Mock Draft VI: Stafford holding steady
The NFL draft is still more than a month away, and each day brings new information about some of the nation’s top prospects. Here is National Football Post’s sixth mock draft of the season.
1. Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
The Lions could go in a number of directions, but to start the re-building process, expect Detroit to opt for a quarterback. Stafford possesses the physical tools needed to develop into a NFL-quality passer and gives the Lions someone to build around.
2. St. Louis Rams: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
With the release of OT Orlando Pace and WR Torry Holt, the Rams have two significant holes to fill. Look for St. Louis to start from the inside and opt for an offensive tackle like Monroe.
3. Kansas City Chiefs: Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest
Curry is one of the draft’s true “elite” prospects and should come in and contribute right away in Kansas City. He’s still in the mix for the first overall pick, but even if he doesn’t go No. 1, I don’t expect him to fall past the Chiefs.
4. Seattle Seahawks: Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas
The Seahawks are desperately trying to improve their defensive line, and with the trade for DT Cory Redding this weekend, I don’t think B.J. Raji is in Seattle’s draft plans any longer. However, a pass rusher like Orakpo, who can play opposite DE Patrick Kerney, seems like a natural fit.
5. Cleveland Browns: Everette Brown, OLB, Florida State
Cleveland needs to add more weapons on the defensive side of the ball, and Brown has the pass-rush ability to warrant the selection. He’s a bit undersized but should fair well as a 3-4 OLB.
6. Cincinnati Bengals: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
Cincinnati needs to improve the talent along its offensive line, and Smith has the athleticism to come in and play from Day 1. This pick would give the Bengals some much-needed flexibility up front and help stabilize their O-line.
7. Oakland Raiders: B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College
The Raiders have ranked in the bottom third in the league vs. the run the past five years and need to add more talent inside. Raji is a powerful, stout tackle who can consistently eat up blockers and push the pocket.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
The Jaguars have little depth at the quarterback position, and Sanchez might be too good to pass up. He would be able to develop for a year or two in Jacksonville and get the reps needed to become a successful NFL quarterback.
9. Green Bay Packers: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
If the Packers are unable to fill a void in their 3-4 defense at this pick, expect them to address their offensive line. Smith has been falling down some draft boards of late, but he’s one of the draft’s top talents and would come in and instantly upgrade the Packers’ offensive line.
10. San Francisco 49ers: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
The 49ers lack a bona fide No. 1 wideout, and Crabtree has the ability to develop into one of the league’s best. Wide receivers always have a tendency to fall on draft day, but don’t expect Crabtree to drop past the Niners.
11. Buffalo Bills: Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee
Ayers is starting to build momentum and looks like he’s made his way up the top end of the draft. His ability to play the run and rush the passer makes him an ideal fit in Buffalo.
12. Denver Broncos: Aaron Maybin, DE/OLB, Penn State
Maybin is a hybrid DE/OLB who might be the draft’s top pure pass rusher. He not only possesses a great first step on the outside but also showcases the instincts to consistently get off the snap count on time. He is the type of outside pass rusher the Broncos have been seeking.
13. Washington Redskins: Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi
The Redskins don’t have many options at this pick as they need to add more youth and talent to their offensive line. Oher is an exceptionally talented kid, however, his lack of instincts may force him to play on the right side.
14. New Orleans Saints: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
The Saints need to add talent to the cornerback position and may opt for the talent and upside of Davis over FS/CB tweener Malcolm Jenkins. Davis is a boom-or-bust prospect, but he possesses the athletic ability to develop into a real shutdown corner.
15. Houston Texans: Malcolm Jenkins, CB/FS, Ohio State
Jenkins’ stock has slipped of late because of his slower than expected 40 times at the scouting combine in Indianapolis and his pro day. However, expect the secondary-starved Texans to pounce on Jenkins at pick No. 15 and use him in a variety of roles on defense.
16. San Diego Chargers: Rey Maualuga, ILB, USC
With the retaining of RB LaDainian Tomlinson, expect the Chargers to address their inside linebacker position. Maualuga is a fast-flowing, downhill ‘backer who would be an ideal fit in San Diego’s aggressive 3-4 defense.
17. New York Jets: Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State
The quarterback-starved Jets are running out of options at this stage and may opt for a rookie quarterback. Freeman possesses a rare skill set and, because of a weak quarterback class, will likely come off the board some time during the mid-first round.
18. Chicago Bears: Eben Britton, OT, Arizona
The Bears need to upgrade their offensive tackle position, and Britton has the ability to come in and start from Day 1. Britton is a technically savvy tackle with good power and base strength. Our only concern is his lack of length, although he should get by playing on the right side.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi
Jerry is an explosive, penetrating tackle who would be an ideal fit in the Buccaneers’ one-gap scheme. He plays with a motor that runs non-stop and should be an instant upgrade inside.
20. Detroit Lions: William Beatty, OT, Connecticut
The Lions will need to find a way to protect their new investment (Stafford), and Beatty is the last of the top offensive tackles still on the board. He’s a gifted athlete with long arms and should come in and start for the Lions immediately.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State
Yes, this is completely against what coach Andy Reid has done in the past, but with no offensive linemen worthy of the pick, it makes sense for the Eagles to land a bigger running back. Wells had an impressive showing at his pro day and could end up being the first back off the board.
22. Minnesota Vikings: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
The addition of QB Sage Rosenfels will help the Vikings’ pass game, but a complement to WR Bernard Berrian is still needed. Maclin is a big-time playmaker who has the ability to contribute outside, in the slot or on special teams.
23. New England Patriots: Sean Smith, DB, Utah
Smith is a tall, fluid defensive back who can come in and fill a variety of roles in the Patriots’ secondary. He possesses rare footwork and balance for a man his size and has the athletic ability to become an impact player in New England.
24. Atlanta Falcons: Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech
The Falcons need to find a pass-rush threat opposite DE John Abraham, and Johnson certainly fits the bill. His stock is running hot right now after impressive performances at the combine and his pro day. He still needs to develop physically but has the athletic ability to warrant a first-round pick.
25. Miami Dolphins: Ron Brace, DT, Boston College
We can’t see Bill Parcells drafting a wide receiver this early in the draft. Instead, expect him to opt for an eventual replacement for NT Jason Ferguson. Brace is a wide-bodied defender who eats up blockers and clogs the middle, the type of defender the Fins need inside.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Brian Cushing, OLB, USC
With the loss of ILB Bart Scott, the Ravens need to find a replacement inside. The jury is still out on Cushing regarding his position at the next level. However, the versatility of the Ravens’ defense should allow him to find a home at one of their linebacker positions.
27. Indianapolis Colts: Percy Harvin, WR, Florida
Indianapolis will be in search of a wideout now that WR Marvin Harrison is gone. Harvin is a great value at the end of Round 1. He is still developing as a receiver, but he has the athletic ability to flourish in the Colts’ offense.
28. Philadelphia Eagles: Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
Pettigrew is a physically imposing tight end who can help contribute in both the run and pass game. He lacks the vertical speed to get down the field but should be a good fit in the Eagles’ West Coast offense.
29. New York Giants: Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina
The Giants’ most glaring need is at wide receiver, and even with WR Darrius Heyward-Bey still on the board, I think Nicks is a better fit. He’s a physical receiver who runs good routes and showcases strong hands. He’s the kind of talent who could thrive in the Giants pass game.
30. Tennessee Titans: Evander Hood, DT, Missouri
The Titans are in need of an interior defensive lineman after the loss of DT Albert Haynesworth, and Hood has the ability to contribute from Day 1. He’s a strong, stout defender with good interior pass rush ability and a nose for the football.
31. Arizona Cardinals: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
Moreno is one of the draft’s top 20 prospects and will be an ideal fit in the Cardinals’ spread attack. His lack of 40 speed may hurt him draft weekend, but expect him to make a big impact in the NFL.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers: Alex Mack, C, California
The Steelers need to add more talent to the interior of their offensive line, and Mack is a tough lineman who can play either center or guard. He’s a safe value at the end of Round 1 and should be able to contribute right away.
33. Detroit Lions: James Laurinaitis, ILB, Ohio State
The inside linebacker the Lions desperately need.
34. New England Patriots: Clay Matthews, OLB, USC
An ideal outside linebacker in the Patriots’ 3-4 defense.
35. St. Louis Rams: Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers
The Rams have enough vertical threats; now they need a guy to work the middle.
36. Cleveland Browns: Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest
The Brown’s secondary needs repairs, and Smith is a good starting point.
37. Seattle Seahawks: LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh
McCoy adds some much-needed explosion to the Seahawks’ run game.
38. Cincinnati Bengals: Max Unger, C, Oregon
The Bengals don’t have a chance until they get their offensive line fixed.
39. Jacksonville Jaguars: D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt
Moore fills the hole opposite Rashean Mathis.
40. Oakland Raiders: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
The kind of explosive vertical threat the Raiders crave.
41. Green Bay Packers: Connor Barwin, DE/OLB, Cincinnati
A pass rushing tweener who should fill a void at OLB.
42. Buffalo Bills: Shawn Nelson, TE, Southern Miss
The Bills need to add some playmakers to the TE position.
43. San Francisco 49ers: Larry English, OLB, Northern Illinois
The outside pass rusher the 49ers need.
44. Miami Dolphins: Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
A five-technique end who should fit in nicely in the Dolphins’ 3-4 defense.
45. New York Giants: Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut
Butler adds some depth to the corner position with the upside to develop into a big-time starter.
46. Houston Texans: Tyrone McKenzie, OLB, South Florida
One of the draft’s top pure 4-3 outside linebackers.
47. New England Patriots: Jarron Gilbert, DE, San Jose State
An intriguing 5-technique end who’s loaded with upside.
48. Denver Broncos: Asher Allen, CB, Georgia
Adds some much-needed talent to the Denver secondary.
49. Chicago Bears: Lawrence Sidbury Jr., DE, Richmond
The Bears need to increase their pass rush off the edge if they want their defense to get back to its 2006 form.
50. Cleveland Browns: Jared Cook, TE, South Carolina
A vertical threat who can replace Kellen Winslow in the pass game.
51. Dallas Cowboys: Louis Delmas, FS, Western Michigan
The Cowboys need to add more playmakers to the safety position.
52. New York Jets: Phil Loadholt, OT, Oklahoma
The Jets need to add some depth and talent to their offensive line.
53. Philadelphia Eagles: Duke Robinson, G, Oklahoma
The type of offensive lineman Andy Reid loves.
54. Minnesota Vikings: Fenuki Tupou, OT, Oregon
The right tackle the Vikings are in desperate need of.
55. Atlanta Falcons: James Casey, TE, Rice
An athletic tight end who can add another element to the Falcons’ pass game.
56. Miami Dolphins: Juaquin Iglesias, WR, Oklahoma
A smooth, sure-handed wideout who should help the Dolphins’ pass game from Day 1.
57. Baltimore Ravens: Coye Francies, CB, San Jose State
Adds some much needed depth and talent to the Ravens’ cornerback position.
58. New England Patriots: Eric Wood, C, Louisville
A versatile lineman who can play anywhere inside.
59. Carolina Panthers: Fili Moala, DT, USC
The Panthers need to beef up the interior of their defensive line.
60. New York Giants: Donald Brown, RB, Connecticut
Fills the void left by RB Derrick Ward.
61. Indianapolis Colts: Sen’Derrick Marks, DT, Auburn
Should make an instant impact shooting gaps inside.
62. Tennessee Titans: Derrick Williams, WR, Penn State
Will need to run well at his pro day, but has the athletic ability to separate at will.
63. Arizona Cardinals: Clint Sintim, OLB, Virginia
A smart edge rusher who should develop into a solid player at the next level.
64. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jairus Byrd, CB, Oregon
With cornerback Bryant McFadden leaving via free agency, a replacement is needed.
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