The Pewter Plank’s draftnik, the legendary John Crimmins is back with his first 16 picks of his 2nd mock draft of the season. Look for the 2nd half of the first round, and then the 2nd round that corresponds to this mock draft to come out in the next two weeks.
Without further ado.
Mathew Stafford QB Georgia – All indications seem to point to the Lions taking the big armed kid from Georgia with the top overall pick. The Lions let Dan Orlovsky walk in free agency and traded Jon Kitna to the Cowboys, and I feel pretty safe in saying that Daunte Culpepper is not the long term solution at the QB spot. Stafford may not be as game ready as last year’s top QBs, but his upside is through the roof, he can make every throw in the book and he has that extra oomph he can put on the ball that only the guys with the really strong arms (think Brett Favre or Jay Cutler) can do. The Lions have maybe the most dynamic talent the wide receiver position has ever seen in Calvin Johnson, but to truly take full advantage of CJ’s talents they need a QB that can really get the ball downfield and that is what Stafford is. There is always a risk in taking a QB this high, and the safer play would probably to take one of the OTs, but The Lions have a new front office, and a new head coach and they need to get rid of the bitter taste the Matt Millen era left in the fanbase’s mouth – no better way to do that than bring in a big armed young gun that they can plaster on the billboards. Hopefully management realizes that their O-line is swiss cheese and lets Culpepper take the abuse for a year while Stafford holds a clipboard, but its going to be tough not to throw the kid in there, especially if their epic losing streak continues.
2. St. Louis
Jason Smith OT Baylor – No one made themselves more money at the NFL combine than the former tight end from Baylor. Smith showed he was the best athlete of all the LT prospects, showing good agility and strength – qualities that are highly prized in left tackles. The only issue is that he is a bit raw as a prospect as he has only been a lineman for 3 years and a left tackle for 2. He still needs to add bulk and functional strength to become a presence in the run game, but his athleticism should allow him to be solid in pass pro right away. With the recently signed Jason Brown and Smith on their line, Steven Jackson and Marc Bulger should feel much better about their chances of not getting creamed all season long.
3. Kansas City
BJ Rajii DT BC – Scott Pioli is insistent on making The Chiefs into a clone of The Patriots and did a great job of robbing a couple of his favorite Pats players in Matt Cassell and Mike Vrabel from his former squad. Unfortunately he is also insisting on installing a 3-4 scheme on defense that is similar to the one the Pats use, the reason its unfortunate is that the team’s defensive personnel couldn’t be a worse fit for the 3-4, meaning he will have to completely remake the defensive roster to get a group of players who fit his scheme. Rajii is the best DT in the draft, hands down, and he can fit almost any scheme with his combination of size and athleticism, in The Chiefs new 3-4 he would play the role of NT that Vince Wilfork plays for The Pats, and in Wilfork we have a good comparison in terms of the player Rajii could/should be as a pro. The NT spot is probably the most important position in the 3-4 as he is responsible for drawing double teams and keeping blockers off of his backers, and in Rajii The Chiefs would have the most important piece in their transition to the 3-4.
Michael Oher OT Ole Miss – Seattle went in to the offseason needing to get a true go to receiver, a big DT to play in their rotation, and needed to figure out what they were going to do at SLB. So they went out and signed TJ Houshmazilly (Championship!), DT Colin Cole, and placed the franchise tag on Leroy Hill making sure he wouldn’t leave in free agency. They now have a pretty well rounded roster, even if its starting to look a little long in the tooth. Oher is arguably the OT with the most upside in the entire draft, though he didn’t blow people away at the combine his combination of athleticism, size, and aggressiveness is unmatched in this author’s opinion. He is still a bit raw having come to football somewhat late in life, but with old man Walter Jones still manning the LT spot for the Hawks Oher can ease into NFL life playing RT or one of the guard spots which he did early in his career at Ole Miss, while learning from one of the top technician’s in the game.
Aaron Curry LB Wake Forest – In my first mock draft that I did, I gave The Browns Curry and almost instantly second guessed myself and yet here we are again. Cleveland may have bigger holes to fill, but its not like they have a loaded linebacking corps by any stretch of the imagination. Most analysts seem to have voted Curry as most likely to succeed in this draft class and I am apt to agree with them. He is everything a team wants in a linebacker prospect and could play any position in The Browns 3-4 system as he is equally adept at pass rushing and at taking on the run. Curry absolutely owned the combine ranking at or near the top in every measurable test and impressed scouts with his maturity and football IQ. Mangini is a defense first guy and Curry is the best defender in the draft, a better prospect than last year’s rookie of the year Jerod Mayo, if Curry is still on the board at this pick I have to believe the Browns would be ecstatic to get him.
Eugene Monroe OT Virginia – The Bungles O-line was a major problem last year and after losing starting RT Stacey Andrews to the Eagles things are only getting worse. Monroe is an elite left tackle prospect, possessing the size and agility that is craved from franchises for the position. He was talented enough that he forced The Chiefs current LT Brandon Albert to play guard in college. He was an elite high school prospect and is one of the rare guys to completely live up to his hype, he would instantly upgrade The Bengals line which will come as a big relief to Carson Palmer who has taken way too many hits the past few years.
Michael Crabtree WR Texas Tech – It pains me to send Crabtree to the gigantic mess that is the Oakland Raiders, but if he is available here I am almost sure the crypt keeper will jump all over him. If Jamarcus Russell is going to succeed as a QB he needs better targets than Ashley Lelie and Chaz Schilens, to say the least. Crabtree may have lost a little traction during the combine when he begged off most of the tests due to a stress fracture in his foot and his height was found to be a decent amount shorter than he was believed to be. Despite those issues Crabtree is without peer in this wide receiver class and well worth a top ten pick investment. He is simply a playmaker that has the instincts, agility, and football IQ that separate star wide receivers from the rest of the pack. Many compare his skill set to Larry Fitzgerald and if he can live up to that comparison he will make whoever picks him very happy.
Jeremy Maclin WR Missouri – Jax would probably jump on Crabtree if he were here, but with him gone they may get a guy who is actually a better fit for their team. Maclin is the same size as Crabtree at 6’1” 200 lbs., but he is a whole heck of a lot faster, a true deep threat who can take it to the house on any play. He doesn’t have the polish that Crabtree has, but he is more than just a go deep guy, he has shown a willingness to go across the middle and can break tackles thanks to his solid size. Jacksonville is loaded up with tall receivers, so Maclin would be a nice complement who can keep defenses worried about the deep pass. He also is an electrifying return man and can be used in all sorts of gadget and trick plays.
9. Green Bay
Tyson Jackson DE LSU – Some may see this as a bit of a reach, but Jackson is moving up a lot of boards, as big versatile DE’s are very in vogue in the league right now – especially with so many teams making the move to the 3-4, including the Packers. Jackson is the perfect 3-4 end as he has the length, size, and athleticism to keep his backers clean whilst still providing an ability to get in the backfield and make plays. He was a team captain and is said to be a very mature young man,a quality that is a must to play for the pack. Orakpo and Everette Brown are also possibilities here, though it seems unlikely the team would want to have both OLB’s learning the position on the fly as Aaron Kampman is making the switch from DE to OLB as well.
10. San Francisco
Mark Sanchez QB USC – If Sanchez stayed in school he had a very good chance of being a top 3 if not first overall pick next year, but with only one season of starting it scares many front offices as they don’t have a lot of games to evaluate him in. That said the games we did see him in he looked awfully good. He throws really well on the move and has an extremely strong arm. I was blown away by his performance in the rose bowl where he looked like everything you want in a QB, and if that game is a good preview of what he can/will do The Niners would have a superstar QB on their hands, and one that’s from their state and comes with a huge latino following which can not be ignored, especially by the owners.
Everette Brown DE FSU – Buffalo’s starting DE’s generated 6 sacks this year, and while Chris Kelsay and Ryan Denney seem like nice guys, that number ain’t cutting it. Some think Brown may be a bit under-sized and is better suited to a 3-4 as a rush LB. But as a huge FSU fan I watched him all year and he sure looked like a pro DE to me, he’s just as big as Orakpo and actually plays a good deal bigger than Michael Johnson, so I feel he will make a fine DE. With Aaron Schobel set to return from injury, he and Brown could really change the Bills defense.
Brian Orakpo DE/OLB Texas – coincidence Denver is one of the many teams making the conversion to the 3-4 defense and in doing so need to find a few new players that fit the new scheme, near the top of the list is an athletic edge rusher to pair with elvis dumervil, and Orakpo fits the bill to a tee. Orakpo tested extremely well at the combine and has a very well defined physique. He dominated the Big 12 his senior year and won all sorts of hardware after a season that saw him collect 11.5 sacks. His athleticism and strength should allow him to make the move to a stand up rusher a fairly easy one.
Andre Smith OT Alabama – Andre Smith’s loss is the Redskins gargantuan gain. Nobody fell further at the combine than Smith, whether it was his or his agent’s fault is unknown, what we do know is he simply left the combine without participating in any drills and without telling any of the teams he was leaving. There were already many pundits who were saying that Smith is a bit of a fatty who doesn’t have the agility to hold up as a blindside protector in the NFL – and with him carrying at least 340 lbs. it has to give at least a small pause for concern. However, this is a young man who was being considered for the top overall pick at the end of the football season and for good reason, he gave up 1 sack the past 2 seasons for an Alabama team that played against and beat some very good football teams. The Skins desperately need to get younger on their O-line and whether Smith ends up at LT or RT he will be a huge addition to their team.
14. New Orleans
Peria Jerry DT Ole Miss – The Saints began fixing their defensive deficiencies last season by bringing in Jonathan Vilma and drafting Sed Ellis and have continued the makeover this year bringing in Jabari Greer to help the secondary. Their other DT spot is currently manned by Kendrick Clancy and Hollis Thomas and could really use an upgrade, which Jerry surely is. Jerry is a similar player to Ellis and is the type of DT the Saints have shown a predilection towards, he is stout but extremely athletic and can get in the backfield and disrupt plays and take down QBs. Jerry would fill out their D-line and give them an imposing front line. He will be a 25 year old rookie and has some injury issues, but he is easily the second best DT in the draft and his skill set is a perfect fit for The Saints.
Brian Cushing LB USC – The Texans still have a number of holes to fill, but took some big strides this year in terms of becoming a truly competitive team. They added Antonio Smith in free agency to free up Mario Williams, but still have work to do on defense. Cushing would be a huge upgrade over what they currently have at the OLB position, and would pair with Demeco Ryans to give them a very good young LB duo. Cushing is a physical specimen and has played nearly every position on the field in college showing off his high football IQ. He does have some injury concerns but his future still seems very bright as a pro, he is big and explosive and with a good line in front of him should be able to make a lot of plays.
16. San Diego
Malcolm Jenkins CB/S OSU – If Jenkins falls this far The Chargers are surely in luck. Some feel that Jenkins somewhat slow 40 times means he will have to convert to safety as a pro, which would work just fine for The Chargers as they are in need of a better safety to pair with Eric Weddle. Jenkins was a top notch cover guy in college and could very easily be a very good corner in the pros which may work for the Bolts as well, since there is some question as to Ant Cromartie’s future in San Diego. Whether Jenkins ends up safety or cornerback he is the most talented DB in the draft and The Chargers would be ecstatic if he was still on the board at this pick.