J Andersson’s final mock draft – updated 24th of April

This is by far the hardest year I’ve ever had of making a final mock draft. Most years the domino effect (of making the wrong call early) will mean that few of the selections made are right in the end but you usually feel pretty good about your mock when it’s set. Unfortunately this year my mock feels more uncertain than ever. It seems as if there are still debates going on as who’s the best player at each position apart from maybe TE (Pettigrew), DT (Raji) and LB (Curry). At this point surely nothing is guaranteed. Here’s my best shot though…

  1. Detroit Lions – Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia

Until I see any evidence that Detroit will go in a different way when it comes to quarterback Stafford remains the choice here. Recently, I think reports/rumors are confirming this pick more than the opposite. While it’s entirely true he’s not a “can’t-miss” type of prospect he doesn’t need to be a world-beater. If he can be decent he can help Detroit out. I bet you Jim Schwartz will solidify that defense and that’ll help (not having to call 60 pass plays a game). No matter what the pick is it will be hard for him to make a difference if not the whole team is solidified. If the Lions aren’t completely down on Stafford I think they go with the rule – when you don’t have a franchise quarterback draft (a potential) one. If Stafford turns out to be a good pro he will make a whole lot more of a difference than any player at any other position. If he’s not the Lions are where they are now for a while longer. I also think the argument of new regimes picking their QB is valid here, cause that’s almost always the case. This is especially true when there isn’t a real talented one on the roster (even if there is new regimes often try to find their man).

Previous picks: (3/22) Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia – (3/4) Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia – (2/20) Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia – (2/2) Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia – (1/26) Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia

  1. St. Louis Rams – Jason Smith, OT, Baylor

I’ve been convinced the Rams are looking for an offensive tackle here apart from the odd week I had Michael Crabtree here. The Rams have released veterans Orlando Pace and Torry Holt. While they have a few youngsters at WR they’re very thin at OT and at this point they will have the choice of selecting Eugene Monroe and/or Jason Smith which is a perfect position. I still think Jason Smith has a whole deal of upside, and maybe more than Monroe does. However, the more film I watch I’m convinced that Monroe has a better chance of being great early. This has had me torn and this week I’m back to Jason Smith being their selection. Why? Cause he’s a better run blocker and Steven Jackson needs that. I also think Spagnuolo would like to run the ball coupled with his smothering defense. The other reason is that there are some lingering concerns on one of Monroe’s knees. Smith has higher upside but Monroe is in my mind a safer pick (if the knee issue is bogus).

Previous picks: (3/22) Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia – (3/4) Jason Smith, OT, Baylor – (2/20) André Smith, OT, Alabama – (2/2) Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech – (1/26) Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss

  1. Kansas City Chiefs – Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest

To me this is a no-brainer. In Cassel they got their quarterback. They also drafted for Mike Vrabel in an effort to transform their defense into a 3-4 unit sooner rather than later. For such a defense they need to acquire players in the front seven, especially they need upgrades at linebacker. Curry is a great prospect and another safe pick. He has great intangibles and can be a future leader for this defense as an ILB. What about offensive tackle? Admittedly the Chiefs need to get better overall on the offensive line but they’ve got a solid left tackle in Branden Albert so Curry makes more sense than for instance Eugene Monroe here. Some say a LB ain’t worthy of the #3 overall pick. While that may be true I see no reason for them to draft Monroe here when they’ve already got a solid left tackle in Branden Albert. Rather I would have them trade with a team in love with Mark Sanchez (since Seattle may potentially be looking in Sanchez direction). Since I won’t project trades Curry makes the most sense here.

Previous picks: (3/22) Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest – (3/4) Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest – (2/20) Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest, (2/2) Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia, Previous pick – (1/26) Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia

  1. Seattle Seahawks – Mark Sanchez, QB, Southern California

This is the most intriguing pick early in my opinion. First of all this is the first real spot where a team will pick Mark Sanchez (barring trades up to the 2nd and 3rd pick). Mark Sanchez is the most hyped player of perhaps all draft prospects right now. Seattle is rumored to be interested in Sanchez but that may be all smokescreens. However, it wouldn’t be unthinkable for them to wait on drafting Walter Jones successor and bring in a quarterback to learn the ropes from Matt Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck is far from finished but he’s 34 years old and has had back problems recently.

What would keep them from picking Sanchez? I think Seattle believes they can win now and need some final pieces to the puzzle to achieve that goal. I see them strengthening either the interior defensive line or the offensive line. There are however counterarguments to be made for those picks. Do they need an interior lineman after they acquired Redding? Not so much, but while Redding is more of a UT type, Raji would be a solid 4-3 NT type. Haven’t they got enough money invested in offensive tackle already with Walter Jones and Sean Locklear having a rather big contract? Yes, but what happens when Jones retires (which isn’t too far away). Locklear is unspectacular but solid as a right tackle. Teams need left tackles and Eugene Monroe offers a lot here.

Furthermore, couldn’t Michael Crabtree be interesting here? Well, after the free-agent pickup of T.J. Houshmandzadeh I don’t see them going for Crabtree since I think they are too alike when it comes to strengths. They also have veterans at the WR spot coming back from injury.

It’s a toss-up but if they really like Sanchez they could opt to pass on tackle for another year and start to groom Sanchez. I’m getting to the point where I think they’ll do just that (if they don’t trade out of here). Therefore the call is: “With the 4th choice of the 2009 NFL draft the Seattle Seahawks pick quarterback Mark Sanchez out of Southern California”.

Previous picks: (3/22) Jason Smith, OT, Baylor – (3/4) Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia – (2/20) Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech, (2/2) Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State – (1/26) Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech

  1. Cleveland Browns – Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech

The Browns have made some solid pickups of former Jets players to solidify their 3-4 defense. However, I see them lacking a great pass rusher and a cornerback in order to compete. For a long time I believed Brian Orakpo was the logical choice here but I with the recent trade talks including Braylon Edwards going on the Browns have more or less made it obvious that if here Michael Crabtree could be their guy. I mean someone needs to catch them passes from whoever the starting QB will be. Frankly, I can’t figure out what the Browns coaches/personnel dept. are doing. Brian Orakpo is a physical specimen that would seem to be a perfect 3-4 OLB for them but since I think a trade of Edwards is imminent I’m going to go with Crabtree here.

Previous picks: (3/22) Brian Orakpo, DE/OLB, Texas – (3/4) Brian Orakpo, DE/OLB, Texas – (2/20) Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State, (2/2) Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest – (1/26) Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State

  1. Cincinnati Bengals – Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia

The Bengals had one thing going for them last year, their defense performed real well. That happened despite the loss of Keith Rivers due to a jaw injury. Rivers looked good before the injury.

Player-wise a few players represent some value here in my view. B.J. Raji if they want to beef up that defensive line even more. Michael Crabtree if they want to complete the WR corps overhaul and get rid of Ocho Cinco next season. Brian Orakpo is a possibility if they feel they are desperate for an upgrade of their pass rush. And of course there’s the lack of an offensive tackle that stand out enormously. When it comes to Raji I honestly think the Bengals are quite happy with what they’ve got on their interior d-line. Their starters Sims and Peko are a 320-325 lb combination. In all silence Sims performed very well in his rookie season and Peko is a greatly underrated player in my opinion. With Ocho Cinco still around, Laveranues Coles brought in and a ton of younger players still unproven I’d rule out Crabtree here as well. Offensive tackle on the other hand… There’s Levi Jones that was mightily disappointing last year. The other guys are Dennis Roland and Anthony Collins. Who? And this is a team whose franchise player is Carson Palmer? The fact that they didn’t go after or lure any of the free agents at tackle is to me a tip of their hand come draft day. If, as in this scenario, Eugene Monroe is there for the taking they’ll love it. Monroe is perhaps the most pro ready left tackle available and he should be able to start and significantly upgrade their line from day one. Levi Jones could be moved to the right side and all of a sudden they look a lot better offensively and Carson Palmer get’s the protection he needs to stay healthy. This is a no-brainer to me.

Previous picks: (3/22) B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College – (3/4) Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech – (2/20) Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia – (2/2) Jason Smith, OT, Baylor – (1/26) André Smith, OT, Alabama

  1. Oakland Raiders – Brian Orakpo, OLB/DE, Texas

So a lot of people have Oakland picking Jeremy Maclin (or even Darrius Heyward-Bey) here. To me that’s just foolish. The usual argument behind this is that Al Davis loves speed and supposedly he’d be prepared to reach to get it. If find that untrue. I’ve looked at the recent 10 drafts dating back to 1999. The only real draft where that would be true might be when the Raiders drafted Michael Huff with the 7th overall pick in 2006. That may have represented a reach (but still only slight) but the experts had him pretty high as well. Maybe an argument can be made for the Raiders choosing Philip Buchanon with the 17th pick of the 2002 and Fabian Washington with the 22nd pick of the 2005 draft also represent such reaches. Other players picked in the first round between 1999 and 2008 are: Matt Stinchcomb (1999), Sebastian Janikowski (2000), Derrick Gibson (2001), Nnamdi Asomugha and Tyler Brayton (2003), Robert Gallery (2004), JaMarcus Russell (2007), Darren McFadden (2008). Not that many overrated burners right, since you can’t be in your right mind to call Asomugha a reach (albeit fast) and you can’t be honest if you call Darren McFadden a reach (since he was several teams and experts top prospect going into the draft)? At worst, you can call Davis inclined to reach for DBs with top speed.

I think a case can be made for Al Davis not selecting Michael Crabtree with his pick because of the lack of a 40-time. However, I don’t see him making a major reach for Maclin or DHB.

The Raiders need to upgrade their lines on both sides of the ball. At offensive tackle though Mario Henderson silently had a decent campaign at left tackle and they signed Khalif Barnes to play right tackle (my guess). Also, with both of the Smiths and Monroe being gone at this point I don’t see them going for a tackle here. There’s not a guard or center being close to the right value here (if there ever is at this spot this is not the year). However, they have issues at both DE and DT. The only DE I know the name of is Derrick Burgess. At DT they have an overpaid Tommy Kelly coupled with formerly overpaid busts such as Gerard Warren, William Thomas. In the end I think they have to little at DE to not make a push there and I think they’ll love the playmaking ability and athleticism of Brian Orakpo here. Picking B.J. Raji would also make a lot of sense but I think they got too much money tied up on the interior and need to address the end spot first.

Previous picks: (3/22) Everette Brown, DE/OLB, Florida State – (3/4) B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College – (2/20) Jason Smith, OT, Baylor – (2/2) Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss – (1/26) Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars – B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College

A lot of people have the Jags selecting a WR like Jeremy Maclin here. I strongly disagree. I think Jack Del Rio is terrified of handing out a big contract to an unproven wide receiver again. Furthermore the signing of Torry Holt makes the Jaguars less needy to pick a wideout early.  The offense also benefits from the Tra Thomas signing along with the return of injured guards Vince Manuwai and Maurice Williams.

So a lot of people have them picking Mark Sanchez here. I don’t think they will. I believe the organization likes David Garrard as their quarterback if they can provide him with a better offensive line and a strong running game. Furthermore, I think Mark Sanchez suits a West Coast system a lot more and Jacksonville will run first and threaten to go deep with the pass which isn’t Sanchez game. They ned a quarterback like arrard that can buy time and scramble if necessary. I think there is more reason to belive they might trade out of here for someone in love with Sanchez if he’s still here.

Bottom line, Jacksonville played some sloppy defense last year. I think they will go out of their way to fix that. After all defense has been the trademark of this team. If a player like B.J. Raji (a player I like better as a 4-3 DT) sits here  and the opportunity to pair him with John Henderson arises I think they would love that. They would be able to shut down the run without much help from safeties and they would open up room for their young defensive ends like Derrick Harvey (who’s not a bust just yet). Such a possibility will be hard to pass up.

Previous picks: (3/22) Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech – (3/4) Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss – (2/20) B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College – (2/2) Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State – (1/26) Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State

  1. Green Bay Packers – Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU

With B.J. Raji gone I think they settle on another player that fit their new 3-4 defense like a glove. Tyson Jackson would be a great 3-4 DE and would enable the Packers to make the transition earlier than expected.

I don’t see many options for them here that match the Jackson pick but they are old at corner and a player like Malcolm Jenkins could come to mind or a pure speed rusher like Everette Brown or Aaron Maybin to play 3-4 OLB. Perhaps they could also look at Michael Oher to add another offensive tackle to the mix. None of these last options seems to be better than the Jackson pick in my eyes.

Previous picks: (3/22) Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State – (3/4) Everette Brown, DE/OLB, Florida State, (2/20) Brian Orakpo, DE/OLB, Texas – (2/2) B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College – (1/26) B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College

  1. San Francisco 49ers – André Smith, OT, Alabama

OK, with Stafford and Sanchez gone I don’t think there’s any question they’ll go with Shaun Hill as their starter for another year. I don’t see Josh Freeman being a good fit for Jimmy Raye’s offense really.

While they’ve made considerable strides on defense they would need to focus on their offensive line with both André Smith and Michael Oher available. However, they signed Marvel Smith and haven’t given up on Joe Staley (who had a down year last year) yet. In this scenario though I find it hard to see them doing anything else but to select a tackle or a pass rushing option at OLB like Everette Brown. In the end I think André Smith fits them like a glove. Do they dare to select André Smith you might say? I think so. As disturbing as it was to see this guy run through the motions shirtless on his Pro Day every film study of this guy reveals that he surely can play (as a pass and run blocker) and even that he might be the best tackle in the draft. If he doesn’t bomb the private workout he’ll land in San Francisco. I don’t think the Niners see Marvel Smith as a long-term solution anyway and one of the Smith’s could slide inside to guard and all of a sudden the o-line is beginning to look like more of a strength for this team.

Previous picks: (3/22) André Smith, OT, Alabama – (3/4) Brian Cushing, LB, USC – (2/20) Mark Sanchez, QB, USC – (2/2) Mark Sanchez, QB, USC – (1/26) Mark Sanchez, QB, USC

  1. Buffalo Bills – Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss

I had Robert Ayers here and I still think he’s the best pure 4-3 DE in this draft. However, after the Bills traded away Jason Peters their by far biggest need is at left tackle and with Michael Oher sitting there he must be the choice. I don’t see there being a solid tackle left at the 28th spot (where the Bills pick next) but it could very well be sitting a great pass rush prospect there at the time.

Previous picks: (3/22) Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee – (3/4) Michael Johnson DE/OLB, Georgia Tech – (2/20) Everette Brown, DE/OLB, Florida State – (2/2) Brian Orakpo, DE/OLB, Texas – (1/26) Jason Smith, OT, Baylor

  1. Denver Broncos – Brian Cushing, LB, USC

With both the top quarterbacks gone as well as the potential 3-4 stud defensive linemen Raji and Jackson I see the Broncos overhauling their linebacking corps. This club needs defense and I think Josh McDaniles believes he has the ability to lead this teams offense to new heights without bringing in major talent through this draft.

This pick could easily be packaged in order for them to nab Mark Sanchez ahead of the Seahawks but I’m not going to call a trade before I see it.

In fact I think the Broncos might be leaning on Orton or Simms for this year while picking players in order to transform their defense into a 3-4 unit for the future. The Broncos still have two picks in the 2010 draft and to me Sam Bradford is very much more a Josh McDaniels type of quarterback than anyone but perhaps Sanchez. Until that defense is overhauled they’re not going to be a playoff contender anyway so why not start there right away?

Brian Cushing would be a very versatile player and a good fit for one of the 3-4 OLB spots but also with the ability to play coverage. He’s a character guy nd could be one of the young leaders on defense that the Broncos will be searching for, that can be taught up by Brian Dawkins and Champ Bailey. With Cushing added to the trio of Dawkins, Bailey and D.J. Williams the Broncos are beginning to look slightly better on defense all of a sudden but more investments are needed.

Previous picks: (3/22) Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU – (3/4) Rey Maualuga, LB, USC – (2/20) Rey Maualuga, LB, USC – (2/2) Rey Maualuga, LB, USC – (1/26) B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College

  1. Washington Redskins – Aaron Maybin, DE/OLB, Penn State

If the Redskins stay here they miss out on a lot. They most likely lose out on the opportunity of selecting Mark Sanchez and they can’t like once thought fall back on picking one of André Smith or Michael Oher to solidify their offensive line for years. I would think the Buffalo-Philadelphia trade will make Dan Snyder a bit jumpy and I expect a move upwards but for now I’ll assume they pick here. If there’s no quarterback (I don’t see Josh Freeman as an upgrade over Jason Campbell) and no top OT here the Redskins should look for a defensive prospect to add another dimension to that pass rush. A player with the potential of Aaron Maybin can be scary considering that teams will have to focus on Albert Haynesworth at first. Lacking any other options I’ll say assembling a great defense around Haynesworth (and a lot of pieces are in place already) will be Washington’s way of doing business this year.

Previous picks: (3/22) Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss – (3/4) André Smith, OT, Alabama – (2/20) Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss – (2/2) André Smith, OT, Alabama – (1/26) Rey Maualuga, LB, USC

  1. New Orleans Saints – Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State

What does New Orleans really need? Most would say defense and so would I. To me it looks like they primarily could use a solid inside linebacker here. I don’t see them going for Rey Maualuga (since he’s not a great fit for their defense) or James Laurinaitis (at this point). Instead I think they realize they have the option of finding the successor to Deuce McAllister. Chris Wells would be a really nice fit in the Big Easy coupled with Reggie Bush. They can look at defensive reinforcements later on and players like Jason Phillips and Marcus Freeman come to mind.

Previous picks: (3/22) Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State – (3/4) Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois – (2/20) Brian Cushing, LB, USC – (2/2) Brian Cushing, LB, USC – (1/26) James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State

  1. Houston Texans – Clay Matthews. LB, USC

I don’t like the depth options the Texans have at cornerback but I figure they are ok with having Robinson back playing under the franchise tag and they liked rookie Fred Bennett enough to skip cornerback here. An upgrade at corner could also be found later.

Instead I think they find a linebacker that can pass rush and play the run. They have an exciting defensive line and if you can upgrade the talent at linebacker this unit could be scary. From what I gather they like Clay Matthews plenty and I wouldn’t underestimate the importance of the Matthews-name in Houston either. He is a perfect fit for what they want.

Previous pick: (3/22) Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois – (3/4) Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri – (2/20) Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois – (2/2) Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois – (1/26) Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois

  1. San Diego Chargers – Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia

It’s apparent that LaDainian Tomlinson is on the verge of slowing down and when a player like Moreno is here to take I think the Chargers jump at the opportunity of having the successor in place.

One might argue that the Chargers need more spice to their defense and that a player like Everette Brown or an inside linebacker like Maualuga or Laurinaitis would make sense. While they srely would I don’t see the Chargers passing on Moreno here.

Previous picks: (3/22) Brian Cushing, LB, USC – (3/4) Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia – (2/20) Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State – (2/2) Everette Brown, DE/OLB, Florida State – (1/26) Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State

  1. New York Jets – Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri

The Jets need help at receiver and Jeremy Maclin is an interesting prospect. I think he’s been very overrated when projected to go in the top ten but picking him here wouldn’t be too much of a reach. The other option is to pick Josh Freeman (another overrated player) here but I don’t think Rex Ryan likes him a whole lot. Even if new regimes means new QB’s I believe Ryan is prepared to go with Clemens, Ratliff or Ainge this year. He could revert to quarterback next year (which should be a better year for QBs) if needed.

Previous picks (3/22) Mark Sanchez, QB, USC – (3/4) Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia –  (2/20) Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia – (2/2) Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia – (1/26) Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia

  1. Denver Broncos – Rey Maualuga, LB, USC

Oh well, the Broncos make this draft about the defense and after drafting Cushing they add his teammate Maualuga as another solid piece to their 3-4 LB crew. They would love to add a player that fit a 3-4 defensive line but there simply isn’t one of value to be picked here. Maualuga has been under a lot of scrutiny during the pre-draft process and is no longer a projected top 10 pick. Though, for those questioning his ability, I would suggest you watch some game tape. In most games he’s dominant (in some others just real good) and make for an ideal 3-4 ILB and I don’t think he will slide past the Broncos. With Cushing and Maualuga the defensive overhaul in Denver has begun.

Previous picks: acquired by trade so previous pick were made for the Chicago Bears.

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State

New regimes mean new quarterbacks and with Raheem Morris having ties to Kansas State I expect him to be rather high on Freeman. On the other hand the signing of Byron Leftwich makes me somewhat confused. In the end I think the Leftwich signing means little. Freeman is an intriguing prospect that I personally think isn’t deserving of the hype. I would think Peria Jerry would be a much better pick. The evidence are too strong though and I’ll accept the fact that Morris will try to find his guy. With Leftwich in town they can afford Freeman with a lot of time to grow. Leftwich is another guy with a strong arm so I’m guessing they implement a whole new offense as opposed to the Gruden-Garcia package.

Previous picks: (3/22) Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss – (3/4) Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss – (2/20) Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss (2/2) Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss – (1/26) Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss

  1. Detroit Lions (from Cowboys) – William Beatty, OT, Connecticut

They will be glad to see Beatty here. He’s got great feet and long arms and looks to be a very solid left tackle at the next level which is just what the Lions need to protect Stafford (in this scenario). He will need to be groomed some but I still expect him to start as a rookie and be better than Jeff Backus who can move inside.

Previous picks: (3/22) William Beatty, OT, Connecticut – (3/4) William Beatty, OT, Connecticut – (2/20) Eben Britton, OT, Arizona – (2/2) William Beatty, OT, Connecticut – (1/26) Brian Orakpo, DE/OLB, Texas

  1. Philadelphia Eagles – Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State

If Moreno or Wells would have been here they would have received a lot of attention but since they’re not the Eagles will be delighted to see Pettigrew here. He can help them out in the running game as well as be a great short to mid target for McNabb in the passing game. His pick makes the Eagles much more versatile on offense and opposing offenses need to focus on Pettigrew as well and can’t zero in on Westbrook and DeSean Jackson.

Previous picks: (3/22) Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia – (3/4) Louis Delmas, S, Western Michigan – (2/20) Alex Mack, C, California – (2/2) Alex Mack, C, California – (1/26) Phil Loadholt, OT, Oklahoma

  1. Minnesota Vikings – Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State

Isn’t offensive reinforcements what this needs first and foremost? Yes. However, I think the Vikings are hesitant to spend money on a big-time receiver here since there are questions surrounding everyone of them. The Vikings have been missing a great corner opposite of Antoine Winfield for years. Malcolm Jenkins is a great player that is sliding due to questions on his speed. The Vikings could afford to use him at FS if he doesn’t perform well at corner (which I still think he will) and therefore this pick isn’t too risky. I think they would see too much value in Jenkins here and they will get back to looking at wide receiver and offensive tackle later on.

Previous picks: (3/22) Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State (3/4) Alex Mack, C, California – (2/20) D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt – (2/2) D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt – Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland

  1. New England Patriots – Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut

The fact that word is spreading that the Patriots love this kid may be a smokescreen sure but I think it’s true. The additions of Springs and Bodden make this a less pressing need but Belichick will not draft solely based on need. The Pats also possess plenty of selections later to use on position need picks. Back to cornerback, as much as I like the free agent signings of Springs and Bodden the former is no spring chicken and the ability of the latter is in question (and both signed one-year deals). I think Belichick will go for a guy he really likes to settle the position for years and I believe that to be Butler. I also, believe Belichick prefers Butler over Vontae Davis. If Rey Maualuga was here he might have been the choice and Clay Matthews might also have been considered but my guess is they’ll come back to pick an OLB (like Connor Barwin with their 34th overall pick).

Previous picks: (3/22) Rey Maualuga, LB, USC – (3/4) Clint Sintim DE/OLB, Virginia – (2/20) Larry English. OLB, Northern Illinois – (2/2) Larry English, OLB, Northern Illinois – (1/26) William Moore, SS, Missouri

  1. Atlanta Falcons – Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss

I once thought they were eyeing Brandon Pettigrew but I guess they realized he won’t last this long and they traded for Tony Gonzalez. Peria Jerry is a great DT and should be a fantastic UT in Atlanta. Mike Smith solidifies his defense even more. Down the stretch (in the playoffs) not only Ryan fell apart the defense did so as well so adding another high-caliber player to the group will be of greatest importance.

Previous picks: (3/22) Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State – (3/4) Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State – (2/20) Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State – (2/2) Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State – (1/26) D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt

  1. Miami Dolphins – Everette Brown, DE/OLB, Florida State

I think Bill Parcells and Tony Sparano want their version of DeMarcus Ware. With Brown unexpectedly being here they go for him to be their rush guy. I think they would have settled for Larry English, a tough player and a high-character guy and he would fit their style well had Brown not been around but the upside of the Florida State player is greater. The other option is to go for a CB here and it would make sense to go for Vontae Davis here.

Previous picks: (3/22) Larry English, DE/OLB, Northern Illinois – (3/4) D.J. Moore, Vanderbilt – (2/20) Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest – (2/2) Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut – (1/26) Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut

  1. Baltimore Ravens – Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR. Maryland

Joe Flacco need a big target at receiver, I question DHB’s abilty as a receiver but I can’t deny his athleticism and physique. They should have followed him closely through his career in Maryland and while this pick involves quite a bit of risk (bust potential) the potential upside with Flacco around is through the roof. They could also add playmakers to the defense and add to their cornerback or linebacking crew.

Previous picks: (3/22) James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State – (3/4) Kenny Britt, WR; Rutgers – (2/20) Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut – (2/2) Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers – (1/26) Percy Harvin, WR, Florida

  1. Indianapolis Colts – Evander “Ziggy” Hood, DT, Missouri

The Colts need help inside for both of their lines. The most pressing need is perhaps defensive tackle and Evander Hood looks like a great fit. He’sd athletic enough to fit the Colts defensive scheme, yet he’s still powerful enough to hold the point of attack. I think they like this kid plenty. On the other hand they couldn’t run the ball at all last year and they need to solve that but I figure they will do that later on. However, a case for Max Unger or Alex Mack could be made here. Their running game was pitiful last year and adding a strong presence at the interior of their line would be one major step in the right direction.

Previous picks: (3/22) Max Unger, C/OL, Oregon – (3/4) Max Unger, C-OL, Oregon – (2/20) Max Unger, C-OL, Oregon – (2/2) Max Unger, C-OL, Oregon – (1/26) Alex Mack, C, California

  1. Buffalo Bills (from Eagles/Panthers) – Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee

Buffalo hits the jackpot here when players like Robert Ayers and Larry English are still here, which matches their need extremely well. They took care of the gaping hole at left tackle (after the Peters trade) by picking Michael Oher earlier and now they can add a pass rush presence. It seems as if they’re intent on playing a 4-3 system and to me Ayers looks like a better fit than English who I rather see as a 3-4 OLB in the NFL.

Previous picks: Previous picks before the trade made for the Philadelphia Eagles.

  1. New York Giants – Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina

The Giants have made great defensive acquisitions in free agency and I think they’ll look to restock on offensive talent early in his draft. Plaxico Burress is gone and I had them replace him with a bigger receiver like Kenny Britt earlier. However, I think they are fed up with big-egoed wideouts and reports that may be nothing more than rumors about Britt having diva tendencies will make them look elsewhere. They need not look further than in the direction of Hakeem Nicks. Nicks is a player that is underrated an I’ll bet you he’s got the makings of a better pro than DHB and Maclin. This is a crisp route-runner with good hands that will be ready t play a role early on. I think that’s what the Giants want. It was painfully obvious in Burress absence that they needed more threats on offense to be a Superbowl contender yet again.

Previous picks: (3/22) Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers – (3/4) Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina – (2/20) James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State – (2/2) James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State – (1/26) Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers

  1. Tennessee Titans – Brian Robiskie, WR, Ohio State

Every year we notice their weakness at WR. I think they are tired of it and with a great running game and a solid line how about giving Kerry Collins some slid receiving targets? Like we saw in the playoffs opposing team will just stack the run and challenge Collins to beat them with his arm. With the current group of receivers in town you’re not inclined to bet on the Titans in such a situation. If they add Robiskie they add a mature route-runner and a polished receiver as well as polished person. Another issue they have is at defensive tackle after the departure of Albert Haynesworth. I’m not sure they’ll go for a defensive tackle this early though. There are no players that match the size/atheleticism of Haynesworth in this draft so my guess is they’ll look for one later (Sen’Derrick Marks come to mind).

Previous picks: (3/22) Percy Harvin, WR, Florida – (3/4) Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland – (2/20) Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina – (2/2) Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland – (1/26) Max Unger, OL, Oregon

  1. Arizona Cardinals – Donald Brown, RB, Connecticut

The Cardinals just have to get more out of their running game. Edgerrin James isn’t getting younger or better and Hightower is a short-yardage goalline back. Donald Brown offers a lot, given that he’s a threat as a receiver from the backfield as well. They could go for a possible upgrade at left tackle (maybe local kid Eben Britton if they see him as a LOT) to take some heat off Kurt Warner against 3-4 teams like the Steelers but I don’t see any left tackle prospect still around that warrant a pick at this spot. They could also go for a player like another threat at OLB like Larry English. However, I think it’s obvious they need a RB more than anything. To me Brown looks to be the all-purpose back the Cardinals are searching for.

Previous picks: (3/22) Donald Brown, RB, Connecticut – (3/4) Aaron Maybin, DE/OLB, Penn State – (2/20) Aaron Maybin, DE/OLB, Penn State – (2/2) Eben Britton, OT, Arizona – (1/26) Eben Britton, OT, Arizona

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers – Max Unger, C/OL, Oregon

I would say the Steelers won the Superbowl despite their o-line. True, the line played better down the stretch especially in pass protection. However, the Steelers couldn’t run the ball effectively and had to settle for field goals throughout the playoffs after being given 1st and goal situations. They need to add talent to their o-line and Max Unger would make a whole lot of sense. If players like Marvel Smith and Kendall Simmons come back from injury Unger could play center. Otherwise he could play guard or tackle (and they can move Willie Colon inside). This makes too much sense to me. If the Steelers o-line improves a lot they will be even tougher to beat. They could also need a cornerback but at this point it appears they can get one in the next round since the cornerback group as a whole appears to be sliding. However, with Vontae Davis sitting there they could be very tempted to pick him up and search for o-line upgrades later on. Tough choice.

Previous picks: (3/22) Max Unger, C/OL, Oregon – (3/4) Jarron Gilbert, DE, San José State – (2/20) Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU – (2/2) Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU – (1/26) Duke Robinson, OG, Oklahoma