The 2009 NFL Draft is upon us and it's never to early to start mocking.
Detroit is on the board:
1.) Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford QB/Georgia
Stafford, a true junior with real experience coming from the SEC, has by far the strongest arm in this year's quarterback class.
He needs to work on his accuracy on short throws, and his ability to read top NFL defenses. He possesses great physical tools, but does he have the mental makeup to handle the pressure of being the No. 1 pick?
2.) St. Louis Rams: Andre Smith OT/Alabama
A beast of a man at 6'4", 341 pounds, Smith is regarded as one of those rare offensive lineman who can anchor a line for the next decade.
Unfortunately for Smith, there are multiple linemen with his skill level in the draft, which may affect his draft value. Originally, Smith was the consensus No. 1 pick at offensive tackle, but his limited mobility, footwork, and off-the-field issues in college may hurt his stock.
The Rams are lacking playmakers on both sides of the ball, but Smith is a sure pick that can help the Rams move in the right direction.
3.) Kansas City Chiefs: Mark Sanchez QB/Southern California
I labored over this pick for hours trying to decide who to put here, but I am not sure the Chiefs have any other choice.
Sanchez, a one-year wonder at USC, has excellent mobility and an uncanny ability to throw on the run.
He is also a perfect fit for the West Coast offense. If they stick around, Sanchez can rely on Larry Johnson and Tony Gonzalez.
Still, do not be surprised to see GM Scott Pioli trade for a player like Matt Cassel from New England to avoid dishing out the money to an unproven quarterback.
4.) Seattle Seahawks: Michael Crabtree WR/Texas Tech
Without a doubt, the No. 1 player on almost everyone's draft board, Crabtree has incredible hands, runs sharp, crisp routes, and has all the intangibles you look for in a No. 1 wide receiver.
He will probably have a lackluster 40 time at the combine, but I vaguely remember another great receiver lacking top-end speed (hint: It is Larry Fitzgerald).
5.) Cleveland Browns: Aaron Curry OLB/DE/Wake Forest
Although Brian Orakpo is the best defensive player in the draft, he just is not a good fit here for the Browns.
Cleveland, a 3-4 defensive team with new head coach Eric Mangini, will use Curry as a speed rusher off the edge, much like this year's Defensive Player of the Year, James Harrison.
6.) Cincinnatti Bengals: Eugene Monroe OT/Virginia
Monroe is the reason Brandon Albert, now playing for the Kansas City Chiefs, did not start at left tackle in college.
Monroe, the second overall tackle in this year's class, will be responsible for keeping Carson Palmer healthy, particularly his troublesome elbow.
He was very injury-prone in college but started all 13 games his senior season. He possesses incredible agility, which makes him a great pass blocker. On the other hand, his run blocking at the point of attack needs work.
7.) Oakland Raiders: Jeremy Maclin WR/Missouri
Maclin will provide a badly-needed deep threat for JaMarcus Russell and the Raiders. Having this deep threat will take the pressure off running backs Darren McFadden and Justin Fargas.
Maclin is similar to Saints' running back Reggie Bush; however, Maclin is a more pure receiver. He will provide a completely new dynamic to a very weak offense in '09. He will also play a pivotal role in the Raiders' kickoff returns.
8.) Jacksonville Jaguars: Jason Smith OT/Baylor
A converted tight end, Smith has seen his stock rise dramatically in the past couple weeks with his incredible combination of speed, power, and agility.
He has a great ability to get to the second level, but needs to work on his run blocking. He had a chance to battle Monroe for the No. 2 overall offensive tackle, but skipping the Senior Bowl hurt his stock.
9.) Green Bay Packers: Malcolm Jenkins CB/Ohio State
Although Jenkins was an extremely prolific corner at the college level, I do not think he translates to a productive corner in the NFL.
He will be a nickel or dime corner in certain defensive packages, but will see more time should Al Harris or Charles Woodson continue to be plagued by injuries. He lacks top-end speed, but he is an excellent tackler. This makes him similar to a former Buckeye product: Chris Gamble for the Carolina Panthers.
10.) San Francisco 49ers: Aaron Maybin OLB/Penn State
Maybin, an extremely undersized defensive end, makes up for this lack of size with incredible speed off the edge and good leverage.
He only fits into an NFL scheme as a 3-4 end coming off the edge, which could hurt his stock as the combine arrives.
11.) Buffalo Bills: B.J. Raji DT/Boston College
Buffalo will be praising the gods that Raji fell into its lap at No. 11.
Raji will fill the middle in the Bills' scheme. Raji's stock rose quickly after his impressive performance at the Senior Bowl, but he is also aided by a weak field of defensive tackles.
12.) Denver Broncos: Rey Maualuga ILB/Southern California
Denver, one of the most porous defenses in the NFL last year, needs to start strengthening the middle of that linebacking core.
Maualuga can fit this need. He possesses incredible sideline-to-sideline speed. However, he has been known as a "hit-or-miss" guy around the line of scrimmage, so he needs to work on reading offensive linemen and running backs effectively.
13.) Washington Redskins: Brian Orakpo DE/Texas
Although Orakpo is the best defensive player on the board, this has been his first great fit.
Orakpo is definitely a 4-3 defensive end with an incredible first step and burst off the line of scrimmage. Injuries were a problem for him at Texas, but Washington gets a solid run stopper.
14.) New Orleans Saints: Vontae Davis CB/Illinois
Similar to the Arizona Cardinals' Antrel Rolle, Davis can play cornerback or safety at the NFL level.
Although he is not a pure corner like Malcolm Jenkins, Davis is a tremendous tackler in run support and a physical player in pass coverage.
15.) Houston Texans: Everette Brown DE/Florida State
The Texans need a pass rusher who can complement former No. 1 overall pick Mario Williams. Similar to many former Seminole defensive ends, Brown is lightning quick, and he has impressive hands.
Yet, his limited pass coverage skills forces Brown to be strictly a 4-3 end.
16.) San Diego Chargers: Knowshon Moreno RB/Georgia
Although Moreno is not the top overall running back in this class, he is a strong outside runner and receiver, a type of running back that works well in the Chargers' offensive scheme.
Although LaDanian Tomlinson will probably remain with the Chargers, the aging LT needs a replacement. Although he played well against Indianapolis in the playoffs, backup Darren Sproles is not an every-down back like Moreno.
17.) New York Jets: Percy Harvin WR/Florida
Possibly one of the most exciting players in this year's draft, Harvin's ability to play all over the field on offense will give AFC East defenses nightmares.
However, he needs to greatly improve his route running, which is average at best, and show more durability at the pro level. He should have more of an impact that Ted Ginn Jr. did in his first year, but finding a place for Harvin might be difficult for the Jets.
18.) Chicago Bears: Paul Kruger DE/Utah
The Bears are kicking themselves for not having lost just one more game last season.
That one victory may stand between them and Percy Harvin, who could have energized their anemic offense. Chicago many not need help on defense, but the Bears cannot ignore Kruger's incredible knack for finding the football.
Although not a great all-around pass rusher, Kruger has a motor that does not quit, which helped him wreak havoc against Alabama.
19.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Chris Wells RB/Ohio State
Wells is the No. 1 overall running back on my board, but just did not seem like a good fit for the Chargers at No. 16.
"Beanie" is a crushing runner who should wear down defenses as the game goes on. Injuries have plagued the Bucs' backs in recent years, but Wells should be durable enough to be head coach Raheem Morris's workhorse.
20.) Detroit Lions: Michael Oher OT/Mississippi
Like last year's Miami team, the Lions will draft an offensive lineman to protect their franchise quarterback.
Although his intelligence has been questioned, Oher is one of the most gifted tackles in this draft and has incredible physical attributes.
Starting 37 games at tackle, Oher has demonstrated his durability. Oher has improved his pass blocking over the years, but he needs to work on his point-of-attack run blocking.
21.) Philadelphia Eagles: Eben Britton OT/Arizona
Britton is an example of the depth of this year's offensive tackle pool. Britton could challenge Eugene Monroe for No. 2 offensive tackle position with his incredible footwork and his 6'6", 310 pound frame.
Britton should be key in protecting Donovan McNabb, or whoever is playing quarterback for the Eagles.
22.) Minnesota Vikings: D.J. Moore CB/Vanderbilt
Arguably the best pure corner in this year's draft, Moore played in the toughest conference and on a team with no pass rush.
He has incredible coverage ability, but lacks the prototypical cornerback height at only 5'10". However, he should be the safest cornerback choice at this draft position.
23.) New England Patriots: Brian Cushing OLB/Southern California
The Patriots are getting older every year at linebacker, and Cushing should bring an infusion of youth along with last year's first round pick Jerod Mayo.
He is a very strong pass rusher off the edge, which is a perfect skill for Bill Belichick's 3-4 scheme. However, his indecisiveness against the run, and his limited pass-covering ability makes teams hesitant to start him at linebacker.
24.) Atlanta Falcons: Sean Smith DB/Utah
The Falcons have many needs, but Smith brings versatility to Atlanta's secondary.
Projected to play safety or cornerback in the NFL, Smith is one of the most imposing secondary players in the draft, and he can help an already strong Falcons defense.
25.) Miami Dolphins: Clay Matthews OLB/Southern California
Three USC linebackers may be drafted in the first round. Matthews is a Parcells kind of player, in that he is known for having an incredible work ethic and inner drive.
The possibility of losing Channing Crowder to free agency could only further the Dolphins' need for depth at linebacker.
26.) Baltimore Ravens: Darrius Heyward-Bey WR/Maryland
Joe Flacco needs a wide receiver with two healthy shoulders (Derrick Mason only has one) if they want to get past the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North next year.
Heyward-Bey has one of the best combinations of size and speed in this draft and could be the Ravens' first deep threat. He had a problem with dropped passes in college, but look for Heyward-Bey to be a very productive player in the NFL.
27.) Indianapolis Colts: Peria Jerry DT/Mississippi
Jerry is the type of defensive tackle that fits perfectly into the Tampa 2 defense, which requires a lightning-quick first step in order to get pressure up the field quickly.
Although he is a little undersized for an interior lineman, Jerry is perfect for new head coach Jim Caldwell's system.
28.) Philadelphia Eagles: Brandon Pettigrew TE/Oklahoma State
The Eagles already have one pass-catching tight end in JR Smith, but he lacks Pettigrew's blocking ability.
He should provide a huge threat in the red zone with his 6'5" frame. He easily could have gone to the Eagles at No. 21, but drafting an offensive tackle was more important.
29.) New York Giants: Hakeem Nicks WR/North Carolina
With the losses of Amani Toomer and probably Plaxico Burress, the Giants are very uncertain about their wide receiver position. Nicks has Burress's speed without being a huge headache.
30.) Tennesee Titans: Kenny Britt WR/Rutgers
The Titans lacked a serious deep threat this year, and if Kerry Collins does return, I am sure he would not mind having a 6'4" receiver who can jump out of the stadium on his side.
However, he needs to work seriously on his route running if he wants to be a dominant receiver in the NFL.
31.) Arizona Cardinals: LeSean McCoy RB/Pittsburgh
McCoy would provide the Cardinals with a dual-threat running game that seems to work so well in the NFL.
His style fits nicely with the power running game of Tim Hightower. This pick could be used for a wide receiver if the Cardinals cannot retain Anquan Boldin.
32.) Pittsburgh Steelers: Alex Mack C/California
The Steelers desperately need help along the offensive line, and Mack is versatile enough to play center or guard.
Mack possesses the physical tools to be an instant plug-in along the offensive line.
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