As I watch the 2009 NFL Draft's top ten selections, here's my analysis and initial reactions written as the picks went up on the big board.
Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
I don't know how Detroit couldn't make this pick. While I'm not sold on Stafford (or anyone else in this draft really), he's the guy Detroit had to take at No. 1.
Will Stafford work out in Detroit where so many have failed so spectacularly? Who knows? What is certain is that he has the tools and the talent. Time will tell if, like idol Troy Aikman before him, he can become the elite passer than Martin Mahew and Tom Lewand envisioned when they threw a potential $78 million into his contract.
I like the pick. I don't think Mark Sanchez is as good YET as advertised. Will he be a better pro? Perhaps. I'm more sold on Stafford personally because he has a lot bigger body of work.
Stafford, I believe, will also be ready sooner. He'll need to be. Daunte Culpepper and Drew Stanton inspire exactly zero confidence.
St. Louis Rams: Jason Smith, T, Baylor
It didn't take long for me to disagree with something. I thought that this would be where St. Louis pulled off the big upset of the draft by taking Mark Sanchez.
Why? Sanchez would be a glass-slipper fit for St. Louis. His measurables fit well with St. Louis, and he would also not be required to step in immediately.
He could have grown up behind Marc Bulger for a season or two and then stepped in (ala Carson Palmer in Cincinnati).
Smith is roughly a can't-miss pick, however. He also fills a gaping and longstanding need on the Rams offense: someone, anyone who can block.
Ever since Orlando Pace became a shell of himself, the Rams offense has disappeared with him. Smith brings that back hopefully.
Can't argue, but I wanted Sanchez here.
Observation: Teams are taking a long time to get the picks in to start this draft. I thought we were going to have a 2003 experience when the Rams waited until the final seconds before delivering the card. Now the Chiefs are under three minutes...under two minutes...under one minute...under 30 seconds...finally...
Kansas City Chiefs: Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
Again, I respectfully disagree, although this one I have less animosity over. Jackson is not a sackmaster from the defensive end spot and I have to agree with Mel Kiper, he's not a grade A player.
I thought Aaron Curry was the pick. He's definitely my favorite player in this draft and the only player I'm 99 percent sure will translate seamlessly into the pro ranks.
Jackson should be serviceable and I'm careful to write him off because of what everyone did when Mario Williams was drafted by the Texans a few years back. All Williams did was become a defensive staple for the Texans.
Jackson will be a good pro I think, but the Chiefs nabbed Glenn Dorsey last season and I'm not sure they needed a defensive end more than another linebacker. I think linebacker was a position of need and they didn't address it here.
Observation: Mel Kiper agrees with no one. He's getting a bit scary and argumentative these days. Too much hair gel? Oh, and the Seahawks are taking the clock down too. You have to wonder if the coaches have their quarterbacks in the war rooms ready to take a knee to run out the clock or something.
Predictions: Could go any which way here. Seattle needs everything from a QB to groom to a few good receivers and defenders. Crabtree, anyone?
Seattle Seahawks: Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest
My favorite player didn't last long. I can't disagree with this pick because Seattle could have taken any top-ranked player and been right to do it.
Curry is, in my opinion, the best player in this draft and the Seahawks will now have one heck of a linebacker combo with Curry and Lofa Tatupu.
I'd watch out for Curry on the pass rush. I followed him closely this year in college ball and he was seriously underrated in that area.
Welcome to the NFL, Aaron Curry. Now for Seattle, let's get some more needs filled with the next picks. I'd say you'll be seeing a receiver or quarterback next depending on who's available at their slot.
Note: Aaron Curry is a nice guy too. If you haven't already heard, check out his charity story from this week. He took a lucky kid with him to the draft experience. Great, great story.
Predictions: Cleveland should be trading out of this pick to the Jets or Redskins (whoever wants Sanchez more) unless the Browns are going to take him and then flip Quinn or (less likely) Anderson for picks.
If Cleveland decides not to pick Sanchez AND keep the pick, you could be seeing a wideout or defensive player here to help them shore up some needs.
Looks like the Jets are trading into the spot. Not shocking at all. Here comes the roar of the Jets fans when Sanchez is picked. Yeah, there he goes putting on his jacket and juggling his phone.
New York Jets (from Cleveland): Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
With only 16 games under his belt, Sanchez has ridden a wave of immense optimism and raw skills to this spot. While he is certainly not a can't-miss prospect, he will likely fit in well with the Jets. Here's why.
Sanchez played for USC. You think New York is hard? Try following two former Heisman winners at QB in Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer. Try playing under a microscope. Sanchez has done it.
Now he'll do it again. The biggest worry I have for him going to New York over a St. Louis is that he will likely not get a full year on the bench. He'll have to be ready, although he will have a decent running game and receivers to lean on as well as a defense that is getting better and better. Good pick.
Trade Information: Cleveland gets the Jets 17th overall pick, 2009 second round pick, DE Kenyon Coleman, QB Brett Ratliff, and DB Abram Elam, New York gets the fifth overall pick (Sanchez). Looks like Elam is the best player in the deal and the picks make sense. Overall, a good trade for both sides.
Predictions: The Bengals should be looking offensive line here. They have little in the way of protection for Carson Palmer or blockers for their runners. I'm guessing Andre Smith comes off here.
If not him, I'm going to say they go defense or wide receiver. Crabtree is still there. He would fit in nice if Cincy continues to tire of Chad Ocho Cinco.
Well, Smith is smiling, so I guess my initial reaction was right.
Cincinnati Bengals: Andre Smith, T, Alabama
Carson Palmer probably just called the war room to thank the Bengals' draft staff for protecting him finally. This is a smart pick and a need pick. Tackles aren't glamour guys, but they serve a more important purpose than people think.
Smith fell a bit due to some workout concerns, so he'll have to prove himself early on. Marvin Lewis will have to keep a sharp eye on him.
Regardless, Smith should be the right pick for the Bengals. Every other need is secondary to keeping Carson Palmer healthy. They addressed that in a big way here.
Predictions: Crabtree is the odds-on favorite in all of the mock drafts now. I'd agree. The Raiders have a quarterback, running back, and decent offensive line and defense.
I don't see a big need on the defense that can't be addressed later. Wide receiver is the big issue that they have to address to help JaMarcus Russell's growth.
Oakland Raiders: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
Huh? Crabtree has injury issues, but this is not the way to stiff the guy. In Bey's defense, he is the fastest guy in the draft. But I also think of the top receivers, he has the biggest bust potential.
I'm shocked they didn't take Crabtree. He's the better player all around and he's a possession receiver. That's something Oakland lacks. Bey is a burner but he's got some suspect things.
He's a vertical threat (wait...that's why Davis took him...what an obsession he needs to get over...this isn't the AFL now) and that's about it.
Kiper is right. They could have had him later and cheaper. Strange...very strange. The Raiders were 29th last year in scoring. They better hope Bey helps fix that. I'm not impressed.
Predictions: Crabtree here. I don't need to say anything else. Torry Holt is not going to be a long-term answer for the Jags. The Raiders gave them a gift here.
If they don't take Crabtree, they'll be trading out so that someone else can. They could take a lineman, but they don't really have that pressing need like they do at the receiver position.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Eugene Monroe, T, Virginia
Another head scratcher for me. Monroe isn't, in my opinion, a Top 10 talent. Crabtree fills a need position for the Jags and yet the choose to fill a less pressing need. Plus, unless you have a surefire guy at the tackle spot, you don't take him in the Top 10.
Monroe falls into the good but not elite category for me. I just don't see how he fits so perfectly into the Jags' plans. Troy Williamson, Torry Holt, and Dennis Northcutt don't scare anyone.
Predictions: Green Bay could take Crabtree, but receiver isn't a place where they have a terrible need.
I would say you'll be looking at B.J. Raji here and not Crabtree, who won't fall beyond 10th and San Francisco. Plus, with Green Bay changing defensive philosophies to a 3-4, Raji makes much more sense.
Green Bay Packers: B. J. Raji, DT, Boston College
KGB and others who we've known in Green Bay are gone. Raji will play a huge role in that change to a 3-4 defense.
He's great at disrupting the offensive line on the rush and he does a nice job from the nose tackle spot at getting into the face of quarterbacks and runners in the backfield.
He fills a need for the Packers because none of their top three defensive linemen really strikes fear into an opposing offense. Cullen Jenkins is the best of the group and he is just steady. Raji is perfect for the Packers.
Predictions: Crabtree. San Francisco won't go anywhere without a wide receiver. Isaac Bruce should not be at the top of any team's depth chart unless there are injuries.
Crabtree will pair up with him and Brandon Jones, I believe. There really isn't anyone else who makes sense here and I do not believe San Fran will trade down.
Observation: Steve Young makes a good point, however. Mike Singletary is a defensive guy. I'd be shocked if he ignores Crabtree, but defensive guys tend to like defensive players early in drafts.
We'll see if Young is right or if I am. If Steve Young is, can you imagine Crabtree in Buffalo with Terrell Owens? That's scary stuff.
Observation: Brandon Pettigrew is ranked third highest on Mel's board. I'm not high on tight ends in the Top 10, so I'm doubting that we'll see him here.
San Francisco 49ers: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
Good. Crabtree should have gone much sooner. It's good that San Francisco recognized their luck and that Mike Singletary realized he already has a potent defense on the field.
Crabtree will be great. The only wild card this season will be how well his quarterback does and how well the line blocks. He was the biggest need San Francisco had going into the draft, so he was the guy they had to get with this pick.
Wrap: Two quarterbacks, two receivers, three tackles, and two defensive linemen, and a linebacker. Good picks except for Heyward-Bey to Oakland and Monroe to Jacksonville. They missed the boat on Crabtree. Everyone else hit on major needs.
I anticipate that there will be a running back somewhere in the next ten and that the draft will speed up some now. Check back tomorrow for a full recap of the first round picks.