We are just a few days away from the Ravens making their first-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. For the past few months, everybody around the nation has given an opinion on who's coming to Baltimore - and every other team for that matter.
After watching these players in games last year, speaking with them at the NFL Combine, analyzing many of the offseason moves in trades and free agency, and even speaking to some of my counterparts across the league, I've amassed my second annual BR.com Mock Draft.
Keep in mind, the following picks are based on the assumption that there will be no trades in the first round, which we all know will happen on or before draft day.
Oh, and I included a second and third-round pick for the Ravens. Basically just two players that I think will be available by the time Baltimore is on the clock.
*Note: This in no way reflects the opinion of the Ravens' personnel or coaching teams. I have never been in the Draft Room, nor laid my eyes on **Ozzie Newsome** and **Eric DeCosta’s** rankings on the Draft Board. This is just what I think could happen. *
1. Detroit Lions
Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia - The Lions want to get a contract done with the former Bulldog, and already have one with linebacker Aaron Curry. That's not to say they won't take Stafford anyway. He's got a big arm and would form an explosive tandem with Calvin Johnson. New coach Jim Schwartz would be staking his career on Stafford, however, so the Lions have to hit on this pick.
2. St. Louis Rams
Jason Smith, OT, Baylor - Smith or Eugene Monroe? Well, considering Monroe had some issues with a dislocated knee in the past, I'll put Smith here. The Rams need to replace Orlando Pace, and Smith is just the physical, athletic lineman to do it. Depending on where St. Louis wants to play Alex Barron, Smith coudl be on the right or left side.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest - The top-overall defender in the draft could lead Scott Pioli's defense for years. Curry isn't much of a pass rusher, but he's a born leader and breaks the mold for a middle linebacker. With Glenn Dorsey plugging the middle, Curry can simply hunt down the ball.
4. Seattle Seahawks
Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia - Some have questioned Monroe's intensity because he's kind of laid back, but don't buy into that. This guy was so good that he forced former Virginia teammate Branden Albert - who was a stud for the Chiefs as a rookie last year - to play next to him at guard in college. Also, Seatle GM Tom Ruskell recently said he wouldn'tt pursue a quarterback, so Sanchez is out of the questions.
5. Cleveland BrownsBrian Orakpo, OLB/DE, Texas - The Browns are going to run a 3-4 under Eric Mangini, so they'll need an elite pass rusher to complement Kamerion Wimbley. Orakpo's biggest knock is consistency down after down, but he's so dominant off the edge, he'll be tough to pass up.
6. Cincinnati Bengals
Andre Smith, OT, Alabama - I'm thinking the Bengals won't trade Chad Ocho Cinco, so receiver is probably out. Cincy needs to rebuild its offensive line, and while Smith might not be the most svelte guy, his play in the difficult SEC is undeniable.
7. Oakland Raiders
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri - The Raiders love speed, and Maclin is lightning fast. With a trio of running backs, JaMarcus Russell could use a deep threat for his cannon arm. Maclin can also help in the return game.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars
B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College - Jack Del Rio can bring back the identity of his defense with Raji, much like he did with the Marcus Stroud/John Henderson combo of huge defensive tackles a few years ago. The Jags also need help at wideout.
9. Green Bay Packers
Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU- Green Bay is switching to a 3-4 defense, and Jackson is perhaps the best 3-4 end in the draft. According to multiple reports, he is one of the fastest risers on many draft boards.
10. San Francisco 49ers
Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech - Listen, there are glaring needs on defense, and the quarterback situation is still in limbo, but when a playmaker like Crabtree is sitting there, how can you not take him? The 49ers like Josh Morgan, and Crabtree will bring their receiving corps to another level.
11. Buffalo Bills
Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi - Trading Jason Peters yielded extra picks, so they can take Oher here to fill in at left tackle immediately and then select a pass rusher later in the first round. Oher is perhaps the most athletic tackle in this year's class, but there are concerns about his ability to mentally adjust to the pro game.
12. Denver Broncos
Mark Sanchez, QB, USC - Kyle Orton and Chris Simms can't be the answer for Josh McDaniels, no matter what the Broncos are saying. I believe that it was a smoke screen when McDaniels didn't attend Sanchez's private workout with Denver officials this week. Sanchez might have only started one year, but he has all the tools to be great, coming from a quarterback factory like USC.
13. Washington Redskins
Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee - Their defensive line would be dominant with Albert Haynesworth, Andre Carter and Ayers. He is a one-year wonder, so it remains to be seen if he can perform every season.
14. New Orleans Saints
Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State - The Saints had the league's 23rd-ranked pass defense last year, and Jenkins is the top-rated defensive back. He can play either corner or safety.
15. Houston Texans
Brian Cushing, DE, USC - I really wanted to put Clay Matthews, Jr., here because his dad is on the Texans' coaching staff, but of the three USC linebackers in the first round, Cushing is a more proven fit. Houston can plug him in on the strong side right away.
16. San Diego Chargers
Chris "Beanie" Wells, RB, Ohio State -LaDainian Tomlinson is probably seeing his final season with the Bolts, and Sproles still hasn't signed his tender, so Wells provides a toughness to be an every down back if/when both of them are gone in the future.
17. New York Jets
Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State - There are rumblings that the Jets might trade up to take Sanchez, but if not, Freeman can challenge Kellen Clemens and Brett Ratliff for the job this year or develop into the quarterback of Rex Ryan's future.
18. Denver Broncos (from Chicago)
Everette Brown, DE, Florida State - Denver has no teeth to their pass rush, and although Brown doesn't possess ideal size, he's got underrated strength and a sudden burst to get after the quarterback.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi - New coach Raheem Morris is a defensive guru, so it's a safe bet the Bucs will go defense early and often. Jerry is one of those tackles that uses leverage to push the pocket and stuff the run.
20. Detroit Lions (from Dallas)
Clay Mathews, OLB, USC - Matthews is a late-bloomer with tremendous upside. Throw him on special teams for now and let him play his way onto the field for defense. The bloodlines of his father, longtime lineman Clay Matthews, and uncle, Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews, suggest he'll do it.
21. Philadelphia Eagles
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia - The ideal complement to Brian Westbrook. The Eagles were always at a disadvantage when Westbrook wasn't in the game, but now defenses won't be able to rest.
22. Minnesota Vikings
Eben Britton, OT, Arizona - Minnesota desperately needs help at right tackle, so Britton fits the bill. He is the best prospect on the next tier of offensive tackles. The former Wildcat is a polished leader that has been a longtime starter.
23. New England Patriots
Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut - Some analysts have said that Butler is the best pure corner in the draft. Willis McGahee's cousin has great speed and can really cover. He could also help out on special teams, and BIll Belichick likes versatile defenders.
24. Atlanta Falcons
Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State - Pettigrew could make a great compliment to quarterback Matt Ryan. He's got underrated receiving skills, and his blocking prowess is well-documented. Baltimore is interested in the Oklahoma State product.
25. Miami Dolphins
Vontae Davis, CB, Miami - Davis has some character concerns - he was benched a few times and his attitude has been questioned - but he is the highest-rated corner left on the board. As former Maryland star Vernon Davis' brother, he's got the pedigree to be a special athlete. Miami is getting old at cornerback.
26. Baltimore Ravens
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland - Joe Flacco would love a deep threat, and the Ravens have expressed interest in the local product, holding a private workout with the rookie quarterback throwing to him. [Note: This is simply my opinion, not that of the Ravens' personnel department.]
27. Indianapolis Colts
Brian Robiskie, WR, Ohio State - I talked to NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock earlier this week, and he said Robiskie deserves first-round consideration. The former Buckeye has great size and strength.
28. Buffalo Bills (from Philadelphia)
Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State -Maybin drops because of his youth and lack of ideal size, but his pass-rushing talents are incredible. Buffalo didn't have any pass rush when Aaron Schobel was out last year, so Maybin's long arms and closing speed will add to Schobel's production in 2009.
29. New York Giants
Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers - The Rutgers product joins the local team. New York let Plaxico Burress walk, so Britt is his replacement, giving Eli Manning a tall, rangy weapon who has impressed in recent workouts. The Ravens actually held a private workout with Britt recently.
30. Tennessee Titans
Rey Maualuga, LB, USC - The Titans jump for joy when character issues drop Maualuga down to No. 30. Perhaps the hardest hitter in the draft, Maualuga is the heir apparent to stalwart veteran Keith Bulluck and could even challenge for a starting spot.
31. Arizona Cardinals
Larry English, OLB, Northern Illinois - Arizona is getting a little long in the tooth on the edges, so the refined English can either put a hand in the dirt to replace Antonio Smith, or be a linebacker to take over for veterans Chike Okeafor and Clark Haggans.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers
Eric Wood, C, Louisville - A lot of mock drafts have Oregon center Max Unger going here, but Wood's strength and body type make him better suited to take on the big D-tackles in the AFC North. The Steelers don't have many needs except their offensive line.
25. Baltimore Ravens
D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt - Assuming he's available, Moore just has average speed, but he gets the job done. Moore had six interceptions in 2008, and he even saw some time at wide receiver, returner and took a few snaps at quarterback.
24. Baltimore Ravens
Cornelius Ingram, TE, Florida - Again, assuming he's available, the former Gator took a visit to the Ravens' headquarters in Owings Mills, so he's on the team's radar. His wide body makes him an asset in sealing the edge, and the converted quarterback has athleticism in the open field.