Alex – Aaron Maybin, OLB, Penn State
Reuniting Penn State teammates Poz and Maybin should serve the Bills fine. Maybin could be an end, if he bulks up, or OLB as is. Either way, this high-motor player will give the Bills lame defense a pass-rusher to add to Schobel. He’ll be a terror off the edge for Dick Jauron with his high-end speed.
They could go also go guard or center here, but it was only a season ago that this offensive line was considered a solid unit. They should be able to add depth later in the draft. As for TE, I don’t think that they need to reach in a draft where quality tight ends should be available later.
Andy – Everette Brown, DE, Florida State –
Like many teams, Buffalo, is in the market for a player who can get pressure on the QB. While many believe he may be too small and not quick enough to be a DE in the NFL, his combine #’s were solid enough to keep him from slipping down the board.
Alex – Everette Brown, DE, FSU
Denver will be going with a hybrid 3-4/4-3 with Nolan as defensive coordinator. While Josh McDaniels saw the impact a inside linebacker can have on a team after watching Mayo dominate last year, his defensive line is by far the weakest link on this defense. DJ Williams can play any position on the LB, and Jarvis Moss and Elvis Dumerville will try to transition to OLB since they are undersized to play end in the 3-4. It’s doubtful both will be successful. So the pick goes to the line, where Brown will be an impact pass rusher. He can play end in the 4-3 and has a shot at sticking there in the 3-4.
Alex – Max Unger, C, Oregon
They need to solidify the line. They have a need at center and guard, where age is starting to set in. Randy Thomas and Casey Rabach are getting old and were not consistently effective last year. Unger can play either position, so drafting the versatile Duck gives the team a chance to evaluate which position he is best fit for. He can take the year to learn under the veteran line, filling in if injuries or ineffectiveness hits. There is a chance that they go QB here, but that would be a mistake. This team will never improve with a carousel at QB.
14 New Orleans
Alex – Larry English, OLB, Northern Illinois
I’m not buying the running back talk making the rounds. This is a passing team, and running backs will be available later in the draft. There’s not a need to reach here. The defensive line should be solid with Ellis playing a full year with Will Smith and Charles Grant rushing from the end positions. Shoring up a weak linebacker corp is the biggest need. Having kept Vilma keeps the middle solid, so moving outside is needed. English is a strong, fast pass rusher who has questions about his coverage skills. These will improve in time, as he was mostly a defensive end in college. With a questionable defensive backfield, the need for a strong pass rush is key. English is a sure tackler who can play the run and rush the passer.
Alex – Brian Cushing, OLB, USC
The talk of going for a running back with a high pick is foolish. Slaton was a stud last year. While there is a risk that a small guy like him will breakdown, there’s no need to overspend for a luxury like a number one running back. They can pick up a complimentary runner later on. Houston has passed on “name” runningbacks in the past, and look how that worked out (see Bush, Reggie).
Cushing can play inside or out. Inside should be filled for the next 10 years by Demeco Ryans, but filling the OLB spot is important to giving stud DE Mario Williams more single looks. He was able to play all over the front 7 for Pete Carrol at USC and NFL scouts love versatility. Plus, he can drop back in coverage on a tight end, which is important in a division where they face Dallas Clark twice a season, along with Tennessee’s duo of Crumpler and Scaife.
16 San Diego
Alex – Rey Maualuga, ILB, USC
San Diego needs an inside linebacker and Maualuga is the best in the draft. He will explode through the line to blow up running plays and can drop into coverage with the best of them. He made several big plays while at USC and deserves all the praise heaped on him. He’s a SoCal guy and the perfect fit to fill the hole since Seau left years ago.
They could also go with Matthews, OLB, USC, to hedge agaisnt Merriman leaving in a year. But that’s a luxury this hungry team can’t afford. This is their last go around with LT and they need to fill holes before building depth.
17 New York Jets
Alex – Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
I don’t legitimately think Sanchez is this low of a pick, but I can’t see any of the other teams going for him early either. If NY can afford to let him sit an entire season to learn, I think he will be a quality NFL starter. He has great accuracy, above-average strength, and surprising mobility around the pocket. Even if forced to play early, a strong possibility, I think he will be not flop. They have a strong offensive line, good running game, and Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller catching passes. If they can give him another target to throw to, I think he is worth starting from Day 1. Rex Ryan saw Joe Flacco succeed with similar talent around him in Baltimore, so he won’t think twice about starting him. The differences between Flacco and Sanchez? Flacco played more, but Sanchez played against much stronger competition in a pro-style offense. As long as they keep the underage girls away from practice, Dirty Sanchez should be a fine pick for a team in extreme need at the most important position.
Alex – Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi
This is obvious after losing their two top tackles in the off-season. Their best player is Matt Forte, and they need to give him room to work. Oher is a punishing tackle who is having a great workout season. In fact, the All-American prospect has a good shot of going in this year’s top 10. This pick goes with what I’ve been saying all draft; when you have the chance to get a franchise tackle, you take it.
The only other choice here could be Darrius Heyward-Bey, who could help replace Bernard Berrian’s production, which was lost to Minnesota last off-season.
19 Tampa Bay
Alex – Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State
I think Raheem Morris is in love with this guy. He coached Freeman in ‘06 at K-State and recently compared him to Big Ben. The Bucs have absolutely nothing at the quarterback position and have obviously adopted a rebuilding approach. With they way it stands now, they are a few years from seriously competing, so taking a building block at QB can’t hurt. With that said, I’m not convinced this guy will pan out. We always hear about the player with the strong arm and mobility, and this guy doesn’t sell me as a winner. Having a coach who knows him already is a huge plus though, and if he’s still available, I don’t see Tampa passing on Freeman.
20 Detroit (from Dallas)
Alex – Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi
Jim Schwartz knows first hand the importance of an explosive force at DT, after having Albert Haynesworth anchor the Titans defense the past few years. Detroit just traded Redding to Seattle and need the help in the middle. As a senior, Jerry had 18 tackles-for-loss in the SEC. He’s faced top competition his whole career and succeeded. I’m making this assuming Schwartz is calling the shots, because he doesn’t seem like the type of person who would take the job and let them continue drafting poorly. But this is the Lions, so there’s a huge risk they’ll screw it up.
I know I’m giving a terrible team quite a bit of credit here, but hey it IS a mock draft.
Alex – Eben Britton, OT, Arizona
Everyone has them going with a running back here, but with the loss of Tra Thomas, the age of Jon Runyan, and the uncertainty of what Stacy Andrews will give them, they need a tackle. And given the run on tackles in this draft, the Eagles are going to grab a tackle and hope a running back is available later in round 1. Somebody needs to give McNabb time to throw up in the pocket before intentionally grounding the ball. Britton is a quality player who will have time to grow into the role of starting tackle while learning from Runyan.