Just 22 days to the draft and two more mock drafts before the really big Mock Draft, the one that counts. The one that runs in the paper on Saturday morning of April 25th.
But for now, we’ll do the best we can as situations around the league are fluid.
However, University of Southern California linebacker Rey Maualuga visit with the Falcons on Saturday means one of two things.
He’s slipping in the draft and is going to be around when they pick 24th overall. Or the Falcons plan on trading up to get in the mix for the All-American attack missile from USC.
But he’s a middle linebacker and doesn’t fit the “needs-based” drafting philosophy. They selected Curtis Lofton last season. This visit falls into the “due diligence” department.
Northern Illinois defensive end Larry English also is set to visit the Falcons. Oregon safety Patrick Chung has a private workout set up, but is not coming in for a visit. Also, Western Michigan safety Louis Delmas is set to visit.
The Falcons are in the process of revamping their linebacking corps after starters Michael Boley (New York Giants) and Keith Brooking (Dallas) signed with new teams during free agency. They signed linebacker Michael Peterson in free agency.
Falcons coach Mike Smith told the AJC at the NFL owners’ meeting in Dana Point, Calif. that he was impressed with all four of the USC linebackers in this draft.
Denver’s trade of Jay Cutler helped to shake up this week’s mock draft.
Before their issues with Cutler, the Broncos were set to draft defense. But with the 12th and 18th picks of the first round, look for them to move up to get in position to possibly land USC quarterback Mark Sanchez. There are only three first round quarterbacks in Georgia’s Matthew Stafford, Sanchez and Kansas State’s Josh Freeman.
With the Jets needing to address their QB situation, look for them to take Freeman at 17.
They Falcons are going defense, but with their first pick elect to move away from Clay Matthews Jr., last week’s pick. He’s a one-year wonder and is too close to Kroy Biermann in skill set. They are looking for thumpers to control the edge against the run and make impact plays.
English remains interesting, but his history of serious injuries – high right ankle sprain, sprained right shoulder, torn right ACL, torn pectoral and a broken right hand — in college are a turn off.
Look for the Falcons to select Virginia’s Clint Sintim. He was very productive and has very long arms at 33 ½ inches. He has played in a pro styled defense.
Maualuga (11 to 20), Matthews (24 to 25), Florida State’s Everette Brown (5 to 11), Oklahoma’s Duke Robinson (30 to out of first round) all dropped this week.
Some of the climbers include Texas’ Brian Orakpo (9 to 5), LSU’s Tyson Johnson (12 to 9), Freeman (20 to 17) and Florida’s Percy Harvin (17 to 15).
LEDBETTER’S MOCK DRAFT
1. Detroit Lions: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor. Lions will try to negotiate a deal before the draft. They pass on Stafford as they try to anchor their O-line.
2. St. Louis Rams: Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest. The defensive minded Steve Spagnuolo gets someone to anchor the unit.
3. Kansas City Chiefs: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia.
4. Seattle Seahawks: Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia. Can learn the rope behind Matt Hasselbeck for a year or two.
5. Cleveland Browns: Brian Orakpo, DE/OLB, Texas.
6. Cincinnati Bengals: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech. Bengals get a receiver to run alongside Ocho Cinco.
7. Oakland Raiders: B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College. Raiders don’t pay much attention to the recent controversy surrounding Raji.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars: Mark Sanchez, QB, Southern California.
9. Green Bay Packers: Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU. Packers have to improve their defensive line.
10. San Francisco 49ers: Andre Smith, T, Alabama. With Sanchez off the board, Singletary decides his motivational skills can help Smith.
11. Buffalo Bills: Everette Brown, DE, Florida State.
12. Denver Broncos: Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State.
13. Washington Redskins: Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss.
14. New Orleans Saints: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri. Sean Payton adds another weapon for quarterback Drew Brews.
15. Houston Texans: Percy Harvin, WR. Florida. Pro Bowler Andre Johnson needs some help.
16. San Diego Chargers: Brian Cushing, LB, USC.
17. New York Jets: Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State. Jets get their Brett Favre replacement.
18. Denver Broncos: Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois. A physical corner who’d fit nicely in their Cover-2.
20. Detroit Lions (from Dallas): Rey Maualuga, LB, LB, Southern California. He slips, but doesn’t get past the Lions.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Eben Britton, OT, Arizona. They have to find a replacement for Tra Thomas.
22. Minnesota Vikings: Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi.
23. New England Patriots: James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State. Son of former wrestler “The Animal.”
24. Atlanta Falcons: Clint Sintim, LB, Virginia
25. Miami Dolphins: Clay Matthews Jr., LB, USC.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Darius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland.
27. Indianapolis Colts: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia.
28. Philadelphia Eagles (from Carolina): Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State. The Eagles get someone to share the load with Brian Westbrook.
29. New York Giants: Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina.
30. Tennessee Titans: Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State. His 40 times are scaring a lot of folks.
31. Arizona Cardinals: Donald Brown, RB, Connecticut.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers: Larry English, DE/OLB, Northern Illinois.
FIRST ROUND FRINGE
Duke Robinson, OG, Oklahoma
Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech
Evander Hood, DT, Missouri
Louis Delmas, FS, Western Michigan
Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers
Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest
The other domino from the Cutler trade has to fall. That’s their climb up to get Mark Sanchez. They need to get in front of Jacksonville at No. 8. Like Sintim in the red and black? Rather have English? Rather have Matthews Jr.? Like Pam Grier, stopping by as our honorary guest?