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The Lions make the bold move and anoint Matthew Stafford the savior of the franchise. Stafford has all of the physical tools and can make all the throws but his consistency has been questioned. He will be fighting an uphill battle as an underclassman quarterback taken first overall. Stafford clearly benefitted from the success of Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco in 2008, which helped the Lions pull the trigger.
The Rams were unable to get enough to trade down so they go with the best offensive lineman on the board in Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith. Smith is not as polished as fellow prospect Eugene Monroe but is a converted tight end with all of the necessary traits to be a cornerstone and replace Orlando Pace. Smith edges out Monroe because he is considered to be more aggressive and the Rams are trying to change their identity. Smith is a good step in the right direction and a solid pick by new GM Billy Devaney.
The Chiefs are also unable to trade down, which would have been their preference, so they select LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson, who shot up the charts the last couple of weeks. Jackson is a prototypical 3-4 end and this selection fits Scott Pioli's draft history in New England with Richard Seymour and Ty Warren. Jackson is a physical player who uses his hands really well and will be a solid starter in year one.
The Seahawks get the best player in the draft in many people's opinions. Curry immediately fills the void that Julian Peterson left when he went to Detroit. Curry is smart and fast, and is considered the most sure-fire future Pro Bowler in this draft. He joins Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill to form a potentially dominant linebacker trio in Seattle.
The Jets do business with former Head Coach Eric Mangini and make the big move to get USC signal-caller Mark Sanchez. The Jets' decision to move up is a questionable one from a football standpoint: Sanchez has only one year of experience as a starter, and it is unlikely he will be a significant upgrade over what they had in Kellen Clemens for the 2009 season. Sanchez is considered very smart and accurate, but questions remain as to whether or not he is ready to make a solid contribution in Year 1.\n\nThe Jets sent their first-round pick (17), a second-round pick (52), defensive end Kenyon Coleman, defensive back Abram Elam and quarterback Brett Ratliff to the Browns.
The Bengals take Andre Smith even though the best pass protector in the draft, Eugene Monroe, is still on the board. Smith is the best run-blocker in a couple of years, but his maturity has been questioned a number of times during the process leading up to the draft. Smith's play merits this selection, but his questionable decision-making means this could be boom or bust for Cincy.
Al Davis does it again by taking the fastest player available instead of a future 10-year tackle in Eugene Monroe, or a more accomplished receiver in Michael Crabtree or Jeremy Maclin. Heyward-Bey is a physical phenom, but he was never as productive as he should have been at Maryland. The Oakland Raiders shock the world once again and could pay dearly if Heyward-Bey doesn't find a way to catch the football with more consistency. It is doubtful that Tom Cable is on board with this move, though he will surely say otherwise.
The Jags were thought to be looking to move down if Sanchez was still on the board -- but he isn't -- so they decide to take Eugene Monroe, who they never thought would be available to them at No. 8. This is a value pick because the Jags signed Tra Thomas in free agency and didn't have a pressing need at left tackle in 2009. Monroe is a smooth, polished pass protector who moves very well and is a technician with his hands. His tenacity has been questioned, but it clearly wasn't bad enough to scare off hard-nosed coach Jack Del Rio.
The Packers are thrilled to get arguably the best defensive lineman in the draft and plug him into Dom Capers new 3-4 defense. Raji is athletic enough to play defensive end and stout enough at the point to play on the nose, so his versatility is a major plus. This was just what the doctor ordered for Packers GM Ted Thompson, who is looking to refurbish the roster on the defensive side of the ball in light of the scheme change.
The 49ers have needed an elite receiver ever since T.O. left, and they may have finally gotten their man in Michael Crabtree. Crabtree is an ultra-productive former high school quarterback whose stock dropped because of an injury that prevented him from running the 40-yard dash during the pre-draft period. The Niners probably doubted that Crabtree would still be around when their time came to pick and have to be thrilled to get a superb playmaker at No. 10.
The Bills eschew their need for a left tackle with Michael Oher still on the board and take the young pass rusher from Penn State. Maybin has the best first step of any player in this year's draft, and the Bills lack of a pass-rush was painfully obvious after Aaron Schobel went down. Maybin's lack of bulk probably makes him a situation pass-rusher in Year 1, which is fine by the Bills because that is exactly what they want and need. The sky is the limit for Maybin in terms of natural athleticism, and the Bills are fond of Penn State guys, given their success with Shane Conlan and Paul Posluszny.
The Broncos surprise everyone who thought their pick would be on defense and take the former Georgia Bulldog. The Broncos signed three running backs in free agency but clearly still felt there was a hole Moreno can fill with his all-around skills. Moreno is powerfully built in the lower body and a good pass-catcher out of the backfield, which is a must in Josh McDaniels' offense. Still, the Broncos can not continue to ignore the defense and expect to get their franchise back to the postseason.
Orakpo is a physical specimen who will line up across from another genetic marvel in Redskins defensive end Andre Carter. Orakpo has been compared to Vernon Gholston because of his inconsistent play -- he does not appear to give his greatest effort on every snap. That said, Orakpo dominated Oklahoma tackle Phil Loadhold when the Longhorns played the Sooners while showing flashes of what he might be able to do in the NFL. Orakpo teams with Carter and high-priced free agent Albert Haynesworth to give the Skins a suddenly formidable defensive line -- if Orakpo comes to play every Sunday, that is.
The Saints are thrilled the best defensive back in the draft falls all the way to them at No. 14. Jenkins is a polished leader who is versatile enough to play either corner or safety, and he can help out the Saints in both areas. Some people are concerned about his raw speed, but he was fast enough to get the job done for four straight years in the Big Ten. Solid pick for the Saints, as you can never have enough good defensive backs -- and their secondary has been an Achilles Heel for years.
The first Trojan linebacker comes off the board as four-year starter Brian Cushing heads to Houston to fill a desperate need for a Texans linebacking corps that lacks playmakers outside of Demeco Ryans. Cushing is considered a three-down linebacker who can either rush or cover depending on the situation. Cushing immediately upgrades a front seven that needed more talent in order to get the Texans over the hump and into the postseason for the first time in franchise history.
The Chargers surprise a lot of people who thought they would take USC linebacker Rey Maualuaga in this spot. English is an ultra-productive hybrid who will likely play outside linebacker for the Chargers, and rotate in with Shaun Phillips and former Pro Bowler Shawne Merriman, who will be coming back from season-ending surgery in 2008. English's competition in the MAC was not enough to scare off A.J. Smith as he continues to fortify a defense that took a step back last season.
The Bucs trade up and take a quarterback new head coach Raheem Morris knows well from the time they spent together at Kansas State. It is unclear why the Bucs felt compelled to move up for Freeman, given that there were not many others teams believed to be interested in taking him in Round 1 -- especially since the Jets got their guy in Mark Sanchez. Freeman is a gigantic quarterback with a bazooka for an arm, but he was unable to get the Wildcats program going. Because of that, he is considered a project who is unlikely to beat out Luke McCown or Byron Leftwich in Year 1.
Ayers was a one-year wonder for the Tennessee Volunteers but excelled in the pre-draft process, highlighted by an outstanding performance at the Senior Bowl. He is a unique athlete and helps the Broncos on the defensive line, where they so desperately needed it. The key for Ayers, much like Brian Orakpo, will be to play with consistency on a week-in, week-out basis. If he can do that -- and not just show flashes of brilliance -- the Broncos got good value here.
The Eagles move up to get the potential No. 1 receiver their fanbase has coveted for so long and will likely wait to get a running back to complement Brian Westbrook in the second round. Maclin was projected by most people to go in the top 10 because of his playmaking ability as a receiver, runner and returner. The combo of Maclin and DeSean Jackson on the field at the same time makes the Eagles offense especially dangerous given all of the ways they will be able to use both players. Great value for the Birds here, and the Eagles still have plenty of picks left with which to work.
The Lions take the most complete tight end to come out in years. Pettigrew may not create mismatches in the passing game, but he is a reliable receiver who will help Matthew Stafford early in his career. More importantly, Pettigrew is an absolutely dominant blocker in the running game and will be able to help Detroit get more physical at the point of attack. Anyone doubting the selection of Pettigrew needs only to watch the Texas game, where the former Oklahoma State Cowboy demolished Brian Orakpo on a number of occasions. Scouts love Pettigrew and feel he is ready to be a starter beginning in Week 1.
The Browns trade down three times, collecting players and picks, before taking the top interior lineman available in this draft. Mack is smart and tough, and he has a passion for football that screams team leader for years to come. Mangini places a lot of value on centers, and Mack's selection mirrors his choice of Nick Mangold with the Jets. Mack could play right guard if necessary, but he is likely set to replace Hank Fraley at center in Cleveland. Mack is very similar to Mangold and should become a top-flight center within three years.
Brad Childress decides to roll the dice with the flashy former Florida Gator who has a number of issues unrelated to his ability on the football field. Harvin is your classic boom or bust selection because of his incomparable skills coupled with health and character questions. Childress was obviously satiated by his visit with Harvin earlier this week, and his decision to go with Harvin gives the Vikes another weapon on the outside for likely new starting quarterback Sage Rosenfels.
The Ravens move up to get what they consider a great value in the form of Michael Oher, the last of the four tackles that were considered to be opening day starters at left tackle in the NFL. Oher looks the part, but his technique and football intelligence have come into question. The Ravens like Jared Gaither at left tackle, so look for Oher to play on the right side if he can wrestle the starting spot away from veteran Willie Anderson.
Atlanta GM Thomas Dimitroff said the Falcons would go defense after trading for Tony Gonzalez and they do just that by picking Mississippi defensive tackle Peria Jerry. Jerry is a rolling bucket of butcher knives that goes full throttle on every snap, and he immediately upgrades the Falcons front seven. Jerry doesn't look great in street clothes -- he just dominates offensive linemen with his pads on because of his aggression and passion. Jerry is a poor man's Glenn Dorsey, whom the Falcons coveted last year.
Davis is an extremely talented cornerback who fills a huge need for the Dolphins. He has been deemed a troublemaker who doesn't take to coaching, but obviously the no-nonsense decision makers in Miami headed by Bill Parcells were not concerned. If Davis plays to his potential -- and isn't an issue on or off the field -- the Dolphins will have gotten excellent value for a late first-round pick. Davis could step in immediately for a weak secondary in Miami.
The Packers trade with New England in order to get back up into the first round and get an outside linebacker to play opposite Aaron Kampman in Dom Capers' new 3-4 defense. The addition of Matthews and B.J. Raji gives the Pack two projected starters to inject into a defense that took a significant step back in 2008. Packers GM Ted Thompson gave up a lot with three picks in rounds two and three, but it will be worth it if Matthews continues the meteoric progression of his career, which started as a walk-on at USC.\n
The Colts stick with the NFL trend of having two quality backs by taking the durable and productive Brown. Brown fits the Indy mold of smart players who love the sport and will thrive with Peyton Manning and company. The Colts still have issues on defense, but they must not have been high enough on Missouri defensive tackle Ziggy Hood, who is still available.
The Bills shock a lot of people by not coming out of Round 1 with a left tackle and instead select the ornery Wood. He is a physical talent who will play either center or left guard, depending on what the Bills decide to do with free agent signee Geoff Hangartner. This is a little high for the Bills to take an interior guy who many thought would go in Round 2. The Bills must be comfortable with veteran Kirk Chambres and last year's second-round pick Demetrius Bell to man Trent Edwards' blindside.
The Giants withstand the public pressure to take local boy Kenny Britt from Rutgers and instead go with the top receiver on their board in Hakeem Nicks. Nicks was much more productive than Darius Heyward-Bey in the ACC and likely has what it takes to be productive in Year 1. That said, the Giants likely could have sent this pick to Arizona or Cleveland for Anquan Boldin or Braylon Edwards, both of whom would do more for a New York team that is ready for a repeat run back to the Super Bowl in 2009. But Nicks has great hands, and he should eventually form a good duo with Steve Smith for Eli Manning.
The Titans were unable to sign veteran Torry Holt, but they did the next best thing by taking a receiver in the first round. Britt has all the physical tools to be a top-flight pro, though his personality during the pre-draft process turned off some personnel people. Britt gives the Titans a deep threat with the potential to be a star at some point in his career. Hopefully for the Titans, that some point is as soon as possible, given their Super Bowl-or-bust aspirations for 2009.
The Cardinals are not used to picking this late, but they hope to remain a postseason factor by taking Chris Beanie Wells to team up with Tim Hightower. The move to get the former Buckeye with an outstanding size and speed combination likely means that Edgerrin James will finally get his wish and be released. In time, Wells and Hightower could form a dynamic duo similar to DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart in Carolina.
The Steelers needed to fortify the troops on the defensive side of the ball in light of the age of their defensive lineman. Hood has outstanding measureables, but he was not as consistently productive as many would have liked. He will not be counted on to be a major contributor in Year 1, because that is the Steelers' way.
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