1. St. Louis Rams - Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame
It’s pretty safe to say that the Rams will draft a quarterback. Neither Marc Bulger nor Kyle Boller have given them reason to do otherwise. With solid weapons like Steven Jackson, Brandon Gibson and Donnie Avery and an offensive line that’s got some good young talent, Jimmy Clausen could step right in and make an impact.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
Such a cliche pick, but the Buccaneers really need a big anchor on their defensive line. With Suh’s relentless motor and nose for the football, he’d be perfect for a Buccaneer team with loads of young talent on offense, but a defense that really needs some help.
3. Cleveland Browns - Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
In a division full of Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu, the Browns could use a playmaking safety. Eric Berry is a once in a lifetime prospect, in the mold of the late Sean Taylor. Berry’s natural instincts and versatility will allow him to step right into a Browns team aching for playmakers on either side of the ball.
4. Detroit Lions - Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
The Lions will go in the trenches here; no doubt about it. I have them opting for Gerald McCoy, the fierce Sooner tackle who compares favorably to players like Tommie Harris and Albert Haynesworth, with a quick first step and a warrior attitude.
5. Buffalo Bills - Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
With a new regime getting ready to step in, we will likely see the Bills draft a new quarterback, as Trent Edwards is obviously not the future and Ryan Fitzpatrick is nothing more then a decent game-manager. If Shanahan indeed gets the job, then this pick will likely be Jake Locker, because he draws comparisons physically to Jay Cutler and John Elway; mobile guys with big arms. However, I think most other coaches would go with Bradford, who’s body of work (more time as a starter, plus major success in his stints) makes him a bit safer then Locker.
6. Kansas City Chiefs - Russell Okung, T, Oklahoma State
Congratulations to the Chiefs on pulling the upset of the Steelers on Sunday; it seems their young talent on both sides is meshing together. However, the Chiefs put a lot of money into Matt Cassel and still need to protect him better. Okung is the prototypical blindside protector, with fantastic footwork and the ability to both get a push in the run game and keep ends at bay.
7. Oakland Raiders - Jake Locker, QB, Washington
Raiders fans, be happy. I almost gave you Tim Tebow here. However, I think the organization will revolt against Al Davis’ desire to take a big-armed, mobile quarterback to take… a big-armed mobile quarterback? Jake Locker has only one year in Steve Sarkisian’s pro-style offense, but he has impressed greatly under it. He might opt to stay in school to improve his draft stock even further with a second year under a pro system.
8. Seattle Seahawks - Charles Brown, T, USC
The losers of Super Bowl’s XL and XLI have essentially given us the blueprints on how to dismantle Super Bowl quality teams. But to be fair, the Seahawks have been horribly ravaged by injuries, which could be the reason they’ve fallen off from perennial NFC contenders in just two years. Walter Jones, the Seahawks left tackle, is one of these injury prone players who also is coming to the end of his potentially Hall of Fame career. Charles Brown is a smaller offensive tackle (only about 295 pounds), but he’s amazingly athletic and would fit in the Seahawks zone-blocking scheme.
9. Washington Redskins - Bryan Bulaga, T, Iowa
The Redskins are in a bit of a rut here; they’re at a spot in the top 10 where the top offensive tackles / quarterbacks are likely off the board. Fortunately though, the Redskins have a chance to snatch Bryan Bulaga, my #2 ranked offensive tackle. Bulaga missed some time early in the season with reported swine flu, but upon his return he’s been a big reason for Iowa’s success this season; he’s a fantastic run blocker and works great in pass protection.
10. Tennessee Titans - Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech
The Titans have rebounded well after their 0-6 start, but still could use some help as far as the defensive side of the ball goes. They’re first priority should be beefing up their pass defense, which can be done with a top cornerback to replace Nick Harper, or to draft Derrick Morgan, the young, relentless pass-rusher. Kyle Vanden Bosch, Jevon Kearse and Dave Ball, the three top defensive ends for the Titans, all have expiring contracts this offseason. Morgan can step right in and make an impact.
11. San Francisco 49ers (from Carolina Panthers) - Joe Haden, CB, Florida
The 49ers really shock me; they have a lot of holes but still find ways to win some games every year. Luckily, the 49ers will have two high-to-mid first round picks to address the issues with the pass rush, secondary and offensive line. Here, they get the top cornerback in this class Joe Haden. He’s a great athlete playing top-notch defense in the SEC, but he also has the ball skills to make a difference in the NFL.
12. Denver Broncos (from Chicago Bears) - Terrence Cody, NT, Alabama
The Broncos are back in the position of “Okay… We looked great early, what happened?”. Here’s what happened; they’ve allowed 441 rushing yards in their 4 losses (although they did hold the Steelers to 17 total rushing yards) after playing such good defense early in the season. Terrence Cody will provide a big anchor in the middle of that 3-4 defense.
13. New York Jets - Damian Williams, WR, USC
The Braylon Edwards experiment has been a bit of a failure besides the two Miami games. Edwards hands still aren’t on an NFL level and I’m not sure if the Jets resign him. If Not, Damian Williams, Mark Sanchez’s USC teammate will fit right in. Personally, I love Damian Williams; he’s an extremely crisp route runner, by far the best in this class and some of the best I’ve ever seen out of a college receiver. Not only that, but he has decent speed and really soft hands. Truly an extremely polished prospect.
14. San Francisco 49ers - Bruce Campbell, T, Maryland
It doesn’t matter who the 49ers put at quarterback if they can’t protect him. Joe Staley has given up 3 sacks this season and seems better suited to play right tackle. Bruce Campbell is an athletic left tackle who has seen his stock rise exponentially this season.
15. Atlanta Falcons - Everson Griffen, DE, USC
A bit too high for Griffen? Maybe. But for a guy whose stock has fluctuated more then the stock market, maybe he’s finally settling in as a first-round prospect. Everson Griffen was being touted as a physical freak last year, but failed to produce. However, the 6’3, 275 pound end has a 4.6 40 yard dash with good production at a big-time program. Griffen’s returned to the 1st-round consideration.
16. Baltimore Ravens - Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State
To those who think Dez Bryant’s suspension will hurt his stock, don’t fret. It wasn’t a drug or character related charge, and to be quite honest the full year’s suspension was completely unfair. Everything scouts wanted to see, Bryant had shown them. He’s a play maker with fantastic hands and size. The Ravens top four receiver are all free agents at the end of this season (Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton, Kelley Washington, Demetrius Williams) and two of them are over 30 years old. The Ravens could go receiver in the first two rounds to get depth at the position.
17. Miami Dolphins - Brandon LaFell, WR, LSU
I love what the Dolphins have done this season; they have a stout defense, a solid line and have young talent all around. However, one position where they lack a true starter is wide receiver. Ted Ginn Jr. is really nothing more then a Nate Washington-esque deep threat and Greg Camarillo is a savvy veteran who can play a Brian Finneran role but isn’t starting material. Davone Bess has been playing well, and pairing him with the 6’3 LSU Tiger Brandon LaFell, who compares to Anquan Boldin with his physical nature and yards after catch ability, could really make the Dolphins offense potent and give them a shot at a Super Bowl in the near future.
18. Houston Texans - Ras-I Dowling, S, Virginia
The Texans have played very well on defense lately. However, they could use some help at free safety, a position the Texans have never had a solid player at in their history. Ras-I Dowling can give them that rangy center-fielder to play deep alongside Bernard Pollard.
19. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver Broncos) - CJ Spiller, RB, Clemson
The Seahawks running game has been stagnant this season, no matter who they’ve tried to run with. CJ Spiller, a Heisman candidate for the Clemson Tigers, is an explosive runner who can run, catch and return kicks. He’d give the Seahawks an explosive, Chris Johnson type weapon out of the backfield.
20. Green Bay Packers - Trent Williams, T, Oklahoma
Tough spot for the Pack here, who absolutely need an offensive lineman. Trent Williams can step right in for Allen Barbre, and succeed in the NFL as a right tackle. My only worry would be if he can play left tackle. However, I’m not sure the Packers are more worried about getting a left tackle or just offensive line help in general.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars - Greg Hardy, DE, Mississippi
The Jaguars are really flying under the radar at the moment. Currently, they’re in the position to get one of the wildcard spots in the playoffs. However, if there’s one glaring weakness for this Jaguars team, it’s the pass rush. They have only 10 sacks to their name the entire season. Greg Hardy, though injury prone, is truly the best pass-rusher in this class, dropping due to those aforementioned injuries.
22. New York Giants - Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama
Antonio Pierce could be looking at his final season in a New York Giants uniform. Even if he stays, the Giants are looking at the best player available. McClain could potentially go Top 10 and Jerry Reese frequently goes BPA, which is how he’s built this Giants team.
23. Philadelphia Eagles - Anthony Davis, T, Rutgers
The Eagles offensive line was supposed to have been the difference in getting them to the Super Bowl this year… What happened? Well, injuries took their toll and, to be honest, none of the players were really that great to begin with. Jason Peters is one of the most overrated tackles in the league, and adding Anthony Davis can give this loaded Eagles team depth or a future starter.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers - Jason Fox, T, Miami
The Steelers really need to address the offensive line. If they could protect Ben Roethlisberger and open even more holes for Rashard Mendenhall, this team would be right back where they should be; in Super Bowl contention. Jason Fox is your prototypical left tackle, with excellent footwork (maybe the second best in this class?)
25. Arizona Cardinals - Jerry Hughes, DE/OLB, TCU
The Cardinals have built themselves a nice little team here, both for now and for the future. Their defense has young stars and, with adding Jerry Hughes, gain a young talented pass-rusher that can play in their 3-4/4-3 hybrid scheme. I worry about this team after Kurt Warner retires though; do they have a franchise QB in Leinart? He hasn’t shown it in his limited time this year.
26. Cincinnati Bengals - Mike Iupati, G, Idaho
The Bengals have made a huge comeback. Ask me 3 months ago, I could give you a laundry list of needs this Bengals team has. Now? They’re 7-3 and have a chance at a first-round bye. This team is strangely without a major blemish; the only concern might be the two expiring contracts of guards Bobbie Williams and Nate Livings. Mike Iupati is a fantastic guard prospect, with the size, athleticism and blocking skills to play at an All-Pro level in the NFL.
27. Dallas Cowboys - Brandon Spikes, LB, Florida
The Cowboys are actually pretty well off at most positions, but potentially an eye for the future could be helpful. Bradie James and Keith Brooking, the Cowboys current inside linebackers, are 28 and 33 respectively. Brandon Spikes could take over for Brooking upon his retirement, and by the time Bradie James leaves via free agency or retires, Spikes will be in his prime.
28. New England Patriots - Eric Norwood, DE/OLB, South Carolina
The Patriots can afford to take the best player available at a position of need here, considering the practically heinous plethora of 2nd and 3rd round draft picks they have. Eric Norwood has cooled off since his early season play where he looked like the top rush linebacker, but that doesn’t stop him from going in the 1st round. He’ll help this now stagnant Patriots pass-rush.
29. San Diego Chargers - Jahvid Best, RB, California
LT has looked a bit lost on the field at times, and I think his time as the premier back in the NFL is over. Darren Sproles is also a threat to leave, being a free agent. Therefore, they take Jahvid Best, a running back with game-breaking speed and enough power to be a feature back in the NFL.
30. Minnesota Vikings - Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida
The Vikings have no worries, except for maybe quarterback and defensive end. If they lose Brett Favre to retirement, they could probably wait three weeks and get him back. If they lose Ray Edwards to free agency, they can draft Carlos Dunlap, a physical freak from Dunlap. Dunlap is extremely overrated; he’s lazy, takes plays off and doesn’t play up to his massive potential. However, I didn’t think Percy Harvin would do anything with the Vikings, and they proved me wrong then. Maybe they can strike gold with another young Gator.
31. Indianapolis Colts - Daryl Washington, LB, TCU
The Colts have so many offensive weapons it’s not even funny. Unless a decent offensive tackle is available at the tail end of the first round, then this pick will be used on a defensive player. Middle linebacker Gary Brackett is a free agent and might choose to depart, in which case Daryl Washington, the smart and surefire tackler can step in and perform for the Colts.
32. New Orleans Saints - Sean Weatherspoon, OLB, Missouri
The Saints are a truly complete team in the NFL. They have an elite passing offense, a great run defense, and a great defense. Some have concerns with the defense the past few weeks, but the loss of starting defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis can’t be overlooked. He should be back soon. The only position they might want to try and improve is outside linebacker, which tackling machine Sean Weatherspoon can do. He’s one of the safest prospects in the draft. You know what you’ll get with Sean.