1. Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
I don’t buy all the talk of Jason Smith being the safer pick here. Smith hasn’t proven that he can run block or play out of a two point stance. If your going to shell out number one overall money, why not give it to a guy that could single handedly turnaround your franchise. Sure left tackles are valuable, but quarterbacks make or break teams.
2. St. Louis Rams: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
Whether it be Eugene Monroe or Jason Smith, the Rams will definitely go offensive tackle with this pick. After releasing Orlando Pace, they will go looking for his successor who will attempt to emulate what Pace was for this franchise. I have to believe that Smith goes ahead of Monroe because of his higher ceiling.
3. Kansas City Chiefs: Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest
The Chiefs took a step in the right direction on offense, with the Cassel trade, and now they take one on the defensive side of the ball. Curry will make plays and force turnovers, which is something the Chiefs desperately need. Their defense was atrocious last season, and Curry can have an impact from day one.
4. Seattle Seahawks: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
I don’t care if Eugene Monroe is still on the board, I still think Seattle is going to take this kid. There is just something about Mark Sanchez that makes me believe that he is going to be a star. He has all the tools of an NFL quarterback, physically and mentally, not to mention, he is a natural leader with charisma and a certain likeability to him. With Hasselbeck on the downside of his career the Seahawks take advantage of the high pick to get a replacement of Sanchez’s standards. Being in the NFC West, Seattle may not be in this position again for awhile, so they must take advantage.
5. Cleveland Browns: Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas
The Browns pass rush was virtually nonexistent last year and is the Browns biggest area of concern going into next season. Orakpo was a force of the edge for the Longhorns, and the Browns are hoping that he can translate his skills into their 3-4 defense.
6. Cincinnati Bengals: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
Monroe slides a little bit, and the Bengals are there to pounce on him. With the loss of Stacy Andrews and the question marks surrounding Levi Jones, they need someone to protect their star QBs blindside or else he may be put on the shelf for another year.
7. Oakland Raiders: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
Sure Smith has character concerns surrounding him, but this is the Raiders were talking about, they don’t mind taking talented guys with attitude problems. I think fans should be happy that Al Davis couldn’t get a chance to see Michael Crabtree workout, because he would clearly fall in love with him, when in reality they need someone to protect Jamarcus Russell, who took a beating in his first full year as the starter. Plus, this draft is deep at the wideout position, and they can easily find a solid guy in the second.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
I think that Crabtree’s inability to workout for scouts causes him to slide out of the top five, not that he was a total lock for that to begin with. However, the Jags don’t care about that, and find extreme value at this spot with a talent like Crabtree. This is a huge need for this team and Crabtree should become David Garrard’s go-to-guy right away. The Jags have a bad history with receivers in the first round, but hopefully Crabtree will work out for them.
9. Green Bay Packers: B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College
Some would argue that nose tackle is the most important position in the 3-4 defense. Low and behold, the Packers are in the midst of a transition to that scheme and are looking for an impact guy to fill that void. Raji absolutely dominated interior linemen in college, and he should continue that trend in the pros. Sure a pass rusher would be nice, but Raji is too good to pass up here.
10. San Francisco 49ers: Everette Brown, DE, Florida St.
With no real value on the board on the offensive side of the ball, and with Singeltary being a defensive minded coach, the Niners take Brown here. You just know that Singeltary isn’t satisfied with his pass rush being where it is, and I’m sure he wants to get after opposing team’s quarterbacks as much as possible next season. Brown is explosive off the snap, but still a little raw. He should fit in immediately as a sack specialist, and has the potential to be real good with the right coaching.
11. Buffalo Bills: Brian Cushing, LB, USC
With both of the top pass rushers off the board the Bills address another area of need, which is linebacker. The Bills lost a starter in Angelo Crowell to the Bucs, and don’t really have any solid starters here, other than maybe Poluszny who is coming off an injury-shortened season. Cushing could step in right away on the strong side, and let’s not forget that he can get after the quarterback from the blitz.
12. Denver Broncos: Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
I can’t imagine the Broncos not using their newly acquired first rounder as ammunition to trade up, especially with their huge defensive holes and quarterback needs. However, they could elect to stay where they are and get two quality players for less money. Jackson fits perfectly at 3-4 defensive end, and should help out right away.
13. Washington Redskins: Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss
Oher has been picked apart for his lack of consistency, but amongst the criticism is an extremely talented player. The Redskins line is aging quick, and the front office really needs to invest in the future if they want to remain competitive. Oher could probably start right away somewhere along the line, and at worst, gives them great depth.
14. New Orleans Saints: Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio St.
Despite the signing of Jabari Greer, I still think the Saints could use more help in their secondary. Jenkins is probably the best defensive back in this class, but whether or not he plays corner or safety is up to the team. The Saints could use help at either position, but would most likely start him at nickel and then move him to free safety if it doesn’t work out. His draft stock has taken a hit thanks in part to his poor forty times, but he has shown that he can play at a high level against elite competition in college.
15. Houston Texans: Clay Matthews Jr., LB, USC
This seems like the perfect landing place for Matthews, as his hall of fame uncle, Bruce Matthews, was recently hired by the Texans. Houston needs an upgrade at OLB, and Matthews has the athleticism to pressure the QB or drop back in coverage. I know Cato June was recently signed, but there is a reason why he was let go by Tampa, he is purely a passing down only LB.
16. San Diego Chargers: Rey Maualuga, LB, USC
The Chargers are solid, yet unspectacular at ILB, and Maualuga could really provide a spark in that unit, along with the return of Merriman. Like Merriman, Maualuga is a fiery, aggressive player, who plays with an attitude and mean streak, that his teammates feed off of. It would be a quick trip down the I5 from USC to his new home, and he could probably start right away.
17. New York Jets: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Mizzou
After releasing stalwart Lavernues Coles to Cincinnati, that leaves Jerricho Cotchery and tight end Dustin Keller as the teams’ only real receiving threats. I think offense has to be a priority with this pick, and I think that it should either be a quarterback, or a wide receiver going to the Jets. I believe Josh Freeman just gives them another project quarterback, which is what they already have on the roster. If one of their young QBs steps up, this is a playoff team, and I think that they should give whoever their quarterback is going to be some weapons. Maclin has exciting speed, and is a big play waiting to happen.
18. Denver Broncos (from Chicago): Darius Butler, CB, UConn
The Broncos desperately need a pass rush, but I think Aaron Maybin is all potential, and may not translate well to the 3-4. Besides, they already have a few first day ends on their roster who are on the same level as Maybin potential-wise. So, they take a corner to replace Dre Bly, and that can eventually take over for Champ Bailey, who is starting to show signs of slowing down. Butler has been flying up draft boards, and I would not at all be surprised to see him go here.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas St.
The Buccaneers need a franchise QB, because as of now their projected starter is one of Luke McCown, Brian Griese, or Josh Johnson. Gruden liked to take late round projects and veterans, however, I think this new regime will go for a more classical approach and take their future signal caller in the first round. Head coach Raheem Morris also has ties with Freeman from his days on the Kansas State staff.
20. Detroit Lions (from Dallas): Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss
The Lions need help everywhere on defense, especially along the defensive line. The Lions shipped both Shaun Cody and Cory Redding, and have only signed Grady Jackson to replace them. Jerry is an outstanding player, and could be a major steal here for the Lions.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
The Eagles lost Correll Buckhalter to free agency and really need a guy who can take some of the load off of Brian Westbrook’s shoulders. Moreno is much like Westbrook coming out of college in that he lacks elite speed and size, but is very hard to tackle and has excellent hands. Moreno also has a toughness about him, and is a lot more effective on short runs and in goal line situations.
22. Minnesota Vikings: Eben Britton, OT, Arizona
Britton played right and left tackle in college, and his athleticism has many teams intrigued. His ability to play either side should endear him to the Vikings, because they have often considered moving Bryant McKinnie to the right side, but just haven’t found a player who could offset his abilities.
23. New England Patriots: Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn St.
The Patriots didn’t generate much of a pass rush last season, as Mike Vrabel could not recreate the success he had in the previous year, and he has since been traded to KC. With not a lot of talent or youth at the OLB position, the Patriots take Maybin who has the potential to be an extraordinary pass rusher.
24. Atlanta Falcons: Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia St.
The Falcons were unable to get any sort of pass rush from anybody not named John Abraham. He is a force coming off the right edge, but he needs someone on the other side that can take some of the focus off him. Johnson has all kinds of potential, and could become a major force playing right near his alma matter.
25. Miami Dolphins: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
Bill Parcells grabs the talented Terrapin before Ozzie Newsome can get his hands on him. Heyward-Bey dazzled at the Scouting Combine, and should add another vertical passing threat to the Dolphins offense. He will also be dangerous on reverses, and in the Wildcat formation.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
With the re signing of Samari Rolle, it showed that they aren’t completely sold on their starting corners, and that they need a third or fourth guy. The Ravens are in a position to go best player available here, and Davis has tremendous value. He should compete for the nickel spot right away and eventually push the starters for playing time.
27. Indinapolis Colts: Percy Harvin, WR, Florida
With the releasing of Marvin Harrison, that means Anthony Gonzalez will be moving out of the slot. This leaves a void at the slot position, which is actually very important because the Colts run a lot of three receiver sets. Harvin would be perfect in the slot, and has the potential to be a match-up nightmare for defenses.
28. Philadelphia Eagles (from Carolina): Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma St.
Pettigrew is an outstanding all around player, but he doesn’t have the gamebreaking speed that the league now expects out of its tight ends. His poor forty time, and pedestrian senior season cause him to fall this far, but the Eagles don’t mind at all after losing L.J. Smith.
29. New York Giants: Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina
Burress has been officially released, so unless they pick up Anquan Boldin, which is unlikely, then WR is a big need for the Giants. Nicks is considered by some to be the most NFL ready receiver in this year’s class, and the Giants will certainly need him right away if they want to keep eight men out of the box consistently.
30. Tennessee Titans: Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee
The Titans create pressure on their quarterback by asking each player on the line to go after the quarterback. However, they don’t really have a solid guy coming off the edge, other than Vanden-Bosch, who was banged up last season and is starting to decline. Ayers played his college ball in nearby Knoxville, and he should be another piece that can offset the loss of Haynesworth.
31. Arizona Cardinals: Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells, RB, Ohio St.
Wells is an outstanding prospect with elite speed for such a big man, but there are questions about his durability. At this point however, he is a steal for the Cardinals who desperately need to get a ground game going if they want to repeat as division champs.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers: Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest
The very talented Smith just squeezes into the first round and lands in a great situation, on the league’s best defense. Smith has a penchant for the big play, and he should get plenty of opportunities to make interceptions in the Steelers’ secondary. His one handicap is his size, but that can be overcome.
33. Detroit Lions: James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio St.
Just a great football player, who will do whatever it takes to win. He should also be a stable locker room presence for a team that is trying to turn things around. He was the model of consistency in college, and while he doesn’t do anything exceptionally, he does everything well.
34. New England Patriots (from KC): Alex Mack, C, Cal
Probably won’t start at center for them right away, however, he will provide excellent depth along the interior of their line. The Patriots will have the luxury of going best player available with three second round picks.
35. St. Louis Rams: Ron Brace, DT, Boston College
The Rams were 29th against the run last season, which means they could really use a big run stuffing, space eater like Brace. He should almost single handedly shore up their leaky run D.
36. Cleveland Browns: Donald Brown, RB, UConn
Jamal Lewis went over the 1,000 yard mark last season, but just barely, and he is closing in on the age where most running backs start to decline. Donald Brown is a workhorse who will inject some youth into their backfield.
37. Seattle Seahawks: Patrick Chung, S, Oregon
The safety play was just awful for the Seahawks last season, and they need to bring in some young starters to replace aging veterans Brian Russell and Deon Grant. Chung played his college ball at Oregon, and he stays put in the Northwest.
38. Cincinnati Bengals: Max Unger, C, Oregon
The Bengals defense was actually starting to gel under Marvin Lewis for the first time in his career, so they can afford to go offense again. Unger is an upgrade over Ghiaciuc at center, or can provide depth at any position along the line.
39. Jacksonville Jaguars: William Beatty, OT, UConn
The Jags lost starting tackle Khalif Barnes from an already thin unit that was decimated by injuries last season. Beatty has the potential to be a starting left tackle, but just needs to put on some more weight.
40. Oakland Raiders: Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers
Finally, Russell gets a target besides Johnnie Lee Higgins. The Raiders wideout corps is in desperate need of some playmakers, and Britt is a solid possession guy, who is not afraid to go over the middle.
41. Green Bay Packers: Connor Barwin, DE, Cincinnati
The Pack continue to build their 3-4 defense with arguably the most versatile player in the draft. Barwin is a former tight end, who switched to defensive end his senior year and has scouts drooling over his athleticism.
42. Buffalo Bills: Larry English, DE, Northern Illinois
The Bills could not generate any pass rush whatsoever last season and it really hurt their defense. English may be a little undersized, but he has an excellent burst off the edge, and will contribute against the run as well.
43. San Francisco 49ers: Jamon Meredith, OT, South Carolina
The Niners need to pick up an offensive tackle somewhere along the line, as they allowed the most sacks in the entire league last season. Meredith can play guard or tackle, and looked excellent in all of his postseason workouts.
44. Miami Dolphins (from WAS): D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt
The Dolphins could use a corner pretty badly, and Moore is probably the best one available at this point. He’s slipped a bit because of timed speed, but has first round talent.
45. New York Giants (from NO): Phil Loadholt, OT, Oklahoma
The Giants offensive line very good, but it is also an aging unit. Loadholt played left tackle at Oklahoma, but he would fit in nicely at right tackle or guard in the pros. He could be a back-up to begin with, before maybe taking over somewhere the following year.
46. Houston Texans: Sean Smith, CB/S, Utah
Smith played WR at Utah before switching to the defensive side of the ball. He has excellent size and speed, which is why some scouts would prefer him at free safety. The Texans need help all over their secondary so versatile players like him always help.
47. New England Patriots: Clint Sintim, LB, Virginia
Tedy Bruschi is on the verge of retiring, so they need someone who can step in next to Mayo on the inside. Sintim and Mayo would form an excellent tandem together and really shore up the Pats aging LB corps along with Maybin.
48. Denver Broncos: Louis Delmas, S, Western Michigan
The Broncos would probably like to grab a pass rusher somewhere on the first day, but I think they have some guys who can potentially give them an edge rush already on the roster, and there isn’t really any DE/OLB here that wouldn’t be a reach. They signed Dawkins, but he doesn’t have that many years left, and safety has been a problem spot for them the last few seasons. Delmas is a ballhawk, and loves to come up and deliver the big hit.
49. Chicago Bears: Brian Robiskie, WR, Ohio St.
The Bears need weapons to surround their new franchise quarterback with, as running back Matt Forte was last seasons’ leading pass catcher. Robiskie isn’t flashy, but he runs great routes, has decent speed, and has great hands.
50. Cleveland Browns (from TB): William Moore, S, Mizzou
The Browns lost starting strong safety, Sean Jones, to the Eagles in free agency, and have yet to pick up a replacement. Moore would be a great addition to their secondary, and will come up and play the run, which was an area the Browns had problems with last season.
51. Dallas Cowboys: Duke Robinson, OT, Oklahoma
The Cowboys need to add depth along their offensive line, as well as finding eventual replacements for their aging starters. Robinson played right tackle in college, but projects more as a guard on the next level. Nonetheless, he gives the Cowboys a very good back up, and eventual replacement for Davis or Kosier, who are both thirty.
52. New York Jets: Jarron Gilbert, DE, San Jose St.
Gilbert gives the Jets more options at DE, and Gilbert should fit into their scheme nicely, at almost 300lbs. Shaun Ellis is still effective, but he is 31, and Kenyon Coleman only had half a sack last season. Gilbert has been rising up draft boards because of his ability to play in the 3-4 scheme at defensive end.
53. Philadelphia Eagles: Eric Wood, C, Louisville
Jamal Jackson is an adequate starter, but he is 28, and I think Wood could give them a nice back-up before eventually taking over. There are a lot of question marks as to where everyone is going to play on their line, so it couldn’t hurt to add a talented young player into the mix.
54. Minnesota Vikings: Evander ‘Ziggy’ Hood, DT, Mizzou
The Vikings are solid at defensive tackle, but this is more of a value pick than anything. Hood has been projected as high as the first round, so to get him here is a steal. He will fit in nicely in their rotation, while keeping the Williams’ fresh.
55. Atlanta Falcons: Jared Cook, TE, South Carolina
If this pick happened it would make Matt Ryan very happy because he doesn’t really have a vertical threat at the tight end position. Cook absolutely tore up the combine, and has the talent to play wide receiver, but his size would make him a match up nightmare at tight end. He will have to learn to block, which is something he was rarely asked to do in college, but he could have a similar impact to Dustin Keller as a rookie.
56. Miami Dolphins: Darcel McBath, S, Texas Tech
The Dolphins lost starter Renaldo Hill to free agency, and have yet to find his replacement. Luckily their future starter is waiting here for them at pick 56. McBath had an outstanding year, and was the leader of an underrated Red Raider defense, that didn’t get much credit due to their explosive offense.
57. Baltimore Ravens: Louis Murphy, WR, Florida
Unfortunately the Ravens didn’t get their guy, Heyward-Bey in the first, but they find another guy with great speed in Louis Murphy in the second. The Ravens lack a receiver who can stretch the field, which is a waste of Flacco’s arm strength, and Murphy could fill that void.
58. New England Patriots: LeSean McCoy, RB, Pitt
The Patriots have a number of solid running backs on their roster, but they lack someone with McCoy’s elusiveness in space. Not to mention he has incredible value here, and adds another dimension to the Pat’s offense.
59. Carolina Panthers: Paul Kruger, DE, Utah
The Panthers have yet to trade the unhappy Peppers, but if they do, it would leave a giant hole at defensive end. Kruger has outstanding value here, and can come in and contribute right away if Peppers holds out, which he seemingly will if they keep him.
60. New York Giants: Marcus Freeman, OLB, Ohio St.
Freeman rose up a lot of draft boards during postseason workouts, and OLB is definitely a position of need for the Giants. They signed Michael Boley, but could still use another starter, as well as an eventual replacement for Antonio Pierce, who has shown signs of slowing down.
61. Indinapolis Colts: Fili Moala, DT, USC
The Colts need to get bigger inside at the defensive tackle position. They are set at end with Freeney and Mathis, but their run deficiencies were really exposed last season. Moala should go a long way to improving this area of their defense.
62. Tennessee Titans: Derrick Williams, WR, Penn St.
The Titans receiving corps is average at best, so Williams could really help that unit, and he can offset the loss of Chris Carr as their return specialist as well.
63. Arizona Cardinals: Shawn Nelson, TE, Southern Miss
The one piece missing from the Cardinals dynamic offense is the lack of an elite pass catching tight end. Nelson has incredible value here, and can be that vertical threat down the seam. He has also shown a willingness to block, even though he wasn’t asked to do that much in college.
64. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kraig Urbik, OT, Wisconsin
The Steelers offensive line came together in the postseason, but were inconsistent during the regular season. Just in case they can’t keep their strong play going into next season, they grab this versatile Big Ten lineman to plug any holes that come up.
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