By Don Banks
April 23, 2009
There will be surprises. Of that I'm sure. Because there always are in the NFL draft. This year, the potential drama centers around how high the likes of Mark Sanchez and Tyson Jackson might go, how low Michael Crabtree and Percy Harvin might fall, and which team in the middle third of the round walks away with Josh Freeman added to its quarterback depth chart.

I'm ready, you're ready, so let's take one final stab at mocking out the first round of Saturday's pick-fest.

UPDATED THURSDAY 4:30 P.M.: To reflect the Falcons acquiring Tony Gonzalez from the Chiefs. (Send comments to

1 QB Matthew Stafford Georgia Jr. 6-3 228
Ultimately the Lions go for the player who could inject the most impact to a roster devoid of difference makers. Stafford at No. 1 conjures up a little bit of the same less-than-convinced feeling I got watching Alex Smith lead off the draft in 2005. But without a quarterback in this league, you go nowhere. A deal with Stafford isn't done as of this writing, but the way I see it, the Lions have most of the leverage. Tell me exactly where Stafford lands if he doesn't take Detroit's best offer? He could fall as far as the No. 10 49ers.
2 OT Jason Smith Baylor Sr. 6-5 305
From the sound of things, the Rams are down to flipping a coin between Smith and Virginia offensive tackle Eugene Monroe. When I do it, it keeps coming up heads for Smith.
3 OLB Aaron Curry Wake Forest Sr. 6-3 247
The Chiefs want to trade out of this spot, and should field calls from teams that want USC quarterback Mark Sanchez. Washington and the Jets seem to be the teams most desperate to come up, but neither has much to barter. The buzz is K.C. will take LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson if it sits tight, but that might be too rich a slot for Scott Pioli to seriously consider. More likely the Chiefs try to trade down and take him lower. Barring any move, we're giving them Curry, easily the draft's best defensive prospect.
4 QB Mark Sanchez USC Jr. 6-3 225
Seattle says it's set with Matt Hasselbeck and isn't looking to take a quarterback in the first round. But I continue to think Sanchez will go in this slot, even if the Seahawks don't do the picking. Anyone out there understand my desire to be half-right rather than completely wrong?
5 DT B.J. Raji Boston College Sr. 6-1 323
With it looking like Braylon Edwards isn't going anywhere via trade, picking Michael Crabtree appears out. Giving the Browns the draft's best defensive tackle sounds like the kind of move the defensive-minded Eric Mangini would instinctively make.
6 OT Eugene Monroe Virginia Jr. 6-6 315
The Bengals would have to be happy with getting one of the draft's two top-rated offensive tackles, rather than settling for the third, Alabama's Andre Smith. If Raji gets past Cleveland, Cincy runs its pick to the podium in New York.
7 WR Jeremy Maclin Missouri So. 6-1 200
The Raiders and Maclin have been linked for weeks now, and even the availability of Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree isn't going to change the equation. Al Davis loves the burners, and Maclin is a burner.
8 OT Andre Smith Alabama Jr. 6-4 330
Don't discount the Jaguars trading down with someone who wants Crabtree, but if they stick, I get why they aren't jumping up and down to pick the Texas Tech receiver themselves. Jacksonville hasn't had much touch with pass-catchers of late (see Matt Jones, Reggie Williams and Jerry Porter), and it's understandably gun shy. That pushes the need at offensive tackle to the fore, and it was Jacksonville quarterback coach Mike Shula who recruited Smith to Alabama.
9 DE Tyson Jackson LSU Sr. 6-4 296
The Packers need components for their switch to a 3-4 defense, and Jackson is considered the most NFL-ready 3-4 end in the draft. Mississippi offensive tackle Michael Oher is a consideration, and his stock has heated up once again in draft circles. But a quality front seven prospect is too tempting to pass up for Green Bay.
10 WR Michael Crabtree Texas Tech So. 6-3 214
The 49ers benefit from Crabtree's tumble down the top 10. The key slot to watch for Crabtree is No. 4. If he gets past the Seahawks, the No. 5 Browns, No. 7 Raiders and No. 8 Jaguars all have reasons to go in another direction.

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