1. Detroit Lions Matthew Stafford Quarterback
Taking a quarterback number one would be a risky move for any team but especially for the Jim Schwartz led Lions. The Lions selected Joey Harrington with the 3rd overall selection in 2002 and that helped attribute to the Lions current predicament. With that said, Detroit desperately needs a face for their franchise, which has been scarred by losing since Barry Sanders’ retirement. Much like Matt Ryan did for Atlanta last season, Matthew Stafford would give the Lions a strong-armed quarterback to build the rest of the roster around.
2. St. Louis Rams Jason Smith Offensive Tackle
Thanks to Andre Smith’s antics at the NFL combine, Jason Smith has separated himself as the best offensive lineman in this year’s class. Running a 5.09 forty and benching 33 reps, Jason Smith has the workout and film required to be a top 5 pick. The Rams have been set at left tackle for the last 10 years with perennial pro bowler Orlando Pace, however, with Pace getting released from the Rams, Jason Smith will have the room to develop into a premier left tackle in. St. Louis.
3. Kansas City Chiefs Aaron Curry Linebacker
Scouts all agree, the best player in this years class is the linebacker from Wake Forest. Curry has all the tools to be a top NFL linebacker. He stands 6-3, 247 lbs and as exceptional athleticism and hands. During his junior season in 2007, he had three interception returns for touchdowns. With Matt Cassel now in K.C, Scott Pioli can take the best player available and the top player on nearly every NFL teams draft board.
4. Seattle Seahawks B.J Raji Defensive Tackle
A great two gap defensive tackle, Raji will have no problem occupying two linemen on Sundays. The best Defensive tackle in the draft, Raji is extremely agile and has a knack for collapsing the pocket on opposing quarterbacks. He’ll have to develop a consistent motor if he’s going to be a top flight DT for Seattle. Michael Crabtree could be the pick here, but the recent signing of T.J Houshmanzada allows the Seahawks to draft a more pressing need.
5. Cleveland Browns Brian Orakpo Defensive End
Perhaps the biggest disappointment from last season, the Browns are in a position in the draft where they can take a top-flight college prospect. Cleveland’s offense is talented across the board and the prospect of having Edwards and Crabtree catching passes might have a lot in the dog pound drooling. The Browns though need help on defense. This might be a little high for Orakpo, but the Browns will get the best defensive end in the draft that can rush the passer relentlessly. Coming from the coaching tree of Belichick, getting after the quarterback is a must in Eric Mangini and Rob Ryan’s defense.
6. Cincinnati Bengals Eugene Monroe Offensive Tackle
Whoever played quarterback for the Bengals last season got crushed. Carson Palmer suffered a season ending injury and Kyle Fitzpatrick didn’t have enough time to lob the football up to the Bengals two great receivers. Last off-season when the Bengals released Willie Anderson they had no one to replace him. With Monroe the Bengals get a lineman who can play tackle or guard, and posses great athleticism for a big man. The best way to fix a bad team is by improving your play in the trenches, Monroe give the Bengals a stout offensive lineman, something no team can have enough of in the blitz happy AFC North.
7. Oakland Raiders Michael Crabtree Wide Receiver
You would think eventually with all the top 10 picks the Raiders have accumulated over the past ten years, that they would be significantly better than they are. In reality the Raiders are a bad team with few bright spots. Darren McFadden and Michael Bush help form one of the leagues best young backfields and if JaMarcus Russell further develops in Oakland, they could have a potentially potent offense. Introducing Michael Crabtree. The clear top receiver will drop a couple of spots due to his stress fracture discovered at the combine but he will not pass by Al Davis’ thick specs. He has great hands and size and though his speed is not the best, he is the most polished and NFL ready WR in the draft.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars Jermey Maclin Wide Receiver
The Jaguars have had some tough luck selecting receivers in past NFL drafts. Reggie Williams, a former first round selection, was recently cut and Matt Jones was just arrested again for consuming alcohol, after getting busted with cocaine. Jeremy Maclin has better hands then Williams and doesn’t have a background of using heavy narcotics. He’s a multidimensional threat that can score by catching, running or by returning kickoffs and punts. He should put a jolt of energy back in the Jaguars who were a popular pick to make this past Superbowl.
9. Green Bay Packers Aaron Maybin Defensive End/Linebacker
Not a finished product by any means, Aaron Maybin will be a project for some NFL team over the next few years. Only a sophomore, Maybin had 49 tackles with 20 tackles for a loss. He has an extremely quick jump off the ball and can attack offensive lineman before they are properly set. Maybin could reunite in Green Bay with fellow Big Ten alum A.J Hawk, and form one of the top young linebacker groups.
10. San Francisco 49rs Mark Sanchez Quarterback
So Alex Smith has renegotiated his contract to stay with the 49rs, but does any one in San Fran still believe that he is the next legend in the 49rs quarterback tree. Mark Sanchez sent a message at the Rose Bowl, and the message was delivered to Mike Singletary five hours up the coast. Sanchez, the 6-2 one year starter from Southern California, helped his draft stock by throwing and throwing well at the combine when Matthew Stafford elected not too. Sanchez gives the 49rs a California kid to build an offense around which already has play makers Frank Gore and Vernon Davis.
11. Buffalo Bills Vonte Davis Cornerback
Leading up the the combine it was believed that Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins would be the top defensive back selected in this years draft. However, with Jenkins poor showing at th combine, the athletic Davis has taken over the top spot. After losing Jabari Greer to free agency the Bills could use this pick to add some depth to their secondary. While inconsistent at times, the former Illinois CB has the most upside to any defensive back in the draft. Teaming up with last years number 1 pick Leodis McKelvin and safety Donte Whitner, the Bills could have a speedy young secondary.
12. Denver Broncos Tyson Jackson Defensive End
Playing in the nations toughest conference, Tyson Jackson terrified SEC quarterbacks all year utilizing his excellent size and power. Jackson is not Mario Williams or Julius Peppers, who will out race opposing lineman around the edge. This LSU product uses his size and great hands to bull rush through offensive lineman and has a quick burst to get to the quarterback. Last year the Broncos could score points with anybody in the league, but everybody in the league could score points on them. Tyson Jackson would hurry opposing quarterbacks and let Champ Bailey and Brian Dawkins make plays down the field.
13. Washington Redskins Rey Maualuga Linebacker
The Skins have spent alot of money this offseason on the defense. Signing Albert Haynesworth and DeAngelo Hall to contracts over $150 million,which means now they could go another direction. Andre Smith though could be a risk after flaking out at the combine and Michael Oher could be a stretch at 13. Rey Maualuga has top ten ability but could fall to the Skins because of a hamstring injury at the combine and questions remain whether he’s a 3 down linebacker. Maualuga was the best of a trio of Trojan linebackers who could be selected in the first round and could replace Marcus Washington who was released this offseason. With Haynesworth clogging the middle, Maualuga could rush outside and hit opposing quarterbacks all the way to I-495.
14. New Orleans Saints Malcolm Jenkins Cornerback/Safety
Once considered a lock for the top ten, Jenkins has slipped recently because of questions about his speed and his position. His numbers at The Ohio State University don’t lie, he played in 52 games for the Buckeyes and had 196 tackles, 17 passes broken up and 11 interceptions. However, his 4.55 40 yard dash time has left some questions on whether or not he’ll be a cornerback or a safety at the next level. Either way the Saints could use someone with the talent of Jenkins in their secondary. Jenkins would dramatically improve a defense which has struggled to keep up with their explosive offense.
15. Houston Texans Everette Brown Defensive End/ Linebacker
The last several drafts the Texans have been trying to bolster their defensive line in order to try to take down the AFC South’s mighty Indianapolis Colts. In 2006 Houston make Marion Williams its number 1 pick over Reggie Bush and Vince Young. Then in 2007 they drafted Louisville DT Amobi Okoye. In 2009 they continue to stockpile defensive players with the hybrid Everette Brown. The former Seminole has great size, 6-4, 252 lbs, and uses his above average speed to harass quarterbacks. He should give the Texans a pass rusher from the second level that could free up some of those young d lineman.
16. San Diego Chargers Brian Cushing Linebacker
The Chargers had a rough 2008 campaign and still made it to the playoffs and won a wild card round game against Indy. With LaDainian Tomlinson staying in Southern California, it doesn’t make sense though for the Chargers to pay top dollar to a first round draft running back when they just franchised Darren Sproles. Cushing was overshadowed at USC by Maualuga but has an excellent motor and was seen making plays all over the field. With Maualuga off the board, the Chargers can be happy picking Cushing who some think is a more complete linebacker than his Trojan teammate.
17. New York Jets Michael Oher Offensive Tackle
The Jets have made some sizable improvements to there defense. The New York Jets are looking more and more like the Baltimore Jets after recruiting Bart Scott, Jim Leonhard, Corey Ivy and former Eagle Lito Sheppard. The Jets do still have one problem that is quite major. Who is going to play quarterback for gang green? Whomever starts the season behind center for the Jets is going to need all the protection he can get. Michael Oher has quick feet which allows him to get to the second level and take on linebackers. Plus he has great size and hands which makes pass protection relatively easy for him. Oher might not be the sexiest pick for New York, but Michael Oher could pave the way for Thomas Jones and protect whoever pilots the Jet’s plane.
18. Chicago Bears Percy Harvin Wide Receiver
Percy Harvin has the ability to score every time he touches the ball. Scouts say that, “Harvin’s speed and elusiveness in the open field makes him a special prospect”. Whether teams keep Harvin at WR or switch him to a Reggie Bush style RB, his play making ability will keep Harvin on the field and in the league for years to come. The Bears have long needed some explosion on offense. Devin Hester is developing into a solid NFL receiver and Matt Forte carried the load for much of the year as a rookie. Harvin could be a mix of the two for the Bears, providing speed out of the backfield as a rusher and down the field as a receiver.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Josh Freeman Quarterback
With the signing of Derrick Ward, the Bucs excitement of picking either Knowshon Marino or Chris Wells has to die down a bit. Josh Freeman has flown under the radar during most of the pre draft hype. At 6-6, he stands tall in the pocket and is often compared to a similar quarterback taken with the 18th pick in the 2008 draft. Freeman like Flacco, has a strong arm and has a more mobility than many give him credit for. If he can match the success of Flacco, Bucs fans will love this small school, big talent quarterback.
20. Detroit Lions Andre Smith Offensive Tackle
Andre Smith hurt his stock at the combine. He left before the offensive lineman had their workout and didn’t let any of the coaches know. The fact is that Smith is a top flight talent who, if he had acted appropriately, could have been the top overall selection. With their selection of Matthew Stafford at number 1, the Lions need someone who can guard his backside for the next 5-10 years. A.Smith has all the talent to be that guy. Playing for Alabama in the SEC Smith constantly dominated defensive players and help lead ‘Bama to the Sugar Bowl. If the Lions are able to get Smith with the 20th pick and he comes to training camp mature and ready for the NFL, then Detroit would have to be happy with its two selections in the first round.
21. Philadelphia Eagles Brandon Pettigrew Tight End
In the pass happy Big 12, Pettigrew might now have had as many catches as some of the conferences other Tight Ends, but no one disputes that despite the lack of catches, Pettigrew is the top TE available in this years class. What he lacks in speed and vertical threat, Pettigrew more than makes up for with strength and power. An outstanding run blocker, Pettigrew can take on larger defensive ends and linebackers to open holes for running backs. The Eagles lost L.J Smith to FA and could use someone with Pettigrew’s toughness on offense. Pettigrew won’t be the threat McNabb has been hoping for, but with the Eagles still in the running for Anquan Boldin, he would be the ultimate safety valve for the Eagles.
22. Minnesota Vikings James Laurinaitis Linebacker
The 2007 Butkus award winner is one of the best football players in the draft this year. While his workout numbers weren’t spectacular, he was all over the field for the Buckeyes over the last three years and one of the main reasons why they made two national championship games and a Fiesta Bowl. Laurinaitis has great sideline to sideline speed and has a great football IQ. His not participating in the senior bowl may have hurt his draft stock, but the Vikings could add a young, highly intelligent football player to their defense with this selection.
23. New England Patriots Clay Matthews Linebacker
Clay Matthews Sr. played for Bill Belichick when he was the coach in Cleavland. Could his son follow Belichick to the Patriots? Scouts think that,” While teammates Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing certainly earned more attention throughout their respective careers, it is the former walk-on Matthews Jr. who some scouts feel ultimately could be the best of the bunch.” Matthews has great size and fits the mold that Belicheck has built for his linebackers. The Patriots linebackers are one of the oldest groups in the leagues. Last years first round pick Jerod Mayo added some youth to the group and a Defensive Rookie of the Year to his own collection. Matthews could be a great prospect to pair with Mayo to add energy to a defense who traded Mike Vrabel.
24. Atlanta Falcons Alphonso Smith Cornerback
While the Falcons would love to see Brandon Pettigrew fall to them at number 24, they will use this pick to sure up a position that was picked over in free agency. While Chris Houston still remains in “Hot Lanta”, Dominique Foxworth hopped on a jet and landed in Baltimore on the first day of FA. Alphonso Smith is complete cornerback who if not for his height, 5-10, could be considered a top 10-15 pick. He has great coverage skills and left Wake Forest as the ACC’s career leader in interceptions with 21 picks.
25. Miami Dolphins Darrius Heyward-Bey Wide Receiver
If Heyward-Bey would have been more consistent for the Terps, he likely could have been a top ten selection. However, he disappeared in games for Terps and struggled to be a constant playmaker in a hot and cold Maryland offense. There is something that no one can dispute with Darrius, he’s fast. Heyward-Bey ran the fastest time at the combine this year and the second fastest this decade. He’s a little raw, but with some polishing Heyward-Bey could become a dynamic go to receiver in the NFL. Put Heyward-Bey next to Ted Ginn in Miami and the Dolphins would have one of the fastest, most electric receiving corps in the league
26. Baltimore Ravens Hakeem Nicks Wide Receiver
Could Hakeem Nicks be the big time playmaker the Ravens have been searching for on the outside? In the mold of Anquan Boldin, the 6-1, 212 pound junior from North Carolina is not the burner that Heyward-Bey is, but he is a big time target. He was a first team all ACC selection when he snared 68 passes for 1,222 yards and 12 touchdowns. His best performance was in the Meineke Car Care Bowl when he caught 8 passes for 217 yards and 3 touchdowns. He has the best hands in the draft and has a knack for breaking tackles after the catch. With the Ravens signing Dominique Foxworth they can now focus their attention on their other pressing need.
27. Indianapolis Colts D.J Moore Cornerback
D.J Moore had an outstanding junior season for non SEC power Vanderbilt. Standing 5-10, Moore has great anticipation, closing speed and hands. He, like Alphonso Smith, would be considered mid to early first round picks if they were only a few inches taller. Here is a scouting report on Moore according to Scouts.Inc, “Moore is an explosive cover corner with shut down ability. He plays the run effectively, and despite his size, he’s deceptively strong.He has great instincts, possesses outstanding ball skills and can instantly turn defense into offense.”
28. Philadelphia Eagles (from Carolina) Chris Wells Ohio State
It’s strange that the first running back wouldn’t be taken until this late in the first round. Neither Chris Wells or Knowshon Morino distinguished themselves at the combine as an elite early first round back. Philadelphia would get a powerful back that could compliment Brian Westbrook in the Eagles backfield. While questions remain about Wells’ durability, when healthy he is one of the most powerful and game changing backs in the country.
29. New York Giants Michael Johnson Defensive End
If you were to watch only the combine tape on Michael Johnson you would think he was a top 5 pick. However, Johnson disappeared in far too many games while playing for the Yellow Jackets and so he slips to the end of the first round. The Giants have a reputation for trying to accumulate all the pass rushers they can. The recently signed Chris Canty gives them another weapon to throw at opposing teams. Michael Johnson has excellent size and speed which he uses to pressure opposing quarterbacks. He’s much of the same player that Julius Peppers is, although no where near the same skill set.
30. Tennessee Titans Sean Smith Safety/Cornerback
Once considered a second or third round pick, Sean Smith has sky rocketed up many NFL teams draft boards because of his performance and intriguing physical tools. Smith was a instrumental part of Utah’s Sugar Bowl win over Alabama and should provide the team that drafts him with the flexibility to play either corner or safety at the next level. The 6-4 defensive back has great size and speed which allows him to match up well against the larger wide receivers. Such assets could be useful to the Titans who have to face Reggie Wayne and Andre Johnson 4 times every season.
31. Arizona Cardinals Knowshon Morino Running Back
Arizona had trouble running the ball all season last year until the playoffs when they balanced out their potent offense. Knowshon Morino could be the best back in the draft and is a You Tube sensation. NFL.com says, “Possessing extraordinary lateral quickness and elusiveness that has drawn comparisons to Barry Sanders…An offensive machine, Moreno rushed for 2,734 yards and 30 touchdowns in two seasons after redshirting in 2006 in addition to catching 53 passes for 704 yards and two scores.”
32. Pittsburgh Steelers Alex Mack Center
It seems as Ben Roethlisberger is always hurt, so the Steelers need to improve their offensive line if they are to repeat in 2009. Alex Mack would give the Steelers size, quickness and intelligence up front to try and keep Big Ben from getting hit. The 6-4, 316 lbs center would match up well against the big nose tackles of the AFC North. Mack and the Steelers need all the help upfront they can get when they have to face Shaun Rogers and Haloti Ngata two times each every year.
Let us know what you think, Do you agree with the Ravens selection in the mock draft?
We’re interested in getting another fan’s perspective into the 2009 NFL Draft.