Friday, January 16, 2009

NFL Mock Draft 1

As you'll find in the coming months, I'm something of an NFL draftnik (read: Big Loser). I'm not exactly the second coming of Mel Kiper, but I do read his stuff every chance I get and do a pretty fair amount of research and analysis and put together my own mock drafts and stuff like that in preparation for that glorious weekend in April. Like I said, I'm kind of a big loser. Anyway, with yesterday being the deadline for the juniors and 3rd year sophomores to declare, we now know the exact pool of players for the draft, and I just couldn't help myself from putting together the first of probably several mock drafts I'll put on this site.
I also did this in my part to see if I believed the rumors that Shady was a borderline first round pick and I must say... I now believe it. Unfortunately LeSean did not make it into the first round of this mock draft but I was very close to getting him in there. Maybe next time Shady.

1 Detroit- Matt Stafford QB Georgia- There will be some who claim the Lions, like the Dolphins a year ago, should would be better-served going a safer route and building up their lines with an Andre Smith. I respectfully disagree. Stafford has a JaMarcus Russell like arm, and really does have just about every other physical tool that you could possibly ask of him. Stafford's experience running Georgia's pro-style offense could potentially make him as NFL-ready as Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco, although that success will be tougher to come by considering he doesn't have the talent around him. If the Lions make a play for Matt Cassell or some other QB in free agency, though, then you can switch this pick immediately to the aforementioned Smith, and expect a second or third round QB pick.

2 St. Louis- Andre Smith OT Alabama- For the second straight year the Rams have the second overall pick, and its no secret they want to address their O-Line yet again. If Smith is on the board, they should run up to the podium with the pick. I suppose there could be interest in Ole Miss's Michael Oher or Virginia's Eugene Monroe, but I think Smith is the best player on the board.

3 Kansas City- Eugene Monroe OT Virginia- A year ago the Chiefs had a draft that the experts fell over themselves praising. Unfortunately, that hyped class was not at all productive and led to new management in KC. It's hard to say what Scott Pioli will do here, as the Pats were all over the board during his tenure and were typically reloading, not rebuilding. It will be interesting to see what happens with their head coaching situation. If Herm Edwards keeps his job, then I just don't know anything anymore because he is a truly awful head coach. I don't expect to see a QB taken here, though, even if Stafford is on the board, as Tyler Thigpen put together a surprisingly capable season. Monroe is an excellent player already, and while O-Line isn't the Chiefs biggest concern (that would be their dreadful pass rush) I don't think they will reach for an Aaron Maybin or Brian Orakpo here.

4 Seattle- Michael Crabtree WR Texas Tech- This pick seems too obvious to not happen, at least for now. The Hawks are in desperate need of an offensive playmaker, and Crabtree fits that bill pretty well. He might be the most talented receiver to come out of college since Larry Fitzgerald left Pitt for the 2004 Draft. Certainly the Hawks are not short on needs, though, and may consider building with the lines or another position instead.

5 Cleveland- Aaron Curry LB Wake Forest- The Browns defense was terrible last year and despite their struggles passing the ball, the struggling D was what really led to the underachieving 2008 version of the Browns. Curry is the best defender in this draft in my opinion and will be a tremendous 3-4 'backer for Eric Mangini.

6 Cincinnati- Michael Oher OT Ole Miss- The Bengals are a train wreck yet again, and I'll never figure out how Marvin Lewis still has a job. One of many needs for this team is on their offensive line and Michael Oher, one of the more hyped O-Lineman to ever come out of college thanks to the work of Michael Lewis, fits the bill. The Bengals could also use some offensive weapons, so don't rule out a Beanie Wells here

7 Oakland- Aaron Maybin DE Penn State- You can never be certain about just what is running through Al Davis' mind, especially given his penchant for irrationally selecting playmakers over team needs. If Crabtree is on the board it's pretty much a given that he's the Raiders pick, but I don't see that happening. The Raiders could use a better pass rush presence, and Maybin figures to be the best edge rusher on the board. I think he could easily slip lower than this given his one-year-wonder status at Penn State. For now I'm going to slot him in here given his natural skills, but that could definitely change.

8 Jacksonville- Jason Smith OT Baylor- The Jags need help on both lines, as well as at Wide Receiver, among some other spots. I have difficulty seeing them picking yet another early round receiver unless Crabtree falls, which I doubt. Smith projects to be a solid tackle and with Khalif Barnes expected to be peacing out of Jacksonville, Smith should get an immediate opportunity to help a pretty crappy line.

9 Green Bay- Malcolm Jenkins CB Ohio State- Certainly the Packers wouldn't mind getting a defensive lineman here, whether it be a pass rushing end like Brian Orakpo or a run-stuffer like BJ Raji. However, their secondary is also in need of a talent infusion, and Jenkins is a legit top 5 talent and would be difficult to pass up.

10 San Francisco- Brian Orakpo DE Texas- I thought long and hard about slotting USC QB Mark Sanchez here, but until I here something more from the 49ers about that, I can't believe they'd go after another top 10 QB after the unmitigated disaster of Alex Smith. Orakpo is a very good pass rushing lineman and will beef up a weak Niners D.

11 Buffalo- Everette Brown DE Florida State- The Bills definitely need more of a pass rushing presence, and that's something Brown can definitely do. He should be able to step in and fill a role immediately and could develop into a very good end for this Buffalo defense and complement their DTs. This might be construed as a reach, but his abilities as a speed rusher right out of the gate should seal the deal for Buffalo. The Bills are also one of a couple teams that may consider Mark Sanchez or could look to the offensive line as well.

12 Denver- DT B.J. Raji Boston College- The Broncos defense absolutely collapsed toward the end of the season and was undoubtedly the biggest reason this team missed out on the playoffs despite playing in the dreadful AFC West. Raji and DT is no slam dunk, though, as pretty much the best defender on the board figures to be the pick for the Broncos as they have that many different needs. A wildcard pick would Knowshon Moreno, as you've got to think the scrap heap back days of the past are over.

13 Washington- Michael Johnson DE Georgia Tech- The Skins need definite defensive line help despite the addition of Jason Taylor. Johnson is an amazing athlete and has incredible size at 6-7. They may also look to the offensive line for help if someone were to slip, but that didn't happen in this scenario. Also possible could be Mark Sanchez as its hard to tell how they truely feel about Jason Campbell.

14 New Orleans- Rey Maualuga LB USC- As usual, they are in serious need of defense in New Orleans. It remains to be seen how much upside Maualuga has, but he is already a very, very good linebacker and is probably the odds-on favorite to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year right now if he lands somewhere that lets him start in the middle right away. The Saints could also look for secondary help as well here.

15 Houston- Vontae Davis CB Illinois- The Texans have a number of needs, and after a promising finish to their 08 season, I think this team might be on the verge of finally making a serious playoff push. Davis may not be able to step right in and start, but he could certainly at least bolster the overall depth of a unit that may not be the worst in the league, but definitely leaves something to be desired.

16 San Diego- James Laurinaitis LB Ohio State- First let me say that it greatly irritates me that the Chargers made the playoffs but yet get to pick in front 5 non-playoff squads. I think the playoff teams should be moved to the back of the line. Anyway, Laurinaitis figures to be just the type of player they'll want. He is more than NFL-ready and figures to step right in and get serious playing time and play very well for a team that is nearing the end of any potential long playoff run.

17 New York Jets- Jeremy Maclin WR Missouri- The Jets certainly still view themselves as legit contenders and I fully expect them to be content to go to war with Kellen Clemens in 09. Adding a top of the line deep threat like Maclin would go a long way toward helping Clemens for the long term and hopefully for the short term. Of course there is a long history of rookie receivers not fitting in during their first season, so I expect them to look long and hard at other options, probably defensive line and in the secondary.

18 Chicago- Tyson Jackson DE LSU- The Bears probably wouldn't mind getting Maclin, as they were hurt by not having Bernard Berrian on the roster this season. However, with Devin Hester developing into a similar player that isn't necessarily a given, either. The Bears D took a step back this year, and adding Jackson gives them a monster defensive end who could maybe end up as a defensive tackle at some point. For now he projects as a very good run-stopping end even if the pass-rushing skills may not have developed yet.

19 Tampa Bay- Knowshon Moreno RB Georgia- Yeah the Bucs fans may not totally agree with this pick so soon after the Cadillac Williams bust, but I don't think the Bucs can pass up this type of player. Moreno is a rare talent and can add a big spark to that offense. They will also look at defensive tackle and offensive line as possible positions to address.

20 Detroit- Eben Britton OT Arizona- The Lions do their best to follow the Falcons blueprint of a year ago. They snatched up what they hope will be their franchise signal-caller at the top of the first round and they now reach a little bit for an offensive tackle who should step in and start immediately.

21 Arizona- Chris "Beanie" Wells RB Ohio State- I don't think there's any doubt which position the Cardinals have to be thinking about here. Of course their draft spot could be as much as 11 spots lower than this one, so things would look differently from that spot. For now, though, I think they would have a difficult time passing up on a potential franchise back like Wells given the struggles of Edgerrin James and Tim Hightower. Wells should be able to immediately give this team a starting caliber back capable of going for 1000+ yards. Of course, the Cards also need help on their defense, which struggled through much of the regular season yet has come alive in the postseason.

22 Minnesota- Mark Sanchez QB Southern Cal- This is a tough call for me. On the one hand, the Vikes aren't going anywhere without a better QB than Tavaris Jackson and will continue to waste Adrian Peterson's incredible talent. On the other, I think Sanchez is going to need at least a year or more to develop and a team coming off a division title isn't going to want to wait a year or more for its first rounder to develop. Still, I think the Minnesota fans will be rioting if the Vikes pass up Sanchez AND don't bother bringing in anyone else to challenge Jackson and Frerotte.

23 New England- Brian Cushing LB Southern Cal- The Pats are usually a pretty unpredictable team in these drafts, as Bill Belicheck is never afraid to march to the beat of a different drum. I think they wouldn't mind adding even more youth to their linebacking corps, and after the smashing success of Jerod Mayo a year ago, who can blame them? Cushing would be playing on the outside instead, and should be able to make an impact immediately as a situational player. They may also look at cornerback or a potential offensive playmaker as well.

24 Atlanta- Peria Jerry DT Ole Miss- The Falcons nearly took Glenn Dorsey a year ago, and while no one is going to argue that pick now (that pick being Matt Ryan of course), there is no denying they still need DT help. Jerry might be considered a reach by some here, but I doubt the Falcons care, as he fills a need on a team that is suddenly close to being a title contender. They could also consider another weapon for Matt Ryan to work with.

25 Miami- D.J. Moore CB Vanderbilt- Bill Parcells and Tony Sparano invested heavily in the offensive and defensive lines last year in the draft and in free agency. Now they can look more at need, though I certainly wouldn't bet against them going after more players on the lines. Moore came out a year earlier than he should have probably, but is still a first round talent and could turn out to be the best corner from this draft.

26 Baltimore- Percy Harvin WR Florida- I doubt the Ravens could have expected Harvin to last this long, and I doubt Harvin would have expected it either. He doesn't have a definite position which is why he has slipped to this point in the draft, but having that kind of a playmaker for this offense could really help out Joe Flacco and could help put some more bite into this offense. They may also consider a linebacker or a corner given some free agency issues there.

27 Indianapolis- Sen'Drick Marks DT Auburn- The Colts D Line has fallen a long way in the couple years since their Super Bowl run and they need a talented young playmaker like Marks to hopefully turn that unit around. Marks may require a bit of timebefore he develops into the player he can be, but the talent and potential are definitely there.

28 Philadelphia- Brandon Pettigrew TE Oklahoma State- Pettigrew has the talent to go much, much higher than this in the draft and very well could if the right team gets enamored with him. He is a true freak of nature and can not only function well as a receiver, but also appears to be more than capable staying home to block. They also may look at their line or a safety, but I think that Pettigrewwould be way too much of a steal to pass up at this point.

29 New York Giants- Clint Sintim LB Virginia- This pick will depend at least partially on the Plax Burress situation. If he's no longer with them or is a guest of New York state at the time, the G-Men may make a reach for someone like Kenny Britt. For now, Sintim makes sense as he is already a strong NFL-ready linebacker. Linebacker is typically one of the most rookie-friendly positions, and I think Sintim could have an immediate impact for a squad that doesn't figure to want to want to wait around for a prospect to develop.

30 Tennessee- Darrius Heyward-Bey WR Maryland- It's about time the Titans finally invested into a wide reciever who could develop into a legit top 2 receiver, and Heyward-Bey fits that billing. Heyward-Bey has very good physical skills and could jump up this board with a nice combine. For now I am sure the Titans would love to get their hands on him here.

31 Philadelphia- Duke Robinson G Oklahoma- The Eagles figure to lose at least one and maybe both of their offensive tackles this offseason, so that will certainly be a priority for them. Robinson might be a bit of a reach and projects as a guard, but this late in the first round, it'd be hard to fault them for reaching for anything along the O-Line. Keep in mind though, that there are also several solid interior linemen still on the board that rank about the same and it may just come down to personal preference.

32 Pittsburgh- Alex Mack C Cal- Just so no one accuses me of jinxing the Steelers, let me preface this by saying that I did not put them last for any homerist reason, I did it because I just went by their regular season record in predicting how the playoffs would play out, as that seemed the only logical way to do it. Anyway, there figure to be several fringe first round interior linemen on the board the way things are shaping up right now, so the Steelers will likely have to go with one of them. While Mack is technically a center, I see no reason he couldn't shift to guard instead. About the only other spot I could see the Steelers addressing would be the defensive line, which has gotten frighteningly old lately.


Jonathan Bryant said...

Well I'm happy that the Steelers finally get a lineman, though I've read more about a guard named Duke Robinson potentially going there instead of this Mack guy, but I wouldn't mind a versatile interior lineman either.
I still think Shady goes in the first round before all is said and done, and I think you are underrating Beanie Wells. I've seen him going as high as 6 in some spots, and the same goes for Mark Sanchez. ESPN has him actually rated ahead of Stafford I think.
Still though, good work. I know these things take a lot of work to do and you seem like you did a nice job with this one. I look forward to the next.

Adam said...

I don't think Sanchez is going to slip all the way down to the Vikings. I mean a lot of people seem to think he could challenge Stafford for the first overall pick. If he doesn't go there then a team like 49ers, Chiefs, or Bills would jump on him. There are so many terrible quarterbacks in the NFL right now I just don't see how Sanchez is bypassed that many times.

Ryan said...

Jonathan- I agree that Shady will get into the first round over time, but for now he appears to be a borderline first rounder and will only get in under certain situations. As for Beanie and Sanchez, maybe it's because I'm not as high on these two as others but I right now I think they are mid first rounders at best.
I mean Beanie can't stay healthy in college, so how is he supposed to in the pros? I'm sorry but that's not a franchise, top-10 overall selection player in my mind. As for Sanchez, I just don't think he's ready yet and I also am not sold on his overall skill package as much as others.