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Several key free agent acquisitions have changed the landscape of this draft. From here on out when changes are made the reasons will be listed below along with the previous pick.

—Updated April 23

It’s that time of the year again… less than a week from the 2009 NFL Draft and Mock Drafts around the world are in full swing. The RTS Writers got together and hammered out how we believe the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft will shake out. Read and respond with what you think we got right, wrong, and anything else that’s on your mind!

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detroit51. Matthew Stafford – QB (Georgia)

It seems that RTS has already gone one-for-one in this year’s draft. Stafford has been our pick here since day one and by Thursday (April 23) the Lions and Stafford might have a deal worked out. Detroit is in the rebuilding phase, and it has become clear that Daunte Culpepper is not the answer. Matt Stafford is the best quarterback available in the draft, and while he might not have the mindset to be a winner right now, he has the physical tools to become an excellent NFL quarterback. Detroit could address their woeful offensive line with this pick, but the offensive line pool in this draft is deep and no lineman stands out from the rest as an elite player. Most likely, Detroit will take Stafford here and wait until pick 20 to take an o-lineman. –SK-

stl2. Jason Smith – OT (Baylor)

Orlando Pace is aging, the St. Louis Rams are floundering, and it is well known that the strongest foundation for an NFL franchise is a good offensive line. As previously mentioned, there is one single elite offensive lineman in this draft, instead there is a group of linemen who have worked their way into the top tier. There are rumors that the Rams are considering LB Aaron Curry here, as he is quickly proving to be the most talented player in this draft, but for now it’s a safe bet that St. Louis will address their offensive line with this pick. –SK-

kc3. Aaron Curry – MLB (Wake Forest)

Aaron Curry is the best prospect in the entire draft.  If it weren’t for the needs of the teams ahead of Kansas City, Curry probably would be the number one overall pick (and deservedly so).  Projected as a first round pick before the combine, Curry was the focal point of the combine for anyone who didn’t already know how outstanding he was.  The only other viable option here was Mark Sanchez, but after filling their QB vacancy via free agency with backup all-star Matt Cassel, this is an obvious selection. –AM-

sea4. Eugene Monroe – OT (Virginia)
–Updated March 3 – Previous Pick: DT B.J. Raji–

As mentioned before, there are a number of ways that Seattle can go with this pick. Fortunately for experts and bloggers alike, the Seahawks recent free agent acquisitions have cleared up their draft strategy. Signing WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh eliminates any chance of spending first-round money on WR Michael Crabtree. Additionally, adding defensive tackles Colin Cole (for a whopping 5 years/$21 Million) and Cory Redding shows that the Seahawks aren’t going to commit their first-round pick to Boston College standout DT B.J. Raji. These acquisitions allow the Seahawks to address their struggling offensive line. There has been recent speculation that Seattle is interested in USC QB Mark Sanchez, but Seattle’s pursuit of 31 year-old WR T.J. Hooshamama indicated that the Seahawks are trying to win now. While Sanchez makes sense as the quarterback of the future, it seems more likely that the Seahawks will use this pick to find a player who can make an impact in 2009. For now the Seahawks need to take a waiver on Eugene Monroe, one of the elite o-linemen in this draft. The only way this changes is if Aaron Curry somehow falls past Kansas City (which should not happen). If Curry is available, Seattle will bite. Aside from him, however, Eugene Monroe the clear choice. -SK-

cle5. Bryan Orapko – DE/LB (Texas)

Cleveland has had an interesting offseason. New coach Eric Mangini has already stated his disinterest in naming Brady Quinn the quarterback of the future, the front office dealt away one of few elite tight ends in the game in Kellen Winslow, and for some reason Phil Savage is still allowed on premises. Despite a now-official quarterback controversy, Cleveland has only one way to go with this pick: DEFENSE. Cleveland’s pass rush was atrocious last year (17 total sacks all year), and while their secondary is a concern, the Browns need to focus on getting to the quarterback. Rumor has it that star WR Braylon Edwards is on his way out of town (most likely to New York), but until he is gone the Browns can’t seriously entertain thoughts of Michael Crabtree. Orapko is a freak athlete (dubbed by ESPN’s Michael Smith as the most talented player in this draft), and the Bengals will take Orapko as a fit for their team and an incredibly high-value selection. –SK-

cin6. Andre Smith – OT (Alabama)
Updated April 22 – Previous Pick: DT B.J. Raji–

Just when it seemed like Andre Smith would never stop falling, he jumped up a few picks on our draft board. Smith’s appearance at No.6 isn’t so much attributed to his own talent as it is the Bengals team needs combined with the pool of available players. I have seen two near-consensus selections by the Bengals with this pick: OT Eugene Monroe or DT B.J. Raji. Unfortunately, neither one of those picks fits in our mock. Eugene Monroe would be an excellent fit in Cincinnati, but unfortunately he will be off the board at pick No.4 (don’t even get me started on the Sanchez-to-Seattle rubbish). As for Raji, the Bungles signed DT Tank Johnson this offseason, signaling that they will head elsewhere in this draft. Everyone knows the Bengals need help on the offensive line. Most other mocks conveniently provide this with Eugene Monroe, but our mock will force the Bengals to make the hard decision: passing up on more talented players for what the team really needs. The Bengals need a star-caliber OT, and while Smith may have off-field issues, his on-field talent remains, making him the Bengals choice here. -SK-

oak7. Michael Crabtree – WR (Texas Tech)

When Al Davis is in the vicinity, here is the draft strategy: determine the most logical pick, throw it out the window, then take the player on the board with most talent. Ironically, this strategy might work in 2009. If Crabtree slips to pick 7, Oakland will land a franchise-caliber wide receiver (not named Johnnie Lee Higgins or Chaz Schilens) to join former college stars QB Jamarcus Russell and RB Darren McFadden. If Crabtree is off the board, look for Oakland to address their terrible offensive line (this is only possible if someone drugs Al Davis and makes the pick without his input). Oakland is  just now figuring out that Robert Gallery is not the answer on their offensive line, and if a premiere tackle is available it would be the smart pick… Then again, who knows, if Crabtree is gone they might just take a player like Jeremy Maclin, who has raw talent and a tremendous upside. Not to mention that Jeremy Maclin has Al Davis’ proverbial drug-addiction: speed. With Al Davis, you just never know, but one thing seems to be clear: if Crabtree is available, he’s probably heading to Oakland. –SK-

jax8. B.J. Raji – DT (Boston College)
Updated April 22 – Previous Pick: LB Rey Maualuga–

Several teams have a difficult time finding a deficiency worthy of a top 10 pick… Not in Jacksonville! In Jacksonville, they suck at nearly everything. Try to find a position that you couldn’t justify drafting, I dare you. QB: Garrard looked good as a replacement, but does he have what it takes to be a star? RB: Maurice Jones-Drew is a stud, but in the NFL’s two running back era, a young back to share the workload is ideal. WR: Matt Jones + Cocaine = a thinning wide receiver corps. OT: One of the worst in the NFL. Despite these offensive inefficiencies, I think Jacksonville addresses defense with this pick. If B.J. Raji falls to Jacksonville at pick No.8 then the Jags might make the steal of the draft. Our initial projection for Raji was pick No.4 to the Seahawks, but the ‘Hawks made a few moves which indicated they had no interest in taking a DT at No.4. Since no other teams between here and there have significant interest in a DT, Raji could fall to the Jags. Believe me, if he is here the Jags will be waiting with open arms. They have in the proverbial wilderness ever since Marcus Stroud left town, and B.J. Raji could give them a dominant DT that they so desperately desire. -SK-

gb9. Tyson Jackson – DE (LSU)
Updated April 22 – Previous Pick: DE/LB Everette Brown–

Green Bay is in the midst of a defensive facelift, changing from defensive schemes from a 4-3 to a 3-4. This change moved Pro Bowl defensive end Aaron Kampman to one outside linebacker spot, but this formation demands even more versatile players. The Packers would love for DT B.J. Raji to land here, since a successful 3-4 scheme requires a mammoth NT (not named Cody Pickett), but Raji will be gone and the Packers will be left to load up the outside of its new formation. Tyson Jackson is a 3-4 style defensive end, with enough speed to rush around the edges and enough size to dig into the trenches. Green Bay would love to have former Texas standout Bryan Orapko, whose size/speed combination is unparalleled in this draft, but they will happily settle for Jackson, who matches their scheme better than any defensive end available. -SK-

sf10. Mark Sanchez – QB (USC)

San Francisco needs help at quarterback, and while Shaun Hill was serviceable last season, he is not the long-term answer. With KC acquiring Matt Cassel, Sanchez will most likely be on the board here. There is much recent speculation that the Seahawks are interested at pick No.4, and though I see the logic in finding a long-term backup, Sanchez would be a wasted pick for a Seahawks team that is trying to win right now. The only other threat to snipe Sanchez before pick No.10 is a possible trade (the Jets have been rumored to be interested in trading up) or the outside chance that Jacksonville takes Sanchez at No.8. Every day it seems more probable that San Francisco will look to trade this pick. Their other interests are wide receiver and defensive line, both of which have been picked clean of top-tier talent, so trading down would be a value play, especially since many teams are interested in trading up for Sanchez. Placing Sanchez here in our mock draft does not necessarily indicate that we believe San Francisco will select him, but that he will be selected here even if the pick is traded. It seems likely that San Francisco will either trade the pick or draft Mark Sanchez themselves. There is a new head coach in San Francisco, which indicates a new era of play. Every new era needs a leader, and the Niners might try and find that leader in Mark Sanchez. –SK-

buf11. Michael Oher – OT (Ole Miss)
Updated April 22 – Previous Pick: TE Brandon Pettigrew–

This pick has changed for two primary reasons. First, we initially had Pettigrew slotted here because it was possible that if the Bills didn’t take a top-tier tight end at No.11, one might not fall to their second-round selection. This worry was alleviated however, as Bufalo recently acquired overall pick No.28 from the Philadelphia Eagles. Because of this addition, the Bills can plan on using their next pick to address their needs at tight end instead of reaching for Oklahoma State star Brandon Pettigrew at No.11. The second reason the pick changed is that in order to acquire the previously mentioned No.28 pick the Bills traded away disgruntled (but Pro Bowl) offensive tackle Jason Peters. It is possible to wait and address this deficiency with pick No.28, but with the obvious importance of offensive tackles, Buffalo won’t hesitate to grab the last of the top-tier tackles in this draft. A pass rusher is an option here, as Aaron Maybin is still available, but Buffalo should address their most obvious hole by taking top-tier tackle Michael Oher. –SK-

den12. Aaron Maybin – DE (Penn State)
Updated March 30 – Previous Pick: LB Rey Maualuga–

Gone are the days of Mike Shanahan waving a magic wand and producing 1000 yard rushers. Instead, Josh McDaniels has waved a magic wand and nearly forced a 25 year old Pro Bowl quarterback out of town. While McDaniels seems content to juggle his offensive talent, the Denver Broncos scouting crew should be focusing on defense. Some mocks have the Broncos taking a running back in the first round, but Denver acquired J.J. Arrington, Correll Buckhalter, and Lamont Jordan this offseason, which has them well on pace to produce the stereotypical Denver Broncos running back by committee (also known as survival of the fittest; see Peyton Hillis in 2008). This pick has to go to defense. I’ve seen projections of D-linemen, linebackers, and secondary help through a variety of positions, but some of these deficiencies have been addressed already. Denver signed S Brian Dawkins for secondary help and MLB Andra Davis to strengthen its linebacking corps, but have yet to acquire any significant talent on the defensive line (No, Ronald Fields does not count). Enter Aaron Maybin. Maybin had a good combine, but an incredible Pro Day at Penn State. He has put on over 20lbs of muscle and lowered his 40 time to 4.59. His upside is endless, and his age doesn’t hurt either (he is still only 20 years old). Maybin is the best available help on the defensive line, and if his stock keeps rising he could be a steal at pick No.12.  –SK-

was13. Robert Ayers – DE (Tennessee)
Updated April 22 – Previous Pick: OT Michael Oher–

Money can’t buy Daniel Snyder love, but he is checking to see whether or not it can buy him championships. The NFL’s Steinbrenner has opened up his checkbook this offseason to acquire CB Deangelo Hall (AKA Eddie Royal’s B****) and DT Albert Haynesworth, the most sought after free agent this offseason. Despite Haynesworth’s addition to the defensive line, the Redskins are still in desperate need of a pass rush. Washington’s defensive end stock is both depleted and aging, leaving a number of either unproven or injury-prone players to fill in its ranks. Robert Ayers has been flying up draft boards for the past few months, and rumor has it that the Washington coaching staff has become quite enamored with the former Volunteer. Ayers would add an instant spark to the Redskins pass rush, and complement DE Andre Carter and DT Albert Haynesworth as key components to the Redskins pass rush. Offensive line was a possibility here, but anyone worth taking is off the board. The entire upper echelon of offensive tackles is gone, and to reach for one of the lesser tackles would be a waste of this pick. Look for Washington to address their pass-rush blues by picking Robert Ayers here. -SK-

no14. Malcolm Jenkins – CB/S (Ohio State)
Updated April 22 – Previous Pick: CB Vontae Davis–

Two very sexy picks have recently come about for New Orleans. The first is a running back (Moreno/Wells seem to be a push on most draft boards) because of the loss of Deuce McAllister and the need for a bruising running back. Proponents of this pick are severely underappreciating Saints RB Pierre Thomas, who can bruise with the best of them. The second is Malcolm Jenkins. The Saints re-signed all-world LB Jonathan Vilma, so their front seven should be fine. That leaves a god-awful pass defense to worry about. Sure there were a few games where Jason David intercepted the ball, but that’s because the other team kept throwing his way (because usually it worked). Jenkins can fix this problem, as several scouts believe he has the tools to be a shutdown corner in the NFL. Some people are wondering how Jenkins fell out of the top 10. I’ll tell you how: by running a 40 yard dash that made Andre Smith say “that dude is slow.” Despite this lack of speed, Jenkins has a build and athleticism to be a productive cornerback. Even if the worse-case scenario plays itself out and Jenkins is forced to switch to free safety, this fits in New Orleans because they have a need for a long-term fix at free safety. The Saints have to address their pass defense with this pick, and Jenkins allows them to select a high-caliber prospect with (unintentional) versatility. –SK-

hou15. Vontae Davis – CB (Illinois)
Updated April 22 – Previous Pick:  DE Tyson Jackson–

It is universally accepted that the Texans need to address their defense in this year’s draft. Head coach Gary Kubiak collected an arsenal of draft picks this year, but the most important is obviously their first round pick. While outside linebacker is a sexy choice here, Houston could use this pick to strengthen their secondary. Vontae Davis has star-potential, and he could plug directly into a talent-starved Houston secondary. Texans CB Dunta Robinson is a stud, but the guy playing across from him might not be identified if the head coach had to pick him out of a lineup. Davis would give the Texans two legitimate cornerbacks, a luxury which few NFL teams possess. While defensive end and outside linebacker are possibilities here, the Texans will round out their secondary by adding Vernon Davis’ kid brother. -SK-

sd16. Brian Cushing – OLB (USC)

San Diego runs one of the most vicious 3-4 defensive packages in the NFL. What allows this formation to dominate opposing offenses is a combination of pass rushing defensive ends and incredibly versatile linebackers. With Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips as outside linebackers, San Diego’s pass rush is lethal. However, San Diego is becoming more concerned with defensive depth (see what happened when Merriman went down for the count in 2008) and the possibility of Merriman leaving via free agency in 2010. San Diego needs a defensive playmaker, and more specifically they need a versatile linebacker to plug into a 3-4 system. Cushing offers a USC-pedigree, a serviceable backup to the Merriman/Phillips combo, and an insurance package in case Merriman heads elsewhere next offseason. Many experts have predicted a backup running back drafted here (in case LDT goes down the Shaun Alexander road to success), but the simple fact is that San Diego already has too much money tied up at the running back position. They have the inflated contract of LaDainian Tomlinson, as well as the franchise-tag contract of Darren Sproles. To spend first-round pick money on a running back would be financial suicide. This pick has to be a linebacker, and Cushing is the best fit for San Diego at this pick. –SK-

nyj17. Everette Brown – DE/LB (Florida State)
Updated April 22 – Previous Pick:  WR Jeremy Maclin–

Yes, I understand that the entire world has Jeremy Maclin here. I also understand that the Jets desperately need receiver depth, and that Maclin is an excellent value here. However, I changed this pick for two reasons. First, you have to look at who is going to be making the picks on draft day. Rex Ryan showed up in New York, dragged half of the Baltimore defense with him, and has imposed the belief that he will lead a hard-nose defense this year. What better way to do that than to draft a top-tier pass rusher with your first round pick? Still don’t believe me? Then consider the second reason: this year’s draft class is incredibly deep at wide receiver. Even if the Jets don’t pull the trigger on the ready-to-run Maclin, they will have several viable options with their second round pick. The later round will be full of receivers with size (USC’s Patrick Turner stands at 6’5″) and speed (Mike Wallace and Johnny Knox each ran the 40 in 4.30 or lower), and don’t forget that this year’s Cheech and Chong, Brandon Tate and Percy Harvin, are slipping down draft boards as well. Mangini-us is now Man-gone-ius, which leaves Rex Ryan to call the shots. Ryan will restrain from taking a wide receiver now and instead focus on pass rushing, which is crucial in Ryan’s aggressive defensive schemes. Brown will provide the Jets explosive speed off the edges and desperately needed youth at defensive end. -SK-

den18. Rey Maualuga – LB (USC)
Updated April 22 – Previous Pick: Chicago Selected WR Darrius Heyward-Bey–

Sure, Josh McDaniels practically burned down Jay Cutler’s home, but at least he brought back a few draft picks in return. Depending on how this year’s draft plays out and how Kyle Orton adapts to Denver’s offense, McDaniels could come out looking like a genius. The Broncos were forced to pass on Rey-Rey with pick No.12, as linebacking help was not as important to the Broncos as improving their pass rush. However, no one between here and there bit on this year’s best Samoan, so Denver will end up with Maualuga anyways. Denver’s linebacking corps already features star players in D.J. Williams and Andra Davis, but adding Maualuga to the mix will allow a lot more flexibility in formations. Williams is a young star, but Davis is nothing more than a stop-gap measure. Davis’ experience could be used to mentor Maualuga, eventually leading to Maualuga’s leadership of the Broncos defensive unit. Defensive tackle is a necessity in Denver, as they lack a true 3-4 nose tackle, but there is no d-tackle talent on the board worth taking here, which makes Maualuga the most logical choice. –SK-

tb19. Michael Johnson – DE (Georgia Tech)
Updated April 22 – Previous Pick: QB Josh Freeman–

Tampa Bay signing Derrick Ward officially killed any chance of Tampa drafting a running back with this pick. For now it seems like the Buccos have revamped their offense, as they signed RB Derrick Ward, re-signed WR Michael Clayton, attempted to trade for Pro Bowl QB Jay Cutler, and recently signed former star QB Byron Leftwich. It is unclear how many of these moves will heavily benefit the team, but it seems that Tampa now has to address the defensive side of the ball via the draft. In truth, the Bucs need to add depth across their entire defense. Tampa is loaded down with mediocrity at defensive tackle, piling 300-pounders Cullen Jenkins, Ryan Sims, and Chris Hovan all into a race for the starting nod. In the secondary, CB Aqib Talib is the one young bright spot in existence. While these are legitimate needs, they are nothing compared to the Bucs need at defensive end. DE Gaines Adams has had two stellar seasons, but there is no suitable player to start opposite him on the line, making DE Michael Johnson a very attractive choice at No.19. Johnson is a physical freak and was at one time considered a top five pick in this year’s draft. Now Tampa will see if they can take his raw physical skills and turn him into an All-Pro. -SK-

detroit420. Eben Britton – OT (Arizona)
Updated April 22 – Previous Pick: OT Andre Smith–

If the Detroit Lions don’t select an offensive tackle with the number 1 pick, they will address that need at pick 20. It’s not a sexy pick, but no matter how much fans hate it, offensive tackles are the building blocks for great teams. Why do you need a strong LT? Because most right-handed quarterbacks need their blind side protected. Put in a weak LT and you will get David Carr-esque sack numbers… no good for a young team. Eben Britton has all the physical tools to be an NFL star, and could prove good enough to bump current LT Jeff Backus to LG. Britton isn’t part of the elite level of offensive tackles, but he has the physical skills necessary to compete in the NFL in his first season. If the Lions can land the top QB in Matt Stafford and a second-tier tackle in Eben Britton their first round would be a tremendous success. That Roy Williams trade is looking better and better each day… -SK-

phi21. Knowshon Moreno – RB (Georgia)
Updated March 30 – Previous Pick: LB James Laurinaitis–

Philadelphia fans have disagreed with every single mock draft I’ve seen. Why? Because they are Philadelphia fans. What these fans don’t understand is that disagreements don’t matter, because the Philadelphia front office is probably going to ignore them anyways. In this instance, however, I think the Eagles might draft someone the fans want in Knowshon Moreno. Brian Westbrook is one of the most talented running backs in the NFL, but he is over the hill in running back years (30 years old) and his oft-injured knee is a frequent cause for concern. Factor in the departure last year’s backup Correll Buckhalter, and running back seems like a must-have for the Eagles. Moreno has a power-back build, game-breaking potential, and an obsession with jumping over defenders any time he touches the ball. Westbrook is far from done, but his health concerns and Correll Buckhalter’s exit make Knowshon Moreno the clear choice for Philadelphia. -SK-

min22. Jeremy Maclin – WR (Missouri)
Updated April 22 – Previous Pick: OT Eben Britton–

Yes, I am aware that the Vikings are not looking for a speed receiver. Why? Because they already have one in Bernard “the only words I understand are ‘go deep!'” Berrian. However, Maclin makes sense here for a number of reasons. First and foremost, he is a ridiculously high value pick at No.22. Some mocks have Maclin going as high as No.7 to the fighting Al Davis’, but if he slips past the Raiders, there may not be another suitor until Minnesota hits the clock at pick 22. Second, Maclin brings more to the team than just speed. Minnesota is in dire need of an impact kick returner and punt returner. On their official depth chart, RB Chester Taylor is listed at kick returner and CB Charles Gordon at punt returner. This is not to insult those gentlemen, but Jeremy Maclin’s skill set includes a lethal combination of kick and punt returning (so much so that he was “Devin Hestered” a number of times last season). If a stellar offensive tackle was available here, the Vikes would bite. But as is, there is no value-pick available from the offensive line, making wide receiver a virtual lock to be taken. A taller possession receiver makes sense here (e.g. Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Britt, etc.), but if Maclin is on the board the Vikes will have to take him. -SK-

ne23. Clay Matthews – OLB (USC)
Updated April 22 – Previous Pick: CB/S Malcolm Jenkins–

No, the Patriots will never stop adding young talent to their roster. No, the Patriots will also never stop adding nearly washed up old players to their roster either. Bill Belichick and Patriots will have another chance to flex their personnel skills with pick No.23. There are a number of ways the Pats could go here, but the most obvious hole in the Patriots lineup is at outside linebacker, where longtime Patriot Mike Vrabel was shipped to Kansas City. There are several options here, including Clint Sintim, Larry English, and Clay Matthews, but in the end the Pats will select the player who demonstrates the most fundamental skills. Clay Matthews holds a USC pedigree, an unmatched work ethic, and enough raw talent to be able to fit a number of defensive schemes. Belichick will use Matthews’ versatility to bounce around on the defensive side of the ball, and just like Belichick always does, he will squeeze every ounce of talent out of whomever he drafts. -SK-

atl24. Larry English – DE/LB (Northern Illinois)
Updated April 22 – Previous Pick: S William Moore–

Atlanta needs help at two key defensive positions this offseason: linebacker and strong safety. Linebackers Keith Brooking and Michael Boley left via free agency, and Atlanta has failed to replace these losses, adding only Mike Peterson to their diminished linebacking corps. The Falcons will take English here for a number of reasons. Initially, his raw talent draws attention, but his versatility will enable the Falcons to move him around on the defensive side of the ball. He shouldn’t move much, however, as there is a glaring hole at outside linebacker. English will join Mike Peterson in the linebacking corps, a situation which may help him develop faster than normal. Atlanta could use this pick to address the loss of SS Lawyer Milloy. The Falcons were not shy about interviewing secondary players at the combine, and seemingly fell in love with Western Michigan S Louis Delmas. There is a deep pool at safety, however, and the Falcons should use this pick to take the best available hybrid player. Safety can wait, a complete hole at outside linebacker cannot. -SK-

mia25. Hakeem Nicks – WR (North Carolina)

Miami needs help at offensive line, but not the kind of help that a first round pick brings. Translation: they don’t need a premiere tackle; their needs are at interior line positions. They will probably wait until the second or third rounds and snag an interior lineman such as California C Alex Mack or Oklahoma OG Duke Robinson. With offensive line out of the question, Miami will address another glaring inefficiency in their lineup by selecting a WR. Ted Ginn Jr. has the makings of an NFL star, while lesser known receivers Greg Camarillo and Devone Bess performed well last season. However, if Miami expects to improve their passing game they need to add a star receiver to line up opposite Ginn. Camarillo and Bess are excellent third and fourth options, but Nicks will give Chad Pennington another young target with great potential to throw to. The Dolphins will grab some o-linemen later in the draft, but at pick 25 look for Miami to grab a star receiver in Hakeem Nicks. –SK-

bal26. Darrius Heyward-Bey – WR (Maryland)
Updated April 22 – Previous Pick: CB Darius Butler–

The Baltimore Ravens addressed one of their many defensive holes by signing free agent cornerback Domonique Foxworth from the Atlanta Falcons. This addition will allow the Ravens to use the No.26 pick for the offensive side of the ball. Last year, the Ravens found what they expect to be a franchise quarterback in Joe Flacco. This year, it is time to get Flacco some more toys to play with. Tight end is a definite option here, because a tight end is always a young quarterback’s best friend. However, the Ravens currently have one of the best receiving tight ends in football in Todd Heap, and signed TE L.J. Smith away from Philadelphia this offseason. Instead of tight end, the Ravens can now use this pick on an impact receiver to stretch the field for the ever-maturing Joe Flacco. Darrius Heyward-Bey could solve a number of the Ravens’ offensive inefficiencies this year. Heyward-Bey is tall (6’2″) with a great vertical jump (38.5″) and lighting-fast speed (4.30 40-yard-dash). What’s unbelievable is that he has clocked even faster 40 times in his playing career. In 2006, Heyward-Bey was clocked at 4.23 in preseason drills at Maryland. Baltimore could use some depth at defense, but they need to use pick No.26 on a player who could contribute immediately like Heyward-Bey. -SK-

ind27. Peria Jerry – DT (Ole Miss)

Matt Howell is our token Colts fan, which makes him the best writer to explain this pick. He was unavailable, however, so the token Steelers fan will have to do. Peria Jerry is the second best DT available this year, and is definitely a steal at the pick 27. Indianapolis will gain a talented DT with the ability to make an instant impact on the defensive line.  With his incredible strength, Jerry has all the makings of a dominant DT and could turn into a “block eater” like DT Casey Hampton or DT Jamal Williams. Adding Perry here will provide relief to the much maligned Colts run defense. In 2008, it seemed like anyone not named Dwight Freeney couldn’t find the opposing quarterback if given a map, a compass, and an in-helmet microphone which transmitted the opposing team’s snap count.  I initially thought that Jeff Saturday would be gone via free agency, and with that in mind C Alex Mack would have been a great pick here. Mack might be the best o-lineman in this draft when it’s all said and done, and in my opinion could be a hall of fame caliber player in the NFL. However, all that talk is irrelevant now since Jeff Saturday re-signed with Indy, making Peria Jerry a no-brainer for this pick. –AM-

buf28. Brandon Pettigrew – TE (Oklahoma State)
Updated April 22 – Previous Pick: Philadelphia Selected TE Jared Cook–

Dreams really do come true… Sometimes. Buffalo passed on TE Brandon Pettigrew at pick No.11 to address their struggling O-line. This intelligent behavior now rewards them as no team found their tight end situation weak enough to select top-prospect Brandon Pettigrew. Pettigrew is a physical specimen, who scouts believe is more talented at blocking than receiving. What’s most unbelievable is that he was one of the best receiving tight ends in college football last year. This pick is a combination of a high-value pick in Pettigrew and a lack of pass rushers left on the board. Defensive ends were hot in this draft, leaving Buffalo to find Aaron Schobel another pass rusher through some other means. Regardless of other team needs, Brandon Pettigrew is a flat-out steal this late in the draft, and Buffalo will be glad to have him. -SK-

nyg29. Kenny Britt – WR (Rutgers)
Updated April 22 – Previous Pick: WR Percy Harvin–

The New York Giants are in the middle of absolute chaos concerning their next year’s roster. S James Butler is gone to St. Louis, RB Derrick Ward hit the road to Tampa Bay, and the controversy surrounding Cheddar-Plax has left the Giants’ wide receiving corps decimated.  The Giants linebacking corps seemed weak until they signed LB Michael Boley. Boley’s addition allows the Giants to use this pick on an impact wide receiver. Plaxico Burress’ is gone, and the Giants have been involved in a number of high profile wide receiver discussions (e.g. Braylon Edwards, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, etc.). These talks indicate that the Giants are open to pursuing more talent at wideout. Percy Harvin and Kenny Britt are both possibilities here, depending on what type of receiver the Giants wish to pursue. Britt seems more logical, as the Giants are now in need of a possession receiver who QB Eli Manning can rely on in clutch situations. It will take time for Manning and Britt to get used to eachother, but drafting Kenny Britt can definitely pay of if he lives up to his potential. If Cleveland gets it’s way, it will acquire this pick from the Giants in exchange for WR Braylon Edwards. Ironically, Cleveland would most likely also select WR Kenny Britt if they were drafting in this position. I guess the kid is just that popular. –SK-

ten30. Alphonso Smith – CB (Wake Forest)
Updated April 22 – Previous Pick: CB D.J. Moore–

Nate Washington signing with Titans officially killed any possibility of Tennessee taking a wide receiver in the first round. Washington is a potential star, and when you couple his signing with the Titans’ historic unwillingness to draft any receiving talent, it makes wide receiver a virtual impossibility at this pick. With wide receiver out of the question, the Titans should pull the trigger on drafting a young star at cornerback here. The Titans’ starters are set at cornerback, but once you get past the first two (Cortland Finnegan and Nick Harper), the talent takes a sharp downturn. This draft is surprisingly deep at corner (Smith is the third corner off the board in the first round alone) and last year’s crop of defensive backs showed that drafting top-tier talent at cornerback is a solid investment. Alphonso Smith’s combine bumped him up a notch or two on the draft board, and it is possible that he is top shelf talent waiting to be stolen this late in the draft. -SK-

ari31. Chris “Beanie” Wells – RB (Ohio State)
Updated March 30 – Previous Pick: RB Knowshon Moreno–

The Cardinals could score big here if top tier running back talent drops to pick 31. Unlike recent years, there are no elite running backs available, and demand for running backs in the first round has also diminished. Arizona is one of the few teams who is a lock to select a running back in the first round. RB Edgerrin James provided some much-needed yardage in the postseason last year, but next year will be much different. J.J. Arrington eloped with Correll Buckhalter to Denver, while Edgerrin James will most likely be released before next season. This leaves Tim Hightower as the only running back in Arizona’s stable, a problem which has to be addressed sooner rather than later. Beanie Wells has star potential and top-tier talent to complement RB Tim Hightower. If Wells is off the board the Cardinals could also strike gold with RB LeSean McCoy. No matter who it is, Arizona has to take a running back here. –SK-

pit32. William Beatty – OT (Connecticut)

The Pittsburgh Steelers have had an incredibly successful run in terms of re-signing free agent offensive linemen. Tackles Willie Colon and Max Starks, as well as guard Chris Kemoeatu all re-signed with Pittsurgh this offseason, which severely lessened the damage to an already lacking offensive line. Ben Roethlisberger enjoyed life on the ground last year (see his sack totals through the first six weeks of the season), and the offseason had the potential to punish an already under-performing Pittsburgh line. William Beatty provides the Steelers with an NFL-ready offensive tackle that has the versatility to move around the line if needed. All the other tools (especially on the defensive side of the ball) are in place for Pittsburgh to defend their championship, but to improve on last year Pitt needs improve their offensive line. Pittsburgh could go wide receiver here if a star-caliber player is on the board. Kenny Britt is a possibility, but more than likely Pitt will take an o-lineman here and address their receivers later in the draft with someone like Mike Wallace or Derrick Williams. –SK-

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That’s a wrap for Round 1. We will update this Mock Draft as trades, acquisitions, and transactions are made around the league. We know that every move made during the offseason helps shape a team’s draft strategy, and we plan to react to all significant transactions.

Thanks for reading.

RTS Contributors
–Scotty Kimberly–
–Anthony Moore–
–Matt Howell–

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