The combine gets underway in earnest this weekend, with drills upon drills upon drills taking place from Saturday to Tuesday, starting with the offensive linemen tomorrow and ending with the defensive backs on Tuesday.
I thought I’d squeeze in an update ahead of the important stuff, but it goes without saying that what happens over the next several days at Lucas Oil Stadium will shake up many a draft board and mock draft. So, expect next week’s update to look juuuust a little different, because nothing ever goes according to plan at the combine, does it?
1. Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
Mark Sanchez has the chance to make his case at the combine, and there’s a legitimate chance that the Lions could wind up favoring him over Stafford. We’ll see after this weekend, but for now, the man being taken first overall in the 2009 NFL Draft is still Stafford.
2. St. Louis Rams: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
Monroe seems to have the least flaws of the top offensive tackle prospects on the board, so pencil him in here. However, if and what changes the Rams decide to make to their roster over the next several weeks will determine whether the Rams go for him or Michael Crabtree.
Previous: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
3. Kansas City Chiefs: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
I’ve seen many a recent mock with Florida State’s Everette Brown listed here, but Sanchez is also becoming an increasingly popular choice. The Chiefs don’t have a good fallback if Tyler Thigpen struggles or gets hurt, and it never hurt anyone to have some competition, did it? Well…
Previous: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
4. Seattle Seahawks: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
Seattle will be pretty ticked if St. Louis nabs Crabtree before they do, but if the Rams opt for an offensive tackle (or Aaron Curry), then Matt Hasselbeck will get the target that he needs.
5. Cleveland Browns: Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest
#1? Not likely. #2? Not likely. #3? Maybe. #4? Not at all. #5? Aaron Curry seems to be destined for Cleveland.
6. Cincinnati Bengals: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
Years from now, don’t be surprised if Jason Smith is the best tackle from this year’s draft class. He may not have gotten a lot of pub thanks to playing for one of college football’s afterthoughts, but Cincinnati will be very, very happy if they land him.
Previous: Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss
7. Oakland Raiders: Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss
Oher does have his question marks, but he’d open a lot of holes for a fellow SEC alum in Darren McFadden, and over time, he should grow into a reliable protector for another fellow SEC alum in JaMarcus Russell. I still think they need to nab a receiver, but that’s something that can wait.
Previous: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
8. Jacksonville Jaguars: Rey Maualuga, LB, USC
There’s a compelling argument for a left tackle, or perhaps even a running back after the release of Fred Taylor, but Maualuga is still my guy here.
9. Green Bay Packers: Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State
If Aaron Curry isn’t around at #5, Cleveland could take Jenkins, but he‘s another guy who holds steady from the previous update.
10. San Francisco 49ers: Everette Brown, DE/OLB, Florida State
If Mark Sanchez goes to Kansas City, San Francisco could pin their hopes on Josh Freeman’s stock skyrocketing to where he won’t be a reach at #10. If that doesn’t happen, then Brown will be a fantastic addition to a weak pass rush…if he doesn’t do some jumping himself.
Previous: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
11. Buffalo Bills: Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas
I don’t really see him going anywhere else but Buffalo, but maybe he could creep into the Chiefs’ line of sight with a great combine.
12. Denver Broncos: B.J. Raji, NT, Boston College
If Raji’s stock keeps rising like it has been, Denver might be lucky if he’s still available here. If he’s not, Peria Jerry, whose stock is also rising, could be a nice fallback option.
13. Washington Redskins: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
Could Andre Smith really fall this far? It wouldn’t surprise me if he did. Not too long ago, he was in the conversation to be #1, but the concerns about him are mounting by the day. Maybe he’ll put some of those concerns to rest in Indy, but the masses aren’t as sold on him as they once seemed to be.
Previous: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
14. New Orleans Saints: James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State
Laurinaitis should go here, but if things shake out differently above him, he could be set for a fall to the bottom of the first round, even if he doesn’t do anything to warrant it.
15. Houston Texans: Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech
On one side of their front line, the Texans have a freakish athlete in Mario Williams, who’s developed into one of the league’s best pass rushers in three short seasons. But, he needs some support on the other side, and he could get it with another freakish athlete in Johnson.
Previous: Everette Brown, DE/OLB, Florida State
16. San Diego Chargers: Eben Britton, OT, Arizona
Darren Sproles could still leave despite being franchised, but if he does stay in San Diego for another season, the Chargers could elect to fill a need at right tackle. Britton has experience at both left and right tackle, but he projects better on the right.
Previous: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
17. New York Jets: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
With Chris Wells and Knowshon Moreno likely both available, the Jets go offense here, even though running back isn’t a desperate need. Davis has the chance to be taken in the top 15, but he’s a great fit here, where he’d add to the young talents the Jets already have in their secondary.
18. Chicago Bears: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
It probably won’t happen, but it has to someday, right? The Bears really need to beef up their receiving corps, and Maclin would give them a playmaker on offense…and make teams kick a lot of kickoffs short or out of bounds.
Previous: Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State
Tampa Bay has other needs, but I still don’t see how they could pass up on Wells.
20. Detroit Lions: William Beatty, OT, Connecticut
The Lions need to go for a left tackle with their second first-round choice. Beatty’s stock is rising, and he looks to emerge as the best left tackle option outside of the top-tier prospects.
Previous: Eben Britton, OT, Arizona
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
Yes, Brian Westbrook is there already, and Correll Buckhalter is a decent backup. But if Knowshon Moreno is sitting there at #21, how can you let him slip by? Call it a Know-brainer, if you will.
Previous: William Moore, S, Missouri
22. Minnesota Vikings: Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State
If the Vikings pursue an established quarterback in free agency, then that rules out Freeman. Freeman could very well rule himself out here too, if he greatly impresses (San Francisco, are you watching?) or does poorly at the combine.
23. New England Patriots: Aaron Maybin, DE/OLB, Penn State
Maybin is one of several prospects who could bump his stock up this weekend, and his great upside could see him go no lower than 18. But for now, I still have him becoming a Patriot, where he’ll add even more youth to the Pats’ defense, after they went for Jerod Mayo in the first round last year.
24. Atlanta Falcons: Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
No other team besides Buffalo has a pressing need for a tight end, which bodes well for Pettigrew’s chances of landing right in the Falcons’ clutches.
25. Miami Dolphins: Brian Cushing, LB, USC
Cushing’s versatility to play inside or outside make him an attractive option for the Dolphins, who need to add some depth and look to the future at linebacker.
Previous: Duke Robinson, G, Oklahoma
26. Baltimore Ravens: Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina
This pick should be all about receiver for Baltimore. Maybe Jeremy Maclin will fall to here, but if he doesn’t, it’ll be a toss-up between Darrius Heyward-Bey and Nicks. Nicks’ stock is rising, and whether or not Demetrius Williams pans out, Joe Flacco could use a physically-imposing playmaker to go with Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton, who are both 5’10.
Previous: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
27. Indianapolis Colts: Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss
I have my doubts that Jerry will actually be available at this point, but I do think the Colts might trade up to get him. If not, look for Auburn’s Sen’Derrick Marks to be an option to fill that need at tackle, or for a wide receiver.
28. Philadelphia Eagles: Duke Robinson, G, Oklahoma
Contrary to what some may believe, Andy Reid isn’t looking for a new buddy to go to the Sizzler with. What he is (or should be) looking for is some extra beef on an offensive line that is aging on the exterior and has question marks on the interior.
Previous: Phil Loadholt, OT, Oklahoma
29. New York Giants: Clint Sintim, LB, Virginia
The Giants would no doubt love for Brian Cushing to fall past Miami, but if that doesn’t happen, then Sintim, who has the skills to be a force on the outside or slot into the middle.
Previous: Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina
30. Tennessee Titans: Percy Harvin, WR, Florida
Harvin’s size and durability concerns have him pegged for the bottom of the first round, but that’s good news for the Titans. They passed up on a receiver last year and it worked out pretty well, but they shouldn’t let Harvin slip by here.
31. Arizona Cardinals: LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh
There’s a chance Knowshon Moreno could drop all the way down here, but I don’t see that happening. McCoy will get the hard yards the Cardinals need on the ground, and he’ll catch plenty of passes as well.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers: Alex Mack, C, Cal
Don’t be dumb and draft anything other than an offensive lineman, Pittsburgh. If Mack’s still on the board here, he’s the best option available for the Steelers, who desperately need to shore up their porous line.