1. Oakland- JaMarcus Russell, QB LSU
Even though WR Calvin Johnson is widely regarded as the best player in the Draft, I just can’t see Al Davis passing on Russell. He has too much talent to ignore at a position more crucial to success than any other in professional sports.
2. Tampa Bay (from Detroit)- Calvin Johnson, WR Georgia Tech
*Tampa trades the 4th, 35th and 102nd overall picks to Detroit for their 4th overall pick.
I hate predicting trades because it can really mess up your board, but Tampa’s need for a playmaker is obvious. Galloway is old, Clayton has been a disappointment and it’s time to go in another direction. Johnson is the best player in the Draft and is a great character kid. It doesn’t matter who’s in this spot, they’re taking Johnson. Detroit could also pull the Eli Manning, and select Johnson in hopes of trading him.
This is where the Draft will get interesting. The Browns are staring three solid players in the face, but have to pick one. In the end, head coach Romeo Crennel’s association to Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis is too strong to ignore. Quinn isn’t the physical freak that Russell is, but he has been coached by one of the best offensive minds in football in South Bend, has solid attributes and has true passion for the game.
The best pure pass rusher in the Draft, Adams has legitimate Pro Bowl potential. He isn’t a great run defender, but let’s face it, defensive ends are paid to drop quarterbacks. With the Cover 2 defense in full effect in the Motor City, the need to apply pressure with the front four is a necessity. Adams should be a good fit.
‘Zona might be the luckiest team on the planet if the board falls this way. Next to Johnson, Thomas is the best player in the Draft and fills a huge need for the Cardinals. After investing so much money in Fitzgerald, Boldin, James and Leinart, it’d be nice to be able to protect their investment. Thomas is an instant starter and perennial Pro Bowler.
*Chicago trades LB Lance Briggs and the 31st overall pick to Washington for the 6th overall pick.
Again, predicting trades are extremely risky and I don’t like doing it, but this trade makes a ton of sense. The Bears aren’t going to pay Briggs, who’s already agreed to terms with Washington and is vowing to sit out the season unless he’s dealt or paid. Everyone wins in this scenario because Chicago gets to move up 25 spots and get rid of a player that doesn’t want to be there anymore. Washington gets to overpay another player, albeit a good one this time, and still get a Round 1 pick (31). There’s also a very real chance that DT Tank Johnson might be suspended by the league when he is released from prison.
Not their biggest area of need, but Peterson has the explosion that current RB Chestor Taylor lacks. Taylor’s a decent running back, but Peterson has the special qualities that can make a difference in this league. Two RB systems are also in vogue in the NFL and having another capable ball carrier is never a bad thing.
8. Atlanta (from Houston)- LaRon Landry, S LSU
The more I watch Landry, the more I like him. He can play in the box and be another linebacker, cover a ton of ground defending the pass and has the elite production teams drool over. Atlanta has had poor play from its safeties and need a player like Landry to bring stability to the defense.
Another player with great production, Brown is a 4-year starter with good feet, size and tenacity. The Dolphins have had difficulty protecting their quarterbacks and it’s time they did something about it. Brown is an instant starter.
Houston can go in a number of directions with this pick. They’d love Levi Brown to still be on the board, but may have to go another route. Despite Hall’s inconsistency late in the year, he’s the most polished and well-rounded CB in the Draft and would look great opposite Dunta Robinson.
I’ve had DT Alan Branch pegged at this pick for months, but two things are happening. One, Branch is moving down boards because of questions about his effort and conditioning. And two, I remembered how important LB Ray Lewis was to Nolan in Baltimore. Willis is easily the best linebacker in the Draft, has been incredibly productive and had terrific workouts after the season. He’s my guy at this spot.
This pick has been extremely hard to make. The Bills would love Patrick Willis here, but have to audible. It’s too early for Michigan’s David Harris, so GM Marv Levy could go with Revis, a solid corner that’s flying up boards. After losing corner Nate Clements via free agency, adding Revis would be a big step in the right direction for a defense that has lost a ton of veteran talent.
Head coach Scott Linehan will be very happy with DT Alan Branch and DE’s Anderson and Adam Carriker on the board. It will definitely be a hard decision, but Anderson’s potential might give him the edge. After leading the SEC in sacks last year, Anderson got the NFL’s attention. His size (6’5” 280”) gives him an edge over the rest of the pack of defensive ends and he should see significant time opposite DE Leonard Little.
14. Carolina- Alan Branch, DT Michigan
The Panthers are said to be looking for a safety, but with them shopping around veteran DT Kris Jenkins and Branch still on the board, they should make this pick. Branch logged more snaps at Michigan than any other defender, so I’m not buying the knocks on him about not working hard. He has all the tools to be great and would be going to a team that relies on their defensive line.
15. Pittsburgh- Adam Carriker, DE Nebraska
Whereas Branch is a surprise with the above pick, Carriker is not. The Steelers need help at LB, DE and CB and will take the highest player on their board. Carriker has the size and speed to play end in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense (which new coach Mike Tomlin is rumored to want to switch to), or even move inside as a 4-3 defensive tackle during passing situations. Carriker’s a solid player who dominated the Senior Bowl and has the flexibility to be special in Pittsburgh.
16. Green Bay- Marshawn Lynch, RB Cal
I think the Packers could find a running back later in the Draft, but I believe the Packers are operating under a ‘win now’ philosophy and will take Lynch. There are better players on the board here, but Lynch should be an immediate starter and could have great success as a rookie.
The Jags have some serious decisions to make if the board falls like this. Safety might be the biggest need for the team, but adding a speed receiver or defensive end is a real possibility. In the end, Nelson’s production and athleticism should win out.
Veteran CB Tory James was allowed to leave via free agency, Dealthy O’Neal was incredibly inconsistent and 2006 rookie Jonathan Joseph was arrested for marijuana. To say the Bengals have issues at corner is an understatement. Ross had a terrific season at Texas and can also return punts. He’s a solid pick here.
19. Tennessee- Robert Meachem, WR Tennessee
Will the Titans actually take the hometown kid? They definitely could. The Titans have a major hole after losing receiver Drew Bennett in the offseason. With better quarterback play, Meachem blew up last year. He has the size, speed and hands to be a solid receiver in the NFL. He’s also great getting off press coverage, one of the hardest adjustments for rookie receivers.
A perfect example of where need meets value, the Giants should be running to the podium with this pick. Timmons really jumps out at you on film, is a solid athlete and should be a starter the minute he’s selected.
21. Denver- Jarvis Moss, DE Florida
One of the best edge rushers in the Draft, Moss looks the part at 6’6” 260. He needs to add some weight if he hopes to get into the elite category, but his ability to apply pressure off the corner could make him the pick here.
The Cowboys are one of only a few teams that don’t have a glaring weakness heading into the weekend. They have several options here, including receiver and safety, but Staley’s been flying up boards and would give Dallas additional depth at a position that has been unstable for the past few years. Also, starting LT Flozell Adams will be a free agent next season and they’re not going to pay him.
I would go in a different direction with this pick, but lacking a premier receiver has kept this offense from greatness in recent years. Ginn is very raw as a route runner, but he has elite speed and replace the recently departed WR/RS Dante Hall as a rookie.
24. New England (from Seattle)- Brandon Meriweather, S Miami
Character concerns are a concern for him, but because he has so much talent and have such a solid veteran presence on the team, the Pats could roll the dice on Meriweather. He’s the best man-cover safety in the Draft, but can also be very effective playing over the top.
The decision here will be between Spencer and TE Greg Olsen, and neither is a bad pick. However, head coach Eric Mangini knows he needs OLBs to put heat on quarterbacks for his defense to work. Spencer has the ability to play as a 4-3 DE or a OLB in a 3-4, giving him the flexibility to be special.
26. Philadelphia- Jon Beason, LB Miami
A terrific athlete, Beason would go much higher if he could’ve shaken the injury bug in Coral Gables. Philly has flopped on recent linebacker picks, but Beason, along with free agent addition Takeo Spikes, could turn a weakness into a strength for the Eagles.
27. New Orleans- Greg Olsen, TE Miami
The trade for CB Jason David gives the Saints some cushion with their first pick. While the offense exploded last year, it was missing a key piece…TE. Olsen could very well go much higher than this, but he’d be a great fit for the Saints at twenty-seven.
28. New England- David Harris, LB Michigan
The prototypical Patriot defender, Harris isn’t flashy but was very productive at Michigan. He’s moving up boards, perhaps faster than any other player right now, and fits the mold of what New England wants in a player. Expect Harris to get tutoring from Seau, Bruschi and Vrabel, but play sooner rather than later.
29. Baltimore- Chris Houston, CB Arkansas
Everyone has the Ravens grabbing an offensive lineman, but if the Draft turns out like this, they may have to shift gears. Houston is a fantastic cover corner who could contribute immediately for the Ravens. Veteran CB Samari Rolle was exposed way too often last year and Houston could push for a starting spot.
30. San Diego- Dwayne Bowe, WR LSU
Bowe is one of my favorite prospects and my #2 rated receiver. For him to still be on the board is amazing in itself, but having him go to the Chargers is also incredible. They released WR Keenan McCardell and have to get more talent at the position.
If Johnson is on the board at this point, the Redskins have done a solid job with their trade with Chicago. Briggs is an instant starter at LB, but Johnson could be right behind him. The Redskins didn’t get enough pressure off the edge and Johnson, who outplayed hyped DE Quentin Moses last year, is a nice pick.
32. Indianapolis- Paul Posluszny, LB Penn State
The Colts want to take a LB or DT with this pick, but don’t be surprised if a WR like Steve Smith is the selection. However, I’m sticking with Poz because although he’s not a terrific athlete, he’s much faster in pads and coach Tony Dungy loves his game.
33. Oakland- Tony Ugoh, OT Arkansas
34. Detroit- Trent Edwards, QB Stanford
35. Detroit (from Tampa Bay)- Steve Smith, WR USC
36. Cleveland- Eric Wright, CB UNLV
37. Chicago (from Washington, through NYJ)- Justin Blalock, T/G Texas
38. Arizona- Tanard Jackson, CB Syracuse
39. Atlanta (from Houston)- Dwayne Jarrett, WR USC
40. Miami- John Beck, QB BYU
41. Minnesota- Anthony Gonzalez, WR Ohio State
42. San Francisco- Sidney Rice, WR South Carolina
43. Buffalo- Antonio Pittman, RB Ohio State
44. Atlanta- Ryan Kalil, C USC
45. Carolina- Zach Miller, TE Arizona State
46. Pittsburgh- LaMarr Woodley, DE/LB Michigan
47. Green Bay- Craig Davis, WR LSU
48. Jacksonville- Jason Hill, WR Washington State
49. Cincinnati- Tank Tyler, DT N.C. State
50. Tennessee- Kenny Irons, RB Auburn
51. New York Giants- Jonathan Wade, CB Tennessee
52. St. Louis- Brian Leonard, RB Rutgers
53. Dallas- Marcus McCauley, CB Fresno State
54. Kansas City- Ryan Harris, OT Notre Dame
55. Seattle- Ray McDonald, DE Florida
56. Denver- Ikaika Alama-Francis, DE Hawaii
57. Philadelphia- Eric Weddle, S Utah
58. New Orleans- Daymeion Hughes, CB Cal
59. New York Jets- Andy Alleman, G Akron
60. Miami (from New England)- Josh Beekman, G Boston College
61. Baltimore- Doug Free, OT Northern Illinois
62. San Diego- Brandon Siler, LB Florida
63. New York Jets (from Chicago)- Josh Wilson, CB Maryland
64. Tampa Bay (from Indianapolis)- Brandon Mebane, DT Cal
65. Oakland- Tim Crowder, DE Texas
66. Detroit- Justin Durant, LB Hampton
67. Cleveland- Michael Bush, RB Louisville
68. Tampa Bay- Victor Abiamiri, DE Notre Dame
69. Arizona- Stewart Bradley, LB Nebraska
70. Denver (from Washington)- Marshall Yanda, OT Iowa
71. Miami- Andrae Allison, WR East Carolina
72. Minnesota- Quentin Moses, DE/OLB Georgia
73. Houston- James Marten, OT Boston College
74. Buffalo- Buster Davis, LB Florida State
75. Atlanta- Marcus Thomas, DT Florida
76. San Francisco- Samson Satele, C Hawaii
77. Pittsburgh- Tony Hunt, RB Penn State
78. Green Bay- David Irons, CB Auburn
79. Jacksonville- Turk McBride, DT/DE Tennessee
80. Tennessee- A.J. Davis, CB N.C. State
81. New York Giants- Paul Williams, WR Fresno State
82. Kansas City (from St. Louis)- Josh Gattis, S Wake Forest
83. Carolina- Aaron Rouse, S Virginia Tech
84. St. Louis (from Kansas City)- Drew Stanton, QB Michigan State
85. Seattle- Quinn Pitcock, DT Ohio State
86. Denver- Tim Shawn, OLB Penn State
87. Dallas- David Clowney, WR Virginia Tech
88. New Orleans- Quincy Black, LB New Mexico
89. New York Jets- Ben Patrick, TE Delaware
90. Philadelphia- Michael Coe, CB Alabama State
91. New England- John Wendling, S Wyoming
92. Buffalo (from Baltimore)- Jacoby Jones, WR Lane
93. San Diego- Baraka Atkins, DE Miami
94. Chicago- Rufus Alexander, OLB Oklahoma
95. Indianapolis- Usama Young, CB Kent State
96. San Diego (compensatory)- Sabby Piscitelli, S Oregon State
97. San Francisco (compensatory)- Ryan McBean, DT Oklahoma State
98. Indianapolis (compensatory)- Johnnie Lee Higgins, WR UTEP
99. Oakland (compensatory)- Manny Ramirez, G Texas Tech
100. Oakland- Lorenzo Booker, RB Florida State
101. Detroit- Dan Bazuin, DE Central Michigan
102. Detroit (from Tampa Bay)- Enoka Lucas, C/G Oregon
103. Cleveland- LeRoy Harris, C N.C. State
104. San Francisco (from Washington)- Chris Henry, RB Arizona
105. Arizona- Allen Barbre, OT Missouri Southern State
106. Minnesota- Tarrell Brown, CB Texas
107. Houston- Brandon Jackson, RB Nebraska
108. Miami- Mike Otto, OT Purdue
109. Atlanta- Courtney Brown, CB Cal Poly
110. San Francisco- Dashon Goldson, S Washington
111. Buffalo- Stephen Nicholas, OLB South Florida
112. Green Bay- Kevin Payne, S Louisiana-Monroe
113. Jacksonville- Kevin Kolb, QB Houston
114. Cincinnati- Juwan Simpson, OLB South Carolina
115. Tennessee- Brian Robison, DE Texas
116. New York Giants- Kareem Brown, DL Miami
117. St. Louis- Michael Johnson, SS Arizona
118. Carolina- Courtney Taylor, WR Auburn
119. Pittsburgh- Paul Soliai, DT Utah
120. Seattle- Michael Allan, TE Whitworth
121. Atlanta (from Denver)- H.B. Blades, LB Pitt
122. Dallas- Mason Crosby, K Colorado
123. New Orleans (from Kansas City)- Tony Franklin, CB Virginia
124. San Francisco (from NYJ)- Antonio Johnson, DT Mississippi State
125. New Orleans (from Philadelphia)- Laurent Robinson, WR Illinois State
126. New Orleans- Mansfield Wrotto, G Georgia Tech
127. New England- Michael Okwo, LB Stanford
128. Tennessee (from Baltimore)- Anthony Arline, CB Baylor
129. San Diego- Scott Chandler, TE Iowa
130. Chicago- Kevin Boss, TE Western Oregon
131. Indianapolis- Anthony Waters, ILB Clemson
132. Pittsburgh (compensatory)- Troy Smith, QB Ohio State
133. Atlanta (compensatory)- Rory Johnson, LB Mississippi
134. Baltimore (compensatory)- Doug Datish, G/C Ohio State
135. San Francisco (compensatory)- Travarous Bain, CB Hampton
136. Indianapolis- Earl Everett, LB Florida
137. Baltimore (compensatory)- Matt Spaeth, TE Minnesota
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