Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mock Draft

Everyone does ‘em, why shouldn’t I?!?!?

On a more serious tone, it’s taken me a while to really realize how useless mock drafts are. It was around Aaron Rodgers that I started to understand that NFL personnel as well as media pundits are who they are for a reason. Sometimes the media guys get it right. But mostly, the NFL team execs have their ratings, and how we rate the players is pretty much meaningless.

Which brings us to the curious case of Matthew Stafford. Not one person I’ve heard has said “This is the top prospect in the draft this year.” Not one. In fact, most people have said some version of “He may not even be the best QB in this draft. Detroit is going to take him. But if they don’t take him, I have no idea where he’ll be drafted.” Patrick said to me the other day something along the lines of “Where is he? Is he the best prospect? The 15th best?”

And yet pretty much everyone has Stafford going to Detroit with #1 overall. I remember there were a lot of questions about Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers, and that both were thought about at #1 overall while everyone openly admitted they were not the top prospect. But they were both thought to be top five prospects by pretty much everyone. That’s the big difference that I see between this and Stafford. No one seems to be saying Stafford IS a top five prospect. They’re saying “If he is, Detroit should take him.”

And we remember how Smith and Rodgers turned out, right? Smith crippled the Niners, who are still digging out of that hole; Rodgers lasted into the 20s before going to a team that allowed him to sit a few years and develop under one of the best. So can anyone really argue Stafford should be the Lions pick?

I can’t. If it were me, I’d do one of two things. First choice, I’d take the best overall prospect, IMO Aaron Curry. The Lions are in the unenviable position of needing help everywhere. So they truly have the luxury of taking BPA, and then saying “It was a pick to address a major need!” However, if they truly have locked in on Stafford, then I think the “right” move for them is to say to Stafford “We want you. We also know very few other teams do. So we’ll pay you $25MM up front and $50MM total for six years. Or, we’ll take someone else. You could easily fall outside the top ten, which would result in your getting half that money. Your choice.” I’d also give serious consideration to simply sitting on the pick for five picks, and then turning in the card.

With that said, I can’t not give Detroit Stafford at #1, because Vegas says so. Maybe it’s stupid reasoning. But I’ve spent a great deal of time studying various forms of gambling, and if there’s one rule, it’s that Vegas will always come out on top. The bookie odds for Stafford going #1 overall are in the range of 75% to 80%. Maybe that’s not dead-on accurate. But there’s no chance the price is that high on a guy the Lions are less than 50% to take…

1 – Detroit Lions: Matt Stafford, QB, Georgia
I guess you could say it fills a need. They have needs everywhere though, and if I were them, I’d take Aaron Curry. There’s a far higher chance he turns into the next Ray Lewis than Stafford turns into the next Dan Marino. And more importantly, there’s far LESS chance he turns into the next Andy Katzenmoyer than Stafford turns into the next Ryan Leaf.

2 – St Louis Rams: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
Bulger getting killed early and often last year was a big cause for their offensive struggles. Smith isn’t the cleanest prospect, but he’s probably the best at the safest position, and the Rams need to hit after having the #2 overall for the second straight year.

3 – Kansas City Chiefs: Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest
A lot of people have him here simply cause Pioli took Mayo last year and people think he just loves LBs. I personally think Pioli just loves BPA, and Curry is probably the second cleanest prospect this decade, behind Calvin Johnson. Low risk of busting, huge upside. I also think there’s a very reasonable chance the Chiefs move down from this spot. Specifically, trading with the Redskins and collecting their #1 overall next year along with some other picks this year.

4 – Seattle Seahawks: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
So many people have the Hawks locked in on this guy. I used to think it was gonna be Crabtree, but after they signed Houshmandzadeh, it allows them to look elsewhere. Sanchez has huge up-side, but his lack of experience is a concern. The Hawks can have him sit behind Hasselbeck for a year or two and learn the ropes, which is probably the best thing for him.

5 – Cleveland Browns: BJ Raji, DT, Boston College
Lots of questions here. The Browns have a ton of needs, and if they trade Edwards, they are a threat to take Crabtree. But Mangini is a defensive guy, and in the division with two teams built around power-house defenses and strong running games, I suspect they’ll try to shore up the middle of their line before anything else.

6 – Cincinnati Bengals: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
Last year, shockingly, the defense wasn’t the Bengals problem, the offense was. Palmer was a disaster and is coming off an injury, and the Bengals have to find a way to protect him better. Monroe has health questions, but otherwise fits the bill.

7 – Oakland Raiders: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
I’m sorry, I’m not buying the Mel Kiper et al hype machine that says the Raiders will fall all over themselves for Maclin cause he’s a speed guy and they just love speed. Crabtree is IMO the second best prospect in this draft. Huge, fast, runs crisp routes, catches the ball clean, etc. His only flaw is his giant ego, and the Raiders probably consider that a positive anyway. This, IMO, is a no-brainer if he falls here.

8 – Jacksonville Jaguars: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
This team’s WRs have been so bad over the years I think it probably makes Del Rio cry at night. They just gave Torry Over-the-Hill Holt almost $7MM/year (yeah, I know it’s incentives, still…). There’s no QB here. The best prospects are DEs and the Jags just took two with their first couple picks last year. Maybe I’m just stupid putting him here, but given the board I’ve got above them, I don’t see who else they’d be that interested in.

9 – Green Bay Packers: Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas
They’ll probably fall all over themselves to turn this card in, but who knows. This team needs a ton of defensive help, and despite Orakpo’s terrible inconsistency, he’s absolutely dominant when he’s on his game.

10 – San Fransisco 49ers: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
They’ll probably love it if he falls this far. LT has been a huge need of theirs for a while, and chalk me up as a guy that thinks Singletary can handle any attitude issues Smith might give. The team needs help at other spots so guys like Brown at DE are options, as well as going with Oher as a less risky prospect than Smith.

11 – Buffalo Bills: Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss
I hate drafting for need. There are other, better prospects available here. But the margin isn’t huge, and the drop from Oher to the next best OT is pretty dramatic. They picked up the Eagles first rounder, they need a pass rusher, my guess is they’ll address that position later.

12 – Denver Broncos: Everette Brown, DE/OLB, Florida St
He’s probably BPA and he also fills a need. Perfect combo. The Broncos have a bunch of picks in the first couple rounds both this year and next. I would expect a vast majority of them to be spent on the defensive side of the ball. One interesting note, though. Does anyone else think McDaniels is running the show, and Xanders is basically a warm body to fill a title? It looked that way to me in the Cutler mess. And if that’s the case, McDaniels may want to beef up the offense, specifically the running game, which could make Moreno or Wells the pick.

13 – Washington Redskins: Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee
The hype machine is on, and never assume Danny Snyder won’t fall for some great hype. They need a pass rusher badly, and lots of media pundits seem to be falling all over themselves about this guy flying up the board. Snyder is one of the few suckers out there that could fall for it, and don’t think Cerrato is anything but a yes-man.

14 – New Orleans Saints: Malcolm Jenkins, CB/S, Ohio St
“He’s not fast, he’s not fast!” They cry it from the roof-tops. “He’s too slow, he won’t succeed!” Blah. So what if he’s 0.1 seconds over 40 yards away from being considered a top five prospect? The guy can flat play football, and the Saints have needs all over their backfield so they’ll find a spot for him. I think this guy will turn out to be huge value falling this far.

15 – Houston Texans: Brian Cushing, LB, USC
Seriously, who the hell knows. There are lots of spots they could go for here on the defensive side of the ball. This team looks like it’s on the rise, so they can go BPA here. The problem is, who’s the BPA? Lotta guys look like they’re somewhere scattered between 15 and 30, and I would bet on the 32 NFL teams boards, if you looked at #15 overall, you would probably find no less than a dozen different names.

16 – San Diego Chargers: Rey Maualuga, LB, USC
Slotting a RB for the Chargers seems to be a sexy move on most mocks. But I’m not buying into that hype. Maualuga has some risk, but I would guess the Chargers would love to plug him into that defense. The Chargers usually just go BPA, but your guess is as good as mine on who that is.

17 – New York Jets: Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas St
Ugh. I love me some Rex Ryan and hope he succeeds, but I think this would be an awful pick. Pretty much no chance Freeman falls past Tampa Bay, and someone may move up to get him. But I don’t like the kid this high. Pop quiz: What’s the difference between Josh Freeman and Jamarcus Russell? Russell was a better prospect. Get the hint?

18 – Denver Broncos: Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
I pretty much think the same thing here as I thought at #12 overall. They need a lot of pass rush help, he’s probably BPA, it’s a fit.

19 – Tampa Bay Bucs: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
I think I’m the only person on the planet with a RB in this spot. And maybe there’s a reason for that. But last year, Dunn led the team in rushing with under 800 yards and is 33 years old. Graham is 28 and in Gruden’s dog-house. With no QB worth looking at till the fourth round, how is this spot not a big need for them, that could be filled by a great prospect?

20 – Detroit Lions: Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss
Man these guys need so much help on defense it’s not funny. It starts here, solidifying the middle. Laurinaitus is another option here, as is Matthews. I could even see Vonte Davis. Whatever…point is, even if they go defense with #1 overall, defense is probably the pick here. With Stafford, it’s pretty much a lock.

21 – Philadelphia Eagles: Chris Beanie Wells, RB, Ohio St
Show me a mock (since the trade with Buffalo) that doesn’t have a RB in this slot.

22 – Minnesota Vikings: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
Part of me sticks him here simply to get him off the board before the Ravens cause I really don’t like him. The other part of me says “The Vikes need help in the passing game, there’s no QB available, so WR is the next best thing.” All the WRs at this point have question marks.

23 – New England Patriots: Darius Butler, CB, UConn
I’m probably getting juked out of my jock strap here, but I’ll buy into the hype on this one. Everyone’s saying he’s locked up if he makes it to 23, so I’ll just say “Sir yes sir” and move on.

24 – Atlanta Falcons: Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma St
Combo of almost BPA and need make this an easy pick. ‘Nuff said.

25 – Miami Dolphins: Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina
I love this kid. Except that he tweaked a hammy and then got fat. Now suddenly he’s rocketing down draft boards. Let’s just say that I think Parcells is the kind of guy who will take this kid based on his talent, and has filled his coaching staff with guys he knows will whip his sorry butt into serious shape.

26 – Baltimore Ravens: Aaron Maybin, DE/OLB, Penn State
I combo loving and hating this pick here. I’m a Penn State guy. Ozzie seems to hate Penn State guys (frustrating!). And Maybin is really boom or bust. That’s why I hate it…I simply don’t buy this will be the pick. But then there’s the other side. The Ravens have made a career out of taking these pure pass rushing tweeners, and turning them into defensive monsters. Boulware, Adalius Thomas, Suggs…meet the next in that line. FWIW, I also think a trade down here (if not for Boldin) is a strong likelihood.

27 – Indianapolis Colts: Clay Matthews, LB, USC
I’m really not certain here, but I do think Polian will take whoever he thinks is the best player on the board.

28 – Buffalo Bills: Michael Johnson, DE, GA Tech
They need a pass rusher, they take a pass rusher.

29 – New York Giants: Percy Harvin, WR, Florida
This could also be traded for a WR. Huge, huge need with Plaxico gone, and they’d probably love getting Harvin who has so much raw talent. They also may balk at his troubles, given Plaxico’s recent problems, so I could see Britt here instead.

30 – Tennessee Titans: Evander Hood, DT, Missouri
Vonte Davis is a name I see here a lot. Let’s see…how’d it go the last time the Titans picked a really talented CB with lots of off-field issues? Oh yeah. I’m pretty sure their memories are more elephant-like than the media’s.

31 – Arizona Cardinals: Donald Brown, RB, UConn
He fits here, allowing the Cards to move away from Edge; but there could be guys on the defensive side that are attractive here instead.

32 – Pittsburgh Steelers: Max Unger, C, Oregon
A beast on the inside, he fills a need and probably fits the bill as BPA.


  1. Small chance Tyson Jackson slips out of the top ten. I can't conceive he will be on the board at #18.

  2. #19, TB: I don't think the Bucs will go RB here, they signed D. Ward to a multi-year deal in the offseason


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