Here's a look at a new first round.
1. Detroit Lions: Matt Stafford, QB, Georgia
The Lions have a ton of needs but quarterback should be number one on their draft shopping list. Matt Stafford has all of the tools you look for in a top quarterback with his arm strength, pocket presence, and experience in a pro style offense.
Some say he struggles with accuracy and field vision but on tape he keeps his eyes downfield and makes extremely accurate throws. He will be the Lions pick come April.
2. St. Louis Rams: Michael Oher, LT, Ole Miss
There is no longer a clear-cut number one offensive tackle in the draft so I thought I’d break this down systematically. The formula for the Rams breaks down into two parts to draft one of the top four offensive tackles vying for the number one spot (Michael Oher, Andre Smith, Eugene Monroe, and Jason Smith).
Their No. 1 need is a pass blocking tackle.
That takes Andre Smith out of the equation since he is a run block first type of tackle. Their second need in a tackle is one that can also play the right side. Monroe and Jason Smith are pure left tackles and would be a little overwhelmed on the right side.
Enter Michael Oher. He showed a nasty demeanor in the run game at the Senior Bowl and will be groomed to play the left tackle spot by Orlando Pace.
3. Kansas City Chiefs: Eugene Monroe, LT, Virginia
Using the method in the St. Louis Rams draft pick, I’ve figured out something: I’ve had the wrong tackle going here this whole time. Andre Smith is a run blocking tackle who struggles a little with speed. Branden Albert also struggles with speed and struggles with his footwork and agility.
Eugene Monroe is a prototype left tackle that can block just about any pass rusher in the game. With Monroe and Albert on the same line, Chiefs fans will be reminiscent of the Will Shields and Willie Roaf days.
4. Seattle Seahawks: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
I had an interesting debate the other day with a guy who thought the Seahawks should select B.J. Raji with the fourth overall pick. I’m not buying it.
Michael Crabtree is easily the number one prospect in the NFL draft and can be mentioned in the same breath as Larry Fitzgerald, Carlos Rogers, Andre Johnson, and Calvin Johnson, though he was probably the No. 1 prospect ever and most draftniks were saying the same thing back in 2007. Crabtree has the size, hands, strength, route running ability, YAC ability, and the ability to catch in traffic to be a top five receiver in the league someday.
5. Cleveland Browns: Brian Orakpo, OLB, Texas
The Cleveland Browns had one glaring problem all season and that was their pass rush, or lack there of. Kamerion Wimbley has disappointed since his stellar rookie season and may need some competition to get him to step up. Brian Orakpo is comparable to Vernon Gholston as a workout warrior, but Orakpo is a seasoned veteran who can come in and start right away.
A lot of Cleveland fans want a corner but a lot of the struggles the Browns had in coverage is because the quarterback had seven seconds to throw.
6. Cincinnati Bengals: Andre Smith, LT, Alabama
Going for the best value on the board while mixing in their need for offensive line help, the Bengals will decide between Andre Smith and Jason Smith. A pass blocking specialist is needed and Jason Smith fits that bill. But why not him?
Because Cincinnati has a power run scheme, one where Andre Smith can maximize his abilities. He is a bit raw as a pass blocker but all the skills are there for him to flourish.
7. Oakland Raiders: Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State
Looking around in mock draft circles I have found one odd thing: I’m the only one who thinks Malcolm Jenkins will go to the Raiders. Everybody knows Al Davis LOVES his physical freaks so why doesn’t Jenkins fit the bill? He’s 6’1", weighs around 210 lbs., and runs in the low 4.4’s.
With axing of DeAngelo Hall and the possibility of losing both Nnamdi Asomugha and Chris Johnson in free agency, they need to draft a star corner. One thing I’d like to vent about. A ton of people have the Raiders selecting a left tackle while noting Mario Henderson played extremely well down the stretch.
Hmm...That’s funny, because he played extremely well at the beginning of the year when Kwame Harris was out. Maybe that’s not a coincidence.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jason Smith, LT, Baylor
Jack Del Rio said at the Senior Bowl that he was going to focus on the offensive line in the draft. Couple that with Rey Maualuga’s average play down in Mobile, you can’t help but think this is a lock. Jason Smith is a pass blocking machine and is extremely athletic.
He’s comparable to Ryan Clady only a little smaller in the waste considering both were former tight ends and fit best in zone blocking schemes.
9. Green Bay Packers: B.J. Raji, NT, Boston College
Thanks to Dom Capers, the Packers are moving to a 3-4 defense. I love losing Dom, thanks for the transition! Anyways, Green Bay will need to build a new defensive foundation.
Everette Brown would be great as a pass rusher for the new scheme but B.J. Raji is the type of nose tackle that can open up a defense. With his ability to take on blockers and affect the run game, Nick Barnett and A.J. Hawk can clog the middle making running the ball impossible. My dark horse pick is Knowshon Moreno.
The Packers' running game was poor last season and Moreno is the type of back that would change a game in a zone blocking scheme.
10. San Francisco 49ers: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
Maybe they’ll finally get a USC quarterback after all. Since Matt Leinart didn’t declare for the ’05 draft, the 49ers selected Alex Smith of Utah. Three seasons later it hasn’t panned out that well. Mark Sanchez has all of the tools a successful NFL quarterback needs and has more potential than both Smith and Leinart.
The only problem is that he’s extremely raw and has bad pocket presence. No matter. Sanchez has the arm strength, accuracy, and mobility that make him a top 10 prospect.
11. Buffalo Bills: Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest
I’m a big Aaron Curry fan and although he is a top 10 prospect, the need and value for him in the top 10 just isn’t there. The Buffalo Bills on the other hand would be glad to take him. A prototype outside linebacker, Curry has the size, strength, speed, and tackling ability that will make teams salivate.
12. Denver Broncos: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
Bash the pick if you want, but looking at the board nothing makes more sense. Rey Maualuga or Everette Brown could very well be the pick but neither match up to the possibilities Knowshon Moreno brings to the table.
At 5’11", 210 lbs. he isn’t the biggest running back in the world, but put him in a zone blocking scheme, especially one of Denver’s pedigree, you are then looking at a potential 2,000 yard rusher. He has the vision, cutback ability, and agility to make NFL defenses miss all day long.
13. Washington Redskins: Everette Brown, DE, Florida State
This may seem a little out of place but when has a Daniel Snyder pick ever made since? He has an infatuation for pass rushers (See: Taylor, Jason) though that hasn’t really panned out. The leading sacker for the Redskins for 2008 was Andre Carter with four so a boost in their pass rush isn’t a terrible idea. Peria Jerry would also be a solid pick.
14. New Orleans Saints: Rey Mauaglua, MLB, USC
Jonathan Vilma was a solid linebacker this year for them and filled a desperate need. They will have to risk either re-signing him and losing their first round pick or risk losing him in free agency.
If they somehow retain him in free agency, they can shift him to the weak side to make room for Rey Maualuga. A menacing linebacker, Maualuga displays a sideline to sideline range and the power to change a game heading downhill.
15. Houston Texans: Percy Harvin, WR, Florida
One of the harder teams to get a read on, the Texans will probably choose between Florida’s Percy Harvin and Illinois’ Vontae Davis. Harvin is the pick now but that very well could change. Both are extremely good athletes and both display amazing talent.
Each has a major question mark as well: Harvin and his injury history and Davis with his work-ethic concerns. In the end, if they retain Dunta Robinson they’ll choose Harvin, but if not Davis will likely be the selection.
16. San Diego Chargers: Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State
This has to be a no-brainer. LaDanian Tomlinson is on the wrong side of his career and is obviously slowing down. Darren Sproles is a game changer but he will likely bolt (no pun intended) in free agency like Michael Turner did. Chris Wells is as dynamic as they come.
A physical beast at 6’1", 235 lbs., he has the ability to run in the low 4.4’s. Combine that with a lethal stiff arm and ability to carry a workload, he may be the best running back in this class.
17. New York Jets: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
The Jets will bring in Rex Ryan as their next coach and as a 3-4 guru; he may look at building his own foundation. The only problem is he already has all the players he could want in a front seven at New York. So the Jets should be looking at the offensive side of the ball.
Thomas Jones and Leon Washington are a good one-two punch and Dustin Keller has emerged as a go to threat. There aren’t any receivers on the Jets roster that make me think number one target and even though Jerricho Cotchery is solid he is no Darrius Heyward-Bey. D.H.B. has the size, speed, athleticism, and hands to become a number one receiver.
18. Chicago Bears: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
This is more of a situation for best player available. No pass rusher on the board is worth taking here and injury concerns with Nathan Vasher have to raise some eyebrows.
Put Vontae Davis in their and he can make up for what the Bears pass rush lacks. Plus, if you want to get really crazy, you can try him out at free safety in place of Mike Brown.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
This pick can go three different ways. The Bucs could select three technique Peria Jerry, project quarterback Josh Freeman, or speed demon Jeremy Maclin. I think it is long overdue to get a No. 1 threat in Tampa, and Maclin could be that guy. He has the speed and frame for a No. 1 receiver.
But will he be able to separate against press corners? What about with corners as fast as he is? And will he be able to put on enough weight to stay away from injuries? These questions will have to be answered by GM’s but overall I see Tampa taking that risk.
20. Detroit Lions (f/Dallas Cowboys): Eben Britton, LT, Arizona
If Detroit selects a quarterback with the first pick, they will need to shore up the offensive line with their next one. Not only will Eben Britton, who is coming off a stellar junior campaign, have to protect the blind side, he will have to be a punishing run blocker to create a balance on offense.
Also watch for the best player available method here, too.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
Even though Brent Celek is proving to be a decent option in the passing game, he cannot compare to Brandon Pettigrew. At 6’6", 260 lbs. he doesn’t have the ideal speed you look for in a tight end today but his in-line blocking skills are unparalleled. Pettigrew is a fine pass catcher and will be a fine option for Kevin Kolb down the road as well.
22. Minnesota Vikings: Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State
Making this pick just makes too much sense. Josh Freeman has all the physical tools you look for in a quarterback with his arm strength, frame, and mobility. He was plagued by inconsistency in his college career and will struggle early in his career, but that won’t stop the Vikings.
They need to bring in a quarterback, especially one with Freeman’s tools. Even he doesn’t win the job he needs to get in there to provide competition.
23. New England Patriots: D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt
Of all the needs the Patriots might have, quality cornerbacks are the most pressing. D.J. Moore has outstanding physical tools for the position with his speed, ball skills, and versatility (played corner, wide receiver, and returner). He will fit great in the Patriots' defensive scheme and should start immediately.
24. Atlanta Falcons: Rashad Johnson, FS, Alabama
With an awful Senior Bowl coupled with an average senior season, William Moore has dropped out of the first round and out of my top three safeties. That leaves the window open for Rashad Johnson.
He will not blow anybody away at the combine, which might in fact hurt him if he goes, but this kid is a true football player. His measureables (5’11", 195 lbs., and a 4.5 40-yard dash) hurt him but he is a rangy safety that’s always around the ball.
25. Miami Dolphins: Aaron Maybin, OLB, Penn State
I have to agree with Draftcountdown.com’s Scott Wright when it comes to Penn State DE/OLB Aaron Maybin. He has a ton of raw talent but he is underdeveloped and could have used another year to fully establish himself.
With all of that considered he will be a first round pick and will probably land in the top 20. He is a very good pass rusher with a good first step. He will fit great in the Dolphins 3-4 scheme as a rush linebacker.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest
I don’t care that he barely scratches 5’9, I love this kid. He has absolutely everything you look for in a top flight corner in terms of speed, vertical, ball skills, and confidence. He beats himself when drops an interception because he knows every time he touches the ball he can take it back for six.
He has the swagger in a corner that when he gets beat or out jumped, he’ll get in your face the very next play and compete.
27. Indianapolis Colts: Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss
Don’t get too excited Colts fans, he won’t last this long. He had a monster Senior Bowl and completely dominated his competition. He is a prototype three technique with his pass rushing ability and his nasty demeanor. Something must be in that Mississippi water.
28. Philadelphia Eagles (f/Carolina Panthers): Louis Delmas, FS, Western Michigan
The other free safety with first round aspirations is Louis Delmas. This kid is a competitor and a leader on the football field with the knack for making the big hit. He’s from a relatively small school, so he may need a couple of games to get acclimated, but with his demeanor on the field and the want to get better, Delmas will be a starter.
29. New York Giants: Brian Cushing, OLB, USC
Brian Cushing had a monster Senior Bowl and has worked himself into top 20 consideration. Luckily for New York, he falls to them here at number 29. Cushing reminds me a lot of an Adalius Thomas type football player that can play defensive end, outside linebacker, middle linebacker, and possibly strong safety in a pinch.
Cushing would also give the team versatility with Mathias Kiwanuka.
30. Tennessee Titans: James Laurinaitis, MLB, Ohio State
This pick is one of the harder one’s to evaluate because the team ignores wide receivers on the first day of the draft. They need to help shore up their linebacking core and who else would be better to help them do that than James Laurinaitis?
A middle linebacker all throughout college, he can start their in the pros but I can see him eventually moving over to Keith Bullock’s weak side spot when it’s all said and done.
31. ArizonaCardinals: Larry English, OLB, Northern Illinois
Another versatile ‘tweener to help Ken Whisenhunt transition into a 3-4 defense, Larry English made a big splash down in Mobile. English played exceptionally better than Clint Sintim, who he was competing with as a fringe first rounder.
With English on board, the Cardinals 3rd down stop unit should be significantly better and with Arizona I could see him contributing early and often as a rookie.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers: Alex Mack, C, California
Alex Mack stood head and shoulders above the rest of the centers at the Senior Bowl, earning himself a spot in the first round. He is a monster in the run game but will be able to hold his own and set a base against 3-4 nose tackles in pass protection. Even if Mack is still on the board, look for Tyson Jackson to get strong consideration.
Look for a second round coming soon to check out where notable omissions Tyson Jackson, Kenny Britt, Hakeem Nicks, and LeSean McCoy land!