In the wake of the many pro days happening at various colleges, and a few changes, here is my updated NFL Mock Draft.
1) Detroit Lions—Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia:
Once again, its Stafford. The QB from Georgia had a fantastic pro day, and a great personal workout with the Lions a few days ago. The more I see this kid throw, the more I like him. There is absolutely no reason for the Lions to pass on him in favor of an offensive tackle, despite what some uninformed Detroit beat writers may think. After a winless season, the Lions need someone who can help win games. Offensive tackles do not win games for your football team.
2) St. Louis Rams—Jason Smith, OT, Baylor:
Very close call between Jason Smith and Eugene Monroe, but Steve Spagnuolo has been saying all offseason that he wants to center the offense around Steven Jackson. While both Smith and Monroe are elite pass protectors, Smith offers more in the run blocking department. I'm sure the Rams will be happy with whoever they chose to select with their pick.
3) Kansas City Chiefs—Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest:
Now that Matt Cassel is a Chief, this pick will be Aaron Curry. He is the best defensive player in the draft, and is probably the safest pick as well. Kansas City definitely needs to upgrade their D. Whether the Chiefs switch to a 3-4, or stay at a 4-3, Curry will be plugged right into the starting lineup, and will be an automatic upgrade for them.
4) Seattle Seahawks—Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia:
This pick will probably come down to Crabtree and Monroe, but since Seattle has upgraded their WR corps already, Monroe makes more sense. The Seahawks need help all over their offensive line if they want to improve their record this season. Monroe is a great player that will be an adequate replacement for Walter Jones.
5) Cleveland Browns—Brian Orakpo, DE/OLB, Texas:
With Curry off the board, this pick has to be Brian Orakpo. Cleveland simply couldn't get to the quarterback in 2008. The team managed 17 sacks, and no player had more than four. This really needs to change quickly, and Orakpo is the perfect man to fix this issue. A sack artist opposite Kameron Wimbley would be a great pick for the Browns.
6) Cincinnati Bengals—B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College:
I know, the Bengals are in desperate need of an offensive tackle, but at No. 6 overall, I'm not sure there is anyone to take here. Both Michael Oher and Andre Smith are options, but both have proven that they are barely top ten prospects. The Bengals need help anywhere on defense, and Raji is the best player available.
7) Oakland Raiders—Michael Johnson, DE/OLB, Georgia Tech:
This seems like a crazy pick, but remember, this is Al Davis drafting. I have Johnson here at number seven for two main reasons. One: Al Davis loves athleticism and 40 times. Johnson ran a 4.49 at his pro day, so undead Al is probably very excited right now.
The other reason is Al Davis' draft history. He has chosen defensive ends four times in the opening round, the most recent being Tyler Brayton, who had the third-fastest 40 time among the players at his position in 2003.
8) Jacksonville Jaguars—Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech:
If Crabtree and Raji are off the board, Jacksonville is in trouble. They would have to reach for a player with this pick. Luckily, I have Crabtree falling to them...for now. As all of you know, WR is a massive need for the Jags. Jacksonville currently has the worst receiving corps in the entire NFL. Crabtree will be an immediate upgrade for the Jags.
9) Green Bay Packers—Everette Brown, DE/OLB, Florida State:
With B.J. Raji off the board, Green Bay will go in the pass rushing direction with their pick. The Packers had trouble getting to the QB last season, as their defense as a whole was disastrous. Everette Brown will definitely help in this department, so this pick makes a lot of sense.
10) San Francisco 49ers—Mark Sanchez, QB, USC:
The 49ers signed former Steelers LT Marvel Smith a few days ago, so the odds of this pick being an offensive tackle have just lowered quite a bit. That being said, I think Sanchez will be the pick here. The Niners really should not go into the 2009 season with Shaun Hill and Alex Smith as their top two quarterbacks.
11) Buffalo Bills—Aaron Maybin, DE/OLB, Penn State:
Maybin blew away scouts and general managers at Penn State's pro day. Maybin continued to put on weight—he measured in at 253—and he managed to run a 4.59, which was 0.3 faster than his time at the combine. The Bills must have been thrilled at his solid workout, as their defense is in desperate need of a pass rusher. Maybin fits that role perfectly.
12) Denver Broncos—Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU:
As I've said before, Jackson would be a great fit for the Broncos new three-man line. He is great at stopping the run, something which Denver could not do last year, and he could be plugged in as a starter right away. The Broncos could go in a bunch of directions here, but Jackson makes the most sense. This is my pick for now, but I see Denver trading it's pick at number 18 to land Sanchez in the top ten. We'll keep it like this for now.
13) Washington Redskins—Andre Smith, OT, Alabama:
Daniel Snyder will find Andre Smith's talent level too appealing to pass up. Combine that with the fact that right tackle is an enormous need for the Redskins, and you have what seems to be a draft pick that makes a great deal of sense. Although Smith's work ethics are in question, I still think he will be a solid pro.
14) New Orleans Saints—Malcolm Jenkins, CB/FS, Ohio State:
This pick will come down to either Jenkins or Vontae Davis. The deciding factor here is that Jenkins can play free safety. This is why I have him ahead of Davis. Jenkins had a solid pro day to make up for his poor combine, and has established himself as one of the best, if not the best, CB's available this year.
15) Houston Texans—Vontae Davis,CB, Illinois:
The Texans recently signed both Cato June and Buster Davis. Both these players are linebackers, so I don't see the Texans taking Clay Matthews or Brian Cushing here anymore. The other position of need for Houston is in the secondary. Davis has great value here, and the Texans could use an upgrade at corner.
16) San Diego Chargers—Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi:
The Chargers could use an upgrade at right tackle. Fortunately for them, Michael Oher will probably fall to them at No. 16. Current starter Jeromey Clary did not have a good season in 2008, giving up 6.5 sacks and flagged quite a few times.
17) New York Jets—Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State:
It is no secret that the Jets are in need of a QB. They currently have Brett Ratliff and Kellen Clemens competing for the starting job this year. I doubt Mr. Ryan is very happy about this situation, so I believe he will take Freeman with this pick. If the Jets did not think they needed help at QB, they would not have entered the Jay Cutler sweepstakes.
18) Denver Broncos—Sean Smith, CB/S, Utah:
This Jay Cutler trade has really shaken up my mock draft. I had everything ready to publish when I heard about the trade. Now that Denver owns this pick, I believe they will take Sean Smith. The Broncos could use help in their secondary. Smith can play corner or safety.
19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Clay Matthews, LB, USC:
If the Jets take Josh Freeman, the Bucs will be extremely disappointed. However, they can get a fantastic football player in Clay Matthews with this pick. Fresh off a great pro day, Matthews is a hot commodity. With Derrick Brooks being released, Cushing could fill his role and be a great asset next to Barrett Ruud. The OLB situation in Tampa is very weak, so this pick makes sense.
20) Detroit Lions—Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee:
The Lions drafted Godser Cherilus last year, so I like Robert Ayers with this pick over William Beatty and Eben Britton. Although Detroit needs help on the o-line, their pass rush needs even more attention. Ayers will prove to be a great help to the very depleted defensive line that the Lions currently possess.
21) Philadelphia Eagles—Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State:
This a great pick for my Eagles here. Not only is running back a need for Philly, but they are getting a fantastic player as well. Andy Reid can count his lucky stars that the need for running backs in the NFL is not high at the moment. Wells can help the Eagles in the future when Westbrook leaves and this season, by converting on short yardage situation, something Philly had loads of trouble with last season.
22) Minnesota Vikings—Eben Britton, OT, Arizona:
Given that Brad Childress is on the hot seat in Minnesota, he'll be looking for a player who can help him right away. Eben Britton definitely fits the bill, as Minnesota has a gaping hole at right tackle. Britton can be plugged in right away and will serve as solid protection for newly acquired QB Sage Rosenfels. Alex Mack is also an option here.
23) New England Patriots—Rey Maualuga, LB, USC:
The Patriots are very old and thin in their line backer corps. Tedy Bruschi will be celebrating his 36th birthday in June. Bill Belichick did draft Jarod Mayo last year, but he is still looking to get younger at LB. Maualuga's stock has slipped since before the combine, so I believe he will be available here.
24) Atlanta Falcons—Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State:
Atlanta's offense would be even more lethal than last season if the team somehow acquired a dynamic pass-catching tight end. Brandon Pettigrew brings offensive ability and elite blocking skills to the table with this pick, so he would be a great fit for the Falcons.
25) Miami Dolphins—Larry English, DE/OLB, Northern Illinois::
With the solid CB's off the board, Miami will probably upgrade their pass rush. Parcells loves to take defensive prospects in the draft, and with the signing of Eric Green, rush linebacker makes the most sense with this pick. Larry English is a solid player, and fits a need in Miami.
26) Baltimore Ravens—Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri:
Maclin could go as high as No. 7 to Oakland, but I am not ready to put him in the top ten just yet. Derrick Mason is 35, and Joe Flacco needs a No. 1 target to rely on. WR is still a huge need for Baltimore, even though Mark Clayton played well near the end of last season.
27) Indianapolis Colts—Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi:
Defensive tackle has always been an issue for the Colts over the last few years. Their run defense is still not where it should be, so this pick makes a lot of sense. Jerry is an athletic tackle that will definitely improve the Colts' rush defense. Wide receiver and running back are also options here.
28) Philadelphia Eagles—William Beatty, OT, Connecticut:
There's no way the Eagles don't go offensive line with at least one of their two first-round picks. Andy Reid loves the big men, and Philly might even trade up to land a better tackle. For now, I have William Beatty here. He can play both tackle positions and would compete for a starting job right away.
29) New York Giants—Brian Cushing, LB, USC:
The Giants recently cut Plaxico Burress, so they have a gaping hole at WR. However, do not be surprised if they take the best player available approach in round one, and grab a possession receiver in round two. Cushing is a great fit for the Giants and really should not fall this low.
30) Tennessee Titans—Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut:
Next season will be Nick Harper's final year on the Titans. Harper is currently 34 years old, so Tennessee will need to find another corner to take his place pretty soon. Darius Butler is that guy. There are no huge needs for the Titans this year, and Jeff Fisher does not draft receivers, so this pick makes sense.
31) Arizona Cardinals: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia:
Moreno is one of the top players in the entire 2009 NFL Draft, but his stock has taken a hit with his 4.60 40 times. Moreno would be an enormous upgrade in Arizona. Tim Hightower is not a great back, and Edgerrin James is pretty much done. Moreno could add an element that the Cardinals' offense really lacks.
32) Pittsburgh SteelerAlex Mack, C, California:
I would love to put Sean Smith at this spot, but if Alex Mack falls this low, I doubt the Steelers would pass on him. The Steelers could use upgrades all over their offensive line, and Alex Mack is a fantastic player that could jump right into the starting lineup.
Just a few side notes:
—Don't be surprised if Percy Harvin and Donald Brown are taken in the first round.
—I'm going to keep my mock how it is for now, but I see a trade between Jacksonville and Denver. I think Denver will end up with the No. 8 pick, and the Jags will end up with the No. 12 pick. At No. 8, the Broncos will take Sanchez and at No. 12 the Jags will select Vontae Davis. The Jags will probably end up with the 18th pick as well. Just a prediction.