AFI Mock Draft 1.0

Now that the Super Bowl has been completed, teams will turn their sights to the NFL combine with the hopes of finding players that can help them next season. Here's AFI's first look at how the NFL Draft could play out on April 26th. Who do we see the Falcons nabbing at number 24? You've got to read on to find out...

1) Detroit – Andre Smith, OT, Alabama

The conventional wisdom is that the Lions will look to draft a quarterback, but with the uncertainty of the top signal-callers and little separating them, I think the Lions will choose to go with bookend tackle prospect that can stick at left tackle for the next 10 years. If that's the case then Smith is the man for the job. If they decide to go with a signal-caller, I expect it to be Georgia's Matt Stafford.

2) St. Louis – Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest

If Detroit takes a quarterback with the first selection, the Rams will set a record for the fastest second selection ever because from the sounds of it, at least at this point, Smith is who they covet. In this draft though, with Smith going number one, the Rams would either have to trade down a few selections to pick up a tackle or they could stick and select the top defensive player available. Curry fills the need at one of the two outside linebacker positions. He isn't great in coverage, but he's an outstanding playmaker with amazing abilities.

3) Kansas City – Matt Stafford, QB, Georgia

The Chiefs are destined to take a quarterback in the 2009 draft and with the chance to take anyone of their choosing they go with the most experienced as well as the most talented signal-caller available in Stafford. USC QB Mark Sanchez has a ton of qualities you look for in franchise quarterback, but he's only managed to start 15 games to Stafford's 39.

4) Seattle – Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech

If both Crabtree and Boston College DT B.J. Raji are available, Seattle will have a tough decision to make. However, Seattle needs playmakers at receiver and Crabtree is the most gifted receiver in the draft this year. He's big, he runs well with the ball in his hands and he's fearless. It will take him a while to learn the intricacies of playing the receiver position and how to run precise routes, but there's no denying he could help the Seahawks almost immediately.

5) Cleveland – Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State

This is a match made in heaven for the Browns. Jenkins can lock down one side of the field and help ease the stress on a unit that allowed 204 yards per game through the air and allowed teams to complete almost 65-percent of their passes.

6) Cincinnati – B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College

The Bengals would be tempted to take either Crabtree or Missouri WR Jeremy Maclin if both were available here, especially with the possible loss of T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson this offseason. However, the need to replace DT John Thornton up front is huge and Raji is a top five talent.

7) Oakland – Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri

Maclin has so much talent it wouldn't be surprising to see him selected ahead of Crabtree, but I doubt that it happens. He can return kicks and he's just as good as Crabtree with the ball in his hands and he has above-average speed, but he isn't a burner. Maclin would team with QB JaMarcus Russell to be a solid combo for years to come. The Raiders could also look at a tackle or defensive end here.

8) Jacksonville – Rey Maualuga, LB, USC

With Mike Peterson and head coach Jack Del Rio at odds on a weekly basis, the Jaguars need a new middle linebacker to stuff the run and be an intimidating force for them inside. Maualuga is the most talented inside linebacker in the draft and he'll be a player that the Jaguars can build around.

9) Green Bay – Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia

The Packers need to start working on their offensive line and Monroe is arguably one of the most talented this year. Monroe and about three others are just a notch below Smith in talent and he's a player that could play either right or left tackle effectively, although ultimately I believe his best position is on the right side.

10) San Francisco – Mark Sanchez, QB, USC

After watching Sanchez come back from a dislocated kneecap to start every game this past season, it's hard to imagine a tougher quarterback out there. San Francisco needs a franchise quarterback since Alex Smith has proven to be a bust and Sanchez is right there with Stafford in talent and upside. The 49ers could end up looking at a defensive end at this point, but with Sanchez still available he's the obvious choice.

11) Buffalo – Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State

The Bills have a number of needs, including a linebacker or guard, but with the lack of a playmaker at tight end and a talent like Pettigrew still sitting there, it's impossible to think they wouldn't take him here. Pettigrew would give QB Trent Edwards another reliable target in the passing game.

12) Denver – Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi

Denver needs a lot of help, but they have some nice players to build around. They really need a middle linebacker and if Maualuga is available they would probably select him here, but Ohio State LB James Laurinaitis would be a reach here in my opinion, so the selection is a player who can solidify the right side of the line and Oher would be an ideal player here, especially since he arguably has top 10 talent and he'll team with Ryan Clady to give Denver the best young tackle tandem in the league.

13) Washington – Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State

Maybin is a versatile player, something that the Redskins could make good use of at this point. Washington has a lot of needs, but Maybin would be a playmaker for them either as a rush end or as a rush linebacker who can really cause problems off the edge. Another possibility here is Jason Smith from Baylor.

14) New Orleans – Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois

This selection is a tough one to predict. The Saints could use an outside linebacker or even a top offensive tackle prospect, but with an aging Mike McKenzie, the need at corner takes precedence, especially considering that Davis is a big, physical corner with outstanding quickness and speed.

15) Houston – Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas

The Texans are building a formidable defensive line and if they can add an additional pass-rusher opposite Mario Williams their pass-rush could be the envy of the rest of the league. Orakpo is an ideal strong-side defensive end with his playmaking abilities and his solid technique against the run. Florida State DE Everette Brown will also get a long look here, but Orakpo is probably the better choice at this point and time.

16) San Diego – Jason Smith, OT, Baylor

The needs for the Chargers along the offensive line are well-known, so I expect them to take one here, especially if Smith is available. The Baylor prospect is a talented pass-blocker, but he's been playing out of a two-point stance for a while so he'll be a bit of a project. However, he's very talented and he could be a steal at this point in the draft.

17) New York Jets – Percy Harvin, WR, Florida

When you have a chance to get a multi-talented playmaker like Harvin, you have to take him, even if it isn't a huge need. Whether Brett Favre returns or not, the Jets could always use a player who can take it the distance anytime he gets his hands on the ball.

18) Chicago – Everette Brown, DE, Florida State

The Bears need to get a dynamic pass-rusher to replace the aging Adewale Ogunleye and Alex Brown. Should one of the top receivers drop to this pick, Chicago may opt to go that route, but at this point, Brown is a value pick and someone who can be a force in this defense.

19) Tampa Bay – Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU

This is probably going to be the toughest spot in the draft to forecast. Tampa Bay desperately needs a quarterback of the future, but they also need to replace the aging Kevin Carter and Jackson fits that bill perfectly. Jackson can also move inside as well

20) Detroit (from Dallas) – Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State

Freeman's status has been steadily on the rise since he declared himself eligible for the draft and I expect it to climb even more after the combine and individual workouts. Freeman has outstanding size and athleticism and he's very used to being the center of attention for defensive schemes to focus on. He'd alleviate the need for Detroit to reach in the second round for a player even though this could be considered a bit of a reach at this point in the process.

21) Philadelphia – Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State

Wells had an NFL body in high school. He's a monster when he gets a head of steam and he plays with a chip on his shoulder. The key for him will be keeping him healthy and going to a team like Philadelphia where Wells won't need to carry the load right away is a perfect fit. Other players under consideration here would be North Carolina WR Hakeem Nicks or Western Michigan S Louis Delmas.

22) Minnesota – Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina

Nicks jumped onto the national scene as a sophomore in 2007 and this past season he blew up and came to the forefront for teams looking for wideout help. He has good top end speed and excellent hands and he's amazing when the ball is in the air. He would team up with Bernard Berrian and Sydney Rice to give the Vikings a trio of pass-catchers that the Minnesota quarterbacks can look to.

23) New England – Brian Cushing, LB, USC

Cushing fits in perfectly with the Patriots' scheme. He runs well, fills hard against the run and he can cover backs or tight ends when asked. He could play inside in New England's 3-4 scheme or move to one of the outside positions so he would give head coach Bill Bellichick plenty of options.

24) Atlanta – Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi

The Falcons have their work cut out for them in this draft. They have needs at defensive tackle, safety, linebacker and tight end. Jerry fits perfectly within the Falcons' scheme and he could play the under tackle or nose tackle depending on where the team sees him.

25) Miami – Larry English, LB, Northern Illinois

Miami could opt for an offensive playmaker like Darius Heyward-Bay or another linebacker like USC's Clay Matthews, but English's stock soared during Senior Bowl week with his workouts and his performance during the game and he'd be a good fit in the Dolphins' scheme.

26) Baltimore – Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest

Smith is a playmaker and when the ball is in the air, there's no better defensive back available in the draft. He's a bit on the small side and he isn't the most physical player at corner, but the expectation would be for Smith to push for time as a rookie and the hope would be he could take over for one of the aging starters – Chris McAlister or Samari Rolle – in 2010.

27) Indianapolis – James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State

Indianapolis needs players on both the offensive and defensive line, but inside linebacker is also a need and Laurinaitis would be a great fit in the Colts' system.

28) Philadelphia (from Carolina) – Eben Britton, OT, Arizona

Britton is a player who has a lot of upside, but he isn't an elite tackle prospect. He should probably play right tackle or he could possibly play left guard allowing the team to move Todd Herremans outside should Tra Thomas leave in free agency.

29) New York Giants – Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia

With Derrick Ward leaving via free agency and the status of Brandon Jacobs up in the air, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Giants take Moreno who is a top 15 talent. Even if Jacobs does re-sign, which I expect to happen, it would be a nice situation to have a playmaker of Moreno's abilities to come in and spell him.

30) Tennessee – D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt

Moore has a ton of talent and he's quickly rising up draft boards. Tennessee needs a top corner to stick on the other side opposite Cortland Finnegan especially with Nick Harper getting up there in age. Cal center Alex Mack is also a possibility here since Kevin Mawae is also nearing the end of his outstanding career.

31) Arizona – LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh

Edgerrin James is going to leave Arizona and even though the Cardinals have Tim Hightower already in the fold, nowadays, teams need two good backs. McCoy is a dynamic runner and he's got great vision and cutting-ability. He'll also be a good receiver out of the backfield.

32) Pittsburgh – Alex Mack, C, California

With free agency and injuries being factored in, the Steelers could become very suspect up front very quickly if things don't go their way. That's why Mack is the selection even though center is not really a big need. Mack's versatility makes him a candidate to take a guard position if that's where he's needed and his leadership and talent will be a huge asset down the road, no matter where he ends up along the offensive line.


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