Sunday, April 19, 2009

Mock Draft 2.0

There’s a bit of a shakeup from my last mock; most of it as a result of me believing the rumors that Matthew Stafford will emerge as the Lions’ choice with the #1 pick. Whether or not it’s all pre-draft smoke, I’m going under the assumption that he’ll be the pick. Here's how I see the first round playing out:

1) Detroit Lions – Matthew Stafford, QB (Georgia)
Hell, he thinks he’s the pick. Who am I to argue with him? I still think his play is too sloppy for a #1 pick, and I wish he had completed more passes at Georgia. He’s not quite as tall (6-2, 225) as last year’s productive first rounders (Matt Ryans (6-4, 220) and Joe Flacco (6-6, 230)), and he’s not much of a scrambler either. For those that get into this stuff, Stafford scored an impressive 38 on his Wonderlic, and followed up an outstanding pro day with a solid private workout for the Lions. Stafford possesses the strong arms teams covet, does a good job of keeping his head downfield when in the pocket and on the move, and the fact that he’s never missed a game to injury is an example of his durability. I wouldn’t blame the Lions for making Stafford the pick, but there’s a reason no one is inquiring about moving up to the top of the draft.
(previous pick – Jason Smith)

2) St. Louis Rams – Jason Smith, T (Baylor)
If Stafford goes first, the question isn’t whether or not the Rams take a tackle, it’s which tackle will they take? With the departure of Orlando Pace, and even before it really, tackle topped the team’s list of needs. I don’t think Daren Heerspink or Adam Goldberg is St. Louis’ idea of a franchise tackle. I believe they’ll go with the athletic big man from Baylor. Smith put up an impressive 33 reps at the combine (10 more than Monroe and 12 more than Oher) and is far from a fully developed product. He’s light on his feet, fluid from side to side, and would be a fine prospect in either a man or zone blocking scheme. He started 39 of the 42 games in which he played and spend time on both ends of the line (RT in ’06). I think he just needs some professional coaching to improve his technique and become comfortable playing in a three point stance. I see high upside and little risk.
(previous pick – Eugene Monroe)

3) Kansas City Chiefs – BJ Raji, NT (Boston College) Here’s where my draft takes an unpopular turn. I still see Curry as the overwhelming choice here in most mocks. The Chiefs are shifting to a 3-4 defense, and lack someone to man the most important position on the field. Glenn Dorsey isn’t that guy, while Tank Tyler will probably be the in-house option they give the first shot, I don’t think they’d consider the position secure. They didn’t address NT in free agency, choosing to bring in Matt Cassel (QB), Mike Vrabel (LB), Monty Beisel (LB), Zach Thomas (LB), Bobby Engram (WR), and Terrance Copper (WR). Raji is a huge (6-2, 337) and wide nose man who excels at clogging run lanes. He shows a nice burst off the snap and moves well in his zone. He shuts down the run and makes plays in the backfield, evidenced by his 16 TFL and 8 sacks in ’08. He’s by far the best defensive tackle in the draft and has withstood the false reports of him failing a drug test at the combine. I think the Chiefs would be foolish to pass up the dominant big man, especially considering their obvious need at the position.
(previous pick – Aaron Curry)

4) Seattle Seahawks – Eugene Monroe, T (Virginia)
With the trade of Julian Peterson to the Lions, a hole was created at linebacker. Aaron Curry is still on the board and could end up being the pick. One reason I think the Hawks would pass on Curry is because of the money they’re already committing to $8.3 million to LeRoy Hill via the franchise tag. Would they spend top 5 money on another linebacker when there’s an even bigger need at tackle? Monroe might not have the biggest upside of the draft’s tackles, but I think he’s the lowest risk of the bunch. Playing for Virginia, he was at left tackle when Branden Albert (KC’s 15th overall pick last year) was at left guard. Monroe has long arms and a thick lower body. He displays proper balance in his blocks, smooth footwork, and has experience in the pro style game that Jason Smith lacks. On the downside, Monroe dislocated his kneecap in the spring of ’06, requiring surgery, and missed two games with a knee injury in ’07. He could be a bit more punishing in the run game, but his pass blocking is the best/most advanced in the draft.
(previous pick – Michael Crabtree)

5) Cleveland Browns – Aaron Curry, LB (Wake Forest)
Most mocks will have Michael Crabtree as the pick here, especially with all the Braylon Edwards to NY rumors. If the Browns were to trade Edwards, they’d have absolutely nothing at receiver. Donte’ Stallworth is going to prison, and Josh Cribbs isn’t a #1 or #2 receiver. David Patten was brought in, but he shouldn’t be starting in the NFL at this point in his career. I think the Browns would be foolish to trade Edwards, especially after dealing Winslow to the Bucs. Whether it’s Anderson or Quinn at QB for the Browns, they’re going to need some help at receiver. Dealing Edwards, despite his own deficiencies, is a step in the wrong direction. Here, they get (IMO) the safest pick in the entire draft. Curry was a 4-3 SLB at Wake but could play inside or out in a 3-4 defense. The biggest reason I like this pick is because I’m sure Mangini would love to build his new defense around Curry. He’s a hard hitting playmaker with an explosive style of play (37 inch combine vertical, tied for #1 at LB). Curry is very smooth in his drops, sheds blocks, and is an intelligent defensive leader. Keep Edwards and draft Curry. They should still be able to get a solid WR with their second pick (36th overall).
(previous pick – Brian Orakpo)

6) Cincinnati Bengals – Michael Oher, T (Mississippi)
Andre Smith and BJ Raji are the popular mock selections. Here, Raji’s gone, and I really don’t think the Bengals will take the questionable Smith with the 6th overall pick. I know it’s the Bengals, and far be it from me to assume they will consider character, but I think that’s pushing it, even for them. Raji’s off the board. Otherwise, I think he’d be the pick. They could go DE with Orakpo, but with the loss of Stacy Andrews to the Eagles and their frustration with Levi Jones, I think they’ll go with a tackle here. Oher seems to be slipping down the board in most mocks, but not here. He’s the most inexperienced of the top tackles, but he has the desired combination of athleticism, size, and long arms. He drops into his pass sets well, and demonstrates the type of footwork and lateral mobility that could make him attractive option to a ZBS team like the Raiders as well. IMO, Oher will need the most coaching of this year’s top 4 tackles, but there’s quite a bit of upside there too if he’s handled properly. Some might have Crabtree going here to the Bengals, but I think they'll pass after signing Laveranues Coles.
(previous pick – BJ Raji)

7) Oakland Raiders – Michael Crabtree, WR (Texas Tech)
Even if Al Davis tried to address other positions (NT, SLB, FS, and DE), the talent just isn’t there. Raji’s gone, and you’re not going to take Ron Brace here. Aaron Curry would be a heck of a steal, but he’s gone too. There isn’t free safety worth a top 10 pick. They could surprise everyone and take Orakpo or Everette Brown at DE, but I really think Davis will want to get JaMarcus Russell a legit receiving threat. I like Chaz Schilens and Johnny Lee Higgins, but they’re not enough. Russell’s lack of consistency is a big part of the problem too, so bringing in a stud like Crabtree could help make up for Russell’s deficiencies. He’s a dominant, strong, and physical wideout. He doesn’t have elite speed, but he’s far from slow. His hands are excellent, and I’ve always been impressed with his body position and control. He adjusts well in the air and almost always puts himself in a better position to get the ball than the defender. He can run all the routes and line up all over the field. He could be a bit taller (6-1, 215), but he’s got just about everything you could want in a receiver. Crabtree had his cast removed just last week after undergoing surgery for the stress fracture in his foot that kept him out of the combine.
(previous pick – Jeremy Maclin)

8) Jacksonville Jaguars – Mark Sanchez, QB (USC)
All the talk is about who will trade up with the Jags and select Sanchez. Well, I think they stay put and take the guy themselves. Sanchez is this year’s late climber (why, who knows?) and seems to be a top 10 pick now at this point. Rumors have the Jags desperate to trade out of the top 10, and David Garrard seems to think they won’t take a QB. I call shenanigans. Denver won’t trade up, and it would make even less sense for the 49ers to do it. Unless the Vikings jump in as a darkhorse, that leaves the Jets at #17. Would the Jags be interested in going down 9 spots? The Jags are in a similar situation as the Raiders in that the talent just isn’t there to fill their more urgent needs (LT, CB, WR, DT, and MLB). I don’t see them taking Andre Smith, and #8 is still too high for a corner. The next DT isn’t going here either, and neither is a MLB. Jeremy Maclin was my previous pick, but after further deliberation, I really think QB is the pick. Garrard’s salary jumps to nearly $8 million in ‘10 (from $5.5 million in ‘09) , and depending on how he performs this year, they my have a decision to make come ’10. Having a guy like Sanchez in the wings for a year may help make that an easier decision. Sanchez doesn’t have the experience that teams prefer (16 starts at USC), and while his arm isn’t as strong as Stafford’s, he can make all the throws an NFL offense requires of a QB. He’s a fiery leader of the offense who does a nice job going through his progressions. He moves well out of the pocket and, like Stafford, does a good job keeping his eyes downfield. Sanchez would be best suited going somewhere he can learn and grow for a year, and this looks like the perfect situation to do just that.
(previous pick – Matthew Stafford)

9) Green Bay Packers – Brian Orakpo, DE/OLB (Texas)
With the Packers yet another team transitioning to a 3-4 defense, they will be looking for some players to fit their new scheme. They could use help throughout the front 7 and at either offensive tackle spot. With Oher off the board, I don’t think they’d be looking at Andre Smith here. Let’s move to the defensive side of the ball. Raji’s gone, so no NT. What 3-4 DE is worth the 9th pick? None. They could use a corner, but I think this pick is too high for either Malcolm Jenkins or Vontae Davis. That narrows it down to OLB for me, and the best one on the board is Orakpo. He has the speed/quickness necessary to make the move to OLB and the frame to get bigger. His 4.70 combine 40 kept him in the discussions to change positions. Orakpo shows nice hips and plays with a relentless motor. The weight room freak added 50 pounds of muscle since entering the Texas football program and maintained an 8% body fat figure the entire time. He can bench 515 pounds, squat over 600, power clean 380. His 10-10 broad jump demonstrates his explosiveness, and Orakpo also demonstrates sudden and smooth change of direction. He’s a playmaker.
(previous pick – Michael Oher)

10)San Francisco 49ers – Everette Brown, DE/OLB (FSU)
Make it 2 OLB in a row. There are a few ways I could see this pick going. If I hadn’t gone with Brown, my second choice would have been Andre Smith. The 49ers recently signed Marvel Smith to start at RT, and while that move alone wouldn’t/shouldn’t prevent the 49ers from considering Andre, would they really draft a RT in the top 10 and have him sit? That doesn’t seem like the best value for the pick. I still think this is too high to spend a pick on the secondary, and while the Niners could add another DL, I don’t see a 3-4 NT/DE worth the selection. Jeremy Maclin wouldn’t shock me, but I have a hard time seeing them spend this first pick on a receiver. I think Singletary will be looking for a defensive force; someone who can get to the passer. Brown certainly did that in ’08 (13 ½ sacks to go with a whopping 21 ½ TFL). He finished his career with 23 sacks and 46 ½ TFL (2nd all time at FSU). His 4.73 forty at the combine was fourth fastest for defensive linemen. I think Brown has what it takes to play either end in a 4-3 or OLB in a 3-4. He has a great body for the position and plenty of room to get bigger. He has a tremendous burst off the edge and is able to utilize multiple pass rush moves to beat his blockers. He moves very well laterally, and his smooth change of direction will benefit him if he does indeed make the switch to 3-4 OLB. As opposed to a lot of other athletes going through the FSU program, Brown is a legit good guy. Everyone likes him. I definitely think he would be a better “tweener” pick to play at OLB than this next guy…
(previous pick – Andre Smith)

11) Buffalo Bills – Aaron Maybin, DE (Penn State)
Here’s the anomaly of the draft. There’s no consensus on where he’ll end up or what position is best suited for him as a pro. He put up an impressive 12 sacks (tops in Big 10) as a sophomore and has the type of body coaches crave. He can (and would need to if he stays at DE) get a little bigger, but how much will that impact his speed? Maybin only started for one year at Penn State, where he showed tremendous explosion off the snap and fine foot speed. At this point, speed is pretty much his entire game, and he gets by on pure athletic ability. He’ll need to improve his repertoire of pass rush moves if he’s going to stay at end and be anything more than a situational player. I think he’ll really benefit from professional coaching and more snaps. The fact that his hips are so stiff and that he doesn’t move terribly well/quick laterally could turn off some teams hoping to switch him to OLB. I really think he’s probably better off developing as a DE. At this point in his career, he’s fairly easily overmatched by bigger blockers. The sky could be the limit with this kid’s skills. Boom or bust. Brian Cushing would be my alternate pick.
(previous pick – Everette Brown)

12) Denver Broncos – Rey Maualuga, LB (USC)
The Broncos are another team shifting to a 3-4 defense, and like the Packers, they could use help all across the front 7. Again, Raji’s gone, so there’s not a worth NT. They could go DE, and have been linked to Tyson Jackson, but the more I think about it, I really believe 12 is too high for a 3-4 end. I’m going against myself from my previous mock. Despite the fact that they do have a number of bodies at ILB, I do think this is where Maualuga goes. He’s a classic ILB who plays aggressive and is almost always around the football. Rey does overpursue more than teams would like and his technique could use some work. He battled a hamstring injury at the combine and ran a 4.65 forty at his pro day with a quarter-sized blister on his right big toe. Ouch! Maualuga doesn’t appear to have a huge upside, but his downside is limited as well. For a team that really needs to hit with defensive players, they could do worse than Maualuga.
(previous pick – Tyson Jackson)

13) Washington Redskins – Andre Smith, T (Alabama)
I think this is as far as the big man falls. The Skins should be looking at DE, SLB, or RT in this spot, and I believe that Smith would be the best value for the pick. He could come in and be an immediate starter on the right side of the line. He was this year’s Outland Trophy winner and is an absolutely dominant run blocker. You just can’t run the guy over. He gave up just one sack in ’08, and if his head is on straight, he’ll be a fixture on the Skins line for the next decade. That’s a big if though. His trouble started before the Sugar Bowl, where he was suspended for the game for his involvement with an agent. Then he shows up out of shape to the combine saying he just started working out. He went on to interview poorly with teams and dressed inappropriately in those sessions. I hate to take away what the guy did on the field during his time at Alabama, but how can you be so horribly unprepared for the biggest interview of your life? The fast rising Robert Ayers wouldn’t surprise me here at all, given their need for a DE, and I think Brian Cushing is in the picture as well. In the end, I’m giving the gifted tackle the edge.
(previous pick – Brian Cushing)

14) New Orleans Saints – Malcolm Jenkins, CB (Ohio State)
Jenkins isn’t the fastest or quickest corner in this draft, and that has flamed the speculation as to which position he’ll occupy at the next level. I think the guy is plenty talented and might be better off as a FS in the NFL. The Saints have a number of bodies as CB but need help at safety (despite signing Darren Sharper). Jenkins could come in and give them versatility right away. He’s a very intelligent player in the secondary, and his consistency earned him accolades as a 3 time Big 10 selection and 2 time All American. He’s physical, and his plus hands allow him to be a quite a playmaker in the secondary. He ran a fairly slow 40 (4.54) at the combine, especially for a top draft pick, and he didn’t improve upon those numbers at his pro day (4.55 and 4.58). He’s really on the low end of what you want speed-wise from a corner, and he doesn’t ideal upper body physical strength. They’re apparently really impressed with Brian Cushing too, and the Chris Wells rumors have run rampant. What does Sean Payton have against Pierre Thomas? I believe they’ll take the Buckeye that could help shore up a porous secondary.
(previous pick – Malcolm Jenkins)

15) Houston Texans – Clay Matthews, LB (USC)
I stole this pick from John McClain over a month ago, and I’m sticking with it. The Texans could go a number of ways with this one (S, CB, DT, WR, or RB), but I’m going with an active LB that gets into the backfield. DE (Ayers) could have been a selection had they not signed Antonio Smith in free agency, and Malcolm Jenkins might be their guy if he was on the board. Taking Maclin here wouldn’t shock me at all, but I still think they’ll go defense. I don’t think they’ll take Peria Jerry or a RB to team with Slaton in this spot either. Matthews is a better pass rusher than Cushing and has a more controlled style of play. His 10 yard dash time (1.49), which was better than what a player with the same 40 (4.62) normally runs, shows his explosiveness. He improved upon his combine 40, putting up a 4.57 at his pro day, despite checking in at 6-2, 245. He’s a riser who will probably surprise some with as high as he’ll be drafted; especially if he goes before Cushing as I’m projecting.
(previous pick – Clay Matthews)

16) San Diego Chargers – Jeremy Maclin, WR (Missouri)
You probably haven’t seen Maclin ending up with the Chargers in many/any mocks, but the draft is where the unexpected happens. If Maclin makes it out of the top 10, I think he falls right into the Chargers’ lap, and that would work out great for them. As it stands right now, DE, SS, RG, NT, and RT appear to be the Chargers’ biggest areas of need. Aside from DE, they’re not going to get good value at those positions. Given the choice between Maclin and Tyson Jackson, I believe they’d take a guy who would make the young Philip Rivers an even more dangerous passer. Maclin is a versatile weapon who can catch, run, and light it up in the return game. He has explosive speed but needs to work a little on his routes. He’s a good blocker for his size (6-0, 198) and is a well liked teammate. Jeremy’s one of my favorite players, and I think he’ll going to be a great pro. If he’s not there, I’m guessing they’ll take Cushing. Yeah, I know. It’s a theme. Cushing would fill a need with every team from picks 11-16, but I just have them going with other players instead.
(previous pick – Aaron Maybin)

17) NY Jets – Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR (Maryland)
The Jets biggest needs IMO are WR and QB. They appear to be content with Kellen Clemens (for some reason), so I’ve changed the pick from my previous mock. I think that with Jerricho Cotchery and Chansi Stuckey as their top wideouts, they could use a speed guy like DHB to stretch the field and keep defenses honest. To the non-surprise of many, he ran the fastest 40 (4.30) at the combine. DHB is tremendous with the ball in his hands, a threat to take any pass to the house. He definitely needs to work on his routes, as he’s primarily a straight ahead or deep post guy at the moment. Is he tough enough to take the poundings as an every down receiver? Will he get much stronger? I’m not sure, but knowing how valuable speed is in this league, the fastest guy in the draft won’t fall far. Teams that value character will have DHB high on their boards.
(previous pick – Josh Freeman)

18) Denver Broncos – Vontae Davis, CB (Illinois)
Yeah I know. This would be the perfect spot for the Broncos to come right back and get their DE (Jackson). That’s too easy. They did bring in Andre Goodman to team with Champ Bailey at corner, but both of those guys are 30. They’re also in a division with the Chargers (who just got Maclin in this draft) and the Raiders (who took Crabtree). Davis could definitely learn a thing or two about maximizing your natural abilities from a guy like Bailey. Davis is the my #2 preference for the Bucs if he’s on the board. He’s got the rare size/athleticism combination and just makes plays. He’s physical, doesn’t shy away from contact, and lead all Big 10 corners with 78 tackles this past season. Vontae tallied 7 INT and 2 blocked kicks this year, demonstrating his ability to go up and good the football. Davis enjoys the pressure of the spotlight. He’s not just an athletic guy, and that was shown by leading all corners with 25 reps on the bench at the combine. Vernon’s little brother has great straight line speed and terrific hip movement; ideal for any pass defense.
(previous pick – Hakeem Nicks (Chicago))

19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Larry English, DE (N. Illinois)
Even though I’m still terrified that the Bucs will take Michael Johnson with this pick, I’m leaving English here in my mock. I recently went into detail with my thoughts on English, so I won’t repeat that here. I just love the guy’s motor, determination, and ability to get to the passer on a consistent basis.
(previous pick – Larry English)
20) Detroit Lions – Robert Ayers, DE (Tennessee)
I think this is right about where Ayers should end up. After grabbing Stafford in with the first pick, the Lions could come back here and get someone (Britton or Beatty) to protect his blindside. But with as shoddy as that defense has been, they need help at all levels. I’m not as high on him as the experts are, but he’s got a really solid build. I don’t like that he really only produced one year at Tennessee and didn’t even total 10 sacks during his 4 years. His 15.5 TFL this past season show his ability to get into the backfield, but is he going to be much of a pass rusher in the NFL, where the game speeds up a more than a step from the college game? He’s got great lower body strength and will excel at stopping the run, but I would think you’d want more of a pass rush when taking a DE this high. He’s a big boom or bust guy IMO. Mike Mayock thinks that when we look back on this draft in 3 years, Ayers will be the best defensive player to come from it. If the Lions didn’t go with Ayers or the best available tackle, James Laurinaitis might get the call to solve their MLB woes.
(previous pick – Mark Sanchez)

21) Philadelphia Eagles – Knowshon Moreno, RB (Georgia)
I’m not sure how serious the Eagles are about taking a RB here, but what I do know is that they most certainly won’t draft Chris Wells. I love Brian Westbrook’s ability and consistency, but the guy can’t play forever. I think the dynamic Moreno is the perfect player to come in and slowly allow the Eagles to make a steady/slow transition from the Westbrook era. Moreno has outstanding vision, is electric out of the backfield, and catches everything thrown his way. He hits the hole quickly with little wasted movement (take that Reggie Bush) and is a hard guy to bring down for his size (5-11, 217). He does a good job allowing his blocks to set up before running into the backs of his linemen, and he has no problem taking the ball inside the heart of the line. Moreno has good, not great speed, evidenced by his unimpressive 4.55 and 4.63 combine 40s, but he’s a durable game changer. With the Eagles signing Stacy Andrews to play RT next to his brother, RG Shawn, and the acquisition of Jason Peters from Buffalo, they have seemingly addressed the departures of longtime tackles Tra Thomas (Jax) and Jon Runyan (unsigned FA). Brandon Pettigrew would look good in this offense, but I think the Eagles have messed around long enough with not providing a reliable backup to Westbrook. The drafting of Moreno ends that.
(previous pick – Brandon Pettigrew)

22) Minnesota Vikings – Eben Britton, T (Arizona)
I’ve got the RT position as the biggest area of need for the Vikings. They can and need to do better than Anthony Herrera. Britton’s strength is in the run game, and that may be a factor in deciding which end of the line he plays. Eben was a starter from day one at Arizona (37 games), seeing most of his action (24 starts) at RT. He’s big and athletic and was a team captain at Arizona. Dude’s pretty smart too. Britton has a nice body type for a tackle and isn’t carrying too much weight in a particular section. He plays really tough and is a tough drive blocker, I don’t know if he has enough quickness off the snap to man the LT position in the pros. That wouldn’t matter in Minnesota, where they’d be looking at him for the right side anyways. The guy was only flagged 4 times in his entire career. The Vikings might be interested in Peria Jerry as a backup to the Williamses, and although they'll be drafting a center, #22 might be too high for Alex Mack.
(previous pick – Peria Jerry)

23) New England Patriots – Brian Cushing, LB (USC)
This is probably a little low for Cushing, but with fairly even talent across positions in the first round, someone’s going to fall a few picks. He’d be a heck of a pick here. The Patriots need help at both inside and outside linebacker, and Cushing provides them with versatility at the position. Like his teammate Clay Matthews and big man Raji, Cushing was rumored to have failed a drug test at the combine. Like the others, the rumors surrounding Cushing were proven untrue. Cushing is very versatile, instinctive, and athletic. He showed up on the scene at UCS as a SS and played at DE, SLB, and MLB during his time there. His 30 reps at the combine tied for most at the linebacker position. Cushing is intense and packs a pop and would seem to be an ideal Patriot. He has nice hips and can turn and run with the TE and even RB. Cushing is an effective blitzer and pass rusher and just flies all over the field. I love this pick for the Patriots if they’re lucky enough to have him stay on the board this long.
(previous pick – Rey Maualuga)

24) Atlanta Falcons – James Laurinaitis, LB (Ohio State)
I don’t know if the Falcons feel this way, but I think this is too high for a safety. They do have a need at DT, more specifically NT, so Ron Brace might warrant consideration. Local fave Michael Johnson might have some supporters, but they already have John Abraham, Kroy Biermann, Chauncey Davis, and Jamaal Anderson at DE. They’re not all studs, but they’re all going to be on the team in ’09. The guy I really want to go with here is Brandon Pettigrew. I think the Falcons would really like to bring in a big, middle of the field target for Matt Ryan, but let me give you my logic on this one. Laurinaitis is a guy who IMO is being punished for returning for his senior year. He was a projected first rounder last year, and the longer you stay in school, the longer they have to nitpick your abilities. Mike Smith isn’t a paper skills guy and wants guys that just get the job done. Mike Mayock recent broke down the Falcons draft and said that Laurinaitis could play all three LB positions for the Falcons. Laurinaitis was a consistent performer for the Buckeyes, bringing hard hits and sound tackling. He did run a slow 4.78 forty at the combine, but he’s another guy where you just pop in his tape. He didn’t make a ton of big plays at Ohio State, but he made a lot of little ones. Laurinaitis has a little trouble disengaging from blocks and may have maxed out size-wise. Still, I think he’s the type of football player the Falcons will be looking for.
(previous pick – Michael Johnson)

25) Miami Dolphins – Darius Butler, CB (U Conn)
The Dolphins’ secondary was a mess last year, but they re-signed lone star Yeremiah Bell and grabbed Gibril Wilson after the Raiders released him. With the departure of Andre Goodman to the Broncos, the Phins are left with safety convert Jason Allen, Will Allen, Eric Green, and Joey Thomas at corner. The Dolphins really need to emerge from this draft with two corners, and I’ve got them taking one here. They need to hit with this pick, and taking the 4 year starter 2 year captain from U Conn would be a wise move. Butler is versatile enough to excel in either a man or zone scheme. He even lined up some at wideout. His 4.46 forty at the combine was the fastest at his position, as was his 43 inch vertical. The fact that he didn’t record a single interception in ’08 might have some wondering why a guy with zero picks would be worthy of a first round selection. Teams continually avoided his side of the field. He’s lanky with nice hips and good field awareness. Butler isn’t a strong as you’d like and isn’t a great run supporter, but there’s no doubting his coverage skills.
(previous pick – Vontae Davis)

26) Baltimore Ravens – Tyson Jackson, DE (LSU)
I’m not as high on Jackson as the experts appear to be, but I do think he’s a good find here at #26. The Ravens could use some deep speed for strong armed Joe Flacco, but I’ve already got DHB off the board. Would they spend a pick on Percy Harvin? The Ravens have been too conservative with their picks over the years for me to think he’d get the call. They’re in a good spot here either way. Their biggest needs are at WR, DE, T, and TE, and top talent is available at each of those positions. I’ll go with the consensus top 3-4 DE in the draft. Jackson didn’t put up great sack totals in ’07 or ’08, but he did make plays in the backfield (10.5 TFL in ’08). The fact that he doesn’t play well in space or put a ton of pressure on the passer is a good reason for the move to 3-4 DE. There he can utilize his greatest skills, which are strength, physicality, and an anchor against the run. He seems like the Ravens’ type of player.
(previous pick – Darrius Heyward Bey)

27) Indianapolis Colts – Peria Jerry, DT (Mississippi)

The perfect pick falls right in their lap. The Colts really need to bring in a playmaker up front, and they get great value here with Jerry. He’s a three technique who shows a nice burst off the snap and quickness to split the gap. He’s mature, as he should be at 25 years of age. The fact that he’s that old entering the draft will probably hurt his stock. He played well against top teams, providing the Rebels with an active force on the interior. Jerry pursues well, but he plays too high at times and can be taken out with leverage. He’s not a great run stuffer and would probably be best off as a three technique on a Cover 2 defense. If they don’t go DT, the Colts could snatch one of the top receivers off the board to make up for the loss of Marvin Harrison. There’s nothing behind Wayne and Gonzalez, and you know they’re going to want to make sure Peyton has plenty of weapons. I think Hakeem Nicks would be a heck of a pick in this spot, and I’d be very intrigued if they took Percy Harvin.
(previous pick – Ziggy Hood)

28) Buffalo Bills (via PHI) – Brandon Pettigrew, TE (Oklahoma St)In early mocks, Brandon Pettigrew was a popular pick to the Bills at #11. Well, now that they’ve acquired this late first rounder from the Eagles for Jason Peters, they can still get their TE at a greatly reduced cost. The Bills acquired Terrell Owens this offseason to give Trent Edwards a target opposite Lee Evans. They’re TE stable is sad with Derek Schouman, Derek Fine, and Jonathan Stupar making up the depth chart. They got their DE with the first pick, and if they don’t go with Pettigrew, a defensive tackle like Ziggy Hood or Ron Brace or a tackle like William Beatty may end up being the pick. Pettigrew is the best all round TE the draft has seen since Heath Miller in ’05. He has really nice size (6-5, 263) and is a physical blocker in the run game and catches everything throw his way. He’s a tough guy to tackle and will be a tremendous red zone weapon.
(previous pick – Knowshon Moreno (PHI))

29) NY Giants – Hakeem Nicks, WR (UNC)
Tackle and WR are the biggest areas of need for the Giants. Plaxico is officially out of the picture now, and the Amani Toomer era is over as well. Right now, Domenik Hixon is the Giants’ #1 receiver, and he’s backed up by Steve Smith, Mario Manningham, and David Tyree. Eli needs some help. Hence the Braylon Edwards rumors. If they can’t work out a trade, I think the Giants take Nicks here. He and Kenny Britt are the top two receivers (of the type the Giants will be seeking; no Harvin) on the board at this point, and the two are fairly similar players. I prefer Nicks because he’s more consistent and a harder worker than Britt. Neither one is going to win a sprint contest, but Nicks runs better routes, catches just about everything thrown his way, and was very productive the last two years. I see a lot of upside here, but the fact that he showed up a little heavier than expected at his pro day may drop him down some draft boards.
(previous pick – Eben Britton)

30) Tennessee Titans – Alphonso Smith, CB (Wake Forest)
Everyone (myself included) always wants to give the Titans a WR in the first round. When was the last time they actually did? How about Kevin Dyson in 1998. Before that it was Haywood Jeffires in 1987. Not saying it won’t happen, but history isn’t the its favor. The other big area of need as I see it is cornerback. Yes they have Cortland Finnegan and Nick Harper as starters, but Vincent Fuller isn’t anything more than a nickel guy. They don’t have anything behind those guys and would be wise to benefit from the draft’s depth at the corner position. Alphonso Smith is flying a bit under the radar IMO. He doesn’t have elite speed (4.51), but you don’t question his speed when you watch his film. He’s experienced, productive, and a solid run supporter. Smith has probably the best leaping/hands/playmaking combo in the draft. I think he’s going to be a good one.
(previous pick – Kenny Britt)

31) Arizona Cardinals – Chris Wells, RB (Ohio State)
It’s not much of a secret that the Cardinals are looking to bring in a RB, and they get one here. I previously had them taking Donald Brown over Wells, but Wells seems to be taking a late climb up draft boards. He’s rumored to go as high as #14 to the Saints, but remember, RB always fall in drafts. He may not fall this far, but I’m just not overly impressed with him. I do like his size (6-1, 235) and punishing stiff arm, but he just looks too average at times on film. He doesn’t explode through the hole and has shown very little as a pass catcher. Wells only missed 3 games at Ohio State, but he had more than his share of injuries ('07 - sprained left ankle, sprained right wrist, broken thumb; '08 - sprained right foot, turf toe, strained hamstring, concussion). A running back who has already piled up a bunch of injuries to various parts of his body may fall down some boards a bit. He’s a straight ahead, pounding runner who (IMO) needs to improve a bit to be a 3 down back in the NFL.
(previous pick – Donald Brown)

32) Pittsburgh Steelers – Alex Mack, C (California)
I’ve got the Steelers taking the man many are calling the best center prosepect in years. I think he’s a great fit for this team; a big, tough, firm commander of the offensive line. When you win the Super Bowl, you’re usually in position to take the best available player when your turn comes up at the end of round one. Mack was voted college football’s top scholar athlete in 2008 and was twice named the PAC 10’s top offensive lineman. Scouts believe he’s versatile enough to play guard in the NFL, and he even took some snaps there at the Senior Bowl. Mack missed the combine with an ankle injury, but that won’t dissuade teams from considering him at the bottom of the first round.
(previous pick – Alex Mack)

Notables left out of round 1:

Josh Freeman - QB, Kansas State
With the Bucs signing Leftwich, the number of teams looking for a first round QB was (hopefully) reduced by 1. Assuming Stafford and Sanchez are gone in the top 8, I don't see a team that's going to grab him in the first. GB, SF, BUF, DEN, WAS, NO, HOU, and SD won't take him. At #17, I think the Jets could do better than Kellen Clemens, but would they rather get a speed receiver that can play in '09 or a project QB to backup Clemens for at least a year? The rest of the teams picking in the first round, assuming Detroit gets Stafford at #1, have multiple needs ranking above QB. I think he falls at least to St. Louis in round 2 at #35 overall, but even then, if Ron Brace is on the board, they may want to get a needed DT. Seattle at #37 might be interested, but I corner is much more of a need than QB. Sean Smith and DJ Moore could be more enticing than Josh Freeman. After that, if the Niners at #43 pass on him, he could be in for quite a wait. It isn't absurd to think he could fall all the way to the Jets at #52.

Percy Harvin - WR, Florida
Harvin's a heck of a talent and a versatile playmaker. He has excellent vision and is a very tough player for his size (5-11, 192). My biggest question with Harvin is whether or not he'll be able to stay on the field enough to warrant a first round selection. I can't blame the guy for getting hurt, but his ankle, knee, hip, and heel issues can't be ignored. Combine that with the fact that you'd be paying big money to a guy who's probably going to touch the ball about 4 times a game. Harvin ran a 4.38 forty at the combine and had a very impressive pro day; running sharp routes and catching the ball well. In addition to the injury issues, off field flags (true or not) are being raised. That may be enough to bump the explosive player out of the first round.

Michael Johnson, DE (Georgia Tech) - The guy has been blessed with great size, long arms, and as much athleticism as any lineman in this draft class. He put up an eye popping 4.59 forty at his pro day and seems to have every on-paper skill you could ask for. Then you turn on the tape and see a guy who takes plays off, who disappears against the run, who lacks the upper body strength you'd like from a first rounder at his position, and who, despite his superior athleticism, wasn't able to earn a starting job until his senior season. I really hope the Bucs' reported interest in him is nothing more than pre-draft smoke.

Kenny Britt, WR (Rutgers) - Receivers fall in drafts, and if this one plays out as I suspect, I only see room for either Nicks or Britt in round 1.

Donald Brown, RB (U Conn) - Unless the Broncos take Knowshon Moreno with one of their first rounders, I don't think there's much of a chance that 3 back are taken in the first 32 picks.

William Beatty, T (U Conn) - I wouldn't be surprised if he did go in the first, given the value put on guys who can play LT. The Giants and Steelers at the bottom of round 1 would seem to have interest, and FWIW, I've got him going to the Lions with the first pick in the 2nd round.

Ziggy Hood, DT (Missouri) - I think Hood's draft position is contingent upon how early Peria Jerry gets picked; the sooner the better. One thing working in his favor is that some teams view him as a 3-4 DE, so he might increase his market there.

Sean Smith, CB (Utah) - Smith is a guy who could sneak into the bottom of the first round if a team prefers him to Alphonso Smith or maybe even Darius Butler.


  1. Looking at all of those players who you have sliding into the second round, I hope the Bucs find a trade partner! Still, it would be nice to get a pass rusher. Any chance Everette Brown slides to #19?

  2. Thanks for reading, Cal.

    I try to make my mock a little different than the others you'll consistently see online. They don't include a lot of surprises or outside the box thinking. I don't want to suggest crazy things like Knowshon Moreno going first overall, but when you analyze the heck out of existing personnel, team needs (that are always changing), draft tendencies, team's draft tendencies, and finally the actual talent being drafted, there's more room for manuvering than most drafts lend themselves to.

    For example, BJ Raji. I can't say for certain that he's going to KC, but it just makes a ton of sense. Yet, I can't say that I've seen him as the pick in any mocks. If he does go #3, that really shakes up the rest of the top 10. All it takes is for one "wow" pick to make those conservative mocks useless.

    Regarding Brown, I have tried several times to have a scenario play out where he falls to #19. It could happen, but I thought it too unlikely to talk much about it. He's a guy I haven't talked much about because I've always assumed he'd be gone by the time the Bucs picked. I think it's safe to say that Orakpo will go before he does, and there's a question whether or not Ayers and/or Maybin will as well. The position question (DE or OLB?) adds a bit of confusion to the scenario too.

    Rather than go into further detail here, I'm going to post something about the chances of Brown falling to the Bucs on the main page.

    Thanks again for reading.

  3. Some reports have the Bucs liking DT Peria Jerry. If E. Brown or V. Davis don't fall to 19, I think he would make the most logical choice, as he fills a need and would be good value. Also, the Bucs are said to like Oher, but I don't see him falling to 19. Also, I think the interest in Johnson is a smokescreen to try and get someone higher up to take him, allowing Brown to fall down to us.

  4. One thing I can say without a doubt is that there will definately be some talent on the board at pick #19. There may be so much talent that the Bucs are able to trade down and recoup that Winslow pick.

    They could be looking at the top corner in the draft, a receiver to come in and show Clayton how to score touchdowns, a defensive end who tackles the QB, a linebacker like Cushing (don't dismiss it; he's exactly what Bates likes), or a talented tackle who falls.

    I think the continued Jerry talk is smoke. As I said elsewhere, I don't see the value in taking Jerry at #19 to play in a Jim Bates defense. His DT's don't need to be 400 lbs, but occupying blockers, clogging lanes, and stopping the run is their top priority. That just happens to be the part of Jerry's game where he doesn't excel; not saying he's poor, just not worth the 19th pick in the draft in this defense.