by Matt Soltysiak & Eric Stashin
We are less than two days shy of the NFL draft and there are certainly plenty of rumors making the rounds, as well as a few transactions since our original mock draft. Let’s take a look at how things have changed.
1. Detroit – QB, Matthew Stafford/Georgia. This is by far the most popular pick, unless you’re a Detroit Lions fan. Fans were chanting “draft Curry” at the teams logo party and it seems an offensive line is needed to protect any QB they put back there. Still, it seems the Lions are close to negotiating a deal with Mr. Stafford.
2. St. Louis – OT, Jason Smith/Baylor. The Rams find themselves with needs at left tackle and wide receiver. While Crabtree could be tempting here, they need to replace Orlando Pace and protect their QB. Smith is their man.
3. Kansas City – LB, Aaron Curry/Wake Forest. The Chiefs defense was near the bottom of the league last year, only one team gave up more yards. Curry is possibly the most talented player in the draft. He’ll make an immediate impact on the KC defense.
4. Seattle – OT, Eugene Monroe/Virginia. The addition of TJ Houshmandzadeh means the Seahawks can pass on a WR. While some have Sanchez going here, Monroe improves an offensive line that needs some help.
5. Cleveland – WR, Michael Crabtree/Texas Tech. The Browns traded away Kellen Winslow Jr. and Donte Stallworth has legal issues. Cleveland needs to add an offensive weapon and Michael Crabtree could make a great target for the Browns’ starting QB.
6. Cincinnati – OT, Andre Smith/Alabama. The Bengals look for help along the offensive line and select Smith. Once talked about as a potential number one pick in the draft, he falls because of poor work outs, but Cincinnati grabs him to help get Carson Palmer back on his feet and keep him off his back.
7. Oakland – DE, Brian Orakpo/Texas. The Raiders would probably love Crabtree at this point, but he’s already gone. They go ahead and take one of the best defensive ends in the draft to upgrade their pass rush.
8. Jacksonville – DE, Aaron Maybin/Penn State. The Jags would also like a receiver like Crabtree, but he’s already gone and they also recently signed Torry Holt. Jacksonville works on keeping their defense young with their first round pick.
9. Green Bay – DT, BJ Raji/Boston College. Raji is the best defensive tackle in the draft. If he’s still on the board, the Packers take him simply because he’s the top talent on the board. He’ll also help stop that run.
10. San Francisco – QB, Mark Sanchez/USC. The 49ers have a lot of needs, but after the failure of Alex Smith at QB, the team is still searching for its franchise QB. Mark Sanchez has only one year of college experience, but should fit the system in San Francisco- if someone doesn’t trade up for him.
11. Buffalo – OT, Michael Oher/Mississippi. The Bills traded away their Pro Bowl LT to Philadelphia. That’s a huge hole that needs to be replaced. Oher moves up a few places in the draft because of this development.
12. Denver – DE, Everette Brown/FSU. The Broncos have 2 first round picks because of the Cutler trade. Some think they’ll use them to move up and grab a QB. I think they’ll stand pat and work on fixing their biggest problem-the defense. With their first pick Denver works on finding a pass rush.
13. Washington – DE, Robert Ayers/Tennessee. The Redskins defense was one of the better units in the league (giving up only 18.5 points a game), but only 3 teams had fewer (than 24) sacks. The addition of Ayers could help change that number.
14. New Orleans – RB, Chris Wells/Ohio State. The Saints defense could use some help, but Reggie Bush isn’t an every down back and the team cut Deuce loose this off season. Pierre Thomas is still there, but Wells gives them more flexibility and explosiveness on offense.
15. Houston – DB, Malcolm Jenkins/Ohio State. The first defensive back comes off the board with this pick. The Texans should be solid on offense with the emergence of Slaton last year. Now it’s time to stop the other teams from scoring.
16. San Diego – WR, Jeremy Maclin/Missouri. The Chargers stepped up their passing game last year, but are still searching for that go to receiver. Gates is getting older and getting go to guy on the outside could make them a very dangerous team.
17. NY Jets – QB, Josh Freeman/Kansas State. Brett Favre is retired, for real this time. While Kellen Clemens or Brett Ratliff could emerge, and likely will get the opportunity to, this is a team that desperately needs a potential franchise player at the position.
18. Denver – ILB, Ray Maualuga/USC. This is a team transitioning to a 3-4 defense, so they are in need of some versatile, athletic pieces to their defense. Maualuga will give them a much needed potential impact player in the middle.
19. Tampa Bay – LB, Brian Cushing/USC. With franchise great Derrick Brooks no longer in Tampa, an immediate replacement is needed. Cushing has the potential to step in and make an impact.
20. Lions – DE, Tyson Jackson/LSU. The Lions simply need talent everywhere. It doesn’t matter the position, they need it. If they ultimately take Stafford, they could go Eben Britton here, but for now it seems like addressing a much maligned defense should be in order. Jackson seems like the best value pick, though if Maualuga is still on the board he could be the choice.
21. Philadelphia – RB, Knowshon Moreno/Georgia. Brian Westbrook is an elite tailback, but one that is always plagued by injury. He’ll turn 30-years old in September, and a long-term replacement, as well as understudy, is desperately needed, especially with Correll Buckhalter no longer there.
22. Minnesota – OT, Eben Britton/Arizona. They could opt for a receiver, but taking a lineman just seems to make the most sense. Yes, they have former second round pick Ryan Smith at one tackle, but there have been rumblings of moving him to the inside.
23. New England -LB, Clay Matthews/USC. Mike Vrabel was sent to Kansas City as part of the Matt Cassell trade, meaning a replacement is needed.
24. Atlanta – DT, Evander Hood/Missouri. The Falcons grabbed Tony Gonzalez from the Chiefs, so Brandon Pettigrew fades from this picture. This allows the team to add some help up the middle on defense. Hood could add some athleticism up front.
25. Dolphins – CB, Sean Smith/Utah. He’s a 6?4? corner back, something most teams could certainly use. With starters Jason Allen at 6?1? and Will Allen at 5?10? (in fact they have no DB over 6?1?), Smith would give the team someone who could defend against the taller receivers in the league.
26. Baltimore – WR, Percy Harvin/Florida. Here is a team that perpetually seems to be looking for a big-time player on the outside. Hervin is an electric player who could quickly fill that role.
27. Indianapolis- DT, Peria Jerry/Mississippi. The Colts defense is based on speed and Jerry gives them that up the middle. While he’s a bit undersized (290 lbs.), he fits their scheme and could wreak havoc in the middle.
28. Buffalo – TE, Brandon Pettigrew/Oklahoma State. The Bills addressed the loss of their OT with their first pick in the draft. Here they could go defense with a linebacker like Laurinaitis, but with the best tight end in the draft still available they have to scoop up Pettigrew. Suddenly Edwards has two new weapons on offense.
29. NY Giants- WR, Darius Hayward-Bey/UMD. Plaxico Burress is officially gone and it does not look like Amani Toomer will be returning. The Giants have a lot of potential wide receivers, but bringing in another makes a lot of sense. It’s their most glaring weakness and needs to be filled. Barring a trade, they should definitely be taking the top receiver on the board.
30. Tennessee- CB, Vontae Davis/Illinois. The Titans need help in the secondary, with Nick Harper turning 35-years old and very little depth at the position. It makes sense to get younger and more athletic at a position of weakness.
31. Arizona- RB, Donald Brown/UConn. Edgerrin James is aging and wants out, so the Cardinals need a replacement. It makes sense for them to grab the best running back on the board, whoever that may be.
32. Pittsburgh – C, Alex Mack/California. Perhaps the best center in the draft is on the board when the Superbowl champs come to pick. Word has it he can play guard or center. The Steelers need to keep running the ball well and protect Big Ben. Mack becomes their man.
What does everyone think? Where did we miss the mark? Where did we get it right?
Ryan Lester has been writing some great previews of some of the prospects. Posted thus far have been:
Chris “Beanie” Wells
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