Saturday, April 25, 2009

NFL Mock Draft

 1. Detroit (0-16)- QB Matt Stafford (Georgia)

 This already has been confirmed, so I’ll just give a brief summary of what I think. This could be great or this could be disastrous. They are giving him 41.7 million dollar guaranteed which is a lot. That could make him complacent and not want to give his all, especially through what figures to be a rough start to his career with very little talent around him. However, he has one of the strongest arms of any quarterback prospect in the last 5 years. He needs to learn to not force things and make better decisions and he’d probably be better off sitting a year behind Daunte Culpepper. I would have gone with the safer pick, Jason Smith, but this pick has a lot more upside.

 2. St. Louis (2-14)- OT Jason Smith (Baylor)

 This one is almost as much of a lock as the Stafford pick. The Rams need an offensive lineman badly to replace Orlando Pace, otherwise Mark Bulger might actually die this season. The only other thing I could see happening here is the Rams’ changing their minds and deciding that Eugene Monroe is the best tackle here, but as of now, Smith is going to be the pick.

 3. Kansas City (2-14)- DE Tyson Jackson (LSU)

 This is a surprise pick here. Everyone has had Aaron Curry going here since they traded for Matt Cassel, but reports have come out in the last week that Pioli has fallen in love with Jackson and wants him as that Richard Seymour type of 3-4 end who can also pressure the quarterback. That, combined with the addition of Zach Thomas, may have tipped the Chiefs hand that this will be a surprise pick. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was still Curry, but Jackson is more likely.

 4. Seattle (4-12)- OLB Aaron Curry (Wake Forest)

 Seattle needs another outside linebacker now that Julian Peterson is in Detroit. They shouldn’t hesitate to fill that need with the best overall defensive player in this draft class. Their other starting linebacker from last year, Leroy Hill, has been given the franchise tag but has not signed, giving them more reason to bring in a defensive presence like Curry. Curry will help immediately a defense that ranked 30th in the league in yards per game allowed. With Matt Hasselbeck still signed, they are going to want to help their team right now and picking Curry will allow them to do that.

 5. Cleveland (4-12)- OLB Brian Orakpo (Texas)

 The Browns only mustered 17 sacks last season, which, if it wasn’t for the Chiefs’ awful showing of 10, would have ranked last in the NFL. Willie McGinest is done as an elite pass rusher, maybe as a football player completely, so they are going to need another top rushing outside linebacker. Brian Orakpo played defensive end in college, but at 263 pounds with a 4.70 40, Orakpo should be easily able to move to outside linebacker in a 3-4 system. He had 10.5 sacks last season and is considered the best pass rusher in the draft.

 6. Cincinnati (4-11-1)- OT Eugene Monroe (Virginia)

 This passing offense, when healthy, can make this a playoff team by itself. However, they were not healthy last year as Carson Palmer was sacked so many times that he had to miss 12 games with injury. They need to protect Palmer and the best way to do that is with a franchise type left tackle like Monroe. If Palmer is healthy, and the defense continues to improve as they did last year, this could be a surprise team next season.

 7. Oakland (5-11)- WR Darrius Heyward Bey (Maryland)

 I originally had Michael Johnson here for his freakish athleticism, but then the thought occurred to me that Al Davis is going to want to help out his 60 million dollar quarterback, JaMarcus Russell. So, I slated the equally athletic Darrius Heyward Bey here. He is a great athlete, but I’m not convinced he can be a legitimate #1 option in the NFL. However, Al Davis will see his 4.30 40 at 6 foot 2 and think otherwise. He will take him even if Michael Crabtree is still available, though Crabtree is the best receiving prospect since Calvin Johnson, causing some Raiders’ fans to shoot themselves.

 8. Jacksonville (5-11)- WR Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech)

 Oakland’s loss is Jacksonville’s gain. Al Davis was scared off by the fact that Michael Crabtree didn’t run a 40, due to injury, and took Darrius Heyward Bey, who had the fastest 40 of any NFL prospect. Now the Jaguars get Crabtree to come in and play alongside Torry Holt. He’ll also have the privilege of learning from Holt, which will help him tremendous. Jacksonville’s receiving corps aren’t looking so sorry after all, in fact, if David Garrard is his 2007 self again, this passing game could surprise.

 9. Green Bay (6-10)- NT BJ Raji (Boston College)

 Ryan Pickett is moving to nose tackle for their 3-4 defense. However, Pickett is 30 years old, on a contract year, and has never played nose tackle before. There is going to be room in the mix for Raji, even if he doesn’t get a lot of action at nose tackle right away. Raji is versatile and despite his massive size, he can move to defensive end in 3-4 for the time being, which is a big position need for the Packers.

 10. San Francisco (7-9)- QB Mark Sanchez (USC)

 Mike Singletary is a conservative coach, so he’ll have some qualms about taking a signal caller, especially given what happened to Alex Smith. However, the 2008 Niners were not the 2004 Niners. Sanchez isn’t going to have a lot of pressure on him right away, as Shaun Hill is still a capable starter. The offensive line isn’t as miserable and he’d be backed by a solid defense. Overall, Sanchez should do a good job in San Francisco and he’s too good of a prospect to pass up at #10. One interesting idea I had is that the Niners trade this pick to Washington, along with Shaun Hill, for Jason Campbell and the 13th pick. However, I am not going to “mock” that down here since I’ve heard no rumors whatsoever about the possibility.

 11. Buffalo (7-9)- OT Michael Oher (Mississippi)

 Jason Peters is gone so their biggest need, defensive end, will have to wait. The defensive end class is a lot deeper than the offensive tackle class. If they were to take a defensive end here, they could be stuck choosing between Phil Loadholt and Jamon Meredith at #28 and that would not be a favorable situation. Instead, they take Oher here and look to target defensive ends either that #28 or #42.

 12. Denver (8-8)- OLB Aaron Maybin (Penn State)

 The Broncos want to add anything they can to their defense and bringing in the guy I view as the best overall pass rusher in the class will definitely be something the Broncos do if even the chance. They ranked 26th in the league in sacks and are moving to a new defensive scheme. Maybin would be a perfect fit at 3-4 rush linebacker and would help their passing defense as a whole. Their passing defense ranked 31st in opposing quarterback rating allowed.

 13. Washington (8-8)- OT Andre Smith (Alabama)

 After his no show at the combine and his sorry showing at his pro day, Andre Smith does in no way deserve to be a 1st round pick. However, he has great potential, so someone is still going to take a chance, and probably make a mistake, by drafting him in the first round. The Redskins need a right tackle and they have an owner in charge who often makes mistakes. It’s a match made in heaven.

 14. New Orleans (8-8)- RB Chris Wells (Ohio State)

 I am 100% percent sure that the Saints will take someone from Ohio State. However, whether it will be Chris Wells or Malcolm Jenkins, I am not sure. I believe it’ll be Wells because he’ll give them the best chance to win now. With Drew Brees leading the passing game, and the double headed running back of Reggie Bush and Chris Wells, assuming the two can avoid injuries, the defense only has to be decent for this team to be a Super Bowl contender. Malcolm Jenkins would fill more of a position need, but Wells will give them the best chance to win next year, which is what this team wants. They’ll have to settle for Jabari Greer and Darren Sharper as their only defensive backfield additions this offseason. If that can be enough to improve their pass defense, they’ll be fine defensively next year.

 15. Houston (8-8)- FS Malcolm Jenkins (Ohio State)

 The Texans have always lacked the ball hawking leader in their defensive backfield. Malcolm Jenkins will be a great fit here because of his versatility. He can play corner alongside Dunta Robinson, or be an upgrade over Nick Ferguson at safety. Either way, he’ll help a pass defense that only had 12 picks last year.

 16. San Diego (8-8)- DE Evander Hood (Missouri)

 This is the second surprise pick. With all of the top 4 offensive tackle off the board, the Chargers will turn to defense, instead of reaching for a guy like Eben Britton. This could be middle linebacker with Rey Maualuga, but Igor Olshansky is gone at defensive end and this team needs someone to replace him along the 3 man defensive line. Hood played defense tackle in college, but he’s a good pass rusher, especially for his size, 300 pounds, which the Chargers will love.

 17. New York Jets (9-7)- QB Josh Freeman (Kansas State)

 The Jets are going to try to trade up for Mark Sanchez and then they’re going to try to trade for Jason Campbell. However, if Jacksonville keeps their pick at #8, which they will if Michael Crabtree is available, the Jets can’t move up there to take Sanchez and the Redskins can’t move up their to take Sanchez and alienate Jason Campbell. The Jets will have to settle for Josh Freeman. Freeman reminds me of Joe Flacco a little bit, who stepped into a similar situation in Baltimore last year and led them to the playoffs as a rookie. New Jets head coach and former Ravens’ defensive coordinator Rex Ryan will believe the Freeman can do the same here.

 18. Denver - from Chicago (9-7)- MLB Rey Maualuga (USC)

 More defensive help for a team that desperately needs it. They signed Andra Davis, but they need another middle linebacker to pair with him if they want to avoid finishing 30th in run defense again. Maualuga’s stock has slipped to due an injury, but I believe the injury is nothing major and Maualuga is still the top 10 caliber prospect he was before he got hurt.

 19. Tampa Bay (9-7)- DE Robert Ayers (Tennessee)

 They need a defensive tackle which is why I wouldn’t be surprised if they moved this pick to Kansas City for Glenn Dorsey, with the Chiefs then picking either Clay Matthews or Brian Cushing to add some youth to their linebacking corps. However, I have not heard much of that rumor, so I won’t put that down. The Bucs will consider Peria Jerry, but he’s not a great fit for their system, so they’ll look at another position. They could get a burner receiver like Jeremy Maclin, but after the complete overhaul of their defense this offseason, I believe this will be a defensive pick. Ayers is a great athlete, who could have easily gone earlier than this. Put him next to Gaines Adams and they’ll solidified their pass rush for the next 8-10 years.

 20. Detroit - from Dallas (9-7)- OT William Beatty (Connecticut)

 The Lions have to protect Matt Stafford if they want him to have any chance of being a good quarterback. William Beatty will allow the Lions to move Jeff Backus back to his natural position at left guard, successfully upgrading two positions along the line at once. That is definitely going to help Stafford long term.

 21. Philadelphia (9-6-1)- RB Knowshon Moreno (Georgia)

 The Eagles need another running back to pair with Brian Westbrook. Perferably it would be a power back, but the Eagles can’t be picky. Moreno fits their west coast offense very well. He’ll split carries with Westbrook, hopefully lengthening Westbrook’s career in the process, and then he’ll take over for Westbrook, who turns 30 in September, when Westbrook is finished in Philly.

 22. Minnesota (10-6)- OT Eben Britton (Arizona)

 Ryan Cook is a bad right tackle. Eben Britton is not. Imagine how much better Adrian Peterson will be with the massive 310 pound Britton blocking for him on the right side and Bryant McKinnie blocking for him on the left. This running game will be better than ever and the Vikings have shown that its all about maximizing and improve your strengths, at least in their eyes.

 23. New England (11-5)- OLB Clay Matthews (USC)

 I wouldn’t take Matthews because I don’t think he helps their pass rush as much as they need. I’d take someone like Everette Brown or Connor Barwin, but Bill Belicheck loves Clay Matthews’ versatility and who am I to argue with someone with 3 Super Bowl rings. Matthews still fills a position of incredible need.

 24. Atlanta (11-5)- DE Everette Brown (Florida State)

 Taking another defensive end in the first round, 2 years after taking Jamaal Anderson, also a defensive end, might seem like a bad idea. However, sticking with Anderson, two sacks in 2 seasons, would be a worse idea. This defense isn’t going to be very good with all of the players they’ve lost, but if they want to improve their defense in the most efficient way possible, they need to take a page out of the New York Giants’ book and pressure the hell out of the opposing quarterback. Brown had 13 sacks last season and is good enough to go in the top 10, but has slipped due to lack of need.

 25. Miami (11-5)- CB Vontae Davis (Illinois)

 Vontae Davis is the most athletic corner in the draft class, but he’s also a pain in the ass. Bill Parcells is known for his ability to take risks on guys and with this pass defense set to get even more awful with the loss of Andre Goodman, I expect Parcells to take Davis and hope for the best.

 26. Baltimore (11-5)- WR Jeremy Maclin (Missouri)

 Derrick Mason is 35 and has only one more year on his contract. The Ravens need another wideout across from Mark Clayton. Maclin can start in the slot, providing young Joe Flacco with another option before moving into the starting lineup in a season or two. Maclin is a steal here at this point.

 27. Indianapolis (12-4)- DT Peria Jerry (Mississippi)

 I’ve had the Colts taking a wide receiver here for a while, because history has shown that they like to take offense. That’s still a possibility with Kenny Britt available, but I’ve changed this pick to Peria Jerry because I just see him as too good of a fit for them to pass up. They also have a new coach now that Tony Dungy is gone so the same rules may not apply. Tony Dungy was always confident in his ability to coach the defense that he would rarely spend an early pick on defense, but new coach Jim Caldwell might not have that same confidence. He may have more confidence in Peyton Manning that his own ability to coach defense, which would be wise.

 28. Buffalo - from Philadelphia via Carolina (12-4)- TE Brandon Pettigrew (Oklahoma)

 They need a defensive end, but this is a deep defensive end class and I can’t see them passing up a great tight end prospect with Brandon Pettigrew. He’s just way too big of a steal at this point, especially for a team with absolutely no one of note at the tight end position going into next season. With Lee Evans, Terrell Owens, and Pettigrew, Trent Edwards will have plenty of nice targets to throw to next year, which will be great for his development, as long as Owens doesn’t suspect Pettigrew and Edwards of a conspiracy to keep the ball away from him.

 29. New York Giants (12-4)- WR Kenny Britt- Rutgers

 Plaxico Burress is gone, so if the Giants can’t get Anquan Boldin or Braylon Edwards, they’ll get the next best thing, 6 foot 3 Kenny Britt. I believe Britt’s combination of size, speed, and good hands makes him the 2nd best receiver in this class, though it may not play out that way on draft day. The Giants should consider themselves lucky they can get a downfield target like Britt for Eli Manning to throw to.

 30. Tennessee (13-3)- CB Darius Butler (Connecticut)

 Cornerback isn’t their biggest need, but Nick Harper is going to turn 35 next season and Darius Butler is too good to pass up here. The Titans love 40 times almost as much as the Raiders so Butler’s 4.38 has to be attractive. He’s the best player available for them here and fills a need. They can get their defensive line help in later rounds.

 31. Arizona (9-7)- RB Donald Brown (Connecticut)

 Edgerrin James isn’t happy in Arizona and he’ll be 31 by the time the season starts up. His days are numbered. Tim Hightower can really push the pile as a running back and pick up first downs and touchdowns, but he’s not an every down back. He averaged 2.8 yards per carry last season. Donald Brown can come in, allow them to cut or trade Edge, and pair very nicely with Hightower.

 32. Pittsburgh (12-4)- C Alex Mack (California)

 Their line was too awful last season for them to pass up a once in a generation type center prospect like Alex Mack, as some people are calling him. Mack has only slipped because of his position and the lack of need for centers, but Pittsburgh needs one badly. Justin Hartwig was one of the worst in the NFL last season, while Mack would be a top 5 center, maybe even top 3, from day one in the NFL.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

NFL Mock Draft 3/14

1. Detroit Lions 0-16

QB Matt Stafford- Georgia

 I don’t agree with the pick, but I have very little doubt in my mind that this pick will be Matt Stafford. The Lions need hope fast and the prospect of a great franchise quarterback like Stafford is going to give them hope. I would build around a quarterback, with a top left tackle like Eugene Monroe or Jason Smith, and then take a quarterback next season when the quarterback class is much stronger, but this is not what I think should happen, this is what I think will happen. I would be surprised if the Lions took anyone other than Stafford.

 2. St. Louis Rams 2-14

OT Jason Smith- Baylor

 Orlando Pace is gone so the Rams need a Jake Long or Joe Thomas esque franchise left tackle to protect Mark Bulger or whoever is the quarterback next season. Jason Smith is the top left tackle on the board, followed closely by Eugene Monroe. I think the pick will be Smith, but I would not be surprised if the Rams took Monroe. However, I give Smith the edge here because of his superior combine performance.

 3. Kansas City Chiefs 2-14

OLB/MLB Aaron Curry- Wake Forest

 The Chiefs will not take a quarterback here like many thought they would because they have since traded for Matt Cassel. Now they need to focus on fixing that awful defense. They need pass rushers badly because they had a record low 10 sacks last season. However, with the move for veteran Mike Vrabel, they can afford to take a different position here. The combination of Derrick Johnson and Vrabel rushing off the edge is good enough for next season. Aaron Curry is the best defensive player available and can slide right into the Chiefs’ hole in the middle of their 3-4 defense.

 4. Seattle Seahawks 4-12

OT Eugene Monroe- Virginia

 The Seahawks locked like a look to take Michael Crabtree until they signed TJ Houshmanzadeh in a surprise signing. Now, with Deion Branch lining up at the #2 and Nate Burleson coming back from injury next season, they have a respectable group of receivers and can afford to wait until a later round to address that position. The Seahawks have the less than stellar Sean Locklear starting at right tackle, assuming they move Ray Willis to guard as they say they will, and 35 year old Walter Jones starting at left. Monroe can play right until Jones moves on, which could be next off season, and then move over to left, his natural position.

 5. Cleveland Browns 4-12

DE/OLB Brian Orakpo- Texas

 The Browns only mustered 17 sacks last season, which, if it wasn’t for the Chiefs’ awful showing of 10, would have ranked last in the NFL. Willie McGinest is done as an elite pass rusher so they are going to need another top rushing outside linebacker. Brian Orakpo played defensive end in college, but at 263 pounds with a 4.70 40, Orakpo should be easily able to move to outside linebacker in a 3-4 system. He had 10.5 sacks last season and is considered the best pass rusher in the draft.

 6. Cincinnati Bengals 4-11-1

DT BJ Raji- Boston College

 The Bengals need offensive line help, but they can get some in a later round because right now, the only way to get an offensive lineman would be to reach for either Michael Oher or Andre Smith, which wouldn’t be smart. With a decent 2nd round offensive lineman, Carson Palmer should be able to get the help he needs to stay healthy and lead this offense back to playoff form. It’s the defense that worries me. They ranked in the bottom half in most defensive categories, including run defense. BJ Raji was amazing at the senior bowl where he was coached by the Bengals’ coaching staff. He’s simply too good of a defensive prospect for the Bengals to pass up here.

 7. Oakland Raiders 5-11

DE/OLB Everette Brown- Florida State

 We must check this pick for all 3 of the parts that every Raiders’ pick has. A Raiders’ pick must, on the surface look like a good move, because it fills a positional need. Jay Richardson, at left end, only had 3 sacks last season. Meanwhile, at right end, Derrick Burgess had only 3.5 sacks and is going to turn 31. Rumor has it the Raiders are trying to trade him. Brown definitely fills a need. A Raiders’ pick must have great athleticism, especially a great 40. Brown ran a 4.73 40 which is very good for a defensive end, especially when you consider the fact that most players were running unusually slow 40s at the combine. Brown should run somewhere around 4.62-4.65 at his pro day, which is amazing. Finally, a Raiders’ pick should, in spite of parts 1 and 2, make no sense when you look at it close enough. At 6-1 and change and only 256 pounds, Brown is way too small to play defensive end at a high level in a 4-3. He’s way too small to compete one on one with big left tackles. Many believe this pick will be Michael Crabtree. Crabtree does not have the 40 time. He was not all that fast to begin with and, if he actually runs a 40 before the draft, he will do it with a broken foot, which will not help.

 8. Jacksonville Jaguars 5-11

WR Michael Crabtree- Texas Tech

 The Jaguars should be weary about taking a receiver in the first round considering the busts that Matt Jones and Reggie Williams have been after they have taken them. However, neither of those guys was as talented as Crabtree so they shouldn’t worry too much. Crabtree has slipped to due injury and questions about his speed, however, he is still the best receiver prospect since Calvin Johnson so the Jaguars, who lack a #1 option, need to take him here.

 9. Green Bay Packers 5-11

CB Vontae Davis- Illinois

 Al Harris and Charles Woodson are fine corners, but both are in the mid 30s. Harris might be gone by next season and Woodson reportedly will be making the switch to safety in the next year or two. After those guys, they are very thin at the cornerback position. Davis would give them depth next season and could be a future starter. This would be a great position for Davis as well because he gets to spend a year in a position where he does not have to guard elite receivers. This will allow him to mature correctly.

 10. San Francisco 49ers 7-9

OT Michael Oher- Mississippi

 The 49ers could go a lot of different ways here. They need a pass rushing outside linebacker more than anything, but I think it’s too early to take Aaron Maybin or even Larry English. They need a corner and a safety. Malcolm Jenkins can play both of those positions and, if he had had a very good workout at his pro day, he would have been the pick here. However, so far he has shown that he lacks the athletic ability to be worth a top 10 pick as evidenced by poor 40 times at the Combine and at his pro day. Mark Sanchez is the popular pick, but I don’t think conservative coach Mike Singletary will use a first rounder on a quarterback when his team has other needs. Offensive line then makes the most sense. Young Joe Staley has been decent at left tackle in his first 2 years in the league, but he needs to move back to his natural position, right tackle, full time. Michael Oher would allow them to move Staley to there. Oher might be viewed as a bit of a reach, but he was at one point a top 3 caliber pick, so he could also be a steal here. Rey Maualuga is a possibility as well.

 11. Buffalo Bills 7-9

DE/OLB Larry English- Northern Illinois

 The Bills need to generate a better pass rush. English was one of the college football’s best pass rushers last season with 8 sacks and was Northern Illinois’ all time leader pass rusher with 30.5 sacks, despite sitting his freshman year. He can definitely help them here. Starting right end Aaron Schobel has injury issues and starting left end Chris Kelsay is nothing special. English might be small for a defensive end, at 255 pounds, but Schobel is 243 pounds and has thrived in Buffalo’s defensive system for the throughout his career, before getting hurt last year. English shouldn’t have much problem doing the same. Plus, English benched 36 reps at the combine so it’s not like it’s a lack of strength issue.

 12. Denver Broncos 8-8

MLB Rey Maualuga- USC

 The Denver Broncos are regarded as having one of the 5 worst defenses in NFL history last season. They are now switching to a 3-4 so they are going to need big, strong tackle machines in the middle of their defense and they have none of those right now. Maualuga is the top middle linebacker prospect in the draft and fits the mold of the tough defensive presence they have lacked for years. He will help the Broncos run defense especially, which ranked 30th in the league last year giving up 5.0 yards per carry.

 13. Washington Redskins 8-8

OT Andre Smith- Alabama

 Someone is going to take a risk on Smith early and I have a feeling that someone will be the Redskins. Smith has the athletic ability of a #1 pick with the work ethic of an undrafted free agent. However, the Redskins often take risks on guys with character issues and they have a need for a right tackle right now. Jon Jansen has had a good run as a starter at right tackle, but he’s 33 and lost his job last season, maybe for good. He could stand to be upgraded.

 14. New Orleans Saints 8-8

CB/FS Malcolm Jenkins- Ohio State

 Jenkins’ slow 40 at the combine raised some issues as to whether he is a cornerback or a free safety. That shouldn’t be an issue for a team with needs at both of those positions, which the Saints do. Jenkins would be more valuable to a team at corner and could mature into an upgrade over Randall Gay at corner. However, he will likely fit in better at free safety at first. Free safety is a position that, last season, was occupied by either Josh Bullocks or Kevin Kaesviharn. Jenkins would be an upgrade over both of them from day 1.

 15. Houston Texans 8-8

OLB Brian Cushing- USC

 The Texans offense was amazing last season, especially considering that Matt Schaub missed time with injury, as the team ranked 2nd in passing yards per attempt. They have a decent ground game too, but the defense was what kept this from being a playoff team. They did a good job filling a need at left end with Antonio Smith, but they still need to take the best defensive player available. Cushing is the best defensive player available. He would be an immediate upgrade over Morlon Greenwood, who did not record a single sack, interception, or forced fumble all season, and could pair well with promising young Xavier Alibi, a 4th round pick last season.

 16. San Diego Chargers 8-8

DE Tyson Jackson- LSU

 The Chargers have several needs, a 3-4 defensive end, a middle linebacker, a right tackle, a guard, and a strong safety. Unfortunately for them, drafting any of those positions here would be a reach, which is why I think they will move down if even the opportunity. If the draft falls this way come draft time, the Chargers will have plenty of suitors wanting to move to up take Mark Sanchez, including Tampa Bay at #19 and Minnesota at #22. The Chargers will be able to get more value for their pick if they move down to either one of those spots and in those spots will still be able to get guys to fill their needs. However, if they cannot, for whatever reason, trade down, they will take Tyson Jackson who is the best player available at end of their need positions. He can start from day one as a defensive end in the 3-4 system and replace Igor Olshansky who has moved on to Dallas. I had a running back going here until the Chargers resigned LT to a contract that will pay him exactly the same amount next season and will not safe them any money until 2010. Because of that, I don’t think the Chargers will take a running back here and pay him 5-6 million, which is what Chris Wells or Knowshon Moreno would cost at this point, when they still have to pay LT 8 million and Darren Sproles 6.6 mil. They won’t tie up that much money at one position.

 17. New York Jets 9-7

QB Mark Sanchez- USC

 The Jets have done a great job of building their defense, bringing in Bart Scott, Lito Sheppard, and Jim Leonhard. However, with Brett Favre gone, they need a new quarterback. The Jets shouldn’t have any qualms about starting Sanchez from day 1. They are putting him in a situation similar to the one Joe Flacco took over last year. Solid running game, solid line, and most importantly great defense to back him. Flacco led the Ravens to the playoffs as a rookie.

 18. Chicago Bears 9-7

OT Eben Britton- Arizona

 The Bears need a receiver, but don’t think that this pick is going to be Jeremy Maclin just because he has slipped a bit. The Bears simply don’t take receivers in the first round. They conservative Bears will take an offensive lineman again, for the 2nd year in a row. John Tait is retiring. John St. Clair is still a free agent and might not be back and so is Fred Miller so the Bears are without a right tackle on their roster. Even if St. Clair and/or Miller return, they still need offensive line help. Both St. Clair and Miller are average at best and left tackle Chris Williams has injury issues. If Williams can stay healthy, he and Britton will make a nice offensive tackle duo for the next 10-12 years.

 19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9-7

DT Peria Jerry- Mississippi

 Even though the Bucs have a new regime in town, don’t expect this pick to be a quarterback unless they move up to get Sanchez or Sanchez somehow falls to them. Luke McGown has been promised a chance at a starting job so they won’t use a 1st rounder on a quarterback, especially when new head Raheem Morris has said he is committed to rebuilding the defense. The Bucs don’t have a 2nd rounder so if they go quarterback in the first round, they will have a hard time rebuilding the defense through the draft. Peria Jerry is the best defensive player available and fills a need at defensive tackle.

 20. Detroit Lions (via DAL) 0-16

OT William Beatty- Connecticut

 The Lions have to protect Matt Stafford if they want him to have any chance of being a good quarterback. William Beatty will allow the Lions to move Jeff Backus back to his natural position at left guard, successfully upgrading two positions along the line at once. That is definitely going to help Stafford long term.

 21. Philadelphia Eagles 9-6-1

RB Chris Wells- Ohio State

 The Eagles haven’t gone after running backs as long as Andy Reid has been coach, but Reid isn’t stupid. He knows his job is on the line and his team needs to win now. The majority of the good teams in the league last year won on the strong of good running games with at least two good running backs. Wells would compliment Brian Westbrook well, allowing Westbrook to be more of a playmaker than a true running back and reducing the strain on and hopefully the threat of injury to Westbrook’s legs.

 22. Minnesota Vikings 10-6

C Alex Mack- California

 The Vikings appear content with Tavaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels as their quarterbacks, so this pick won’t be Josh Freeman. The Vikings will then turn to their offensive line, which could be upgraded at 2, if not 3 positions here. They could go right tackle with either Jamon Meredith or Phil Loadholt, right guard with Duke Robinson, or center with Alex Mack. Mack is the best value here and should be the pick.

 23. New England Patriots 11-5

DE/OLB Michael Johnson- Georgia Tech

 Two months ago, the decision here was between a cornerback and a linebacker. Since then, they have signed cornerbacks Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden and traded linebacker Mike Vrabel. It seems that decision has been made for them. Michael Johnson is one of the most athletic pass rushing prospects in a while. He has been compared to Julius Peppers and Mario Williams. He might not have the motor, but you have to think a team like a Patriots will think they can bring to most out of him.

 24. Atlanta Falcons 11-5

CB DJ Moore- Vanderbilt

 The Falcons defense was not good last season, ranking 24th in the league in yards per game allowed. This off season, they have lost 5 defensive starters from last season, Keith Brooking, Michael Boley, Domonique Foxworth, Lawyer Milloy, and Grady Jackson. Jamaal Anderson, at left end, only had 2 sacks last season and could be replaced. They also need a tight end badly. Because of all of those needs, this pick could go a number of ways. However, the rest of their needs can be addressed in later rounds. They have a lot of depth at corner, but they need a legitimate #2 starter. They won’t be able to get one in the later rounds. Moore can also double as a kick returner, which the Falcons also need.

 25. Miami Dolphins 11-5

OLB/DE Clay Matthews- USC

 The Dolphins need a linebacker and they need a cornerback. History has shown that when given a choice between a linebacker and anything else, Bill Parcells will take a linebacker. Clay Matthews is the best available. He can support a pass rush that died late last season and be the replacement for Joey Porter when he moves on or if they decide to trade him. This draft class is structured such that the Dolphins should be able to get a good cornerback when they pick with Washington’s pick at #44 in the 2nd round.

 26. Baltimore Ravens 11-5

WR Jeremy Maclin- Missouri

 Derrick Mason is 35 and has only one more year on his contract. The Ravens need another wideout across from Mark Clayton. Maclin can start in the slot, providing young Joe Flacco with another option before moving into the starting lineup in a season or two. Maclin is a steal here at this point.

 27. Indianapolis Colts 12-4

WR Hakeem Nicks- North Carolina

 The Colts have a history of drafting offensively, even with holes on defense. Nicks is good value here and will allow Anthony Gonzalez to stay in the slot, even with Marvin Harrison gone. He will give Peyton Manning 3 good targets to choose from and make this offense even more deadly.

 28. Philadelphia Eagles (via CAR) 9-6-1

OG/OT Duke Robinson- Oklahoma

 Andy Reid loves to draft offensive linemen when he can, and even sometimes when he can’t. The Eagles have lost Tra Thomas to the Jaguars and it does not look like Jon Runyan will be brought back. Shawn Andrews is still battling depression and might not be back next season, so you can expect the Eagles to take one or two big offensive linemen early in the draft. At 329 pounds, Duke Robinson fills that need. He also is versatile enough to play in 4 spots along the line, which will be essential as the Eagles figure out what Shawn Andrews’ future is like and determine what to do position wise with Todd Herremans.

 29. New York Giants 12-4

RB Knowshon Moreno- Georgia

 The Giants have done a great job of reloading their defense this off season, so they can afford to focus on offense here. Running back isn’t the biggest need for the Giants here, but Moreno might be too good to pass up here. Plus, running back wasn’t the biggest need for Minnesota when they took Adrian Peterson in 2007, nor was it for the Panthers when they took Jonathan Stewart last year nor was it for the Titans when they took Chris Johnson last year. Look where it got those teams. The Giants did it with Derrick Ward and Brandon Jacobs last season and they can do the same this year with Jacobs and Moreno.   

 30. Tennessee Titans 13-3

DT Evander Hood- Missouri

 The Titans lost Albert Haynesworth to free agency and he left a huge gaping hole in the middle of their defense. You have to think that Jeff Fisher is going to fix up the defensive line if he needs to, despite the fact that the Titans are badly in need of wide receivers. Evander Hood’s strong combine pushed him into the late 1st-early 2nd round range. Fisher will love his potential and athleticism.

 31. Arizona Cardinals 9-7

OLB/DE Clint Sintim- Virginia

 The Cardinals pass rush struggled last season, even late in the season during their Super Bowl run. They only had 31 sacks which can be improved. The Cardinals like tweener linebacker/defensive ends because they give them versatility. Sintim qualifies and can help a defense in need. He’d be an upgrade over Chike Okeafor.

 32. Pittsburgh Steelers 13-3

FS/CB Sean Smith- Utah

 The Steelers could use another safety to pair with Troy Polamalu. Neither Anthony Smith nor Ryan Clark were anything special last season and Smith would be an immediate upgrade over both. The Steelers need offensive line badly, but, for one thing, I don’t think they realize how badly they need offensive lineman as they appear content to let Ben Roethlisberger get beat up and chased around every week (hey, they won the Super Bowl, you can’t really question it) and for another thing, no offensive lineman really merits selection here.

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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Thoughts on Terrell Owens

Terrell Owens has had an interesting couple of days. He was released early Thursday by the Cowboys, who went 9-7 last season and blamed Owens for the team's chemistry issues. He hit the market and now, less than 3 days later, he is a member of the Buffalo Bills.

The Cowboys move to cut him is a head scratching one. I'm not saying that Owens wasn't to blame for a lot of the Cowboys' problems, but he is still an elite receiver and, given how fast he came off the market after the Cowboys released him, if the Cowboys were to try and trade Owens instead of releasing him, they could have gotten at least a 3rd rounder in return.

They also wouldn't have had to take a 9 million dollar cap hit if they had traded him, which will hurt their chances of resigning DeMarcus Ware, their most important defensive player. Ware, who had 20 sacks last season, will be a free agent after the 2009 season if the Cowboys cannot reach an agreement with him. Ware is expected to command a contract worth more than the deal Jared Allen signed last off season, which was 6 year 74 million. The Cowboys could end up having to pay Ware more than 14 million a season, and releasing Owens actually hurt their ability to do so.

This is the 2nd head scratching move by the Cowboys this off season, the third if you count giving Roy Williams away for free without trying to get compensation first, though I don't think the market would have been huge for him. The Cowboys also traded Anthony Henry for Jon Kitna. That move did not make any sense. Trading for Kitna saves them no money. The Cowboys did need a backup quarterback, but you should never trade for a backup, especially if you have to give up a proven starter like Anthony Henry.

What makes this worse is the fact that the market this off season is full of backup quarterbacks. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Byron Leftwich, JP Losman, Kyle Boller, Rex Grossman, Gus Frerotte, Chris Simms, and Dan Orlovsky either were or still are all free agents this off season. It’s not like Kitna is that much better than any of them, especially when you consider Kitna's age, 36. Now the Cowboys have major holes at cornerback. With Adam Jones gone as well, they need to start 2nd year corner Mike Jenkins, who might not pan out right away. They also lack depth behind Jenkins and will have to address that either through the draft, where they have very few picks, or through free agency, where they are low on cap room if they want to keep Ware in town.

On a separate note, I applaud the Lions' front office for making the Henry-Kitna swap. Jon Kitna was serving no use to them. Even if the Lions do not draft a quarterback at some point in the draft, highly unlikely, they were still planning on going with Daunte Culpepper at quarterback, with Drew Stanton as the backup. Kitna was likely going to be released, but instead they got some compensation for him, which is more than I can say for the Cowboys in the cases of Roy Williams and Terrell Owens. Anthony Henry can be a solid starter in a secondary that badly needs it. They couldn't have been any worse than the last regime in Detroit, but so far, this new regime has done a good job, especially when you consider how the ripped off the Cowboys when they traded Roy Williams (the receiver) to the Dallas for a 1st and 3rd rounder. Maybe the Cowboys should take a page out of Detroit's book. How ironic.

Owens' decision to sign with the Bills was also a head scratching one. It doesn't seem like the right fit. Owens likes getting thrown the football, playing with accomplished, established quarterbacks, winning, and playing in front of a large crowd.

In Buffalo, Owens will have to contend with Lee Evans to get the football. Evans has been targeted at least 100 times in each of the last 3 seasons.

Owens' quarterback will be Trent Edwards. If Owens got annoyed with Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb and Tony Romo, imagine what will happen with Edwards. Edwards' quarterback rating of 85.6 last season is nothing but average. If you think that's bad, what happens when Edwards gets hurt. In 2 pro seasons, Edwards has missed 8 games. If he gets hurt again, Ryan Fitzpatrick takes over. In 13 starts last season for Cincinnati, in relief of the injured Carson Palmer, Fitzpatrick had a quarterback rating of 70.0 which is mediocre at best, especially when you consider the fact that he was playing with a great set of wideouts in Chad “Ocho Cinco” Johnson, TJ Houshmanzadeh, Chris Henry, as well as other young, promising talents like Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell. Simpson and Caldwell were both taken in the first 3 rounds of the 2008 NFL Draft, Simpson in the 2nd, Caldwell in the 3rd.

The Bills have one winning season since 1999. Unless their defense can stay healthy all year, they are going to have trouble getting a winning season this season as well. The Bills will play the AFC South and the NFC South next year, as well as every other last place AFC team. Their schedule, in no particular order, will look like this: New England (x2), Miami (x2), NY Jets (x2), Indianapolis, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Houston, Oakland, Cleveland, Atlanta, Carolina, Tampa Bay, and New Orleans. With the exception of Oakland and Cleveland, there are no easy games on that schedule. They are going to have a tough time winning more than 8 games next year, especially if Marshawn Lynch's legal troubles get the best of him.

The Bills' are having so much trouble selling tickets to their games that they are considering moving the team to Toronto. When your team is looking to move to Canada for a bigger market, there is something wrong. Only the Dolphins and Lions had worse attendance in terms of percent of seats sold. That's not something Owens is going to like. What fun is it to showboat in the end zone if you look up and see a lot of empty seats?

In conclusion, the Cowboys' decision to release Terrell Owens without trying to trade him and get compensation first was a bad move, as was Owens' decision to sign, less than 3 days later with a team where he will have competition for the ball, have to play with an average quarterback, which by Owens' standards is completely subpar, have a very slim chance at making the playoffs, and have to play in front of a lesser crowd in small market Buffalo. If Owens had waited, he might have gotten offers from Washington, San Francisco, or even Miami. Those are all teams that Owens would have fit better with and where he would have been able to win more games.

However, there are some positives with Owens with this signing. Its a one year deal. If he plays well and shuts up this season, and whether or not he does that will show me whether he is a shrewd business man or a complete egotistical idiot, he will have a chance, in the 2010 off season, to cash in with big money, with a big team. We'll see how this plays out.

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