After perusing a hefty load of mock drafts over the last month, I’ve found the majority to be very similar. My attempt here is to mix things up a little. Some picks make too much sense for certain teams, but I’ve done my best to be different. I’m certain there will be plenty of dissent, but I’m cool with that.
1. Detroit Lions: Matt Stafford – If you’re going to start rebuilding a franchise you need a strong-armed quarterback under center. This pick makes the most sense. Hopefully for the Lions faithful he’s not another Joey Harrington.
2. St. Louis Rams: Eugene Monroe – With Orlando Pace gone, a left tackle is the top priority. Offensive tackles like Monroe are too valuable to pass up. They could also go for Jason Smith.
3. Kansas City Chiefs: Aaron Curry – Everyone says Aaron Curry here. Why? The Chiefs are switching to a 3-4 defense and Curry is the top defensive prospect in the draft. A porous defense just got a lot better.
4. Seattle Seahawks: Brian Orakpo – Patrick Kerney is nearing the end. Pair Orakpo with last year’s first-rounder Lawrence Jackson and they have their bookends for the future. Hawks can still get a quality receiver in the second round.
5. Cleveland Browns: Michael Crabtree – They will deal Braylon Edwards and replace him with Crabtree. This could end up being one of the best draft picks in recent memory for the Browns. Or it could end up being one of the worst. Such is life in Cleveland.
6. Cincinnati Bengals: Jason Smith – My favorite player in the draft will help the Bengals immensely. Levi Jones is on his way out, Stacy Andrews is already gone. You do the math.
7. Oakland Raiders: B.J. Raji – The Raiders need help everywhere. I’ll take Raji’s inside push instead of one of the overrated receivers. Al Davis can still get a wideout at 40. Will he wait? Probably not.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars: Andre Smith – Did you see the Jags offensive line last season? In a word: awful. Considering their first-round track record with receivers, they should steer clear.
9. Green Bay Packers: Michael Oher – I’m not an Oher fan, but what the hell do I know? Packers starting tackles are old. Youth must be served sooner than later.
10. San Francisco 49ers: Jeremy Maclin – If they draft Mark Sanchez, who will he throw to? 47-year-old Isaac Bruce is not the answer. Maclin might not be ready to be a starter but at least he can return punts.
11. Buffalo Bills: Malcolm Jenkins – Jabari Greer left for free-agent riches. A replacement is needed. Nobody seems to know if Jenkins can play corner, but that won’t stop a team from drafting him high.
12. Denver Broncos: Mark Sanchez – Oh, how things have changed in Denver. Cutler out – Sanchez in. Unless, wunderkind McDaniels has the ego to think he can make Kyle Orton a superstar. I’m sure he does, but I’ll still go with Sanchez.
13. Washington Redskins: Rey Maualuga – London Fletcher isn’t getting any younger. Tough, attacking defenders like Maualuga are needed. They could also go defensive end or offensive tackle.
14. New Orleans Saints: Vontae Davis – The Saints have been attempting to improve their secondary for years. Darren Sharper is a stop-gap. Davis will be starting by mid season.
15. Houston Texans: Everette Brown – Other than Mario Williams, the Texans lack a consistent pass rusher. Free-agent Antonio Smith will help, but they need more. Most experts believe Brown is an OLB in a 3-4. I say he’s a legit defensive end.
16. San Diego Chargers: Knowshon Moreno – LT is about finished. Darren Sproles is not a featured back. It’s time to add some new blood, so why not take the best back available?
17. New York Jets: Percy Harvin – The name Josh Freeman is popular here. After watching Ron Jaworski dissect Freeman’s faults, I’d say stay away. With Laveraneus Coles gone, Harvin will give the Jets a needed playmaker.
18. Denver Broncos: Tyson Jackson – Jackson (6’4″, 295) would fit the Broncos new 3-4 alignment perfectly. He’s a run-stuffing end who can get to the quarterback.
19.Tampa Bay Bucs: Brian Cushing – Derrick Brooks was a friggin’ warrior but his time has passed. Time to let a young buck like Cushing take the reigns of the Bucs’ defense. He’s the best of the three USC backers and will fit nicely.
20. Detroit Lions: Peria Jerry – The Lions need lots of help on defense. Jerry will provide a powerful inside anchor to a rebuilding defense. Might be a safer bet than B.J. Raji.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Donald Brown – With the arrival of Jason Peters, the Birds have lost some of their draft flexibility. Defense might be addressed here, but with Moreno off the board, grabbing Brown makes the most sense. He fits the West Coast system and waiting until round two will be too long.
22. Minnesota Vikings: Aaron Maybin – Three-fourths of the Vikes D-line is set. Maybin will complete the unit by adding much needed speed opposite Jared Allen.
23. New England Patriots: James Laurinaitis – New England loves linebackers. With Mike Vrabel in Kansas City and Teddy Bruschi aging, Laurinaitis, along with Jerrod Mayo, will form the future.
24. Atlanta Falcons: Brandon Pettigrew – I tried to be different here, but I couldn’t. The Falcons didn’t sign L.J. Smith because of his poor blocking skills. Pettigrew excels at blocking. He’ll also help Matt Ryan.
25. Miami Dolphins: Robert Ayers – Fins need pass rushers. Ayers is the best available. A receiver is needed, but the ghost of Tedd Ginn, Jr still lingers. Wait until the second round. A good one will be there at 44.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Kenny Britt – Joe Flacco needs a vertical playmaker. Britt fits the mold. They could also go local and take Darrius Heyward-Bey. I like Britt more.
27. Indianapolis Colts: Alex Mack – I realize 33-year-old Jeff Saturday re-signed a three year contract, but Mack can play guard for a season or two before taking over. Peyton needs a reliable center when Saturday calls it quits. Mack could be the best in years.
28. Buffalo Bills: Eben Britton – With Jason Peters now an Eagle, help at tackle is imperative. Britton may be better suited to play the right side, but the Bills will give him a look at left.
29. New York Giants: Darrius Heyward-Bey – Again, this makes too much sense to throw a curveball. Plax needs to be replaced. I’m not sure Heyward-Bey is the answer, but the Giants will roll the dice on this speedy wideout, provided they don’t trade for Braylon Edwards.
30. Tennessee Titans: Evander Hood – The loss of Albert Haynesworth needs to be addressed. Hood could end up being the best defensive tackle in the draft. Not particularly large, he is a physical pocket pusher nonetheless.
31. Arizona Cardinals: Alphonso Smith – Rod Hood has been a disappointment. Smith is the best pure cover corner in the draft. If he was two inches taller, he’d be a Top 10 pick.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers: William Moore – Ryan Clark is okay at free safety, but I think the Champs need an upgrade. Moore is a big hitter with a nose for the ball. He and Polamalu will make a formidable duo.
There you have it. My whacky mock draft. My biggest omission was Chris Wells. I think he will go in the first round, but not many teams need a true #1 back.