The NFL Combine starts tomorrow and over the course of the next week, many things will change. Players will rise, players will fall and others will stay put. Here is the first completed mock draft of 2009. Enjoy!
1. Detroit Lions- Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia- Stafford is the most complete quarterback in the draft as well as having the strongest arm. His accuracy and release are good as well and has decent size for a quarterback (6’2”, 235 lbs.) Look no further than the Atlanta Falcons last year for why this is the pick. As well as Calvin Johnson played last year, I can’t even imagine what an arm like Stafford throwing to him will produce. Some say it is too big of a risk/reward to take a quarterback and taking a franchise LT might be a safer bet, but having the 20th pick in the draft as well gives the Lions hope that one of them will fall to that pick.
2. St. Louis Rams- Eugene Monroe, LT, Virginia- Monroe, a second team All-American is an outstanding prospect and probably the fastest left tackle in this year’s draft. He has ideal quickness and excels especially in the pass blocking game. Orlando Pace is on the trading block and the Rams are looking to get younger on the offensive line and will do so with this pick.
3. Kansas City Chiefs- Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest- One of the easier picks in the first round is Curry going to the Chiefs. He is arguably the best defensive prospect in this year’s draft, and at 6’2”, 247 lbs. has ideal height and weight to play at the next level. After shoring up both lines last year, new GM Scott Pioli will look to find the next versatile playmaker for his team, and Curry fits that mold. Kansas City’s defense has struggled for a while but this pick could be a large step and a quick step in the right direction.
4. Seattle Seahawks- Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech- Personally, my favorite player in this year’s draft and quite possibly the best wide receiver talent that we have seen since Larry Fitzgerald. The name of the game with Crabtree is production. In 2 years, Crabtree scored 39 touchdowns and won the Biletnikoff Trophy twice, given to college’s best wide receiver. Don’t think that he was just a product of Texas Tech’s pass happy offense, either. While he doesn’t have the size or speed of a Calvin Johnson, he is an excellent playmaker, which is something the Seahawks need desperately as seen by some of the wideouts they played with last year.
5. Cleveland Browns- Everette Brown, OLB, Florida State- Watching film on Everette Brown truly wowed me. If you have time to go on Youtube and watch I would recommend it. He is unbelievably fast for his size (6’3”, 252 lbs.) and his instinct to jump the snap is awesome. His spin move is the fastest I’ve seen, although he gets out of control at some points and misses tackles. Cleveland accumulated just 18 sacks last year, and Brown will come in and help that right away. I can’t say enough about his speed and the type of player he could become. DeMarcus Ware anyone?
6. Cincinnati Bengals- Jason Smith, LT, Baylor- Smith is one of the most interesting prospects in the draft. He is a tight end turned left tackle and because of it excels with his footwork. Because he lacks experience at the position his form isn’t perfect, but he makes up for it with his size and long arms. Cincinnati needs an upgrade at the position with the oft-injured Levi Jones and Smith fits the bill here.
7. Oakland Raiders- B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College- Call him this year’s Cedrick Ellis, but Raji’s performance during the Senior Bowl practice week shot his stock way up. He has great speed for his size (6’1”, 334) and is an absolute wall in the middle. The Raiders’ 3-4 defense has lacked a stud defensive tackle and, while it isn’t the flashy pick, Al Davis can’t deny that Raji’s presence in the middle will do wonders for the defense.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars- Andre Smith, LT, Alabama- Smith is an interesting prospect and could go anywhere from 1st overall to this pick. Still, I think he slides due to his size concerns. Don’t get me wrong. He’s HUGE but his size has hurt him in the past. He isn’t as fast as he could be but if he could drop some weight before the combine his stock could increase. He may go earlier than this, but I put him down here because I’d rather have the athletic tackles then him. Khalif Barnes is not the answer at left tackle and Smith could end up being a steal here.
9. Green Bay Packers- Malcom Jenkins, CB, Ohio State- Typical Ted Thompson says that this pick will be traded, but if he does stay here then the pick will be Jenkins. He is the best player available and is an absolute playmaker. While he didn’t play the type of man-to-man that he will in Green Bay, he has great game speed and gets an excellent read on the ball. With Al Harris and Charles Woodson closing in on the end of their careers, Tramon Williams, Pat Lee and Jenkins could make the transition a lot easier.
10. San Fransisco 49er’s- Mark Sanchez, QB, USC- Sanchez is another interesting prospect, because he could go at number 3 to the Chiefs and there is a chance that someone trades up in round one to get him before he gets to the Niners. Despite his inexperience, Sanchez has a quick release and a good enough arm to make it in the pros as long as his accuracy stays on target. San Francisco busted on Alex Smith back in 2005 but can’t pass up this value here.
11. Buffalo Bills- Brian Orakpo, DE/OLB, Texas- Orakpo is an absolute freak in the weight room (check that one out on Youtube also) and even better on the field. His size and speed work well together for a pass rushing end. While he is still raw and stands up too tall, I believe he can succeed for a Buffalo Bills team that needs to get to the quarterback more and improve their aging defense. Orakpo should do the trick.
12. Denver Broncos- Rey Maualuga, LB, USC- Maualuga is the first of what should be all three Trojan linebackers going in the first round. At 6’2”, 254 lbs., he is the next Ray Lewis. He is what every defense needs emotionally, physically and intangibly. Denver has been absolutely atrocious the last couple of years and not only will he help the run game, but he will fire up everyone around him and make them better.
13. Washington Redskins- Michael Oher, LT, Mississippi- This might be a little early for Oher to go, but not for the Redskins. Oher has started 34 consecutive games and can play either tackle positions at the next level. He has a solid frame that excels in the run game but can be a little stiff at times and doesn’t have the best footwork or speed. The Redskins need an upgrade for Jon Jansen and over time Oher could move to LT.
14. New Orleans Saints- Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois- As many yards as Drew Brees passed for last year, the Saints gave up just as many. Jason David is pitiful and Randall Gay hardly gets the job done. Davis did a great job improving every year at Illinois and became a premier cornerback in the Big Ten. At 6’0”, 204 lbs. has great size and has a lot of muscle to go with his quick frame.
15. Houston Texans- Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State- Aside from Mario Williams, the rest of the team had 13 sacks as a unit last year. They are desperate for a pass rusher and Maybin will give them that. He has room to add weight and must do that if he wants to be a 4-3 rusher (just 245 lbs.) but if he can, he has the most speed of any DL not named Everette Brown and will start from day 1.
16. San Diego Chargers- Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State- If the Ladanian Tomlinson bickering falls through and he comes back next year and Sproles re-signs, then clearly this pick will change. But for now, Wells is the best back on the board and the Chargers can’t pass on that. He would create a nice Lendale White/Chris Johnson combination with Sproles if indeed LT is gone. The last I will talk about Youtube, but there is a video dedicated JUST to stiff arms from this guy. He has great size and runs like Adrian Peterson. He explodes through the hole and can change direction on a dime. Good combo if you ask me.
17. New York Jets- Jeremey Maclin, WR, Missouri- With Brett Favre leaving after this season, the Jets once again face questions at the quarterback position, but I haven’t given up on Kellen Clemens yet. The year behind Favre might have helped him and I think they go for the next need, a playmaker on offense. While Maclin needs to work on separation, he always seems to come up with the big play and has great speed in the open field.
18. Chicago Bears- Percy Harvin, WR, Florida- I don’t know how many different times Jerry Angelo can just fail to address this position. With a guy like Harvin that allows teams to do anything, you can’t pass on him. Harvin will be able to play out of the slot, run the Wildcat as well as go deep. If he can stay healthy, something that might scare teams off, his talent is unbelievable and his ceiling is through the roof. Think Steve Smith.
19. Tampa Bay Bucaneers- Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State- Rumors are circulating about the Bucs wanting Freeman, but take rumors in February with a large grain of salt. Still, it would fit with Tampa Bay starting over in some senses. Freeman has all the tools to be a great player one day, measuring 6’5” and having one of the best arms in the draft.
20. Detroit Lions- D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt- I don’t think the Lions would take any of the available tackles at this spot so they address their second biggest need (they have a lot). Moore does not have the ideal speed for a cornerback, but his production speaks for itself with his 13 career interceptions. His ability to play offense shows his athleticism, and on D he gets a great jump on the ball.
21. Philadelphia Eagles- Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia- I could see the Eagles going with an offensive lineman here, but I think they will be happy to see that Moreno has dropped. Brian Westbrook’s best years are clearly behind him and Correll Buckhalter, despite being a solid backup, is just that…a solid backup. Moreno is capable of being a dual-threat back, as seen by his Capitol One Bowl performance.
22. Minnesota Vikings- Ebon Britton, LT, Arizona- Britton is a MAJOR sleeper in this year’s draft class due to the big 4 tackles that most likely will be taken before in. At 6’5”, 310 lbs, he has some of the best speed from any of the tackles and will join a Vikings team in need of an upgrade at the tackle position.
23. New England Patriots- Clay Matthews, LB, USC- A typical Bill Belichek guy here that is very versatile with his measurements and speed combination. Matthews has great field vision and, despite getting pushed around by offensive lineman at times, has great speed and instincts on the field. Matthews will be a good replacement for an aging linebacker corps.
24. Atlana- Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State- More options for Matt Ryan to play with next year is never a bad option, and Pettigrew fits the bill here. While he won’t break away in the open field or make defenders miss, he gets good separation and rarely misses a catchable ball. He is also one of the better blockers in the draft at the TE position, something Atlanta missed last year.
25. Miami- Derrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland- Despite the fact that wideouts usually drop on Draft Day, the 4 taken in the first round are all playmakers for teams that desperately need them. The Dolphins did a nice job with their offensive line last year so they can address the skill positions this year. Heyward-Bey has all the tools to be a great wideout with speed, height, bulk and moves after the catch. If he can turn those characteristics and use them all at once, he could be a star.
26. Baltimore- Larry English, OLB, Northern Illinois- Baltimore loves their linebackers, and with the aging Ray Lewis and the free agent situations of Bart Scott and Terrell Suggs looming, they take a linebacker here in the first. English is quickly rising up the draft charts with his size and speed. He plays the pass very well and is explosive when running to the ball, taking great angles and rarely missing tackles.
27. Indianapolis- Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss- They take a hard look at Duke Robinson, but in the end I think Jerry is too good to pass up. Jerry consistently made plays last year, especially in the run game and will be a good stopgap for a Colts team that could use it. Don’t be surprised to see this pick traded, however.
28. Philadelphia- Louis Delmas, FS, Western Michigan- It’s come time to replace Brian Dawkins and Delmas can take his spot. Delmas excels in pass coverage and can start from Day 1. It should be noted that there is a very good chance Philadelphia trades these first round draft picks if they really like a tackle or if one drops to the 8 or 9 spot.
29. New York Giants- James Laurianitis, LB, Ohio State- The Giants think about taking a wide receiver here, but decide to go with the proven linebacker here. Laurianitis has great instincts and does everything solid, from run stopping to covering the ball to leading a team. New York is starting to age on defense at the linebacker spot, and Laurianitis will provide excellent youth and leadership to an already solid defense.
30. Tennessee- Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers- It seems that the Titans are projected to take a wide receiver every year, but this year it is warranted. Think of Britt as a poor man’s Calvin Johnson. He has great size (6’4”, 215 lbs.) and while he doesn’t have top of the line speed, he is able to break away from defenders and will go up high to get the ball. He is a strong runner that will break tackles, but don’t expect many jukes.
31. Arizona- Lesean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh- McCoy will be the lightning to Tim Hightower’s thunder. While Hightower came in and did an excellent job last year, the hole left by Edgerrin James’ almost certain departure needs to be filled. McCoy is a fast back that breaks into the open field just as fast as anyone in the draft and will play back-up to Hightower in the 2 man rushing attack.
32. Pittsburgh- Duke Robinson, OG, Oklahoma- Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl last year despite their awful offensive line play. The majority of it came from interior line play, and at this spot Robinson is the best option. Robinson excels in the run game and can get better at pass blocking and with his massive size, still manages to move his feet and stay in front of defenders.