Minnesota Timberwolves Season Review Part 1: What Went Wrong?

The 2010-11 Minnesota Timberwolves season was a struggle. But what went wrong?

In a word, everything, but that would be too easy.

Kevin Love’s 53 game double-double streak overshadowed what was a season full of over blown expectations and vast under achievement.

[Read more…]

The Sports Bank “My Boy” Team

derrick williams arizona

As the collegiate basketball season comes to a conclusion this evening, there is still hardware to be handed out that isn’t related to the National Championship. There’s the All-Americans, the Cousy Award, the Wooden Award and plenty of others, however here at The Sports Bank we like to honor players in a different manner.

By Peter Christian and David Kay

[Read more…]

The Sports Bank’s LIVE NFL Draft Coverage

nfl draft

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s LIVE NFL Draft Coverage of the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Mr. Banks (formerly known as Paul M. Banks) and Peter Christian headline your coverage of tonight’s first ever primetime draft proceedings.

[Read more…]

FINAL 2009 NFL MOCK DRAFT

by Peter Christian

The 2009 NFL Draft is less than 48 hours away and after much deliberation, research and hair-pulling I’ve finally compiled my final Mock Draft. As you may notice, I caved against my better nature and included a second round.

The NFL Mock Draft Database

1. Detroit Lions

Matt Stafford QB

Georgia

 

Stafford is all but ensured of being the first pick over all at this point. Aside from his over-discussed skills he is a charismatic kid that is perfect to become the face of an otherwise failing franchise.

2. St. Louis Rams

Jason Smith OT

Baylor

 

At 6’5″, 305 lbs. Smith has great size but he will wow people with his athletic ability. The converted tight end is extremely agile and quick  and will defend against speed rushers very well. Smith’s showing at the  combine has likely helped him up draft boards around the league and the Rams are hoping that Smith can replace future HOF’er Orlando Pace,  who signed with Chicago.

3. Kansas City Chiefs

Aaron Curry OLB

Wake Forest

 

Curry is being called the safest pick in this year’s draft. His size, speed and strength all translate very well to the NFL game and will make an immediate impact for the Chief’s defense.

4. Seattle Seahawks

Eugene Monroe OT

Virginia

 

Monroe‘s skills and ability were the reason that Branden Albert (15th overall pick in 2008) was a guard in college. Albert is now a starting tackle for the Chiefs. The Seahawks have been rumored to possibly take USC QB Mark Sanchez with this pick, although I would think the outlook of next year’s QB crop would be enough to allow Seattle to take Monroe instead.

5. Cleveland Browns

Michael Crabtree

WR

Texas Tech

The stress fracture and subsequent surgery has many scouts, coaches and GM’s, well, stressing about his value. Crabtree has been very active this past week to try and ensure he remains a top ten pick. By the Browns taking Crabtree here it likely means that the Browns will spend the next couple hours trying to inflate the trade value of Braylon Edwards. If Edwards trade talks do fall apart prior to the draft, the Browns may decide to go with Texas DE/OLB Brian Orakpo.

6. Cincinnati Bengals

B.J. Raji

DT

Boston College

The Bengals need to improve their defense badly. Adding Raji to the defensive line would be a great start. He is a big, strong, agile player that can be a factor in both the run and pass.

7. Oakland Raiders

Jeremy Maclin

WR

Missouri

Maclin has a great skill set. He has good hands, great speed and agility. He can help a team in the passing game, the return game and was also a very effective option out of the backfield on occasion. His combine performance locked him in as the 2nd best receiver available in the draft. The Raiders could take any number of players, but by taking Maclin they are giving JaMarcus Russel a viable target in the passing game.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars

Michael Oher

OT

Ole Miss

Oher is a top ten talent at the offensive tackle position but is not getting mentioned much lately. He is a good fit for Jacksonville because he can play on either side of the ball and can immediately step into their depleted offensive line corps.

9. Green Bay Packers

Mark Sanchez

QB

USC

Most people assume that Sanchez will be taken with the 8th pick via a trade, but knowing Ted Thompson he would likely be much more willing to move down to gain another pick later in the draft. That being said, if the Packers keep this pick I expect they will select Brian Orakpo. I expect Sanchez to be picked here by either the Redskins or the Jets.

10. San Francisco 49ers

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. Most of Smith’s combine antics have largely been forgotten and has regained nearly all of his pre-draft value. The 49ers would be very happy if Mark Sanchez fell to them, but would definitely be able to use Smith’s ability on the offensive line. However, the last time the 49ers drafted a player with the surname “Smith” in the first round, it was largely thought to be a bust, which is very likely in this situation as well.

11. Buffalo Bills

Brian Orakpo

DE/OLB

Texas

Orakpo has the tools to become an elite pass rusher in the NFL. He is among the group of prospects that could play either the rush end in a 4-3 or a rush linebacker in the 3-4. With the Bills, he would help apply the pressure on the opposing quarterback from the line.

12. Denver Broncos

Tyson Jackson

DE/OLB

LSU

Jackson‘s biggest knock is that he takes plays off, however he has been shooting up draft boards lately, especially to the Denver Broncos. The Broncos are apparently in love with Jackson because of his hybrid status and would likely be the only team to take him in the top 15 of the first round.

13. Washington Redskins

Aaron Maybin

DE/OLB

Penn State

Maybin has the talent to be great in the NFL. He also has great versatility to play as a speed rush defensive end or to be an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. If the Redskins do trade up (especially with the Packers) this is still a logical pick at this spot. However, if the Redskins stand pat, Maybin is a good pick for them as well.

14. New Orleans Saints

Malcom Jenkins

CB

Ohio State

Jenkins has been given the benefit of playing behind a very good defensive front during his college career but that doesn’t mean he isn’t talented. Jenkins’ long term projection is that he will translate more into the role of a safety. No matter where he lines up he will help the Saints terrible defensive backfield.

15. Houston Texans

Robert Ayers

DE

Tennessee

Ayers is really the best true defensive end in the draft. I was initially hesitant about his skills but his motivated style of play is something that coaches love. He will complient the rest of the Houston front seven very well and will have an opportunity to contribute right away.

16. San Diego Chargers

Peria Jerry

DT

Ole Miss

Peria Jerry 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. At the Senior Bowl he upped his stock into a late first round prospect. The Chargers defensive line depth was one of their biggest weaknesses last season and drafting Jerry here is a good move to improve that.

17. New York Jets

Knowshon Moreno

RB

Georgia

Moreno is a blend of speed, agility and muscle and can provide any team with a great home run threat out of the backfield. He has amazing downfield moves and can make just about any defender look foolish. The Jets are in a tough spot, but a good one. They are definitely interested in moving up to get Mark Sanchez or taking advantage of another team grabbing him (Browns/Redskins). If that isn’t an option, they may be tempted to reach for Josh Freeman, but realistically they should grab a solid offensive weapon in Moreno.

18. Denver Broncos (from Chicago)

Rey Maualuga

LB

USC

Maualuga is without a doubt the best interior linebacker in the draft. He is very explosive and can fill holes in the line very quickly. The Broncos would be estatic if they could get Tyson Jackson and Maualuga with their first round picks to help improve their multiple defensive holes.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Larry English

LB

Northern Illinois

English’s size will likely lock him into being an OLB in the NFL but his stock is on the rise nonetheless. His stats and accolades in the MAC shouldn’t be downplayed, his ethic is pure. This is probably the highest that English could go, but he could be a key cog in the new defense for Tampa now that long time coordinator Monte Kiffin has moved on.

20. Detroit Lions (from Dallas)

Brian Cushing

LB

USC

Cushing is something of a genetic freak with his strength and speed. He will help Detroit’s pitiful defense play tougher and faster against opposing running games. The Lions could be looking to grab Eben Britton (OT – Arizona) here, but Cushing is the best defensive player available and provides better upside.

21. Philadelphia Eagles

Chris Wells

RB

Ohio State

Wells is a downhill runner that doesn’t shy away from contact. He has deceiving speed which allows him to break away from opposing linebackers. “Beanie” is working very hard to toss the reputation that he is injury prone. Wells could finally give the 1-2 punch the Eagles backfield has needed with Brian Westbrook.

22. Minnesota Vikings

Josh Freeman

QB

Kansas State

I think this would be a logical place for a team to trade into the first round to get Freeman if they wanted him. Freeman is possibly the biggest bust candidate in this draft. His arm is very strong and has QB coaches salivating, but at this pick it is possibly too high. Realistically, he is probably a mid 2nd-early 3rd round talent but because of certain teams’ desperation at the quarterback position and the long term potential of Freeman he is likely being taken in the late 1st round. If this pick isn’t traded I expect the Vikings to target Darius Butler or Vontae Davis.

23. New England Patriots

Clay Matthews

LB

USC

Matthews has joined his USC teammates as a first round prospect after a great work-out at the Combine. He fits in well with the style of the Patriots Linebackers and will inject some much needed youth and energy into the New England defense.

24. Atlanta Falcons

Vontae Davis

CB

Illinois

Malcom Jenkins gets all the hype of a Big Ten CB but Davis has the better upside. His recovery speed is what is going to make him a great corner in the NFL. The Falcons would be happy with any defensive upgrade, but Davis would probably be the best case for the team.

25. Miami Dolphins

Darrius Heyward-Bey

WR

Maryland

Heyward-Bey went into the combine with the title as a big physical receiver. He can now add “lightning fast” to that resume. His 4.30 makes him the fastest offensive player available. He needs to work on catching the ball with his hands more, but his size and speed make him extremely attractive. Miami needs a big reciever to compliment their many slot types and Heyward-Bey does just that.

26. Baltimore Ravens

Brandon Pettigrew

TE

Oklahoma State

At 6’6″, 260 lbs. Pettigrew creates a match-up nightmare for opposing defenses, no matter who is throwing him the ball. He can be a great asset to the offense in the short and intermediate passing game. The Ravens have had plenty of strain in dealing with Todd Heap injuries over the past few seasons and drafting Pettigrew would help ease some of those headaches.

27. Indianapolis Colts

Darius Butler

CB

Connecticut

Butler is relatively unknown at this point but his cover skills are going to be whispered about in war rooms on draft day. He is very fundamental and has a ton of field experience due to his status as a three year starter. The Colts are likely looking at going with a receiver or a corner here and Butler provides the best value of anyone else available.

28. Buffalo Bills (from Carolina through Philadelphia)

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 could be a solid Center in the NFL. The Bills traded OT Jason Peter to get this pick and Unger’s versatility likely makes this an easy pick. Unger isn’t a tackle by trade, but could likely play the position if needed.

29. New York Giants

Hakeem Nicks

WR

North Carolina

Nicks is a big, physical receiver that has bear paws for hands. He catches everything thrown to him. If the Giants don’t trade for Braylon Edwards, this is the next logical step for them.

30. Tennessee Titans

Kenny Britt

WR

Rutgers

Britt has been a late riser in many mocks and draft boards but has moved up because he is a bit more polished and has less questions about his ability than Hakeem Nicks or Darrius Heyward-Bey. The Titans would be much more inclined to take a defensive lineman or a defensive back but Britt would help the Titans passing game.

31. Arizona Cardinals

Donald Brown

RB

Connecticut

Brown is very similar to a very successful running back taken in last year’s draft, Matt Forte. He has plenty of experience and is very smart on the football field. He is very patient to find the hole and uses a quick burst to eat up yardage in bunches. He is rising up draft boards very quickly and will be another option in the backfield.

32. Pittsburgh Steelers

Alphonso Smith

CB

Wake Forest

Smith’s nickname is “Prime” for being a shorter version of Deion Sanders. He has great tools to get after opposing receivers and will likely be a regular in quarterback’s nightmares. The Steelers have to be targeting a defensive back or a defensive lineman and Smith fits the bill of one of those needs.

 

Round 2

 

 

 

33. Detroit Lions

Eben Britton

OT

Arizona

34. New England Patriots (from Kansas City)

James Laurinaitis

LB

Ohio State

35. St. Louis Rams

Everette Brown

DE

Florida State

36. Cleveland Browns

Connor Barwin

DE

Cincinatti

37. Seattle Seahawks

LeSean McCoy

RB

Pitt

38. Cincinnati Bengals

Eric Wood

C

Louisville

39. Jacksonville Jaguars

William Beatty

OT

Connecticut

40. Oakland Raiders

Michael Johnson

DE

Georgia Tech

41. Green Bay Packers

Patrick Chung

SS

Oregon

42. Buffalo Bills

Alex Mack

C

Cal

43. San Francisco 49ers

Clint Sintim

LB

Virginia

44. Miami Dolphins (from Washington)

Mohamed Massaquoi

WR

Georgia

45. New York Giants (from New Orleans)

Shonn Greene

RB

Iowa

46. Houston Texans

Percy Harvin

WR

Florida

47. New England Patriots (from San Diego)

Sean Smith

DB

Utah

48. Denver Broncos

Rashad Johnson

S

Alabama

49. Chicago Bears

William Moore

S

Missouri

50. Cleveland Browns (from Tampa Bay)

Paul Kruger

OLB

Utah

51. Dallas Cowboys

Ron Brace

NT

Boston College

52. New York Jets

Jared Cook

TE

South Carolina

53. Philadelphia Eagles

Louis Delmas

S

Western Michigan

54. Minnesota Vikings

Phil Loadholt

OT

Oklahoma

55. Atlanta Falcons

Fili Moala

DL

USC

56. Miami Dolphins

Sherrod Martin

DB

Troy

57. Baltimore Ravens

Derrick Williams

WR

Penn State

58. New England Patriots

DJ Moore

CB

Vanderbilt

59. Carolina Panthers

Jamon Meredith

OT

South Carolina

60. New York Giants

Evander Hood

DT

Missouri

61. Indianapolis Colts

Brandon Tate

WR

North Carolina

62. Tennessee Titans

Sen’Derrick Marks

DT

Auburn

63. Arizona Cardinals

Duke Robinson

G

Oklahoma

64. Pittsburgh Steelers

Andy Levitre

OL

Oregon State

NFL Mock Draft Update

 

By Peter Christian

Only four days of speculation remain and the heat is on for both the draft analysts and the prospects. Expect daily updates in the mock draft from today until Friday!
The NFL Mock Draft Database

1. Detroit Lions

Matt Stafford QB

Georgia


Stafford held his own at the NFL Scouting Combine by showing off his skills, strength and poise. He isn’t the best player overall in this draft but he does have a bright future at the QB position. The Lions are finding that the number one pick isn’t nearly as valuable as it might seem. Nonetheless, Detroit needs a quarterback and will likely bite the bullet with Stafford

2. St. Louis Rams

Jason Smith OT

Baylor


At 6’5″, 305 lbs. Smith has great size but he will wow people with his athletic ability. The converted tight end is extremely agile and quick and will defend against speed rushers very well. Smith’s showing at the combine has likely helped him up draft boards around the league and is now getting consideration as the best Offensive Tackle available in some scout’s rankings. With Pace gone in St. Louis, there is little doubt that the Rams plan to make good use of this year’s top heavy OT crop.

3. Kansas City Chiefs

Aaron Curry OLB

Wake Forest


Curry is being called the safest pick in this year’s draft. His size, speed and strength all translate very well to the NFL game and will make an immediate impact on which ever team’s lap Curry falls into. Kansas City couldn’t ask for a better fit in this year’s draft than Aaron Curry.

4. Seattle Seahawks

Eugene Monroe OT

Virginia


Eugene Monroe’s stock is on the rise after a very solid showing in Indianapolis and due to the meteoric fall of Andre Smith. However, Monroe has great talent. His skills and ability were the reason that Branden Albert (15th overall pick in 2008) was a guard in college. Albert is now a starting tackle for the Chiefs. The Seahawks were the early destination for Michael Crabtree but the signing of T.J. Houshmanzadeh likely means that Seattle is going to focus on its less glamorous, but more glaring needs on the offensive line.

5. Cleveland Browns

Michael Crabtree

WR

Texas Tech

The stress fracture and subsequent surgery has many scouts, coaches and GM’s, well, stressing about his value. However, the last two years of game film will likely ease some of that stress. The injury shouldn’t affect his value but it may cause team’s to proceed cautiously. With the Brown’s actively shopping Braylon Edwards, Crabtree could step into his spot right away.

6. Cincinnati Bengals

Brian Orakpo

DE

Texas

Orakpo has the tools to become an elite pass rusher in the NFL. Cincinnati has some definite holes to fill but Orakpo is a good start. If he and Tank Johnson both pan out, the Bengal d-line could make the rest of the defense dramatically better.

7. Oakland Raiders

Jeremy Maclin

WR

Missouri

Maclin has a great skill set. He has good hands, great speed and agility. He can help a team in the passing game, the return game and was also a very effective option out of the backfield on occasion. His combine performance locked him in as the 2nd best receiver available in the draft and would improve an offense that was very inconsistent last season.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars

Michael Oher

OT

Ole Miss

Oher is finally getting more buzz about his skills and NFL potential than about the Michael Lewis book that was written about him. He looked great at the combine and the Senior Bowl and should definitely be a top ten pick in 2009. Jacksonville may be tempted here to select Jeremy Maclin to replace their TROUBLED wide receiver corps, but Oher has to be the pick.

9. Green Bay Packers

B.J. Raji

DT

Boston College

Raji is the best interior defensive lineman in this draft however the recent report of a positive test for marijuana has had some affect on his draft stock. Considering the last time a stud defensive tackle saw his draft stock fall due to a positive drug test at the combine (Warren Sapp). The Packers would be lucky to have someone so talented to fall to them at the ninth pick. The problem is that Ted Thompson will be bombarded with phone calls about potential trades if Mark Sanchez is available at number nine. With his propensity to trade down, this pick could be Sanchez for a team like Denver, Washington or the Jets.

10. San Francisco 49ers

Mark Sanchez

QB

USC

Sanchez’s decision to participate in the drills at the Combine was a good one. Not only did it show an eagerness to prove himself as an elite prospect but he was able to silence many of his critics. His performance not only locked him into the first round but will likely be a top 15 pick. If the 49ers do jump at Sanchez it will likely signal the major error they made with Alex Smith, but passing on Sanchez would be likely more foolish than the Smith pick 5 years ago.

11. Buffalo Bills

Rey Maualuga

LB

USC

Maualuga has been slipping in many mocks, mostly due to other names rising. Don’t let that fool you. Maualuga is an animal on defense and should be a top 15 pick in this year’s draft. The Bills could look at taking Andre Smith here since they just traded Jason Peters to Philadelphia, but the lack of defense in the second half last year will sway the Buffalo war room in that direction with this pick.

12. Denver Broncos

Aaron Maybin

DE

Penn State

Maybin has the talent to be great in the NFL. He also has great versatility to play as a speed rush defensive end or to be an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Denver needs help at both positions so Maybin is a good fit at #12.

13. Washington Redskins

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. His antics at the combine were troubling but his upside has made many scouts and GM’s forget about that lapse in judgment. The Redskins are said to be in the Mark Sanchez sweepstakes so this pick may go to another team, but if Sanchez, Maybin and Maualuga are gone, they will grab smith.

14. New Orleans Saints

Malcom Jenkins

CB

Ohio State

Jenkins has been given the benefit of playing behind a very good defensive front during his college career but that doesn’t mean he isn’t talented. OSU’s history of producing good CB’s will continue with Jenkins. The Saints could be a good team if they could prevent the big play, Jenkins can help that problem right away.

15. Houston Texans

Vontae Davis

CB

Illinois

Malcom Jenkins gets all the hype of a Big Ten CB but Davis has the better upside. His recovery speed is what is going to make him a great corner in the NFL. I’m not sure why the Texans were only 8-8 last season as they don’t have that many glaring holes. Depth and talent in the defensive backfield will be a good boost though.

16. San Diego Chargers

Robert Ayers

DE

Tennessee

Ayers is difficult to project because the tape on him is relatively inconsistent. He proved that he is a great practice player at the Senior Bowl. In order to succeed in the NFL, he needs to bring his practice intensity to game day. The Chargers need much more production out of their down lineman and Ayers could be more reliable option than what they currently have.

17. New York Jets

Knowshon Moreno

RB

Georgia

Moreno is a blend of speed, agility and muscle and can provide any team with a great home run threat out of the backfield. He has amazing downfield moves and can make just about any defender look foolish. Thomas Jones isn’t getting any younger and I doubt that anyone in the Jets organization truly believes that Leon Washington can handle the job on his own. Moreno would definitely add a new wrinkle to the Jets offense.

18. Denver Broncos (from Chicago)

James Laurinaitis

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. Denver needs a hard nosed playmaker in the middle of the field and Laurinaitis fits the bill.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Eben Britton

OT

Arizona

Britton is a big man and can anchor an offensive line. He will have to work on his footwork, but he has the raw skills to be great. I was extremely certain that the Buccaneers had their sights on Brandon Pettigrew, but the acquisition of Kellen Winslow Jr. nullifies that thought. Tampa Bay also has plenty of defensive holes to fill as well and may go that route with this pick.

20. Detroit Lions (from Dallas)

Brian Cushing

LB

USC

Cushing has plenty of question marks to go with his talent, there is quite a bit of debate as to whether he will translate into an OLB in a 4-3 scheme or ILB in a 3-4. However as GM’s watch him on the field, those question marks will likely be forgotten. Cushing’s draft stock will likely hinge on his medical records and team interviews rather than his measurables. Detroit’s second pick is extremely difficult to predict because they need so much.

21. Philadelphia Eagles

Chris Wells

RB

Ohio State

Wells is a downhill runner that doesn’t shy away from contact. He has deceiving speed which allows him to break away from opposing linebackers. “Beanie” is working very hard to toss the reputation that he is injury prone. Wells could be the more physical back that the Eagles need to compliment Brian Westbrook. It is worth noting that this pick might end up being property of either Arizona or Cleveland if the Eagles trade for Braylon Edwards/Anquan Boldin.

22. Minnesota Vikings

Darius Butler

CB

Connecticut

Butler has gone from being a sleeper pick that few people were talking about to a top 3 corner in the draft. He is very fundamental and has a ton of field experience due to his status as a three year starter. The Vikings could really use another top notch corner in the mix to prevent a big drop off if Antoine Winfield does leave via free agency next year.

23. New England Patriots

Larry English

LB

Northern Illinois

English’s size will likely lock him into being an OLB in the NFL but his stock is on the rise nonetheless. His stats and accolades in the MAC shouldn’t be downplayed, his ethic is pure. Belichick’s scheme will suit English well and will get the most out of his versatility.

24. Atlanta Falcons

Everette Brown

DE

Florida State

Everette Brown is an extremely agile defensive lineman. There is talk about his game translating to the OLB position in the NFL which would likely best utilize his versatility. The Falcons would probably like to take a defensive back here, but with Jenkins, Davis and Butler all off the board they would be reaching to grab someone like DJ Moore or Alphonso Smith. Brown can help them up front and apply some pressure in the backfield.

25. Miami Dolphins

Brandon Pettigrew

TE

Oklahoma State

At 6’6″, 260 lbs. Pettigrew creates a match-up nightmare for opposing defenses, no matter who is throwing him the ball. He can be a great asset to the offense in the short and intermediate passing game. Bill Parcells and Tony Sparano both know how valuable a great receiving tight end can be to an offense and it is unlikely they would let him slip by at #25 even with Nicks and Heyward-Bey still on the board.

26. Baltimore Ravens

Percy Harvin

WR

Florida

Harvin is possibly the best athlete in the draft. He has amazing speed and is surprisingly strong for his stature. His game likely translates to becoming a slot receiver in the NFL but he can line up anywhere if asked. John Harbaugh has to be pleased with last year’s first round pick, Joe Flacco. Giving him a young target to allow him to grow is just the next step in the progression.

27. Indianapolis Colts

Darrius Heyward-Bey

WR

Maryland

Heyward-Bey went into the combine with the title as a big physical receiver. He can now add “lightning fast” to that resume. His 4.30 makes him the fastest offensive player available. He needs to work on catching the ball with his hands more, but his size and speed make him extremely attractive. The Colts could use Heyward-Bey as a receiver to stretch the field vertically and hope he morphs into an every route receiver like Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison did.

28. Buffalo Bills (from Carolina through Philadelphia)

Clay Matthews

LB

USC

Matthews has joined his USC teammates as a first round prospect after a great work-out at the Combine.  The Bills taking two linebackers in the first round might seem like a stretch, but it is the team’s biggest position of need and Matthews and Maualuga could cause chaos for opposing blocking schemes.

29. New York Giants

Hakeem Nicks

WR

North Carolina

Nicks is a big, physical receiver that has bear paws for hands. He catches everything thrown to him. His breakout season for Butch Davis at UNC has made him a must see at the combine for NFL GM’s. The Giants have filled their needs on defense through free agency which means they are expected to turn their efforts to finding a wide receiver in the draft. Nicks is a good start.

30. Tennessee Titans

Peria Jerry

DT

Ole Miss

Peria Jerry 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. At the Senior Bowl he upped his stock into a late first round prospect. The Titans biggest loss this off-season was that of Albert Haynesworth’s defection to Washington. Drafting Jerry can help fill the void left by the Pro-Bowl Defensive Tackle.

31. Arizona Cardinals

Donald Brown

RB

Connecticut

Brown is very similar to a very successful running back taken in last year’s draft, Matt Forte. He has plenty of experience and is very smart on the football field. He is very patient to find the hole and uses a quick burst to eat up yardage in bunches. He is rising up draft boards very quickly. The Cardinals thought they had their running back position answered with Tim Hightower, but he wasn’t able to handle the starting gig. Brown can team with Hightower to make the running game far more effective.

32. Pittsburgh Steelers

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. The Steelers can address their depth issues at defensive back with this pick and Moore will help in the nickel and dime packages immediately.

 

 

Next best available:

Alphonso Smith

CB

Wake Forest

Tyson Jackson

DE

LSU

Max Unger

C

Oregon

Alex Mack

C

Cal

LeSean McCoy

RB

Pitt

Sean Smith

DB

Utah

Shonn Greene

RB

Iowa

Connor Barwin

DE

Cincinatti

 Josh Freeman  QB  Kansas State
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

 

NFL Mock Draft Update

by Peter Christian

As the countdown to the NFL Draft is now less than 30 days, it is time to really get serious with our NFL Mock Draft. TSB.net readers can expect up to two updates per week as we near the greatest non-athletic sporting event of the year. As for this edition, ENJOY!!!

The NFL Mock Draft Database

1. Detroit Lions

Matt Stafford   QB

Georgia


Stafford held his own at the NFL Scouting Combine by showing off his skills, strength and poise. He isn’t the best player overall in this draft but he does have a bright future at the QB position.  The Lions are finding that the number one pick isn’t nearly as valuable as it might seem. Nonetheless, Detroit needs a quarterback and will likely bite the bullet with Stafford

2. St. Louis Rams

Jason Smith   OT

Baylor


At 6’5″, 305 lbs. Smith has great size but he will wow people with his athletic ability. The converted tight end is extremely agile and quick and will defend against speed rushers very well. Smith’s showing at the combine has likely helped him up draft boards around the league and is now getting consideration as the best Offensive Tackle available in some scout’s rankings. With Pace gone in St. Louis, there is little doubt that the Rams plan to make good use of this year’s top heavy OT crop.

3. Kansas City Chiefs

Aaron Curry   OLB

Wake Forest


Curry is being called the safest pick in this year’s draft. His size, speed and strength all translate very well to the NFL game and will make an immediate impact on which ever team’s lap Curry falls into. Kansas City couldn’t ask for a better fit in this year’s draft than Aaron Curry.

4. Seattle Seahawks

Eugene Monroe   OT

Virginia


Eugene Monroe’s stock is on the rise after a very solid showing in Indianapolis and due to the meteoric fall of Andre Smith. However, Monroe has great talent. His skills and ability were the reason that Branden Albert (15th overall pick in 2008) was a guard in college. Albert is now a starting tackle for the Chiefs. The Seahawks were the early destination for Michael Crabtree but the signing of T.J. Houshmanzadeh likely means that Seattle is going to focus on its less glamorous, but more glaring needs on the offensive line.

5. Cleveland Browns

Brian Orakpo

DE

Texas

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

Michael Crabtree

WR

Texas Tech

The stress fracture and subsequent surgery has many scouts, coaches and GM’s, well, stressing about his value. However, the last two years of game film will likely ease some of that stress. The injury shouldn’t affect his value but it may cause team’s to proceed cautiously. The Bengals need a lot on both sides of the ball, but a replacement for Houshmanzadeh with a talent like Crabtree is tough to pass up.

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. Smith’s combine disappearance has likely caused him to lose the claim as the best O-lineman in the draft, but time is already causing teams to forget about his off-field issues. The Raiders need to protect their quarterback and need to pave lanes for their running backs, Smith could help do that. I repeat, COULD.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars

Michael Oher

OT

Ole Miss

Oher is finally getting more buzz about his skills and NFL potential than about the Michael Lewis book that was written about him. He looked great at the combine and the Senior Bowl and should definitely be a top ten pick in 2009. Jacksonville may be tempted here to select Jeremy Maclin to replace their TROUBLED wide receiver corps, but Oher has to be the pick.

9. Green Bay Packers

Aaron Maybin

DE

Penn State

Maybin has the talent to be great in the NFL. He also has great versatility to play as a speed rush defensive end or to be an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Since the Packers are switching from a 4-3 to a 3-4 a player like Maybin makes even more sense because they can utilize his position flexibility to help that transition.

10. San Francisco 49ers

Mark Sanchez

QB

USC

Sanchez’s decision to participate in the drills at the Combine was a good one. Not only did it show an eagerness to prove himself as an elite prospect but he was able to silence many of his critics. His performance not only locked him into the first round but will likely be a top 15 pick. If the 49ers do jump at Sanchez it will likely signal the major error they made with Alex Smith, but passing on Sanchez would be likely more foolish than the Smith pick 5 years ago.

11. Buffalo Bills

Rey Maualuga

LB

USC

Maualuga is without a doubt the best interior linebacker in the draft. He is very explosive and can fill holes in the line very quickly. If Ray Lewis and Troy Polamalu had a baby, Maualuga would be the result. The Bills need help defensively and there are few better players to provide an immediate impact in the 2009 draft.

12. Denver Broncos

B.J. Raji

DT

Boston College

Raji is the best interior defensive lineman in this draft however the recent report of a positive test for marijuana has had some affect on his draft stock. Considering the last time a stud defensive tackle saw his draft stock fall due to a positive drug test at the combine (Warren Sapp), I think teams are salivating at the prospect of grabbing Raji in the teens. The Broncos would do well to take a front line player that can cause chaos in the backfield and make the defensive backs jobs easier.

13. Washington Redskins

Jeremy Maclin

WR

Missouri

Maclin has a great skill set. He has good hands, great speed and agility. He can help a team in the passing game, the return game and was also a very effective option out of the backfield on occasion. His combine performance locked him in as the 2nd best receiver available in the draft. The Redskins have plenty of offensive options currently, but Maclin would provide a noticeable upgrade to the wide receivers and is a great value at pick 13 overall.

14. New Orleans Saints

Malcom Jenkins

CB

Ohio State

Jenkins has been given the benefit of playing behind a very good defensive front during his college career but that doesn’t mean he isn’t talented. OSU’s history of producing good CB’s will continue with Jenkins. The Saints could be a good team if they could prevent the big play, Jenkins can help that problem right away.

15. Houston Texans

Vontae Davis

CB

Illinois

Malcom Jenkins gets all the hype of a Big Ten CB but Davis has the better upside. His recovery speed is what is going to make him a great corner in the NFL. I’m not sure why the Texans were only 8-8 last season as they don’t have that many glaring holes. Depth and talent in the defensive backfield will be a good boost though.

16. San Diego Chargers

Darrius Heyward-Bey

WR

Maryland

Heyward-Bey went into the combine with the title as a big physical receiver. He can now add “lightning fast” to that resume. His 4.30 makes him the fastest offensive player available. He needs to work on catching the ball with his hands more, but his size and speed make him extremely attractive. Stretching the field with Heyward-Bey can only help the Charger offense to be even more prolific next season.

17. New York Jets

Brian Cushing

LB

USC

Cushing has plenty of question marks to go with his talent, there is quite a bit of debate as to whether he will translate into a OLB in a 4-3 scheme or ILB in a 3-4. However as GM’s watch him on the field, those question marks will likely be forgotten. Cushing’s draft stock will likely hinge on his medical records and team interviews rather than his measurables. The Jets and Rex Ryan are very concerned with the quarterback position but can’t really address it with this pick. A solid talent in the middle of the defense will make the defense a bit more stout, something Ryan would likely prefer.

18. Denver Broncos (from Chicago)

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. If Denver is able to take Raji with the 12th pick, a defensive back is the logical selection with the pick that the Broncos received from the Bears. If Raji is gone at 12, Jenkins could be the pick there with the 18th pick being either Peria Jerry or James Laurinitis.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Eben Britton

OT

Arizona

Britton is a big man and can anchor an offensive line. He will have to work on his footwork, but he has the raw skills to be great. I was extremely certain that the Buccaneers had their sights on Brandon Pettigrew, but the acquisition of Kellen Winslow Jr. nullifies that thought. Tampa Bay could look to go with depth at offensive line, like Britton, or they could give thought to defensive players like Robert Ayers or James Laurinitis.

20. Detroit Lions (from Dallas)

Brandon Pettigrew

TE

Oklahoma State

At 6’6″, 260 lbs. Pettigrew creates a match-up nightmare for opposing defenses, no matter who is throwing him the ball. He can be a great asset to the offense in the short and intermediate passing game. Although two offensive players for defensive minded Jim Schwartz in his first draft might seem like a stretch, the thought of leaving a talent like Pettigrew on the table would be a bit too much to handle.

21. Philadelphia Eagles

Knowshon Moreno

RB

Georgia

Moreno is a blend of speed, agility and muscle and can provide any team with a great home run threat out of the backfield. He has amazing downfield moves and can make just about any defender look foolish. The Eagles know they need a running back with some size and strength to move the pile because Brian Westbrook cannot do it.

22. Minnesota Vikings

Robert Ayers

DE

Tennessee

Ayers is difficult to project because the tape on him is relatively inconsistent. He proved that he is a great practice player at the Senior Bowl. In order to succeed in the NFL, he needs to bring his practice intensity to game day. While the Vikings have a lot of big name talent on the defensive line, they don’t have a lot of depth behind Jared Allen or the Williams boys (Pat and Kevin). Ayers talent could flourish along side three pro-bowl players.

23. New England Patriots

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. The Patriots need to help their defense. A corner might be the logical choice, but Laurinitis seems like a perfect fit in the Bellichick way of life.

24. Atlanta Falcons

Alphonso Smith

CB

Wake Forest

Smith’s nickname is “Prime” for being a shorter version of Deion Sanders. He has great tools to get after opposing receivers and will likely be a regular in quarterback’s nightmares. Atlanta’s surprise season was in spite of one of the weakest defensive backfields in the league. Smith is a little bit of a reach here, but how can you resist a Deion Sanders clone not going to the Falcons?

25. Miami Dolphins

Hakeem Nicks

WR

North Carolina

Nicks is a big, physical receiver that has bear paws for hands. He catches everything thrown to him. His breakout season for Butch Davis at UNC has made him a must see at the combine for NFL GM’s. The Dolphins have a bunch of receivers that all need to be in the slot. Nicks is a guy that can line up wide and run the traditional routes from the position.

26. Baltimore Ravens

Percy Harvin

WR

Florida

Harvin is possibly the best athlete in the draft. He has amazing speed and is surprisingly strong for his stature. His game likely translates to becoming a slot receiver in the NFL but he can line up anywhere if asked. John Harbaugh has to be pleased with last year’s first round pick, Joe Flacco. Giving him a young target to allow him to grow is just the next step in the progression.

27. Indianapolis Colts

Darius Butler

CB

Connecticut

Butler is relatively unknown at this point but his cover skills are going to be whispered about in war rooms on draft day. He is very fundamental and has a ton of field experience due to his status as a three year starter. The Colts are in need of defense (again) and Butler is creeping up draft boards very quietly. I have very high hopes for Butler’s NFL career.

28. Philadelphia Eagles (from Carolina)

Everette Brown

DE

Florida State

Everette Brown is an extremely agile defensive lineman. There is talk about his game translating to the OLB position in the NFL which would likely best utilize his versatility. Early in the off-season, Brown was being ranked among the best DE’s in the draft. His value slipping isn’t an effect of him not performing well at the combine, but more of a result of other players improving their stock significantly. The Eagles could also look at taking an offensive lineman here, but with Britton off the board anyone else would be a reach. Getting Brown with the 28th pick is a good value for Philadelphia

29. New York Giants

Clay Matthews

LB

USC

Matthews has joined his USC teammates as a first round prospect after a great work-out at the Combine. He can jump even higher up draft boards by showing his great work ethic in individual work outs and at USC’s pro day. The Giants have addressed much of their defensive depth deficiencies through free agency but adding some youth to the equation wouldn’t help. The only other blatant need for the Giants is a wide receiver, but there just isn’t one worthy of a first round pick available.

30. Tennessee Titans

Peria Jerry

DT

Ole Miss

Peria Jerry 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. At the Senior Bowl he upped his stock into a late first round prospect. The Titans biggest loss this off-season was that of Albert Haynesworth’s defection to Washington. Drafting Jerry can help fill the void left by the Pro-Bowl Defensive Tackle.

31. Arizona Cardinals

Chris Wells

RB

Ohio State

Wells is a downhill runner that doesn’t shy away from contact. He has deceiving speed which allows him to break away from opposing linebackers. “Beanie” is working very hard to toss the reputation that he is injury prone. The Cardinals would love Wells to be another useful option in their offensive attack.

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 could be a solid Center in the NFL. Unger can also play at guard or tackle if need be, the Steelers could really use that flexibility and depth on their offensive line.

 

 

Next best available:

Donald Brown

RB

Connecticut

Larry English

OLB

Northern Illinois

Sean Smith

DB

Utah

Tyson Jackson

DE

LSU

Alex Mack

C

Cal

LeSean McCoy

RB

Pitt

Connor Barwin

DE

Cincinatti

Shonn Greene

RB

Iowa