I tried to hold off on doing this until at least after the Combine next month. But I couldn't do it. I love mock drafts. They are mostly full of total B.S. - but they are just so much fun to debate.
In 2007, in my final mock draft, I got 11 first round picks correct. Last year, I improved that total to 12. So this year, I'm shooting for luck number 13. Below is my first edition of what will likely be many mock drafts before April's draft. And it's 100% likely I will completely change my entire mock after the Combine and after free agency. But, hey, if nothing else, this is a good way to start some debate.
So, without further ado, I present The Phinsider Mock Draft, version 1.0:
1. Detroit Lions - Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
There are two ways to begin a rebuilding process. You start either with a quarterback or with a left tackle. I don't think the Lions, at this point, are sold on either Matthew Stafford or Mark Sanchez as franchise quarterbacks. But I can guarantee you that Eugene Monroe is a franchise left tackle. So, for all the money that the top pick commands, it makes sense to go with the safer bet. Monroe is the safer bet.
2. St. Louis Rams - Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
Yes, it seems odd that two left tackles are selected 1-2 in the draft. But it just makes sense this year. The Rams desperately need a new franchise LT, as their old franchise LT can't seem to stay on the field. Orlando Pace served the franchise well for over 10 years. And to help fix this broken franchise, might as well go back to the well and solidify the LT spot once again.
3. Kansas City Chiefs - Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
Earlier this year, I didn't think the Chiefs would spend a high pick on a QB. I figured that their current regime liked Tyler Thigpen enough to stick with him for one more year and give him a fair shot. But with a new regime heading to KC, that theory goes out the window. A strong showing at the Combine from Stafford should cement his status as the best QB in the draft.
4. Seattle Seahawks - Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
Simply put, Crabtree is the best player available in this draft. He's a dynamic receiver; a true play-maker. And if he falls to the 4th pick, they will be dancing up in Seattle. It's a perfect match of drafting for value and drafting for need. The Seahawks have been in search of a true #1 receiver for years. Crabtree is exactly what this franchise needs.
5. Cleveland Browns - Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio St.
The Browns will be very happy if the draft's best defensive back is available with their 5th pick. Cleveland needs a cornerback badly and Jenkins has been considered a top 10 draft pick since last offseason. And it'll be a special treat for Ohio sports fans simply because Jenkins spent his college years in Columbus.
6. Cincinnati Bengals - Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
Three tackles in the first 6 picks. Crazy, huh? But what bigger of a need do the Bengals have than their offensive line? You can make a case for a pass rushing DE or a linebacker here. However, an offensive line that was once thought to be a strength of the Bengals has been hit by age and injuries. Protecting Carson Palmer's blind side should be this team's priority.
7. Oakland Raiders - Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas
The Raiders need help badly along their defensive line. Orakpo is a beast of a pass-rusher - probably the best pure pass-rusher in the draft. He'll make an ideal fit replacing the aging Derrick Burgess as the team's primary pass-rushing threat.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars - Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
Maclin is a player I just love. I think he is the best pure route runner in the draft and is a threat to score every time he sees the field. The Jaguars have long been searching for an ideal #1 receiver and Maclin is just what they need. And since their other top need is probably offensive tackle, and the 3 top tackles are already off the board, it just makes sense for the Jags to get their #1 receiver - finally.
9. Green Bay Packers - Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest
Could this be? Could the draft's best defensive player still be on the board at pick #9? Yes. And it's a blessing for the Packers, who should jump at the opportunity of adding this dynamic linebacker. They are converting to a 3-4 defense this offseason and Curry could realistically play either inside or outside linebacker in that scheme.
10. San Francisco 49ers - Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
The 49ers have long been searching for their next franchise QB. Sanchez could be that guy. I'm not totally sold on him, but I know there are some out there that love his skills and his intangibles. But if the Niners decide Sanchez isn't there guy, look for them to take B.J. Raji to be their nose tackle for the next decade.
11. Buffalo Bills - B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College
12. Denver Broncos - Rey Maualuga, LB, USC
13. Washington Redskins - Everette Brown, DE, Florida St.
14. New Orleans Saints - James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio St.
15. Houston Texans - Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
16. San Diego Chargers - Chris Wells, RB, Ohio St.
17. New York Jets - Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
18. Chicago Bears - Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn St.
19. Tampa Bay Bucs - Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi
20. Detroit Lions - D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt
21. Philadelphia Eagles - Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi
22. Minnesota Vikings - Alex Mack, C, Cal
23. New England Patriots - William Moore, S, Missouri
24. Atlanta Falcons - Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest
25. Miami Dolphins - Clint Sintim, OLB, Virginia
Right now, it just makes the most sense to guess that the Dolphins will address their need at outside linebacker and take Sintim - a player who has spent his college career as an OLB in a 3-4 at Virginia. The Dolphins could also go with either USC linebacker - Brian Cushing or Clay Matthews. But Cushing doesn't have great speed and also has some durability concerns. Meanwhile, Matthews is raw and may have more upside at OLB. But it would take some amazing workouts for Matthews to move up into the first round.
The Dolphins could also look at USC DT Fili Moala. He weighed in at 303 pounds at the Senior Bowl - and could still add some weight and be a solid NT in a 3-4. But he'll need his stock to rise some more. It's unlikely he'll be at the very top of Miami's draft board when they are on the clock - barring, of course, some outstanding workouts at the Combine.
26. Baltimore Ravens - Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
27. Indianapolis Colts - Fili Moala, DT, USC
28. Philadelphia Eagles - Duke Robinson, G, Oklahoma
29. New York Giants - Brian Cushing, LB, USC
30. Tennessee Titans - Percey Harvin, WR, Florida
31. Arizona Cardinals - Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
32. Pittsburgh Steelers - Max Unger, C, Oregon
So that's my first official 1st round mock draft of 2009. And I guarantee it will change many times before April's draft rolls around.
So let's hear what you think below...