Round 1 Reaction: Prime-Time Picks

LB Rolando McClain (Getty: Kevin C. Cox)

Round 1 of the 2010 NFL Draft featured almost as much drama as your typical prime-time Thursday programming, like "Grey's Anatomy." Let's take a look at some of the more noteworthy picks.

The "Who Ran the Fastest 40?" Pick
At No. 8, for once the Raiders weren't seduced by a quarterback throwing the ball 50 yards from his knees or a receiver burning up the track in the 40-yard dash, instead opting for Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain. Al Davis and Co. took speedster Darrius Heyward-Bey seventh overall last April, at least half a round too early and ahead of consensus No. 1 wideout Michael Crabtree, and although McClain is going to be very good very soon, this was about half a dozen picks premature and middle linebacker doesn't appear to be a glaring need in Oakland. Passing on Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen means the Silver and Black still believe JaMarcus Russell can be a player some day, which is a lot like Charlie Brown still believing Lucy will let him kick the ball some day.

For an offense that has been embarrassingly bad lately, a tackle like Anthony Davis of Rutgers or a guard like Mike Iupati of Idaho might have been the way to go.

The "We're Not Wasting Any Time" Pick
At No. 9, even though they have two 1,000-yard running backs on the roster already in Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson, the Bills only took about two seconds of their allotted 10 minutes to decide on Clemson's C.J. Spiller. The only premier ball carrier in the draft and a triple threat with his ability as both a receiver and a returner, Spiller is bound to bring some excitement to a Buffalo team that learned quickly last season adding a 35-year-old Terrell Owens doesn't make you an offensive juggernaut. While the organization didn't announce any immediate plans for its now-crowded backfield, expect the workman Jackson to be the starter, the explosive Spiller to be the change of pace and the troubled Lynch to be shipped out of town.

Now if the Bills could only find themselves a quarterback capable of doing more than handing the ball off to Jackson and Spiller, they'd be in business.

The "We Can't Find a Trade Partner" Pick
At No. 10, after reportedly hoping to add Spiller in order to pair him in the backfield with Pro Bowler Maurice Jones-Drew, the Jaguars were guilty of the biggest reach in the first round when they took California's Tyson Alualu. Given a late first- or early second-round grade by most scouts, Alualu's best position is probably defensive end in a 3-4, which doesn't help Jacksonville since coach Jack Del Rio employs a 4-3. Chances are, the Jaguars were desperately trying to trade down after missing out on Spiller and not wanting to turn the franchise over to Clausen, but they panicked and took a prospect that likely would have been available deep into the 20s.

Even more curious is the fact that teams started wheeling and dealing right after the Alualu selection, with picks 11, 12 and 13 all getting traded, so it's fair to wonder why Jacksonville's phone wasn't ringing.

The "We Need You to Be Another LT" Pick
At No. 12, the first rounder with the biggest shoes to fill as a rookie is undeniably Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews, as San Diego traded up 16 spots to get him and is essentially asking him to replace LaDainian Tomlinson. Darren Sproles is one of the most electrifying players in the NFL and proved to be more productive than Tomlinson the last two postseasons, but coach Norv Turner knows his offense has become too dependent on Philip Rivers and the passing game and Sproles isn't equipped to be an every-down back. Tomlinson never scored fewer than 10 TDs in any of his nine seasons in San Diego and won two league rushing titles along the way, and while Mathews has the skills to be a star, can you remember Detroit's leading rusher right after Barry Sanders retired?


RB Ryan Mathews
Getty Images: Stephen Dunn

It was the immortal Greg Hill, by the way, "leading" the Hall of Famer-less Lions in 1999 with 144 carries for 542 yards and two touchdowns.

The "Character Counts" Pick
At No. 22, no matter how much of a pain in the you-know-what he was during his four-year stint in Mile High, replacing a receiver like Brandon Marshall, who caught triple-digit passes each of the last three seasons, is a tall order for the Broncos. Oklahoma State's Dez Bryant was without question the premier pass catcher in the draft by every standard of measuring a player, except, of course, character, as he was suspended by the NCAA in 2009 after lying to investigators about his "improper" relationship with former All-Pro corner Deion Sanders. Predicted to go as early as No. 7 to the Browns, not only was Bryant forced to watch millions in bonus money go up in smoke, but Denver took Georgia Tech wideout Demaryius Thomas ahead of him.

Good luck naming the last receiver from a wishbone offense to come off the board in Round 1, although Thomas is overflowing with big-play ability at a very Marshall-like 6-3 and 224 pounds.

The "We Don't Need No Stinking Character" Pick
At No. 24, Bryant's long wait finally came to an end, as Jerry Jones and the Cowboys are hoping to erase the memory of passing on Randy Moss in the first round of the 1998 draft. Even though Jones' scouts repeatedly said Moss was the most incredible prospect they had ever seen at any position, he went the safe route with Greg Ellis, a linebacker from North Carolina that turned out to be a Pro Bowler in his own right. But Moss is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and plays with the kind of swagger fans love in Big D, so Jones, who has employed his fair share of problem children over the years, wasn't about to make the same mistake twice.

Don't look for Bryant to set a rookie record with 17 touchdown receptions like Moss did in Minnesota, although he did reel in 19 TDs as a sophomore in Stillwater.

The "Well, Somebody Had to Do It" Pick
At No. 25, after twice trading down, first from No. 11 and then again from No. 13, the Broncos actually made a move up to take perhaps the most built-up and torn-down prospect anyone has ever seen: Florida quarterback Tim Tebow. Despite Kyle Orton coming off a year in which he set career highs with a 62.1-percent completion rate, 3,802 passing yards, 21 touchdowns passes and a rating of 86.8 – John Elway's was 79.9 for his career, in case you were curious – plus the offseason acquisition of failed first rounder Brady Quinn, coach Josh McDaniels fell in love with Tebow and had to have him. Tebow going in Round 1 isn't a complete surprise given his off-the-charts intangibles, blue-collar work ethic and never-done-before resume, but going ahead of the yet-to-be-selected Clausen was nothing short of shocking.

For an innovative offensive mind like McDaniels and a unique offensive weapon like Tebow, even if he doesn't start one game, don't be surprised if Superman throws for, runs for and catches a few touchdowns in 2010.


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John Crist is an NFL columnist for Scout.com, a Heisman Trophy voter and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America.

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