Draft Day is so close you can smell it, and amidst the flurry of risers, fallers, smokescreens and misinformation a hazy picture is slowly coming into focus. Here’s a final look at what might transpire this Saturday at Radio City Music Hall.
In this mock I’ve done my best to set aside my personal biases (the “what I’d do if I were GM” approach can be found in Mock Draft 5A) and take my best stab at getting inside the collective braintrusts for each team to determine what they might do on Draft Day.
Version 5.0A | Version 4.0 | Version 3.0 | Version 2.0 | Version 1.0
1. Detroit Lions — Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
Mock 4.0: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor; Mock 3.0: Smith; Mock 2.0: Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest; Mock 1.0: Stafford
New coach, new unis… might as well get a new franchise quarterback, especially when you can make the connection from Stafford to Bobby Lane—maybe the last good quarterback the Lions have had.
2. St. Louis Rams — Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
Mock 4.0: Monroe; Mock 3.0: Monroe; Mock 2.0: Monroe; Mock 1.0: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
The Rams need a left tackle, and Monroe is the better pass protector. Assuming the late-surfacing knee issues are cleared up, he gets the nod over Jason Smith.
3. Kansas City Chiefs — Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest
Mock 4.0: Curry; Mock 3.0: Curry; Mock 2.0: Everette Brown, DE/OLB, Florida State; Mock 1.0: Brown
The latest buzz is that Curry’s stock is falling because he’s not a Lawrence Taylor-type pass rusher. Not many are, and Curry can be plugged just about anywhere into the Chiefs’ defense and be an impact player for a long time.
4. Seattle Seahawks — Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
Mock 4.0: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC; Mock 3.0: B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College; Mock 2.0: Smith; Mock 1.0: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
The Sanchez love isn’t a smokescreen, but if one of the elite tackles is still on the board here then the Seahawks lock him up—likely to play on the right side now and eventually to slide over and replace Walter Jones. Matt Hasselbeck still has a couple good years left in him.
5. Cleveland Browns — Brian Orakpo, DE/OLB, Texas
Mock 4.0: Orakpo; Mock 3.0: Orakpo; Mock 2.0: Orakpo; Mock 1.0: Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest
If Braylon Edwards gets dealt prior to Draft Day, this pick possibly changes to Michael Crabtree depending on what the Browns get in return. With three of the first 50 picks—maybe more, if Edwards and Brady Quinn are traded—expect Cleveland to add a pass rusher, pass catcher, and eventual replacement for Jamal Lewis… probably in that order.
6. Cincinnati Bengals — Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
Mock 4.0: Smith; Mock 3.0: Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi; Mock 2.0: B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College; Mock 1.0: Oher
A Chad Johnson trade could turn this pick into Michael Crabtree, and if Orakpo or Curry slide the Bengals might be willing to go to bat with Andrew Whitworth and Anthony Collins at the tackles and shore up the interior of the line later. But if the top two defenders are gone, Cincy can leave Whitworth at guard and give Carson Palmer another layer of protection.
7. Oakland Raiders — Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
Mock 4.0: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech; Mock 3.0: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama; Mock 2.0: Crabtree; Mock 1.0: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
It will be difficult for Al Davis to botch this pick; the Raiders could use an offensive tackle, a defensive tackle, and a wide receiver—not necessarily in that order—and there should be talent at each of those positions still on the board. Ultimately, Al’s need for speed gives Maclin the nod over Crabtree.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars — Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
Mock 4.0: Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi; Mock 3.0: Crabtree; Mock 2.0: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama; Mock 1.0: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
The Jaguars previously built a solid line with a steady diet of second-round selections, so it isn’t a killer to pass on Michael Oher here. Crabtree gets to learn from Torry Holt and give the Jags their first legitimate target since Jimmy Smith hung ‘em up. Let’s just hope he can avoid the off-field woes that seem to have plagued every Jacksonville wideout since (and, apparently, including) Smith.
9. Green Bay Packers — B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College
Mock 4.0: Raji; Mock 3.0: Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU; Mock 2.0: Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State; Mock 1.0: Raji
This is a little early for the Packers to be picking, so don’t be surprised if they find a way to work down the board (Washington trading up to get Sanchez, for example). Otherwise, they nab Raji to plant in the middle of their new 3-4—much to the chagrin of Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte, and Kevin Smith.
10. San Francisco 49ers — Everette Brown, OLB/DE, Florida State
Mock 4.0: Brown; Mock 3.0: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri; Mock 2.0: Matt Stafford, QB, Georgia; Mock 1.0: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
Michael Oher is tempting, Mark Sanchez is tempting, but ultimately Mike Singletary wants someone who can get after the passer—and believes he’s found him in Brown.
11. Buffalo Bills — Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi
Mock 4.0: Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State; Mock 3.0: Maybin; Mock 2.0: Maybin; Mock 1.0: Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas
With Jason Peters now in Philly the Bills have a glaring need for help at offensive tackle, and they’ll be thrilled if Oher makes it out of the top 10 and falls into their laps.
12. Denver Broncos — Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
Mock 4.0: Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia; Mock 3.0: Brian Cushing, OLB, USC; Mock 2.0: Rey Maualuga, ILB, USC; Mock 1.0: Maualuga
It wouldn’t be at all surprising to see the Broncos trade back and let the Redskins grab Sanchez, because you know Danny Snyder will overpay. But maybe Josh McDaniels doesn’t want to see how the Kyle Orton/Chris Simms battle plays out, and if Sanchez just happens to be there… well, Broncos fans can put their pitchforks and torches in the tool shed for at least a little while longer.
13. Washington Redskins — Aaron Maybin, DE/OLB, Penn State
Mock 4.0: Brian Cushing, OLB, USC; Mock 3.0: Clay Matthews, OLB, USC; Mock 2.0: Cushing; Mock 1.0: Maybin
The Jason Taylor experiment didn’t quite yield the pass-rushing results the Redskins hoped—though the team tango at the Skins’ end-of-year dance party was to die for. Maybin may not waltz like Taylor, but he should be able to at least match Jason’s 3.5 sacks from a year ago.
14. New Orleans Saints — Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State
Mock 4.0: Jenkins; Mock 3.0: Jenkins; Mock 2.0: James Laurinaitis, ILB, Ohio State; Mock 1.0: Jenkins
Beanie Wells would be a quality compliment to Reggie Bush in the Saints’ backfield… but then they’d still have holes in the secondary. Wells’ Buckeye teammate fills that void, and between Pierre Thomas and what’s left on the board in Round Four (when the Saints pick again) the running game should be just fine.
15. Houston Texans — Clay Matthews, OLB, USC
Mock 4.0: Matthews; Mock 3.0: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois; Mock 2.0: Davis; Mock 1.0: D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt
The Texans are one of many teams that wouldn’t mind trading back, but they’ll have no problem pulling the trigger on Matthews and finding a way to get him on the field in a hurry.
16. San Diego Chargers — Rey Maualuga, ILB, USC
Mock 4.0: Maualuga; Mock 3.0: Maualuga; Mock 2.0: Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi; Mock 1.0: Eben Britton, OT, Arizona
No question, concerns about just how much LaDainian Tomlinson has left in the tank and how Darren Sproles will hold up to an increased workload—assuming the Bolts ink him long-term—make Knowshon Moreno an enticing proposition. But how can San Diego resist plugging another Junior Seau into the middle of their defense?
17. New York Jets — Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State
Mock 4.0: 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
Freeman has the size, the arm, and by all accounts the character to be an NFL quarterback—to the point that the fact those attributes didn’t add up to the kind of production you might expect in college haven’t deterred several teams. The Jets are following the Ravens’ blueprint on defense; why not bring in a young, strong-armed quarterback and see if they can pull off an offensive match as well?
18. Denver Broncos (from Chicago Bears) — Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
Mock 4.0: Jackson; Mock 3.0: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC; Mock 2.0: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri (for Chicago); Mock 1.0: Maclin (for Chicago)
With so many teams converting to the 3-4, Jackson—widely acknowledged as the top 3-4 end in this year’s draft—is a hot commodity. But once again the draft board appears to fall Denver’s way as they add another key component to their Patriots West rebuilding project.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi
Mock 4.0: Jerry; Mock 3.0: Jerry; Mock 2.0: Jerry; Mock 1.0: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
There might be some temptation—and local pressure—to consider Percy Harvin, but Jerry helps stabilize a defense that is undergoing some personnel changes and struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness up front last year.
20. Detroit Lions (from Dallas Cowboys) — Robert Ayers, DE/OLB, Tennessee
Mock 4.0: James Laurinaitis, MLB, Ohio State; Mock 3.0: Laurinaitis; Mock 2.0: Eben Britton, OT, Arizona; Mock 1.0: Laurinaitis
Laurinaitis would still make sense for a defense that needs to get bigger in the middle, but after grabbing a passer with their first first-rounder the Lions hope they’re getting a pass rusher with their second. Ayers’ stock has been on the rise and is a step towards addressing the Lions’ issues on the defensive side of the ball.
21. Philadelphia Eagles — Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
Mock 4.0: Moreno; Mock 3.0: Eben Britton, OT, Arizona; Mock 2.0: Moreno; Mock 1.0: Chris “Beanie” Wells, RB, Ohio State
The Eagles addressed their offensive line needs via free agency and trade, allowing them to get a complement and heir for Brian Westbrook here. Fantasy-wise there are better immediate destinations for Moreno, but he’s a great long-term fit in Philly.
22. Minnesota Vikings — Eben Britton, OT, Arizona
Mock 4.0: Britton; Mock 3.0: William Beatty, OT, Connecticut; Mock 2.0: Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest; Mock 1.0: Beatty
The national consensus that Minnesota is a quarterback away from Super Bowl contention ignores the fact that they need to address 60% of their offensive line. Britton is a step in the right direction—right, as in tackle, and right, as in Adrian Peterson needs somebody paving the way in front of him.
23. New England Patriots — Brian Cushing, OLB, USC
Mock 4.0: Clint Sintim, OLB, Virginia; Mock 3.0: Sintim; Mock 2.0: Clay Matthews, OLB, USC; Mock 1.0: Cushing
It’s a perfect match; Cushing is versatile enough to play just about anywhere in the New England linebacking corps, and Bill Belichick loves guys who bring that kind of flexibility to the table.
24. Atlanta Falcons — Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
Mock 4.0: Pettigrew; Mock 3.0: Pettigrew; Mock 2.0: Pettigrew; Mock 1.0: Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi
The Falcons have defensive needs but are able to kill two birds with one stone in Pettigrew, whose blocking acumen will help Michael Turner and receiving skills provide a security blanket for Matt Ryan.
25. Miami Dolphins — James Laurinaitis, ILB, Ohio State
Mock 4.0: 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
With two second round selections (12 and 24), the Dolphins can either move up for Hakeem Nicks or Kenny Britt or wait for a receiver to fall into their lap. But a stud like Laurinaitis won’t be on the board much longer, so Miami opts for defensive help now and a shot at a receiver later on.
26. Baltimore Ravens — Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
Mock 4.0: 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
Baltimore needs help at receiver, Ozzie Newsome loves speed, and the Ravens have had ample opportunity to check out Heyward-Bey playing in their backyard. With free agency used to address needs at corner, look for Ozzie to give Joe Flacco a downfield weapon.
27. Indianapolis Colts — Evander “Ziggy” Hood, DT, Missouri
Mock 4.0: Percy Harvin, WR, Florida; Mock 3.0: Harvin; Mock 2.0: Harvin; Mock 1.0: Harvin
Indy has ignored defensive needs to augment their offense before, but the chance to add a disruptive interior force like Hood outweighs what a guy like Percy Harvin might add to an already stacked Colts passing game.
28. Buffalo Bills (from Carolina Panthers via Philadelphia Eagles) — Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech
Mock 4.0: Phil Loadholt, OT, Oklahoma (for Philadelphia); Mock 3.0: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia (for Philadelphia); Mock 2.0: Will Beatty, OT, Connecticut (for Philadelphia); Mock 1.0: William Moore, S, Missouri (for Philadelphia)
If, as this mock projects, the Bills are able to address their offensive line needs with their earlier first-round pick then they’ll look for a pass-rusher here. If the tackles are all gone at 11 Buffalo will likely go with a rusher like Aaron Maybin there; in that case, they may be forced to reach for William Beatty here.
29. New York Giants — Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers
Mock 4.0: Britt; Mock 3.0: Britt; Mock 2.0: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland; Mock 1.0: Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
At present, the Giants reportedly aren’t offering up their first-round pick to pry Braylon Edwards from the Browns. If that holds through draft day, Big Blue can use the pick to address the Plaxico Burress void with a large, speedy, productive receiver without involving Cleveland at all.
30. Tennessee Titans — Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
Mock 4.0: Davis; Mock 3.0: D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt; Mock 2.0: Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee; Mock 1.0: Fili Moala, DT, USC
Tennessee would love to add a wide receiver, but if the position has been picked cleaner than they’d prefer they’ll revert to the tried-and-true Jeff Fisher strategy of “best player available.” And if anyone can get the talented Davis to play to his potential, it’s Fisher.
31. Arizona Cardinals — Donald Brown, RB, Connecticut
Mock 4.0: Brown; Mock 3.0: LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh; Mock 2.0: Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State; Mock 1.0: McCoy
Edgerrin James isn’t the answer, and his release will save the Cards $5 million. Tim Hightower proved he could be part of a good backfield—just not the primary part. Brown led the nation in rushing last year and has the receiving skills to be a great fit for Ken Whisenhunt’s offense.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers — Max Unger, C, Oregon
Mock 4.0: Unger; Mock 3.0: Unger; Mock 2.0: Duke Robinson, OG, Oklahoma; Mock 1.0: Robinson
The defending Super Bowl champs don’t have glaring holes, but their defensive front three is getting on in years and their offensive line has given up 145 sacks over the past three seasons. Unger is versatile enough to step into whichever line spot needs the most help; the alternative might be Louisville center Eric Wood.