Combine shuffles mock draft
Todd McShay offers up his latest first-round projection
With the NFL combine behind us it's time for an updated first-round mock draft. Players are rising and falling thanks to the goings-on in Indianapolis, and that means changes in the mock. The No. 1 spot is unchanged, but injury and character issues are shuffling plenty of spots below.
Note: * denotes junior; ** denotes draft-eligible third-year sophomore
1. Detroit Lions (Record: 0-16): Matthew Stafford*, QB, GeorgiaThis will be an excruciating decision for the Lions. On one hand, they need a franchise quarterback and there isn't enough depth in this year's class to feel good about the chances of finding one at No. 20 with the pick they acquired from Dallas in the Roy Williams trade. On the other hand, Stafford does not grade out as high, in our opinion, as Matt Ryan did a year ago, and eight of the past 11 underclassmen quarterbacks drafted in the first round have either been outright busts or failed to meet expectations. This is the type of franchise-defining decision that could make or break the career of new G.M. Martin Mayhew.
2. St. Louis Rams (2-14): Jason Smith, OT, BaylorSmith has emerged as the top offensive lineman in the 2009 class. The former tight end possesses the agility, power and work ethic to solidify the left tackle position in St. Louis for many years.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14): Aaron Curry, LB, Wake ForestTyler Thigpen might not be the long-term answer at quarterback for the Chiefs, but it's hard to imagine new GM Scott Pioli veering from the "Patriot way" he learned in New England. DE/OLB Brian Orakpo and DT B.J. Raji are other possibilities, and beefing up the offensive line isn't out of the question, either. But the Chiefs spent a pair of first-round picks on those spots last year and Pioli hit a home run with the first-round pick of linebacker Jerod Mayo in New England last season. Most importantly, Curry is the best defensive player in this year's draft and displays the versatility that Pioli looks for.
4. Seattle Seahawks (4-12): B.J. Raji, DT, Boston CollegeMichael Crabtree appears to be the obvious choice for a Seahawks team in desperate need of a playmaker at wide receiver. There's far more depth at wide receiver in this class than there is at defensive tackle, though, and a top priority for the Seahawks this offseason is to find a difference-maker at defensive tackle.
5. Cleveland Browns (4-12): Brian Orakpo, DE/OLB, TexasOrakpo exited the combine as the top hybrid DE/OLB in the 2009 class. His pass-rushing skills would be a welcome addition to a Cleveland defense that notched just 17 sacks in 2008.
6. Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1): Eugene Monroe, OT, VirginiaDepending on how things shake out at wide receiver for the Bengals during free agency, Michael Crabtree could be a strong possibility here. However, the Bengals need to solidify their offensive line and Monroe is clearly the next-best option at offensive tackle. He's not a classic mauler by any means, but Monroe is a fluid athlete for his size and will do an excellent job of protecting QB Carson Palmer.
7. Oakland Raiders (5-11): Michael Crabtree**, WR, Texas TechTeam Crabtree hasn't done itself any favors with the recent handling of the wideout's foot injury. Still, it is hard to imagine the draft's best athlete falling out of the top 10 picks even if he doesn't ever run a 40-yard dash for NFL scouts. This would be a steal for Al Davis and the Raiders.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11): Jeremy Maclin**, WR/RS, Missouri
The Jaguars are in the market for an offensive tackle but Andre Smith might be too risky at this point. The team has pressed all the wrong buttons at wide receiver for years now, but Maclin could finally provide the solution. He possesses the type of game-breaking speed to open things up for QB David Garrard and the Jaguars' offense. Maclin also has tremendous potential as a return man.
9. Green Bay Packers (6-10): Everette Brown*, DE/OLB, Florida StateThe Packers could use a young pass-rusher like Brown to complement Aaron Kampman at outside linebacker in Dom Capers' newly implemented 3-4 scheme. The team could also use this pick on Raji if he's available.
10. San Francisco 49ers (7-9): Andre Smith*, OT, AlabamaSmith's stock was falling a bit even prior to his antics at the combine. Now he will be lucky if a team in the top 10 throws him a parachute. The 49ers could use his services opposite LT Joe Staley, but they will need to be convinced that Smith is ready -- both mentally and physically -- to immediately contribute at a high level. If not, Michael Oher is another possibility at tackle. The team also has needs at quarterback and wide receiver that it could address with this pick.
11. Buffalo Bills (7-9): Aaron Maybin**, DE/OLB, Penn StateMaybin's showing at the combine was a bit disappointing. He's an undersized end with excellent pass-rushing skills but limited experience. The Bills are in a position to develop a player like Maybin, who could be used strictly as a situational rusher early in his career.
12. Denver Broncos (8-8): Tyson Jackson, DE, LSUThe Broncos need to bulk up along the front in order to make a smooth transition to the 3-4 scheme. They could use this pick on a linebacker, but Jackson is the only elite five-technique in this draft class.
13. Washington Redskins (8-8): Michael Oher, OT, MississippiThe Redskins' offensive line is aging in a hurry. Offensive tackles who move like Oher does do not last long on draft day; it wouldn't surprise us to see him come off the board in the first half of the first round. Oher is inconsistent but is also extremely talented.
14. New Orleans Saints (8-8): Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio StateJenkins could fall out of the top 10 following his subpar showing at the combine. He's still an outstanding all-round defensive back, but his below-average speed and questionable burst out of his backpedal might make him a better fit at free safety in the NFL. Regardless, the Saints would welcome his playmaking skills at either position if he falls in their lap.
15. Houston Texans (8-8): Mark Sanchez*, QB, USCThis is obviously a bit of a surprise selection. However, Texans starter Matt Schaub has had some durability issues and the Texans just sent backup Sage Rosenfels packing. Sanchez would be a great value at this point in the first round, and his inexperience would not be a factor because the Texans have the time to develop him properly as a backup early in his career.
16. San Diego Chargers (8-8): Rey Maualuga, ILB, USCThe Chargers would also have to consider RBs Knowshon Moreno and Beanie Wells at this point. Depending on Maualuga's hamstring injury and individual workouts, though, he could be a good value in the middle of the first round. His size and explosive nature would make him a great fit at inside linebacker in the Chargers' 3-4 defense.
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