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2009 NFL Mock Draft

Last Updated: April 24, 2009
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com

The draft is one day away, and the anticipation is building about who will go where. With the Eagles trading the #28 pick to Buffalo, the Bills have two first-round picks while Philadelphia has filled a need at offensive tackle.

The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals in a thrilling Super Bowl game in Tampa. As a result, the Cardinals will have the second-to-last pick in each round and the Steelers will have the last pick in each round, not counting compensatory picks that are tacked on at the end of a given round.

As of this writing, the Detroit Lions have reportedly agreed to a six-year contract with Georgia QB Matthew Stafford, who the team will take tomorrow at #1 overall. After that? It's been very tough to project compared with some years past, which of course keeps the excitement level high. This weekend should be fun for NFL Draft fans everywhere.

As far as how the 2009 NFL Draft order is determined, this page explains the draft order very well, probably better than I'd try to do in re-creating it on here.

2009 NFL Mock Draft

1. Detroit Lions - Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia ~
Barring an 11th hour shocker, it looks like the Detroit Lions will take Matthew Stafford with the top pick in the draft. He may or may not have a deal in place by the time the Lions go on the clock tomorrow afternoon, but either way I feel confident that he is heading to Detroit.

2. St. Louis Rams - Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
There has been late scuttle that the Rams might take Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree here, but I suspect it's a smokescreen to attempt to see if any team wanting Crabtree badly (maybe Cleveland?) might deal up to get him. Forget about a team outside the top five trading up to this spot; with the rookie salary cap it is simply too complicated, save for a team with two first round picks in the same draft. Detroit is above St. Louis, and Buffalo signed Terrell Owens this off-season, so I'd suggest it's either Cleveland trading up (and more on them in a bit) or the Rams sticking here and drafting Smith

I give Mel Kiper credit for being well ahead curve in predicting Jason Smith as a high pick, Smith bench-pressed 225 pounds 33 times at the combine, and he has separated himself from the rest of the very strong offensive tackle pack as the likely top offensive tackle to go in the draft. Remember also that future Hall of Fame offensive tackle Orlando Pace is no longer a member of the Rams team, and his cut seems to point strongly to St. Louis going with an offensive tackle at this position. Adding Smith, along with the signing of free agent center Jason Brown (from Baltimore), would provide an instant improvement to the Rams' offensive line.

3. Kansas City Chiefs - Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest
Forget the nonsense that Curry "has to play ILB" in a 3-4 defense. Curry is about the same weight as Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware and just two inches shorter than him. Curry can play OLB in a 3-4, I believe, and I see him being a great addition to a Chiefs team that could use a game-changing linebacker.

4. Seattle Seahawks - Mark Sanchez, QB, USC ~
Incumbent Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck turns 34 in September and his contract runs out after next season. If the Seahawks are sold on Sanchez (and that's a big if), then drafting Sanchez here makes sense. Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree and Virginia OT Eugene Monroe could both be considered for this spot, but Sanchez is looking more and more like a strong possibility here. What happens here (and with Sanchez in general) will likely impact the first round in many different ways.

5. Cleveland Browns - Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech ~
This would be a dream scenario for the Browns (as least in theory), having an elite receiver in Crabtree falling to them at the #5 spot. Trading down from here isn't much of an option due to rookie salary cap constraints, and trading up with the Chiefs to draft Aaron Curry at #3 doesn't seem likely. The Browns have many needs on defense, but Crabtree is just too talented to pass up, particularly with trade rumors swirling around Braylon Edwards and Donte Stallworth facing serious criminal charges in Florida.

There has been late talk that Crabtree has come across as too cocky to some in the Browns organization, but I suspect that is a red herring to make other teams think that he won't be going there. If not Crabtree, then perhaps Boston College DT/NT B.J. Raji would be a great pickup here to plug the middle. Raji PASSED his drug test at the NFL Combine, and the errant reporting elsewhere about that is shameful.

6. Cincinnati Bengals - Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
Cincinnati desperately needs an offensive line boost. Consider this: in 2008, the Bengals were #30 in passing offense and #29 in rushing offense. To be fair, the injury of QB Carson Palmer contributed to this, but so did the departure of offensive tackle Willie Anderson to Baltimore in the last off-season. And, with the Bengals losing OT Stacy Andrews to free agency, adding an elite offensive tackle would seem to be a top priority for the Bengals.

Monroe hasn't received as much media attention as some of the other elite offensive tackle talents, but he has quietly climbed up the ladder to where he might go in the top five of the draft. If he's on the board here, he would be an excellent selection for the Bengals.

7. Oakland Raiders - Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland ~
It's true that the Raiders seldom use high draft picks on wide receivers, but just two years ago Oakland drafted JaMarcus Russell at #1 overall after many years without a high pick being used on a quarterback. Heyward-Bey ran a blistering 4.30 40 at the combine, and at 6'2" 210 he has good size for a receiver. There are some who think that Missouri WR Jeremy Maclin might be the second (or even the first) wide receiver to go, but Heyward-Bey would be a better fit for the Raiders, particularly with Oakland already having Johnnie Lee Higgins on its roster to serve as the team's primary kick returner.

Heyward-Bey is still somewhat raw as far as his receiving skills go, but with proper coaching and time he could develop into being an elite NFL talent.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars - Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
I still think Andre Smith is the best long-term offensive tackle prospect in the bunch. However, there are major questions about his work ethic. Add to that the bizarre scene at the NFL combine in Indianapolis surrounding Smith, coupled with what some believe was a sub-par pro day for him at Alabama, and there are doubters out there who think Smith is going to fall down the draft board -- perhaps into the second half of the first round.

9. Green Bay Packers - Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas
Orakpo has great size at 6'3" 265, and he showed his strength at the combine by bench pressing 225 pounds an impressive 31 times. Orakpo is talented enough where he could play either DE or OLB in a 3-4, which is the new defense that has been installed in Green Bay for 2009.

10. San Francisco 49ers - Aaron Maybin, DE/OLB, Penn State ~
An important element of any 3-4 is an elite blitzing OLB, and Manny Lawson hasn't developed into that role yet for the 49ers. QB remains a major need spot, but stretching to take Josh Freeman here would be a poor move in my estimation. Maybin has remarkable speed and enough size to present a challenge for opposing offenses, and while he is still somewhat raw, he possesses tremendous long-term potential.

11. Buffalo Bills - Everette Brown, DE, Florida State ~
Aaron Schabel turns 32 later this year and the Bills need a player who can bring pressure from the defensive end position. Brown had 13.5 sacks in 2008 for Florida State, and having him bookended with Schabel could provide a major boost for Buffalo's defense. The Bills could consider Ole Miss OT Michael Oher at this spot, but a talent like Brown would be a great upgrade for the team here.

12. Denver Broncos - Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
Jackson might have been a first round pick had he come out for last year's draft. In 2008 he fell off the radar to a degree due to LSU having a down year, but he has worked his way back into contention at the defensive end position, to the point where the Broncos could take him here and then hope to have USC ILB Rey Maualuga fall to them later in round one.

At 6'4" 295, Jackson has the size to play DE effectively in a 3-4. The Broncos are going through changes in its defensive setup via the draft, and particularly if Denver wants to give Kyle Orton a try (and then jump into the 2010 QB bonanza if that doesn't work), then going defense here instead of Kansas State QB Josh Freeman makes sense to me.

13. Washington Redskins - Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss
Oher is an outstanding pass blocker, and despite a difficult past he turned into one of the nation's best college offensive linemen. Oher didn't have a great combine, but he is a freakishly talented player who, with the right coaching, could turn into an All-Pro.

14. New Orleans Saints - Malcolm Jenkins, CB/S, Ohio State
New Orleans could use an upgrade in its secondary, particularly after multiple free agent moves designed to fill that need failed to provide the desired results. Jenkins is the top cornerback prospect in the draft, yet he is versatile enough to where he could play safety if asked. His best value for the Saints, in my estimation, would be at corner, but regardless of where he plays in the secondary he would be a major boost for New Orleans.

15. Houston Texans - Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee
With the Texans signing a pair of free agent OLBs (Cato June from Tampa Bay and Buster Davis from Indianapolis), it appears that they would be inclined to look elsewhere with their first round pick. Ayers has been shooting up draft boards in the weeks leading up to the draft, and pairing him with former #1 overall pick Mario Williams as bookend defensive ends would make for a strong combination.

16. San Diego Chargers - B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College
The Chargers don't have a second-round pick in the 2009 Draft, so trading down from here makes a great deal of sense. But, if they keep the pick, the Chargers need to concentrate on an area of need here. There isn't a true top-tier nose tackle in the draft, though B.J. Raji at 6'1" 340 has great size and is a DT/NT tweener type of prospect (with his 6'1" height being a negative to NT). Raji could be a top five pick, but if Raji slides down the board to this spot, he would be a great pickup for the Chargers.

17. New York Jets - Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State ~
There are some who think the Jets might make a move to get Mark Sanchez if he falls to Jacksonville at #8. If they don't do that, Freeman at #17 could be quite tempting for a Jets team that could use a blue-chip quarterback prospect.

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18. Denver Broncos (from Bears) - Rey Maualuga, ILB, USC
With the Broncos moving to a 3-4 defense, a huge playmaker like Maualuga would be a great addition to the lineup. He is a great leader and, while there would be a transition necessary in moving to a 3-4, Maualuga is good enough to where he could be a great impact player for Denver. There is a need for a nose tackle that would be difficult to fill at this spot, but overall a player like Maualuga would make Denver's defense better right away.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss
The Bucs were in the running for free agent DT Albert Haynesworth up until the end, but the Redskins landed him. It was Haynesworth or bust for teams wanting an elite defensive tackle, so the Bucs must look elsewhere to fill that spot.

Jerry has had a strong season at Ole Miss, and he has moved into strong first round projection territory with his performance and with this being such a weak draft at defensive tackle. The Bucs once had a defensive tackle with great pass-rushing skills with Warren Sapp, and while it's not fair to hold Jerry to Sapp's standards (at least on the field), Jerry could be a strong pickup for a Bucs defense that folded down the stretch in 2008. There are a wide variety of options for the Buccaneers at this spot, but picking Jerry here makes a great deal of sense.

20. Detroit Lions (from Cowboys) - D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt ~
An important part of the defense that lead Vanderbilt to its first bowl game since 1982, Moore is heading to the NFL, and he could help provide a much-needed boost to the Lions secondary. Moore has incredible athleticism and great hands, and while he didn't run the 40 as fast as he had hoped at either the combine or at Vanderbilt's pro day, he remains a great interception threat who would be a wonderful addition to the Detroit roster.

21. Philadelphia Eagles - Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
At this point Pettigrew looks like the best of the bunch at tight end with Oklahoma TE Jermaine Gresham going back to school for 2009. At 6'6" 260 Pettigrew has great size and appears to have the ability to block on an NFL quality level. He is also a receiving threat, and adding him to the mix in Philly would be quite intriguing.

22. Minnesota Vikings - Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri ~
Maclin is a speedy wide receiver who was quite impressive as both a kick returner and a wide receiver with the Tigers. Minnesota has struggled to find a solid #1 wide receiver since it traded Randy Moss to Oakland.

23. New England Patriots - Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia ~
There are some who might be surprised at the Patriots drafting Moreno at this spot, but at this point it could be argued that the Patriots would move into "best player available" mode -- particularly with the team holding Kansas City's second-round pick at #34 overall.

24. Atlanta Falcons - Brian Cushing, OLB, USC
The Falcons have cut OLB Keith Brooking (who turns 34 this year), and a young strong OLB like Cushing would be a great addition to the team. He has great size, speed, and has shown poise and skill in big games.

25. Miami Dolphins - Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech
Johnson is a massive defensive end at 6'7" 265. The Dolphins passed up on DE Chris Long last year to take OT Jake Long, but this could be a great opportunity for the Dolphins to bring in a huge run-stuffer.

26. Baltimore Ravens - Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina ~
The Ravens cut longtime CB Chris McAlister earlier this off-season, and a logical progression for the Ravens would be to bring in a young player like Davis who, in time, could develop into a great pro cornerback. At 6'0" 205 Davis has good height for the position, but it's his speed and knack for breaking up passing plays that makes him look so good as a pro prospect. Rumors of a failed drug test are haunting him, though that has not yet been substantiated in public (nor will it be in all likelihood).

27. Indianapolis Colts - Fili Moala, DT, USC
The Colts rely on defensive pressure from its front four to pressure the quarterback with its Cover 2 defense. Moreover, the team looks to the interior defensive line to stop the run, which has been a hit-or-miss proposition in recent years.

The Colts DT position has been hit hard in the past two seasons, with the career-ending knee injury in August 2007 suffered by Anthony McFarland (who the Colts acquired for a second-round pick in 2006) and then the release of starting DT Ed Johnson early in the 2008 season after Johnson was arrested for possession of marijuana.

28. Buffalo Bills (from Panthers via Eagles) - Eben Britton, OT, Arizona ~
Britton may go higher than #28, but if he lasts this long then it would be a great value pick for Buffalo, which traded away disgruntled OT Jason Peters to get this pick (and others) from Philadelphia. Britton is noted as a very intelligent person with great leadership skills to match his above-average athleticism and strength. At 6'6" 310 he has the size to play offensive tackle in the NFL, and he would be the polar opposite of Peters as far as his influence on the locker room (and the team).

29. New York Giants - Clay Matthews, OLB, USC
Overlooked by some because of his strong teammates Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing, Matthews is a talented outside linebacker who would be a good addition to the Giants. Landing an offensive tackle here would be nice, but if Eben Britton goes one pick before, Matthews would probably make the most sense in this spot.

30. Tennessee Titans - James Laurinaitis, ILB, Ohio State
Yes, the Titans have Ryan Fowler at MLB, but he hasn't particularly stood out since arriving via free agency from Dallas two years ago. Laurinaitis is an amazing talent who would provide a great boost to the heart of the Titans defense. He has great vision, impressive quickness, and isn't afraid to lay a hit on anyone.

31. Arizona Cardinals - Chris "Beanie" Wells, RB, Ohio State ~
The Cardinals have a rather strong need for a franchise running back. Edgerrin James turns 31 in August, and for a third straight season he finished with a sub 4.0 yards per carry rushing average in 2008. He's also due a $5 million base salary in 2009. Tim Hightower had an even worse average than James, with an anemic 2.8 yards per carry in the 2008 regular season. J.J. Arrington left via free agency, and overall a player like Wells would be a wonderful fit for Arizona.

32. Pittsburgh Steelers - Max Unger, C/OG, Oregon
Unger played center at Oregon, but he could potentially play both center and guard for the Steelers. Pittsburgh retained OG Chris Kemoeatu with a five-year contract, but Unger could still be a valuable addition to a Steelers team that needs some fresh blood on its offensive line.

* indicates player with NCAA eligibility for 2009 who may opt to enter the 2009 NFL Draft
~ indicates player with NCAA eligibility for 2009 who has either declared for the 2009 NFL Draft or who has signed with an agent

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