Since my last mock several things have changed including the Eagles trading the 28th overall pick for tackle Jason Peters (I had them previously taking tackle Eben Britton), Mark Sanchez’s stock has skyrocketed, and both Anquan Boldin and Braylon Edwards have been placed on the trading block. Here’s my new projected first round picks, with just over 24 hours before the Lions are officially on the clock.
1. Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford, QB Georgia- Contract negotiations are in the works with Stafford (same with Jason Smith and Aaron Curry) and they would like to have a deal done by today. Stafford is clearly not Peyton Manning, but the Lions needs someone at quarterback and with last year’s successes of Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco, he may be to hard to pass on.
2. St. Louis Rams: Jason Smith, OL Baylor- This is where the Mark Sanchez rumors begin to swirl like a tornado. It seems like it’s either Smith or Monroe for the Rams as the replacement for the departed Orlando Pace. I like Smith over Monroe due to durability issues and I think the Rams do too.
3. Kansas City Chiefs: Aaron Curry, LB Wake Forest- Curry could be the #1 overall pick if the Lions can’t get a deal done with Stafford, but I still think he’ll land in KC. Curry has all of the tools to be a solid NFL linebacker. He doesn’t pressure the quarterback much, but he’s a solid tackler and playmaker on defense. Curry will become a major piece of the Chiefs rebuilding process along with Matt Cassell and Dwayne Bowe.
4. Seattle Seahawks: Eugene Monroe, OL Virginia- Sanchez is a strong possibility here for the Seahawks or for a team like the Redskins, Jets, and Broncos if they decide they must have Sanchez. It will cost a lot for a team to move up to #4 and I don’t think the Seahawks draft a quarterback this season. Monroe is a very safe pick here for Jim Mora Jr. (thanks Pap)
5. Cleveland Browns: Michael Crabtree, WR Texas Tech- This seemed like a done deal here, until apparently their face to face interviews were anything but stellar. Still, the Browns need a receiver and Crabtree wants to play in Cleveland. I think the Browns get lucky here with Crabtree lasting this far and go after a playmaking target for whoever their quarterback will be. I don’t think Crabtree will be the Browns only receiver they draft.
6. Cincinnati: Andre Smith, OL Alabama- Of course they take Smith here, he fits in perfectly in Cincy! I can’t believe they just signed Tank Johnson with his arsenal of weapons so it will be no surprise when the commissioner announces that the Bengals draft Smith and by morning we’ll here that he’s already been arrested. I hope it has a happy ending, but I see this thing blowing up.
7. Oakland Raiders: Michael Orakpo, DE/LB Texas- Orakpo is definitely an Al Davis type player. He’s as physically gifted as they come and that’s exactly what the Raiders (Al Davis) likes. The Raiders went quarterback, then running back with their first round picks in each of the past two drafts, so I would expect them to go defense here assuming that Crabtree is off the board, but you never know with Al.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars: Mark Sanchez, QB USC- It’s not the Jags who take Sanchez with this pick, this is where the Redskins, Jets, or Broncos move up to take him. The Jags want to move back in the draft after moving up last season and lucky for them Sanchez is going to gain a lot of teams interested in moving up to get him at #8.
9. Green Nay Packers: B. J. Raji, DT Boston College- Raji is the best of the rest. He’s gone up and done the top ten since the end of the season. He’s a big man that’s strong and agile. He’s the type of player that will make his teammates better by drawing double teams.
10. San Francisco 49ers: Michael Oher, OL Mississippi- The niners would have loved to grab the California kid and taken Sanchez, but there’s no way he lasts until the 10th pick now. Quarterback is still an issue for them, but getting a top left tackle will at least be a building block for their plan.
11. Buffalo Bills: Brandon Pettigrew, TE Oklahoma State- The Bills just traded Jason Peters and now are without a tackle, however with the run that’s going to happen ahead of them it will be hard for them to land the player they covet at pick #11. They could reach for Eben Britton, but adding a versatile tight end that can help block may be the next best option with this pick.
12. Denver Broncos: Aaron Maybin, DE Penn State- The Broncos have plenty of picks that they can package to move around in the draft, but assuming they stay put at #12 they’re going to look on the defensive side of the ball. Maybin is rising amongst the draft boards and is the best pass rusher available for the Broncos.
13. Washington Redskins: Tyson Jackson, DE LSU- They want Sanchez very bad and usually what Daniel Snyder wants, Daniel Snyder gets. If they stay put they’ll take a pass rushing end. It could be Jackson, Maybin, Brown, or Ayers, but if it’s not Sanchez it will be one of these guys.
14. New Orleans Saints: Malcolm Jenkins, CB Ohio State- Last year Jenkins was a top 10 pick, but after running some slower 40-yard times his stock has slipped. The Saints can score with the best of them, however they have zero defense. Jenkins is a physical corner who can also play safety, he would be a great addition to the Saints.
15. Houston Texans: Chris “Beanie” Wells, RB Ohio State- Most people have the Texans going after a defensive player with this pick, but I can’t imagine them passing on Wells here to add depth to their running game. Slaton had a great rookie season, but Wells is a much bigger running back which will allow them to have a “thunder and lightning” combo.
16. San Diego Chargers: Rey Maualuga, LB USC- I just can’t see the Charges passing on Rey. They’ve had great success with SC linebackers, remember another #55 named Junior Seau. That Chargers have a number of areas to address, but Maualuga could be a HOF’er.
17. New York Jets: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR Maryland- The Jets will make a run after Sanchez, but they’re to far back to jump up and get him, so DHB is the next best solution to their needs. DHB will take over for the void left after Coles left Jets for the Bengals.
18. Denver Broncos: Vontae Davis, CB Illinois- Remember the Broncos traded Cutler for these picks to upgrade their defense. If they take a pass rushing end with their first pick, they’ll likely take Davis here. Vontae is considered by some (not me) as the best corner in the draft.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jeremy Macklin, WR Missouri- Quarterback looks to be an on going issue, but with Macklin slipping and the lack of proven receivers (Antonio Bryant proven?) the Bucs take the best player available.
20. Detroit Lions: Darius Butler, CB UCONN- The Lions had an awful defense last season and opposing teams had banner days passing against them. Still this pick leaves the Lions with holes on the offensive line, but Butler could at least give them a solid corner to stop the aerial assaults they were accustomed to seeing week in and week out.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Knoshown Moreno, RB Georgia- The Eagles already got the tackle they wanted and now they’ve let it be known that they’re after Moreno. If Moreno lasts this long it would be a great pickup for them. Westbrook will be 30 years old and Moreno can help lengthen his career.
22. Minnesota Vikings: Eben Britton, OL Arizona- I bet the Vikings are hoping that Macklin or DHB falls to them, but they won’t last this long. The Vikings take a draft riser with Britton to add to their offensive line.
23. New England Patriots: Clay Matthews, LB USC- Matthews has the NFL pedigree and fits into their system. The Pats need to add depth at linebacker and Matthews will be here waiting. Matthews could be a great addition to an already solid linebacking group of the Patriots
24. Atlanta Falcons: Brian Cushing, LB USC- The Falcons need help at OLB and Cushing will be there waiting for them to call his name. Cushing is a strong and physical player that can help stop the run and help in coverage. Jon Abraham had a solid season pressuring the quarterback last year, but they’ll need help to keep the momentum moving forward.
25. Miami Dolphins: Everette Brown, DE Florida State- Brown slips pretty far, but Parcells takes him here to add a pass rusher to his rebuilding process. I previously had Brown going to the Jags, but every year someone slips and unfortunately for Brown it could be him this year with so many other similar players available.
26. Baltimore Ravens: James Laurinaitis, LB Ohio State- In a way this is a combined necessity pick and wishful thinking by me. Laurinaitis would be a great addition to the Ravens defense and would be the perfect fit to carry the torch after Ray Lewis retires. The Ravens may trade back in the draft similarly to what the Redskins did last season and have two or three early to mid second round picks.
27. Indianapolis Colts: Peria Jerry, DT Mississippi- Jerry is exactly what the Colts need. They already have a pass rushing end, but always have issues up the middle. Add Jerry to the Colts defense and instantly become better at stopping the run.
28. Buffalo Bills: William Beatty, OL UCONN- The Bills recently traded their tackle Jason Peters to the Eagles for this pick and so clearly they’ll take another tackle here if one’s still available. If Buffalo can get both Pettigrew and Beatty in the first round, the Bills will have one of the best young teams in the NFL. They could become the new Cardinals.
29. New York Giants: Larry English, DE/LB Northern Illionis- It looks like the Giants are the leaders in the Braylon Edwards sweepstakes, therefore they won’t need to target a receiver with this pick. English can play either end or linebacker and the Giants like those types of players. Add English to the Giants defense and the rich get richer.
30. Tennessee Titans: Percy Harvin, WR Florida- The Titans need a receiver and with Harvin slipping to them I believe they take Harvin over Britt with this pick. Harvin has tons of questions swirling around him, but he fits their need. Add Harvin onto a team that already has some other young weapons and the Titans could be fun to watch.
31. Arizona Cardinals: Robert Ayers, DE Tennessee- Ayers has fallen since my last mock draft, but he’s still a first rounder. His stock was high after the Senior Bowl, but with so many pass rushers that are questionable somebody has to fall to the end of the round. Still if the Cards can grab Ayers this late, they’ll be jumping for joy
32. Pittsburgh Steelers: Alex Mack, OL California- The Steelers need some offensive line help and Mack can step in from day one. Previously I had English going to the Steelers, but I’m on the bandwagon with most others predicting they take someone like Mack to guarantee drafting a top interior lineman.