With free agency well under way, many NFL execs and GMs are gearing up for the upcoming draft.
This year's class is talent rich and very deep; players like Gerald McCoy, Ndamukong Suh, Sam Bradford, and Jimmy Clausen are franchise players, but who will take them?
In this article, I overview the entire first round, including trades I believe will take place and who goes where, along with why I think they will go.
Only 44 days until the draft, I know I'm ready.
The Rams have the first pick in the draft, and there has been much speculation that they will take Sam Bradford, McCoy's college teammate, with the pick.
The order of the draft could make it a possibility that the Rams can trade back a few spots (saving them their QB and a lot of money).
The teams that would also want to take Bradford are Washington (No. 4) and Seattle (No. 6), so St. Louis would trade for the No. 3 pick, all but assuring they will get Bradford.
Detroit will not take a QB, so the landscape presents itself well for a possible trade.
Tampa Bay wants to go defense, preferably D-line.
In my opinion, I would take Suh in a heartbeat, but McCoy has so much buzz around him as of late, and aside from the bench press, Suh and McCoy's combine numbers are almost identical.
The OU lineman is quick off the ball; he would be ideal in a 4-3, even though most of the NFL is switching to a 3-4, but in the right style, Gerald would thrive.
The Detroit Lions are known for picking in the top 10, heck, even the top five of the NFL draft most years.
Suh is different, though. He is not a Charles Rogers, or a Joey Harrington, or a Mike Williams.
Ndamukong Suh is regarded as the best overall player in the 2010 draft.
I will be the first to tell you I had hesitations about a DT going this high, but after watching the Big 12 championship versus Texas, and how he manhandled double teams, and how dominant he really was; let's just say I was proven very wrong.
Suh can fit into a 3-4. He is quick enough to drop back into coverage and allow exotic blitzes, or even shoot the gap and do what he is best at, applying pressure to the quarterback.
And especially with the character issues that surround the NFL, Suh is a breath of fresh air. His calm demeanor is not expected from one of the "big uglys" but Suh is just from a different breed.
The Lions can not go wrong with this pick.
He might have been the No. 1 pick last year if he had decided to enter, but one year and two shoulder injuries later, here we are.
I had predicted St. Louis would trade back and still be able to take Bradford.
The talk about Bradford is mixed. Shoulder injuries to a QB are as bad as a knee injury to a RB. They are hard to rehab from and many are questioning if he can last.
If you hurt your shoulder once, you are more likely to hurt it again, and after all, football IS a contact sport last time I checked.
The one thing that can not be questioned about Bradford are the intangibles—the things you cannot teach.
His uncanny accuracy allowed him to fit the ball into holes that may not have been there for any other QB.
He was a two-year starter for a National Championship runner-up.
He played in the Big 12 against the likes of Texas, Oklahoma State, and Baylor....okay that last one was to make sure you were paying attention.
Regardless of his body, his body of work speaks for itself: Heisman winner, Oklahoma record holder (in mostly every passing category), and just an overall character guy. You haven't heard of him at college bars persuading women to party with him (too soon?).
The Rams need a quarterback; I just don't trust Kyle Boller.
Jimmy Clausen is also a possibility at this pick, but with new coach Mike Shanahan at the helm, he would probably feel more comfortable with a veteran QB in Jason Campbell rather than a rookie.
And I truly believe this is Campbell's year. Coach Shanahan has the great skill of getting everything he can out of his players, which includes tutoring to their strengths.
Okung is versatile, having made 34 starts at both left and right tackle. He has excellent footwork and quick feet, which are ideal for a linemen.
Okung uses his long arms to create separation. With the departures of Randy Thomas and Chris Samuels, and the new West Coast system that Shanahan brings, you can never have too many O-linemen.
Okung can go as high as No. 2 to Detroit.
Kansas City has the pieces in place to contend in the AFC West, and with Oakland still there, of course they could contend.
Matt Cassel spent the majority of his first season in KC either hurt or getting sacked. The Chiefs used to have one of the best O-lines back when Priest Holmes and LJ were in town, of course, but that was an old line as well.
Davis does not have as good of feet as Okung, which may limit him at the LT position, but at 6'6", 325 lbs he can be interchanged in that hybrid guard-tackle line.
With the recent signing of Thomas Jones and the emergence of Jamaal Charles, Kansas City has weapons to utilize, they just need time to utilize them.
Anthony Davis is well decorated coming out of Rutgers as an underclassman; he can handle himself in both pass and run protection and for someone his size, he is an incredible athlete.
I see Kansas City swooping him up at No. 5.
The aging Matt Hasselbeck really can not be counted on anymore in leading that team.
New coach Pete Carroll knows Jimmy very well; Carroll (like every other school in the country) tried recruiting Clausen when he was a touted five-star recruit coming out of high school, and he owned him for three years in their annual rivalry game (I had to show my USC bias somewhere in this article), so it seems likely that Seattle will take Clausen at No. 6.
When I watched Clausen play, especially in his junior year, his throws were laser accurate, almost as if they were on a line.
The out routes to Golden Tate were perfectly timed, and placed on the numbers.
He has the ability to throw the deep ball, and he played in a pro style offense for three years under former coach Charlie Weis, so the transition to the NFL game is less rocky.
3,382 passing yards and ONLY four INTs, which means he would throw 845 yards for every interception.
Even though I am a USC homer, Clausen makes perfect sense at the No. 6 pick to Seattle.
Cornerbacks are probably one of the more difficult positions to draft.
Of course every GM wants a Revis, but some get a Tye Hill.
Joe Haden is on the smaller side (5'11"), but he plays the ball tremendously.
He has started since he was a true freshman at Florida, and what Haden lacks in size, he makes up for in coverage speed and great instincts.
The Browns are in the rebuilding phase for the eighth straight year and adding a Joe Haden can improve their passing defense immediately.
Even when you watch Haden's film, you can see he plays big; of course he can bulk up and that will help him jam receivers on the line.
In the Georgia game where he was matched up against the much bigger A.J Green, Haden played him well and he was on him like white on rice.
We all know the No. 2 pick from a few years ago Robert Gallery has not panned out, so what should the Raiders do? They should draft the same position player from the same school!
Bulaga is your prototypical Iowa linemen; big (6'6", 312 lbs), tough (he played for Kirk Ferentz, enough said), and he is not a project player; he can start immediately at possibly any position on the line.
The Second Team All-American is no Robert Gallery, and I mean that in a positive manner.
I know this is going to sound ridiculous to you, but YouTube some of the Iowa games, and focus on the running game.
I bet you can not even name any of the Iowa backs, yet they were in the top 25 all year and definitely flew under the radar, but that's how Iowa likes it.
The Raiders have "talent" and we all know that you build through the draft and FA if you're in a rebuilding year.
Bulaga in my opinion should go higher, but a top 10 pick..that's not flying under anyone's radar.
Imagine playing bookend to USF's all-everything George Selvie, and still having more draft buzz.
Pierre-Paul did not have the gaudy numbers, or even the national attention, but I saw a video of him doing back flips.
I can barely do back flips on a trampoline, so he is very worthy of a top 10 selection. Not convinced? Alright, let me explain.
He is a freakish athlete (reminds me a lot of a faster Osi Umenyiora), and his 81" wingspan can surely grab any ball carrier in sight.
He ran a 4.64 40-yard dash, so he has the speed to run past O-linemen, and although he is not a bull rushing sort of DE, he can get stronger and learn better technique.
Dwight Freeney has made a career of spinning around linemen, so there is certainly room for different styles.
He stands 6'6" and with the recent drafts the Bills have put together, this could be the final gem in the Levy-esqe defense.
With the recent departure of recently acquired WR Torry Holt, the Jags are looking to bolster their offense through the draft.
Signing Aaron Kampman in FA is going to help their linebacker core tremendously.
David Garrard isn't the Garrard from a few years ago, and admittedly they had plenty of injuries.
Bryant is a big, physical target that can run precise routes and from the picture I used, he can shake off defenders.
There is the question of his ineligibility for his final year, but he faced the questions, and in the weeks leading up to the NFL draft when these prospects get bombarded with questions, I am more than certain the team that decides to take him will clear the air about any wrong-doing he may have had in his final year at Oklahoma State.
Character issues aside, he is a great pro prospect, and the tape speaks for itself.
Again, if I were an NFL GM, he would go a lot higher than this, but like Crabtree from a year ago, the 10th pick can pay dividends.
Personally, I believe McClain is one of the most NFL-ready LBs to enter the draft.
I have been high on this guy ever since I started breaking down what he does right, and what little he does wrong.
When LBs come into the league, you can usually find flaws that don't bode well into the NFL; whether it may be disguising coverages by not taking your eyes off the running back (if you played football, you learn that in pee wee, if their eyes are on you, chances are that's who is going to cover you, not exactly sneaky), to reading offensive linemen's feet, there is always something wrong.
With McClain, especially in his final year at Alabama, he showcased his wide array of strengths every game.
Denver could go safety with this pick, like Eric Berry, but without Al Wilson, Denver lacked that inside presence they had for over 10 years.
Coach Josh McDaniels will teach McClain more than he could ever know; Rolando is football smart so it might come easier with a coach like McDaniels.
Berry can play CB or S in this league, I would draft him at Safety, though.
There is no weakness in Eric Berry's game; he plays run and pass coverage brilliantly, he is an exceptional tackler, and he is just one of those game-breaking safeties like an Ed Reed.
Miami took Jason Allen (also out of Tennessee) a few years ago, but that has not exactly worked out.
Berry is the hybrid—the new type of safety in this new NFL.
With so many college teams going to a spread offense, safeties are being asked to do so much more these days; basically, play linebacker and safety.
With Eric Berry on your team, you can pretty much do anything with him: put him in the box to drop back or play center field, both of which he is capable of doing.
The Big Tuna knows how to draft, and he will surprise us all again this year.
This isn't exactly a "need" pick, but Campbell has been a rising prospect since the Combine.
I watched his combine workout at about 2 AM one night, and I thought I was dreaming (sorry, I had to).
He is the most agile and quick linemen I have ever seen.
Of course, we could all fall for the Mike Mamula spell, that combine workouts don't directly correlate to NFL success, but O-Linemen are different, you can usually plug them into a system and voila!
San Francisco is a team to watch this year; anyone that is a 49ers fan should be excited for the near future.
Campbell will shore up the line, allowing Alex Smith to keep his jersey clean and upright.
If you get the chance, watch Campbell's combine workout. There are so many good linemen in this draft, it's easy to pass over the Maryland product (the only real knock is he only started 13 games, but Mark Sanchez started 13 games, so..).
Campbell as early as a month ago, was "projected" to go early second round, but he's worked his way up the charts.
With the early selection of Clausen, Seattle will look to go offense again, taking the speedy back out of Clemson.
When I first started watching Spiller, he was somewhat overshadowed by his teammate James Davis. Now, with Davis nowhere to be found, C.J has all but made a name for himself with ridiculous speed and versatility.
I have heard great things about Spiller but I question his body of work and his durability, as everybody should.
He no doubt has the build of a NFL RB, and in Seattle, they probably will not designate him as an every down back just yet, but he can make an impact in the return game and passing game, both of which were terrible in Seattle last year.
Three straight ACC players, but not on purpose.
What was once the strong suit of the Giants now needs tending to.
Their defense was, to put it kindly, crappy last year.
In that Giants defense, a player like Derrick Morgan can truly showcase his talents. He is a big and fast DE, but he would more than likely switch to OLB in the NFL.
Imagine Osi, Justin Tuck, Derrick Morgan, and their so-so secondary. It is an improvement over last year.
I originally thought the Giants could go safety, Taylor Mays or Earl Thomas, but there are still quality safeties in FA.
Anyone got Darren Sharper's number?
Houston has always been "almost there" or "one player away from the playoffs."
Mike Iupati might be that one player.
The highest rated guard in this year's class, Iupati reigns from the power house WAC, which produced such NFL stars as David Carr and Gill Bryd.
All joking aside, Iupati is the real deal.
He is a bit raw, having only played really two years, but he is huge and has decent lateral speed (again, he is a guard).
The Texans made a splash last year in selecting the DROY in Brian Cushing out of USC. I believe they can trade down with the Titans for their pick at No. 20.
Mays was recently clocked at an unofficial 40 time of 4.24, which tied Chris Johnson's 40 time from a few years back.
Now that is ridiculously fast, especially for a guy that's built like a linebacker.
At the combine he was clocked at a 4.34, which is still very fast for a safety.
San Francisco would salivate at the opportunity to take Mays at No. 17, he could play immediately and you know Coach Mike Singletary would mold this young man into something very special in the Bay Area.
The only real knock on his game is sometimes he can play over-aggressive, which in the NFL can lead to a 15-yard penalty or even worse, a touchdown.
His freakish combination of size, speed, and range allows him to play very freely. He can improve on his tackling, but he is only 22, so he has plenty of time to learn and grow.
Troy Polamalu is still the heart and soul of the Pittsburgh defense, but none of us know how healthy that knee can stay; I know once you injure your knee in any level of football, all the stresses you put on it can re-injure it very easily.
Thomas might not even fall this far, but let's say he does; he is a redshirt sophomore (only 20 years old) and his eight interceptions this year were second best in the nation.
He obviously is a play-maker and can alter any offensive game plan.
He is the third-rated safety (or second, depending on where you hail from) and my guess is Pittsburgh can turn him into a beast on their team. Dick Lebeau is pretty good I hear.
If the Falcons are looking for just a LT, then Williams might not be their guy, since he just started playing LT this past year.
But Williams is immensely talented nonetheless and with Williams on the Falcons' already good line, they can build one of the best young line tandems in the NFL.
Matt Ryan and Michael Turner can thank me later.
Trent has good lateral speed, he can keep up with the speed of DEs, and his strength and bulk is perfect for a scheme that would allow him to pull off-guard a lot.
Before the signing of Dunta Robinson, I was tempted to say they go DB.
This Atlanta Falcons team, if healthy, can make some noise in the already tough NFC South.
Along with last year's No. 1 pick for the Titans in Kenny Britt, Gresham is a BIG target for Vince Young.
The athletic TE is the new "in" thing in the NFL, and Jermaine is a prime example of size, speed, and football smarts.
The biggest plus, though, is that he is an exceptional blocker.
Chris Johnson would basically have a sixth offensive linemen to play behind.
He creates mismatches down the field; his 6'6" frame is ideal to take up a whole lot of space allowing his teammates to get open.
Vince Young would also have a "security blanket" to throw check-downs and out routes to. Gresham makes all the sense in the world to go to Tennessee.
The Texas standout can play both DE and OLB, and put into that ferocious Eagles defense, he can really make a huge impact in applying pressure.
I can see him being used as a DeMarcus Ware type, applying a lot of pressure from different angles, allowing everyone else to get free and either play containment or even blitz themselves.
Kindle is raw and he had a significant drop in his stats, but numbers do not always tell the tale.
He is a big, instinctive linebacker that is strong enough to throw off linemen yet quick enough to drop back into the secondary.
Philadelphia has an explosive offense already, why not get that defense to be as scary as the late Jim Johnson once made it.
Another player that has been getting pre-draft buzz is Michigan's Brandon Graham.
New England's D is young, inexperienced, and got beat up last year, mostly due to injuries.
Their leader is Jerod Mayo, a young LB they drafted in 2008, who got injured last year.
Graham makes sense for the Pats at 22; he can play OLB which is probably what he will switch to in the NFL, but in that Pats 3-4, they can plug him just about everywhere.
Belichick loves versatility (and video cameras) and although Graham does not have the numbers to show production, he did play for a D that was so-so at times.
Green Bay surprised a lot of people outside of Wisconsin, and with all but a few departures, they return most of their team from last year.
Add Charles Brown, a mammoth tackle from USC, and this team went from second best in the NFC North to pushing the Vikings for that top spot.
We all know about their defense, it's great, but with injuries along their O-line, Brown could be a breath of fresh air or very cold air in Lambeau.
He was a converted TE when he got to USC and he definitely needs to bulk up or he will get eaten alive at the next level.
His football instincts are great though, he can pick up blitzes easily and his long arms and quick feet make him ideal for a West Coast system like Green Bay.
Dunlap has character issues, so what better team to go to then the Bengals.
That was a joke, please don't comment my article huffing and puffing, I want quality comments.
Dunlap is a physical freak, he sort of reminds me of Mario Williams coming out.
Dunlap is 6'6", 295 lbs. He enters as an underclassman but he has a lot of starts and he played in one of the, if not the best, conferences in football in the SEC.
Carlos has tremendous lateral speed, and he moves like a 250-pound linebacker rather than someone who is a biscuit shy of three bills.
The numbers are not there, so the question of production comes into play, but GMs have a hard time measuring production to measurables.
Dunlap is worth it at the 24 spot, some would even consider him a steal that late.
The Anquan Boldin trade this past week has made the Ravens a very scary team going into next year, and with the 25th pick in the draft, they will be able to address their secondary.
With Ed Reed hopefully returning, and Ray Lewis anchoring that D once again, many believe the Ravens can go defense in this year's draft, and who better than the raw cornerback Kyle Wilson.
Another under-sized CB, Wilson plays out of his mind every game day.
I have seen him play in person a few times, and I hate the term "shutdown corner," but Wilson was able to negate his whole side of the field.
Kyle Wilson might not be a Pro Bowl player right away, but given the right situation and the right defense (it's Baltimore), he can really help a team in nickel packages.
As far as man-to-man goes, he might need some more help; his speed is iffy, but not every CB runs a 4.4.
The Cardinals let go of linebacker Karlos Dansby, who dictated their defense and was a valuable part of what they were trying to do in Arizona.
Sean Weatherspoon is as instinctive as any linebacker in this year's class.
He had played OLB much of his career at Mizzou but with his football savvy and great tackling ability, he can really play any LB slot.
Watch any highlight of him, and you can see the under-sized LB plays fast and tough.
Some of the greatest tacklers in history were under-sized (i.e Zach Thomas). You will not find as good of a LB this late in the draft.
As much as I hate to say it, Dallas is one of the smarter teams when it comes to draft days.
Their defense is still very good, but with the losses of Greg Ellis and Chris Canty, the Dallas Cowboys can swipe up the immensely talented DT out of UCLA.
Now if they are looking to draft him as a NT, he might have to bulk up—the only pure NT in this year's draft is Terrance Cody, and he is not worth a first-round pick.
Price has been a star and could have been a high draft pick last year, so he skipped his senior year and decided to enter.
He is quick, has good size and agility, but in the Dallas 3-4, he might not be able to play all three downs.
Luckily, if Price were to be on a team that can sub in good players, it is Dallas.
Although San Diego might not need a running back, Mathews is a great prospect that could be very effective in San Diego.
He would split time with Darren Sproles and he can catch out of the backfield.
I just question his blocking ability, but the Chargers are not drafting him to be a blocking back, that's what fullbacks are for.
Mathews was very productive in his time at Fresno State, and he was another player I got to watch in person.
He is not deceptively fast, but game speed and 40 speed ARE different.
It seems like the Chargers are going to start airing it out more, much like Dan Fouts era, but Ryan Mathews can be a very good back in this league.
That picture I used just goes to show how good of a receiver Golden Tate is.
I have not seen a receiver use his body so well to create separation and give the QB an easy target to throw to.
If you watch his games, like the Washington State game, or even the Michigan State game, he would get off the line, square his shoulders (any QB loves WR that do that), and catch it.
Tate always seems to catch it. If he were to fall to the Jets, along with Braylon Edwards, Dustin Keller, and their already good running game, the Jets won't just get to the AFC Championship, they might just win it.
Maybe it's just me, but I would NEVER start Tavaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels; they probably wouldn't even start themselves in fear of failure.
I know I can get better QB play somewhere.
Tony Pike, at his highest of highs, was a Heisman trophy contender and the leading man on one of the best teams in the nation.
With Brett Favre not even knowing what he will eat for breakfast, Tony Pike can be the future of this franchise in a sense.
He is a big QB at 6'6", he has a very live arm and can transition to an NFL offense quickly because he played a sort of Spread/West Coast offense at Cincinnati.
The Vikings will still run it, and he will have quality players at almost every position.
He won't go into a training camp with the pressure of starting immediately, or will he?
With the recent departure of Marlin Jackson to Philadelphia, and the oft-injured Bob Sanders, Kareem Jackson will help shore up a defense that became swiss cheese in the biggest game of the year.
Jackson was very lucky to play with another good CB at Alabama in Javier Arenas, but Jackson held his own.
He is a good tackler which is always a plus for a corner, and if anyone knows Bill Polian, they know he likes taking versatile players that are very good at what they do.
With a healthy Indy defense, I expect them to make a lot of noise come playoff time.
At the No. 32 pick, the rich get richer in terms of quality players in the later part of the first round.
Griffen runs a sub-4.5 40 yard dash. He is big enough to play DE, and even though I believe in Gregg Williams' defense they have enough DEs, you can never have enough hybrid LBs that apply pressure.
Although he did not really live up to the hype coming out of high school, you have to believe that on a Saints team that already possesses so much talent, Griffen will find a place to play somewhere in there.
He is the definition of an athlete, and for most of his career he relied too much on his speed and quickness.
In the NFL that might not fly, so he will have to bulk up (he is only about 265 which makes me question if he can play DE at the next level).
But don't get me wrong, he is a top-15 talent, hands down.