First round tips from Gil Brandt
By Ralph Vacchiano
April 20, 2009

Every Thursday night since the NFL offseason began I’ve had the pleasure of spending three hours at Gil Brandt University, co-hosting Sirius NFL Radio’s Late Hits with him from 8-11 p.m. Nobody knows more about the draft than Brandt, the former VP of player personnel for the Cowboys in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. And that includes a few current scouts and GMs.

So before I filled out my mock draft, I figured I should not only check out his list of the “Hot 100” players in the draft, but I should listen closely to what he says and take some notes. And last Thursday night, I did just that, and got a bunch of hints about what’s going to happen in the first round on Saturday. And since I know you’re all getting ready to do your own mock drafts, I thought I’d share those notes with you.

Below are 10 hot tips from Brandt, all of which he dropped on our show. Trust me, he knows as much as, or more than most of us so-called “experts” about what’s going to happen in the draft. And he doesn’t just toss information out lightly. He won’t say it until he’s sure he’s got it. So you can be sure these aren’t guesses. These tidbits come from well-connected sources. And while things can change in the coming days, you can also be sure this information is good.

Oh, and if you want a few more hints, make sure you listen to Brandt and Howard David on Sirius NFL Radio’s Late Hits this Wednesday night, and check out Brandt and Adam Schein on Friday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. on The Sirius Blitz live from a pre-draft event in New York City’s Central Park.

• LSU DE Tyson Jackson will go in the Top 5. Not might. Will. This qualified as the biggest shocker, to me, since almost every mock draft I looked at pegged Jackson to be a mid- to late first-rounder at best. I thought the Top 5 was pretty locked in, too. But, of course, I shouldn’t have doubted Mr. Brandt. I asked around after the show to see if I could confirm it, and sure enough one NFL source I know did tell me he’s heard the Kansas City Chiefs might take Jackson at No. 3, or trade down and take him a few picks later.

• The Seattle Seahawks, at No. 4, will likely select either Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree or USC QB Mark Sanchez.

• Crabtree will fall somewhere between Picks 4 and 10, though given the variables it was impossible to guess exactly where.

• The Oakland Raiders will take a receiver at No. 7 (and it’s hard to imagine them passing on Crabtree if he’s available, so I suppose we can narrow down Crabtree’s placement to 4-7).

• There will be no defensive backs taken in the Top 10.

• The Saints, at No. 14, are looking for a big cornerback, and Ohio State’s Malcolm Jenkins is a good bet to be their guy.

• The New England Patriots, at No. 23 will take a linebacker.

• Oklahoma T Phil Loadholt (6-7, 332) will go in the first round of the draft. His teammate, G Duke Robinson (6-5, 330, and the top-rated guard on most boards), will not.

• Cincinnati DE Connor Barwin didn’t begin this process as a first-rounder, but he has managed to sneak himself into the bottom of the first round.

• The Buffalo Bills are targeting a DE with the 11th pick (and not Tennessee DE Robert Ayers, by the way). They are also pretty high on Oklahoma State TE Brandon Pettigrew, but aren’t likely to take him unless they trade down a few spots. (Important note: Things have obviously changed a little since then, since the Bills acquired a second first-round pick from Philadelphia in the Jason Peters trade. Now the Bills have both the 11th and 28th pick. Of course, they also have an obvious need for a tackle).