1. Rams: Sam Bradford, quarterback, Oklahoma.
Bradford’s athleticism, smarts, and accuracy make for an ideal match in Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur’s West Coast system. Marc Bulger will likely be released after the draft.
2. Lions: Ndamukong Suh, defensive tackle, Nebraska.
Oklahoma State left tackle Russell Okung should also be a strong consideration here, but Suh would better fit the bill if Lions G.M. Martin Mayhew employs a best-player-available strategy.
3. Bucs: Gerald McCoy, defensive tackle, Oklahoma.
Tampa has surprisingly ignored its front seven after finishing 2009 dead last against the run. G.M. Mark Dominik is clearly gambling that one of the top defensive tackles will be available.
4. Redskins: Russell Okung, offensive tackle, Oklahoma State.
If the top three go as predicted here, coach Mike Shanahan’s pick will come down to Okung and Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen. The Redskins are more needy at Okung’s position.
5. Chiefs: Trent Williams, offensive tackle, Oklahoma.
Eric Berry is popularly mocked here, but we don’t envision a safety going in the top five. Williams’ “floor” is low because he projects as a Pro Bowl right tackle if he doesn’t pan out on the left side.
6. Seahawks: Bryan Bulaga, offensive tackle, Iowa.
Seattle’s investment in Charlie Whitehurst rules this out as a likely landing spot for Clausen. Iowa uses lots of zone blocking, in which Bulaga must excel under Seahawks line coach Alex Gibbs.
7. Browns: Eric Berry, safety, Tennessee.
The Browns have used free agency and trades to execute an offensive makeover, but remain weak in the secondary. Play-making ability like Berry’s would be hard to pass up at No. 7.
8. Raiders: Charles Brown, offensive tackle, USC.
With 35 1/4″ arms and quick feet, Brown projects as an NFL-ready pass protector with the athleticism necessary for coach Tom Cable’s zone-blocking system. Brown is the better player, but owner Al Davis may also consider workout wonder Bruce Campbell of Maryland.
9. Bills: Dan Williams, defensive tackle, Tennessee.
Buffalo is desperate for a nose tackle as it transitions to a 3-4 defense under new coordinator George Edwards. Kyle Williams (6-foot-1, 306) won’t cut it. At 6-foot-2 and 330, Dan can.
10. Jaguars: Derrick Morgan, defensive end, Georgia Tech.
Jacksonville finished dead last in 2009 sack differential. Coming off a torn ACL, Aaron Kampman probably won’t be 100 percent before Week Eight. Morgan led the ACC in sacks last season.
11. Broncos: Rolando McClain, linebacker, Alabama.
The Broncos have prioritized upgrades to their front seven all spring. McClain would replace recently released inside ‘backer Andra Davis, giving Denver a thumper alongside D.J. Williams.
12. Dolphins: Earl Thomas, safety, Texas.
Gibril Wilson’s release leaves 2009 fifth-round pick Chris Clemons and journeyman Tyrone Culver as Miami’s only options at free safety. Thomas is an immediate upgrade in terms of both cover and play-making skills.
13. 49ers: Sergio Kindle, defensive end, Texas.
With G.M. Scot McCloughan out of the fold, coach Mike Singletary will likely have more say on draft day. Samurai Mike covets pass rushers, and Kindle is a ready-made 3-4 outside linebacker.
14. Seahawks: Joe Haden, cornerback, Florida.
Pete Carroll inherited a secondary consisting of just one surefire starting defensive back (CB Marcus Trufant). Haden improved his forty time at Florida’s Pro Day, and is back in the top-15 conversation.
15. Giants: Anthony Davis, offensive tackle, Rutgers.
Davis hasn’t had a good offseason, but G.M. Jerry Reese proved last year that he puts little stock in pre-draft workouts by selecting an overweight Hakeem Nicks in the first round. The Giants want to replace injury-prone right tackle Kareem McKenzie.
16. Titans: Jason Pierre-Paul, defensive end, South Florida.
Pierre-Paul only played at the Division-I level for one season, which may cause him to slip on draft day despite a top-ten skill set. The Titans need to replace Jevon Kearse and Kyle Vanden Bosch.
17. 49ers: Jared Odrick, defensive tackle, Penn State.
San Francisco would do extremely well to enter May with Odrick and Kindle upgrading the starting lineup. Odrick, a defensive tackle in Penn State’s 4-3, would play end in the Niners’ 3-4 and be a pass-rushing improvement over Isaac Sopoaga.
18. Steelers: Devin McCourty, cornerback, Rutgers.
There might be better pure corners available (e.g. Kyle Wilson) but McCourty is a special teams maven and Mike Tomlin has been obsessed with upgrading his special teams since mid-season last year.
19. Falcons: Kyle Wilson, cornerback, Boise State.
The Dunta Robinson signing gives Atlanta options at No. 19, but corner remains one of the club’s softest spots. Wilson’s punt return skills also can’t hurt with Harry Douglas coming off a torn ACL.
20. Texans: Ryan Mathews, running back, Fresno State.
With Steve Slaton recovering from neck surgery, the Texans have made it clear that they’re going to use a first- or second-round pick on a tailback. Mathews’ Terrell Davis-like running style fits coach Gary Kubiak’s zone-blocking scheme perfectly.
21. Bengals: Mike Iupati, offensive guard, Idaho.
The Bengals have been active on on the free agent market for guards, but have yet to pull the trigger on any of their targets. Iupati could replace unsigned 34-year-old Bobbie Williams.
22. Patriots: Demaryius Thomas, wide receiver, Georgia Tech.
A natural long-term replacement for contract-year wideout Randy Moss, Thomas’ sub-4.4 speed and ability to stretch the field may prove too tempting for Bill Belichick & Co, despite a fractured foot.
23. Packers: Brandon Graham, defensive end, Michigan.
G.M. Ted Thompson would ideally grab a left tackle of the future, but Bruce Campbell is a reach and no other lineman is worth this high of a pick. So he’ll settle for a clone of LaMarr Woodley.
24. Eagles: Patrick Robinson, cornerback, Florida State.
The Birds were unhappy with
annually disgruntled cornerback Sheldon Brown oft-used nickel back Joselio Hanson’s play last year. Robinson is arguably the purest man-to-man corner in the draft.
25. Ravens: Carlos Dunlap, defensive end, Florida.
Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham should also be on G.M. Ozzie Newsome’s radar, but Dunlap’s freakish ability is hard to ignore. The Ravens are needy at defensive end with Dwan Edwards gone to Buffalo.
26. Cardinals: Jerry Hughes, defensive end, TCU.
33-year-old Joey Porter is a short-term fix, and bookend outside linebacker Clark Haggans is also 33. Hughes would play with his hand up in Arizona’s 3-4 defense and push to start right away.