This year's draft is a little odd (aren't they all?). As of today, there is definitely a Top 12 in this draft (which sucks for Redskins fans like myself, since they're sitting at 13...please B.J. Raji, drop to 13...PLEEEEASE). The Top 12 are somewhat interchangeable with each other. They could land in a number of orders.
Other trends spotted include this draft boasting some of the best talent we've seen at the center position in some time. I have four going in the top 2 rounds. There are some teams that definitely need help at the position, and could possibly have them going higher. Another trend is that Eugene Monroe seems to have unseated Andre Smith as the top offensive lineman in many mock drafts and draft lists. I'll stick with Andre Smith until I am convinced otherwise. I will take credit for being an early adopter of the "Jason Smith is better than Michael Oher" philosophy, and now we're seeing that trend on draft boards.
Several players that didn't go on day one in this mock are Ziggy Hood (DT, Missouri), Jared Cook (TE, South Carolina), Derrick Williams (WR, Penn State) and Javon Ringer (RB, Michigan State). It was not in the cards this time around. Maybe next time. I think people will give me the most hell about Hood, as he was nearly unstoppable at the Senior Bowl practices.
Looking forward to the comments. Be as brutal as you would like. Opinions differ, and that's what makes these mock drafts a thing of beauty.
1. Detroit: Matt Stafford, QB - Georgia
As much as the Detroit front office wants people to believe that they plan on giving Culpepper another shot, the writing is on the wall. They forgo the sane pick at offensive tackle, and tab Matt Stafford as their franchise QB of the future.
2. St. Louis: Andre Smith, OT - Alabama
With Andre Smith falling in their laps, they can't pass on this pick. They now have their new left tackle. However, if Smith goes first, the Rams could easily trade down several picks and still land a top offensive lineman from this draft.
3. Kansas City: Aaron Curry, LB - Wake Forest
As much as I want to put Orakpo at this pick, I just don't see the Chiefs passing on Curry, unless Stafford falls in their laps. Curry would be a great addition to a position that forced them to move their most talented OLB to the middle.
4. Seattle: Eugene Monroe, OT - Virginia
Walter Jones is up there in years and his health could be a concern. Monroe comes in from a school that is slowly turning into an NFL Left Tackle factory.
5. Cleveland: Malcolm Jenkins, CB - Ohio State
Regardless of talk about Leigh Bodden heading back to Cleveland, CB is a position where the Browns desperately need help. Jenkins would have been the top corner off the board last year. This year, he holds the same distinction, as he only elevated his status, if anything.
6. Cincinnati: Jason Smith, OT - Baylor
Cincy has Levi Jones, but needs the help along the offensive line and Smith could be a great fit. He could easily step in at LT right away, moving Jones to the right side. The other question right now: Will Cincy go another direction while trusting Stacey Andrews enough to give him the starting nod on a one-year "Prove It" deal?
7. Oakland: Michael Crabtree, WR - Texas Tech
When your leading receiver had under 25 catches, you need help at WR. Fortunately for this scenario, the top receiver in the draft is available. Crabtree would offer great help to…*crickets chirping*…whomever their QB is…even JaMarcus Russell.
8. Jacksonville: Jeremy Maclin, WR - Missouri
While Crabtree almost fell into their laps, Maclin will actually fit the team better, especially after they just released Jerry Porter. Maclin would be the home-run threat that the Jags have been missing. Jason Smith could be an option here too.
9. Green Bay: Everette Brown, OLB - Florida State
With a switch to the 3-4 and Kampman occupying one OLB spot, the Packers are in need of a bookend OLB who can get after the QB. Brown is an exceptional pass rusher who is high on a lot of lists. Question is, will he be Lamarr Woodley, or Jamal Reynolds. Kevin Greene should tutor him well.
10. San Francisco: B.J. Raji, DT - Boston College
Regardless of whether they keep the 3-4 or switch to the 4-3, the 9ers are in desperate need of help in the middle of the D-Line. Raji is a big boy who can tie up blockers (as shown in the Senior Bowl week). He should help free up Patrick Willis to do even more damage.
11. Buffalo: Brian Orakpo, DE - Texas
Chris Kelsey and Ryan Denney aren't scaring anyone when it comes to pass rushing. Orakpo, on the other hand, has the skills at the DE position to spend the afternoon in opposing backfields.
12. Denver: Chris "Beanie" Wells, RB - Ohio State
Forget last year's injury. The Broncos should not hesitate to draft Wells if Raji is not available at this pick. Gone are the days of Shanahan's questionable blocking schemes. A talented back like Wells is a must.
13. Washington: Michael Oher, OT - Mississippi
The Skins address a position that was the oldest in the league and is in dire need of help. Oher should start as a rookie. The question will be whether they start him out on the right side before shifting him over to eventually replace Samuels, or do they go ahead and move Samuels over to the right side right away?
14. New Orleans: Vontae Davis, CB - Illinois
Regardless of them drafting Tracy Porter last year, the Saints need help at CB. McKenzie is showing his age and Gay was a bit of a bust. It seems no matter how much they addressed the defense last year, they still need help on that side of the ball.
15. Houston: Aaron Maybin, DE - Penn State
Right off the bat, DE is a need position. If Dunta Robinson and DeMarcus Faggins both leave via free agency, CB will be the bigger need. A sophomore, Maybin is as good a pass rusher as there is available in this draft. While he wouldn't play every down, he could easily play a Mark Anderson-like role and rack up the sacks playing on passing downs.
16. San Diego: Rey Maualuga, ILB - Southern Cal
Without a monster safety available in this draft, the Chargers fill their other major need on defense. Maualuga can step into the inside position much like a former USC LB did nearly two decades ago.
17. New York Jets: Mark Sanchez, QB - USC
If a QB like Marc Bulger were to become available, the Jets would probably go that direction. However, if they don't go that direction and Sanchez falls to them at 17, expect this to be the pick. While he will have to prove who the real Mark Sanchez is, if he continues along his trajectory at USC, the Jets could save a lot of face after the Brett Favre shenanigans.
18. Chicago: Eben Britton, OT - Arizona
Tait's retirement forced their hand. With Chris Williams currently being the only OT under contract, the Bears reach (slightly) and land a young OT that has a lot of potential. Britton can easily step in on the right side and spend 10 years there as bookends with Williams.
19. Tampa Bay: Peria Jerry, DT - Mississippi
Jerry is another DT that showed up well at the Senior Bowl, boosting his status. Jerry displayed a great first step, getting by offensive linemen. With Jovan Haye possibly on the move, the Bucs need to address the DT spot.
20. Detroit (from Dallas): Alphonso Smith, CB - Wake Forest
Smith has been moving back up the charts after a nice Senior Bowl showing. Detroit desperately needs leadership where they can get it, and this heady Demon Deacon can offer that early on.
21. Philadelphia: Brandon Pettigrew, TE - Oklahoma State
Philly fans might bury me for this, but I think with this pick they'll be saying "LJ who?" Pettigrew has potential to be another Jeremy Shockey (without the 'tude). At the very least he would be like a Danial Graham in his prime with the Patriots. Some have Pettigrew going as early as #11 to the Bills.
22. Minnesota: Jim Laurinaitis, ILB - Ohio State
While an offensive QB would be a nice addition here, a defensive QB would be almost as nice. Laurinaitis is a lot like former a former Buckeye, Chris Spielman, and could add a lot of value here. WR is tempting with DHB on the board, but until they figure out the QB situation, adding another young WR to the mix will be a waste.
23. New England: Brian Cushing, OLB - Southern Cal
Surprisingly, the Patriots have several directions they can go, where they need help. They could also address CB, S, DL, OL, RB, WR. At OLB, they have Vrabel and Thomas, who are aging. Cushing is one of those Belichick/Patriots type of guys. He could step in at OLB, and slide either of the aforementioned inside.
24. Atlanta: Michael Johnson, DE - Georgia Tech
The Falcons stay in-state, and take Johnson, with hopes of moving Jamaal Anderson inside to tackle. Johnson is a superb pass rusher in the Jonathan Abraham mold. If Brandon Pettigrew, Peria Jerry or any of the top 4 CBs drop to this pick, they could easily fit here.
25. Miami: Clint Sintim, OLB - Virginia
Sintim is a Joey Porter clone. He fits right into the 3-4 OLB spot and has a great combination of size and strength. Sintim isn't receiving a lot of hype, but everyone will know his name by draft day.
26. Baltimore: D.J. Moore, CB - Vanderbilt
With McAlister gone and Rolle up there in years, the Ravens need immediate help at CB. Moore is an athletic corner who could emerge as a #1 in Baltimore. He can also help in the return game.
27. Indianapolis: Sen'Derrick Marks, DT - Auburn
A DT is a must here. The Colts reach for Marks at this point. Don’t rule out a trade down to the top of the 2nd round. They could also go with the best player available.
28. Philadelphia (from Carolina): William Beatty, OT - Connecticut
The Eagles need tackles, and they nab the top pure OT prospect available. Beatty played at a smaller school, but he has loads of talent and is good enough to start in Philly, should they not continue with Tra Thomas.
29. New York Giants: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR - Maryland
Pound for pound, he may be the most intriguing prospect at WR in this draft. He comes with a caution tag, as he didn't play a ton at Maryland, but has all the tools to be a top flight WR. A big help for a team that could be without Amani Toomer and Plaxico Burress.
30. Tennessee: Percy Harvin, WR - Florida
The Titans were carried far on offense by their running game. However, they desperately need help at the WR spot. Harvin fills two roles for the team. He is a weapon at both WR and as a kick/punt returner.
31. Arizona: Knowshon Moreno, RB - Georgia
Edgerrin James could care less about his post-season return to the starting role. He wants out of Arizona as much as Boldin does. That leaves Tim Hightower who started the 2nd half of the season, but never hit his stride. Moreno can share time with Hightower, and eventually take over the #1 spot, and be the type of Georgia RB for the Cards that Garrison Hearst never was.
32. Pittsburgh: Max Unger, C - Oregon
The Steelers are in a tough situation along the offensive line, with many members being free agents this offseason. Across the board, Unger has been a popular fit at this pick with the Steelers, and I tend to agree. He has played all over the line for the Ducks, and can do that in the NFL as well.
33. Detroit: Clay Matthews, OLB - Southern Cal
Another player who would be good for a rebuilding project in Detroit, Matthews would add value beyond what he does on the field. If William Beatty or Max Unger are available, don't rule them out here.
34. Kansas City: LeSean McCoy, RB - Pittsburgh
With Larry Johnson trying to get out of KC, Pioli gets an insurance plan. McCoy is another first round talent that falls into the second round because of some of the need picks made earlier.
35. St. Louis: Darius Butler, CB - Connecticut
Butler comes from a small school, but like fellow Huskie draftee, Beatty, he has the talent to start as a rookie in this league. Probably not on the same level as Rodgers-Cromartie, but can easily start on a CB-Needy team like the Rams.
36. Cleveland: Tyson Jackson, DE - Louisiana State
The team is not happy with Shaun Smith for a plethora of reasons. They hit the jackpot when a surefire first rounder drops because he only fits 3-4 teams.
37. Seattle: William Moore, S - Missouri
Deon Grant and Brian Russell are getting up there in age and showing the signs of aging. Moore is another athlete that ranks as high as a first rounder, and could push Russell early.
38. Cincinnati: Alex Mack, C - California
The Bengals take the best prospect on the board, filling a need position as Ghiaciuc is a free agent, and isn't much to write home about either.
39. Jacksonville: Duke Robinson, OG - Oklahoma
The Jags follow suit and nab the top lineman on the board. With the amount of offensive linemen coming off season ending injuries, the Jags desperately need help in the trenches.
40. Oakland: Larry English, DE - Northern Illinois
English ranked high before being man-handled at the Senior Bowl practices and game. There is still a vast amount of talent. They could also go offensive tackle here.
41. Green Bay: Phil Loadholt, OT - Oklahoma
With Mark Tauscher headed into free agency, the Packers look to the mountain-sized Loadholt. Loadholt projects as a right tackle, and should settle right into Tauscher's old spot.
42. Buffalo: Chase Coffman, TE - Missouri
The Bills need to help Trent Edwards by getting him a reliable safety-valve receiver. While they could look at a TE with vast potential, like Jared Cook, Coffman's 90 receptions last season mean that he could help right away.
43. San Francisco: Josh Freeman, QB - Kansas State
The 9ers need a QB, and while they could probably sit back and try banking on another bad year, putting them in position to draft a QB high next year, they can't overlook the fact that they actually have a talented roster that is a QB away from doing good things
44. Miami (from Washington): Hakeem Nicks, WR - North Carolina
Nicks would serve as a nice compliment alongside Ginn. Nicks has good size and athletic ability. He also comes off a very productive campaign at UNC.
45. New York Giants (from New Orleans): Jamon Meridith, OT - South Carolina
Meredith would fill several roles for the Giants. He will probably be groomed to play either tackle spot. He is athletic enough to play either and strong enough to play inside as well. Eventually, he could shift Deihl inside and take over at left tackle.
46. Houston: Sean Smith, CB - Utah
Smith is a big corner with athletic ability. He's built a lot like Charles Woodson. While I wouldn't put him close to the same level, coming out of college, Smith definitely has a lot of potential.
47. New England (from San Diego): Rashad Johnson, S - Alabama
Time for the Patriots to move on from Rodney Harrison. Johnson could be the first safety off the board in this draft, and would make a nice tandem with Brandon Merriwether.
48. Denver: Ron Brace, DT - Boston College
Another player who raised his stock during the Senior Bowl. He joins teammate BJ Raji as the two potential 3-4 NTs who will go early in this draft. Brace may not get the same upfield push that Raji does, but he cannot be moved easily.
49. Chicago: Coye Francies, CB - San Jose State
Francies may need some coaching, but his potential is vast. He is tall, has speed and has a physical style of play. He is a raw version of Nate Clements.
50. Tampa Bay: Paul Kruger, DE - Utah
A steal at this point in the draft. He could end up going much higher, but someone has to drop. Kruger would make Kevin Carter expendible. Greg White still has some hype from 2007, but it is slowly wearing off after a down year.
51. Dallas: Victor "Macho" Harris, CB - Virginia Tech
This will be the third year in a row that I'm pushing for the Cowboys to move Anthony Henry to safety, opening the door for another corner. We all know that Jerrah has the need for loud-mouth prima donnas on his teams. In comes Macho Harris, who fits the bill, but this kid can back it up on the field.
52. New York Jets: Shonn Greene, RB - Iowa
The Jets are playing with fire at RB. Thomas Jones is 30, and everyone knows what that means to a RB. Greene is a big back who can take the pounding in the middle and can extend Thomas Jones's career.
53. Philadelphia: Nic Harris, LB - Oklahoma
The Eagles take a bit of a gamble here that could pay big benefits. Harris was a safety at Oklahoma who played similarly to Thomas Davis when he was at Georgia. The Eagles move him to a sideline to sideline backer who eases the coverage schemes on the safeties by occasionally covering the TE.
54. Minnesota: Eric Wood, C - Louisville
Time to pull the plug on Matt Birk. Although Wood isn't as dominant a blocker as some of the other centers in this draft (Unger and Mack), he has everything you look for in the QB of the offensive line who originates the line calls.
55. Atanta: Patrick Chung, S - Oregon
Why not replace Lawyer Milloy with a similar style player. Chung needs a little work on his coverage, but is not lacking in that department. He will do a lot for the run defense as he excels at being the 8th man in the box.
56. Miami: Keenan Lewis, CB - Oregon State
The Dolphins could go a number of directions, but could use Lewis's help at CB. Lewis is a big physical CB who matches up well against the bigger receivers in the league.
57. Baltimore: Kenny Britt, WR - Rutgers
With the Demetrius Williams Training Camp and Pre-Season Teases a thing of the past, the Ravens put some focus on getting Flacco a target as Derrick Mason reaches the upper limit of WRs in age. Kenny Britt is a possession type receiver who can be a perfect compliment to Mark Clayton.
58. New England: Bruce Johnson, CB - Miami
Depth at CB has always been an issue for the Patriots. Every year they add a couple of young prospects that don't pan out as envisioned. Time to try their hand at another CB who is rising up the charts. Johnson isn't going to get much fanfare before the combines, but may walk away from the combines potentially a couple of million dollars richer.
59. Carolina: Rhett Bomar, QB - Sam Houston State
Remember him? Top QB recruit in the nation, landing at Oklahoma but had some off field issues? He resurfaced at Sam Houston State and didn't disappoint there. He has better tools than any QB in this draft. Yes, I said it. With the right coaching, he could be the best QB to come out of this draft.
60. New York Giants: Robert Ayers, DE - Tennessee
A player who burst onto the scene his senior season, and finished his campaign with a Senior Bowl Defensive MVP award. He has great size, but his speed and agility drills at the combines will determine where he goes. He's a great fit for a team that currently has no backup DEs, that LOVES to rush the passer.
61. Indianapolis: Terrance Taylor, DT - Michigan
An athletic DT who also doubles as a power lifter and an exceptional wrestler, Taylor fills a huge need for the Colts. With two DTs taken early, the Colts can focus on other areas of need after this pick.
62. Tennessee: Antoine Caldwell, C - Alabama
Kevin Mawae is getting up there in years and Leroy Harris is better suited to be the backup guard on the team. Caldwell is an athletic center who teamed with Andre Smith to anchor a dominant offensive line for the Tide.
63. Arizona: Connor Barwin, DE - Cincinnati
Though he only really got playing time as a senior for the Bearcats, Barwin was a great pass rusher during that time. He would serve as a pure pass rusher in the NFL until he adds some bulk. He could even end up at OLB. He is also versatile enough to line up at TE, whether it's as a blocker, or to actually make a Vrabel-Style catch in the end zone.
64. Pittsburgh: Fenuki Tupou, OG - Oregon
He played tackle at Oregon, but projects to guard in the NFL. Has the size and strength to move DTs around. With a possible mass exodus of offensive linemen out of Pittsburgh, they need to address the position. An OT would have been ideal, but it would be a major reach at this point.