1. Detroit Lions — Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia*
6-3 | 237 lbs. | Junior
Tampa Bay, FL
The Lions should not expect to turn things around as quick as the Miami Dolphins did this season. However, a Matthew Stafford-Calvin Johnson combination should give fans some optimism. A new identity is needed for the team that struggled so much in 2008. Stafford has the best arm in the draft, hands down. He could make any throw on the next level, and to be honest, he probably should have been slotted at the top spot a couple weeks ago. There is an option out there that would allow the Lions to select an offensive tackle here and then a quarterback at No. 20. However, that’s a bit too risky for a team that desperately needs a franchise quarterback.
2. St. Louis Rams — Andre Smith, OLT, Alabama*
6-4 | 341 lbs. | Junior
Jake Long was probably going to become a member of the St. Louis Rams at the 2008 draft, had the Dolphins not snatch him up with the first overall pick. Furthermore, with that being said, the team has done little to improve at either tackle position. Andre Smith could step in for Orlando Pace or become the team’s starting right tackle in 2009. Smith was high on my list before the season started, and he has performed well against fierce SEC competition. There is no question the team should start to get the running game rolling again, and Smith is arguably the best run-blocker in the draft.
3. Kansas City Chiefs — Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech*
6-3 | 214 lbs. | Sophomore (RS)
Tyler Thigpen has actually performed well in his first season as a starter, an interesting twist of fate for a team that last year held Brodie Croyle as their future quarterback. Additionally, the cost of signing a quarterback like Mark Sanchez here would be overwhelming. Instead, Michael Crabtree gives the team a viable option to pair with Dwayne Bowe for the future. Crabtree, with his combination of size, speed, and productivity, is clearly the best wide receiver in this draft class. The signing of former Cardinals OC Todd Haley solidifies Crabtree as the third pick. After all, Haley knows what it’s like to have a two stud wide receivers on offense. Kansas City will hope that Dwayne Bowe and Michael Crabtree will turn into the AFC version of Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald.
4. Seattle Seahawks — Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest
6-3 | 247 lbs. | Senior
The Seahawks would be extremely disappointed to see Michael Crabtree get snatched up before they get the opportunity to pick. Crabtree would be the obviously selection, but now the debate begins about whether Curry would be a good pick for the Seahawks. In our mind, he is worth the selection. Aaron Curry has all the tools to be a productive linebacker at the next level. Good size, and unbelievable athleticism allowed Curry to establish himself as the best defensive player in this draft class. With Leroy Hill’s expected departure, the Seahawks have a hole to fill at outside linebacker. Aaron Curry would give them an excellent linebacker corps along with Julian Peterson and Lofa Tatupu.
5. Cleveland Browns — Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State
6-1 | 201 lbs. | Senior
This particular mock draft leaves the Browns with their worst case scenario. The team would love to grab Aaron Curry at this spot, however the Chiefs do not appear they are going to pass him up. Instead, Malcolm Jenkins is still a fantastic corner back prospect. One could argue that pass defense was one of the reasons why Eric Mangini got fired in New York. While Cleveland has a better pass defense, there’s no doubt that last year still resonates in Mangini’s mind. Jenkins would be the lock down corner the Browns need. He has been a fixture in the Ohio State secondary, and opposing quarterbacks always will have to know where he is on the field. Considering the amount of underclassmen that are expected to be in this year’s draft, Jenkins should be widely considered one of the safer selections. He was the 2008 winner of the Jim Thorpe Award, previously won by Charles Woodson, Antonine Winfield, Terence Newman, Carlos Rogers, and Aaron Ross. Not so bad company.