From strengths to weaknesses and everything in between, this is the stuff you need to know about the prospects that will shape the NFL for years to come.
FS’ MOCK DRAFT (1-10)
Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
This is a similar situation that Atlanta had when they pondered over the No. 3 pick in last year’s draft. All the way up leading to the big day, they had Glenn Dorsey in mind. But when it came down to it, they realized that you need a QB to succeed. With the scrubs that they had leading their club, they knew that the Matt Ryan pick was the best one. Turned out ok, eh? In the draft, if you do not have a franchise QB, you do not pass one up. The Lions have no identity, and nothing to look forward to. With Matthew Stafford, they get a big, athletic, strong, QB that has star potential. Some scouts compare him to Peyton Manning. You cannot pass him up with the first pick.
St. Louis Rams: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
At the end of the 2008-09 season, nobody really knew who the Rams were going to take. Most knew that they needed an offensive line to protect a pretty good QB in Marc Bulger, but others pointed toward the best overall player in the draft, linebacker Aaron Curry. Either way, you cannot go wrong. However, the Rams have NOTHING on the o-line. You cannot move the ball if your QB is on his back two seconds after every single snap. With protection, Bulger can turn into the QB he was a few years ago. Smith is incredibly athletic ( a former tight end ) and is exactly what you look for in a lineman. With this pick, the Rams will have something to build upon and may become last season’s Miami Dolphins? Hopefully!
Kansas City Cheifs: Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest
With the Matt Cassell trade, the center of focus goes from QB to defense. There are all kinds of top prospects in this draft, but this guy is above all. It is pretty unanimous that he is as good as it gets in 2009. Some may argue that the combine is overrated, meaningless, and whatever… but nevertheless, Curry nailed the combine and really put his name on the top of every GM’s list. He is the complete OLB with amazing work ethic and strives to do one thing. Win. The Chiefs would be stupid not to get Curry. Unless the Rams take a value-over-need approach on the 25th, it looks as if Curry will land in KC.
Seattle Seahawks: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
This is another pick that is almost set in stone. The only way it would head in a different direction was if the Rams took Monroe. That would leave the ‘Hawks with another lineman in Jason Smith, who I have just a notch over Eugene. For the longest time, it looked like Seattle was going to have the perfect pick and draft Michael Crabtree or, Mizzou’s wideout, Jeremy Maclin. However, when the Seahawks signed former-Bengel receiver TJ Houshmandzadah, it opened up the spectrum for this top-5 pick. There are many directions the organization can take but offensive tackle looks like the best bet. Do not close your eyes on quarterback though. With Hasselbeck battling injury and aging, I would not be surprised at all if they pull the trigger on Mark Sanchez.
Cleveland Browns: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
Here is, finally, a pick that could go a few different ways. The Browns have the QB position set with Quinn and Anderson, the defense is shaking so they may take a LB (Orakpo), but I see them going with the young but stellar Crabtree at WR. Crabtree has Larry Fitzgerald-like game and will be a star in the NFL for years. He has great speed, height, and bulk, with long arms. He can get up there to snag the ball where others cannot. Crabtree has the intangibles to be a top-tier wide receiver for a long time. After scoring 40 touchdowns in only two years, Crabtree will take his enormous potential to Cleveland in an attempt to rejuvenate the team. I can really see Quinn and Crabtree locking in with great chemistry. Both are young with All-Pro talent. Cleveland won’t regret this pick, and I think that is all they can ask for right now.
Cincinnati Bengels: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
Cincy takes a real leap of fate here as they snag another troubled player. I am predicting this, but I am not advising this.
Oakland Raiders: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Mizzou
He will have to adjust from the spread offense to the NFL-style system, but Maclin’s big-play capability and explosiveness will help him fit right in.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Brian Orakpo, LB, Texas
Some view Brian as a high-risk, high-reward type of player. He is a super-athletic, versatile, DE-capable kind of guy with incredible strength. However, his durability is a concern.
Green Bay Packers: BJ Raji, DT, Boston College
This is a pretty simple pick for the Packers here. They need a defensive tackle, Raji is the best one available, and will be available with the No. 9 pick. He’s a massive, powerful player who will excel in GB’s defense.
San Francisco 49ers: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
Let’s be honest with ourselves here… Alex Smith is not getting it done. O’Sullivan is not an NFL starter whichever what you look at it, and Mark Sanchez provides the Niners with hope, and something to build on.
FS’ POSITIONAL RANKINGS
1. Matthew Stafford (Projected 1st Rd. pick: Detroit Lions)
2. Mark Sanchez (San Francisco 49ers)
3. Josh Freeman (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
4. Nate Davis
5. Rhett Bomar
1. “Benie” Wells (Philadelphia Eagles)
2. LeSean McCoy (Arizona Cadinals)
3. Knowshon Moreno
4. Donald Brown
5. Shonn Greene
1. Michael Crabtree (Cleveland Browns)
2. Jeremy Maclin (Oakland Raiders)
3. Percy Harvin (New York Jets)
4. Hakeem Nicks (New York Giants)
5. Kenny Britt (Chicago Bears)
1. Jason Smith, OT (St. Louis Rams)
2. Eugene Monroe, OT (Seattle Seahawks)
3. Michael Oher, OT (Detroit Lions)
4. Andre Smith, OT (Cincinnati Bengels)
5. Duke Robinson, OG
1. BJ Raji, DT (Green Bay Packers)
2. Brian Orakpo, DE (Jacksonville Jaguars)
3. Everette Brown, DE (Buffalo Bills)
4. Tyson Jackson, DE (Washington Redskins)
5. Peria Jerry, DT (Indianapolis Colts)
REST OF DEF (LB/SECONDARY)
1. Aaron Curry, LB (Kansas City Chiefs)
2. Malcolm Jenkins, CB (New Orleans Saints)
3. Vontae Davis, CB (Baltimore Ravens)
4. Rey Maualuga, LB (San Diego Chargers)
5. Brian Cushing, LB (Houston Texans)