- Detroit Lions: Matt Stafford, QB, Georgia
DEC. 25 UPDATE: Despite numerous e-mails from Lions fans insisting that the correct course of action would be drafting an offensive tackle, I’m still calling for a quarterback. Detroit needs a face for their franchise. They can’t get a quarterback with Dallas’ selection, but they’ll be able to grab a tackle with that pick.
Also, Lions owner William Darth Clay Sidious Ford doesn’t really care about winning. He just wants money. What brings in more money than a rookie signal caller? Everyone in Detroit will be lining up to buy the new Matt Stafford jersey, especially if he appears to be as promising as Matt Ryan.
PREVIOUS UPDATES: I’ve received even more e-mails from Lions fans who told me that they don’t want a quarterback. Well, I’m not the GM. Some new guy is, and because there is a new regime in town, I believe a quarterback will chosen first overall.
I’m not saying a left tackle isn’t a possibility, but like the Falcons last year, the Lions need a face for their franchise. Right now, that face is Matt Millen, even though he was fired a few months ago. When people think about the Detroit franchise, they think about how Millen helped ruin it.
Besides, Detroit can’t go on with Daunte Culpepper and Dan Orlovsky. It’s way too embarrassing and futile.
The Lions can get a quality tackle with Dallas’ choice or in the No. 33 slot. Assuming most of the junior quarterbacks remain in school, they won’t have the chance to secure a top-rated signal-caller in the 2009 NFL Draft.
NOTE: For the record, I do not have Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Mark Sanchez, Josh Freeman, Nate Davis or Colt McCoy declaring. If Tebow and McCoy come out early, they could be targeted at Dallas’ choice.
- St. Louis Rams: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
DEC. 25 UPDATE: It should be noted that if the Rams and Chiefs lose this Sunday, they would flip a coin to decide who drafts No. 2 overall.
Some mocks have Aaron Curry going this high. The Rams definitely need a strongside linebacker, but I can’t see one going in the top three.
PREVIOUS UPDATES: Andre Smith over Michael Oher here because the Rams need an upgrade at right tackle until Orlando Pace moves on. At that point, Smith could shift over or just stay at his position.
If Sam Bradford declares for the 2009 NFL Draft, he and Matt Stafford could go to the Lions and Rams. Marc Bulger has inexplicably transformed into one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL. He’s playing like he doesn’t care anymore. He has to go.
It’s been widely publicized that the Rams were ready to pounce on Jake Long if he slipped past the Dolphins. That’s understandable, as the injury-ridden Orlando Pace (yes, he’s hurt again – what a surprise) will turn 34 during the early stages of the 2009 season, while oft-penalized Alex Barron looks like he’s getting benched in favor of guard Jacob Bell, yet another bust acquisition by the Rams. St. Louis needs to draft an offensive tackle as early as possible.
I had the Rams taking a corner in one of my previous updates, but that’s not going to happen if one of the elite quarterbacks or top-three tackle prospects drops into their lap.
- Kansas City Chiefs: Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas
There’s a parade scheduled in Kansas City! No, the Chiefs haven’t won the Super Bowl. Get real. The public is celebrating the fact that last week, their team finally registered a sack in more than a month. And not just one sack – three sacks in one game!
The Chiefs foolishly traded away Jared Allen prior to the 2008 Draft, while moving Tamba Hali to right end failed miserably. Hali, now back at left end, needs a dominant pass-rusher across from him to once again play at his 2007 level.
That man can be Brian Orakpo. In 11 games, Orakpo had 15.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks, as he’s established himself as the premier defensive end in this draft class. Kansas City’s young defense would greatly benefit from having him rushing the opposing quarterback.
Offensive line is the only other option now that Tyler Thigpen has emerged as a promising quarterback. As Tony Gonzalez said, “It would be a disgrace if [Thigpen’s] not the starting quarterback next year.”
Seattle Seahawks Logo
By the way, I saw that one of ESPN’s draft guys had Aaron Maybin, a defensive end from Penn State, going in this slot. That’s great, except Maybin already told the media and coaching staff he’s coming back for his redshirt junior year. Maybin could ultimately declare, and if he does, he’ll go top five. For now, he won’t be in my mock.
- Cincinnati Bengals: Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss
How pathetic is the Bengals offensive line? They’ve surrendered 50 sacks this season, while their running backs are currently gaining 3.5 yards per carry. Even the Colts, who had just 19 sacks going into their Week 14 matchup against the Bengals, managed five sacks.
As a result, Carson Palmer is out for the year (even though the Bengals feel the need to declare him “out” every Wednesday morning) and Ryan Fitzpatrick is helplessly running around and losing brain cells whenever he hits the turf. It’s only a matter of time before he and Bo-Bo are giving you fantasy football advice on Sportscenter.
The Bengals are 3-11-1 because they have tons of needs. That’s obvious. But they must improve their offensive front before anything else.
Seattle Seahawks: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech The Seahawks secondary is a mess. They need help at free safety and corner. Kelly Jennings and Brian Russell have been completely awful and need to be upgraded. That means Taylor Mays is a possibility if they’re drafting out of the top five. With that in mind, I don’t think the Seahawks can justify taking a corner or safety at No. 5 with a player of Michael Crabtree’s caliber on the board. Bobby Engram turns 36 in January, and who knows if he’ll ever be the same after this injury-ridden campaign? Matt Hasselbeck needs a dominant weapon to work with. Crabtree undoubtedly fits that description. I’ve received a few e-mails asking me why Michael Crabtree is still in my mock after he said he wasn’t declaring. I’ll tell you why – because that’s not factually correct. Five days ago, Crabtree told reporters, “I’m just going to make my decision after the bowl game. It will be easier for everybody. I know, but I’m not ready to say.” Sounds like he’s making the jump to me.
- Oakland Raiders: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia I’m slowly coming around to Oakland taking an offensive tackle instead of Taylor Mays. I still think Al Davis will have the following thought when watching Mays at the combine: “Wow, that large kid just ran a 4.39! With a little work, I can get him to run a 3.9 in practice! I must draft him, but first I must sacrifice some virgins, turn some people into zombies and then forge some documents so I can fire my coach without paying him!” However, there is a chance that Undead Al forgets this and recalls something that has occurred far too often this season – JaMarcus Russell running for his life because Kwame Harris can’t get block a plastic bag blown around by the wind. Then again, Harris was one of many craptastic players Undead Al recently overpaid, so perhaps the ageless owner still thinks he’s talented. I argued Mays before because of the 40 times and Undead Al’s penchant for drafting defensive backs. Dating back to the 1998, he has gone that route six times with his first selection. Also, remember that Michael Huff has been benched this year.
- Cleveland Browns: Aaron Curry, OLB/ILB, Wake Forest The Browns need help almost everywhere on defense. My former roommate Dennis was at the Philadelphia-Cleveland game, and he told me the crowd was laughing at the Browns because they pressured with just three people, yet every Eagles receiver/tight end was open downfield. Jamal Lewis sucks too – I’ve never seen a slower running back in my entire life – but Cleveland needs to address its defense, first and foremost. I think this Aaron Curry selection makes a lot of sense. Curry, one of the hottest prospects in the draft right now, is versatile, and can play inside linebacker in the 3-4 defense. But if Cleveland’s new head coach changes to a 4-3 scheme, Curry can simply slide out to strongside linebacker. Pick change; previously Chris Wells, RB
- Green Bay Packers: Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech If there’s one thing we learned about Packers GM Ted Thompson, it’s that he loves to take the best player available, no matter what position he plays. Luckily for Thompson, that strategy matches up with a position of need – and not another signal caller. The Packers haven’t been able to get to the quarterback all year. That was really prelavent when Jake Delhomme burnt them with deep passes to Steve Smith late in the must-win Carolina game. And how about the epic failure at Jacksonville? Embarrassing. If you take away Aaron Kampman’s 10 sacks, Green Bay has only 16 on the year. That’s almost as bad as Kansas City!
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State Jacksonville has major issues at corner. The team brought in the overrated Drayton Florence and paid him a ton of money, which had many people scratching their head in confusion. Lo and behold, Florence has been benched; the Jaguars have been forced to move Brian Williams back from safety to corner. Consequently, they’re ranked an embarrassing 30th against the pass. The Jaguars cannot afford to keep doing this. They need to fix their secondary problems once in for all.
- San Francisco 49ers: Taylor Mays, S, USC San Francisco’s line can’t pass block to save its life. But if the top tackles are off the board, they may look at Taylor Mays. Mark Roman, whose contract expires after the 2009 season, has been awful this year. Perhaps more disappointing is that second-year Dashon Goldson hasn’t been able to leapfrog him on the depth chart. Taylor Mays, whose combine workout will cement him as a top-10 prospect, would be a tremendous upgrade for the 49ers.
- Buffalo Bills: Everette Brown, DE, Florida State There are a number of reasons why the Bills have slipped to 7-8 after beginning the year on a 5-1 pace, but no reason is more glaring than Buffalo’s lacking pass rush. Through 15 weeks, Buffalo has just 23 sacks on the year. I know Aaron Schobel has missed most of the year, but they had similar problems even when he was in the lineup. Pick change; previously Greg Hardy, DE
- San Diego Chargers: Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State Defensive end, nose tackle and guard are San Diego’s greatest needs, but no one at those positions is worth taking this high. Thus, the Chargers have to go Best Player Available. I’ve had Rey Maualuga going here for a while, but the Chargers could look at Chris Wells if he drops to them. LaDainian Tomlinson has had the worst year of his career this season. I have to think he’ll bounce back in 2009, but there is also a possibility that he’s done. General manager A.J. Smith may regret letting Michael Turner go. Wells would be a fine replacement, and an excellent franchise back down the road. Pick change; previously Rey Maualuga, ILB
- Houston Texans: William Moore, S, Missouri Defensive end is definitely an option here, but Houston’s secondary has been an abomination for years and has always missed a ball-hawking leader. William Moore can be that guy.
- Washington Redskins: Eben Britton, OT, Arizona The Redskins have major problems at right tackle. Jon Jansen, who turns 33 in January, could be let go for salary cap reasons. Eben Britton would fit in well on the right side, and could potentially slide over to the blind side once Samuels’ time is up. Pick change; previously Aaron Curry, OLB
- New Orleans Saints: Rey Maualuga, ILB, USC New Orleans’ defense is a complete mess, especially with Mike McKenzie and Tracy Porter out for the year. However, things began poorly when the team didn’t find upgrades at outside linebacker, save for Dan Morgan, who unceremoniously retired prior to the beginning of the regular season. With the addition of Rey Maualuga, the Saints would be able to replace Jonathan Vilma. If they extend Vilma, New Orleans will have to forfeit this selection to the Jets. The Saints can always let him go into free agency and then re-sign him. If they do that, they can kick Vilma out to weakside linebacker. Pick change; previously Brandon Spikes, ILB
- Denver Broncos: James Laurinaitis, ILB, Ohio State The Broncos’ plan to have Niko Koutouvides start at middle linebacker went awry after Nate Webster beat him out in the preseason. Nate freakin’ Webster – the same guy who has missed 44 games since 2003. Though he’s currently a senior in college, there’s no doubt in my mind that James Laurinaitis could currently upgrade the middle linebacker position for Denver.
- Arizona Cardinals: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia Despite its recent struggles, Arizona has emerged as the NFC West champion, and you have to feel good for all 10 of those fans who have suffered for so long. Tim Hightower looked pretty impressive when he eclipsed 100 yards against the Rams, but everyone has done that when playing St. Louis this season. Hightower seems like he’ll be a very good goal-line back for years to come, but he’s definitely not an every-down runner. The explosive Knowshon Moreno would be another great weapon for Arizona’s offense.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Ciron Black, OT, LSU I’m not sure if Andy Reid will be around in 2009. But regardless of who is making this selection, the Eagles will address their woeful offensive line that can’t move the chains on third-and-one. The only difference between Reid and another GM would be a few ketchup and mustard stains on the envelope handed to Roger Goodell. William Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan will both be hitting the market after this season, so the probability that the Eagles don’t go offensive lineman with one of their top picks is highly unlikely. I wouldn’t be surprised if they went back-to-back linemen.
- New York Jets: Brandon Spikes, ILB, Florida The Jets have collapsed defensively late in the year, so they could be looking for the best player available at any level. That would be Brandon Spikes, who would form a lethal combination with David Harris at inside linebacker. Pick change; previously Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR
- Chicago Bears: George Selvie, DE, South Florida The Bears really need help at receiver, and with mega-talents like Jeremy Maclin and Percy Harvin on the board, choosing one of them is a possibility. But I doubt Chicago does that. The Bears will upgrade their strengths – the offensive line and defense – before anything else. It sounds weird to say this, but the Bears need help at defensive end. Prior to playing the Rams, who count more as a Big XII team than an NFL squad, starters Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye had just five combined sacks in 10 games. Mark Anderson, meanwhile, just recorded his first sack. Chicago needs to upgrade its pass rush. George Selvie should be able to do that. Pick change; previously Everette Brown, DE
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Percy Harvin, WR, Florida Wide receiver will once again be a need next offseason. Dexter Jackson was acquired in the second round, but he’s more of a kick returner than anything. Joey Galloway and Ike Hilliard aren’t going to be around much longer, while Antonio Bryant will undoubtedly revert to Sloth Mode once he signs a long-term deal with the team.
- Detroit Lions: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor See, Lions fans? Waiting until the mid-20s to draft an offensive tackle isn’t THAT bad. If Detroit goes tackle No. 1 overall, and no junior quarterbacks declare, the team will once again be stuck with Jon Kitna, Daunte Culpepper, Drew Henson, Dan Orlovsky and Mike McMahon. After 15 games, the Lions have surrendered 51 sacks. They desperately need a dominant left tackle, allowing Jeff Backus to slide inside.
- Minnesota Vikings: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois I really want to give the Vikings an offensive tackle, but with all of the top-tier players at that position off the board, Minnesota could look to address its second greatest need, which is cornerback. Cedric Griffin has had an up-and-down season, and Minnesota simply needs more consistency in its defensive backfield. Pick change; previously Eben Britton, OT
- New England Patriots: D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt It looks like the public and media is finally starting to catch on to something I harped about since November 2007 – New England’s secondary sucks, and signing bums like Jason Webster, Fernando Bryant, Lewis Sanders and Deltha O’Neal didn’t work. Wow, I’m shocked that players who run 8.9 40s can’t defend anyone. The Patriots, who just allowed Seneca Wallace to throw all over them, need someone of D.J. Moore’s caliber. Pick change; previously Vontae Davis, CB
- Miami Dolphins: Victor Harris, CB, Virginia Tech Miami has gotten better against the pass recently. In fact, prior to the Chiefs game, they hadn’t given up a touchdown in three weeks. But that doesn’t mean that the Dolphins don’t need an upgrade at corner; they still rank 20th versus opposing aerial strikes. Victor Harris would be an excellent upgrade for a secondary that needs help everywhere.
- Atlanta Falcons: Terrence Cody, NT, Alabama Atlanta has done an incredible job rebounding off its disastrous 2007 season. The team barely has any holes left on its roster, but one glaring one is at nose tackle, which is the main reason why they couldn’t contain Pierre Thomas, prompting Chris Berman to debacle us with his abysmal French accent. The Falcons are 28th against the run, giving up 4.8 yards per carry.
- Baltimore Ravens: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri Mark Clayton is coming off a huge game recently, but I can’t trust him to show up every week. With that in mind, why is 34-year-old Derrick Mason the only dependable receiver on Baltimore’s roster? Joe Flacco has played extremely well since getting debacled at Indianapolis. Flacco will continue to mature, but he’ll need another dependable wideout by his side.
- Indianapolis Colts: Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss Indianapolis had given up 100 rushing yards to six different running backs at the halfway point of the season. The Colts are so bad, they had to use four linebackers against the Titans just to keep Chris Johnson and LenDale “touchdown vulture” (or touchdown hippopotamus to be more spherically correct) White in check. The Colts are way too thin at defensive tackle in the wake of the Ed Johnson marijuana scandal. They can’t even stop the run when Bob Sanders is in the lineup.
Philadelphia Eagles: Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
According to 610 WIP, the Eagles tried to deal for Kellen Winslow Jr. prior to the trade deadline. If they’re so desperate for a tight end, they have to take one early in the 2009 NFL Draft, right?
It’s no surprise the Eagles wanted Winslow so bad; L.J. Smith dropped five passes (two of which were touchdowns) and was whistled for a false start against the Rams. After that, he got hurt. I have no idea why Andy Reid kept this guy around.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Duke Robinson, G, Oklahoma
In my 2013: Emmitt on the Brink feature, I noted that Ben Roethlisberger’s left arm fell off during the 2010 season. Tis merely a flesh wound! This is actually believable because of how horrendous Pittsburgh’s offensive line is.
- New York Giants: Greg Hardy, DE, Ole Miss
This pick really depends on what the Giants do with Mathias Kiwanuka once Osi Umenyiora comes back. If they bring Kiwanuka back to strongside linebacker, they’ll likely take a defensive end in Round 1. If they keep Kiwanuka up front, they’ll choose a linebacker like Clint Sintim or Brian Cushing. Wide receiver is also an option.
Pick change; previously Clint Sintim, OLB
- Tennessee Titans: Trevard Lindley, CB, Kentucky
Next season will be Nick Harper’s final year on the Titans. Harper is currently 34 years old, so Tennessee will need to find another corner to take his place pretty soon. Trevard Lindley is one of the best players available at this spot.