To go along with the 2009 Bracketology that's been up for weeks, ESPN has now released their first edition of a 2009 mock draft. If it holds anywhere close to being true, it's going to be a great year of football in the SEC. Overall, 13 of the 32 first rounders are projected to be from the SEC, including 7 of the top 10.
Obviously, there's some fairly presumptuous assumptions predicting a lot of underclassmen including Stafford, Moreno, Harvin, and Tebow. It's even more presumptuous to assume that the Cowboys will be in the Super Bowl. Tony "Mr. Clutch" Simpson-Romo turns into Ryan Leaf in the 2nd half of playoff games...
Another interesting tidbit is that - while there are a baker's dozen projected in the first round - only 6 schools are represented. LSU leads the way with 4, Florida has 3, Georgia and Ole Miss 2, and Auburn and Alabama each have 1. Anyway, here are the 13 SEC players projected and their notes.
3. Kansas City Chiefs -- Matt Stafford*, QB, Georgia
Another injury-plagued and disappointing season out of fragile QB Brodie Croyle will force the Chiefs to address the position with this high draft pick in 2009. If the supremely talented Stafford continues to progress as he did last fall, he could easily emerge as a top-five pick next April.
4. Miami Dolphins -- Al Woods, DT, LSU
At 6-foot-4 and 320 pounds, Woods is a physically imposing defensive tackle with enough size and strength to anchor the middle of a 3-4 defense.
5. Cincinnati Bengals -- Sen'Derrick Marks*, DT, Auburn
The Bengals got shut out in their pursuit of an elite defensive tackle in this year's draft, but 2009 will be more kind. Marks is an undersized playmaker with the first-step quickness to disrupt as a 3-technique tackle, which is exactly what Marvin Lewis' defense needs along its front.
6. Oakland Raiders -- Andre Smith*, OT, Alabama
Smith stepped in immediately as the Tide's starting left tackle and continues to improve with more coaching and game experience. The Raiders could enlist a player with his kind of skills to take care of their most recent first-round investments in QB JaMarcus Russell and RB Darren McFadden.
7. Chicago Bears -- Tim Tebow*, QB, Florida
It's almost certain that the Bears will need a quarterback come next offseason. Unfortunately, next year's crop of signal-callers does not look promising at this point. Bears fans won't be thrilled if the team uses a high pick on another Gators quarterback following the failed Rex Grossman experiment, but Tebow's unique blend of skills and rare intangibles might be too good to pass up. Should Tebow elect to leave school early, however, his uncommon skill set could make him the most difficult prospect at any position to grade.
8. San Francisco 49ers -- Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi
Oher, who possesses the size and athletic ability to develop into an upper-echelon starting tackle in the NFL, would make an ideal bookend opposite 2007 first-rounder Joe Staley.
10. New York Jets -- Knowshon Moreno*, RB, Georgia
Moreno burst onto the scene as a redshirt freshman in 2007 and he should build on that momentum as a first-year starter behind a more mature offensive line during the upcoming season. The Jets were not able to land McFadden in this year's draft but Moreno would be worth the wait if he's available in 2009.
19. Washington Redskins -- Greg Hardy*, DE, Mississippi
Hardy is flying under the radar right now despite notching 10 solo sacks the past two seasons, and the Redskins will be looking for a young pass-rushing threat after failing to land one during the latest draft.
20. Minnesota Vikings -- Percy Harvin*, WR/RS, Florida
Staying healthy for a full season would all but guarantee Harvin a spot in the first round of the NFL draft, either next year or in 2010.
21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Ciron Black, OT, LSU
The Bucs will be looking to enlist the services of a talented left tackle prospect such as Black, who displays quick feet for a 6-5, 315-pounder.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers -- Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
Jackson is among the elite senior defensive prospects right now but that might not hold up for 12 full months, as he's simply not a great fit for every team's defensive scheme. At 6-5 and 290, Jackson is best suited to play defensive end in a three-man front like the one employed in Pittsburgh.
27. New York Giants -- Brandon Spikes, ILB, Florida
The Giants could use a quick and powerful tackling machine like Spikes after failing to address that need early in the 2008 draft.
31. Dallas Cowboys -- Demetrius Byrd, WR, LSU
Wide receiver is the one area Dallas did not address during an otherwise promising 2008 draft. Byrd has a lot to prove as a senior but he certainly has the blend of size and deep speed it takes to emerge as a first-round draft pick.