It has been 30 years since a University of Oklahoma player was selected first in the NFL draft — Detroit made running back Billy Sims the top pick in 1980 — but in 2010 a Sooner will go soonest.
FOR THE RECORD:
On the NFL: Sam Farmer's On the NFL column in the March 7 Sports section, a mock draft, misidentified Russell Okung's school as Texas. He played for Oklahoma State. —
The St. Louis Rams will hand Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford a cap and No. 1 jersey and introduce him as the future of their franchise.
That's the way Times NFL writer Sam Farmer sees it, at least, in his first mock draft of the post-combine, pre-draft season. A lot can change between now and the draft, which takes place April 22-24 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
Bradford needs a strong performance at Oklahoma's pro day on March 9, seeing as he's coming off shoulder surgery and didn't throw at the combine. If he does what he and scouts expect him to do, it will solidify his spot at the top of the heap.
A look at one way the first round could go:
1. ST. LOUIS — QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma: If Bradford's shoulder checks out OK, the Rams need to make this move. They have used their top pick to bolster their defensive line in two of the last three drafts. Now, like Detroit did last year, they need to take a quarterback.
2. DETROIT — DT Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska: Suh would immediately upgrade a defense that finished 25th against the run last season. The Lions could also take defensive tackle Gerald McCoy here, as he's a slightly better pass rusher.
3. TAMPA BAY — DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma: Teams ran for a league-high average of 158.2 yards per game against the Buccaneers last season. Either McCoy or Suh could help stem that.
4. WASHINGTON — QB Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame: It's a weak quarterback draft, and the free-agency picture doesn't look any better. Clausen needs to prove he's charismatic enough to lead. He'd be lucky to have Mike Shanahan bring him along.
5. KANSAS CITY — T Russell Okung, Texas: Okung is the best tackle in a draft filled with good ones. The Chiefs, who are going to be trying hard to trade down, could look to improve their offensive line, or add a playmaker such as safety Eric Berry. The Redskins might take Okung at
6. SEATTLE — S Eric Berry, Tennessee: Even with the terrific combine of Taylor Mays, the Seahawks like Berry better. Seattle has a lot of needs, but should be able to address several with three picks in the first 37. If Clausen is still around, Seattle is likely to take him.
7. CLEVELAND — CB Kyle Wilson, Boise State: The Browns need a right corner, and Florida's Joe Haden is a popular projection here. But Haden was slow at the combine, and Wilson is coming on strong.
8. OAKLAND — T Bruce Campbell, Maryland: Campbell is an amazing physical specimen. He's fast and has a bodybuilder's physique. Still, some scouts don't even consider him a first-rounder. Sounds like a good against-the-grain Raiders pick.
9. BUFFALO — T Trent Williams, Oklahoma: Bills quarterbacks were sacked 46 times last season, and tackle Brad Butler's surprise retirement further increased the pressure to grab a big man in this tackle-rich draft.
10. JACKSONVILLE — DE Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech: Even with top pass rusher Reggie Hayward back and healthy after suffering a broken leg in the opener, the Jaguars need help generating pressure on the quarterback. Morgan could be their man.
11. DENVER — WR Demaryius Thomas, Georgia Tech: A lot of people predict receivers Dez Bryant and Golden Tate will go before him, but Thomas has great size and stood out in an offense known for running the ball.
12. MIAMI — LB Rolando McClain, Alabama: McClain is the best inside linebacker in this class. With so many good defensive tackles, the Dolphins might also use this pick to replace nose guard Jason Ferguson. It could be Tennessee's Dan Williams.
13. SAN FRANCISCO — T Bryan Bulaga, Iowa: Some scouts have Bulaga rated higher than Oklahoma's Williams. But Bulaga wasn't helped by a so-so combine and questions that have arisen about his ability to play left tackle in the pros.
14. SEATTLE — T Anthony Davis, Rutgers: The Seahawks need a tackle, and if they've already addressed safety — as they have in this mock — Davis works well here.
15. NEW YORK GIANTS — WR Golden Tate, Notre Dame: Tate is a smart player who runs good routes and really impressed teams at the combine. He could go 11th to Denver. The Giants need to develop a tight end, too, but it's too early to take Oklahoma's Jermaine Gresham, the best in this draft.
16. TENNESSEE —DE Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida: Pierre-Paul is projected all over the first round these days. Some team might fall in love with him and take him earlier. He's a physical freak — watch him do 13 consecutive back hand springs on YouTube — but he's raw, raw, raw.