The Early Line

SI's mid-March mock draft offers some intriguing scenarios and one certainty: Last year's hot position will stay hot
March 15, 2009

SEVEN TACKLES went in the first round of 2008, and this year's draft shapes up as another big one for the big guys up front: Tackles could go one-two for the first time in NFL history. Here's a look at how round 1 could play out on April 25.

1 Lions
Jason Smith, T, Baylor
QB Matt Stafford could be the choice if he has a great Pro Day; otherwise the selection could come down to who is the easiest to sign among tackles Smith and Eugene Monroe and linebacker Aaron Curry.

2 Rams
Eugene Monroe, T, Virginia
Monroe is more polished than the tenacious Smith—but he has less upside.

3 Chiefs
Aaron Curry, LB, Wake
Forest Curry wowed everyone at the combine and might be the surest thing in the draft.

4 Seahawks
Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
Although Seattle signed veteran T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Crabtree would be the long-term answer at wideout.

5 Browns
Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas
Desperate for an edge rusher, Cleveland has set up a private workout with Orakpo before his March 25 Pro Day.

6 Bengals
B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College
Cincinnati was 21st against the run and has to get stouter up the middle.

7 Raiders
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
Oakland needs weapons on the perimeter, and Maclin is an excellent run-after-the-catch threat.

8 Jaguars
Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State
His 4.52 40 at the combine didn't wow scouts, but his highlight reel does.

9 Packers
Everette Brown, DE-LB, Florida State
The Pack needs an edge rusher for its new 3--4; Brown had 13½ sacks in '08.

10 49ers
Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
San Francisco won't believe its good fortune if it finds its QB of the future here.

11 Bills
Andre Smith, T, Alabama
Despite questions about Smith's maturity, Buffalo would welcome this mauler up front.

12 Broncos
Rey Maualuga, LB, USC
With the switch to a hybrid 3--4, Maualuga is too good to pass up—even after Denver signed free agent Andra Davis.

13 Redskins
Brian Cushing, LB, USC
After releasing Jason Taylor, Washington needs a complement to Andre Carter, though this would be a reach.

14 Saints
Clay Matthews, LB, USC
New Orleans grabs a successor for one of the aging Scotts—Fujita or Shanle.

15 Texans
Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
Houston's defense lacks depth. Some believe Davis is the best corner in the draft.

16 Chargers
Knowshown Moreno, RB, Georgia
If a deal is reached with LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego could go with an O-lineman or inside 'backer.

17. Jets
Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
Despite a hole at wideout, New York would love to find Sanchez in this spot.

18 Bears
Michael Oher, T, Mississippi
After selecting Chris Williams in '08, Chicago goes for a bookend first-rounder.

19 Bucs
Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi
He'll fill the hole in the middle left by Jovan Haye's free-agent departure.

20 Lions (from Cowboys)
Larry English, LB, Northern Illinois
A college end, he has the build and athleticism to be a playmaker.

21 Eagles
Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State
Wells would be a nice replacement for Correll Buckhalter, who left as a free agent.

22 Vikings
Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina
Having missed out on Houshmandzadeh, Minnesota snags Nicks (181 catches and 21 TDs in three seasons).

23 Patriots
Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State
The ideal project for Bill Belichick: a college end who projects as an outside 'backer in the 3--4.

24 Falcons
Evander Hood, DT, Missouri
Atlanta lost DT Grady Jackson in free agency, but Hood could fill the void with his size (6'3", 300 pounds), tenacity and passion.

25 Dolphins
Alex Mack, C, California
Miami must get stronger inside, and Mack is 6'4", 311 pounds and bright.

26 Ravens
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
Baltimore wants a deep threat, and Heyward-Bey had the combine's fastest 40 time (4.3).

27 Colts
James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State
His size (6'2", 244) and athleticism will fit nicely in Indy's Cover Two scheme.

28 Eagles (from Panthers)
Eben Britton, T, Arizona
The physical Britton provides depth behind free-agent signee Stacy Andrews.

29 Giants
Percy Harvin, WR, Florida
New York needs Plaxico insurance, and Harvin is the best available prospect.

30 Titans
Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
The versatile Jackson can play end in Tennessee's base 4--3 and slide inside to tackle in passing situations.

31 Cardinals
Donald Brown, RB, Connecticut
Brown, who rushed for 2,083 yards and 18 TDs in '08, would pick up the slack if Edgerrin James goes.

32 Steelers
Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut
Butler has the instincts and athleticism to thrive in the zone-blitz scheme.

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PHOTOMANNY FLORES/ICON SMI (SMITH)BUILDING BLOCKS Detroit could beef up with Jason Smith (72); the Jets would love to get Sanchez (below). PHOTOJEFF LEWIS/ICON SMI (SANCHEZ)[See caption above]

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)