The Bengals need help for Carson Palmer in the passing game, and that means either a new front-line receiver or a pass-catching tight end. This is a big week for Gresham, because he's got to check out medically after last season's torn meniscus injury to warrant a first-round grade. If he doesn't, look for Cincy to focus on a receiver like Illinois' Arrelious Benn, Georgia Tech's Demaryius Thomas or maybe Notre Dame's Golden Tate.
Finding a front-seven player who can rush the passer is crucial for the Patriots, and even if Julius Peppers and New England do play let's make a deal in free agency, an outside linebacker who can rush off the edge might get first-round attention. Graham looks like a fit on tape because he's a proven playmaker with a great motor. But at 6-1 he's a bit short by New England OLB standards, and apparently his 30-inch arms don't measure up, either. Will the Pats listen to the game tape or the measuring tape? Missouri's Sean Weatherspoon is another OLB who's somewhat short, but holds good value at No. 22.
Green Bay appears to be in fine position to have its pick of the offensive tackles who carry lower first-round grades. Campbell is the cleanest prospect of the bunch, with USC's Charles Brown and Massachusetts Vladimir Ducasse also in the mix. Campbell is a skilled pass blocker, and that's what the Packers lacked to a woeful degree for a good bit of last season.
Andy Reid believes in building his team's lines first, and lives by the rule that you can never have enough talent on the defensive front. Griffen is a top 15 talent who would be counted on to boost the Eagles' pass rush. And while passing on safety Taylor Mays (Griffen's former Trojans teammate) might be tough for Philly, expect the Eagles to make the value pick. The other pass rusher still available is Florida's Carlos Dunlap.
Receiver or cornerback will likely get the first-round love from Baltimore. The Ravens like Georgia Tech receiver Demaryius Thomas, but it's too early to know how the broken foot he suffered this month in a workout might affect his grade in Baltimore. Benn is a physical receiver who has been compared to a young Terrell Owens, and not in a bad way. After posting dismal stats last season as a junior, Benn's stock has risen of late. If the Ravens go cornerback, Rutgers' Devin McCourty looks like a nice fit, and his return skills boost his value.
Sorry, no repeat Tim Tebow projection here. Superman has too much work to do to warrant a first-round spot. The Cardinals will instead turn their attention to defense, where they could use some youth at outside linebacker and maybe another run-stuffer at defensive tackle. Weatherspoon can play inside or outside, and he's a three-down player who has some big-play instincts. At defensive tackle, UCLA's Brian Price and Penn State's Jared Odrick remain as viable first-round value picks.
The Cowboys could use another option at offensive tackle should they let Flozell Adams go, but Mays should be an easy card to turn in. Though he didn't make enough big plays for the Trojans as a senior, he's a gifted athlete who has impressive size and speed, and he fills a crying need in Dallas. Honestly now, who wouldn't want a guy named Mays playing centerfield for their defense?
The Chargers are shopping for running backs, and not just one. With LaDainian Tomlinson gone and Darren Sproles not seen as lead-back material, San Diego will be looking long and hard at Best, the ex-Cal Bear. Best is a home run hitter who can make people miss, but his health issues make this week's medical check-up pivotal. Jonathan Dwyer of Georgia Tech and Ryan Mathews of Fresno State are the other running back names to know here.
The Jets need more pass rush, and even though they're also in the market for another receiving threat, Dunlap possess a rare blend of skills that in time could make him one of the game's sack leaders. Dunlap's immaturity and commitment level pose risks, but last we checked, Rex Ryan wasn't afraid to roll the dice on a player. If the Jets hit with Dunlap, it helps ease the big first-round swing and miss that Vernon Gholston was two years ago.
With the Vikings losing Cedric Griffin to a knee injury in overtime of the NFC title game and Antoine Winfield struggling through an injury-marred season, the cornerback slot could use some help in Minny. McCourty is physical in coverage and could jump right into a nickelback role as a rookie. He also has big-time kickoff return skills, although Percy Harvin already handles that job nicely for the Vikings.
In this scenario, the Colts have their pick between Price and Penn State defensive tackle Jared Odrick. Price is rated higher by most, but it might come down to Indy's preference for lighter, more athletic defensive tackles and which one the Colts rate as the more mobile. Florida center-guard Maurkice Pouncey could get a look as the eventual replacement for veteran center Jeff Saturday, and an offensive tackle like Charles Brown of USC fills a need as well.
The Saints need to get younger and quicker at outside linebacker, even if strongside starter Scott Fujita re-signs and doesn't depart in free agency. But unless Missouri's Sean Weatherspoon falls to them, the value at No. 32 might be elsewhere. Odrick would give New Orleans another talented interior player to pair with Sedrick Ellis inside, and he has shown the ability to tie up blockers and let his linebackers flow to the ball behind him.
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