Discussion

Sanchez into latest mock top five

Wide receivers, defensive linemen also moving in latest first-round projection

Originally Published: April 16, 2009
By Todd McShay | Scouts Inc.
Player evaluations are complete and draft boards are set around the NFL as we enter the homestretch before the NFL draft, but the chatter is building surrounding possible trades, mostly concerning where QB Mark Sanchez will land. Things can change on a moment's notice at this point in the process, and only hours after my original projection appeared I was told by reliable sources that Seattle will pull the trigger on Sanchez at No. 4 overall. That will send ripples all the way down to the New York Jets at No. 17.

The Jets seemed a good bet to trade up to No. 8 in order to take Sanchez but the price for getting him just got much steeper, and New York is likely headed back to the drawing board.

Taking all that into account, here is Scouts Inc.'s updated first-round projection:

1. Detroit Lions (Record: 0-16): Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia

Top three needs: QB, LOT, DE
Stafford is the very clear choice for Detroit. Among the three players the Lions have said they are negotiating with, Stafford is at the top, Jason Smith would be the next choice if negotiations with Stafford break down, and Curry is a long shot. The Lions definitely want a deal in place with the top pick before the draft, and they definitely hope it's with Stafford.

2. St. Louis Rams (2-14): Jason Smith, OT, Baylor

Top three needs: OT, WR, MLB
Smith has the athleticism and tenacity of a premiere starting left tackle, which is priority No. 1 for St. Louis after it parted ways with Orlando Pace during the offseason. If Smith is on the board, it's hard to imagine the Rams going in any other direction.

3. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14): Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest

Top three needs: Rush LB, DT, 3-4 DL
Here's where it starts to get interesting. This pick is suddenly much more valuable given the fact that Sanchez is projected to come off the board at No. 4, but it remains to be seen whether any team will pay the huge price it would take to get ahead of Seattle. Curry is without question the best available player, but does he fit what the Chiefs are looking to do defensively as they move to a 3-4 look? I think Curry is just as valuable inside in a 3-4 as he is outside in a 4-3, but the one thing they don't get for certain is an impact pass-rusher off the edge. I think Kansas City goes with Curry, but if the Chiefs go in a different direction it will likely be OT Eugene Monroe.

4. Seattle Seahawks (4-12): Mark Sanchez, QB, USC

Top three needs: OLB, OT, S
The Seahawks are clearly looking for the heir apparent to current starter Matt Hasselbeck, who has dealt with nagging injuries recently but likely has two or three more years in him. There are also questions about stud LT Walter Jones, who is coming off a serious knee injury, but selecting Sanchez will allow Seattle to eventually hand the reins from one franchise quarterback to another.

5. Cleveland Browns (4-12): Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech

Top three needs: OLB, WR, CB
With rumors of the Browns trading Braylon Edwards to the Giants picking up steam, it's looking more and more like they will use this pick on the premier playmaking wideout in this draft. I'm not a huge fan of spending a top-five pick on a wide receiver, but Crabtree certainly appears to be the real deal. If the trade doesn't go through or they decide to go in a different direction, look for the Browns to target an edge rusher like Brian Orakpo.

6. Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1): Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia

Top three needs: OT, C, RB
Monroe is the best pure pass-blocker in the draft and he makes sense for a team that has had trouble staying healthy up front and has invested significant money in QB Carson Palmer.

7. Oakland Raiders (5-11): Andre Smith, OT, Alabama

Top three needs: OT, WR, DT
There's a lot of talk about Smith falling because of the debacle he made of the pre-draft process, but when all is said and done, he's one of top three offensive tackles and there are too many teams in the top 10 searching for his kind of talent for him to fall very far.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11): Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri

Top three needs: WR, CB, DT
The Jaguars had hoped to shop this pick to teams coveting Sanchez but that plan appears to be shot. However, in this scenario they are now able to fill their biggest need with one of the fastest, most explosive players in the draft. Maclin is a bit raw as a receiver but his speed is impressive and he can also contribute in the return game.

9. Green Bay Packers (6-10): B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College

Top three needs: 3-4 OLB, 3-4 DL, OT
Raji is the best player on the board at this point and would provide the Packers with a stout nose tackle in their new 3-4 defense. He has the size and strength to anchor against double-teams in the running game and the burst and quickness to collapse the pocket and get to the quarterback as a pass-rusher.

10. San Francisco 49ers (7-9): Brian Orakpo, DE/OLB, Texas

Top three needs: ROT, QB, S
Orakpo makes sense in this scenario because of his ability to provide pressure off the edge. I'm not convinced Orakpo is an ideal fit as a 3-4 OLB because he's a little stiff in his coverage drops, but he does have experience in that role and the 49ers could likely tailor a role for Orakpo that makes getting after the quarterback his primary goal.

11. Buffalo Bills (7-9): Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State

Top three needs: Rush DE, C/G, TE
The Bills' biggest need could be getting some help on the interior offensive line, but they are obviously not drafting a center or guard here. That's why I think they'll take advantage of the strong class of perimeter pass-rushers and take Maybin, who I believe is the best hybrid DE/OLB in the '09 class. He needs time to develop bulk and strength, but nobody has a quicker first step getting after the quarterback.

12. Denver Broncos (8-8): Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU

Top three needs: QB, NT, 3-4 DE
The interesting thing with Denver is that on paper, the Broncos need a quarterback. But even if Sanchez were to fall to the Broncos here I don't expect them to pull the trigger. This pick is all about the D-line for the Broncos. If Raji somehow slips, they'll cash in and grab him. If not, Denver will take the best five-technique DE (interior DE in a 3-4) in this year's class.

13. Washington Redskins (8-8): Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee

Top three needs: DE, ROT, strong side LB
There are three angles with the Redskins and this pick. One, if Sanchez falls, they take him. Two, they could mortgage their future and send draft picks to move up to take Sanchez. I'm not convinced they'll do it, but it certainly wouldn't be against Dan Snyder's style. Third, assuming Sanchez is gone, they go either with an offensive tackle or a defensive end. In this case, Ayers is the best value on the board between those two positions, and his combination of power and quickness would give the Redskins versatility at the position opposite Andre Carter.

14. New Orleans Saints (8-8): Chris "Beanie" Wells, RB, Ohio State

Top three needs: OLB, FS, RB
Defense is where New Orleans needs the most upgrades, but there's a lot of buzz about the Saints taking Wells, whose downhill, powerful running style would be an ideal complement to the more versatile and explosive Reggie Bush.

15. Houston Texans (8-8): Brian Cushing, OLB, USC

Top three needs: SS, NT, rush DE
There's a high-percentage chance that Houston could trade back. This could be where a team like Philadelphia moves up for an offensive tackle. However, if the Texans get stuck here, there's no one available to address their top needs -- strong safety and nose tackle -- and Cushing is the best fit because Houston would give DeMeco Ryans a partner in crime against the run at the strongside linebacker.

16. San Diego Chargers (8-8): Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State

Top three needs: ROT, RG, SS
This is a luxury pick for the Chargers, and they certainly can use another playmaking presence in the secondary. Jenkins could serve a versatile role as a subpackage corner and ball-hawking safety next to Eric Weddle. He doesn't fit San Diego's top need of a right tackle, but Jenkins is a far better prospect than any tackle left on the board.

For the complete first-round projection, including what the Broncos do with the first-round pick they received from the Bears and what the Jets might do if they are unable to trade up, become an Insider today. Insider

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