The Super Bowl is upon us. as the big game comes and goes football fans will have nothing to look forward to...except for the NFL Draft!
So what makes this the "Super Bowl Edition" Mock Draft?
I will make a prediction: The Steelers are going to win. Ta-da. And now, we have the 31st and 32nd picks determined.
Because there are still too many "40s" to run, hands to measure, and free agents to sign, this is not a prediction of what will happen, but rather what should happen. I focused on addressing a team's biggest needs, weighing that against the best player on the board.
1. Detroit Lions select Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
What don't the Lions need? They could look in the direction of quarterback or defense, but nothing will solidify their rebuilding process under the new regime like a franchise left tackle.
2. St. Louis Rams select Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest
The Rams could use this pick to set up a replacement for Orlando Pace. However, with Smith off the board, there is not another tackle deserving of this pick. The Rams were the fourth worst team against the run last season and could use a linebacker like Curry, who has the versatility to stop the run and get to the QB.
Adding Curry to Chris Long and Adam Carriker would give the Rams the best young trio of defensive players in the NFL.
3. Kansas City Chiefs select Rey Maualuga, LB, USC
Know who was worse against the run last year than the Rams? The Chiefs.
Kansas City needs to add a mean streak to its defense and Maualuga is just the man to do it. Combining him with Derrick Johnson will give the Chiefs one of the most active linebacking corps in the NFL.
4. Seattle Seahawks select Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
The Hawks have a few holes they need to fill but none is bigger than wide receiver. They lack both depth and a legit No. 1 wideout.
Crabtree's most underrated quality is his ability to break tackles in open field. He doesn't need to go deep to score a long touchdown.
5. Cleveland Browns select Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
In 2008 we saw dual-threat running backs like Matt Forte, Chris Johnson, and Steve Slaton have great success with their ability to run and catch the football.
Moreno is a more promising prospect than any of them and he is what the Browns need to electrify their offense. Moreno can split carries with Jamal Lewis, giving the Browns a "thunder and lightning" combo in the backfield.
6. Cincinnati Bengals select Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
Carson Palmer's mobility is ever-decreasing, which is why the uber-athletic Smith is the right pick at No. 6.
Smith is still learning the position, having just switched from tight end to tackle in college. However, he’s got room to add bulk and will continue his development as a run blocker. As an added bonus, the Bengals could insert the tackle-eligible play.
7. Oakland Raiders select Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
Al Davis loves athletes, but this year the Raiders owner needs to suppress his urges and draft the sure thing at left tackle, Eugene Monroe. JaMarcus Russell needs someone to protect his back side before the Raiders can worry about drafting a high-profile receiver.
Even if both Smith and Monroe are available, I still think the Raiders will take Monroe. Oakland has been burned by drafting a converted tight end before.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars select B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College
There are a few reasons that the Jags fell so hard this year, and the biggest one is because they traded Marcus Stroud to the Bills. John Henderson is already great defensive tackle. Adding Raji to the mix will restore Jacksonville to its rightful status as one of the league's best defenses against the run.
The Jags could also use offensive linemen, but with the best tackles off the board and no elite guards, they need to focus on their bread n' butter.
9. Green Bay Packers select Aaron Maybin, DE/OLB, Penn State
With the switch to a hybrid 3-4 defense in 2009, the Packers will be looking to draft a disruptive and versatile pass rusher. Maybin is the best fit for this position. He was very productive getting to the quarterback in a sophomore season that included sacks against Michigan and Ohio State.
10. San Francisco 49ers select Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
Although I have Matthew Stafford rated higher than Sanchez, I think Sanchez is the better fit for San Francisco. He is less turnover-prone and more athletic than Stafford.
It doesn't hurt that he's a California boy, either, meaning he will acclimate to the lifestyle easier. Yet in San Francisco, he will be far enough from the distractions of Southern California.
11. Buffalo Bills select Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech
The Bills desperately need a pass rush specialist and the 6'7" Johnson might be the best in the draft. He needs help against the run but his ability to get to the quarterback can't be denied.
There is speculation that Johnson may run a 4.4 40-yard dash at the combine. If he does, watch his draft stock soar.
12. Denver Broncos select Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas
Orakpo has shown the nice ability to get to the quarterback and play the run, which is exactly what Denver needs. There are injury concerns with him, which caused him to miss the Senior Bowl, but an impact player on the defensive line will help Denver out immensely.
13. Washington Redskins select Everette Brown, DE, Florida State
The Redskins, like most ailing teams in the NFL, need help getting to the quarterback. Although Brown has primarily played in a three-point stance, he could potentially play a hybrid role on defense.
14. New Orleans Saints select Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State
This would be a Brady Quinn-like slide for Jenkins, but it's one the Saints are praying for. New Orleans puts up a lot of points through the air but needs a player who can stop teams from throwing on them all day.
Jenkins is the premier corner in this draft. He has the size, athletic ability, and college production to become an All-Pro.
15. Houston Texans select Brian Cushing, LB, USC
The Texans are quickly building one of the most impressive defensive stables in the NFL, and Cushing will help solidify their front seven.
Cushing can blitz, cover, and play the run. While offenses are concerned with tackle-machine DeMeco Ryans and sack-artist Mario Williams, Cushing will be free to fly around and make plays.
16. San Diego Chargers select Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi
The Chargers' running game struggles last year were not just due to LaDainian Tomlinson's injuries, but to the decline of their offensive line, which is not what it used to be.
Although Oher could play the left side, he is better suited to play right tackle. With Marcus McNeil already in San Diego, that's what he could play.
17. New York Jets select Matt Stafford, QB, Georgia
Brett Favre's days are numbered. Even if he comes back, does anybody really believe in Kellen Clemons? There is a good chance someone will snatch Stafford before this, maybe even in the top 10. But if he falls to New York, they better take him.
The Jets are developing their defense, and they have a solid offensive line and playmakers. Stafford is the team leader that could drive the future of the franchise.
18. Chicago Bears select Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
Lovie Smith loves players like Jackson. The monster from the SEC is the best run-stopping end in the draft and he uses good power moves to get sacks.
The Bears defense needs a breath of fresh air, and Jackson will bring some new excitement to the ballclub.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi
When the Bucs lost their defensive tackles at the end of the season, they lost their trip to the playoffs. It exposed their lack of depth at the position.
Jerry has the build of an NFL veteran, which suggests he will be ready to play right away.
20. Detroit Lions select James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State
Detroit's all-around defense was pitiful last year, and a big problem was that they didn't have a leader in the middle.
Laurinaitis has great play recognition skills. He's quick to identify the run and has the speed to get to the flats against the passing game. He will be among the NFL's tackle leaders with the Lions as a rookie.
21. Philadelphia Eagles select Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Ohio State
The Eagles finally have some wide receivers they can count on, and now they need an every-down tight end.
Pettigrew is a physical blocker and he can be split out wide. He isn't an amazing athlete, but he is still dominant amongst his peers.
22. Minnesota Vikings select Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
The Vikings are looking to add more flair to their offense, and Maclin will offer another downfield option opposite of Bernard Berrian.
Maclin needs to polish his route running, but he can quickly develop into the Vikings' best receiver since Randy Moss.
23. New England Patriots select Larry English, OLB/DE, Northern Illinois
English is one of the lesser-known prospects, but he is one of the most versatile players in the draft. Bill Belichick loves aggressive players that he can move all around the field, and his eyes are surely on English.
English is best as a pass rusher, and he can rush from both a two and three-point.
24. Atlanta Falcons select Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
The Falcons need help in the secondary, and Davis will provide them with the best athlete in the draft who can cover like a blanket.
As the Falcons continue to win more games teams will keep throwing the ball to try and compete with them. Just another reason to draft a top-notch corner.
25. Miami Dolphins select Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina
The Dolphins have speed in Ted Ginn and now they need a possession guy for Quarterback Chad Pennington.
Nicks has a wide spread in draft projections, but he is a strong, physical receiver who has play-making hands.
26. Baltimore Ravens select LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh
The future of Willis McGahee is uncertain, and the Ravens need a back who has more than just North-South ability.
McCoy is a dangerous receiving option with great acceleration. If the Ravens want to keep pressure off Joe Flacco, they need to continue adding pieces to their offensive puzzle.
27. Indianapolis Colts select Sen'Derrick Marks, DT, Auburn
The Colts are looking to draft a defensive tackle in this draft, and while Marks is slightly undersized, he is strong enough and disruptive in the run game. He is good at line movements, and while some say Raji or Jerry would be a better fit, Marks will be an upgrade.
28. Philadelphia Eagles select Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State
The Eagles need a power back to spell Brian Westbrook, and Chris "Beanie" Wells would be the perfect fit.
Wells is more than just pure power. He has very good acceleration for a player his size, and he has a nose for the end zone.
29. New York Giants select Clay Matthews, LB, USC
Matthews will continue raising his stock through the draft process, and he could end up a low first-round pick.
The Giants need a linebacker who accomplishes his assignments, and Matthews is a very good blitzer, giving the G-Men some flexibility in their play calling.
30. Tennessee Titans select Percy Harvin, WR, Florida
The Titans have the run game and defense. Now all they need is the passing game. Percy Harvin can be used all over the field and while he's still developing his routes he's electric with the ball in his hands.
31. Arizona Cardinals select D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt
Most expected the Cardinals to have a much-higher draft pick this year, but they will happily pick in the 30s.
Don't be fooled by their Super Bowl appearance. The Cards still have things to work on and Moore will add a ball-hawking DB to their secondary.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers select Duke Robinson, OG, Oklahoma
The Steelers' offensive line is hurting after the loss of Alan Faneca last season. Robinson is the best guard prospect in the draft and the Steelers will happily draft the mauler at the end of the first round.
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