Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Mock draft - reaction to the combine

Here's an updated mock draft to coincide with the end of the combine. Prospects such as Jason Smith and Aaron Curry cemented their places amongst the top picks, whilst others such as Malcolm Jenkins potentially harmed their stock. Both Michael Crabtree and Andre Smith had eventful combines despite refusing to work out. Things will likely change again when free agency begins on Friday.

1 Detroit Lions - Matt Stafford (QB, Georgia)
A lot of people are saying this pick could be Jason Smith or even Aaron Curry. I still think the Lions have to find a franchise quarter back and that will be their priority with the first overall pick. The team is in total rebuild and there won't be a quick fix. Stafford has separated himself from Mark Sanchez as the top ranked quarter back.

2 St Louis Rams - Jason Smith (OT, Baylor)
There wasn't much to choose between the four top ranked offensive tackles until the combine. Jason Smith interviewed well and worked out even better. He's the left tackle with the most upside although the Rams could also look at Eugene Monroe, who is slightly more polished. Reports suggest Orlando Pace will leave the team this off season making left tackle a priority here.

3 Kansas City Chiefs - Aaron Curry (LB, Wake Forest)
Curry made sure of his place amongst the top picks with an excellent work out in Indianapolis. Showed great character when speaking with the media, he added weight coming into the combine and still ran a lightning quick 40 yard dash. He could be the best prospect in this draft class. Kansas City need someone to set the tone on defense.

4 Seattle Seahawks - Michael Crabtree (WR, Texas Tech)
Crabtree didn't cover himself in glory at the combine - the situation with his fractured metatarsal became something of a circus. But he still represents the best value at this pick and provides the offense with a much needed play maker.

5 Cleveland Browns - Chris Wells (RB, Ohio State)
The drafts first big surprise is that Wells breaks into the top five picks. Not many people have him rated that high but he showed athleticism at the combine. Wells has a vibrant personality and would be something of a local hero in Cleveland. According to reports from the combine, Cleveland are thinking about taking Wells here.
To see the rest of the picks click here.

6 Cincinnati Bengals - Eugene Monroe (OT, Virginia)
Monroe could go earlier than this depending on how teams rank him alongside Jason Smith. The Bengals main priority in this draft has to be the offensive line - they need to protect Carson Palmer. They'll gladly take Monroe as a day one starter.

7 Oakland Raiders - Vontae Davis (CB, Illinois)
Davis takes advantage of Malcolm Jenkins' speed issues to climb into the top ten. Al Davis has shown a tendency to draft defensive backs in the first round and he invested millions in DeAngelo Hall trying to get a perfect tandem with Nnamdi Asomugha. That project failed and with the top two offensive tackles off the board he could look at the Illinois corner back.

8 Jacksonville Jaguars - Jeremy Maclin (WR, Missouri)
The Jaguars would have liked to have a shot at one of the top two offensive tackles. They're forced to look elsewhere and could settle on Jeremy Maclin. Injury affected his work out in Indianapolis but he's a talented prospect with upside who can have an instant impact as a punt/kick returner.

9 Green Bay Packers - B.J. Raji (DT, Boston College)
The Packers are switching to a 3-4 defense and they need a big nose tackle to make a smooth transition. Raji fits the bill and worked out well in Indianapolis. Question marks remain about his character and that may lead to a drop on draft day.

10 San Francisco 49ers - Andre Smith (OT, Alabama)
Smith had a nightmare at the combine. Unimpressive during interviews he then disappeared and didn't work out. Some have predicted he could drop right down the draft board, but the talent is there - he just needs the guidance. Mike Singletary is the perfect head coach to take Smith under his wing. The 49ers want to dominate in the running game and Smith would be perfect at right tackle.

11 Buffalo Bills - Michael Oher (OT, Ole Miss)
The Bills have more pressing needs but a lack of pure 4-3 defensive ends mean they'll look elsewhere. Jason Peters held out at the start of last year and was a big disappointment on his return. Teams really value the tackle position these days, so don't expect many of the top talents in this draft to drop too far.

12 Denver Broncos - Everette Brown (DE/OLB Florida State)
Brown didn't light up the combine like some people expected and unless the 49ers are sold on his talents, he likely isn't a top 10 pick. The Broncos could use his pass rushing abilities as a DE/OLB hybrid in their new 3-4 scheme.

13 Washington Redskins - Knowshon Moreno (RB, Georgia)
With only four picks in the 2009 draft the Redskins will look for an 'impact' player in the first round. Moreno didn't have a great combine but he's a dynamic running back who would be perfect in a two back system with Clinton Portis.

14 New Orleans Saints - Brian Cushing (LB, USC)
Like the Broncos, it's defense that holds back this team from being a real force. They have needs at secondary and at linebacker and Cushing has done enough over the last few weeks to warrant consideration as a top 20 pick.

15 Houston Texans - Brian Orakpo (DE, Texas)
Houston has drafted a linemen in the first round for the last four years. They continue that tradition by taking Orakpo to play across from Mario Williams.

16 San Diego Chargers - Tyson Jackson (DE, LSU)
Jackson is perfectly suited to play as a 3-4 defensive end in San Diego's scheme. Igor Olshansky is on his way out and Jackson would be the perfect replacement.

17 New York Jets - Mark Sanchez (QB, USC)
I have Sanchez falling out of the top 10 and if this happens expect a few teams to try and trade up before this pick. If he makes it this far the Jets' trust in Brett Ratliff, Erik Ainge and Kellen Clemens will be tested.

18 Chicago Bears - Michael Johnson (DE, Georgia Tech)
The Bears have needs at QB and WR but perhaps their biggest need is at defensive end. Johnson showed that he has the physical talents to be a force in the NFL and the Bears may take a gamble on him.

19 Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Josh Freeman (QB, Kansas State)
The Buccs recently cut Jeff Garcia and will be looking for a long term option at quarter back under new head coach Raheem Morris. Freeman is well known by Morris as the pair worked together in K-State during the QB's freshman year.

20 Detroit Lions - James Laurinaitis (LB, Ohio State)
Having got their franchise quarter back with the first overall pick, they pick up their defensive leader in Laurinaitis. The combine was never going to show the true benefit of Laurinaitis, but he'll be the guy they rebuild their defense around.

21 Philadelphia Eagles - Malcolm Jenkins (CB/S, Ohio State)
Jenkins stock dropped dramatically when he ran poorly at the combine. It just confirmed what critics saw when he played for the Buckeye's - his recovery speed is too much of a liability. He is facing a switch to safety which could drop him down the board significantly. The Eagles have two first round picks so can afford to bank Jenkins here. He won't have to start straight away, so they can take their time deciding if he's a corner or a safety. The potential benefits are huge if he works out.

22 Minnesota Vikings - D.J. Moore (CB, Vanderbilt)
It looks like the Vikings will spend a fourth rounder on Sage Rosenfels which suggests they won't use the draft to find an answer at quarter back. In that case, they need to improve their secondary.

23 New England Patriots - Aaron Maybin (DE/OLB, Penn State)
Maybin would be perfect as a DE/LB hybrid in a 3-4 defense. The Pats had great success drafting Jared Mayo to play inside last year and now they could focus on the exterior. Mike Vrabel will be 34 in August.

24 Atlanta Falcons - Brandon Pettigrew (TE, Oklahoma State)
Pettigrew is an old fashioned tight end who can block and catch. The Falcons would like a quality TE to replace Alge Crumpler who was cut this time last year.

25 Miami Dolphins - Rey Maualuga (LB, USC)
Maualuga's stock has dropped somewhat in recent weeks and he injured himself running at the combine. He is a talented ILB though and suits the 3-4 defensive scheme used by Miami. He'd present good value at this spot.

26 Baltimore Ravens - Darrius Heyward-Bey (WR, Maryland)
Heyward-Bey posted a superb run in the 40 yard dash, clocking a sub 4.3. He's all about speed so he needs to play for a team that has a QB with a huge arm. His production at college was poor - he didn't rank amongst the top 124 receivers. That'll put a lot of teams off, but in Joe Flacco the Ravens have a quarter back whose arm can make Heyward-Bey a star.

27 Indianapolis Colts - Hakeem Nicks (WR, North Carolina)
Marvin Harrison has been cut by the Colts and unless he re-signs to a smaller contract, he'll leave a hole at wide receiver. Hakeem Nicks could be a possible replacement and had big games against Miami, Notre Dame and Boston College for the Tar Heels in 2008. Drafting Nicks allows the Colts to keep Anthony Gonzalez in the slot.

28 Philadelphia Eagles - Eben Britton (OT, Arizona)
The Eagles could draft a running back to support Brian Westbrook or even a wide receiver, but with a premium on offensive tackles they see the value in Eben Britton. He excelled at both right and left tackle in Arizona and can be plugged into the line from day one by Philly.

29 New York Giants - Clay Matthews Jr. (LB, USC)
Matthews Jr. put in a solid performance at the combine and made sure teams are thinking of him as a first round pick. The Giants love guys who can get to the quarter back and this guy fits the bill.

30 Tennessee Titans - Robert Ayers (DE, Tennessee)
Many pundits expect the Titans to go wide receiver here but they have resisted that temptation before and I think they will again. Ayers is a local boy who may be more suited to a 3-4 defense, but the Titans need to add depth at defensive end.

31 Arizona Cardinals - LeSean McCoy (RB, Pittsburgh)
It looks like Edgerrin James is on his way out of Arizona and with Tim Hightower more of a short yardage back, the Cardinals could take McCoy as a more permanent option.

32 Pittsburgh Steelers - Percy Harvin (WR, Florida)
This pick might surprise a few people but the Super Bowl champs don't have any great needs and have often been happy to go with the best prospect on their board. They could do with upgrading at offensive line, but they've shown they can succeed without big name veterans and high round draft picks. There are concerns about Harvin's ability to stay healthy but if he can - he's a real play maker.


Misfit said...

For the sake of debate, I see two picks that won't happen:

Oakland just resigned both starting cornerbacks (Asomugha, and Chris Houston). They'll take Maclin, as WR is the area of most need on the entire team, one could argue. They need to give Russell some talent to throw to.

Pittsburgh has Limas Sweed, who the team is very high on. They like him enough not to resign Nate Washington, who'll likely depart via FA. Between Ward, Holmes, and Sweed I see PIT adding to the offensive line the most-likely scenario. Unger? Or Britton if he makes it that far.

Rob Staton said...

Hi Misfit,

I've given Oakland the CB because Al Davis has often gone in that direction in the first round. It's very difficult to predict how even the top 10 will fall - I have Maclin going 8th overall but I'm not sure he'll be a top 10 pick.

Pittsburgh have often shown that they'll go BPA regardless of need or who is in their roster. They took Rashard Mendenhall last year despite being relatively safe at RB. They've restricted the temptation to add to their O Line before and at the end of the day, the current line won them the Super Bowl. I'm not saying Harvin will necessary be their guy on the day (his injury record is a concern) but he's the kind of guy who the Steelers could take as a value pick if they like his play making ability.