With the NFL Scouting Combine in the rearview mirror and player Pro Days, not to mention more free agent activity, on the horizon, I give you the Version 1.0 of the Packer Report.com Mock Draft. And while you may think there's plenty of predictions here to mock, remember a lot can change between now and April 28.
This year's draft offers a deep and talented pool of receivers, some top-flight defensive backs and some pass rushers sure to give quarterbacks headaches for years to come. But it could be the signal callers that ultimately define this draft. LSU's JaMarcus Russell has moved up to the top of most mock drafts, but anything can happen when the Raiders are involved. Notre Dame's Brady Quinn is an X-Factor unto himself and where he goes, be it to the Lions with the No. 2 pick or as low as No. 9 to the Dolphins could shake up the top of the order. History says they won't both be stars, if either.
1. Oakland Raiders: QB JaMarcus Russell, LSU
Aaron Brooks wasn't the answer and Jeff Garcia knew better than to go to Oakland, meaning this pick is either the more polished Brady Quinn or the rocket-armed JaMarcus Russell. As long as Al Davis continues to run a vertical passing game right out of the 1960s, Russell is the pick here.
2. Detroit Lions: OT Joe Thomas, Wisconsin
This is the safe pick. Calvin Johnson is the best pick, regardless of the endless jokes about always taking a WR. Quinn is the pick they are too scared to make, and with good reason. Thomas will be much appreciated by QB Jon Kitna, who was not the main culprit for the Lions' losing season.
3. Cleveland Browns: RB Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma
Peterson is a rare talent with Rookie of the Year potential. Running back is the easiest position for rookies to make an impact and GM Phil Savage and Coach Romeo Crennell need Peterson to do just that. An improved running game will also take pressure off QB Charlie Frye.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech
John Gruden probably wanted to take Quinn, after all, you can never have too many QBs. Oh wait, yes you can. Johnson is arguably the best player in the draft and a no-brainer pick. He's 6-foot-5, runs a 4.3 40 and would make Chris Simms' spleen look like a Pro Bowl passer.
5. Arizona Cardinals: OT Levi Brown, Penn State
If the Lions take Quinn, then Thomas is the pick here. Either way, the Cardinals offensive line is horrible. Matt Leinart needs better protection and Edgerrin James needs more running room. This 328 pound man-mountain will clear the way and off-set the departed Leonard Davis.
6. Washington Redskins: DT Alan Branch, Michigan
Branch is the ultimate package of speed and power. This team has outside speed but needs more inside pass rush. They also need someone to stuff the run. In Branch, they get both. This guy killed people in the Big 10 and he'll carry that over to the next level.
7. Minnesota Vikings: WR Dwayne Jarrett, USC
Quinn will be very tempting here. So will speedy OSU WR Ted Ginn Jr. But assuming they haven't given up on Tarvaris Jackson, the Vikings opt for a big target with big-play potential that catches with one hand as easily as most receivers catch with two.
8. Houston Texans: QB Brady Quinn, Notre Dame
They bypassed Reggie Bush and Vince Young in last year's draft to take Mario Williams. A year later, it seems like an even worse decision, if that's possible. Jake Plummer won't be playing for Gary Kubiak and this move makes it official that David Carr's days are numbered.
9. Miami Dolphins: DE Gaines Adams, Clemson
Jason Taylor can't play forever and Adams is a pass-rushing force who notched 12.5 sacks last year despite facing constant double teaming and chip blocks.
10. Atlanta Falcons: WR Ted Ginn, Jr., Ohio State
The ATL's secondary is horrible, with Chris Crocker and Lawyer Milloy being quite possibly the worst safety tandem in the league. Florida defensive back Reggie Nelson is tempting here, but they go with was an explosive playmaker who instantly becomes Michael Vick's favorite target.
11. San Francisco 49ers: DT Amobi Okoye, Louisville
This kid played as a 16-year old true freshman and will be a 20-year old rookie with four years of D1 experience. He had a great senior year at Louisville and wowed scouts at the Senior Bowl and the Combine. Might have the biggest upside of any defensive player in the draft.
12. Buffalo Bills: CB Leon Hall, Michigan
An easy call after losing Nate Clements in free agency. Hall was dropping on some boards until he ran a 4.39 at the Combine and moved back to the top of the cornerback rankings.
13. St. Louis Rams: DE Adam Carriker, Nebraska
Big and versatile, Carriker will shore up a Rams' front seven that struggled mightily a year ago. At 6-foot-6 and 300 pounds, he can play tackle or end in a 4-3 or end in a 3-4 scheme. Carriker was probably the most dominating defender at the Senior Bowl and this is not too high for him to go.
14. Carolina Panthers: S LaRon Landry, LSU
They could use a tight end or a compliment to Steve Smith. They really need a middle linebacker to replace Dan Morgan. This is too high to take ILB Patrick Willis. But this is a clear case of taking the best player on the board and that means Landry.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: DE Jamaal Anderson, Arkansas
This would constitute a major steal if Anderson falls this far. The junior had 19.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks. He's a Richard Seymour clone who used to be a receiver. Loads of athletic ability and huge upside.
16. Green Bay Packers: RB Marshawn Lynch, California
The easiest pick so far. With Ahman Green joining Mike Sherman in Houston, the Packers select their back of the future. Lynch is a dynamic, explosive runner who fits perfectly in their zone-blocking scheme and will remind fans of Edgerrin James (with the Colts, not the Cards).
17. Jacksonville Jaguars: S Reggie Nelson, Florida
A standout for the National Champion Gators, Nelson has the toughness of a safety with the cover skills to play corner. He'll step in immediately to replace Deon Grant and could be the most versatile defensive back on the board.
18. Cincinnati Bengals: DE Jarvis Moss, Florida
Cincy is always looking to add defensive players. Moss has drawn comparisons to another former Gator defensive playmaker: Jevon Kearse. Moss is a great fit opposite Justin Smith and fills the void for the loss of David Pollack.
19. Tennessee Titans: CB Darrelle Revis, Pittsburgh
While not their most pressing need, Revis is too good to pass up here. Scouts don't like that he didn't run at the Combine and he could go higher based on what he does at his Pro Day. But Revis has top-flight cover skills and is a solid returner.
20. New York Giants: OLB Lawrence Timmons, Florida State
New York released both of last season's starting outside linebackers, so Timmons would be a natural to come in and claim on of those spots. He only started one year for the Seminoles, but his athletic ability makes him the pick over Penn State's Paul Posluszny.
21. Denver Broncos: CB Aaron Ross, Texas
Yes, they traded for Dre' Bly following the tragic death of Darrent Williams, but the Broncos select Ross because he's the best player on the board, a Thorpe Award winner and has Pro Bowl potential. You can never have enough good corners on your team.
22. Dallas Cowboys: FS Brandon Merriweather, Miami
With Merriweather's off-field troubles, you'd think he'd be a natural for the Bengals, but the 'Boys secondary needs some help and the former Hurricane would pair up nicely with Roy Williams. With Nelson and Landry gone, Dallas takes a big swing here.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: WR Robert Meacham, Tennessee
This offense needs a serious upgrade to current starters Eddie Kennison and Sammie Parker. At 6-foot-2 and with sub-4.4 speed in the 40, Meacham gives KC the big play ability downfield that they're sorely lacking. He could end up being the second-best wide receiver in the draft behind Johnson.
24. New England Patriots: WR Dwayne Bowe, LSU
The Patriots don't have many holes to fill, but Tom Brady could definitely do well with a top caliber pass catcher in the fold. Big and physical, Bowe has been overshadowed by the underclassmen, but the Patriots have an extra pick due to the Deion Branch trade and receiver must be addressed.
25. New York Jets: DE Anthony Spencer, Purdue
A bit undersized at 6-foot-3, 261 pounds, Spencer slides down to the bottom third of the round, but he might be the best pass rusher in the draft. He's well suited for the Jets' 3-4 scheme and could line up as an OLB when all is said and done.
26. Philadelphia Eagles: ILB Patrick Willis, Ole Miss
Athletic and versatile, Willis can play inside or out. Linebacker is one of the few weaknesses the Eagles have, as evidenced by their trouble stopping the run. A strong performance at the Senior Bowl and Combine make Willis a great pick here.
27. New Orleans Saints: CB Daymeion Hughes, California
Hughes has been one of the nation's best cover men for the past few years. His eight picks this past season made him a lock as Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year. Anyone who watched their secondary get torched in the playoffs knows this is a key area of need.
28. New England Patriots: CB Chris Houston, Arkansas
Asante Samuel was lost to free agency, so New England uses its second first-round pick to acquire a potential shutdown corner. His performance at the Combine elevates him into the bottom of the first round.
29. Baltimore Ravens: DE Charles Johnson, Georgia
This guy shouldn't be here. And when he is, the Ravens jump on this pass rusher phenom from the SEC. Equally adept playing the run, the Ravens are sure to find a way to maximize his talents.
30. Chargers: S Michael Griffin
Current strong safety Terrence Kiel is no more than average and recently got into some legal trouble. Griffin has decent speed and is a big hitter. He'll be a nice addition to a 14-2 team that doesn't need to do much more than get out of its own way.
31. Bears: OG Justin Blalock
A four-year starter who can play guard or tackle, Blalock gives an injection of youth and power on the interior of a Bears' line that has three starters over the age of 30, including 34-year old guard, Ruben Brown. Miami TE Greg Olsen could also go here.
32. Colts: LB Paul Posluszny
As good as the Colts' D was in the playoffs, it got exposed during the latter half of the regular season and needs some help. Cato June and Rob Morris are UFA's and Posluszny is an instinctive player who projects nicely into the weak side linebacker role of their 'Tampa 2' scheme.
W. Keith Roerdink
W. Keith Roerdink is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. Look for his next Mock Draft update on April 4. E-mail him at email@example.com.