On the Clock: Atlanta Falcons (#24 Overall)

Needs: DL, LB, S, CB

The Falcons nabbed the offensive rookie of the year last season in QB Matt Ryan, what does this years draft hold for them? A defensive player, for one. The Falcons offense is solid at every position (but, could use a little more help at receiver) therefore, the Falcons should look to replenish their defense that gave up nearly 350 yards per game.  

Choice #1: Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi

   Jerry is excellent value and can lend a hand with rush defense. The Falcons gave up 127.5 rushing yards a game last season and 17 touchdowns on the ground. Jerry is explosive and can be an interior lineman or could be moved outside to be a pass rusher. Either way, the paring of Peria Jerry and sackmaster John Abraham could turn to be a nightmare for opposing offenses.

Choice #2: Louis Delmas, S, Western Michiganlouis_delmas_300_250

   If the Falcons are satisfied with their current defensive line, their secondary is the next place they should look to build upon. The Falcons pass defense was ranked 21 in the league last year. Louis Delmas is the highest rated safety in the draft and should be available at pick number 24. Delmas plays bigger than his 5 foot 11 size, notching 111 tackles in 2008. Delmas was also named All-MAC first team in 2008. The fact that he played for a mid-major school brings in the question: was his competition up to par?

On the Clock: New England Patriots (#23 Overall)

Needs: CB, S

   The Pats draft better than anyone else in the league and find the best players to fit their system. Because of that, the Pats don’t have many flaws on their roster. Age, however, is always a factor. The Pats should look to improving their secondary and linebackers first. First round pick from 2008 Jerod Mayo has turned out to be a real gem. Since the Pats run a 3-4 defense, they may look to boost their linebacking corps. They may also look to take the best player available if someone from the secondary or a linebacker doesn’t catch their eye. Either way, there is a method to the Patriots madness, we peons just can’t comprehend it yet.

Choice #1: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois

   Davis is the best talent at the corner position at this point in the first round. The Pats need a corner back. If you look at their depth chart on espn.com they don’t even have a name at one of the starting cornerback positions. Now, the Pats could probably play one of their receivers or returners at that position and be fine, but they may also want actually pick up another cornerback. Davis is a good fit, but I don’t know if he has the Patriots “attitude” that the team looks for.

Choice #2: James Laureinaitis, LB, Ohio Statelaurinaitis-2

   The only reason why I don’t think the Pats will take Laurinaitis is because they took an inside linebacker in last year’s first round. That being said, Laurinaitis is the Patriots type of guy. He is productive, hard-nosed, and hard-working. He is a perfect fit for the 3-4 system and would make a mean tandem with Jerod Mayo. The Patriots other inside linebacker is Tedy Bruschi and he is 35. It would be smart to draft another inside linebacker, especially a player of Laurinaitis’ caliber. But, the fear of redundancy may get the best of the Pats (even if they are the best drafters in the league.)

On the Clock: Minnesota Vikings (#22 Overall)

Needs: QB, WR, TE, OL

   True: the Vikings would win more games if they played the entire season without a quarterback and just directly snapped every down to RB Adrian Peterson. However, the Vikings do start a quarterback, and they all suck. That is their first need, but don’t expect any of the top QBs to be available here. Instead, look for the Vikings to help out their QBs (which will be Tavaris Jackson or Gus Ferotte) with some receivers. The Viks should be looking at offense on this first round pick, their defense is solid at every level. 

Choice #1: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, MarylandMaryland Wake Forest Football

   Heyward-Bey was the talk of NFL Combine after he ran a 4.3 forty, which was the fastest in the draft among all receivers. Heyward-Bey has the physical tools to become a monster in the NFL, at 6 foot 2 and 206 pounds, however scouts have questioned his route running skills. The Vikings don’t have that star receiver and haven’t had one since Randy Moss departed some years ago. Heyward-Bey played in a similar offense at Maryland that favored running the ball, which could make the transition to the Vikings easier. 

Choice #2: Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State

   If the Vikings think Heyward-Bey is too much like the former Vikings top ten draft bust Troy Williamson, they could go after the big tight end prospect, Brandon Pettigrew. Pettigrew would be a great fit in the Vikings offense because he is a big target for a young quarterback and is an excellent blocker. No matter who the Vikings draft or pick up, it is obvious they will be running the ball a lot. Pettigrew would be a smart choice at the 22nd spot because he can aid the run game and be a receiver.

On the Clock: Philadelphia Eagles (#21 Overall)

Needs: OL, WR, LB, S

   The Iggles are forever one step away from a Super Bowl title. However, I can’t help but get the feeling that the window of oppourtunity is closing for Eagles. Donovan McNabb is 32 and Brian Westbrook will be 30 by September. The Eagles need to protect the cornerstones of their offense with an offensive lineman. The Eagles also need to replenish their defense which has lost CB Lito Sheppard and S Brian Dawkins during the off-season.  

Choice #1: Michael Oher, OL, Mississippi

   The best offensive lineman available at this point of the draft will be Oher. Oher can begin playing in the offensive line rotation within the first couple weeks and has the potential to anchor a line for the next ten years. The Eagles have always been known for having a solid o-line however, their current line is young and not very deep. Oher will add talent to a line that isn’t very talented.

Choice #2: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois

   Philly’s secondary has fallen apart this past off-season. Lito Sheppard and Brian Dawkins, two Philly favorites, have left for other teams. If the Eagles are content with the state of their line, they could look to ultra-talented Vontae Davis to boost the talent of defense. Davis is 6 foot and weighs just over 200 pounds and runs a sub 4.5 40 yard dash. He isn’t very tall, but makes up for it in speed and aggressiveness. Davis is experienced, having started all three years at Illinois, and an excellent tackler. The past two seasons, Davis racked up more than 75 tackles in each, which is more than most linebackers make in the NCAA. Whoever nabs Davis late in the first round, they are going to get a real gem.

On the Clock: Detroit Lions (#20 Overall)

Needs: QB, OL, DL, CB, S, TE

Choice #1: Andre Smith, OL, Alabama

   The best talent will be available in the draft still in Andre Smith. Since the Lions passed on Baylor OL Jason Smith, they should look to drafting an offensive lineman at the number 20 spot. Smith has all the physical tools to become the next Hall of Fame lineman. However, he has some attitude issues that I do not know if a team like the Lions can straighten out. Their history with players that carry baggage is not very good (Charles Rodgers and Mike Williams anyone?) Because of that the Lions could look to drafting… 

Choice #2: Michael Oher, OL, Mississippimichael_oher

   Michael Oher! Oher is excellent value at this pick and is underrated talent. Oher is massive, at 6 foot 5 and 315 pounds. His 40 is a little slow at 5.32, but when is an offensive lineman going to run 40 yards? Never. Oher was selected as a first team All-American and was also All-SEC this past season. At the end of the day, the Lions are going to take an offensive lineman. It is just going to be which player they like better.

On the Clock: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (#19 Overall)

Needs: WR, QB, DT, DE, LB

   The Buccaneers have always been a staple of solid defense and a power run game. However, their defense is aging rapidly and their power run game as stuttered the past couple years. To make matters worse, the Bucs have lost their starting QB Jeff Garcia and head coach Jon Gruden. The Bucs need to be wise with this pick, but one first round draft pick won’t solve all their problems.

Choice #1: Brian Cushing, LB, USC

   This past offseason, the Bucs lost future Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks and former starter Cato June at the linebacking position. They need to re-fuel. Brian Cushing is a solid, all around linebacker that works hard and is a good fit in thelarge_cushTampa 2 defense. Cushing is experienced, playing all 4 years for a very good defense at USC. He notched 74 tackles last season when the USC was ranked 1 number in defense in the nation. Cushing isn’t the sexiest pick, but he is safe and can play this season.

Choice #2: Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi

  Name a Buccaneers defensive tackle. I bet you can’t do it. Ever since Warren Sapp left in 2003, the Bucs haven’t had an intimidating force in the middle of their defensive line. Jerry draws many similar comparisons to Sapp. Both are 6 foot 2 and 300 pounds. Jerry has the ability to stop the run and penetrate, disrupting the backfield. Either way, if a quarterback is not available at the 19th spot, the Bucs should and will go defense.

On the Clock: Denver Broncos (#18 Overall)

Needs: QB, RB, DT, ILB, S

   The Broncos have so many great options at this position. A number of elite running backs could be left on the board. The draft’s best safety will be there and the draft’s second best DT will be available. Who the Broncos select on draft day at the #18 spot will be interesting. Here is who I think they should pick…24_moreno_in_black_jersey_v_au_20071

Choice #1: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia

   There is a serious drop off of talent at quarterback after Freeman is taken, therefore the Broncos will use this pick to take the best player available. Moreno is that player. The Broncos have had a different leading rusher the past 5 seasons. That needs to change. Moreno has the ability to carry the bulk of the carries. He is also a home run threat. Moreno is the complete package that the Broncos need.

Choice #2: Trade

   As of right now, the Broncos starting quarterback is going to be Kyle Orton or Chris Simms. If I was a Bronco fan, that would terrify me. The Broncos need a quarterback of the future. However, there is a strong possibility that the top three quarterbacks could be gone at this point. Therefore, the Broncos could trade this pick and a number of other picks (including their #12 overall pick) to move up and grab Mark Sanchez or Josh Freeman. This all depends on how much the Broncos like either Simms or Orton and how comfortable they are with either of them at the helm of Denver’s offense.