Scheme and fit are two terms that are often forgotten when putting together mock drafts. The top talent at a particular position doesn’t necessarily make him the ideal fit for a position-starved team. Balancing a player’s abilities and the needs of a team is what grants franchises the right to say they had a successful draft. The AFRO took its own try at successfully predicting the upcoming NFL’s first round and this is how it mocked out:

St. Louis Rams — QB, Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
The Rams have passed on Mark Sanchez and Matt Ryan during the last two drafts, so they’re long overdue for a franchise signal caller.

Detroit Lions—DT, Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska
Detroit should think hard about protecting sophomore quarterback Matthew Stafford but the draft is deep for “offensive line-help” yet short at “best player in the draft help.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers—DT, Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma
Tampa finished in the bottom five in sacks and last in run defense. This could be a perfect marriage for a guy who idolizes former Buccaneer star Warren Sapp.

Washington Redskins—OT, Russell Okung, Oklahoma State
Washington’s offensive line is barer than a newborn. Can’t have a franchise quarterback (McNabb) without a franchise left tackle; Okung fits that description.

Kansas City Chiefs—DB, Eric Berry, Tennessee
The Chiefs’ defense finished second to last against the pass. Berry finished his career second to none as the best defensive back in the country.

Seattle Seahawks—OT/OG, Bryan Bulaga, Iowa
Long time franchise left tackle Walter Jones is rumored to be retiring. Seattle is rumored to be seeking his replacement.

Cleveland Browns—DT/DE, Jared Odrick, Penn State
Cleveland needs help everywhere and may trade this pick. If not, the Browns will make the first major reach of the draft and grab a versatile defender whom their front office is high on.

Oakland Raiders—OT, Trent Williams, Oklahoma
Williams is athletic, quick and big – the perfect DNA for athleticism-obsessed Oakland.

Buffalo Bills—DT/NT, Dan Williams, Tennessee
Buffalo is set to switch to a 3-4 defense. After finishing in the bottom five against the run, the Bills need to find an anchor to power the switch.

 Jacksonville Jaguars—DE, Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech
Playing in a division with Peyton Manning and Matt Schaub, the Jaguars need all the pass-rush help they can get.

Denver Broncos—WR, Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State
The Broncos run a spread offense and their best receiver (Brandon Marshall) may be on his way out the door.

Miami Dolphins—DE/OLB, Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida
A backyard prospect, who fits the Bill Parcells mold of oversized linebackers who can fly. Extremely raw but will be asked to use his athleticism and speed to attack quarterbacks off the edge.

San Francisco 49ers—QB, Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame
Current signal caller Alex Smith has been a disappointment for San Francisco. The last time the Niners had a quarterback under center from Notre Dame, things worked out pretty good.

 Seattle Seahawks—RB, C.J. Spiller, Clemson
Spiller would see playing time immediately and add some explosive spark to the return game and a retooling offense.

 New York Giants—OLB/ILB, Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri
Weatherspoon can play multiple linebacker positions and his leadership will fill the void that was created when Antonio Pierce was released.

Tennessee Titans—CB, Kyle Wilson, Boise State
Tennessee expects their corners to handle receivers one-on-one without any safety help and Wilson has the speed and ball skills to excel in that kind of system.

 San Francisco 49ers—OT/OG, Anthony Davis, Rutgers
If the Niners can come away from this draft with a potential quarterback and left tackle of the future, a return to the glory days could be on the horizon.

Pittsburgh Steelers—CB, Joe Haden, Florida
The Steelers cornerbacks didn’t record an interception until the last game of the season. The fast and physical Haden will be a welcomed addition.

Atlanta Falcons—DE/OLB, Sergio Kindle, Texas
Atlanta’s pass rush was stale for much of last season. Kindle has been mentioned to be better than former teammate Brian Orakpo. If so, then Atlanta jumps to the podium with the pick.

Houston Texans—DB, Earl Thomas, Texas
Houston gets some backyard help with the versatile Thomas sitting here. The plan is to unseat Peyton Manning and the Colts and Thomas can help with that blueprint.

Cincinnati Bengals—TE, Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma
The addition of Gresham could finally give Cincinnati the explosive tight end they’ve been looking for.

New England Patriots—DE/OLB, Brandon Graham, Michigan
New England is reconstructing their front seven and the forever hustling Graham would fit in perfect as a 3-4 rush linebacker.

Green Bay Packers—CB, Devin McCourty, Rutgers
The Packers would’ve loved to nab Graham but they answer their next biggest need at finding a cornerback for their aging secondary.

Philadelphia Eagles—OG/OT, Mike Iupati, Idaho
Head coach Andy Reid loves to add massive maulers in the first round. After parting ways with former first rounder Shawn Andrews, Iupati will headline Reid’s run blocking revival.

 Baltimore Ravens—ILB, Rolando McClain, Alabama
The Ravens have other needs but seeing Ray Lewis’ potential successor still on the board is just too good to pass up. McClain’s size, familiarity with the 3-4 system and leadership skills are perfect for the Ravens defense. But if tight end Jermaine Gresham is still available at this pick, the Ravens won’t hesitate to grab him.

Arizona Cardinals—OT, Charles Brown, USC
After losing starting receiver Anquan Boldin, adding offensive line help will help starting quarterback Matt Leinhart’s job a little easier as the Cardinals will focus more on the running game next season.

Dallas Cowboys—OT, Bruce Campbell, Maryland
Campbell dazzled at the NFL Combine and the Cowboys never shy away from adding an athletic lineman to their front, especially in the wake of the recently released Flozell Adams.

San Diego Chargers—RB, Ryan Matthews, Fresno State
After releasing long time franchise front man LaDainian Tomlinson, the Chargers are thin at running back. Matthews has the size to carry the load.

New York Jets—DB, Taylor Mays, USC
Defensive mad man Rex Ryan could opt for a receiver or a defensive lineman but the chance to add another big, fast and physical chess piece in Mays will make the Jets’ defense even scarier.

Minnesota Vikings—QB, Colt McCoy, Texas
With a loaded roster, the Vikings will try to trade up and land a marquee player. If they don’t, grabbing a successor to the indecisive Brett Favre could be an option since the chance at a top quarterback won’t likely come around again later.

Indianapolis Colts—OC/OG, Maurkice Pouncey, Florida
The Colts offensive front is in shambles. It’s time to rebuild the line with the top center in the draft to help Manning finish

 

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO