1.Detroit Lions: Matt Stafford, QB, Georgia
A lot of people have the Lions taking Smith, Monroe, or Curry as the safe pick, but the Lions need to make a splash and find the face of their franchise. Let’s be honest, though, this pick will depend on who they get to sign on the dotted line the night before the draft.
2.St. Louis Rams: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
The Rams were hoping for Jake Long to fall to them last year and he didn’t, and since not much has changed since then (in fact it has gotten worse with the departure of Pace), the Rams take Monroe to be their new starting LT.
3.Kansas City Chiefs: Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest
The Chiefs have their starting QB in Cassell, and their line should be better with Albert having one year under his belt, so this pick has to be defense. And who better to select with this pick than the best defensive, and arguably overall, player in the draft, Aaron Curry. Curry should have an instant impact, and is the early favorite for defensive rookie of the year.
4.Seattle Seahawks: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
Walter Jones’ play is starting to decline as he gets into the twilight of his prestigious career. He may not be ready to hand over the job to Smith right away, but he will certainly take the youngster under his wing until he decides to hang ‘em up.
5.Cleveland Browns: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
Mangini seems to be stirring up a QB controversy in Cleveland, but my guess is that he is only doing that to light a fire under both Quinn and Anderson going into camp. Whoever their QB is going to be, though, needs some weapons, and with Winslow being traded, Edwards seemingly have hands of stone, as well as Stallworth being unable to contribute from his future prison cell, Crabtree makes sense here.
6.Cincinnati Bengals: B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College
With Carson Palmer likely coming back at full strength next year, the offense should see a vast improvement, so this pick has to be defense. The Bengals rush defense was 21st in the league last season, and Raji could step in and really help lower that number. It would also give them a very nice rotation with Peko and Sims already in the mix.
7.Oakland Raiders: Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas
The Raiders can’t expect double digit sack totals out of Derrick Burgess anymore, especially when he doesn’t have any help. Orakpo is the type of freak athlete that Al Davis covets, so the Raiders should jump all over him if he were still available here.
8.Jacksonville Jaguars: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
The Jags need to get back to what they do best, run the football and play great defense. Last year, MJD and Fred Taylor really struggled, as the line could not open up any holes for them. Smith should ease the loss of Khalif Barnes, and is a mauler in the run game.
9.Green Bay Packers: Everette Brown, DE, Florida St.
The Packers are switching to the 3-4 this season, so they are going to need outside pass rushers to compliment Kampman. Brown is an explosive player, and should succeed in his new role in the 3-4. His coverage skills will probably need grooming, but that takes time, so he should at least excel as a pass rush specialist until he develops that part of his game.
10.San Francisco 49ers: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
The Niners are looking to bring a whole stable of QBs to camp, and let them battle it out for the starting spot. However, I think it will be too hard for them to pass up on an elite talent like Sanchez at this spot. Sanchez could very well end up being the best QB in this draft, so to get him here is a steal. Face it, Alex Smith is done, and Singeltary needs to bring in some new blood to put his stamp on the team.
11.Buffalo Bills: Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech
I have been seeing more and more mock drafts in this forum excluding Michael Johnson in the first round, but I have a feeling that may have more to do with a certain NFL Network analyst, than actual consensus around the league. Ralph Wilson wants to use this offseason to get Bills fans excited about the upcoming season, and I think landing a big name pass rusher like Johnson would help.
12.Denver Broncos: Brian Cushing, LB, USC
Behind Curry, I think that Cushing has established himself as the next best pure-linebacker prospect in the draft, ahead of his USC teammates. Cushing is versatile enough to play at any of the LB spots in Denver’s new 3-4 which is a bonus, and I think Maualuga’s injury at the combine may scare some teams off.
13.Washington Redskins: Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn St.
By letting go Demetric Evans and Jason Taylor, defensive end becomes a priority for the Redskins. Especially with the signing of Albert Haynesworth, they need ends who are going to capitalize on the one on one match-ups they will receive due to his presence.
14.New Orleans Saints: Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio St.
The Saints have been trying to improve their corner play for the past few seasons now, and Jenkins might just be the best corner in this year’s draft. If he falls to them here, I can’t see them passing on him. He could also play safety for them, which is another area of concern for the Saints.
15.Houston Texans: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
The Texans secondary is very shaky, even with Dunta Robinson in the fold, and they may risk losing him next summer after putting the franchise tag on him this year. Davis is considered by some to be the best CB prospect in the draft, and he should at the very least be their nickel corner, or even start right away.
16.San Diego Chargers: Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss.
The Chargers offensive line play needs to be better. Their regression last season could have something to do with some of their older players not being able to cut it anymore. Oher is very talented, and should be able to start right away at RT, which should benefit the line overall.
17.New York Jets: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Mizzou
Unfortunately I do not have Sanchez falling to the Jets in my mock, and as much as they would love that to happen, I really don’t think it will. I still think they will go offense, though, after the nice job they have done through free agency and trades on the defensive side of the ball. As it stands their only real threat at WR is Jerricho Cotchery, and with all due respect, he is not a number one guy. Maclin is a big play waiting to happen, and brings added value as a special teams threat to an already dangerous unit.
18.Chicago Bears: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
With the signing of Kevin Shaffer, offensive tackle becomes less of a need in the first. They can now address there shaky crop of wide receivers by adding Heyward-Bey, who probably has the biggest upside of any wideout in the draft.
19.Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas St.
The Bucs seem to be in a transition period on defense, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see them take a defensive player here. However, with Luke McCown poised to go into the season as the starter, and no real future prospects on the roster other than Josh Johnson, Freeman should be the pick. Raheem Morris already has a rapport with the Kansas State program, so he won’t hesitate to take Freeman as his franchise QB of the future.
20.Detroit Lions (from Dallas): Rey Maualuga, LB, USC
I think the Lions would be thrilled with this scenario, because they get the leader of their offense in Stafford, and now a potential leader of their defense in Maualuga. Maualuga solves their problem at middle linebacker, and alongside Ernie Sims, their linebacking corps should be a fierce one.
21.Philadelphia Eagles: Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma St.
McNabb used to love throwing to L.J. Smith before he seemingly lost all of his talent two seasons ago. Pettigrew is an outstanding prospect who should have an immediate impact on the Eagles’ offense and keep McNabb happy. It’s not often these days that you get a first round caliber tight end who is a great blocker as well as receiver.
22.Minnesota Vikings: Eben Britton, OT, Arizona
The Vikings are very thin at the offensive tackle position, and have often voiced their displeasure for Ryan Cook at the right tackle spot. By drafting Britton, the Vikes would have the flexibility of playing him at right tackle, or moving McKinnie over to right tackle and starting Britton on the left side.
23.New England Patriots: Connor Barwin, DE, Cincinnati
Why not replace the loss of Mike Vrabel with a player who is drawing comparisons to the departed linebacker. The Patriots are really thin at the OLB position, and Barwin is versatile enough to make the transition from college defensive end. He even has the hands to play tight end in goal line sets like Vrabel used to do.
24.Atlanta Falcons: Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss.
The Falcons were very high on Glenn Dorsey in last year’s draft, and the haven’t really done much to shore up the inside of their defensive line through free agency. Jerry is a similar type tackle to Dorsey last year in that he has the ability to pressure the passer even when facing constant double teams, as well as stop the run.
25.Miami Dolphins: Clay Matthews, LB, USC
Their defense overachieved last season and there are definite improvements that must be made if they are to keep up with the rest of their division. Matthews, like his teammate at USC (Cushing), is extremely versatile, which definitely would help a team like Miami whose base defense requires four LBs on the field.
26.Baltimore Ravens: Percy Harvin, WR, Florida
With the signing of Dominique Foxworth shoring up the secondary, the Ravens can continue to provide more weapons for Joe Flacco. Harvin would fit in perfectly starting out in the slot between Clayton and Mason, and could even line up in the backfield in certain sets. As he develops his wide receiving skills, he should eventually replace Derrick Mason, who is slowing down a bit.
27.Indianapolis Colts: Evander “Ziggy” Hood, DT, Mizzou
The Colts don’t have any real glaring needs, as usual, but they could use some big bodies to clog up the running lanes on defense. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they traded down either, and then maybe take Hood in the second. Either way, they need to improve their rush defense, which was exposed in their playoff loss to the Chargers.
28.Philadelphia Eagles (from Carolina): Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
The Eagles add another weapon to their offensive arsenal in Moreno. He is in a somewhat similar mold to Brian Westbrook, and his presence should allow Westbrook to take less of a beating over the course of the season. Moreno is not a burner, but he has good hands, is good in the redzone, and is a character guy who will work hard and not bitch about how many carries he is getting.
29.New York Giants: Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers
The Giants really missed the presence of Plaxico Burress after his nightclub incident, even if he wasn’t putting up his usual big numbers. They have some solid guys behind him, but they really just feed off of coverages that gravitate towards Burress’ side of the field. Britt is a big time playmaker, who has the potential to be a guy that defenses must focus on, which opens things up for the other wideouts.
30.Tennessee Titans: Ron Brace, DT, Boston College
The departure of Albert Haynesworth has left some very big shoes to fill, and it will probably take more than a couple of guys to make up for his absence. Brace is a space eater who should replace Big Al’s run stuffing abilities, although he doesn’t provide much of a pass rush.
31.Arizona Cardinals: Chris “Beanie” Wells, RB, Ohio St.
Edgerrin James made it clear that he doesn’t want to stay in Arizona, and all the talk coming out of the Cards camp is that they don’t think Hightower is ready to carry the entire load by himself. Let’s face it, this is a team that was pretty much dead last in rushing last season, and they have already lost J.J. Arrington, not to mention probably James as well. ‘Beanie’ Wells is used to carrying the load by himself after his years at Ohio State, and should help out immediately.
32.Pittsburgh Steelers: Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
Offensive line isn’t as desperate a need as some might say considering how well the line played down the stretch, and especially in the postseason. The Steelers need to find an eventual replacement for Aaron Smith, and Jackson fits into the 3-4 scheme perfectly at almost 300 pounds.
33.Detroit Lions: Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut
The Lions can almost not afford to go defense the rest of the way through the draft after how horrible this unit was for them last year. Their corner play was brutal, and it led to the release of Leigh Bodden. All they have done is sign Philip Buchanon, so this position still needs some help. Safety could also get a look here.
34.New England Patriots (from KC): Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest
The Patriots have added some corners through free agency, but Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden can only be considered stopgaps. The Patriots don’t really have any long term answers at corner, and Smith would provide an improvement from that aspect. He has first round talent, but just doesn’t have the size of a typical NFL corner, which causes him to drop this far.
35.St. Louis Rams: James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio St.
MLB has been a trouble spot for the Rams, and even though Will Witherspoon has done an admirable job for them, he is switching back to his more natural spot on the weak side. Laurinaitis is a steady player who has been the leader of a very good Buckeye defense for the past couple of years, and he should be a solid starter in St. Louis.
36.Cleveland Browns: Clint Sintim, LB, Virginia
With the status of Willie McGinest still up in the air, the Browns need to add another pass rusher to help out Wimbley. Sintim played in a 3-4 defense in college so he could play any linebacker position in that alignment. That being said, the Browns may want to put him inside next to D’Qwell Jackson to make up for the loss of Andra Davis.
37.Seattle Seahawks: Patrick Chung, S, Oregon
Just ask any Seahawk fan and they’ll tell you that the safety play in Seattle was brutal this season. Chung is a northwest guy from the Oregon Beavers who should be a sparkplug in the secondary for the ‘Hawks.
38.Cincinnati Bengals: William Beatty, OT, Connecticut
The Bengals would have loved for Monroe or Smith to fall to them in the first, and I wouldn’t rule out Andre Smith either at that spot, but for now they take a tackle in the second. With Stacy Andrews gone and Levi Jones supposedly on the trading block, they don’t really have anyone besides second year pro Anthony Collins. If Beatty can add some bulk, he has the potential to be a starting left tackle in the league.
39.Jacksonville Jaguars: Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina
This pick is a no-brainer for the Jaguars, and would actually be a very lucky situation for them if Nicks were to fall to them here. I could actually see them trading back in the first to take a wideout, but for now they get Nicks who busted out this season, leapfrogging his teammate Brandon Tate who suffered an injury.
40.Oakland Raiders: Brian Robiskie, WR, Ohio St.
The Raiders need to get Jamarcus Russell some more weapons, because as it stands, Johnnie Lee Higgins is his number one target. Robiskie hasn’t gotten much hype, but he could be the most productive of the whole lot of receivers coming out this year in his first season.
41.Green Bay Packers: Jarron Gilbert, DT, San Jose St.
The Packers need to keep adding players that will fit into their new 3-4 scheme and Gilbert is the perfect fit for DE. A DT in college, Gilbert is athletic enough to kick out to DE in the 3-4, and has the ideal size that teams covet for this position.
42.Buffalo Bills: Shawn Nelson, TE, Southern Miss
This pick could very well be a linebacker after the loss of Angelo Crowell, but it would be hard to pass up a talented tight end such as Nelson. He add a whole new aspect to their offense, and a good tight end is something the Bills haven’t had in awhile.
43.San Francisco 49ers: D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt
Behind Nate Clements, the Niners don’t really have much depth. Sure, Walt Harris is serviceable, but he is 34 years old, and his INT numbers have been dwindling since he put up 8 two seasons ago. Moore’s stock has taken a hit, but he is very good value at this spot.
44.Miami Dolphins (from WAS): Sean Smith, CB, Utah
Eric Green is not the answer at cornerback, and Will Allen is not getting any younger. Smith is an intriguing prospect because he has excellent size, and can play multiple positions in the secondary. He would really help out the ‘Phins improving defense.
45.New York Giants (from NO): Louis Delmas, S, Western Michigan
The Giants drafter Kenny Phillips high last year, and he did not disappoint. However, he is a free safety, and with the loss of James Butler, the Giants don’t really have an answer at the other safety spot. Delmas is a very solid prospect who hasn’t really gotten much credit for being a strong player in an otherwise weak safety class.
46.Houston Texans: Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee
The Texans have struggled to find any sort of pass rush other than that provided by Mario Williams. Ayers has been steadily rising up draft boards, thanks to his offseason workouts, and would be a nice compliment opposite Williams on their defensive line.
47.New England Patriots (from SD): Max Unger, OL, Oregon
The Patriots are in a position to draft the best available player here, and not have to worry about position. After shoring up some defensive holes, the Patriots go offense here with the versatile Unger, who can fill in at any position on the offensive line if needed.
48.Denver Broncos: Kevin Barnes, CB, Maryland
The Broncos really need help at corner after releasing ‘Dre Bly recently, and only picking up Andre Goodman as a replacement. Barnes is good value here, as he would most likely have gone higher if it wasn’t for a shoulder injury during his senior year that required surgery. He has loads of potential, and should benefit by learning under one of the best in Champ Bailey.
49.Chicago Bears: Duke Robinson, OL, Oklahoma
I think the Bears still need to go offensive line with one of their first day picks, and Robinson is good value here. He is known as a mauler in the running game, which suits the Bears style. This team has lost too many pieces from last year’s line to be passing on a guy like Robinson here, but local kid Larry English is a possibility.
50.Cleveland Browns (from TB): Jared Cook, TE, South Carolina
The Browns use the pick they got from trading Kellen Winslow II to get their new starter. Cook has been flying up draft boards after his stellar performance at the scouting combine, and is well worth a look here for an offense starved for weapons.
51.Dallas Cowboys: William Moore, S, Mizzou
The Cowboys seem to have faith in Roy Williams as their number one guy going into next year, and they have some young guys under him already, which makes choosing a wideout here sort of pointless unless an elite guy falls to them. That being said, the Boys released their starting safety Roy Williams, and don’t really have a long term solution. William Moore has first round talent, and is a steal here.
52.New York Jets: Donald Brown, RB, Connecticut
With Leon Washington clamoring about a new contract, and Thomas Jones not getting any younger, the Jets need to look at future reinforcements. At this point in the draft Brown is a steal, and the Jets don’t really need to go defense after all of their free agent signings.
53.Philadelphia Eagles: Jamon Meredith, OL, South Carolina
The Eagles still have some question marks at offensive tackle after Tra Thomas left, and Jon Runyan is recovering from surgery. They signed Stacy Andrews, but other than that there isn’t much else, so they take Meredith here. Meredith lost his starting tackle spot in college due to injury, but has really looked good in his workouts, and has scouts thinking that he could wind up at tackle in the NFL.
54.Minnesota Vikings: Victor “Macho” Harris, CB, Virginia Tech
Cornerback has been an issue for the Vikes, besides the play of Antoine Winfield, who was a Pro Bowler this year. Harris is a physical corner who should contribute nicely at the nickel or dime spot, at least to begin with.
55.Atlanta Falcons: Larry English, DE, Northern Illinois
The Falcons probably would have been happy to have him in the first round, let alone at this spot. The Falcons are looking to add some pass rush beyond just John Abraham, and although English is undersized he should provide a nice spark off the edge.
56.Miami Dolphins: Louis Murphy, WR, Florida
The Dolphins stay in-state and add the speedy Murphy to their receiving corps. Murphy is a polished prospect, and has elite speed. Murphy is a somewhat underrated player, as he was only used sparingly because of all the other weapons he was surrounded by at Florida.
57.Baltimore Ravens: Jasper Brinkley, LB, South Carolina
If the Ravens do their homework and find that his knee is completely healthy, I think this could be a major steal for them here. He has ideal size for the 3-4, and would help make up for the loss of Bart Scott to free agency.
58.New England Patriots: Jarrett Dilliard, WR, Rice
The Patriots are seemingly loaded at wide receiver, but if you look at their depth behind the top three guys, there really isn’t any. Dilliard isn’t the flashiest of prospects, but he put up huge numbers in college, and I think he would work out great as their fourth receiver while learning from Welker, who is the type of player he projects as on the next level.
59.Carolina Panthers: Paul Kruger, DE, Utah
Julius Peppers is adamant in his trade demands, and it looks as though the Panthers are going to lose him sooner or later. Kruger is outstanding value here for the Panthers, and gives them a first round talent in a year were they were without a first round pick.
60.New York Giants: Eric Wood, C, Louisville
Shaun O’Hara is in his 11th year in the NFL and the Giants don’t have anyone in their system who can replace him eventually. Wood is a solid back-up until O’Hara calls it quits, or suffers another injury, and he is good depth for the other positions along the line.
61.Indianapolis Colts: LeSean McCoy, RB, Pitt
The Colts are ecstatic to see the talented McCoy fall to them here, and scoop him up to be Joseph Addai’s running mate. Like Addai, McCoy has great hands out of the backfield, but brings more speed to the table, while Addai gets by more on his lateral quickness.
62.Tennessee Titans: Alex Mack, C, Cal
Kevin Mawae is not getting any younger and is starting to feel the effects of his age as he was banged up at the end of last season. Mack is considered by some as the best center prospect, which makes him worth a look here.
63.Arizona Cardinals: Phil Loadholt, OL, Oklahoma
It’s no secret that head coach Ken Whisenhunt has wanted to establish a strong running game ever since he got to Glendale. With Wells in the first, and now Loadholt, they are well on their way to doing that. Loadholt has experience at tackle, but guard might be where he ends up, and the Cards need help everywhere on their line.
64.Pittsburgh Steelers: Kraig Urbik, OL, Wisconsin
The Steelers offensive line really started to come together down the stretch and into the postseason, but I still think they need to add some pieces in the draft. Urbik is versatile, and should provide depth at the very least, and could compete for a starting spot.