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Old 03-26-2009, 09:29 AM   #1
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Default Handicapping Picks 11-15

Here is my preview on how picks 11 through 15 may shake out in the upcoming NFL Draft.

11. Buffalo Bills - The Bills went ahead and bit the bullet giving Terrell Owens a contract. The Bills have been looking for someone to partner with Lee Evansand Owens will be that guy for the time being taking WR off the wish list for the short term. The Bills biggest needs are on the interior line, defensive end, and tight end. This puts the Bills in an interesting spot since teams typically do not draft interior offensive lineman at the top of the draft and there are not any compelling tight ends in the Kellen Winslow/Tony Gonzalez mode that warrants being taken in the top half of the first round.

This leaves the Bills with the prospect of picking up one of the three defensive end prospects in Brian Orakpo, Aaron Maybin, or Everette Brown. Adding one of those three would give a pass rush that registered a mere 24 sacks last season a much needed shot in the arm.

12. Denver Broncos - The Broncos' defense was atrocious last season and they most assuredly will go with the best defensive player available at this stage of the game. The Broncos could not stop anyone on the ground and struggled to keep teams out of the end zone allowing 146 rushing yards and 28 points per game last season. As the Broncos make the switch back to a 3-4 scheme look for them to find someone to plug into the front seven of the defense.

The consensus seems to be that LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson is the best fit for the Broncos at this spot. He is considered to be a player who has the size and tools that teams look for in a 3-4 DE. USC LB Brian Cushing, Ole Miss' Peria Jerry, and Maybin are rumored to be in the mix here as well.

13. Washington Redskins - The Redskins have several needs to address this off season. They went out and made the big splash in free agency signing defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth away from the Tennessee Titans but he does not address any of the 'Skins more pressing needs. Washington needs to get younger and more athletic on the offensive line, find someone who can get after and pressure the quarterback, and get younger at linebacker. For whatever reason Daniel Snyder keeps pouring millions of dollars into secondary talent not realizing that you need to be able to pressure the QB in order to have a productive secondary. Defensive backs can only hold coverage for so long until the routes break down and receivers start improvising.

Prior to signing Haynesworth the Redskins lacked any real game changing playmakers along the front seven. London Fletcher is as good as there is in terms of plugging the running lanes and containing the other team's running backs but he has never a guy who forces a ton of turnovers or makes the big game changing play. The Redskins need guys who make plays off the edge.

Preferably the Redskins would like to be able to nail down one of the three pass rushing prospects at #13 but that may not be feasible after Maybin's pro day workout is sure to push him up a lot of team's draft boards. However there is a good chance that Everette Brown will still be sitting out there when the 'Skins pick. Offensive tackles Michael Oher or Andre Smith are also possibilities as Jon Jansen's career may well be over and Chris Samuels is starting to slow down just a bit. Smith may be gone by then but Oher will likely still be around as he is generally considered someone who is going to go in the 10 to 20 range. Brian Cushing is also someone the 'Skins are looking at to give them that dynamic presence at OLB they have lacked since Lavar Arrington was in his prime.

The consensus seems to be that either Oher or Cushing is going to be their guy with Maybin and Tyson Jackson possibly in the mix as well.

14. New Orleans Saints - The Saints needs are pretty simple they need to get better on defense, specifically the secondary. The Saints inability to contain other teams' top wide outs has come back to bite them on several occasions during the Sean Payton era. The recent release of Mike McKenzie makes the need even more pressing and leads me to believe they are looking at picking up the best available defensive back here.

There has been some speculation that with the departure of Deuce McAllister that the Saints may be looking at picking up Knowshon Moreno or Chris Wells to compliment Reggie Bush who has yet to show he can be a full time feature back in the NFL. With the emergence of Pierre Thomas and the fact that teams can typically get productive second tier backs in the middle rounds of the draft I don't see the prudence of taking a feature back here when there are far more pressing needs on defense. The offense managed 29 points a game last year with Thomas and Bush carrying the bulk of the workload so is there really a need to change that now?

This leads to Ohio State's Malcolm Jenkins or Illinois' Vontae Davis. Until now Jenkins has been considered the better pro prospect but the recent pro day workouts of the two may have changed things. Davis improved on his combine 40 times getting down to 4.4 while Jenkins failed to post the sub 4.5 times that teams are looking for in shutdown corners. Davis could jump past Jenkins based on his workout numbers and be the top defensive back taken in the draft. Unless Davis goes earlier expect him to be the guy.

15. Houston Texans - The Texans' offense seemed to finally have found an identity last season and as always the defense let them down. The Texans' biggest need is to get better all the way around on defense specifically the front seven. They have two of the better young defensive talents in Mario Williams and DeMeceo Ryans but they need some help. Williams registered 12 of the teams 25 sacks last season so the Texans could use another player off the edge who can get after the quarterback and they also struggled stopping the run last season.

There seems to be a sentiment out there that the Texans are interested in picking up either Wells or Moreno but I do not understand where that is coming from given the season Steve Slaton had as a rookie last season. Is it any co-incidence that the Texans were 5-3 when he got the ball 20 or more times a game and 3-5 in the games he did not. Slaton is an impact player for the Texans so why would they make a move that potentially puts the ball in his hands fewer times a game. The Texans do need a back to compliment him but taking a feature back in the first round does little to improve a team that needs to improve on offense far more than defense and needs to upgrade the skill positions in the passing game moreso than the running game right now.

So, with that said look for the Texans to zero in on the best available defensive player at this spot. Jenkins and Vontae Davis are possibilities here and Cushing will surely be the guy if he falls to the Texans at 15. Tennessee defensive end Robert Ayers and Peria Jerry are also possibilities here. Ayers is not a great pass rusher but he is good at the point of attack and has a penchant for bringing down opposing running backs in the backfield and Jerry would give them someone to plug into the middle of the line to anchor the run defense.
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2009 nfl draft, aaron maybin, andre smith, brian cushing, brian orakpo, buffalo bills, chris wells, denver broncos, everette brown, knowshon moreno, malcolm jenkins, michael oher, peria jerry, robert ayers, tyson jackson, vontae davis, washington redskins

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