- Todd McShay, Scouts Inc.
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Bowl season is in full swing and NFL prospects are everywhere. Their future employers are in the middle of draft and playoff preparations. What better time for Scouts Inc.'s first complete 2009 mock first round? Todd McShay breaks down the top 10 and predicts the rest of the first round, and while underclassmen dominate the top 32 a pair of seniors round out the top five:
(Note: * denotes draft-eligible junior; ** denotes draft-eligible third-year sophomore; ties between teams with identical records are broken based on opponents' winning percentage and the team with the lower percentage gets the higher pick.)
1. Detroit Lions (Record: 0-16) -- Sam Bradford**, QB, Oklahoma
The Lions could have a tough choice here between Bradford and Georgia's Matthew Stafford. Bradford could use another year of experience and improved strength. There will also be concerns regarding his transition to the NFL from a shotgun-heavy offense at Oklahoma, where he is afforded the luxury of a first-class supporting cast. On the positive side, Bradford excels in the areas most critical to being a successful quarterback in the NFL: mental makeup, intangibles and accuracy.
If the Lions aren't sold on any of the available quarterbacks in the upcoming draft, selecting an elite offensive tackle like Andre Smith wouldn't be a bad option. Just ask the Dolphins how the Jake Long pick worked out.
2. St. Louis Rams (2-14) -- Andre Smith*, OT, Alabama
While his suspension for improper dealings with an agent is disappointing, it doesn't appear to point to a larger issue regarding Smith's character. Assuming those concerns are unfounded Smith should be the first offensive lineman taken off the board. He's not as polished as Long was coming out of Michigan, but Smith possesses better overall physical tools. It's no secret the Rams wanted Long badly last year so it's safe to assume Smith will be high on their wish list a few months from now.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14) -- Matthew Stafford*, QB, Georgia
Tyler Thigpen showed some promise as a fill-in starter this season, which gives the Chiefs some flexibility at No. 3. There are people inside the Chiefs organization that are very high on Stafford, and for good reason. He plays under center in something close to a pro-style offense at Georgia. He faced top competition in the SEC and did not have a great supporting cast around him. Stafford also has a rifle for an arm and is very accurate when is footwork is correct. His inconsistency and lapses in judgment are concerning, which is why we could have an interesting arms race between Stafford and Bradford if both are available for the upcoming draft.
4. Seattle Seahawks (4-12) -- Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest
Seahawks fans would certainly second-guess passing on a potential game-breaker like WR Michael Crabtree. It doesn't take much research, however, to realize the risks of taking a receiver this early in the draft. Curry is emerging as the top overall linebacker in the 2009 class because of his combination of physical tools, toughness and leadership. Teams build defenses around high-intensity guys like Curry and the Seahawks could be in the market if Leroy Hill bolts via free agency.
5. Cleveland Browns (4-12) -- Malcolm Jenkins, DB, Ohio State
It remains to be seen who will be making the decisions and what schemes the Browns will be running in 2009. They could be in the market for a rush-linebacker with this pick and a playmaker like Crabtree would be intriguing as well. Jenkins makes the most sense right now, though. The local product is an experienced and versatile playmaker who would instantly upgrade the athleticism of the secondary and also brings special teams value.
Todd McShay is the director of college football scouting for Scouts Inc. He has been evaluating prospects for the NFL draft since 1998.
1dEric D. Williams