Saturday, April 25, 2009

2009 NFL Draft: Best Players Available for the 2nd Round

As a collective, the PHSports guys found it surprising that the following players dropped to Round 2:

Ray Maualuga, MLB - USC
Max Unger, OL - Oregon
Eben Britton, OT - Arizona
Everette Brown, DE - FSU
Michael Johnson, DE - Georgia Tech
Darius Butler, CB - Connecticut

2009 NFL Draft: Running Blog

Armin: Anyone think Stafford goes #1? Will the Rams trade down?

RAMS SELECT JASON SMITH, OT - BAYLOR

Clement: With the departure of Pace, this was a no-brainer (even if you had Monroe at #2 instead of Smith).

CHIEFS SELECT TYSON JACKSON, DE - LSU

Armin: Ha! I was right...on my last mock that didn't make it on PHSports. D'oh!!!

SEAHAWKS SELECT AARON CURRY, OLB - WAKE FOREST

Armin is 4 for 4. Are you? Not likely...

Next up...Cleveland at 5. Mangini wants Orakpo. Management seems behind Raji. Who wins out?

Sum & Armin: Yes!!! The Skins aren't getting Sanchez. NOT GETTIN' DIRTY!!!

JETS TRADE UP AND SELECT MARK SANCHEZ, QB - USC

Clement: I'm ecstatic! No Josh Freeman.

BENGALS SELECT ANDRE SMITH, OT - ALABAMA

Paymon: Great pick. One sack allowed in the SEC. Best pass rushing conference.

Sum: "Hey, Hey, Hey!!!"


RAIDERS SELECT DARRIUS HEYWARD-BEY, WR - MARYLAND

Clement: That's the highlight of my mock draft.

Armin: WTF!?!??!?!?!!??!


JAGUARS SELECT EUGENE MONROE, OT - VIRGINIA

Armin: Great pick. Tra Thomas is not the answer.

PACKERS SELECT B.J. RAJI, DT - BOSTON COLLEGE

49ers SELECT MICHAEL CRABTREE, WR - TEXAS TECH

Paymon: "Get off the phone dude!!! Your name was just called."

BILLS SELECT AARON MAYBIN, DE - PENN STATE

Armin: Skins get either Oher or Orakpo!!! Woohoo!!! Unless Danny and Vinny mess it up again.

BRONCOS SELECT KNOWSHON MORENO, RB - GEORGIA

Armin: Nice shot of Knowshon's mom's crack.

Sum: I'm blinded!!!


REDSKINS SELECT BRIAN ORAKPO, DE - TEXAS

Armin: YES!!!

Sum: I wanted Oher, but I'll take O'Krapo.


SAINTS SELECT MALCOLM JENKINS, DB - OHIO STATE

Armin: CB or S?

TEXANS SELECT BRIAN CUSHING, OLB - USC

Paymon: *in his best Scottish accent* Duncan McCloud!!!!

CHARGERS SELECT LARRY ENGLISH, OLB - NORTHERN ILLINOIS

Armin: I woulda rather had Maualuga or Wells...but oh well.

BUCS TRADE UP AND SELECT JOSH FREEMAN, QB - KANSAS STATE

Chino: Josh Freeman looks like Soul Man

BRONCOS SELECT ROBERT AYERS, OLB - TENNESSEE

EAGLES TRADE UP AND SELECT JEREMY MACLIN, WR - MISSOURI

Paymon: *clapping*

Sum: "They shoulda taken Pettigrew."

LIONS SELECT BRANDON PETTIGREW, TE - OKLAHOMA ST.

Armin: "WHAT THE F@#$?????"

Clement: "If you get a quarterback, you've gotta give him a security blanket."

BROWNS (finally) SELECT ALEX MACK, C - CALIFORNIA

Deihim:"All that dickin' around for that pick?!?"

Armin: "He's a quality player."

VIKINGS SELECT PERCY HARVIN, WR - FLORIDA

Clement: "This proves that Sydney Rice is completely done."

Paymon: "I thought that Oher would've been the better pick."

Sum: "I completely agree. Oher is gonna be a steal for someone."

RAVENS TRADE UP AND SELECT MICHAEL OHER, OT - MISSISSIPPI

Sum: "There's the steal"

Armin: "They should've taken Maualuga in my opinion."

Sum: "Joe Flacco just smiled."

FALCONS SELECT PERIA JERRY, DT - MISSISSIPPI

Armin: "Goodell sounded like Charles Barkley when he said that."

DOLPHINS SELECT VONTAE DAVIS, CB - ILLINOIS

Sum: "I finally got another one right!!!"

Kiya: "Well, I guess PFT was wrong..."

PACKERS TRADE UP AND SELECT CLAY MATTHEWS, LB - USC

Sum: "They should've taken Favre ... or Madden. He looks like a young Triple H."

Paymon: "Is New England going to have every single 2nd round pick?"

COLTS SELECT DONALD BROWN, RB - CONNECTICUT

Everyone: "REALLY?!?!?!??!?!"

Clement: "How many kids from NJ has been drafted today?!?"

BILLS SELECT ERIC WOOD, C - LOUISVILLE

Kiya: "I'll take him."

Sum: "Unger would've been a better pic."

Armin: "Wood is good, man."

GIANTS SELECT HAKEEM NICKS, WR - NORTH CAROLINA

Armin: "Do UNC WR's work out in the NFL?"

Kiya: "Look no further than Bucky Brooks."

Sum: "I hope he obeys gun control laws, for the Giants sake."

TITANS SELECT KENNY BRITT, WR - RUTGERS

Paymon: "Really good pick."

Armin: "Reminds me of T.O. ... on and off the field."

CARDINALS SELECT CHRIS "BEANIE" WELLS, RB - OHIO STATE

Sum: "So will the Cards finally be decent and cut Edge?"

Clement: "How many carries did he have in college?"

STEELERS SELECT ZIGGY HOOD, DT - MISSOURI


Final thoughts?

Clement: I'm surprised there was such little movement in the top 10. I thought if Crabtree dropped, the Eagles would trade up to get him.

Paymon: Oakland showed exactly why they've been in the shitter ... forever.

Sum: I love Michael Oher, and wished the other team that plays in Maryland (Redskins) would have gotten him. He still would've been a steal at 13.

Armin: Jets made the right move. Sanchez is the right man for the job. Lots of surprises (as usual)...the smokescreens win out again. Great stuff.

Pre-NFL Draft Themes

Today is one of those rare days when all of the PHSports team is in the same place. We'll be doing the running blog. Here are some of our pre-NFL Draft themes.

Paymon: Ultimately, it comes down to when there is a run at a single position. I think that position will be Offensive Tackle, which will create value at the Defensive End and Wide Receiver positions.

Sum: My thoughts? Zzzzzzzz. This is a terribly lackluster draft. The only the thing that might make this exciting is the same thing that would make me cry ... Danny Boy Snyder wheeling and dealing. This will be an OL and UConn heavy draft.

Clement: Seattle at #4 is the most intriguing pick to me, if the Jets take Josh Freeman ... I'll hang myself.

Armin: Is Connecticut going to be the dominant college on day 1? Naw...USC ;) If the Skins trade up to get Sanchez...I'm jumping off my deck...hope the grass is soft. If they take him at 13...I'll punch myself in the face.

Kiya: The rich get richer and the poor will get poorer as strong front offices will once agin prove why their teams are on op and some teams will always be lackluster.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

2009 NFL Mock Draft: Version 4.0

In what will probably be my final attempt at an NFL Mock Draft for 2009, I tried a little bit of everything. I used several different draft strategies (Draft for Need, Best Player Available, Draft to Strength), and I put a few of my own twists in there. I will either come off as a genius draft guru, or a complete moron. Hoping it's the former. Either way, enjoy. Also, check in with us during the draft on 4/25. We plan to have a running commentary on the draft as it progresses.

1st Round

1. Detroit: Matt Stafford, QB - Georgia
Though Aaron Curry says he'll take the same or less money than Jake Long did last year, I believe Matt Stafford will be the pick. He has the upside to be something special, and the Lions need to take this shot at resurrecting their franchise. Look for him to be signed before the draft, and the Rams to be on the clock.

Eugene Monroe (Photo Courtesy of ramsgab.com)

2. St. Louis: Eugene Monroe, OT - Virginia
With Orlando Pace out the door, look for a replacement to be a lock for this pick. Once upon a time, Alex Barron was in line to be groomed as Pace's eventual replacement, but that idea faded. Monroe catches their eye as he's the best pass blocker in this draft, following the footsteps of other former Cavaliers.

3. Kansas City: Aaron Curry, LB - Wake Forest
This is a tough pick. While I don't think Tyson Jackson goes at this pick, the rumor is that the Chiefs would like to trade down and get him. Curry is the next most likely candidate. If a team trades ahead of Seattle for Sanchez, the draft will get very interesting.

4. Seattle: Mark Sanchez, QB - USC
I toyed with the notion that the 'Hawks go with a lineman here. Jason Smith would be a very nice pick, but I'm sticking to my guns on Sanchez. He makes the most sense here.

5. Cleveland: Michael Crabtree, WR - Texas Tech
I'll buy into the Braylon Edwards trade rumors. However, I'm not buying into the "Crabtree is a Diva" talk, and Cleveland removing him from their list. Some of the best WRs are divas, and it's that attitude that keeps them going at that position.

6. Cincinnati: Jason Smith, OT - Baylor
Cincy should land a Smith. Whether it's Jason or Andre shouldn't matter. Either way, they are getting a top LT out of this draft.

7. Oakland: Jeremy Maclin, WR - Missouri
Johnnie Lee Higgins is the leading receiver on the roster with 22 catches in 2008. The Raiders choose to patch a glaring hole. Orakpo could easily get consideration here.

8. Jacksonville: B.J. Raji, DT - Boston College
Look for this to be a trade candidate. They may consider Darrius Heyward-Bey for a second (and he could realistically be the pick). In this scenerio, however, Raji should be the pick. The DT starters are up there in years, and Raji could be starting alongside Henderson as a rookie.

9. Green Bay: Tyson Jackson, DE - Louisiana State
Without Raji available, the Packers consider leaving Pickett at NT, and draft the best 3-4 DE in this year's class (by a longshot).

10. San Francisco: Brian Orakpo, DE - Texas
Tough pick without Sanchez, Raji or Jackson on the board. The Marvel Smith acquisition probably shouldn't keep them from drafting Andre Smith. However, I feel they can't pass on Orakpo, even after re-signing Harrelson and having Lawson around.

11. Buffalo: Andre Smith, OT - Alabama
The Bills get really lucky with one of the top 3 LTs falling to them. Smith will step into some big shoes, filling in for recently traded Jason Peters.

12. Denver: Aaron Maybin, OLB - Penn State
In Nolan's 3-4 defense, you can't have enough LBs. Some of his holdover DEs don't make the best OLBs, so look for Maybin or Everette Brown to go here. Maualuga should get strong consideration, however, they may have a logjam at ILB with the 3-4 conversion.

13. Washington: Everette Brown, DE - Florida State
Word is they're looking to trade up to land Sanchez or Orakpo. Unless they are trying to trade early picks from next year's draft (possible), the Skins don't have much to offer in a trade. Brown looks like a top prospect at end, but you can't overlook the busts that FSU has put out at the DE position.

14. New Orleans: Malcolm Jenkins, CB - Ohio State
Jenkins is an easy pick to make here, although Chris Wells cannot be overlooked. Jenkins can either fill in at CB or FS. Most likely he'll be groomed to replace Darren Sharper at FS.

15. Houston: Brian Cushing, OLB - Southern Cal
Cushing ends up next to another beast MLB. Ryans is a defensive game manager, and could benefit Cushing in a lot of ways.

16. San Diego: Knowshon Moreno, RB - Georgia
LT's days in San Diego just came to a screeching halt as Sproles and Moreno would carry the load. Look for a draft day deal involving LT if the Chargers go RB with this pick.

Darrius Heyward-Bey (Photo courtesy of The Baltimore Sun)

17. New York Jets: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR - Maryland

Rex Ryan keeps praising his current receivers, but I'll call his bluff. DHB might need a little more work than Crabtree and Maclin, but his potential outmatches both of those receivers. Potential is a dangerous word in the NFL. But, the Jets are willing to take the gamble.
18. Denver (from Chicago): Peria Jerry, DT - Mississippi
Maybe a bit of a reach, but the Broncos are desperate for big bodies on the defensive line.

19. Tampa Bay: Josh Freeman, QB - Kansas State
Forget the Leftwich signing. The details on his contract show that he can be cut loose at any time (even before this season) without much consequence on the cap. Freeman is tabbed as the Franchise QB. Luke McCown realizes he was just a pawn.

20. Detroit (from Dallas): Michael Oher, OT - Mississippi

This pick makes Jeff Backus even more expendible than he was. Look for the Lions to get a late round pick for him during the draft if possible. Oher should have no problem stepping right in and starting.

21. Philadelphia: Chris "Beanie" Wells, RB - Ohio State
The Eagles need to consider Westbrook's health when he carries the load. Wells adds a much needed breath of fresh air for Westbrook: A power runner who can carry the load when necessary and should keep Westbrook fresh into the playoffs.

22. Minnesota: Hakeem Nicks, WR - North Carolina

Tough call between Nicks and Harvin. When it comes to need, Harvin is too much like Berrian and Wade. However, Nicks fills that big receiver role that Sidney Rice failed to fill.

23. New England: Rey Maualuga, ILB - Southern Cal

A slight surprise here, as they took Mayo last year, however Maualuga still fills a need here. He could learn a lot from Bruschi, and take over for him right away.

24. Atlanta: Brandon Pettigrew, TE - Oklahoma State

Matt Ryan gets some help with the top TE in the draft. He will also help Michael Turner with his strong run blocking ability.

25. Miami: Clay Matthews, OLB - Southern Cal
While a CB would be nice to add to the mix, Matthews gives the team options on the pass rushing front, much like what we saw on the Patriots Super Bowl teams. Porter, Matthews and Roth could be out there on any given play, bringing the rush.

26. Baltimore: Kenny Britt, WR - Rutgers

As much as I don't want these WRs in the first round, the attention the Ravens are giving Britt cannot be overlooked. Again, Harvin could get a look, but the team already has Clayton. Britt has the T.O. like mentality. He knows he's good. Question is, can he translate his success to the NFL?

27. Indianapolis: Ziggy Hood, DT - Missouri

Hood is one of my personal favorites in this draft. He was dominant in Senior Bowl practices. If he can bring that unblockability to the NFL, he could benefit the Colts in many ways. Expect him to be a starter, right away.

28. Buffalo (from Philadelphia from Carolina): Robert Ayers, DE - Tennessee

Ayers has seen his stock rise recently. With the Bills placing several players on the trading block, they have an open position at Kelsay's DE spot.

29. New York Giants: Donald Brown, RB - Connecticut
Tough pick to make here. The Giants have a nice roster all around, and again, with Harvin we have the same issue. Too many similar players on the roster. After losing Derrick Ward, and knowing that Ahmad Bradshaw is more of a situational back, the Giants nab Brown. Brown can team with Jacobs and take over whenever Jacobs goes down for his hibernation...er...injury.

30. Tennessee: Vontae Davis: CB - Illinois
The team is short on CB (aren't they always?) and in this scenario have their pick of the top CB available in this draft outside of Jenkins.

31. Arizona: Alex Mack, C - California
Late last year, the Cards were firing on all cylanders, going all the way to the Super Bowl. If there was one place where the team could have used the help though, it was on the line. Mack will be a Day 1 starter and could be a difference maker late in the year when they need the inside push.

32. Pittsburgh: Max Unger, C - Oregon
Regardless of Max Starks and Chris Kemoeatu returning, the Steelers still need help on the offensive line. It was with those two in there that they were still giving up a lot of sacks. Unger can play any position on the offensive line. He would probably push Hartwig at center early, but could be groomed to play LT if needed.

Second Round


33. Detroit: James Laurinaitis, MLB - Ohio State

Great pick for the Lions if they don't go with Curry at #1. Laurinaitis should step right into the MLB spot and be a leader for the defense.

34. New England (from Kansas City): Connor Barwin, OLB - Cincinnati

The Pats land the next Mike Vrabel. Barwin is an exceptional athlete who can play OLB, DE, FB and TE. He'll settle in at OLB, but don't be surprised if he's out there on offense. He actually has decent skill as a TE.

35. St. Louis: Percy Harvin, WR - Florida

Finally Harvin goes. But, only because he's a steal at this point, and the run on WRs was steep. He's no Torry Holt, but he still brings a lot of speed and moves to the table.

36. Cleveland: Michael Johnson, OLB - Georgia Tech
The Browns can't expect Shantee Orr to be the answer at OLB across Wimbley. Johnson was a beast in college and has a lot of potential as a 3-4 backer.

37. Seattle: William Beatty, OT - Connecticut

Beatty can learn from one of the best before taking over. He'll back up Walter Jones, but don't be surprised if he's starting sooner than later. Beatty is a talent worth the 1st round, but falls to the 2nd round in this scenario.

38. Cincinnati: Alphonso Smith, CB - Wake Forest
The Bengals can go a lot of directions here. A RB like Rashad Jennings or a LB like Clint Sintim are possibilities. However, at CB Joseph and Hall aren't living up to their draft status, and could use some help. Smith is the most NFL-ready CB available, and should help right away.

39. Jacksonville: Darius Butler, CB - Connecticut

Duke Robinson would be a great fit here, but it is harder to get a good CB in a draft than a good OG. Butler could land a starting spot before too long.

40. Oakland: Larry English, DE - Northern Illinois
If the Raiders don't address DE in the first round, expect them to take the top DE off the board in the 2nd round. English is an intriguing prospect. Some have labeled him as the best non-first round prospect in the draft if he falls out of the first. Offensive line could be another target.

41. Green Bay: Eben Britton, OT - Arizona
Britton fell far, but luckily he fell to the right situation. The competition at RT is open after Tauscher wasn't re-signed. Britton should have no problem winning. Look for the team to also consider Ron Brace, as the switch to the 3-4 defense left them short of pure NTs.

42. Buffalo: Jared Cook, TE - South Carolina
The Bills add the most athletically gifted TE in the draft. Cook moves like a WR and catches like one. He's a breath of fresh air compared to the last couple of projects at TE.

43. San Francisco: Ron Brace, DT - Boston College
They needed a 3-4 NT, and they got one. Raji's college teammate is built much the same and can't easily be moved as well. He'll share time at NT with Aubrayo Franklin.

44. Miami (from Washington): Derrick Williams, WR - Penn State
Williams has had a great offseason, boosting his stock with his great 40 times and impressive workouts. He could fit right into the slot alongside Ginn and Camarillo.

45. New York Giants (from New Orleans): Clint Sintim, OLB - Virginia
A pass rushing OLB who fits in the 4-3 defense. This is just what the doctor ordered for the Giants. He would bring a lot of what Kiwanuka did for the Giants when he played OLB.

46. Houston: Louis Delmas, S - Western Michigan

The Texans land the top safety in the draft. He shouldn't take long before unseating either starter. Many don't know Delmas that well. He has the tools to be a star in this league.

47. New England (from San Diego): Rashad Jennings, RB - Liberty

A bit of a surprise pick here, but he will add a lot to this team. In a year, this big, speedy back could be the feature back on the team. While he played on a lower level of competition, his measurables cannot be overlooked.

48. Denver: Patrick Chung, S - Oregon
While Vernon Fox is a half-decent stop-gap, the Broncos still have a gaping hole at SS. Chung is a pure SS who excels at playing near the line.

49. Chicago: Brian Robiskie, WR - Ohio State

Don't be surprised if the Bears try to package some picks and move up for a top tier WR. The way they are tooling their team, it looks like they're trying to make a run. However, Cutler gets a nice big target in Robiskie. A CB like Sean Smith or D.J. Moore could be an option.

50. Cleveland (from Tampa Bay): William Moore, S - Missouri

He can team up with Brodney Pool and give the Browns a lot of range in the defensive backfield. Look for the Browns to also consider a TE like Cornelius Ingram or Shawn Nelson.

51. Dallas: Sean Smith, CB - Wisconsin

Smith is a huge CB who has the athletic ability to stick to a WR. With Anthony Henry out of the picture, the Cowboys could use another physical presence at CB to take on some of the bigger receivers in the NFL.

52. New York Jets: Jarron Gilbert, DE - San Jose State
One of the most talked about NFL draft prospects on YouTube. Gilbert is a tall athletic big man who played DT, but projects to DE on the Jets.

53. Philadelphia: Rashad Johnson, S - Alabama
Johnson is no Dawkins, but he has better promise than the current replacements. Johnson is a rangy safety who can cover a lot of ground.

54. Minnesota: Eric Wood, C - Louisville

With Birk's departure, the Vikings need to think about their future at center. Wood or Alabama's Caldwell make great selections here. UConn's Cody Brown would be a nice fit at OLB.

55. Atanta: Duke Robinson, OG - Oklahoma

Great value pick at 55. Robinson has 1st round talent, but plays a position that teams don't always look at in that round.

56. Miami: LeSean McCoy, RB - Pittsburgh
It could be smokescreen, but the Dolphins could be looking at moving Ronnie Brown. Regardless, Ricky Williams is way past his prime, and it might be time to look at another option. McCoy was very productive in college. His measurables aren't the greatest, but the skills are far from lacking.

57. Baltimore: Cody Brown, LB - Connecticut
Who would have thought Connecticut would be the dominant school in this draft? Brown can play inside or outside for the Ravens. He could eventually move inside and replace Ray Lewis when he retires, if needed.

58. New England: Fili Maola, DT - Southern Cal
Maola is a DE in the 3-4, bringing some athleticism to the table, but he's still strong enough to step in at NT for Wilfork on occasion and give him breathers. Don't rule out a TE at this pick.

59. Carolina: Lawrence Sidbury, DE - Richmond

Sidbury's hype machine is in effect. He's moving up the charts, and could find himself going higher if DEs start coming off the board like OTs did last season.

60. New York Giants: Jamon Meridith, OT - South Carolina

Meredith can play any position on the offensive line except center. He will fill in wherever he is needed, and can help the team save roster spots.

61. Indianapolis: Sen'Derrick Marks, DT - Auburn

It's no secret where the Colts need help. They add their 2nd DT in the draft, both on the first day. Marks could easily be starting alongside Peria Jerry as rookies.

62. Tennessee: Louis Murphy, WR - Florida

Nothing new for the Titans. They've been picking 3rd Tier WRs in the draft for years. However, Murphy has upside. He can be a #1 receiver in the right offense.

63. Arizona: Javon Ringer, RB - Michigan State

Ringer heads into the Cards as part of a three-headed monster at RB. Before Ringer was injured, he had 1st round potential written all over him. He looks good right now, and if he blossoms, could take over as the #1 option.

64. Pittsburgh: Alex Magee, DE - Purdue
Magee played DE in college, but should have been playing DT. He fits right in as a DE for the Steelers. He could be starting within a year.

Comments welcome.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

PHSports NBA Mock Draft - Version 2.0

1. Sacramento. Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma. The quintessential power forward, Griffin scores in bunches, fights for every rebound, plays steady man-to-man defense and goes after loose balls. Griffin takes a beating every game, so GMs will examine his health and free throw shooting with a fine tooth comb. Immediately, he becomes the toughest player on the Kings roster and revitalizes their franchise.







2. Washington. Ricky Rubio, PG, DKV Joventut. Unless the Wizards win on draft lottery night, they will need to go with the best player available. Rubio is as proven a player can be at the international level without having played a single second in the NBA. An unselfish point guard allows Gilbert Arenas to be a 2-guard who plays ::drumroll:: the 2-guard position. Some experts have either Hasheem Thabeet or Jordan Hill going here. I have doubts about Thabeet’s durability, his ability to dominate defensively in a league in which he cannot camp out in the 3-second lane, as well as his limited yet growing offensive game. Hill has broadened his face-up game, but still commits several mental errors on both sides of the ball.

3. LA Clippers. Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn. Though I have reservations about Thabeet’s performance at the next level, the Clippers are set at guard and small forward, and need more depth on the interior. For the next year, Thabeet will get to learn from Marcus Camby, who had similar doubters when he entered the league prior to earning defensive player of the year honors.

4. Oklahoma City. Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona. In need of a big who can score inside consistently, the Thunder jumps at the chance to acquire Hill. In the last two years, Hill has diversified his game and become more consistent. If the Thunder fall in the lottery, expect Hill to drop a couple spots.

5. Memphis. James Harden, SG, Arizona State. Before the tournament, Harden was #2 on our big board. Even after two unimpressive performances, Harden’s ability to dominate without scoring provides a one-two-three punch of OJ Mayo, Rudy Gay and Harden.

6. Minnesota. Demar DeRozan, SG/SF, USC. During the last NBA Draft, Minnesota addressed the frontcourt. This year, the need is in the backcourt, and if they decide not to go for a point guard, then they will go with DeRozan, who peaked at the right time at both ends of the court.

7. Golden State. Cole Aldrich, PF/C, Kansas. After surrendering loads of points, the Warriors need a defensive game-changer. Though Aldrich is still developing post moves and does not have much of a game beyond 10 feet, he is an elite defender and make an instant impact.

8. New York. Earl Clark, SF/PF, Louisville. In the #8 and set at exactly one position (center), the Knicks are in great position to pick the player who best fits the up and down D’Antoni system. Clark’s unselfish nature and ability to contribute without scoring make him a huge asset for any team. Versatility is a strength, but Clark can continue to develop his mid-range and deep game.

9. Toronto. Sam Young, SF, Pittsburgh. A multi-talented forward, Sam Young has shown dramatic improvement since arriving onto the scene at Pittsburgh. Despite that steady increase in productivity, Young still needs to be more judicious with the ball and shoot better from the charity stripe. Don’t be surprised if the Raptors draft a shooting guard, such as Tyreke Evans, Wayne Ellington, or Chase Budinger.

10. Milwaukee. DeJuan Blair, PF/C, Pittsburgh. If Scott Skiles wants toughness, then the 6’7”, 288-pound Blair is his man. Blair is a dynamo inside of ten feet and has deceptive speed, which makes him a candidate to pull down a rebound within a five-meter radius.


11. New Jersey. Craig Brackins, PF/C, Iowa State. One of the two most improved players in the Big XII (behind Cole Aldrich), Brackins can hit the 18-footer while also being able to back down opponents. Brackins’s ability to run the floor allows him to play in multiple lineups. He will no doubt benefit from playing alongside Brook Lopez.


12. Charlotte. Tyreke Evans, SG/PG, Memphis. An exceptional scorer, Evans repaired his reputation for being selfish and improved defensively. While he is a slasher and can get to the line regularly, Evans must improve his jumpshot before he takes the next step in his career.

13. Indiana. James Johnson, PF, Wake Forest. A solid all-around player with an eye for the basket, Johnson can score in many ways. Despite having all of the tools (quick feet, good shooter, good rebounder, good defender, can dunk in traffic) to succeed, Johnson needs to establish a killer instinct. If the Pacers are not impressed with Johnson’s upside, expect them to draft a point guard of the future.

14. Phoenix. Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse. A steal at pick #14, Flynn is a team leader who demonstrated his superior durability during the Big East Tournament. He uses his quickness and leaping ability to make up for his lack of size. The challenge for Flynn at the next level will be getting stronger without sacrificing speed. It’s no secret that Steve Nash’s days as an elite point guard are numbered, and that Flynn would be an amazing heir to the throne in the desert.

15. Detroit. Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina. Though the experts marvel at Lawson’s combination of speed, quickness, ball handling and strength, his biggest value is his decision making. His poise and composure allows him to see the whole court, while his opponents are sucking wind. Lawson’s ball control abilities within ten feet is reminiscent of Tony Parker. If there is a forward or center who falls to the Pistons, such as Blair, Brackins or Johnson, then they will go that route.

16. Chicago. Wayne Ellington, SG, North Carolina. With the imminent loss of Ben Gordon, Chicago needs a gunner who can get open and knock down shots. Not only does Ellington fill that role, he has improved his lateral quickness to make him more formidable defensively.

17. Philadelphia. Stephen Curry, PG/SG, Davidson. Expected to go in the lottery, Curry falls to the Sixers. As a combo guard, Curry can either join the stable of shooters that Philadelphia is attempting to assemble, or he will be the heir apparent to Andre Miller. This year, Curry showed that he can persevere at the point. However, he must continue to work on his shot selection in order to increase his shooting percentage.


18. Minnesota (from Miami). Eric Maynor, PG, Virginia Commonwealth. Devoid of steady guard play, the Timberwolves are fortunate that this is a point-guard rich draft. Maynor’s ability to stop on a dime in transition on one possession and hit a contested floater on the next has driven many sane coaches crazy.

19. Atlanta. BJ Mullens, C, Ohio State. Towards the end of the season, BJ Mullens demonstrated some of the talent that had the experts placing him as the #1 overall pick back in October. At #19, the Hawks obtain value at a position of need. One thing we learned though is that Mullens is not a game-changer at the defensive end, which ultimately saw his stock fall precipitously. Since Mike Bibby is in the final year of his contract, the Hawks may trade up to select one of the four point guards drafting from picks 14 through 18.

20. Utah. Chase Budinger, SG/SF, Arizona. Without a real backcourt threat alongside Deron Wiliams, the Jazz sputtered down the stretch. Jerry Sloan will have to teach Budinger to not take plays off, but the dividends will be plenty for the Jazz, as Budinger can score from anywhere on the court and can get to the line regularly.

21. New Orleans. Tyler Hansbrough, PF, North Carolina. At points this season, the Hornets – excluding their stars – lacked effort. Psycho T brings that to the table, along with a sheer desire to win. He has broadened his game to include a solid 18-footer, and has steadily improved his footwork and positioning on the defensive end.

22. Dallas. Brandon Jennings, PG, Lottomatica Roma. Ever the wild card in this draft, Jennings has been the benchmark for inconsistency. When I look at his statistics (averaging under 8 ppg, < 40% FG, < 27% 3-pointers, ~ 1.4:1 assist to turnover ratio), it’s tough for me to believe the hype. At 170 pounds, he must thicken before he can take the rigors of a demanding NBA schedule.

23. Sacramento (from Houston). Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke. Another player widely expected to go in the lottery, Henderson is a phenomenal athlete with an eye for the rim. He defends well, excelling in transition. That said, he lacks a sound jumpshot and sometimes lets shooting struggles translate into lazy fouls at the other end. If Henderson sticks around at Duke for another year, he’s certain to be in the top 10.

24. Portland. Damion James, SF/PF, Texas. Another free faller, James is a double-double guy who was expected to beast this season in the Big XII. Perhaps, that didn’t happen because Texas lacked an elite point guard. Perhaps, it didn’t happen because James had to create shots for himself. Either way, James can contribute without having to take shots, which makes him valuable to any contending team.

25. Oklahoma City (from San Antonio). Terrence Williams, SG/SF, Louisville. If they are not going to get good in a hurry, then Oklahoma City can get long. T-Will is a pick-pocket with a slasher’s mentality. With a proven scorer in Kevin Durant, Williams will not need to fill that role, but can fill up in other areas (averaged 8.6 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.3 steals per game). That said, T-Will must get over the free throw shooting mental block.

26. Chicago (from Denver through Oklahoma City). Jeff Pendergraph, PF/C, Arizona State. If the Bulls address their backcourt needs with their first pick, they will no doubt go with a [skilled] big man. That leaves few options, but Jeff Pendergraph is a great one. Though he’s not flashy, Pendergraph was effective, as he shot 66% from the field and only averaged 1.2 turnovers per game.

27. Memphis (from Orlando). DaJuan Summers, SF/PF, Georgetown. After a great start to the season, Summers fizzled when it mattered, which has seen his stock drop. Though he had trouble putting it all together this season, Summers has the tools to succeed at the next level and may be able to demonstrate his athletic gifts in a more open system. Gani Lawal is also an option.

28. Minnesota (from Boston). Jodie Meeks, SG, Kentucky. If Minnesota hangs onto all three of their picks in the first round, they can suddenly shore up their weaknesses in the backcourt. In Meeks, Minnesota gets a lockdown defender who has improved his shooting stroke. If he impresses at the pre-draft camps, Meeks can become a late lottery selection. That said, staying another year and playing under Coach Cal only enhances his draft prospects.

29. LA Lakers. Derrick Brown, SF, Xavier. Brown’s explosiveness, versatility and commitment to defense make him an attractive option to fill potential losses in free agency (Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza). Brown has not hired an agent, which allows him to return to school. If the Lakers go with a point guard, Darren Collison’s unselfishness, defensive prowess and ability to hit the 3-point shot make him a good fit for the Lakers.

30. Cleveland. Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky. A season after they selected a power forward in Round 1, the Cavaliers continue to replace their aging frontline and the contracts of Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Ben Wallace and Anderson Varejao expire next summer. Patterson struggled at times, but shot 60% from the field and can flourish with a roster that includes distributors like LeBron James and Mo Williams. Other possible options include Dante Cunningham, DerMarre Carrool, Jeff Adrien, Michael Washington, Tasmin Mitchell, Josh Heytvelt or Gani Lawal.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

2009 NFL Mock Draft: Version 3.0

On paper, the 2009 NFL Draft looks weak. One can never tell for sure until about 3 years after the fact. Regardless, the fact that this is viewed as a weak class will separate the great GMs from the good ones, and the great Draft Gurus from the rest. Compared to the last three NFL Drafts, this year's draft is maddening to Draft Gurus (or at the very least to me), as I can make a case for anywhere from 50-60 prospects to go in the first round. In most years, the number is closer to 40-45. As usual, I take the "Draft for Need" perspective as much as I can, however as we all know, there are teams with different draft mentalities out there (e.g. - "Draft Towards Strength" or "Best Player Available"). Anyway...let's get this show on the road. As always, comments are appreciated.

First Round

1. Detroit: Matt Stafford, QB - Georgia
I may stand with the minority on this, especially after Jason Smith beasted at the combines, but I still have Stafford going to Detroit. You just don't pass up on an arm like that. Good QB coaching can fix Stafford's weaknesses.

Jason Smith (photo courtesy of nflgridirongab.com)

2. St. Louis: Jason Smith, OT - Baylor

After putting together a combine performance like Jason Smith did, he could easily be the #1 pick in this draft. He showed his typical agility, but also showed the strength that quieted a lot of critics. With some fine tuning, he has Jonathan Ogden potential.

3. Kansas City: Aaron Curry, LB - Wake Forest
Curry proved that he is the elite defensive player in this draft. With Derrick Johnson moving inside, the Chiefs could use a play maker at OLB, specifically on the weak side.

4. Seattle: Mark Sanchez, QB - USC
My first reach. But, seriously, Matt Hasselbeck is up there in years, and the Hawks need to think about the future.

5. Cleveland: Brian Orakpo, DE - Texas
Maclin could get a look here with the trade rumors surrounding Braylon Edwards. If Edwards stays put, look for the Browns to address their OLB position with Orakpo.

6. Cincinnati: Eugene Monroe, OT - Virginia
The Bengals finally get a steal. Monroe could arguably be the top pick in the draft. Levi Jones should move to the right side. Another option would be to ease Monroe into the NFL at his former position at guard, before having him replace Jones.

7. Oakland: Michael Crabtree, WR - Texas Tech
Crabtree or Maclin. The Raiders already have some speed in their receiving corps. Crabtree can be a more reliable target for JaMarcus Russell (or Garcia), as he possesses more of that "throw the ball in his vicinity, and he'll catch it" ability.

Jeremy Maclin (Photo Courtesy of nfldraftdog.com)

8. Jacksonville: Jeremy Maclin, WR - Missouri
The Jags are turning into the Lions with their WR draft picks. Maclin is their latest attempt to break the tradition of busts at the position. If Mark Sanchez is available, expect the Jags to consider going that direction.

9. Green Bay: B.J. Raji, DT - Boston College
Raji has had some difficult times with word of him testing positive for marijuana. His agent has adamantly denied, and teams have seen how a player in a similar situation (Warren Sapp) has done. Raji steps right in at nose tackle for the new 3-4 scheme in Green Bay.

10. San Francisco: Everette Brown, OLB - Florida State
Andre Smith will get a long look here, but the fact remains that this team doesn’t get enough pressure on the QB. Brown should have no problem starting opposite Lawson, and should benefit Lawson as well.

11. Buffalo: Brandon Pettigrew, TE - Oklahoma State
I hate to put a TE this high, but Pettigrew fills needs for this team. Not only can he catch the ball well, he is a monster blocker at the position. A DE like Everette Brown could easily go at this pick.

12. Denver: Tyson Jackson, DE - Louisiana State
Now that Denver added the 18th pick, they can play around a little more with this pick. Jackson is a stud, and Denver knew he wouldn't fall to their second 1st rounder.

13. Washington: Andre Smith, OT - Alabama
Smith's antics at the combines and his "shaky" pro day performance dropped him out of the top 10 picks. Smith should battle Jon Jansen on the right side, but will be groomed to eventually take over for Chris Samuels.

14. New Orleans: Malcolm Jenkins, CB - Ohio State
Don't be surprised if Jenkins moves over to free safety for the Saints. He could get valuable instruction from Darren Sharper.

15. Houston: Brian Cushing, OLB - Southern Cal
Demeco Ryans lacks a true play maker by his side. With Cushing, the two can feed off each other's football prowess, and elevate the Texans defense to the next level.

16. San Diego: Michael Oher, OT - Mississippi
Ever since Shane Olivea lost favor with the team due to his substance abuse, the Chargers have needed help at RT. Oher can easily step in and upgrade the offensive line.

17. New York Jets: Josh Freeman, QB - Kansas State
I have to stick to my guns here. As much as Madden Football 09 fans like to use Brett Ratliff instead of Brett Favre, in reality, they need Freeman's strong arm. Freeman improved his stock as much as any QB with his individual workouts. He reminds me (somewhat) of Jay Cutler and Joe Flacco.

18. Denver (from Chicago): Vontae Davis, CB - Illinois
This would be Beanie Wells, but after he snubbed the team on a scheduled visit, he won't be considered. Knowshon Moreno could end up here. The Broncos filled a lot of open spots with mid-to-low level free agents. However, they left the CB spot barren and Davis would be a nice addition. He can also learn a lot from Champ Bailey.

19. Tampa Bay: Aaron Maybin, DE - Penn State
Don't rule out Ziggy Hood or Peria Jerry in this spot, however, they couldn't pass on an upgrade to their pass rush. Greg White is short on experience and he will turn 30 this season. Time for the Bucs to get another young body in there to work with Gaines Adams.

20. Detroit (from Dallas): Rey Maualuga, LB - Southern Cal
This would be an ideal draft for Detroit. They get their QB, and now they land a leader on defense. Maualuga could take the reigns of the defense right away and allow the team to feed off of him. The run defense is desperate for a MLB like Maualuga.

21. Philadelphia: Chris "Beanie" Wells, RB - Ohio State
With Correll Buckhalter's departure, the Eagles need a between the tackles runner, who has the ability to break it outside when needed. A Westbrook/Wells tandem give the Eagles a potent running game that can open things up for McNabb.

22. Minnesota: Eben Britton, OT - Arizona
A WR would be nice, but the Vikings don't like the gambles that are available. With Artis Hicks penciled in as the starting RT, the Vikings choose to go with the top RT in the draft. Britton will add a strong run blocking presence on the right side, opening holes for Adrian Peterson.

23. New England: Clay Matthews, OLB - Southern Cal
While Cushing would be an early birthday gift, he won't fall this far. The Pats go with his college teammate. Matthews fits the mold of a "Belichick Guy".

24. Atlanta: Peria Jerry, DT - Mississippi

The Falcons could use another DT inside. Jerry could line up alongside Babineaux with Trey Lewis rotating in. Ziggy Hood could also be the pick here as he and Jerry are neck and neck in my opinion.

25. Miami: Darius Butler, CB - Connecticut
Tough choice between Alphonso Smith and Darius Butler. Smith can help right away while Butler might need a little time to acclimate. However, Butler's potential long term payoff outweighs the immediate need for help.

26. Baltimore: Alphonso Smith, CB - Wake Forest
With both McAlister and Rolle re-signed but deteriorating, the Ravens need fresh bodies at CB. Smith is the most game ready CB in this draft available after Malcolm Jenkins. He could push Foxworth for the starting spot early in the season.

27. Indianapolis: Ziggy Hood, DT - Missouri
Hood dominated at Senior Bowl practices. He was unblockable. Look for him to make an impact wherever he lands. For the Colts, he would be a Day 1 starter.

28. Philadelphia (from Carolina): William Beatty, OT - Connecticut
While Eben Britton is the next highest ranked OT, he can only play the right side, where the Eagles signed Stacy Andrews to play. Beatty is no consolation. He excels in pass blocking and is athletic enough to keep up with a QB like Donovan McNabb.

29. New York Giants: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR - Maryland
The Plaxico situation forced this pick. Outside of Crabtree and Maclin, there might not be another WR going in the first round. However, the Giants are desperate for a WR. DHB holds a lot of potential, but needs some coaching. If he had better game experience, he would rank near Crabtree and Maclin.

30. Tennessee: Connor Barwin, DE - Cincinnati
I probably ranked Barwin a little too low in my position rankings. His hype machine is in full effect, and teams are now viewing him as a 1st round prospect. New England might consider him at 23. Barwin can also play on the offensive side of the ball as a TE where he can block and catch.

31. Arizona: Knowshon Moreno, RB - Georgia

Tim Hightower didn't take advantage of his time as a starter, and the front office is no longer confident in him as the every day starter. Look for Moreno (or Donald Brown if Moreno is gone) to be the pick here.

32. Pittsburgh: Alex Mack, C - California
The Steelers need a lot of help along the offensive line, especially in the middle. Depending on where they want Mack to line up, he could start out at OG, and eventually be moved to C.

Second Round

33. Detroit: Duke Robinson, OG - Oklahoma
Don't rule out a DT (especially if Jerry or Hood fall to this pick). Robinson is no consolation prize though. He should step right into the LG spot and make the Detroit RBs happy.

34. New England (from Kansas City): Max Unger, C - Oregon
The Patriots can go a number of directions here with Unger. He can play all five offensive line positions effectively. He could be groomed to eventually fill in for Stephen Neal. However, the Patriots might not be happy with Kaczur's substance abuse allegations. Moving Unger to the RT spot could be an option.

35. St. Louis: James Laurinaitis, MLB, Ohio State
Expect strong consideration of Derrick Williams at this pick. However Laurinaitis is too good to pass up, especially going into the season with Chris Draft and Will Witherspoon fighting for the inside job. Both can move outside with the addition of Laurinaitis.

Donald Brown (Photo courtesy of broncotalk.net)

36. Cleveland: Donald Brown, RB - Connecticut
Don’t expect Brown to be available at this pick, however if he's there, he would be a great fit in Cleveland. We could easily look back 3-4 years from now and say that Brown was the best RB taken in this draft.

37. Seattle: Rashad Jennings, RB - Liberty
Jennings is a big back with speed who has all the tools to be a starting back in the NFL. He played against a low level of competition at Liberty. He lands on the right team with Seattle, as they can bring him along at whatever pace they want.

38. Cincinnati: Percy Harvin, WR - Florida
While I thought I was being funny with this pairing, it actually makes a lot of sense. Harvin can line up in the slot, and he's got some off field issues. Perfect fit in Cincinnati. He would take command of return duties with his Hester-like athletic ability.

39. Jacksonville: Jamon Meridith, OT - South Carolina
Meridith makes a good fit here because he can play any OG or OT position. He could be groomed to move to LT one Tra Thomas is ready to retire.

40. Oakland: Michael Johnson, DE - Georgia Tech
While I would like to take the safe pick with Robert Ayers, we're talking about the Raiders. Johnson has a lot of hype coming out of college. Johnson is the pick with hopes of having a tandem reminiscent of Long and Townsend.

41. Green Bay: Phil Loadholt, OT - Oklahoma
With Tauscher out of the picture, the Packers turn their attention to Loadholt. A mountain of a man, Loadholt can step into the RT spot and use his powerful drive blocking to open holes for Ryan Grant.

42. Buffalo: Robert Ayers, DE - Tennessee
Ayers can challenge Chris Kelsay and Ryan Denney for the RE spot. Ayers brings a better pass rush, and could open things up for Schobel on the other side.

43. San Francisco: Kenny Britt, WR - Rutgers

Don't be surprised if an available RB like LeSean McCoy goes to the 9ers at this pick. Britt is a big receiver who brings more star power to the table than any WR they have. If Britt's play matches his attitude, he could be another T.O. in San Fran.

44. Miami (from Washington): Clint Sintim, OLB - Virginia
Sintim comes from a similar 3-4 system at Virginia as the Dolphins have. On the field, he is similar to Porter, and can learn a lot from him. An OG could get some consideration here.

45. New York Giants (from New Orleans): Cody Brown, OLB - Connecticut
All the sudden UConn is an NFL breeding ground. Brown is a speedy athletic LB who boasts a lot of potential. He projects to the outside, but has the thick stalky frame to play the inside. He could start off as a jack of all trades backing up all three LB spots before settling into a starting role.

46. Houston: D.J. Moore, CB - Vanderbilt
I almost had the Texans taking Vontae Smith in the first round, but felt Cushing was too good to pass up. Moore could eventually push Jacques Reeves for the starting spot in a year.

47. New England (from San Diego): Jared Cook, TE - South Carolina
A nice little steal. Cook could end up being everything Ben Watson was supposed to be for the Pats. Cook is a pure receiving threat. He can stretch the field and cause matchup problems for opposing defenses.

48. Denver: Larry English, DE - Northern Illinois
With the switch over to a 3-4 defense, the Broncos need bodies at the OLB spot. English brings his pass rushing prowess to the table. He has a lot of hype to live up to.

49. Chicago: Hakeem Nicks, WR - North Carolina
Nicks drops a long way due to questions over his conditioning and desire. However, if Lovie can light a fire in Nicks, Jay Cutler has a nice target to pitch the ball to.

50. Cleveland (from Tampa Bay): Sean Smith, CB - Wisconsin
Smith has been shooting up the charts. He's a huge CB, but can also be moved over to S. The Browns have needs at both positions, so they can use the versatility.

51. Dallas: Keenan Lewis, CB - Oregon State
The team is in desperate need of a CB after losing Anthony Henry, and dumping Pacman Jones. Lewis is a physical corner who can bring a lot of what Anthony Henry brought to the table, but Lewis has fresher legs.

52. New York Jets: Fili Maola, DT - Southern Cal
Maola will move over to DE in Rex Ryan's 3-4 defense. He would probably sit behind Ellis and Coleman, eventually taking over at one of the spots.

53. Philadelphia: Cornelius Ingram, TE - Florida
If it wasn't for missing the 2008 season with an ACL tear, Ingram would have rivaled Pettigrew as the top TE in this draft. Ingram is an Antonio Gates clone, bringing a lot of the same tools to the table. He has a lot of potential, and will make a lot of teams kick themselves for passing on him if he's 100% healthy and shows no signs of ill-effects.

54. Minnesota: Brian Robiskie, WR - Ohio State
Robiskie is a big, disciplined receiver who will make the tough catches that Sidney Rice cannot. He would make a nice compliment to Berrian, and could open the door for Bobby Wade to do his damage in the slot. You can't dismiss his bloodlines as his father, Terry, was one of the toughest WRs to ever play the game.

55. Atanta: Louis Delmas, S - Western Michigan
Regarded by many as the top safety in this draft. Patrick Chung is another option. Delmas could play either safety position. He can play in coverage and can play along the line of scrimmage if needed.

56. Miami: Louis Murphy, WR - Florida
Parcels doesn't usually do projects with dicey pasts. However, Murphy matured late in his college career, and seems to have turned things around. A prototypical WR who has excellent size and speed, but needs a little coaching and a Parcels-type presence.

57. Baltimore: Ron Brace, DT - Boston College
Raji's partner in crime at Boston College. Both are now in the NFL looking at playing NT in 3-4 defenses. Brace is a hard one to move and takes up a lot of space. He could push Kelly Gregg earlier than most think.

58. New England: Sen'Derrick Marks, DT - Auburn
Someone needs to give Vince Wilfork a breather. Marks is a squatty DT who can handle the NT spot in New England's defense. He should get a lot of playing time. He might even be versatile enough to play the ends too.

Jarron Gilbert (Photo courtesy of espn.com)

59. Carolina: Jarron Gilbert, DT - San Jose State
Gilbert is a tall DT who can get to the QB. He should come in for Kemeatu on passing downs, but don't be surprised if he beats out Tyler Brayton for the DE spot opposite Peppers.

60. New York Giants: Gerald Cadogan, OT - Penn State
Cadogan is slightly raw, but has the tools to start at LT in the NFL. Academic All-American who has the intelligence it takes to play the LT spot. Will eventually move Diehl inside..

61. Indianapolis: Alex Magee, DT - Purdue
Colts go DT again. They need the bodies. Magee played out of position at DE, but impressed at the Senior Bowl when shifted inside to DT. He has a lot of potential, but it's hard to tell what the finished product will look like.

62. Tennessee: Coye Francies, CB - San Jose State
Francies has a lot of upside, and has the time to learn with the Titans. Francies is a diamond in the rough, and if he can add about 10 lbs, along with some football IQ, he could be something special.

63. Arizona: Eric Wood, C - Louisville
Wood probably goes higher if he wasn't a center. Wood could end up beating out Sendlein for the starting spot. If Ron Brace were to somehow drop to this pick. He might be a good fit.

64. Pittsburgh: Jairus Byrd, CB - Oregon
The Steelers can play Byrd at either CB or S. Look for an offensive tackle to get a look too. Gerald Cadogen would be an option.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

With the 1st Pick the Detroit Lions select...

Armin's positional rankings just dropped (COMMENTS NEEDED!!!) and the 2-round mock is right around the corner.

With that in mind, who SHOULD the Detroit Lions select with the first overall pick?

Check out the new poll in the top right corner of the page and let us know what YOU think.
Feel free to comment below as well...

Somebody help this guy out. Pronto.
Credit: LosingLions.com

Option #1: Matthew Stafford [QB, Georgia]
Pro: He has all the tools necessary to be an elite quarterback in the NFL.
Con: Is a quarterback with almost no tools around him - save Calvin Johnson - the fix for the NFL's first 0-16 team?

Option #2: Mark Sanchez [QB, USC]
Pro: Many scouts say he'd would've been a lock to be the #1 pick in 2010, so why not in 2009 at a year younger?
Con: Only one full collegiate season under his belt. Is that really enough to judge this kid who was once considered far too emotionally stunted?

Option #3: Aaron Curry [LB, Wake Forest]
Pro: He's the most complete player on the board. That's hard to argue with. Jerrod Mayo had similar regards, at least according to the Patsies, and he played like a #1 overall pick last season.
Con: How many linebackers go #1 overall? More than that, how many Wake Forest linebackers go #1 overall?

Option #4: Jason Smith [OT, Baylor]
Pro: Draft an offensive lineman that can anchor your line for the next 10+ years. Why not?
Con: Is it too conservative for the #1 overall pick? Is he the #1 tackle only due to Andre Smith's meltdown?

Option #5: Eugene Monroe [OT, Virginia]
Pro: See above.
Con: Sorry, but see above.

Option #6: Andre Smith [OT, Alabama]
Pro: You've seen the worst of him and he survived it. His physical abilities are unmatched at the position.
Con: Do you really reward this guy with #1-overall pick money?

Option #7: Michael Crabtree [WR, Texas Tech]
Pro: He would look really good lined up across from Calvin Johnson.
Con: Seriously. Do I have to explain this one?

Option #8: B.J. Raji [DT, Boston College]
Pro: The defensive line suffered mightily without Shaun Rogers last year and Raji could fill that void quite well.
Con: This mess at the combine likely pushed even his loftiest goals for being in the top 5, no less the 1st overall selection.

Option #9: TRADE IT!!!
Pro: Save the money, acquire more picks, and build much-needed depth.
Con: Good luck getting similar value. You can't simply give away the #1 pick.

Option #10: Hire Matt Millen back instead
Pro: To keep the joke lasting even longer.
Con: To avoid mass suicides in Detroit.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

2009 NFL Draft: Position Rankings

As the draft nears, and Pro Day's have passed, I thought now is a better time than any to post my position rankings for the 2009 NFL draft. Last year, outside of a handful of predictions, the list was pretty close to the order that players went in the first day. This year poses a different challenge, as we have a larger amount of players that could potentially sneak into the 1st round. Anyway...looking forward to the comments. Enjoy.

(Photo Courtesy of University of Georgia)

QB
1 - Matt Stafford, Georgia
2 - Mark Sanchez, Southern Cal
3 - Josh Freeman, Kansas State
4 - Rhett Bomar, Sam Houston State
5 - Nate Davis, Ball State

Stafford sat atop this list all off-season. After Sanchez practically hit a home run on his Pro Day, the race is almost neck and neck. As for Freeman, I have had guarded optimism. Is he the real deal? I think Bomar is the diamond in the rough of this draft. Not only could he be an NFL starter, he could make his QB coach look so good, he lands a head coaching gig.

RB

1 - Chris Wells, Ohio State
2 - Knowshon Moreno, Georgia
3 - Donald Brown, Connecticut
4 - Rashad Jennings, Liberty
5 - Javon Ringer, Michigan State
6 - LeSean McCoy, Pittsburgh
7 - Andre Brown, NC State
8 - Shonn Greene, Iowa
9 - Ian Johnson, Boise State
10 - Kory Sheets, Purdue

Wells and Moreno top this year’s class of RBs. Don’t be surprised if Brown is the first RB off the board though. The hype machine is in full-effect for the UConn prospect. McCoy was a first round prospect until he posted some pedestrian times. Jennings and Ringer boast a lot of potential. Some team will be very happy with what Shonn Greene will bring to their table.

WR
1 - Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech
2 - Jeremy Maclin, Missouri
3 - Percy Harvin, Florida
4 - Darrius Heyward-Bey, Maryland
5 - Hakeem Nicks, North Carolina
6 - Kenny Britt, Rutgers
7 - Derrick Williams, Penn State
8 - Brian Robiskie, Ohio State
9 - Louis Murphy, Florida
10 - Pat White*, West Virginia

Crabtree and Maclin are interchangeable at the top of the WR list. Crabtree reminds me of a young Sterling Sharpe. Maclin has the game-breaking speed that teams salivate over. Harvin has Devin Hester-like ability. DHB brings the same level of athletic ability to the table that former Terrapins stars Shawne Merriman and Vernon Davis brought to their respective positions. But the important question is: Who’s level of productivity will he trend towards? If there is a run on WRs, like there was on OTs last year, we could see as many as seven going in the first round. Pat White only makes the list based on his potential at a position he didn’t play in college.

TE
1 - Brandon Pettigrew, Oklahoma State
2 - Jared Allen, South Carolina
3 - Shawn Nelson, Southern Mississippi
4 - Chase Coffman, Missouri

As a receiver, Pettigrew has Shockey written all over him. As a blocker, he reminds some of Kyle Brady. Keep an eye on the explosive Jared Allen, who runs like a WR.

C/G
1 - Alex Mack, California
2 - Duke Robinson, Oklahoma
3 - Max Unger, Oregon
4 - Eric Wood, Louisville
5 - Antoine Caldwell, Alabama

Mack and Robinson seem destined for the late first round. Unger could get consideration due to his versatility, allowing him to play any position on the line. He may be picked to play left tackle. Caldwell may be vastly underrated based on playing in Andre Smith’s shadow.

T

1 - Jason Smith, Baylor
2 - Eugene Monroe, Virginia
3 - Andre Smith, Alabama
4 - Michael Oher, Mississippi
5 - Eben Britton, Arizona
6 - William Beatty, Connecticut
7 - Phil Loadholt, Oklahoma
8 - Jamon Meridith, South Carolina
9 - Gerald Cadogan, Penn State
10 - Troy Kropog, Tulane

The most exciting position in the draft, as far as the movement at the top of the rankings, was at tackle. I’ve been a fan of Jason Smith (hoping my team could land him) for a while. After the combines, that dream faded, as he could easily be the top pick in the draft. Monroe is right there with Jason Smith. Andre Smith slipped after his antics at the Combine and his Pro Day, where he got jiggly with it. I’ve always felt Oher was overrated, but he looks good so far in his individual workouts. Eben Britton is the top pure right tackle prospect. Kropog would rank higher, but he only really ranks that high if he’s in a zone-blocking scheme.

DT
1 - B.J. Raji, Boston College
2 - Ziggy Hood, Missouri
3 - Peria Jerry, Mississippi
4 - Sen'Derrick Marks, Auburn
5 - Alex Magee, Purdue
6 - Ron Brace, Boston College
7 - Jarron Gilbert, San Jose State
8 - Fili Moala, Southern Cal
9 - Dorrell Scott, Clemson
10 - Chris Baker, Hampton

2009 is not the best year for DTs. Raji could go in the top 10 (depending on what he tested positive for at the Combines). Hood had the most dramatic climb up the charts, especially after the Senior Bowl practices. Ron Brace joins Raji as two of the few prospects that can be a pure NT. Keep an eye on Jarron Gilbert. He can get in the backfield as a DT.

DE

1 - Brian Orakpo, Texas
2 - Everette Brown, Florida State
3 - Tyson Jackson, LSU
4 - Aaron Maybin, Penn State
5 - Robert Ayers, Tennessee
6 - Larry English, Northern Illinois
7 - Michael Johnson, Georgia Tech
8 - Connor Barwin, Cincinnati
9 - Paul Kruger, Utah
10 - Lawrence Sidbury, Richmond

There are a lot of Boom or Bust prospects at DE this year. Several prospects might end up as OLBs in 3-4 schemes, specifically Orakpo, Brown and Maybin. Jackson needs to be drafted into a 3-4 scheme to play DE. Larry English and Michael Johnson carry a lot of hype. Barwin came out of nowhere, trying out for several positions. He is shooting up the draft charts.


(Photo Courtesy of Wake Forest University)



LB
1 - Aaron Curry, Wake Forest
2 - Rey Maualuga, Southern Cal
3 - Brian Cushing, Southern Cal
4 - Clay Matthews, Southern Cal
5 - James Laurinaitis, Ohio State
6 - Clint Sintim, Virginia
7 - Marcus Freeman, Ohio State
8 - Gerald McRath, Southern Mississippi
9 - Jonathan Casillas, Wisconsin
10 - Darryl Beckwith, LSU

Curry is probably the best finished product in this draft. He can play any LB position in the NFL. The Southern Cal trio could easily all end up going in the first round. Sintim is a pass rusher who could play OLB in either the 3-4 or the 4-3. Casillas looks to be a steal, and could be a rookie starter on the weak side for some team. If Beckwith can stay healthy, he could be another Nick Barnett.

CB

1 - Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State
2 - Vontae Davis, Illinois
3 - Darius Butler, Connecticut
4 - Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest
5 - D.J. Moore, Vanderbilt
6 - Sean Smith, Utah
7 - Keenan Lewis, Oregon State
8 - Asher Allen, Oregon
9 - Coye Francies, San Jose State
10 - Mike Mickens, Cincinnati

Jenkins would have been the top CB in last year’s draft. He’ll be drafted as a CB, but don’t rule out a move to FS if he goes to a CB-rich team, especially with the lack of a major talent at safety in this draft. After Jenkins, there’s a fight for the #2 spot on this list. Davis, Butler, Alphonso Smith and Moore are all vying to be the 2nd CB off the board. Sean Smith isn’t far off. Keenan Lewis and Coye Francies offer a lot of potential, but could probably use some coaching. Lewis could also be moved to safety.

S
1 - Rashad Johnson, Alabama
2 - Louis Delmas, Western Michigan
3 - Patrick Chung, Oregon
4 - William Moore, Missouri
5 - Sherrod Martin, Troy
6 - Chip Vaughn, Wake Forest
7 - Chris Clemons, Clemson

This year’s weakest position is at safety. There are several CBs that could make their way over to the safety position (including Sherrod Martin who already made the journey to this list). Many can make arguments for any of the top 4 listed here to be the top safety in this draft. Keep an eye on the athletic Clemons. He has the tools to be a great prospect.

K
1 - Graham Gano, Florida State
2 - David Beuhler, Southern Cal
3 - Ryan Succop, South Carolina

P
1 - Kevin Huber, Cincinnati
2 - Thomas Morstead, Southern Methodist
3 - Chris Miller, Ball State

I am not a fan of ranking kickers and punters coming out of college. It is as close as you can get to a crapshoot.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Underrated's Last 10 Seasons

Am I short changing the Spartans too easily? Perhaps.
Not like it hurt me with UNC's last outing though.
Nevertheless, let's take a peak at the past ten national championship games and see how similar trains of thought would've fared.

And yes, I am calling some #1-seeds pretty heavy favorites over other #1-seeds (see: 2007). Why? Because I'll back it up.
We're not talking about many, or any, coin flips here.

All odds courtesy of Statsheet.com. (NA=Not available)
The covers, well they don't need a source unless you're brain dead.
God bless the Internet.


2008 - Kansas vs. Memphis (-1.5)

Commentary: The first time four-#1 seeds had ever reached the Final Four, the earliest lines fluctuated from a pick'em to Memphis by as many as 2. This may, in fact, be as close to an actual pick'em as we've seen in the past 10 (or 1, if you wanna be a smartass) championship matchups. It should come as no surprise that the game was competitive, that it went to overtime, and that nobody would've been legitimately surprised with either team winning. Although it must be noted that Memphis seemed to have the game locked up. Key word: seemed. Perhaps this doesn't help or hurt the theory. Which probably makes it more negative than positive. Moving along...

2007 - Florida vs. Ohio State (NA)

Commentary: Despite being a #1-seed, having the future #1-overall pick (Greg Oden), and a fellow top-5 pick in Mike Conley Jr., the Buckeyes were big time underdogs to the defending national champion Gators. While Oden had plenty of dunks down low, Florida controlled nearly from start to finish. The Gators entered the tournament heavy favorites and the overall #1-seed. What resulted was a 84-75 victory that was never truly in question. Score one for the overwhelming favorites.

2006 - Florida (-1.5) vs. UCLA

Commentary: Avoiding a few early scares - namely against Georgetown - Florida breezed past Cinderella-story-of-the-century George Mason into the national championship game. Ditto for UCLA, who spanked LSU to give us one of the most borish Saturday nights in recent memory. While the Bruins had tradition, Ben Howland's defensive genius, and a talented backcourt (led by a guy named Farmar), Florida's starting 5 dominated from start to finish, defeating the Bruins with ease 73-57. A few West Coast-homers wondered if Howland had turned UCLA back into a national champion years earlier than expected. They're still waiting. Another W for the favorites...and the Gators.

Note: By the way, I still contend Vegas pushed this line so close to a pick'em in order to cash in HEAVILY with UCLA-homers. Which they did, by the way.

2005 - North Carolina (-2) vs. Illinois

Commentary: Clearly the best two teams in the country all season long, the Tar Heels were looking to help head coach Roy Williams secure his first national championship. While Illinois had plenty of talent - particularly in its backcourt (Williams & Brown) - the Tar Heels were stacked with lottery talent of their own (3, to be exact), including a guy taken over CP3 and Deron Williams (that's Marvin!). Despite a late surge from the Illini, the Heels cut down the nets for the 4th time in school history. Notice a trend? The upsets just aren't coming. No matter how close they came.

2004 - UConn vs. Georgia Tech (NA)

Commentary: Despite the heroics of Will Bynum throughout the tournament, there is NO realistic bet I would've taken, no odds friendly enough, for me to believe UConn was losing this game. Maybe if Ben Gordon and Emeka Okafor tripped over each other on the way out of the tunnel and each tore their ACL...then we might've talked. In a game that had everything to do with a dominating double-digit lead, UConn ended up winning by 9 - by the way, this was as large of a 9-point victory as I can remember - 82-73. The Jackets had zero chance, folks. The overwhelming favorites never sweated for a moment.

2003 - Syracuse vs. Kansas (-5)

Commentary: Admittedly, I'm more than a little biased. Admittedly, I didn't pick Syracuse to advance past their national semi-final of the Final Four (I had them losing to my national champ, Texas). Admittedly, the media shortchanged this roster filled with one senior and a ton of underclassmen. Admittedly, Carmelo Anthony was far-and-away the most talented player on the court (sorry Collison and Heinrich). Admittedly, Jim Boeheim had lost twice before in the Superdome; having his heart broken, by a guy with the last name of Smart, in 1987. Admittedly, Kansas was favored, by 5 points. Admittedly, Syracuse was picked to lose by a similar margin to two other Big XII teams in the Elite Eight (Oklahoma) and National Semi-Final (Texas). Admittedly, this is the most satisfying single victory of my "fandom" career. Admittedly, this result doesn't help my theory much. Admittedly, this result doesn't hurt my theory much either.

2002 - Maryland (-7.5) vs. Indiana

Commentary: Indiana nearly tripped up against a guy named Blizzard and the Seahawks of UNC-Wilimgton in the second round; however, it was the near collapse against Duke that garnered all the headlines. It's also fun to note that they had to beat 10-seeded Kent State - with Antonio Gates on the frontline - to make the Final Four. Mike Davis led the upstart Hooisers as far as he could, losing to a talented, poised, and savvy Terrapins squad that seemed predestined to avenge the mistakes and heartbreaks of 2001. And so they did. Indiana hung around as best they could, but like he always did, Juan Dixon (leading the charge with a 22-8 to run to close out the game) was simply just too good. The Terps took home their first ever national championship, defeating the storied Hoosier program - sans Bobby Knight, of course - 64-52. This Terps team may be the most underrated national champions of the (young) century. Yep, the favorites won again, with relative ease too!

2001 - Duke (-3.5) vs. Arizona

Commentary: I didn't give this Arizona team nearly enough respect as it entered the tournament (shocker!). They only defeated #1-seeded Illinois in their regional final and then the defending national champs, Michigan State, to advance to Monday night's finale. Meanwhile, the Dookies were absolutely STACKED. Names like Battier, Williams, and Dunleavy should ring a few horrific memories. They even overcame a 39-17 deficit to defeat their ACC rivals, Maryland, in their national semi-final. Lauren Woods was in his 11th year with the Wildcats; however, it wasn't enough. Despite making an impressive run mid-way through the second-half, the lottery-stacked Dookies prevailed 82-72. Typically when Dook enters a title game as a favorite, they win. Typically. The trend is all but FACT over the past ten championships, isn't it? Oh yeah, my friend John Brady, cried at the end of this game. I don't blame him one bit, especially as a devoted Terps fan.

2000 - Michigan State (-4) vs. Florida

Commentary: The Flynt-stones weren't as hobbled as the announce team wanted you to believe (even Mr. Cleaves) and the Gators, an upstart 5-seed, weren't an adequate enough match for the nation's finest team. The Spartans had everything working for them. Funny thing is, Zach Randolph still wasn't on this team. Many of these players were a part of three-straight Final Fours andall 12 on the roster have rings after an 89-76. When a Tom Izzo-coached team scores 89, they're going to win. When a team is favored in the National Championship Game, they're likely to win too!

1999 - UCONN vs. Duke (-9)

Commentary: Now here we go. Let's not discount the talent on UConn. This was a team more than a great head coach (insert: Calhoun) and a star-in-the-making (insert: Rip Hamilton, tourney MOP might I add). In fact, they were #1-ranked an extra week (10 to 9) over the Dookies. They had the memorable moment (which often seems necessary to memorable title runs) too; with Hamilton breaking the hearts of UDub fans with his fading-fade away against the Huskies. I'll admit that I didn't give the Huskies much of a chance. Duke had a sensational roster - led by Elton Brand - and a coach with two titles in his back pocket. What resulted - in a Final Four played in Tampa of all places - was one of the few upsets in recent memory, with UConn winning 77-74. Not nearly as shocking as a 15 over a 2, but most people still penciled in the Dookies for their 3rd National Championship. This proves it's a trend/theory and not fact. But could it just be the outlier we need to remove? Could it???

In the end, I'm still picking the Tar Heels by a LOT. But maybe there is proof in this pudding.
JELLO PUDDING!!!


Sunday, April 05, 2009

11 National Championship Game Questions

10 would be too cliche and 12 would be too much. So what do we do? 11!!!

If the Spartans want a realistic chance, exit Thabeet and insert Hansbrough in this picture.
Easier said than done, Clement.

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

1) The oddsmakers have UNC as 7 1/2-point favorites. Which side are you on?

2) Which Tar Heel will walk out MOP with a win: Lawson, Hansbrough, Ellington, or Green?

3) Which Spartan will walk out MOP with a win: Lucas, Morgan, Sutton, or Lucious?

4) Which coach is most likely to earn a third, not just second, national championship?

5) Is this UNC team (Hansbrough, Lawson, Ellington, Green) better than 2005's (May, Felton, McCants, M. Williams) national championship team?

6) What is the largest halftime deficit the Spartans could realistically overcome? Is their a deficit too large for the Heels?

Izzo better have a Calhoun-type lock on the refs if his team can avoid Lawson drawing double-digit fouls on the entire depth chart of Michigan State.
Credit: Yahoo! Sports

7) I hate to say it, but could an injury to Lawson's toe (which seems as close to 100% as possible) be the best shot for the Spartans?

8) How large of an upset would the Spartans pull if they can go Giants over Patriots in a championship game "rematch"? In the span of ten years, is this potential storied upset most comparable to 1999's UConn over Duke (Dookies favored by 7, in case you forgot)? Do you have a better one?

9) Whose 3-point shooting is more important to their team winning? Is there a method to forcing Ellington into early misses in Izzo's playbook?

10) Will this game need an extra session like last year's title game (Kansas vs. Memphis)?

11) Mario Chalmers moment-time. Down 3, and you have the ball, with less than 10 seconds to go. Is Lawson or Lucas passing or taking the shot themselves? (Better question: is either coach calling for the foul?)

I hope all these answers are, in fact, answered. However, I remain Dr. Skeptismo.
We'll hopefully get more from Pay tomorrow - and perhaps myself - as tipoff approaches.
As for my score prediction...let's just say I have one team by 25+. I see shades of Duke/UNLV in '90, not '91.

That should say plenty. And yes, I'm saying the all-time largest margin of victory may be in danger.

Beware Tark. That record may be in trouble. Seriously.
Admittedly, this cover is MUCH better.
Credit: CNNSI.com