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The Ultimate Draft


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From Mike Silver, Yahoo Sports


1. St. Louis Rams – Peyton Manning, QB: Yes, Manning is 34, which under normal conditions would cost him dearly in the UMD Universe. But given his durability, competitiveness and utter mastery of the game, Manning transcends the typical standards. Even if the man plays, say, five more seasons, those are likely to be five of the greatest quarterbacking seasons of the modern era. He has never missed a start, putting him up there with Brett Favre(notes) in terms of dependability, and is seldom touched in the pocket. It’s not far-fetched to imagine him playing into his 40s at a high level, as Favre has – and he’s the kind of exacting leader who can uplift an entire offense, if not a franchise. The Rams, as you might have noticed, need a fair amount of uplifting. This will be the third consecutive year I’ve had Manning going to St. Louis in the UMD; in real life, one reason the Rams keep drafting so high (as opposed to, say, the Colts) is that they don’t actually get to put him on their roster.



2. Detroit Lions – Tom Brady, QB: Hail to the victors valiant. Hail to the conquering hero. Brady’s back in Michigan – wouldn’t that be the best? If you’re a long-suffering Lions fan, it sure as hell would be. After rebounding from his severe knee injury to enjoy a solid 2009 season, Brady, who turns 33 in August, likely has many years of high-level football ahead of him.



3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Darrelle Revis(notes), CB: Is the Bay ready for Revis Island? General manager Mark Dominik and coach Raheem Morris can’t wait to find out. Revis was a revelation in his third NFL season, somehow managing six interceptions and 31 passes defensed despite it being common knowledge that the prudent course for opposing quarterbacks was to avoid him at all costs. Revis shut down everyone, putting receivers on lockdown in a way that we hadn’t seen in years. It was Deionesque. His coach with the Jets, Rex Ryan, said last December, “Nodody – and I mean nobody in maybe the history of the game – has had the challenges that he’s faced maybe week in and week out.” That sound you just heard was Roddy White(notes), Steve Smith and Marques Colston(notes) groaning in unison.



4. Washington Redskins – Drew Brees(notes), QB: The scouting report on Brees just landed on Mike Shanahan’s desk: The dude is short, not blessed with exceptional arm strength and isn’t especially mobile – and (cue Jeff Spicoli) he’s awesome … totally awesome. Sorry, President and Mrs. Obama – you’re no longer the sexiest couple in town.



5. Kansas City Chiefs – Larry Fitzgerald, WR: When Todd Haley had Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin(notes) as his starting receivers in Arizona, he was one of the smartest offensive coordinators in football. After a miserable season with Dwayne Bowe(notes), Chris Chambers(notes) and a bunch of guys you’ve never heard of at wideout, the embattled head coach hired Charlie Weis to call the plays. Enough said. Fitzgerald, as I told you last year, is the most dominant player at his position. And unlike many of the league’s best wideouts, he’s not an insufferable diva.



6. Seattle Seahawks – Chris Johnson, RB: Admit it – many of you laughed a year ago when I had Johnson going seventh in UMD5. And a bunch of you questioned my sanity when I advised UCSB women’s basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb to pick the speedy Titans runner second overall in her fantasy draft last summer. I’m not saying I know everything about everything (that’s for others to point out), but when it comes to the man who calls himself Every Coach’s Dream, I have a decent amount of credibility. In the Hawks’ imaginary war room, he’s Pete Carroll’s rain-drenched Seattle dream.



7. Cleveland Browns – Aaron Rodgers(notes), QB: Mike Holmgren, who helped turn Favre into a living legend, needs a tough, accurate passer to make his West Coast Offense go. Gee, how about the kid who took over for Favre in Titletown? Rodgers was terrific in ’09, his second season as a starter, and absolutely brilliant in his playoff debut last January. Oh, and he’s only 26. (And for those of you who think I’m hopelessly in the tank for the guy because he went to Cal, allow me to remind you that Kyle Boller(notes), bless his blue-and-gold soul, has never been selected in the Ultimate Mock Draft – and DeSean Jackson(notes) narrowly missed the cut this year.)



8. Oakland Raiders – Ben Roethlisberger(notes), QB: Tom Cable wants to pick Brandon Marshall(notes) – I’ll let your imaginations run wild with that one. “He’s not fast enough,” says owner Al Davis, who has his sights set on Jamaican sprinting superstar Usain Bolt. He and Cable settle the debate by agreeing that Big Ben would look pretty sweet in Silver and Black, continuing Oakland’s long tradition of taking in players with troubled pasts. “He’s a two-time Super Bowl winner, and one of the best players in the league,” Davis explains. “And he’ll have a chance to compete with JaMarcus Russell(notes) for the starting job … .”



9. Buffalo Bills – DeMarcus Ware(notes), OLB: Ware is known for his pass-rushing excellence, but unlike some of the NFL’s other sack specialists, he’s a complete beast against the run, too. The Cowboys’ All-Pro demonstrated his toughness last December when, six days after suffering a scary neck injury against the Chargers, he starred in Dallas’ season-turning triumph over the previously undefeated Saints at the Superdome. Simply put, he’d be Buffalo’s best defender since Bruce Smith.



10. Jacksonville Jaguars – Adrian Peterson. RB: Imagine a taller, stronger, faster, more ferocious version of Maurice Jones-Drew(notes). Jack Del Rio can, and he’s not going to let a little fumbling issue scare him away from the man known as “AD”, and not “AP.” In an effort to improve Peterson’s handling of precious objects, Del Rio brings back his trusty ax and stump of oak and advises his new halfback to keep choppin’ wood. Hilarity ensues.



11. Chicago Bears – Patrick Willis(notes), MLB: Bill George. Dick Butkus. Mike Singletary. Brian Urlacher(notes). It’s only fitting that this franchise would find a way to steal the game’s best young middle linebacker and christen him the new Monster of the Midway. Wait, what’s that you say? The legendary Singletary, Willis’ head coach in San Francisco, isn’t happy about this, and he’s back at Halas Hall looking for Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith with eyes ablaze? Oops …



12. Miami Dolphins – Albert Haynesworth(notes), DT: Few people appreciate the impact of a big, menacing, disruptive interior lineman the way Bill Parcells does, and Haynesworth, at 28, should have plenty of dominant years left. Haynesworth is regarded around the league as someone who gives uneven effort, but Parcells prides himself on being a master motivator. And if Tony Sparano wants to get really crazy, imagine lining up the big guy in the Wildcat Offense, if only for one short-yardage play.


13. San Francisco 49ers – Nnamdi Asomugha(notes), CB: Remember when Asomugha was the undisputed owner of the league’s best cornerback title? Yeah, of course you do – it was last year, before Revis’ ridiculous ’09 season. It’s not like the big, fast, smart and physical Asomugha got any worse, and the Niners’ brain trust – specifically, whomever’s calling the shots after general manager Scot McCloughan’s banishment – is thrilled to bring the longtime Raiders standout across the Bay.



14. Denver Broncos – Matt Ryan(notes), QB: My man crush on the Falcons’ young quarterback is well-documented, and I’m guessing this is one thing on which Broncos coach Josh McDaniels and I might actually agree. Smart, dedicated and poised, Ryan was the most impressive rookie quarterback I’ve seen since Dan Marino. He’d look pretty cool in those John Elway colors, too.



15. New York Giants – Philip Rivers(notes), QB: The Giants drafted Rivers in real life six years ago, only to trade him for Eli Manning(notes) a few minutes later. Now, after getting a Super Bowl victory out of Peyton’s little bro, it’s time to sample what might have been. That’s because Rivers, in ’09, went from really good to great, sticking it to the Giants in their home stadium in the process. Besides, with Rex Ryan stirring it up regularly for the Big Apple’s other franchise, what better way than a trash-talking quarterback to level the playing field?



Allen menaced the Packers’ Rodgers last year.

(Bruce Kluckhohn/US Presswire)


16. Tennessee Titans – Jared Allen(notes), DE: Can you imagine Jeff Fisher with that highway patrolman’s mustache and the most pronounced mullet in NFL coaching history? Allen could make it happen – that’s how stoked Fisher would be to have the tireless, uproarious, disruptive end anchoring his defensive line. And I don’t even want to think about the prospect of Allen getting up onstage in Nashville’s famed honky-tonks with various long-haired outlaw luminaries, beginning with Hank Williams III and his reverse mullet.



17. Carolina Panthers – Dwight Freeney(notes), DE: For the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, all we heard about was how Freeney’s severely sprained ankle would keep the NFL’s best pass rusher from getting to Brees. Then Freeney sucked it up, suited up and took down the Saints’ quarterback with a one-handed sack off a bull rush to kill a second-quarter drive. John Fox would know exactly how to use him. (I told you Colts fans hate this draft …)



18. Pittsburgh Steelers – Brian Cushing(notes), OLB: I’ll never forget the conversation I had last year with former Cardinals, Rams and 49ers scout David Razzano, one of the most authentic talent evaluators in the business. I asked him about Aaron Curry(notes), and all he wanted to talk about was Cushing. “He’s the best linebacker, by far,” Razzano insisted. “I’m telling you, the guy’s an Urlacher type. He’s relentless, plays from side to side and could’ve played in the NFL as a [uSC] freshman. He’s got a great motor, is really good at dropping into zone coverage and makes plays all over the field.” That’s pretty much the way Cushing’s rookie season with the Texans unfolded, and Mike Tomlin can’t wait to get his hands on the kid and watch him become the next great Pittsburgh linebacker.



19. Atlanta Falcons – Ryan Clady(notes), OT: Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff understands maximizing value on draft day as well as anyone, and the thought of getting the league’s best young tackle in this spot is too delicious to resist. Clady, who turns 24 in September, is a terrific athlete who excels at pass blocking and is equally dominant in the running game. Says one highly respected personnel expert: “A guy like that can make your offensive coordinator look awfully smart for a long, long time.”



20. Houston Texans – Andre Johnson(notes), WR: Can you imagine the Texans without their consistently terrific receiver? General manager Rick Smith can’t, so he’s taking the understated 28-year-old who has caught more than 100 passes in three of the past four seasons. It’s a shame that Johnson has never played in a truly big game; if he ever does, I have a feeling he’ll rip it up the way Fitzgerald did during the ’08 playoffs.



21. Cincinnati Bengals – Carson Palmer, QB: Inspired by the Texans’ decision to stay in-house, Mike Brown takes Palmer off the market, the 30-year-old passer’s injury history and shaky end to the ’09 season be damned. If you’re one of those people who thinks Palmer isn’t a premier player anymore, get back to me about six months from now, after you’ve seen him direct an offense with newly signed deep threat Antonio Bryant(notes) lined up opposite Chad Ochocinco(notes).



22. New England Patriots – Troy Polamalu(notes), SS: Did you notice what happened to the Steelers’ defense when the long-haired safety was out with a bum knee last season? Bill Belichick did, and he can’t wait to deploy him in his revamped defense. A violent hitter with playmaking ability and an intelligent approach to the game, Polamalu, who turns 29 on Monday, remains the league’s best safety. He and Belichick together would be scary.



23. Green Bay Packers – Tony Romo(notes), QB: The kid from Burlington, Wis., comes home to Cheesehead Nation, bringing the same risk-taking, fearless swagger that Favre once displayed at Lambeau Field. That’s splendid news for all the Burlington-based friends of Tony’s parents, Ramiro and Joan, that have pretended to be Cowboys fans all these years and can now reveal their true loyalties.



24. Philadelphia Eagles – Gerald McCoy, DT: Andy Reid and general manager Howie Roseman are tempted to take Kevin Kolb(notes) here, but they’d rather snag him in the second round (if one, in fact, existed) and gloat about how smart they are. So instead, with apologies to second-year halfback LeSean, they go out and get the real McCoy, the former Oklahoma defensive tackle who I’ve heard scouts liken to Warren Sapp(notes), Kevin Williams(notes) and Bryant Young(notes). (Living up to any of those comparisons would be pretty impressive.) Pro Bowl defensive end Trent Cole’s(notes) life just got a lot better, and Eagles fans will be delighted to know that the team is now even younger.



25. Baltimore Ravens – Sam Bradford, QB: Two seasons ago, the Ravens went to the AFC championship game with a rookie quarterback, Joe Flacco(notes). So Ozzie Newsome, one of the league’s best and boldest GMs, won’t be afraid to try to upgrade with the strong-armed, accurate ex-Oklahoma passer. Newsome’s next move is to kneel down and pray that none of the teams picking after him pilfers running back Ray Rice(notes) from the Ravens’ roster.



26. Arizona Cardinals – Terrell Suggs(notes), OLB/DE: T Sizzle returns to the site of his collegiate glory, as the Cards get the pure outside pass rusher they’ve been craving. Last May, before I tackled “Strongman Hill” with Suggs and two other NFL players, I asked him about his alma mater’s controversial decision not to award President Obama an honorary degree in conjunction with his commencement address. “Yo, come on, we’re Arizona State,” Suggs said incredulously. “They wouldn’t give him a degree. Really? I mean, even if they offered him one, he should’ve been insulted. He’d be like, ‘I went to Harvard.’ I mean, come on – I barely went to class, and they passed me. It’s Arizona [expletive] State!” None of this has anything to do with the Ultimate Mock Draft, but it cracks me up every time I think about it.



27. Dallas Cowboys – Matthew Stafford(notes), QB: If you saw the NFL Films footage of Stafford shaking off a separated shoulder to throw the winning touchdown pass against the Browns last November), you understand precisely why there’s so much excitement about this second-year passer. If you think Jerry Jones is going to let the Dallas native slide through his grasp, he’s got a 50-yard line seat at Texas Stadium to sell you.



28. San Diego Chargers – Vernon Davis(notes), TE: Antonio Gates(notes) has given the Chargers seven stellar seasons, and A.J. Smith has grown accustomed to life with a dominant tight end. So the GM pulls a switch and gets Davis, a punishing blocker who, after three disappointing seasons, blossomed into a pass-catching fiend in ’09, tying Gates’ single-season record with 13 TD receptions by a tight end. These days, if Davis chooses to stare into a mirror and kiss his biceps, his appreciative teammates might break into applause.



29. New York Jets – Ndamukong Suh, DT: Though the Cardinals’ Darnell Dockett(notes) is tempting, Rex Ryan and GM Mike Tannenbaum go after an instant-impact rookie who can thrive as a Richard Seymour(notes) type in the coach’s 3-4 scheme. Ryan commemorates the occasion by grabbing a guitar, dressing up in black and serenading the former Nebraska star with an old Johnny Cash standard.



30. Minnesota Vikings – Joe Thomas(notes), OT: Brad Childress makes a case for Jay Cutler(notes), whose miserable first season in Chicago was somewhat brightened by a strong performance in a late-season upset. When Favre hears about this in Hattiesburg, Miss., he nearly falls off his tractor. “Absolutely not, Chilly,” he decrees over the phone. “I demand that you pick Randy Moss(notes).” Childress aims to comply, but vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman talks the coach into taking Browns tackle Joe Thomas, “so we can protect Brett’s blindside.” A furious Favre calls owner Zygi Wilf and convinces him to fire Spielman. Thomas, an ultra-steady player with impeccable pass-protection skills, is completely unaware of the drama because he’s fishing on Lake Michigan.



31. Indianapolis Colts – Jake Locker, QB: If you’re one of those people who’s dismissive of Pac-10 football and hasn’t seen the Washington senior-to-be play, you have no idea why I’m putting him in this draft. But a year from now – trust me – you will. For one thing, he makes Tim Tebow look like a dude in concrete cleats, and he’s playing for a coach who’ll actually prepare him to run a pro-style offense. Bill Polian knows what I mean, and besides, the Rams stole his franchise quarterback 30 picks ago.



32. New Orleans Saints – Steven Jackson, RB: Back in the real world – the one in which the Rams don’t get to draft Manning – I worry that by the time St. Louis gets its act together, Jackson will be too beaten up to be part of the revival. So I’m willing him a brighter present: The chance to play for Sean Payton and the defending champion Saints. The powerful 6-foor-2, 231-pounder might be the league’s most formidable rushing-receiving threat, and it’s scary to think about how Payton might exploit his talents. And the next time I see Jackson, I’ll have to apologize for even going there.

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Nice, not one Giant. Also why would teams draft a rookie QB if Eli is still un-drafted? :rolleyes:


Yea.. where the fuck is Eli? Big Ben is better than Eli? Tony Romo is better? I do not fucking think so.

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The league franchised him.

I figured they'd be make him play solo to even the league up a bit.


2011 NFC East Standings


Chase Blackburn 16-0-0

New York Giants 12-4-0

Dallas Cowboys 10-6-0

Philadelphia Eagles 9-7-0

Washington Redskins 6-10-0 (relegated to CFL)

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