While it's somewhat possible to project the first round of the NFL Draft, the second round is more like trying to control Ben Roethlisberger at a party.
(Speaking of which...the Steelers are contacting teams with Top 10 NFL Draft picks about possibly trading Big Ben. If I'm in charge, I make this deal in a heartbeat. You've got to have a top-flight quarterback to win a Super Bowl. R-berger is a top 5 quarterback in this league. He is 28 years old. That's atleast six years of a star quarterback's prime. You don't pass up a chance to secure a quarterback of such stature. Sure, he invites ladies to the pants party a little too often. So did Tiger Woods, and who remembers that? Err. He can take classes for that. And I think the weight of public embarassment will have a powerful, eye-opening effect on him. I think the odds of him turning around his personal life equate to the odds that Eric Berry fulfills his draft position. High. So would you rather have a good, possibly great, safety for 12 years or a premier quarterback with a 60-26 career record and two Super Bowls to his credit for six years? Not only would I trade the first round pick for him, I would trade our top three picks for him (hoping he keeps Lil' Ben in Pittsburgh.)
Back to the second round. The beginning of the second round on Friday night is going to be crazy. Teams are going to have 20 hours to digest the first round, reorganize their draft boards, and swap offers with teams at the top of the round. Teams will get aggressive. I expect three or four of the top five picks at the top of the round to be traded. I think it'll be the best part of the Draft's new format, and will be filled with action and drama for both teams and fans. So enjoy the fact that we are at the top of it. And feel confident in the fact that we should have one of the smartest suits in the league.
Let's go back to the positions of need list before I throw down names that I would love to hear called come Friday night.
1. Outside Linebacker- Draft will be a failure if they don't come away with one.
2. Safety- Projecting to be addressed in first round.
3. Wide Receiver- The most likely selection due to second round depth.
4. Nose Tackle- Terrence Cody is more known than Cam Thomas or Linval Joseph, but all are possible.
5. Center- Pouncey or possibly Weis' former center, Eric Olsen, in the later rounds.
6. Middle Linebacker- I'm guessing will be addressed in a later round.
7. Right Tackle- I'm sticking with Albert at Left Tackle.
8. Tight End- I like Aaron Hernandez (Florida, 3rd round) as a tight end/receiver mix to create matchup problems.
2nd Round Best Case Scenarios (assuming the following players, who would make the list, are off the board: Brandon Graham, Dan Williams, Sergio Kindle):
1. Jerry Hughes, OLB, TCU- Want him bad enough, that if we traded down in the first round I would consider drafting him then. Or I would be in favor of trading up to the bottom of the first to take him. He would be worth it. Mike Vrabel is done and most people haven't realized it yet. Hughes plays mean. Almost every analysis on him uses the word "relentless." He had 26.5 sacks the last two years and forced eight fumbles. He fits the 3-4 perfectly. I love this draft if we get him.
2. Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida- One of the surest picks in the draft will most likely be off the board come the second round, but we should snag him if he slides. Niswanger is below average at an underrated position, and I don't think Wiegmann is the answer either, who gets pushed around by bigger defensive tackles from 3-4 defenses, which the AFC West is filled with. Pouncey won the Dave Rimington award for the best center in the country. He snapped out of the shotgun primarily at Florida, which is important for our offense. He is all but guaranteed to be good in my eyes.
3. Terrence Cody, DT, Alabama- Taking players from the best defense in college is always a good strategy. There's no hiding Cody's strengths and weaknesses. He is immovable, which is great in stuffing the run, but doesn't help much in pass rush situations. Seems comparable to Vince Wilfork, who Pioli and the Patriots drafted in the first round in 2004. The Chiefs have nobody close to his size, so he would fit a position of need.
4. Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame- We know Todd Haley wants another receiver. We know Charlie Weis coached Tate at Notre Dame. Seems like a no-brainer if he is on the board at 36. Seems like a natural fit in the slot. Would provide a deep threat. He can go up and get jump balls despite only being 5'10. On top of all this, he has return experience, which became a need once JamaAL Charles started toting the rock, son. He should be respected for this act alone...
5. Jared Gaither, T, Baltimore Ravens- Reportedly being shopped for a top-40 pick. It is possible that all four of the previously listed players are off the board when we get to pick at 36. If that's the case, I would do my best to work out a trade for Gaither. He stands a monstrous 6'9. Played well at Left Tackle in 2008, starting 15 games. He started 11 games in 2009, while a freakish neck injury sidelined him for five. Could seemingly play the left or the right side. He is already proven and well worth a second round pick.
6. Eric Norwood, OLB, South Carolina- Would rather snag him with the second of the second round picks (if Hughes isn't already chosen), but would be my choice if none of the first five happened. Reminds me a lot of Elvis Dumervil, who I also loved coming out of college, and who enjoyed a breakout year in 2009. Very quick burst off the line and around the edge. Made first team All-SEC the last three years with 29 career sacks. Would love to see one of my top five combined with him in the second round.
-Demaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech- Love him. Good size. Can you be too tall to play the slot?
- Vladimir Ducasse, OT, Massachusetts- Huge Right Tackle prospect from a small school.
-Nate Allen, S, South Florida- meh.
-Morgan Burnett, S, Georgia Tech- I dig his braids.
-Chad Jones, S, LSU- Would be my top safety choice if Berry isn't the first round selection.
-Arrelious Benn, WR, Illinois- Mediocre.
-Damian Williams, WR, USC- Like him, don't love him.
-Linval Joseph, DT, East Carolina- next best Nose Tackle on the board.
Dirkness' Best Case Scenario: Eric Berry, Jerry Hughes, and Terrence Cody
Final Prediction: Eric Berry, Golden Tate, and Vladimir Ducasse.