not…
1. RAMS - QB SAM BRADFORD, Oklahoma; Jim Thomas, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: The Rams continue to hemorrhage without a trigger man. They haven't drafted a quarterback in the first round since LBJ. Would you believe Bill Munson in 1964?
2. LIONS - DT NDAMUKONG SUH, Nebraska; Nick Cotsonika, Detroit Free Press: The Lions would probably like to trade down, but Suh fits. He's the kind of multi-dimensional defensive lineman head coach Jim Schwartz loves and the Lions have been emphasizing the front line this offseason with the additions of tackle Corey Williams from the Browns and Schwartz refuge from Tennessee, end Kyle Vanden Bosch.
3. BUCCANEERS - DT GERALD MCCOY, Oklahoma; Jim Flynn, Pewter Report: The Bucs were dead last against the run and the aging Chris Hovan could get cut with his $4 million salary. There is no comparison, but Tampa has been lacking here since the heyday of Warren Sapp.
4. REDSKINS - QB JIMMY CLAUSEN, Notre Dame; Mark Maske, The Washington Post: The thinking is the Redskins need a tackle to fill the void left by Chris Samuels but there seems to be sentiment building for a fresh start under offensive mastermind Mike Shanahan. It's early and Maske says it's a close call right now between Clausen and the tackle, with about 60-40 for the QB.
5. CHIEFS - S ERIC BERRY, Tennessee; Adam Teicher, The Kansas City Star: K.C. has loaded up on so many linemen on each side of the ball with their recent early picks that it's time to take a playmaker somewhere. The Chiefs finished 30-30-31 in total yards per game, yards per play, and rushing yards per game allowed and they haven't had anybody near Berry's athleticism in the secondary in years.
6. SEAHAWKS - T ANTHONY DAVIS, Rutgers; Mike Sando, ESPN.com/NFC West: With two first-round picks, the Seahwaks figure to be looking to replace long-time left tackle icon Walter Jones and find a pass rush defensive end and could do it at either spot. Berry is also an option if he's still there. Pete Carroll's new regime hasn't offered many details on how it plans to rebuild.
7. BROWNS - CB JOE HADEN, Florida; Tony Grossi, Cleveland Plain-Dealer: Grossi made the call even before Haden saved himself at his pro day this week with 40-yard dash times between 4.37-4.42 seconds. They went a long way in erasing the shock of his 4.58 at last month's scouting combine. The Browns would love to get Berry with the thinking they will go cornerback and safety in the first two rounds no matter the order.
8. RAIDERS - T BRUCE CAMPBELL, Maryland; Nancy Gay, AOL FanHouse: The Raiders just won't be able to help themselves. A year after stunning the world by drafting a speed demon with the seventh pick who can't catch in Darrius Heyward-Bey, Gay sees them again getting mesmerized by Campbell's workout-warrior performance at the combine even though some have him rated out of the first round.
9. BILLS - T RUSSELL OKUNG, Oklahoma State; Mark Gaughan, Buffalo News: A lot of the Bills' ills can be traced to left tackle. All you need to know is they were last in the NFL in allowing sacks per play. If not Okung, the next best.
10. JAGUARS - DE JASON PIERRE-PAUL, South Florida; Vito Stellino, The Florida Times-Union: How bad off are the Jags at this position? They traded up to get two pass-rushers in the first two rounds in 2008, Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves, and ended up with just 14 sacks in '09. And here they are at the well again.
11. BRONCOS - ILB ROLANDO MCCLAIN, Alabama; Bill Williamson, ESPN.com AFC West: With Andra Davis getting moved out, Denver needs some kind of inside presence in its evolving 3-4. But if wide receiver Brandon Marshall gets traded the Broncos could also look receiver here.
12. DOLPHINS - DT DAN WILLIAMS, Tennessee; Tim Graham, ESPN.com/AFC East: With nose tackle Jason Ferguson suspended for the first eight games of the season, Miami needs something to beef up the middle on a defense that is coming off a season the Dolphins finished a pretty stingy 15th in giving up yards per attempt.
13. 49ERS - T TRENT WILLIAMS, Oklahoma; Matt Maiocco, Santa Rosa Press Democrat: This is a guy the Niners can stick in at right tackle and he'll start. They weren't very consistent running the ball (you have to be better than 25th per game with Frank Gore) and they were 23rd protecting the passer per throw.
14. SEAHAWKS - DE DERRICK MORGAN, Georgia Tech; Mike Sando, ESPN.com/NFC West: Pass-rushing looks to be a concern with Patrick Kerney's status in doubt and Darryl Tapp traded. As it is, the Seahawks were fourth-worst in accumulating sacks last year. If they don't get Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall, they could also look receiver.
15. GIANTS - MLB BRANDON SPIKES, Florida; Mike Eisen, Giants.com: Spikes may be falling with his 5-plus 40s, but with Antonio Pierce gone, the G-Men don't have anybody close that can play middle backer.
16. TITANS - OLB SERGIO KINDLE, Texas; Jim Wyatt, The Tennessean: The Titans continue to overhaul on defense. Gone are old standbys like Bulluck and Vanden Bosch a year after they said farewell to Schwartz and Haynesworth. Their signature pressure wilted to 26th in sacks last year.
17. 49ERS - CB KYLE WILSON, Boise State; Matt Maiocco, Santa Rosa Press Democrat: Could be a little high here for Wilson and the Niners are also looking for a pass rusher. But 49ers coach Mike Singletary is supposedly on the workout trail looking for corners and Wilson is a guy that would come in and at least contribute right away as a punt returner for a team that finished last in that category in '09. Wilson averaged 10.4 yards per punt return.
18. STEELERS - G MIKE IUPATI, Idaho; Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: The Steelers are aging on defense and they may be looking at a linebacker and a cornerback. But if Pittsburgh is going to go back to a smashmouth offense, what better way than behind a guy most everyone thinks is going to be a certain Pro Bowler. The Steelers have had four starters at right guard since '08 and are staring at starting a college free agent if they don't upgrade.
19. FALCONS - OLB SEAN WEATHERSPOON, Missouri; D. Orlando Ledbetter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: With Mike Peterson moving on, the Falcons are looking to surround budding third-year player Curtis Lofton with some youth. The Falcons apparently feel he can play outside after a highly decorated college career and a combine performance that has him rising: 40-inch vertical leap, 4.68 40 and 34 reps of 225 pounds. Ledbetter, the former *Cincinnati Enquirer *reporter, has been chronicling the journeys of the Falcons' braintrust and Mizzou was on the manifest.
20. TEXANS - S EARL THOMAS, Texas; John McClain, Houston Chronicle: The Texans are supposedly hot on a running back, but not if this guy is there. They love his ability as a two-way guy who can hit and make plays on the ball. Since they came into the NFL in 2002, the Texans have never had that type of impact player in the secondary.
21. BENGALS - DT BRIAN PRICE, UCLA; Gil Brandt, NFL.com: Look at the board. A wide receiver hasn't been taken yet. A running back hasn't been taken yet. A tight end hasn't been taken yet. This thing may be way off, but what it does show is it is a defensive draft and it backs the conventional wisdom that the Bengals can get the offensive players they need in the second round and beyond.
Head coach Marvin Lewis said it as recently as Thursday. The signing of wide receiver Antonio Bryant opens up the draft. Brandt is throwing everyone for a loop, but he's convinced that the Bengals are going to go defense in a first round rich with defensive talent.
Brandt also thinks they'll opt for a D-tackle even though they just re-signed Tank Johnson for four more years and they drafted Pat Sims in the third round in '08 in part because of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer's quest for trench warfare and an inside pass rush. The knock on Price is his height, 6-1, which is deemed short for elite tackles. He goes 303 pounds and has a rep for playing with high energy and has shown he's been able to stop the run despite his height.
"He's a solid player," Brandt says. "A conference player of the year with some real good numbers at the combine. He lifted the bar 34 times, ran 5.12, and had a 28 (inch) vertical. I would think at that point he's got to be looked at as one of the best defensive players on the board."