With the 2009 NFL Draft a mere hours away, it's time to take a last and final stab at how it might pan out. I've put together a possible first round mock draft, plus the Vikes second and third round picks. All picks contain explanations, feel free to criticize. Without further ado....my final 2009 mock draft:
QB Matthew Stafford, Georgia. The web is abuzz with rumors that the Lions will pick Stafford whether they have a contract agreed upon or not. This is one of the few locks at the top.
OT Jason Smith, Baylor. The Rams are actually torn between Smith and UV tackle Eugene Monroe. In the end, they choose the cream of the crop.
LB Aaron Curry, Wake Forest. This is also a virtual lock. The Chiefs have holes nearly everywhere, including linebacker, and Curry is probably the best player in this draft to begin with.
OT Eugene Monroe, Virginia. Maybe a suprise pick, but after nabbing free agent TJ Houshmanzadeh in the offseason, WR is not a huge concern. The 'Hawks were hoping Curry would fall, but OT is a need as well.
DT BJ Raji, Boston College. If Braylon Edwards gets traded, this pick may change. Cleveland's defense was miserable in '08 and Raji is the best on the board. They need to amp up that front, especially with Shaun Rogers a potential problem in the future.
OT Andre Smith, Alabama. Most Bengals fans are thrilled that Crabtree is still available, but with Carson Palmer on his back half the time, who's going to get him the ball? Smith is a beast, and OchoCinco could be detrimental in Crabtree's development.
WR Jeremy Maclin, Mizzou. Yes, Crabtree is still on the board, but Al Davis is already in love with Maclin's speed. His ability in the return game doesn't hurt.
QB Mark Sanchez, USC. This pick won't be made by the Jags. I'm not sure who's going to be drafting here, but whoever it is will be going after the former Trojan.
OT Michael Oher, Mississippi. The defensive front is an issue with the switch to the 3-4, but so is OT with a couple of aging and ailing vets. Their young starting QB needs somebody to watch his back.
10. San Francisco 49'ers
WR Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech. And Crabtree's fall ends. The 49'ers could be in play to move up for Sanchez, but if they stay put, WR is a horrendous issue for them right now. Crabtree won't solve the problem, but he'll help.
11. Buffalo Bills
DE Brian Orakpo, Texas. The Billscan't believe a talent like this lasted this far and run this pick to the podium. Their pass rush was woeful last year and Orakpo is a stud at that.
12. Denver Broncos
DE Tyson Jackson, LSU. New coach Josh McDaniels is a Belichick disciple, meaning he'll build from the interior. Denver is making the switch to the 3-4, and Jackson is ideal for DE in this defense.
DE Aaron Maybin, Penn State. The 'Skins are another team who could move up for Sanchez. However, if that falls through, pass rush is a position of need. Maybin would fit nicely alongside newly acquired DT Albert Haynesworth.
RB Knowshon Moreno, Georgia. Defense is always a possibility for the Saints, but Reggie Bush is not an every down back. While Ohio State's Beanie Wells is better between the tackles, Moreno is just a bit higher on draft boards.
15. Houston Texans
OLB Brian Cushing, USC. The Texans need some help at CB, but the front seven also need some tinkering. Cushing moves into a linebacker corps already containing DeMeco Ryans and a front seven that has former number one overall Mario Williams and Amobi Okoye.
MLB Rey Maualuga, USC. Two USC linebackers in a row. San Diego could use help on the front three having lost Igor Olshansky to Dallas, but Tyson Jackson is already gone and adding a southern California guy as talented as Maualuga to play next to Shawn Merriman is too good to pass up. Don't believe the running back rumors, they'll wait till later to address that.
17. New York Jets
QB Josh Freeman, Kansas State. New coach Rex Ryan can't really feel he's OK at QB, can he? Freeman is a project, but has all the physical tools to be a good pro QB.
18. Denver Broncos
DE Robert Ayers, Tennessee. Having addressed the DE position for the 3-4 defense already, the Broncos select a OLB hybrid to rush the passer. Peria Jerry could be the pick as well, but he's a little small to man the nose tackle in this scheme.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
DT Peria Jerry, Mississippi. While Jerry doesn't necessarily fit the scheme, he's the second best defensive tackle in the draft and will fit into a nice rotation up front, before eventually taking over as the starter.
20. Detroit Lions
MLB James Laurinitis, Ohio State. The Lions found their leader on offense with their first pick, now they find they're leader on defense. Laurinitis slides in between Ernie Sims and Julian Peterson to give the Lions a very formidable LB corps. OT will be addressed in the second round.
RB Chris "Beanie" Wells, Ohio State. Two OSU players back-to-back. Philly got their much needed LT when they traded for Buffalo's Jason Peters. Brian Westbrook will be on the wrong side of 30 for a running back and Wells gives them a solid breather guy who will eventually take over the reigns. This is the kind of move good franchises make.
WR Percy Harvin, Florida. The Vikes did their due diligence Wednesday and flew to meet with Harvin in Florida to address character concerns. He's a phenomenal athlete who can impact the game in multiple ways. In the end, the opportunity to put Harvin on the field and in the same offense as Adrian Peterson is too great to pass up.
CB Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State. Jenkins' freefall will end here. Belichick always seems to draft a guy that shouldn't have been there for him to draft in the first place, and Jenkins helps out there defensive backfield by being the best DB prospect in this draft.
24. Atlanta Falcons
CB Vontae Davis, Illinois. After Jenkins started to get close, the Falcons were getting excited. They'll settle for the mercurial Davis, who addresses one of their biggest needs.
25. Miami Dolphins
OLB Clay Matthews, USC. Wide receiver is probably a bigger need right now, but feel free to slap me if Bill Parcells drafts one of those in the first round. Matthews is a solid player who is very coachable. Both Parcells traits.
26. Baltimore Ravens
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, Maryland. To be honest, this is kind of a homer pick for the Ravens. They need a young receiver to stretch the field, and Heyward-Bey has blazing speed. However, even with suspect hands and route-running, the home town thing wins him over as the pick.
DT Evander "Ziggy" Hood, Mizzou. The Colts could easily justify picking a WR here, but that defensive front is atrocious. Ziggy has good size for their system and they'll find a good WR like OSU's Brian Robiskie in the second round.
28. Buffalo Bills
TE Brandon Pettigrew, Oklahoma State. The Bills can't believe their luck. They get the draft's best pass rusher with the first pick, and still manage to nab Pettigrew, the drafts' best at another position of need.
29. New York Giants
WR Hakeem Nicks, North Carolina. If the Giants don't trade this pick to the Browns, Nicks is the choice. He's just the type of big target, red zone threat with good hands the G-men need to replace Plaxico Burress.
30. Tennessee Titans
WR Kenny Britt, Rutgers. No team in the draft needs a good WR as bad as these guys. Britt is physically impressive, not afraid to go over the middle and will be a solid pro for a long time.
RB Donald Brown, Connecticut. The most glaring thing about the Cards' during their Super Bowl run was their reliance on the pass and lack of a run game. Brown gives them the every down-type guy they so desperately lack.
C Alex Mack, Cal. Count me among the many who think this pick will be used on an interior lineman. QB Ben Roethlisberger just spent a season on his back because the line couldn't keep him upright. Mack can play center or guard, and he'll be starting on Day One.
Bonus: Minnesota Vikings last minute second and third round picks!
Second Round: OT Phil Loadholt, Oklahoma. The Vikes may have to move up to get him, but they'll be glad they did. Loadholt is a mauler in the run game.
Third Round: C Antoine Caldwell, Alabama. Anyone really think the Vikings want to go into next season with John Sullivan as their only center? Caldwell is smart, can start tomorrow and will end up a pro-bowler at some point. CB's Macho Harris and Asher Allen could also be in play.