Mock Draft VIII: Stafford regains top spot
More: Mock Draft VII
With less than two weeks remaining until the NFL draft, here is the National Football Post’s latest three-round mock draft. Rumors and misinformation are flying wildly at this time of year, so let’s try to make sense of any possible scenarios that could play out on draft weekend.
1. Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
Now that the Jay Cutler trade has gone down and Detroit still doesn’t have a franchise quarterback, it looks like the Lions will bite the bullet and nab one with the first overall pick. Stafford has been the consensus top-rated quarterback on most teams’ draft boards the past year and appears to be the future QB for a team in need of one.
2. St. Louis Rams: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
The Rams have holes on both sides of the ball and could go in several directions with this pick. However, Smith instantly improves their offensive line and should give the team’s top offensive playmakers more time to make plays.
3. Kansas City Chiefs: Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest
No matter what defensive scheme the Chiefs line up in this year, they need to add more talent to their front seven. Curry possesses the versatility to be effective in both a 3-4 and 4-3 scheme and should give the Chiefs’ new defensive coordinator, Clancy Pendergast, a lot of options up front.
4. Seattle Seahawks: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
Seattle had a number of its front-office executives present at the USC pro day and look to be focusing on the former Trojans QB. The Seahawks would be an ideal fit for Sanchez to learn the game under starter Matt Hasselbeck’s tutelage.
5. Cleveland Browns: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
The Browns have lost a lot of talent at their skill positions this offseason, and with the possibility of WR Braylon Edwards also leaving, a replacement needs to be found. Enter Crabtree, one of the draft’s premier talents who should pay instant dividends in the pass game.
6. Cincinnati Bengals: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
The Bengals strike gold as Monroe falls into their laps at pick No. 6. He’s the top-rated overall prospect on my board and has the body control, athletic ability and technique to develop into one of the game’s top left tackles.
7. Oakland Raiders: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
Maclin is one of the draft’s top vertical threats and has the deep speed to consistently create plays down the field. The Raiders need to find a legit target for QB JaMarcus Russell, and Maclin fits the bill.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars: B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College
Raji has come under the microscope recently because of allegations of a failed drug test at the scouting combine in Indianapolis. But those allegations are considered rumors, and I doubt a talent like him slips out of the top 10 in this defensive tackle-starved draft class.
9. Green Bay Packers: Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas
The Packers need to address their defensive front seven with the ninth overall pick and likely will have plenty of options at that spot. Orakpo is an impressive physical specimen who should improve the Packers’ pass rush off the edge.
10. San Francisco 49ers: Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State
Maybin is one of the draft’s top pass rushers and possesses the length, burst and awareness to be a consistent factor off the edge. Plus, he is only 21 years old and will continue to develop physically in the coming years.
11. Buffalo Bills: Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee
Ayers has skyrocketed up draft boards all year and looks to be sitting comfortably in the top 15. He offers the Bills a physical presence in the run game but also knows how to get after the passer on third down.
12. Denver Broncos: Everette Brown, DE, Florida State
The Broncos have a lot of possibilities, but no guarantees, on their roster for the OLB position in their new 3-4 defense. Brown should be able to come in and instantly improve the Denver pass rush off the edge. He’s a gifted athlete with a good burst and knows how to create havoc behind the line of scrimmage.
13. Washington Redskins: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
No team may be locked into a position more than the Redskins. They need to improve their overall talent on the offensive line and add some much needed youth. I don’t know if Smith has the overall athleticism to play left tackle, but he would definitely be a welcomed improvement at either guard or right tackle.
14. New Orleans Saints: Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State
With only one pick in the first three rounds, expect the Saints to opt for an instant impact player who can step in and make a difference next year. Wells is a big, physical back who should add the type of physical dimension needed in the Saints’ rushing attack.
15. Houston Texans: Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi
The Texans have invested so many resources in their defensive line the past couple of years but haven’t gotten the type of production they expected in return. The addition of Jerry shouldn’t come as a surprise because until Houston improves the play of its front four, it will struggle defensively.
16. San Diego Chargers: Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
The Chargers have consistently invested high draft picks in their defensive front seven, and this year won’t be any different. Jackson is an ideal fit in the Chargers’ 3-4 defense and has the frame, length and power to start from day one.
17. New York Jets: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
The Jets need to find a downfield threat in the passing game, and Heyward-Bey looks like this draft’s best bet.
18. Denver Broncos (from Chicago): Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State
Denver needs to continue upgrading its defensive front seven, but a talent like Jenkins is simply too good to pass up. He has the ability to start for the Broncos from day one, plus he gives the Denver coaching staff some versatility in the secondary.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State
Freeman marks the start of a new era for Bucs football and has the tools to develop into a big-time NFL passer. However, he’s raw and needs time to sit on the bench and learn behind a seasoned vet.
20. Detroit Lions (from Dallas): Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi
The Lions need to find some protection for their new face of the franchise, and Oher possesses the necessary skill set for the left tackle spot. He may need some time to develop into the position, but he’s an upgrade over the Lions’ current options.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
Brian Westbrook turns 30 this year, and the Eagles should be in the market for his future replacement. Enter Moreno, one of the most instinctive running backs in years. He offers a rare blend of vision, balance and quickness at the line and also does a nice job in the receiving game.
22. Minnesota Vikings: Eben Britton, OT, Arizona
Minnesota needs to improve the overall talent on the right side of its offensive line, and Britton certainly fits the bill. He’s a tall, physically built tackle with smooth feet and good base strength on the outside. He’s a bit short-armed but projects nicely to either tackle spot in the NFL.
23. New England Patriots: Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut
The Patriots added some veteran bodies to the cornerback position this offseason, but Butler seems like too good a fit for New England to pass up. He showcases the ability to be effective in both man and zone schemes and he does a great job supporting the run. The Patriots don’t have many needs, but a player like Butler just seems to fit.
24. Atlanta Falcons: Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
Pettigrew’s skill set is rare among NFL tight ends, as he has the ability to not only make plays through the air but can also be a factor in the run game. The Falcons got very little production from the position last year (19 catches), and Pettigrew has the ability to definitely improve their tight end production across the board.
25. Miami Dolphins: Sean Smith, CB/FS, Utah
If we’ve learned anything from Bill Parcells over the years, it’s that he loves big, physical prospects. And no cornerback in this year’s class is bigger than Utah’s Smith. He has the makings of an ideal press cover man and does a great job using his length to re-route receivers at the line of scrimmage. He also has the versatility to play FS and will definitely fill a role in the Miami secondary.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Rey Maualuga, ILB, USC
The Ravens have some players who could potentially replace MLB Bart Scott (Jameel McClain, Tavares Gooden), but if a player like Maualuga falls to them at No. 26, expect the Ravens to think twice. Maualuga is an ideal fit in Baltimore’s 3-4 scheme and has the ability to take on blocks in the run game and get after the QB vs. the pass.
27. Indianapolis Colts: Evander Hood, DT, Missouri
The Colts really struggled with the play of their interior defensive line last year, and some talent needs to be added to the mix. Hood is an ideal one-gap lineman and should have no problem fitting in the Colts’ defense. He does a great job firing off the ball, shooting gaps and creating plays in the backfield, exactly the type of inside defender they need.
28. Philadelphia Eagles (from Carolina): William Beatty, OT, Connecticut
The Eagles saw both their starting offensive tackles leave this offseason and still have some questions at the left tackle position. Beatty is a tall, long-armed lineman with good feet and athleticism outside. He has the ability to mature into a starting-caliber left tackle and is a nice value at the end of Round 1.
29. New York Giants: Percy Harvin, WR, Florida
The Giants have already brought in Harvin for a private workout and could use his skill set in a number of ways on offense.
30. Tennessee Titans: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
The Titans have a need at defensive tackle, but with a talent like Davis still on the board, they may elect to wait to address the DT position. Davis is one of the most athletically gifted corners in the draft, but concerns about his technique and maturity level could cause him to fall.
31. Arizona Cardinals: Clay Matthews, OLB, USC
The Cardinals love to run a number of different defensive looks with their front seven, and adding a versatile defender like Matthews should only help increase the Cardinals’ pressure up front.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jarron Gilbert, DT, San Jose State
The Steelers need to add some youth to their defensive line as all three starters are over 30. Enter Gilbert, a tall, long-armed lineman with the athleticism to develop into one of the game’s top five-technique defensive ends.
33. Lions: James Laurinaitis, ILB, Ohio State
Should be able to man the middle spot from day one.
34. Patriots (From Kansas City): Brian Cushing, OLB, USC
Gives the Pats some versatility at the linebacker position.
35. Rams: Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina
The Rams need a physical target to go along with their vertical threats.
36. Browns: Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest
A fluid corner who instantly upgrades the Cleveland secondary.
37. Seahawks: Connor Barwin, DE, Cincinnati
A versatile athlete who should improve Seattle’s pass rush.
38. Bengals: Donald Brown, RB, Connecticut
The Bengals need to find a more explosive running back.
39. Jaguars: Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers
Will Britt finally be the answer to the Jaguars’ receiving problems?
40. Raiders: Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech
The type of rare physical athlete the Raiders love.
41. Packers: Ron Brace, DT, Boston College
Gives the Packers one of the few true nose tackles in the draft.
42. Bills: Jared Cook, TE, South Carolina
An explosive vertical threat who should add a big-play dimension to the Bills’ passing attack.
43. 49ers: Max Unger, OL, Oregon
Gives the 49ers a talented offensive lineman who can play almost anywhere on the line.
44. Dolphins (From Washington): Larry English, OLB, Northern Illinois
Could end up going a lot earlier, but he’s an ideal pass rushing OLB in a 3-4 scheme.
45. Giants (From New Orleans): Shawn Nelson, TE, Southern Miss
Gives the Giants more of a big-play TE threat in the passing game.
46. Texans: Sherrod Martin, FS, Troy
A versatile DB who has the ability to play CB and FS.
47. Patriots (From San Diego): Alex Mack, C, California
A tough, blue-collar center who can play any of the interior O-line positions.
48. Broncos: Fili Moala, DT, USC
A big, long-armed lineman who should fill a void at the five-technique position in Denver.
49. Bears: Phil Loadholt, OT, Oklahoma
Gives the Bears a big right tackle to groom for the future.
50. Browns (From Tampa Bay): LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh
Adds some much-needed explosion to the Browns’ rushing attack.
51. Cowboys: William Moore, S, Missouri
The Cowboys are still in need of a playmaker at the safety position.
52. Jets: Duke Robinson, OG, Oklahoma
The Jets need to add some youth to their offensive line.
53. Eagles: Louis Delmas, FS, Western Michigan
A potential replacement for FS Brian Dawkins.
54. Vikings: D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt
One of the draft’s top corners who will slip due to concerns about his speed.
55. Falcons: Lawrence Sidbury Jr., DE, Richmond
A small-school riser who could give the Falcons the pass rush they need opposite John Abraham.
56. Dolphins: Brian Robiskie, WR, Ohio State
A coach’s dream who should develop rather quickly into the No. 2 role.
57. Ravens: Juaquin Iglesias, WR, Oklahoma
A polished route runner who knows how to work the middle.
58. Patriots: Andre Brown, RB, NC State
A big, versatile back who can catch the ball out of the backfield.
59. Panthers: Sen’Derrick Marks, DT, Auburn
Gives the Panthers a much-needed interior pass rusher.
60. Giants: Mike Mickens, CB, Cincinnati
Adds some depth to the Giants’ cornerback position.
62. Titans: Dorell Scott, DT, Clemson
A big, physical DT who will help fill the void left by Albert Haynesworth.
63. Cardinals: Jamon Meredith, OT, South Carolina
An athletically gifted lineman who could mature into a possible left tackle.
64. Steelers: Eric Wood, C, Louisville
A tough, gritty pivot who adds some versatility and depth to the Steelers’ interior line.
65. Lions: Paul Kruger, DE, Utah
The Lions need to improve their talent on the edge.
66. Rams: Kevin Barnes, CB, Maryland
A tall, physical corner is needed in the St. Louis secondary.
67. Chiefs: Herman Johnson, OT/OG, LSU
Gives the Chiefs a potential starter on the right side.
68. Seahawks: Fenuki Tupou, OT, Oregon
Fills a big void at the Seahawks’ RT position.
69. Cowboys (From Cleveland): Clint Sintim, OLB, Virginia
Has the ability to make the move inside to MLB and address one of the Cowboys’ key needs.
70. Bengals: Antoine Caldwell, C, Alabama
The Bengals need to find a starting-caliber center.
71. Raiders: Chris Clemons, FS, Clemson
The Raiders love speed, and no safety has more than Clemons.
72. Jaguars: Troy Kropog, OT, Tulane
Gives the Jaguars a potential future left tackle.
73. Packers: Alex Magee, DT/DE, Purdue
Possesses the length and frame to play the five-technique position in the NFL.
74. 49ers: Rashad Jennings, RB, Liberty
The Niners need to find a running back to take some pressure off Frank Gore.
75. Bills: Andy Levitre, OG, Oregon State
A former left tackle who should make a smooth transition inside.
76. Jets (From New Orleans): Chase Coffman, TE, Missouri
The Jets need an every-down TE who can play with his hand on the ground; Dustin Keller is not that guy.
77. Texans: Shonn Greene, RB, Iowa
Should be an ideal fit in the Texas zone-blocking scheme.
78. Chargers: Patrick Chung, SS, Oregon
The Chargers brought in Chung for a visit; he’s a nice value at pick 78.
79. Broncos: Rashad Johnson, S, Alabama
Adds another instinctive defender to the Broncos’ secondary.
80. Redskins: Kyle Moore, DE, USC
Gives the Redskins a strong base defensive end.
81. Buccaneers: Ricky Jean-Francois, DT, LSU
Tampa Bay needs to add some youth to its defensive line.
82. Lions (From Dallas): Jairus Byrd, CB, Oregon
Has fallen on some draft boards due to his lack of speed but is a very instinctive corner.
83. Packers (From New York Jets): Gerald Cadogan, OT, Penn State
Adds some youth and versatility to the Packers’ O-line.
84. Broncos (From Chicago): Jonathan Luigs, C, Arkansas
The Broncos need to groom a young center.
85. Eagles: Richard Quinn, TE, North Carolina
Has been rising up draft boards and gives the Eagles the blocking TE they need.
86. Vikings: Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Georgia
An ideal No. 2-type possession receiver.
87. Dolphins: Trevor Canfield, OG, Cincinnati
Parcells loves to have plenty of talent and depth on the offensive line.
88. Ravens: Coye Francies, CB, San Jose State
Gives the Ravens some much-needed size at corner.
89. Patriots: James Casey, TE, Rice
A versatile prospect who can line up all over the offense.
90. Falcons: Marcus Freeman, OLB, Ohio State
Can fill a number of holes in the Atlanta linebacking corps.
91. Giants: T.J. Lang, OG, Eastern Michigan
A former left tackle who has the base strength to excel inside at guard.
92. Colts: Mike Thomas, WR, Arizona
Could really do some damage in the Colts’ high-powered pass offense.
93. Panthers: Rhett Bomar, QB, Sam Houston State
Gives the Panthers a potential quarterback to groom for the future.
94. Titans: Jason Williams, OLB, Western Illinois
The Titans always seem to find a small school gem in the mid-rounds; Williams could be that guy.
95. Cardinals: Javon Ringer, RB, Michigan State
Should fit nicely in the Cardinals’ spread attack.
96. Steelers: Greg Toler, CB, St. Paul’s
A small-school corner who’s been absolutely flying up draft boards in recent weeks.
97. Patriots (Compensatory selection): Pat White, QB, West Virginia
Gives the Patriots plenty of options on the offensive side of the ball.
98. Bengals (Compensatory selection): Travis Beckum, TE, Wisconsin
A tight end who can make plays down the seam.
99. Bears (Compensatory selection): Mitch King, DT, Iowa
A tough, blue-collar one-gap lineman.
100. Giants (Compensatory selection): Darcel McBath, FS, Texas Tech
Had a stellar senior season and looks like a nice value at the end of Round 3.
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