Re-Drafting the 2009 NFL Draft
If, in 2009, NFL general managers knew what they know, how would the 2009 NFL draft have gone?
One thing is for certain: It would be quite different.
The No. 2 overall pick is now seen as a huge bust, and an undrafted free agent is among the NFL's best players. So, yeah, some mistakes were made.
But in the re-draft, general managers know how these players are going to turn out, and they know what they need.
Not a ton of guesswork for a mock draft.
For simplicity's sake, all draft-day trades were ignored. Trades made before draft day were taken into account, however, as they affected the team's roster breakdown prior to the draft.
1. Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
The Lions got this pick right. Matthew Stafford is just 24 years old but is already mentioned as one of the NFL's premier quarterbacks.
Stafford had some injury issues in his first two seasons, but he was healthy in 2011, and he dominated. Anyone who watched Stafford play in 2011 could see why he was the No. 1 pick.
No one else in this draft class even competes with Stafford for the first selection.
2. St. Louis Rams: Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State
Is Josh Freeman as good a player as Matthew Stafford? No. Is he the most valuable player for the Rams? Absolutely.
In 2009, St. Louis did not have Sam Bradford, and the team's quarterback situation was a nightmare. The Rams had many needs, but quarterback reigned supreme.
Freeman struggled some in 2011, but he has shown he is capable of playing at a high level, as he did in 2010.
3. Kansas City Chiefs: Clay Matthews, OLB, USC
One of the NFL's best pass-rushers, Clay Matthews is an easy pick for the Chiefs as they began their transition to a 3-4 defense. Kansas City also needs help along the defensive line, but Matthews is easily the best value.
With Matthews opposite Tamba Hali, Kansas City could get after opposing quarterbacks. That type of pass rush will make the worst secondaries look great.
4. Seattle Seahawks: Brian Cushing, LB, USC
Brian Cushing is perhaps the NFL's best strongside linebacker, and he is an absolute freak on the football field. The USC product can defend the run at an elite level, and he can even rush the passer a little.
With no real weaknesses, Cushing could move around, offering Seattle great schematic versatility. He would have a huge impact on the rushing and passing attacks of opposing offenses.
5. Cleveland Browns: LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh
Perhaps the NFL's best running back, LeSean McCoy can run or catch the ball better than nearly any other player. McCoy would add a dynamic playmaker to Cleveland's dull offense.
With few offensive threats, the Browns need a player like McCoy. He demands attention from defenses and still dominates.
6. Cincinnati Bengals: Arian Foster, RB, Tennessee
Though he was actually an undrafted free agent, Arian Foster has proven himself to be worth a top-10 pick. Foster is explosive in every aspect of the game, and the Bengals don't have much explosiveness on their offense.
With a legitimate running back, Carson Palmer may have been happier in Cincinnati, and he may have performed at a higher level. Either way, Foster would have been a huge boost to the Bengal offense.
7. Oakland Raiders: Mike Wallace, WR, Ole Miss
There may not be a better deep threat in the NFL than Mike Walace, and, as the selection of Darrius Heyward-Bey shows, the Raiders were looking for exactly that. Wallace isn't a prototype No. 1 wide receiver, but he demands attention and performs like one.
The speedster is a threat to score on any play. He would have made the Raiders offense much more explosive.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars: Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina
Jacksonville's wide receivers have been an issue for years, and drafting Hakeem Nicks would have really helped things. Nicks isn't an elite player by any means, but he makes plays and offers a reliable option from all parts of the field.
The Jaguars already had Maurice Jones-Drew, who is obviously a great player, and Nicks could have helped turn around the team's offense.
9. Green Bay Packers: Brian Orakpo, OLB, Texas
In 2009, the Packers began their transition to the 3-4 defense, and they needed pass-rushers. Brian Orakpo has developed into a reliable threat off the edge, and he is also excellent against the run.
Orakpo isn't as good as Clay Matthews, but clearly Matthews is not available. The Texas product isn't a terrible consolation prize, though.
10. San Francisco 49ers: Percy Harvin, WR, Florida
Few players in the NFL are more explosive than Percy Harvin. He has had some injury issues, and he hasn't always been a model citizen, but not many can perform the way he can.
Harvin can run the ball out of the backfield, but he is mostly used as a receiver, and he is an explosive one. Harvin would offer the 49ers a legitimate threat.
11. Buffalo Bills: Connor Barwin, DE, Cincinnati
Though he has had just one productive season, Connor Barwin has shown signs of developing into an excellent threat off the edge. Buffalo was seeking a pass-rusher in 2009, but their selection, Aaron Maybin, didn't turn out so well.
Barwin's best fit is in a 3-4 defense, which Buffalo didn't run in 2009, but he can play at a high level in a 4-3 scheme.
12. Denver Broncos: B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College
Denver was just transitioning to the 3-4 scheme in 2009, and the team desperately needed a nose tackle to plug up the run game. B.J. Raji is a great nose tackle. The Broncos could have used him.
Raji isn't just a run-stopper, though. He can also rush the passer and make plays in the backfield. At times, the former Boston College product is an absolute animal on the field.
13. Washington Redskins: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
Not a true No. 1 wide receiver, Jeremy Maclin is solid, but he is far from a superstar. Maclin has great deep speed, but he is used as more of a possession player in Philadelphia's offense.
Maclin would offer Washington a legitimate threat on the outside opposite Santana Moss. With these two weapons, even Jason Campbell could have produced some big numbers.
14. New Orleans Saints: Malcolm Jenkins, S, Ohio State
This was another pick that turned out pretty well. Malcolm Jenkins was a cornerback in college, but he developed into a well-above-average safety for the Saints.
Jenkins is a coverage safety, but he is big and physical enough to play against the run. He was the best option for New Orleans' defense.
15. Houston Texans: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
The Texans ended up with Brian Cushing in 2009, who would have been a much better option here, but he is not available. So, instead, Houston goes with Vontae Davis, who addresses a long-standing need.
Davis would have been Houston's best cornerback almost immediately, and he would still be starting opposite Jonathan Joseph.
16. San Diego Chargers: James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State
Though he isn't a superstar by any means, James Laurinaitis is a solid player with no devastating weaknesses. San Diego's defense was its weak spot, and Laurinatis would have been helpful on the inside.
Ideally, the Chargers would have added a pass-rusher, but there aren't any great options there.
17. New York Jets: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
Even without trading up to No. 5, the Jets get their quarterback in Mark Sanchez. He hasn't been great by any means, but, of everyone available, he helps the team the most.
In 2009, New York was without a good quarterback option, and, as hard as it is to believe, Sanchez was a huge upgrade. Even now, he is good enough to not lose too many games.
18. Denver Broncos: Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss
In 2009, Denver's run game struggled, in part because of the team's dreadful offensive line. Michael Oher would have been an excellent right tackle opposite Ryan Clady.
Oher would have helped buy Kyle Orton more time, and he would have given the team's running backs more room to run.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
Though he hasn't become a star worthy of a top-10 pick, Michael Crabtree is not a bad player. He would have immediately started for Tampa Bay.
Crabtree would have provided the Buccaneer offense a boost, both by catching passes and diverting attention from the run game.
20. Detroit Lions: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
After drafting Matthew Stafford, the Lions need a left tackle to protect him, and though he isn't great, Eugene Monroe is at least an average blindside tackle.
Monroe has had his ups and downs, but he's finally settling as a solid player for Jacksonville. If Detroit had had Monroe, Stafford may not have had so many injuries in his first two seasons.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers
The Eagles didn't have much of a receiving threat opposite DeSean Jackson, and there is no denying Kenny Britt's talent. The Rutgers product has had his issues staying on the field, but he has produced when playing.
With Jackson threatening vertically, Britt could attack the middle of the field. The two would be a dynamic duo, just like Jackson and Jeremy Maclin currently are.
22. Minnesota Vikings: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
The Vikings needed a vertical threat, so they drafted Percy Harvin. With Harvin long gone, Minnesota turns to Darrius Heyward-Bey.
Heyward-Bey struggled in his first two seasons, but he finally started to play up to his incredible talent in 2011, gaining 975 yards. If DHB continues to develop, he could still become a No. 1 wideout.
23. New England Patriots: Jairus Byrd, S, Buffalo Bills
New England's pass defense has been awful, and Jairus Byrd is a legitimate coverage safety. Byrd hasn't racked up the interception numbers he did in his rookie year, but he is still a good player.
The Patriots don't have a safety who is nearly as good as Byrd. He would be a huge upgrade.
24. Atlanta Falcons: Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
Before they acquired Tony Gonzalez, the Falcons had a horrible situation at tight end. Brandon Pettigrew is an excellent blocker and decent receiver.
Atlanta's offense was already good in 2008, but Pettigrew would have been a great addition, helping out the team's passing and rushing games.
25. Miami Dolphins: Rey Maualuga, LB, USC
Miami's defense struggled in 2009. Rey Maualuga's presence in the middle would have been a big help. Maualuga hasn't developed into a star, but he is solid and would be better in a 3-4 defense like Miami ran.
Maualuga is an excellent run defender with limited ability against the pass. He would rack up the tackles for the Dolphins.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Terrance Knighton, DT, Temple
In 2009, Kelly Gregg's career was going downhill, and Terrance Knighton could have spelled him at nose tackle while learning the position. Knighton has had some issues with his weight, but he is still a great run-stuffer.
With Knighton and Haloti Ngata, the Ravens would be nearly impossible to run on.
27. Indianapolis Colts: Ziggy Hood, DT, Missouri
Indianapolis has been unable to defend the run for years. Ziggy Hood is far from an elite player, but he is decent and may have been better off in the Colts' 4-3 scheme.
Hood can penetrate the backfield and rush the passer a little, while standing strong against the run. The Colts could have really used that.
28. Buffalo Bills: Louis Delmas, S, Western Michigan
At this point, Buffalo is taking the best available player. Louis Delmas is a complete safety, and he would help to "replace" Jairus Byrd.
The Bills needed help everywhere in 2009, and best available player is a good strategy for them.
29. New York Giants: Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest
Aaron Curry was never quite as bad as he was made out to be, and he played quite well with the Raiders after being traded. New York has never had much in the way of run-stopping linebackers, and Curry is a good one.
As long as the Giants didn't ask Curry to do too much, they would have been happy with his performance.
30. Tennessee Titans: Alex Mack, C, California
By 2009, Kevin Mawae was nearly done being productive, and the Titans were ready for a changing of the guard. Tennessee would have been much better off with Alex Mack replacing Mawae than they were with Eugene Amano.
Mack isn't a Nick Mangold-caliber player, but he is solid and will never be a weak spot. At this point, there aren't many better players available.
31. Arizona Cardinals: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
Arizona's offensive line has long been one of the NFL's weakest units. Andre Smith has had some issues, but with his weight under control, he is a solid right tackle.
At the worst, Smith would have been a huge upgrade at guard, and at best, an excellent right tackle. Either way, the Cardinals would have been better off with him than Beanie Wells.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers: Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
Has Tyson Jackson lived up to his No. 3 draft slot? No. Is he a bad player? Again, no.
Jackson is unspectacular, but he can defend the run, and, in 2009, Pittsburgh a young 5-tech to replace the aging Aaron Smith. Jackson would never be as good as Smith was, but he could have helped fill the gap.
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