T minus 12 days and counting before this year’s NFL draft kicks off. In part III of The Buyline’s 2009 NFL Mock Draft we look at picks 21 through 32 to finish our first round predictions.
21. Philadelphia Eagles – Needs: RB, OL. Who is the Eagle’s best player? Brian Westbrook without a doubt. Who breaks down at some point during the season? Brian Westbrook without a doubt. The Eagles also need to look for OT Jon Runyan’s eventual successor but with five tackles off the board already and no running backs selected yet, the Eagles have their choice and they will select Georgia RB Knowshon Moreno. He will be the perfect compliment to Westbrook and the Eagles offense will add a very dangerous weapon to Donovan McNabb’s arsenal.
22. Minnesota Vikings – Needs: WR, LB, OL. The Vikings have the best running back in the game, Adrian Peterson. They traded for quarterback Sage Rosenfels to come in to lead the offense. Visanthe Shiancoe emerged as a quality TE, but Bernard Berrian was a disappointment as the number one WR option. So I look for Coach Brad Childress to add another play-maker to his offense by selecting WR from Maryland Darrius Heyward-Bey. He has a rare combination of size, speed and athleticism to make an instant impact. His speed on the turf in the Metrodome will bring a new dimension to the Vikings offense.
23. New England Patriots – Needs: DL, LB. First of all Tom Brady is back. Patriots fans can breathe a sigh of relief. The leader of this team is healthy and will be back to lead the offense. However the leader of the defense is gone as the Patriots traded Mike Vrabel to Kansas City this off season. So what will the Patriots do? Re-load naturally. They will select a player in this year’s draft with the best NFL pedigree. LB from USC Clay Matthews. Matthews has the versatility the Patriots look for at the linebacker position.
24. Atlanta Falcons – Needs: DL, TE, OL. The Falcons will be tempted to look for defensive line help, so local favorite Georgia Tech’s Michael Johnson and Tennessee’s Robert Ayers are both possibilities. But what I think the Falcons can really use is another dimension to their offense to continue the development of 2nd year QB Matt Ryan. A field stretching tight end that can run the seam routes will continue to help open it up for the Falcons running game as well as the emergence of receivers Roddy White and Michael Jenkins. I look for the Falcons to select Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew with the 24th selection.
25. Miami Dolphins – Needs: CB, DL, WR. It would be very “un-Parcells” like to select a wide receiver in the first round but for the Dolphins to continue to compete in the tough AFC East they will have to score points. A definite possibility is Hakeem Nicks the receiver out of North Carolina. He has plenty of big-play potential and would change the dynamics of the Dolphins offense. However with the Dolphins having to go up against Randy Moss and now Terrell Owens twice during the season a big corner to match-up makes more sense in this deep WR draft. So I look for Parcells to pull a surprise and select the 6’3”, 210 lbs corner out of Utah Sean Smith with this pick.
26. Baltimore Ravens – Needs: LB, WR, CB. Rest assured the Ravens will use an early pick to select a WR to add to Joe Flacco’s attack it just won’t be their first pick. They first must address the defensive side of the ball. Not only did they lose defensive coordinator Rex Ryan who is now head coach of the Jets but they lost LB Bart Scott and CB Chris McAllister. Plus Ray Lewis is not getting any younger. While an inside backer like Ohio State’s James Laurinaitis would be a natural fit in the Baltimore defense, I think they look outside and go with Northern Illinois’ Larry English. English played defensive end in college and earned MAC defensive player-of-the-year honors but he projects to an outside linebacker in the pros and should slip in nicely for the departed Bart Scott.
27. Indianapolis Colts – Needs: DL, WR, LB. Can you imagine Peyton Manning without Marvin Harrison? Believe it or not that time has come. The Colts will be tempted to use this late first round pick to find his replacement and I am sure Ohio State’s Brian Robiskie will peak their interest. He is a “mini Marvin” while lacking dazzling speed he is an effective route runner and knows how to get separation. Sound familiar? But as I’ve said many times this is a deep WR draft and they can grab a quality WR in round 2 so I look for the Colts to give Dwight Freeney and the defense some help by selecting DE from Tennessee Robert Ayers.
28. Philadelphia Eagles (from Carolina Panthers) – Needs: OL. By using their earlier first round pick to take the work load off Brian Westbrook, the Eagles can now look to add depth to their offensive line. LT Tra Thomas left for Jacksonville via free agency and we previously discussed RT Jon Runyan’s age so the logical pick is the 6th offensive tackle selected in the first round UConn’s William Beatty. Beatty is 6’6” and will fit in nicely along the Eagles offensive front.
29. New York Giants – Needs: WR, DL. The Plaxico factor. Plaxico Burress has been cut and the Giants will take no chances and get Eli Manning a receiver he can count on. While Nicks could be the pick here, look for the G-men to select local Jersey product out of Rutgers Kenny Britt. After just three years at Rutgers Britt is the Big East’s all-time leading receiver with over 3,000 yards. He is a tall, lanky receiver with no fear going over the middle a la Keyshawn Johnson.
30. Tennessee Titans – Needs: WR, DT. Any other year the obvious would be select a defensive tackle to fill the void created by Haynesworth leaving. But this year is weak as far as options at defensive tackle. The one possibility would be Mizzou’s Evander Hood but he has second round grades. So why not follow last year’s philosophy and add another playmaker to the offense. It worked with the addition of RB Chris Johnson and this year the Titans will add WR Percy Harvin from Florida. Johnson and Harvin will give the Titans two of the fastest players in the NFL.
31. Arizona Cardinals – Needs: OL, RB. Is Tim Hightower an every down back? Will Edgerrin James depart? Regardless to the answers to those questions the Cardinals will select a running back and there are still plenty of options available. There are four RB’s that could squeeze their way into first round money. Pittsburgh’s LeSean McCoy, Iowa’s Shonn Greene, UConn’s Donald Brown and Ohio State’s Chris Wells. While I think the Cards should go with McCoy who is not only a great rusher but an excellent receiver I think they will go with the Buckeye and select Beanie Wells.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers – Needs: OL, CB. The Steelers need a cornerback and there are still three available that would be quality picks. Vanderbilt’s D.J. Moore, Wake Forest’s Alphonso Smith and Illinois’ Vontae Davis. While it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Steelers select Davis, I think D.J. Moore fits their scheme better and is better in run support and he will be the last pick of the first round in 2009.