With the draft less than five days away everyone is anxiously waiting to see how their team will save or sink their franchise.
[New 2011 Mock Draft]
Take a look at how the first round will shake-out (sans trades), let me know if you like your team's pick, and don't be surprised if a few players slip, even out of the first round—they always do.
1. Detroit Lions Select Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
The Lions are looking to get a new face to go along with their new logo and Stafford is their man. While Jason Smith and Aaron Curry would be strong picks, the Lions need to find a QB that will be entering his prime while Calvin Johnson is in his.
Stafford has been more scrutinized than No. 1 picks of the past, which is good because the Lions really know what they're getting.
2. St. Louis Rams Select Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
With Orlando Pace gone there is no doubt that the Rams are drafting a left tackle to block for Stephen Jackson. While the team is split between Smith and Eugene Monroe, Smith is the more impressive prospect, giving him an edge.
3. Kansas City Chiefs Select Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest
New Kansas City GM Scott Pioli knows you build a winning football team from the defense up. Curry will learn quickly from veterans Mike Vrabel, Derrick Johnson, and Zach Thomas. He is a versatile backer who can even put his hand in the ground and rush.
Monroe is still a strong possibility with his former line-mate Brandon Albert vouching for him.
4. Seattle Seahawks Select Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
There is a lot of hype for Mark Sanchez surrounding the Seahawks organization but the team is in a great position to bounce back from a 4-12 season to the top of the NFC West. Jim Mora's philosophy stresses the ability to run the ball, and with Walter Jones nearing retirement this is a pick that will pay-off now and in the future.
Seattle is a wild-card with Sanchez, Michael Crabtree, and a trade all possible.
5. Cleveland Browns Select Brian Orakpo, DE/LB, Texas
The Browns struggled to get any pressure on the quarterback last season and they lost Andra Davis and Willie McGinest in the offseason making Orakpo a no-brainer.
Some are suggesting B.J. Raji should be the man, but Shaun Rogers is already taking up two gaps which will give Orakpo plenty of one-on-one opportunities.
6. Cincinnati Bengals Select Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
It doesn't matter who you have running, throwing, or catching if you don't have the right guys blocking up front. Personnel in Cincinnati have been reminiscing of Anthony Munoz and Willie Anderson while watching Smith. Even with character concerns we know Cincinnati is the home of second chances.
Don't forget he was the top prospect in the draft at the end of the college season.
7. Oakland Raiders Select Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
Yes, Al Davis loves speed, but the guy has also picked some great talents over the years —and it's not like Crabtree is slow. The Raiders shouldn't let the crutches and boot scare them, it's all precautionary, Crabtree played and DOMINATED with the injury and he will be back strong.
With what many feel is the best player in the draft on the board, the Raiders get a steal at seven.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars Select B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College
While the Jags' will be listening to trade offers from teams trying to acquire Sanchez and Raji, they also need to get back to what got them in the playoffs—great run defense.
Jax needs to not make the mistake of drafting another WR in the first round, especially after signing Holt, and with the top three tackles off the board they will control the flow of the game through their defense.
9. Green Bay Packers Select Aaron Maybin, DE/OLB, Penn State
The Packers would like to draft Raji at the nine spot but if he's off the board their next biggest need is a speed rusher to play the hybrid role in their new 3-4 scheme. Maybin has a large gap between his ceiling and floor but he has added serious muscle mass in the offseason and he will get clean rushes with Aaron Kampman attracting most of the attention.
Malcolm Jenkins is another option, but the team has serviceable DB's for the next few years.
10. San Francisco 49ers Select Mark Sanchez, QB, Southern California
Although he is young Sanchez has the leadership qualities of some of the game's all-time greats. The only real knock on Sanchez is his lack of experience but Matt Cassel has shown you can learn a lot on the sidelines at USC.
Without a top tackle or edge rusher on the board, Sanchez is a steal.
11. Buffalo Bills Select Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee
The Bills have been desperately seeking a defensive that can play the run and get to their quarterback and Ayers is their guy. He is your traditional 4-3 end, although teams feel his is athletic enough to fill the hybrid role.
Ayer's performance against Michael Oher in the Senior Bowl gets him the nod between the two prospects in the draft.
12. Denver Broncos Select Tyson Jackson, DE, Louisiana State
The Broncos have done a great job of addressing their needs this offseason and they will tighten up their front seven with Jackson at the 5-tech position.
Denver could always move up for Raji or Stafford, and they could even take an edge rusher or OLB prospect at 12 but Jackson seems to be the right fit.
13. Washington Redskins Select Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi
Tackles are never a sexy pick but if you're a 'Skins fan you can appreciate them going offensive line over reaching for a defensive end or trading up for Mark Sanchez.
An outside linebacker like Brian Cushing or Clay Matthews could be a good fit for Washington too.
14. New Orleans Saints Select Malcolm Jenkins, CB/S, Ohio State
Jenkins is one of the most established prospects in the draft and with his size, ball skills, and tackling ability he can play the corner or safety position. Many were disappointed in his forty (4.56) but Jenkins is extremely quick and very savvy.
While Chris "Beanie" Wells could help New Orleans pound the ball, the team will get more use out of Jenkins.
15. Houston Texans Select Brian Cushing, LB, Southern California
In an effort to continue building their front seven the Texans will get a big time playmaker in Cushing. He is a great blitzer and can bring down the ball carrier from any angle. A nice first-round selection for a franchise on the rise.
16. San Diego Chargers Select Rey Maualuga, LB, Southern California
One of the top-10 prospects in the draft, the Chargers are getting a steal with pick 16. Maualuga has Pro Bowl written all over him and he plays the physical and aggressive style of football that the Chargers love. Although you're used to seeing him in the middle, he has the flexibility to play all over the field and drop into coverage.
17. New York Jets select Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
It seems like a slip for Maclin, but with so many busts teams are not as prone to draft a receiver in the first round, giving the Jets a great pick.
Maclin will fill the void that Laveranues Coles left and while he's unpolished Coles wasn't exactly Jerry Rice.
18. Denver Broncos Select Everette Brown, DE/OLB, Florida State
Some mock drafts think the Broncos will swap these first round picks (Brown and Jackson) but I'm not very high on Brown. I think Larry English would be a better selection for Denver.
Brown can get to the quarterback and while he's considered a speed rusher he doesn't have great size or speed.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Select Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State
Freeman is not projected as a starter in 2009, but due to his high ceiling he makes sense as a first-round pick. The Bucs would be better off making a move for Brady Quinn, but they are clearly in a youth movement and quarterbacks Coach Greg Olson has been successful in developing talent in the past.
20. Detroit Lions Select James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State
His stock has been sliding, but if the Lions have been properly evaluating the prospects in this year's draft they will snatch Laurinaitis and solidify their defense.
The Lions have many needs, and an offensive or defensive lineman would also fit here.
21. Philadelphia Eagles Select Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
Brain Westbrook needs some relief and Moreno is just the back to give it to him. Much like Westbrook Moreno is an amazing receiver short, and not afraid to take it up the middle.
Moreno is capable of producing highlights every time he touches the ball and he will give Philadelphia one of the best backfield tandems in the NFL.
22. Minnesota Vikings Select Eben Britton, OT, Arizona
It's no secret the Vikings need a right tackle and if Britton is there at 22 he won't make it any further. Drafting Britton will benefit Adrian Peterson and whoever is under center, making it a win-win.
The Vikings could go with a WR or CB at 22 and search for a tackle in the second or third round, but that would only happen if Britton is off the board.
23. New England Patriots Select Clay Matthews, OLB, Southern California
At one point this offseason it was considered a lock for the Pats to draft Matthews if he’s there. The team is high on Donald Brown, Larry English, and Connor Barwin and they have four picks from 23 to 58.
Matthews makes the most sense, but don't be surprised to see New England involved in a trade.
24. Atlanta Falcons Select Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
In last years playoffs Arizona exposed Atlanta's need for help in the secondary and now that Domonique Foxworth is gone; the Falcons have to draft a corner. Davis still has some things to learn but he has the tools to be a shutdown corner in the NFL.
Brandon Pettigrew would add to the running and passing game, although there will be receiving options for Matt Ryan later in the draft.
25. Miami Dolphins Select Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut
After losing Andre' Goodman the Dolphins need to fill a hole at cornerback. Bill Parcells is focused on establishing the Dolphins as one of the premier defensive teams in the NFL and they will do it in the draft.
Sure the team can use help at wideout, though Ted Ginn is starting to come into his own and the team can address those needs later in the draft.
26. Baltimore Ravens Select William Beatty, OT, Connecticut
Ozzie Newsome is one of the best judges of talent this league has ever seen which leads me to believe he won't draft potential bust Darrius Heyward-Bey. Beatty can fill in at right tackle, and he has the feet to slide over to the leftside.
27. Indianapolis Colts Select Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi
The Colts have had great success selecting offensive talent late in the first round, but their run defense was like the Mexico-US border last season, anyone could get through.
Jerry will add much needed size and run stopping ability, although I would rather see the team take Percy Harvin and wouldn't be surprised if they do.
28. Buffalo Bills Select Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
Since they dropped Robert Royal it's been no secret that the Bills are targeting Pettigrew. If Buffalo, through a trade was going to draft him in the 20's they would have demanded the 21st selection from Philadelphia.
Pettigrew is the best run-blocker of his position group and will be a great outlet in the middle of the field when T.O. and Lee Evans are covered.
29. New York Giants Select Larry English, DE/LB, Northern Illinois
They don't play the 3-4, but the Giants do like versatile ends that can get after the quarterback.
My intuition says this pick will be going to Cleveland in exchange for Braylon Edwards but until then the G-Men will be looking at receivers and linebacker-types.
30. Tennessee Titans Select Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
After Heyward-Bey posted his sub 4.3 forty time, the Titans didn't think they would get a shot at him although I believe the hype won't translate into an early run on the position. For all of the great physical attributes DHB has his college stats were that of a mid-to-late round pick, so something has to give.
31. Arizona Cardinals Select Donald Brown, RB, Connecticut
Even if Arizona trades away Anquan Boldin, the running back position is still their biggest need of the draft. Brown is a very good pass-catcher and he has the speed to finish off runs.
Even if Beenie Wells is on the board this late 'Zona will pass on him because they already have a short yardage type of back.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers Select Eric Wood, C, Louisville
Scouts and analysts haven't been saying his name until late, but Wood is the real deal. If you can recall the Steelers safety in the Super Bowl, it was center Justin Hartwig getting manhandled and he will be gone at the end of the season.
Wood can play guard or center if Pitt needs a replacement.
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