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Recent posts by Nolan Nawrocki
ProFootballWeekly.com will provide real-time coverage of the NFL draft beginning at 7:30 p.m. EDT Thursday and continuing throughout the weekend. Nolan Nawrocki will provide analysis of every selection in the first three rounds, and we'll offer commentary on each of the first-round picks, blog postings and fantasy football analysis.
The offseason has been jam-packed with trade activity, with bona fide stars such as Donovan McNabb and Brandon Marshall changing uniforms, and the draft is expected to feature a number of trades, with the potential for it to get started at the very top.
Ben Roethlisberger is being dangled by the Steelers and potentially could alter the landscape of the first round significantly if a deal is struck.
In an offseason that has been as active as any in recent memory, characterized by the heavy movement of former first-round picks, trades could heavily influence what should be a very fluid first round. However, trades were not projected in our first round but were taken into consideration when forecasting which players will land with specific teams.
Noted in parentheses after each team's name is what we have been hearing about the interest of that team's desire to move up or down. An asterisk (*) denotes a junior or third-year sophomore.
1. St. Louis Rams (Down) — QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma*
The Rams cannot afford to pass on their quarterback of the future. Bradford gives reason for hope.
2. Detroit Lions — DT Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska
Big, strong and tough, Suh better fits the physical temperament Jim Schwartz desires in the middle of his defense than Gerald McCoy.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Up/down) — DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma*
McCoy could become a more stabilizing inside force than former Bucs star Warren Sapp and is well-suited for Raheem Morris' defense.
4. Washington Redskins (Up) — OT Trent Williams, Oklahoma
A perfect fit for the Redskins' zone-blocking scheme.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (Down) — OT Russell Okung, Oklahoma State
Chiefs need to protect strong investment they made in their quarterback.
6. Seattle Seahawks — FS Eric Berry, Tennessee*
A Monte Kiffin recommendation is golden. Seattle has only two safeties currently on its roster and they were both college free agents.
7. Cleveland Browns (Down) — CB Joe Haden, Florida*
Tom Heckert learned how to build a team in Philadelphia, and value of CB position is great in Cleveland.
8. Oakland Raiders — OLT Anthony Davis, Rutgers*
Without a more light-footed quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger, the Raiders need more protection.
9. Buffalo Bills — RB C.J. Spiller, Clemson
A game-breaker opens up the Bills' offense and special teams.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars (Down) — DT Dan Williams, Tennessee
Earl Thomas could be a Jaguar if the Jaguars stay put, but it is highly likely the Jaguars move back and continue building the defensive line.
11. Denver Broncos (From Chicago) (Down) — OLB Brandon Graham, Michigan
A prime candidate to trade back and address needs on the interior offensive line or at receiver, the Broncos could feel comfortable kicking Mario Haggans inside and preparing for the contract year of Elvis Dumervil.
12. Miami Dolphins (Down) — OLB Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech*
The Dolphins, heavily interested in trading back, and acquiring the second-round pick they dealt to Denver in the Brandon Marshall trade, could stick with the prototype-sized 'backer for Bill Parcells' front.
13. San Francisco 49ers — OT Bryan Bulaga, Iowa*
Bulaga could secure the pocket for a long time and allow Alex Smith to grow.
14. Seattle Seahawks (From Denver) (Down) — WR Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State*
After missing out on Brandon Marshall, the Seahawks need playmakers to support the acquisition of Charlie Whitehurst. Pete Carroll could manage Bryant.
15. New York Giants — MLB Rolando McClain, Alabama*
Have no more pressing need than replacement for Antonio Pierce.
16. Tennessee Titans — DE Jerry Hughes, TCU
A perfect fit for the Titans' defense, Hughes heats up the edges.
17. San Francisco 49ers (From Carolina) (Down) — CB Kyle Wilson, Boise State
Fills a pressing need in the secondary.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers — C Maurkice Pouncey, Florida*
Steelers have a pressing need at a position where they have always been staunch but could be jumped by a team seeking a Pro Bowl-caliber center.
19. Atlanta Falcons — OG Mike Iupati, Idaho
Falcons have too much uncertainty in the trenches and could be very pleasantly surprised if Iupati is available for them.
20. Houston Texans — CB Kareem Jackson, Alabama*
A big, physical replacement for Dunta Robinson is sorely needed.
21. Cincinnati Bengals — TE Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma*
Gresham fills pressing need and opens up the Bengals' passing game.
22. New England Patriots — RB Ryan Mathews, Fresno State*
When the league begins passing, Bill Belichick starts running, always moving away from the trend. Mathews has the size and strength to wear down a defense in a very physical conference and is the only true bell-cow back in the draft, elevating his value. Coming from Pat Hill's program is a huge plus.
23. Green Bay Packers (Up) — OLB Sergio Kindle, Texas
Must think about replacing OLT Chad Clifton but cannot afford to pass on a rusher like Kindle.
24. Philadelphia Eagles (Up) — FS Earl Thomas, Texas
Eagles will not have a chance at Thomas this late but are likely to strike a trade in an effort to replace Brian Dawkins, whose absence really wounded the defense last season. The Eagles find a way to land their target.
25. Baltimore Ravens — WR Demaryius Thomas, Georgia Tech*
Ravens added Anquan Boldin but still need a receiver who can work vertically, and Ozzie Newsome benefits from the injury status of another prospect.
26. Arizona Cardinals — LB Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri
A fast, physical replacement for Karlos Dansby.
27. Dallas Cowboys (Up) — DE Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida*
With Flozell Adams stepping down, the Cowboys need to bolster the OT position and will eagerly seek to move up to land a premium blocker. If they stay put, Jerry Jones will concentrate on value, and could afford to develop Pierre-Paul slowly.
28. San Diego Chargers (Up) — DE Jared Odrick, Penn State
The Chargers' defensive front has continued to thin and help is needed to bolster the trenches.
29. New York Jets (Up) — DE Linval Joseph, East Carolina*
A potential surprise first-round pick, Joseph has the size to be effective in the Jets' front.
30. Minnesota Vikings (Down) — QB Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame*
Will likely command interest earlier from a team seeking to move back into the first round and secure the free-falling quarterback. The Browns might be tempted to repeat history, after rescuing Brady Quinn in 2007. Once Clausen escapes the top half of the first round, the needs for a QB diminish. The Vikings' roster is so deep they can afford to deal down.
31. Indianapolis Colts (Down) — OL Rodger Saffold, Indiana
Saffold could supply help at either guard or tackle position.
32. New Orleans Saints — CB Patrick Robinson, Florida State
With Darren Sharper unsigned, Malcolm Jenkins could kick to free safety and allow Robinson to step into the role at cornerback.