The NFL Draft is always an exciting and unpredictable time, especially during the first top ten selections. Here are my predictions for the first round of the NFL draft with analysis for the first ten picks.
1. Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford QB Georgia
The Detroit Lions (0-16) are in need of serious rebuilding, and nothing sounds better than a “Stafford to Johnson” connection. Although Stafford was criticized for his mild team success with the Georgia Bulldogs, there is no reason the Lions should pass on him. Stafford comes from a pro-style offense, and has all the tools (mobility, arm strength, accuracy, and pocket presence) to make a great NFL quarterback.
2. St. Louis Rams: Jason Smith OT Baylor
Just like the Lions, the Rams are also looking to start rebuilding. They have let go the likes of Tory Holt and Orlando Pace. Pace was the rock for the St. Louis Rams offense, and it looks like Jason Smith can fill that void. Smith is a physical offensive tackle that will help provide Steven Jackson with solid run blocking as well as Marc Bulger with pocket protection.
3. Kansas City Chiefs: Aaron Curry OLB Wake Forest
Scott Pioli has brought in two veteran linebackers, Zach Thomas and Mike Vrable, who have never had any off-the-field issues and seem to be great mentors. It would make sense for the Chiefs to draft Curry so Thomas and Vrable can help mold him into the next Derrick Brooks. Curry is arguably the most athletic player in the draft and it would seem foolish of the Chiefs to pass this up.
4. Seattle Seahawks: Michael Crabtree WR Texas Tech
Walter Jones is aging and it would be logical for the Hawks to draft an offensive lineman, however, they just re-signed Ray Willis and Sean Locklear to big-money, long-term contracts. General manager Tim Ruskell is trying to win now with the signing of T.J. Houshmandzadeh, age 31—he and Crabtree could contribute immediately, making the Seahawks aerial attack truly legitimate.
5. Cleveland Browns: Brian Orakpo OLB/DE Texas
Cleveland’s first need is a player who can put pressure on the opposing teams quarterback, and who better than Brian Orakpo? Orakpo can be a flex player like linebacker Julian Peterson, and for the Browns he will make a significant impact right away. Last year, the Browns had only 17 sacks, and Orakpo can definitely change that.
6. Cincinnati Bengals: Eugene Monroe OT Virginia
For the Bengals, Monroe is too good of a talent to pass up. Franchise left tackles are somewhat rare, and Monroe certainly fits the bill of a franchise left tackle. At 6-6 and 315 pounds, Monroe provides size while still being very athletic, running a 5.16 forty and a 4.79 5-10-5 shuttle time. The Bengals need to provide Carson Palmer with more protection and they have found the answer in Eugene Monroe.
7. Oakland Raiders: Jeremy Maclin WR Missouri
Al Davis, the owner of the Oakland Raiders, is obsessed with athleticism, and Jeremy Maclin has a great combination of size and speed (6-1 and 200 pounds). There will obviously be more wide receivers who will be taller than him, however not running 4.45 forties. Maclin is able to produce receiving touchdowns or returning kicks, and Davis wants another target for quarterback Jamarcus Russell to throw to.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars: BJ Raji DT Boston College
Although there has been some controversy surrounding Raji and his habit of failing drug tests, the Jags need a playmaking defensive tackle to really cement their defense. Raji is a poor man’s Warren Sapp, and has the potential to turn into a vicious pro. There is always the possibility of a trade at this selection, and if University of Southern California quarterback Mark Sanchez is still available after pick eight expect a trade.
9. Green Bay Packers trade with Denver Broncos: Mark Sanchez QB USC
With the ousting of Jay Cutler, it doesn’t seem like the Broncos really want to rely 100 percent on QB Kyle Orton. It seems like the Broncos will try and make a play for the QB because if he drops out of the top ten there is no telling what could happen.
10. San Francisco 49ers: Michael Oher OT Ole Miss
The 49ers desperately need to shore up their glaring need for an offensive tackle. Joe Staley, their first-round pick two years ago, let in 8.5 sacks last year, and Marvel Smith has recurring back problems. With Monroe and Smith gone, Oher is the next best talent at tackle. Oher has been compared to Walter Jones. If the 49ers could get a player with that future value, it would be a steal.
11. Buffalo Bills: Andre Smith OT Alabama
12. Green Bay Packers: Aaron Maybin DE Penn State
13. Washington Redskins: Michael Johnson DE Georgia
14. New Orleans Saints: Malcom Jenkins DB Ohio State
15. Houston Texans: Clay Matthews OLB, USC
16. San Diego Chargers: Chris “Beanie” Wells RB Ohio State
17. New York Jets: Joshua Freeman QB Kansas State
18. Devner Broncos: Rey Maualuga ILB USC
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Peria Jerry DT Mississippi
20. Detroit Lions: William Beatty OT Connecticut
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Knowshon Moreno
22. Minnesota Vikings: Eben Britton OT Arizona
23. New England Patriots: Brandon Pettigrew TE Oklahoma State
24. Atlanta Falcons: Everette Brown DE/OLB Florida State
25. Miami Dolphins: Vontae Davis DB Illinois
26. Baltimore Ravens: Darius Heyward-Bay WR Maryland
27. Indianapolis Colts: Brian Robiskie WR Ohio State
28. Buffalo Bills: Tyson Jackson DE Louisiana State
29. New York Giants: Hakeem Nicks WR North Carolina
30. Tennessee Titans: Brian Cushing OLB USC
31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Alex Mack C California