Matt Stafford is nearing a deal with the Lions and teams are burning up the phone lines trying to put their selves in position to select Mark Sanchez, every pick in the top ten has been involved in trade rumor of some sort. Tony Gonzalez has been dealt to the Falcons and even more veteran players like Braylon Edwards and Anquain Boldin could be moved before the draft. One thing is for sure there will be a flurry of trades in the first round.
Pick # 1 Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford Georgia Jr. 6-3 228
Now that the Lions have agreed to a contract with Aaron Curry they have all of the leverage in the Matt Stafford sweep stakes. Stafford has until Friday to agree to a contract with the Lions if he wants to be the first pick. Even if Stafford has to take less money than he originally expected he will still make more money going number one overall than three or four and will find a way to strike a deal with the Lions by the Friday deadline.
Pick # 2 St. Louis Rams OT Jason Smith Baylor Sr. 6-5 305
Unless someone wows the Rams with a trade offer which seems unlikely at this point the Rams will be staying put at # 2 and selecting Smith to replace the departed Orlando Pace. The Rams may have the only pick in the first round that has not been brought up in trade talks in some form or another.
Pick # 3 Kansas City Chiefs OLB Aaron Curry Wake Forest Sr. 6-3 247
Two things I am fairly certain about 1. Curry wll go #3 overall 2. The Chiefs and Scott Pioli will not be the team picking #3 come Saturday. Piloi comes from the Bill Parcells school of thought on the draft which is to trade back in the first round and stock pile draft picks. If the Chiefs trade back look for them to pick a player like Larry English or Tyson Jackson who may be a better fit for the 3-4 defense.
Pick # 4 Seattle Seahawks QB Mark Sanchez USC Jr. 6-3 225
If the Chiefs don’t trade out of the # 3 pick the Seahawks inherit the ultimate bargaining chip in the draft, pick # 4, the Mark Sanchez pick. The road to Sanchez for any of the numerous teams interest in the former USC QB travels through Seattle, if a deal cannot be brokered with another team the Seahawks will select Sanchez to be their heir apparent to Matt Hasselbeck.
Pick # 5 Cleveland WR Michael Crabtree Texas Tech So. 6-3 214
Where there is smoke there is fire and it has almost become a certainty that Braylon Edwards will be traded before the draft. With Edwards out in Cleveland the Browns will need a go to receiver and Crabtree will be a no brainer.
Pick # 6 Cincinnati Bengals OT Eugene Monroe Virginia Jr. 6-6 315
Monroe will be the best player available when it becomes the Bengals time to pick, Carson Palmer got injured and the Bengals went from respectable to laughable they can’t afford to let that happen again. Monroe once thought to go #2 overall will be strong protection for Carson palmer for the next ten years.
Pick # 7 Oakland Raiders WR Jeremy Maclin Missouri So. 6-1 200
After Al Davis watches Crabtree come off the board to the Browns this decision becomes easy for the Raiders. Davis has wanted to draft a electric receiver for the past couple of seasons and Maclin is right up Davis’s alley, big play ability with speed to burn.
Pick # 8 Jacksonville Jaguars OT Andre Smith Alabama Jr. 6-4 330
I don’t know how serious the Jaguars are about going after Mark Sanchez but if he comes off the board at # 4 the Jaguars back up plan will be to draft a receiver with both Maclin and Crabtree off the board the Jaguars will have to go best player available. The Jaguars drafted a DE in the first two rounds of the draft last year so that is not a option, Smith has talent but is a high risk high reward type of player.
Pick # 9 Green Bay Packers DE/LB Everette Brown Florida State Sr. 6-4 252
Cornerback is a strong possibility with this pick, my guess is the Packers will be adding pieces to their 3-4 defense. They have been building their defensive line for a couple of seasons and Brown will be a nice addition and good value at # 9, when he could have went much higher in the draft.
Pick # 10 San Francisco 49ers CB Malcolm Jenkins Ohio State Sr. 6-1 201
Top corner back in the draft, may eventually be converted to safety and this is a little high to be picking a eventual safety but Jenkins is a ball hawk play maker. Coach Mike Singletary will not be able to turn around the 49ers without some playmakers on defense and Jenkins will form a nice cornerback tandem opposite Nate Clements.
Pick # 11 Buffalo Bills DE/LB Brian Orakpo Texas Sr. 6-4 260
Picking # 11 is a great place to be drafting because you get to sit back and snatch up that player that slides out of the top ten without paying the top ten money. Orakpo may be the best pure pass rusher in the draft and will add to a already formidable Bills D-line.
Pick # 12 Denver Broncos DE-OLB Larry English Northern Illinois Sr. 6-2 255
English is the prime example of somebody who improved their stock after the season was over. In January he was a third to fifth rounder, after the combine he was a early second, late first rounder, but after some private workouts and teams being intrigued in his ability to fit into the 3-4 his stock just sky rocketed. Once the season starts English will have to prove he was worth the hype.
Pick # 13 Washington Redskins DE Tyson Jackson LSU
With a lot of teams making the switch to the 3-4 and Jackson’s projected ability to be a player in that kind of defense it is hard to imagine him still being here at this slot. If Jackson is still around at #13 the Redskins will have to pick him up to be the Jason Taylor replacement.
Pick # 14 New Orleans Saints RB Beanie wells OSU Jr. 6-1 237
Maybe the worst kept secret the last two weeks is that the Saints are in love with Wells, they want a thunder and lighting punch in the running game. They have the lightning in Reggie Bush now they need the thunder and that is where Wells comes in.
Pick # 15 Houston Texan DE Robert Ayers Tennessee Sr. 6-3 272
Ayers is a fast riser on the draft boards and will team up nicely with Mario Williams, giving the Texans a nice tandem at the DE position for years to come.
Pick # 16 San Diego Chargers WR Hakeem Nicks North Carolina Jr. 6-2 210
The Chargers have some nice receivers but no stars, Nicks will bring a added dimension to a already potent offense. B.J. Raji is also a possibility here as the Chargers need to find a replacement for the aging Jamal Williams.
Pick # 17 New York Jets QB Josh Freeman Kansas State Jr. 6-6 250
The Jets don‘t have the ammo to go after Sanchez, they will have to stand pat and hope some QB hungry team that missed out on the two blue chips QB’s don’t trade up and get Freeman. Freeman is similar to Jamarcus Russell all the tools but there questions about the decision making process.
Pick # 18 Denver Broncos LB Rey Maualuga USC Sr. 6-2 260
The Broncos had thoughts about taking Rey with the 12th pick but are still able to snatch him up six slots later. Denver will get some good players in the draft but was it worth Jay Cutler?
Pick # 19 Tampa Bay Buccaneers DT B.J. Raji Boston College Sr. 6-1 323
Absolute value pick here for the Buc’s who have not had a dominate presence inside since Warren Sapp.
Pick # 20 Detroit Lions DE Michael Johnson Jr. 6-7 250
The three most important positions in football are QB, OT and pass rushing defensive end after the Lions acquire Johnson they will have two out of the three. Martin Mayhew will start fast with his first draft in Detroit as long as he stays away from receivers.
Pick # 21 Philadelphia Eagles WR Darrius Heyward-Bey Maryland Jr. 6-3 206
When the Eagles gave Donovan McNabb a legitimate pass catcher they went to the Super Bowl not to say Howard Bey is the missing link for the Eagles but it would relieve some of McNabb’s frustrations.
Pick # 22 Minnesota Vikings RB/ WR Percy Harvin Jr. 5-11 195
The Vikings may be hesitant to get Harvin due to some character concerns but they need a playmaker in the offense bad enough to take the touchdown making Florida WR/HB.
Pick # 23 New England Patriots LB Clay Matthews USC Sr. 6-3 240
The Pats took a LB with the 10th pick last year but they are still long in the tooth at the position and Matthews will fit right into the Pats system.
Pick # 24 Atlanta Falcons LB James Laurinaitis Ohio State Sr. 6-3 240
Last year the Falcons fixed their offense this year they will focus on the defense, Laurinatis has the ability to be the leader of this defense for seasons to come.
Pick # 25 Miami Dolphins OLB Brian Cushing USC Sr. 6-3 255
Cushing has been invited to the draft so if he is still around here at # 25 it will be a long day for him with ESPN cameras around him all day, but after some draft day uncomfort Cushing will be happy he landed in a good place that will put him in a position to succeed like Miami.
Pick # 26 Baltimore Ravens OT Eben Britton Arizona Jr. 6-6 309
Willie Anderson was a nice pick up last year for the Ravens but he won‘t play forever and the Ravens need to find and groom Joe Flacco‘s blind side protector for years to come.
Pick # 27 Indianapolis Colts RB Knowshon Moreno Georgia Jr. 5-11 207
The Colts like to employ a two RB system and Dominick Rhodes was less than impressive last year, Moreno is a bargain this late in the first round and it gives Peyton Manning another toy to play with.
Pick # 28 Buffalo Bills TE Brandon Pettigrew Oklahoma State Sr. 6-6 260
Speed receiver check. Possession receiver check. Dynamic RB check. Young up and coming QB check. The only piece of the puzzle the Bills offense is missing is a playmaking tight end and Pettigrew fits that mold perfectly.
Pick # 29 New York Giants OT Michael Oher Sr. 6-4 309
O-line might not be a position of need for the Giants but they can afford the luxury of taking best player available. DE will also be a possibility for the Giants either way they will continue to bolster their line play.
Pick # 30 Tennessee Titans WR Kenny Britt Rutgers Jr. 6-4 215
The Titans don’t have the weapons on offense to get one on one coverage so they will need a big receiver who can catch the ball in traffic.
Pick # 31 Arizona Cardinals CB Vontae Davis Illinois Jr. 6-0 204
A suspect secondary could have kept the Cardinals out of the playoffs had they not played in the worst division in football. They cannot start next season with the same secondary, Davis will be a upgrade over what the Cardinals currently have.
Pick # 32 Pittsburgh Steelers OLB Clint Sintim Virginia Sr. 6-3 256
No reason to doubt this pick the Steelers always hit when they pick a LB and with veteran leadership like James Harrison, Sintim should pick up the defense quickly.