Friday, April 24, 2009

NFL 2009 Mock Draft

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What NFL fan doesn't love the draft? Because of final class projects and preparing for my lacrosse playoff game in Vermont on Saturday, I have been unable to provide any coverage of this event. However, you are in luck, as I have greatfully enlisted the help of draft fanatic and friend Dave Marella to provide you with this desired content. He did all the analysis and found all the links, all I did was clean up some of the copy. So without further ado, here is Dave's first round mock draft. Make sure to show him some love in the comments section.

Written by Dave Marella:

Hello Shore Thing Sports fans, this is Dave Marella, the very first Shore Thing Sports guest blogger, so please bare with the lack of quality sports journalism that Phil brings to every article. As a dedicated fan and longtime friend of Phil’s I am very honored that Phil would allow me to write on his blog and let me play Todd McShay (yes, I am a McShay guy over a Kiper guy) for the day. Even as a lifelong Cowboy fanatic and Rutgers student/ fan, the NFL Draft has long been my favorite sporting event of the year even though not a single ball is thrown. I have always viewed the Draft as the perfect crossover from being a collegiate star to a potential Pro Bowler. Enjoy my draft and feel free to rip it apart, and please continue to be a loyal reader of this great amateur sports journalistic blog.

1. Lions. Matthew Stafford. QB, Georgia
The consensus number one overall for the unprecedented dismal Detroit Lions ever since Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford decided to take another shot at the National Championship. Many argue constructing a team this historically terrible should occur inside-out, with a similar pick as OT Jake Long to the Fins last year, by choosing Baylor’s Jason Smith. With reports coming out of Detroit in recent days that the Lions are nearing a deal with the Georgia Gunslinger, the selection seems close to a definitive thing.

2. Rams. Jason Smith. OT, Baylor.
Choosing again in the No. 2 spot for a consecutive year the Rams look to solidifying inside by choosing the most highly rated lineman in the draft. A strong transition to the pros for Smith could extend the career span for QB Mark Bulger. I would not be shocked if Rams surprise everyone again by picking the highest overall prospect in LB Aaron Curry as they did last year in choosing Chris Long over the expected Glenn Dorsey.

3. Chiefs. Aaron Curry. OLB, Wake Forest
One word really does Curry justice— FREAK. The highest rated overall prospect according Scouts Inc., Curry will be an immediate impact player for any team with his reputation of being a high character player, and with plays like this he can cause havoc for any running back in the backfield.

4. Seahawks. Mark Sanchez. QB, USC
Everyone is talking about how no one is moving up the boards quite like Sanchez. Seattle choosing Sanchez for the future could be the perfect move for new coach Jim Mora Jr. with QB Matt Hasselback slowing down in the latter years of his career. Many scouts especially point out the personality of Sanchez, who as a fluently Spanish speaking Mexican-American can be the face that the NFL has been searching for to appeal to the new Hispanic market. If Seattle does not choose Sanchez here the Draft will be filled with trades throughout the first round.

5. Browns. Brian Orakpo. DE, Texas
Talks about WR Braylon Edwards being moved will likely provide Cleveland with another pick later in the round, yet their first selection I see them going D over picking an offensive skill player such as Crabtree.

6. Bengals. Eugene Monroe. OT, Virginia
With a franchise that is sinking fast, the Bengals look to simply take a safe pick in Monroe. My prediction is the Bengals are picking even earlier next year with Coach Marvin Lewis not even finishing out the season.

7. Raiders. Jeremy Maclin. WR, Missouri
Arguably the “best” run franchise for the last decade, so in a classic Al Davis clueless draft selection, the Raiders choose Maclin over the higher rated WR in Crabtree, for the sole reason Davis likes speed. That said, I have enjoyed watching Maclin catch the ball from Mizz QB Chase Daniels, especially his performance in this year’s Alamo Bowl. He also brings his dual threat ability in the return game.

8. Jaguars. Michael Crabtree. WR, Texas Tech
The only two time winning receiver of the Biletnikoff Award, which has had past winners in Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald, and Calvin Johnson, makes Michael Crabtree a soon to be superstar in this league. I do have questions about his size yet his playmaking ability is unmatched in this year’s draft such as in this play which eliminated Texas from the National Championship picture. I feel as though his speed will not be an issue with the amount of skill that the former Tech receiver posses. With the Jags recently acquiring, in my opinion, future HOF WR Torry Holt, Holt could not be a better mentor for the occasionally overly confident young receiver.

9. Packers. Andre Smith. OT, Alabama
Smith’s path to the draft will arguably go down as one of the worst, with his constant acts of pure stupidity. This lack of maturity is made up in his awesome skills at tackle, with Smith being ranked the number one overall prospect before he made his steady rating decline in the postseason. Having a No BS Coach in Mike McCarthy, Smith will be able to thrive as he did under similar character coach, Nick Saban of ‘Bama.

10. 49ers. B.J. Raji. DT, Boston College
Making HOF LB Mike Singletary the permanent head coach for the 49ers is most likely the right path for the 49ers who have not made a playoff appearance since 2002. Considering Singletary’s path and if Raji is still on the board, San Fran would get an awesome young talent at probably NT, and strengthen the young defense that has the up and coming star Patrick Willis.

11. Bills. Aaron Maybin. DE, Penn St
A position that needs to be drastically addressed with the Bills current pair of DE’s getting a whopping total of 3 sacks combined last season. Maybin is the best DE after Orakpo so the Bills select him here.

12. Broncos. Tyson Jackson. DE, LSU
The defense is immediately addressed for the new Broncos being that it was the downfall to the long tenure of former coach Mike Shanahan. Strengthening that side of the ball for Denver will be a theme throughout the draft.

13. Redskins. Michael Oher. OT, Ole Miss
Being the best prospect on the only team to defeat the eventual national champions— Florida— Oher enters the NFL with an impressive history. So dominant at Left Tackle, the book Blind Side: Evolution of a Game was centered upon him and Lawrence Taylor and the evolution and importance of today’s LT. Although Oher has been falling on many draft boards, the Redskins capitalize on his talent. They may very likely make a move for Sanchez if the Seahawks do not take him with their lack in confidence in current QB Jason Campbell.

14. Saints. Malcolm Jenkins. CB, Ohio St
The best CB in this year’s draft does go to the team that has been pursuing them this entire off-season. Many are not sure depending on his large frame if he will be best suited at CB or Safety. Jenkins has said in an interview that he has gotten the most interest from New Orleans and they will choose the Buckeye that has two Omega symbols BRANDED into his arm (that’s right BRANDED. Next time you watch him look for it ….Crazy).

15. Texans. Brian Cushing. OLB, USC
The first of three LBs out of the prolific USC LB corps, Cushing can be an instant addition to the best young defense in the league led by Mario Williams and DeMeco Ryans.

16. Chargers. Rey Maualuga. ILB, USC
Following Cushing being taken, Maualuga is then taken by the Chargers. They only have limited need, but his addition with All Pro LB Shawn Merriman is a scary thought. Also, I really respect him after this move he put on Erin Andrews

17. Jets. Josh Freeman. QB, Kansas St
Another team that probably would love to make a play for Sanchez, however if the Jets are not able to they go with the consolation prize of Freeman, with a sense that Kelllen Clemens will never be a starting NFL QB. Jets very likely could go WR, with a huge need at that position, yet the hole left by Favre weighs out. I feel as though if Freeman does not get picked here he will be left to the second round, with the exception of someone trading into or back into the first round.

18. Broncos. Knowshon Moreno. RB, Georgia
In Knowshon’s senior year at Middletown South HS (note: Middletown, NJ)I predicted that in college he would compete for but not win the Heisman, be a Mid-First Rounder in the draft, and be a three to four time Pro Bowler when he emerges in the NFL. With those predictions I am going to go and say the new look Broncos select him—even though they have never chosen a first round RB in their offense that is notorious for putting anybody into the system and creating them into a 1000 yard rusher. Reports say that Denver, if presented with the situation where both Moreno and Wells fall to them, would prefer Moreno. Their QB situation will force them into being still a run first offense. My prediction is Knowshon’s talent will translate instantly in the Pros, and have him be the 2009 Offensive Rookie of the Year.

19. Buccaneers. Peria Jerry. DT, Ole Miss
The lack of production out of 2007 high draft pick Gaines Adams, could lead the Bucs to bring in another D-Lineman who is a big time run stopper.

20. Lions. Eben Britton. OT, Arizona
By going with Stafford as the first overall pick, Lions still need someone to protect him for his career, and Britton will be the best man on the board to do so.

21. Eagles. Chris Wells. RB, Ohio St
A complementary back to RB Brian Westbrook is a position that Philly will definitely be seeking in this year’s draft. Original projections had Moreno most likely to fall to the Eagles but the Broncos preference has allowed Wells to fall.

22. Vikings. Darrius Heyward-Bey. WR, Maryland
The need for QB Tarvaris Jackson to have a big time target to throw to, Minnesota will choose Heyward-Bey if he is available. The speedster is a great fit for the team without any high profile WRs.

23. Patriots. Brandon Pettigrew. TE, Oklahoma St
In an uncharacteristic Belicheck selection, the Pats go TE, on the fact that he is the best player available. Watson has never been a great TE in the league, but Pettigrew, who is a block first TE, can give the returning-from-an-injury QB Tom Brady some extra time in the pocket in order to distribute the ball to his prolific receiving corps. Expect other teams to go for Pettigrew including the Jets, Ravens, and Eagles.

24. Falcons. Robert Ayers. DE, Tennessee
Ayers can serve as the DE opposite to John Abraham in the Falcons defense, and replace the unproductive Jamal Anderson.

25. Dolphins. Clay Matthews. OLB, USC
A strong LB such as Matthews would be a great addition for Miami were he could grow under an aging LB corps that includes Joey Porter.

26. Ravens. Percy Harvin. WR, Florida
Sophomore QB Joe Flacco will benefit immensely by getting the Florida playmaker. Harvin can be used in multiple elements: as a WO, slot, or even a half back. Many questions have come out about Harvin’s character as well as his durability.

27. Colts. Kenny Britt. WR, Rutgers
Rutgers, the Birthplace of College Football, finally get their very first first rounder in the school’s history. The physical specimen in Britt can be a great fit for the Colts, who are in search of a new number two receiver with the departure of QB Peyton Manning’s all time favorite target, Marvin Harrison. Reggie Wayne will remain the number one receiver, but the combination of Britt and Anthony Gonzalez will give the Colts a near unstoppable air attack.

28. Bills. William Beatty. OT, UConn
Trading disgruntled OT Jason Peters to the Eagles leaves the Bills a hole to fill at his position by picking the last first round worthy OT in Beatty.

29. Giants. Hakeem Nicks. WR, UNC
New York probably anticipated having more choices here at WR, yet they are still left with the last top ranked receiver. Nicks could very well be off the board as soon as the early teens, yet desired body types leave Nicks falling to Big Blue.

30. Titans. James Laurnaitis. ILB, Ohio St
A pick that probably deep down regrets coming back for his senior year season because he was originally predicted to be taken in the top ten if he had left after his junior year. Many see him being an early second rounder, but experienced drafter, Coach Jeff Fisher, will love to add the 2007 Butkus Award winner to a defense that has a well publicized, super experienced defense.

31. Cardinals. Donald Brown. RB, UConn
Another Shore Conference (note: Shore Conference is a high school athletic conference in NJ that includes Monmouth and Ocean Counties; the other Shore Conference player in this draft is Moreno) stud, the former Red Bank Catholic (note: Red Bank, NJ) RB could be the immediate starter for the NFC Champs, having RB Tim Hightower limited to short yardage and goal line situations, and allowing Edgerrin James to get the release that he has wanted for so long. Brown has the intangibles to break into the secondary of defenses.

32. Steelers. Vontae Davis. CB, Illinois
The realization that Davis is overrated will cause Davis to drop all the way to the last pick in the first round. The overrating of his brother, TE Vernon of the 49ers, and their shared reputation of taking plays off will leave the Steelers the chance to take the CB with high skills. CB is the one position that the defending Super Bowl Champions will definitely be seeking in the draft. Under the tutelage of Coach Mike Tomlin as well as this era’s Steel Curtain, Davis could play to his potential.

Photo credits:
Stafford and Moreno: AP Photo/ John Bazemore, File
Britt: AP Photo/ Mel Evans

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