With the 2009 NFL Draft approaching quickly, I've decided to publish my first and final mock draft. I've studied many other mocks, team needs, free agency signings, and the pre-draft combines and workouts to come to these conclusions.
I fully expect there to be some movement in the top 10 on draft day, with some teams trading up and down along with some veteran players changing homes.
Because trades aren't all that predictable, we will execute this mock without any trades.
1. Detroit Lions Select Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest
The Lions had the worst defense in the NFL last season and while some of their free-agency pickups and trades have solidified some areas, there are still gaping holes.
Curry is overall the best player available at any position and the Lions plan to move him to the MLB slot in their 4-3 defense. Curry not only addresses an immediate need, he comes cheaper than Stafford.
The Lions are comfortable and have been impressed with Daunte Culpepper and are ready to go with him as the unquestioned starter. They are still likely to sign a veteran free agent.
2. St. Louis Rams Select Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
The Rams had long been expected to select Jason Smith here to replace Orlando Pace, however, that train of thought was predicated on the Lions taking Matthew Stafford.
With the surprise at No. 1, the Rams will decide to get the franchise signal caller they need with Mark Bulger in the twilight of his career and coming off a less-than-impressive season.
3. Kansas City Chiefs Select Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
The Chiefs are a bit bummed here because they expected to be able to grab Aaron Curry with this pick. They do need some more line help though and Smith is the best of the bunch. Eugene Monroe could be the pick here as well considering that he kept current Chief Brandon Albert out of the LT position in college.
4. Seattle Seahawks Select Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
Mark Sanchez has been flying up the draft board over the past month or so and has impressed almost everyone across the league with his maturity and grasp of the game. Sanchez would be a great pick here to inherit the reigns from Matt Hasselbeck.
Seattle will likely also get quite a bit of action at this pick with teams looking to trade up to grab Sanchez.
Crabtree is also a possibility at this pick as Seattle has been dreadful over the past few seasons at the receiver position.
5. Cleveland Browns Select Brian Orakpo, DE/LB, Texas
Orakpo should be the obvious pick here, but also keep an eye on the possibility of Michael Crabtree at this pick if Cleveland is able to trade Braylon Edwards and pick up another first-round pick, which they could use to grab a DE/LB.
6. Cincinnati Bengals Select Eugene Monroe, OT,Virginia
The Bengals are looking to fortify their offensive line to bolster the effectiveness of a once potent offense. With QB Carson Palmer coming back healthy, Cedric Benson running the ball, and Chad Ochocinco on the outside, all they need is some protection.
Some think that Andre Smith will be the pick here, but the Bengals organization has tired of the black eyes they’ve received by dealing with players with character questions.
7. Oakland Raiders Select Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
Al Davis loves speed and Jeremy Maclin has plenty of it. Crabtree is the top receiver in the 2009 draft, but Maclin has the edge here.
Maclin is one of the most explosive players in the draft and fills one of Oakland's biggest needs, and while he is a bit raw as a receiver and route-runner, his speed is impressive and he can also contribute in the return game.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars Select Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
While the Jags' have had bad luck in the past with first round wide receivers, they can't pass up the opportunity to get the consensus No. 1 receiver at No. 8 overall.
The Jags also recently signed veteran Torry Holt, who will serve as a mentor for Crabtree, much like Issac Bruce did for him in St. Louis.
9. Green Bay Packers Select B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College
The Packers are tickled pink to see Raji sitting there as he addresses and immediate need as a 3-4 DT. Raji is an incredibly agile and powerful tackle who can get after the QB and stop the run.
Malcolm Jenkins is another option, but the team has serviceable DB's for the next few years.
10. San Francisco 49ers Select Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
The 49ers need a tackle who can step in and contribute right away, and Smith is a mauler as a run blocker who could do just that. This will allow the 'Niners to move OT Joe Staley to the right side and have Smith anchor the left side for the next decade or so.
Smith was at one time being mentioned at No. 1 overall so this is a great value for the 49ers at No. 10.
11. Buffalo Bills Select Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State
The Bills have been desperately seeking a defensive end that can rush the quarterback. Maybin is the best value on the board and his quickness and agility off the edge are exactly what the Bills need.
12. Denver Broncos Select Tyson Jackson, DE, Louisiana State
The Broncos are rumored to be in the QB sweepstakes, but assuming they don’t make that move, they will select the best 5-technique defensive lineman in the draft.
13. Washington Redskins Select Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi
The Redskins picked up Derrick Dockery in the offseason, but still have a big need at the right OT position. Oher is a perfect fit at this pick.
14. New Orleans Saints Select Malcolm Jenkins, CB/S, Ohio State
Jenkins is widely considered the best CB prospect in the draft, but there are questions about his speed. The Saints have also been rumored to be interested in a power back like Jenkins’ teammate Chris "Beanie" Wells, but they will stand pat with Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas.
Jenkins gives them a versatile, effective guy in the secondary.
15. Houston Texans Select Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee
The Texans have a solid nucleus on the front line with Mario Williams and Omobi Okoye. They’ll add Ayers to the mix who will allow them to collectively be a nightmare for opposing offenses. Ayers is a one-year wonder, though, so there are some questions about his sustained ability.
16. San Diego Chargers Select Rey Maualuga, LB, Southern California
The Chargers get a steal with Maualuga at No. 16. This guy was projected to go in the top 10, but had an average combine and didn’t do well on the Wonderlic Test. There is no doubt about his athletic ability, though, and he could be a star with proper coaching.
17. New York Jets select Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State
Freeman is not viewed as highly as some other QB’s in this class, as well as others that could be acquired via trade, but since the Jets didn’t get in on those other options, Freeman makes sense.
While he may not be able to take the reigns from day one, he has very good long-term value and could see action sooner rather than later due to the Jets' suspect QB depth.
18. Denver Broncos Select Chris “Beanie” Wells, RB, Ohio State
The Broncos picked up the rush end they coveted early and now have the luxury of grabbing the top RB on the board in Wells. As an added benefit, Wells fits perfectly into the Broncos zone blocking scheme.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Select Brian Cushing, OLB, USC
Cushing is a specimen and while he does have limitations in coverage, he fits the bill in terms of size and strength at the point of attack, and he has the versatility to play inside if needed. The Bucs could go with a DT here, while Peria Jerry is also available.
20. Detroit Lions Select Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
The Lions don’t return any of their starting CBs from last season and while Philip Buchanon will occupy one side, the other is in flux. If the Lions aren’t 100 percent comfortable with Anthony Henry at CB, drafting Davis allows them to move him to safety.
Some think that Peria Jerry would get the call here, but I don’t think he fits into the big, strong model that Lions brass are looking for.
The Lions have many needs, and an offensive or defensive lineman would also fit here.
21. Philadelphia Eagles Select Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
The Eagles could really use a wide receiver, but they are in talks to acquire Anquan Boldin. If that happens, they can then use this pick to take Moreno. He is the perfect complement to Brian Westbrook, who isn’t getting any younger.
Percy Harvin and Darrius Heyward-Bey are also possibilities here.
22. Minnesota Vikings Select Eben Britton, OT, Arizona
The Vikings could use an OT, QB, WR, and CB, but Eben Britton makes the most sense here. The Vikings need to protect the QB and Adrian Peterson and Britton can help there.
23. New England Patriots Select Clay Matthews, OLB, Southern California
Matthews is a typical Pats pick and perfect fit here. Matthews' best football is still ahead of him, he has great NFL bloodlines, he can play multiple roles on defense and he will be a special-teams demon from day one.
24. Atlanta Falcons Select Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi
It’s no secret the Falcons need help up front and Jerry represents a great value at this position. Most people expect him to be gone by now so if he’s there, the Falcons almost certainly have to take him. Jerry is a solid one-gap defender who can wreak havoc in the middle.
Brandon Pettigrew would be a good value pick here as well.
25. Miami Dolphins Select Percy Harvin, WR, Florida
Harvin will move further south in Florida and team up with another speedster in Miami's Ted Ginn. Those two guys will give Pennington, and eventually Chad Henne, the weapons they need on the outside.
26. Baltimore Ravens Select Darius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
Newsome will be intrigued enough with the local speedster to pull the trigger. Heyward-Bey gives Flacco another option aside from Derrick Mason.
27. Indianapolis Colts Select Everette Brown, DE, Florida State
The Colts have needs at DT, WR, and OLB, but cannot pass up Brown here. Brown gives them a rush end with enough quickness to play in space possibly at the OLB position.
28. Buffalo Bills Select Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
This is a no-brainer. The Bills are rumored to be coveting Pettigrew with this pick and he’s available.
Pettigrew is the best run-blocker of his position group and will be a great outlet in the middle of the field when Terrell Owens and Lee Evans are covered.
29. New York Giants Select Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina
There's a lot of speculation about Braylon Edwards being traded to the Giants, which would cost New York this pick, but there hasn't been a deal yet. If the Giants hold on to this pick and don't bring in a veteran, Nicks is a no-brainer. He's big, has exceptional hand-eye coordination, and is ready to contribute for Manning right away.
30. Tennessee Titans Select Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers
The Titans seemingly have a need at WR every year, yet they continue to surprise by not selecting one in the first round. Look for that to change this year. They will be absolutely ecstatic that Britt is still on the board and they will scoop him up here.
31. Arizona Cardinals Select Donald Brown, RB, Connecticut
Brown lacks exceptional break-away speed, but he's instinctive, tough and versatile enough to contribute right away. An unhappy Edgerrin James and a still-unproven Tim Hightower are the only two backs on the roster.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers Select Max Under, C, Oregon
The Steelers have an immediate need at center and Max Unger is the best one available. The Steelers could go with a corner like Darius Butler, and then select a center in the second round. Either way, it’s safe to say that they’ll be selecting a CB and C early on.
Be sure to visit my Top 50 Overall Prospects page over at the LIONSPen.