From society's hand-picked hypocrisy."
The combine is over, and with free agency in full swing, I figured why not have this be the first installment of what will likely be many mock drafts. Again, free agency is not over just yet, so some team's needs may fluctuate in the coming weeks. Regardless, here are what are pressing needs for all 32 teams:
- New England: LB, CB, OT, S
- Miami: WR, LB, CB, DT
- New York Jets: QB, DE, WR, S, OT
- Buffalo: DE, G, OT, TE, LB
- Pittsburgh: OT, G, CB, WR
- Baltimore: LB, WR, CB
- Cleveland: CB, LB, RB, DE, QB
- Cincinnati: RB, T, C, DE, WR
- Indianapolis: DT, WR, OT, RB, LB
- Jacksonville: OT, WR, CB, DT
- Tennessee: WR, LB, DT, CB
- Houston: S, DE, LB, G, DT
- San Diego: OT, DE, S, DT
- Denver: LB, DT, CB, C
- Oakland: OT, WR, S, DT, DE, LB
- Kansas City: DT, LB, DE, OT, G
- Dallas: S, DE, LB, OT, G
- Philadelphia: OT, TE, RB, S, WR
- Washington: OT, DE, LB, G
- New York Giants: WR, LB, DT, DE, S
- Chicago: DE, OT, WR, CB, S
- Minnesota: C, OT, CB, S
- Detroit: QB, OT, CB, DT, LB
- Green Bay: OT, LB, CB, DE, DT
- Carolina: DT, QB, DE, WR
- Tampa Bay: WR, DT, DE, QB
- Atlanta: DT, S, TE, LB
- New Orleans: S, LB, CB, DT
- Seattle: WR, OT, CB, DT
- Arizona: RB, C, LB, G
- St. Louis: OT, LB, S, WR
- San Francisco: LB, OT, S, CB, WR
- Detroit- Jason Smith, T, Baylor: Of course for months, we have heard about Matthew Stafford from Georgia as being the "clear-cut" #1 choice. I will tell you this right now, if the Lions draft Stafford, expect more results similar to Brady Quinn and less of Matt Ryan-like results. I will echo this over the next two months or so, but Stafford just doesn't have it. So, instead of taking a chance on a shaky-at-best QB, I think the Lions should go the safe route, i.e. offensive lineman. Jason Smith has vaulted Andre Smith to become the #1 tackle on the board. Not that Jason Smith isn't a bad player (he is a top 5 talent), but Andre Smith has helped Jason tremendously on account of the fact that Andre Smith is a moron. While the Lions need a QB (and apparently desperately after trading Jon Kitna today to Dallas), this is simply not the draft to do it in, and if they were to pick a QB, they need to go with Mark Sanchez ahead of Stafford.
- St. Louis- Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest: Even before the combine, many considered Curry to be the best prospect in the draft. After the combine, he sealed the deal. The great thing about Curry is that physically, he is just a freak, but he has the intelligence and the experience to play in a 3-4 or 4-3, which St. Louis employs. I know that tackle is a big need, but I just don't see any way of passing on Curry. As history has taught us, a linebacker who has a top 10 grade usually pans out (most recently with Patrick Willis).
- Kansas City- Everette Brown, DE/LB, Florida State: What's great about Brown is that he is of the OLB/DE hybrid style, which is one of the most attractive things a defensive end can have for him come draft day. Pioli has addressed his need at QB and OLB (you're welcome), so now, getting a guy that can play both end and linebacker makes a lot of sense here.
- Seattle- Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech: If Crabtree makes it this far, there is no way Seattle can pass on him at #4 despite the recent revelation of his foot injury. Their need at WR is absolutely gigantic, and for them to pass on Crabtree, who has proven in his two season at Tech that he could potentially be one of the best to play the game in some time, would be mind-blowing and borderline reckless.
- Cleveland- Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State: Sure, the Browns have needs basically all over the field, but Jenkins represents something that really doesn't come along very often: a shut-down corner who can make an immediate impact wherever he ends up going. This makes a lot of sense. A shut-down corner who already has a built-in fan base being a Buckeye? Very hard to pass on Jenkins if you are the Browns.
- Cincinnati- Andre Smith, OT, Alabama: The Bengals are the perfect team to take a chance on a player with questionable character...their entire team is made up of guys with questionable character. Obviously, that is not one of the first questions they ask in an interview. Consider that Smith is, talent-wise, the best tackle in the draft, the Bengals could take a chance here and fill a hole that they have serious question marks in.
- Oakland- Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri: The consensus about Oakland is that they are taking Crabtree if he falls to 7, and if he does not, the Raiders will pull the trigger on Mr. Everything, Jeremy Maclin. He returns, he rushes, and more importantly, he was Chase Daniel's #1 target at Mizzou. Maclin was projected to be in the top 20 but has since seen is stock rise dramatically to put him inside the top 10.
- Jacksonville- Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia: Before the start of the season, many had Monroe as the top tackle in this draft. Jacksonville desperately needs a big-time tackle to block for both David Garrard and Maurice Jones-Drew. Monroe also brings stability in terms of his size and character that you can depend on, especially when you are dropping a ton of guaranteed money for a top 10 pick.
- Green Bay- B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College: Raji's stock really caught fire down the stretch of the season, and now projects to be the first interior defensive tackle taken. With the Packers making the adjustment to a 3-4, they are going to need a tackle that can handle taking on both the center and the guard. Raji has the strength and speed to handle this type of role.
- San Francisco- Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss: I know that there has been speculation that the Niners may go QB here, but I really think that the San Fran front office will be a little gun-shy after taking Alex Smith #1 overall, then watching him completely fizzle. Oher is the safe pick and it fills a need. Oher was tremendous in the SEC, and he should see that kind of success translate nicely to the next level.
- Buffalo- Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas: In my opinion, Orakpo has the most potential upside of any defensive player on the board, even more than Curry. His ability to get around and sometimes through opposing team's tackles is something you rarely see, especially in the Big 12, where the tackles are built like houses. The Bills may look to score their tight end with this pick (if that were the case, it would likely be Brandon Pettigrew), but ultimately, this, again, fills a need considering they cannot keep their D-Ends healthy.
- Denver- Rey Maualuga, LB, Southern Cal: With the swarm of moves the Broncos made over the weekend, it had a lot of people scrambling to correct their mock drafts and correct the team needs that Denver had. What remains is that the Broncos simply had no run defense, and because D.J. Williams was hurt for most of the year, they did not have a linebacker that could make the tackles at the second level. Maualuga was a freak at Southern Cal, and with Williams returning, the Broncos could potentially have one of the best young linebacking duos in the league.
- Washington- Aaron Maybin, DE/LB, Penn State: Again, another hybrid guy here in Maybin. The 'Skins have obviously looked to improve upon their line this offseason with the acqusition of Albert Haynesworth. Still, they need help in getting a compliment to Jason Taylor at the end position. Also, Maybin will be a speed rush type of outside player, and when you combine him with Taylor, you will have a formidable pass rush, something the 'Skins were lacking last year.
- New Orleans- Brian Cushing, LB, Southern Cal: Despite re-signing Jonathan Vilma, the Saints definitely could use a boost at the linebacker position. Despite battling a couple major injuries in his college career (shoulder in '05, ankle in '07). Cushing showed incredible potential and was able to have a major impact on one of the better college defenses of all-time.
- Houston- Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU: Houston has relied heavily on the draft to help bolster their defense, and this year should be no exception. Jackson's biggest asset is his ability to help stop the run, something the Texans still need to improve on (23rd last year).
- San Diego- Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia: The consensus from what I'm hearing is that despite having franchised Darren Sproles, and having Tomlinson already on the roster, the Chargers are still looking for help in the backfield. This would be a tell-tale sign that their confidence in LT in waining, and despite having a great playoff run, Sproles is probably not a 250-300 carry back.
- New York Jets- Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia: This was quite a dip from #1 where a lot of people have Stafford, but even so, I just don't see any QB being a franchise-type guy. With that being said, the Jets need something, and unless they sign Kurt Warner, they are going to be left to their own devices, i.e. Kellen Clemens, and it's obvious to me that the Jets don't believe Clemens will be their man for the long-term.
- Chicago- Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois: What I always found puzzling was why teams wouldn't draft guys that are hometown products and therefore, are way ahead of others acclamation-wise (the biggest one I can think of right now is the Niners passing on Aaron Rodgers, a bay-area kid, and going after Alex Smith). Davis will help the Bears in something that they have secretly been struggling with for years (last year, they were 30th in pass yards/game, 31st in completions, and 32nd in attempts...in other words, people like to pass on them).
- Tampa Bay- Mark Sanchez, QB, Southern Cal: What I found to be amazing was that Tampa proctured up a three-way deal involving them getting Jay Cutler and Cassel going to Denver. Because this deal was made way too late, they missed out on getting a franchise QB. The next best thing would be to get Sanchez and have him battle out Brian Griese, Luke McCown, or whoever will end up being the starter in Tampa. With Kellen Winslow, he provides a nice security blanket for a young QB.
- Detroit- Percy Harvin, WR, Florida: I know, I know, Detroit takes another receiver in the first round, and hilarity ensues. Still though, when you look at the receiving corps, it's not looking too hot for the Lions outside of Calvin Johnson (John Standeford, Shaun McDonald...who?). Harvin, as evident from how Florida played without him (explosive) and with him (hydrogen bomb explosive), he is a playmaker, and he can get it done not only split out, but in the backfield as well. I do want to make a note that with yesterday's trade of Jon Kitna, it seems more and more likely that they will be going QB at #1. Stay tuned for more details.
- Philadelphia- Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State: I suspect that this year, especially with two first-round picks, the Eagles are going to be looking to help their offense out. Pettigrew is a guy who can step in immediately to replace L.J. Smith and be a nice check-down option for McNabb.
- Minnesota- Eben Britton, OT, Arizona: A lot of people were penciling in Josh Freeman here, but because of the trade with Houston for Sage Rosenfels, it appears like the Vikings' QB situation has been taken care of. The Vikings are probably going to lose Matt Birk in free agency, and because they are likely to fill the center position internally, a spot will open up likely on the right tackle spot.
- New England- James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State: There is a distinct possibility that the Pats would have drafted Laurinaitis last year had he declared after his junior season, but he decided to stay in school, and because of that, may have seen his draft stock slip a little bit. Still, it would be a great pickup at #23. Plus, we have had an Ohio State linebacker on the Pats for like a decade (Katzenmoyer, Vrabel), so why change a good thing?
- Atlanta- Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss- Atlanta was one of the surprise teams in the league last year, but considering they won't be surprising anyone next year, they are going to have to sure up their weaknesses. The Falcons were 25th in rush yards/game and 28th in yards/carry defensively.
- Miami- Clay Matthews, LB, Southern Cal: Believe it. With Matthews going to the Dolphins, the Trojans will have three linebackers taken in the first round. Without looking this up, I'm going to go ahead and say that that's never happened before, and if it has, it happened an awful long time ago. Matthews has seen his stock rise with his recent combine workout. Joey Porter was fantastic this year, but you can't expect him to put up the kind of numbers he did last year on a regular basis. Outside of Porter and the occasional play made by Channing Crowder, the Dolphins did not have very much production from their linebackers.
- Baltimore- Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina: The Ravens were so impressive in the playoffs last season. The defense will probably look different, but I still have faith that even without Rex Ryan as D-Coordinator, the Ravens will be solid when they don't have the ball. I think this would be an interesting pick for Baltimore because this would bring a different kind of element to the offense. They don't really have a big, physical receiver like what Nicks would potentially give them.
- Indianapolis- Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland: With Marvin Harrison out of the picture, Indy is going to have to find a few more options for Peyton Manning this season. With Reggie Wayne cemented as the #1 guy, the Colts will be looking to get a #3 receiver, or perhaps even a #2 with Anthony Gonzalez's play being somewhat inconsistent. Heyward-Bey is rising up draft boards after running a 4.3 40-yard dash at the combine, and the Colts will be looking to get the kind of production that last year's "fastest man" (Chris Johnson) provided.
- Philadelphia- Chris "Beanie" Wells, RB, Ohio State: With Correll Buckhalter going to Denver, the Eagles are hurting at the running back position. Wells would be filling Buckhalter's "change of pace back" slot, and with his size, he could potentially be a more physical threat than Buckhalter was.
- New York Giants- Larry English, DE/LB, Northern Illinois: I feel that English's stock will rise purely on his versatility. I can't even stress how much of an important factor that is, especially when you have a team like the Giants who are lacking in both the defensive end category (depth-wise) and the linebacker category (starter and depth-wise).
- Tennessee- Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers: Clearly, the Titans are in need of some help at the receiver position. They really don't have any dependable receivers on the roster. While Britt has a second-round grade, and questions about his character have been mentioned, Britt had a tremendous junior season, even better than his sophomore campaign, which many didn't even think was possible (sophomore season: 62 receptions, 1,232 yards, 8 TDs; junior season: 87 receptions, 1,371 yardsm 7 TDs).
- Arizona- LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh: With Edgerrin James almost certain to not be returning to the Cards next year, they clearly have a big need at running back. Tim Hightower did get some starting reps in place of James, but the Cards found out quickly that he did not have "feature-back" potential. McCoy may have that potential, and even if he doesn't, he will be effective in a time-share role with Hightower.
- Pittsburgh- Jamon Meredith, OT, South Carolina: The big question concerning the Steelers is definitely the tackle position. Marvel Smith is a free agent, and it looks like those two sides have gone their seperate ways. Meredith has played right tackle for the Gamecocks, so he could jump right in and be the opening day starter.
With three second round picks, the talk turns to "what are they going to do with all those picks?" Well, there are a couple of options with that. First, and the simplest option would be to keep all of them. If that were the case, the Pats would be picking at #34 (from KC), #47 (from SD), and #58. Here is my projection as to where they may be headed with those three:
- #34: D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt: The Pats are going to continue to try and overcome the huge mistake of letting Asante Samuel walk by adding more pieces to the puzzle. At this point, they are just hopeful that one of these guys, whether it be Wheatley, Wilhite, or here with Moore, will pan out and be able to take a starting position.
- #47: Derrick Williams, WR, Penn State: Just ask my Dad how much I love Williams. Every time Penn State was playing this season while I was at home, I said "look out for #2 (Williams), the Pats have to get him," but it's so true. Williams represents a Kevin Faulk-like guy that can do everything. Also, the Pats are in need of a #3 receiver after letting Jabar Gaffney go to Denver.
- #58: Duke Robinson, G, Oklahoma: Robinson represents something that Stephen Neal just doesn't have. This guy plays real tough, is an absolute giant of a man (6'5, 330), and is a tremendous run-blocker. This would be a huge upgrade to the right side of the line.
- Trade Up: The Pats can package one or a couple of their second-rounders in the attempt to move back into the first. This would be a rare event for the Pats to move up on the board this early in the draft. However, if they were enamored with someone who could potentially go in that 26-32 range, then I have no problem with them doing whatever they can to get that guy. This would be especially true if they were targetting either Hakeem Nicks or Derrius Heyward-Bey, who will both likely be gone before they get to the Pats at the start of the second round.
|NFL Draft-Pick Value|
|Round 1||Round 2||Round 3||Round 4||Round 5||Round 6||Round 7|
- Make A Move Now: With Vrabel being put into the trade with the Chiefs, the Pats have an opening at outside linebacker, and if they decide not to get someone in the free agent pool (Brooks, Cato June, Freddy Keiaho), they may be looking to trade some of these picks to get someone more to their liking. Of course the big name being tossed around is Julius Peppers. Here's the thing: Carolina slapped the franchise tag on Peppers, which is worth $16.7 million. So, the whole "trimming the cap for the future" theory would be thrown out the window. If they get Peppers, they are going to immediately have to come to terms on a long-term contract that would not kill them as much in the short-term as the franchise tag would. Two other "franchised" OLBs include Karlos Dansby and Leroy Hill. Not saying that either of these two would have any chance of coming to New England, but when you look at the options, you have to look at the guys who have been franchised because they have been unable to come to terms with their current team on a long-term deal. Dansby to me is especially intriguing because he's just a phenomenal player, and would help the Pats in so many ways.