We'll know for sure how the first round plays out on Saturday, but two days before the start of the draft, here is how I see it unfolding, with the draft scenarios facing each team during the first round:
1. Detroit Lions
Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
In a quarterback-driven league, conventional wisdom would suggest that the Lions take Matthew Stafford with the first overall pick to give the moribund organization their franchise quarterback. With former Pro Bowler Daunte Culpepper in place, the Lions would have the luxury of grooming Stafford for a year before handing him the keys to the offense.
» If the Lions believe that they can find their franchise quarterback at No. 20 (or even next year) and can't come to a pre-draft agreement with Stafford, they will likely fortify their defense by selecting Wake Forest's Aaron Curry, who has already said he will accept less money than last year's No. 1 pick in order to go. No. 1. Curry would likely move to middle linebacker, and team with Julian Peterson and Ernie Sims to form an elite linebacker corps. If Curry doesn't go here, don't be surprised if he slides all the way out of the top 10.
2. St. Louis Rams
Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
The loss of perennial Pro Bowler Orlando Pace leaves a massive hole on the left side of the Rams' offensive line. With two tackles carrying high first-round grades (Jason Smith and Virginia's Eugene Monroe), the Rams in this scenario will have their pick at No. 2. While most scouts regard Smith and Monroe as 1A and 1B at the position, my gut tells me that Smith would be their choice at this pick.
» If the Rams believe that the offensive tackle pool is so deep that they can pick up a starter with their second-round pick (No. 35), they could pick up a wide receiver with Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree or Missouri's Jeremy Maclin to upgrade their offense. Both would provide much-needed playmaking to an offense that ranked 27th overall last year, although Maclin might be a stretch this high.
» GM Billy Devaney has said he is willing to listen to offers for this pick, but admits there isn't a "groundswell right now for one, two or three marquee guys teams are earmarking," and with the pricetag associated with a top-five pick, the Rams will likely have to stay put and pick here.
» Devaney remains a wildcard because this will be the first time he has been in charge on draft day. Keep in mind that the formative years of his 24 in player personnel were spent with the Chargers under Bobby Beathard, who was known for his unorthodox drafting style.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
The first two picks shouldn't interfere with Kansas City's plans at No. 3 if the Chiefs want to address their defensive deficiencies with their top choice. After finishing near the bottom of the league in several defensive categories, the Chiefs are expected to focus on solidifying that side of the ball. A pass rusher is needed, and the unit could also use a stout interior player to shore up the run in their new hybrid 3-4. In addition, the team could use another playmaker at linebacker to assist Derrick Johnson. New GM Scott Pioli was part of a New England brass that drafted defensive linemen in first round in three of their first four years, which sparked the team to three Super Bowl titles this decade. With that in mind, the pick here is Tyson Jackson, who would solidify the interior of the Chiefs' 3-4.
» Aaron Curry could be in play if the team decides that the Butkus Award winner would be a great fit alongside Johnson at linebacker.
» If neither of those options are attractive to the team, it wouldn't surprise anyone to see the team snatch Monroe off the board to solidify their tackle situation.
4. Seattle Seahawks
Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
Again, the preceding picks shouldn't affect what Seattle does here, unless the Seahawks are set on replacing aging Walter Jones at left tackle with their top pick, but I don't see that. After perennially ranking as one of the league's best offenses, the Seahawks fell off a cliff with their dismal performance last season. While Matt Hasselbeck's struggles can be attributed to some of the dropoff, the Seahawks' leaky offensive line underachieved in all aspects. Furthermore, the receiving corps was ravaged by injuries and failed to provide the big plays that had been a hallmark of the offense for years. In spite of the issues along the line, the opportunity to grab a franchise quarterback is rare, so Mark Sanchez is the pick at No. 4. With Hasselbeck's series of injuries and advanced age a concern, Sanchez becomes the team's quarterback of the future.
» If the team passes on Sanchez, it could take a flier on Crabtree. The Seahawks, who already signed T.J. Houshmandzadeh in free agency, could provide first-year coach Jim Mora with an enviable receiving tandem.
» Monroe, an ideal candidate to replace Jones at left tackle, could be a surprise pick here if he's still on the board.
» In a move that is a longshot due to the enormous financial commitment invested at one position, the Seahawks could grab Curry to team with Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill. Picking Curry here would definitely qualify as a best-player scenario.
5. Cleveland Browns
B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College
Eric Mangini has the opportunity to reshape the Browns' 3-4 with the fifth overall pick. The team needs another pass rusher to complement Kamerion Wimbley, and could use another big body to shore up their run defense. In addition, the team is in need of a playmaker at the safety spot after losing Sean Jones in free agency. On the other side of the ball, the team must make a decision on whether to ship out Braylon Edwards, and how to best handle the Donte Stallworth legal situation. However, championship defenses are traditionally strong down the middle, and B.J. Raji will team with Pro Bowler Shaun Rogers to form an impenetrable wall. Raji would man the nose tackle spot with Rogers sliding over to end.
» If the Browns opt for the pass rusher, Orakpo would appear to be the best choice due to his explosiveness and pass-rush skills.
» Crabtree's receiving skills are so enticing -- and the team's issues at receiver so pressing -- that the Browns could eschew their defensive woes and go for a playmaker with the top selection.
» While it will be difficult to drop out of this spot, another team could make a strong offer if a targeted top-tier player (Sanchez?) is still available. A trade to a lower pick would be an intriguing option, especially if the Browns feel like they could scoop up Ohio State CB Malcolm Jenkins with a trade that would net them their first pick somewhere in the middle of Round 1.
6. Cincinnati Bengals
Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
Marvin Lewis is squarely in a dilemma with needs at offensive tackle and defensive end/outside linebacker. The team lost Stacy Andrews during free agency and is reportedly dangling Levi Jones in the trade market. With the Bengals moving to a more ground-oriented attack, the desire to fill the tackle position is a top priority. Thus, it is a no-brainer for the Bengals to select Monroe, who in this scenario falls to this spot.
7. Oakland Raiders
Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
The Raiders have few weapons in the passing game outside of Zach Miller, so identifying a No. 1 receiver is imperative in this draft. The team could also use a tackle to solidify the offensive line. On the other side of the ball, Oakland needs a legitimate run stopper in the middle to shore up a defense that has ranked near the bottom of the league against the run for the past few seasons. Nevertheless, Crabtree is the best receiver in the draft, and he gives JaMarcus Russell the playmaker that he needs to make the Raiders' offense go.
» If Maclin or Crabtree aren't on the board, Andre Smith would make sense if the team wanted to shore up its offensive line.
» On defense, the logical choice would be B.J. Raji, although in this mock he is off the board. However, he is the best defensive tackle in the draft and would fill a huge hole in the middle of the defense.
» Don't discount another team making a play for the Raiders' pick if Sanchez starts to slide and is still on the board.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars
Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
After letting Matt Jones and Reggie Williams go during the offseason, the Jaguars may be in the market for another first-round receiver in spite of the Torry Holt signing. The Jaguars have upgraded their offensive line with the addition of Tra Thomas but will still consider taking an offensive tackle with their first-round pick. While David Garrard is only a season removed from putting up stellar numbers, the team has indicated that it would seriously ponder taking Sanchez, if he was available. Although the urge to upgrade the skill positions is tempting, Jack Del Rio selects Smith here to restore the Jaguars' smash-mouth running game. They can always address their receiver situation in later rounds.
» If Smith is off the board, the Jags would likely turn their attention to Maclin or Crabtree if either were still available. Given the choice of the two, I believe Crabtree would be the better fit in Jacksonville's offense.
» If Crabtree is gone and the Jaguars aren't sold on Maclin's fit into their system, this could be where the first trade happens on Saturday. In this mock, every player they have been connected to -- Sanchez, Raji, Crabtree and Tyson Jackson -- is gone. A bailout could be in order here.
9. Green Bay Packers
Brian Orakpo, DE/OLB, Texas
Dom Capers takes over the defense with the intention of transforming the unit into a 3-4. While some of the pieces are in place, the team needs to strengthen the defensive line to make the scheme work. In addition, the unit could benefit from discovering a legitimate pass rusher to place opposite Aaron Kampman, who is moving to outside linebacker in Capers' scheme. With that premise in mind, look for the Packers to pull the trigger on Orakpo here.
» In the four drafts he has conducted as Packers GM, Ted Thompson has traded down 13 times to accumulate more picks, something he learned under Ron Wolf when the two were together in Green Bay. With so many players the Packers are targeting gone in this mock scenario, logic says Thompson will look to bail out again.
» A 3-4 defense needs to be strong up the middle, so B.J. Raji will garner some consideration at this pick if he's still there.
» If the team is looking for a defensive end capable of two-gapping, then Tyson Jackson would be the logical choice.
Best available vs. need
Which is the best way to build a winner? It depends on who you ask, writes Steve Wyche, as some teams focus on the draft, others fill needs via free agency or trades. More ...
10. San Francisco 49ers
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
The 49ers are poised to be tougher and more physical on defense with Mike Singletary at the helm, but the team must address numerous issues on offense before they are able to wrestle the division crown from the Cardinals. Quarterback would take precedence, but finding an offensive tackle and talented receiver are also priorities. With Sanchez and the top three offensive tackle prospects off the board at this point, the 49ers select Maclin to juice up their offense.
11. Buffalo Bills
Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi
The trade of Jason Peters to the Eagles gave the Bills another first-round pick, but it also created another hole in their lineup. Therefore, one of their top selections will go to filling their void at left tackle. The team could opt for a pass rusher at this pick, but Oher carries a higher grade than any available pass rusher at this point.
» If none of their coveted players are on the board, look for the Bills to move back and pick up more draft picks in later rounds.
12. Denver Broncos
Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest
The Broncos have two picks in the first round (Nos. 12 and 18), and will focus heavily on the defensive side of the ball. The team is lacking playmakers within the front seven, so defensive line and linebacker will be critical positions. In addition, the team may make a play for a quarterback if the right one falls to them at either pick. However, the Broncos are poised to become the beneficiaries of a surprising draft-day development as they land Aaron Curry at the 12th pick. Although Curry is regarded as the best defensive prospect on the board, he experiences a bit of a free fall on draft day due to teams' reluctance to spend a high pick (and top dollar) on a linebacker that doesn't have exceptional rush skills. While this scenario appears to lack logical sense, it is a very real possibility if the Lions don't take Curry with the first overall selection.
» The Broncos would love to see Curry, Raji or Tyson Jackson (who would give their defense a stout defensive end capable of moving inside on passing downs) still on the board at this spot. If they're not, Denver could take a flier on one of the other pass rushers available at this point. Everette Brown and Maybin would be likely candidates as hybrid-type rushers off the edge.
13. Washington Redskins
Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee
The Redskins have mortgaged away their drafts in the past and may have to take similar measures this season to get the prospect they covet in the first round. Although they have needs at defensive end and linebacker, the Redskins are looking to get into the top 10 to acquire their quarterback of the future (Sanchez). If they deem the price too high to move up or if Sanchez is gone, an offensive tackle would fill a huge hole on the right side of the line. While the opportunity to shore up the offense is a noble idea, the Redskins are better served to tighten up their defense, which is why Ayers is the pick at 13 ... if they don't move up into the top 10.
» The Redskins are going to make a big play for Sanchez in the early stages of Round 1, and they appear willing to give up significant picks to corral their guy.
» If the team stays at 13 and the offensive coaches win out and Oher is still available, then Oher gets plugged in at tackle. That's a lot of ifs.
14. New Orleans Saints
Malcolm Jenkins, CB/S, Ohio State
The Saints have fielded an offense the past few years that was capable of leading them deep into the postseason, but a spotty defense has kept them from maximizing their potential. With few playmakers on the second level, the defense could use an infusion of talent at linebacker and safety. If they are able to address their defensive woes at some point, the Saints could look for a big, physical runner to pair with Reggie Bush in the backfield. After watching the Saints surrender bomb after bomb, Sean Payton puts an end to the madness by selecting Jenkins, who would give the Saints a versatile corner/safety capable of filling a couple of needs in the secondary.
» Of course, the loss of RB Deuce McAllister has led to speculation about Chris "Beanie" Wells coming off the board at this point, but the Saints may want to trade down to grab the former Buckeye while picking up an additional pick. Also, don't discount Knowshon Moreno as a possible option for their running back spot.
15. Houston Texans
Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut
The Texans are on the verge of reaching the postseason, but need to address a few holes on their defense to make it happen. A ball-hawking safety is needed, and the team could still use another defensive tackle or linebacker in the lineup. Offensively, the Texans would like a big back to pair with Steve Slaton. However, Gary Kubiak is well-schooled in the Broncos' system, so it is unlikely that the Texans will make a play for a runner with their top pick. With the notion of finding a lock-down cover man a priority, the Texans opt for Darius Butler here.
» If Jenkins is on the board, he would be an ideal fit in their secondary. But if Jenkins or Butler are no longer an option, the team would think hard about taking Illinois CB Vontae Davis. Davis is more talented than Butler, but his character issues pushes Butler ahead of him.
» If the Texans are unable to address their secondary situation, look for them to take Cushing to fill their need at linebacker.
16. San Diego Chargers
Rey Maualuga, LB, USC
The Chargers have one of the most talented rosters in the league, but they have a few areas that need to be addressed on both sides of the ball. Defensively, the team needs a standout inside linebacker in the middle of its 3-4. In addition, the unit could use a big body as defensive end to replace Igor Olshansky, who signed with Dallas in free agency. On the offense side of the ball, it is time to start grooming a replacement for LaDainian Tomlinson. Although it will be very tempting to take Moreno or Wells here, Maualuga would be an instant impact player in his rookie season, and is the Chargers' best choice at the pick. Maualuga would give San Diego an energetic linebacker capable of producing big plays in Ron Rivera's aggressive system.
» If Maualuga is no longer an option, Moreno or Wells factor into the equation at this point.
17. New York Jets
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
The Jets have spent the majority of their offseason re-tooling their defense, but the draft will be used to address their offensive woes. Of course, upgrading the quarterback position is the priority given their available options on the roster. The team also needs to find another weapon in the passing game to complement Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller. Though the Jets will make every attempt to trade up into the top 10 to make a play for Sanchez, I don't think they will be aggressive enough with their offer to get it done, and will eventually settle on a big-play receiver with their pick at 17. Therefore, I'm going with Darrius Heyward-Bey here. The wideout will immediately add an explosive element to the Jets' offense.
18. Denver Broncos
Brian Cushing, LB, USC
» If Cushing is also gone, Clay Matthews could be in play here. If all three of the USC linebackers are off the board, the Broncos will look to take the best available defensive player regardless of position. Of those still available in this mock, Maybin, Everette Brown, Peria Jerry or Evander "Ziggy" Hood are all possibilities.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi
Raheem Morris and Mark Dominik are reshaping a Bucs' roster that is in need of a makeover. The once-vaunted unit fell off its lofty perch and is in need of an infusion of young talent. The team needs a standout defensive tackle and another pass rusher to place in the lineup opposite Gaines Adams. The Bucs also need to identify a replacement for former Pro Bowler Derrick Brooks in the lineup. Offensively, the Bucs will look to pick a quarterback for the future at some point in the draft. Although I think the Bucs will think long and hard about pulling the trigger on Josh Freeman, I believe the desire to upgrade the interior of their defense will lead them to eventually settle on Jerry as their pick.
» If Jerry is gone, Hood would remain the only interior lineman with a first-round grade who would fit Tampa's scheme. Like Jerry, Hood is a one-gap penetrator with athleticism, motor and toughness -- traits that are requisites for the position in Tampa Bay.
» If the Redskins move up to take Sanchez, Ayers could be available here and could be the Bucs' choice. He would be the stout defensive end to play opposite Adams on the defensive line.
» If the Bucs opt for the quarterback, Freeman would be the only consideration if he slips past the Jets at 17.
20. Detroit Lions
Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State
The Lions have numerous options at this pick, but their strategy will be determined by what they do with the first overall selection. While the chance to fortify their offensive line is a viable option with Eben Britton and William Beatty on the board, the Lions are surprised that Maybin lands in their lap at the 20th pick. Thus, they opt to grab the pass rusher and hope to find an offensive tackle in a later round.
» If the Lions make the surprising decision to select Curry at No. 1 and Maybin is gone, they could further bolster their defensive line up by selecting an interior player (Jerry or Hood) with their second first-round pick.
» The possibilities are endless for the Lions, but they are looking to take the best available players, regardless of position. As a winless team, they have that luxury.
21. Philadelphia Eagles
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
The Eagles are relieved the Chargers went defense with their pick instead of finding LT's eventual successor. Philly needs a successor of its own -- Brian Westbrook's -- in this year's draft. Though their defense could use some tweaking, the Eagles will likely focus on adding a few more explosive weapons to their offense in the early rounds. With Moreno still on the board, the Eagles make the move to secure Westbrook's eventual replacement with the 21st pick. Andy Reid has never used a high pick on a running back, but Moreno is so talented that it will be hard for the Eagles to pass on him.
» If Moreno is off the board, the Eagles will look long and hard at Wells. He could serve as the power runner in the team's backfield rotation.
22. Minnesota Vikings
Eben Britton, OT, Arizona
The Vikings need to upgrade their passing attack to better complement Adrian Peterson. Although Bernard Berrian is firmly entrenched as the team's No. 1 receiver, they could use an explosive playmaker on the opposite side. In addition, the team could use a talented offensive tackle on the right side. Defensively, linebacker and secondary help could be on the way in later rounds. Even though the team needs to add another weapon to the passing game, the chance to grab a future starter along the line makes Britton the safer pick over Hakeem Nicks and Percy Harvin at this point.
23. New England Patriots
Connor Barwin, OLB, Cincinnati
The Patriots are looking to retool an aging defense that needs more playmakers on the second level. Therefore, linebackers and corners would appear to be the priority. The team could also use a pass-rushing specialist on the opposite side of Adalius Thomas. On offense, the Patriots need another receiver and potential third-down running back. When the Patriots parted ways with Mike Vrabel, Bill Belichick not only lost a valuable defensive player, but one of the team's best weapons in the red zone. Connor Barwin fits need as a hybrid pass-rushing specialist.
» If not Barwin, the Patriots could take pass-rushing specialist Larry English and make it two consecutive years of taking a linebacker in the first round.
Risers and fallers
24. Atlanta Falcons
Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
The Falcons' surprising run to the playoffs masked a defense that struggled against the run, and the team needs to address the situation by adding more beef to their defensive line. Furthermore, the Falcons are searching for another playmaker to add to their linebacker corps. Offensively, the team would like to give Matt Ryan another weapon in the passing game to alleviate the pressure on Roddy White on the outside. Although the offense survived last season without a threat in the middle of the field, the addition of Brandon Pettigrew could make the Falcons' offense a more diverse unit.
25. Miami Dolphins
Larry English, DE/OLB, Northern Illinois
The Dolphins head into the draft intent on upgrading their secondary and pass rush. With the team signing Gibril Wilson and retaining Yeremiah Bell, Miami will focus on finding a starting cornerback to man the position opposite Will Allen. Although Joey Porter is coming off a spectacular 17.5-sack season, he is entering his 11th year and the team needs to start grooming his successor. In looking at the Dolphins' offense, they desperately need a No. 1 receiver for balance. While some would suggest that Miami snatch up the corner with this pick, history shows that a pass rusher makes a bigger impact on a defense and that is the reason Larry English comes off the board here. He is a perfect fit for the Dolphins' defensive system.
» With the market featuring only a handful of "big" corners, the Dolphins will have to consider Darius Butler or Vontae Davis at No. 25 if they are still available, but in this mock, only Davis is. Both would serve as instant starters, and give Miami a more athletic presence than it has had on the corner.
26. Baltimore Ravens
Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
The Ravens bullied their way to a spot in the AFC Championship Game behind a suffocating defense that repeatedly set the offense up with short fields. However, the defense lost several valuable members during free agency, and the team must replace their production. Offensively, the Ravens need to surround Joe Flacco with more weapons in the passing game. Although the Ravens' need for a playmaker at receiver looms large, the opportunity to grab the most talented defensive back in the draft makes this decision a no-brainer.
» A big-play receiver or a quality tight end would help Flacco in his development as a franchise quarterback, but none are left in this mock, at least none with first-round ability. If either Heyward-Bey or Pettigrew would somehow drop here, they would be the ideal candidates.
» The Ravens might view Alphonso Smith as the perfect nickel-corner candidate and could be an option here if Davis is gone.
27. Indianapolis Colts
Evander "Ziggy" Hood, DT, Missouri
The Colts enter the coming season extremely thin on defense, and their draft will be used to address numerous holes along the front seven. Defensive tackle and linebacker are top priorities on Day 1. Offensively, the team needs to find another receiver to add to the mix with Marvin Harrison no longer on the roster. The team could also use another runner to complement the oft-injured Joseph Addai in the backfield. The Colts would be ecstatic if Evander "Ziggy" Hood falls to them here. He would man the "three-technique" position in their defense, and provide the unit with an energetic interior player.
» If all of the first-round defensive tackles are off the board, the team could grab James Laurinaitis as a potential first-year starter at linebacker.
28. Buffalo Bills
Everette Brown, DE, Florida State
If the draft breaks according to plan, the Bills could use the 28th pick to find their pass rusher, and several intriguing options could be available at the pick. The Bills may make an aggressive move to jump up a few spots to get their coveted rusher or they could make a play for a pass-rushing prospect that is a bit of a reach at this point. The team has been willing to gamble all offseason, so I don't expect them to change their philosophy on draft day. Everette Brown is graded much higher than this spot but he's one of those players who always slips through to the bottom of the first round.
» Barwin and English would fit in nicely as edge rushers in the Colts' 4-3 scheme, but neither are available in this mock scenario. If neither pass rusher is available, and Pettigrew isn't taken by Atlanta, the tight end could go at this point.
» If those options don't work, expect the Bills to go for the highest rated defensive player on their board.
29. New York Giants
Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina
The Giants are well stocked on defense at all positions, so their emphasis on draft day will likely shift to upgrading their offensive skills positions. Receiver is the priority, and the team is absolutely ecstatic that Hakeem Nicks, a player they are targeting at this spot (they also like Britt but don't expect him to be around here), is still on the board. Nicks has the size and skills to serve as suitable replacement for Plaxico Burress.
» If the Giants execute a trade for a veteran receiver, the team will look to scoop up a quality runner in the second round.
30. Tennessee Titans
Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest
The Titans have been routinely criticized for not upgrading their receiving corps, but with the Giants taking the last of the first-round receivers without off-field issues, they likely won't address it in 2009 with an early pick. Defensively, the Titans need help at multiple positions along the line, and could use another cornerback with good cover skills. The latter would be Alphonso Smith, an aggressive ballhawk who has the cover skills and temperament to suit the Titans' brass.
» The Titans would love for Ayers to fall to the bottom of the first round. He could initially serve as a backup to Javon Kearse and Kyle Vanden Bosch before taking over full-time in 2010.
31. Arizona Cardinals
Chris "Beanie" Wells, RB, Ohio State
The Cardinals desperately need a runner to balance out their explosive offense. If Anquan Boldin is moved via trade, the team could be in the hunt for another receiver early on Day 1. On defense, the Cardinals need another corner to pair with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The unit also needs to find a hard-working defensive end to replace Antonio Smith. Ken Whisenhunt is intent on making the Cardinals into a tougher and more physical offense, so the decision to add Wells to the lineup falls is a logical choice for the NFC Champions.
» If a highly-rated corner falls to the bottom of the first round, the Cardinals will jump on the chance to add him to the lineup. Likely candidates include Butler or Alphonso Smith.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers
William Beatty, OT, Connecticut
The defending world champions need to resolve their offensive line situation with one of their early draft picks. They would love to find one of the highly-rated receivers here, but they don't in this mock. Defensively, the Steelers need to add depth to their defensive line and secondary. The Steelers won the title with an offensive line that struggled with consistency and injuries, so the decision to select William Beatty at the end of the first round is an attempt to address those woes.