Sun Times Editor
Well, this is my final mock draft before the real deal starts this Saturday in New York. There’s been more than just a few changes made since my last mock, as teams continue to try to play mind games to outfox their competitors.
One prediction that I made last week is already starting to unfold, as wide receiver Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech is slipping out of the Top 10.
And once again for you Saints’ fans, I don’t think that New Orleans will pick a defensive back at #14, since they desperately want more picks on the first day. This is still one of the most confusing mock drafts I have ever handicapped as smokescreens are clouding the air everywhere.
Without further adieu, here’s the my latest mock draft.
1. Detroit Lions--Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia. Lions would love to trade down and save themselves a lot of money, but won’t find any takers here.
2. St. Louis Rams--Jason Smith, OT, Baylor. He’ll step right in and start at left tackle for a bad St. Louis club.
3. Kansas City Chiefs--Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest. Chiefs takes the best defensive linebacker in the draft.
4. Seattle Seahawks--Mark Sanchez, QB, USC. Seattle picks up their next franchise quarterback. This pick has “trade” written all over it, though.
5. Cleveland Browns--Aaron Maybin, OLB, Penn State. Cleveland hopes the athletic Maybin can stop the run and rush the QB.
6. Cincinnati Bengals--Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia. Bengals get the big left tackle they need for their offensive attack.
7. Oakland Raiders--Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri. Raiders prefer Maclin over another wide receiver, Michael Crabtree, who has some injury issues.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars--B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College. Jags pick the best DT in this year’s draft.
9. Green Bay Packers--Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas. Packers address their needs on a weak defensive line.
10. San Francisco 49ers--Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU. The athletic Jackson is the perfect fit for the 49ers’ defense.
11. Buffalo Bills--Everette Brown, DE, Florida State. Bills take Brown before Denver Broncos do. Both need defense desperately in this year’s draft.
12. Denver Broncos--Rey Maualuga, ILB, USC. Broncos are in dire need of linebackers, so Maualuga is a perfect fit here.
13. Washington Redskins--Andre Smith, OT, Alabama. The run on tackles continues as the Redskins grab “Andre the Giant” to protect the quarterback.
14. New York Jets--Saints trade down with either the Denver Broncos, the New York Jets, or the New York Giants, all of whom have an abundance of draft picks, unless they are sold on RB Knowshon Moreno or DB Malcolm Jenkins, if he were to slip. I don’t see any way that the Saints are interested in RB Chris Wells, as his work habits and history of playing with pain have scared away more than just a few clubs. We say the Jets panic and move up first, give up a couple of picks, and then choose Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State, fearing someone else trades up for him.
15. Houston Texans-- Robert Ayers, OLB, Tennessee. Texans grab the next best defender on the board.
16. San Diego Chargers--Brian Cushing, LB, USC. Denver hopes the athletic Cushing can stop the run and rush the QB.
17. New Orleans Saints--The Saints could trade down again, especially if it’s only a few slots, for another couple of picks. If they don’t, the pick is--Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi. Jerry would be what I term “a statement pick” for Sean Payton, since he has been heavily criticised for taking offensive players in the past when defense was what he really needed to address. Plus, with a new defensive coordinater in New Orleans, this just seems like the proper thing to do. Jerry could start next to Sedrick Ellis for years and put plenty more heat on opposing quarterbacks, too, making the linebackers, corners and safeties look a lot better in the process. Besides, just ask LSU how good Jerry was last year in their 31-13 loss to Ole Miss.
18. Denver Broncos--Malcolm Jenkins, DB, Ohio State. No surprise here, as Broncos take the cornerback/safety hybrid hoping to upgrade their defense.
19. Tampa Bay Bucanneers--Michael Johnson, DE-Georgia Tech. Bucs grab a pass rusher.
20. Detroit Lions--Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi. The Lions need a pass blocker and Oher is the best one left.
21. Philadelphia Eagles--Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia. Eagles will groom Moreno to take Brian Westbrook’s place.
22. Minnesota Vikings--Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois. Vikings address their need at defensive back.
23. New England Patriots--.Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech. The fall for Crabtree ends and the Patriots get a steal with this big play receiver.
24. Atlanta Falcons--Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State. Another toy for quarterback Matt Ryan to play with.
25. Miami Dolphins--Clay Matthews, LB, USC. Dolphins upgrade the corps with Matthews, the nephew of Houston Texan assistant offensive coach Bruce Matthews.
26. Baltimore Ravens--Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State. The slide stops for Wells, as the Ravens pick the best available player on their draft board.
27. Indianapolis Colts--Evander Hood, DT, Missouri. The Colts need an upgrade on their thin defensive line.
28. Buffalo Bills--Eben Britton, OT, Arizona. The Bills grab a left tackle to enhance their passing game.
29. N.Y. Giants-Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland. Giants lost Plaxico Burris and take the speedy wide receiver. Giants need a receiver desperately. One wonders whether they'll take a chance on Percy Harvey of Florida instead, since he failed a drug test recently.
30. Tennessee Titans--William Beatty, OT, Connecticut. Titans address offensive line as the run on tackles continues.
31. Arizona Cardinals--Percy Harvin, WR, Florida. Cardinals take the speedy, versatile former Gator. Harvin has posted positive for drug use, but the Cardinals give him a chance.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers--Jarron Gilbert, DL, San Jose State. The World Champs add this athletic, tough lineman to their Steel Curtain.
Other players who could be selected in the first round include:
--Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut;
--Alex Mack, C, California;
--WR Kenny Britt, Rutgers;
--DE Michael Johnson, Georgia Tech;
--RB Donald Brown, Connecticut;
--S Rashad Johnson, Alabama;
--S Louis Delmas, Western Michigan;
--OT Phil Loadholt, Oklahoma;
--NT Ron Brace, Boston College;
--LB James Laurinaitis, Ohio State;
--S William Moore, Missouri;
--CB Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest;
--OG/OT Max Unger, Oregon;
--DE Paul Krugar, Utah;
--S Patrick Chung, Oregon;
--WR Brian Robiskie, Ohio State;
--LB Connor Barwin, Cincinnati;
--CB D.J. Moore, Vanderbilt.
So there it is. I just hope the Saints get the defensive help they need to make a deep run in the playoffs this year. Whether it’s a defensive lineman, a cornerback, a safety, or whatever, we need help on that side of the football more than a duck needs water. It’s been 42 years, and this old geezer--plus every other Saint fan out there-- is tired of waiting for a trip to the “Promised Land.”