The Combine answered some questions but created others, and starting Friday teams have the green light to fill their roster holes via free agency. There’s still plenty of uncertainty, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take another swing at a mock draft.
NFL Mock Draft - Version 1.0
1. Detroit Lions — Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest
Previous mock draft: Matt Stafford, QB, Georgia
New coach Jim Schwartz is a defensive guy, and his comments at the Combine—how you can afford to lose if you’re playing at the $5 tables, but if you lose at the $10,000 tables it’s a long walk home—suggests he’s more inclined to draft a “sure thing” (no questions asked, no strings attached) than take the 50/50 shot that is drafting a quarterback in the first round. It’s not like the Lions won’t have a shot at Colt McCoy or Sam Bradford next year.
2. St. Louis Rams — Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
Previous mock draft: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
Smith cost himself at least $20 million at the Combine, opting not to work out, then blaming his lack of training on time spent finding an agent before exiting early without an explanation. Monroe and Jason Smith, meanwhile, both impressed in Indy and the Virginia track record of producing successful pro O-linemen gives him the narrow edge over Smith’s considerable upside.
3. Kansas City Chiefs — Everette Brown, DE/OLB, Florida State
Previous mock draft: Brown
Brown was impressive enough at the Combine that he holds his spot. The Chiefs still need a pass rusher, and Brian Orakpo’s hammy troubles in Indy likely ensure he doesn’t leapfrog Brown on the draft board.
4. Seattle Seahawks — Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
Previous mock draft: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
This still could very well be Crabtree, whose stock took only a minor hit with him measuring a couple inches shy of listed and announcing he’ll need foot surgery. But this is a relatively deep receiver class, so expect Seattle to grab Walter Jones’ heir here and address receiver needs in later rounds.
5. Cleveland Browns — Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas
Previous mock draft: Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest
Beanie Wells is most definitely an option after looking like a young Jamal Lewis at the Combine, and if Shaun Rogers really wants out because Eric Mangini didn’t say “hi” to him in the weight room then the Browns might us this pick to replace him with B.J. Raji. They could also go after one of the USC linebackers. In other words, there are plenty of holes to fill in Cleveland. Orakpo’s advantage is that he gives them a pass rush.
6. Cincinnati Bengals — B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College
Previous mock draft: Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi
This pick might boil down to whether or not T.J. Houshmandzadeh returns or if the Bengals would like to unload Chad Johnson; Crabtree would certainly be a nice fit catching passes from Carson Palmer. The Bengals could also tab offensive line help (Andre Smith or Michael Oher) or a pass rusher like Larry English or Aaron Maybin. But in the AFC North, a little run-stopping goes a long way.
7. Oakland Raiders — Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
Previous mock draft: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
The more obvious fit would be Darrius Heyward-Bey after his 4.3 at the Combine, but the jury is still out on his hands. Crabtree is a flat-out playmaker and if he’s still on the board Al Davis would run to the podium to get this pick in. The sexier backup plan would be Jeremy Maclin, but he’d have to run a 4.2 at his pro day to leapfrog Crabtree; the unsexier backup plan would be Smith or Oher.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars — Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
Previous mock draft: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
Jack Del Rio should have a couple of big ol’ Southern boys to choose from, and if Smith can’t convince the Jaguars he’s learned from his Combine transgressions this pick will be Michael Oher instead. Or, if the Jags feel they’ve misinvested in David Garrard, they might stop the quarterback slide here. A third option could be Beanie Wells to replace Fred Taylor (and mess up all those lofty fantasy projections for Maurice Jones-Drew).
9. Green Bay Packers — Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State
Previous mock draft: B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College
It would be surprising if Jenkins’ “slow” 40 time at the Combine drops his stock too far; he’s still the best cornerback on the board and would help the Pack get younger at the position. Nonetheless, it would behoove them to look long and hard at a tackle like Raji or Peria Jerry to solidify the middle of a defense that will see a steady stream of elite running backs in the NFC North.
10. San Francisco 49ers — Matt Stafford, QB, Georgia
Previous mock draft: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
It’s not necessarily a need position; after all, Shaun Hill fared quite well as a starter, plus Mike Singletary wants the team to focus more on the ground game. To that end, Beanie Wells could be the guy to share the load with Frank Gore, or Michael Oher could be the pick to open holes in front of him. But it’s also a chance to grab a potential franchise quarterback, and those don’t come along every day.
11. Buffalo Bills — Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State
Previous mock draft: Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas
Using this pick on Brandon Pettigrew makes some sense, but while he’s the top combo tight end in the draft he may not offer enough as a receiver to warrant a high first-round pick—especially when the Bills have other needs to address. Chief among those needs is a pass rusher, and Maybin helps them in that regard.
12. Denver Broncos — Rey Maualuga, ILB, USC
Previous mock draft: Maualuga
If this isn’t Maualuga, it could very well be Trojan teammate Brian Cushing. Or maybe even another USC alum, Clay Matthews. Just put “Linebacker, USC” at No. 12 and you’ll be good to go.
13. Washington Redskins — Brian Cushing, OLB, USC
Previous mock draft: Aaron Maybin, DE/OLB, Penn State
If the Redskins have to cut Jason Taylor to clear cap space for Albert Haynesworth, they may lean towards a replacement pass-rushing hybrid like Larry English. And if they don’t get Haynesworth, Peria Jerry could be an option. But Cushing’s impressive combine makes him a solid choice to fill a defensive need in D.C.
14. New Orleans Saints — James Laurinaitis, ILB, Ohio State
Previous mock draft: Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State
The Saints would love for Jenkins to slide to them, 4.55 or no 4.55, but that’s not likely—and Vontae Davis may have shown enough at the Combine to leap up the board to this spot. Laurinaitis didn’t exactly rock the house in Indy, but if they can’t retain Jonathan Vilma they’ll have a hole to fill in the middle. If Vilma stays, the Saints might make it Davis or tab Peria Jerry to help keep blockers off their linebackers.
15. Houston Texans — Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
Previous mock draft: D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt
The Texans might be sold enough on the prospects of Tyson Jackson or Michael Johnson as a pass-rusher to complement Mario Williams, but neither seems as special enough to spend yet another first-round pick on a defensive lineman. With help in the secondary also a need, the Texans can choose between the Davis, Moore, and Alphonso Smith.
16. San Diego Chargers — Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi
Previous mock draft: Eben Britton, OT, Arizona
If the Chargers don’t get something done with LaDainian Tomlinson this pick will almost certainly be Beanie Wells or Knowshon Moreno. If you trust the Bolts to come correct with LT, then this will be a bookend blocker to make he and Darren Sproles more effective.
17. New York Jets — Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
Previous mock draft: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
For the second straight offseason a marquee quarterback could fall into the Jets’ laps. In past drafts quarterbacks expected to go 1-2 have lasted until the 20s, so while it wouldn’t be surprising if Stafford and Sanchez went 1 and 3 it will hardly be shocking if they go 10 and 17.
18. Chicago Bears — Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
Previous mock draft: Maclin
The Bears would love a pass rusher, but Michael Johnson is mostly potential and neither Tyson Jackson nor Robert Ayers are pure pass rush guys. Maclin is hardly a consolation prize and would give Chicago a playmaking wide receiver opposite Devin Hester—not to mention the best kick returning triumvirate in the league.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi
Previous mock draft: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
With Warrick Dunn gone and both Carnell Williams and Earnest Graham coming back from injuries there will be pressure to take Moreno or Beanie Wells here. But assuming the Bucs don’t land Haynesworth, Jerry fills a need along the their defensive front. They should be able to land a back later on—maybe UConn’s Donald Brown or a sleeper like Andre Brown or Cedric Peerman.
20. Detroit Lions (from Dallas Cowboys) — Eben Britton, OT, Arizona
Previous mock draft: James Laurinaitis, MLB, Ohio State
The interesting pick would be Josh Freeman, whose size draws comparisons to Daunte Culpepper; he could understudy with the original and take over in a year or two. The Lions could also pursue a corner, with the talented but vertically challenged Alphonso Smith and D.J. Moore still on the board. Ultimately, expect Detroit to land a bookend for Gosder Cherilus in Britton or Will Beatty.
21. Philadelphia Eagles — Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
Previous mock draft: Chris “Beanie” Wells, RB, Ohio State
The Eagles have options: do they want a bigger complement to Westbrook in Wells or a back better suited to replace Westy a year or two down the road? Philly would prefer to land one of the elite tackles here, so if Smith or Oher start sliding down the board a bit it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see Philly package their selections to move up and snag one.
22. Minnesota Vikings — Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest
Previous mock draft: William Beatty, OT, Connecticut
The Vikings’ glaring needs—assuming they feel Sage Rosenfels addresses their quarterback issues—are at right tackle and in the secondary, where they could use help at the nickel and an eventual replacement for Antoine Winfield. Smith is a Winfield clone, undersized at 5-9 but every inch of it a football player. If Minnesota can’t address their line issues in free agency, this pick will likely be Beatty instead.
23. New England Patriots — Clay Matthews, OLB, USC
Previous mock draft: Brian Cushing, OLB, USC
Plenty of options for the Patriots: they can end their running back carousel with Beanie Wells, or they could take combine hero Connor Barwin and mold him in the Belichick linebacker image. Matthews is already in that image and a logical fit for the Patriots.
24. Atlanta Falcons — Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
Previous mock draft: Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi
Eleven may be too early for Pettigrew, but at 24 he’s a good value. Plus, his blocking skills come into play in an offense that revolves around Michael Turner, and his pass catching is solid enough to give Matt Ryan an intermediate weapon. Atlanta’s other big need is at safety, but that position lacks a true first-round talent and is something they could address via free agency.
25. Miami Dolphins — Larry English, DE/OLB, Northern Illinois
Previous mock draft: Derius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
The Heyward-Bey pick stands—or perhaps the Phins keep Percy Harvin in-state—if the Dolphins don’t reunite Laveranues Coles with Chad Pennington. English is a hybrid in the Jason Taylor/Joey Porter mold who gives Miami another pass rusher—always a priority on a Bill Parcells team.
26. Baltimore Ravens — D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt
Previous mock draft: Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest
Depending on which linebackers return to Baltimore, the Ravens will be looking for help in their back eight; Clint Sintim could be an option, as could fast-rising corner Sean Smith, but right now Moore seems to be the best fit. It doesn’t sound as if Jason Brown is coming back, so the Ravens may be interested in Alex Mack or Max Unger from a strong class of centers.
27. Indianapolis Colts — Percy Harvin, WR, Florida
Previous mock draft: Harvin
Indy would love to see Raji or Jerry slip this far, allowing them to upgrade the interior of their defensive line… but that’s not likely. And with Marvin Harrison moving on, Peyton Manning needs another target. Harvin might even be able to play some running back and spell Joseph Addai, but his primary value would be in one slot opposite Dallas Clark… and Indy is back to the “we can score more than you can” days.
28. Philadelphia Eagles (from Carolina Panthers) — Will Beatty, OT, Connecticut
Previous mock draft: William Moore, S, Missouri
Tackle is a need, but it’s also one the Eagles may fill via free agency. The Eagles’ MO has been to go with bigger linemen, and Phil Loadholt redeemed himself somewhat at the Combine, but Beatty still seems like the pick here. Philly could also be in the market for Brian Dawkins’ replacement, but it may be too early for Louis Delmas or Patrick Chung, the top safeties on the board.
29. New York Giants — Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
Previous mock draft: Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
The Giants have plenty of wideouts on their existing roster, but if they aren’t bringing Plaxico Burress back they’ll lack a tall, fast target. Operating under the assumption that Burress is out in New York, Heyward-Bey—or possibly Hakeem Nicks—is in.
30. Tennessee Titans — Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee
Previous mock draft: Fili Moala, DT, USC
Moala makes sense, as it appears the Redskins will break the bank for Albert Haynesworth and Tennessee will need to reload along the defensive line. But Ayers is versatile enough to slide inside on passing downs, plus he’s coming off a productive season right in the Titans’ backyard. An alternative would be Hakeem Nicks to address their shortcomings at wide receiver.
31. Arizona Cardinals — Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State
Previous mock draft: LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh
Do you get the feeling teams might be worrying too much about Wells’ injury history and not focusing on his production, a la Adrian Peterson a couple years back? The Cardinals have a need at running back, despite not having yet kicked Edgerrin James to the curb, and while they’d be just fine with LeSean McCoy or Donald Brown, if Wells slips this far he’s a no-brainer.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers — Duke Robinson, OG, Oklahoma
Previous mock draft: Robinson
Alex Mack would make sense as well as the Steelers look to replenish their front line. Robinson isn’t necessarily head-and-shoulders above a group that could include teammate Phil Loadholt (who would move from tackle to guard) as well as Mack, but he’s a good fit in the rough-and-tumble AFC North.