Its draft day eve, and this is my final mock. A lot of picks have been evaluated, re-evaluated, mulled over, over-analyzed, and then some.
There are new explanations for each pick, and the mock has been shaved down to a single round.
There are three spots with the “Trade Alert:” underneath the drafted player. Those are spots that I feel are likely trade spots. There will certainly be more trades than three in the first round, though.
Reaches and runs, Booms and Busts, this is one of the most fun days of the year, and the culmination of several months of agonizing analysis for draftniks, experts, and fans alike.
Be sure to come back and read Round 1 Notes.
1. Detroit: Matt Stafford, QB, Georgia
The Lions have been mum as to who they are taking with the top pick, but quite frankly, all signs point to Stafford. The team needs to draft a tackle, but with three of the top 33 picks, in a tackle-rich draft, the Lions will have other opportunities.
Stafford’s got a ton of experience and won’t need the type of clipboard seasoning that the less-experienced Mark Sanchez will need. Some point to Stafford’s inconsistencies, but in a murderous SEC, it’s not a shock.
2. St. Louis: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
St. Louis is in a position to choose between three needs. The team may look to replace Marc Bulger, and must replace Orlando Pace and Torry Holt. In this draft, it appears that Jason Smith is the best option for the team’s remaining personnel and coaching philosophy.
There is debate amongst draftniks over whether the team will take Smith or Monroe. Quite frankly, the two are probably interchangeable here. This year’s draft, in all likelihood, goes Stafford-Smith or Smith-Stafford.
3. Kansas City: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
Trade Alert: The Chief’s new GM Scott Pioli probably wants B.J. Raji here, but can trade down with the Raiders in order to get a better value. The Raiders need a left tackle, and are one of few teams still willing to trade this high in the draft.
If the Chiefs do keep this pick, Monroe must be it. After calling B.J. Raji a lock here for months, I can’t continue saying that. The team drafted Glenn Dorsey last year, and while he’s far from an ideal NT, the team could have an opportunity to fill that position later in the draft.
Monroe steps in and plays next to his former college wingman Branden Albert, a guy Monroe kept at guard during their college careers. Albert played left tackle much of last season, but is probably best suited and a better value at left guard.
4. Seattle: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
Trade Alert: This has been a pick of much discussion in the past week. Jacksonville, Denver, Washington, New York Jets and Tampa Bay may all look to trade up here. Compensation will be steep, however.
Ultimately, I doubt Mark Sanchez is a Seahawk. This pick probably gets traded for a first round pick this year, another early round pick, and a 2010 first round pick.
The team however, has lost all leverage in terms of positional value with the two tackles off the board. With Cory Redding and Colin Cole acquired in the offseason, any B.J. Raji consideration is dashed. The trading of Julian Peterson does not make Aaron Curry a likelihood, as Curry’s least favorable scheme fit would be at OLB in a Cover-2. Sanchez has the most value, and can ultimately be a star in Seattle.
5. Cleveland: Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest
There has been a lot of talk about the Browns drafting Michael Crabtree in recent days. However, while he may not be happy to admit it, Eric Mangini is a product of the Patriots philosophy. The purveyors of this philosophy simply don’t take receivers in the first round, let alone fifth overall.
Curry steps in at ILB, and fills a position the team has struggled to maintain productivity at throughout most of the Romeo Crennel era.
6. Cincinnati: Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss
There is a possibility that the Bengals take a defensive player here, perhaps B.J. Raji, however, while defense has been a consistent need, offensive line is more pressing.
Carson Palmer’s coming off of an elbow injury, one he opted against surgery to repair. It was his second major joint injury, and much of his injury past can be attributed to poor offensive line play. With Eric Steinbach and Willie Anderson gone, and Levi Jones playing inconsistently, the team needs an upgrade to take pressure off their franchise signal-caller.
7. Oakland: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
The Raiders have needs all over, though one may not think they are apparent at first. The team’s rush defense is awful, and their pass defense is overrated. The Raiders have seen the fifth and fourth least pass attempts against them in the past two seasons, the least the year before. The reason? They are usually losing.
Al Davis drafted JaMarcus Russell with visions of grandeur, but now must protect his reputation and his young quarterback. Smith is a flashy pick, and harkens back to the days when all the problem players ended up in Oakland, rather than stopping in Cincinnati and Minnesota.
8. Jacksonville: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
Apart from a short blip on the radar, I’ve had Crabtree here since my first mock. The Jags need to find an actual solution at receiver, one that won’t get caught with cocaine.
Michael Crabtree is an ideal fit to play with David Garrard. He’ll step in and probably open up space for Troy Williamson and Dennis Northcutt deep. Jacksonville is an ideal place for Crabtree, and Crabtree’s an ideal fit in Jacksonville.
9. Green Bay: B.J. Raji, NT, Boston College
The Packers are converting to a 3-4, and if the Chiefs, Bengals and Raiders all pass on Raji, he’ll be the pick in Green Bay. As of now, the team is relying on Ryan Pickett to handle the nose tackle position.
The Packers may also consider Brian Orakpo, who could usher Aaron Kampmann out of town. However, 3-4 rush linebackers can and often are found in later rounds.
10. San Francisco: Malcolm Jenkins, DB (CB or S), Ohio State
Often times people assume that because a new defensive minded coach takes over somewhere, that he’ll immediately start filling his roster with defensive studs. Brian Orakpo is certainly an option here, and would replace Manny Lawson well, but he’s not the best option.
The 49’ers secondary needs help, and Malcolm Jenkins offers that. He’ll probably play safety, but could supplant Walt Harris in the team’s starting lineup.
11. Buffalo: Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas
Brian Orakpo is the second-best prospect in this draft, there, I said it. He’s the only guy I’d want to touch in the top 5 whose name isn’t Jason Smith and he falls to 11 based on need.
Orakpo fits Buffalos need for a pass rush perfectly, and he’ll be even faster on the turf at Ralph Wilson stadium.
12. Denver: Rey Maualuga, LB, USC
The Broncos have needed help at inside linebacker since the unfortunate injuries and subsequent release of Al Wilson. Maualuga is a reach, but one similar to that of the Patriots drafting Jerod Mayo 10th overall last year.
Tyson Jackson will get consideration here, while he’d fit the scheme, 3-4 DE’s simply aren’t that valuable.
13. Washington: Everette Brown, DE, Florida State
The Jason Taylor experiment failed, and the Redkins need a lineman who can play with his hand on the ground. While Brown is undersized, he’s about 20 lbs. heavier that Taylor was coming into last season.
The Redskins spent their money this offseason as though they print it themselves. Brown’s an upgrade at a position they’d otherwise continue to spend at.
14. New Orleans: Brian Cushing, LB, USC
The Saints need to re-tool their linebacking corps. Though the team has Jonathan Vilma back, Cushing is a similarly versatile option. He’ll be able to play inside or outside as needed.
New Orleans has been one of the league’s worst defenses in recent years, and much of their struggles have been as a result of their inability to stop the run. Cushing provides help their, and could also provide some pass rush off the edge.
15. Houston: Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee
Houston has huge money allocated to Mario Williams and newcomer Antonio Smith, however defensive line rotation has become a trend among 4-3 teams.
Ayers has loads of potential and a short resume. However, he’ll be able to kick inside on passing downs, and should provide depth at the end position, so the Texans can keep fresh legs on the field at all times.
16. San Diego: Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
The Chargers have a few needs. They could use help at right tackle, inside linebacker, defensive end, and runningback. Jackson is just the best value here of any player, and happens to fill a need for the Bolts.
The Chargers let go of Igor Olshansky is gone, and the team replaces him with perhaps the best 3-4 DE in this year’s draft.