Commentary

Big changes without Stafford at No. 1

If Detroit doesn't take Matthew Stafford, the Seahawks will be waiting

Originally Published: March 27, 2009
By Todd McShay | ESPN.com
The "SportsCenter" producers posed this question to Mel Kiper and me earlier this week: How much of a shake-up would it be to the top 10 picks of the 2009 NFL draft if Detroit were to avoid taking Georgia QB Matthew Stafford with the No. 1 overall pick?

It took only a few minutes of shuffling players around to realize how significant the difference would be. Here's how the top 10 unfolded on "SportsCenter":

  1. Detroit Lions -- Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
  2. St. Louis Rams -- Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
  3. Kansas City Chiefs -- Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest
  4. Seattle Seahawks -- Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
  5. Cleveland Browns -- Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas
  6. Cincinnati Bengals -- Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
  7. Oakland Raiders -- B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College
  8. Jacksonville Jaguars -- Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
  9. Green Bay Packers -- Aaron Maybin, DE/OLB, Penn State
  10.  San Francisco 49ers -- Andre Smith, OT, Alabama

But why stop at the top 10? Below is Scouts Inc.'s projection of how things would unfold through the first two rounds in such a scenario, but before we get to the rest of the picks, here are a few quick notes explaining some of the key differences: • With Jason Smith going No. 1 in this scenario, Crabtree becomes the better value pick at No. 2 for St. Louis, which needs a wide receiver as badly as it needs an offensive tackle.

• Seattle has greater needs, such as outside linebacker, safety and offensive tackle, but using the fourth pick on Stafford makes sense considering Matt Hasselbeck's age (33) and durability concerns.

• Raji is falling a bit right now because of some off-the-field concerns (weight issues, discipline, 2007 academic suspension), but a few teams will still be willing to take a chance on him in the top 15, including the Raiders at No. 7.

• I'm still not convinced the Jaguars would draft Sanchez at No. 8, but it would be much easier for them to pull the trigger if Crabtree is off the board.

• Missouri WR Jeremy Maclin is a victim of circumstance in this scenario, falling all the way to the Chargers at pick No. 16. San Diego has several bigger needs to fill, but Maclin is too good a value to pass up, and he could add a vertical element to that offense from the slot position. The run on wide receivers clearly will occur in the middle of the first round.

With all this in mind, here's a look at how the first day of the draft could unfold if Stafford is not the Lions' choice at No. 1:

The entire Day 1 projection in this scenario -- where other big names land; how it could affect teams with big needs at specific positions; and which players would be the best remaining on the board after the second round -- is for ESPN Insiders. Insider

ALSO SEE