Saturday, April 4, 2009

NFL Mock Draft 3.0

As the draft gets closer I'm going to start predicting what I think the teams will do. This will be way different from my last two mocks because it seems like NFL teams value players differently than I do, because I put very little emphasis on the combine and pro days, and because I put less value in certain positions. If you see some stupid picks, its because I expect teams to make stupid picks.

Detroit Lions - OT Jason Smith (Baylor)
I'm not sold on the idea that the Lions are in love with Matt Stafford. He was good but inconsistent in college. New coach Jim Schwartz is a defensive coach who wants to build the team from the inside out. Jason Smith will take less money since he's a tackle (which is a big deal given the economy and the huge amount of money that teams are forced to pay to top five picks) and not a quarterback, and there's a smaller chance that he'll hold out. The Lions might opt for Aaron Curry or Eugene Monroe, but I think the consensus is that Smith has the most raw talent and upside.

St. Louis Rams - OT Eugene Monroe (Virginia)
Aaron Curry or Michael Crabtree might be the pick, but generally a left tackle offers more positional value than an linebacker and much more than a wideout, and the Rams have too much invested in Marc Bulger to not protect him.I think Monroe's a tad overrated because he's not a great run blocker, but NFL teams seem to put more emphasis on pass blocking when evaluating left tackles.

Kansas City Chiefs - LB Aaron Curry (Wake Forest)
Hands down the best player in the draft. Great college production, insane combination of strength and athleticism, and high character. Curry is one of the best defensive players to come out in years and will immediately shore up the defense no matter what scheme the chiefs opt to play.

Seattle Seahawks - WR Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech)
I think the Seahawks would like to take either Monroe or curry, but they'll definitely be more than willing to pick Crabtree. I know they signed T.J. Houshmanzadeh but he's 31, and he's not a number one receiver at this point, assuming he was ever a franchise wideout at any point.

Cleveland Browns - DE Brian Orakpo (Texas)
Cleveland needs some pass rush from the outside linebacker position, and it seems like all the pro teams are enamored with Orakpo. I don't think he's worth a top ten pick based on his production, but teams are falling in love with his physical tools.

Cincinnati Bengals - DT B.J. Raji (Boston College)
The Bengals had an abysmal defensive line last year. The consensus seems to be that Monroe and Jason Smith are the only offensive linemen worth of a top ten pick, so I don't see the bengals adressing the o-line at this point. Also, Cincinnati Coach Marvin Lewis coached Raji in the senior bowl, where he seems to have improved his stock the most.

Oakland Raiders - WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (Maryland)
Not the most sensible pick, but Al Davis's first priority is getting speed at the skill positions. I'm a big fan of Hey-Bey, but even I don't think his production merits a top 15 pick. However, Heyward-Bey's 4.3 40 time at the combine automatically makes him the greatest receiver ever in Al Davis's eyes.

Jacksonville Jaguars - CB Vontae Davis (Illinois)
The Jaguars aren't going to give up on David Garrard after just one year. I fully expect them to swap picks with Denver, but assuming they keep the pick they will adress the corner position. Usually I don't endorse taking a cornerback high because no corner will ever perform well if there isn't pressure on the QB, but that's not the issue since Jacksonville spent their first two picks last year on defensive ends. My problem with this is that I think Malcolm Jenkins is the best corner based on his body of work. But according to the NFL, being the best corner in America for two straight years and dominating all your big games doesn't matter if you don't run a 2.8 4o yard dash.

Green Bay Packers - DE Everette Brown (Florida State)
The Packers are quick to capitalize on the mistake made by Eric Mangini and the Browns. Green Bay gets the best defensive lineman in the draft, they fill a need by getting another rush linebacker for the 3-4, and they pay exponentially less money than the Browns and Bengals will pay for lesser linemen.

San Francisco 49ers -OT Michael Oher (Ole Miss)
Everyone seems to be mocking Mark Sanchez here, but I think a defensive guy like Mike Singletary prefers to build through the trenches. The niners have a need at right tackle, aand Oher can complement left tackle Joe Staley nicely.

Buffalo Bills - DE Robert Ayers (Tennessee) This may come as a surprise, but it sounds like teams are finally starting to take notice of Ayers' fantastic senior season. He may be a one year wonder, but I think he has the least downside out of all the defensive ends. He has pretty good measureables in all areas, and he can play the run and rush the passer equally wel During Tennessee's putrid season he was one of two players (the other being Eric Berry) who looked like he could've put on the jersey of all the opponents who were kicking Tennessee's ass. The Bills are desperate for another pass rusher, so the pick fills a need as well.

Denver Broncos - QB Matthew Stafford (Georgia)
Stafford slips because the teams in the top ten either don't need a quarterback or have new coaches who want to build through the offensive and defensive lines. The Broncos are probably going to trade up to get either Stafford or Sanchez after screwing up the Jay Cutler situation.

Washington Redskins - OT Andre Smith (Alabama)
The Redskins have a tremendous need for some youth along the offensive line. Most teams are wary of Smith after his recent antics, but not Daniel Snyder, who gave a trillion dollars to DeAngelo Hall.

New Orleans Saints - CB Malcolm Jenkins (Ohio State)
Their secondary was abysmal, so Jenkins will help immediately, even if he has to go to safety. What does it say about the NFL that the consensus best defensive back in the nation is the 2nd corner taken?

Houston Texans - LB Clay Matthews (USC)
Clay is a good player, no doubt. But for some reason teams are falling in love with his athleticism and ignoring the fact that Brian Cushing and Rey Mauluga have been so dominant for the past two years. The texans absolutely must adress the outside linebacker position, and I think they'll take Matthews because his stock is rising so quickly, and his Ubcle, Bruce Matthews, played in Houston for a long time and is now a Texans assistant.

San Diego Chargers - LB Rey Mauluga (USC)
Running back is an option, but I think its imperative that San Diego shore up the inside linebackers.This is a steal considering how good Mauluga was in college.

New York Jets - QB Mark Sanchez (USC)
NFL teams still think that you can't win a super bowl without a "franchise quarterback" (apparently Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, Jeff Hostetler, and Jim Plunkett never actually existed), and many are still under the illusion that a first round quarterback is any more likely to succeed than a late round signal caller (It turns out Tom Brady, Joe Montana, and Matt Hassleback aren't actually all that good! About half the NFL teams have quarterbacks that weren't regarded as firstround, franchise quarterbacs coming out of college, but that doesn't matter to all the draftniks). The Jets are apparently not pleased with their current quarterbacks, and they probably, like most NFL teams and TV analysts, adhere to the belief that If a guy hasn't gotten a chance to play yet then he must suck. If you predicted Aaron Rodgers, Phillip Rivers, and Steve Young to pan out when they were first handed the starting job, then you are obviously a fool!!!!!!! Great logic, NFL. Meanwhile, guys like Bill Belicheck are secretly laughing at how stupid some general managers are. All that aside, it seems like the Jets are intent on getting either Mark Sanchez or Josh Freeman and will trade up if necessary.

Denver Broncos - DE Tyson Jackson (LSU)
If Denver is serious about going to a 3-4 then a good start would be getting the best two gap lineman available.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers - QB Josh Freeman (Kansas State)
To avoid the same pitfalls as Jon Gruden, Tampa Bay must get a quarterback of the future. This is one case where I think that Tampa should go get a quarterback because they have quarterbacks on the roster who either have no discernible upside (Josh Johnson) or who have actually shown that they aren't starting material (Brian Griese, one of the McCown brothers), and Tampa already has some decent players with which to complement the new QB.

Detroit Lions - DT Peria Jerry (Ole Miss)
Detroit shoud start building up its defensive line with this athletic one gap tackle.

Philadelphia Egales - DE Michael Johnson (Georgia Tech)
Everyone expects Philly to take a running back, and the offense could use another playmaker. But Andy Reid always defies convention, to the ire of Eagles fans. But this isn't all that surprising. The Eagles really need an edge rusher to complement their interior defensive tackles. You might be surprised to see Johnson here because of his supposed work ethic issues, but his ridiculous size/speed combination will make at least one coach drool.

Minnesota Vikings - OT Ebbon Britton (Arizona)
The vikings have a gaping hole at right tackle and need to make changes. Most teams appear to have Britton as the next best tackle after Oher.

New England Patriots - LB Brian Cushing (USC)
He's smart, productive, and has a great work ethic, but NFL teams will downgrade him because he supposedly can't play all three downs (I guess USC used a stunt double during games, but NFL teams aren't fooled by such shennanigans!) . Is it really all that surprising that the Steelers, Giants, and Patriots are so good at drafting? The find players who fit their systems, and, more importantly, they use COMMON SENSE when evaluating prospects and don't get caught up in all the measurables that don't translate to the football field.

Atlanta Falcons - CB Sean Smith (Utah)
Great pick. He can start immediately at corner or safety, and Mike Mayock (a.k.a. the God of all draft analysts) compared him to Mel Blount (a.k.a. the God of all defensive backs not named Night Train Lane).

Miami Dolphins - James Laurinitis (Ohio State)
Bill Parcells loves these types of football players. James doesn't have the measurables but he has great instincts and work ethic. I'm not sold on him as a first rounder because of the way that all his opponents in his BCS bowl games took it to him, but others seem enamored with him as the classic hustle and effort player.

Baltimore Ravens - WR Jeremy Maclin (Missouri)
Now that they found a franchise quarterback, the Ravens will probably want to surround him with playmakers. Derrick Mason is aging, so an eventual replacement makes sense.

Indianapolis colts - WR Hakeem Nicks (North Carolina)
Marvin Harrison is gone, so the offense could use a boost. As I've said, Nicks really reminds me of Reggie Wayne - smooth, fluid athlete, great hands and route running, but he's being denounced because of his lukewarm speed. If the Colts want to keep Peyton Manning happy then they'll ignore the 40 times and take Nicks.

Philadelphia Eagles - OT William Beatty (UConn)
The Eagles need to adress the left side of the offensive line. Beatty is really physically gifted and can play either tackle spot nicely.

New York Giants - TE Brandon Pettigrew
I expect the Giants to trade away this pick to get Anquan Boldin, Braylon Edwards, or some other wideout (of course, Jerry Reese is so smart and other general managers are so dumb that he might get a top notch receiver while still keeping this pick. After all, he got a high second rounder out of Jeremy Shockey). Assuming they keep the pick, the Giants can afford to take the best player available because Reese has stocked the team so well, and this pick would qualify as grand larceny. Pettigrew is a top 15 talent based on his polished receiving skills and kick ass blocking, and he fits the Giants' system perfectly. Kenny Britt, the hometown kid whom the Giants really like, will probably be available in the second round. But like I said, If I were the Giants I would trade this and a second round pick to the Cardinals for Anquan Boldin in a cocaine heartbeat, and I'd be willing to trade a second and third round pick for Braylon Edwards.

Tennessee Titans - CB Alphonso Smith (Wake Forest)
He's slipping because of his size. To a certain extent I understand it, because he doesn't have the great speed and athleticism to overcome his height, but at some point teams have to start looking at his production and conclude that he can make an impact. The Titans have a bigger need at wideout, but they never ever take first or second round receivers. ever. And its not like they can't use an impact defensive back.

Arizona Cardinals - RB Chris Beanie Wells (Ohio State)
Arizona's offense will become too predictable if they don't get any semblance of a running game. Tim Hightower is not a starter and Edgerrin James is unhappy and washed up.

Pittsburgh Steelers - C Alex Mack (Cal)
The Steelers probably had the worst offensive line of any Super Bowl winner ever. Thankfully thats their only weakness, and there are enough interior linemen available in the draft that Pittsburgh can adress the O-line. Mack is an absolute beast who has been compared to Bruce Matthews.