Official 2009 NFL Draft Post & Rumor Mill

As the NFL draft rolls on over the next two days, I’ll post picks, thoughts and stay on top of any rumors that I hear and post them here. Enjoy.

2:55PM ET: Mike Mayock of the NFL Network claims that his “cell phone is blowing up” with reports that the Jets are trying to trade up to No. 2 for USC quarterback Mark Sanchez.

3:19PM ET: According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the Dolphins will select Connecticut cornerback Darius Butler at No. 25.

3:22PM ET: The Rams could trade back into the first round for middle linebacker Rey Maualuga according to NFL Network’s Steve Wyche.

3:38PM ET: I’m shocked the Chiefs passed on Aaron Curry, but all the pre-draft rumors that said Tyson Jackson would be their pick were obviously dead on. Jackson is the best 3-4 end in the draft and obvious was a commodity.

3:40PM ET: The Browns got exactly what they wanted with this trade. They weren’t in love with anyone at No.5 and managed to trade out. Great move – I wonder what kind of ransom the Browns got.

3:42PM ET: Mike Mayock just made a great point about the Jets trading up to No. 5. What team did they want to get ahead of to go all the way up to No. 5?

3:45PM ET: DE Kenyon Coleman, QB Brett Ratliff, S Abram Elam No. 17 and No. 57. A sleeper in this deal is Elam, who is one of the more promising safeties in the draft.

3:52PM ET: The Bengals select OT Andre Smith – another low character guy for their low-character roster. He is a tremendous talent, but he comes with a ton of baggage.

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Are the Bills trying to trade up for Andre Smith?

Scout.com is speculating that the Bills are trying to trade up from their No. 11 spot ahead of the Bengals at No. 6 in order to nab Alabama offensive tackle Andre Smith.

Buffalo is obviously in huge need of a left tackle after trading Pro Bowler Jason Peters to the Eagles last week. If they want to get ahead of the Bengals (a team also in need of a tackle), then they may have a trade partner in Cleveland.

The Browns have the No. 5 pick and while some speculate that they could be targeting USC quarterback Mark Sanchez or Texas Tech wideout Michael Crabtree with that selection, they have bigger needs on the defensive side of the ball. (The reason people are speculating about Cleveland taking Sanchez or Crabtree is because some believe that the Browns will deal either/both Brady Quinn or Braylon Edwards by the end of the draft.)

Cleveland’s biggest need as it outside linebacker and unless Aaron Curry falls to No. 5, no other linebacker prospect would be worthy of that spot. So if Buffalo wants to trade up, the Browns could drop back to No. 11 and then target a defender like Brian Orakpo or Everrette Brown there.

What’s interesting is the possibility (emphasis on “possibility”, because this is still only a rumor) that the Bills would even want Smith, a prospect who has had his fair share of problems leading up to the draft. He was suspended for the Sugar Bowl game in early January, showed up to the NFL scouting combine out of shape and reportedly had a lackluster showing at his Pro Day. But the fact that teams still consider him a top 10 prospect speaks to his immense talent. (If he didn’t carry all of that baggage, he would be a serious candidate for the top overall pick.)

It’ll be interesting to see whether or not Buffalo has the desire to move up and if they’ll pull the trigger on a trade. Tackle Michael Oher of Ole Miss could be there at No. 11 if the Bills don’t trade up and while he doesn’t have as much natural talent as Smith, he also comes with less baggage and is still one of the best offensive line prospects in the draft.

2009 NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

This is it – the week NFL draft nuts have been waiting for. Soon enough, prospects will know what cities they’re headed to and draft mock experts everywhere will look like idiots when less than half of their predictions are correct despite spending hours of time researching the picks.

I say it every year – the NFL draft is a crapshoot in terms of trying to make predictions. Nobody knows how high prospects are rated on draft boards around the league except the teams themselves. So while it’s fun to project who will go where, nobody has a clue – not Mike Mayock, not Mel Kiper and certainly not Anthony Stalter. (Did I just refer to myself in the third person? What a joke.)

The following is my third and final mock of the first round. In my previous two mocks, I had some fun by predicting potential trades that could play out, but I won’t do it here. I’m playing this mock “straight up” because predicting trades in the first round is harder to do than predicting what kind of mood Billy Bob Thornton will be in when he sits down to give an interview. Zing!

Some of you will inevitably feel as though that I have teams reaching with their picks. That’s fine, but realize that reaches are going to happen come Saturday because they’re just a part of the draft. If you disagree with any of my picks, go ahead and let me hear about it in the comments section. After all, the NFL draft is a spectacle and it’s supposed to be fun for fans. Enjoy all the action on Saturday and good luck to your favorite team on draft weekend.

(Click here to see Mock Draft Version 1.0 and Mock Draft Version 2.0)

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2009 NFL Mock Draft Version 2.0

In my first attempt to project the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft, I predicted the Lions to take Georgia’s Matthew Stafford with the first overall pick, Alabama’s offensive tackle Andre Smith to fall out of the top 15 and I also drummed up a potential swap between the Browns and 49ers so that San Fran could land USC signal caller Mark Sanchez.

But to paraphrase that overactor Nicholas Cage in “The Rock”: Gee, kind of a lot has happened since then. Most notably the Bears sending two first round picks to the Broncos for quarterback Jay Cutler and the Giants’ release of receiver Plaxico Burress.

Here’s my second attempt at projecting the first round of this month’s draft. As always, feel free to criticize in the comments section, but remember that I’m a human – I have feelings, too, damn it. So be gentle.

(Click here to see Mock Draft Version 1.0)

1. Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
Mock 1.0 Projection: Stafford
Nothing in the past couple of weeks has changed my mind about Stafford eventually winding up in Detroit. GM Martin Mayhew reportedly wants to trade this selection because of the financial burden that is bestowed upon having the top overall pick, but other teams don’t want it for the same reason. In the end, Jason Smith (Baylor) and Eugene Monroe (Virginia) are both very good options here, but the Lions were reportedly very impressed with Stafford’s private workout and you know what? They simply need a quarterback.

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Top 5 Potential First Round Busts

Growing up, we were all told that if we studied hard enough, we’d ace tests, understand our homework and get good grades in school.

What’s funny is that same philosophy can be applied to NFL teams when they scout the draft, yet they’re not guaranteed to succeed in the end. Teams pour countless of hours into scouting the draft and yet they still wind up failing by selecting players that turn out to be busts.

Pundits will brag that it’s easy to spot potential first round busts, yet teams continue to draft flops every April. The teams that usually do well (Steelers, Patriots, Colts, etc.), are the ones that can spot players that fit their specific offensive or defensive schemes. They limit the risk of taking a bust because they can scout prospects that fit specific roles within their overall team philosophies.

But for the teams that are still enamored with drafting the best player available regardless of scheme, or the ones that draft for need and ignore everything else, I’ve ranked the top 5 potential first round busts in this year’s NFL draft. Granted, it’s easy to list all of a player’s weaknesses and label them as a potential bust, but I tried to compile the five prospects that demonstrate specific concerns for pro teams.

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