Presenting the 2009 NFL Mock Draft – Version 1.0. Of course, the draft board is never concrete until the very last second. Fans will be treated to a smorgasbord of high-profile trades, player evaluations, and powerful wheeling and dealing that is comparable to any big business. Clearly, the National Football League is the most successful franchise in all of sports and the thorough analysis of the machinations of the NFL draft process is simply good business.
The NFL season never truly ends. Although the Super Bowl bound Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals are the remaining teams still standing with work left to accomplish upon the playing field – all NFL franchises are frantically breaking down film, revising play books, and gearing up for next year. Locating value via the NFL Draft process is essential to the stability of any organization. Let’s evaluate:
Who is Hot in this 2009 NFL Draft?
Boston College DT B.J. Raji
The USC linebacking unit of Rey Maulauga, Brian Cushing, and Clay Matthews were impressive at the Senior Bowl and B.C. defensive tackle B.J. Raji was absolutely unblockable at the event. The sheer prevalence of top tier talent at left tackle is highlighted by the feverish demand for this position in the copycat NFL.
The 1-15 Miami Dolphins drafted LT Jake Long as last year’s first round pick, acquired quarterback Chad Pennington in the offseason, and rolled to the AFC East crown at 11-5 earning the right to play host to an AFC Wild Card game. This 2008-2009 Dolphin campaign marks the most impressive turnaround in NFL history.
Who is Not Hot in this 2009 NFL Draft?
There is no can’t miss franchise quarterback prospect in this draft.
There is no game-changing Adrian Peterson type force at running back to be found in this 2009 NFL Draft.
Offensively, most teams are already stacked with a one-two smash and dash combination at running back. Franchises will be unwilling to shower first-round dollars upon a tailback as value is easily found within later rounds at this entry. Running back is the easiest position to translate collegiate talent into National Football League efficiency and productive backs are a dime a dozen.
Multi-purpose threats such as Percy Harvin and Jeremy Maclin are electric performers amidst the college ranks – but often make little noise in the NFL where all opponents are able to match their top-line speed. Multi-purpose players have proven to be unworthy of high selections.
For example, Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush’s career is largely acknowledged as a disappointment. Bush is injury prone and unable to carry the load as a feature back.
Lastly, James Laurinaitis’ stock is plunging in value. The linebacker refused to participate in the Senior Bowl and the four-year starter’s game has been overanalyzed for weaknesses during his lengthy stay at Ohio State. Yes, the NFL Draft machine is synonymous with the stock market. Sheep-like speculation and potential – rather than the stable, tried and true product largely control The Game.
James Laurinaitis is boring right now.
2009 NFL Mock Draft Version 1.0 Picks:
1: Detroit Lions: OT Andre Smith / Alabama / Jr. / 6-4 / 330
Only Jesus suited up in Lions garb could save this decrepit franchise coming off such a wretched 0-16 season. There is no “Peyton Manning can’t miss quarterback” in this draft. Matthew Stanford is not the answer. The Lions must build from the inside out and look to be “competitive” in 2009-2010. Tebow, McCoy, and Bradford are waiting in the wings in 2010.
2: St. Louis Rams: OT Jason Smith / Baylor / Sr. / 6-5 / 305
Jason Smith is the second rated tackle in the NFL Draft and the Rams are in need of a replacement for aging veteran Orlando Pace. The Rams showed flashes last year – but are limited in the player trade market by Marc Bulger’s gaudy contract. The NFL Draft is all-important.
3: K.C. Chiefs: QB Matthew Stafford / Georgia / Jr. / 6-3 / 228
General Manager Scott Pioli makes his first big move away from the New England Patriot cocoon. Pioli may deal the pick, as any first-round quarterback selection is the antithesis of the New England way. Stafford’s game is flawed and the Georgia quarterback has been inconsistent throughout his SEC career. Still, the potential may be too great to pass up – considering that Tyler Thigpen is not the long-term solution at Kansas City.
4: Seattle Seahawks: WR Michael Crabtree / Texas Tech / So. / 6-3 / 214
The perfect pick. Michael Crabtree is the best player in this draft and the Seattle Seahawks are in desperate need of a wide receiver. Injuries depleted the receiving corps to the disastrous point of holding open tryouts at Seattle last season.
5: Cleveland Browns: DT B.J. Raji / Boston College / Sr. / 6-1 / 323
Certainly, Eric Mangini and the Cleveland coaching staff are salivating over B.J. Raji – the perfect anchor for their 3-4 schemes. B.J. Raji’s draft status is skyrocketing upon the strength of an epic Senior Bowl performance. The run stuffer displayed remarkable agility for such a large man.
6: Cincinnati Bengals: OT Eugene Monroe / Virginia / Jr. / 6-6 / 315
The reeling Bengals are in desperate need of an offensive tackle and continue the copycat trend of mining the NFL draft pool for these prospects.
7: Oakland Raiders: WR Jeremy Maclin / Missouri / So. / 6-1 / 200
The seventh pick is a spot that is too high for Jeremy Maclin. Although offensive line help would be ideal for the Oakland Raiders – I am foreshadowing that Al Davis will fall in love with this multi purpose threat. The Raiders owner has demonstrated a curious fetish towards high profile, glamour skill position players.
8: Jacksonville Jaguars: OLB Aaron Curry / Wake Forest / Sr. / 6-3 / 247
Aaron Curry is ready to play right now. The tackling machine will be the obvious replacement for the mercurial Mike Peterson.
9: Green Bay Packers: CB Malcolm Jenkins / Ohio State / Sr. / 6-1 / 201
Malcolm Jenkins is the ideal understudy of Charles Woodson and Al Harris and will learn the tricks-of-the trade as a nickel back. The Packers are successful with Buckeye draft picks as evidenced by Jenkins one-time mate, A.J. Hawk.
10: San Francisco 49ers: QB Mark Sanchez / USC / Jr. / 6-3 / 225
The one-year USC starter needs time to mature. Sanchez will carry a clipboard at San Francisco behind Shaun Hill to begin the season. The story of this Southern California Golden Boy quarterback heading up the 101 to NoCal is a captivating fairy-tale ending.
11: Buffalo Bills: TE Brandon Pettigrew / Ok. St. / Sr. / 6-6 / 260
The massive tight end is equally impressive blocking in the running game as he is as a pass receiver. Pettigrew will serve as Trent Edwards underneath security blanket for years at Buffalo.
12: Denver Broncos: ILB Rey Maualuga / USC / Sr. / 6-2 / 260
Defense proved to be the glaring liability of this Denver Broncos organization that played itself out of the NFL Playoffs down the stretch run of the 2008-2009 season. Maualuga will arrive as the instant quarterback of this unit – paralleling the rise of Pro Bowl Seattle Seahawk and fellow USC alum Lofa Tatupu.
13: Washington Redskins: DE-OLB Brian Orakpo / Texas / Sr. / 6-4 / 260
Redskin owner Daniel Snyder seeks amends for free agent bust Jason Taylor. Snyder will jump at Orakpo – if he is still available at thirteen to spark a nonexistent pass rush.
14: New Orleans Saints: OLB Brian Cushing / USC / Sr. / 6-3 / 255
The New Orleans Saints are the Denver Broncos – South. The NFL’s most prolific offense at 410 yards per game was betrayed by a porous 23rd ranked defense throughout the season and the team collapsed leading into the playoffs. Solution: Draft a USC linebacker.
15: Houston Texans: DE Aaron Maybin / Penn State / So. / 6-4 / 236
Although Florida State’s Everette Brown is the more polished product, the Texans very own Mario Williams demonstrates the upside technicalities of drafting based upon potential. Super Mario emerged as an NFL Combine workout legend and has come into his own to the disbelief of critics that blasted the former number one pick. The svelte Maybin must hit the weight room and build muscle to be a suitable bookend pass rusher complimenting Mario Williams.
16: San Diego Chargers: RB Chris “Beanie” Wells / Ohio State / Jr. / 6-1 / 237
Both the Ladainian Tomlinson fiasco and inevitable Darren Sproles free agency money grab will be put to rest as irrelevant, non-happenings with the drafting of Beanie Wells. Chris Wells is the total package of size, speed, and vision.
17: New York Jets: DE Everette Brown / Florida State / Jr. / 6-4 / 252
Rex Ryan will look to remodel the Big Apple into Baltimore-North. The Ravens have always dismissed glamorous specimens of potential in favor of proven commodities. Everette Brown may step in and contribute immediately after training camp.
18: Chicago Bears: CB Vontae Davis / Illinois / Jr. / 6-0 / 204
Big-time receivers increasingly torch the aging Bears defense. Illini Vontae Davis is a raw athlete that will provide a spark to the hometown Bears. Davis presents the similar tools of the Cromartie / Rodgers-Cromartie duo of young corners that have taken the NFL by storm.
19: Tampa Bay: WR Percy Harvin / Florida / Jr. / 5-11 / 195
The Buccaneers are in desperate need of a playmaker. 19 may be a reach for Harvin – but hometown fans will be calling for the Florida Gator to follow I-75 South to Tampa.
20: Detroit Lions: ILB James Laurinaitis / Ohio State / Sr. / 6-3 / 240
Laurinaitis will be a steal at 20. The All-American linebacker would have been a top-five pick had he of declared early for last year’s NFL Draft. Laurinaitis is a student of the game and could command the Lions defense for the next decade.
21: Philadelphia Eagles: OT Michael Oher / Ole Miss / Sr. / 6-5 / 318
Questionable maturity issues have this talented tackle falling into Philadelphia’s lap. Oher is the necessary replacement for battle tested veteran linemen John Runyan and Tra Thomas.
22: Minnesota Vikings: WR Darrius Heyward-Bey / Maryland / Jr. / 6-3 / 206
The Vikings are weak at quarterback, wide receiver, and safety. The 22nd pick will come down to a war of attrition as Minnesota selects the best player available. Darius Heyward-Bey is the answer.
23: New England Patriots: S William Moore / Missouri / Sr. / 6-1 / 230
The Patriots are in desperate need of secondary help since the departure of free agent Asante Samuel to the Eagles. The Pats chose two cornerbacks in last year’s NFL Draft and must discover a replacement for ball hawking Rodney Harrison.
24: Atlanta Falcons: DT Perria Jerry / Ole Miss / Sr. / 6-2 / 295
The Falcons passed upon defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey last year in favor of quarterback Matt Ryan. Interior line play is still a need that must be met. Jerry is the second rated tackle in the 2009 NFL Draft.
25: Miami Dolphins: DE Michael Johnson / Georgia Tech / Sr. / 6-7 / 260
Johnson has been rated as a top-ten draft pick in some circles. Bill Parcells will jump at the opportunity to set this force loose to wreak havoc against opposing offenses.
26: Baltimore Ravens: CB Sean Smith / Utah / Jr. / 6-3 / 214
The Ravens need help at cornerback and are perpetually stymied by the lack of a big-play threat. UNC WR Hakeem Nicks would be the exciting choice – but the physical Sean Smith is an ideal fit for Baltimore’s aggressive style.
27: Indianapolis Colts: DT Sen’Derrick Marks / Auburn / Jr. / 6-1 / 295
Indianapolis must fortify it’s “bend, but don’t break” front line run defense that allows 123 yards per game. Marks is the solution for a ball club that is often gashed at the line of scrimmage in the most critical of moments.
28: Philadelphia Eagles: RB Knowshon Moreno / Georgia / So. / 5-11 / 207
Moreno is another steal of the 2009 NFL Draft if he were indeed still on the board at 28. The Eagles anemic running game is a liability and workhorse Brian Westbrook is in need of a rest.
29: New York Giants: WR Hakeem Nicks / UNC / Jr. / 6-2 / 210
The Plexico Burress saga and the lack of a playmaker at wide receiver doomed the Giants defending Super Bowl champion hopes. Nicks is on the rise – surging upon the accolades of his 8 catch 217 yards with 3 touchdowns Meineke Bowl performance and highlight reel reception versus West Virginia.
30: Tennessee Titans: DE Tyson Jackson / LSU / Sr. / 6-5 / 290
Although the Titans offense lacks a downfield threat – Fisher and company will select the best player available at this entry. Tyson Jackson presents excellent value in the late first-round and will bolster an already stout defense.
31: Arizona Cardinals: RB LeSean McCoy / Pitt / So. / 5-11 / 210
Edgerrin James is demanding a trade and Tim Hightower is a third-down back. McCoy will be the top-rated running back available. Iowa’s Shonn Greene who rushed for 1,850 yards at Ames this season is also a Dark Horse candidate for the job.
32: Pittsburgh Steelers: G Duke Robinson / Oklahoma / Sr. / 6-5 / 335
The beleaguered Steeler offensive line has deteriorated since the loss of stalwart guard Alan Faneca to the New York Jets via free agency. The mammoth road grading Duke Robinson is the perfect fusion of draft need, talent, and value at number 32.