Don Banks’ Mock Draft 1.0

Don Banks of SI.com takes his first crack at predicting the first round of April’s NFL draft.

Here’s a look at his top 5:

1. Lions: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
Sure, it’d be a sexier No. 1 pick if I went with Georgia junior quarterback Matthew Stafford, but I’m not yet at the point where I can see the winless Lions taking anything that resembles a risky pick with the very first selection of the Jim Schwartz era. Plenty of questions remain about Stafford’s readiness to play quickly in the NFL, and my early read is the Lions will play it safe and start rebuilding their roster from the lines out. Smith, Virginia’s Eugene Monroe and Mississippi’s Michael Oher are all in the discussion when it comes to divining the top-rated offensive tackle.

2. Rams: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
The Rams missed out on offensive tackle Jake Long with the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft, but they’re assured of coming away with one of the upper tier tackles this time around. St. Louis needs an heir apparent for Orlando Pace, whose body has started to betray him in recent years. Monroe’s game might not be as highly regarded as Smith’s or Oher’s, but he’s a cleaner pick who comes with fewer question marks regarding his character, maturity and size.

3. Chiefs: Mathew Stafford, QB, Georgia
Screaming in my head as I make this pick is the reality that taking a first-round quarterback is not exactly the Scott Pioli way (see Brady, Tom, and Cassel, Matt). But the Chiefs quarterback situation has been a nightmare since Len Dawson or so, and that might make for a scenario in which Pioli makes an exception. With Tyler Thigpen playing serviceably last season, the Chiefs could afford to give Stafford the year or so of development that everybody seems to think he needs. Then again, finding another quality offensive tackle to pair with Branden Albert is much more Pioli-like.

4. Seahawks: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
This could be a pick that doesn’t change between now and April 25’s first round. In the perfect marriage of need and draft slot, the receiver-starved Seahawks should find Crabtree waiting. All you need to know at the moment is that Crabtree has conjured up comparisons to Cardinals all-world receiver Larry Fitzgerald with his blend of size, hands, athleticism and ability to make yards after the catch.

5. Browns: Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State
Eric Mangini’s Browns (still getting used to that) could go a lot of different ways in the five spot, but it’s going to be a defensive pick. The home-state hero Jenkins would give Cleveland’s shaky cornerback situation an infusion of talent, but you can make a strong case for help in the pass rush (DE/LB Brian Orakpo of Texas) or maybe at linebacker (USC’s Rey Maualuga).

Anyone else find it ironic that the year the Lions are picking No. 1, the best player in the draft is a wide receiver? (I’m referring to Crabtree, of course.)

Speaking of the Lions, the big questions surrounding their draft is whether or not they’ll pull the trigger on a quarterback like Stafford in the first round. With the success of rookie signal callers Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco, it’s going to be tempting for new GM Martin Mayhew to want to get a franchise quarterback with his first pick. But Banks has the right idea in building from the inside out and taking an offensive lineman like Andre Smith might be the best route for Detroit to take.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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