Posted on: September 29, 2009 2:26 pm
Edited on: September 29, 2009 11:55 pm

Week 3 Power Rankings: Birds of Prey

Ravens, by their very nature, are scavengers.

They are tough birds known for adapting to their environment and taking whatever is given to them. A common raven can feast on anything from maggots, to beetles, to garbage, or even small amphibians. Years of evolution have conditioned ravens to survive even in the harshest of environments.

Yes the raven is quite the specimen indeed.

Not to be outdone by their feathered counterparts, the Baltimore Ravens possess all of the characteristics that make them the most feared birds in the league.

Their stingy defense has devoured whatever opposition presented in front of them. Joe Flacco has spread his wings and dominated through the air – tailing only the Saints in offensive superiority. The Ravens migrate to New England this week in what figures to be a clash between AFC super powers.

On the flip side we have the Washington Redskins.

Shame on you, Washington.

Shame on you for losing to the Detroit Lions. I’ve speculated that the team to end Detroit’s streak will face serious heat from their fanbase, and the Washington faithful have proven that to be true.

Losing to the Lions on the road is downright pitiful. I can't tell whether the Lions are that good or the Redskins are that bad. There’s no way the first can be true, so I have come to the conclusion that Washington might just be…a bad football team.

I suppose Detroit deserves some credit too. Larry Foote and company really took it to the Washington offense.

1. (1) You know it’s going well when Drew Brees throws for a pedestrian 164 yards and the Saints cruise to a 20-point victory. On a side note, how good is that New Orleans’ offensive line? With some help from the underrated Pierre Thomas, they dominated the Buffalo defense to the tune of 5.8 yards per carry. This team is really something.

2. (3)   Holding an opponent scoreless in the National Football League is hard to do, but that’s exactly what the New York Giants did to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. To give you an idea of how lopsided the game was, Amad Bradshaw – New York’s backup running back, single-handedly out gained the entire Tampa Bay offense in yards: 104 to 86. Big Blue begins their first of two bye weeks as they face Kansas City and Oakland in the upcoming weeks.
3. (6)   Now I know what you’re thinking – it was against the Browns. You’re absolutely right, but that doesn’t change the fact that Joe Flacco has been playing some very good football as of late. Flacco showed great touch and accuracy all day, and he looked like a quarterback ready to take the next step to greatness. Ray Lewis seems to have found the fountain of youth, as he is playing some of the best football of his career. The sky, of course, is the limit.

4. (4) Peyton Manning is the league MVP in the truest sense of the world. I couldn’t imagine this team going anywhere without him. It was nice to see that defense step up and actually stop someone. Holding the Cardinals to 10 points in Glendale is no easy task. Indianapolis is known for stellar play along the defensive line, but how about that secondary? Marlon Jackson and Antoine Bethea don’t get enough credit for the job they do back there.

5. (2) When it’s all said and done, the Steelers will be there in January. A few bad breaks have the Champs stumbling out of the gate, but as we’ve seen before, that should make them all the more dangerous. With their next three games coming against San Diego, Detroit, and Cleveland, Pittsburgh should find their way back toward the top of the AFC North.

6. (5)  So they can run the ball after all! New England doesn’t have that same glow of invincibility around them, but the Patriots are still one of the toughest teams in football. Bill Belichick is still the master of game planning. His Patriots successfully shut down Roddy White to the tune of 4 receptions for 24 yards. Matt Ryan was harassed with exotic coverages and Michael Turner found little room to run all day. I like their chances against Baltimore.

7. (8) Although the Jets had the better record and the home field advantage, I consider their week 3 win against the Tennessee Titans to be an upset. I thought Jeff Fisher has been coaching long enough to be able to take a rookie quarterback out of his game. Guess not. I hear they’re calling him “Mark Sanchize” out there in New York. I wonder how long it will take before these same New Yorkers start calling for his job?

8. (7) There’s no shame in losing to a future Hall of Fame quarterback and head coach. Despite the final score, the Falcons were able to keep the game close until New England pulled away late. While I won’t say the secondary was exposed, they struggled to keep Randy Moss in check all day. The Falcons are off this week, and that should give Mike Smith and crew some time to look over the mistakes they’ve made.

9. (11) Although they decisively handled the struggling Rams, I walked away from that game more concerned about the long-term success of the Green Bay Packers. It seems Green Bay’s biggest problem defensively is stopping the run. Steven Jackson ran wild to the tune of 117 yards. Opponents average a whopping 128.7 yards per game against the Pack – good for 23rd most allowed to running backs in the league. Their week 4 opponent: Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings.

10. (9) If there were such a thing as an unimpressive win, the Chargers certainly earned on at home against the Miami Dolphins. In their first game without former Pro Bowler Nick Hardwick, Darren Sproles scampered for 41 yards on 18 carries. There wasn’t much to stop with Miami, but San Diego contained the Dolphins’ rushing attack and did enough to walk away victorious. As Dr. Seuss reminds us, “a win is a win, no matter how small.”

11. (10) Brett Favre doesn’t have any gas left in the tank. He still runs on coal. After that dramatic win against the 49ers, it’s safe to say that Brett Favre has plenty of coal left in the tank. Heading into this one, I thought the 49ers would give us a good indication of how strong this team is, and they did. The Vikings are a good football team. I’m not sure whether Brett Favre is capable of winning football games outright. In the end, that will separate Minnesota from the elites.
12. (12) Just when I thought I had this team figured out, they go and do this to the Seattle Seahawks. With all due respect to Seneca Wallace, a backup quarterback should not put up nearly 300 yards through the air against a presumably dominant defense. Jay Cutler completed 77% of his passes, yet he still found a way to turn the ball over twice. You know, I’m starting to think that Cutler actually likes turnovers. He better kick the habit fast, because the ever dangerous Detroit Lions are coming to town…

13. (14) If you don’t believe the Philadelphia Eagles have the most astute front office in the league, look no further than their newest star: Brent Celek. Never mind they drafted him with the 162nd selection of the NFL Draft. The amazing thing here is they had enough confidence in Celek to let L.J. Smith leave via free agency. Kevin Kolb bounced back nicely from a rough start and has the Eagles looking like one of the better teams in football.

14. (17) Don’t look now, but the Cincinnati Bengals are back. This team looks balanced on offense and sharp on defense. I am certainly willing to buy what they are selling if not for one thing: they’re the Bengals. This weeks’ game against the Browns in Cleveland is a classic trap game. They seem to know how to run the football. They seem to know how to play aggressive defense. Do they know how to win consistently? Only time will tell.

15. (13) They let the Carolina Panthers hang around, and that is a dangerous thing to do in today’s NFL. Despite this, Tony Romo and the Cowboys did enough to properly christen Jerry World with it’s first win. The Cowboys really need to stop this little charade they’re playing with Wade Phillips as their head coach. This is Jason Garrett’s team and everybody knows it. I was impressed by how Garrett utilized personnel and handled Romo on the sidelines. One day he’ll make a great head coach…excuse me – he already IS a great head coach.

16. (16) It took a miraculous fourth quarter throw by the greatest quarterback of all-time to hand the 49ers their first loss. If they keep playing like this every week, they are bound to raise their fair share of eyebrows. It was tough sledding for Glen Coffee and company against The Great Wall of Williams, but hats off to the 49ers for trying. On a side note, Patrick Willis might be the best middle linebacker in the NFC.

17. People give Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez all the credit, but the Orton/McDaniels tandem in Denver has been equally impressive. Elvis Dummervil is looking like a special player in this league and he has to be considered the favorite for defensive player of the year. I don’t know if any player is doing much for their defense as he is. I want to see Kyle Orton make a big-time throw against a professional football team. Only then will I like their chances against the big boys of the AFC.

18. (18) I don’t believe a team has to run the football to be successful, but these Arizona Cardinals are the exception. It seems this team is most successful with they are willing to pound the ball on the ground 18-20 times per game. Kurt Warner is a good quarterback. The Cardinals need to minimize his attempts and play the version of Steeleresque football that Ken Whisenhunt made popular in 2008.

19. (15) I’ve been saying this for some time, but this team won’t go very far with Kerry Collins at quarterback. Although many of their loses have been close, they’re still loses and I put at least two of them on Collins. The receivers in Tennessee deserve some blame as well. Defensively, the Titans look good as ever. They’re going to need to be, they’ll have to win low-scoring affairs if they want to get back to .500.

20. (20) Just as I was about to break out the Chrisim and anoint Trent Edwards’ arrival to the NFL, they go out and flop against the Saints. For the life of me, I don’t understand how Terrell Owens goes the entire game without recording a reception. Even if it’s just on a quick slant or a screen, the Bills need to make a conscious effort to get this guy the football. Teams seem to be running around Marcus Stroud. That means those outside linebackers aren’t doing enough in run support.

21. (22) They lost to the Bears on a late Hester score, but they played well considering the injuries that have plagued this team. If anything, this team seems to be overachieving. It didn’t take Aaron Curry long to adjust to the speed of the NFL. He leads one of the most underrated pass rushes in the league. If they can rush the passer like that every week, this team may upset someone.

22. (29) The Jaguars finally show signs of life. Good for them. I had a hard time believing this team would stay at the bottom of  league for a long time. Their matchup against the Titans this Sunday is going to be very interesting. I don’t think there are two teams more evenly matched in the league. It should be a great game. This is unrelated, but thank you, Maurice Jones-Drew. You have single-handedly wrecked my fantasy football season.

23. (24) Add another team into the log-jam that is the AFC South. I thought this division would be competitive, but it seems no one cares to win consistently. Has this defense regressed? Heading into the regular season, I thought this would be the year Houston puts it all together on that side of the ball. Guess not. To this point, the Texans are still ranked dead last against the run. If the red flags aren’t out, they should be.
24. (26)  The Panthers did well for themselves as they kept up with a tough Dallas team on the road, but it wasn’t enough. Jake Delhomme is a turnover machine. Giving the ball away three times like he did in Dallas will never take the Panthers where they need to be. That defense wasn’t nearly as aggressive as they should have been. Without pressure, even mediocre passers will find a way to get the job done.
25. (21) The Miami Dolphins are in some deep water now Chad Pennington is out for the year. A sub-par passing attack somehow downgraded, as they’ll give Chad Henne a shot. With the success rookie quarterbacks have seemed to enjoy over the past few years, this isn’t necessarily a lost cause. Miami hosts division rivals in consecutive weeks, so they may finally get that elusive first win of the season.
26. (23) They’re playing down to their competition and that can not continue. God help Jim Zorn if the Redskins lose to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I don’t get it. This was a team that on paper, appeared to get better in the offseason. There is certainly a lot of blame to go around, but I somehow doubt the majority falls on Jason Campbell. Sherman Smith, Steve Jackson, I’m pointing at you guys.
27. (30) Poor Rams. Their problems start and end in the trenches. Alex Barron looks great one week and terrible the next. Steve Spagnuolo has brought the West Coast offense to Saint Louis, but it has been largely ineffective through the first three weeks of the season. A West Coast system requires big, physical receivers on the outside with good hands and excellent body control. Laurent Robinson is one, but who is the other?
28. (28) Rome wasn’t built in one day and Kansas City won’t be either. The first element of building a successful 3-4 defense is stopping the run. Once you can do that, everything else will follow. The Chiefs haven’t gotten to that point yet, but once they do, things will slowly turn around. Matt Cassel is this franchise. There’s nothing wrong with that team, so I expect a breakout performance within the next few weeks.
29. (32) Congratulations, Detroit on finally winning a football game! Jim Schwartz still has a long way to go before restoring pride in this team, but winning certainly puts him on the right track. The next stop for these Lions? .500. If they can find a way to contain Jay Cutler in Chicago, they certainly have a chance. Cutler will do everything in his power to turn the ball over. The only question is whether these Lions are brave enough to win the football game.
30. (27) We’re really scrapping the bottom of the barrel with these last few teams. How long do they stick with JaMarcus Russell? He has shown flashes, but he is way too inconsistent at this stage in his development. This week’s loss to the Denver Broncos was ugly. They couldn’t pass or defend the pass. They couldn’t run or defend the run. In the spirit of competition, the Raiders should switch places with the Trojans of Southern California. The talent seems like a better fit.
31. (25) Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this the same team that finished 9-7 the year before? The biggest mistake the Bucs made was switching defensive philosophies. They call it the Tampa 2 for a reason. Losing Derrick Brooks can’t affect this team that much, can it? With the quarterback position being what it is, I don’t know when they win a game this year.
32. (31) Eric Mangini needs to win a football game. This entire football team is in disarray. They have a good chance of upsetting the Cincinnati Bengals this week at home – especially now they’ve made the switch to Derek Anderson. There’s still plenty of football to be played, but it’s difficult to realistically project this team miraculously turning their season around.

Posted on: September 24, 2009 4:17 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2009 8:51 pm

Week 2 Power Rankings: Holier Than Thou Art

I can think of only three things in the world that mean less than September power rankings: Cosmopolitan Magazine, the T.O. Show, and the Washington Nationals.

Despite this, I bravely forge along in my quest to rank all 32 NFL teams from strongest to...umm...the Detroit Lions.

Not surprisingly (at least to me) come the new bad boys of the NFL: the New Orleans Saints.

Can anyone even slow down that offense?

A heathy Pittsburgh team certainly has a chance. The Jets and Ravens do too, however I doubt either offense could keep up. Until a team proves they can put everything together, the Saints will take their place as the most dominant team in the NFL.

The bottom of the rankings is littered with the usual suspects with the exception of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

They just don't seem to have enough firepower on offense or defense to match up against anyone. The passing game is suspect with David Garrard at the helm. Maurice Jones-Drew is an explosive talent, but one 5'6" running back can only do so much to carry the load.

Jack Del Rio's squad better start winning games soon. There is no one left to blame but Del Rio himself, so he must produce results - and fast.

1. Sean Peyton has created a monster. Drew Brees and the high-flying Saints have one of the most potent offenses we’ve seen in years, and that lands them a top these rankings. Defensively, the Saints are better than many give them credit for. By the end of the season, Scott Shanle will become a household name. That defense should be able to hold up their end of the bargain, and that should mean a deep playoff run for New Orleans.

2.   A three-point loss to the Bears on the road means nothing . Jeff Reed has kicked this team to Super Bowls before, and he’ll continue to do so in 2009. Pittsburgh may have lost Troy Polamalu, but they haven’t lost any aggressiveness or intensity. Just ask Greg Olsen. For this team to compete, Ben Roethlisberger will be asked to win the game with his arm. Cincinnati will be a good test.

3. Much like the Steelers, the Giants seem to be winning games backwards. Instead of running to set up the pass, New York seems to be throwing to set up the run. I’m not sure how long they can keep that up. After narrowly surviving two brutal division games, New York will fatten up on AFC West cupcakes before their week six showdown with the Greatest Show on Bourbon Street .

4. If last week’s bizarre win against the Dolphins has shown us anything, it’s that the Colts are exactly who we thought they were. This team isn’t built to stop the run. This team is built to score points, play from ahead, and rush the passer. Fortunately, there isn’t a dominant rushing team left in the AFC that Indianapolis can’t handle. On a side note, I hope they’ve reinforced the scoreboards in Glendale. Their Sunday afternoon matchup with the Cardinals smells like a shootout.

5.  When we look back at the 2009 season at the end of the year, I have a feeling we’ll look back on last week’s Patriots/Jets slugfest as a season-defining moment for both teams. Bill Belichick was essentially humiliated and Tom Brady was heavily scrutinized. Both things spell trouble for the rest of the NFL. Despite this, a defense in transition may be this team’s Achilles Heel. Can they stop Atlanta this week? That should tell us how good this team really is.

6. Is it just me, or does this Baltimore Ravens team look eerily similar to the Pittsburgh Steelers team that won it all in 2007? They possess one of the leagues most feared defenses. They have a balanced, yet aggressive running game. They have a young quarterback able to make all the throws and manage the offense. Baltimore replaced some of the signature names of the past with internal talent, so we’ll see just how far that takes them.

7.  Matt Ryan is a special player. With him at the helm, and Michael Turner in the backfield, the Falcons are poised to remain in the top ten throughout the entire regular season. One thing that concerns me about this team is the defense. They have yet to face an elite quarterback, and I have reason to believe that secondary will be exposed sooner rather than later.

8. Is it just me, or does this New York Jets team look eerily similar to the Baltimore Ravens team that lost the AFC Championship game in 2008? The Jets appear to be following the same formula that has worked so well with Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and so many others. Surround your young quarterback with talent, and slowly but surely assimilate him into the offense. Sanchez will eventually struggle. How much he does will determine how far this team will go in 2009.

9. It’s still early to raise any red flags, but what in the world is wrong with San Diego? The once super-Chargers limped out of Oakland victorious and lost a heartbreaker to Baltimore at home. This team should be winless. Losing Pro Bowl center Nick Hardwick for 8 weeks will not help a rushing attack ranked 31st in the NFL. Letting DE Igor Olshansky walk was a rare mistake that will eventually cost this team down the road.

10. It’s hard to properly evaluate this team because they haven’t faced off against any playoff contenders so far. San Francisco is a good team and should shed some light on this Minnesota team. That defense may look good against Cleveland and Detroit, but I have a hard time buying them as legitimate. Through two games, Jared Allen has registered 5 tackles and 1 sack. Those statistics must be improved upon.

11. Few things surprise me in the NFL and the Packers’ week two loss to Cincinnati was one of them. Carson Palmer was able to move up and down the field against a talented Green Bay defense. Aaron Rogers has yet to turn the ball over, which is good. He also has yet to replicate the big-play ability shown in 2008, which is bad. By the time he figures it out, the Packers should find themselves back in the hunt for NFC North supremacy.

12. Will the real Jay Cutler please stand up? If he would stop Delhomming on us, we just may be able to figure out how good this team actually is. That defense looked impressive against the Steelers last week, and Rod Marinelli is a big reason why. Marinelli had his defensive linemen firing off the ball and wreaking havoc on a suspect Steelers line. I like the Bears against the Seahawks, but Cutler will have to settle down if the Bears want to be playing in January.

13. There is good news and bad news for the Dallas Cowboys. The bad news is Tony Romo is underachieving. DeMarcus Ware is underachieving. Roy E. Williams in underachieving.  Marion Barber is injured and Flozell Adams might be the dirtiest player in the game. Wade Phillips may have already lost his team and the Giants spoiled the grand opening of Jerry World . But hey, at least Terrell Owens is gone!

14. Fred Taylor might have found a successor for his signature nickname in Eagles’ quarterback Donovan McNabb. McNabb has only played the full 16 games four times in his 11-year career. The Eagles are a different football team with McNabb under center, but that may be the least of their problems. The Eagles lost two Pro Bowlers in the secondary when Lito Sheppard and Brian Dawkins left this past offseason. So far, replacing those two seems easier said than done.

15. Let me be frank about one thing: Kerry Collins is not an elite quarterback. He’s barely even serviceable. The NFL is turning into a pass-first league, which means teams will need to throw in order to remain competitive. Mario and Luigi, or whatever they’re calling themselves nowadays, should be enough to overpower weaker opponents. It goes without saying, but the Titans are the best 0-2 football team in the league.

16. If there were ever a team to go Arizona Cardinals on the NFL, it’s this one. Shaun Hill is a savvy veteran a la Jeff Garcia and that defense has been pushing on great for a few seasons now. If Frank Gore’s injury becomes serious, Glen Coffee is your 2009 Rookie of the Year. That third-rated rushing defense should be put to the test when they face off against Adrian Peterson and company.

17. I challenge anyone to find a more inconsistent team than the Cincinnati Bengals. This team will look great one series and terrible the next. Their extreme inconsistency balances out and the result is an average football team. Penalties and mental errors still hurt, but Carson Palmer’s revitalized relationship with Chad Ochocinco helps. As the weeks go on, Bengals rookie linebacker Rey Maualuga looks more like a different Ray in the same division. As of today, he is your defensive rookie of the year.

18. The Cardinals are not a bad football team. They are ranked where they are because there are 17 NFL teams better than they are. Beenie Wells has survived through two games in the NFL season. For that, I congratulate him because that’s two more than I originally figured. Arizona needs this Sunday's win more than the Colts do in order to keep pace in their division. I say they’ll lose this one, but only by a narrow margin. 63-59 Colts.

19. It’s one thing to rebuild an entire offense, and it’s another to rebuild an entire defense. To do both at the same time with a first year head coach means one thing and one thing only: AFC wildcard contenders. As crazy as it may sound, the Broncos have a legitimate shot at postseason action. In addition to playing with a chip on his shoulder, Kyle Orton actually has wide receivers to catch the ball. This alone will make him better. The Raiders and Chiefs figure to help as well.

20. For those who haven’t seen this team, the 2009 Buffalo Bills are very fun to watch. Trent Edwards seems to have taken a giant step in establishing himself among the legitimate starters in this league. Defensively, the Bills have gotten by thanks in part to strong safety play from Donte Witner and Bryan Scott. They’ll need strong play from both players and then some, as they play host to the New Orleans Saints this week.

21. Monday Night’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts told us everything we need to know about the Miami Dolphins. They can run the ball effectively, but at the end of the day they can not throw the football. It seems newly acquired linebacker Jason Taylor left his dancing shoes at home, as he’s been quiet in his return to the swamplands. Dolphins’ cornerback Sean Smith will find his way to the Pro Bowl very soon. He’s one heck of a corner.

22. Until they move to the east coast, the Seattle Seahawks will continue to be looked over. A healthy Matt Hasselbeck should allow Seattle to move in the opposite direction of his hairline, provided T.J. Houshmandzadeh and company continue to catch the ball. Seneca Wallace has been in this system for quite some time, so he is expected to produce. Even if he does, this team has too many injuries to go anywhere any time soon.

23. This team should be good. They have enough talent to make the playoffs, but something simply isn’t right. Jason Campbell’s approval rating makes him the second most controversial figure in Washington. Albert Haynesworth may not have any sacks, but he has been a force in the middle of that defense. Once they put everything together, this team could push for top ten standing.
24. Houston has given up more yards on the ground than any other team. They are ranked dead last in total yards allowed and they average the fewer yards on the ground than any other team in the NFL. Most of that can be attributed to one Chris Johnson, but those statistics are disturbing nonetheless. Fortunately, the Jacksonville Jaguars are coming to town to ale their offensive woes.
25. The Buccaneers are a product of what I believe to be the most difficult schedule in the NFL. Their next five games: NYG, @WAS, @PHI, CAR, @NE. Wow. If it hasn’t begun already, the Josh Freeman clock should be ticking. On the bright side, Jeff Faine, Antonio Bryant, and Kellen Winslow should help this team adjust to losing. They’ve all had experience doing so in Cleveland.
26. Bump this team up seven slots if Jake Delhomme plays consistently from week to week. Bump them up four slots if Dwayne Jarrett lives up to even half of his potential. Bump them up seven more slots if Megan Fox decides to go on a date with me. Odds are none of these things will happen any time soon, so the Panthers will stay exactly where they are.
27. No one screams bust quite like JaMarcus Russell. It’s puzzling to think, but the Raiders actually have a fairly decent team around him. Michael Bush and Darren McFadden are solid. Zach Miller is a sure-handed tight end. That defense is surprisingly good. If a veteran quarterback provided stability to the position (*cough* Jeff Garcia *cough*), this would be an interesting team to watch every Sunday. Sadly they are not, and the Raiders will remain one of the more disappointing franchises in the NFL.
28. Much like the Washington Redskins, the Kansas City Chiefs should be a better football team than they have shown to this point. Matt Cassel’s health has something to do with it, but there have been voices around that organization that believe Brodie Croyle is actually the better passer. With an innovative head coach like Todd Haley, this offense shouldn’t be down for long. Too bad I can’t say the same for the defense.
29. Jack Del Rio’s buns should begin to feel warmer as the season progresses. His defense was thoroughly trounced at the hands of Warner and the Cards, and that offense remains stuck in gear one. David Garrard is struggling and it won’t be too long before the fans turn their backs to the team. I thought a healthy Vince Manuwai would turn this team around, but that certainly doesn’t seem like the case.
30. Over the past few seasons, the Saint Louis Rams have put the misery in Missouri. This year marks the 10-year anniversary of the Rams Super Bowl run in 1999, and oh how things have changed. Torry Holt and Issac Bruce are replaced by Laurent Robinson and Doney Avery. Kevin Carter and Grant Winstrom give way to Gary Gibson and Chris Long. Steve Spagnuolo has worked miracles in the past, and he’ll certainly have his hands full with this team.
31. The Browns haven’t given Clevelanders much reason to be optimistic this season. Brady Quinn has struggled to move the ball down the field, and that is a big reason why the Browns are ranked dead last in several offensive categories. There is some talent on that defense, but they need to play four quarters of consistent football in order to be competitive.
32. With Daunte Culpepper, Detroit may have won 6 games. Starting Matt Stafford cuts that number in half. In fairness to the Lions, there is some talent on that roster. Ernie Sims, Julian Peterson, and Larry Foote form a semi-legitimate linebacker corps while Anthony Henry and Philip Buchannon receive chances to turn their respective careers around. Projected date of Detriot’s first win: November 22nd, 2009.

Posted on: March 16, 2009 2:34 am
Edited on: March 30, 2009 12:44 pm

Sircheeks' Mock Draft

With the NFL Draft still a good 26 days away, what better time than the present to compile meaningless information and assemble a mock draft? I won't waste time with the details, but I've scoured the internet for rumors and combined that information with my own team analysis. 

*Please note* As with the real NFL draft, teams are forced to adapt to what others in front of them have done. Selections were made accordingly.




1. Aaron Curry, OLB Wake Forest

Analysis : The Lions defy conventional wisdom here and select the best defensive player on the board. The free agent signings of veterans Philip Buchannon, Julian Peterson, Anthony Henry, and Grady Jackson indicate the new Lions regime is determined to fix this team – one side of the ball at a time. Curry is a safe pick in a field of question marks, and Detroit can’t afford to miss.


2. Eugene Monroe, T Virginia

Analysis : The Rams’ roster is littered with holes, and no hole is bigger than the one left by the departure of Orlando Pace. The Rams have their pick of top tackles, and they elect to go with the more polished Monroe. Coach Spagnuolo understands the value of athletic offensive linemen from his time in New York, so the Rams select the tight end convert with the number 2 overall selection.


3.  Jason Smith, T Baylor

Analysis : The acquisition of Matt Cassel virtually demands the Chiefs fortify their offensive line, and they do so with one of the best tackles in the nation. Smith, a tackle better known for his pass protection skills, is a perfect fit to the presumed aerial offense to be installed in Kansas City. Defense is an area of concern, but the Pioli drafts for value here and lands a franchise tackle.


4.  Matt Stafford, QB Georgia

Analysis : After the Michael Vick debacle in Atlanta, Jim Mora’s regime in Seattle selects their prototype pocket passer as the new face of the Seahawks’ franchise. The 34-year old incumbent Matt Hasselbeck has strong ties to former head coach Mike Holmgreen. Last year’s season-ending surgery coupled with Holmgreen’s departure prove too much for Hasselbeck, as 2009 marks his final year in Seattle.


5.  Malcolm Jenkins, DB Ohio State

Analysis : Jenkins' stock has soared through the roof after he eliminated doubts about his straight line speed at Ohio State's pro day. The unquestioned leader of the Buckeye defense, Jenkins not only brings tremendous character, professionalism, and confidence to the position, but unmatched physical attributes, body control, and leaping ability. The Browns have lacked a ball-hawking defender since their return in 1999, and they find their man in Jenkins.


6. B.J. Raji, DT Boston College

Analysis : Cincinnati needs an impact player on the defensive front, and no interior defensive lineman delivers like Raji. A great reason the Bengals finished the 2008 campaign with a 4-11-1 record was their inability to stop the run. Raji instantly upgrades their 21st ranked rush defense while providing a pass rusher to pair along side Robert Geathers and John Thorton.


7.  Michael Crabtree, WR Texas Tech

Analysis : The Raiders look to take the next step in turning their organization around and select a receiver some call the most explosive player in the entire draft. Al Davis’ love of athleticism pays off in a big way with the selection of Crabtree. While injury concerns linger around the Texas Tech standout, Oakland rolls the dice here and gives JaMarcus Russell a big time player with tremendous upside.


8.  Jeremy Maclin, WR Missouri

Analysis : The loss of Matt Jones and the remarkably average career of Reggie Williams make finding a legitimate receiving threat top priority in Jacksonville. Jeremy Maclin is the closest thing to a can't miss prospect at the position, so the Jaguars happily select him here. Maclin's toughness, speed, and work ethic provide a breath of fresh air to a position in so much disarray.


9. Andre Smith, T Alabama

Analysis : One of the most under-looked elements of Green Bay’s success during the Brett Favre era was a consistently dominant offensive line. Names like Mike Whale and Mike Flanagan have since departed – leaving the Packers void of talent up front. Ted Thompson’s crew selects Smith and gives Aaron Rogers a fighting chance to emulate the accomplishments of his predecessor.


10. Brian Orakpo, DE Texas

Analysis : With former first round selection Vernon Davis coming into his third year and new free ageny acquisition Brandon Jones providing a speedy compliment on the outside, the 49ers can afford to tweak what little concerns they have on defense. Mike Singletary and Scott McCloughan select Brian Orakpo to play opposite of Justin Smith on the defensive line. Orakpo has the size to stand up and play the Sam or bulk up and play 3 technique. Either way, San Francisco comes out on top.


11.  Brian Cushing, OLB Southern California

Analysis : The Bills waste little time in selecting Cushing in a move that instantly improves their suspect linebacker corps. Brian Cushing is a pure linebacker with the experience and pedigree to fill in as the face of an overall pedestrian defense. Blessed with physicality to go along with above average coverage skills, Cushing gives the Bills a playmaker that will anchor their defense for years to come.


12.  Tyson Jackson, DT LSU

Analysis : After years of unsuccessful attempts to patch up the defensive line, McDaniels and the Broncos get it right and draft the Jackson - the best defensive lineman available. While Tyson Jackson isn't known for his pass rushing moves, he is stout enout at the point to stop the run - something the 29th ranked defensive unit would welcome with open arms.


13.  Michael Oher, T Mississippi

Analysis : Michael Oher is a great fit here for two reasons: first, the Redskins have one of, if not the oldest offensive lines in football. Chris Samuels missed some time in 2008 and he's heading into his 11th year in the league. For a team who predicates themselves on the power running game, a replacement tackle is necessary. Oher is still raw coming out of Ole Miss, but Joe Bugel is one of the best in the business and should have no problem helping Oher reach his potential.


14.  Everette Brown, DE Florida State

Analysis : The Saints have few selections in this year's draft, so they will certainly look to make an impact with their lone day one selection. For where they are selecting, no player can provide the Saints with a bigger impact than the player some hail as the best pass rusher in the draft. Do to his size and pash rushing abilities, Everette Brown projects well as a linebacker in Sean Payton's 4-3 defense.


15.  Rey Maualuga, LB Southern California

Analysis : With the recent strides the Texans have made on defense, they select the final piece of the puzzle in the hard-hitting linebacker from USC. Maualuga’s tough, intelligent brand of football compliments rising star DeMeco Ryans – leaving the Texans with a 1-2 punch capable of shaking up the long-standing hierarchy of the AFC South.


16.  Knowshon Moreno, RB Georgia

Analysis : The Chargers select the best player available in preparation for the eventual release of LaDainian Tomlinson. The physically demanding nature of playing running back in the NFL requires that teams carry two capable runners on their roster. Moreno provides the Chargers with a 3rd down back for the present and an eventual replacement of the future.


17. Josh Freeman, QB Kansas State

Analysis : As is the case with many new NFL regimes, handpicking their signal caller is of the utmost priority. Rex Ryan selects the physically gifted Josh Freeman as their version of “Joe Flacco” in an attempt to solidify the hotly contested quarterback position. Freeman gets the nod over Sanchez for three reasons: experience, upside, and leadership. Rex Ryan gets his quarterback of the future.


18.  Percy Harvin, WR Florida

Analysis : Percy Harvin's game-changing speed and ability are just what the Chicago Bears are looking for. Devin Hester's production as a return man has declined with his incorporation in the offense, and there is chatter around Halas that Hester would be best served as a return specialist. Harvin's potential will help Kyle Orton take the next step in becoming great while providing Chicago with an exciting playmaker in the process.


19.  Peria Jerry, DT Mississippi

Analysis : New Buccaneers’ defensive coordinator Jim Bates runs a defensive system predicated on smart, physical play from all four defensive linemen. The conversion from the “Tampa 2” won’t be particularly easy, but the Bucs nab their centerpiece in the disruptive tackle from Mississippi. Jerry’s prowess as an interior pass rusher along with his run stopping ability will help Tampa improve on a unit that gave up nearly 120 yards per game.


20.  Mark Sanchez, QB Southern California

Analysis : Detroit relishes in their good fortune as their franchise quarterback falls down into their arms. Coming off the worst season in modern professional football history, the Lions desperately need a new face for the organization. Drafting Sanchez re-energizes their fan base as well as endows the team with a quarterback to develop as a long-term answer.


21.  Brandon Pettigrew, TE Oklahoma State

Analysis : Donavan McNabb has quietly asked the Eagles to acquire a dynamic receiving threat, and they answer his call by selecting the premier tight end in the nation. Pettigrew may be the most complete player heading into the draft – regardless of position. His prowess as a blocker is only surpassed by the natural hands he shows for making the reception. The Eagles replace the oft-injured L.J. Smith and pick up a solid playmaker in the process.


22.  Darrius Butler, CB Connecticut

Analysis : You don't run on Minnesota. Period. Teams have taken to the air against the Vikings, and have done so with relative success. Due to this and the aging of cornerback Antoine Winfield (31) and the release of safety Darren Sharper, the Vikings select the best DB on the board in Darrius Butler. Butler will provide Minnesota with an instant upgrade to their 24th rated pass defense while giving them a starter for years to come.


23.  James Laurinaitis, ILB Ohio State

Analysis :  The Patriots select the blue-chip prospect James Laurinaitis in an effort to replace some of the veteran linebackers who have proven themselves serviceable in the past. Laurinaitis has everything Bill Belichick looks for in a linebacker – great size, instincts, technique, and intelligence. The sure tackling linebacker from Ohio State falls to the Patriots in a match made in football heaven.


24.  Aaron Maybin, DE Penn State

Analysis : The Falcons have proven themselves among the NFL’s elite in a short time. With few dramatic needs on either side of the ball, Atlanta selects the best player on the board. Aaron Maybin has been frequently described as a developmental prospect – one few teams have the luxury of waiting on. The Falcons, however, do have that luxury and select Maybin to groom into a defensive end or an outside linebacker.


25.  Darrius Heyward-Bay, WR Maryland

Analysis : The Miami Dolphins desperately need an explosive receiving threat, and they find one in Heyward-Bay. Darrius possesses great size and tremendous speed – two things Dolphin receivers are currently lacking. Heyward-Bay isn’t extremely physical, but if included in an offensive scheme featuring known speed threat Ted Ginn, he certainly won’t need to be.


26. Clay Matthews Jr., OLB Southern California

Analysis : The well-oiled machine known as the Baltimore Ravens continues operation as they select Matthews to replace the departed Bart Scott. Matthews’ journey to the NFL has allowed him to play with a chip on his shoulder throughout his college career. The Ravens love that. The tenacity, emotion, and tremendous upside to Matthews make this a steal for Baltimore – who happily select him here.


27.  Hakeem Nicks, WR North Carolina

Analysis : Indianapolis has two fine wideouts in Reggie Wayne and Anthony Gonzalez, however the 3-base receiver sets indicate the Colts can still do with additional help. After releasing Marvin Harrison, look for Bill Polian to further supplement his receiving corps with the talented Nicks. Much like the player he is replacing, Nicks is a quiet leader who lets his supreme talent speak for itself. The Colts find their slot receiver and the eventual replacement for the 30-year old Reggie Wayne.


28.  Eben Britton, T Arizona

Analysis : The Eagles lost Tra Thomas and Stacey Andrews to free agency, so it only makes sense for the Eagles to draft a suitable replacement for their veteran tackles. Tom Heckert and Andy Reid are two of the best in the business when it comes to replacing talent. With the 28th overall selection, Philadelphia continues its strong draft and nabs one of the most underrated tackles in this year’s class.


29.  Chris Wells, RB Ohio State

Analysis : The Giants are one of the few teams with few immediate needs, so they can afford somewhat of a luxury pick here. With Brandon Jacobs’ injury concerns, Derrick Ward’s signing with the Buccaneers, and New York’s commitment to running the football, a secondary running back jumps to the forefront of concerns for Big Blue. The Giants replace “Wind” with “Thunder” as they pick up the next best runner available.


30.  Vontae Davis, CB Illinois

Analysis : When you look at the moves Tennessee has made this offseason, you have to start with the loss of Albert Hanesworth. What made the Titans so good was their ability to generate pressure with their front 4 and play excellent coverage on the back end. No Hanesworth means less pressure which creates addition pressure on their secondary. The Titans select Vontae Davis to alleviate some of that pressure now and start in place of Nick Harper (34) later.


31.  Michael Johnson, DE/OLB Georgia Tech

Analysis : Arizona defied all odds and shocked the football world last year on their way to a rare Super Bowl appearance. After losing Antonio Smith to free agency this off season, the Cardinals look to bolster their defensive line. With the second to last pick in the first round, Arizona accomplishes just that by selecting the highly intriguing Georgia Tech prospect – Michael Johnson.


32.  Max Unger, OL Oregon

Analysis : The Steelers select Max Unger.



So there it is. Questions? Comments? Thoughts? Feedback is appreciated.













The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com