When digging up prognostication regarding past NFL Draft results, often we look at the late-round bargains such as Tom Brady (2000 Round 6), Joe Montana (1979 Round 3) and so on.
Still, there are plenty of steals in the first round, too. Think NBA and Michael Jordan… being selected 3rd in the 1984 NBA Draft behind Hakeem Olajuwon and Sam Bowie.
That’s still a bargain.
Plenty of mid-first rounders will leave NFL front offices muttering for years, “Damn, we could’ve had that guy…”
So which players in 2010 could generate a colorful phrase to be dropped from an NFL GM’s mouth years from now? Here are a few predictions, including reasons why and possible destinations for each in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Sexy Seven: Predicting the Steals of the 2010 NFL Draft’s First Round
Sean Weatherspoon (LB, Missouri)
This guy was absolutely everywhere during the Senior Bowl game – getting into the mix on a number of plays, plus leading the cheers and firing up his teammates in the huddle. All I noticed with him was constant hustle and supreme leadership – both qualities that often get overlooked for overall athletic ability.
Seriously, this guy could get a group of vegetarians to participate in an all-you-can-eat hot dog contest – and that’s why I see him being a steal in the latter half of the first round.
In my eyes, he fits the mold as the type of player that the Eagles often wind up having lead their defensive group.
Possible Destinations: Philadelphia Eagles (#24), Arizona Cardinals (#26), New Orleans Saints (#32)
C.J. Spiller (RB, Clemson)
Think Percy Harvin, but with a cleaner record. Spiller is fast and he’s a great weapon, with the ability to catch as a receiver, plus add to the running game and special teams, too.
Spiller’s biggest roadblocks will be staying healthy, plus focusing on improving his blocking skills, which would obviously keep him in the game more frequently.
Overall, Spiller is an exciting player – and if he falls to Denver at #11, I would snag him, especially after losing top offensive weapons in Cutler and Marshall over the past year.
Possible Destinations: Denver Broncos (#11), Miami Dolphins (#12), Seattle Seahawks (#14)
Tim Tebow (QB, Florida)
Listen, I’m not dumb enough to bet against this guy. He says all the right things and he works and works and works until he gets it right – so why would any of this stop when he reaches the NFL?
For those keeping a close eye on the NFL Draft, you know that Tebow has improved his throwing motion and overall quarterback skillset. Combine this with all the other quality attributes that Tebow has – the former Gators QB could wind up a steal for a team in the first round.
While many predict him outside of round one, I wouldn’t be shocked to see a team select him in the first. Take, for example, the Vikings, who will need another QB soon. Just don’t tell Brett.
Possible Destinations: Minnesota Vikings (#30) or to a team that trades down
Dez Bryant (WR, Oklahoma State)
Insert Bryant as this year’s “high upside, high character issues” guy. Honestly, I’ve seen this show go on before, in the form of Percy Harvin and Randy Moss. Each has made a significant impact on the football field.
If you look at Bryant’s history, the character issues are not major red flags. A strong mind like Tony Dungy could mentor a player like Bryant (it worked with Mike Vick).
And oh yeah, make sure Bryant remembers his shoes, too – and I bet he turns out just fine. If Spiller is off the board at #11, the Broncos could look at Bryant.
Possible Destinations: Denver Broncos (#11), Seattle Seahawks (#14), Pittsburgh Steelers (#18)
Demaryius Thomas (WR, Georgia Tech)
Derrick Morgan will steal away many of the headlines regarding former Georgia Tech players – and rightfully so, as he is a great talent on the defensive line.
But Thomas is a physical and talented receiver – and one that often gets overlooked due to the fact that he worked in Paul Johnson’s run-oriented triple option system.
For anyone that has seen him play, you’ll know that Thomas can keep opposing defenses honest – forcing them to not ignore the Yellow Jackets’ passing game entirely.
Put Thomas in a pass-oriented NFL offense and I expect him to continue to blossom into a high-quality receiver. Speaking of which, he’d be a nice Boldin replacement in Arizona.
Possible Destinations: Pittsburgh Steelers (#18), New England Patriots (#22), Arizona Cardinals (#26)
Jared Odrick (DT, Penn State)
Odrick is a “quiet assassin”. At least, that’s what I would call him if he was on my team. He does nothing but make play after play, yet gets overshadowed by the flashier players.
Odrick is a hard worker, has great football smarts and is a heck of a kid to interview. I know that from experience covering the Nittany Lions.
In a draft that features a bevy of quality talent on the defensive line, I think Jared Odrick will be one of the more talked about selections years down the road – and could be a nice steal for a team like Indianapolis at pick #31.
Possible Destinations: Minnesota Vikings (#30), Indianapolis Colts (#31), New Orleans Saints (#32)
Jerry Hughes (DE/OLB, TCU)
Watching highlights of Hughes, he immediately reminds me of former Penn State DE Aaron Maybin, now with the Buffalo Bills. He’s undersized, yet very fast and explosive – with the ability to get into the backfield quickly.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper has compared Hughes to Dwight Freeney of the Colts – an even bigger compliment. Therefore, wouldn’t this be the kind of guy you would want your team to take a chance on?
By the way, TCU’s defense – for those who got to see them – was downright nasty, and Hughes was a big part of the reason why. He would be a good fit for the Cowboys.
Possible Destinations: San Francisco 49ers (#17), Atlanta Falcons (#19), Dallas Cowboys (#27)
Headlined Image (Roger Goodell): Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images