2009 NFL Draft.
Check Meebo for added live commentary.
It’s official. Roger “Burn those Tapes” Goodell is at the podium.
1. The Detroit Lions are on the clock. The Detroit Lions are off the clock. That was quick.
Matthew Stafford, QB. Georgia. The fans at the draft booed this pick. I agree. I’m not a hater, but I do not love Stafford.
The Lions always seem to draft like they’ve been backed into a corner.
2. St. Louis Rams are on the clock.
Jason Smith, LT. Baylor. Nice job. Teams can miss when they draft left tackles high. The Raiders missed badly with Robert Gallery. The Packers missed with Tony Mandarich. Still, Jason Smith is not as highly touted as either of those players. Still, he’ll be under a great deal of pressure to produce. #2 overall; replacement for Orlando Pace. St. Louis will have high expectations.
3. Kansas City Chiefs.
Herman Edwards recommends moving down with this pick. That’s surprising. I suspect that means the Chiefs are going to take the pick. I think the Chiefs are on the verge of becoming a very good team. They lost some very tough games last year, but they had 17 rookies last season. The team has shed much of its age, and will be led by a new QB who knows the system.
I figured if Herm called it one way, the team would go another way.
Tyson Jackson, DE. LSU. Nice pick. If you’ve watched LSU over the past few years, you know that the heart and soul of the team has been the defensive line. Kansas City already has Dorsey in the fold. The addition of Jackson (assuming they’re happy with Dorsey on the nose) sets them up for the long. run. I like that pick.
Side note: the Oakland Raiders will be the only team running a 4-3 defense in the AFC West next season.
4. Seattle Seahawks.
Aaron Curry, LB. Wake Forest. That’s an excellent pick – a no-brainer given this position. Curry is probably going to be that dude.
As we look at Aaron Curry finish up his interview with Erin Andrews and poses with his family for posterity, my wife says, “Where are the dads?” She doesn’t like to watch the draft because it is emotional for her to see the fulfillment of the hopes and dreams of so many mothers. (Our son may find his way on to a football field over her dead body.)
5. New York Jets.
Mark Sanchez, QB. USC. Gotta BE! If I’m a Detroit Lions fan (that could never happen), I’m feeling like a real ass. The Lions couldn’t trade down to take Sanchez?
Mark Sanchez could be the BIGGEST thing to hit New York sports in years. This was a great move. If he doesn’t pan out, I’d be surprised. Things happen. Carson Palmer has all the talent in the world. He’s been injured. He’s never led the Bengals to a meaningful victory and the team is in tatters right now. As for his leadership, if you’ve ever heard Palmer’s voice, you either live in his home or in Cincinnati. I believe Sanchez brings more to the table with respect to leadership. He doesn’t have Palmer’s arm or other measurables, but the Jets need a leader as much as they need an arm. Sanchez could shine in a system that already has Pro Bowl talent in center Nick Mangold, guard Alan Faneca, tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson, running back Thomas Jones and tight end Dustin Keller. Protection? Check. Running game? Check. Safety valve? Check. Tough, aggressive defense? Check. The Jets have to be better than they were last year — even if it doesn’t show up in the win column. The schedule will be tougher, but if Sanchez can avoid throwing interceptions, the Jets can impose their will and win some big games.
As a native New Yorker, I always want the best for the Jets and Giants. As a rational human being, I divorced the Jets and Giants in the early 1970’s. I can of age at the onset of the greatest rivalry of that decade: Steelers vs. Raiders. I picked the Steelers. I felt like a boy genius in 1975 and 1976. I didn’t feel so smart again until 1978. I still want the best for the New York teams, but the Steelers are my squad. New York is a fun city when the football teams are winning. I hope Sanchez turns the Jets around.
6. Cincinnati Bengals.
Andre Smith, LT. Alabama. Mel Kiper is saying that Nick Saban saved Andre Smith’s draft stock. The thing that really saved his draft stock is that the Cincinnati Bengals are relentlessly committed to drafting players they can sign on the cheap.
7. Oakland Raiders.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR. Maryland. Shocker!!! Keyshawn Johnson: “Fast receivers can’t catch anyway.” Great comment. Michael Crabtree just had a Brady Quinn moment. It won’t last, but wow!!
8. Jacksonville Jaguars.
Eugene Monroe, LT. Virginia. No comment. I suspect this is a good pick, but it suggests that Crabtree might be in the midst of a free fall. Jacksonville can’t believe they’ve answered all their offensive questions by signing Torry Holt.
9. Green Bay Packers.
BJ Raji, DT. Boston College. I like this pick. Boston College has been tough in the trenches.
10. San Francisco 49ers.
Michael Crabree, WR. Texas Tech. The wait is over. Crabtree, to my mind, has been the most special player in college football for awhile. There is some question about whether or not he can make all the plays in the NFL that he made in college. He has the size and strength — but playing wide receiver in the NFL is all about “WANT TO.” There are hundreds of talented players who simply don’t want to, so they don’t. They don’t get off the line of scrimmage. They don’t get their head and hands in position to catch. They don’t play through the ball. They don’t break tackles. If Crabtree is to fulfill his billing, he’ll do all of that.
11. Buffalo Bills.
Aaron Maybin, DE. Penn State. Dick Jauron knows defense. I suspect Maybin will be a very solid player for the Bills. There will be no pressure for him to produce right away and he’ll benefit from playing on the same defensive line as Marcus Stroud and Aaron Schobel. Teams can’t double everyone. Maybin could have a surprisingly productive season.
12. Denver Broncos.
Knowshon Moreno, RB. Georgia. No. Nope. Not feeling that pick one bit.
13. Washington Redskins.
Brian Orakpo, DE. Texas. The Redskins raced to the podium to get this pick in to the Commissioner. Mel Kiper loves the pick. I don’t recall Orakpo’s performance in big games last season. Most Texas games were big shootouts with teams like Oklahoma, Missouri and Texas Tech. There weren’t ANY defensive standouts in those games. I’m sure that he has great talent, but there are question marks.
SIDEBAR — Did ESPN just pair Matthew Stafford with Maria Sharapova for a fashion shoot? That can’t be a good sign for Stafford. Remember the Leinart Lessons.
14. New Orleans Saints.
Malcolm Jenkins, WR. Ohio State. The Michigan part of me hates this pick. The football fan in me loves the pick. Jenkins has been a solid performer for several years. He’s solid, if unspectacular. If the Saints deploy him properly, he’ll be a great ball hawk and tackler in run support.
15. Houston Texans.
Brian Cushing, OLB, USC. I’ve heard about Cushing ever since he was in high school. I actually saw him play a bit in a state All-Star game. He was very impressive. Of course, he did some tremendous things on the field at USC. Houston will be a great system for him. DeMeco Ryans tackles everything that moves in the middle. Mario Williams may not need to move around as much. Maybe in the coming years, he can really focus on demolishing a single side of the offensive line. Solid first round selection.
16. San Diego Chargers.
Larry English, OLB. Northern Illinois. Kiper calls this a luxury pick. Berman notes the Chargers don’t have a #2 pick. Seems like the Chargers could have traded down. Mort says that Merriman isn’t really ready to go. If the Chargers perceive Larry English as their insurance policy, this is going to make for a very interesting season. I haven’t seen English play, so I’m looking forward to seeing his performance against NFL competition.
17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Josh Freeman, QB. Kansas State. The jury is still out on Josh Freeman. He is going to have an opportunity to do some tremendous things in Tampa Bay. They have excellent wide receivers in Antonio Bryant and Mark Clayton. They have an excellent tight end in Kellen Winslow II. The Bucs also have some depth at running back in Earnest Graham and Derrick Ward.
18. Denver Broncos.
Robert Ayers, DE. Tennessee. A defensive lineman from Tennessee. What, me worry? Not a chance.
19. Philadelphia Eagles (from the Cleveland Browns).
Jeremy Maclin, WR. Missouri. Maclin has tremendous speed and versatility. He has played well in big games against elite competition. There are concerns about his hands. I am wondering about his mental toughness. Maclin has to understand (repeat HAS TO UNDERSTAND) that the expectations associated with his being drafted by the Eagles put him in a unique situation. More than ANY other player, the Philadelphia fans and media will be expecting to WIN the Super Bowl based on his selection. Maclin (like any new addition to the wide receiving corps) is considered to be the missing piece. If Maclin doesn’t perform; if he holds out; if he drops passes early; if he struggles to get on the field ahead of Kevin Curtis, Reggie Brown, Hank Baskett and Jason Avant; if he doesn’t show he has WANT TO, his pick will have been for naught. The Eagles likely will not win the Super Bowl and heads will roll. 2009-10 is the last season that this team has together. This season it’s all or nothing and no one, not Stafford or Sanchez; not Moreno in Denver — no one will be under more pressure to make plays than Jeremy Maclin.
Brandon Pettigrew, TE. Oklahoma. Nice job Detroit. Finally.
21. Cleveland Browns.
Alex Mack, C. California. When the first draft boards were announced several months back, the early thinking was that Mack would end up with the Pittsburgh Steelers. It is rare for the Steelers to get a player that is mentioned as a likely candidate for the team. Maybe other teams figure the player can’t be all bad if the Steelers want him. Whatever the case, it was a near certainty that Alex Mack would not make it to Pittsburgh. Well, he won’t play their 8 times each season, but he will make the trip at least once. As long as Casey Hampton is entrenched in the middle, Mack is sure to hate the trip. Mack has a reputation as a solid player who has trouble keeping his feet. I don’t know much, but I don’t know how you can throw downfield blocks if you can’t keep your feet. I’m glad he’s going to Cleveland — for now.
Percy Harvin, WR. Florida. I still think Tarvaris Jackson is the Vikings best option at QB. He’s a young guy who has yet to make this 25th start in the league. Sage Rosenfels is not the answer. Harvin could add a great deal to the Vikings offense. The limitations of running Adrian Peterson and passing to a double covered Bernard Berrian have been reached. Harvin could open up the entire field for the Vikings. He’ll have to get off of jams and make catches in traffic — things he’s never had to do in his life. We’ll see.
23. Baltimore Ravens.
Michael Oher, T. Mississippi. Ozzie knows how to draft. He knows offensive line play…and the Ravens need to get younger on the line. They certainly don’t need to get any stronger.
24. Atlanta Falcons.
Peria Jerry, DT. Mississippi. The last time two guys from Mississippi went back to back in the first round, Eisenhower was probably still in office. Jerry has had some durability questions. If you get a good look at him, you see he’s long and a bit narrow in the lower legs. Don’t be surprised if a franchise that has been hamstrung by D-line performance for years come up wanting again. If Jerry can stay on the field, this will be a solid pick. If he continues to be what he has been, it will be more of the same.
Vontae Davis, CB. Illinois. I like this pick because the Tuna tends to make solid picks. Illinois, also, has been able to develop some interesting cornerback prospects over the past few years. Eugene Wilson was the first of the best. While Christian Morton never made the cut in the NFL, he was a solid collegian and was drafted by the Patriots. So, there is a history here connecting the Parcells “Tree” to the Illini. Davis should be a fine player in Miami.
26. Green Bay Packers.
Clay Matthews, LB. USC. Great genes.
27. Indianapolis Colts.
Donald Brown, RB. Connecticut. I like this guy. I’ve seen Brown a couple of times and I like everything that he does on the football field. He plays with fire and composure. He displayed toughness and leadership. He runs with vision and behind his pads. If he can prove to be durable (a challenge for Joseph Addai) and master the art of pass protection, he’ll get an opportunity to play. Nice pick.
28. Buffalo Bills.
Eric Wood, C. Louisville. I can’t say that I’ve watched Wood closely. All I can say is that the Louisville Cardinals significantly underperformed on the offensive side of the ball in some big games. Perhaps the blame should be with the coaches or the quarterback. Perhaps it was due to injury. The ESPN crew loves this pick. We’ll see.
29. New York Giants.
Hakeem Nicks, WR. UNC. My favorite wide receiver in this draft. I’ve been wrong before, but I might be right on this. We’ll see. I like his size and power. He seems to play through the defender. Guys like that are able to wear their opponents down. Plaxico Burress, at his best, was like that. Nicks doesn’t have all of Burress’ gifts, but if he has less than half of his challenges, no one will be able to tell the difference on the field.
30. Tennessee Titans.
Kenny Britt, WR. Rutgers. I like Britt too, though not as much as Nicks. The Titans are notorious for missing on wide receivers. They seem to always draft the same type of wide receiver and always seem to get less than fair value for their labor. Remember 2005? 3 wide receivers drafted. No starters, no stars. Remember Tyrone Calico? Exactly. Britt will have to borrow from the pages of Derrick Mason to make a difference for this team.
31. Arizona Cardinals.
Chris Wells, RB. Ohio State. I didn’t love Wells at Ohio State. He was clearly talented, but I never felt he was a real difference maker. After watching his highlight reel against Northwestern and other teams with limited defensive playmakers, I can’t help thinking that Arizona is perfect. Wells won’t get too many carries. He is going into an excellent offensive system where he will asked to do only to two things: carry without fumbling and block for Kurt Warner. If can do that, he’ll play. If he can’t, he’ll watch. Either way, Tim Hightower is in charge.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers.
Evander “Ziggy” Hood, DT. Missouri. If they like him, I like him.
And that’s the first round.