NFL mock draft: Version IV
With the NFL Combine starting this week in Indianapolis, the National Football Post offers up the first two rounds of its fourth mock draft.
Not much has taken place since NFP’s last mock, so you’ll find some prospects slotted in their same positions as last week. But things are likely to change dramatically in the coming weeks.
1. Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
We went with Alabama tackle Andre Smith in the last two drafts, but after looking over the free agency class of quarterbacks, the Lions are simply too limited with their options at QB. Stafford fills an immediate need and gives the Lions a potential face of the franchise. He’s the type of signal caller who can mature into a bona fide starter at the next level and possesses all the tools to warrant the first overall selection.
2. St. Louis Rams: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
With all the troubles St. Louis has had keeping QB Marc Bulger clean in the pocket the past couple years, offensive tackle looks like the only viable option. Monroe has the body control and overall athleticism to anchor the left side in the NFL for years to come.
3. Kansas City Chiefs: Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest
With new GM Scott Pioli in charge, expect the Chiefs to avoid taking unnecessary chances during the first couple of months of his regime. Curry is one of the nation’s top prospects and adds a legitimate playermaker on the defensive side of the ball. His versatility gives Pioli something to build around.
4. Seattle Seahawks: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
The Seahawks were forced to play from behind a lot last year, which exposed their undersized defense. They can add either a massive DT like B.J. Raji or bring in a playmaker like Crabtree, who will instantly improve their receiving corps and allow them to start playing with the lead again.
5. Cleveland Browns: Everette Brown, DE/OLB, Florida State
The Browns need to improve their pass rush up front, and that starts with the play of their outside linebackers. Brown is an explosive, quick-twitch athlete who knows how to get up field and create havoc off the edge. He’s exactly the type of pass rusher the Browns need to help restore their defense.
6. Cincinnati Bengals: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
The Bengals’ offensive line was decimated by injuries last season, and they need to add some talent capable of playing at either tackle spot. Enter Smith, a physically dominant lineman who does a great job getting significant push in the run game. He has the ability to start on either side of the line and should make an impact from day one.
7. Oakland Raiders: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
The Raiders will give left tackle a long look here, but a talented deep threat like Maclin is simply to enticing for owner Al Davis to pass up.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
Even with the top two tackles off the board, the Jaguars don’t have a choice in addressing their team’s biggest need. Smith, a former tight end, is an athletically gifted left tackle who simply needs to improve his overall technique. He has as much upside as any tackle in the class and should give the Jaguars the kind of LT they’ve lacked in previous years.
9. Green Bay Packers: B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College
Much has been made about the Packers’ transition to a 3-4 defense, so it’s imperative that they find the pieces to fit the scheme. Nose tackle isn’t a desperate need for the Packers, however; Raji is simply the best player on the board. All the top 3-4 defenses in the NFL have a dominant nose tackle, and Raji is the kind of lineman the Packers can build their defenses around for years to come.
10. San Francisco 49ers: Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss
The 49ers find themselves in a tough position choosing between a possible franchise quarterback in Mark Sanchez and an offensive tackle like Oher. But with the failure of Alex Smith (the first overall selection in 2005) to develop, the 49ers may opt for the safe route and take Oher, who will fit in nicely on either side of the line.
11. Buffalo Bills: Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas
The Bills need to enhance their pass rush off the edge, and Orakpo looks like his skill set is much better suited for a 4-3 defense than a 3-4.
12. Denver Broncos: Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State
The Denver defense has holes across the board, and there are questions surrounding almost every position in the front seven. However, in order for a 3-4 defense to be successful, you need to generate pressure. Enter Maybin, an explosive, long-armed lineman who came on as a redshirt sophomore last season. He still has a lot of growing to do, but he possesses a lot of upside, and from a physical standpoint looks best suited for the rush linebacker position in a 3-4.
13. Washington Redskins: Eben Britton, OT, Arizona
This is the first real surprise of the first round, as the Redskins are forced to reach for a tackle a bit earlier than they’d like. I can’t see any of the top four tackles falling this far in the draft; Britton is simply next on the board. He’s a big, smooth athlete with the versatility to play on either side of the line. Britton isn’t a great value here, but the Redskins need to add youth and talent to their offensive line in the first round.
14. New Orleans Saints: Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State
Possibly the steal of the draft up to this point, as the Saints land the country’s top corner in Jenkins, who can come in and help shore up their secondary right away. Jenkins is one of the draft’s few elite prospects, but with few teams in the top 10 in need of a corner, he could fall a bit farther than many expect.
15. Houston Texans: Michael Johnson, DE Georgia Tech
One of the Texans’ biggest needs this offseason is finding a complement to DE Mario Williams. Johnson is an explosive, long-armed lineman who may have the most intriguing skill set of any defensive lineman in the draft. He’s still raw and lacks base strength, but he possesses a lot of upside and can come in and rush the passer from day one.
16. San Diego Chargers: Rey Maualuga, ILB, USC
This pick just seems to fit. The Chargers have very few holes on their roster; if they could stand to add some talent, it would be inside at linebacker. Maualuga is the type of hard-hitting, fast-flowing athlete the Chargers crave, and they can hide some of his flaws in pass coverage with the overall aggressiveness of their scheme.
17. New York Jets: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
With the Brett Favre saga now over, the Jets need to bring in a quarterback they can look to in the future. Sanchez needs time to mature since he didn’t played many games in his college career, but he’s a smart, hard-working quarterback with the accuracy and anticipation skills to make it.
18. Chicago Bears: William Beatty, OT, Connecticut
Offensive tackles never last long on draft day, and now we see six come off the board in the top 18 picks. Even though the Bears went with OT Chris Williams last year, former starter John Tait has announced his retirement and John St. Clair is scheduled for free agency. The pairing of Beatty and Williams gives the Bears a chance to bookend tackles for the next 10 years.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
The Bucs’ running back position has seen a fair share of injuries the past two seasons, so it’s imperative they bring in a franchise type of back. Moreno is a naturally gifted runner with ideal instincts and suddenness at the line of scrimmage. He should go a long way toward giving the Bucs a new identity on offense under new coach Raheem Morris.
20. Detroit Lions: James Laurinaitis, ILB, Ohio State
It’s possible this pick could be used to acquire Patriots QB Matt Cassel in some form of trade. However, if the Lions use the pick, expect it to be for smart, heady defender like Laurinaitis, who can make an immediate impact.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State
With the top six offensive tackles already off the board, the Eagles will be forced to address that position in later rounds. But with Wells still on the board and the Eagles having struggled in short-yardage situations last season, this pick still makes a lot of sense.
22. Minnesota Vikings: Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State
With a severe dropoff at quarterback after Freeman, the Vikings are forced to reach a bit and grab their potential QB of the future now. Freeman has the physical tools but will need some time to develop.
23. New England Patriots: Brian Cushing, OLB, USC
Seems like a logical fit since the Patriots need help throughout their linebacking corps. Cushing has the versatility to line up at a variety of positions and is a tough, instinctive defender with fluid feet and an ability to rush the passer. He’s the kind of player Bill Belichick craves.
24. Atlanta Falcons: Sean Smith, S/CB, Utah
The Falcons are something of a wild card here, with needs at linebacker, nose tackle and safety. However, with the pickings slim at linebacker and nose tackle, expect Atlanta to opt for one of the most physically imposing defensive backs in the class. Smith is a tall, well-built corner who is projected at both corner and safety. He displays great fluidity for his size and should be able to step in and make an immediate impact in the Falcons’ secondary. He will add a lot of versatility to the defensive scheme.
25. Miami Dolphins: D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt
The Dolphins have a lot of questions in the secondary, especially at the cornerback spot. Moore is a bit undersized for Bill Parcells’ standards, but he’s an explosive athlete who displays ideal burst and ball skills in coverage.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
The Ravens are in need of some talent at the corner position, and possibly no defensive back has as much as Illinois product Vontae Davis. He’s still a bit raw and needs some time to develop, but no one can question his incredible combination of size, speed and fluidity.
27. Indianapolis Colts: Percy Harvin, WR, Florida
With the sudden decline in the play of wideout Marvin Harrison, the Colts could be in the market for a receiver. Harvin is an elite talent who should absolutely thrive in the Colts’ passing attack. If he slides this far, expect the Colts to wait until the second round to address their needs at defensive tackle.
28. Philadelphia Eagles: Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
The Eagles could go in a number of directions here, and history says offensive tackle. But given their struggles at tight end last season, a dual blocking/receiving threat like Pettigrew would go a long way toward helping the offense. Pettigrew is a natural receiver who knows how to work the middle. He’s also one of the most powerful blocking tight ends to come along in years and will be able to handle the edge one on one on the outside.
29. New York Giants: Clay Matthews, OLB, USC
Even with the turmoil surrounding the future of wideouts Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer, expect the Giants to wait on the receiver position or address it via free agency. They still have a need at strongside linebacker, and Matthews not only has the power to be stout at the point of attack, he’s also a gifted athlete off the edge who could further enhance the Giants’ pass rush.
30. Tennessee Titans: Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss
The Titans could have a hard time signing defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth this offseason. If they can’t, expect DT to be at the top of their list come draft time. Jerry is a real talent who could be long gone at this point. He should make an immediate impact inside for the Titans.
31. Arizona Cardinals: Larry English, OLB/DE, Northern Illinois
With the possibility of both Karlos Dansby and Bertrand Berry leaving via free agency, the Cardinals will need some hybrid-type pass rushers to fill the void. English played with his hand on the ground at Northern Illinois but is a good athlete with the fluidity to play in space and rush off the edge.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers: Alex Mack, C, California
The Steelers need to upgrade the interior of their offensive line, and Mack not only has the versatility to play center or either guard spot, he is the type of tough, in-line blocker the Steelers crave. He should come in and make an immediate impact inside.
33. Detroit Lions: Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest
One of the draft’s most fluid corners, Smith should provide immediate help to the Lions’ secondary.
34. Kansas City Chiefs: Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee
Ayers should provide an instant spark to the sack-starved Chiefs.
35. St. Louis Rams: Max Unger, C/G/T, Oregon
The Rams need help all over the offensive line; Unger has the versatility to fill any of those roles.
36. Cleveland Browns: LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh
McCoy gives the Browns a more dynamic and explosive threat on the ground.
37. Seattle Seahawks: Ron Brace, DT, Boston College
The undersized Seahawks defensive line needs to add some girth up front. Brace fills the bill.
38. Cincinnati Bengals: Shonn Greene, RB, Iowa
The kind of blue-collar running back the Bengals need to take pressure off their passing attack.
39. Jacksonville Jaguars: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
Wideouts always have a tendency to fall on draft day, and Heyward-Bey is simply too much of a steal for the Jaguars to pass up.
40. Oakland Raiders: Jamon Meredith, OT/OG, South Carolina
An ideal fit at either guard or tackle in the Raiders’ zone-blocking scheme.
41. Green Bay Packers: Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
Should become an instant starter in the Packers’ 3-4 defense.
42. Buffalo Bills: Shawn Nelson, TE, Southern Miss
The kind of vertical threat the Bills’ offense desperately needs at tight end.
43. San Francisco 49ers: Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina
With a talent like Nicks still on the board, the Niners will address their pass rush need later.
44. Miami Dolphins (from WAS): Jarron Gilbert, DE, San Jose State
Parcells loves long, athletic lineman, and Gilbert fills the bill.
45. New York Giants (from NO): Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers
Expect the Giants to address their receiver position in the second round with a big target like Britt.
46. Houston Texans: Coye Francies, CB, San Jose State
An impressive corner who was a real standout at the Senior Bowl and is starting to climb draft boards.
47. New England Patriots (from SD): Patrick Chung, SS, Oregon
A physical safety prospect with the kind of instincts and ball skills the Patriots value.
48. Denver Broncos: Jairus Byrd, CB, Oregon
The Broncos continue to add talent on the defensive side of the ball.
49. Chicago Bears: Duke Robinson, OG, Oklahoma
The kind of big, physical lineman the Bears love in their power-run scheme.
50. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sen’Derrick Marks, DT, Auburn
A quick-twitch lineman ideal for the Bucs’ one-gap scheme.
51. Dallas Cowboys: Herman Johnson, OG, LSU
The Cowboys love massive offensive lineman, and we expect Johnson to lose about 20 pounds from his 382-pound Senior Bowl weight and compete for a starting spot next season.
52. New York Jets: Asher Allen, CB, Georgia
A tough, instinctive corner who will help upgrade the Jets’ secondary.
53. Philadelphia Eagles: Louis Delmas, FS, Western Michigan
Could be an eventual replacement for FS Brian Dawkins.
54. Minnesota Vikings: Paul Kruger, DE, Utah
The Vikings need to find a complement across from DE Jared Allen. Kruger looks like a good fit.
55. Atlanta Falcons: Fili Moala, DT, USC
A big, physical lineman who might fill a need at nose tackle for Atlanta.
56. Miami Dolphins: Clint Sintim, OLB, Virginia
A nice value and fit for the Dolphins’ 3-4 defense.
57. Baltimore Ravens: Juaquin Iglesias, WR, Oklahoma
A smooth route runner who should be a big help to QB Joe Flacco and the offense.
58. New England Patriots: Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut
An explosive corner who also has an ability to come up and stick the run.
59. Carolina Panthers: Chase Coffman, TE, Missouri
The Panthers have lacked consistent production from the tight end position since Wesley Walls.
60. New York Giants: James Casey, TE, Rice
A gifted athlete who will add explosion to the tight end position in New York.
61. Indianapolis Colts: Evander Hood, DT, Missouri
An explosive tackle and instant upgrade inside for the Colts.
62. Tennessee Titans: Derrick Williams, WR, Penn State
Offers the Titans big-time potential at receiver.
63. Arizona Cardinals: Eric Wood, C Louisville
A tough interior lineman who gives the Cards some versatility inside.
64. Pittsburgh Steelers: Phil Loadholt, OT, Oklahoma
A physical right tackle who will create some movement up front in the Steelers’ power-run scheme.
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