Now that I am back from the NFL Combine, it's time to take what the event taught us about the talent pool for 2009 and implement it in our first mock draft of the season.

Mock drafts
NFL Network analyst Charles Davis and NFL.com senior writer Steve Wyche each broke out their first mock drafts recently. Where did they see Matthew Stafford going?
» Davis: Plenty of OT talent
» Wyche: Is QB Lions' biggest need?
» Dukes: Stafford has Cutler-like skills

The quarterbacks didn't distinguish themselves in Indianapolis. The combine showed that while there are a number of solid running backs, there's little reason to use a first-round pick on one. The wide receivers displayed a lot of speed and, as a group, probably moved up in the draft. The offensive tackles will provide multiple first-round options, while teams can wait on the guards and centers.

On defense, there are a number of hybrid players who fit as 3-4 outside linebackers or 4-3 defensive ends, and a few of them will go quickly in the first round. There is a cloud of doubt over the inside backers, as Rey Maualuga injured a hamstring during his first 40-yard dash and James Laurinaitis ran poorly. Cornerbacks should take up three or four spots in the first round, but teams will wait on safeties until the later rounds.

The Lions and Eagles have multiple first-round picks, while the Cowboys and Panthers must wait until the first round is over for a pick. I got the sense from talking to a number of GMs and head coaches that there is little interest in risk-taking at the top of the draft with athletes who have off-the-field issues, medical issues and "signability" issues. Athletes that came to the combine, performed most of the drills well, interviewed well and created a feeling of being safe picks moved up draft boards. Athletes who had medical issues, decided not to compete or demonstrated some immaturity moved down. As one GM said, "There's just too much damn money involved at the top of the draft to take a risk."

With that in mind, here's my first mock draft:

Team Pick Analysis

1. Detroit Lions

Jason Smith
OT, Baylor
Right now, it would appear there is a bit of doubt about Matthew Stafford being worthy of the top pick in the draft. An underclassman under 6-foot-3 who ran close to 4.9 in the 40-yard dash on a number of watches has a lot to prove. Jason Smith had a fine workout, passed the eyeball test and can be plugged into the lineup for the next 10 years.


Team Pick Analysis

2. St. Louis Rams

Eugene Monroe
OT, Virginia
The Rams could get serious about Michael Crabtree if the medical news about his foot is positive, but right now Monroe is a safe pick, and it transitions with the end of Orlando Pace's career. If Pace plays in 2009, Monroe can start at guard just like Jonathan Ogden did during his rookie season in Baltimore.


Team Pick Analysis

3. Kansas City Chiefs

Aaron Curry
LB, Wake Forest
The Chiefs are going to build a 3-4 defense and Curry gives them a critical piece at outside linebacker. If Stafford drops to them, they will think long and hard about him because the jury is still out on Tyler Thigpen.


Team Pick Analysis

4. Seattle Seahawks

Michael Crabtree
WR, Texas Tech
Only the foot injury would allow Crabtree to fall to the No. 4 spot, but his 231 receptions in just two seasons in college should be enough for the Seahawks to draft him. He's just what the doctor ordered for this offense.


Team Pick Analysis

5. Cleveland Browns

Malcolm Jenkins
CB, Ohio State
The Browns have a lot of needs, and cornerback is one of them. An outside linebacker who can rush the passer is priority No. 1, but with Curry gone, local Ohio State product Malcolm Jenkins is perfect. Keep in mind that new coach Eric Mangini took Darrelle Revis in the first round when he was with the Jets.


Team Pick Analysis

6. Cincinnati Bengals

Brian Orakpo
DE/LB, Texas
The Bengals have lots of needs, and they tend to ignore defense early in drafts. A wide receiver would work here, and if Crabtree slid they might do it. But they need help on defense. Orakpo is versatile and helps with a pass rush that has to improve.


Team Pick Analysis

7. Oakland Raiders

Jeremy Maclin
WR, Missouri
As the Raiders release high-priced veterans, they need playmakers. I could see an offensive or defensive tackle at this spot, but Al Davis loves speed, and Maclin has a lot of it. He led the nation with over 200 all-purpose yards per game, and he could team up with Johnnie Lee Higgins to make a dangerous tandem.


Team Pick Analysis

8. Jacksonville Jaguars

Matthew Stafford
QB, Georgia
The Jaguars were probably thinking they had a shot at Mark Sanchez, but it's possible Stafford slides to the No. 8 spot. If the quarterbacks are gone, then Jacksonville could take a left tackle like Andre Smith or Michael Oher. Stafford would not have to take the field for a year or two while David Garrard runs the offense, which would be ideal for the Georgia star, who would become a fan favorite in a city right on the Georgia border.


Team Pick Analysis

9. Green Bay Packers

Brian Cushing
LB, USC
The Packers are switching to a 3-4 defense, and they have to be thinking about an outside linebacker opposite Aaron Kampman. Cushing has played OLB, ILB, safety, defensive end and is just an all-around solid football player. At the combine, he measured in at 6-foot-3, 243 pounds, put up the 225-pound bench press 30 times, ran sub-4.7 in the 40-yard dash on a number of handheld watches and looked good in his drill work.


Team Pick Analysis

10. San Francisco 49ers

Darrius Heyward-Bey
WR, Maryland
The 49ers have so many needs, and after Heyward-Bey ran a sub-4.3 in the 40 at his size, he moved up draft boards. He can stretch the field, which is critical as teams try to stop Frank Gore in the running attack. He will need to catch the ball better at his pro day to keep up the momentum he built at the combine.


Team Pick Analysis

11. Buffalo Bills

Everette Brown
DE/LB, Florida State
The Bills need a pass rush and an outside linebacker. Brown could satisfy both issues. After Brown measured in at 6-foot-1½ and 256 pounds, he really moved to the linebacker group instead of the defensive end group that he worked out with in Indianapolis. His 20 sacks over the last two years can't be overlooked.


Team Pick Analysis

12. Denver Broncos

B.J. Raji
DT, Boston College
The Broncos have a long way to go to convert their defense from a 4-3 to a 3-4. They simply aren't big enough up front to be a two-gap team or have enough pass rush to protect the corners. Raji is a good fit in any front, and while the Broncos are playing a mix of the two fronts, at least they would add a big man (337 pounds) inside to help stop the run and collapse the pocket.


Team Pick Analysis

13. Washington Redskins

Andre Smith
OT, Alabama
Smith created quite a stir at the combine by leaving unannounced and not working out. He is immature in some respects and could have some weight issues, but he's one heck of a talent. He's a guy who can maul opponents and has extremely long arms (35 3/8) to pass block. Washington takes him as it prepares for the end of Chris Samuels' career.


Team Pick Analysis

14. New Orleans Saints

Vontae Davis
CB, Illinois
Defense is the reason the Saints haven't made a run at the Super Bowl. They paid a lot of money to the defensive line, and while they could be considered underachievers, the secondary also needs help. Davis is a big corner and could start from day one.


Team Pick Analysis

15. Houston Texans

Tyson Jackson
DE, LSU
Jackson is one of the few true 4-3 left defensive-end candidates in the draft. He weighed in at 295 pounds, and he could really help opposite Mario Williams. As teams run the ball away from Williams, the Texans need a stout player holding up the strong side. Jackson will never get the protection schemes his way and he should generate some needed pass rush from the left side. His 4.96 time in the 40 is a bit pedestrian, but his 27 tackles for a loss and 18.5 sacks during his career at LSU make him a solid pick.


Team Pick Analysis

16. San Diego Chargers

Rey Maualuga
LB, USC
Maualuga is a perfect fit as the strong inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. He would bring the passion that hasn't been around at the position since Junior Seau.


Team Pick Analysis

17. New York Jets

Hakeem Nicks
WR, North Carolina
Nicks is the big receiver the Jets have been looking for to play opposite Jerricho Cotchery. The Jets could be looking at a cornerback or defensive end, but Nicks should be the highest-graded player on the board. His postseason bowl performance removed any doubt about his first-round grade.


Team Pick Analysis

18. Chicago Bears

Michael Oher
OT, Mississippi
The Bears got old at tackle in a hurry, and the retirement of John Tait created a sense of urgency. Chris Williams should be good at right tackle and Oher could man the left side. In one pick, Chicago cements its young bookends for the next 10 years. Always like a tackle with over 45 college starts.


Team Pick Analysis

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Aaron Maybin
DE/LB, Penn State
Pay close attention to what the Bucs do in free agency. Former GM Bruce Allen left the team with more salary-cap space than anyone could imagine. For now, a young player like Maybin, who could be groomed at linebacker and rush the passer, makes sense. I'm not so sure Maybin can play linebacker. As one GM told me, "He's a 250-pound pass rusher who can't do much else." His combine performance in linebacker drills suggests he may be able to drop back in coverage. I might like him more in a 3-4 defense, but he is intriguing at this point in the draft. His lack of experience (10 college starts) could move him down the draft in the weeks to come.


Team Pick Analysis

20. Detroit Lions

(from Dallas Cowboys)

Mark Sanchez
QB, USC
It could work out that the Lions get their QB on their second pick in the first round. Sanchez needs a great pro day to get back into the top 10. If he doesn't wow the offensive coordinators, he could slide down in the draft to this spot. Sanchez has the skills to win in the NFL, but he will need time to develop -- and Detroit may not have the time to let him learn from the bench.


Team Pick Analysis

21. Philadelphia Eagles


Eben Britton
OT, Arizona
The Eagles need an offensive tackle, and this is the last player at that position that grades out as a first-rounder. They might decide to take a look at Connecticut's William Beatty a bit later and take a running back or wide receiver here, but history shows Andy Reid likes to take guys in the first round who play with their hand on the ground.


Team Pick Analysis

22. Minnesota Vikings


Percy Harvin
WR, Florida
Another playmaker for the passing game would be nice for whomever wins the QB job in Minnesota. The Vikings may be tempted to take a defenstive tackle like Peria Jerry to get in the rotation with Pat Williams, but they got good effort from their backups last year. Harvin would light up the Metrodome working out of the slot.


Team Pick Analysis

23. New England Patriots


Knowshon Moreno
RB, Georgia
Kevin Faulk isn't getting any younger, Laurence Maroney has issues staying healthy and you can never have enough good running backs. Moreno has a chance to be like Tiki Barber, an all-around back.


Team Pick Analysis

24. Atlanta Falcons


Peria Jerry
DT, Mississippi
The Falcons have to beef up the middle of their defense with solid young run stoppers. Jerry is a 300-pound run stuffer who will not be available later in the draft. His 32 tackles for a loss in the last two years at Mississippi tells you the kind of inside force he can be.


Team Pick Analysis

25. Miami Dolphins


Larry English
DE/LB, Northern Illinois
I've interviewed English three times already, and he is an impressive young man who looks like Takeo Spikes and plays with a tireless motor. In the Dolphins' 3-4 defense, he could line up at OLB and get after the QB. His 31.5 sacks and 57 tackles for a loss in college make him the perfect complement to Joey Porter. He had two handheld 40-yard dash times under 4.8.


Team Pick Analysis

26. Baltimore Ravens


Darius Butler
CB, Connecticut
The Ravens may want another corner, but for now the UConn corner gets the call. Some of the other corners are in the 5-foot-8 range and the Ravens may be looking for someone a bit taller. Butler measured in at 5-foot-10 3/8 and was impressive in his interviews.


Team Pick Analysis

27. Indianapolis Colts


James Laurinaitis
LB, Ohio State
Laurinaitis may be slipping out of the first round after his 4.80 time in the 40, but his college production -- 375 tackles with nine interceptions and 13 sacks -- says he belongs among the top 32 players. His stats speak volumes about his playmaking ability. The combine didn't help him, but the game tapes will.


Team Pick Analysis

28. Philadelphia Eagles

(from Carolina Panthers)

Kenny Britt
WR, Rutgers
The Eagles could take a big running back like Chris "Beanie" Wells from Ohio State here, but Britt gets the call this week. He's big (6-foot-2 7/8, 214 pounds) and explosive. He would be a nice complement to DeSean Jackson. If the Eagles sign T.J. Houshmandzadeh during free agency, then they're set to take a running back.


Team Pick Analysis

29. New York Giants

Michael Johnson
DE, Georgia Tech
Johnson is not without his critics, but the combine really helped him regain some of his first-round status. There was no one like him physically in Indianapolis, as he checked in at 6-foot-6 7/8, 266 pounds with a 4.67 time in the 40. He can move like a linebacker, rush the passer and probably be a short-yardage tight end. In the weeks to come, he will be moving up the draft board and probably be gone by the time the Giants select.


Team Pick Analysis

30. Tennessee Titans

Robert Ayers
DE, Tennessee
Ayers made a statement at the Senior Bowl that he can play the run, rush the passer and drop into coverage when asked. He thinks he's headed to a 3-4 team as an outside linebacker, which may be true, but he really fits in with the Titans. There are some concerns about his bench press (18 reps), but as one GM said, "The last thing I worry about is strength. We can fix that."


Team Pick Analysis

31. Arizona Cardinals

Evander Hood
DT, Missouri
Hood had a good combine and looked impressive in drill work. He did not come to Indianapolis as a first-round candidate, but he may be leaving as one. At 6-foot-2 7/8 and 300 pounds with 34 reps on the bench press and a sub-4.9 40, his stock is rising.


Team Pick Analysis

32. Pittsburgh Steelers

Jarron Gilbert
DE, San Jose State
The world champs need to find a 5-technique player to be in a rotation with starters Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel. Gilbert came to Indianapolis as a second- or third-round prospect, but the 6-foot-5, 288-pound player with 4.81 speed is moving up draft boards.


Here's a list of the next wave of players who could break into the first round by next week's mock draft: QB Josh Freeman, RB Chris "Beanie" Wells, TE Brandon Pettigrew, C Alex Mack, OT William Beatty, OLB Clay Mathews, CB D.J. Moore and CB Alphonso Smith.

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