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Friday, April 10, 2009

Mock Draft

With the NFL draft just 15 days away, fans everywhere are predicting who their team will take in the first round. Creating a Mock Draft is always dicey, because there has never been a year without some big surprise pick on day one. I usually avoid the pitfall of creating my own Mock Draft. Let's be clear; I don't pretend to be Mel Kiper. But, I figured since Kiper continues to have a career after having made bad prediction after bad prediction (Ryan Leaf comes to mind), why not give it a shot. Now, keep in mind that there are sure to be last minute trade and free agency happenings that I can't foresee at this point. Since this is my first mock in my first blog, let's just try the top ten picks:

10) San Francisco 49ers select: Mark Sanchez QB USC
Okay, this is the first round pick of my favorite team, so I have a bit of bias here. I am keeping my fingers crossed that Coach Singletary and the 49ers select Sanchez with this pick. I know the guy is young and was only a full-time starter for a year, but he can make the throws. The 49ers need a franchise QB. Shaun Hill has held his own and Alex Smith has restructured his contract. But, neither guy is the clear starter. Adding Damon Huard did nothing to excite me from a fan perspective. You want butts in the seats on Sunday; get a good kid with a good arm to be the face of your franchise. My alternate picks: BJ Raji (if still on the board) or Michael Oher.

9) Green Bay Packers select: BJ Raji DT Boston College
BJ Raji stands out. The 6' 2", 330 lb (or more) defensive tackle stood out all season and he stood out at the combine in Indy. Even with missing the 2007 season due to poor academics, Raji still managed to get 42 tackles and 8 sacks last season. The Packers need all kinds of help on the defensive side of the ball. Will Raji fall this far? Well, there is that rumor of a failed drug test (marajuana) at the combine. Also, missing an entire season because of grades doesn't look good on your rookie resume. Teams will have questions about Raji's character. There is a lot more money involved in a top five pick. If he's available at 9, the Packers will get him.

8) Jacksonville Jaguars select: Jeremy Maclin WR Missouri
I'd be shocked if the Jags don't pick a wide receiver with this pick. They desperately need a big play guy; a go-to guy for Gerard. With Matt Jones gone, I would say that they have to get a wideout here. What I like about Maclin is his explosiveness on the kick off and punt returns. This makes him an all-purpose player, which is hard to find on the Jacksonville roster. Other than Maurice Jones-Drew, of course. Michael Crabtree is also a possibility here, but I think he'll be chosen before the Jags get a shot at him.

7) Oakland Raiders select: Michael Crabtree WR Texas Tech
The Raiders need help at just about every position on their roster. Two years ago they got QB JaMarcus Russell with the #1 overall pick and now they will want to get someone for him to play catch with. Crabtree has the speed, he has the hands, and he can make the big play in the clutch; like his game winning catch against Texas. Al Davis likes to look for the best talent on the draft board and Crabtree fits the bill. The stress fracture in his foot, discovered at the combine, is the only reason Crabtree's stock has slipped a bit. He'll miss 6-10 weeks but should be fine for training camp.

6) Cincinatti Bengals select: Andre Smith OT Alabama
Andre Smith needs the Bengals almost as much as the Bengals need Andre Smith. His combine appearance was a disaster; he left without notice after showing up out of shape. His pro day didn't go without a hitch. Running his 40 shirtless proved to be bad decision. But, the big guy can block and he can definitely move. He is a sure fire tackle who will pass protect and run block with the best of them. He allowed only one sack in the 2008 season. If Palmer is to have a chance at a pro bowl next season, he'll need an Andre Smith.

5) Cleveland Browns select: Brian Orakpo DE Texas
After finishing the season with the 2nd lowest sack total in the league, Cleveland will take a pass rusher with this pick. The debate is who it will be. I wanted to say it will be Aaron Curry LB from Wake Forest. But, I digress for two reasons. First, I think Curry will be gone by the 5th pick. Second, the Browns have shown Orakpo a lot of attention since the combine. They actually worked out Orakpo privately in Texas, before his pro day.

4) Seattle Seahawks select: Eugene Monroe OT Virginia
Seattle has several holes to fill. But keeping QB Hasselbeck upright should be a top priority this season. Hasselbeck took a huge hit against Dallas on Thanksgiving. He ended up missing 9 games; the most of his career. Many analysts think the Seahawks are eyeing Georgia QB Matt Stafford with this pick or even USC QB Sanchez. I think if you're the Seahawks you have to shore up that O-line before you do anything else. They improved the receiving corps drastically by picking up Housmanzadeh in free agency. Monroe is a solid, standout OT in an offensive lineman rich draft. He will go early in the draft and the Seahawks would be wise to get him at #4.

3) Kansas City Chiefs select: Aaron Curry LB Wake Forest
Okay, this guy is a monster. Aaron Curry is a no-brainer pick for the Chiefs, if he's still available. And that's a big IF. He is the top linebacker in the nation (Butkus award). Draft guru Mike Mayock called Curry the safest pick in this year's draft. This guy will play right away. He can play both inside and outside in the 3-4 defense. He's gonna get you the sacks, the tackles for losses, and even a "pick six" here and there. He looked fantastic at the combine and had the most impressive pro day of any draft prospect this year. The Chiefs will be holding their breath hoping that Curry is still available at the 3rd pick.

2) St. Louis Rams select: Jason Smith OT Baylor
Look, St. Louis is going to take a Offensive Tackle with this pick. They released Orlando Pace, which leaves a huge void in that line. QB Marc Bulger needs the protection if he's going to ever get back to the Pro Bowl. The Rams also have RB Steven Jackson who, when playing well, is a game changing player for them. They need the pass protection; they need the run blocking. I'm calling Jason Smith the top OT in the draft. If he's available, St. Louis will take him. If not, they will go with Eugene Monroe, which screws up my whole mock draft.

1) Detroit Lions select: Matthew Stafford QB Georgia
I know the Lions have a lot of voids on their roster. Analysts have them taking everything from a QB to a linebacker with the #1 pick. It is possible that come draft day the Lions will take Curry or Jason Smith. But I have to believe that the idea of getting a young kid, with a rocket arm, who is ready to play at the next level is just too good for the Lions to pass up. One thing the Lions have always lacked is a franchise QB; a good player to lead the offense and to be the face of their organization. When you look at the Lions' history with QBs it has been dismal. Names like Andre Ware, Charlie Batch, and Scott Mitchell haunt Lions fans every season as they hope and pray for a playoff run. Stafford is the best QB in the draft and some even feel he's the most ready for the NFL. After having the worst season in NFL history (0-16), I think the Lions will want to excite the fan base. Stafford may be the right player at the right time.

Well, there you have it. My attempt at a partial mock draft. I represent these picks as who I think teams SHOULD take, not necessarily who they will take. But, at least you know that I had thought and insight behind each one. Can't wait until Draft day to see what happens. Only 14 1/2 more days....

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Cutler Catastrophe

Well, I can't begin this blog without voicing my opinion on the elephant in the league: the complete meltdown between Pro Bowl QB Jay Cutler and The Denver Broncos. First of all, I want to say that I think that Jay Cutler probably has some growing up to do. He's a 25 year-old professional athlete with more money than he will ever know what to do with and the way he handled the trade talks between new coach Josh McDaniels and several other teams regarding QB Matt Cassell, was a bit childish and immature. Now, that being said, I completely blame McDaniels and the Broncos for Cutler demanding a trade and ending up with the Chicago Bears.

McDaniels inherited the #2 ranked offense in the league and the 29th ranked defense. He was smart to hire Mike Nolan to take over the defense. Nolan may not be rollin' in San Fran anymore, but the guy knows how to coordinate a defense. But, I think that McDaniels was wrong to let Cutler believe that a trade was possible. Even if he looked into a trade to bring in Cassell (which on all accounts, he did), the coach should have immediately tried to smooth things over with Cutler and assure him that he was their starting QB once that trade fell apart.

I personally think that trading Cassell for Cutler was never in the best interest of the Broncos. McDaniels paints himself as a "it takes a team to win, not one player" kind of coach, such as his mentor Bill Belichick. I think he contradicts that by trying to go after ONE player who was in no way a clear upgrade for that team. To make matters worse, McDaniels let Cutler stew and fume about his future as a Bronco to the point where the QB felt he could no longer play for the coach and the organization. Then to add salt to the wound, McDaniels proceeds to go on a clumsy and forced PR campaign, stating in interviews that Cutler was "our quarterback". Well which one is it Coach? Is he tradeable or is he your quarterback?

The Broncos fired Mike Shanahan at the end of last season and saw McDaniels as the coach to bring the team back to its Super Bowl winning luster. They fired Mike Shanahan. I just had to repeat that. I find it shocking that you would fire one of the most seasoned and winning coaches in the league for an unproven coordinator. But, that's for another post. Anyhow, I feel for Broncos fans. They went from a young, athletic, promising, pro bowl quarterback and the #2 ranked offense to.... well... Kyle Orton. Nothing against Orton, he's got some decent numbers to his resume. But.... he's no Jay Cutler.

Apparently, I'm blogging.....

So, why start a blog? Well, I will give you the short answer and the long answer. I can sum up the short answer in three words: I love football. Call it a sickness, call it an obsession, or call it a passion, but I love the NFL. I love the combine, I love free agency, I love draft day, I love every second of every play; because, as any true football fan will tell you, football is in the blood. You either have it or you don't. I have it. I can sit and talk with someone about the league, its teams, its players, its very being, for hours and a goofy giddiness just comes over me. Seeing that my husband does not have this condition, I thought blogging would be some sort of outlet for me.

Now, for the long answer. This time of year is what some laymen refer to as "the off season". As all of you true fans know, there is no off season in pro football. True fans refer to this time of year as "Draft season" or "transition time" but this is a very busy time of year. The draft is quickly approaching and I have so many scenarios running in my mind. Who will the Lions draft at #1? And, will it make any difference to their season? Who will the 49ers (my team) draft at 10? Will the Broncos do anything on draft day to compensate the loss of Cutler? There is so much to think about and so many topics to cover in such a short period of time.

So for all of you fans out there that just need a place to come and debate, chat, or gush about your team and the league, I blog for you. This is from The Fan, for The Fan. Because seriously, football would be nothing without us. So here is a salute to all of the jersey wearing, living room screaming, face painting fanatics that love this sport almost as much as I do.