Draft day is one of the most exiting days of the year for both NCAA and NFL fans. Each year franchises are made and broken, championships are won and lost. No team has ever won a championship built entirely around first-round picks; it takes careful, calculated drafting from round to round.
Each year there are a record number of trades which occur on draft day, and those are near impossible to predict.
Now, based simply on team tendencies(within the front office), needs, draft trends and talent available, this is my best projection of the first day of the 2009 NFL Draft.
1. Detroit - Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
Detroit seems content on going with Daunte Culpepper for now, and while he may not exactly be a an all-pro at this point, he is a better option for Detroit than Stafford is.
The team needs some veteran leadership, and if they can get some kind of protection out of Smith here, Culpepper to Johnson just may bring back memories of the old Vikings.
As for Stafford, he failed to have that signature game in college like Boston College’s Matt Ryan did at Virginia Tech the year prior(coming back from two scores down in the fourth in the pouring rain against a top defense).
Stafford has great tools, but was inconsistent while surrounded by great talent.
Best NFL Comparison: Orlando Pace
2. St. Louis - Eugene Monroe, OT, UVA
All signs point to this pick as St. Louis released Orlando Pace with no heir apparent in place. While Steve Spagnuolo is a defensive guy, there are more than just one round in the draft to address that.
Bulger was sacked enough as it was in 2008, they won’t get anything done without a legitimate offensive tackle.
Best NFL Comparison: Ryan Clady
3. Kansas City - Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest
While Todd Haley is an offensive guy, Scott Pioli is a defensive guy, and he holds all the cards in the Chiefs' organization right now. Curry is far and away the most talented defensive player in the draft, and he will immediately contribute to what was a very poor unit this past season.
Best NFL Comparison: Julian Peterson
4. Seattle – Matt Stafford, QB, Georgia
Stafford will be able to go the route of Carson Palmer and Eli Manning, learning under a veteran for his first year while he refines his game to the pro level. As I mentioned, he has the tools, and Hasselbeck is really nearing the end of his career.
They have defensive needs yes, but there are other rounds.
Best NFL Comparison: Eli Manning
5. Cleveland – Brian Orakpo, DE/OLB,Texas
This team desperately needs a defensive force, and with Shawn Rodgers in the middle, the front seven of Cleveland could gain instant credibility with a talent like Orakpo in the mix.
Best NFL Comparison: Osi Umenyiora
6. Cincinnati - Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
At this point, a lot of scouts and GMs have sent out a smoke screen regarding what they really think of Smith. He doesn’t exactly have sex appeal, but he can play football. He was by far Alabama’s most valuable player in 2008, and with the release of Stacy Andrews and the signing of Laveranues Coles, all signs point to the drafting of a lineman.
Best NFL Comparison: Chris Samuels
Though he didn’t run the 40, this guy has Al Davis written all over him. He loves flashy players and Crabtree is as flashy as there is. He will help JaMarcus Russel develop in a serious way. Javon Walker just isn’t going to cut it.
Best NFL Comparison: Terrell Owens
8. Jacksonville - BJ Raji, DT, Boston College
This team may trade up to get Crabtree if they really feel as if they need a wideout that badly. They finally gave up on Matt Jones and his coke addiction, so they are really really desperate in that department.
Del Rio is a defensive guy though, and Raji is the type of player who can give an offense instant credibility.
Best NFL Comparison: Pat Williams
9. Green Bay – Everette Brown, DE/OLB, Florida State
The Packers suffocated as their pass rush died down the stretch. Teams just can’t expect to win without it, and if they hope to make a successful transition to a 3-4, they will need someone to give opponents headaches.
Best NFL Comparison: Mario Williams
10. San Francisco – Malcolm Jenkins, DB, Ohio State
Coach Singletary undoubtedly wants to build his team around defense. Look for San Francisco to select a high impact defensive guy here. Other than Nate Clements, San Fran has nothing in the secondary.
Best NFL Comparison: Shawn Springs
With the addition of Terrell Owens, their offense is set outside of tight end, but adding another serious pass rusher can really help that defense get off the field quick and hatch the offense get back to work. Last season the Bills suffered the same fate as The Packers did, faltering as their pass rush did down the stretch.
Best NFL Comparison: Julius Peppers
12. Denver - Rey Maualuga, ILB, USC
This team has no choice but to pick up a player whom they feel they can build their defense around for years to come. USC has produced numerous stud defensive players recently, and Maualuga looks like he is ready to join them.
Who knows what is going on with Jay Cutler, but it won’t matter who the quarterback is if they can’t stop anyone.
Best NFL Comparison: Lofa Tatupu
13. Washington - Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
I hope for Washington’s sake that reports of their newest addition (34-year-old Renaldo Wynn) becoming a starter aren’t true. If they don’t get a legitimate player of some kind around Haynesworth, they are about to see how much less he is worth without Vanden Bosch and Kearse around him.
Best NFL Comparison: Shawn Ellis
14. New Orleans - Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
Davis has the potential to be one of the best players out of this draft. He is a stud defensive back who reminds me of Rodgers- Cromartie coming out last year. He has incredible speed and coverage skills, which is something the Saints lack.
Best NFL Comparison: Champ Baily
15. Houston - D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt
Houston’s defense has taken strides recently, but their secondary is still their weakness. They franchised Dunta Robinson, and at this point they have to believe that they are a step away from being a contender after the way they finished up last season.
An upgrade here could mean more sacks for Mario Williams and company, and possibly a 1009 playoff appearance.
Best NFL Comparison: Asante Samuel
16. San Diego - Beanie Wells, RB, OSU
After restructuring Tomlinson, running back is not San Diego’s most pressing need, but in the first round you always want to grab a player that is going to be pro bowl caliber, sometimes regardless of need.
Furthermore, Wells is a big back who would be a great complement to whomever he spells in the San Diego backfield, whether it be Tomlinson or Sproles.
Best NFL Comparison: Marion Barber
17. New York Jets – Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State
Word on the street is the Jets are really high on Freeman, and with his arrival, the Jets officially become Baltimore North. With Rex Ryan’s new defensive adjustments, Freeman will play the role of Flacco in Rex Ryans grand scheme.
Big kid, gifted arm, he will also bring some much needed youth to the Jets offense and a new face to their franchise.
Best NFL Comparison: Joe Flacco
18. Chicago - Hakeem Nicks, WR, UNC
Nicks, who has a style of play eerily reminiscent to Anquan Boldin, will be the perfect complement to Hester on offense. Nicks has a great feel for routes and can really run after the catch.
After the recent departure of St. Clair, The Bears do have a need at offensive line. This is a really tough call.
Best NFL Comparison: Anquan Boldin
It's hard to believe that the new regime in Tampa really wants to go with Luke McCown, like with the Jets, new regimes usually look to change the face of the franchise.
Best NFL Comparison: Jeff Garcia
20. Detroit - Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss
Detroit traded their starting defensive tackle to Seattle for Julian Peterson.
The Lions seriously need some big uglies. I don’t think their linebacking core averaged over 200 pounds last year, and Jerry will at least provide some interior support, which is what Jim Schwartz relied on in Tennessee with Haynesworth to make his defenses tick.
Best NFL Comparison: Fred Robbins
21. Philadelphia - Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss
The real issue for Philly will not be who Donovan is going to throw to, but rather if he will be able to get a throw off. After losing Thomas and Runyan, they will need support against the Giants and Redskins' defensive lines.
Best NFL Comparison: D’ Brickashaw Ferguson
22. Minnesota – Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
Maclin is a solid, smooth receiver whose speed will be appreciated in Minnesota’s run first offense. He is a great route runner with great hands to boot, and it appears as if the team wants to go with Sage Rosenfels as their quarterback, so Maclin will be his go-to guy.
Best NFL Comparison: Steve Breaston
23. New England - Larry English, DE/OLB, Northern Illinois
A solid pass rushing option like English may be just what the doctor (with a hoodie) ordered for New England. After drafting Jerod Mayo last year for interior support, one more pass rushing option should really solidify the front seven in New England
Best NFL Comparison: Shawne Merriman
24. Atlanta – Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma St.
Pettigrew is far and away the best tight end in this draft, and if Matt Ryan gets a legitimate option like this guy over the middle, watch out. I know they need some help defensively after losing Brooking and Boley, but Pettigrew brings more to the table than any defensive option here.
Best NFL Comparison: Jason Witten
25. Miami - Brian Cushing, LB, USC
Bill Parcells always drafts impact linebackers, and Cushing has just the attitude Parcells likes. Cushing had a solid career at USC, especially in terms of rushing the passer, and his best days are ahead of him.
Best NFL Comparison: Lance Briggs
26. Baltimore – Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
Baltimore is surely enamored with the home-grown speedster. He can stretch the field ant take the top off of a zone defense. Combined with Flacco’s arm, they could make for a deadly combo. While defense is always a priority here, the team likely knows that Flacco will need to play better in 2009.
Best NFL Comparison: Bernard Berrian
27. Indianapolis - Evander Hood, DT, Mizzou
The Colts need defensive help really badly. Despite new holes at receiver, Manning can carry them for the time being offensively and they may be able to grab a good receiver option later on.
Best NFL Comparison: Cornelius Griffin
28. Philadelphia – Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
Moreno is almost a Westbrook clone with his effectiveness catching the ball out of the backfield, and his production at Georgia is tough to ignore. While Andy Reid has never selected a running back sooner than the third round, but he may make an exception here.
Best NFL Comparison: Brian Westbrook
29. New York Giants – Percy Harvin, WR/HB, Florida
Ok Giants fans, I know he’s not Plaxico, or even your prototypical receiver, but the truth is, he is a player that demands the respect of the defense whenever he steps foot on the field, even from day one.
Sometimes it takes years for receivers to develop fully, but with some creative offensive plays and the proper usage, Harvin will be just the explosive player the Giants are looking for.
Best NFL Comparison: Steve Smith (Car)
30. Tennessee - Ron Brace, DT, BC
Ron Brace will love Jeff Fisher’s system and he should contribute immediately. He is not quite as big as Haynesworth but he will certainly do the job. With Vanden Bosh and Kearse, that defense will hardly lose a step.
Best NFL Comparison: Albert Haynesworth
McCoy is a very NFL-ready back, and his ability to catch passes will surely be attractive to The Cards. The Cardinals saw more success late in the season when they ran it, and McCoy will be able to pound the ball and set things up for Larry Fitzgerald down the field, as if he needs help.
Best NFL Comparison: Derrick Ward
32. Pittsburgh - Alex Mack, C, Cal
Pittsburgh should consider themselves lucky to grab the most talented interior lineman in the draft here. There is a reason Big Ben is known as a runner, and if Pittsburgh wants to extend his career, then this will be a great selection and will surely protect Ben well.
Best NFL Comparison: Jeff Saturday
33. Detroit – James Laurinaitis, LB, OSU
34. New England - Sean Smith, CB, Utah
35. St. Louis - Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake
36. Cleveland – Donald Brown, RB, Uconn
37. Seattle – Shone Greene, RB, Iowa
38. Cincinnati - SenDerrick Marks, DT, Auburn
39. Jacksonville - William Betty, OT, Uconn
40. Oakland - Eben Britton, OT, Arizona
41. Green Bay - Paul Kruger, DE, Utah
42. Buffalo – Chase Coffman, TE, Mizzu
43. San Fransisco – Michael Johnson, DE, GT
44. Miami - Max Unger, C, Oregon
45. New York Giants – Aaron Maybin, DE/OLB, PSU
46. Houston – Jarron Gilbert, DE, San Jose State
47. New England - Rashad Johnson, S, Alabama
48. Denver - Clint Sintim, OLB, UVA
49. Chicago – Phil Loadholt, OT, Oklahoma
50. Cleveland – Patrick Chung, S, Oregon
51. Dallas – Darius Butler, DB, Uconn
52. Philadelphia – Juaquin Iglesias, WR, Oklahoma
53. New York Jets – Brian Robiskie, WR, OSU
54. Minnesota - Clay Matthews, LB, USC
55. Atlanta - Fili Moala, DT, USC
56. Miami - Pat White, QB, WVU
57. Baltimore - Derry Beckwith, LB, LSU
58. New England – Connor Barwin, DE/TE, Cincinnati
59. Carolina - Louis Delmas, S, Western Michigan
60. New York Giants – Eric Wood, C, Louisville
61. Indianapolis – Duke Robinson, OG, Oklahoma
62. Tennessee – James Casey, TE, Rice
63. Arizona - Marcus Freeman, LB, OSU
64. Pittsburgh – Victor Harris, S/CB, VA Tech