NFL Mock Draft
¬†1) DETROIT LIONS> MATTHEW STAFFORD, QB, GEORGIA– With Sam Bradford returning to Oklahoma for another season, Stafford holds on to the top selection. Sanchez has closed the gap between him and Stafford, but I still think that Stafford is the better selection. Stafford has a stronger arm and he has greatly improved his decision making this season. Sanchez is more of a project, he has significant injury issues, and he tends to make the stupid decisions that Stafford would make last year.
2) ST. LOUIS RAMS> ANDRE SMITH, OT, ALABAMA-¬†¬†I don‚Äôt see any reason to change this pick as a result of Smith‚Äôs issues at Alabama. They don‚Äôt seem like the kind of behavioral issues that would seriously hurt his draft stock and the Rams are still looking to beef up the O-Line, which they failed to do last year by missing out on Jake Long.
¬†3) KANSAS CITY CHIEFS> ¬†AARON CURRY, OLB, WAKE FOREST- The Chiefs could go in many different directions with this pick. The first and most popular direction is to select Mark Sanchez. Sanchez is a prospect with a great deal of potential, but he makes way too many mistakes and is too much of a risk for the Chiefs at pick #3. The second is to address the defensive line, a position that recently lost Jared Allen. Brian Orakpo will be available when the Chiefs select here, and I think that Kansas City will seriously consider taking him. The final option is to take Aaron Curry. Now it is still unsure what system Kansas City will be running on defense, but Curry would fit in just about any formation. Curry is a very well-rounded player and is the best available senior in the draft. (previous selection was Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas)
4) SEATTLE SEAHAWKS> ¬†MICHAEL CRABTREE, WR, TEXAS TECH–¬†¬†This is a tough pick. The Seahawks could go in many different directions here. The first option that will at least cross the minds of Seahawks‚Äô management is a quarterback. Matt Hasselbeck is getting old and a new coach may want to go in his own direction. However, I really don‚Äôt see Mark Sanchez as being worthy of the selection. The Seahawks could also go with B.J. Raji to bolster their run defense, but I think Raji‚Äôs minor character concerns will keep him out of the first five selections. There are other options that will definitely be discussed before the draft but I think they will go with Crabtree. Crabtree is by far the best receiver available and he would absolutely bolster a poor receiving squad in Seattle.
5) CLEVELAND BROWNS> ¬†MALCOLM JENKINS, DB, OHIO STATE-¬†¬†This is an easy pick if Jenkins is still on the board when the Browns pick at five. If Jenkins is gone then Vontae Davis would most likely be the pick but it isn‚Äôt as much of a lock. Jenkins is fast and is a great cover corner. He is also versatile enough to play safety in the NFL as well. Don‚Äôt look too far into this pick. It will be Jenkins.
6) CINCINATTI BENGALS> ¬†EVERETTE BROWN, DE, FLORIDA STATE-¬†¬†Everette Brown is the first defensive end off the board in my new mock. No, Brown is not the best overall defensive end available but he is certainly in the discussion and he looks to be a great fit for the Bengals. Brown has an above average pass rush and is the best defensive end available when it comes to run defense. Brown has several moves to the inside and he knows how to drive the offensive line back.
7) OAKLAND RAIDERS> ¬†EUGENE MONROE, OT, VIRGINIA-¬†¬†Monroe is not the best offensive lineman available at this point but he is a much better fit for Oakland than Michael Oher. Monroe will be able to jump in and start at left tackle for the Raiders, where I still think Oher needs some work. I do consider Oher to be the better long term prospect. Another option for the Raiders for this selection is Jeremy Maclin. Maclin is a big play receiver and although I don‚Äôt think he deserves this high of a selection I am never surprised when Al Davis goes with the trendy selection over the smart selection.
8) JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS> Rey Maualuga, ILB, USC-¬†¬†Maualuga is a fantastic fit in Jacksonville, and with Mike Peterson on his way out Maualuga should see some significant playing time early in his career. Maualuga is a very smart player and has a nose for the football. He is a very good tackler and is a fantastic locker room player (a big change from Peterson). (previous selection was Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest)
9) GREEN BAY PACKERS> ¬†VONTAE DAVIS, CB, ILLINOIS –¬†¬†The secondary in Green Bay is aging and has very big depth issues. Davis is very young and has loads of potential. If Maualuga falls to them I would expect him to get some consideration, but as of now I definitely see the Packers selecting Davis.
10) SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS> MARK SANCHEZ, QB, USC- Sanchez made a fantastic decision when he declared himself eligible for the 2009 NFL draft. Sanchez is a lock to be the 1st or 2nd quarterback taken in the draft. Sanchez has a good arm and solid accuracy. He has good vision down the field and shows a lot of promise in every area. He does have two major downsides though. The first is that he has multiple injury issues including a suspect knee. The second problem is that he frequently makes stupid decision, very similar to the mistakes Matthew Stafford made last season. That is an area that would have improved significantly with a return to Southern Cal, but there is a good chance he would have dropped to a later round. San Francisco could be hitting it big here with Sanchez but the injury concerns are still there and it isn‚Äôt guaranteed that he will make better decisions in a league that capitalizes on bad decisions by quarterbacks.
11) BUFFALO BILLS> BRANDON PETTIGREW, TE–¬†¬†Pettigrew is a little bit of a reach at 11 but he fits a need in Buffalo, and he has the talent to warrant the selection. Pettigrew has had some character issues which hurt his draft stock, but the fact that Jermaine Gresham is returning to Oklahoma will cause Pettigrew to jump several spots. Don‚Äôt be surprised if the Bills trade down to a later spot where they will still be able to snag Pettigrew.
12) DENVER BROCOS> ¬†B.J. RAJI, DT, BOSTON COLLEGE-¬†¬†The Broncos need help at the defensive tackle position and with Gerald McCoy returning to Oklahoma, I expect Denver to go with Raji. Raji is a decent fit for the system that I expect Josh McDaniels to bring with him. Raji has some behavioral issues but McDaniels has been known to work with troubled players in the past.
13) WASHINGTON REDSKINS> BRIAN ORAKPO, DE, TEXAS-¬†¬†The Redskins probably had higher hopes for Jason Taylor‚Äôs performance this season but they never expected him to be a long term fix at the position. Orakpo is not only a fantastic value selection at pick 13, but he is also a great fit in Washington. Orakpo is a very hard worker and has a great pass rush with multiple effective moves to the outside. If Orakpo falls to Washington I expect this to be an easy selection. (previous selection was Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech)
14) NEW ORLEANS SAINTS> JAMES LAURINAITIS, ILB, OHIO STATE-¬†If the Saints retain Jonathan Vilma then they will forfeit this selection. Therefore, I believe that if Laurinaitis or Maualuga is available at 14 then the Saints will not have a difficult selection. Laurinaitis is a very intelligent player who rarely is caught out of position. His lack of ideal size does hurt his draft stock slightly though. (previous selection was Rey Maualuga, ILB, USC)
15) HOUSTON TEXANS> AARON MAYBIN, DE/OLB, PENN STATE-¬†¬†It still isn‚Äôt clear where Maybin will play in the NFL, especially considering he only played one full season in college. Maybin has a fantastic burst off the edge and is loaded with potential in other areas. With that said, many of Maybin‚Äôs moves are raw and it is still unclear if he will be able to produce over the duration of multiple seasons. Houston won‚Äôt be able to ignore Maybin‚Äôs potential at the 15 slot. Maybin could play either defensive end or outside linebacker for the Texans, but I expect him to start out on the defensive line for them. (previous selection was William Moore, S, Missouri)
16) SAN DIEGO CHARGERS> TYSON JACKSON, DL, LSU-¬†¬†Tyson Jackson could theoretically move inside if he were in the right 4-3 defensive scheme, however, the Chargers would use him on the outside in their 3-4 system. Jackson has a good pass rush but his inside moves and ability to stop the run is what is going to make the Chargers select him. If Rey Maualuga or James Laurinaitis falls to pick 16 I would expect the Chargers to at least consider the inside linebacker postion. (previous selection was Sen‚ÄôDerrick Marks, DT, Auburn)
17) NEW YORK JETS> ¬†JEREMY MACLIN, WR, MISSOURI-¬†¬†With Maclin still on the table when the Jets select at 17 I have a hard time seeing them going elsewhere with the pick. Maclin has fantastic YAC ability and solid hands. He is incredibly agile and very hard to tackle. I would be very surprised to see the Jets pass on Maclin if he is still available at 17. (previous selection was James Laurinaitis, ILB, Ohio State)
18) CHICAGO BEARS> ¬†DARRIUS HEYWARD-BEY, WR, MARYLAND- The Bears would love to grab Mark Sanchez or Matthew Stafford with this pick but neither of those two players will fall to the 18th pick. If Stafford or Sanchez would fall past the 49ers then I would expect the Bears to make an effort to trade up to get one of the two, possibly to Buffalo‚Äôs selection. If they do stay with the pick I would expect them to go with Heyward-Bey who is the best remaining receiver. He isn‚Äôt as much of a playmaker as Percy Harvin but he is a much more polished receiver and is rumored to run the 40 in under 3.3 seconds.
19) TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS> ¬†KNOWSHON MORENO, RB, GEORGIA-¬†¬†Moreno has a fantastic burst and great overall speed. He can go between the tackles as well as to the sideline. The Buccaneers can no longer rely on Carnell Williams, and Earnest Graham is not the answer to their problems at running back. If Aaron Maybin is not available, I would expect the Bucs to go with Moreno. (previous selection was Aaron Maybin, DE-OLB, Penn State)
20) DETROIT LIONS (from the Dallas Cowboys)> ¬†MICHAEL OHER, OL, MISSISSIPPI-¬†¬†The Lions receive this pick as a result of their mid-season trade involving Roy Williams. Michael Oher is a great value selection at 20 in addition to being a very good fit for the Lions. Oher has the versatility to play either tackle or guard for the Lions, however I expect him to play left tackle for them. This is not a difficult selection if Oher falls this far.
21) PHILADELPHIA EAGLES> ¬†JASON SMITH, OT, BAYLOR-¬†¬†Some consider Jason Smith to be the best offensive tackle available in the draft, I don‚Äôt agree at all. At best he is the 4th best available lineman, which means he is still a very solid prospect. Winston Justice is not working out for the Eagles and Smith should fit in well.
22) MINNESOTA VIKINGS> ALPHONSO SMITH, CB, WAKE FOREST-¬†¬†Smith is a very smart pick for the Vikings and looks to fit in very well with their system. He is a great tackler on the outside and is a very good cover corner as well. The other option being thrown around is the Vikings addressing their offensive line, but I don‚Äôt agree with that in this scenario. There isn‚Äôt an offensive tackle worth taking at this point and a great value pick is the only way an offensive tackle could be justified with this selection.
23) NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS> WILLIAM MOORE, S, MISSOURI-¬†¬†If William Moore is gone by the time the Patriots select at 23 then I expect them to go corner, but William Moore being available along with D.J. Moore will cause some debating. William Moore is rarely caught out of position and is a safe player, but that can often be a disadvantage when playing a quick hit offense. With that being said, I think that William Moore‚Äôs deep style of play will fit very well with the Patriots‚Äô defensive scheme. (previous selection was D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt)
24) ATLANTA FALCONS> ¬†PERIA JERRY, DT, MISSISSIPPI- With Tyson Jackson off the board and Peria Jerry at the top of most teams‚Äô best available charts, I expect this to be a quick and easy selection. Jerry will make an immediate impact on the Falcons defensive line.
25) MIAMI DOLPHINS> ¬†BRIAN CUSHING, OLB, USC-¬†¬†Cushing is a fantastic fit in the Dolphins‚Äô defensive system. Cushing is a very good presence in the locker room and always seems to be in the right position. Miami is a very good fit for Cushing as well.
26. BALTIMORE RAVENS> D.J. MOORE, CB, VANDERBILT-¬†¬†Moore is a big playmaker in the secondary which should fit in well with the Ravens. The Ravens secondary is not only aging but it also lacks the depth needed to fight through long stretches of weekly games. Moore is a little small which is the biggest reason for him going in the later parts of the first round. (previous selection was Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri)
27) ¬†INDIANAPOLIS COLTS> ¬†RICKY JEAN-FRANCOIS, DT, LSU¬†RJF is a fantastic talent who has great speed and fantastic moves to the inside. He has more potential than almost any defensive tackle in the draft and would be a sure first rounder if not for injury issues. The Colts have to address the interior of the defensive line and with Peria Jerry off the board I expect Indianapolis to go with Jean-Francois. Not to mention that the Colts have taken a risk on slightly injured LSU stars in the past. (previous selection was Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi)
28) PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (from the Carolina Panthers)> ¬†CHRIS ‚ÄúBeanie‚Äù WELLS, RB, OHIO STATE-¬†¬†The Eagles won‚Äôt take a chance on Beanie Wells going before their second selection of the first round unless a great talent like Jason Smith falls to them. In this mock I do see that happening, and I also see Beanie Wells falling to the Eagles‚Äô second selection. Beanie will be a great change of pace back for a running game that has struggled at times over the past few years. Unfortunately, Beanie does carry some injury issues into the NFL. (previous selection was Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia)
29) NEW YORK GIANTS> ¬†KENNY BRITT, WR, RUTGERS-¬†¬†Plaxico Burress is most likely done as a New York Giant and his absence has shown. The Giants need a big target downfield and Kenny Britt is that guy. Percy Harvin is a possibility here but he doesn‚Äôt fit in as well considering the Giants already have Sinorice Moss and Steve Smith. Britt has the ability to get down the field and he has solid hands.
30) TENNESSEE TITANS> PERCY HARVIN, WR, FLORIDA-¬† The Titans still need to give Vince Young or Kerry Collins some help in the wide receiver department. Harvin is quick and very agile. He has great speed and is often able to make something out of nothing. Harvin does have some injury issues that have him behind Jeremy Maclin. Harvin should be a great player to have when Young gets back to being the starter in Tennessee.
31) ARIZONA CARDINALS> ¬†LeSEAN McCOY, RB, PITTSBURGH-¬†¬†McCoy is slipping into the back end of the first round for this mock due to the reality that Knowshon Moreno will not fall to the Cardinals at 31. Edgerrin James will not be in Arizona next season and the Cardinals need someone to team with Tim Hightower. McCoy is much more agile than Hightower and has a significant edge in speed.
32) PITTSBURGH STEELERS>>> MICHAEL JOHNSON, DE, GEORGIA TECH-¬†I really don‚Äôt see a player that I would rather see the Steelers having fall to them at the end of the first round (as far as players that realistically could fall to pick 32). Anyone could easily argue Johnson as having the best pass-rush ability in the draft this year. Johnson is a big player with solid moves to the outside. In addition, Johnson has phenomenal ability to contain and his man rarely beats him to the outside. If he does have a downside it is his inside move, but that is something that has improved in the past year and looks to be a quick fix if he is in the right system.
If there is a downside to this pick it is the fact that Johnson is not an offensive lineman. However, there should be plenty of options when the Steelers select in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. The Steelers main focus appears to be the interior of their offensive line.¬†Late in the 2nd I would think the Steelers will be looking at Alex Mack or Max Unger. Mack is the pure center where Unger could play any position on the offensive line. Duke Robinson, a guard out of Oklahoma is another possibility late in the second. The Steelers have been high on Cincinnati guard Trevor Canfield and he is another possibility. As for the third round I would not be surprised to see the Steelers go right back to the offensive line where an offensive tackle such as Phil Loadholt is a possibility. (previous selection was Max Unger, OL, Oregon)