Ask Papa Weimer: Week 6 Fantasy Football Advice

It’s been a pretty busy week for me in fantasy football with answering questions for week 6. No doubt the listing of my email address last week ( was just the trick I needed to be in here hunting and pecking for the right words to answer questions. I’ve listed some late questions and answers from last week’s stuff below, I also have some relevant questions for this weeks fantasy football action. If you have questions, ask them. If I get enough by later in the week, I’ll post my questions and answers again in Ask Papa Weimer Week 6, section b or 2 or something of the sort. Stop trying to confuse me. I’m witty folks, unflappable like Tiger and Larry Bird and Michael Jordan put into one chubby old white dude. I call it how I see it!

Last Week’s Late Questions:

Michael from Denmark wrote in, “I play in a points league, that also awards receptions. I’m pretty well set in most positions, but have big doubts as to who I should start in the flex position. My options are Tashard Choice, Rickie Williams and Roddy White. I like Choice’s matchup against the Chiefs, but with Barber recovering, I fear a dip in his workload. Rickie Williams is playing well, and with Pennington out, he could see enough of the ball to produce good numbers, but I don’t particularly like the Jets matchup. Roddy has been rusty, but as my top draft pick at WR, I feel that I shouldn’t abandon him completely, and I’m confident he will start to produce at some point, I’m just not sure it will be against a strong 49’ers D.”

Michael, thanks for the email. I am pretty sure I would roll with Tashard Choice. He plays against the worst rushing defense in the league, or at least one of them, and while Barber is expected to play, he’s not going to be fully healthy and the Cowboys didn’t want to make him carry the ball every time even when he was fully healthy. Choice is a very good runner that explodes through the line, and he has a very good chance to get a lot of carries for the Cowboys, especially if they get up early against the Chiefs. I wouldn’t start Ricky just because he’s going against the Jets. New York is great against the run, and they certainly won’t be too worried about Chad Henne beating them all day. Roddy is a great player, but until I’m convinced they are going to try and get him the ball, I’m going to stay away from him against great defenses. He’s a beast, always a threat to make a big play, but Nate Clements is one of the best defensive backs in the league, and thus I expect him to give Roddy a tough time all day long. In a better match-up, I would definitely give Roddy a shot. All’s not lost with him, but hopefully the Falcons will start taking chances with their best receiver… I think the match-up insists that Dallas could be up early and up big, and if that’s the case, why would they waste Marion and risk getting him hurt just for mop up duty in the 2nd half? That will be choice’s job, a job he’ll do very well, and he rates out highly as a flex option for me this week. (now of course Roddy White blows up, and Ricky did work too, luckily for me Teshard was plenty for Michael to win his league, even though he started Sims-Walker: he was luckier than me in that regard!)

BSimmons wrote in, “I have a question on which WR to start. Donald Driver is out for me this week and I have Nate Burleson, Donnie Avery and Braylon Edwards with his new team.. Who should I start?? Thanks in advance!”

I think your starter is Nate Burleson, and by a long shot. I’d either wait for Edwards to prove himself in New York, or sell him to someone who loves him in New York. It’s hard to join a team in Week 5 and be a plus player the rest of the year. Chris Chambers wasn’t very good for San Diego a few years back, and Roy Williams did nothing in Dallas last season. I don’t know of a situation where a mid season trade at receiver went well for that receiver’s fantasy stats. Avery is a nice talent, but he’s still battling a hamstring injury, and his QB situation is brutal at best. I’d leave him on your bench until he proves that he’s completely healthy. Nate has a great match-up against a porous secondary, and he gets nearly 10 targets a game or something like that. I like him as a start this week. Hope that helps! (all of these guys had nice weeks, but I found the top gun of the three, as Nasty Nate finished with 10 more points than either Donnie or Braylon – that being said, Braylon really impressed me for the Jets, he could be a solid play the rest of the season. I wonder if he eats into Jericho’s numbers?)

Stuck in a Trailer writes, “I’m stuck in a trailer in Colorado. I figured my best bet was to ask you my fantasy question this week.  Do I really sit Steve Smith (NYG),  my other receivers are Calvin Johnson, Anquan Boldin, and Mike Sims-walker.  A lot of people seem to think these guys are the better choice this week.  What’s your thought? Thanks!”

Has the snow begun or what? Jammed up in a trailer, I can see sitting Steve Smith. Anquan Boldin has a great match-up against the Houston Texans secondary, Larry Fitz should get lots of attention, and you know Kurt and company will be throwing the ball. Calvin Johnson plays against a Steelers secondary that has been brutal against the pass this season. And Mike Sims-Walker goes against the Seahawks, minus their only stud corner (Trufant) and in a huge rut the last three weeks. Steve has a tough match-up with Nnamdi but you’re right, it’d be tough for me to sit him after all he’s done. I’m not sure he’s the type of receiver that Oakland will try to take away with their top corner, but there’s a chance. If I were going to sit one guy and play Smith, I would sit Calvin Johnson, if only because if I was Pittsburgh I would just try to blitz the snot out of Culpepper with double coverage on Calvin. So yes, I would probably end sitting Steve Smith, but it’s a coin flip with Calvin. Steve has the tougher match-up, and is playing against a bad Oakland team so Eli won’t be throwing as much. Hope this helps! (who knew Calvin would get hurt immediately and Mike Sims-Walker would not even get to play because he broke a curfew or something – sorry man, hope the Trailor is warming up! – At least I helped him out properly with this next one…

” Stuck in a Trailer tries me again, “Thanks for the Quick reply.  I just might sit Steve this week and hope it proves to be one of those decisions I can brag about.  Your input was helpful in my decision making so I thought I might get your take on one more conundrum.  DeAngelo Williams, Clinton Portis or Reshard Mendenhall. Can only pick two and so far I think I have switched them around about nine times. No snow as of yet, but between awaiting your responses I’m stocking the wood shed.”

This Week’s Early Questions:

David in Minnesota sent a fearsome foursome of questions my way, “Maclin or Manningham who will be better in the long run? Chester Taylor, Jamal Lewis, Derrick Ward, or Fred Jackson which of these would you keep and why? What about giving up Manningham for Sims-Walker, would you make that deal? How would you rank the following and why: Royal,Collie, Nicks Hakeem, and Crabtree.I am looking for a bye week replacement and a potential WR to take over for TO if he and Edwards don’t get their act together. Thanks for all your help!

Anytime David – Here are your answers in order of the questions… Career-wise, Maclin, he’s a special dynamic – and this season, it’s a tough one. It depends on what you’re going for. Owning an eagle receiver is a scary gig. How many games will DeSean Jackson have 1 catch for 0 yards? I think Manningham is going to be good for 4-5 catches a week, a touchdown 6 or 7 times, and a decent flex or back-up receiver start. I think Maclin could have a couple no-shows, like Jackson this week, but that’s because the Eagles roll that way. It’s tough, surely, but I think Maclin has a better chance to have a huge week while Manningham has a better chance to be decent week in and week out. But, with the Eagles you really never know. If you want consistency, Manningham is probably your best bet. If you want a shot at big points, Maclin is your lottery ticket. Hope that helps David, that’s the best I can do.

Boy, tough call on those running backs; And it would depend on who your other running backs are. If you’re looking for a guy that might not do anything, but if his starter gets hurt he’ll be a Top 10 back, stick with Chester Taylor. Fred Jackson is another guy like that, but he should probably continue to get fantasy numbers, so keeping him around might be easier, but his upside isn’t as high as Chester’s. Derrick Ward has lost a lot of value with the emergence of Caddy and his health, and the demergence of the Bucs wanting to win this season. Jamal Lewis looks like he’ll get all the carries if he’s healthy, and that offensive line is tough, but I just don’t see the offense in Cleveland being worth while this year, that passing game is quite pukeish. Still, of all the guys you listed, I think Jamal is the surest thing for carries on a weekly basis. He has some tough match-ups, but if you’re looking for a guy to start week in and week out, Lewis might be your answer. Again, not a sure thing answer here, but hope that helps.

As for the WR switch, I would much rather have Sims-Walker….
And finally, I’d take Royal #1 because he is the best receiver you’ve listed, and he’s not a rookie. Hakeem Nicks and Collie are tied, in my mind, they will both be contending with other receivers all year long, and while Collie has been more productive, he’ll lose touches in two weeks when Gonzo returns from injury while Nicks might gain touches as he gets more comfortable with the NFL and Giants’ offense. I like Crabtree a lot, but he’s been out of football for quite some time, remember, he spent much of his off season getting healthy and staying off his foot. His talent is immense, no doubt, but it’s a long shot that he’s a top talent this season, so I’d rate him last out of that bunch, for this season.

Last Minute Fantasy Football: Projections by Ryan

This season is going to be crazy in Fantasy Football. How crazy? These things are going to happen. Some say they are a little bold, a couple guys’ say they are just plain nuts, but when all these “crazy” predictions come true remember who was behind these pre-season projections. I’ve got one for every single team in the league, that’s 32 chances at brilliance. The season start’s Thursday, and it won’t take long to see I’m onto something good.

1. Lee Evans out scores TO.

2. Ted Ginn Jr. gets 80 catches, 1100 yards, and 8 TD’s.

3. Laurence Maroney leads the Pats in rushing TD’s and rushing yards.

4. Mark Sanchez throws more INT’s than TD’s.

5. Joe Flacco throws 20+ TD’s.

6. Carson Palmer is a Top 10 QB.

7. Braylon Edwards remembers he is a freak of nature and looks more like the 2007 Braylon with 90 catches for 1300 yards and 12 TD’s.

8. Santonio Holmes leads the Steelers in receiving yards.

9. Matt Schaub finishes the season playing in every game and a Top 5 QB.

10. Joseph Addai finishes the season with more than 600 yards and 6 TD’s ahead of Donald Brown.

11. Tory Holt grabs 11 TD’s

12. Vince Young starts more games than Kerry Collins

13. Eddie Royal finishes the season with more catches, yards, and TD’s than Brandon Marshall.

14. Larry Johnson rushes for 1200 yards and 10 TD’s.

15. Darrius Heyward-Bay shocks everyone but me and halls in 60 catches for 900 yards and 6 TD’s.

16. LT has one great season left in him and goes off for 1800 total yards and 15 TD’s.

17. Tony Romo finishes the season outside the Top 15 QB’s.

18. Brandon Jacobs plays in less than half the Giants games.

19. Mike Vick starts at least 3 games for the Eagles.

20. Beanie Wells leads all rookie RB’s in rushing yards and TD’s.

21. Steven Jackson finally stays healthy for 16 games and is a top 3 RB.

22. Michael Crabtree signs by week 3 in San Fran, catches 65 balls for 800 yards and 6 TD’s.

23. Julius Jones rushes for more than 800 yards and 8 TD’s.

24. Jason Cambell throws 26 TD’s and less than 10 INT’s.

25. Jay Cutler throws more INT’s than TD’s.

26. Kevin Smith puts up another solid year in Detroit with 1400 total yards 60 catches and 10 TD’s.

27. Ryan Grant breaks out for 1400 yards rushing and 12 TD’s.

28. Adrian Peterson rushes for 2100 yards and 16 TD’s.

29. Tony Gonzalez catches less than 6 TD’s

30. DeAngelo Williams doesn’t share as many carries, as “The Daily Show” struggles to stay healthy, and puts up better numbers than 2008.

31. Reggie Bush plays in 14 games and outscores Pierre Thomas.

32. TB starts 3 QB’s during the year and they are all bad.

The NFL Mock Draft (New Mock!!!)

Alright, news and notes are flying around, and the draft is a month away. I can’t wait. My newest mock draft takes into account the most recent happenings in the NFL (as of March 24th), how I rank the players, as well as team needs, team histories, and the dirt on what’s been going down during workouts and scout evaluations. Dream big!!!

1. Detroit Lions- Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia: The Lions probably have to take Stafford here. I don’t like the pick for them, I think they can wait to get a quarterback next year, or even later in the draft, but it is what it is, and they have no future stud quarterback and they are a floundering franchise, and they have the top pick in a class that has no clear number one – so they’ll do what almost any other franchise would do in that situation and grab the big upside quarterback, and they’ll likely find themselves right back in this spot next year with a quarterback that they’re still not sure about, but maybe there will be a number one that seperates himself, and hopefully for the Lions that isn’t Sam Bradford. As much as I hate to admit it, Stafford is probably the pick the Lions will choose. Seeing as though the Lions will likely have a shot at a solid OT with the 20th pick, because it’s a deep position, they probably have to make this move. Stafford teaming up with Britton or Oher  makes more sense than Jason Smith and Josh Freeman, in my opinion. I would take Jason Smith here and a stud defensive prospect at #20, but I’m a front line guy – I don’t build teams the Lion way…

2. St. Louis Rams- Jason Smith, OT, Baylor: I thought the Rams would make a pick like this even before they released one of the better offensive tackles of all time, Orlando Pace. With the big OT gone, they’ll take their pick of the deepest position in the draft. Jason Smith looks to have the most upside and the best motor, a fantastic combo for your QB protector to possess, and thus he’ll likely go here.

3. Kansas City Chiefs- Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest: The Chiefs need to get better in more than a few places, and they’ll likely consider taking offensive line help here. But, with a defensive difference maker available for one of the league’s worst defenses, a guy that many consider the best overall talent in the draft, Curry seems to be the best fit at #3.

4. Seattle Seahawks- Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia: Seeing that the defensive tackle spot wasn’t very deep, and probably deciding that they didn’t want to throw their 4th pick at B.J. Raji, the Hawks went ahead and traded one of their playmaking linebackers to pick up a solid young DT that has upside. That leaves the Hawks in a great place to get better where they need help the most. They’ll take either Aaron Curry or Eugene Monroe. I have the Chiefs grabbing Curry at 3, which will get Monroe, the most polished and consistent left tackle in the draft, a plane ticket to Sea-Tac.

5. Cleveland Browns- Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas: First of all, I wouldn’t be surprised if Mangini and the Browns make a move that changes their need and or pick selection heading into the draft. Right now lets assume that all the players on the Browns roster stay in Cleveland. If that’s the case, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brian Orakpo go here. Mangini took a chance on a hybrid backer last year, and Orakpo is a much better player with more “now” skills than Vernon Gholston was, and he has the same sack happy upside as last year’s top pick.

6. Cincinnati Bengals- B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College: Cincinnati needs defensive help. I don’t think they could make a better pick at this point than Raji. B.J. is a beast and has excelled in key off-season areas such as the senior bowl and the combine. Put that performance together with his hard work at Boston College and you have a great prospect at one of the draft’s weakest positions. This might be too smart of a pick for the Bengals.

7. Oakland Raiders- Andre Smith, OT, Alabama: Not even God knows what Al Davis and the Raiders will do now. Some like to think that Michael Crabtree will be the guy, and while he certainly is the most popular and well known prospect here, I’m not so sure he’s even Al’s favorite WR prospect. That might go to lightning quick Maclin or physical freak Darrius Heyward-Bey. That being said, I think the Raiders stun the masses, skip over elite skill players, and grab Andre Smith. The big tackle has seen his stock tumble a bit, but I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if he finds his way into the Top 10. The Raiders don’t seem to care much about character, and personality aside, Smith is one of the most talented big men in this draft.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars- Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech: The Jaguars should count their blessings if Crabtree falls to them. It’s not often that you get an elite offensive NFL talent in a position you desperately need. There are a few people with their heads slammed directly up their hoo-hoo’s that think the Jaguars need to go quarterback here. Because Garrard is 31. Please. This isn’t running back here, and it’s not like Garrard failed last season without any real receiving threats and no offensive line. The Jaguars could take Oher or maybe even an awe inspiring selection of Rey Maualuga, amongst many others, but Crabtree is everything they’ve asked for since Jimmy Smith got caught in the life cycle aging process.

9. Green Bay Packers- Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State: The Packers seem like they’re looking for more of a “now” player than Aaron Maybin might be, but I really like the Penn State product. The Packers might be choosing between him and Everett Brown, and while I like Brown’s athleticism, I happen to think Maybin’s upside is greater. Both are young players that need some time. but Maybin could be special and the Packers should go that direction.

10. San Francisco 49ers- Mark Sanchez, QB, Southern California: If the Raiders go dumb and take the most impressive 40-time or just find better value in another positioin, that might leave Andre Smith here for Iron Mike and the 49ers. If that’s the case, I don’t see them passing up on the big OT even though his “work ethic” might not roll with the former Bears great. However, Mike can motivate a mole to sunbathe, so one of the most talented OTs in the draft at pick 10 would make sense. Since he’s not here in my mock, that leaves two choices I see the 49ers choosing between – Mark Sanchez and Jeremy Maclin. I like Shaun Hill, but he’s not a future pro-bowler by any means. Sanchez has the leadership and work ethic that Mike Singletary and his staff would love. Maclin would give the team a nice gamebreaking option on a team that relies too heavily on Frank Gore. For a team building for the future, Sanchez gets the nod. All in all, there might be a couple teams looking to shoot up to grab Sanchez. If there’s an option out there, the 49ers could pass on the SC product.

11. Buffalo Bills- Everette Brown, DE, Florida State: If there’s any team that needs defensive playmakers as much as the Detroit Lions, it’s the Buffalo Bills. Everett Brown might be a bit of a tweener, but he’s a physical freak of an athlete that does everything he can to put pressure on opposing backfields. Brown could play OLB for the Bills, but could immediately give them pass rush help on passing downs.

12. Denver Broncos- Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU: If there’s a dying breed of player it’s the DE in a 3-4 scheme. With pass rushers getting faster and more athletic, the big space eating ends that do it all have almost disappeared. Jackson is the only real player out there with a first round grade. The Broncos need a lot of help, mostly on the defensive side of the ball, and Jackson looks like a great fit to start his career with first year coach Josh McDaniels in Denver.

13. Washington Redskins- Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi: The Redskins could stun a few folks here by grabbing Jeremy Maclin. Maclin would be a nice number 2 option, the one they were looking for when they spent two first day picks on receivers that disappointed last year. He would allow Randel-El to work in the slot where he’s more effective, and relieve some deep help on Santana Moss. However, I think the Redskins give their young receivers another year to establish themselves and take a chance on an elite offensive tackle prospect in Michael Oher. They need help protecting the quarterback, if you watched them in the 2nd half of 2008, that fact is obvious. Oher might have moments where he shows his youth, but those team with moments of greatness.

14. New Orleans Saints- Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State: If the Saints draft a running back here, you can’t even begin to imagine the failing grade I’ll give them on draft day. They have a great pass catching back in Reggie Bush, one they spend a ton of money on. They also have an even better back in Pierre Thomas, one they don’t seem to like much despite his elite production when given a chance. Beanie Wells is still on the board, but if they know what’s good for them, the Saints will leave him there. Maclin is also available, and you never know what Payton will trick his GM into doing, but Jeremy should stay on the board as well. This team needs to take a chance on defense, and get their offensive help later in the draft. Brain Cushing, Peria Jerry, or Michael Jenkins are three options I like here, with Jenkins being the best for the Saints. He may not have timed out well in the 40, but he has great ability to help a defense that stinks at just about everything.

15. Houston Texans- Brian Cushing, OLB, Southern California: Could the Texans draft Jeremy Maclin? A kid whose gamebreaking ability projected higher than this pick in the draft? The Texans have solid offensive talent, and they probably don’t “need” Maclin, but what a tandem that could be… Still, that’s my fantasy hopes busting into my real football knowledge, and that’s very unlikely to happen. What else is unlikely to happen? The Texans taking a running back this high, so those who expect Beanie or Knowshon to be a Texan, think again. I think the Texans could improve if they got help at defensive end, and maybe outside linebaker (though I do like Xavier Adibi and his future with the club). Brian Cushing could be an immediate impact guy, a linebacker that is effective on all downs – something that shouldn’t be overlooked. I think Cushing is a bit of a reach here, but he fits. A freak like Michael Johnson could really benefit from all the attention Super Mario gets, but he’s even more of a reach because of his inconsistency. I think Cushing fits the bill here.

16. San Diego Chargers- Rey Maualuga, ILB, Southern California: What a difference a year makes. The Chargers came into the ’08 draft with the “pick the best player, we don’t have any huge needs” thing going for them, and everyone thought they’d be a Super Bowl contender. As it turned out, they struggled like a fish out of water just to make the playoffs, but once they got there it looked like they belonged. But the off season hasn’t done much to secure the make-up of this team. Merriman is expected to be back after missing most of the ’08 season, and LT fixed his contract which allowed him to stay. Darren Sproles looks to get more touches in 2009, but the Chargers could still use some help making holes for their two headed running back monster. With LT back, I don’t think the Chargers will waste an early pick on a running back, no need to spend another 6 million on the RB position. Vincent Jackson’s immergence, Antonio Gates greatness, and Chris Chambers’ consistency seems to keep any focus off the skill positions in Round 1, even though it’s not all about needs. If Jenkins falls this far, they have to grab the corner/safety. He’s too solid to pass up for a team that ranked 31st in pass defense and I think he could play anywhere for them. They could take a shot on a guy like Vontae Davis but I wouldn’t go there.  I think they end up taking Rey Maualuga. The USC product is a tackling machine, and they could really use a sure thing in the middle of their defense.

17. New York Jets- Beanie Wells, RB, Ohio State: Coles absence and Maclin falling right into their laps gives the Jets a great option here. They could go for Freeman if they really think he could be the long term answer, but Maclin is a big time game breaker that can do things most players can’t. He’d help the field position game and allow the Jets to use Cotchery’s skill set more appropriately. At 17th overall, this kid might be a steal for the Jets. However, the I have this feeling that the Jets might grab the first running back in the draft. Thomas Jones is talking hold out, and he wants a raise (and probably deserves one, despite his age), so they could cut him loose and draft a back with all the talent in the world. This would allow them to use Leon Washington more, a guy that has proven his worth when he gets the touches. Thunder and Lightening? Lots of ways the Jets could draft under their new staff – but I’m throwing my wild card out there with the OSU big back.

18. Chicago Bears- Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland: Heyward-Bey is a physical specimen, no doubt about that – but there’s not doubt in my mind that Maclin is the better receiver. However, in Chicago this big bad fast son of a gun might be the perfect fit. He and Devin Hester could prove to be a tough combo to cover. If Mark Sanchez is still here, I think the Bears go with the USC product. As is, they are looking for more explosion and while Bey might not be the immediate answer, his upside and elite numbers likely get him the nod in Chicago.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri: More than a few people have Josh Freeman going here. I don’t think that’s the best move for the Bucs, especially with an elite prospect falling into their laps. Antonio Bryant did big things in Tampa last season, but Maclin would only assure the explosive nature of the offensive weapons being gathered in Tampa. This team has a solid offensive line, so nice running options, and will have a nice plethora of receiver options with Kellen Winslow, Bryant, and Maclin. Probably not a need, but the best prospect on the board is Maclin if the speedster falls this far.

20. Detroit Lions (from Dallas)- Jerry Peria, DT, Mississippi: The Lions traded a promising young defensive tackle to grab perrenial Pro-Bowl OLB Julian Peterson from the Hawks. Getting this quick underrated tackle would be a great bargain because after Peria the talent level at the position really drops off. The Lions need lots of options, no doubt about that, they could go with a project like Robert Ayers, OT Eben Britton, or if they decided to go with Jason Smith in Round 1, Josh Freeman maybe? Like I said, there will be a lot decided by draft day, but as is Peria would be a nice pick for the Lions here, especially with the strengths of the draft the way they are.

21. Philadelphia Eagles- Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia: I see Moreno as a Maurice Jones-Drew type runner, a smaller back that runs with elite physicality and power. A guy that is super quick and not afraid of contact at the same time. Moreno has all the athleticism to be a run and catch player for the Eagles, and while Philly has always looked for a big back to compliment Westy, they may walk right into the Brian Westbrook of the future. They don’t run exactly the same, but I do think Moreno has a high ceiling. Now, it’s unlike the Eagles to grab a running back in the 1st round, they are usually more interested in line moves, but even if the don’t go with Moreno here, I don’t think they’ll go for the line. Robert Ayers is an interesting option, but Brandon Pettigrew is my wild card. The big TE does it all, and with L.J. Smith moving teams (and having been hurt for more than a few games over the last couple years), Brandon could be a nice option for McNabb in the passing game. Still, I like Moreno’s fit in Philly.

22. Minnesota Vikings- Percy Harvin, WR, Florida: What a threat Percy could be as a change of pace guy with Adrian Peterson and a receiver both out of the back field, out wide, and in the slot. Harvin has freakish moves in the open field, and definitely will be a difference maker when healthy in the NFL. Do the Vikings need Harvin? I’m not so sure, but the fact that they went after T.J. Houshmanzadeh makes me think this is a possibility. Harvin and AP would form a disturbing duo for opposing defenses, and that’s something the Vikings could look forward too. And instead of stealing carries from AP, both could spend every down on the field together, with Harvin split out wide.

23. New England Patriots- Clay Matthews, OLB, Southern California: The Patriots need an outside linebacker, definitely, but there’s more than a few and though Matthews has been climbing the board like slick bottle rocket, I’m not sure that he’ll be a lock for New England at 23. It wouldn’t stun me for a second to see the Pats grab a guy like Brandon Pettigrew. He’s a very good blocker with very good hands and a great frame for red-zone activities and physical first downs through the air. He may not fit everything they do offensively, but a football player that does everything well seems like something they dig. As is, I think they go for Clay Mathews here because of his similar skill set. He does things well. He has a chance to start from Day 1 in New England, and this is a team ready to win now.

24. Atlanta Falcons- Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois: Lots of players to choose from for the talented yet youthful Falcons. I think Brandon would be a great fit for a run-first team that keeps their tight end blocking most of the time, but would love to have a useful option to sneak out into passing situations when needed. Pettigrew doesn’t run with the speed of an elite pass catcher, but he’s athletic, has great hands, and is one hell of a blocker. And I don’t think the Falcons would trade the third one for great speed, not the way they run their offense. That being said, Pettigrew is a TE, and I don’t know if the Falcons have enough talent to go tight end in Round 1. He may be more of a sure thing, but the Falcons need defensive help something fierce. They lost two starting linebackers and a starting corner on a defense that wasn’t elite to start with. So lets say they can’t afford to go TE here. Assuming that, Vontae Davis is on the board, and despite his knocks, he’s one of the more physically talented corners in the draft. That’s enough to take him at 24, something the Falcons might very well do.

25. Miami Dolphins- Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee: I think Michael Johnson has all the ability to be one of the best pass rushers in this draft. He just needs to find the motivation to do so. Being a top 10 talent and dropping to 25 might be enough. Spending time on a Bill Parcells run team might be even more help. This kid is a freak, and has the athletic ability to even be considered as an OLB in the 3-4, at least I think so. However, I don’t know if a questionable motor guy is Parcells’ cup of tea, and thus he will probably get passed up again here. They could also go for Vontae Davis, as they certainly could use help in that secondary. However, I think they’ll take Robert Ayers. This kid was solid on a bad defense last season. He practices and plays well, and despite his mediocre times at the combine, has proven to be effective on the football field, using his skills and a solid motor. More Parcells style maybe? I think so.

26. Baltimore Ravens- Eben Britton, OT, Arizona: This kid is solid, and this offensive line needs to get some young help (at least for the future) for franchise quarterback Joe Flacco. Britton has great upside and with a monster frame and great quickness, he might be a steal at 26. I’m not sure that he’ll last this long with the importance of tackles and the way they seem to be screaming off the board over the past few years, but if he does go this far, the Ravens would be smart to grab him. Other options could be Vontae Davis, or maybe they go for an even bigger project with more freak upside like Michael Johnson – and use that strong willed defense to turn him into a rush linebacker sack artist. As is, I like Britton going here.

27. Indianapolis Colts- Evander “ZIGGY” Hood, DT, Missouri: Weird, the Colts are hurting for defensive line help on the interior. Hood is dancing up the draft charts, and for good reason. He’s very athletic and quick for a defensive tackle, and would fit well in the Colts system, if they indeed stay in that system. Some have said they’re looking for more size up front, but Hood is the best available, and the Colts could definitely use him.

28. Philadelphia Eagles (from Carolina)- Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State: Without a tackle to grab here, I wonder if the Eagles will even risk it by taking Moreno with their first of two picks in Round 1. That being said, I’m not going back on my picks because of the way the draft panned out, and the Eagles can go a couple different directions with this pick. They could grab Hakeem Nicks right here. They have a solid young receiver in DeSean Jackson, but Nicks would look nice on the opposite side. Still, they need help on the offensive line, even though they got better by signing Shawn Andrews’ big brother, Stacy, from the Bengals, they could still use a guy like Max Unger for the future. But I’m going with Pettigrew here because the kid is a stud, they just lost an injury plagued L.J. Smith to Baltimore, and Pettigrew not only helps out with the passing game but in the run game as well. He’s more than the 28th best player in this draft. I expect him to help from Day 1.

29. New York Giants- James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State: I really like Hakeem Nicks, and while I don’t think the Giants need to run and pick up the best receiver available because of Plax’s situation, I think Nicks is a nice receiver. Receiver galore in Round 1 though? I’m not so sure. Plus, as much as I like Nicks, the guy put on 15 pounds between the combine and pro day workouts, and is up over 225. Don’t be a pig for 30 days, help your draft stock, I mean come on man…. I think they could find a lot to like at the position in Round 2, and should instead build up their line in the draft with a guy like Max Unger or Alex Mack or maybe linebacker. And trading down is always an option, especially if they like a couple receivers here and don’t see need to pick another one in Round 1. All that being thrown about, I think the Giants see something they like in James Laurinaitis and go get him. He’s not great at shedding blocks, but D-line has been a power for the Giants, and James should do good things behind that group.

30. Tennessee Titans- Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech: Could they go receiver here? Yes, they could try once again to snag a competent starting receiver, but it’s a strong position with many players to be had – why would they pass on a chance at the second coming of Javon Kearse (during his freak days of course)? Michael Johnson has that freakish athleticism and size and the Titans can grab the kid and have him learn from some team greats. He won’t be needed on every down right away, and he has upside to burn. I think they skip taking the 5th 1st round receiver and go for upside on the D-line. I like to wait on receivers, so I’m expecting the Titans to pick without fantasy hopes on the line here. Hakeem Nicks might be the guy, but in a weighted coin flip I’m going with Johnson.

31. Arizona Cardinals- Alex Mack, C, California: LeSean McCoy is my favorite here because I love the running back’s vision and acceleration. However, I think adding a great young center, a guy that can play a couple positions and is basically a sure fire solid starter, seems like the right move. They have a young back they like in Tim Hightower, so getting him help up front might be a better move that tossing a first round pick at another back. Later in the draft is the time to add depth, not Round 1. Another option would be Hakeem Nicks if Boldin is traded. I think ‘Quan will sign a deal with the Cards, however, so that’s “a moo point, like a cow’s opinion, nobody cares”. So I’m skipping over my favorite back in the class for one of my favorite O-line leaders.

32. Pittsburgh Steelers- Max Unger, C/G, Oregon: The Steelers will have options. But if the draft unfolds like this, I don’t think they spend another high pick on a receiver, they let Hakeem Nicks fall dreamily into the lap of another suiter in Round 2. They take Max Unger because the Steelers could use O-line depth, and they are a smart franchise. Unger is a beast, he can play multiple positions, and he’s always been the leading force of great Oregon rushing attacks. Last pick in Round 1 should be a great one for the Steel-City.

Best Available After Round 1:

1. Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina

2. LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh

3. Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest

4. Donald Brown, RB, Connecticut

5. Ron Brace, DT, Boston College

6. Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers

7. Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State

8. Phil Loadholt, OT, Oklahoma

9. Louis Delmas, S, Western Michigan

10. Conner Barwin, DE, Cincinnati

11. Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut

12. Clint Sintim, OLB, Virginia

13. Larry English, OLB, Northern Illinois

14. Derrick Williams, WR, Penn State

15. Jamon Meredith, OT, South Carolina

16. Cornelius Ingram, TE, Florida

17. Shawn Nelson, TE, Southern Miss

18. Shonn Greene, RB, Iowa

19. Rashad Johnson, S, Alabama

20. Sean Smith, CB, Utah

21. Andy Levitre, OG, Oregon State

22. Chase Coffman, TE, Missouri

23. Gerald Cadogan, OT, Penn State

24. Patrick Chung, SS, Oregon

25. Mike Thomas, WR, Arizona

2009 NFL Mock Draft: #1

Updated on January 19, 2009

I’m dancing in the streets a little – it’s always nice to see something you never thought would happen, and until Ken Whisenhunt was tricked into coaching the Cardinals, I didn’t think I’d ever see that red jersey and helmet sporting that angry woodpecker in a Super Bowl game. But here we are, a Pittsburgh Steelers team that has won as many championships as any team ever, and an Arizona Cardinals team that looks for a ring for the first time. Awesome. But that pretty much locks up my first full mock draft. I’ll compile the draft as if the Cardinals pull off the huge upset, because, well, they’ve done it 3 times already and I’d be stunned if they did it again – so it will probably happen. The new mock draft is also coming out because the early entry list is locked in and the draft order is basically set. I’m done with my “If I’m making the picks” format because I can really do both predictions and analysis by suggesting what I think the Draft will look like- still, I agree with my ability to judge talent, and a couple teams definitely should call me up for some advice… Haha…  Here goes the goods…

1. Detroit Lions: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama – This pick is exactly what the Lions need, and that’s how I’m doing my first mock draft. This is a team that has gone kookoo over the skill positions and they have been brutal on offensive and defensive lines. I’m sold on the thought that Detroit will get a good football guy to make their personnel decisions and that will lead them away from 1st Round receivers, quarterbacks, or running backs. Andre Smith might not be the guy making the best decisions (getting hooked up with an agent a couple days before his team’s big bowl game) but he is a beast of a man that dominated at the college level. If the Lions want to properly use Calvin Johnson and Kevin Smith, arguably their best players, they’ll have to get some time to throw and room to run. Matthew Stafford (the consensus pick here) has all the tools, but without a better offensive line the Lions will continue to get destroyed. Do the right thing Detroit, go big here, Smith is your guy.

2. St. Louis Rams – Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia – The Rams have lots of problems, no doubt in my mind, they would happily take Smith if he were available here – but he’s not, and nobody wants to trade into the 2nd pick so it’s not like they’ll find a valuable trading partner for the pick. That being said, Matt Stafford is the guy with all the tools that Marc Bulger doesn’t have, end the Marc Bulger experiment…. please.  I personally like Mark Sanchez a little more than Stafford – but the tools Stafford has can’t be taught, and while the Rams need more than a QB in the waiting, the #2 pick is a place where immense talent needs to be selected.

3. Kansas City Chiefs:  Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forrest – I don’t think the Chiefs go quarterback here – it’s stupid, A, and B- Tyler Thigpen played great when he got a chance to do so. Just ride out this guy for a while and hope that you hit the lotto with the kid, weirder things have happened. Plus, with a 30th ranked rushing defense and a 28th ranked passing defense, they might consider getting some dynamic help on that side of the ball first. Still, with Bradford and Stafford on the board it’s tough for me to pass up a chance at a franchise QB, but I’m going to, because I’m smart. Thigpen is good enough right now, he’s got a little something that I like as the guy in charge of my roster, so I’m taking Aaron Curry to be a playmaker on my defense. This guy is one of the surest things in the draft, a football player through and through, and he bleeds intensity. The Chiefs have some speed in their linebacking corps, but they don’t have a guy like this and he’ll immediately come in and make everyone better. This may be a little high for a linebacker, and probably higher than Curry will go, but I’ll take him because I’m looking for the guy that will improve the Chiefs the most, and they need a guy like Aaron.

4. Seattle Seahawks: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech  – The Hawks need offensive line help badly. I know Michael Crabtree is out there and every single Hawk fan in the world wants Seattle to go get the big stud receiver from Texas Tech – I love Crabtree, think he’ll be  a great one, but you can only win if you have a good offensive line. Monroe is the smart pick – or maybe Jason Smith, and both should be here for the Seahawks taking – but in the end I just can’t pass up on the chance to get an elite playmaker for the Hawks offense. People (like me) will say that Seattle never makes a pick like this, that they have a smart brass that knows how to pick right, that they wouldn’t go skill position at the top of the draft – but, in the end, history is just that – history. Right now is the now, and with that in mind, and the future in the eyes of the same guy that’s watching Crabtree work out, watching him torch defenses at will – watching him become a version of TO without the assish tendencies, I don’t think the Hawks can pass that up – not with the guys they have. Taking skill position guys at the top of the draft can be a recipe for losses to build. You spend too much money on a receiver and it will hurt you in the end if that player doesn’t become great. But I think the Hawks need to go for it.

5. Cleveland Browns:  Malcom Jenkins, CB, Ohio State – The Browns secondary and overall defense was brutal last season. Weird, they went and spent a bunch of money on high-priced free agents and they still got kicked around pretty good. A lot of that has to do with their offense going 3 and out a lot, and putting the defense in bad situations, but still – tackling and angles were tough to come by in Cleveland and I think Jenkins comes in and starts immediately for the Browns. He’s as sure as a corner back can be in helping the run. He’s got great understanding and recognition, things that plague the Browns secondary.

6. Cincinnati Bengals: Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State – The Bengals need a lot of help in a lot of places, weird. But with Stacey Andrews struggling a bit and his knee giving him problem, and a visit with the doctor for re-constructive surgery in mid-January, it might be time to get a young stud to protect their biggest investment, Carson Palmer. Everyone watched what happened to the Bengals without Palmer – protecting him next season might be a good start. Eugene Monroe has proven he can start anywhere. He’s an athletic kid that held down left tackle for Virginia, and he could do the same in Cincinnati. Either way, I think Monroe would be a good pick this high, a need pick and a talent pick and a good use of their money – But lets just say (for the sake of good health and positive thinking) that the Bengals elect to re-sign Andrews (and they very well could because of his youth and possible good news on the diagnosis of his knee surgery) then they might elect to go for a pass rushing specialist like Everett Brown, Brian Orakpo, or Aaron Maybin – going for the health of the young right tackle, Aaron Maybin goes off the board here because his motor and upside are impressive.

7. Oakland Raiders: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri – Rey Maualuga is a machine. The Raiders need a guy like him just about as bad as anything – well, aside from a new coaching staff and a new owner and a guy to bring in talent on draft day that doesn’t base everything on some lifting and speed numbers – so they need a lot of things, but a sure tackler at linebacker, and big time playmaker, a special and California taught local kid like Maualuga – I think they’d have something going if they went here. However, I know the Raiders – and Jeremy Maclin or Crabtree (if he lasts) might get pushed to Oakland. I have this eery feeling that if Maclin is on the board for Oakland that he’ll be wearing black and silver come next season. It’s sad for Jeremy – but it’s probably true.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia – While Michael Oher is a stud, he has shown a lack of focus at times. He’s been beat by lesser defensive ends, and while the talent is obviously there, Oher’s lack of consistency might hurt him in the draft. I have that happening here as Eugene Monroe will get ahead of Oher on draft boards and be the first off the board after Andre Smith. If Maclin is on the board here, the Jaguars might be tempted – they have shown a history of going and reaching for their biggest needs, and they definitely need a playmaker outside. But the Jaguars showed some offensive line (and defensive line for that matter) woes in 2008. Maurice Jones Drew is still phenomenal and David Garrard didn’t have as bad of a season as his numbers insisted, but this team needs some help on their respective lines. Monroe has the ability to get plugged in anywhere he’s needed, and he’ll immediately improve that position. That’s rare in the NFL these days, and even tougher to get in the draft. For a team that needs to reestablish their rushing identity, the Jags could make a great pick right here. Many people expect the Jaguars to go linebacker here, but there’s room to rummage through the next couple rounds to find a playmaker there. The top O-Tackles, while the position is deep, will be gone long before the Jags pick again.

9.  Green Bay Packers: Everett Brown, DE, Florida State – The Packers need to revamp their defensive front. I think Aaron Kampman is a stud, but he needs some help and I think Everett Brown can be a special contributor up front for the Packers. They need help getting to the quarterback and stopping the run. Basically they were a liability on defense. They have plenty of weapons on offense, and while every team could always use help on the line, this pick seems like a no brainer for the Pack – but it could be one of the many defensive end prospects in the draft. I also think that this spot, and this mock, would have the Packers being in a great position with someone who wanted to trade down to get Mark Sanchez – ie the Minnesota Vikings. No trades in my mock though, too tough to figure, so I’ll go with one of the more talent kids out there.

10. San Francisco 49ers:  Mark Sanchez, QB, USC – I like Shaun Hill, like I said in my first mock, but Sanchez is a stud – he has a lightning quick release, great leadership qualities, and a passion for the game that fits perfectly with Mike Singletary’s system. Could the 49ers go in about a million different directions? You bet… Could one of those directions be not re-signing Takeo Spikes and maybe going with Rey Maualuga to form one of the best middle linebacker duos in all of football? Possibly, Rey seems like a Mike kind of guy, but he also seems a lot like Patrick Willis (but could it be bad to have two of him?). Shaun Hill is a solid guy right now, he does enough to keep San Francisco in the game, but Sanchez has tools to be a top pick, and very well could be, but right now I like him going to SF at 10 because that’s a great place to get your future signal caller and not have to play him right off the bat. If Sanchez isn’t their guy, and they love Orakpo, Michael Johnson of Georgia Tech, Maybin or Brown if they are there, don’t be surprised if the Niners snag a pass rusher.

11. Buffalo Bills: Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas – The Bills need more help on the defensive line. They started off the year okay, but they don’t make enough plays and they don’t have any one player that poses an elite pass rushing skill set. Okay, Aaron Schobel is a guy that has some good career numbers, but he spent much of 2008 hurt and is on the wrong side of 30 and the small side of 250lbs. I really like Micheal Johnson of Georgia Tech, but Orakpo is probably the more complete of the two, and the Bills could use that.

12. Denver Broncos: B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College – The Broncos have been brutal at stopping the run for sometime, and it’s very likely that Mike Shannahan’s insistence on grabbing opposing teams leftovers instead of drafting some help up front is what got him fired in the first place. I expect new HC Josh McDaniels to do his damnedest to strengthen the defensive front, and starting with a massive defensive lineman that will free up linebackers while putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks is probably a good start. McDaniels is and offensive mind, no doubt about that, but he’s also a smart guy and while assessing team needs he’ll vouch for the teams offensive firepower and express some worry about that line…  Raji’s 6.5 sacks and numerous runs stuffed will certainly help Denver’s front – character issues might hurt Raji’s stock, but in Denver’s move to the 3-4 they’ll need a player of Raji’s strength to hold down the middle.

13. Washington Redskins: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor – The Redskins will be lucky if they get an offensive line prospect like Jason Smith. The kid knows how to play the game and he really does it right. I think he’s a better pass blocker than Andre Smith, and his athleticism is second to none. At 6’5 305lbs, he’s got room to grow into his body a little bit. He’s not super strong, but that will come – his feet are great and his energy and ability to stay on blocks long are two things that he has over any other elite tackle prospect in the draft. A steal at 13.

14. New Orleans Saints: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois – Defense, defense, defense. As much as Jeremy Maclin’s speed has to excite this offensive minded freak of a coach in New Orleans, it’s not offensive deficiencies that keep the Saints from getting into the playoffs. Defensively they are brutal, they don’t have much of an identity except that of a team that allows opposing offenses to do anything they damn well please. That’s not a good thing. Right now, the Saints don’t have corners that get the job done. They don’t tackle all that well, and find themselves in positions to make tackles far too often. As far as talent and confidence go, Davis is a corner that comes second to none. He’s a physical kid that likes to get into opposing receivers. He hasn’t had a ton of interceptions at the college level, but I’m going to go ahead and say that’s because opposing offenses don’t throw his way. He may have been too aggressive in college, being allowed to do too much on the field. He’ll get the little things down, but I like what he does have and think he would start immediately for New Orleans.

15. Houston Texans: Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech – How can you play an entire season on the other side of Mario Williams and have absolutely zero sacks to show for it? Weaver is a better run defensive end than a pass rusher, but 0 sacks? Yikes. Johnson might be a little bit of a reach here – but the kid is a freakish pass rusher that could start out helping right away as a pass rush specialist and he has the body to add weight and become a full time guy over time.  The Texans could really use a pass rush option opposite their big dog. With much attention played to their former 1st overall pick, Johnson could find a lot of room to be the playmaker that he is. This would do wonders for the other half of Houston’s defensive line.

16. San Diego Chargers: Chris “Beanie” Wells, RB, Ohio State – If the Chargers are indeed getting rid of LaDainian Tomlinson, for age and contract reasons, I think Wells would be a perfect fit to get half of the carries in a time share with Darren Sproles. I, personally, would just keep Tomlinson for another year, go for some offensive line or defensive help here, and grab a running back in next season’s draft or in the later rounds, but I’m taking the plunge here because of Wells ability. Basically, I don’t like taking skill guys early, but Wells has special size, explosion, and speed – and while Sproles has shown a knack for the big play, there is no way he holds up through a season getting 15-20 carries per game. I make exceptions for special players, and while Wells’ injury problems might scare some teams off, I happen to believe that you go for the talent and if freak injuries happen you just got unlucky. If LT is re-signed, I think the Chargers should make a play on

17. New York Jets: Rey Maualuga, LB, USC- To get a guy that can make a difference like Maualuga is always a draft day blessing. To get him in the middle of the 1st round is even more impressive. Can he be Rex Ryan’s New York Jet version of Ray Lewis? It’s possible. I’m not sure anyone this side of William Wallace has ever had as much passion, toughness, and straight super-hero ability like Ray Lewis, but if there’s a guy in this draft that looks anything like Ray, it’s Rey – and not just for names sake. The Jets need to get better defensively – but they could also make a play on a young running back if their top choice sits here. I think Thomas Jones and Leon Washington are good for now, and I think Ryan will be ready to get a defensive stopper right off the bat.

18. Chicago Bears: Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi – Nate Davis? Oh, I think this kid could surprise. But I’m not ready to make that jump quite yet – plus, the Bears “are happy with their quarterback situation” – right. The Bears look to be aging a little bit, and that means they could use all types of players. But if the super-talented Oher is still on the board at 18, the Bears snag him up without thinking twice.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers:  Sen’Derrick Marks, DT, Auburn – Marks is a freak. He’s a superior athlete in the body of a defensive tackle. He’s not enormous, but his tenacity and elite quickness and coordination make him a great prospect and could very well allow him to be great at rushing the passer and making plays against the run. If the Bucs have shown me anything during their late slide that saw them go from 9-3 to 9-7 and missing the playoffs, it’s that they need help on the defensive line. Marks might be the best of the bunch and at 19th overall, he’s worth that risk.

20. Detroit Lions (via Dallas Cowboys):  James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State – The Lions need guys like this to do things like win a football game. James is a sure thing. You know what you’re getting, a great tackler, great team guy with the ability to stop the run, read blocks, get his teammates behind him and make everyone better. A great offensive lineman and a great linebacker to be a team leader on defense, that would be a great draft for a team that doesn’t know much about great drafts. The Lions need to stop taking chances and picking skill position players – teams are built on  guys that can block up front and get off blocks and tackle on defense – Andre and James are a good start.

21. Philadelphia Eagles: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia – Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia – Brian Westbrook #2? After seeing what Brian Westbrook has become since the Eagles drafted the undersized back in the 3rd round years ago, I wouldn’t be stunned if they tried to get him. I know they aren’t a team that usually guns for the skill positions early, but Moreno is special and despite being a little undersized, could be a great option in making the transition to the days without Mr. Westbrook. The Eagles have seen Westy have injury troubles, day to day issues just about every other week, and his age is becoming a little bit of an issue. The Eagles have a bevy of vets, and they surely need to get younger on the offensive line and all over on defense, but this kid is an elite playmaker that you aren’t able to snag in Round 2.

22. Minnesota Vikings: Sean Smith, CB, Utah – Sean Smith played a little under the radar at Utah, but he was a great part of one of the best defenses in college football. He helped shut down the Alabama passing attack, and played good football against the run as well. Smith is an elite player from a small school. The Vikings would help improve their semi-shaky pass defense by adding the Utes ball hawk. Smith has unreal size for a corner, and has shown a knack for making big plays by either intercepting 5 passes or leading his team in passes broken up. Smith could shoot up draft boards after the combine.

23. New England Patriots: Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest – The Patriots find themselves in an interesting place here, and free agency will definitely help decide where they go here. I know Smith is a great playmaker with lots of upside and the personality it takes to be good at the next level. I’m not sure if he fits perfectly into the Patriots system, but he definitely fits a need as almost every corner in New England will see free agency over the off-season. Smith does lots of good things, he’s got solid speed and breaks well on the ball.

24. Atlanta Falcons: Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State – The Falcons might not need Brandon Pettigrew to make life easier on Matt Ryan, but they could sure use him. He’s a good blocker and an even better pass catcher, but the bottom line is he does it all. He may not be a big play guy like Kellen Winslow or Jason Witten, but he’s a great blocker, probably the best blocking tight end in the class. He also has great hands and very good ball skills. He does it all. This guy is just the type of guy Atlanta (or any team in the league) needs.

25. Miami Dolphins: D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt – The Dolphins need help in the secondary, and maybe all over their defense to be honest. They played better than they were early in the year in ’08, but fell apart a little toward the end and, in my opinion, better exemplified exactly what their biggest problems are. In an offensive heavy draft class, the Dolphins need to build defensively. Moore is a very talented player that shut down #1 receivers all season for Vanderbilt. He’s an opportunistic player with a playmaking ability that could help the Dolphins create turnovers defensively.

26. Baltimore Ravens: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland – While many people would like to point to Bey as being inconsistent and an underachiever in college, I would like to point to the poor quarterbacking in Maryland this last season. Bey is super talented and could definitely turn into a great pro. I like him more than most. I think he’d fit in in Baltimore, and be a big target that the Ravens need to pit with Mark Clayton and the aging Derrick Mason.

27. Philadelphia Eagles (via Carolina): Ebbin Britton, OT, Arizona – The Eagles need to get younger at lots of different places. Arizona’s offense was underrated this season, being stuck in the Pac-10, where even I admit was underrated. Britton has been road-grading paths for running backs over the last two seasons, and the Wildcats have been better than you’d think in that area. Britton is a big boy with some good quickness and a very football savvy demeanor. I think the Eagels would be bright to grab him before they really need an offensive tackle. Prep him for next season when age finally catches up with the green machine.

28. Indianapolis Colts: Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi – The Colts really struggled to stop the run, with or without Bob Sanders, and if you can’t stop the run with that heat seeking missile aimed right at the hearts of running backs, then you have to do something a little different. Peria Jerry is a very good defensive tackle that plays with the intensity and knowhow needed to excel in the Colts system. They need to start filling holes if they want to return to the Super Bowl.

29. New York Giants: Percy Harvin, WR/RB, Florida – The Giants need more playmakers. Percy Harvin might be the shiniest playmaker in this draft of offensive firepower. Getting him at 29 would be great. The Giants need them some Percy Harvin just like Flordia does.

30. Tennessee Titans: Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina – He doesn’t have as much upside as Darrius Heyward-Bey, but Nicks might be the better receiver in the NFL. Nicks runs solid routes, his hands or enforced with a special unique stick-em produced only by his body. That catch that everyone saw during the bowl season, that was amazing, but no way was that his only amazing catch. This kid is always open, and I think his game translates well to the next level. He would also make the 5th receiver selected in the first round, which seems like an unreal ammount – but with the lack of underclassmen coming out, and the overall mediocre feeling of this talent pool, matched with the heavy set of receivers and apt running backs, this could be a weird first round with receivers off early.

31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU – Beast. He may not be the “new” defensive end with the pass rushing forte and the speed and the basketball body, but Tyson is a run-stuffing fiend. A kid that is nearly 6’5″ and 300+ – he’s a beast. The Steelers could use a guy like that inside in their 3-4. They have pass rushers galore, and Tyson has above average talent for his size – that’s digable planet business right there.

32. Arizona Cardinals: Brian Cushing, LB, USC – This kid didn’t have great numbers on an impressive USC defense, but he is damn good at just about everything. He can turn in run in coverage, as he was often asked to do, and he can make big plays all over the field. He’s had some durability issues, but the Cardinals would make a good move grabbing a kid with Cushing’s upside – winning the Super Bowl gives you a chance to go with upside like Brian’s.

10 for Tuesday

Okay, I just wanted to point some things out… 

1. It’s not always good for your X-Rays to be negative: That’s right – for example, Daunte Culpepper and JaMarcus Russell were two guys that should have been praying for their X-Rays to come back positive and bussed to the IR. Both of those guys are on teams that make life even more dangerous for them than normal NFL players. Some others that weren’t so lucky and might play again this year, Kellen Winslow, Jerome Harrison, and Steven Jackson has likely been hoping for weeks that one of his multiple ailments would find him a safe warm spot on the IR – no luck SteJack – but you do get the Seagulls later this week. Good luck!

2. The Seahawks receivers have started to get healthier, but only because the baton has been passed to the running backs in Denver. Tatum Bell – yes, that Tatum Bell – will be the starting and basically only running back this coming week when the Broncos do work against the Carolina Panthers in Carolina. It should be interesting, but then again, who in their right mind thought Peyton Hillis would be the guy rushing for 100 yards in Denver? Remember, he started at FB and LB earlier this season. Now that’s a man. 

3. The Cardinals clinched the NFC East – by default. Yep. 

4. I lost a fantasy playoff game this week by 6 points. Tony Romo started for me and threw 3 interceptions. My opponent had Pittsburgh’s defense. Thanks for all the memories Tony. 

5. Brett Favre had 137 passing yards against the 49ers, and that sucked – however, it was the Jets playcalling that really got me down. As Thomas Jones rushed for a 17 yard touchdown in the 3rd quarter, I began to think the Man-Idiot had figured it out. “We win if Thomas gets the rock.” I sweat it makes perfect sense. But at the end of the day, a team with two capable running backs (TJ and Leon Washington) decided to run the ball 12 times. 10 carries to TJ, 1 to Leon, and 1 to Brett – good idea. How’d that work out Man-Idiot? How do these guys keep jobs?

6. Shaun Hill had 285 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Jets – but how was that possible? I know – the 49ers ran the ball 33 times – and the Jets had to commit to stopping that. Take a damn not Mangina… 

7. Tim Hightower had 12 carries for 32 yards and a score. The answer to the Cards running back questions? I’m thinking no, not this season anyway. He was touted as the next great rookie after just breaking 100 yards against the Rams last time the Cards spanked St. Louis – but how have his numbers looked since then? Told you. 

8. Losing isn’t always a bad thing. Take the Hawks for example, that 21-13 lead they had going into the 4th quarter was a fat lie. Sure, the teams want to win, but fans – you should be rooting for them to compete until the end and then blow it. Do you want Michael Crabtree or do you want the Raiders to sign him? For Crab, and for the Hawks – the answer is “lose the rest of your games please!” – I feel for any guy that goes to Jail in Oakland. 

9. I said last week that you shouldn’t pay much attention to Joseph Addai going up against a bad run defense that doesn’t tackle well. I hope you listened – 10 rushes for 26 yards. If you started him anyway, please tell me how the outcome of your first fantasy playoff game went. 

10. The Ravens remind me a lot of the Steelers in Big Ben’s first season. They might not be 13-3, hell, they might not even make the playoffs – but this is a good defense and a young quarterback and a running game that might not be flashy, but gets the job done. I just think they might have a tough time if they do get into the playoffs. We’ll see.