The NFL rookie draft has taken on a larger than life persona over the past 20 years as fans and pundits attempt to decipher the positional needs of their team and other teams and weed through the information and misinformation that each team supplies. Basically, it’s an exercise in futility to try to figure what is real and what is fake.
Nonetheless, mock drafts are great fun for a number of reasons. First off, they are great for finding out who are the most knowledgeable columnists, and it’s not based on their ability to predict which team takes what player. Occasionally, a mock will have a team taking a player and the reasoning will defy logic. A quarterback to the Browns when they have two? A 295-pound nose tackle going to a team that employs a 3-4?
Secondly, it’s an opportunity for discovering perspectives different from your own. The Chargers taking a running back in the 1st round when they re-signed LaDainian Tomlinson and franchised Darren Sproles?
Finally, watching players rise and fall is simply a fascinating experience when they have had up to four years to showcase their ability ON THE FIELD. Chris Wells looks like a surefire top five pick then runs a slow 40 at the combine only to run a much better 40 a few shorts weeks later. Where else can you find such theatre of the absurd? On to my own mock draft. Mocking comments welcome.
- Detroit – OT Jason Smith – Let’s give new coach Jim Schwartz the top tackle in terms of run/pass blocking skills. If they can run, Daunte Culpepper can throw it up top.
- St. Louis Rams – OT Eugene Monroe – They would love LB Aaron Curry but a combination of Alex Barron and Jacob Bell at tackle isn’t very inspiring.
- Kansas City Chiefs – LB Aaron Curry – New GM Scott Pioli gets to pick between Curry and DT B.J. Raji and goes with the multi-faceted linebacker who also happens to be the safest pick in the draft.
- Seattle Seahawks – QB Matthew Stafford – They would prefer an offensive tackle when faced with the choice of Stafford and Raji, and go with the quarterback due to Matt Hasselbeck’s age (34 in September) and off-season additions of Colin Cole and Cory Redding.
- Cleveland Browns – LB Brian Orakpo – Desperate for pass rushing help, team goes for the player with perhaps the most pass rushing potential as an outside linebacker in the 3-4.
- Cincinnati Bengals – DT B.J. Raji – Team gets a steal as the draft falls their way for once. Coach Marvin Lewis can’t turn down the draft’s best defensive tackle to add depth to the team’s lacklustre defensive line talent.
- Oakland Raiders – WR Michael Crabtree – Raiders have perhaps the worst wide receiver depth chart in the league so this one is a no-brainer.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – OT Michael Oher – They would love Smith, Monroe or Raji but are forced to reach a little for Oher.
- Green Bay Packers – OLB Everette Brown – Moving to the 3-4 and are desperate for a DE with size or a pass rushing OLB. Brown offers more upside than any of the draft’s large DE’s so he’s the pick.
- San Francisco 49ers – CB Malcolm Jenkins – Walt Harris isn’t getting any younger and Shawntae Spencer’s days may be numbered due to a knee injury last year and $3.5-million cap charge despite his backup status.
- Buffalo Bills – LB Rey Maualuga – Would love a pass rushing DE but value is at LB and Paul Posluszny has the ability to move outside to accommodate Maualuga at MLB.
- Denver Broncos – LB Brian Cushing – Team needs help at every position on defense so they go with the best defender left on the board.
- Washington Redskins – OT Andre Smith – Team needs help at DE and OLB but always goes with veterans on the defensive line and no OLB is worth this pick so they gamble on Smith and attempt to get younger on the offensive line.
- New Orleans Saints – RB Chris Wells – Have addressed many defensive needs in free agency so they get a big back to team with Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas, who struggle in short yardage.
- Houston Texans – OLB Aaron Maybin – They need a pass rushing threat at OLB to take some heat off Mario Williams and Maybin fits the bill.
- San Diego Chargers – S Louis Delmas – Team wasn’t pleased with the play of Clinton Hart last year and doesn’t currently have a player to challenge him. Running back is a possibility but they have Tomlinson, Sproles and Michael Bennett to handle that role in 2009.
- New York Jets – QB Mark Sanchez – Jets go with a young QB in an attempt to replicate the 2008 Ravens who featured a tough defense and a young passer.
- Chicago Bears – WR Jeremy Maclin – The wide receiver needy Bears breathe a sigh of relief the equally needy Jets pass on Maclin.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – QB Josh Freeman – Luke McCown isn’t the answer and Freeman might not be either but the Bucs gamble on him anyway.
- Detroit Lions – DT Peria Jerry – Lions continue to build in the trenches and take the second best DT in the draft.
- Philadelphia Eagles – RB Knowshon Moreno – Team goes with Brian Westbrook’s eventual replacement and fills a hole created with Correll Buckhalter’s departure.
- Minnesota Vikings – OT Eben Britton – Ryan Cook and Artis Hicks aren’t the answer so the team goes with Britton, who started on the right side until his final year in college.
- New England Patriots – OLB Larry English – Pats go with a prospect who can help out in pass rushing capacity in 2009.
- Atlanta Falcons – CB Vontae Davis – Falcons attempt to replace Dominique Foxworth and provide some competition for Chevis Jackson.
- Miami Dolphins – DT Ron Brace – They need help at CB and would like another pass rushing OLB but the value isn’t there so they go with the draft’s best 3-4 nose tackle.
- Baltimore Ravens – WR Darius Heyward-Bey – Could go CB but with Derrick Mason on his last legs and Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams too inconsistent, they go with Heyward-Bey.
- Indianapolis Colts – DT Evander Hood – Keyunta Dawson and Antonio Johnson combo needs upgrading and the Colts get lucky that Hood falls to them.
- Philadelphia Eagles – TE Brandon Pettigrew – Eagles add another piece to help their woeful short yardage game and team with Brent Celek. OT William Beatty also makes sense here.
- New York Giants – WR Kenny Britt – Barring a trade, the Giants need help at WR and Britt has too much potential to pass up at this spot.
- Tennessee Titans – CB Alphonso Smith – They would like to address MLB and defensive line but Smith offers too much value and fills a need with Chris Carr’s departure.
- Arizona Cardinals – DE Michael Johnson – Everybody has them taking a RB here but they go for Johnson who has the potential to replace and be more effective than Antonio Smith.
- Pittsburgh Steelers – C Alex Mack – Steelers long tradition of outstanding centers has been interrupted by the mediocre play of Sean Mahan in 2007 and Justin Hartwig in 2008.