OT Tyron Smith
If he's still available at No. 9 overall in Round 1, then the Cowboys have to take Tyron Smith.
When the Cowboys had one of the best offenses in the NFL not too long ago, it was more than just Tony Romo slinging it all over the field to the likes of Miles Austin and Jason Witten. This was a power-rushing team with a monstrous collection of blockers changing the line of scrimmage, which led to Marion Barber, Felix Jones and even third stringer Tashard Choice at times being very productive on the ground. Left tackle Doug Free is a restricted free agent in line for a humongous pay day and right tackle Marc Colombo probably can't get anything more out of his torn-up knees, plus backup Alex Barron was a disaster when asked to play this past season.
Smith, a 6-5, 307-pounder out of USC, won't even turn 21 years of age until December and is only going to get bigger and stronger, so he's the premier left tackle prospect in the draft and could be an Erik Williams-like anchor for the next decade.
New York Giants
DT Corey Liuget
If he's still available at No. 19 overall in Round 1, then the Giants have to take Corey Liuget.
New York seems to be in great shape rushing the passer off the edge, with Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck in the starting lineup, 2010 first-round pick Jason Pierre-Paul flashing as a rookie and Mathias Kiwanuka doubling as a defensive end-slash-outside linebacker. But the depth chart isn't nearly as impressive on the interior, where Barry Cofield is in free-agent limbo, Rocky Bernard is nothing more than a veteran backup and 2010 second rounder Linval Joseph hasn't done anything yet. While the G-Men also have a need at linebacker, getting bigger and tougher up front is one way to take a little pressure off the second level of the defense.
Liuget, a 6-2, 298-pounder out of Illinois, doesn't have as impressive a college highlight reel as some of the other defensive linemen in this draft, but scouts love his potential and he would make sense in the Big Apple whether Cofield stays or goes.
CB Jimmy Smith
Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty
If he's still available at No. 23 overall in Round 1, then the Eagles have to take Jimmy Smith.
Philadelphia already has one of the elite cornerbacks in the game, as Asante Samuel has intercepted 20 passes in 42 games since departing New England for the City of Brotherly Love, but he desperately needs help in the secondary. Since there probably isn't a safety worthy of being selected in the first round this year, another corner to line up opposite Samuel may help remedy an Eagles pass defense that surrendered a franchise-record 31 touchdown passes in 2010 and was downright awful in the red zone. Ellis Hobbs, last year's starter, sustained a nasty neck injury and may have played for the last time as a pro.
Smith, a 6-2, 211-pounder out of Colorado, has a bit of an attitude problem and put it on display for everyone at the Scouting Combine, but he's the No. 3 corner in the draft after LSU's Patrick Peterson and Nebraska's Prince Amukamara and might be better than those two in press-man situations.
QB Blaine Gabbert
If he's still available at No. 10 overall in Round 1, then the Redskins have to take Blaine Gabbert.
Needless to say, the Donovan McNabb experiment in our nation's capital didn't go very well, as the six-time Pro Bowler with the rival Eagles ended up underwater on his touchdown-to-interception ratio (14-to-15) for the first time in his career and posted his worst passer rating (77.1) since his rookie campaign of 1999 (60.1). He was yanked in favor of the immortal Rex Grossman on more than one occasion, and the only reason why he's still a part of the Washington organization is that the lockout has put the kibosh on all player movement. McNabb will be history before long and Grossman isn't a long-term solution, so the 'Skins have to start over under center.
Gabbert, a 6-4, 234-pounder out of Missouri, could slide past QB-hungry teams like the Cardinals, 49ers and Titans earlier in Round 1 since he's a product of the spread-option offense and didn't put up eye-popping numbers this past year, although there are fewer questions about him at this point than potential alternatives in Round 2 like Andy Dalton of TCU or Colin Kaepernick of Nevada.
|John Crist is an NFL analyst for Scout.com, a voter for the Heisman Trophy and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America.|