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rugbythug
04-30-2009, 08:42 AM
Defenders earn four of top five spots in first 2009 mock draft
Sure, the 2008 NFL draft just finished up, but that doesn't mean Todd McShay and Scouts Inc. can't take a stab at projecting the first round in 2009.
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McShay By Todd McShay
Scouts Inc.
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The 2008 NFL draft is in the books, so now it's time to look ahead to 2009.

Another Early Look We're giving you the top pro prospects for next season, but which teams will be the best in college football in 2008? Glad you asked.
Preseason top 25
Obviously, there are plenty of variables here, starting with the draft order. Scouts Inc.'s NFL team looked at 2008 schedules, draft order and personnel -- including 2008 draft classes and free-agent moves -- and put together its initial 2008 power rankings to determine the order of this mock draft.

As for the prospects, the talent pool includes every draft-eligible player. Yes, we know some of the top '08 juniors might not come out early, but if they're technically eligible for the draft, they're definitely eligible for the 2009 mock draft. An asterisk denotes draft-eligible underclassmen, including those who redshirted or spent a year in prep school.

So, with the first pick of the 2009 NFL Mock Draft, the Atlanta Falcons select

1. Atlanta Falcons -- Fili Moala, DT, USC
Atlanta finally gets its playmaking interior defensive lineman. Moala has flown under the radar to this point but he should emerge from the shadow of 2008 No. 7 overall pick Sedrick Ellis and become one of the elite defenders in college football this fall.

2. Detroit Lions -- Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech
Coach Rod Marinelli's defense is predicated on speed up front, and Johnson is blessed with plenty of that. Johnson was overlooked while playing in a rotation last season, but it won't take long for the rangy edge-rusher to make his mark in 2008.

3. Kansas City Chiefs -- Matt Stafford*, QB, Georgia
Another injury-plagued and disappointing season out of fragile QB Brodie Croyle will force the Chiefs to address the position with this high draft pick in 2009. If the supremely talented Stafford continues to progress as he did last fall, he could easily emerge as a top-five pick next April.

4. Miami Dolphins -- Al Woods, DT, LSU
At 6-foot-4 and 320 pounds, Woods is a physically imposing defensive tackle with enough size and strength to anchor the middle of a 3-4 defense.

5. Cincinnati Bengals -- Sen'Derrick Marks*, DT, Auburn
The Bengals got shut out in their pursuit of an elite defensive tackle in this year's draft, but 2009 will be more kind. Marks is an undersized playmaker with the first-step quickness to disrupt as a 3-technique tackle, which is exactly what Marvin Lewis' defense needs along its front.

6. Oakland Raiders -- Andre Smith*, OT, Alabama
Smith stepped in immediately as the Tide's starting left tackle and continues to improve with more coaching and game experience. The Raiders could enlist a player with his kind of skills to take care of their most recent first-round investments in QB JaMarcus Russell and RB Darren McFadden.

7. Chicago Bears -- Tim Tebow*, QB, Florida
It's almost certain that the Bears will need a quarterback come next offseason. Unfortunately, next year's crop of signal-callers does not look promising at this point. Bears fans won't be thrilled if the team uses a high pick on another Gators quarterback following the failed Rex Grossman experiment, but Tebow's unique blend of skills and rare intangibles might be too good to pass up. Should Tebow elect to leave school early, however, his uncommon skill set could make him the most difficult prospect at any position to grade.

8. San Francisco 49ers -- Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi
Oher, who possesses the size and athletic ability to develop into an upper-echelon starting tackle in the NFL, would make an ideal bookend opposite 2007 first-rounder Joe Staley.

9. St. Louis Rams -- Rey Maualuga, ILB, USC
Maualuga is the top senior prospect on my 2009 draft board at this insanely early point in the process, although he wouldn't be the first senior off the board. I've never seen a defensive player take over a game the way Maualuga did versus Illinois in the Rose Bowl, and his recognition skills are clearly catching up with his rare physical tools.

10. New York Jets -- Knowshon Moreno*, RB, Georgia
Moreno burst onto the scene as a redshirt freshman in 2007 and he should build on that momentum as a first-year starter behind a more mature offensive line during the upcoming season. The Jets were not able to land McFadden in this year's draft but Moreno would be worth the wait if he's available in 2009.

11. Tennessee Titans -- Michael Crabtree*, WR, Texas Tech
Do not pigeonhole Crabtree; he's not just a product of coach Mike Leach's pass-crazy offense. The tall, long-armed receiver could be the go-to-target QB Vince Young so desperately needs.

12. Houston Texans -- Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State
Jenkins made a wise decision to return as a senior. He needs to improve his footwork and overall man-to-man cover skills to prove to scouts he's capable of playing corner in any scheme at the next level. Regardless, the Texans could use his ball-hawking skills in their secondary, no matter whether it's at cornerback or safety.

13. Denver Broncos -- James Laurinaitis, ILB, Ohio State
Laurinaitis surprised many NFL scouts when he elected to return to Columbus for his senior season. Assuming he continues to make progress in 2008, there's no reason to believe he will fall out of the top 20 picks in next year's draft. The instinctive, high-motor inside linebacker would be a nice addition to a Denver defense in search of more stout defenders up the middle.

14. Baltimore Ravens -- Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
The Ravens need an upgrade at corner and a young playmaker like Davis, who possesses rare athleticism for his size, would be an ideal fit.

15. Philadelphia Eagles (from CAR) -- Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
The Eagles failed to land a go-to-receiver in the 2008 draft (no, DeSean Jackson does not qualify). Instead of going the free-agent route to land a weapon for veteran QB Donovan McNabb, they might as well use one of two first-round picks in '09 on a future primary target for future QB Kevin Kolb.

16. Arizona Cardinals -- LeSean McCoy*, RB, Pittsburgh
After Arizona failed to find a complement for Edgerrin James in this year's draft, the Cardinals' need at running back will be far more pressing in the spring of '09. McCoy is a supremely talented sophomore who is draft eligible after spending a year in prep school, and he is reportedly already eyeing the 2009 draft.

17. Buffalo Bills -- Travis Beckum, TE, Wisconsin
Beckum could emerge as a top-20 pick if he can add 10-15 pounds to his frame while maintaining his big-play ability as a receiver during his senior season.

18. Philadelphia Eagles -- Phil Loadholt, OT, Oklahoma
After failing to land one of the record-setting seven offensive tackles selected in the first round of this year's draft, coach Andy Reid will be craving a big fella like Loadholt in 2009.

19. Washington Redskins -- Greg Hardy*, DE, Mississippi
Hardy is flying under the radar right now despite notching 10 solo sacks the past two seasons, and the Redskins will be looking for a young pass-rushing threat after failing to land one during the latest draft.

20. Minnesota Vikings -- Percy Harvin*, WR/RS, Florida
Staying healthy for a full season would all but guarantee Harvin a spot in the first round of the NFL draft, either next year or in 2010.

21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Ciron Black, OT, LSU
The Bucs will be looking to enlist the services of a talented left tackle prospect such as Black, who displays quick feet for a 6-5, 315-pounder.

22. Green Bay Packers -- Max Unger, OT, Oregon
Unger, who projects as a first-day pick in next year's draft, is the type of versatile lineman the Packers typically covet.

23. Cleveland Browns -- Ricky Sapp, DE/OLB, Clemson
Sapp is an up-and-coming talent with outstanding speed and pass-rushing potential. He should fit perfectly as a rush linebacker in a 3-4 scheme like the one employed in Cleveland.

24. Seattle Seahawks -- Duke Robinson, G, Oklahoma
The Seahawks are still looking for a long-term solution at left guard, so why not use this pick on the player who is at this point the top prospect at that position.

25. Pittsburgh Steelers -- Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
Jackson is among the elite senior defensive prospects right now but that might not hold up for 12 full months, as he's simply not a great fit for every team's defensive scheme. At 6-5 and 290, Jackson is best suited to play defensive end in a three-man front like the one employed in Pittsburgh.

26. New Orleans Saints -- Gerald McRath, OLB, Southern Miss
The Saints will be looking for an injection of youth and athleticism at linebacker and the speedy, undersized McRath falls in line with that objective.

27. New York Giants -- Brandon Spikes, ILB, Florida
The Giants could use a quick and powerful tackling machine like Spikes after failing to address that need early in the 2008 draft.

28. Jacksonville Jaguars -- William Moore, S, Missouri
Moore emerged as a playmaking machine in 2007, when he notched 114 tackles and eight interceptions. At 6-1 and 215 pounds he could be the versatile strong safety Jacksonville needs opposite FS Reggie Nelson.

29. Indianapolis Colts -- Vance Walker, DT/DE, Georgia Tech
Walker has the right blend of tools to provide depth along the interior of Indianapolis' quick-but-undersized defensive line.

30. San Diego Chargers -- Auston English, DE/OLB, Oklahoma
English is an instinctive, high-motor player with very good speed and fluid hips for a young defensive end. He already has experience dropping into coverage on zone-blitz looks within Oklahoma's complex defensive scheme.

31. Dallas Cowboys -- Demetrius Byrd, WR, LSU
Wide receiver is the one area Dallas did not address during an otherwise promising 2008 draft. Byrd has a lot to prove as a senior but he certainly has the blend of size and deep speed it takes to emerge as a first-round draft pick.

32. New England Patriots -- Brian Cushing, OLB, USC
The Patriots continue a recent trend of drafting linebackers by using this selection on the versatile Cushing. The 6-5, 248-pounder has experience on the strong side and as a rush linebacker, which will be attractive to a New England coaching staff that likes versatility in its linebackers.

Todd McShay is the director of college football scouting for Scouts Inc. He has been evaluating prospects for the NFL draft since 1998. Scouts Inc.'s Kevin Weidl and Steve Muench also contributed to this report.

Hercules Rockefeller
04-30-2009, 08:44 AM
I count 11 who actually went in the 1st round this year

goldengopher1976
04-30-2009, 08:45 AM
Not too bad considering it was a year ahead.

Picked Harvin to the Vikes, and had a few teams and players close to their actual places. Funny to see some projected first rounders not even in the discussion a year later...

outdoor_miner
04-30-2009, 08:47 AM
Too funny - shows why it's way way way too early to be caught up in the players we could be missing out on. Things change pretty fast. The Top 5 are especially funny.

Broncoman13
04-30-2009, 08:51 AM
that
was
good

Jens1893
04-30-2009, 08:54 AM
Vance Walker got drafted ..... in the seventh round!

Ill give him a pass on Byrd because of the car accident.

BroncoInSkinland
04-30-2009, 09:00 AM
The more things change...anyone know if the 2010 mock draft has us taking a DT or LB with the first pick?

Gcver2ver3
04-30-2009, 09:01 AM
very interesting indeed...

he's pretty close on some of his draft orders...had us picking 13th and we picked 12th...Cincy 5th and they picked 6th...Oakland 6th and they picked 7th...Detroit 2nd and they picked 1st...on the money with KC...and only off by two picks on a few also...

of course he was way off on some, but overall a good job...

nice to see Moreno was considered top notch even a year ago...

dbfan21
04-30-2009, 09:05 AM
Great post! Very cool to see how close/far apart McShay's predictions were.

boltaneer
04-30-2009, 09:39 AM
He got OLB English right for the Chargers. Wrong English though. ;)

worm
04-30-2009, 11:16 AM
Jackson went all the way from #25 to #3...and that was after a Senior year that saw his production fall off significantly when Dorsey left.

HAT
04-30-2009, 11:25 AM
Expected Non-playoff teams:

ATL #1: 11-5 playoff team
MIA #4: 11-5 playoff team
TEN #11: 13-3 playoff team
BAL #14: 11-5 playoff team
PHI #15 (from CAR): CAR 12-4 playoff team
AZ #16: NFC Champs

Expected playoff teams:
GB #22: 6-10...no playoffs
CLE #23: 4-12 no playoffs
SEA #24: 4-12 no playoffs
NO #26: 8-8 no playoffs, last in division
JAX #28: 5-11 no playoffs, last in division
SD #30: 8-8, back door'd playoffs, one and done
DAL #31: no playoffs
NE #32: no playoffs

That's FOURTEEN misses as to who was expected to be playoff teams.

As I've said over and over....you simply can't look at the prior years record and project who is playoff bound next year.

Granted, this is only one mans projection but I bet it doesn't look too different from what other "experts" projected as late as last August. Or from what "Joe Public" assumed for that matter.

Can we put an end to all of the "Mcpoopyhead traded a top 10 pick next year for a second rounder!!!" talk?

It's just as likely that Denver picks 24 and Chicago picks 12 as the other way around.