2009 NFL Mock Draft Picks 1-15

PFC Writer: Dan Johns

(*Note this mock draft can be affected by the trading of Denver Bronco QB Jay Cutler)

# 1 Detroit Lions- Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia

Why: Bottom line the Lions desperately need a “fresh face” in their lack-luster franchise.  The Lions haven’t seen a franchise quarterback since Bobby Layne.  Although it was not confirmed, many know of the “curse” Layne put on the Lions by saying that the franchise would not win for 50 years, this after he was traded to Pittsburgh in 1958.  Ironically, the 50 year mark ended on 2008, coincidentally the year the Lions went 0-16.  Does that mean the curse is officially over and the Lions will win it all in 2009?  Let’s not go too far with that. However, with this pick of a franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford, it can at least help them go into the right direction.  Just look at the track record for QB’s taken early in last years draft – Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco both faired pretty well respectfully.  Many say the Lions could get another stud offensive tackle in Jason Smith or stud LB with Aaron Curry helping their anemic defense – but a team who went 0-16 and has been regressing for 50 years can’t possibly pass up the more “sexy pick” to fill the Ford Field empty seats – and that pick is the big-armed Stafford.

# 2 St. Louis Rams -Jason Smith, OT, Baylor

Why: Poor Marc Bulger.  The Rams give him a fat contract and he totally lays an egg.  Blame most of that on hitting the injury wall, which then in turn the blame could be brought back around on the Rams offensive lineman – the guys who were supposed to be protecting him.  Mammoth offensive tackle Jason Smith out of Baylor stands 6-5 and weighs around 310 lbs.  He is immediately a huge upgrade at a thing position on this team.  The Rams went out and signed former Titan OG Jacob Bell to help bolster their line and have other contributors such as Richie Incognito and former first round tackle Alex Barron who they claim may put back at RT, yet the Rams still need to void that Orlando Pace will be leaving at LT.  Plus Smith is an excellent rush protector which bolds well for Steven Jackson to go back to being the focal point of their offensive game.

# 3 Kansas City Chiefs -  Aaron Curry, ILB, Wake Forest

Why: Aaron Curry is considered the best defensive player in this draft and will drastically help KC’s linebacker position, one that was getting pretty “long in the tooth” there for awhile.  Much speculation was on the Chiefs getting their franchise QB in Mark Sanchez at this point in the draft, but their new management apparently wanted to fill that void by trading for New England ’s Matt Cassel.  Now they can focus on their next biggest need and a need for a long time – their defense.  None better to select with that need than Wake Forest ’s talented Aaron Curry.

# 4 Seattle Seahawks – Mark Sanchez, QB, USC

Why: Seattle who runs a west coast offense could be a perfect match for west coast collegiate star Mark Sanchez from USC.  Unlike Stafford , Sanchez will get to sit for the season, barring injuries, and be groomed by current franchise QB Matt Hasselbeck.  The Seahawks definitely need WR help and could go Michael Crabtree, but since getting hurt early in the combine and after snagging T.J. Housh from Cincy, the Seahawks wouldn’t surprise me if they went QB for the future at pick number 4.  If they elect not to go Sanchez here, hey may fall for awhile if not landing in San Francisco .

#5 Cleveland Browns -    Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas

Why: This almost seems to be the consensus with other mock drafts around the web.  The Browns desperately have been needing an extra pass-rusher off the edge to put pressure on opposing QB’s.  Orakpo will be too good to pass up for Cleveland, a team who has had their fair share of draft duds in the past.  Irakpo will look to put the curse behind Cleveland and help pile up more sacks to a very non-existent defense.

# 6 Cincinnati Bengals   -  Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia

Why: Monroe has the talent to go higher than this 6th pick, but going by team needs, I have Monroe landing 6th with Cincy.  Lets face it Carson Palmer has to get back to his pro bowl form for the Bengals to have any chance of competing in the tough AFC North.  Palmer claims he’s over the injuries which sidelined him for the better portion of the 2008 season and the Bengals would be wise to find him a stud offensive tackle to help keep him up-right throughout the course of this season – and beyond.

#7 Oakland Raiders -  B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College

Why: This is a hard point to predict here at 7 for the Raiders.  The number means nothing; it’s the Raiders general philosophy in general which makes this pick a tough one to predict.  Many had speedster WR Jeremy Maclin going here but after his first 40 time wasn’t all that impressive I figured the Raiders wouldn’t stretch for him after all.  It’s not secret owner Al Davis loves speed.  He overly loves speed which is why Raji wouldn’t make sense for a guy at 6’2 and a 340 lb frame.  He is a clog in the hole however that the Raiders desperately need.  Warren Sapp stopped playing for Oakland once he saw the dollar signs and then retired.  The Raiders need to start from scratch by drafting a stud DT which will stuff the run – something Oakland hasn’t been known for in a long time.

#8 Jacksonville Jaguars -  Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech

Why: A legitimate number 1 threat at WR has plagued the Jaguars since the departure of Jimmy Smith.  Jacksonville made some very questionable business moves by acquiring Raider cast-off Jerry Porter and first round bust by Minnesota Troy Williamson.  Both did neither in sunny Florida and battled the injury bug for most of the 2008 season.  Crabtree is coming off a semi-serious injury at the combine but all signs point to this being the ultimate stud at WR in this draft class.  What he lacks in speed he makes up for it in his play-making ability and overall pursuit to go up and grab the pigskin.  Crabtree made his fair share of the plays out there in Lubbock , Texas and could be a dominate WR at the NFL level for years to come.  This pick also depends on if the Jaguars make a move at current free agent WR Tory Holt (the Titans are also in the mix).

#9 Green Bay Packers – Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State

Why: Maybin has been flying up most peoples mock drafts boards since his Penn State workouts.  Many had him in the low first round going to teams like Miami or Philly, but now he of risen his stock inside the top 10 of this draft.  Green Bay needs another pass rusher outside of Aaron Kampman; and Maybin has all the tools to succeed in that role.  He is athletic, agile and can be considered the best pass rusher in this draft.  The Packers were very disappointing on the defense end last year, after better expectations let them down.  Maybin has the tools to upgrade them in 2009 and beyond.

#10 San Francisco 49ers  – Everette Brown , DE /OLB, Florida State

Why: The Niners need a pass rusher in the worst possible way.  They tried to solve that solution by picking up Justin Smith from Cincy.  But ultimately that wasn’t the answer and San Fran needs to upgrade their defense.  They need much help on both sides of the ball but ideally they should draft defense.  This pick also depends on best available.  Keep in mind the Niners may draft a QB like Sanchez if he falls or an Offensive Tackle like Michael Oher – which they need a lot of help at as well.   Everette Brown could fit the bill on defense and give them at least some scare of presence that opposing teams will have to counter with.

#11 Buffalo Bills – Tyson Jackson , DE , LSU

Why: I am growing a little tired of Kelsey and Schobel.  Don’t get me wrong they are both solid players but it’s time for the Bills to get a DE worth fearing on a consistent basis.  Tyson Jackson could fit that description with this pick.  The Bills upgraded their offense with the signing of WR Terrell Owens.  Buffalo though needs a defense as well to stop Tom Brady and Ronnie Brown twice each respectfully, each season.  Jackson can help sack opposing QB’s for Buffalo and take some of the pressure off their young cornerbacks.

#12 Denver Broncos  – Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee

Why: Well this pick can be largely affected on the outcome of QB Jay Cutler.  Whether he’s traded and what Denver gets in return can play a vital factor in the outcome of the 12th pick.  But for now all mock drafts basically have Denver getting a defensive lineman of some sorts; largely due to the fact that Denver couldn’t stop anyone at any time on defense.  This draft is heavy on D-Line as evident of 6 D-Line going in the top 12 picks.  So Denver in my mind would pick the best available d-lineman in the draft as Ayers was once considered an early 2nd to late 1st round pick and now has seen his draft stock rise remarkably.

#13 Washington Redskins – Andre Smith, OT, Alabama

Why: Big Andre Smith can’t get passed up any further – at least not past GM Daniel Snyder.  We all know Snyder loves his big name players and Smith is definitely in that category.  He was an apparent top 2 pick until his combine debacle of showing up overweight and leaving randomly.  Regardless, potential is the key word here.  He has the potential be a top 2 pick talent when all is said and done, but also has the potential to be a bust if he can’t control his weight and determination in the transfer to being an NFL player.  Andre Smith can block like the best of them and dominated the College ranks – which in turn Daniel Snyder will look to invest on that risk like usual.

#14 New Orleans Saints – Malcolm Jenkins, CB/FS, Ohio State

Why: It’s no secret the Saints are top-heavy on offense.  The defense needs a major face-lift in the worst way.  They recently released long-time vet CB Mike McKenzie and need desperate help at both starting safety spots.  Jenkins could play both CB and FS and depending what is a major need after preseason, will probably be re-located to one of the following.  Jenkins will probably be the first CB taken off the board and few need defensive back help as much as “Naw-Leans” does.

#15 Houston Texans- Rey Maualuga, ILB, USC

Why: Houston is a tough pick in that there a few options I could see going here.  I wouldn’t be surprised with a linebacker, cornerback, safety, d-line or even an offensive lineman.  Reports indicated that Houston will be drafting a defensive player first round so going by best available name, it would probably be Maualuga.  The Texans who have already improved their d-line this offseason look to do even more improving with a linebacker outside of DeMeco Ryans.  This may be a point where the Texans trade out of this pick, if not they may take the best available player on defense.

Picks 16-32 to come later.