I figure if you’re going to criticize other’s picks you better be willing to stick your neck out and make your own selections. I did not consider trades because they are just too hard to predict. Here we go:
1. Detroit - Matt Stafford QB, Georgia
When it's all said and done you can't put a value on a franchise-capable QB. The Lions have another pick to address the offensive tackle position. This pick could easily change to offensive tackle if Mr. Stafford has unrealistic salary expectations.
2. St. Louis - Jason Smith OT, Baylor
Marc Bulger has looked good in spring workouts. The Rams have lots of holes and their dismissal of veteran OT Orlando Pace says they have their eyes on a left tackle.
3. Kansas City Chiefs - Aaron Curry LB, Virginia
The Chiefs also have lots of needs but linebacker is easily the biggest need. When you're switching to a 3-4 you better have capable linebackers. This is a layup.
4. Seattle Seahawks - Eugene Monroe LT, Virginia
This is a very difficult pick and the choice will effect the entire first half of the draft. In the end, it came down to the acquisition of Houshmanzadeh and the development of Ben Obomanu. Mark Sanchez is a very real possibility but a solid left tackle could allow Hasselbeck to play two more years - the number of years left on his contract.
5. Cleveland Browns – Mark Sanchez QB, USC
It’s no secret Eric Mangini isn’t feeling Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson has essentially a one year contract. A new regime means a new QB and Mark Sanchez has all the tools you look for in a QB. I don’t see Brady Quinn as a Brown in 2009. Ideally, a trade would come prior to the draft but he may have more value on draft day.
6. Cincinnati Bengals – Michael Crabtree WR, Texas Tech
No team needs a break more than the Bengals and they get one as their need matches the board. Crabtree will be a day one contributor and a great target for a healthy Carson Palmer. Cincinnati’s acquisition of Tank Johnson fills their newest criminal DT need.
7. Oakland Raiders – Andre Smith OT, Alabama
Character certainly isn’t an issue in Oakland so Smith is the perfect fit for a team that would like to run the ball and take the pressure off their young passer. Oakland would love a stud DE but Brian Orakpo and Michael Johnson have more questions than upside.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jeremy Maclin WR, Missouri
David Garrard evidently heard the footsteps dropping 20 pounds in the offseason. A healthy offensive line will help David approach his 2007 form. The Jaguars have to run the ball to be effective and a big play receiver will help to stretch the field.
9. Green Bay Packers – B.J. Raji NT, Boston College
The Packers will be thrilled if B.J. makes it this far. With Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte and Kevin Smith on the schedule six times next year a nose tackle for the 3-4 defense is just what the doctor ordered.
10. San Francisco 49ers – Everette Brown OLB, Florida State
The debate over who is the best pass rusher will go on for several years but my vote is Everette Brown. Aaron Maybin looked amazing at his Pro Day but the 49ers are conference contenders now and Brown has pass rushing skills that could translate into an immediate impact.
11. Buffalo Bills – Michael Oher OT, Ole Miss
With the departure of Jason Peters, left tackle becomes a glaring need. Fortunately, Oher is still available. Like Ryan Clady, Oher has become a victim of the over-hyped combo. On film, he's a man among boys - just ask Tyson Jackson.
12. Denver Broncos – Aaron Maybin OLB, PSU
With both Stafford and Sanchez off the board the Broncos will look to fortify their awful defense. Maybin could be a gamble for a head coach already in the spotlight but Pat Bowlen put his full support behind young Josh McDaniels in a letter to season ticket holders. No player has more upside than Aaron Maybin but he may take a couple seasons to adjust. Mike Nolan is the perfect guy to groom him.
13. Washington Redskins – Brian Orakpo DE, Texas
The Eagles strike again! With the acquisition of Peters the Eagles have eliminated the possibility of one of the top 4 tackles falling to the Redskins at 13. Beatty or Britton would be a reach here so the Redskins address another of their needs. Philip Daniels is 36 years old and coming off a major knee surgery. He was a premiere run-stopper in his prime which falls in line with Brian's biggest strength.
14. New Orleans Saints – Malcom Jenkins CB, Ohio State
There are probably better corners in this draft but will the Saints have the guts to take one? I doubt it. They’ll play it safe and hope Malcom fills an immediate need.
15. Houston Texans – Chris “Beanie” Wells RB, Ohio State
It’s back to back buckeyes in the middle of the first. Steve Slaton is a nice story but he’s not an every down back. Say what you want about Beanie’s injuries but last I heard he was begging Tressel to play week in and week out. How often is one of the best between the tackle runners also one of the fastest? A dynamic offense just gets better with the one two punch of Wells and Slaton.
16. San Diego Chargers – Tyson Jackson DE, LSU
With Igor Olshansky on to Dallas the Chargers have a glaring need at DE. Tyson won’t get after the passer but he’s an immovable object in the running game. Sounds like a perfect 3-4 DE.
17. New York Jets – Josh Freeman QB, Kansas State
With Wells gone the Jets take their future QB. Don’t believe the Brett Ratliff hype. If he was the future they wouldn’t have chased Jay “whiner” Cutler with the intensity they did. Quarterback over running back in this situation.
18. Denver Broncos – Rey Maualuga ILB, USC
Pass rusher? Check! Run stopping linebacker? Check! With any luck, Ron Brace will be available in the second round and the Broncos will fill three very big holes in the first 45 picks of the draft. Some are speculating that the Broncos would package some of these picks and go after Sanchez but that says to me they made a mistake with Cutler and they don’t want that image. The best way to calm down the fans in Denver is to strike gold with the picks they got in return. They are on the way in the first round.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Knowshon Moreno RB, Georgia
Where there are winners there are losers and with no QB on the board Tampa is left taking the BPA. Derrick Ward has never been a feature back so a one-two punch with Moreno would do nicely here. A big defensive tackle and press corner are both bigger needs so don’t be surprised if they trade down here and look to get Darius Butler or Ziggy Hood near the end of the first round.
20. Detroit Lions – William Beatty OT, Connecticut
First the QB, now the LT to protect him. Thanks Dallas!
21. Philadelphia Eagles – Michael Johnson DE, Georgia Tech
Being compared to Simeon Rice is not a bad thing. Johnson is the perfect compliment to Trent Cole. At 6’ 7” and 266 pounds Johnson has the room for another 10-15 pounds without losing the 4.69 speed he displayed at the combine.
22. Minnesota Vikings – Eben Britton OT, Arizona
If Britton is still here at 22 the Vikings will not be able to ignore him. They need a RT desperately and Britton is the last of the first round tackles on the board.
23. New England Patriots – Brian Cushing ILB, USC
Teddy Bruschi isn’t getting any younger. Cushing is a downhill tackler who can run with backs and tight ends and even rush off the edge. A starter as a freshman, Cushing has blossomed into one of the most physical linebackers in the draft.
24. Atlanta Falcons – Vontae Davis CB, Illinois
Brandon Pettigrew looks like a great tight end prospect but unless he can also play in the secondary the Falcons have to pass. They were thin at CB before Dominque Foxworth became the most overpaid CB in the NFL. It hasn’t gotten better.
25. Miami Dolphins – Darius Butler CB, Connecticut
Two husky footballers in the first round? Say it isn’t so. The loss of Andre Goodman leaves a big void in the Miami secondary. A rush LB opposite Joey Porter is a possibility if Butler is off the board.
26. Baltimore Ravens – Derrius Heyward – Bey WR, Maryland
Under normal circumstances I think Ozzie would not take this risk in the first round but Steve Bisciotti is a big Maryland booster and he loves hometown guys (check out the Foxworth contract). Fortunately, the Ravens don’t have any glaring needs so they can afford to draft a project.
27. Indianapolis Colts – Peria Jerry DT, Ole Miss
This is a no-brainer for the Colts. Run defense is always a problem and Peria Jerry is the best DT on the board. Ziggy Hood is right on his heels but Jerry is a better run stopper.
28. Buffalo Bills - Robert Ayers DE, Tennessee
With their left tackle solution filled the Bills will look to another need. Ayers is slowly climbing teams' draft boards. Robert has great lower body strength and can beat double teams with his quickness.
Previous pick: Phi-Percy Harvin, Phi-Hakeem Nicks
29. New York Giants – Hakeem Nicks, WR UNC
With the Eagles off the board the Giants no longer have a competitor for Eli's next big target. Hakeem has the best hands in the draft and his big frame allows him to take hits across the middle. Hakeem doesn't have Plaxico's speed but the Giants have a speedy receiver in Sinorice Moss. Now they get their go-to guy when they need a big play.
Previous pick: Clay Matthews
30. Tennessee Titans – James Laurinitis ILB, Ohio State
The Titans are very balanced but if they have a weakness it’s at middle linebacker. James Laurinitis will fit nicely in the middle. Often compared to Brian Urlacher, if James can play anywhere close to that level the Titans will have a dominant force inside for many years to come.
31. Arizona Cardinals – Donald Brown RB, Connecticut
2018 yards and 18 TD. Sometimes numbers don’t lie. Add in soft hands and you have an instant upgrade at running back.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers – Alex Mack C, California
No team needs an upgrade at Center more than the Steelers. Justin Hartwig was a human turnstile in 2008 and Mack is an instant upgrade. Mack was the only center able to neutralize B.J. Raji at the Senior Bowl and he’s one of the smartest linemen in the draft.