NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analysts Rob Rang and Chad Reuter each predict five things that few others are willing to hang their hat on leading into the NFL Draft.
5. St. Louis trades out of the first pick
I reported that the Browns were having internal discussions about offering a package of picks to the Rams for the rights to the No. 1 selection two days before Cleveland general manager Tom Heckert publicly acknowledged the talks. While trading out of the top pick is rarely feasible, the 2010 draft is unique in that the Browns appear to be enamored with Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford and have the ammunition (five picks in the top 100) to make St. Louis a tempting offer.
|More Draft coverage|
Prisco: Pierre-Paul bound for stardom
Reuter: Five bold predictions
NFL Draft Blog: Rang's latest updates
Most important, sources tell me the Rams are not significantly more sold on Bradford than some of the other quarterbacks in this draft, namely Texas' Colt McCoy. If the Rams believe they can get McCoy with the first pick of the second round -- the 33rd pick overall -- don't be surprised if they trade out of No. 1, collect their extra picks and take advantage of this year's deep talent level to reshape their roster.
4. New TV-friendly format leads to plenty of drama, multiple trades
The NFL may have changed the draft format to better suit primetime television, but the impact could produce far more than just increased viewership as the new format will give teams more time to formulate trades.
The Seahawks and 49ers, with two first-round picks each, are obvious candidates to make moves. The Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots are all exploring trade-down opportunities, sources tell me. The Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys, on the other hand, are looking to move up.
3. Trent Williams will be drafted over Russell Okung
Oklahoma State's Russell Okung is the top-rated offensive lineman in the 2010 draft by NFLDraftScout.com and most teams. He will not, however, be the first offensive tackle off the board, as the Washington Redskins will take Oklahoma's Trent Williams with the fourth overall pick.
Williams is seen as a better fit in Mike Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme. Okung won't be on the board for long, however. The Kansas City Chiefs or Seattle Seahawks will take him with one of the next two picks.
2. Ryan Mathews leapfrogs C.J. Spiller
I stand behind the comparison to Tennessee Titans star Chris Johnson that I've been making with C.J. Spiller since September. The Clemson running back is the most dynamic runner and returner in this draft and is such an explosive athlete that he's an obvious candidate to be the Offensive Rookie of the Year wherever he may end up.
|Will Sam Bradford be bound for the Browns after a big trade? (Getty Images)|
Most believe Mathews could wind up with the Houston Texans at No. 20 or the San Diego Chargers at No. 28 due to the fact that both teams have obvious concerns at running back. Six running backs have been drafted in the first round the past two years, and each went to teams with established runners already on their roster.
Spiller and Mathews are going in the top 32 -- and where they end up might prove to be two of the more surprising stories of the Thursday's opening round.
1. Some team is going to severely reach for South Florida defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul
Let's be clear about this. I'm not so in love with Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan's game that I think he warrants a top 10 selection -- and considering that he plays one of the true premier positions in the game, that is saying something about my top-rated pass rusher.
To rate Jason Pierre-Paul over Morgan, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, is lunacy in my opinion. Pierre-Paul has seven career starts at the D-I level. Those starts were not consecutive, but spread out over 11 games, and he wasn't a dominating presence.
He's wonderfully athletic, possessing the quick burst off the snap and long arms that every team operating out of the 4-3 alignment is looking for. He has very little understanding of gap alignment, however, and offers next to nothing in terms of run defense.
The team that selects Pierre-Paul with a top 20 selection can expect similar results from his rookie season that Vernon Gholston in 2009 (Jets) and Aaron Maybin (Bills) and Robert Ayers (Broncos) last year -- three other severely overrated (by some) -- produced.
Rob Rang is a Senior Analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, distributed by The Sports Xchange