A lot has developed since my last mock draft; the NFL Combine, Pro-days, and a ton of speculation. The top players have definitely shifted; down stocks are the overweight Andre Smith and injured Michael Crabtree, and up are former Baylor unknown Jason Smith and senior linebacker Aaron Curry. So, without further ado, here goes my second attempt at a first round mock draft.
1. Detroit Lions: Matt Stafford, QB, Georgia
Whether this is the right pick or not remains to be seen, but right now it definitely appears as though Detroit is leaning his way. Don't get me wrong, he's not a bad quarterback; he has the skill set, height, and is apparently pretty smart (a 38 on his Wonderlic puts him in the 99th percentile). I'm just not sold completely on this being the right move.
2. St. Louis Rams: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
I'm not a humongous fan of combine rising stars, but this guy really wasn't a rising star; he was just a star nobody knew about. As one of the Big 12's best kept secrets, Smith's work ethic and incredibly good footwork have allowed him to shoot up most draft boards, including mine. This fills a large need the Rams have.
3. Kansas City Chiefs: Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest
This guy is my absolute favorite in the draft. Aaron Curry is an intelligent outside linebacker who knows how to pressure a quarterback, as well as hit hard. Kansas City needs Curry, since they are one of the worst teams in recent memory of getting pressure on quarterbacks and registering sacks.
4. Seattle Seahawks: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
Yes, yes, I realize Seattle picked up T.J. Houshmandzadeh, which was the main catch of the free agent class for wide receivers. But honestly; who couldn't use another receiver? Crabtree has explosiveness down the field, while Houshmandzadeh is a more possesion receiver. This is a great fit, since behind Houshmandzadeh, Seattle has no depth.
5. Cleveland Browns: Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas
There are no outside linebackers worth taking here, so the Browns should probably target this versatile defensive end, Brian Orakpo. He had a great senior season and career with the Longhorns playing at both positions. He should fit in well with Cleveland's 3-4 defense, and should bring some youth to the aging linebackers.
6. Cincinnati Bengals: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
Let's face it; what does Cincinnati not need? It really comes down to the best player available that fills their offensive or defensive line needs, and it comes down to B.J.Raji and Eugene Monroe. I would take Monroe here, since Ryan Fitzpatrick was fairly well harassed last season.
7. Oakland Raiders: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
The more I think about the Oakland Raiders taking a wide receiver, the more I like the idea. I dare you to name a Raiders' receiver if you're not an actual Raiders fan. Their best available WR is probably a guy named Johnny Lee Higgins. So yeah, Al Davis' "take the fast guy" strategy could actually work.
8. Green Bay Packers: Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State
Green Bay had a decent team last year, but the Pack's main problem was the fact that they allowed quarterbacks to throw all over them with no pressure. Aaron Maybin, a Penn State guy, should be the remedy for now, as Green Bay tries to cope with an injured Aaron Kampman.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Rey Maualuga, LB, USC
Why this guys stock has dropped so drastically is beyond me. He is a good, powerful inside linebacker that the Jaguars could desperately use now that Mike Peterson is out of town. Another interesting pick here would be a guy like Chris Wells who could compliment Maurice Jones-Drew now that Fred Taylor is gone.
10. San Francisco 49ers: Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State
Mark Sanchez seems like the pick most people like here, but I think that Mike Singletary is a guy who is going to build up his defense and stick with Sean Hill. In fact, Singletary won a Super Bowl on a team that didn't have a top flight quarterback in Jim McMahon. Besides, Hill was a decent quarterback at the end of last year.
11. Buffalo Bills: Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
Buffalo has two strong receivers in Terrell Owens and Lee Evans, and a capable slot in Steve Johnson, but the Bills don't have a reliable tight end (unless that's what you would call Robert Royal). Brandon Pettigrew is one of the best pass catching tight ends we've seen in a few drafts, so Buffalo can't pass on him.
12. Denver Broncos: Knowshon Moreno, HB, Georgia
You can bet Josh McDaniels, an offensive guy, is going to try and get as many offensive weapons as he feels necessary in this draft. Knowshon Moreno, a pass catching halfback, could be his guy. And besides, no Denver runningback ran for more than 350 yards last season. Yikes.
13. Washington Redskins: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
Its hard to fathom the fact that the number one pick in my mock draft about a month ago could slip this far, but it really could happen. Scouts were not impressed with his shape or figure, and he was definitely sluggish. However, the Redskins need an offensive tackle, and he is their guy.
14. New Orleans Saints: Brian Cushing, LB, USC
Another great USC linebacker, Brian Cushing can really give the Saints some explosiveness from the outside. Middle man Jon Vilma is a top tier linebacker, and armed with Cushing at his side, the Saints defense should really see a boost, especially if their injured players can return.
15. Houston Texans: William Moore, S, Missouri
This could be a bit of a reach, but William Moore is really the kind of player the Texans could use. Houston struggled to defend the pass (remember the meltdown against the Colts?) all year long, and Moore's physical style of play and interception ability really should aid Houston in their quest to make it into the playoffs.
16. San Diego Chargers: B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College
This is probably a steal, but B.J. Raji hasn't really separated himself from the other defensive tackles as much as most people probably thought he would. Jamal Williams isn't getting any younger, so Raji is definitely going to get to play throughout the year as Williams is going to need more breaks.
17. New York Jets: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
Brett Favre is gone, folks. The Jets need someone besides Kellen Clemons and late pick Eric Ainge to contend for the job since they unwisely ran Chad Pennington out of town. Sanchez has the tools to be a top ten pick, but who will honestly take him and use him is the question I'm asking.
18. Chicago Bears: Everette Brown, DE, Florida State
Chicago had one main weakness last year; pass rushing. Mark Anderson performed well under expectations, so it looks like Chicago is going to need to add someone. Everette Brown, a star defensive end from Florida State, could be the man that meets the Bears' call.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Percy Harvin, WR, Florida
Since Tampa Bay said goodbye to Jeff Garcia and Joey Galloway, it looks like they are really willing to start from square one on offense. Percy Harvin, an athletic wide receiver who can do just about anything on offense, is their best bet. His speed, hands, and ability to play through injury will assist the new Buccaneers quarterback.
20. Detroit Lions: Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss
The Lions need a little of everything, and since they have their signal caller, they need someone to keep him standing up right, no? Michael Oher is really a lot better than people think, and if they do draft him, they can finally move Jeff Backus back to his more natural left guard position.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Chris Wells, HB, Ohio State
Whether Andy Reid and the Eagles will admit it or not, they need a halfback to actually run the football. Brian Westbrook is prone to injury, and Donovan McNabb relies heavily on Westbrook to pass catches. If either or both get hurt (which isn't really going out on a limb), then a power running game lead by Chris Wells would be nice to have.
Why not improve your strengths? The defensive line in Minnesota could be perfect from left to right if Ayers pans out, since they already have Jared Allen, Pat Williams, and Kevin Williams dominating the other three spots. There are not quarterbacks or tackles worth taking here, so Minnesota could very well trade up or down to get better value and more picks.
23. New England Patriots: James Laurinitus, LB, Ohio State
I love this pick; James Laurinitus is a quick, hard-hitting young linebacker that the Patriots could definitely use. He, along with Jerod Mayo, will really give New England a much stronger defense that they'll need to get back in the race in the AFC East, which currently belongs to Miami.
24. Atlanta Falcons: Clay Matthews, LB, USC
The third USC linebacker is as good as either of the first two, and will definitely help out in Atlanta. The Falcons lost a ton in free agency, and need a defensive tackle, a cornerback, and two outside linebackers. Clay Matthews is the best value, although Peria Jerry is not a bad consolation prize.
25. Miami Dolphins: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
Vontae Davis will boost an old Miami secondary well. He is definitely going to be needed, as Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Lee Evans, Jerricho Cotchery, and Wes Welker all lurk in the tough AFC East. Davis will rejuvenate the aging defense as a whole, who began to fall off at the end of last season.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut
Darius Butler is a Baltimore Ravens defense kind of guy; a hard hitting ball hawk. Butler will step in and immediately get minutes, as three of the top four Raven cornerbacks are over age 30. Butler is going to bring youth and speed to the defense, something its going to now need as its primary players are aging.
27. Indianapolis Colts: Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss
Indianapolis has two star defensive ends in Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney, but not a very reliable defensive tackle. Peria Jerry should change that, as he could step in and start. He's an SEC defender, so you know he has the speed and power to compete for minutes in the NFL.
28. Philadelphia Eagles: Eben Britton, OT, Arizona
Tra Thomas left for Jacksonville, which was one of Philadelphia's greatest fears this offseason. At 21, there were no offensive tackles available, but Eben Britton is a much better value with their second pick from Carolina. Britton won't be able to step in and start, but will provide valuable depth and could start eventually in his career.
29. New York Giants: Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina
Until the Giants make a decision on Plaxico Burress, I'm going to continue giving them wide receivers. Either way, Hakeem Nicks' speed and big play ability is something many New York receivers lack. Nicks could start immediately, since Amani Toomer is aging and Kevin Boss isn't as reliable as we thought he was from his playoff performances in the playoffs two years ago.
30. Tennessee Titans: D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt
D.J. Moore, a Nashville guy, is Tennessee's best bet. Nick Harper is aging, and I am not sold on either Reynaldo Hill or Eric King starting and playing several minutes. Moore can step in and either start or be a reliable nickel back, which are two things Tennessee needs most.
31. Arizona Cardinals: Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
Wouldn't it be something if Tyson Jackson fell this far? This is a good pick for the Arizona Cardinals, who need a defensive end or outside linebacker that fits their strong 3-4 defensive style. Jackson, a dominant SEC defensive player, fits both bills well.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers: Alexander Mack, C, California
Pittsburgh's starting center, Justin Hartwig, isn't really cutting it. Besides, he is more of a guard forced to be playing center, and the Steelers were lucky to make it by with him. Alexander Mack should provide valuable depth at the position and could probably step in and start snapping footballs to Ben Roethlisberger in Week 1.