Projecting Where Lions Will Land
Tomorrow marks the beginning of the 2009 NFL Draft, and while the Lions are reportedly in negotiations with making Georgia Quarterback Matthew Stafford the number one pick, everyone else seems to be making mock drafts in a futile attempt to predict who the best talent from the NCAA will end up playing for.
While it’s very unlikely that we’ll even hit one of these picks on the nose, we here at Onward State are taking a shot in the dark, predicting that five Nittany Lions will be selected within this weekend’s seven rounds.
Aaron Maybin – DE/OLB
Round 1 – Pick 18 – Denver Broncos
Maybin seems to be the easiest player to confidently project his general value – his agent proclaimed him a “guaranteed top 10 pick,” but more realistically I can’t see #59 slipping past Detroit’s second first round pick (#20) – he’s just got too much potential for any of those teams to pass up on him.
Originally I would have projected Maybin to the Bills at 11, but the trade of LT Jason Peters to the Eagles makes offensive linemen more of a priority for Buffalo despite their almost non-existent pass rush last year.
The Broncos got an extra first round pick this year out of the Cutler trade, and new head coach seems comfortable with a Kyle Orton-helmed offense, so look for Denver to shore up their pitiful defense. Given the lack of production of 2007 first round pick Jarvis Moss, Maybin could be just what the doctor ordered.
Gerald Cadogan – OT/G
Round 3 – Pick 69 – Dallas Cowboys
Cadogan would benefit from a rush on tackles early – if Jason Smith, Eugene Monroe, Michael Oher, and Andre Smith are all selected in the top 10, there’s a good chance he’ll be taken in the second round instead of the third. But thanks to the depression induced by Dan Connor’s free-fall last year, I’ve made all of my projections for Penn State players more conservative. Blame the Big-Ten haters.
If you didn’t notice this past season, the Cowboy’s offensive line didn’t play spectacularly down the stretch. That could be attributed to a lack of depth, which could be provided by the borderline-ready-to-start and versatile Cadogan.
Derrick Williams – WR/KR
Round 3 – Pick 92 – Indianapolis Colts
I’m torn on how to project Williams. On one hand, he really saved his stock at Pro Day by running a 4.37, and with the Wildcat formation taking the league by storm last season, there’s relaly no better time for a player with his abilities. But on the other hand, the mix of wide recievers after Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin is quite muddled. Williams could get taken in round two if franchises consider Percy Harvin and Brandon Tate’s recreational drug use a serious red flag.
The Colts taking D-Will here is highly dependent on them passing on a player like Hakeem Nicks or Darrius Heyward-Bey in the first round. They need to replace Marvin Harrison, and while Anthony Gonzalez had some nice games in his stead last year, I think Williams is a more worthy successor. If the Colts go WR in the first round, look for Derrick to possibly slip to the Titans two picks later. I’m going out on a limb and saying there is no way he will last past the third round.
Deon Butler – WR
Round 4 – Pick 132 – Pittsburgh Steelers
I’ll admit – this is a little bit of a homer pick on my part. I’d absolutely love for the Steelers to take Penn State’s reception leader in the fourth round. But before you brush off my logic, consider this – Pittsburgh let speedster Nate Washington walk in free agency this past offseason and Hines Ward is getting up in years – who better to replace #86 than Butler?
A.Q. Shipley – C
Round 5 – Pick 143 – Atlanta Falcons
Past round three or so, teams really start taking the best players suited to depth needs. So why is the Rimington Trophy winner so far down on this list? While Shipley is a great leader and an intelligent athlete, there are some concerns about his size. With the Falcons’ Todd McClure at 32, I think this would give the team enough time to allow Shipley to adjust to the rigors of the NFL and eventually become a starter.
Those are my picks for Saturday and Sunday. Of course, there are a lot of borderline players like Jordan Norwood, Maurice Evans, and Lydell Sargeant – let’s hope I’m wrong on their undrafted status.
If you are curious who I think the Eagles and Steelers will take with their first round picks, I’m banking on Oklahoma State TE Brandon Pettigrew and Cal C Alex Mack respectively.