April 25 this year marks the date when over 300 potential NFL prospects will crowd around their TVs and like a lottery, waiting for their number to come up. From top prospects like Matt Stafford and Aaron Curry to mid-rounders Chase Coffman and Paul Kruger, pins and needles will be felt by all.
There a lot of question marks in the first round as elite prospects do not show up at every position. While offensive and defensive lines carry many of the league’s top prospects, other premium positions like cornerback and safety lack the elite potential number ones but will carry more second round and in day two.
Last year, cornerback Malcolm Jenkins and linebackers James Laurinaitis, and Rey Maualuga, who all played for schools with BCS title hopes, were all considered top 10 picks if they had chose to forego their senior seasons and enter the draft after their junior years.
After all of them elected to stay, their draft positions have tumbled, particularly to the Ohio State duo. Scouts believe Jenkins lacks elite recovery speed and could be better suited for the safety spot rather than at cornerback and due to a less than impressive combine performance Laurinaitis could now find himself in the second round rather than the first.
The most controversy that will occur in the first round is where will the wide receivers fall. A couple months ago, former Texas Tech wideout Michael Crabtree was a unanimous top five pick but have to x-rays confirmed a stress fracture in his foot preventing from him to perform at both the combine and the Texas Tech pro day. Teams will undoubtedly be hesitant to invest the amount of money a top 10 pick earns on a risky receiver, a position that has churned out multiple busts in the first round over the last few years.
Because of his immense talent it is unlikely that Crabtree falls past the Jaguars at number eight as they have possibly the most depleted receiving core in the NLF after releasing Jerry Porter and Matt Jones.
Other than Crabtree, there are questions as to which teams are big on the other five receivers that have first-round potential. Hakeem Nicks and Kenny Britt are the big possession receivers that lack great speed but are equipped with enormous hands that catch anything thrown to them. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jeremy Maclin and Percy Harvin vary in height and experience but they one thing they all do share is elite speed that has the ability to change the course of any game.
Where will all of these players fall? In the end, that’s not for us to decide, but this is not the end. It’s just the beginning of second annual Bullet Mock Draft special.
1) Detroit Lions- Matt Stafford, QB, Georgia- New coaches will usually look to bring in their own quarterback and after failing to pick up a perfect situation in Cutler, the Lions opt for the next best thing and take the strong-armed Stafford.
2) St. Louis Rams- Jason Smith, OT, Baylor- I think that the Lions should be going after Smith as the number one pick but he makes even more sense in St. Louis after the Rams cut former pro-bowl tackle Orlando Pace. Smith has all the qualities to look for in an elite tackle and will make an immediate impact.
3) Kansas City Chiefs- Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest- Curry very well may be the closest thing to a “sure thing” in this draft however due to needs, he drops in to the laps of Kansas City and will learn next to veterans Zack Thomas and Mike Vrabel.
4) Seattle Seahawks- Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia- Seattle had a productive off-season and helped their receiving corps by signing T.J. Houshmandzadeh now they have to give QB Matt Hasslebeck time to get him the ball and Monroe is a great place to start. He will come in immediately and start at left tackle.
5) Cleveland Browns- Brian Orapko, DE, Texas- I’m not completely sold on this pick as there are rumors of the Browns sending WR Braylon Edwards to the Giants, Michael Crabtree could look pretty tempting to them, but Orapko next to Shaun Rogers could be scary good.
6) Cincinnati Bengals- B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College- Raji could be a difference-maker especially in a division that has Haloti Ngata, Shaun Rogers, Casey Hampton plugging up the middle.
7) Oakland Raiders- Andre Smith, OT, Alabama- Crabtree falling to the Raiders seems way to good to be true for Al Davis, but Robert Gallery, Michael Huff and soon enough Jamarcus Russell have all busted for Davis so I’m picking the player that fits their biggest need and is most likely to bust in my opinion.
8) Jacksonville Jaguars- Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech- Not sure how likely this is to happen but it would be pretty great for Jacksonville to finally have a reliable wide receiver. The Jerry Porter experiment didn’t work and former first-round bust Troy Williamson has shown nothing short of being a number three or four WR in this league.
9) Green Bay Packers- Aaron Maybin-DE/OLB, Penn State- Call me crazy but I don’t love Maybin here and I don’t think the Packers really do either. I think he could help them tremendously but not as much as a guy like Peria Jerry because what they really need is a DT and they will be hoping that Raji falls to them. I see them trading down here and picking up Jerry at value.
10) San Francisco 49ers-Everette Brown, DE, Florida State- After Manny Lawson busted, the 49ers needs a great edge rusher to put pressure on the QB.
11) Buffalo Bills- Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee- Ayers is a guy who has creeped up the draft board quietly much like former Tennessee teammate Jerod Mayo, who by the way won defensive rookie of the year in 2008.
12) Denver Broncos- Mark Sanchez, QB, USC- Has anyone turned on the ESPN this week and not heard someone talking about how Sanchez’ draft stock has gone up exponentially? Well I haven’t. The Broncos will be lucky if they don’t have to trade up to snag Sanchez.
13) Washington Redskins- Michael Oher- OT, Ole Miss- The Skins had a very busy off-season but have a glaring need at tackle. Oher regained that top prospect status again after a very strong senior bowl performance.
14) New Orleans Saints- Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State- How good of a change of pace back would Wells be running with Reggie Bush? After Jason David has proven worthless and the release of Mike McKenzie, Malcolm Jenkins is an option here and could be valuable at safety as well.
15) Houston Texans- Malcolm Jenkins- CB, Ohio State- The first defensive back comes off the board to the desperate for secondary Texans. A compliment for DeMeco Ryans could be in the cards, but the Texans will see Jenkins as a major value pick.
16) San Diego Chargers- Brian Cushing, LB, USC- Cushing will fit in great for the Chargers because he can play any linebacker position and has the heart to play with Shawn Merriman.
17) New York Jets- Percy Harvin, WR, Florida- Harvin is a Reggie-Bush-type player and will be able to impact the Jets line-up whether he is lined up at WR or RB.
18) Denver Broncos- Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU- Jackson is guy that the Broncos could take at 12 or 18 and still get good value for him. He fits in great with the Denver defensive scheme.
19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State- Freeman, like Flacco, has all height, the arm strength and the physique to be an NFL quarterback but also like Flacco the decision-making ability is lacking. Tampa Bay has a great opportunity to groom Freeman for two years under Byron Leftwich until he’s ready to take over.
20) Detroit Lions- William Beatty, OT, Connecticut- If the Lions are going QB with the first pick, you better believe they’re going to grab an OT with their second first-round pick.
21) Philadelphia Eagles- Hakeem Nicks, WR, UNC- I am big on Nicks and I think Donovan Mcnabb needs that big possession receiver to go with ease.
22) Minnesota Vikings- Jeremy Maclin- WR, Missouri- Maclin is an absolute steal at 22 for the Vikings who need the return game and the receiving core upgrade.
23) New England Patriots- Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georiga- What happened to Laurence Maroney?
24) Atlanta Falcons- Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State- This is perfect for the maturing QB Matt Ryan. The Falcons need another receiver and Pettigrew fits in great lining up at tight end.
25) Miami Dolphins- Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois- Davis could be amazing, or he could bust. He was a top ten pick before the year and now he’ll probably go in the 20s but in Miami he’ll have a chance to start in a depleted secondary.
26) Baltimore Ravens- Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland- Ravens may have to trade up if they really want Bey but. He has speed, height and has the potential to be the bset WR taken in this draft.
27) Indianapolis Colts- Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss- Colts fill a need while getting great value on Jerry.
28) Philadelphia Eagles- Eben Britton, OT, Arizona- Eagles fill a need on the line and Britton will continue develop after skipping his senior season.
29) New York Giants-Rey Maualuga, MLB, USC- I didn’t even forget about Rey, but the Giants would be hard pressed to pass up on a talent like him.
30) Tennessee Titans- Clay Matthews, LB, USC- Keith Bullocks begins grooming his eventual replacement.
31) Arizona Cardinals- Donald Brown, RB, Connecticut- Tim Hightower is a goal-line back and the Edge is old.
32) Pittsburgh Steelers- Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut- The Steelers will have their pick of the plethora of second-tier corners. Interior lineman on the offensive side is a pressing need as well.
1) Detroit Lions- Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia- Stafford has all the tools to be a great NFL quaterback and the Lions need a franchise guy at the helm, so look for them to jump all over the Georgia QB with the first pick.
2) St. Louis Rams-Jason Smith, OT, Baylor- The Rams need to fill the void left by the departure of Orlando Pace and while Eugene Monroe is a possibility here, Jason Smith looks to be the guy St. Louis wants as their fixture in the offense line for years to come.
3) Kansas City Chiefs- Aaron Curry,LB, Wake Forest- The Chiefs defense was abysmal a season ago and Curry is the best defensive player in the draft and is a great playmaker.
4) Seattle Seahawks- Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia- Seattle’s offensive line has done a poor job protecting QB Matt Hasslebeck. Monroe is very talented and should provide stability to the line for the 2009 season and beyond.
5) Cleveland Browns- Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas- The Browns defense failed to get any pressure on opposing quarterbacks last year, totaling just 17 sacks for the season ,tied for 30th in the NFL). Orakpo is a freak athlete with great strength and he should have an immediate impact.
6) Cincinnati Bengals- B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College- Raji is the best defensive tackle in the draft and the Bengals rush defense was masked a bit last year. At about 6’2 340 lbs, Raji should help sure up the Cincinnati defense.
7) Oakland Raiders- Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech- The Al Davis era is all about offense. Now he’ll give Jamarcu Russell someone to throw to with the pick of Crabtree this year.
8) Jacksonville Jaguars- Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri- After cutting talented but troubled WR Matt Jones, the Jaguars receiving core looks as bleak as ever. They’ll hope that Crabtree will fall to them, but they will still be happy with Maclin at this spot.
9) Green Bay Packers- Aaron Maybin, LB, Penn State- The Packers ranked 25th in the NFL in sacks last year, Maybin should fill in well.
10) San Francisco 49ers- Andre Smith, OT, Alabama- The 49ers will be more than happy to take a bit of a chance on this extremely talented young man.
11) Buffalo Bills- Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State- The Bills added the always controversial Terrell Owens to their receiving corps in the offseason. Now they will look to snag yet another weapon for young quarterback Trent Edwards with the top TE of the draft.
12) Denver Broncos- Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU- Is an excellent fit in Denver’s system as he can play the pass rushing OLB spot in the 3-4 defense but also move in to the DE slot on passing downs when the team will be in the nickel or dime packages.
13) Washington Redskins- Mark Sanchez, QB, USC- Washington already tried to trade for Jay Cutler and it’s apparent that the Skins have lost all faith in Jason Campbell. Sanchez can watch and learn for a season and then take over in a years time
14) New Orleans Saints- Chris “Beanie” Wells, RB, Ohio State- The Saints and RB Duece McAllister went their separate ways and now New Orleans is in need of a big, bruising back to complement the speed of RB Reggie Bush. Wells is a perfect fit for that role.
15) Houston Texans- Malcolm Jenkins, CB/FS, Ohio State- The Texans secondary desperately needs help and Jenkins is a playmaker .
16) San Diego Chargers- Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois- The return of OLB Shawn Merriman should make it so opposing quarterbacks don’t have all day to throw, but the Chargers are still in need of depth at corner and Davis is the best available.
17) New York Jets- Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State- The Jets currently have an open quarterback competition for 2009 between Kellen Clemens, Erik Ainge and Brett Ratliff. None of those options look to be the answer, thus be ready for New York to take the talented but little known Freeman here.
18) Denver Broncos- Percy Harvin, WR/RB, Florida- Harvin may not have a defined position yet, but he is too explosive for the Broncos to pass up here. Harvin could step in as the slot receiver and is also an intriguing option at the running back position as well.
19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia- The Bucs added running back Derrick Ward via free agency and Moreno’s skills would be a superb compliment to Ward’s and add explosion to fairly average offense.
20) Detroit Lions- Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi- The Lions drafted their franchise quarterback with their first pick and they’ll use their second first rounder to take someone to help keep Stafford upright. Oher is massive and talented, though somewhat inconsistent, but he is still a good fit for Detroit.
21) Philadelphia Eagles- Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee- Philadelphia could use a boost at the defensive end spot and while Everette Brown may be a possibility, Ayers is a better fit for the Eagles system.
22) Minnesota Vikings- Eben Britton, OT, Arizona- Britton is very talented offensive lineman who would go earlier in the draft if this year wasn’t stacked with a multitude of talented lineman. The Vikings are lucky to get such a quality player so late.
23)New England Patriots- Brian Cushing, LB, USC- Cushing can play either ILB or OLB at the professional level and the Patriots will snag the versatile LB to add talent and youth at the position.
24) Atlanta Falcons- Rey Maualuga , LB, USC- Atlanta lost veteran linebacker Keith Brooking to the Dallas Cowboys and Maulaluga was a standout at USC who should fill their linebacker need.
25) Miami Dolphins- Everette Brown, OLB/DE, Florida- The Dolphins defense pressured quarterbacks a lot in 2008, but Brown is too talented to pass up here and he adds youth to an aging D-line.
26) Baltimore Ravens- Darrius Heyward-Bay, WR, Maryland- Heyward-Bay doesn’t have the pedigree of other receivers in the draft, but his combination of height and speed gives him a ton of upside.
27) Indianapolis Colts- Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi- The Colts defense gave up almost 123 rushing yards a game last year and Jerry would help to clog up the holes for opposing backs to run through.
28) Philadelphia Eagles- Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina- The Eagles got a speed receiver in last year’s draft with their selection of Desean Jackson, but look for receiver to be a concentration again in this year’s draft as they select a possesion receiver for McNabb to throw to in Nicks.
29) New York Giants- Clay Matthews, LB, USC- Like his former teammates Cushing and Maualuga drafted before him, Matthews is talented linebacker who fills a hole for the Giants.
30) Tennessee Titans- Alex Mack, OG/C, California- Starting center Kevin Mawae is 38 years-old and in need of an heir. Mack will give them youth and be able to learn under a great center like Mawae.
31) Arizona Cardinals- LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh- The Cardinals need youth and talent at the running back position and McCoy provides them with both of those things.
32) Pittsburgh Steelers- William Beatty, OT, Connecticut- Pittsburgh’s one weakness appeared to be their inability to consistently protect Rothelisberger. Beatty would be a fantastic addition to their line.