As promised I give you my take on the first round of the NFL draft. This is just a guess as to what direction some teams will go. Also teams will trade in and out of draft positions, but for this exercise I also assumed that team will pick in their allotted spot. Enjoy.
FIRST ROUND MOCK DRAFT:
1) DETROIT LIONS: Matthew Stafford (QB, Georgia) – I don’t really think this is a good pick, but I think this is the way the LIONS are leaning. I’d like to see a team coming off an 0-16 season, with so many needs, build from the inside out. A solid left tackle prospect, like Andre Smith out of Alabama, would make sense here. Having said that Stafford is my favorite QB coming out and has a HUGE arm.
2) St. LOUIS RAMS: Andre Smith (T, Alabama)- St. Louis picks #2 for the second year in a row. They have been looking for a good long-term replacement for Orlando Pace at left tackle the last couple of years. They would have taken Jake Long a year ago had he fallen to the second pick. Smith is a safe pick that makes sense for them here.
3) KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: Aaron Curry (LB, Wake Forest)- A lot of mock drafts will have QB Mark Sanchez here, but KC just hired Scott Pioli as their new GM. He comes from New England and the Bill Belichick school where they make smart, conservative draft picks. They will not use a first round pick on a QB (and an underclassman at that), and will most likely fill a major need at OLB with Curry.
4)SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Michael Crabtree (WR, Texas Tech)- Most talented player in this whole draft. Perfect match of need and player. I believe Crabtee will be a Larry Fitzgerald-type player down the line and there is a good chance he ends up having the best career of any player in this draft.
5) CLEVLAND BROWNS: Brian Orakpo (DE, Texas)- New coach Eric Mangini will probably want to run the 3-4 defense and be looking for someone to in that jumbo OLB/DE mold. I think Orakpo will put up ridiculous numbers at the combine and beat out Everette Brown for the number one DE spot. CB is another consideration here. Local product Malcolm Jenkins from Ohio State could be a consideration.
6) CINCINNATI BENGALS: Eugene Monroe (T, Virginia)- Another team with a ton of needs. Monroe could go at #2 to the Rams, and the Bengals would be lucky to get such a solid tackle here (although he could start his career on the right due to Stacy Andrews on the left side). Running back is another thought with local product Beanie Wells out there.
7)OAKLAND RAIDERS: B.J Raji (DT, Boston College)- No one, including the Raiders, have any idea what they are going to do. Al Davis has a history of making wild, reaching, poor value picks (like kicker Sebastian Janikowski in the first round in 2000). Also, no player really wants play in Oaklan. They will take Crabtree if he falls here, because WR is a need, but if they happen to go with a defensive lineman Raji is beast, and a good value here.
8) JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Jason Smith (T, Baylor)- With the recent release of Fred Taylor ,the Jags have a need at RB, WR, and TACKLE. Jeremy Maclin is a possibility at WR here, but I think Smith from Baylor is a really good value with the potential to be a Pro-Bowler.
9)GREEN BAY PACKERS: Vontae Davis (C, Illinois)- Corners Al Harris and Charles Woodson are getting older and slower, they need a youth/speed infusion. Davis would provide both.
10) SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: Mark Sanchez (QB, USC) - The 49ers will sign a veteran QB during the offseason (probably someone like Jeff Garcia) to compete with Shaun Hill for the starting spot. Sanchez will be in a perfect situation to sit for at least a year and learn.
11) BUFFALO BILLS: Everette Brown (DE, Florida State) - I like them to take a DE or a TE in this spot. Since Brian Orakpo is off my board in this mock draft, I think they will go with the next best DE.
12) DENVER BRONCOS: Rey Maualuga (LB, USC) -The Broncos just hired defensive coordinator Mike Nolan who will look to install a 3-4 defensive front, and Denver will have to draft players accordingly. If Raji is here he is a no-brainer pick to play nose tackle. Since he is gone in this scenario they’ll go for a big linebacker Maualuga to play the outside backer spot.
13) WASHINGTON REDSKINS: Aaron Maybin (DE, Penn State)- A player whose upside far exceeds on the field production at this point, but DE is a big time need for the ‘Skins.
14) NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: Brian Cushing (LB, USC)- All signs point to the Saints taking a linebacker here. They have Jonathan Vilma to play the inside, so Cushing would be a perfect pick for the outside.
15) HOUSTON TEXANS: Larry English (DE, Northern Illinois) - Don’t be surprised if the Texans trade up to get one of the three defensive ends (Orakpo, Brown, or Maybin) to play opposite Mario Williams. If they have to pick here they could take English who will likely be the next highest rated DE but he would be a bit of a reach at pick#15.
16) SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: Jeremy Maclin (WR, Missouri)- Good team that can afford to make a bit of a luxury pick with this selection. Can you imagine how explosive this team will be on third down with Darren Sproles and Maclin on the field at the same time?
17) NEW YORK JETS: Malcolm Jenkins (CB, Ohio State) - No other QB in this year’s draft will warrant a first round pick. If the Jets take Josh Freeman out of K-State here they will be making a big mistake. Most glaring need is at corner. Malcolm Jenkins is big and physical at 6’1 200 pounds, and could form a formidable tandem with Darrell Revis playing the other side. Jets would LOVE to see him still available this late in the first round.
18) CHICAGO BEARS: Percy Harvin (WR, Florida) - Game changing WR who should impress in his individual workouts and move up from being considered a late first round possibility to a good value with the 18th selection.
19) TAMPA BAY BUCS: Darious Heyward-Bey (WR, Maryland) - Run on WR’s continues. Could also take Hakeen Nicks or trade up to get Maclin or Harvin, but Heyward-Bey is a good value here and offers them a legit downfield threat to succeed Joey Galloway (who they may cut during training camp).
20) DETROIT LIONS: Alphonso Smith (CB, Wake Forest) - Second of two first round picks for the Lions. I think they will take the best corner available. In this case I think it' Smith. He is a bit undersized at 5'9", but has very refined coverage skills.
21) PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: “Beanie” Wells (RB, Ohio State) - Dear Andy Reid:
If you do not select a RB here to compliment Brian Westbrook, Eagles fans will ROAST YOU with a little red apple in your mouth! I mean that literally. People in Philly are nuts.
22) MINNESOTA VIKINGS: Brandon Pettigrew (TE, Oklahoma State) - Best TE in this year’s draft, and a good value late in the first round. Gives whomever is the QB a big red zone target.
23) NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Sean Smith (CB, UTAH) - Known for picking smart, versatile football players. At 6’3 and 215 pounds, Smith fits that mold as he could play corner or either safety spot.
24) ATLANTA FALCONS: Peria Jerry (DT, Ole Miss) - Although a bit undersized for a DT, carries a late-first round grade after impressing at the Senior Bowl.
25) MIAMI DOLPHINS: James Laurinaitis (LB, Ohio State) - A linebacker that can play the inside backer spot and go sideline to sideline is a need for the ‘Fins. I’m not big on Laurinaitis but I think he could go here to Miami.
26) BALTIMORE RAVENS: D.J. Moore (CB, Vanderbilt) – They just cut Chris McCalister, and will target a corner in this year’s first round. Might also trade up to get a Vontae Davis.
27) INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: Sen'Derrick Marks (DT, Auburn) - Desperately need a DT, and may trade up to assure they get Peria Jerry. If they pick a DT here, look for them to take Marks, the type of quick undersized player the Colts covet.
28) PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Michael Oher (T, Ole Miss) - Great chance this guy will be long gone by pick #28 to a team moving up from the second round to get him. Eagles would be thrilled to get Oher here.
29) NEW YORK GIANTS: Clint Sintim (LB, Virginia) - Big athletic linebacker to play the outside edge. Clay Matthew from USC would be another option, but he isn’t quite the athlete Sintim is and doesn’t have nearly the upside. Depending on what happens with Plaxico Burress, the Giants might also think about a big WR here. An option might be 6’4” Kenny Britt from Rutgers, but I think he would be a reach for round 1.
30) TENNESSEE TITANS: Hakeem Nicks (WR, North Carolina) - Would really love for Harvin, Heyward-Bey, or Nicks to fall to them here because WR is a big-time need.
31) ARIZONA CARDINALS: Knowshon Moreno (RB, Georgia) - Need a RB to replace Edgerrin James. This pick could also be LeSean McCoy out of Pittsburgh if Moreno runs a slow 40 time (which I expect he will).
32) PITTSBURGH STEELERS: Duke Robinson (G, Oklahoma) - Offensive line was a soft spot for the Steelers, even in a Super Bowl year. They will look to shore up the interior of their line and take a guard or center with this pick. I would go with Robinson, the best G in this year’s draft. Another thought would be a SS to compliment Troy Polamalu. William Moore from Missouri has seen his stock slip in recent weeks but might be a good pick here.