Ask anybody who has the distinct pleasure of knowing me personally – my obsession with following the draft doesn’t end with baseball. So it only makes sense that I use this outlet to let some of my NFL Draft thoughts spill out of my brain. After the jump, check out a totally amateur hack job of what Saturday’s first round could maybe, possibly, kind of, sort of look like. The goal this year is to get at least 5 picks right, and, yes, I’m including getting the Stafford to Detroit pick in that five. Before my seemingly random NFL mock, a seemingly random quote about mocks in general. You see, recently I’ve been debating on ramping up the mock draft coverage done on this site – I enjoy doing them, people seem to be interested in them, and they can pack a good bit of information when done right. All of those are good things, but there are still drawbacks to mock drafts that I’ve never been able to quite put my finger on. Mike Tanier of Football Outsiders recently put into words something I’ve felt since starting this site up, but haven’t been able to accurately express…so I’ll steal his rant about the very nature of mock drafts:
This is insane! It’s all just idle speculation. I mean, we all know the top 20 to 30 prospects. Some teams have really obvious needs. But really, aren’t we just shuffling a deck over and over again here? Is there any accountability? Is a mock draft any more interesting or useful than, say, a player profile? Or a study to determine whether 40-times are really valuable for running backs?
Oh wait: Mock Drafts generate eyeballs. Casual fans click the link, read about their favorite team for 30 seconds, then move on. It’s a proven, easy-to-generate commodity in the marketplace. Heck, this isn’t even that much work, even if I am chained to the keyboard and producing them round-the-clock. And in two weeks, it will be over, and I will be writing about actual picks by actual teams that will affect the future of the entire league. Hooray! I have found my motivation.
I’ve gotten big traffic (well, not BIG big…big for me…I mean big is a relative term, right?) the past week and I owe it all to that updated mock draft from last Friday. The WordPress software allows me to see which pages are getting clicked on and, let me tell you, the gap in page views between mocks and non-mocks is laughable. I know page views isn’t a perfect way to evaluate who reads what, but the numbers are startling. For example, my first post, a quick summary of what this site is all about, has been viewed about 40 times; the second post, Mock Draft 1.0, has been viewed almost 4,000 times. Crazy, right?
I’m not complaining at all. I love doing mocks because a) they are fun, b) they are good conversation starters (I’ve learned a ton about the Astros since starting this site up), and c) they attract casual viewers who might not normally care about the Rule 4 First-Year Player Draft. I like providing the opportunity for someone out there who might only kind of sort of care about this stuff to suddenly become somebody who actually enjoys following amateur baseball and the baseball draft process. I actually want to start doing weekly updates as we get closer to the draft for those three reasons and I’m excited for the possibilities that some of the upcoming content will hopefully bring forth. Alright, enough of the meta stuff…2009 NFL Draft First Round Mock after the jump…
1.1 Detroit Lions – QB Matt Stafford, Georgia
1.2 St. Louis Rams – OT Jason Smith, Baylor
1.3 Kansas City Chiefs – DT BJ Raji, Boston College
1.4 Seattle Seahawks – CB Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State
1.5 Cleveland Browns – OT Eugene Monroe, Virginia
The top two make sense, but after that I’m lost as can be. Those who follow the Seahawks religiously seem to think Jenkins to Seattle isn’t as big a reach as some of the national pundits might think, but I’d still bet they work really hard to shop that pick to either Washington or New York no matter who sits atop their board. The Browns are never given an OT in the first anymore, but a bookend to pair with Joe Thomas makes a lot of sense to me, especially with Raji off the board.
1.6 Cincinnati Bengals – OT Andre Smith, Alabama
1.7 Oakland Raiders – LB Aaron Curry, Wake Forest
1.8 New York Jets (trade up) – QB Mark Sanchez, Southern Cal
1.9 Green Bay Packers – DE Tyson Jackson, LSU
1.10 San Francisco 49ers – WR Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech
San Francisco fans would be pretty happy if it all played like this, I’m sure. Curry slipping out of the top five would be a bit of a surprise, but it’s difficult to envision a very, very good, but not necessarily elite linebacker prospect going as high as many project.
1.11 Buffalo Bills – OT Michael Oher, Mississippi
1.12 Denver Broncos – DE Brian Orakpo, Texas
1.13 Washington Redskins – DE Everette Brown, Florida
1.14 New Orleans Saints – LB Brian Cushing, Southern Cal
1.15 Houston Texas – LB Clay Matthews, Southern Cal
Bills flip a coin and go with the offensive lineman (Oher) over the defensive lineman (Orakpo). The Redskins are another X-Factor sort of team this draft as I’m thinking they’ll either move up to grab Sanchez or move down to try to make up for lost picks. Giving them Brown isn’t a great compromise, but it’s all I could do.
1.16 San Diego Chargers – DE Michael Johnson, Georgia Tech
1.17 Jacksonville Jaguars (trade down) – CB Darius Butler, Connecticut
1.18 Denver Broncos – LB Rey Maualuga, Southern Cal
1.19 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – DT Peria Jerry, Mississippi
1.20 Detroit Lions – DE Robert Ayers, Tennessee
Johnson has been knocked for months now, but I think his speed/size combination will be too much to keep him out of the first. Butler is the second corner off the board in what I think is a very underrated year for the position – I’m higher on all four of my potential first round guys than most. Jerry to the Bucs just feels right, I can just close my eyes and see him in the uniform (weird rationale, I know).
1.21 Philadelphia Eagles – TE Brandon Pettigrew, Oklahoma State
1.22 Minnesota Vikings – OT Eben Britton, Arizona
1.23 New England Patriots – DE Aaron Maybin, Penn State
1.24 Atlanta Falcons – CB Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest
1.25 Miami Dolphins – CB Vontae Davis, Illinois
You’d think I’d have at least a decent chance of offering some insight on what direction my hometown team will go this year, but you’d be wrong. Pettigrew makes sense logically, but I get the impression they’d rather gamble on snatching up a player like Cornelius Ingram later in the first day than use their first rounder on the inexplicably overhyped Pettigrew (he’s a good TE prospect, sure, but one of the national writers, I forget who, recently called him the best TE to come out since Shockey…off the top of my head, I’d say Kellen Winslow, just to throw out one name, was a far more exciting prospect coming out of school, but maybe I’m nuts). As a fan, I’d like to see a weapon like Pettigrew added, no doubt. However, I’m beginning to believe they’ll get some Sheldon Brown insurance with pick 21…maybe Smith if he is there or a trade up for Jenkins if he slips. If they do indeed pass on a first day TE and go a different route (CB, HB, WR), then it’s time to start hoping against hope for Jermaine Gresham next year…
1.26 Baltimore Ravens – WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, Maryland
1.27 Indianapolis Colts – DT Ziggy Hood, Missouri
1.28 Buffalo Bills – DE Larry English, Northern Illinois
1.29 New York Giants – WR Brian Robiskie, Ohio State
1.30 Tennessee Titans – WR Jeremy Maclin, Missouri
1.31 Arizona Cardinals – HB Donald Brown, Connecticut
1.32 Pittsburgh Steelers – SLASH Pat White, West Virginia
No justification for Maclin slipping, just a weird hunch. Same goes for not having Beanie Wells or Knowshon Moreno in the first. Something about Pat White, a tad overhyped but undeniably an intriguing player, in Pittsburgh brings joy to this jaded, Steeler-hating heart of mine. I just like when draft picks have some of that historical synergy working. In this case we have Slash the Sequel, a Mountaineer playing in a city he has long been despised in, and the defending champ sending out a big “screw you” to the rest of the league by taking a total luxury pick because, and maybe I’m making this up and it doesn’t really happen like this, historically defending champs love to strut around like they have no pressing needs.