In this respect, this year's draft could not be more different. There are at least eight players that warrant consideration for this year's top pick. If there was ever a good year to finish 0-16, this was not it. The Lions have their work cut out for them. On the bright side, Matt Millen will not be in the War Room this year. We call that addition by subtraction.
As you'll see throughout the mock, this draft does have a number of similarities to last year's draft in other areas.
Note, this mock draft represents what I think will happen, not what I would do.
1. Detroit: Matthew Stafford, Georgia, QB - The Lions need a franchise quarterback to build around as it has become clear Drew Stanton and Dan Orlovsky are not capable. Although Stafford reminds me more of Jeff George than John Elway, he probably has the most upside of any quarterback in the draft. Personally, I think Mark Sanchez will be the better pro, but I cannot fault the Lions if they go in this direction. Rookie Head Coach Jim Schwartz needs to decide which guy to entrust with his future.
2. St. Louis: Andre Smith, Alabama, OT - I'm sure rookie Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo would love to add a defensive end to couple with last year's first rounder, Chris Long, but none warrants consideration this high in the draft. Smith can be a solid bookend for the next twelve years.
3. Kansas City: Eugene Monroe, Virginia, OT - Rookie GM Scott Pioli has long been a believer in solidifying the O and D-lines before all else. Monroe would fit in nicely next to the Chiefs' 2008 first rounder, his college teammate, Branden Albert.4. Seattle: Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech, WR - For a team that has fallen victim to wide receiver plague for the last few years, Crabtree is the perfect remedy.
5. Cleveland: Michael Jenkins, Ohio State, CB - Mangini believes in building his teams around defense (see NY Jets Offseason - 2008). Jenkins has shutdown corner skills and would be a nice place to start.
6. Cincinnati: Aaron Curry, Wake Forest, LB - Curry and 2008 first rounder Keith Rivers would provide stability in the linebacking corps for years to come. Most importantly, there are no character issues with Curry.
7. Oakland: Jeremy Maclin, Missouri, WR - The Raiders lack a deep threat in the passing game. Maclin can fill that void.8. Jacksonville: Michael Oher, Ole Miss, OT - The Jags lost two starters on their offensive line in Week 1 and never recovered. Oher would be their best lineman from Day 1 and figures to be a fixture in the league for many years.
9. Green Bay: B.J. Raji, Boston College, DT - After trading DT Corey Williams in the offseason, the Packers struggled mightily defending the run. Raji dominated the Senior Bowl and has seen his stock soar in recent weeks.
10. San Francisco: Mark Sanchez, USC, QB - A dream scenario for the Niners, they would snatch Sanchez in about 0.00002 seconds if he slips this far. He's a California native who starred at USC and would be the long-term answer at the quarterback position.
11. Buffalo: Brandon Pettigrew, Oklahoma State, TE - Pettigrew is the most complete tight end in the class and would provide a nice target for emerging QB Trent Edwards.12. Denver: Peria Jerry, Ole Miss, DT - The Broncos struggled to stop the run again last season. Stop me if you've heard this before.
13. Washington: Rey Maualuga, USC, LB - Owner Dan Snyder loves the big name, and London Fletcher can't play forever, can he?
14. New Orleans: Sean Smith, Utah, CB - Smith has great size, and the Saints figure to focus on the defensive secondary early and often on Draft Day. Smith had a great Sugar Bowl which was played in... (drum roll)... New Orleans.
15. Houston: Brian Orakpo, Texas, DE - The Texans would do back flips if the Texas product slid this far. He reminds me of Vernon Gholston (read: major bust possibilities), but he would be a great value here. Houston has taken a defensive lineman with three of their last four first round picks.
16. San Diego: Aaron Maybin, Penn State, DE/LB - The Chargers desperately missed DE / LB Shawne Merriman, and Maybin has a similar skill set.
17. New York Jets: Brian Cushing, USC, LB - Rookie head coach Rex Ryan wants to develop the most physical team in football. Cushing would be a nice addition to a defense that faded down the stretch.
18. Chicago: Percy Harvin, Florida, WR - Matt Forte led the Bears in receptions last season (63). Taking that kind of pounding year in and year out will lead to a short career. Harvin, ever the brittle superstar, has Devin Hester-esque game changing ability.
19. Tampa Bay: Everette Brown, Florida State, DE - The Bucs would be another team that would be ecstatic if this exact draft scenario unfolded. Brown, a local product, would work with 2007 first rounder, Gaines Adams.
20. Detroit (from Dallas): Jason Smith, Baylor, OT - Smith has top 10 talent but could slip because of team needs. Matt Stafford won't have to wait long for a new best friend - 19 picks to be exact.
21. Philadelphia: Alex Mack, California, C - Jamaal Jackson struggled at times this season, and Mack is clearly the cream of a solid center crop.
22. Minnesota: Darrius Heyward-Bey, Maryland, WR - No matter who is playing quarterback, the Vikes need someone to pair with Bernard Berrian to help take the focus off Adrian Peterson.
23. New England: Jame Laurinaitis, Ohio State, LB - Is he Andy Katzenmoyer reincarnate? I don't think so, but the similarities certainly exist.
24. Atlanta: Shawn Nelson, Southern Mississippi, TE - The Falcons figure to add some offensive weapons to help QB Matt Ryan to develop. Nelson offers something the team lacked this season, a pass catching threat at the tight end position.25. Miami: D.J. Moore, Vanderbilt, CB - Cornerbacks figure to go off the board...
26. Baltimore: Vontae Davis, Illinois, CB - ...with the next few picks...
27. Indianapolis: Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest, CB - ... but I have no idea what order it will happen.
28. Philadelphia (from Carolina): Chris Wells, Ohio State, RB - Wells would offer the bruising style to complement the home run hitting Brian Westbrook.
29. New York Giants: Clay Matthews, USC, LB - Pressure the QB.. Pressure the QB.. Pressure the QB...
30. Tennessee: Hakeem Nicks, North Carolina, WR - The defense was great. The running game was great. The passing game stunk. The Titans need to address this during the offseason.
31. Arizona: Knowshon Moreno, Georgia, RB - Moreno failed to live up to expectations this season and will slip further than he should. He could win the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award if this scenario unfolds.32. Pittsburgh: Max Unger, Oregon, C - The Steelers were solid across the board. I'm nitpicking, but the line could use some bolstering.
**I think the NFL should revisit the draft order creation process. Why should the Chargers, a team that made the playoffs, pick eight spots ahead of the Patriots?
**The Lions have three of the top 33 picks. If they can nab a defensive tackle like Sen'Derrick Marks at the top of round two along with Stafford and Smith in round one, the foundation upon which to build could be in place.
**The owners of the first five picks all have new head coaches. It will be interesting to see how much power each wields.**LSU OG Herman Johnson weighed 15lbs, 14oz. at birth, a Louisiana state record. At the Senior Bowl, he stood 6"7' and weighed in at 382lbs. Let those numbers sink in for a second.
**Liberty RB Rashad Jennings tops the list of "Just Missed." I tried working him into the first round so it would be two years in a row that a player transferred from Pitt and got drafted in the first round (Joe Flacco), but it did not work out.
**Georgia Tech DE Michael Johnson did not make his way into the first round. He won't experience a Quentin Moses-esque (preseason top five overall; ended up being first pick of third round) fall from grace, but look out below.
**This will be the first time in 14 years that no member of the Miami Hurricanes will be picked in round one.