NFL draft, first round

Welcome to The Baltimore Sun's NFL draft blog. Throughout the first day of the NFL draft, we'll be updating the first and second rounds, pick by pick. If you haven't already heard, the Detroit Lions have already made Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford the No. 1 overall selection, putting St. Louis on the clock. The Ravens currently draft 26th -- barring any trades.

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1, Detroit -- Matt Stafford, QB, Georgia. As expected the Lions started their rebuilding from the 0-16 disaster by taking the guy they hope will be their franchise quarterback. By now, everyone knows the risk inherent in taking a quarterback in the first round. If the Lions whiff on this pick, their rebuilding will be set back years. But really, what choice did they have? They could have tried to trade down and get multiple picks and go with veteran Daunte Culpepper as a place-holder, but there's risk in that approach as well. With the immediate success of Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco last year, there was pressure on the Lions to make a similar move. Here are some Stafford highlights.

2. St. Louis -- Jason Smith, OT, Baylor. When the Rams were the "Greatest Show on Turf," one of the building blocks was their great tackle, Orlando Pace, who is now with the Bears. Before you can throw, you have to protect. Pass protection is Smith's forte. He's 6-foot-5, 308 pounds, but along with size, he has terrific athleticism. In 2008, he did not allow a defensive end to beat him, according to draft expert Mel Kiper. Here's Smith, No. 72, at work.


3. Kansas City -- Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU. First surprise of the draft. At 6-foot-5, 296 pounds, he is projected more as an anchor against the run on the defensive left side rather than an edge pass rusher. Jackson does not have extraordinary speed. The Chiefs will have some explaining to do on this one.

4. Seattle -- Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest. The Seahawks wasted no time in taking advantage of what they probably feel was a mistake by the Chiefs. Curry was the consensus best defensive player in the draft. Curry's strength is that he has no weaknesses. He can stop the run, cover in man-to-man and if he needs to, can be an adequate pass rusher and maybe even a good-to-very good rusher. He is not real tall -- 6-foot-1 1/2 -- but he has been tremendously productive and durable. He carries about 250 pounds in under 4.54 seconds.

5. Jets (from Cleveland). Mark Sanchez, QB, USC. -- Rex Ryan gets his quarterback. The Southern California signal-caller gets high marks for his leadership. Sanchez played a pro-style offense and can deliver the timing passes. He threw 34 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions last season. The Jets gave up their own first-rounder, No. 17, a second-rounder and three veteran players. Predictably, the pick was extremely popular with Jets fans in attendance. ESPN's Chris Berman said the Jets just sold 20,000 PSLs. Does Boomer know about the recession?

6. Cincinnati -- Andre Smith, OT, Alabama. The Bengals already have a quarterback, Carson Palmer. Now, they need to protect him. Smith is 6-foot-4, 332 pounds -- a giant even by NFL standards. He is a young player, a junior who made himself eligible for the draft, so he may have to mature a bit. He has been called a bit of a gamble because he doesn't always do things by the numbers. For instance, he didn't work out at the combine.

7. Oakland -- Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland. Al Davis is soooo predictable. Blinded by Heyward-Bey's 4.30 speed, the Raiders took the speedster higher than anyone else in the league would have even considered. They are howling in draft war rooms across the country. The Terps junior wideout hasn't shown great hands. But he's going to be rich.

8. Jacksonville -- Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia. The fact that Monroe is the third offensive tackle to be chosen in the first eight picks illustrates how important that position is in having a successful offense. He's 6-foot-5, 308 pounds and was a starter for three years.

9. Green Bay -- B.J. Raji, NT, Boston College. At 6-foot-1, 334 pounds, Raji is a plugger, like the Ravens' Haloti Ngata. But what separates a great nose tackle from a so-so one is nimbleness and foot quickness. It remains to be seen whether Raji has that going for him.

10. San Francisco -- Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech. Oakland's mistake could turn into San Francisco's stroke of luck. He doesn't have great size (6-foot-1) or blazing speed (4.55), but Crabtree has great hands and plays faster than the stopwatch says he should. Good route runner who can play the far outside as well as the slot. Enormously productive with 231 catches, 3,127 yards and 41 touchdowns as a two-year starter.


11. Buffalo -- Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State. The Bills went for a pass rushing defensive end in the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Maybin. A typical tweener, he's a hybrid DE/OLB with good speed/size ratio. He runs a 4.7 in the 40-yard dash.

12. Denver -- Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia. Broncos fans are scratching their heads. This is the team that was able to take almost any running back and turn him into a 1,000-yard rusher. But that was under Mike Shanahan.

13. Washington -- Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas. Pass rushing defensive end who comes off the defensive right edge. It's definitely a tactical pick to compliment the offseason acquisition of defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. The Redskins had just 19 sacks last year, and now they have superior inside push along with the threat from the right.

14. New Orleans --Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State With the 26th-ranked defense in the league, the Saints obviously needed to pay attention to that side of the ball. This is something of a coup to get the top DB on the board this deep in the first round.

15. Houston -- Brian Cushing, OLB, USC. Solid player who can play anywhere you need him at linebacker. Decent size, 6-2, 243, and decent speed (4.65). Has a lot of tools, including pass coverage ability.

16. San Diego -- Larry English, OLB, Northern Illinois. First smaller-school player to be selected. Was a DL that obviously projects as a LB. Interesting pick because of his size (6-2, 253) and recognized grit. Has a reputation for playing hard on every snap. Can make impact plays, had eight sacks and 16 tackles for loss as a senior but that was the Mid-American Conference.


17. Tampa Bay (from Cleveland) (from N.Y. Jets). Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State. With a roster full of mediocre arms, the Bucs may have reached to get what was probably the best available QB on the board. A huge kid, 6-5, 248, Freeman probably will need a fair amount of seasoning and coaching with his footwork and delivery.

18. Denver (from Chicago) -- Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee. Figures to project as a left defensive end but at 6-3, 272, he may have to get bigger. Hard to pigeon-hole this guy because he seems to be a little light for the left side and doesn't have the great quickness you want to see at right defensive end.

19. Philadelphia (from) Cleveland (from Tampa Bay) -- Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri. The Eagles' Andy Reid is determined to prove he can win a Super Bowl without a Pro Bowl wide receiver. That's the only explanation. With the Cardinals' Anquan Boldin just waiting to be traded, the Eagles move up two spots to take a slot receiver who does not stretch the field and is not a particularly big target. Those boos you heard at Radio City Music Hall were obviously Eagles fans.

20. Detroit (from Dallas) -- Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State. Not a bad selection here. The Lions need everything so they got the best available QB and the best available TE. Can both catch and block. Good size (6-5, 263), OK speed at 4.80 and decent production (42 catches, 472 yards as a senior).

21. Cleveland (from Philadelphia) -- Alex Mack, C, California. The Browns have been collecting picks as Eric Mangini rebuilds the fanchise. The Mack pick reminds one of what Mangini did early in his Jets tenure when he took two offensive linemen in the first round, including center Nick Mangold.

22. Minnesota -- Percy Harvin, WR, Florida. Big-game performer with blazing speed (4.39). However, Harvin comes with the baggage of so-called "character issues." He failed the drug test at the NFL combine, which makes you wonder. If a player is ever going to be clean, shouldn't it be when his entire future is on the line. He's a tough kid and willing to take a hit but he is a gamble, especially for a franchise that took a shot on character with the infamous Love Boat incident.


23.Baltimore (from New England) -- Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi. The Ravens pick one of the best human-interest stories of the draft. At 6-4, 309, he has prototypical size for a left tackle. Immediately after being drafted, he promised that "Baltimore got a great player." If you're a Ravens fan, you'll hear plenty about Oher's youth, how he came from a fractured family, was in one school after another and was finally taken in by a family who gave him the structure and support he needed.

24. Altanta -- Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi. He's a 25-year-old rookie who the Falcons hope will help strengthen a defense that lagged behind the offense.

25. Miami -- Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois. Particularly strong and solidly built for a corner at 5-11, 203. Figures to be strong at supporting the run and with 4.44 speed at least has the tools to turn-and-run. It's a move toward toughening the Dolphins in the mold of a Bill Parcells team.

26. Green Bay (from New England) (from the Ravens) -- Clay Matthews, LB, USC. Good pick for the Packers this late in the first round. Son of former longtime NFL LB of the same name and nephew of former OL Bruce Matthews. Was a walk-on at Southern California who started as a senior. Tenacious with good size/speed ration (6-3, 240, 4.62) and good production (65 tackles, 4 1/2 sacks).

27. Indianapolis -- Donald Brown, RB, Connecticut. Rushed for more than 2,000 yards as a senior and scored 33 TDs for his career. Good measuarables (5-10, 210, 4.46) and a decent pass catcher. Figures to be part of a one-two punch that is the fashion these days in the NFL.

28. Buffalo (from Philadelphia) -- Eric Wood, C, Louisville. The type of player a team hopes will play a decade in the middle of the line. Certainly has pro size (6-4, 304) but gets high marks for smarts and leadership. He was the team captain at Louisville.


29. N.Y. Giants -- Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina. So what do you think is going through Anquan Boldin's head about now. The Giants filled the hole left by the departure of Plaxico Burress with Nicks. Meanwhile, the veteran Pro Bowl player who figured to bring the Cardinals a first-round pick is being moved to the clearance table.

30. Tennessee -- Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers. Boldin is dissed again. Britt is bigger (nearly 6-3, 218) than quick. But for all the knocks on his game -- not great hands, not a great leaper, not a great blocker -- he still had more than 3,000 receiving yards during his career.

31. Arizona -- Chris "Beanie" Wells, RB, Ohio State. Cardinals take the player with the best old-school nickname in the draft. Typical Big 10 power runner at 6-1, 235. North-south guy who breaks tackles and believes the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. One would think that Edgerrin James' days are numbered in the Valley of the Sun.

32. Pittsburgh -- Evander "Ziggy" Hood, DT, Missouri. Obviously, there's a run on cool nicknames at the moment. Could develop into a decent pass-rushing DT.