With top picks, focus is on line
For the first time, the NFL has broken the draft into three days, beginning with the first round Thursday (4:30 p.m. PDT; ESPN, NFL Network). Times NFL writer Sam Farmer takes a look at how Round 1 could unfold:
1. St. Louis: QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma -- By releasing Marc Bulger, the Rams have cleared the way to begin the Bradford era.
2. Detroit: DT Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska -- Jim Schwartz wants to rebuild the defense he had in Tennessee, and Suh is the Lions’ Albert Haynesworth.
3. Tampa Bay: DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma -- The Buccaneers have searched for years for a replacement for Warren Sapp. McCoy is a compelling option.
4. Washington: OT Trent Williams, Oklahoma -- The Redskins need someone to protect Donovan McNabb’s blind side, and Williams fits their system better than Russell Okung.
5. Kansas City: OT Russell Okung, Oklahoma State -- He’d be a great value pick for the Chiefs, who need a left tackle to bump Branden Albert to the right. A stunner that may happen? Alabama LB Rolando McClain.
6. Seattle: S Eric Berry, Tennessee -- The Seahawks really want a tackle and would love Williams or Okung (in that order), but a playmaking safety doesn’t hurt, either.
7. Cleveland: QB Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame -- Clausen is going to go around this point in the draft, whether it’s to the Browns or to a team that trades up to get him.
8. Oakland: G Mike Iupati, Idaho -- This is a surprise pick, but massive Iupati could play tackle in the Raiders’ man-blocking scheme. Other possibilities are Maryland tackle Bruce Campbell, South Florida defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and Clemson running back C.J. Spiller.
9. Buffalo: OT Bryan Bulaga, Iowa -- The Bills are in dire need of a left tackle (that position devastated them last year) but they need a quarterback too. Would they leapfrog Cleveland for Clausen?
10. Jacksonville: S Earl Thomas, Texas -- Safety is a need for the Jaguars, although not their biggest. They’ll also take a hard look at McClain, the middle linebacker from Alabama.
11. Denver: C Maurkice Pouncey, Florida -- Too early for a center? Maybe, but this draft is light on elite interior offensive linemen and the Broncos badly need someone to snap the ball. There’s a big vacancy at receiver, too, so watch Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas.
12. Miami: LB Sergio Kindle, Texas -- The Dolphins filled their need for a receiver with Brandon Marshall, and a pass-rushing outside linebacker would really help. Kindle’s an outstanding one, but there are questions about his knee.
13. San Francisco: OT Anthony Davis, Rutgers -- The 49ers sorely need someone who can step right in and secure the starting right tackle job. Davis is that kind of player.
14. Seattle: T Charles Brown, USC -- Pete Carroll is reunited with one of his former Trojans. Now, the pressure is on Brown (or Davis, if he’s available) to replace All-Pro Walter Jones.
15. N.Y. Giants: LB Rolando McClain, Alabama -- The Giants need a player to replace middle linebacker Antonio Pierce, and McClain is an ideal fit. But will the Chiefs snap him up at No. 5?
16. Tennessee: DE Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech -- With Kyle Vanden Bosch in Detroit, the Titans need an impact pass rusher. Morgan is a good fit.
17. San Francisco: CB Joe Haden, Florida -- The 49ers will have addressed their two biggest needs at this point: offensive tackle and cornerback, both of whom will be immediate starters.
18. Pittsburgh: CB Kyle Wilson, Boise State -- The Steelers have very average cornerbacks, and Wilson could be the best in the draft. Food for thought: What if Pittsburgh took Tim Tebow here?
19. Atlanta: DE Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida -- Pierre-Paul is a freakish athlete who’s incredibly raw. If his upside were to pan out, though, he’d be a steal here.
20. Houston: RB C.J. Spiller, Clemson -- Steve Slaton isn’t the answer for the Texans, and Spiller is a good option (although Ryan Mathews might be a more complete back). Texans could take a cornerback, too.
21. Cincinnati: TE Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma -- The Bengals need a tight end who can block and stretch the field. Remember, they also need a safety and they like players from USC. This could be Taylor Mays.
22. New England: WR Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State -- With Wes Welker coming off a knee injury and Randy Moss in the last year of his deal, Bryant is interesting. A lot of scouts like Georgia Tech’s Thomas better.
23. Green Bay: CB Devin McCourty, Rutgers -- The Packers are getting old quickly at cornerback and need an infusion of youth there. McCourty, Patrick Robinson and Kareem Jackson are options.
24. Philadelphia: CB Patrick Robinson, Florida State -- Robinson might be the most physically gifted cornerback in this draft, but his play has been somewhat inconsistent. The Eagles need a replacement for Sheldon Brown.
25. Baltimore: DT Jared Odrick, Penn State -- Odrick is a good fit for Baltimore’s 3-4 defense. He’s huge and could help the Ravens maintain their excellence on the defensive front.
26. Arizona: DT Dan Williams, Tennessee -- Williams is shorter (6 feet 2) and wide (329 pounds), and he could be the nose tackle that Cardinals Coach Ken Whisenhunt has sought since he arrived.
27. Dallas: S Taylor Mays, USC -- The Cowboys cut Ken Hamlin, and they’re looking for a safety who makes more plays. Is that Mays? He still needs to prove he’s a playmaker, even though his “measurables” are off the charts.
28. San Diego: RB Ryan Mathews, Fresno State -- The Chargers don’t have LaDainian Tomlinson and they need a young back who can complement Darren Sproles. They can pick up a defensive tackle in the second round.
29. N.Y. Jets: DE Brandon Graham, Michigan -- As good as Rex Ryan’s defense is, the Jets still need a pass rusher so the team doesn’t have to blitz so much. Another guy to look for here is TCU’s Jerry Hughes.
30. Minnesota: CB Kareem Jackson, Alabama -- The Vikings have a glaring need for help at cornerback. They could be in prime position to trade back if there’s a team zeroed in on Tebow.
31. Indianapolis: OT Rodger Saffold, Indiana -- The Colts need to revamp their offensive line, and Saffold is the type of player who fits their scheme. If they go defensive tackle, this could be UCLA’s Brian Price.
32. New Orleans: DE Tyson Alualu, California -- Rising fast on a lot of draft boards, Alualu could step right into Gregg Williams’ defense and make an impact.