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Old 03-26-2009, 09:37 AM   #1
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Default Handicapping Picks 16-20

Here is a preview of how picks 16 through 20 will likely play out in the upcoming NFL Draft.

16. San Diego Chargers - The Chargers could go in a couple of different directions here. With Igor Olshansky signing with Dallas they have an immediate need at defensive end. As expected the pass rush suffered mightily with Shawne Merriman on the shelf last season. The interior linebackers are solid if unspectacular and there are concerns that LaDanian Tomlinson's better days are behind him which is why the Chargers felt compelled to give Darren Sproles the franchise tag. The Chargers biggest needs would appear to be at right tackle, inside linebacker, interior offensive line, and strong safety. Since teams don't generally take right tackles or interior offensive lineman in the first round and there are no elite safety prospects this year ILB seems like a good place to start for the Chargers.

USC's Rey Maualuga and Ohio State's James Laurinaitis are considered to be the two best inside linebacker prospects in the draft. Maualuga is considered the better of the two as he is a bit more athletic and explosive than Laurinaitis is. The consensus seems to be that the Chargers are targeting Maulauga with their pick although his hamstring injury at the combine and how much of an effect it may have had on his 40 times muddies things up a bit. He may need to show he can truly can run better than he did at the combine to warrant a selection here.

Another avenue the Chargers are reportedly exploring is taking Tomlinson's eventual successor. It has been reported that they are bringing Knowshon Moreno in for a private workout and Chris Wells' name will probably be in the mix as well since his workout numbers have been far superior to Moreno's. Other names to consider are Tennessee defensive end Robert Ayers or LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson if they are still available at 16 as they are considered the two best DE prospects who could thrive in a 3-4 scheme.

If Maualuga pans out look for him to be the guy the Chargers settle on though don't count Wells or Moreno out of the mix if they truly believe LT 0nly has a year or so left in the tank.

17. New York Jets - The Jets are another interesting case. Brett Favre's retirement and the departure of Laveranues Coles leaves the Jets with two big holes to fill on offense. Favre's decision leaves the Jets with three unproven entities at the quarterback position in Kellen Clemens, Erik Ainge, and Brett Ratliff. Of the three Clemens is the only one with any real game experience and the Jets have been high on him since they drafted him but he has yet to show he can be a quality starter at the NFL level. Ainge is thought to be a couple of years away from being ready to start and Ratliff is probably always going to be a backup.

Coles' departure leaves the Jets with Jerricho Cotchery and unproven youngsters in Chansi Stuckey and Brad Smith. Cotchery is a good quality NFL wideout but he does not have the skills to be a top flight receiver in the NFL he is always going to be a good but not great player. Stuckey is little more than a slot receiver and Smith has yet to show he is going to anything more than a gimmick play guy.

The Jets' pick likely depends on whether or not Mark Sanchez is still there, which is a possibility, or they believe Josh Freeman is going to ready to play by the start of next season which it is very possible he will never be much of a QB in the NFL. If Sanchez is there then I fully expect them to go that route, if not, and they decide to pass on Freeman expect them to look at WR who can stretch the field like Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey or Florida's Percy Harvin. The Jets lack an impact player who is a threat to score any time he touches the ball and Heyward-Bey or Harvin would give them threat on offense and would be a perfect compliment to Cotchery and tight end Dustin Keller.

18. Chicago Bears - Like the Jets the Bears have similar needs in that they lack a reliable receiver who can stretch the field and a franchise caliber quarterback. In addition to those two needs the Bears could also stand to upgrade the offensive line especially after starting right tackle John St. Clair signed a free agent deal with the Browns.

If Heyward-Bey is still on the board the Bears are likely to grab him. He will keep defenses honest and not stack the box against the run in an effort to slow Matt Forte. If Heyward-Bey is off the board then expect them to look at grabbing the best available offensive tackle. Arizona's Eben Britton or Mississippi's Michael Oher are both possibilities to land in Chicago. A wild card in the mix could also be Freeman is the Bears think he is provides them with a better option over Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - The Bucs could go in several different directions with this pick after purging the roster of a significant portion of its veterans. They plugged one of the holes by signing Derrick Ward away from the Giants to fill the spot vacated by Warrick Dunn. But they still need to find someone to compliment Antonio Bryant and fill the huge void left by the departure of Derrick Brooks and not to mention the run defense was sub-par in general last season. The Bucs are also another team that is just plugging a serviceable player into the quarterback position.

Before they went out and signed Ward the early consensus was that the Bucs would grab either Wells or Moreno but the presence of Ward makes that scenario less likely. A lot of the mock drafts out there have the Bucs pick narrowed down to two players: Josh Freeman or Mississippi DT Peria Jerry. Those that have Freeman going to Chicago or New York have the Bucs taking Jerry. Either one of those two is probably the safest bet with guys like Heyward-Bey or Harvin figuring into the mix as well if they are still there.

20. Detroit Lions - If the Lions do as expected and take Matthew Stafford with the top pick expect them to go defense with their second selection of the first round. The Lions defense surrendered 32 points and over 400 yards per contest last season so just anyone they potentially add here would likely be an upgrade.

The two most popular names here seem to be Maualuga, if he does not go to San Diego, and Laurinaitis. Peria Jerry could also go hear as well if he is not off the board. Another name to consider if the Lions opt to pass on Stafford with the top pick would be Freeman. It is conceivable that the Lions could take one of the elite tackle prospects in the draft with eyes on grabbing Freeman at #20.
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2009 nfl draft, chicago bears, chris wells, darrius heyward-bey, detroit lions, eben britton, james laurinaitis, josh freeman, knowshon moreno, mark sanchez, michael oher, new york jets, percy harvin, rey maualuga, robert ayers, san diego chargers, tampa bay buccaneers, tyson jackson

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