In the second entry to the series we started last month, I’ll be redrafting the 2009 NFL Draft, knowing what we know now.
This scenario is a bit different than the 2011 draft for two reasons. First, because five years have passed and not three, we can tilt the scales much more heavily towards what we’ve gotten from a player than what we expect to get going forward. Second, unlike the 2011 draft, the 2009 draft is actually pretty weak at the top, with numerous prospects who didn’t pan out at all, or were little more than serviceable players. That’s gonna result in a shakeup of the first round. Coming right up…
- Detroit Lions – Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia.
He never really seemed to reach his full potential. That said, he’s a good enough starter at QB that you don’t have to actively seek to replace him, and that makes him the best selection in a weak class.
- St. Louis Rams – Clay Matthews III, OLB, USC.
He’s the best defender in this draft, a reliable edge rusher of consistent production. He’s had some bumps with injuries, but as you’ll soon see, nearly everyone of game-changing talent in this draft has.
- Kansas City Chiefs – LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh.
I’m obviously ignoring fit here, as Jamaal Charles joined the Chiefs in 2008. I’m also ignoring my normal rule about never drafting a running back this early. In real life, I never would, because there’s too much uncertainty around the draft, and a running back just isn’t going to offer the same potential return as a game-changing talent at a more important position. However, McCoy might be the best player in this draft, and you know with him you’re getting a legit three-down back who adds significant value and can carry the load for at least five years. When you compare that to the injury history of some of the next guys up, that’s a big deal.
- Seattle Seahawks – Percy Harvin, WR, Florida.
Hey, it’s easier than trading three picks for him, right? Harvin obviously has injury issues, but he’s a game-breaking talent at both receiver and returner, and the game-breaking talents in this draft are few and far between. I think even with the chronic injuries, he’s the guy here.
- Cleveland Browns – Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech.
Another guy whose game-changing talents lay dormant for a while, though that could be attributed in part to inadequacies at quarterback in San Francisco. It’s unfortunate that just as he had his breakout season, he tore his Achilles. Still a legit #1 receiver, though.
- Cincinnati Bengals – Brian Orakpo, DE/OLB, Texas.
Yet again, someone who has some injury issues. Not quite the elite pass rusher you’d hope for this early, but a solid #1 guy who can generate pressure on his own.
- Oakland Raiders – Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech.
I’m not sure what to make of Johnson: Is he a legitimate pass-rushing talent on his own, or does the system and coaching in Cincinnati make him look better than he is? Regardless, he took a big leap forward in 2012, and that kind of pass rush is a valuable asset.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – Michael Bennett, DE, Texas A&M.
Originally undrafted, he has a similar story to Johnson of taking a little while to develop but becoming a stout pass-rusher eventually. Slightly worse pass rusher than Johnson but a better run defender.
- Green Bay Packers – Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia.
He plays left tackle at an acceptable level. That has lots of value. The more draft research I’ve done, the more I’ve found that linemen, much like quarterbacks, rise in value in the draft because of the absolute scarcity of people who can do the job well.
- San Francisco 49ers – Sebastian Vollmer, OT, Houston.
He plays right tackle, although he plays it better than Monroe plays left tackle. Nevertheless, it’s not quite as valuable, but nonetheless he’s a solid selection here.
- Buffalo Bills – Andre Smith, OT, Alabama.
See “Vollmer, Sebastian,” although maybe not quite as good.
- Denver Broncos – Keenan Lewis, CB, Oregon State.
Proved his worth as a #1 CB in New Orleans this season. Separated from the next guy by the fact that he’s never missed significant time with injury.
- Washington Potatoes – Lardarius Webb, CB, Nicholls State.
Highest shutdown-corner upside of anyone in this draft. ACL injury in 2012 really dampens his value, though, both in time lost and in potential going forward.
- New Orleans Saints – Jason McCourty, CB, Rutgers.
Underrated after Alterraun Verner’s breakout year. McCourty could have been considered the #1 on Tennessee’s scheme. A solid cover man who’s just a bit behind the previous two guys.
- Houston Texans – Jairus Byrd, FS, Oregon.
A very good player at the position. However, he’ s also missed time with some minor injuries and contract holdouts.
- San Diego Chargers – Mike Wallace, WR, Ole Miss.
Showed this year that he’s not quite the #1 he thinks of himself as (or that he got paid like), but still a very good deep threat who can be a consistent 1,000-yard performer in the right offense.
- New York Jets – Alex Mack, C, California.
A consistent Pro Bowl quality center. Not the most important position on the line, but quality and consistency merit the pick.
- Denver Broncos (from Chicago) – Brian Cushing, LB, USC.
Top-five talent if he could stay healthy. He can’t. Still worth a pick based on his performance when he was, as well as hopes he could stay healthy going forward.
- Tampa Bay Bucaneers – Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri.
Another very talented receiver who could be a consistent 1,000-yard guy… then he tore his ACL in 2013. The uncertainty going forward moves him down the board.
- Detroit Lions – Henry Melton, DT/DE, Texas.
Showed he could be an interior pass-rushing force… then tore his ACL in 2013. Yeesh. Sensing a theme yet?
- Philaelphia Eagles – Eric Wood, C, Louisville.
Never has received the accolades of Mack, but he is very good. It’s telling the Bills chose to keep him over Andy Levitre.
- Minnesota Vikings – Alex Boone, G, Ohio State.
Another undrafted player whose talents didn’t really shine until Jim Harbaugh took over the 49ers. Maybe he took a lot of time to develop; either way, a guy who eventually played guard at a Pro Bowl level is worth a first-round pick.
- New England Patriots – B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College.
Showed occasional flashes of being a much better player than this, but is inconsistent to the point where Green Bay might not try to retain him.
- Atlanta Falcons – Julian Edelman, WR, Kent State.
Edelman finally showed what he could do with a heavier workload this season, turning into Tom Brady’s most reliable option. Nothing flashy, just a guy who can get it done. Obviously would be pretty low-end as a #1 but he is capable of it if necessary.
- Miami Dolphins – Brian Hartline, WR, Ohio State.
Another guy who’s been consistently reliable. Doesn’t quite have #1 ability but has been a steady #2 man in Miami for years.
- Baltimore Ravens – Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina.
More talent than the previous two guys, but his complete inability to stay healthy causes him to drop significantly. He doesn’t have the talent of Harvin or Crabtree and he’s actually missed more time than the latter. Best days may be behind him.
- Indianapolis Colts – Paul Kruger, DE/OLB, Utah.
Seemed to break through with Baltimore in 2012, then got a huge payday and didn’t show up in the backfield nearly as much. Still, the chances he can replicate that success make him worth taking here.
- Carolina Panthers – Arian Foster, RB, Tennessee.
Our third undrafted player, Foster won’t wow you but he showed he can consistently be a high-volume feature back for at least a few years. Yeah, at this point that’s worth a pick here, since we’re getting into the players of questionable reliability.
- New York Giants – Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss.
Hard to be that fired up about him, since it seems like Baltimore isn’t interested in re-signing him. But getting five years of starting tackle play (and he was usually competent, if not spectacular) is fine here given what’s left.
- Tennessee Titans – Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois.
Miami sold high on him to Indianapolis, where he continues to show flashes of #1 ability while being inconsistent enough to drive his current team nuts. Plays well enough that his overall contributions are positive, and that gets him selected here.
- Arizona Cardinals – James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State.
Above-average 4-3 middle linebacker. If a player you don’t have to replace at QB goes #1 overall, a player you don’t have to replace at edge rusher goes #6, and a player you don’t have to replace at left tackle goes #9, then a player you don’t have to replace at 4-3 linebacker goes #31.
- Pittsburgh Steelers – Terrance Knighton, DT, Temple.
“Pot Roast” has had a bit of an up-and-down career, but his renaissance in Denver suggests a good situation and coaching will get the most out of him. A quality defensive tackle.
Some other players I considered: Louis Vasquez, DeAndre Levy, Captain Munnerlyn, Matt Slauson, Dannell Ellerbee, Connor Barwin, Jared Cook, Malcolm Jenkins, William Beatty.