1. Detroit Lions (0-16) - Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia.
Now that the Jay Cutler saga is over and the quarterback didn't find himself in Detroit, the Lions need a franchise quarterback.
While Daunte Culpepper has looked good in voluntary workouts, they still need that franchise guy. While I think Stafford isn't the quarterback people make him out to be, he would be the future quarterback for the Detroit Lions. Stafford had a nearly flawless workout, has been good interviewing with teams, and he probably won't bring championships to Detroit. He may revive them to mediocrity in a few years.
2. St. Louis Rams (2-14) - Jason Smith, OT, Baylor.
The Rams lost three things: 14 games, left tackle Orlando Pace and wide receiver Torry Holt. While Crabtree would make a lot of sense here, they can become a great running team by adding Jason Smith.
He's athletic for his size (6'5", 305) and had that mean streak needed for an effective offensive lineman in the National Football League. Smith would be the Rams future left tackle immediately with Pace now a Chicago Bear.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14) - Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest.
Recently, former Texans GM and current NFL Network analyst Charlie Casserly called Aaron Curry the best linebacker to come out of the draft in the last decade. That might be a bit of a stretch, but there is no doubt in my mind Curry is the safest pick in the draft.
He's fast, is good in pass coverage, and is experienced as a football player. In my mind, the Chiefs are much better than 2-14. They lost tons of close games last year. In fact, they lost eight games by ten points or less. A linebacker would Curry would definitely help that cause.
4. Seattle Seahawks (4-12) - Mark Sanchez, QB, USC.
This might be a stretch for Sanchez. After all, he has played just 16 games at the collegiate level. One thing that impressed me about Sanchez: his work ethic. Sometimes, USC is called the University of Spoiled Children. That's not Sanchez. He showed up to the Combine and threw—something Stafford didn't do.
During an interview with NFL Network, he said "I'll work too hard to be a first round bust. I just won't let that happen." Now, I know it's just talk, but Sanchez obviously worked hard to get where he is. The Seahawks have a good veteran quarterback in Matt Hasselbeck, but need a good young quarterback.
5. Cleveland Browns (4-12) - Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech.
This pick depends solely on Braylon Edwards. Edwards had a horrible year last year. If you just look at stats, you'd think he's a decent receiver. After all, he did catch 55 passes, gain 873 yards and score three touchdowns. Nothing to sneeze at. However, he dropped passes like it was nothing and a lot of blame went to quarterbacks.
It looks as if the Browns will trade Edwards to the Giants. That's when the Donte Stallworth saga and Kellen Winslow trades hurt. Winslow was a go-to guy in 2007 and Stallworth can be a good receiver. If the Edwards trade goes through, the Browns have no No. 1 receiver. That's why they take Crab.
6. Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1) - Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia.
It is surprising that Monroe falls to the Bengals, but it has to do with need. Except for the Rams, no one from picks one to five needs an offensive tackle. But the Bengals do. Last year, one of the main problems for the Bengals last year was simply holding on to the football. If they get Monroe, it'll certainly help.
With Monroe helping, Carson Palmer may be able to return to prominence and Cedric Benson can have more breathing room running the ball. I very much doubt a rookie offensive tackle will carry them to the playoffs, but they can surprise some teams.
7. Oakland Raiders (5-11) - Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri.
Let's just go a head and take a look at the Oakland Raiders wide receivers. Javon Walker. Chaz Schillens. Johnnie Lee Higgins. I'll stop now before you, too, burst into laughter.
When you look at it, JaMarcus Russell wasn't all bad last year. A 77.1 rating isn't very good, but it is when you have those kind of receivers to throw to. Russell was efficient, throwing for 2,423 yards, 13 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. If Russell got Maclin on board, he could finally not only be efficient, but effective.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11) - Andre Smith, OT, Alabama.
The Jaguars have won and lost the last two seasons with their run game. In 2007, a great duo of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew catapulted the Jags to a playoff spot. Last year, no offensive line help, thus, an ineffective running game, killed the Jags.
They need a franchise left tackle to help out the run game that was hurt by the loss of Fred Taylor this offseason. Now that Jones-Drew only mans the backfield, he needs help on the line.
9. Green Bay Packers (6-10) - B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College.
Raji looked like a top five pick to me weeks ago. But, an alleged failed drug test has hurt him. While the accusation was a sham, I'm sure teams are worried about his academic problems, so I think he slips to the ninth overall pick, where the Packers can't help but grab Raji, a 6'2", 337 pound defensive tackle.
Raji reminds me of Haloti Ngata a little. He may not help the Packers linebackers like Ngata helped the Ravens backers, but he can help them immensely.
10. San Francisco 49ers (7-9) - Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State.
As a Hall of Fame linebacker, 49ers head coach Mike Singletary knows a good defensive player when he sees one. Maybin is that. He is one of the best pass rushers in this draft.
At 21, he can develop into a great defensive lineman for a 49ers team that appears to be on the rise. He's a very explosive athlete, and can play 4-3 as a defensive end a 3-4 as an outside linebacker, and Singletary should love that as a Hall of Famer.
11. Buffalo Bills (7-9) - Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State.
The Bills obviously helped their passing offense by signing controversial (to say the least) free agent wide receiver Terrell Owens to a one year, $6.5 million deal. However, they lost free agent tight end Robert Royal to the Browns.
Now that they have two picks because of the Jason Peters to Eagles trade, the Bills have two first round draft picks and can adress defense at 28. Pettigrew is the complete package as a tight end and could start as a rookie.
12. Denver Broncos (8-8) - Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas.
It's a surprise Orakpo falls this far. However, teams aren't exactly in need of defensive ends. With all the hoopla of the Jay Cutler trade, the Broncos can now focus on what they really need - defense. If Orakpo falls this far, I think Denver would be foolish not to grab him.
He'd be a huge steal, especially at 12. Last year for Texas, he racked up double digit sacks and could be a solid pass rusher for the Broncos. Orakpo could make an impact for the Broncos like Elvis Dumervil has when he came out of Louisville. It pains you, doesn't it, Marcus Vick?
13. Washington Redskins (8-8) - Everette Brown, DE, Florida State.
In my mind, the Redskins are a comical franchise. Every year, they spend millions of dollars on free agents who rarely pan out and then proceed to draft horribly led by the "knowledge" Dan Snyder has of football. The Redskins lost Jason Taylor this offseason, which also means the Skins forfeit a second round pick.
The Skins will need to address defensive end, offensive tackle, linebacker and wide receiver during the draft, but they classes for OT, LB and WR are deep this year. The D-ends in this draft aren't good. Brown is the guy here.
14. New Orleans Saints (8-8) - Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State.
Plain and simple, not many teams need cornerbacks. The Browns need one, but they also need a receiver much more. That's why I think Jenkins falls this far. The Saints have an explosive offense. Drew Brees is an amazing quarterback and gets plenty of help from Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Devery Henderson, Pierre Thomas and Jeremy Shockey.
While Chris Wells might make sense here, the Saints have an underrated 1-2 punch in the backfield, with Reggie Bush and Thomas. That's why I think the Saints improve their bad defense by adding Jenkins.
15. Houston Texans (8-8) - Robert Ayers, LB, Tennessee.
Like the Saints, the Texans also have an explosive offense. They don't have amazing quarterback play, but they have solid receivers, with Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter and a solid tight end in Owen Daniels.
The Texans need defense to contend in a tough AFC South that features the Colts with their always incredible offense, the Titans powerful running attack, and the Jaguars can be dangerous with some line help. The Texans need defense, and Ayers would be a steal at 15.
16. San Diego Chargers (8-8) - Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU.
Being that Shawne Merriman got hurt last year, the Chargers may need another pass rushing force. Enter Tyson Jackson. In recent years, the Chargers have been a team who pursue defense early. I don't see why they change that habit, as it has helped them reach the playoffs year in and year out.
Jackson ideally fits the Chargers defensive line, in not only style of play, but in size.
17. New York Jets (9-7) - Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland.
This is a very interesting pick. New Jets head coach Rex Ryan is a defensive minded guy, as he was defensive coordinator for the Ravens, so he would have liked Jackson. However, the Jets need some wide receiver depth. Jerricho Cotchery can hardly be considered a No. 1, and the Jets need wide receiver depth.
The best receiver available at this spot is Darrius Heyward-Bey out of Maryland. He's blazing fast and may be the best vertical threat in the draft.
18. Denver Broncos (8-8) - Rey Maualuga, LB, USC.
If I'm a Bronco fan, I'm thrilled with this draft already. Orakpo at 12 and Maualuga at 18 are both steals. It doesn't make the defense elite, but it does make it better. Maualuga would be the much needed vocal leader on a seemingly heartless defense. Maualuga does seem a bit like Ray Lewis, in that he's a vocal leader, knows how to put a pop on guys and has a nonstop motor.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7) - Brian Cushing, LB, USC.
Brian Cushing has seen his stock drop since the combine. He is a hard worker and has a good motor, but steroid accusations and being part of an infamous Facebook group have hurt him. Now, it's nothing to be too serious about. The steroid accusation turned out untrue and the Facebook group was an inside joke between "Cush" and fellow USC linebacker Clay Matthews.
Cushing is a fantastic player and with the loss of Derrick Brooks, Tampa needs linebackers.
20. Detroit Lions (0-16) - Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss.
The Lions need a face of their offensive line. Now that they have their franchise quarterback, they need to get their franchise offensive tackle. Rookie running back Kevin Smith had a good year in 2008—for a guy with no help. If Oher lands in Detroit, Smith could easily get 1,000 yards. To me, that goes without question.
The Lions could be happy with this first round. But Lions and happy can't go in the same sentence, can they?
21. Philadelphia Eagles (9-6-1) - Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State.
Last season, the Eagles were fortunate to make the playoffs. They showed some great perseverance, rebounding from multiple crushing losses to make the postseason and make it to the NFC Championship. The Eagles need a run game. During the thrilling NFC Championship loss to the Cardinals, I can't remember a time the Eagles ran the ball.
Donovan McNabb to Brent Celek. Donovan McNabb to DeSean Jackson. That is all I remember.
22. Minnesota Vikings (10-6) - Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State.
The Vikings need big time offensive help. Not only do they need a quarterback, they need a receiver. However, it starts with the quarterback, which is why the Vikings shouldn't hesitate in drafting Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman.
Freeman reminds me of Ben Roethlisberger in size and arm strength, and could put up similar production with the great run offense and stingy defense the Vikings have.
23. New England Patriots (11-5) - Clay Matthews, LB, USC.
With the youth movement the Patriots are going on defensively, which included drafting Jerod Mayo last season, I see the Pats drafting USC linebacker Clay Matthews. Matthews didn't have dominating numbers in college, but is a big guy (6'3", 240), is active with a nonstop motor on the football field and can complement Jerod Mayo at linebacker incredibly well for the Pats.
24. Atlanta Falcons (11-5) - Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss.
Despite John Abraham being the productive player he is, the Falcons need help at the defensive tackle position. Enter Peria Jerry. Jerry, 6'1", 249, isn't ideal size for a defensive tackle, but can help the guys in the linebacking core, and they will need it with Michael Boley now with the New York Giants.
The Falcons will benefit immensely from adding Jerry to their defense that looked weary during the playoffs.
25. Miami Dolphins (11-5) - Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut.
The reason the Dolphins couldn't get deeper in the playoffs last year and post a better regular season record was their pass defense. They had an effective passing attack, a good running game and a very good pass rusher in Joey Porter. However, their corners were disappointing. That's why they draft Darius Butler the small corner out of UConn.
He provides a great presence at corner and has great hands.
26. Baltimore Ravens (11-5) - Hakeem Nicks, WR, UNC.
If the Ravens pull the trigger on the Anquan Boldin trade, this pick will belong to the Arizona Cardinals. As a Raven fan, I hope it happens. If it doesn't happen, I see Nicks coming to Baltimore. It seems as if Ravens officials are very high on Nicks. Can't say I blame them.
He put on lots of weight after the combine, but burned it and is back in shape. Nicks is a straight playmaker, so I could welcome him.
27. Indianapolis Colts (12-4) - Evander Hood, DT, Missouri.
The Colts are a Super Bowl caliber team. However, they need some help defensively, as they are not getting any younger. That's why they draft Evander Hood, the defensive tackle out of Missouri. He would help the Colts vet linebackers tremendously, just like Haloti Ngata has done for Baltimore the last few seasons.
28. Buffalo Bills (7-9) - Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech.
While there is some question of his motivation, commitment and drive, there is no questioning Michael Johnson's ability to play football. The Bills addressed their tight end need by drafting Pettigrew, and with the trade of Jason Peters through, the Bills received the 28th overall pick from Philly, so the Bills can address their defensive end need. That would be Johnson, who had 15 tackles for loss last year.
29. New York Giants (12-4) - Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers.
The New York Giants season was ruined by troublesome wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who infamously shot himself in the leg at a nightclub. The Giants don't really have a No. 1 receiver. Britt would definitely not be that guy in 2009-10, but would be in the future. He has excellent height and is a good deep threat for Eli Manning.
30. Tennessee Titans (13-3) - D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt.
The Titans were 13-3 last year, led by a stingy run and pass defense and the powerful run game, led by Chris Johnson and LenDale White. Nick Harper is getting old and Chris Carr, the free agent nickel back and return specialist, decided to become a free agent and sign a two year, $5 million deal. They need corners and Moore is the guy.
31. Arizona Cardinals (9-7) - Donald Brown, RB, Connecticut.
Last year, the Cardinals could've easily taken the NFC West division, but had absolutely no running game. Donald Brown would change that in a heartbeat. At Connecticut last year, he broke the 2,000 yard mark.
I don't see him breaking Eric Dickerson's record in the NFL, but I wouldn't be all too surprised if he had 700 or more yards as a rookie. It looks like Anquan Boldin will be traded to the Ravens or Eagles, so they need some balance offensively.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) - Alex Mack, C, California.
The only big problem the Steelers had last year was their offensive line. Ben Roethlisberger had trouble staying on his feet and if it weren't for his size and elusiveness, he could've been sacked 50 times. Also, Willie Parker couldn't put up the productive numbers he had in the past for the Steelers. Mack would be ideal and could help Ben stay on his feet.
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