First, a confession: I’m positively mocked-out at this point. I’m tired of thinking my way through a million different scenarios and I’m sick of reading everyone else’s opinions. Quite frankly, when I calculate how many hours I’ve thrown away playing the world’s greatest guessing game, I’m more than a wee bit ashamed. And if I, an admitted draft addict, am sick of the speculation, then I suspect you are too. Thankfully, draft day is right around the corner. And if it makes you feel better (and more likely to read the rest of this column), know that I’ve once again devised some scenarios you won’t see anywhere else.
+ -- underclassman
1. Oakland Raiders (2-14) + JaMarcus Russell, QB, LSU
Everybody knows Calvin Johnson is the best prospect in this year’s draft. But when you’ve passed on Matt Leinart, Jay Cutler, Phillip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger over the course of the last three years, you better take a freaking quarterback this time around.
2. Atlanta (7-9) (trade from Detroit) + Calvin Johnson, WR, Georgia Tech
The entire world expects the Lions to trade out of this spot. There’s only one problem: Nearly every team in this draft would rather trade down that trade up. But Atlanta has moved all their chips to the table with Michael Vick, so they better deal him a hand that gives him every opportunity to succeed. The Falcons have the resources, but do they have the cojones to pull the trigger? We’ll see.
3. Cleveland Browns (4-12) Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame
Looks like the ubiquitous Quinn has worked his way back to the top of the board. I’m still not sold on his ability to be a truly elite quarterback, but the Browns are desperate for someone to become the face of the franchise. If nothing else, pretty boy Brady can handle that.
4. Chicago Bears (13-3) (from Tampa Bay) Amobi Okoye, DT, Louisville
Alright, here’s where things get crazy. I’m convinced the Bears are going to move disgruntled linebacker, Lance Briggs, on draft day. And with Charles Johnson off the board, Tampa’s focus will shift toward trading down. Well, the Bears have a ton of ammunition to work their way up and if Jerry Angelo zeroes in on a particular player, he’ll make the move. Should Chicago add Okoye to their already ferocious front four, Bears’ fans might temporarily be able to forget that Rex Grossman is still their quarterback.
5. Arizona Cardinals (5-11) Joe Thomas, OT, Wisconsin
This is a no-brainer. Arizona’s offensive line has been horrible since the Jurassic. Joe Thomas is the best lineman available. Perfect match.
6. Washington Redskins (5-11) + Gaines Adams, DE, Georgia
Apparently the Redskins want out of this slot. Considering they don’t have a second, third or fourth round pick this year, I don’t blame them. But if Washington is forced to stay put, Adams is the pick.
7. Minnesota Vikings (6-10) LaRon Landry, S, LSU
As long as the Vikes stay in this spot, their course of action is obvious, too. They have to take LaRon Landry.
8. Detroit Lions (3-13) (from Atlanta) + Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma
I still find it next to impossible to believe that Adrian Peterson could slip this far. But if Cleveland doesn’t take him, it seems like he’s destined to fall. Detroit (or a team trading up) will happily offer him a home.
9. Miami Dolphins (6-10) Levi Brown, OT, Penn State
At some point, the Dolphins have to address their pathetic excuse for an offensive line. I’m still not entirely sold on Levi Brown, but he certainly fills a major need for the Fish.
10. Denver Broncos (9-7) (from Houston) Patrick Willis, ILB, Ole Miss
What?!? Houston and Denver making a deal? Who woulda thunk it? At this point, doesn’t it seem like the Texans are just the Broncos’ farm team? Anyway, Denver could use a linebacker now that they’ve parted ways with Al Wilson. And Willis is far and away the cream of the crop in this year’s class.
11. San Francisco 49ers (7-9) Adam Carriker, DE, Nebraska
The 49ers began to overhaul their porous defense via free agency and now they continue the job in the draft. Carriker is rising fast and he’d be a perfect fit in San Francisco’s 3-4.
12. Buffalo Bills (7-9) + Darrell Revis, CB, Pittsburgh
I really think the Bills have a serious jones for Patrick Willis. But since he’s off the board, I think Buffalo might pull a small upset and take the top corner in the draft. That’s right, it’s Derrell Revis, NOT Leon Hall. Marshawn Lynch is an option here, but his stock is slipping and NFL execs know you can always find quality backs in the later rounds.
13. St. Louis Rams (8-8) + Jamaal Anderson, DE, Arkansas
Pairing Anderson with Leonard Little has to be a very attractive thought for a Rams’ defense that rarely strikes fear in the hearts and minds of opposing offenses.
14. Carolina Panthers (8-8) Alan Branch, DT, Michigan
With Kris Jenkins rumored to be on the trade block, Branch would seem to be an ideal replacement. 15. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) + Lawrence Timmons, OLB, Florida State
Ho hum. Lose Joey Porter, replace him with a younger, faster and (ultimately) better version. The Steelers won’t skip a beat.
16. Green Bay Packers (8-8) + Greg Olsen, TE, Miami
Time after time, I’ve placed Marshawn Lynch in this spot. But as I said previously, the Cal running back seems to be sliding. So instead, the Pack give Brett Favre a weapon to help exploit the middle of the field.
17. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8) + Reggie Nelson, S, Florida
Jags stay in-state and nab a big-time playmaker. Some are questioning Nelson’s smarts and speed, but all I know is the guy is constantly around the football. I’m a big fan.
18. Cincinnati Bengals (8-8) Leon Hall, CB, Michigan
Alright, so Hall will probably be long gone before this spot. But, in my opinion, this part of the draft is much closer to where he actually belongs.
19. Tennessee Titans (8-8) + Ted Ginn Jr., WR, Ohio State
Good lord. Can you imagine Vince Young and Ted Ginn on the same team? They might not make magic right away on the field, but in Madden they may be unstoppable.
20. New York Giants (8-8) Aaron Ross, CB, Texas
The Giants' secondary is a mess and it's time to retool. Ross would be a solid start.
21. Houston Texans (6-10) (from Denver) Joe Staley, LT, C. Michigan
Staley is flying up everyone’s chart right now. His athleticism would make him a great fit in Denver’s zone blocking scheme, so why don’t the Texans draft him, coach him up and then deal him to Denver when he’s ready to dominate? That’s what farm clubs do, right?
22. Dallas Cowboys (9-7) Dwayne Bowe, WR, LSU
Sigh. I really like Dwayne Bowe. I’d love to see him in a Houston uniform and he’d certainly be a consideration for the Texans if they do actually trade down. In this scenario, I think the Cowboys’ brain trust would choose between Bowe and Robert Meachem. Reluctantly, I’ll give Jerry Jones the benefit of the doubt and give him the better player.
23. Kansas City Chiefs (9-7) Ben Grubbs, OG, Auburn
With the retirement of Will Shields, the Chiefs desperately need to start rebuilding their O-line. Guards don’t usually go in the first round, but Grubbs is a perennial Pro Bowl lock. One sleeper scenario to watch out for: K.C. drafts Marshawn Lynch because they decide to deal Larry Johnson. Don’t laugh. It could happen.
24. New England Patriots (from Seattle) Paul Posluszny, LB, Penn State
Posluszny is the prototypical Patriot. And his stock is rising, so I don’t think New England can afford to wait until #28 to grab him.
25. New York Jets (10-6) + Jarvis Moss, DE/OLB, Florida
Mangini and company continue to quietly develop a rock-solid defense.
26. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) Chris Houston, CB, Arkansas
Houston is an aggressive, man-to-man corner. Sounds just like the kind of player who would thrive in Jimmy Johnson’s defense.
27. New Orleans Saints (10-6) Justin Harrell, DT, Tennessee
Really torn here. The Saints have a glaring hole in their secondary, so I want to give them Eric Wright. But Harrell is the better player and comes with fewer red flags.
28. New England Patriots (12-4) Anthony Spencer, DE/OLB, Purdue
I keep hearing a lot of talk about the Pats possibly moving up since they are the proud owners of a pair of first round picks. But why would they? They’ll get two very good players if they stay put and, in a draft with a dearth of truly top-shelf talent, I don’t see New England being overly motivated to trade up.
29. Baltimore Ravens (13-3) + Eric Wright, CB, UNLV
Yes, Wright comes with baggage. But when all is said and done, he may end up being one of the ten best players in this draft.
30. San Diego Chargers (14-2) + Dwayne Jarrett, WR, USC
Meachem or Jarrett? I say the Chargers go with the guy who played his home games just up the California coast.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12) (from Chicago) + Robert Meachem, WR, Tennessee
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Bucs can go in a lot of different directions here. But since they wanted Charles Johnson so badly, I’ll give them a decent consolation prize.
32. Indianapolis Colts (12-4) + Jon Beason, LB, Miami
Indy lost a lot of players on the defensive side of the football this off-season. Time to start filling those holes.