With less than two weeks until the start of the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, here is the National Football Post's third mock draft:
1. Detroit Lions: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
As badly as the Lions need to find a franchise quarterback, we simply can't see them investing No. 1-type money in anything other than a top offensive lineman. Smith is a dominant run blocker with great body control and feet for the position. He looks like one of the safest picks in this year's draft.
2. St. Louis Rams: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
With all the trouble St. Louis has had keeping QB Marc Bulger clean in the pocket the past couple of years, offensive tackle looks like the only viable option. Monroe has the body control and overall athleticism to anchor the left side for many years.
3. Kansas City Chiefs: Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest
New GM Scott Pioli isn't likely to take unnecessary chances during the first couple of months of his regime. Curry is one of the country's top prospects and adds not only a legitimate defensive playmaker but a lot of versatility for Pioli to build around.
4. Seattle Seahawks: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
The Seahawks were forced to play from behind a lot last season, which really exposed their undersized defense. They could add a massive DT like B.J. Raji here, or they could bring in a playmaker like Crabtree, who will instantly improve their receiving corps and allow them to start playing with the lead again.
5. Cleveland Browns: Everette Brown, DE/OLB, Florida State
The Browns need to improve their pass rush up front, and that starts with their outside linebackers. Brown is an explosive, quick-twitch athlete who knows how to get up field and create havoc off the edge. He is exactly the type of pass rusher the Browns need to help restore their defense.
6. Cincinnati Bengals: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
The Bengals' offensive line was decimated by injuries last year, and they need to add someone capable of playing on the left side. Enter Smith, a former tight end who has as much upside and potential as any offensive lineman in the draft. He will instantly be able to help keep Carson Palmer's backside clean.
7. Oakland Raiders: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
The Raiders will give left tackle a long look here, but a talented deep threat like Maclin is simply too enticing for Al Davis to pass up.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars: Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss
Even with the top three tackles off the board, the Jaguars must address their biggest need. Oher is a physically and athletically dominant left tackle who simply needs to improve his overall consistency. The Jags' coaching staff got a good look at him while coaching the Senior Bowl, so expect them to pull the trigger if he's still around.
9. Green Bay Packers: Brian Orakpo, OLB/DE, Texas
Much has been made of the Packers' transition to a 3-4 defense, so it's imperative they find the pieces to fit their scheme this offseason. Orakpo, a hybrid OLB/DE, should be a nice fit playing across from OLB Aaron Kampman. He plays with the type of power and passion that will allow his game to translate nicely to frigid Green Bay, as opposed to some of the speed rushers who have struggled there, such as Jamal Reynolds.
10. San Francisco 49ers: Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
With question marks surrounding the draft's top-rated quarterbacks, I expect both to fall a bit on draft day. However, with San Francisco still in need of a franchise QB, Stafford is almost too good to pass up. He has the kind of arm strength to create big pass plays and should be helped by the run-first philosophy of coach Mike Singletary.
11. Buffalo Bills: B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College
The Bills need to add to their pass rush this offseason, but with Orakpo and Brown off the board, expect the Bills to opt for a big-time tackle. DT Kyle Williams does a nice job defeating blocks and playing with a consistent motor, but the idea of Raji and Marcus Stroud inside is too good to pass up.
12. Denver Broncos: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
The Broncos need help at just about every position on the defensive side. However, with Raji, Orakpo and Brown off the board, look for Denver to opt for a franchise running back who can help add balance to their offense and keep their defense rested. Moreno is a big-time talent; the Broncos will address their defense during the next couple of rounds.
13. Washington Redskins: Eben Britton, OT, Arizona
This is the first real surprise of the first round, as the Redskins are forced to reach for a tackle earlier than they'd like. I can't see any of the top four tackles falling this far, and Britton is simply the next one on the board. He's a big, smooth athlete with the versatility to play on either side of the offensive line. He isn't a great value here, but the Redskins need to add youth and talent to their offensive line in the first round.
14. New Orleans Saints: Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State
Possibly the steal of the draft to this point as the Saints land the nation's top corner in Jenkins, who will quickly shore up their secondary. Jenkins is one of the draft's few elite prospects, but with few teams in the top 10 in need of a corner, he could fall farther than many expect.
15. Houston Texans: Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State
One of the Texans' biggest needs this offseason is finding a complement to DE Mario Williams. Enter Maybin, an explosive, long-armed lineman who came on as a redshirt sophomore this season. He still has a lot of growing to do, but he possesses a lot of upside and can come in and rush the pass on third-down situations for the Houston defense.
16. San Diego Chargers: Rey Maualuga, ILB, USC
This pick really seems to fit. The Chargers have few holes on their roster, but if they could stand to add more talent, it would be inside at linebacker. Maualuga is the type of hard-hitting, fast-flowing athlete the Chargers crave, and they can hide some of his flaws in pass coverage with the overall aggression of their scheme.
17. New York Jets: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
With the Brett Favre saga likely coming to an end this year, the Jets need to bring in a quarterback they can look to in the future. Sanchez needs time to mature since he hasn't played many games in his college career, but he's a smart, hard-working quarterback with the accuracy and anticipation skills to make it.
18. Chicago Bears: Percy Harvin, RB/WR, Florida
The Bears' offense is in desperate need of playmakers, and Harvin adds an explosive element that makes him a big-play threat. He's still raw as a receiver, but he has a ton of upside and the athleticism to make an immediate impact at the next level.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State
The Buccaneers' running back position has seen its fair share of injuries the past two seasons, so it's imperative they bring in a franchise type of back this offseason. Wells is a big, well-built runner with the power and vision to create plays at the line of scrimmage and wear down defenses. He should help give the Bucs a new identity on offense under rookie coach Raheem Morris.
20. Detroit Lions: James Laurinaitis, ILB, Ohio State
It's possible this pick could be used to acquire Patriots QB Matt Cassel in trade. If not, expect the Lions to use it on a smart, heady defender like Laurinaitis, who can come in and make an immediate impact.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
The Eagles could go in a number of directions here, and history says a guy like OT William Beatty from Connecticut fits the bill. However, given the Eagles' struggles at the tight end position this season, a dual blocking/receiving threat like Pettigrew would go a long way to help the offense. He's a natural receiver who knows how to work the middle. He's also one of the most powerful blocking tight ends to come along in years and will be able to handle the edge one-on-one on the outside.
22. Minnesota Vikings: D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt
Tackle is a possibility for the Vikings at pick 22, but I expect them to find a big right-side player in the later rounds. And with a talent like Moore still on the board, look for them to upgrade their secondary. Moore possesses the most explosive first step of any corner in the draft and will be an ideal fit in the Vikes' Cover 2 scheme. He should be able to force a lot of turnovers behind the team's impressive defensive line.
23. New England Patriots: Brian Cushing, OLB, USC
Seems like a logical fit here as the Patriots need help all over the linebacking corps and Cushing has the versatility to line up at a variety of positions. He is a tough, instinctive defender with fluid feet and the ability to rush the passer – the kind of player Bill Belichick craves.
24. Atlanta Falcons: Sean Smith, S/CB, Utah
The Falcons are a bit of a wild card here with needs at linebacker, nose tackle and safety. However, with the pickings slim at linebacker and nose tackle, expect Atlanta to opt for one of the most physically imposing defensive backs in the class. Smith is a tall, well-built corner who is being projected at both corner and safety. He displays great fluidity for his size and should be able to step in and make an immediate impact in the secondary. He will add versatility to the Atlanta defensive scheme.
25. Miami Dolphins: Clay Matthews, OLB, USC
Matthews seems like a natural fit for the Dolphins since Bill Parcells loves to bring in big, hard-working, versatile athletes. He has a blue-collar mentality and enjoyed a very impressive senior campaign. He looks like a guy who has secured himself a spot in round one.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
The Ravens are in need of some young talent at corner, and possibly no defensive back has as much talent as Davis. He's still a bit raw and needs some time to develop, but no one can question his incredible combination of size, speed and fluidity.
27. Indianapolis Colts: Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss
Jerry has the talent to warrant a top-20 pick, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him long gone by this point. However, he's the type of quick-twitch interior lineman the Colts love to draft. He plays with a great motor, and his first step consistently allows him to make plays in the backfield. He adds a lot of talent to a position the Colts definitely need to upgrade.
28. Philadelphia Eagles: William Beatty, OT, Connecticut
The Eagles went against their prior history with their first pick, selecting a tight end in the first round. But with their second pick, I expect Andy Reid to go back to his old ways and add a talented offensive lineman to help with the eventual replacement of current starting tackles Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan.
29. New York Giants: Larry English, OLB/DE, Northern Illinois
Even with the turmoil surrounding the future of wideouts Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer, expect the Giants to wait on a receiver in the draft or address it during free agency. They still have a need at strongside linebacker, and English not only has the power to be stout at the point of attack, he's also a gifted athlete off the edge who could further enhance the Giants' pass rush.
30. Tennessee Titans: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
The Titans have consistently overlooked the wide receiver position on draft day, but it's time they bring in a big-time vertical threat who can stretch defenses and make plays down the field. Heyward-Bey is possibly the draft's most intriguing size/speed prospect. He still has a lot of developing to do, but the guy has the potential to blossom into one of the league's more gifted vertical threats.
31. Arizona Cardinals: Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina
The Cardinals could go in a number of directions with this pick (LT, OLB, RB, C), but if they end up losing wideout Anquan Boldin, it's imperative they replace him quickly if they want any chance of getting back to the Super Bowl. Nicks possesses a very similar skill set to Boldin; he's a physical route runner with good hands and is tough to bring down after the catch.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers: Alex Mack, C, California
The Steelers need to upgrade the interior of their offensive line, and Mack not only has the versatility to play center or either guard spot, he's the type of tough, in-line blocker the Steelers crave. He should be able to come in and make an immediate impact somewhere inside.
33. Detoit Lions: Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State
Not only do the Lions get their quarterback of the future here, they also get the quarterback with the most upside in the draft.
35. St. Louis Rams: Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest
The Rams need to add talent to their cornerback position, and Smith can come in and start from day one.
36. Cleveland Browns: LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh
McCoy gives the Browns a more dynamic and explosive threat on the ground.
37. Seattle Seahawks: Ron Brace, DT, Boston College
The undersized Seahawks defensive line needs to add some girth up front; Brace fits the bill.
38. Cincinnati Bengals: Shonn Greene, RB, Iowa
The kind of blue-collar running back the Bengals need in order to take pressure off their passing attack.
39. Jacksonville Jaguars: Max Unger, C/G/T, Oregon
The Jaguars need help across the offensive line, and Unger has the versatility to fill any of those roles.
40. Oakland Raiders: Jamon Meredith, OT/OG, South Carolina
An ideal fit at either guard or tackle in the Raiders' zone-blocking scheme.
41. Green Bay Packers: Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
Should become an immediate starter in the Packers' new 3-4 defense.
42. Buffalo Bills: Shawn Nelson, TE, Southern Miss
The kind of vertical threat the Bills' offense desperately needs at tight end.
43. San Francisco 49ers: Jarron Gilbert, DE, San Jose State
An ideal five-technique defensive end who has been soaring up draft boards the past couple weeks.
44. Miami Dolphins (from WAS): Louis Delmas, S, Western Michigan
The class' top safety prospect should instantly upgrade Miami's secondary.
45. New York Giants (from NO): Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers
Expect the Giants to address their receiver position in the second round with a big target like Britt.
46. Houston Texans: Coye Francies, CB, San Jose State
An impressive corner who was a real standout at the Senior Bowl and is starting to climb up draft boards.
47. New England Patriots (from SD): Jairus Byrd, CB, Oregon
An instinctive zone corner who should fit in nicely in the complex New England defense.
48. Denver Broncos: Clint Sintim, OLB, Virginia
The kind of athletic rush linebacker the Broncos need for their 3-4 defense.
49. Chicago Bears: Sen'Derrick Marks, DT, Auburn
A quick-twitch lineman ideal for the Bears' one-gap scheme.
50. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee
The Buccaneers need to infuse young talent along their defensive line. Ayers fits the bill.
51. Dallas Cowboys: Duke Robinson, OG, Oklahoma
The kind of big, physical lineman the Cowboys seem to build their offensive line around.
52. New York Jets: Asher Allen, CB, Georgia
A tough, instinctive corner who will help upgrade the Jets' secondary.
54. Minnesota Vikings: Nate Davis, QB, Ball State
With a lack of talent at the quarterback position, expect the Vikings to take a shot on Davis at the end of round two.
55. Atlanta Falcons: Fili Moala, DT, USC
A big, physical lineman who might be able to fill a need at nose tackle for Atlanta.
56. Miami Dolphins: Derrick Williams, WR, PSU
Williams adds some much needed talent and depth to the Miami receiving corps.
57. Baltimore Ravens: Connor Barwin, OLB/DE/TE, Cincinnati
A hard-working, blue-collar athlete with an ability to play on both sides of the ball.
58. New England Patriots: Troy Kropog, OT, Tulane
A smooth pass blocker who adds much needed youth to the Patriots' offensive line.
59. Carolina Panthers: Chase Coffman, TE, Missouri
The Panthers have lacked consistent production from the tight end position since Wesley Walls.
61. Indianapolis Colts: Juaquin Iglesias, WR, Oklahoma
A smooth route runner who should fit nicely in the Indianapolis offense.
62. Tennessee Titans: Evander Hood, DT, Missouri
An explosive tackle who might end up replacing Albert Haynesworth if he isn't re-signed.
63. Arizona Cardinals: Paul Kruger, OLB/DE, Utah
The type of hybrid pass rusher the Cardinals love to use off the edge.
64. Pittsburgh Steelers: Herman Johnson, OG, LSU
A massive in-line blocker who should create some big holes in the Steelers' run game.
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- Andre Smith
- Brian Orakpo