Not too much need of an intro here.....the title says it all. This is a blend of both what I think teams will do and what I think they *should* do, so the eventual accuracy probably won't be the best. Still, I had a lot of fun doing it and I hope y'all enjoy it.
1. DETROIT LIONS--Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
The Lions are pretty much pressing reset on the whole franchise, and the first step is a QB. Some people have Jason Smith going here, but the reality is that the franchise needs a face and in the NFL rebuilding starts with the quarterback.
2. ST. LOUIS RAMS--Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
With Orlando Pace gone, this is a no-brainer. Smith is the best OT prospect in the draft and Bulger or whoever will be their QB in the near future needs to be kept upright.
3. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS--Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest
The Chiefs have a lot of holes across the board, so a number of options would make sense here. That being said, their defense is terrible and to land maybe the most polished, NFL-ready player in the draft at #3 is a steal. They'll take him.
4. SEATTLE SEAHAKWS--Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
I don't know if I've seen a single pick that has people arguing more than this one. I think it'll be Crabtree because of what happened to Seattle's receivers last year. They were practically signing any plumber or cab driver who maybe had once seen a football game. Jim Mora, Jr. won't want to risk repeating that fiasco in his first year, and Crabtree can be an amazing weapon for years to come.
5. CLEVELAND BROWNS--Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas
The Cleveland pass rush was pathetic, verging on non-existent last year. Enter Orakpo, a dynamic player who just happens to be the #1 rated DE in this draft.
6. CINCINNATI BENGALS--Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
I've seen a number of possibilities placed here in various mock drafts, but I think Monroe makes the most sense. They simply will never succeed if Carson Palmer is flat on his back looking up at the sky all year. With Smith off the board, Monroe is the best option.
7. OAKLAND RAIDERS--B.J. Raji, NT, Boston College
I've seen two main choices here in a lot of mock drafts: Darius Heyward-Bey and Jeremy Maclin. I really hope Al resists the temptations for both. Bey is SERIOUS reach here at #7. I have him as an early/mid-second rounder. While not as much of a reach, Maclin too would be unwise. I don't have him as a top-10 myself and in any case there are more pressing needs.
I don't know about other Raider fans, but I'm sick and tired of seeing the middle of our defensive line plugged by losers, has-beens and never-weres. William Joseph? Gerard Warren? Fred Wakefield? Come on. Raji is an absolute beast. A better D-Line would free up Morrison and Howard to work their magic. Raji is an instant upgrade. I've been over and over this in my mind and I don't think any other person on the board at this point could help the team as much as B.J. Raji. I just hope Al agrees.
8. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS--Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
Obviously, I can't mock trade scenarios. I can only go with the assumption that every team will keep their pick. We know that won't happen, obviously, and from what I'm seeing this is the most likely place for trade #1 to happen.
But I still have to select a pick that makes sense for the Jags and I think Sanchez is the way to go for them. He'll need a year on the bench to develop, so they can give David Garrard another chance to regain his form.
9. GREEN BAY PACKERS--Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
Green Bay is switching to a 3-4 this year. Jackson is the #1 3-4 defensive end in the draft. You do the math.
10. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS--Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State
Maybin is young and his potential and upside are absolutely amazing. He's young, he's raw and he could be a superstar if given the right coaching. Mike Singletary, anyone?
11. BUFFALO BILLS--Robert Ayres, DE, Tennesee
The Bills pass rush was anemic last year. Ayres is the best pure 4-3 DE in the draft. He's a solid kid and can help the Bills right away.
12. DENVER BRONCOS--Everette Brown, DE, Florida State
With Jackson off the board, Brown is the best choice for a new 3-4 defense like Denver is switching to. He can also play some linebacker if called upon.
13. WASHINGTON REDSKINS--Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi
The Redskins need an upgrade at tackle and they need someone to block for Clinton Portis. With Andre Smith hurting his prospects with his work ethic and character issues, Oher makes the most sense. He's a beastly run blocker with a mean streak. He's just what the 'Skins need.
14. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS--Malcolm Jenkins, CB/S, Ohio State
The annual attempt by the Saints to upgrade their secondary. Jenkins' stock has dropped a bit, but his versatility (corner or safety) and undeniable talent make him the logical choice.
15. HOUSTON TEXANS--Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech
This one is rather speculative on my part. Johnson is such a freak of nature, that I think the Texans will maybe reach a bit to take him here and try to create one of the most fearsome pass-rushing combos in the league. Mario Williams and Johnson coming off the edges will make quarterbacks stay awake at night with terror.
16. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS--Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
Smith's talent is too great for him to fall any farther, especially when you consider that the Chargers need someone to block for LT in the worst way.
17. NEW YORK JETS--Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State
I know, I know. Coles is gone, they need a WR. Favre is gone, they need a QB. Well, then can get a WR later and they already have 3 young, promising quarterbacks to choose from. Nope, what they need is someone to help and eventually replace the aging Thomas Jones. Wells fills the bill.
18. DENVER BRONCOS--Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
This could be Josh Freeman, but when you look at the Denver secondary, you see a rapidly aging Champ Bailey and...that's about it. They need serious help in the defensive backfield and Davis will provide it.
19. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS--Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State
By all accounts, the new head coach of the Bucs has a serious man-crush on Freeman. If he's available, they're taking him.
20. DETROIT LIONS--Eben Britton, OT, Arizona
Okay, so they've got the franchise drafted in Stafford. Now they need to keep him alive and moving. I have Britton rated somewhat higher than some other folks. I think the kid has all the physical tools, plus he's a great character guy and could be a leader on a team desperately in need of them. With him and Gosder Cherlius, Detroit will win the award for "Most Bizarrely Named Tackle Duo."
21. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES--Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
A lot of draftniks have rejected the idea that the Eagles will be looking to bring in relief for and an eventual successor to Brian Westbrook. Maybe they're right, but I don't know. Surely last season convinced the Eagles that Westbrook is, functionally, their entire offense. He's been oft-injured and they need someone able to take over on short notice, especially now that Correll Buckhalter is a Bronco. I think Moreno is too good to pass up after falling this far and right into Philly's lap. Most years, he would've been a top-15 pick.
22. MINNESOTA VIKINGS--Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut
The Vikings secondary sucks. Butler will make it better. Not much else to say, really.
23. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS--Rey Maualuga, LB, USC
With the drafting of Jerod Mayo last year and the trade of Mike Vrabel this year, it's clear the Patriots have finally decided to start letting youth be served in their linebacking corps. Tedy Bruschi is, what, 700 or so? :-) Seriously, though, he's getting up there and ReyMa is an excellent fit. I've read of some off-the-field issues, but as the Patriots have shown before, they can take controversial players and turn them into model citizens, so there's no worries there.
24. ATLANTA FALCONS--Clay Matthews, LB, USC
The Falcons lost Keith Brooking this off-season and that hole needs filling pronto. Matthews is a Brooking-type player who will do nicely.
25. MIAMI DOLPHINS--Brian Cushing, LB, USC
The Dolphins need someone to play opposite Joey Porter and Cushing is the perfect complement. I wonder if three players of the same position from the same school have ever been drafted in a row before? ( Probably won't happen this time, either....this is all just semi-educated guesswork after all!)
26. BALTIMORE RAVENS--Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
Not only is he the best receiver on the board right now, he's the speedy, deep threat playmaker that the Ravens want for Joe Flacco's big arm to throw to.
27. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS--Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi
Some drafts have this pick as a running back, which I frankly don't get. The Colts' Achilles heel has been their run defense for waaaayyy too long. All their solutions seem to fail... Booger McFarland is retired and Ed Johnson was shown the door after his drug scandal. Hopefully for them, Jerry will be the solution.
28. BUFFALO BILLS--William Beatty, OT, Connecticut
Having let problem child Jason Peters go, Buffalo needs a replacement. Enter Beatty, a 6'6", 310 lb. giant who could conceivably still add 20 or 30 pounds if he needs to.
29. NEW YORK GIANTS--Connor Barwin, DE/LB, Cincinnati
This kid is a beast whose motor never stops. The Giants could use a little bump up at OLB and he could also join the pass-rushing DE rotation the Giants use. Most people I've seen have Barwin projected into the second round, but the Giants are so solid everywhere else that a little reach won't hurt them. They could be looking for a receiver in the wake of Burress' departure, so don't rule out Rutgers' Kenny Britt here.
30. TENNESSEE TITANS--Evander Hood, DT, Missouri
I originally had a receiver penciled in here, but with the departure of Albert Haynesworth, the Titans will once again bypass the receiver position in the first round. Hood is obviously no Haynesworth, but the Titans defense depends on clogging the middle, and he's the best option available for them at this point.
31. ARIZONA CARDINALS--LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh
Full disclosure: I live in Pittsburgh and love Panthers football, so some biases are probably getting in the way here. I've read about McCoy dropping down into the mid-to-late second round and that's probably true. But oh, well. Here's my reasoning: The Cardinals need a step up in the run game and with Wells and Moreno gone, McCoy is my choice as the best available option. They can afford to reach a bit here. Caveat: If Anquan Boldin is traded, this will be a receiver.
32. PITTSBURGH STEELERS--Alex Mack, C, California
I'm still amazed the Steelers managed to overcome that awful offensive line to win the Super Bowl last season. Center is where the most urgent upgrade is needed. Mack is a great, great talent.