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Posted: Thursday January 22, 2009 12:04PM; Updated: Friday January 23, 2009 7:28AM
Don Banks Don Banks >
INSIDE THE NFL
Story Highlights

The Detroit Lions play it safe by picking OT Andre Smith first

Looking for an heir to Orlando Pace, the Rams will take Eugene Monroe

The Chiefs desperately need a QB, so they'll take Georgia's Matthew Stafford

2009 NFL Mock Draft 1.0
I know this might have slipped up on you, what with the regular season and the playoffs distracting us all, but the 2009 NFL draft is just 94 days hence, and that means it's time to get mocking. Don't take these selections to the bank just yet. We've got more of these puppies coming between now and when the picking starts. That means we're only at Mock 1, and just starting to accelerate into draft season: (Send comments to siwriters@simail.com or share your thoughts here.)

 
1 OT Andre Smith Alabama Jr. 6-4 330
Sure, it'd be a sexier No. 1 pick if I went with Georgia junior quarterback Matthew Stafford, but I'm not yet at the point where I can see the winless Lions taking anything that resembles a risky pick with the very first selection of the Jim Schwartz era. Plenty of questions remain about Stafford's readiness to play quickly in the NFL, and my early read is the Lions will play it safe and start rebuilding their roster from the lines out. Smith, Virginia's Eugene Monroe and Mississippi's Michael Oher are all in the discussion when it comes to divining the top-rated offensive tackle.
2 OT Eugene Monroe Virginia Jr. 6-6 315
The Rams missed out on offensive tackle Jake Long with the No. 2 pick in last year's draft, but they're assured of coming away with one of the upper tier tackles this time around. St. Louis needs an heir apparent for Orlando Pace, whose body has started to betray him in recent years. Monroe's game might not be as highly regarded as Smith's or Oher's, but he's a cleaner pick who comes with fewer question marks regarding his character, maturity and size.
3 QB Matthew Stafford Georgia Jr. 6-3 228
Screaming in my head as I make this pick is the reality that taking a first-round quarterback is not exactly the Scott Pioli way (see Brady, Tom, and Cassel, Matt). But the Chiefs quarterback situation has been a nightmare since Len Dawson or so, and that might make for a scenario in which Pioli makes an exception. With Tyler Thigpen playing serviceably last season, the Chiefs could afford to give Stafford the year or so of development that everybody seems to think he needs. Then again, finding another quality offensive tackle to pair with Branden Albert is much more Pioli-like.
4 WR Michael Crabtree Texas Tech So. 6-3 214
This could be a pick that doesn't change between now and April 25's first round. In the perfect marriage of need and draft slot, the receiver-starved Seahawks should find Crabtree waiting. All you need to know at the moment is that Crabtree has conjured up comparisons to Cardinals all-world receiver Larry Fitzgerald with his blend of size, hands, athleticism and ability to make yards after the catch.
5 DB Malcolm Jenkins Ohio State Sr. 6-1 201
Eric Mangini's Browns (still getting used to that) could go a lot of different ways in the five spot, but it's going to be a defensive pick. The home-state hero Jenkins would give Cleveland's shaky cornerback situation an infusion of talent, but you can make a strong case for help in the pass rush (DE/LB Brian Orakpo of Texas) or maybe at linebacker (USC's Rey Maualuga).
6 DE/LB Brian Orakpo Texas Sr. 6-4 260
The Bengals could really use help at offensive tackle or running back, but their need for an impact defensive end probably trumps everything. "O-Sack-Po" is the consensus top-rated end, and his blend of speed, size and athleticism earned him both the Lombardi Award (nation's best lineman) and the Nagurski Trophy (nation's top defensive player).
7 OT Michael Oher Ole Miss Sr. 6-5 318
Oher has obvious talent, but he also has just enough red flags attached to his name to make him an ideal Raider. Oher has some maturity issues to address in the predraft scouting process, but he's a gifted pass and run blocker who would give Oakland a book-end protector for quarterback JaMarcus Russell.
8 OLB Aaron Curry Wake Forest Sr. 6-3 247
Curry is a do-it-all linebacker who should walk right into an impact role in Jacksonville's defense. He can run 4.6, find the ball all game long, and gives the Jaguars a natural replacement for soon-to-be ex-Jag Mike Peterson. Another option would be the draft's other first-round offensive tackle, Baylor's Jason Smith.
9 DE Michael Johnson Georgia Tech Sr. 6-7 260
The Packers defensive line and pass rush is priority No. 1, and while we're not certain Green Bay projects Johnson as a 3-4 end in their new Dom Capers-led defensive formation, we do know Johnson's size and ability to shed blockers would seem a natural fit for that position.
10 QB Mark Sanchez USC Jr. 6-3 225
While I'm well aware that new 49ers head coach Mike Singletary likes Shaun Hill's game quite a bit, if they grade Sanchez highly enough it'll be hard to pass on the one-year USC starter. He needs some time to mature as a quarterback, but that's where Hill figures to be the short-term answer for the 49ers while Sanchez watches and learns for a while.
 

 
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