1. Detroit – QB Matt Stafford, Georgia
I’ve read a hundred different theories on the Lions strategy
with the number one pick, but it makes the most sense to me that
they go with the biggest upside of any player in the draft (since
they’re also slotted at Nos. 20 and 33), and that’s
2. St. Louis – OT Jason Smith, Baylor
He’s probably the best replacement for Orlando Pace among
the talented group of tackles in the draft. While many mocks still
have Smith going first overall, it’s imperative the Lions
select a top-rate QB before they devolve into an Arena League franchise.
The Rams could opt for Curry, but the glaring need for a stud left
tackle is too great.
3. Kansas City – LB Aaron Curry, Wake
Curry has separated himself as the best defensive player in the
draft. The Chiefs took care of their QB need with the acquisition
of Cassel, and this Demon Deacon will be have a huge impact on their
4. Seattle – OT Eugene Monroe, Virginia
Could be the most NFL-ready lineman in the draft, and the Seahawks
could use a healthy young body up front to replace their aging stars.
5. Cleveland – DE Brian Orakpo, Texas
Orakpo has great size and uses his hands well to shed blocks and
make plays. The Browns need another DL component to make noise up
front, and Orakpo certainly fits the bill.
6. Cincinnati – OT Andre Smith, Alabama
The episode at the combine soured many scouts on Smith, but he could
be the most talented left tackle in the draft and has moved up draft
boards ever since. And the Bengals need someone to protect Carson
Palmer’s blindside even more than they need chaperones for
7. Oakland – WR Michael Crabtree, Texas
Crabtree is undoubtedly the best receiver in the draft and should
be the first off the board, although Jeremy Maclin’s even
faster and Al Davis is in love with speed.
8. Jacksonville – ILB Rey Maualuga,
If they’re smart, the Jaguars will make a move to replace
underachieving MLB Mike Peterson and Daryl Smith with a long-term
answer in Maualuga. They could trade down and still get the USC
linebacker or even take Mark Sanchez here. But for me, Maualuga’s
the best fit.
9. Green Bay – DE/OLB Everett Brown,
The Packers need a smaller, athletic pass-rushing tweener at right
DE who can make a difference, and Brown is an explosive player who
could excel in that position and take some pressure off Aaron Kampman.
10. San Francisco – OT Michael Oher,
The best of the remaining left tackles, Oher has as much promise
as the Smiths or Monroe. And San Francisco – regardless of
who’s playing QB, needs left tackle.
11. Buffalo – DE Tyson Jackson, LSU
The Bills need a pass-rushing end (or OLB) to make an immediate
impact. Jackson will be a 4-3 pass rushing DT or a DE in a 3-4.
They could also draft Aaron Maybin or Everette Brown 9if he slips)
because they need a composite OLB/DE as well, but Jackson’s
talent and size is hard to pass up.
12. Denver – DT B.J. Raji, Boston College
They could take QB Mark Sanchez, but I have a feeling Josh McDaniels
is out to prove something with Kyle Orton. Here, they benefit from
Raji’s fall – because of his positive steroid test at
the combine – and get a very talented player.
13. Washington – OLB/DE Larry English,
Washington made a big move by signing DT Albert Haynesworth. Adding
this prototypical pass-rusher will help shore up the rest of its
D-line and help them emerge as a much better defensive team.
14. New Orleans – RB Chris Wells, Ohio
Despite his struggle to stay healthy, Wells is an extraordinary
runner with both size and natural ability – and he’ll
make a good fit as the downhill back to complement the elusive style
of Reggie Bush. I’m aware that Knowson Moreno has moved past
Wells on many draft boards, but Wells seems to be the better fit.
15. Houston – CB Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio
The best corner in the draft, hands-down, Jenkins could go a lot
sooner than No. 15 overall.
16. San Diego – LB Brian Cushing, USC
The Chargers need a playmaker other than Antonio Cromartie on defense,
and Cushing could have a major impact. He reads the quarterback
well, can break on the ball, and is a skilled pass rusher.
17. New York Jets – QB Mark Sanchez,
Sanchez might not fall this far, and the Jets will be smart to make
any moves necessary to get this ever-improving QB.
18. Denver (from Chicago) – DE/OLB
Aaron Maybin, Penn State
Denver still needs a complete pass rusher/coverage LB and Maybin
can handle the Mile-High pressure.
19. Tampa Bay – DE Robert Ayers, Tennessee
The Bucs could reach for a talent like Ayers here, even though the
Tennessee product has some character issues.
20. Detroit (from Dallas) – DB Vontae
There are some concerns that Vontae, like his older brother, Vernon
Davis, might be a bit of a head case without the inner drive to
reach his full potential in the NFL, but the Lions can afford to
take a shot at No. 20.
21. Philadelphia – RB Knowshown Moreno,
I’m assuming they don’t draft up to pick up Beanie Wells
(and that the explosive back doesn’t fall this far) because
Wells is high on their priority list. But as I said before, Moreno
is a hot commodity and could be gone by #21 as well.
22. Minnesota – WR Jeremy Maclin, Missouri
Maclin will most likely be drafted sooner than 22nd, but it’s
also likely that the aforementioned teams will shore up other needs
before adding this speed burner.
23. New England – LB James Laurinitis,
I can’t think of any reason Bill Belichick wouldn’t
land Laurinitis with this pick if he’s available. It’s
a match made in heaven and the Patriots obviously need to get younger
24. Atlanta – DT Peria Jerry, Mississippi
Jerry will be the best defensive tackle available at this point,
mainly because there’s no way Raji can fall this far. And
the Falcons desperately need a DT since they didn’t adequately
fill the gap in last year’s draft.
25. Miami – C Alex Mack, California
A former high school wrestler who could be the best center in a
very deep 2009 draft class, Mack is probably a first-round pick.
26. Baltimore – LB Clay Matthews, USC
The Ravens need to replace Bart Scott and Matthews is the obvious
choice. Matthews has a great NFL pedigree and could immediately
make an impact on this defense full of overachievers.
27. Indianapolis – WR Darrius Heyward-Bey,
I’m sure they’d love to land Maclin, but there’s
little chance the talented Missouri WR will fall this far. Unless
the Colts trade up, Heyward-Bey will be the best WR available at
28. Buffalo (from Philadelphia via Carolina)
– OT Eben Britton, Arizona
Britton isn’t as complete a prospect as the Smiths, Monroe
or even Oher, but he was technically sound in the spread at Arizona
and he has the size to make the transition to a pro offense –
although probably not on the left side.
29. New York Giants – WR Hakeem Nicks,
He’ll be the new Plaxico in New York if they select him, but
I could just as easily see the Giants trading this pick to the Browns
and walking away with Braylon Edwards.
30. Tennessee – TE Brandon Pettigrew,
Pettigrew is the most complete TE in the draft, and the Titans will be lucky if he falls this far. The team still needs to find a viable target for their QB -- so Vince Young, or whomever ends up being the starting QB in Tennessee -- will go through his progressions properly and develop rapport with a short-route safety valve.
31. Arizona – RB LeSean McCoy, Pittsburgh
McCoy is a good all-around back who the Cardinals won’t let
fall into the second round. He’s a quick, complete runner,
but needs to work on his pass-blocking to be the feature back in
32. Pittsburgh – C Max Unger, Oregon
Easily one of the best offensive line prospects of the draft, this
versatile 6-5, 309 lineman earned First Team All-Pac-10 honors at
left tackle in 2005 and 2006 and at center in 2007 and 2008.