By Don Banks
March 12, 2009
21 RB Knowshon Moreno Georgia Jr. 5-11 207
The Eagles need to come away from the first round with a running back and an offensive tackle to show for their two picks, and while running backs have a tendency to slide some in the opening round, Moreno might not last until No. 28. He and Connecticut's Donald Brown are both good pass-catchers who can pick up the blitz and handle short-yardage situations.
22 WR/RB Percy Harvin Florida Jr. 5-11 195
Having come close but failing to land T.J. Houshmandzadeh in free agency, the Vikings need an injection of play-making at receiver. Harvin and North Carolina's Hakeem Nicks are the two best remaining available pass-catchers.
23 DE-OLB Larry English Northern Illinois Sr. 6-2 255
The Patriots are looking for replacements for both outside linebacker Mike Vrabel (gone) and inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi (going, going) in this year's draft, but English's grade is likely to be higher than that of Ohio State inside linebacker James Laurinaitis. Another possibility outside is USC's Brian Cushing.
24 OLB Brian Cushing USC Sr. 6-3 255
With Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew having fallen off the first-round radar, the Falcons most likely will look for an outside linebacker, after having lost both Michael Boley and Keith Brooking in free agency. Cushing is a lay-up pick in this scenario.
25 OLB Clint Sintim Virginia Sr. 6-3 256
The Dolphins could use someone to create some pass pressure opposite Joey Porter at 3-4 outside linebacker, and Sintim is a prospect who has worked his way into the bottom third of the first round. It doesn't hurt either that Bill Parcells can get a first-hand testimony from Cavs head coach Al Groh, one of his many former assistants scattered around the game.
26 WR Hakeem Nicks North Carolina Jr. 6-2 210
With the Ravens signing Domonique Foxworth in free agency as the potential replacement for Chris McAlister, they can turn their first-round attention to finding receiver Derrick Mason's eventual replacement. Nicks doesn't have the speed of the other first-round receivers, but he's got a polished, NFL-ready game.
27 LB James Laurinaitis Ohio State Sr. 6-3 240
The Colts are one of the few teams willing to take their highest-rated player and disdain the strictly need pick. But Laurinaitis could address both an area that needs a talent upgrade and represent great bottom-of-the-round value.
28 OT William Beatty Connecticut Sr. 6-6 307
With Tra Thomas gone to Jacksonville and Jon Runyan still unsigned, the Eagles need another tackle besides the newly added Stacey Andrews. Beatty over Mississippi's Michael Oher, you ask? Yeah. That's my story and I'm sticking with it. For now, at least.
29 WR Kenny Britt Rutgers Jr. 6-4 215
To repeat, it's need, need, need in the bottom two-thirds of the first round, and New York can't count on having Plaxico Burress around this season. The Giants would love to see Hakeem Nicks linger all the way to 29th, but he won't, so New York will go with Britt, the local hero from Rutgers.
30 DE Robert Ayers Tennessee Sr. 6-3 272
With the Titans having swapped Albert Haynesworth for Jovan Haye at the defensive tackle position in free agency, I'm sticking with Tennessee taking the ex-Volunteer Ayers and beefing up its rotation at defensive end. Georgia Tech's Michael Johnson and LSU's are the other two defensive ends who could sneak into the bottom of the first round.
31 RB Donald Brown UConn Jr. 5-10 210
Having lost Antonio Smith in free agency, the Cardinals could go for a defensive end, but the value at running back figures to be strong with Brown and Chris "Beanie" Wells still on the board. I've been told the versatile Brown will be a considered a first-round lock by the time April rolls around, and I think his stock will eventually surpass that of Wells'. Given the Edgerrin James situation, Arizona has to consider life beyond The Edge.
32 CB D.J. Moore Vanderbilt Jr. 5-10 182
The Steelers could address the interior of their offensive line with Cal center-guard Alex Mack, but they've got a need at cornerback with the loss of Bryant McFadden to Arizona in free agency. Moore would be just the third defensive back taken in the first round, and some mocks have just one cornerback and no safeties going in the opening round. I can't remember the last time defensive backs were that sparsely represented in round one.

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