It’s draft day eve, and this is my final mock. A lot of picks have been evaluated, re-evaluated, mulled over, over-analyzed, and then some.
There are new explanations for each pick, and the mock has been shaved down to a single round.
There are three spots with a “Trade Alert” underneath the drafted player. Those are spots that I feel are likely trade spots. There will certainly be more trades than three in the first round, though.
Reaches and runs, Booms and Busts, this is one of the most fun days of the year, and the culmination of several months of agonizing analysis for draftniks, experts, and fans alike.
Be sure to come back and read First Day Analysis, Draft Grades, and Winners and Losers
1. Detroit: Matt Stafford, QB, Georgia
The Lions have been mum as to who they are taking with the top pick, but quite frankly, all signs point to Stafford.
The team needs to draft a tackle, but with three of the top 33 picks in a tackle-rich draft, the Lions will have other opportunities.
Stafford’s got a ton of experience and won’t need the type of clipboard seasoning that the less experienced Mark Sanchez will need.
Some point to Stafford’s inconsistencies, but in a murderous SEC, it’s not a shock.
2. St. Louis: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
St. Louis is in a position to choose between three needs. The team may look to replace Marc Bulger and must replace Orlando Pace and Torry Holt.
In this draft, it appears that Jason Smith is the best option for the team’s remaining personnel and coaching philosophy.
There is debate amongst draftniks over whether the team will take Smith or Eugene Monroe. Quite frankly, the two are probably interchangeable here.
This year’s draft, in all likelihood, goes Stafford-Smith or Smith-Stafford.
3. Kansas City: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
Trade Alert: The Chiefs' new GM Scott Pioli probably wants B.J. Raji here but can trade down with the Raiders in order to get a better value. The Raiders need a left tackle and are one of few teams still willing to trade this high in the draft.
If the Chiefs do keep this pick, Monroe must be it. After calling B.J. Raji a lock here for months, I can’t continue saying that. The team drafted Glenn Dorsey last year, and while he’s far from an ideal NT, the team could have an opportunity to fill that position later in the draft.
Monroe steps in and plays next to his former college wingman Branden Albert, a guy Monroe kept at guard during their college careers. Albert played left tackle much of last season, but is probably best suited and a better value at left guard.
4. Seattle: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
Trade Alert: This has been a pick of much discussion in the past week. Jacksonville, Denver, Washington, the New York Jets, and Tampa Bay may all look to trade up here. Compensation will be steep, however.
Ultimately, I doubt Mark Sanchez is a Seahawk. This pick probably gets traded for a first round pick this year, another early round pick, and a 2010 first round pick.
The team, however, has lost all leverage in terms of positional value with the two tackles off the board. With Cory Redding and Colin Cole acquired in the offseason, any B.J. Raji consideration is dashed.
The trading of Julian Peterson does not make Aaron Curry a likelihood, as Curry’s least favorable scheme fit would be at OLB in a Cover-2. Sanchez has the most value and can ultimately be a star in Seattle.
5. Cleveland: Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest
There has been a lot of talk about the Browns drafting Michael Crabtree in recent days. However, while he may not be happy to admit it, Eric Mangini is a product of the Patriots philosophy. The purveyors of this philosophy simply don’t take receivers in the first round, let alone fifth overall.
Curry steps in at ILB and fills a position the team has struggled to maintain productivity at throughout most of the Romeo Crennel era.
6. Cincinnati: Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss
There is a possibility that the Bengals take a defensive player here, perhaps B.J. Raji. However, while defense has been a consistent need, offensive line is more pressing.
Carson Palmer’s coming off of an elbow injury, one he opted against surgery to repair. It was his second major joint injury, and much of his injury past can be attributed to poor offensive line play.
With Eric Steinbach and Willie Anderson gone, and Levi Jones playing inconsistently, the team needs an upgrade to take pressure off their franchise signal caller.
7. Oakland: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
The Raiders have needs all over, though one may not think they are apparent at first. The team’s rush defense is awful, and their pass defense is overrated.
The Raiders have seen the fifth and fourth fewest pass attempts against them in the past two seasons, the fewest the year before. The reason? They are usually losing.
Al Davis drafted JaMarcus Russell with visions of grandeur, but now he must protect his reputation and his young quarterback.
Smith is a flashy pick and harkens back to the days when all the problem players ended up in Oakland, rather than stopping in Cincinnati and Minnesota.
8. Jacksonville: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
Apart from a short blip on the radar, I’ve had Crabtree here since my first mock. The Jags need to find an actual solution at receiver, one who won’t get caught with cocaine.
Michael Crabtree is an ideal fit to play with David Garrard. He’ll step in and probably open up space for Troy Williamson and Dennis Northcutt deep. Jacksonville is an ideal place for Crabtree, and Crabtree’s an ideal fit in Jacksonville.
9. Green Bay: B.J. Raji, NT, Boston College
The Packers are converting to a 3-4, and if the Chiefs, Bengals, and Raiders all pass on Raji, he’ll be the pick in Green Bay. As of now, the team is relying on Ryan Pickett to handle the nose tackle position.
The Packers may also consider Brian Orakpo, who could usher Aaron Kampman out of town. However, 3-4 rush linebackers can and often are found in later rounds.
10. San Francisco: Malcolm Jenkins, DB (CB or S), Ohio State
Often times people assume that because a new defensive-minded coach takes over somewhere, he’ll immediately start filling his roster with defensive studs.
Brian Orakpo is certainly an option here, and would replace Manny Lawson well, but he’s not the best option.
The 49ers secondary needs help, and Malcolm Jenkins offers that. He’ll probably play safety, but he could supplant Walt Harris in the team’s starting lineup.
11. Buffalo: Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas
Brian Orakpo is the second-best prospect in this draft; there, I said it. He’s the only guy I’d want to touch in the top five whose name isn’t Jason Smith, and he falls to 11 based on need.
Orakpo fits Buffalo's need for a pass rush perfectly, and he’ll be even faster on the turf at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
12. Denver: Rey Maualuga, LB, USC
The Broncos have needed help at inside linebacker since the unfortunate injuries and subsequent release of Al Wilson.
Maualuga is a reach, but one similar to that of the Patriots drafting Jerod Mayo 10th overall last year.
Tyson Jackson will get consideration here, but while he’d fit the scheme, 3-4 DEs simply aren’t that valuable.
13. Washington: Everette Brown, DE, Florida State
The Jason Taylor experiment failed, and the Redskins need a lineman who can play with his hand on the ground.
While Brown is undersized, he’s about 20 pounds heavier than Taylor was coming into last season.
The Redskins spent their money this offseason as though they print it themselves. Brown’s an upgrade at a position they’d otherwise continue to spend at.
14. New Orleans: Brian Cushing, LB, USC
The Saints need to re-tool their linebacking corps. Though the team has Jonathan Vilma back, Cushing is a similarly versatile option. He’ll be able to play inside or outside as needed.
New Orleans has been one of the league’s worst defenses in recent years, and much of their struggles have been a result of their inability to stop the run. Cushing provides help there and could also provide some pass rush off the edge.
15. Houston: Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee
Houston has huge money allocated to Mario Williams and newcomer Antonio Smith; however, defensive line rotation has become a trend among 4-3 teams.
Ayers has loads of potential and a short résumé. However, he’ll be able to kick inside on passing downs and should provide depth at the end position, so the Texans can keep fresh legs on the field at all times.
16. San Diego: Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
The Chargers have a few needs. They could use help at right tackle, inside linebacker, defensive end, and running back. Jackson is just the best value here of any player and happens to fill a need for the Bolts.
The Chargers let go of Igor Olshansky, and the team replaces him with perhaps the best 3-4 DE in this year’s draft.
For the rest of Casey's work, and draft analysis, grades, etc. visit 5th Quarter Sports.
17. New York Jets: Chris “Beanie” Wells, RB
Ultimately, Rex Ryan will attempt to recreate the glory days of the Baltimore Ravens in New York. However, one major ingredient the team is missing is a power back.
Thomas Jones is getting old, and Leon Washington surely can’t carry the load. Wells will be well complemented by Washington, who will probably handle a fair number of third down and change-of-pace situations.
18. Denver: From Chicago: Ron Brace, NT, Boston College
Ultimately, in recent years, the Broncos' quarterback play hasn’t been the deciding factor in victories. Much of that may explain why the team is switching to a 3-4 defense.
Brace steps in at nose tackle, where he’ll use his big body to make guys like Jarvis Moss appear to not be the busts they’ve been billed as. He’s a reach, but fits a need in a four-deep DT draft.
19. Tampa Bay: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
Maclin’s been projected as a Top-10 pick by some and probably hasn’t fallen to Tampa in most mocks in quite a while. Last year’s receiver-less first round has draftniks struggling to distinguish up from down.
I doubt this year’s draft will bring an equal result, but I do think many teams are changing the way they value receivers.
Maclin gets drafted to a team that lost Joey Galloway and Ike Hilliard this offseason, and franchised the enigmatic, inconsistent Antonio Bryant.
20. Detroit—From Dallas: Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss
Offensive line is a priority, but as I stated in Denver’s pick, this year’s draft is a four-deep defensive tackle class. After the top four, the talent level drops off a cliff.
New Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz was in his second season in Tennessee when the team drafted Albert Haynesworth in the first round. The Lions have lost Cory Redding and Shaun Rogers in consecutive seasons.
21. Philadelphia: Aaron Maybin, DE/OLB, Penn State
The Eagles traded their pick at No. 28 for Jason Peters, so this pick is certainly no longer an offensive lineman.
The Eagles love to blitz, and Maybin may be best suited as a rush-linebacker. He won’t be able to play every down at linebacker, or on the defensive line, until his career playing weight becomes consistent. He’s going to be outmuscled by every tackle in the league at his slow 250 pounds.
22. Minnesota: Sean Smith, CB/S, Utah
In 2007, had the Redskins passed on LaRon Landry, there’s a good chance that the Vikings would have a very different fate to this point, as they may have passed on Adrian Peterson for the standout safety.
Smith is a fast-rising defensive back prospect, one who can play both CB and safety, and while the Vikings drafted Tyrell Johnson last year, Smith offers depth and a potential, eventual starter at either CB or safety.
23. New England: Michael Johnson, DE/OLB, Georgia Tech
Trade Alert: Perhaps Julius Peppers has gone under the radar, but he’ll be on the forefront of many analysts' tongues as this pick approaches. I think this pick is Johnson either way, as he’ll be a great prospect at 3-4 OLB, but he could ultimately be a Carolina Panther by the end of the draft.
The Patriots traded Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs for a second-round pick. That either added a dimension to the team’s pursuit, albeit a quiet pursuit, of Julius Peppers, or opened up their first-round draft possibilities.
Johnson’s an absolute monster athlete—he went rep-for-rep and step-for-step with Brian Orakpo at the combine—but doesn’t seem to have the discipline at this point to play with his hand on the ground. Is he Shawne Merriman or Manny Lawson? Jevon Kearse or Andre Carter?
24. Atlanta: Evander Hood, DT, Missouri
Atlanta needs help on their defense and will be in good shape to pick someone here, as they just acquired Tony Gonzalez from the Chiefs and won’t need a tight end in the draft.
Hood’s the last of the upper-echelon DTs in this draft, and a reach. However, the Falcons showed last year that they’re willing to reach to fill a need—see Sam Baker.
25. Miami: Clay Matthews, LB, USC
The Dolphins will eventually need a replacement for Joey Porter, and Matthews can be that guy. He had the fastest timed speed of the three USC standout linebackers and has ties to Bill Parcells.
Miami may look at Darius Butler here, as he’s got similar measurables to Terrence Newman, who the Bill Parcells drafted while in Dallas.
26. Baltimore: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
The Ravens would love to take a receiver here; however, if Davis falls here, he’s an excellent value despite his character issues.
Davis is a big, physical corner. The Ravens need a replacement for Chris McAllister and will eventually need a replacement for Samari Rolle.
If Sean Smith falls here, the Ravens may take him over Davis, as he’d have potential to eventually replace Ed Reed also.
27. Indianapolis: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
The Colts want Evander Hood, but Moreno is a great combination of value and scheme fit, and he'll help to push or spell Joseph Addai. The NFL has turned into a running back-by-committee league, and Moreno is an excellent complement to Addai.
Moreno’s stock has fallen as a result of poor timed speed, but he’s shifty and quick. I doubt Addai has a lot of trade value around the NFL, but his time in Indianapolis could be limited.
28. Buffalo—From Philadelphia: William Beatty, OT, Connecticut
The Bills have had problems on their line since the drafting of Mike Williams. To compound those problems, the team, entering its second year of negotiations with Jason Peters traded the veteran tackle to Philadelphia.
William Beatty is a guy who has flown up draft boards. He’s got excellent measurables and is very athletic. He’ll probably step in at left tackle early in his career and never look back.
29. New York Giants: Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers
The Giants are a tough team to gauge. Going into the draft, this pick seemed like a defensive lineman. However, the team signed Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard and probably won’t be drafting a defensive lineman until day two.
Britt will be an immediate replacement for Plaxico Burress unless the Giants swing a trade for Braylon Edwards.
30. Tennessee: Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
Titans fans have been screaming for a receiver for what seems like an eternity. The team’s had problems at the position since trading for Yancey Thigpen.
Those problems seemed to be solved when the ageless Derrick Mason became the team’s leading receiver, but he’s since departed.
Pettigrew isn’t a receiver, but a tight end akin to what Jeff Fisher wants in a tight end. He’ll open up outside running lanes for Chris Johnson and be a very good option for Kerry Collins or Vince Young in the passing game.
31. Arizona: Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State
When Ken Whisenhunt’s Steelers drafted Ben Roethlisberger, they didn’t have an immediate need at quarterback. Whisenhunt’s offensive scheme is fairly traditional, even old school, in that he sets up the pass with the run and likes the deep pass.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, there isn’t a power back worthy of a first-round pick, and they’ll have to address the position later. Donald Brown doesn’t fit the team’s scheme.
32. Pittsburgh: Eben Britton, OT, Arizona
Pittsburgh needs help across their offensive line but brought just about every player from last year back. Britton’s perhaps the best lineman left.
One thing that has gone somewhat understated is that Britton’s value is probably higher because he can likely play at least three positions on the offensive line. He may end up, ultimately, being the team’s replacement for Alan Faneca.
For the rest of Casey's work, and draft analysis, grades, etc. visit 5th Quarter Sports.