#1 Detroit: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
When any team goes 0-16 or is named the Lions or plays in Detroit in the NFL, it’s pretty obvious that there are some issues with talent on the team. Detroit has had about 50 years of shame when it comes to the Lions, and they may finally have a chance at doing things right after the firing of Matt Millen. That being said, Jason Baylor is one of the top prospects on the board, and being a converted TE, he’s pretty quick about moving around (for a 305 lb. man). With so much emphasis being put on the lines today, it seems sensible that they would invest good money in someone who can protect their future QB from the perennial pounding (see David Carr and Marc Bulger). While many people may be linking Matt Stafford to Matt Ryan, the problem in Detroit goes far beyond just the QB, and that is why Jason Smith is their pick at #1.
#2 St. Louis: Aaron Curry, MLB, Wake Forest
The 2009 Rams have gone through a complete transition. The finesse days of offensive magic are gone, and they are now grounded in a power running game philosophy, complements of new head coach Steve Spagnuolo. That being said, the defensive head coach would probably want a defensive player, even though the Rams are in desperate need of a tackle. But with MLB also a glaring need, and the tackle class this year is supposedly deep, there isn’t any reason why they should not draft Aaron Curry. Moving Barron to Left Tackle may not be a sexy or amazing switch, but his contract is ending soon and even he is smart enough to realize the better you play, the more you get paid. In Summary, if you want to have a great defense, you got to build it around a great player. Brian Urlacher of the Bears and Ray Lewis of the Ravens are perfect examples. Not only will the team get a young leader, they will also be able to let Will Witherspoon flourish by sacking whichever Quarterback comes into his path.
#3 Kansas City: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
This pick would help out Kansas City, who will be able to make one of the most promising tackle combinations today. Last year, they drafted Branden Albert, who currently plays LT for them, and with Eugene Monroe off the board, they’d have a pair of good tackles who surely would be able to protect the backup-turned-star Matt Cassel, especially when he’s airing it out to Dwayne Boye. There is no way the Chiefs traded for Cassel without thinking they would make sure that they can protect him adequately. By plunking a 2nd rounder down for him, they obviously wanted him to become their QB of the future and like the Lions and Jason Smith, there is no way they want that Quarterback watching the game from the ground.
#4 Seattle: Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
This may come as a bit of surprise, but I really believe that the Seahawks have done themselves a favor this year by playing so badly last year. They were destroyed by injuries, (especially on their offense), but the problems seems not to be the pieces, but simply putting them back together. With Deon Branch and Nate Burleson back and newly signed T.J. What’s-his-name on board, Matt Hasselbeck, who is also healthy again, will have people to throw to. They picked up Colin Cole at DT, so picking B.J. Raji isn’t a necessity anymore. Neither is picking Crabtree, because they just acquired Housmanzadeh. That’s why they pick Stafford. He won’t have to play right away, and under Hasselbeck, he should be able to learn what not to do (For anyone who watched the Seahawks overtime game against Green Bay a few years ago, “We Want the ball because we are going to score!”). With Hasselbeck winding down his career, it seems like a perfect opportunity to take a QB and mold him into the future star.
#5 Cleveland: Everett Brown, DE/LB, Florida
Let’s face it, Cleveland needs a DE. From their 6 Defensive Ends on roster at this time, last year they notched a grand total of 2.5 sacks. C.J. Mosley had the most last year for the team with 1.5. If that doesn’t say, “we need an edge rusher and we need one now,” I don’t know what does. According to rivals.com, Brown is a quick, fast player that can get to the edge in no time. That is a perfect fit for the Browns, even though it is a reach.
#6 Cincinatti: Brian Orakpo, DE/LB, Texas
And like that, the two top ranked Hybrid players are gone. The Bengals need someone who can help them rush the passer and Orakpo is one the highest rated at his position. Their situation is similar to the Browns, but their defensive ends mustered more than 2.5 sacks last season. They also need an offensive tackle, especially since Carson Palmer has had some injuries as of late, which will probably be their second round choice.
#7 Oakland: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
This is always the most fun draft pick to talk about. As long as Al Davis is the emperor in Oakland, there isn’t much that fans can do but hope he doesn’t go crazy over a highlight reel of some receiver or running back. Tom Cable should know by now that as the puppet, you don’t get much of say in who you draft.
#8 Jacksonville: B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College
While Jacksonville may want to try and pry Michael Crabtree away from the clutches of Black and Silver, it’s not likely to happen. While they may go with Maclin, I think that it would serve them best to hold off until Round 2, as I don’t think Maclin is quite worth the #8 pick. With B.J. Raji still available, it seems logical that they would pick the Boston College standout to help them improve their D-line, already teemed to produce this year with young players Quentin Groves and Derrick Harvey.
#9 Green Bay: Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State
When a team switches its defensive style, yet stays quite in free agency, they must be confident in building through the draft. Defense is a necessity here, and look for them to pick up DE to help bolster their new 3-4 line. Another possible option would be a cornerback, because who knows how much longer their aging secondary can compete at that high of a level.
#10 San Francisco: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
The 49ers are expected big things from new coach Mike Singletary, and I wouldn’t blame them. Like the Cardinals, for the past few years they have been seemingly on the verge of becoming a legitimate wild card threat (especially in the NFC West, where anything can happen). Snagging one of the top rated QB’s in the draft (Aaron Rodgers or Alex Smith? Hmm…) and letting him develop behind the yet-to-be-figured-out starter (or better yet having him pull a Joe Flacco) would be an excellent plan to help ease the minds of the fans who may not be so sure about drafting a QB this high again.
#11 Buffalo: Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee
You may be asking yourself, who? Robert Ayers, that’s who. The Bills need a defensive presence on the end, and with Maybin already taken, he’s their best bet. Like Brown, he may be a bit of a reach, but that is what happens when your need vs. want scale is all the way over on “need”.
#12 Denver: Brian Cushings, OLB, USC
I wouldn’t be surprised come draft day if the Broncos ended up picking higher. With the feud growing between baby-face McDaniels and baby-brain Cutler, I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up trading him, to say, someone like the Jets. (Well, I was wrong about that!). But the fact is that the Broncos could help themselves out by adding a linebacker, and armed with the 18th pick now, they have room to breathe on their list of needs.
#13 Washington: Ray Maualuga, MLB, USC
Two USC Linebackers going back to back? Surprised? Don’t be. The Redskins need some fresh blood in their Line-backing unit, London Fletcher and Rock McIntosh aren’t getting any younger, and with the signing of Albert Haynesworth, it would help Maualuga develop easy behind a massive DT (not to mention the beast named London Fletcher).
#14 New Orleans: Clay Matthews, OLB, USC
Three-peat? Once again, don’t be surprised. He’s slowly creeping up the boards, and with the Saints signing CB Jabari Greer, S Darren Sharper and S Pierson Prioleau, their secondary might finally be able to stop someone. This is a bit of a reach, but the Saints need to add a blitzing presence for Gregg Williams and here he is.
#15 Houston: Malcom Jenkins, CB, Ohio State
With Maclin still available, it should be hard for the Texan’s to ignore him. While adding another Wide Receiver would certainly help them, it would help them more to pick a cornerback, and luckily they have the pick of the litter. With Kevin Walter putting up pretty reasonable numbers, Andre Johnson being Andre Johnson, and Matt Schaub being healthy, don’t be surprised if the Texans make a little noise after the regular season ends.
#16 San Diego: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
Remember when everyone said that Chris Chambers would help the Chargers? Well, not enough, which isn’t surprising. With Maclin here, I don’t think the Chargers will think twice, as getting someone to start on the other side of the emerging star Vincent Jackson would help them tremendously. But hey, don’t worry. I don’t think Jay Cutler will affect them much this year.
#17 New York (Jets): Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State
You can hear the Buc’s crying from here. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they went up to snag the person they want most, but as of now, New York picks here, and Freeman is the man. With Brett Favre “retiring” do you really expect them to pin their hopes on Kellen Clemens?
#18 (from Chicago) Denver: Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss
The defensive image continues to change! After snagging Cushings, they add Peria Jerry, who can bring them at the very least a good DT to add to their rotation. It wouldn’t hurt at all to have a big tackle that can play in the new scheme.
#19 Tampa Bay: Percy Harvin, WR, Florida
Will the Buccaneers ever find a legitimate, long term QB? Maybe in round two. But right now, they need to add another WR to take the focus off of Antonio Bryant. Whoever the QB may be, he is going to need help, which is why having a speedy threat like Harvin is nice to have. Whatever the roster may look like, Raheem Morris has his work cut out for him.
#20 Detroit: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
With Jason Smith set, the Lions should turn to the other side of the ball, where Vontae Davis can provide help for the secondary. With the 33rd pick, it allows the Lions some flexibility in who they pick, which will be tremendously helpful in filling the team with talent.
#21 Philadelphia: Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State
With Buckhalter gone, they need someone to fill the void for the two-back system. They need a tackle, but at this point, they might as well take the better RB since most tackles are about the same quality by now. They will leave that for the 28th pick.
#22 Minnesota: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
The Vikings need an OT, and the much maligned Andre Smith would fit the bill. Personally, I think his off-the-field antics are much more serious then what people make them out to be. You don’t just skip out on the combine because you’re not feeling it- period. But, there is always going to be a team that will take a chance on talent regardless of the red flags.
#23 New England: James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State
The Patriots lost Mike Vrabel to trade, and Tedy Bruschi isn’t getting any younger. They need some new blood in their linebacking corps, and Laurinaitis provides solid value for their pick. It isn’t flashy, but its solid.
#24 Atlanta: Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
With all the first round linebackers gone, the Falcon should turn to their blocking and pick up this tight end who can help in the running game, and catch some passes too. Like the New England pick, it won’t be flashy by any means, but it will provide help to the team in the terms of a solid contributor.
#25 Miami: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
Miami did surprisingly well last year, but it’s quite obvious that they need some extra help at Wide Reciever. Greg Camarillo played well enough, and I’m not completely out on the idea of Ted Ginn Jr. becoming a productive player, but they need someone else to at least challenge these two. Look for Miami to pick up a WR in the draft, fairly high.
#26 Baltimore Sean Smith CB, Utah
Vontae Davis is probably higher on their list, but with both him and Heyward-Bey gone, look for them to pick up Sean Smith. He’s been praised with being both physical and fluid, and after losing both Chris McAllister and Samari Rolle, they need some depth at that position.
#27 Indianapolis: Evander Hood, DT, Missouri
Ziggy Hood has been climbing up the charts, and don’t be surprised if he slips into the bottom of the first round. The Colts don’t waste picks, and at this point, most players are about the same in terms of draft-able talent. The Colts need a DT and Ziggy Hood and give them the hard-working, athletic cog-in-the-middle they need.
#28 Philadelphia (from Carolina): Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi
They snagged Chris Wells as a compliment to Brian Westbrook at #21, and they need an OT to help solidify their line. He was once thought of as an early first round pick, but has slipped some to date. Oher is a solid pick at this position, and could develop quite nicely.
#29 New York (Giants): Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina
After dumping Plaxico Burress and not resigning Amani Toomer, their Wide Receiving options have become slim at best. They need to pick up more depth at the very least, and Hakeem Nicks is a solid pick for this position.
#30 Tennessee : Jarron Gilbert, DT, San Jose State
The Titans need a DT. After losing the (now) most overpaid player in the history of the NFL, they need to replace him, and Jarron Gilbert has the talent, size and explosiveness to develop into a starting caliber DT.
#31 Arizona: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
The Cardinals need another RB after the “demergance” of Edge’ James. Tim Hightower played well, but slouched off towards the end of the year. With the aerial attack returning, look for the ground game to get an improvement on draft day.
#32 Pittsburgh: Alex Mack, C, California
The interior line of the Steelers could easily use some youth, and Alex Mack is the top rated prospect at C. The Steelers could also go for Max Unger, a center out of Oregon, but either way, they are going to add that interior depth early.