The draft has become one of the biggest events of the year for NFL fans. Maybe because everybody's a winner on draft day, or maybe because hope springs eternal and all that. Whatever the reason, we're fully trying to horn in on the action. Hence our first FanHouse mock draft of the '09 offseason. And we'd like to stress "mock."
- 1. Lions: Matt Stafford, QB, Georgia
After the success of Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco, the Lions get suckered into picking a quarterback who isn't as good as either. The names change, but the ineptitude remains the same.
-- Bruce Ciskie
- 2. Rams: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
There are plenty of holes on this team, but the offensive line was downright embarrassing last season. Monroe's a better pass protector than his competition at the position, and Marc Bulger needs more help than Steven Jackson.
-- Matt Snyder
- 3. Chiefs: Brian Orakpo, OLB/DE, Texas
Because the Chiefs had 10 sacks total last season. Orakpo had 10.5 sacks in a conference that had otherwise invisible defensive players, and this quote from Roy Miller sums him up: "Orakpo has transformed from Steve Urkel into the black Arnold Schwarzenegger over the past five years."
-- Shane Bacon
- 4. Seahawks: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
Why? Because did you see Seneca Wallace running routes last year? Or Koren Robinson? Or, worst of all, Keary Colbert? With the Lions firing Matt Millen, the best wideout (and arguably best player) falls to Seattle.
-- Will Brinson
- 5. Browns: Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State CB
As has been the case, well, forever, the Browns need to shore up their defense. The team shipped Leigh Bodden to Detroit in the Shaun Rogers trade, but Brandon McDonald can not, under any circumstances, be allowed to step foot on the field next season.
- 6. Bengals: BJ Raji, DT, Boston College
See Browns above. The Bengals have done a pretty good job of finding cornerbacks in recent drafts (Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall), but the front seven needs some work. Raji is a step in the right direction.
- 7. Raiders: Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest
The Raiders have holes everywhere, so taking the best player available seems like a solid approach. The other possibility: bring Adam Archuleta back for one more chance to earn a roster spot as a linebacker.
-- Adam Gretz
- 8. Jaguars: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
There's some discussion that Smith might not be a great pass blocker (there's no discussion, however, about what the Jags need at this spot), which might be why he falls this far. Whoops. Jacksonville runs the ball. And chops wood. But mostly runs the ball.
- 9. Packers: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
Mark Tauscher's a free agent who blew out his knee late in the season. With how bad the run game was at times, the Packers could probably use more than one upgrade on the offensive line, but one will do for now.
- 10. 49ers: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
No way San Francisco takes another underclassman quarterback with a top-10 pick. The leading receivers for the Niners a season ago? Issac Bruce (36) and Bryant Johnson (free agent who's probably not coming back in '09).
- 11. Bills: Everette Brown, DE, Florida State
The Bills have Aaron Schobel sitting there at defensive end, but he's no spring chicken. And you can't pass on a talent like Brown. Plus, he'll be unreal in the 3-4 defense that whatever coach replaces Dick Jauron installs.
- 12. Broncos: Ray Maualuga, LB, USC
Josh McDaniels is a good enough offensive coach to know that opposing teams will just run the ball all day long against his defense. Without a nose tackle who fits the bill on the board, they'll look linebacker and take Ray Maualuga, who is perfect for the 3-4 that Mike Nolan's likely to install.
-- Josh Alper
- 13. Redskins: Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State
The Redskins were pathetic at getting after the passer last season compared to their NFC East brethren, so finding someone who can come around the outside is imperative.
- 14. Saints: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
The Saints really need a free safety more than anything, but Gregg Williams considers that position one of the most important on defense, so they'll probably look to free agency for that. Davis is the best cornerback on the board, and his physical tools should upgrade a secondary that has some talent but needs more youth.
-- Tom Mantzouranis
- 15. Texans: Brian Cushing, OLB, USC
In the real draft, I see the Texans trying to move down from this spot. You can take best player available on defense and be certain to fill a need. I take linebacker in this spot instead of another defensive tackle, figuring they will still be working to develop the young ones they already have on the roster.
-- Stephanie Stradley
- 16. Chargers: Knowshown Moreno, RB, Georgia
The Chargers have to decide -- do they get insurance for Shawne Merriman or do they get insurance for LaDainian Tomlinson. Since LdT's primary backup, Darren Sproles, is a) not a feature back and b) headed for free agency to at least see what he can get, the pick is a ... know-brainer.
- 17. Jets: DJ Moore, CB, Vanderbilt
The Jets will probably know whether or not Brett Favre's coming back at this point, but Mark Sanchez isn't a no-brainer and they have too many other holes to fill to roll the dice on a quarterback. Rex Ryan's defense is going to need guys who can cover on the corners to attack the quarterback, so they'll put D.J. Moore opposite Darrelle Revis and turn the pass rushers loose.
- 18. Bears: Percy Harvin, WR, Florida
Since they're still committed to Kyle Orton in Halas Hall, they need to give him as many weapons as possible. I can't say I'm overly excited about this, but defensive end is the other major need, and no one really jumps out like Harvin.
- 19. Buccaneers: Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi
The Bucs' defense failed down the stretch generating just 29 sacks all season (20th in the league).
- 20. Lions: Clay Matthews, LB, USC
The Lions are bad. They need help. Looking around, I'm thinking this is the best non-quarterback available.
- 21. Eagles: Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
With L.J. Smith's time in Philly sputtering to an end, the Eagles can add a big, pass-catching tight end that can be another weapon in Andy Reid's pass happy arsenal.
-- Enrico Campitelli Jr.
- 22. Vikings: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
Ideally Brett Favre or Donovan McNabb will be playing quarterback in Minnesota next year, but with Sanchez falling, the Vikings can't turn down a chance to move past the Tarvaris Jackson era.
-- JJ Cooper
- 23. Patriots: Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest
The Patriots get a replacement for Asante Samuel who is not named Deltha O'Neal.
- 24. Falcons: Larry English, OLB, N. Illinois
Keith Brooking is one step short of toast, so the Falcons add his replacement, who could also give them pass-rushing off the edge as a defensive end if it doesn't work out at outside linebacker. They also have been pretty happy with the production they got from another Northern Illinois alum.
- 25. Dolphins: Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina
It would be nice to take an outside linebacker to play opposite Joey Porter, but with Matthews, Maybin, Curry, and English, and Brown already off the board, let's go with a big-play receiver.
- 26. Ravens: Darius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
You got Joe Flacco as a steal last year. Why not get a young receiver to help the guy out? The offense needs a jolt and maybe the 6-2 kid out of Maryland can break the string of Ravens first-round receiver busts dating back to the mid-'90s. Heward-Bey is also the best wideout left on the board.
- 27. Colts: James Laurinaitis, MLB, Ohio State
With Jerry and Raji off the board, the Colts don't really have an obvious need-pick here, as the next defensive tackle on the board is far from first-round impressive. They can grab a couple in the next two rounds. For now, though, strengthening the middle doesn't hurt.
- 28. Eagles: Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss
With the Eagles' two great tackles Jon Runyan and Tra Thomas getting up there in age, they could really use a stud replacement. Andy Reid loves drafting linemen and he'll be thrilled to see Michael Oher fall this far. He's an all-around player who can pass block with the best of them as well as open up some holes for Brian Westbrook in the running game.
- 29. Giants: Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers
The Giants draft insurance for Plaxico. It's not like they don't need to upgrade their secondary playmakers at receiver even if he comes back.
- 30. Titans: Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
The Titans need a wide receiver badly, but with five wide receivers off the board, there aren't many good options, so Tennessee will go value and pick Jackson.
- 31. Cardinals: Beanie Wells, RB, Ohio State
Well, this is pretty easy isn't it? Edge is on his way out and Tim Hightower didn't show the ability to singly carry the load in the backfield. I believe they'll be shocked to get a choice between Beanie and LeSean McCoy.
- 32. Steelers: Alex Mack, C, California
While the Steelers usually go for best available player, this is a need pick -- find the best offensive lineman on the board. The Steelers have glaring needs at tackle and guard and a long-term need at center. That doesn't fit with the talent available, but Alex Mack can possibly play guard in the short-term, then replace Justin Hartwig in the long term.