Happy NFL Draft Eve!

I leave you with my choices for the first round of the NFL Draft. Let the debates begin…

1.detlions Detroit Lions – The good thing for Jim Schwartz and the new version of the Lions is that anything would be an improvement. With the logo change comes a new culture, a fiercer approach – and they need it. The Lions pick twice in the first round and five times in the first three rounds. They need to fill just about every position known to man, but the most quintessential position in football is the quarterback. It all starts with the QB, so this is a no-brainer – they’ll be taking the top rated Georgia QB Matthew Stafford.

2.rams-logo St. Louis Rams – With the departure of OT Orlando Pace, a huge void needs to be filled. The Rams also need to fill many positions, but a franchise OT is the best and safest bet here. The great thing for them is there are three OT’s that should go in the top 10, so the Rams have their choice. The consensus pick is 6’5, 309 lb Jason Smith from Baylor, as Andre Smith has dropped due to fitness, but Virginia’s Eugene Monroe is also highly regarded.

3.kcchiefs Kansas City Chiefs – Bringing in Scott Pioli, Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel, KC is already starting to look like the New England Patriots Version 2.0. Pioli made another typical Patriot-type move by trading veteran All Star Tony Gonzalez for a second round draft pick. It’s clear the Chiefs also need an OT. They will take Eugene Monroe. There’s always little risk involved in taking an offensive lineman this high, and the Chiefs may have something going with two young franchise OT’s (Brandon Albert was drafted last year.) The defense still needs to be addressed, but the Chiefs can’t pass up this opportunity to solidify the line, especially with this new explosive offensive featuring Matt Cassel, Larry Johnson and Dwayne Bowe.

4.seahawks Seattle Seahawks – This is where the draft starts getting real interesting. Do the Seahawks take Mark Sanchez as an insurance policy because Matt Hasselback isn’t getting any younger, or do they take OLB Aaron Curry, a position they’re sorely lacking? The Seahawks go with Wake Forest’s Aaron Curry, a truly can’t miss prospect who has the size, strength and speed to make him a great NFL linebacker. 6’2, 250 and runs a 4.6? Sold! The Seahawks will wait for a quarterback later in the draft, someone they can spend a few years grooming into the job. The Seahawks now look to filling their vacancy at WR, and probably look to address the QB situation with their 3rd pick.

5.browns Cleveland Browns – Now that Sanchez has fallen and Aaron Curry has been snatched away, Mangenious and the Browns may entertain numerous trade offers, but ultimately they feel Texas Tech’s WR Michael Crabtree is just what the doctor ordered for whichever young quarterback they decide to go with. Crabtree gives the Browns the ability to throw to a big Larry Fitzgerald-like target. This also should take the pressure off Braylon Edwards, let him snap out of last year’s truly abysmal season and focus on what got him to the Pro Bowl two years ago. Edwards will welcome the chance to get free with the addition of another real threat on the opposite side of the field.

6.cincinnatibengals Cincinnati Bengals – Doesn’t it seem like the Bengals can do no right? No matter who they pick, it seems the player will be doomed to a fate worse than death – having to be the franchise player of a completely disoriented, unorganized circus. The good part is the team’s image can’t really suffer any further than it already has, so offseason acquisitions like Tank Johnson go virtually unnoticed. The Bengals will take Alabama’s OT Andre Smith here out of necessity, since Carson Palmer and Ryan Fitzpatrick spent pretty much all of last year either injured or on their backside. Smith’s fitness is a real question mark, and a reason he’s fallen to the third OT selected in the draft. His fitness will definitely be tested in the AFC North where he has to play two of the quickest defenses, Pittsburgh and Baltimore, twice a year.

7.raider Oakland Raiders – The Raiders are looking for speed. They will take Missouri’s WR Jeremy Macklin. It just makes sense to give your young quarterback, Jamarcus Russell, a target he’s been lacking thus far in his career. The defense is actually solid, believe it or not, so this draft should almost exclusively be offensively based. Darren McFadden and Jeremy Macklin may be what it takes to turn the offense around, but Russell is still very questionable and interception prone, and with Jeff Garcia lurking in the worst division in football, maybe the Raiders take a chance at the playoffs through him.

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8.Jacksonville Jaguars – With this pick, the Jaguars get value and trade it away to the Denver Broncos who are desperately seeking a franchise quarterback to replace Jay Cutler. The Jaguars pick up two first round picks, while the Broncos draft the new face of their franchise, USC’s QB Mark Sanchez. The Jaguars may consider pulling the trigger on Sanchez after David Garrard’s poor season, but the chance to add another pick to a team that needs all the help they can get on the offensive line will jump at this opportunity.

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9.Green Bay Packers – The Packers need to fix up both of their lines. With the change to a 3-4 defense, it seems the Packers should pick a hybrid defensive end/linebacker here. Texas’ OLB/DE Brian Orakpo comes off the board. He’ll be able to rush the quarterback and his speed will allow him to cover a pass if needed. He fits the description of a 3-4 outside linebacker.

10.49ers1 San Francisco 49ers – If Sanchez drops here, the 49ers will take him, but something tells me Sanchez will be drafted before the 10th overall pick. The 49ers take The Ohio State’s CB Malcolm Jenkins to fill in as a nickel back for the short run, and the shutdown corner of the future. Jenkins is one of the most NFL-ready guys in the draft and should have no problems making the transition – the 49ers fill a need and take little risk in doing so.

11.buffalo_bills_logo Buffalo Bills – The Bills are feeling lucky and will draft Mississippi’s OL Michael Oher. They’re feeling lucky because they still have one more first round pick waiting, and they feel they can get Brandon Pettigrew there. If this happens, the Bills will arguably be off to the best draft of anyone, fulfilling two major needs with two great players.

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12.Denver Broncos – As predicted earlier, the Broncos trade this to the Jaguars. And the Jaguars get what they wanted with the 8th pick, Boston College’s DT B.J. Raji. The Jaguars are now in position to have as good a draft as Buffalo, or even better with another high first round pick still to come. With the next pick, look for them to solidify their otherwise depleted offensive line.

13.washingtonredskins1 Washington Redskins – Well, one things for certain, if they draft a quarterback here (or any time in this draft) the QB will have to be the guy by default since Jason Campbell says he will request a trade. The Redskins pick LSU’s DE Tyson Jackson. Jackson’s stock is really rising, and the Redskins take the best DE available.

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14. New Orleans Saints – The Saints had their heart set on Malcolm Jenkins, but he already came off the board. They now go with their second option, USC’s LB Brian Cushing. It’s clear the Saints need defensive help, which is the one thing that has been holding them back the past three years under Drew Brees. Cushing becomes the first of three Trojan linebackers to be drafted in the first round.

15.texans Houston Texans – Many look to the Texans to be the surprising team of 2009. The talent is set in place on offense, now they just need to work on the defense, and they already started before the draft by signing free agent DE Antonio Smith. The Texans are disappointed Cushing just went off the board here, but pick his college teammate OLB Clay Matthews. Matthews becomes the second straight Trojan linebacker selected, and is perfect for the Texans since he is so versatile, playing OLB and DE in his college career.

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16.San Diego Chargers – Is it possible? Can it be? Do I hear three Trojan linebackers in a row?! The Chargers take Rey Maualuga. This pick makes the Chargers the most feared group of linebackers in the league, if they weren’t already. Maualuga may be a steal falling this low in the draft. The Charger linebacking core is now loaded and has a little bit of an insurance policy should Shawne Merriman not be healthy or decide he wants out next year.

17.jets New York Jets – The Jets take shutdown corner #1a in everybody’s rankings, Vontae Davis from Illinois. This pick may be unpopular for the New York crowd, who probably wants QB Josh Freeman, but Davis can contribute right away, and former second round choice Kellen Clemens should be able to show what he’s got this season. If he’s not the answer, there’s still a great quarterback class coming out next year, and Jet fans have to understand this is a rebuilding year.

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18.Denver Broncos – This is the Jaguars pick. Many of the great offensive linemen have been drafted already, so the Jaguars look elsewhere. The Jaguars can actually try to make another trade here, but also have the luxury of Kansas State’s Josh Freeman falling into their lap. Highly regarded MLB James Laurinatis is also still available, a position the Jaguars sorely need. In the end, the Jaguars take QB Josh Freeman as an insurance policy in case Garrard has another bad season.

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19.Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The Bucs are in a situation they haven’t had to deal with much recently – they really need defensive line help. They draft Tennessee Defensive End Robert Ayers, who may be the best available defensive lineman left at this point in the draft. Ayers has been skyrocketing up the draft boards lately because he’s improved his agility.

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20.Detroit Lions – Insert your joke about drafting a receiver here. The Lions have two first round picks, surely one will have to be a receiver, right? Not this time (I hope for their sake), this time the Lions get their quarterback and running back of the future to pair with Calvin Johnson. Since every running back is still available, the Lions will now have the best QB and RB in the draft, quite impressive if I do say so. The Lions take the quick, elusive Georgia RB Knowshon Moreno and match the two college teammates together. This should make it an easy transition for both, who will be playing with someone they’ve known and trusted to get the job done in the past. Now… to address that line…

21. philadelphia-eagles Philadelphia Eagles – With Brian Westbrook aging, the Eagles look for a successor and/or third down back for the time being. They come across the bruising back Beanie Wells. They draft The Ohio State back for the future, and for short yardage purposes in the present. I’m still not sure if Wells can be a featured back in the NFL, but maybe he can become something similar to Lendale White, who has been pretty successful in his own right.

22.minnesotavikings Minnesota Vikings – The Vikings take less time than anyone in round one, quite the opposite of the infamous Mike Tice ’03 draft, where they missed their pick and chaos ensued. The Vikings select Florida’s WR Percy Harvin and don’t look back for a second. This is the kind of deep threat the team has been missing since Randy Moss left. Harvin can do it all and even potentially gives them a Reggie Bush-like effect, where he can catch passes or take handoffs out of the backfield. And finally, think about this, could you imagine Harvin running the wildcat with Adrian Peterson?! That thought is scary.

23.2018pc New England Patriots – Time for the best value pick of the draft, as always. Belichick once again is loaded with picks, having six in the first 100. If he wants, he can trade out of this position for another first rounder next year. But Belichick needs a cornerback, and he will take UConn’s CB Darius Butler, a player he actually went to visit in person in East Hartford. Butler has emerged as the # 1 corner on some people’s boards, and Belichick absolutely loves his athleticism.

24.alanta-falcons-logo Atlanta Falcons – If anyone’s happy about the Tony Gonzalez trade, it’s the Bills, who are still waiting for Brandon Pettigrew to fall to them. They avoid another bullet. The Falcons need to pick up a defensive lineman. The Falcons are delighted to see Peria Jerry and Evander Hood available. The Falcons settle on Mississippi DT Peria Jerry because Jerry suits their system better – more of an in-your-face, smash-mouth type of guy, while Hood notably struggles in the run game.

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25.Miami Dolphins – What a season the Dolphins had last year going from one win to the playoffs. This year, they look to add depth to the linebacker position and take Ohio State LB James Laurinatis. This just seems like the perfect pick for Bill Parcells and company, just a hard working, solid player who seems fit for the AFC East. They also could go receiver here, probably Kenny Britt for his size, but in the end, Parcells can’t pass up on Laurinatis.

26.318 Baltimore Ravens – Now that the Ravens have found their quarterback, they need to find him a young receiver to stretch the field, since Derrick Mason is 35, and not getting any faster. When you talk about speed, Maryland WR Darrius Heyward-Bey has to jump out at you. Problem is he doesn’t have the most reliable hands, but the Ravens take the chance on him thinking he will revolutionize the one-dimensional offense.

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27.Indianapolis Colts – The Colts fill a big need by taking Missouri’s DT Evander Hood. The Colts banked on either Hood or Jerry falling into their laps, and Hood has. Hood is actually bigger and younger than Jerry, so the Colts take him without any hesitation, possibly getting the better of the two very similar players. Peyton Manning might have a little problem with this, however, after losing his go-to target Marvin Harrison. In the end, Manning will realize throwing to Reggie Wayne, Anthony Gonzalez and Dallas Clark is not that bad…

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28.Buffalo Bills – You may call me crazy, but I don’t see any other team that needs a TE in the first round. I think Oklahoma State’s Brandon Pettigrew falls all the way to the Bills here. If this happens, Bills fans can celebrate no matter what happens the rest of the draft, filling their two most pertinent needs in the first 28 picks.

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29.New York Giants – The Giants need a big target to throw to with the forced departure of Plaxico Burress. They come across the 6’3 local guy Kenny Britt from Rutgers, and (maybe) find the next Plaxico Burress in the process. It looks like at least one of the two Mannings will get his wish of drafting a first round receiver, since not having a # 1 receiver was clearly the Giants’ kryptonite in 2008.

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30.Tennessee Titans – The Titans need a corner most here, and they pick Wake Forest CB Alphonso Smith. It’s good to be a Titan because the team really doesn’t have anything that absolutely needs to be filled. The loss of Albert Haynesworth may hurt the defensive line and tempt them into picking a lineman. Also, the Titans should look into drafting a receiver, but since they never seem to draft one in the first round, why should this year be any different?

31. 6a00d834518aef69e2010536dbd07e970b-800wi Arizona Cardinals – The Cardinals pick UConn’s RB Donald Brown to take over the duties from Edgerrin James. All this kid did was lead the nation in rushing and carried his team on his back all season, eventually culminating with a bowl victory. Brown has great quickness, speed and athleticism. This is the type of young player you want in your organization, especially after finally getting over the hump, as the Cardinals did last year.

32.pittsburgh_steelers_logo1030104 Pittsburgh Steelers – We come to the end of the first round. Who gets the last big bonus for being a first round pick? 1 of 2 Pac 10 centers, which is exactly what the defending champions need. Luckily for them, both centers are still available. Oregon’s Center Max Unger becomes the last pick of the first round, slightly beating out Pac 10 rival Alex Mack.

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