2009 NFL Draft: A Look Ahead
It's June 26th, training camp is about a month away and the college football season opens up in roughly two months.
That makes this the perfect time for an early look ahead at the 2009 NFL Draft.
I determined the draft order based on my own projections on how the 2008-2009 season will play out and I've included all draft eligible players.
1. Atlanta Falcons - Fili Moala, DT, USC
Who? Fili Moala, that's who. This playmaking defensive tackle who played behind 2008 7th overall pick Sedrick Ellis will really step up this year and be a difference maker for the Trojans and give the Falcons much needed help on the interior defensive line.
2. Miami Dolphins - George Selvie, DE, South Florida
With Jason Taylor on the way out, Bill Parcells pairs Selvie, a 6'4'' 255 pound beast of a pass-rusher, with 2007 32nd overall pick Phillip Merling to form a very formidable combo.
3. Chicago Bears - Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
A team who is in desperate need of a playmaking quarterback gets their man here in Tebow, a Heisman winner and national champion, who can come in and provide a spark for this dismal offense.
4. Kansas City Chiefs - Matt Stafford, QB, Georgia
I realize that Coach Herm Edwards likes the young Brodie Croyle, but if they're picking this high it means that they had a poor year and Edwards could be out. If that is the case, they can't afford to pass up the best pure passer in the draft.
5. San Francisco 49ers - Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss
With the top two QB's off the board the niners have two options: trade down, acquire more picks for their many needs and take a guy like Nate Davis or stay here and pick the best left tackle in the draft, allowing them to move T Joe Staley over to right tackle.
6. Cincinnati Bengals - James Laurinaitis, ILB, Ohio State
This team is a mess with a disgruntled star receiver, a coach on the hot seat and a defense that can't stop anyone - a sure fire formula for a top-10 pick. That being said, Laurinaitis is a no-brainer here and the Bengals would then have two outstanding linebackers, Keith Rivers being the other, with which to rebuild the defense.
7. Oakland Raiders - Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
Do you honestly think that Al Davis would let Crabtree, a Randy Moss-type talent, slip by him here? Crabtree also fills a huge need at wide receiver for Coach Kiffin and gives JaMarcus Russell another playmaker to work with.
8. Detroit Lions - Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State
The first running back off the board goes to a team in desperate need of a workhorse. While Coach Marinelli is high on rookie Kevin Smith, Wells is a perfect fit for the Lions who are trying to become a more balanced team after the debacle of the "Martz Era".
9. St. Louis Rams - Rey Maualuga, ILB, USC
Speaking of Mike Martz, we come to one of his old teams, the St. Louis Rams. Very quietly, Jim Haslett has turned the Rams into a very reliable defensive stopper. Maualuga, another standout Trojan, will really bring Haslett's defensive unit together.
10. Baltimore Ravens - Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech
With Flacco, McGahee and Rice on the offensive end, the Ravens turn to the defense and make a great pick here with the very speedy, pass-rushing end Michael Johnson. Johnson, who is poised for a breakout year, would give the Ravens another great defender and also an eventual replacement for now 33-year old Trevor Pryce.
11. Denver Broncos - Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
We all know how much Mike Shanahan loves defensive lineman and Jackson, a 6'5'' 295 pounder, is the type of athlete Shanahan is sure to fall head over heels for. Jackson, a national champion, will fit perfectly into the Bronco pass rushing rotation alongside Jarvis Moss, Elvis Dumervil and Tim Crowder.
12. Buffalo Bills - Sen'Derrick Marks, DT, Auburn
The Bills have built a very strong defense up there in Buffalo and Marks is the kind of talent that can play next to tackle Marcus Stroud and put pressure on division rival Tom Brady and my New England Patriots.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Percy Harvin, WR, Florida
Coach Jon Gruden is an offensive guru and he's always looking for that dynamic, playmaking, home-run threat. With Joey Galloway, 37, and Ike Hilliard, 33, getting up there in age, Harvin is the perfect pick here. He will also give the Bucs, a team with only one kickoff return for a touchdown in their history, Devin Hester-type skills in the return game.
14. New York Jets - Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
If Moreno falls to the Jets here, they would sprint to the podium to snatch up the dangerous Moreno. Thomas Jones and Leon Washington are good back-ups but Moreno is that playmaker that the Jets offense sorely needs.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (from Carolina) - Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
The Eagles use this pick, acquired from the Panthers in a 2008 NFL Draft, to select left tackle Tra Thomas' replacement. Smith, the best tackle on the board, learns from a year behind Thomas and then is able to step in in 2010.
16. Houston Texans - Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State
The Texans, looking to add to that young, successful defense and in need of secondary help, grab Jenkins, the best corner on the board. The OSU standout will be able to step in right away and help out fellow corners Dunta Robinson and Fred Bennett.
17. Washington Redskins - Ricky Sapp, DE, Clemson
Sapp, a great pass-rushing end, will be able to step in immediately and fill the biggest need for the Redskins. With Phillip Daniels and Andre Carter getting up there in age, Sapp will be a fixture on the Redskin line for a long time.
18. Arizona Cardinals - LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh
With Edgerrin James not getting any younger and the Cards in desperate need of a running game, Coach Wisenhunt is able to snag the best available running back. McCoy, a back with 4.3 speed, will give Arizona another option on the offensive side of the ball.
19. Tennessee Titans - Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
Is this finally the year the Jeff Fisher gets VY some WR help? For Young's sake, I hope so. Heyward-Bey is the type of player that can come in, start from Day 1 and give the Titans much needed offensive help.
20. Philadelphia Eagles - Travis Beckum, TE, Wisconsin
With their second first rounder of this draft, the Eagles are able to select another target for Donovan McNabb. With starting tight end L.J. Smith always injured, Beckum will be able to contribute from the moment he arrives in Philadelphia.
21. Cleveland Browns - Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
Can you name Cleveland's 2008 starters at cornerback? If you said Brandon McDonald and Eric Wright then you'd be right. This makes Davis the ideal fit for Romeo Crennel's defense.
22. New Orleans Saints - DeMarcus Granger, DT, Oklahoma
Here, the Saints are able to pick Granger, a powerful defensive tackle, and pair him with 2008 first rounder Sedrick Ellis and defensive ends Will Smith and Charles Grant to create the best front four in the NFC South.
23. Minnesota Vikings - Al Woods, DT, LSU
While Woods, a 320 pounder, is more suited for a 3-4 defense, he will be able to sit for a year or two behind starter Pat Williams and then step in alongside Kevin Williams and Jared Allen to keep that Viking defensive front atop the league.
24. New York Giants - Brian Cushing, OLB, USC
The 2008 World Champions look to add to their linebacking corps with the selection of Cushing here. Another of the many outstanding Southern Cal defenders, Cushing is able to step in right away for the G-Men.
25. Green Bay Packers - Ciron Black, OT, LSU
The Pack finds its replacement for 33-year old left tackle Chad Clifton here in the 6'5'' 315-pound Black. Black will be able to learn behind Clifton and then step in and protect QB Aaron Rodgers blind side for years to come.
26. Seattle Seahawks - Duke Robinson, OG, Oklahoma
In Jim Mora Jr.'s first year as Seattle's Head Coach, he is able to finally find the ex-guard Steve Hutchinson's replacement. Robinson will come in and solidify the Seahawk line, allowing Julius Jones to find more holes to run through.
27. Pittsburgh Steelers - Max Unger, OT, Oregon
With Marvel Smith passed the age of 30 and Willie Colon a question mark, coach Mike Tomlin selects Unger, a versatile lineman who can play any position and contribute to a stacked Steeler team.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars - Myron Rolle, S, Florida State
With the selection of Rolle, Jacksonville is able to pair him with Reggie Nelson to create the deadliest safety tandem south of Indianapolis. Rolle, a hard-worker and a hard-hitter is just the type of player the Jack Del Rio covets.
29. San Diego Chargers - Phil Loadholt, OT, Oklahoma
Being a Pats fan, I would prefer it if the stacked San Diego Chargers simply passed on their first round pick, but that's not going to happen. Here, the Chargers address their only need, at right tackle, with the monstrous Sooner, Loadholt.
30. Indianapolis Colts - Gerald McRath, OLB, Southern Miss
I echo the same thing here that I said about the Chargers, but with Tyjuan Hagler and Freddie Keiaho as starters at outside linebacker for the Colts, they are able to fill a need with the versatile McRath.
31. Dallas Cowboys - Demetrius Byrd, WR, LSU
Although the Cowboys are filled with talent, the wide receiver position is aging rapidly. Byrd would be able to come in and contribute immediately and in all honesty there is no way that Jerry Jones would pass up a talent like Byrd if he was still available here.
32. New England Patriots - Brandon Spikes, ILB, Florida
My Pats round out the first round with another inside linebacker who will replace Bruschi and be paired alongside Jerod Mayo for the next decade. Spikes is a fearless competitor and with Belichick's love for friend Urban Meyer's players, Spikes looks like a lock here.
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