Well we are now just one day away from the NFL Draft. After months of speculation and debating, we'll all finally be able to sit back and just let it all unfold. But before we can do that, I still need to bore you all with my final 2009 mock draft.
This has been one of the most unpredictable pre-draft roller-coaster rides in a long time. We've seen players' stocks rise and fall like never before. And this particular draft is probably the toughest I can ever recall predicting. Usually we at least have a grasp on how the top five will play out. But not this year.
Making it particularly tough is how fluid this draft is. Just one surprise pick could change the entire dynamic of the first day of the draft. And being inaccurate on just one top ten pick in your mock could end up ruining your entire mock. Throw in the possibility of any number of potential draft day trades and what you have is the potential for total mock draft disaster.
With that said, let's get into my final mock draft for Saturday's first round:
And don't forget to get involved in our mock draft contest on NFL.com. The password to sign into our group is alrightmiami. You have until 3 pm eastern on Saturday to set your mocks.
1. Detroit Lions - Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
Recent reports indicate that the Lions are pretty close to getting a deal done with Stafford. And I agree with Detroit's decision. I think Stafford can be a franchise quarterback. He has all the physical tools you want in a quarterback. The Lions have a new coaching staff, new logo, new uniforms, and will now have a new face of their franchise.
2. St. Louis Rams - Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
The Rams took their first step towards improving their offensive line by signing center Jason Brown. They can take that next step by getting their stud left tackle to replace their previous stud left tackle, Orlando Pace, who they released earlier this offseason. Jason Smith and Eugene Monroe are the top 2 tackles in the draft. While I like Smith more because of how strong he is run-blocking, reports indicate that the Rams are higher on Monroe, probably because of he's superior pass-blocking. And keeping Marc Bulger off his back is a priority for St. Louis.
3. Kansas City Chiefs - Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
I think that the Chiefs will go one of two ways here. They could decide to take Aaron Curry. But he projects more as an inside linebacker if he was drafted to play in a 3-4 defense - which is what KC is transitioning to. And I think that this is too high and will cost too much money for a 3-4 ILB. And Scott Pioli will not be able to pass up on a stud LT like Jason Smith. He'll be able to bookend Smith with last year's first rounder, Branden Albert, to help keep their new franchise QB, Matt Cassel, well protected.
4. Seattle Seahawks - Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest
With the signing of T.J. Houshmandzadeh, I don't see Seattle taking Crabtree here as I once thought. I don't think B.J. Raji is the pick, either, following their acquisition of Cory Redding. And with the two top tackles off the board, this pick probably comes down to Curry and USC QB Mark Sanchez. But I think Curry presents too much value to pass on here and would make an ideal replacement for the recently traded Julian Peterson.
5. Cleveland Browns - B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College
This pick is the first real "wildcard" of the draft. The Browns could go in any number of different directions. Wide receiver could be a major need if the Browns trade Braylon Edwards. But there are a number of receivers Cleveland could take later on. The Browns need a pass-rusher very badly. But, again, this draft is deep with potential 3-4 outside linebackers. Raji is a one-of-a-kind player in this draft. Taking him would also allow you to either trade Shaun Rogers or move him to DE in their 3-4.
6. Cincinnati Bengals - Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
Leave it to the Bengals to make the controversial pick in the top 10. Smith might have the most physical talent of all the tackles in the draft. But his off-the-field issues have raised some red flags. However, the Bengals must invest in protecting their franchise quarterback. Cincinnati allowed 51 sacks in '08 - the third most in the league. Smith might be a bit risky, but his talent is unquestionable. And the Bengals never seem to shy away from players who have "character red flags."
7. Oakland Raiders - Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
The Raiders need receiver help. They have to give JaMarcus Russell some talented targets to throw to. While I'd take Michael Crabtree here because he's the most talented receiver in the draft, Al Davis likes speed and needs a 40 time to make his pick. Crabtree doesn't have a 40 time. Maclin ran well and is more explosive with the ball in his hands than Crabtree.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars - Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
The Jaguars need a left tackle, but the top three are already off the board. If Raji were still on the board, I think the Jaguars would seriously consider him. But he's gone already in this particular scenario. Crabtree presents too much value to pass on and would be the young stud receiver this franchise has lacked for a long time. He'd also be able to learn about work ethic and route running from the recently acquired Torry Holt.
9. Green Bay Packers - Brian Orakpo, DE/OLB, Texas
The Packers are switching to a 3-4 defensive scheme this offseason and the team lacks that classic 3-4 pass-rushing outside linebacker. Orakpo is just that - a true pass rusher - probably the draft's top pass rusher, in fact. A lot of people think a corner could go here, but I just don't see that as a higher priority than a pass rusher. After all, the 3-4 simply doesn't work without pass-rushing linebackers.
10. San Francisco 49ers - Aaron Maybin, DE/OLB, Penn State
This is another one of those spots that are very much up in the air. The Niners could go any number of ways. They could look at a right tackle. They could think about a quarterback. But I think that they'll go with a pass-rushing outside linebacker and Maybin is a guy who is very young (just turned 21) and who might have the highest ceiling of all the pass-rushers in this draft.
11. Buffalo Bills - Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee
The Bills need a pass rusher and Ayers has been seeing his stock sky-rocket as the draft approaches.
12. Denver Broncos - Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
The Broncos need help in their front seven and Jackson is the prototypical 3-4 defensive end.
13. Washington Redskins - Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
The Redskins are really "in love" with Sanchez and Dan Snyder is never afraid to make the bold move. They'll likely have to trade up, though, to land him.
14. New Orleans Saints - Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State
The Saints still need secondary help and Jenkins could play either corner or safety in New Orleans.
15. Houston Texans - Clay Matthews, LB, USC
The "Matthews" name is like royalty in Houston. Oh - and they happen to need a solid linebacker to play along side DeMeco Ryans.
16. San Diego Chargers - Rey Maualuga, LB, USC
Maualuga is the reliable inside linebacker that the Chargers have been looking for who can step right in and have a positive impact on San Diego's defense.
17. New York Jets - Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State
The Jets need offensive firepower through the air. A wide receiver would be the pick, but I think Freeman offers NY too much value to pass up on - especially when their current quarterbacks are not very good.
18. Denver Broncos - Everette Brown, DE/OLB, Florida State
Brown's stock has been slipping a bit recently because some wonder if he's just a "one trick pony" - a pass rusher. But that's exactly what Denver needs to make their new 3-4 defense effective.
19. Tampa Bay Bucs - Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi
The Bucs need more help on their defensive line. Jerry can step right in and bolster the interior of that line.
20. Detroit Lions - Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi
Having gotten their franchise QB with their first pick, investing in protecting that QB makes a lot of sense.
21. Philadelphia Eagles - Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
Brian Westbrook isn't getting any younger and he's always been a "fragile" back. With Correll Buckhalter now in Denver, the Eagles need a guy who can compliment their aging star RB.
22. Minnesota Vikings - Eben Britton, OT, Arizona
The Vikings need a right tackle and are lucky that Britton is still on the board.
23. New England Patriots - Donald Brown, RB, Connecticut
Let's just chalk this pick up to a "hunch" I have. I will say, though, that I strongly feel that Brown is the second best back in this draft, trailing only Moreno.
24. Atlanta Falcons - Brian Cushing, LB, USC
With their recent acquisition of Tony Gonzalez, the Falcons can now focus on their need of defensive help - especially their need at outside linebacker after losing Keith Brooking and Michael Boley this offseason.
25. Miami Dolphins - Larry English, DE/OLB, Northern Illinois
Oddly enough, after all the debating and analyzing, I'm back to having the Dolphins taking the guy I had them taking back in the first week of March in my second mock draft. As much as I'd like to see the Dolphins take a corner - and as much as many people think (and hope) they will take a receiver here - English is the kind of pass rusher that Bill Parcells seeks out. Sure - he didn't play at a top school. But neither did DeMarcus Ware (who played at Troy). And English had similar collegiate production to that of Ware.
There's one other reason why I think English is going to be the pick. Outside of the Senior Bowl, we haven't really heard much about the Dolphins being linked to English. To me, that lack of rumored interest in him is probably a sign that the Dolphins really like him.
26. Baltimore Ravens - Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
DHB is the deep threat at wide receiver that Joe Flacco would love to have.
27. Indianapolis Colts - Evander Hood, DT, Missouri
The Colts have an obvious need at defensive tackle and Hood has seen his stock rise since the Combine.
28. Buffalo Bills - Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
The Bills could look to go for a tackle here to replace Jason Peters. But with Pettogrew still on the board and the Bills lacking a tight end, he's too hard to pass up.
29. New York Giants - Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers
If the Giants don't trade for Braylon Edwards, the Giants will have their choice of some top receivers here. They could also consider a guy like James Laurinaitis here because Jerry Reese loves defense. But their need to get Eli Manning help at receiver is most important right now.
30. Tennessee Titans - Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina
The Titans need some help at receiver and Nicks is the kind of tough, physical receiver that would fit in well in Tennessee.
31. Arizona Cardinals - Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State
Wells is the ultimate wildcard in terms of where he could be drafted in round one. If he does make it this far, there's no way the Cards pass on him - teaming him with Tim Hightower in their backfield.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers - Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
The Steelers could go with an interior offensive lineman here as well. But Davis presents too much value to pass on. And the young Mike Tomlin is the kind of coach that will keep Davis in check and motivated.
So there it is - my final '09 mock draft. I'll be honest, though. This is the least confident I've been in my first round mock draft in many years - and surely many others will agree. But hey - it's all in good fun.
So voice your opinions below, guys and gals. We're just a day away from the NFL Draft! Excitement is as high as ever and I get the feeling we're going to be in for a great weekend!