Sports: NFL Draft Preview

1. Detroit Lions
Mathew Stafford, Georgia QB I would personally build the offensive line with Jason Smith the offensive tackle out of Baylor.  However, conventional wisdom seems to trend toward the taking of the “franchise” quarterback in Stafford (I don’t personally like this pick, but this is a copycat league; and with the success of both Joe Flacco, and Matt Ryan, the lions will be look to do the same).

2. St Luis Rams.
Jason Smith, Baylor OT With the cutting of future hall of fame tackle Orlando Pace, this pick seems almost like a forgone conclusion. Smith seems to be the definition of a no-brainier; He allowed 0 sacks in his senior campaign, is a physical monster and has the mauler mind-set one looks for on the line.

3. Kansas City Chiefs
Aaron Curry, Wake Forest OLB Curry is a beast, and a name we won’t soon forget; with Scott Pioli coming in from New England, he’ll try to sprinkle some Patriot Magic on this abysmal defense.

4. Seattle Seahawks
Eugene Monroe, Virginia OT  A couple weeks ago this would have been Michael Crabtree no question, but with former Bengal’s wide receiver T.J Houshmandzadeh coming to town that seems unlikely. Monroe is just a small degree less than Smith, and should be every bit as good a pro, but Smith has just a bit more upside than his Virginian counterpart.

5. Cleveland Browns
HYPERLINK “″Brian Orakpo, Texas DE/OLB  Orakpo emerged from the combine as the premiere slash linebacker in this year’s class. With the production teams are getting from slashers such as DeMarcus Ware, and James Harrison, the position is in high demand especially with teams moving to the 3-4 scheme. The Browns additionally only recorded 17 sacks last season, so his presence will be greatly appreciated.

6.  Cincinnati Bengals
HYPERLINK “″Andre Smith, Alabama OT While Smith did nothing to change critics’ opinions during his lackluster performance at his pro day, you can’t overlook his potential. When you look at game tape, you see everything you look for in a tackle, he has a great kick slide, he’s fluid and poses a great first step. The Bengals need help protecting Carson Palmer, and Andre Smith has tons of potential if he’s properly motivated.

7. Oakland Raiders.
HYPERLINK “″Jeremy Maclin, Missouri WR Maclin will have to adjust to an NFL offense, coming out of the shotgun in Missouri; but this kid is the definition of a prototype WR. That and the fact that he’s much more explosive with the pads on than his 4.46-40- time would lead you to believe. I can also see Darius Hayward Bay here, while he’s not as polished as the Missouri product, Radiers owner Undead Al Davis loves speed, and the 4.30 40 time will make him think long and hard.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars
HYPERLINK “″Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech WR Hands down, Crabtree is the premier receiver in this years draft class. He’s a special talent in the mold of Larry Fitzgerald, and will make opposing defenses shake when planning for him. Although we didn’t get a chance to see Crabtree run, he wasn’t expected to show an amazing 40 time, but than again neither did Jerry Rice, Chris Carter or Michel Irvin and they worked out fine. The stress fracture in his left foot shouldn’t affect his draft status.

9. Green Bay Packers
B.J Raji, Boston College DT The most daunting task from switching from a 4-3 to a 3-4 is finding that massive DT to fill the gap and demand two blockers; Raji is a monster, and has a very quick first step for his size. He is not as strong as some would like, but that can change.

10. San Francisco
Mark Sanchez, USC QB Next year Sanchez would have been the uncontested number one pick, and frankly, he’s a steal at 10. I like him better here than Stafford at one, because he’s a passionate leader, and will soon make people forget about the fact that he only had 16 college starts.

11. Buffalo Bills
Brandon Pettigrew, Oklahoma State TE Lee Evans, Terrell Owens and a receiving tight end? Could Trent Edwards be more excited to suit up this season? All jokes aside, Pettigrew is a polished receiver and a better blocker than most people believe, and is a serious improvement over incumbent Robert Royal.

12. Denver Broncos
Tyson Jackson, LSU DE Jackson is exactly what this team needs on the defensive line. Weighing in at over 260 pounds, he is the prototypical 3-4 defensive end, and plays a lot quicker than his size should allow.

13. Washington Redskins
Robert Ayers, Tennessee DE The Jason Taylor experiment didn’t pan out, but the fact remains that even with the addition of Albert Haynesworth, the Redskins’ D-line still has some serious questions. Ayers is a beast, and with Haynesworth next to him it should be a solid battery for years to come.

14 New Orleans Saints
Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State CB  Knowshawn Moreno is a possibility here, but with Pierre Thomas playing well when given the chance, I think the Saints address a bigger issue. Their DB’s are embarrassing at times, and Malcolm can come in and immediately contribute.
15. Houston Texans
Percy Harvin, Florida WR This is probably an unpopular pick as common thought is to pair an end up with Mario Williams, but I think the Texans will have the opportunity to do this in the 2nd or even 3rd rounds. Taking Harvin here makes sense because it gives another dynamic weapon to pair up with Andre Johnson who can also be used much like Reggie Bush and help out Steve Slaton.

16. San Diego Chargers
Rey Maualuga, USC LB Thoughts of Maualuga playing next to Shawne Merriman are frightening — enough said.

17.  New York Jets
Everette Brown, Florida State OLB I have seen a lot of talk about a quarterback or WR here, but I just can’t see it. Defensive minded coach Rex Ryan will want to play to their strengths. Ryan’s already brought in Bart Scott, and I believe he’ll want to instill another one of “his” guys into that defense. There is absolutely no reason for Brown to fall this far, other than need and scheme. The Jets are getting a great value in someone who can play that hybrid 4-3 3-4, DE/OLB spot.

18. Denver Broncos
Josh Freeman, Kansas State QB McDaniels will want his quarterback now that he jumped ship on Jay Cutler. Who honestly believes Kyle Orton or Chris Simms are franchise quarterbacks? This should be a defensive pick, but the quarterback drop off is so steep after Freeman I don’t know if they can afford to pass here.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Peria Jerry, Ole Miss DT With Freeman off the board and the signing if Byron Leftwhich, the Bucs will look to address a need they’ve had since Warren Sapp left. Jerry is a prototypical 3-technique defensive tackle and should be highly productive in the Tampa-2 defense.

20. Detroit Lions
Michel Oher, Ole Miss OT Before the combine, Oher was considered by many to be the number one over all tackle prospect in the draft. Since then he has dropped off a bit, but regardless, I still believe that if he can manage his weight (Charles Rogers anyone?) he can be effective. Furthermore it would be irresponsible for the Lions to not go O-line here — you can’t spend the number one overall pick on a QB and not protect him, or can you Joey Harrington, David Carr…?

21.  Philadelphia Eagles
HYPERLINK “”Knowshon Moreno, Georgia RB The facts behind this pick are that Brian Westbrook is getting old — this year marks the 30th birthday that all running backs dread — and frankly Westbrook hasn’t been all that healthy these last few seasons.

22. Minnesota Vikings
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Maryland WR While I feel the Vikings should select Hakeem Nicks out of North Carolina, the fact that he put on 14 pounds in a three-week period has caused his stock to drop a little. Regardless, the Vikings need a boost on offense, and pairing another explosive receiver with Bernard Berrian will give DB’s a fit. Landing Bey here is no reflection of his potential as he is raw and needs some polish. However, the Vikings will be happy to take a chance. Hopefully we don’t see another Ashley Lelie.

23. New England Patriots
Clay Mathews, USC OLB If Dallas is America’s team than the Patriots must be the Divine team. Having Clay Mathews fall here would be the biggest steal of the draft. This kid will be good and make everyone forget about Mike Vrabel, if the Pats succeed once again in shoring up that linebacking core.

24. Atlanta Falcons
Vontae Davis, Illinois CB

25. Miami Dolphins
Kenny Britt, Rutgers WR I am secretly hoping this pick isn’t true just because I would love to see the Colts land Britt, but this pick makes sense. Britt won’t burn you with his speed, but he does have some quickness and will be the perfect pair with the emerging Ted Ginn Jr. I can see a defensive player here, as that is more the Bill Parcells way, but giving Pennington another weapon makes more sense.

26. Baltimore Ravens
Brian Cushing, USC LB There is absolutely no reason for Cushing to fall this far, other than need and scheme. The Ravens get a fantastic player at a steal of a price, and someone who can immediately help soften the blow of losing Bart Scott.

27. Indianapolis Colts
Hakeem Knicks, North Carolina WR Knicks is better than the possession receiver most view him to be, and in my opinion the second best and most complete receiver in this draft class. A few red flags shot up when he put on 14 pounds in a three-week span, but having Peyton Manning throwing him the ball is sure to motivate Knicks into staying on top of his weight.

28. Philadelphia Eagles
Eben Britton, Arizona OT It wouldn’t be a Andy Reid draft with out the Eagles addressing either their offensive or defensive lines, John Runyan is getting old, and they could use an insurgence of youth to that line. Britton is really the last of the immediately starting caliber tackles in this draft, and they will be happy to take him off the board here.

29. Giants
HYPERLINK “″James Laurinaitis, Ohio State LB

30. Titans
Evander “Ziggy” Hood, Missouri DT While hood isn’t exactly Albert Haynesworth, he is a very productive player and should fill what is one of very few needs on this Titans Roster. While I would love to see Fisher finally bite the bullet and draft a receiver like Brian Robiskie, that’s just not what this team does. Instead they have made good use of strictly marginal talent at the WR position.

31. Cardinals
Chris “Beenie” Wells, Ohio State RB Edgerrin James, while still one of my favorite players, has reached the twilight of his career.  Tim Hightower, while given plenty of opportunities to prove otherwise last season, is not an every down back. If motivated, Wells should be a top five or 10 pick. The kid has loads of talent and is in the same class as Adrian Peterson, but the trick is getting him to work. At 31 the risk is one the Cardinals will have to take.

32. Steelers
Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest CB

3 Players To Look for:

Hakeem Knicks, North Carolina WR While I have Knicks at 27 with the colts Knicks is much better than this slot suggests, and in my opinion the second best receiver in this class. A few red flags shot up when he put on 14 pounds in a 3 week span, but someone’s going to get some great value because of it.

Everette Brown, Florida State DE I have Brown falling as far as 17 to the Jets, but there is absolutely no reason for this to happen and can easily go much higher; especially with the many teams looking for either 4-3 pass rushing ends, or 3-4 edge rushers. Another potential great value.

Donald Brown, UCONN RB. Brown has really seen his stock rise as of late, and could really be a dark horse to appear into the first round. He ran the fastest 40 of all the potential 1st round running backs; but has really won the hearts of teams with his ability to catch the ball out of the back field and an inspired performance at the combine. I wouldn’t be surprised if he snuck into the first round with the Cardinals or even the Patriots.