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"Because it's never too early to be wrong."
Welcome to another edition of the Early Mock, an NFL mock draft created ridiculously early that will likely be completely irrelevant come draft time. Begun nearly a half year ahead of schedule, The Early Mock will keep up to date until the big day finally arrives with a fresh new mock draft every week, week-and-a-half, two weeks, or whenever I feel like it
This year, I decided to include a few predictions for the 5 biggest busts and steals of the draft - a projection that is, once again, ridiculously early. Let's hope we can tear it apart by this time next year.
And without further ado..
1 Detroit: Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss: Oher is smart, agile, works hard, and most of all has the skills to be an elite blocker in the NFL, and the Lions know that they can’t build on anything without a strong, developed offensive line.
2 St. Louis: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama: Smith is the least risky pick here for the Rams. St. Louis can’t afford another Alex Barron and needs to improve its offensive line immediately before it can contend for the NFC West title.
3 Kansas City: Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest: Many would say to take a quarterback here. Scott Pioli knows better, and will bolster a weak defense with the best defensive player on the board.
4 Seattle: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech: Do I really need an explanation? Crabtree is the best receiver and player in the draft and WR is the biggest need for the Seahawks.
5 Cleveland: Brian Orakpo, OLB, Texas: Another no-brainer. The Browns desperately need a pass rush and Orakpo can give it to them, whether with a hand down or on two feet. Orakpo is strong and quick enough to get around the edge for the Browns.
6 Cincinnati: Rey Maualuga, MLB, USC: The Bengals are in desperate need of help at a lot of positions, but most of all they need a leader of the defense. Maualuga is a tough hitter and a good leader to bring to the table for the Bengals.
7 Oakland: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor: Smith is a great fit for the Raiders’ blocking scheme and should give an immediate boost to their floundering offensive line.
8 Jacksonville: Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State: There are bigger positions of need for the Jaguars, but Jenkins is the best player left on the board. A cornerback tandem of Jenkins and Rashean Mathis would be dominant.
9 Green Bay: B.J. Raji, NG, Boston College: The Packers begin their switch to the 3-4 by drafting the most elite noseguard prospect in a long time. Raji dominated at the Senior Bowl and could rise even higher than the 9 th pick in the draft.
10 San Francisco: Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia: Stafford is the most NFL-ready QB in the draft, but that really isn’t saying much. The 49ers need the new leadership and a change of pace, and hopefully Stafford can deliver.
11 Buffalo: Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State: Maybin was consistently dominant in the Big Ten and should bring his strong pass-rushing skills to the Bills in the NFL.
12 Denver: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia: You know what? Beanie Wells is ranked higher on my board. But Moreno has the vision that new head coach Josh McDaniels needs at the RB position, and he should be a perfect fit for the Broncos new offense.
13 Washington: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia: Chris Samuels and Jon Jansen are great NFL linemen. But what happens when they retire? Monroe will benefit from not having to play right away and will develop as the next great Washington OT.
14 New Orleans: Brian Cushing, OLB, USC: The Saints reach a little bit for the consistent Cushing, whose excellent technique and drive should bring an immediate boost to the Saints defense.
15 Houston: Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest: Smith played an excellent Senior Bowl, shutting down every WR he faced. Smith will be an excellent player for the Texans opposite Dunta Robinson.
16 San Diego: Percy Harvin, WR, Florida: The idea of Harvin in a Chargers uniform, as a Patriots fan, shares the living shit out of me. Harvin is an elite tool and will add a layer to a Chargers offense that already has more wrinkles than a Sharpei. Though this might be considered a luxury pick by many, the addition of Harvin could bring the Chargers offense from good to elite. This pick could be Chris Wells is LT is cut or traded.
17 New York Jets: Peria Jerry, DE, Ole Miss: There are bigger questions and bigger needs for the Jets. Something tells me that Rex Ryan isn’t going to bite, and instead will select the best 3-4 DE prospect in the draft.
18 Chicago: Everette Brown, DE, Florida State: The Bears defense shrunk dramatically from elite to weak last year, and Brown could be the player to step it up for the Browns. Brown is a balanced DE prospect and will be used wisely by Lovie Smith.
19 Tampa Bay: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC: Sanchez is a talented prospect, but I don’t know if one year’s experience at USC is going to be enough to get him ready for the NFL. Let’s hope he has a year or two to develop behind Jeff Garcia before he has to start for the Buccaneers.
20 Detroit (from Dallas): James Laurinaitis, MLB, Ohio State: The Lions pick up their franchise left tackle and middle linebacker in the first round. Laurinaitis is a well-disciplined prospect who will add immediate leadership to the Detroit locker room.
21 Philadelphia: Eben Britton, OT, Arizona: If Tra Thomas leaves in free agency, the Eagles need a rookie who can start immediately. If Tra Thomas doesn’t leave, they need a rookie who can develop into a Pro Bowl player. Britton is both of those things.
22 Minnesota: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri: Frankly, I think that Maclin is not going to be a success in the NFL. However, Minnesota sees him as the best player left on the board and makes the pick.
23 New England: Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State: I don’t know if the Patriots were exactly looking to take a RB here, but Wells is such a good prospect that they really can’t pass him up.
24 Atlanta: Chase Coffman, TE, Missouri: Coffman is an elite tight end with great blocking and catching ability. With no defensive players on the board that the Falcons like, Atlanta picks up another target for Matt Ryan.
25 Miami: Clay Matthews, OLB, USC: The Dolphins pick up an OLB who can learn from Joey Porter and possibly take the starting position away from Matt Roth.
26 Baltimore: D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt: The Ravens need to begin injecting youth into their defense, and they need to do it immediately. Moore is a solid pickup who will have time to develop into the Ravens’ franchise cornerback.
27 Indianapolis: Duke Robinson, OG, Oklahoma: The Colts need to continue bringing in young players in order to keep their offensive line current. Robinson will allow Mike Pollack can move in and play center.
28 Philadelphia (from Carolina): Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State: The Eagles draft a young pass-catching TE to become L.J. Smith’s protégé.
29 New York Giants: Clint Sintim, OLB, Virginia: Though there are some questions about Sintim’s coverage ability, the Giants need a SOLB who can be a force in the running and passing games. Sintim should work well in that capacity.
30 Tennessee: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois: The Titans draft the athletic cornerback to pair with Cortland Finnegan.
31 Arizona: Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU: Jackson is a massive prospect who should be well-suited to play DE in the 3-4. The Cardinals opt to draft an outside linebacker later in the draft because there is much depth at the position.
32 Pittsburgh: William Beatty, OT, Connecticut: The Steelers need to improve their offensive line if they want to pursue another title next year. Beatty should be an immediate fix for the players who will undoubtedly leave in free agency.
33 Detroit: Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech: In lieu of a quarterback, the Lions again commit to expanding their defense. Johnson should quickly improve the pass rush alongside current DE Cliff Avril.
36 Cleveland: Jamon Meredith, OL, South Carolina: Meredith is a versatile lineman who can play either spot on the right side for Cleveland.
37 Seattle: LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh: The Seahawks have bigger needs but can’t afford to let McCoy slip. LeSean should be in the mix at RB immediately, as Julius Jones and Maurice Morris can’t get the job done.
38 Cincinnati: Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee: Ayers’ extremely strong showing at the Senior Bowl impressed many scouts. Ayers could contribute to rebuilding Cincinnati’s inexcusably poor defense.
39 Jacksonville: Max Unger, C, Oregon: The Jaguars need to seriously revamp their interior line, and Unger is the first step in the right direction. He will be able to play either guard position, as well as center, depending on where the Jaguars need him.
40 Oakland: Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina: Despite the Raiders’ need for offensive linemen, I can’t see them not making at least one “sexy” pick in the first two rounds. Nicks is a big target who many compare to Chad Johnson. Nicks will reveal whether JaMarcus Russell just has no one to throw to, or if he really is as bad as he appears to be.
41 Green Bay: Tyrone McKenzie, OLB, South Florida: McKenzie was another prospect that played impressively at the Senior Bowl. The Packers continue to add young players to their revamped new defense and McKenzie should be a great pass rusher alongside Aaron Kampman.
42 Buffalo: Eric Wood, OG, Louisville: The big, strong Wood should be more than an adequate replacement for Jason Whittle, whose career is winding down and needs to be replaced.
43 San Francisco: Alex Mack, C, California: Mack is a versatile lineman who should be able to adjust to any line position for the 49ers, who will need his help wherever they can get it.
44 Miami (from Washington): Louis Delmas, SS, Western Michigan: The Dolphins need an upgrade at both safety spots. Delmas, a safety who is not afraid to come up and tackle at the line, is just the type of player that Parcells will want.
45 New York Giants (from New Orleans): Phil Loadholt, OT, Oklahoma: Though Loadholt did not impress at the Senior Bowl, he has the most upside out of the prospect available, and the Giants need to bring in an upgrade for Kareem McKenzie.
46 Houston: Rashad Johnson, FS, Alabama: The Texans have needed an upgrade at safety year after year. Hopefully Rashad Johnson can be that player.
47 New England (from San Diego): Connor Barwin, DE/OLB/TE, Cincinnati: This incredibly versatile prospect will be a great fit for the Patriots, both on offense and defense. His great drive and disciplined work ethic should make him a fantastic fit in New England.
48 Denver: Paul Kruger, OLB, Utah: The Broncos need to begin building up their defense, and Kruger can play DE if they stay in the 4-3 and OLB if they move to the 3-4.
49 Chicago: Nic Harris, OLB, Oklahoma: All of the Cover 2 teams are reportedly pissing themselves over Harris. Chicago takes the best player available for their scheme.
50 Tampa Bay: Sen’Derrick Marks, DT, Auburn: The Bucs needs two new DTs, and Marks should be a good fit for their scheme.
51 Dallas: Mike Thomas, WR, Arizona: Thomas brings an element to the Cowboys that no receiver on their current roster can: quickness out of the slot. Thomas should be an ideal slot receiver to complement T.O. and Roy Williams.
52 New York Jets: Shonn Greene, RB, Iowa: Thomas Jones has been great, but how much longer can he play at a consistent level? Greene is a great weapon to have in the wings and should push for playing time immediately.
53 Philadelphia: Brian Robiskie, WR, Ohio State: The Eagles begin to revamp their receiving core with Robiskie, a tough possession WR who should be a great target for first downs and in the end zone.
54 Minnesota: Ziggy Hood, DT, Missouri: The Vikings begin to develop backup talent at DT with Ziggy Hood, who won’t need to play for a while but should challenge for a spot in a few years.
55 Atlanta: Marcus Freeman, OLB, Ohio State: Freeman is a tough OLB with a lot of drive and good skills in pass rushing, coverage, and tackling, but was out of the spotlight at OSU due to Laurinaits. He should be a great draft pick for the Falcons, who need to bring some youth to the defensive side of the ball.
56 Miami: Victor Harris, CB, Virginia Tech: Harris plays hard and tough, and should subscribe to Parcells’ methodology. He will be an instant upgrade to the Dolphins’ secondary.
57 Baltimore: Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers: Britt is a very balanced WR who should be an immediate contributor on offense and could become an eventual replacement for Derrick Mason.
58 New England: Juaquin Iglesias, WR, Oklahoma: The Patriots begin to look for new tools on offense for Brady. Iglesias is another balanced prospect who should be great across the middle of the field.
59 Indianapolis: Fili Moala, DT, USC: The Colts continually need a dominant DT for their defense to be a contender. Moala should more than qualify.
60 New York Giants: Javon Ringer, RB, Michigan State: The Giants bring in another competitor at RB as well as the best player left on the board.
61 Carolina: Derrick Williams, WR, Penn State: The Panthers bring in a WR who can actually compete and strive to become Steve Smith, who should be a great role model for him. Williams is more of a down-the-field receiver and will be a nice contrast for Smith as well.
62 Tennessee: Ricky Jean-Francois, DT, LSU: The Titans might not be able to bring Albert Haynesworth back for next year. If they can, Jean-Francois is a great backup and “other” 4-3 DT. If they can’t, they need Jean-Francois even more.
63 Arizona: Larry English, OLB, Northern Illinois: English is a small-school prospect with big upside, and the Cardinals should be able to use him effectively as a rush OLB spot.
64 Pittsburgh: Bruce Johnson, CB, Miami: The Steelers bring in the next CB from the U as a nickel corner who could eventually challenge for a starting spot.
Drpatriot’s Early Mock Predictions:
So, I’m going to go ahead and say who I like, right here and right now. My draft board is a bit different from many experts, and I’m not afraid to say so. Here are my hi
5 Biggest Busts of 2009:
Mark Sanchez, QB, USC: One year of starting? At USC? Really? That’s not enough experience for a third round draft pick, much less a first-round draft pick. Give me a break.
Will Be Picked: Top 15, expected to step in right away and dominate
Should Be Picked: Late 3rd, and given time to develop into his full potential
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri: Everyone loves Maclin, but what really separates him from the next tier of receivers? He has issues with his route-running, doesn’t have elite speed or quickness, and his hands aren’t incredible either. He will underwhelm expectations in the NFL.
Will Be Picked: Top 15, and presumed to start immediately
Should Be Picked: Mid 2nd, with the opportunity to grow into the NFL
Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois: Teams want their own Antonio Cromartie. I’m here to say that for every Cromartie, there’s going to be ten Vontae Davises.
Will Be Picked: First round, and hoping for a Pro Bowl berth
Should Be Picked: Late 2nd, with knowledge that there are risks involved in athletes
Phil Loadholt, OT, Oklahoma: He’s always struck me as a prospect who stands too high. It’s possible that he could get better with coaching
Will Be Picked: Mid 2nd, and expected to step in right away on the right side
Should Be Picked: Late 4th, understanding that he will need some coaching before he can play at an NFL level
Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State: Freeman’s scrambling abilities will impress some teams, and some drafts have him going as high as #19 to Tennessee. Admittedly, it only takes one idiotic team to make a stupid draft choice, but Freeman really isn’t NFL-ready.
Will Be Picked: Late 1st on a flyer, with ideas for a developmental QB but hopes for an NFL star
Should Be Picked: Mid 4th, and by a team with an already adept QB who needs a backup
5 Biggest Steals of 2009:
Mike Thomas, WR, Arizona: The advantages that an excellent slot receiver gives to your offense are completely underrated. After seeing Wes Welker dominate for the Patriots, I’m convinced every team needs a slot receiver. Thomas is by far the best prospect in the slot in the draft.
Will Be Picked: Early 4th
Should Be Picked: Early 2nd
James Laurinaitis, MLB, Ohio State: Last year he was supposed to be Top Ten. What happened? The answer is: absolutely nothing. Laurinaitis is still an elite prospect.
Will Be Picked: First round
Should Be Picked: Top Ten
Connor Barwin, DE/OLB/TE, Cincinnati: He has the skills to play at any of these positions in the NFL, and the drive to make it happen. Barwin is an elite prospect no matter where you put him.
Will Be Picked: Mid 2nd
Should Be Picked: First round
Quan Cosby, WR, Texas: Crosby is another slot receiver who is being overlooked by most NFL teams. Though he will be 26 in his rookie season (I didn’t know that was possible), he always gets the 1 st down and has the skills to be an elite slot receiver in the NFL.
Will Be Picked: Mid 6th
Should Be Picked: Mid 3rd
Nathan Brown, QB, Central Arkansas: Have you ever seen this guy throw? This small-school prospect has a fantastic arm. He started for four years and has incredible accuracy. Passed for 31 TDs and only 4 INTs this year. He should be very coachable and will play shockingly well in his first year in the NFL. IF he had played at USC, he’d be a consensus #1 draft choice.
Will Be Picked: 4th round
Should Be Picked: Early 2nd at the very latest