Jimmy Johnson used to spend hours reading mock drafts as part of his draft-day preparations. He used to say that some of the most accurate tidbits of information he got on what other teams were likely to do came from the beat writers that covered those teams.
And that's the reason he used to go so far as to call certain beat writers or journalists in various cities to pick their brains about their teams.
What follows is an wealth of information and opinion Johnson would love to have were he still making picks in this draft. Below you will find a mock draft compiled with the cooperation of two dozen beat writers and columnists that cover the NFL in the 32 NFL cities.
Every team's information is compiled by that team's beat writer or columnist, most of whom got on a conference call Tuesday and conducted a draft as if it were happening in real time.
This is the result. Some interesting things come out of this. Notice Percy Harvin is not picked in the first round. Notice the Dolphins have their choice of several outstanding players with the selection, made by me, perhaps surprising based on how this mock played out.
Anyway, won't keep you any longer. Have at it. And in the comments section, you tell me if the Dolphins would actually pick the player I picked based on his, shall we say, interesting sense of humor as seen in this youtube video below.
1. DETROIT: (8 picks, 2 in first, 2 in third, 2 in sixth.) Needs: QB, DT, OT/G, entire defense. Comment: Leos were last in the league in defense, 30th in rushing. As of today, they have narrowed choice to three players - Matthew Stafford, Jason Smith and Aaron Curry. Scott McEwen, protege of Ron Hughes in Pittsburgh, runs the college operation as he has in the past. Pick: Everything points to Stafford. Lions have one Pro Bowl appearance in the last 51 years by a QB, that being Greg Landry in 1971.
2. ST. LOUIS: (7 picks) Needs: OT, WR. Comment: Cut two seven-time Pro Bowlers in Orlando Pace and Torry Holt for cap reasons. Have lost 27 of last 32 games. No. 2 overall for second year in a row. It's down to 4 players: Matt Sanchez, Eugene Monroe, Jason Smith and Curry. They have just one bona fide OT on roster in Alex Barron. Donnie Avery is their most experienced WR on the roster (53 career catches). It won’t be Sanchez. If they have a higher grade on Curry, they’ll take him. PICK: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia.
3. KANSAS CITY: (7 picks; no second, 2 in seventh) Needs: Pass rusher, LB, Speed WR, OT. Comment: The Chiefs had just 10 sacks last year, will be going to some 3-4 so there’s a LB need. They added Zach Thomas, Mike Vrabel and Monty Beisel to get them through this year at LB. PICK: OT Jason Smith, Baylor. If St. Louis goes Smith, they go Monroe.
4. SEATTLE: (10 picks, 4 in seventh) Needs: OLB, OT, QB, WR depth, S. Comment: LT Walter Jones is coming off microfracture surgery. QB Matt Hasselbeck missed nine games last year with a back injury. PICK: Aaron Curry, LB, Georgia Tech. Crabtree is an outside shot. 'Hawks like Jason Smith a bit better than Monroe.
5. CLEVELAND: (5 picks, 2 in 2nd, no 3rd, no 5th, no 7th) Needs: Pass rusher, 3-4 OLB, S, WR, RB. Comment: Mangini wants to overhaul the roster. He wants to trade and collect picks. We believe the Braylon Edwards trade will happen when they go on the clock on draft day. They will trade QB Brady Quinn if they can. The Browns are interested in Matt Sanchez, but the suspicion is they would trade down instead. The PICK: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC. The suspicion is they’ll take the WR with the pick they get from the Edwards deal. But guessing Crabtree would not be crazy.
6. CINCINNATI: (11 picks, 2 3rds, 2 in 6th, 3 in 7th) Needs: OT, C, WR, RB depth, pass rusher. Comment: At OT, Levi Jones has been injury prone, Stacy Andrews lost in free agency. They are happy with Anthony Collins at OT. If both top tackles are gone, the PICK: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama. They had him in for a meeting a week ago. Brian Orakpo is a possibility. Michael Crabtree is possible.
7. OAKLAND: (5 picks; no fifth, no sixth) Needs: WR, OT, S. It’s always about speed with the Raiders. They have nobody for Russell to throw to. They’re happy with run game. PICK: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri. Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech. They may like Maclin and Hayward-Bey. Michael Huff is on the trade block, we think.
8. JACKSONVILLE: (9 picks; 3 in seventh). Needs: WR, DT, S, OT, 3rd CB. Comment: They got Torry Holt, but they’re still hurting at WR. Dennis Northcutt and Mike Walker are their other two WRs. DT is a need since they dealt Marcus Stroud. Haven’t been able to play the type of D they like – clog the middle. The plan is to take the best player available. PICK: B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College.
9. GREEN BAY: (9 picks; 2 in third, 2 in sixth). Needs: Going 3-4. Could use DE, LB, OT, RB, S, DB. Comment: GM Ted Thompson has traded down 13 times in his first four drafts. In this scenario, they would trade down. PICK: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech. Their current D-line is: Jolley-Pickett-Jenkins. So Raji or Tyson Jackson are perfect fits. Not sure how they feel about Oher. The other 3 tackles would fit. Malcolm Jenkins would be an outside shot.
10. SAN FRANCISCO: (9 picks, 2 in fifth, 2 in seventh). Needs: OT, edge rusher, WR. Comment: They’re content to go with the QBs they have instead of taking one in the first round. They could use a RT. Singletary wants to go strictly to a 3-4 defense. PICK: Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi.
11. BUFFALO: (9 picks, 2 in first, 2 in fourth). Needs: DE, T, TE, LB. Comment:They can get a TE in the second round, and I can’t see them taking Pettigrew this early. A wild card would be Cushing. PICK: Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas. If he’s gone, take Robert Ayers or Aaron Maybin.
12. DENVER: (10 picks; 2 in first, 2 in third, 1 in fifth, 2 in seventh). Needs: Going 3-4 so NT, OLB, ILB, DE, WR. Comment: We’re suspecting defense in the first round for sure. QB is the riddle. If they pick a QB, they’ve basically admitted they screwed up in trading Cutler. Can’t see that. There might be some interest in Quinn. PICK: Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU. Shanahan ran 14 drafts, they have 3 No. 1s from those drafts and only 2 are starters – DJ Williams and Ryan Clady.
13. WASHINGTON: (5 picks; no second, no fourth). Needs: pass rusher, OLB, RT. Comment: After this, they don’t pick again until No. 80. They traded second for Jason Taylor. Jason Campbell’s contract is up after this year. They would want Sanchez. The would have taken Orakpo or Tyson Jackson. They like the So. Cal linebackers. They have a tendency to take big-school players from SEC. Larry English is possible, but he’s from a small school. PICK: Larry English, DE, Northern Illinois. They’re not big on Maybin. They would consider a trade-down here.
14. NEW ORLEANS: (4 picks; 1st, 2 fourths, 7th). Needs: S, DE, CB, RB. Comment: They run a standard 4-3, Maybin or E. Brown are outside candidates. PICK: Malcolm Jenkins, FS, Ohio State. If he fits at safety, that’s fine with them.
15. HOUSTON: (8 picks; 2 in fourth) Needs: OLB, RB, FS are top three needs. Comment: They will try like crazy to trade back and take Matthews a bit later. PICK: Brian Cushing, LB, Southern Cal. It’s Cushing or Matthews unless Jenkins were to fall.
16. SAN DIEGO: (8 picks, no 2nd, three in fourth). Needs: DE, ILB, ROLB, S. Comment: They would like to take Tyson Jackson, DE. If Jackson gone, PICK: Beanie Wells, RB, Ohio State. If Wells gone, take Rey Maualuga. If all three gone, pass. Just kidding. Knowshon Moreno. (Running back is more of a future need that could be addressed now if the right guy is there.)
17. N.Y. JETS: (6 picks; no fifth) Needs: WR, QB, DE, RB. Comment: Kellen Clemens and Brett Ratliff, are the current QBs. The value here is QB Josh Freeman of Kansas State. Pick: Freeman. Illinois CB Vontae Davis is possible.
18. DENVER: (from Chicago) (see picks above). Comment: They need defense. PICK: Clay MATTHEWS, OLB. Other option is Peria Jerry.
19. TAMPA BAY: (8 picks, no second, 3 sevenths) Needs: D-line, CB, WR. Comment: In total overhaul mode, new head coach, new GM, new coordinators, new QB, no Derrick Brooks. Jim Bates is veering from Tampa 2. PICK: Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi.
20. DETROIT: (from Dallas) (See picks above). Needs: Defense. Comment: The Lions would take Jerry. Lions worst in NFL in rushing defense. Saints converted 11 straight third downs vs. them late last season. Horrible. PICK: Ziggy Hood, DT, Missouri.
21. PHILADELPHIA: (10 picks; no 4th. four in fifth, two in sixth). Needs: RB, Interior OL, TE, WR, DE. Comment: Already traded away a pick for Jason Peters of Buffalo. PICK: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia. Brian Westrbook about to turn 30 has balky knee.
22. MINNESOTA: (6 picks; no 4th, no 6th, 2 in seventh). Needs: RT, WR, CB, DT, C. Comment: RT is Ryan Cook, second round in 2006. WR need a second guy. Winfield is over 30 at corner. Need more bodies there. QB – they seem to be content with Rosenfels and Travaris Jackson. They like all the OTs. PICK: Eben Britton, OT, Arizona, Also: Harvin or Haywood-Bey are possible.
23. NEW ENGLAND: (11 picks; 3 in second, 2 in third; 2 in sixth). Needs: More pass rush, S, CB, LB. Comments: Six picks in the first 97 as rich get richer. Belichick said it’s the most flexibility he’s ever had. Expect them to move up and down. Defense was 26th on third down. PICK: Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee. Belichick loves the height weight guys. He also likes the UConn cornerback Darius Butler.
24. ATLANTA: (7 picks, 2 in fifth, no 7th). Needs: OLB, SS, TE, CB. The PICK: Brandon Pettigrew, TE Oklahoma State. They like Larry English. However, in this scenario, Aaron Maybin would be a strong consideration.
25. MIAMI: (9 picks; 2 in second, 2 in seventh). Needs: Starting CB, No. 1 WR, pass rushers. Comment: The Dolphins won’t be afraid to take the best player available. CB Will Allen is one starter. They signed mediocre CB Eric Green; They do not have a No. 1 WR in their popgun offense. They want more pass-rush help for 32-year-old Joey Porter, who had 43 percent of their sacks. Everybody’s talking about Virginia’s LB Clint Sintim because he played with Al Groh, but he’s a second-round pick. (If somebody real good falls - Clay Matthews, Rey Maualuga or even Moreno, they'll pick him based on value. Pick: Rey Maualuga, LB, USC. Second choice: Darius Butler, CB, UConn. Third choice: WR Hakeem Nicks. Fourth choice: WR Kenny Britt.
26. BALTIMORE: (6 picks, no 7th). Needs: TE, OT, WR, Comment: Must help young QB Joe Flacco and Cam Cameron will be crying for more help on offense. The PICK: Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State. Visited them. They could use Pettigrew. Feel free to flip-flop Maybin to Atlanta and Pettigrew to Baltimore in this mock draft.
27. INDIANAPOLIS: (8 picks; 2 in fourth). Needs: WR, DT, OLB, RB, OT. Comment: Marvin Harrison is gone but may still be re-signed if Colts don't find a replacement in the draft. Oh, too bad, they do find a replacement. PICK: Darrius Hayward-Bey, WR, Maryland. A fallback pick would be: Brian Robiskie, WR, Ohio State.
28. BUFFALO: (from Carolina & Philly) (picks see above). PICK: Phil Loadholt, OT, Oklahoma. Fills need for a starting right tackle.
29. N.Y. GIANTS: (10 picks; 2 in second, 2 in third, 2 in fifth). Needs: WR, OT, MLB. Comment: Toomer cut, Plaxico Burress is gone. In this scenario, the PICK: Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina. They checked out Kenny Britt, but he didn’t have a great workout.
30. TENNESSEE: (10 picks, 2 in fourth, 2 in sixth, 2 in seventh). Needs: WR, CB, OLB, OT. Comment: Best player available is in play here. Pick: Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers. A very good option for them would be CB Alphonso Smith. They would pass on Harvin due to off the field issues.
31. ARIZONA: (8 picks, 2 in 7th). Needs: RB, OLB, TE. Comment: Expected to release Edgerrin James, three of their OLBs are over 30 and have had injuries. They’ve been searching for a TE for 2 decades. PICK: Donald Brown, RB UConn. They’re high on Larry English, think he’s a great kid and a hard worker.
32. PITTSBURGH: (9 picks, 2 in fifth, 2 in seventh). Needs: OL depth, DL depth, CB depth. Comments: Steelers love picking here and would love to do it every year. PICK: DL Fili Moala, USC. Options are C Alex Mack or C Eric Wood.