Hello Everyone! This is my first mock of 2009. I generally like to wait a couple of weeks into free agency before attempting a mock. The greatest challenge is trying not to necessarily pick the fan favorites, but to step into the front office's shoes of that team and try to figure out what their thinking. Unfortunately, I do not have the greatest of resources other than what I am able to read on the internet. I spent hours scouring the net researching individual teams and also visited each teams message board on this website. There are some surprises on here so I expect both positive and negative feedback. But I do ask that if you do provide feedback, please also add insight as to what your teams' GM may do in that certain situation, not necessarily how you feel as a fan. I've always stated that a team will draft based on the philosophy of it's coaches and GM's over what the general media or fans think they should take. Thanks and enjoy!
1) Lions - Jason Smith, OT, Baylor – Matt Stafford was considered here but this is the safest pick…low risk, high reward. It’s just what the team needs after the high risk, low reward drafts of the Millen era. New GM Martin Mayhew can’t afford to make those same mistakes. Given the statistical failures on QB’s entering the draft after their junior year can’t make Mayhew feel any better. Fortifying both lines will help new coach Schwartz build a physical team on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball where a QB could be plugged in a year or two later. Daunte Culpepper buys the team another year at the QB position. Current LT Jeff Backus could be moved back to RT or RG to make room for Smith. Some consider Aaron Curry the safest pick. But the safest pick is not going to be a guy that could potentially be off the field on third down. Smith will play every offensive snap while Curry may be out in nickel or dime situations.
2) Rams - Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest – The recent departure of former franchise LT Orlando Pace is disturbing, but needed to be done given his recent injury history and high salary cap figure. But without Pace, the o-line is bad…but not that bad. The defense is worse. The defense will need impact defenders to make new coach Steve Spagnuolo’s scheme successful. Aaron Curry is not only arguably the best defender in this year’s draft, but perhaps the best player. Spag’s will run an aggressive, blitzing style of defense and Curry will help spearhead the assault.
3) Chiefs - B.J. Raji, DT –Surprised? This is what Pioli does. Look at how the Patriots built their team over the last 10 years. When they had early picks, they chose to take the best DT prospects in the draft. Pioli was part of a Patriots franchise that took players such as Roland Seymour, Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork in the first rounds of their respective drafts. That philosophy should carry over to the Chiefs. Defense was clearly an issue. The team showed that it could move the ball and score points last year with Tyler Thigpen at QB only to be let down by a defense that gave up over 158 ypg in rushing defense. Pioli has already started the house cleaning, but more help is needed. Impact NT's are harder to find than impact LBs. Raji is a top 5 talent that will take pressure off of last year's #5 overall pick Glenn Dorsey.
4) Seahawks - Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia – Michael Crabtree is enticing here but the signing of T.J. Houshmanzadeh bought the Seahawks some time at the receiver position. LT Walter Jones is not getting any younger and Monroe is his future replacement. Monroe can step in and play RT immediately. Or an extreme case could see Walter Jones follow in Orlando Pace’s recent footsteps.
5) Browns - Brian Orakpo, DE/OLB, Texas – The Browns get the award last year for the team that regressed the most. The Browns finished 10-6 in 2007 only to follow up with a 4-12 finish in 2008. There needs to be improvement on both sides of the ball. A lot of the offensive failures could be attributed to the health of their QB’s and Braylon Edward’s case of the dropsies. Those issues will need to be addressed but defensive talent could stand to use an improvement. Orakpo has 3-4 versatility. He will need to work on standing pass rush but should do the other things well (coverage, rushing defense). Mangini hopes to get better results out of Orakpo over what he received last year from Vernon Gholston.
6) Bengals - Andre Smith, OT, Alabama – The Bengals’ defense played well in second half to finish a respectable #12 overall in yards allowed. The team needs O-line help most. Palmer seems to get more fragile as the years pass by and protecting him will be the key to making the offense run smoothly. The Bengals want the “other” Smith, but the Lions snagged him at #1. Smith’s fall from grace at the combine do not overshadow his obvious talents on game day. The team also entertained the idea of Jeremy Maclin but the signing of Coles eliminates that possibility.
7) Raiders - Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech – The Raiders get lucky 2 years in a row. Last year it was Darren McFadden, this year it’s Crabtree. Al Davis has a habit of drafting flashy skill players over need in other areas. This year will be no different. Crabtree's drop will be contributed in part form his recent surgery and his inability to post triangle numbers in the draft. Crabtree doesn’t have the combine numbers to impress, but like Andre Smith, the game footage is too much to ignore. Now if only the Raiders could get lucky and win a few more games.
8) Jaguars - Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia – Tra Thomas was signed, shoring up a need at LT left open by Khalif Barnes. The Jaguars may have overpayed for current starter David Garrard and Matt Stafford is the best player available here. The Jaguars have taken chances on QB’s here in the past and still remain competitive. The drafting of Stafford would put the Jaguars in a similar position that the Browns are in with Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn. Like the Browns with Anderson, it’s time to shop Garrard.
9) Packers - Everette Brown, DE/OLB, Florida State – The Packers are moving to a 3-4 defense this year. They need an edge rusher to pressure the QB. Brown can bring speed off the edge in stand up or a 3 point stance. He was moved around in college to create mismatches. That versatility should help at the next level making the Packers' new 3-4 zone blitzing more effective.
10) 49ers - Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi – Contrary to popular belief, the 49ers will not go with a QB or WR here. QB was addressed after Alex Smith's contract was restructured and Damon Huard was signed. The team is confident that their is still a future with Smith and he will be given a chance to win back the starting job in camp. The team had a need for a vertical threat WR but the signing of Brandon Jones eliminates the need to draft a WR here. FS could also use an upgrade, but Malcolm Jenkins has already stated that he doesn't want to play safety. There are greater needs for a pass rusher and RT. The 49ers have their eye on Andre Smith but the Bengals snagged him at #6. Oher probably has the highest potential over any OT in this year’s draft. Oher is projected to be a future franchise left tackle but can step in early and play RG or RT and stay at either position. Oher is a solid athlete but can he learn the playbook? Sure, it's not Martz's offense anymore.
11) Bills - Aaron Maybin, DE/OLB – The Bills need a TE. But more importantly, they need more than 24 sacks to go along with their #13 ranked pass defense. Injuries didn’t help the team last year but Aaron Maybin can help bring pressure off the edge. Maybin would bring heat on passing downs as well as provide quality depth. The recent signing of Terrell Owens reduces the emphasis on drafting an impact playmaker on offense here.
12) Broncos - Rey Maualuga, ILB, Southern California – The offense has talented playmakers and can move the ball at will. The defense needs the most help here. They finished a sad, sad #29 in years allowed and #30 in points allowed. New coach Mike Nolan has been tasked to improve on these numbers. He is installing a 3-4 defense and Maualuga will be the centerpiece. Maualuga should be the impact MLB that Nolan had in San Francisco with Patrick Willis.
13) Redskins - Brian Cushing, OLB, Southern California – D-line still needs help with Jason Taylor and Demetric Evans gone but Albert Haynesworth makes this line look better. Cushing fills need at OLB with Marcus Washington’s release. Cushing is perhaps the best athlete in this year’s draft with regards to the LB position and probably the BPA here. The Redskins also need to address OT but there are none worth reaching for here.
14) Saints – Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois - Mike McKenzie is injured and aging. Davis is the BPA here and will make a nice tandem with Tracy Porter in the future. Coach Payton has been impressed with Davis (younger brother of 49ers TE Vernon Davis). There would be no pressure to start, but Davis can compete for playing time immediately with diminutive Jason David.
15) Texans – Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State – You can never have enough corners in the AFC South where you have to play against Peyton Manning twice a year. Jenkins is a surprise drop here, but poor combine numbers and interviews can do you in like that. Jenkins also provides insurance for Dunta Robinson doesn’t return next year.
16) Chargers - Tyson Jackson, DE/DT, Louisiana State – Igor Olshansky was not welcomed back. Jackson can play DT in a 4-3 or DE in a 3-4. The versatility allows Jackson to step in as 3-4 DE where Olshansky left off. Shawn Merriman should return next year allowing the team to wreak the havoc on defense like it did in 2007.
17) Jets - Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri – The Jet’s allowed Lavernues Coles to leave. Coles speed will need to be replaced. Maclin was a blazing play maker in college. He should be able to carry that ability over. Mark Sanchez and Darius Heyward-Bey was considered, but Maclin is too good to pass up. Maclin will be used to test the current QB's on the roster. He needs to work on routes but can provide immediate deep speed to compliment Jerricho Cotchery. If Maclin can’t make the current QB’s look better, then the team will need to make changes in 2010. Maclin also provides an added return threat.
18) Bears - Eben Britton, OT, Arizona – Britton is a bit of a reach here, but Tait retired so the team needs immediate help. Given the run on OT’s in recent drafts, reaching on Britton is not a bad move. Britton can help immediately in the passing game, but will need to improve as a run blocker. QB Kyle Orton could use that kind of security and Matt Forte is already a stud running the ball. The bears will need to address a pass defense that ranked #30 in the later rounds. There aren’t any DB’s worth reaching for here.
19) Buccaneers - Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi – Nobody really knows what going on with the QB position but anyone that watched the Bucs play the run in the second half of the season knows that there are serious problems with this unit. Jerry can be an impact player as part of the D-line rotation. He can slice into the backfield and stop plays before they begin. He can handle double teams as well. Jerry needs to work on some techniques but should find a way to contribute immediately.
20) Lions (from Cowboys) - Evander “Ziggy” Hood, DT, Missouri – The Lions were able to make some progress moving the ball last year. They were capable in scoring some points on offense building around a young core that includes Calvin Johnson and Kevin Smith. However, the defense was horrid. The lions get a chance to improve both lines in the first round. The recent acquiring of Julian Peterson reduces the need for Aaron Curry but shipping out Cory Redding leaves a hole at DT. Hood climbs the charts. This is the highest you will probably see him go. Lions grab him knowing that he won't be available at start of 2nd round. Hood probably won’t push the pocket but will help hold the point of attack.
21) Eagles - Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State – The Eagles decided to move forward without L.J Smith. Smith had talent, but had trouble staying healthy. Pettigrew will infuse some youth into the position. He is the best TE in this year’s draft. West Coast offense needs a difference maker at TE and Pettigrew is that type of player.
22) Vikings - Alex Mack, C, California – The Vikings can use another stud WR opposite Bernard Berrian. But Maclin is gone. The Vikings also just lost Pro Bowl center Matt Birk. The O-line is strength and must stay that way. Can John Sullivan step in without dropoff? Maybe. If not, Mack can. Mack is hands down the best center in the draft. Regardless, both Mack and Sullivan can fill at guard, which improves depth on the line.
23) Patriots - Larry English, OLB, Northern Illinois – Mike Vrabel is gone. There is a hole at OLB that needs attention. Bill Belichick said some nice things about English. Belichick will also rely more on game tape versus triangle numbers. Belichick could be bluffing. But he is a defensive genius. Need I say more?
24) Falcons, Connor Barwin, OLB, Cincinnati – Falcons were definitely a surprise for 2008. They need DT, CB & S. There are none worth reaching for here. OLB is the next greatest need after OLB’s Michael Boley and Keith Brooking were allowed to leave. Barwin has shot up the charts and the Falcons take notice. He should perform well covering passes and defending run as a 4-3 OLB.
25) Dolphins - Clay Matthews, OLB, Southern California – The Dolphins can use help at OLB, CB and WR. Matthews is a Parcells type of guy. He will be the blue collar LB that Parcells is looking for. Matthews will be more of a Carl Banks than a Lawrence Taylor. Matthews is also a good athlete and has good bloodlines.
26) Ravens - Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland – Fast, fast and fast! DHB has blazing speed. He is the fastest player in this year’s draft. He could’ve gone as high as #17 to the Jets. Adds vertical threat for Flacco. Ravens need to start looking for corners too but DHB is good value here. DHB needs to work on short routes but should help immediately deep.
27) Colts - Percy Harvin, WR, Florida – The Colts have a need to DT and ILB. But I think Polian helps Manning reload. There are no DT’s worth reaching for here. James Lauriaitis is a possibility but Polian historically has done well with receivers in this range (Reggie Wayne & Anthony Gonzales). Harvin is almost similar to recently departed Harrison…at least in stature and like Gonzalez, won't be forced to start
28) Eagles (from Panthers) - Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State – Star RB Brian Westbrook may no longer be able to carry a full load. Westbrook is an explosive weapon but it may be best served to keep him fresh in that capacity. Wells is a big back that can grind out yards while Westbrook continues making his big plays. "Beanie" will be the "thunder" to Westbrook's "lightning"
29) Giants - Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina - Giants really want Plax back? Yeah right. Plax may spending time with cell mate Bubba Sunshine in the state pen. Without Plax, Eli didn’t have another consistent receiver to throw to. Giants have burners but do not have another solid all around receiving option outside of Burress. Nicks has good hands and is a solid route runner. Nicks is also a model citizen…something Plax was not.
30) Titans - Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest – Albert Haynesworth is irreplaceable. There isn’t anyone in this year’s draft conceivable of replacing him. The Titans could use additional corners. Like the Texans, the Titans have the unfortunate task of facing Peyton twice a year. Smith is a physical receiver and not afraid of contact. He is a proven playmaker. He may be short, but has the other characteristics that Fisher can appreciate. Smith will compete for time opposite of Cortland Finnegan. At the minimum, he should garner attention in nickel situations.
31) Cardinals - Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia - This spells the end for Edge. Edge was not happy towards the end of last season and made everyone well aware that he wanted out of Arizona. Moreno is arguably the best RB next to Wells in this year’s draft. Moreno is teamed with Hightower to make a nice tandem. Moreno’s shiftiness will make a nice compliment to Hightower’s bruising style. Kurt Warner can breathe a sigh of relief.
32) Steelers - Jamon Meredith, OT, South Carolina - Another mercurial riser on the charts. Many will question if Meredith will have moved into the first round. But he won’t be around past the middle of the second round. The Steelers historically have done well drafting linemen. He is intelligent and a good athlete. Meredith gives the Steelers a versatile lineman that can play both tackle positions and provide some depth at guard. With the Steelers, Meredith’s success at the NFL level will be realized.
2nd round will be added in a few days.