NFL Draft watch: Late Jan. Mock Draft, Picks 1-15

With the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft having passed, it's time to come back with another mock.  The most obvious thing that has changed from my last mock is the a pair of Oklahoma players, QB Sam Bradford and TE Jermaine Gresham, and their decision to return to OU.  I had them going 1 and 11, respectively; that's obviously not going to happen now.  How does this affect the draft?  Well, since I had Bradford going first, pretty significantly.  Just ask Mel Kiper Jr.'s hair.

Let's do this.

For reference, "Last mock for Team" refers to who I had that team picking in my last mock draft (up to pick 11), , "Kiper for ESPN" refers to who Mel Kiper, Jr. has at that pick in his most recent mock, and "Banks for SI" refers to Don Banks of Sports Illustrated's mock pick in his latest mock.  Player links take you to ESPN Insider scouting grades for players who have them available.

1.) Detroit - Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia

With Bradford returning, I still think Detroit takes a QB here.  If they're serious about turning their franchise around, they should be eyeing 2012 or so as the first year they can be competitive, no?  That would give Stafford time to get used to the speed and power of the NFL as well as the complexity of whatever offense Linehan is going to install in Detroit.  Could they pick Andre Smith (OT, Alabama) or any of the other top-tier OTs (who are starting to gain on A-Smith in the conventional wisdom)?  Certainly.  I'd rather not think about that, though.

Last mock for Detroit: Bradford

Kiper for ESPN / Banks for SI: Stafford / A-Smith

SBNation take: Pride of Detroit post from DrewsLions that says there's a 20% chance the Lions take a QB at #1, and a 74% chance they just fill the spot with someone already on the roster.

2.) St. Louis - Andre Smith, OT, Alabama

If Detroit does take A-Smith, I wouldn't be surprised if we traded down.  If we don't trade with A-Smith off the board, I figure we'll just eat value and pick up either Eugene Monroe (OT, Virginia) or Michael Oher (OT, Ole Miss), whoever rates higher (with an outside case for Jason Smith(OT, Baylor) at this point).  Do you make a case for Michael Crabtree (WR, Texas Tech) here as Bryan Burwell did?  Maybe a CB pick in Malcolm Jenkins (CB, Ohio St.) would be warranted.  I'll let the TST community argue over this one, but if we don't trade it, I still say we go OT with Eugene or Oher (or J-Smith) if A-Smith isn't available and we don't trade.

Last mock for St. Louis: A-Smith

Kiper for ESPN / Banks for SI: A-Smith / Monroe

SBNation take: Our own VanRam breaks down some options if we don't get a shot at A-Smith.

3.) Kansas City - Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech

I had him here last time, and I have him here now.  Some could argue the need for KC to pick Mark Sanchez (QB, USC) as Kiper did, but I could see them waiting for next year at QB, and letting Thigpen man the helm again in 2009.  Plus that's just crazy stupid.

Last mock for KC: Crabtree

Kiper for ESPN / Banks for SI: Sanchez / Stafford

SBNation take: ChiefDJ from Arrowhead Pride makes the case for signing Stafford and some legitimate arguments for why Detroit won't pick Stafford at #1.

4.) Seattle - Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia

This is tough.  Seattle has a bunch of needs, and could go a couple different ways.  If Jeremy Maclin (WR, Missouri) has a great combine (as someone who would, arguably, benefit more than anyone with one), I could see them taking him to give them a young, athlete that they could hold on to as they retool their offense.  Of course, they could pick Oher or J-Smith if they are committed to OT.  And I guess they could take Mark Sanchez if they were desperate; I just don't think Sanchez rates as high in NFL offices as he does in ESPN offices (see Kiper's mock).  I would think they would do everything in their power to trade down to someone desperate for Maclin, Malcolm Jenkins or Aaron Curry (OLB, Wake Forest), but if not, I figure they'll find a replacement for Walter Jones here.

Last mock for Seattle: Stafford

Kiper for ESPN / Banks for SI: Crabtree / Crabtree

SBNation take: John Morgan (somehow) comes up with the four positions he feels are of the highest priority for Field Gulls.  I say somehow because QB isn't on there (which means another year of Matt Hasselbeck and Seneca Wallace), nor is HB ( = more Maurice Morris and Julius Jones), nor DE for a team that saw just 14.5 sacks from the DE position (versus 19.5 from St. Louis' DEs).  This roster really needs help.  Sorry, I get carried away with Seattle-bashing. 

5.) Cleveland - Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest

Same as my last mock.  They need an OLB, and Curry's the best in the draft.  It's really that simple.  Although you could make a case for Malcolm Jenkins here.

Last mock for Cleveland: Curry

Kiper for ESPN / Banks for SI: Curry / Jenkins

SBNation take: It's a month old, but the readers over at Dawgs by Nature debate what they would want to see from a #5 pick.

6.) Cincinnati - Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn St.

This was hard.  I could see Cincinatti going in a couple different directions, but the bottom line is that I have completely changed my mind on the Bengals drafting a WR.  They're very young at the position and they have the depth to deal with one or two years of mediocrity, so with the #6 pick, they should probably go elsewhere.  That being said, the Bengals had the third-least sacks, so a real threat off the end would be a huge upgrade.  Another possible slot for Jenkins.

Last mock for Cincinatti: Maclin

Kiper for ESPN / Banks for SI: J-Smith / Brian Orakpo (DE, Texas)

SBNation take: Some draft talk over at Cincy Jungle.

7.) Oakland - Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss

After reading some of the reports coming out of Oakland's front office, it sounds lihe they're going to go after prospects to bolster their lines, both O & D.  I still find it hard to believe that Asomugha is going to be a Raider for much longer, but they're going to throw the world at him to keep him.  Since they believe they can keep him, I guess drafting for the line makes sense which squeezes the Raiders down to four options at this point: Oher, J-Smith, Orakpo, and Everette Brown (DE, Florida St.).  At this point, I lean towards Oher here (but mostly from the bounce he got out of the Senior Bowl); however, I could see them trying to mold Orakpo or Brown into an elite rusher.

Last mock for Oakland: Maclin

Kiper for ESPN / Banks for SI: Maclin / Oher

SBNation take: Over at Silver & Black Pride, Rayder K looks at the consensus trio of top OTs (which holds some relevance for Rams fans) while Bud Light (what a name) rolls through his ideal draft and who he thinks Al Davis will actually pick.

8.) Jacksonville - Jason Smith, OT, Baylor

Another team with a ton of question marks.  I had them snagging Monroe at #8 last time, but here, A-Smith, Monroe and Oher are gone.  OT is by far their highest need, so I figure they'll take whoever of the top-4 OTs are left, and, if none are, trade down.

Last mock for Jacksonville: Monroe

Kiper for ESPN / Banks for SI: Monroe / Curry (although Banks does say "Another option would be the draft's other first-round offensive tackle, Baylor's Jason Smith.")

SBNation take: sliencecs asks the community at Big Cat Country what the Jags need to do with the 8th pick.  Their answer: we don't know.

9.) Green Bay Packers - Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas

Another team who I slotted down to the next player of the same position, this time from Maybin to Orakpo.  The Packers need help on the D-line.  They could pick B.J. Raji (DT, Boston College) here, but with Dom Capers set to introduce the 3-4 to Green Bay, they'll need someone to partner with Aaron Kampman.  Kampman, who logged 15.5 sacks in '06 and 12 in '07, racked up just 9.5 last year.  Adding Orakpo takes some of the pressure off Kampman; I figure they can make do for a year or two by sharing time between ex-Ram Ryan Pickett and (get ready for it...) Johnny Jolly at NT.

Last mock for Green Bay: Maybin

Kiper for ESPN / Banks for SI: Jenkins / Michael Johnson (DE, Georgia Tech).  What is Kiper on?  The Packers had two Pro-Bowl CBs this year in Charles Woodson and Al Harris (who is in due to an injured Asante Samuel).  What's in his hair?

SBNation take: Mitchell_M of the Acme Packing Company discusses trade value and assesses some of the draft dy dealings of Packer GM Ted Thompson/

10.) San Francisco 49ers - Everette Brown, DE, Florida St.

The need for a pass rush is pretty blatant here.  And Brown, despite the glaring issue of injury susceptability, is a serious prospect that 49ers fans would be glad to see in San Francisco next to Sourdough Sam.

Last mock for San Francisco: Brown

Kiper for ESPN / Banks for SI: Maybin/Sanchez

SBNation take: Over at Niners Nation, briandean agrees with the Brown prediction, and, oddly, links to the same Kiper picture.  Does his hair belong in the NFL Hall of Fame?  I smell a future poll...

11.) Buffalo Bills - Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma St.

The Bills need a new D-line and a legitimate receiving threat to pair with Lee Evans.  I had penciled in Buffalo taking OU's TE here, but since he decided to go back with Bradford for a shot at the NCAA Championship, they might as well take the second best TE in the state... and the country.

Last mock for Buffalo: Gresham

Kiper for ESPN / Banks for SI: Pettigrew / Pettigrew (Finally, we all agree)

SBNation take: Brian Galliford identifies the Bills' "needs list" at Buffalo Rumblings.  Of course, one of the four "critical needs" is a receiving tight end.  Could this be the first lock of the draft?

12.) Denver Broncos - B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College

Another team moving to a 3-4, though unlike Green Bay, the Broncos don't have a centerpiece for the line to gel around.  Raji gives them that.

Kiper for ESPN / Banks for SI: Raji / Maualuga

SBNation take: Damn.  The guys over at Mile High Report sure do understand computers.  Either that, or they have a hell of a lot of time on their hands.  Just check out their Draft Coverage page.  Van and I are working to get TST, uh, cooler.  If you see anything on SBNation you like, let us know.  I got the head coaching table from Pride of Detroit; no shame imitation.  It's just flattery, right?

13.) Washington Redskins - Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech

A beastly pass rusher for an aging group of DE's will help the Redskins improve their 24 sacks, tied for third worst in the NFL.  Johnson does come with question marks.  Is he too tall?  Sure, it might help with batting balls down and blocking a QB's vision, but will OTs be able to push his center of gravity around easier if it's 3-4 inches higher than other DEs?  Can he hold up?  Johnson has some durability issues which always concern teams on draft day.  Nevertheless, his speed and athleticism at the position are huge assets.

Kiper for ESPN / Banks for SI: Orakpo / Raji

SBNation take: Not draft-related, but this is great.

14.) New Orleans Saints - Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio St.

A steal for the Saints.  New Orleans needs to improve their passing D and the best CB of the draft should help them do just that.

Kiper for ESPN / Banks for SI: Vontae Davis (CB, Illinois) / Brian Cushing (OLB, USC)

SBNation take: Again, not draft-related.  Want to place a bet on the color of the Gatorade that will be dumped on the head of the winning head coach?  Might want to check the odds first.  And finally...

15.) Houston Texans - Rey Maualuga, ILB, Southern California

And a steal for the Texans.  I don't really think he fits with the Texans (I really like DeMeco Ryans), but I'm allowed to make a BPA argument at least once if Kiper does it his whole draft.

Kiper for ESPN / Banks for SI: Brown / Maybin

SBNation take: TransientTexan, a Battle Red Blog reader, gets his FanPost on random Draftery slapped on the front page.  It deserves it too.

 

My hands hurt.  Discuss.

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