“Who could it be now…?”
Oh, Men At Work and your '80s truth. For the usual suspects holding the top picks in this year’s NFL Draft, the same can be said. Especially for the teams picking one through eight, the list of busts reads like a who’s who of disastrous drafting.
Between Joey Harrington, Charles Rogers, Akili Smith, Peter Warrick, Robert Gallery, Fabian Washington, Tim Couch, and Gerard Warren, the Lions, Bengals, Raiders and Browns have written the book on bad scouting and worse drafting.
It’s no surprise that those teams are near the top of the draft with another chance to possibly screw things up.
So, as Men At Work asked, “Who Could It Be Now?” What prospect will be wearing what NFL caps come draft day? Let’s mock it up.
1. Detroit Lions (0-16)
The Pick: Matthew Stafford, QB Georgia
There is so much wrong with this franchise and not just in the personnel department. Bill Parcells always said to build from the lines out, so naturally the Lions will do the opposite and take the big-armed gunslinger.
They’ll be wowed by his physical tools and God knows they could use the morale boost that comes from a fresh face of the franchise, but they would be better served taking one of the two stud offensive tackles and really start to build this team.
2. St. Louis Rams (2-14)
The Pick: Jason Smith, OT Baylor
Orlando Pace was the quintessential NFL left tackle throughout the Rams’ Super Bowl years, but has been recently released. Drafting Smith, a player in Pace’s mold, will create a tandem of two young tackles with Alex Barron who was drafted in the First Round in 2005.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14)
The Pick: Brian Orakpo, DE\LB Texas
New head coach Todd Haley may want to add some weapons for Matt Cassel and Tony Gonzalez, but don’t forget that the Chiefs also brought in former Patriots’ personnel guru Scott Pioli as their GM.
Pioli knows the power of building a great defense and taking a versatile player like Orakpo who can rush the passer and has the athleticism to play linebacker.
This might also be a place for the Chiefs to trade down and get some picks to address some of the offensive line needs.
4. Seattle Seahawks (4-12)
The Pick: Eugene Monroe, OT Virginia
The Seahawks added a playmaker in wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, but they’ll need to protect Matt Hasselbeck to get him the ball.
Seattle’s line needs an upgrade and Monroe seems like a safe pick to bolster the blocking and potentially grow into the replacement for Walter Jones.
5. Cleveland Browns (4-12)
The Pick: Aaron Curry, OLB Wake Forest
Eric Mangini comes from the same mindset as previous Browns coach Romeo Crennel when it comes to defensive philosophies. Taking Curry not only gives the Browns the best defender in the draft, but also a smart and versatile weapon.
6. Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1)
The Pick: Michael Oher, OT Mississippi
It would be tempting for the Bengals to take Michael Crabtree with T.J. Houshmandzadeh leaving town, but Marvin Lewis needs to make the smart choice and not the flashy choice.
Oher might be a reach at this spot, but with the risks surrounding Andre Smith of Alabama, Oher is the next best tackle on the board.
The Bengals have drafted defense in their last four first rounds, now’s the time to really start building to keep Carson Palmer healthy and productive.
7. Oakland Raiders (5-11)
The Pick: Michael Crabtree, WR Texas Tech
Is Al Davis still running the Raiders? Yes. Then the man in the track suit will take the fastest, flashiest guy available and that guy is Crabtree.
While people can lampoon this draft tactic, for once, it should yield something the Raiders need. Oakland has a stout defense already, but the offense needs something explosive.
Crabtree is fast and physical and there won’t be a deep ball he can’t run and get.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11)
The Pick: Jeremy Maclin, WR Missouri
Let’s face it…the Jaguars are a disaster at the wide receiver position. Quarterback David Garrard has proven to be efficient with the ball and giving him a versatile, go-to receiver will help open up their offense and help them compete in a division with the Colts and Titans.
Maclin can be that spark and will contribute immediately on special teams.
9. Green Bay Packers (6-10)
The Pick: Everette Brown, DE Florida State
The Packers bombed in the 2001 NFL Draft taking another Florida State defensive end in Jamal Reynolds. This time around however, Everette Brown is a more disciplined player than Reynolds and when it comes to Green Bay’s defense, they need some weapons.
Brown can rush the passer opposite Aaron Kampman or could play outside linebacker and give A.J, Hawk an athletic running mate in the LB corp.
10. San Francisco 49ers (7-9)
The Pick: Andre Smith, OT Alabama
Mike Singletary is determined to turn his offense to a gritty, grinding running attack. Smith is a mauler who was dominant in the SEC and then things took a wrong turn starting with being kicked off the team prior to the Sugar Bowl and showing up for the combine unprepared.
Smith the player fits well into what the 49ers want to do and if the toughness and discipline of Singletary rub off on him, then he could be a dominant player in the NFL.
11. Buffalo Bills (7-9)
The Pick: Aaron Maybin, DE Penn State
The Bills need some pass rush help. Maybin is explosive and a beast at the line so scrimmage.
12. Denver Broncos (8-8)
The Pick: Tyson Jackson, DE LSU
The Broncos have had a revolving door of defensive linemen in recent years both via draft and trade and most of them didn’t work out since end is still a need for the Broncos.
Jackson is a quintessential SEC defensive lineman – he’s fast, strong and the Broncos could shift him around to play inside or rush the passer. Josh McDaniel is somewhat of an X-factor here.
How much weight will he throw around in the draft room could determine the direction of his first draft as Broncos’ head coach.
13. Washington Redskins (8-8)
The Pick: Robert Ayers, DE Tennessee
If Jerry Jones is the next Al Davis, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder is certainly the next Jerry Jones. Shaky personnel moves have led to a mediocre team.
Taking an end here is a good pick since Washington needs pass rushing help and someone to be a running mate with the newly-acquired Albert Haynesworth.
Snyder will be wowed by Ayers’ workouts and stats even though most of them came in one good year on a bad team.
14. New Orleans Saints (8-8)
The Pick: Brian Cushing, OLB USC
We know offense isn’t the problem in New Orleans. It’s the Saints' defense that has to improve before this team really takes the next step. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Brian Cushing is the fact that he started almost immediately for the Trojans.
For a team that thrives on competition and new crops of young studs, Cushing played a lot for Pete Carroll. Cushing will bring his tough New Jersey mentality to any team as well as the ability to play in coverage, near the line of scrimmage or as a ferocious hitter.
15. Houston Texans (8-8)
The Pick: Malcolm Jenkins, DB Ohio State
While Jenkins had a slower showing at the combine than he would have hoped, he is still one of the most complete defenders in the draft. He can cover, and he’ll deliver the big blow on ball carriers.
Shifting him to safety might cover his speed deficiencies and keep building on the corps of young defenders the Texans have.
16. San Diego Chargers (8-8)
The Pick: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR Maryland
Of all the offensive weapons between Rivers, LT, Sproles, and Gates there is no break away receiving threat. Heyward-Bey is that guy. He’s got speed to burn and will stretch the field creating more space for Tomlinson and Sproles.
17. New York Jets (9-7)
The Pick: Mark Sanchez, QB USC
Where have you gone Brett Favre era? The one-season circus didn’t get the Jets any closer to playoff success and now the Giants’ little brother is starting over with no experience QB and a new head coach Rex Ryan.
While Sanchez has very little experience as a starter, he has a couple of things going for him. First, he’s certainly knows how to play in the big city. Next, he has played in one of the last true pro-style offenses in college football.
And lastly, Rex Ryan saw first hand with the Ravens how to win with a rookie quarterback. Sanchez would be a great pick to a team that has foundations in place in a good defense and a young offensive line.
18. Chicago Bears (9-7)
The Pick: Hakeem Nicks, WR North Carolina
Somebody please give Kyle Orton somebody to throw the ball to. When you’re best receiving threat is a part-time receiver, running back, kick returner, DB in Devin Hester it’s time to get a wide receiver.
Nicks is a big, physical target who has shown he can make tough grabs over the middle as well as being a much-needed red zone target.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7)
The Pick: Josh Freeman, QB Kansas State
The Jon Gruden reign of QB terror is over. No more seven quarterbacks in camp or browbeating tough vets or selling out a spleen-less lefty. Now to the real problem…the Bucs don’t have a signal caller.
Freeman is built like JaMarcus Russell without the SEC pedigree. He’s big and strong with a powerful arm. This is not a deep draft class for quarterbacks, but new Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris has worked with Freeman.
The Bucs are clearly in a rebuilding mode have dumped several veterans, so now’s the time to get a young QB and start molding.
20. Detroit Lions (from Dallas)
The Pick: B.J. Raji, DT Boston College
Now that the Lions have their franchise quarterback, it’s time to start that ‘building from the lines out’ thing. Raji is a beast. He takes up blockers and dominates the run.
He’s the kind of defensive playmaker the Lions need to start any kind of turnaround.
21. Philadelphia Eagles (9-6-1)
The Pick: Chris Wells, RB Ohio State
Everybody knows Brian Westbrook is the do-everything weapon in this offense.
What the Eagles need is another back that can first be the power compliment to Westbrook and more importantly take some of the workload from the often-injured Westbrook.
Wells is a solid runner with a bruising mentality who could fit in nicely in the rough NFC East.
22. Minnesota Vikings (10-6)
The Pick: Brandon Pettigrew, TE Oklahoma State
If Tarvaris Jackson is the choice as the Vikings quarterback, nothing helps a young QB like a quality tight end. Pettigrew is a physical specimen who could be receiving option that Jackson needs underneath.
He’s as reliable target as there is in this draft.
23. New England Patriots (11-5)
The Pick: Rey Maualuga, ILB USC
Besides Jerod Mayo, the Patriots linebackers aren’t getting younger. Maualuga is as ferocious a defender as you’ll find in this draft. While he is wild at times, the teaching hand of Bill Belichick could mold him into a truly special linebacker.
24. Atlanta Falcons (11-5)
The Pick: Clay Matthews, OLB USC
Nobody is shooting up draft boards like Matthews. After working his way from a walk-on at USC to an impact senior season, Matthews may fit better in a 3-4 defense, he’s too good of an athlete to pass up.
His NFL pedigree (dad and uncle played in the NFL) will also fit the hard-working, professional attitude of coach Mike Smith.
25. Miami Dolphins (11-5)
The Pick: Vontae Davis, CB Illinois
What’s the trade value of this pick? Bill Parcells has assuredly been asking the question since the draft order was finalized.
Parcells could trade down into the second round for more picks, which he loves to do, but at this pick he can get a player that he can get at a good price and build with.
Like his brother Vernon, Vontae is a physical freak and big-time athlete for the Illini.
26. Baltimore Ravens (11-5)
The Pick: James Laurinaitis, ILB Ohio State
There wasn’t a more dominant presence in the Big Ten the past two seasons than Laurinaitis. He’s a tackling machine whose instincts are out of this world.
He’s not as athletic as other linebackers in the draft, but his hard-nosed mentality should fit nicely on a defense such as Baltimore’s. Losing Bart Scott also helps make this a necessary pick for the Ravens.
27. Indianapolis Colts (12-4)
The Pick: Ron Brace, DT Boston College
It always seems to come down to stopping the run for the Colts. This beast of a tackle fits in the mold of the defense Tony Dungy designed before retiring. Brace was overshadowed at BC playing next to B.J. Raji, but was just as physical and disruptive a force.
28. Philadelphia Eagles (from Carolina)
The Pick: Phil Loadholt, OT Oklahoma
The Eagles lost Tra Thomas to free agency and now must fill a big hole at the tackle position. Loadholt is big enough to fill any hole.
While his physical tools may not be as sharp as other tackles on the board, he’s a proven commodity having been a two-time All-American. Protecting the blindside of the Heisman Trophy winner is also a good resume builder.
29. New York Giants (12-4)
The Pick: Kenny Britt, WR Rutgers
As long as he doesn’t shoot himself in the leg, Britt could walk in and start for the Giants. If Plaxico Burress is not back for New York, they will need to find Eli Manning another big-time weapon.
When Burress was out, the Giants’ offense fizzled. He needs to work on the little things, but a little time with Tom Coughlin might straighten out his issues.
30. Tennessee Titans (13-3)
The Pick: Percy Harvin, WR Florida
The Titans are in desperate need of a play-making receiver. Harvin might not be ideal in height, but his speed and elusiveness makes him someone that can’t be passed on.
His vertical speed should make a great target for Kerry Collins’ big arm and will open up space for the lightning fast Chris Johnson.
31. Arizona Cardinals (9-7)
The Pick: Knowshon Moreno, RB Georgia
The Cardinals simply couldn’t run the ball until very late in the season. This is a rushing unit in need of a great weapon and Moreno will be an awesome fit. He’s a proven pass-catcher and athletic runner. He really could be the ideal running back for the NFC Champs.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
The Pick: Eben Britton, OT Arizona
Despite another Lombardi Trophy, the Steelers struggled to keep Ben Roethlisberger upright. Britton is an unknown to many fans, but is a need the Steelers desperately need to fill.