The Jay Cutler trade gives the Broncos an additional first-round pick and may make them a player in the quarterback sweepstakes—which could happen as early as #1 and #4 or stretch on into the teens and bring a third party into the mix. Draft day is just a couple weeks away, so it’s time to make another read as to what might go down when Roger Goodell takes to the podium.
NFL Mock Draft - Version 3.0 | NFL Mock Draft - Version 2.0 | NFL Mock Draft - Version 1.0
1. Detroit Lions — Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
Mock 3.0: Smith: Mock 2.0: Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest; Mock 1.0: Matt Stafford, QB, Georgia
The majority of NFL insiders seem to think the Lions are locked in on Matt Stafford, but I’m seeing enough dissenters who aren’t sold on Stafford as the kind of sure thing you want to sink millions of dollars—and really, the immediate future of the franchise—into to believe they’ll take the more conservative approach. There’s always Colt McCoy or Sam Bradford in 2010.
2. St. Louis Rams — Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
Mock 3.0: Monroe; Mock 2.0: Monroe; Mock 1.0: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
The latest word is that St. Louis is shopping this pick. Unless the Lions take Stafford and there’s a team with a serious jones for Mark Sanchez, it’s unlikely they’ll move down. That leaves them with Orlando Pace’s slot to fill and Monroe to do so.
3. Kansas City Chiefs — Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest
Mock 3.0: Curry; Mock 2.0: Everette Brown, DE/OLB, Florida State; Mock 1.0: Brown
Curry is the best player in this draft and a great cog for the Chiefs to rebuild their defense around. Of course, that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t trade down in a heartbeat for additional picks to fill their many needs.
4. Seattle Seahawks — Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
Mock 3.0: B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College; Mock 2.0: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor; Mock 1.0: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
It’s not Raji’s reported positive drug test that bumps him down the board (an aside: the accusation was a Page One story, but when Sports Illustrated pulled the allegations a couple days later it wasn’t given nearly the same play; doesn’t that fly in the face of “innocent until proven guilty”?). Supposedly the Seahawks like Sanchez as heir to Matt Hasselbeck, even with Stafford still on the board, and with the tackles and Curry gone that’s the most logical direction for them to go—assuming, of course, they have the same luck (or lack thereof) in attempting to trade down.
5. Cleveland Browns — Brian Orakpo, DE/OLB, Texas
Mock 3.0: Orakpo; Mock 2.0: Orakpo; Mock 1.0: Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest
The Browns are reportedly another team in love with Sanchez (“smitten”, I believe, is the word the Cleveland paper used), but unless they want to give up Brady Quinn just to move up a spot or two it’s unlikely he’ll become a pumpkin-helmeted warrior. Eric Mangini drafted Vernon Gholston last year, and Orakpo is a similar type of player who might give the Browns the pass-rushing linebacker Kamerion Wimbley was supposed to be.
6. Cincinnati Bengals — Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
Mock 3.0: Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi; Mock 2.0: B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College; Mock 1.0: Oher
Raji would be a Bengals fit if only he had gun charges to go with his alleged positive drug test. And if Chad Johnson gets dealt, Michael Crabtree would absolutely come into play as well. But assuming the status quo this boils down to the need for a pass rusher (Everette Brown) or the need to keep franchise quarterback Carson Palmer off the operating table. Smith’s stock seems to have recovered since his Combine foibles, so he gets the nod over Michael Oher.
7. Oakland Raiders — Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
Mock 3.0: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama; Mock 2.0: Crabtree; Mock 1.0: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
A review of eight mocks from major media outlets shows five different players going off the board to the Raiders; yes, Al Davis is a bit of a wild card. The speedy Darius Heyward-Bey or Jeremy Maclin wouldn’t surprise here, nor would B.J. Raji or Michael Oher. But the best player on the board is Crabtree, and he fills a significant need position for Oakland. Then again, when’s the last time Al made the logical move?
8. Jacksonville Jaguars — Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi
Mock 3.0: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech; Mock 2.0: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama; Mock 1.0: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
The Jaguars should be very, very concerned that their needs mimic those of the Raiders. They, too, would be a good landing spot for Maclin or Oher, and if there’s a team looking to grab Stafford they’d be in position to move down and still get a tackle or receiver. Barring a trade, Jack Del Rio opts for Oher and hopes to hit wide receiver gold early in Round Two.
9. Green Bay Packers — B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College
Mock 3.0: Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU; Mock 2.0: Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State; Mock 1.0: Raji
Assuming Raji answers questions about the alleged positive drug test, he’s exactly the kind of nose tackle the Packers need to make their transition to the 3-4 work. Jenkins and Jackson are options as well, but if Green Bay believes they can keep Raji’s motor running at a high level he’ll be a difference-maker in the NFC North.
10. San Francisco 49ers — Everette Brown, OLB/DE, Florida State
Mock 3.0: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri; Mock 2.0: Matt Stafford, QB, Georgia; Mock 1.0: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
It’s unlikely the 49ers, with their renewed commitment to the running game, will use a first-round pick on a quarterback. They’d love to trade back if the Jets or Bucs want to move up for Stafford here, but if they’re forced to play their hand as is expect Mike Singletary to add either a wide receiver or a pass rusher. And with Singletary being a defensive guy, the choice will come down to Brown or Aaron Maybin.
11. Buffalo Bills — Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State
Mock 3.0: Maybin; Mock 2.0: Maybin; Mock 1.0: Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas
It’s too early for Brandon Pettigrew, and with the tight end class particularly deep the Bills can wait until a later round to grab theirs. Unless there’s a strong need to replace Marshawn Lynch, this pick will be a pass-rusher.
12. Denver Broncos — Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
Mock 3.0: Brian Cushing, OLB, USC; Mock 2.0: Rey Maualuga, ILB, USC; Mock 1.0: Maualuga
Could it really work out like this for the Broncos? They deal the disgruntled Jay Cutler and get a similarly strong-armed quarterback Josh McDaniel can mold from the outset and they still have a first-round pick to address their many needs on defense.
13. Washington Redskins — Brian Cushing, OLB, USC
Mock 3.0: Clay Matthews, OLB, USC; Mock 2.0: Cushing; Mock 1.0: Aaron Maybin, DE/OLB, Penn State
The ‘Skins miss out on the elite offensive tackles, so they’ll get to choose between linebackers and defensive linemen. Robert Ayers or Tyson Jackson might fit, but Cushing could step in on the strong side and help immediately.
14. New Orleans Saints — Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State
Mock 3.0: Jenkins; Mock 2.0: James Laurinaitis, ILB, Ohio State; Mock 1.0: Jenkins
Jenkins has flashed enough cover skills to be an upgrade to the Saints’ secondary despite questions about his 40 time. Worst-case he slides to safety and learns from Darren Sharper while giving the Saints flexibility in their defensive backfield. The very intriguing alternative would be Beanie Wells as a replacement for Deuce McAllister.
15. Houston Texans — Clay Matthews, OLB, USC
Mock 3.0: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois; Mock 2.0: Davis; Mock 1.0: D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt
Houston has addressed their defensive line through multiple first-round picks and this year in free agency, so they’ll look to upgrade the back seven here. Matthews won’t be unfamiliar to the Texans’ staff, with uncle Bruce already an offensive assistant.
16. San Diego Chargers — Rey Maualuga, ILB, USC
Mock 3.0: Maualuga; Mock 2.0: Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi; Mock 1.0: Eben Britton, OT, Arizona
The top tackles are gone, unless Eben Britton or William Beatty strike San Diego’s fancy, and there isn’t any first-round talent at safety. That leaves an heir to LaDainian Tomlinson—extremely likely if the Bolts haven’t inked Darren Sproles to a long-term deal by draft day—or help at inside linebacker. With Maualuga still on the board, he’s a logical fit here.
17. New York Jets — Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
Mock 3.0: Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia; Mock 2.0: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC; Mock 1.0: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
Many mocks have the Jets taking Josh Freeman here; the logic must be that Rex Ryan saw a big-armed rookie quarterback work in Baltimore and can do the same with Gang Green. But Freeman isn’t Joe Flacco, and with Laveranues Coles gone the smarter move would be to add a playmaker like Maclin or Percy Harvin to the existing talent. With Thomas Jones on the wrong side of 30, the Jets might also be in the market for a running back; at this juncture they’d still have their pick of the litter.
18. Denver Broncos (from Chicago Bears) — Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
Mock 3.0: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC; Mock 2.0: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri (for Chicago); Mock 1.0: Maclin (for Chicago)
You get the feeling Josh McDaniel would prefer Sanchez to Stafford, but it sounds as if that may be the case elsewhere so Denver would have to package its first-rounders to move up for a shot at the former Trojan. In this scenario the Broncos settled for Stafford at 12 and can use this pick to address one of their many defensive needs. Robert Ayers is climbing fast and could usurp Jackson at this spot.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi
Mock 3.0: Jerry; Mock 2.0: Jerry; Mock 1.0: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
Another team many mocks are saddling with Josh Freeman. If quarterback collector Jon Gruden were still at the helm it couldn’t be ruled out, but expect the new regime to think defense first and bulk up the interior of the line. And personally I think Josh Johnson has as good a chance to be a standout pro quarterback as anybody still on the draft board.
20. Detroit Lions (from Dallas Cowboys) — James Laurinaitis, MLB, Ohio State
Mock 3.0: Laurinaitis; Mock 2.0: Eben Britton, OT, Arizona; Mock 1.0: Laurinaitis
The Lions taking Josh Freeman with their bonus first rounder swindled from the Cowboys in the Roy Williams deal actually makes some sense, as he could study under a quarterback with similar physical attributes in Daunte Culpepper and potentially develop into a legit NFL QB. But Jim Schwartz is a defensive guy, so bulking up the interior of a defense that will be seeing Adrian Peterson and Matt Forte for years to come makes even more sense.
21. Philadelphia Eagles — Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
Mock 3.0: Eben Britton, OT, Arizona; Mock 2.0: Moreno; Mock 1.0: Chris “Beanie” Wells, RB, Ohio State
Back now, lineman later? Or vice versa? Brandon Pettigrew is also an option, but probably a better fit with Philly’s second first-rounder. The question then becomes whether to complement Brian Westbrook with a bigger back like Beanie Wells or eventually replace him with Moreno. Given Philly’s poor luck with drafting complements (Tony Hunt, anyone?), the pick here is Knowshon.
22. Minnesota Vikings — Eben Britton, OT, Arizona
Mock 3.0: William Beatty, OT, Connecticut; Mock 2.0: Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest; Mock 1.0: Beatty
A friend of mine who writes for Vikings Update informed me that the #22 pick has been traded three straight years… and four of the last five… and seven of the last 10. A move that might make sense is for Minnesota to deal up one spot and ensure the Eagles don’t take Britton first; or, if they’re thinking a different direction, they could deal down with a team like the Giants or Titans who may have their eye on a receiver here or a running-back needy club like the Browns or Cardinals. History suggests the 22 won’t be staying at home, and who are we to argue?
23. New England Patriots — Clint Sintim, OLB, Virginia
Mock 3.0: Sintim; Mock 2.0: Clay Matthews, OLB, USC; Mock 1.0: Brian Cushing, OLB, USC
Nothing Bill Belichick does on draft day should surprise anyone. Beanie Wells, Percy Harvin, Brandon Pettigrew… they all make sense somehow. That said, continuing to get younger at linebacker makes the most sense, with Sintim getting the narrow nod over Larry English and Connor Barwin.
24. Atlanta Falcons — Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
Mock 3.0: Pettigrew; Mock 2.0: Pettigrew; Mock 1.0: Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi
Pettigrew offers the Falcons the best of both worlds: a blocker to assist Michael Turner and the ground game, and a reliable middle-of-the-field pass catcher for young quarterback Matt Ryan. If Atlanta eschews Pettigrew and looks to the defensive side of the ball, corner Sean Smith or pass rusher Robert Ayers would be targets.
25. Miami Dolphins — Robert Ayers, DE/OLB, Tennessee
Mock 3.0: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland; Mock 2.0: Larry English, DE/OLB, Northern Illinois; Mock 1.0: Heyward-Bey
A bigger receiver like Darrius Heyward-Bey or Kenny Britt would make sense, but it might be more likely the Dolphins deal this pick to the Giants or Titans to let them take a receiver than they would be to use it on one themselves. If Miami holds here they would have to be intrigued with the pass rush possibilities of Ayers.
26. Baltimore Ravens — Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
Mock 3.0: Sean Smith, CB, Utah; Mock 2.0: D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt; Mock 1.0: Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest
Another candidate for a receiver, and after replenishing the cornerback position via free agency maybe they can afford to wait a round before going that direction now. Imagine how Baltimore’s ground game might open up with a deep threat like Heyward-Bey stretching the field; that’s what Ozzie Newsome is thinking with this pick.
27. Indianapolis Colts — Percy Harvin, WR, Florida
Mock 3.0: Harvin; Mock 2.0: Harvin; Mock 1.0: Harvin
Sure, Indy could shore up the defensive line. But when you can add a playmaker like Harvin and stretch the field like the Colts would be able to do with all those weapons… defense, schmefense. Ziggy Hood, Ron Bruce, Sen’Derrick Marks, Fili Moala, Jarron Gilbert—one of them will be there next time through the order.
28. Philadelphia Eagles (from Carolina Panthers) — Phil Loadholt, OT, Oklahoma
Mock 3.0: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia; Mock 2.0: Will Beatty, OT, Connecticut; Mock 1.0: William Moore, S, Missouri
Loadholt’s stock plummeted after a poor showing at the Senior Bowl, but he’s slowly crept back up the board and makes sense for a Philly team that prefers its offensive linemen on the beefy side. Will Beatty just doesn’t feel like a fit, and the way Philly loves to trade back it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see them sell this pick and slide down the board a bit—where they would still likely have a decent shot at Loadholt.
29. New York Giants — Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers
Mock 3.0: Britt; Mock 2.0: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland; Mock 1.0: Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
With Burress officially out of the picture, the need for a bigger receiver is even more glaring. You’d have to think Heyward-Bey tops the wish list, and the Giants may try to tweak their way up the board to get a shot at him. If the G-Men can’t trade up, Britt isn’t a bad consolation prize.
30. Tennessee Titans — Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
Mock 3.0: D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt; Mock 2.0: Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee; Mock 1.0: Fili Moala, DT, USC
The temptation is to just give the Titans a receiver—finally—and be done with it. But if Tennessee does go with a wideout they’d want a complement to Justin Gage, and the best receiver on the board (Hakeem Nicks) is more similar than complementary. Worse, he’s not a burner and Jeff Fisher’s drafts usually revolve around speed. Davis has the speed the Titans like and the ability to play man defense; his character isn’t necessarily a fit, but Fisher knows DBs and would likely be able to get the best out of Vernon’s little brother.
31. Arizona Cardinals — Donald Brown, RB, Connecticut
Mock 3.0: LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh; Mock 2.0: Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State; Mock 1.0: McCoy
Brown won’t necessarily be a better pro back than Beanie Wells (who, once again, can’t seem to find a home in the first round of my mock); he is, however, a better fit for the Arizona offense. Of course, it would be easier for the Cardinals to find a pass-catching back two or three rounds later that they could team with Wells in the trendy thunder/lightning backfield than it would be to find as talented a runner as Wells is. A trade down—five spots to the Browns is a no-brainer; Cleveland gets a hometown heir to Jamal Lewis and the Cards would still get Brown or LeSean McCoy plus whatever the Browns send their way in the trade—makes so much sense it’s ridiculous.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers — Max Unger, C, Oregon
Mock 3.0: Unger; Mock 2.0: Duke Robinson, OG, Oklahoma; Mock 1.0: Robinson
One prominent worldwide sports leader proclaims the Steelers have no draft-day needs. Sure, they’re the Super Bowl champs and all, but you’d like to think they could do a better job of keeping Ben Roethlisberger upright. To that end Unger makes a ton of sense; his versatility will get him on the field immediately and ultimately he could settle in as the next in the Steelers’ storied line of All Pro centers.