My fourth weekly mock draft installment comes a day early because I'll be flying out for a tournament in Austin this weekend and will be away from the computer for much of the next few days. I cut down on comments here to save time unless the picks changed. If you're interested in reading my back reasoning, see last week's mock: http://www.ninersnation.com/2009/3/6/783430/my-pissed-off-mock-v-3-0
1) Lions - Jason Smith - Baylor - OT
I had Smith here in my first mock but bumped him because I didn't think the Lions were gonna move Jeff Backus (who, despite comments made on NN, I still feel and believe the Lions to still feel, is a very solid player). He is aging though, and all indications are the Lions will build their lines through this draft and not QB.
Previous Pick: Jason Smith/Aaron Curry
2) Rams - Eugene Monroe - Virginia - OT
Last week's comment: The Rams also need help in the trenches (and everywhere else for that matter). With Orlando Pace and Alex Barron unlikely to make it past this season, if they do make it to this season, the Rams' number one priority has to be the OL. I've read that the Rams have been high on Monroe for a long time which is why I've put him in this slot. That being said, there are a number of ways that the Rams could go. With the possible impending release of Torry Holt, the Rams could select Crabtree to pair with Donnie Avery which would be a good combo of speed and possession. Or, the Rams could go defense and take B.J. Raji who would be an upgrade over their current starters. Keep Crabtree on your radar at this pick, I wouldn't be surprised to see him go here, pending future moves.
Pace has since been cut only further clearing the way for Monroe.
Previous Pick: Monroe
3) Chiefs - Aaron Curry - Wake Forest - OLB
I'm still not sold on Raji as a top 3 pick and I think Curry won't fall past the Chiefs with the top two tackles off the board.
Previous Pick: Curry/B.J. Raji
4) Seahawks - Matt Stafford - Georgia - QB
With the trade for Cory Redding I think the Seahawks have turned their eyes to another position in the draft than D-Line. If Aaron Curry is available I think they give him a long look to replace Peterson. However, as the adage goes, with new regimes come new QBs and while Jim Mora Jr. isn't exactly bringing in a new regime I think he may still want to get a new face for the franchise. The other saying is that you don't pass on a franchise QB if you don't have one and they way Matt Hasselbeck's back is holding up, they don't have one. I'm not sold on Stafford personally, but I think this would be a great situation for him, to come in to a decent team, despite their record last year, and be able to sit behind a quality and film-study-focused QB for a year or two before taking over the reigns.
Previous Pick: Michael Crabtree/Jason Smith/ Raji
5) Browns - Everette Brown - FSU - DE/OLB
I had some solid (in my mind) reasons for putting Crabtree here in last week's mock, but I think that with Mangini at the helm defense is a higher desire and priority. A lot of mocks have Brian Orakpo going at this slot but according to Don Banks, the Browns aren't high on him and so here he gets replaced by the other premier DE/OLB tweener, Brown.
Previous Pick: Raji/Crabtree/Brown
6) Bengals - Brian Orakpo - Texas - DE/OLB
Last week's rationale: The Bengals get the pass-rusher they desperately need. I'm surprised that Orakpo gets past the Browns who are reportedly very high on him, but then again, the Browns are surprised to see Crabtree still on the board. If they pass on Crabtree then this pick could be Crabtree too (though [more] unlikely, with the signing of Coles), Andre Smith, Michael Oher (reach) Everette Brown [no longer an option], or even a DB.
If it's not Orakpo, it'll be Michael Crabtree or Andre Smith. Smith is too big a personality gamble for the Bengals who don't have the right kind of veteran locker room presence to keep him in line. Crabtree doesn't fill a need as big as Orakpo does right now.
Previous Pick: Orakpo
7) Raiders - Michael Crabtree - Texas Tech - WR
For two weeks I had Andre Smith being selected in this spot, but that was two weeks of Crabtree being off the board and before Smith's pro-day. I can't see Davis passing on Crabtree.
Previous Pick: Andre Smith/Crabtree
8) Jaguars - Jeremy Maclin - Missouri - WR
Last week's rationale: I had the Jags going DB here the last two weeks despite there not being a DB deserving of the 8th slot. While I don't think that the Jags are afraid to reach for a player they like I think that Matt Jones' recent run ins with the law have cleared the way for a WR to fall here. If Crabtree were available they would grab him in a heart beat, but instead they pick the speedy game-breaker from Mizzou. Andre Smith is a real possibility but I don't see Del Rio, nearing the end of his chances in Jacksonville, taking a flyer on him.
Now, with Matt Jones' release I think the Jags are looking even harder at draft WRs. I wouldn't be surprised if they passed on Maclin and got one of the second tier wideouts early in the second though. I'm not sold on the Jaguars picking Mike Sanchez though, for a number of reasons: First - I don't think they've given up on David Garrard yet (from my hometown, Durham, NC) who they gave a big contract to just a year ago. Second - Jack Del Rio is on his last chances in FL and taking a junior rookie QB is an indication that he's building long term which is not something he, personally, can afford to do.
Previous Pick: Mike Jenkins/Vontae Davis/Maclin
9) Packers - Michael Jenkins - Ohio State - CB/S
The pack need help on D just about anywhere. The problem is they find themselves picking just outside of the top tier of players. Though I don't like him, I think they pick Jenkins to provide aid for their aging secondary. Vontae Davis had an impressive pro-day and could be interchangeable with Jenkins here. I couldn't find anything saying the Pack preferred one player to the other. Aaron Maybin is still a possibility even though I think he is in no way a top-ten player.
Previous Pick: Maybin/Brown/Jenkins
10) 49ers - B.J. Raji - Boston College - NT
Maclin's appearance in the top 10 allows one of the consensus top 9 players to fall to the Niners at 10. This lets the Niners not reach for an Oher or a Maybin and gives them a player to rotate with Franklin before taking over full time next year. I'm starting to have my doubts about Raji, there's no second-guessing his Senior Bowl practice week results and natural athleticism (not to mention sheer size) but these haven't always translated on game day. Nevertheless, I don't think the Niners pass on him here. I still think the best option would be to trade down.
Previous Pick: Rey Maualuga/Oher/Aaron Maybin
11) Bills - Robert Ayers - Tennessee - DE
Ayers makes his first appearance in my mocks after shooting up boards this last week and garnering some unhiden interest from the Bills. He has the talent though is a player who came come on more towards the end of this college career. He actually reminds me of Parys Harrelson but with more natural ability and he may be a player the Niners look at as well.
Previous Pick: Clay Mathews Jr.
12) Broncos - Rey Maualuga - USC - ILB
Last Weeks Rationale: You know that the first thing Mike Nolan will miss after leaving SF is Patrick Willis. Therefore, the first thing the Broncos do is go out and get a poor-man's P-Willy. Maualuga doesn't have Willis' speed or knack for the ball, but he's a ferocious hitter who should thrive in the 3-4 and may actually be a bit better than Willis at causing turnovers. I really can't see any conceivable way that RM falls past number 12.
Previous Pick: Everette Brown/Maualuga
13) Redskins - Brian Cushing - USC - OLB
Last Weeks Rationale: For those of you who will be sad when Al Davis finally leaves the NFL, just know, we'll still have Dan Snyder. The run on USC linebackers finishes up one-two-three, with Cushing who will be a solid, if not spectacular, player for years to come. I previously had James Laurinaitis at this spot but his stock has been slipping and while I think he, too, will be a decent player, I, and I believe most teams, have Cushing now graded higher. Another option in this slot would be Tyson Jackson who could replace the departed Jason Taylor, but I'm going with a hunch that the Skins go linebacker. I think Andre Smith could be an option here but I think Snyder does the smart thing for once and steers clear.
Previous Pick: Laurinaitis/Cushing
14) Saints - Vontae Davis - Illinois - CB
Last week's rationale: It seems more and more likely that the Saints see one of the top two DBs fall to them at 14 and it seems more and more likely that they take that player.
I haven't had a player here other than a DB yet but now that Clay Mathews is still on the board, I think they give him a look.
Previous Pick: Davis/Jenkins
15) Texans - Andre Smith - Alabama - OT
Smith's slide stops here this week. He could go as high as 6 to the Bengals but it's hard to envision him falling any lower than 15. Tyson Jackson was the pick here each the previous three weeks but the Texans have signed Antonio Smith to start opposite Mario Williams and so I think the Texans turn to the OL to provide better protection for Matt Shaub.
Previous Pick: Tyson Jackson
16) Chargers - Clay Mathew's Jr. - USC - OLB
Mathews' is a perfect fit for the Chargers who need some serious depth at LB. I seriously think he has the potential to be a poor-man's Junior Seau.
Previous Pick: Michael Oher/Eben Britton
17) Jets - Mark Sanchez - USC - QB
Last Weeks Rationale: In my last mock, I said that the Jets weren't sold on the QBs in the draft and that's why they pick Maclin. However, I've been reading different things lately and now think the Jets won't let Sanchez pass. Some people think that the Jets will go for a RB, usually Beanie Wells, but with Thomas Jones still having a year or two in him and Leon Washington chomping at the bit to get more touches, I think the Jets hold off in that area. [word on the street is that the Jets are comfortable with Bret Ratliff at QB. I don't buy it. Unless they sign Jeff Garcia (a real possibility I think) they go QB here].
Previous Pick: Maclin/Sanchez
18) Bears - Peria Jerry - Ole Miss - DT
I go back and forth between thinking the Bears could do any number of things but I think DL is their most pressing need and I neglected Jerry, a good player, two weeks ago by not putting him in the first round of my last mock. I think he falls here. Additionally, I think they may give Hakeem Nicks a once over, he would be a fantastic complement to Devin Hester but the Bears have been about defense under Lovie Smith and I think they stay that route.
Previous Pick: Peria Jerry
19) Bucs - Josh Freeman - Kansas St. - QB
I think this is a terrible Pick. Freeman is iffy as an NFL QB to begin with but the Bucs would be bringing him in to start immediately. Nevertheless they seem high on him and aren't being subtle about their desire to draft a top QB. I think they would be better off trading up, perhaps to the Niners' slot to take Sanchez, but I'm not predicting trades here so Freeman it is.
Previous Pick: Stafford
20) Lions - Tyson Jackson - LSU - DE
Jackson falls to the Lions but no further who now shore up the D-Line. I think had the Lions known that Oher would be available here they might have gone with Curry at number 1.
Previous Pick: Evander Hood
21) Eagles - Michael Oher - Ole Miss - OT
Andy Reid will go for a big man and with Oher still on the board he jumps on him.
Previous Pick: Eben Britton/Chris Wells/Andre Smith
22) Vikings - Hakeem Nicks
Last Weeks Rationale: The options here are pretty straightforward: go WR or CB. In my last mock I had the Vikes taking Percy Harvin, but that was when Maclin wasn't on the board. Right now I think that the need to upgrade Sidney Rice is more pressing than Cedric Griffon or Antoine Winfield. While most people have Maclin graded higher, Hakeem Nicks complements the other Vikings WRs better and will be an outstanding target and security blanket for Tarvaris Jackson (or Sage Rosenfels).
Harvin had, by all accounts, an impressive pro day so Nicks may not be long for this spot.
Previous Pick: Harvin
23) Patriots - Clint Stintim - Virginia - 3-4 OLB
Last Weeks Rationale: With the signing of Fred Taylor, RB no longer is the pressing need that it was a few weeks ago and the Pats are free to upgrade elsewhere. With the departure of Mike Vrabel, the Pats need to shore up their linebacking corp (anyone think that Tully Banta-Cain is gonna do that?). The Pats reach a bit for a player that fits their scheme perfectly. [the other option would be Larry English but I think Stintim is more up the pats' alley].
Previous Pick: Donald Brown/Stintim
24) Falcons - Aaron Maybin - Penn St. - OLB
Aaron Maybin is available again and so the Falcons select their man.
Previous Pick: Brandon Pettigrew/Maybin
25) Dolphins - Larry English - Northern Illinois- OLB
The Fins are lucky that a player who fits so perfectly into their system falls to them at this slot. English should be a solid player for years to come.
Previous Pick: English/Maclin
26) Ravens - Sean Smith - Utah - CB
Last Weeks Rationale: Nothing has changed about this pick from last time. If Maclin [he isn't] is still on the board in this slot I'd expect the Ravens to select him instead. Percy Harvin could be an option or if one of the second tier OLBs falls this far.
Previous Pick: Smith
27) Colts - Brian Robiskie -Ohio St. - WR
Last Weeks Rationale: I stand by my pick from my last mock, I think Robiskie is a perfect fit for the colts and he allows Anthony Gonzalez to stay in the slot. If Nicks falls to this slot I highly doubt he goes any further. DT is also an option but I like Robiskie better than Peria Jerry [no longer available] .
Previous Pick: Terry Robiskie (chuckle)
28) Eagles - Chris Wells - Ohio St. - RB
They passed on him at 20 but get him here.
Previous Pick: Nicks/William Beatty
29) Giants - Knowshon Moreno - Georgia - RB
Last Weeks Rationale: With the departure of Derrick Ward and the possible return of Plaxico Burress, the Giants can take both a need and a highly rated player by selecting Knowshon Moreno. Kenny Britt or Darrius Heyward-Bey are both options here as well, as is a CB.
Previous Pick: Cushing/Moreno
30) Titans - Alex Mack - California - C
Last Weeks Rationale: Same player, same reasons. Jeff Fischer is loathe to draft WRs in the first round and Nate Washington's signing means this streak will likely continue another year. CB could be an option to replace the aging Nick Harper.
Previous Pick: Mack
31) Cardinals - LeSeann McCoy - Pitt - RB
McCoy may be a better complement for Hightower than Donald Brown. I find it hard to believe that the Cards don't go RB here.
Previous Pick: Moreno/Brown
32) Steelers - Duke Robinson - Oklahoma - G
Last Weeks Rationale: With the last pick of the first round, the Steelers can do whatever the heck they want. For pure fun, I'd be interested in seeing what would happen if they drafted Percy Harvin and tried to assimilate him into their offense. James Laurinaitis [off the board] fits the Steeler blue-collar mold but they have more pressing needs and I think the Steelers try to shore up OL depth first and take Robinson.
Previous Pick: D.J. Moore/Robinson