Five Lessons We Learned From the Saints’ Beatdown of the Bears

After a rousing Week 1 victory over the Atlanta Falcons at Soldier Field, the Chicago Bears headed down to the Superdome in New Orleans to battle the Saints in another NFC South matchup. All of the confidence they brought with them south of the Mason-Dixon line didn’t mean diddly squat, however, as the Saints picked apart the Bears’ weakened secondary and sacked Jay Cutler six times en route to a 30-13 victory.

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2009 NFL Mock Draft

By Peter Christian

1. Detroit Lions    Matt Stafford    QB    Georgia
The first post-Millen draft is going to be important for the Lions. The team has plenty of holes to fill, but getting a stud QB will give the franchise a face to build around.

2. St. Louis Rams    Eugene Monroe    OT    Virginia
Many people thought that the Rams missed out last season by not taking an elite offensive lineman (instead taking DE Chris Long) in one of the deepest drafts ever at both OT and OG. This season is also very top heavy at OT and Monroe is the cream of the crop. He can help the line immediately by shoring up either the left or right side (depending on Orlando Pace’s health).

3. Kansas City Chiefs    Aaron Curry    OLB    Wake Forest
There is little doubt that this pick will be a front seven defensive player. Between Curry and Brian Orakpo (DE – Texas) the Chiefs will likely decide based on their combine performances, however as of now Curry’s upside is higher.

4. Seattle Seahawks    Michael Crabtree    WR    Texas Tech
It seems like the Seahawks haven’t had a reliable receiver since Steve Largent. Crabtree can be that reliable down field threat to help open up the rest of the offense.

5. Cleveland Browns    Brian Orakpo    DE    Texas Tech

Orakpo has the tools to become an elite pass rusher in the NFL. Some scouts and NFL junkies have said that he could be converted to an outside linebacker which could happen in Cleveland if Eric Mangini brings the 3-4 defense to the Dawg Pound. Where ever the Browns have Orakpo line up he is definitely going to fill a need.

6. Cincinnati Bengals    B.J. Raji    DT   Boston College
The Bengals could be in the market for an offensive lineman here as well. Raji, however is a people mover and has the ability to clog the interior of the line and close gaps for opposing running backs. The Bengals have many holes but this pick will help them plug them during game time.

7. Oakland Raiders    Andre Smith    OT    Alabama
Andre Smith is very large (6’4″, 330 lbs.) and is going to be a great run blocker in the NFL. There is question as to whether he is quick enough to handle the speed rushers off the edge at the pro level, which likely means he will be moved to right tackle. Either way, Smith is a player that can help both facets of the young Raider offense

8. Jacksonville Jaguars    Jason Smith    OT    Baylor
Last season was a huge disappointment for the Jaguars. Much of that disappointment was correctly placed on the lack of depth and talent on the offensive line. At 6’5″, 305 lbs. Smith has great size but he will really wow people with his athletic ability. The converted tight end is extremely agile and quick and will defend against speed rushers very well. He will likely be asked to gain some strength in both his upper and lower body in order to prevent him from getting outmuscled in the trenches.

9. Green Bay Packers    Malcolm Jenkins    CB    Ohio State
The Packers defense fell apart large in part due to injuries last season and need some young talent at both the front and back of that defense. Jenkins isn’t going to be a shut down guy right away but he can energize the defensive backfield with solid play and good fundamental football skills. Nearly every corner and safety was banged up at some point in 2008 and with both Al Harris and Charles Woodson ageing another year, Jenkins will likely see the field quite a bit for the Packers.

10. San Francisco 49ers    Michael Oher    OT    Ole Miss
The 49ers could also be looking at Mark Sanchez (QB – USC) or Jeremy Maclin (WR- Missouri) here but Head Coach Mike Singletary has shown confidence in Shaun Hill and may stick with him. Additionally, both Jason Hill and Josh Morgan proved to be serviceable and reliable late in 2008 (at least when they could stay on the field). Beyond QB and WR the biggest question marks in San Francisco are at defensive line and offensive tackle. Oher is the best available player at this slot between those positions. Don’t downgrade Oher because he is the 4th ranked OT. Any other year, he is a top five pick.

11. Buffalo Bills    Brian Cushing    OLB    USC
Buffalo has a lot of needs to fill for a team that looked like it could win its division halfway through 2008. Most glaring is a play maker in the defensive front seven. Aaron Schobel is coming off a down year and could use some help. The issue with Cushing is not so much with his ability, as it is with his character and durability. Whispers of steroid use surrounded him on campus and three surgeries already under his belt have some teams backing away. If he can stay on the field, Cushing will be a star.

12. Denver Broncos    Everett Brown    DE    Florida State
Denver’s defense is just as bad, if not worse, as the Lion’s D. They need better players and more depth at every level of the defense. The projection of Brown being able to play DE or OLB is a good start.

13. Washington Redskins    Aaron Maybin    DE    Penn State
If Cushing is available here expect the Redskins to pounce. They need an athletic linebacker to cover a lot of space. However, if Cushing is gone they will likely consider Cushing’s teammate Rey Maualuga (LB – USC) or Maybin. Maybin is the pick here because he could probably be converted to play line backer if the Redskins needed him to.

14. New Orleans Saints    Vontae Davis    CB    Illinois
Davis is probably a bit of a reach at this pick but it fits well for the Saints and trading down isn’t really an option because the Texans would likely snatch him up if he slipped. The New Orleans defensive backfield was terrible in 2008 and Davis can be a shut down corner for them immediately.

15. Houston Texans    Sean Smith    S    Utah
A big, fast player that can play corner or safety. At 6’3″ he could match-up very well against the taller more physical opposing receivers. In Houston, Smith will be a centerfield type safety for years to come.

16. San Diego Chargers    Jeremy Maclin    WR    Missouri
Assuming that the Chargers keep LaDanian Tomlinson, the team is likely to address its thin receiving corps. Jeremy Maclin will be a great slot option for Phillip Rivers opposite Antonio Gates and will be a great compliment to Darren Sproles in the return game. If the team and LT do part ways, it is a safe bet to assume that Knowshon Moreno (RB- Georgia) and LeSean McCoy (RB – Pitt) will be given strong consideration.

17. New York Jets    Rey Maualuga    LB    USC
Linebacker isn’t the most glaring need for the Jets but Maualuga is the best player on the board here. New Head Coach Rex Ryan could definitely find a place for an instinctive player like Maualuga.

18. Chicago Bears    Hakeem Nicks    WR    North Carolina
Without any good defensive backs available the Bears will address their 2nd biggest (and seemingly constant) need of a big bodied wide receiver. Nicks has great hands and was a go to guy for Butch Davis at UNC all season long. Nicks will not be the fastest guy on the field, but then again with Devin Hester on the opposite side, who cares?


19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers    Percy Harvin    WR    Florida State

The Buccaneers might give Mark Sanchez a real hard look here especially if Garcia is gone. However Harvin can inject some energy into the offense that features old players at the skill positions (Joey “Grandpa” Galloway, Antonio Bryant, and Warrick Dunn). Plus, new Head Coach Raheem Morris could win over a few fans by keeping the former Gator close to home.

20. Detroit Lions (from Dallas)    James Laurinitis    LB    Ohio State
Laurinitis likely would have been taken in the top 10 in last year’s draft, but his slipping has little to do with his own play. He brings great energy to the field and is always around the ball. Detroit should be very happy to land a player of Laurinitis’ caliber to quarterback their crappy defense.

21. Philadelphia Eagles    Brandon Pettigrew    TE    Oklahoma State
Pettigrew should be an NFL star. At 6’6″, 260 lbs. he is a match-up nightmare for opposing defenses, no matter who is throwing him the ball. He will likely transform the Eagles passing game and will finally offer Donovan McNabb (probably?) a reliable saftey valve.

22. Minnesota Vikings    Eben Britton    OT    Arizona
Even with all the money the Vikings have put into their offensive line it was still one of their weaknesses last year. Bryant McKinnie is very vulnerable to a speed rush and Ryan Cook is the worst starting tackle East of Mike Gandy. At 6’6″, 310 lbs. Britton has the size to create large holes for Adrian Peterson to run through.

23. New England Patriots    Knowshon Moreno    RB    Georgia
The Patriots have a laundry list of holes to fill, especially on defense, but Moreno can bring an electric running style to the offense that the team has needed badly. A combination of Maroney-Moreno could be deadly for opposing linebackers as well as a wicked hahhhhd tongue twistah.

24. Atlanta Falcons    Alphonso Smith    CB    Wake Forest
The Falcons were less than mediocre in pass coverage last season and why would they ever pass on a guy nicknamed “Prime”? Smith, given the nickname for being a shorter version of Deion Sanders, has great tools to get after opposing receivers and will likely be a regular in quarterback’s nightmares.

25. Miami Dolphins    Darrius Heyward-Bey    WR    Maryland
Heyward-Bey can give the Dolphins offense the one thing it really needs, a big physical receiver. Currently the Dolphins are relying on three slot-type receivers (Ginn, Camarillo and Bess) and lack any size on the outside and don’t have anyone that they can just “toss it up to” in the end zone. Until now.

26. Baltimore Ravens    Tyson Jackson    DE    LSU
If more than one of their three free agent LB’s (Ray Lewis, Bart Scott and Terrell Suggs) leave for another team, the Ravens will probably be looking for a linebacker here. Jackson has all the tools, but the big negative on him is his effort. I really doubt that effort would be a problem with Jackson if he winds up on the Ravens though.

27. Indianapolis Colts    DJ Moore    CB    Vanderbilt
Moore dealt with a lot of injuries last season but was still a finalist for the Jim Thorpe award as one of the nation’s best defensive backs. He has shown an ability to make good reads and get good breaks on the ball, racking up 11 interceptions over the last two seasons.

28. Philadelphia Eagles (from Carolina)    Chris Wells    RB    Ohio State
Wells can provide the power running back that the Eagles have lacked over the last few seasons. His tough running style will be a welcomed change of pace in Philly and will make Brian Westbrook even more productive.

29. New York Giants   Larry English    OLB     Northern Illinois

The Giants would probably really like to make a statement by picking a WR to stick it to Plaxico Burress, but there is just no one at this spot to take. English hasn’t received a lot of attention but will find his way on many team’s radar at the combine. English really has the tools to help the Giants at a position of weakness.

30. Tennessee Titans    Peria Jerry    DT    Ole Miss
Peria Jerry could be a perfect replacement for Albert Haynesworth should he leave. He is extremely quick and agile for a 312 lb. man-child and gets into the backfield with regularity. The biggest knock on Jerry is his lack of sheer strength.
31. Arizona Cardinals    LeSean McCoy    RB    Pitt
The Cardinals also need an offensive tackle and another athlete or two on defense but Arizona needs to address their situation at running back. McCoy wasn’t a household name last season, but he should have been. McCoy has the skills to be great in the NFL and can help the Cardinal offense to be less one-dimensional.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers    Max Unger    OL    Oregon
Unger doesn’t have the intimidating size that you expect out of a first round pick but he is very quick and is very fundamentally sound. He has plenty of frame to pack on another 15-20 lbs. of muscle and would really help the lack of depth that Pittsburgh has at offensive line.