A few changes, the same overall feel.
Eugene Monroe, T, Virginia
Whichever team owns the number one selection is almost burdened with the way the draft is set up now. You have to give your No. 1 pick at least $30 million in guaranteed money, which is a preposterous amount for anyone who hasn't played a snap in the league to make.
Hopefully the new CBA in the next few years will include a rookie cap... one can hope. My philosophy for this year's draft is to minimize the risk of your top picks. Unless you can make a trade, which is highly unlikely, you're pretty much stuck with your early selection.
So, I have the Lions selecting the best lineman available, which is Eugene Monroe. Not Matthew Stafford, or Mark Sanchez, or any quarterback. The Dolphins applied this theory last year, and drafted the linchpin for their O-line, Jake Long.
Drafting a QB is simply too much of a risk, no matter how high you are on him. The Dolphins may have loved Matt Ryan last year, but realized the risk was too high to chance, and made the safe pick.
Atlanta's situation was unique, in which they were almost forced to select Ryan due to the Mike Vick saga. Once again, the top team should select a tackle and build trenches out, which is clearly the right way to rebuild a football team.
Jason Smith, T, Baylor
The top four tackles in this draft are very solid, and any team that decides to take one of these four (Monroe, J. Smith, A. Smith, Oher) will not regret their decision. The Rams draft their replacement for Orlando Pace, who shipped off to Chi-Town to protect Jay Cutler's blindside, with the No. 2 pick in the draft.
Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest
The best player in this year's draft by my estimation, Curry brings everything. He's fast, strong, athletic, smart, and works hard. The Chiefs already got their franchise quarterback moving forward with the acquisition of Matt Cassel, and will add a defensive leader by selecting Aaron Curry.
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
The most undervalued player in this draft. Moreno has elite lateral quickness, deceptive size, solid straight-line speed, and great hands out of the backfield. The underlying quality with Knowshon however is this: He is faster coming out of his cuts than he is going into them, which is the trait of a special running back.
Seattle had T.J. Duckett and Maurice Morris running the ball last year, which is simply not good enough. They need to upgrade the position, and have a great player there for the taking.
Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
The Browns select the best player left on the board in Crabtree to compliment Braylon Edwards (if he is even there next year) and replace Donte Stallworth, who looks as though he may serve at least some jail time.
Everette Brown, DE, Florida State
Brown will be a productive defensive end in the NFL, and fills a need for the Bengals. Cincinnati needs to build their defense, and they need to build their character, after many negatives that have impacted the team over the last few years. Brown does both for the Bengals.
Andre Smith, T, Alabama
The big mauler goes off the board here to play opposite Khalif Barnes. Those two will create a very good tackle tandem to protect JaMarcus Russell and create running lanes for DMac and the rest of the Raider running backs.
Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State
The Jaguars will look to get back to the two running back system. Chris Wells will provide the bruising inside runner, and will allow Maurice Jones-Drew to stay fresh over the course of a game and will also keep the smaller back healthier over the long term.
Brian Orakpo, LB, Texas
New OLB's coach Kevin Greene will have fun teaching the physical freak Orakpo the ins and outs of the 3-4 rush linebacker. Aaron Kampman and Orakpo will make for a very good pass rush tandem while Barnett and Hawk can slide to ILB.
B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College
The Niners have many needs, but Raji can be the anchor for your defensive line. Think of Raji, Sopoaga, and Justin Smith as your front three, taking up blockers for Patrick Willis. Who wouldn't like that idea?
Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee
Ayers is an interesting prospect. He wasn't even known until this year as a senior. Phillip Fulmer, former Tenn. head coach, said Ayers was cocky and wouldn't accept coaching until his senior season.
Ayers finally became coachable, and his drastic improvement last year was evidence to that. The Bills could use another defensive line presence to go along with Marcus Stroud and Aaron Schobel. Ayers is a very good pass rusher and a difference maker on the defensive side of the ball.
Clay Matthews, LB, USC
Matthews is another undervalued guy to me. He has incredible closing speed to the quarterback and will be a pass rushing force in the NFL. The Broncos have many holes to fill in their new 3-4 defense, and they start the process with Matthews as their pass rush linebacker with No. 12.
Brian Cushing, LB, USC
The Redskins lost a big part of their defense when Marcus Washington was released this offseason. Cushing will be brought in to fill that void Washington left as a playmaker for the Redskins in the linebacker corp.
Malcolm Jenkins, DB, Ohio State
Jenkins ran a slow 40 at the combine, and has his detractors due to his lack of speed, but he is still going to be a pro bowler at some point. Whether that's as a corner or free safety remains to be seen, but New Orleans needs the secondary help, and Jenkins is the best secondary prospect in this draft.
Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
Sanchez is the first QB off the board in my mock, and will be able to sit behind Matt Schaub for a year. Sanchez fits the roll-out offense of Gary Kubiak perfectly, with his ability to throw accurately on the run.
The Texans are on the verge of being a playoff team, despite their tough division. Developing a quarterback like Sanchez to be your star of the future could tip the scale in the favor of the Texans moving forward.
Michael Oher, T, Ole Miss
Oher is the last of the big four tackles I alluded to earlier. Oher will step in and play opposite Marcus McNeill, to create a formidable tackle duo for the next 10 years for San Diego. With Mike Goff and Shane Olivea, former staples on the O-line gone, the O-line IS a big need for the Bolts.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
Stafford finally comes off the board to the Jets at #17. The Jets have Kellen Clemens and Brett Ratliff as potential starters right now, which is certainly not good enough to win the AFC East this year, or any year for that matter. While I don't think Stafford is a franchise quarterback, he is certainly better than the options the Jets have right now.
Tyson Jackson, DL, LSU
Jackson is a perfect fit as a 3-technique defensive end. At 6'4", 295 lbs, Jackson has the height, arm length, and size needed to play in the Broncos defense. Denver has to fill alot of voids in their new defensive scheme, and Jackson gives them a starting point on the defensive line. Jarron Gilbert is also a consideration here.
Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State
Freeman has all the tools to be a first round selection. He's tall, has a strong arm, and can move enough to extend the play if needed. Whether he can learn an NFL playbook is the question with Freeman, though.
Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss
The Lions continue building from the trenches out by bringing in Jerry to play next to Grady Jackson on the interior defensive line. Jackson is too old to play every down, so another defensive tackle to join the rotation is a major need. Jerry is a gap shooting master, and will make plays on the offenses' side of the ball at the next level.
Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
The Eagles take the best player on the board in this spot. Pettigrew isn't a vertical threat, but runs short and intermediate routes very well. The best attribute for Pettigrew is his blocking, however. That's the draw with Pettigrew. He also has a knack for finding open spaces when a crucial first down is needed. Pettigrew is not a stats guy, but whoever takes him will be glad they did.
Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers
I have Britt as my second best receiver for this year. He dominated the Big East in his three years and will become a very good receiver in the NFL. Mike Mayock of NFL Network likens Britt to T.O. I don't think he'll be that good, but he will be a very good player at the pro level. Minnesota needs another offensive weapon desperately, so it really isn't a question what they will take.
The rest is coming later....