Another Mock Draft now that the Superbowl is done and the offseason is in full swing. I'll probably wait until after the combine to do another one. Enjoy.
1. Carolina Panthers: AJ Green WR, Georgia
This pick comes down to Green and Fairley in my opinion; and after seeing Ndamukong Suh dominate the way he did his rookie season the Panthers will be tempted to take Fairley, but Green more makes sense for a number of reasons. First, Green gives Jimmy Clausen a premier weapon that also opens things up for the run game on day one. He becomes Steve Smith's heir apparent while also taking on the double team for Smith to exploit single coverage. Dont forget new coach Ron Rivera came from San Diego where they love huge weapons at receiver.
2. Denver Broncos: Patrick Peterson CB, LSU
Even if the Broncos resign Champ Bailey, (which seems unlikely at this point) Peterson is an amazing talent at CB who would be able to replace him if he leaves in Free Agency or retires in a few years. Peterson can shut down a receiver a lot like Nnamdi Asomugha but also brings elite talent in the return game.
3. Buffalo Bills: Nick Fairley DT, Auburn
This becomes an even bigger necessity with the Bills releasing Marcus Stroud this week. Anyone who watched the National Championship game could see that Fairley is a disruptive force on the interior D-Line. The only way to describe his play that night is beastly. Still, I don't think he measures up to Ndamukong Suh, so I would warn anyone expecting him to be just as good to temper their expectations.
4. Cincinnati Bengals: Daquan Bowers DE, Clemson
If Carson Palmer really does retire, then the Bengals have to consider Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert, but Bowers is definitely a better prospect than both of those QBs. Bowers is the best pass rushing DE in this draft, and the last of the four "elite" talents in the draft in my opinion. Cinci will likely be parting ways with the expensive and injury prone Antwan Odom this year, but getting Bowers more than makes up for that. He'll team with Carlos Dunlap to provide great pressure off the edge, which is the main thing this defense lacked.
5. Arizona Cardinals: Von Miller OLB, Texas A&M
I previously had the Cardinals taking Blaine Gabbert, but from what I've heard they're looking at veteran QBs like McNabb or Kolb. Arizona has a lot of good pieces on defense, but they lack an elite edge rusher. Both Joey Porter and Clark Haggans are well passed their prime (aka while they were with the Steelers) so the Cardinals need to infuse some youth at the position. Miller is the best 3-4 OLB prospect since Demarcus Ware.
6. Cleveland Browns: Robert Quinn DE, UNC
All of Cleveland is hoping AJ Green falls to them here, as the Browns desperately need weapons for Colt McCoy to throw to. With him gone though, The Browns will look to improve their pass rush as they switch back to a 4-3 defense. Quinn will draw a lot of heat for getting suspended for the entire 2010 season, but once he gets to the combine and scouts look at his tape they will see nothing but dominance. He probably would've gone higher than Bowers if he had played this year.
7. San Francisco 49ers: Cam Newton QB, Auburn
Finally the first QB is off the board, and surprise, surprise: its Cam Newton. I don't think he's as good a QB as Blaine Gabbert, but the hype and momentum he is building will undoubtedly make him the first QB taken. He's drawing a lot of comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger, and I think that's a valid comparison. Neither are conventional QBs by any means, but they get the job done. If the 49ers bring back Alex Smith (cheaply), Jim Harbaugh will have plenty of time to work with Newton. They have a lot of young pieces on offense and defense, so there's no need to rush him.
8. Tennessee Titans: Marcel Dareus DT, Alabama
The Titans' defense just hasn't been the same since Albert Haynesworth left, and while Dareus isn't the physical monster that Fat Albert is, he can still provide a similar impact. The Titans will try to turn Dareus and 2010 1st round pick Derrick Morgan into the 2008 version of Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch.
9. Dallas Cowboys: Cameron Jordan DE, California
Dallas will have a hard time picking between Jordan and CB Prince Amukamara, but I think their need at DE is bigger than their need at CB. Mike Jenkins and Terence Newman were exploited at CB, but their safeties gave them no help and Demarcus Ware didn't get hot rushing the passer until late in the season. Jordan can provide a good pass rush while eating up blockers for Ware to get after the QB. Other than NT Jay Ratliff, the entire middle of their defense (DL, ILB, S) are pretty awful. Since there's no ILB or S worth this pick, getting another presence on the interior DL would be huge.
10. Washington Redskins: Blaine Gabbert QB, Missouri
Gabbert is the type of QB the Redkins need. Unlike Cam Newton, he won't be looked at as the savior of the franchise and he's not a flashy QB. He's just a technically sound, accurate QB who can make all the throws. His only problem is a lack of experience. Mike Shannahan will take his time with Gabbert though, just like he did with Jay Cutler, maybe starting Rex Grossman for a few more games to start the season.
11. Houston Texans: Prince Amukamara CB, Nebraska
The Texans are switching to a 3-4 defense and have very few guys in their front seven who fit the scheme well, but Amukamara is way too good to pass up here and Houston has an abysmal secondary anyway. Prince isn't the freak athlete that Patrick Peterson is but some say he's just as good in his technique. And in a division with Peyton Manning you can never have enough quality CBs.
12. Minnesota Vikings: Corey Liuget DT, Illinois
Minnesota could look at Jake Locker or Ryan Mallett to fix their issues at QB; but like the Cards, I think they'll pursue a veteran option, and hope that one of them falls into the second round, which is looking somewhat likely at this point. Meanwhile they get a great DT to replace Pat Williams, who will almost surely retire.
13. Detroit Lions: Nate Solder OT, Colorado
The Lions need to protect Matt Stafford to make sure he doesn't get beaten and bruised out of the league. Scouts love Solder's size and potential as a great LT, but the technique isn't quite there yet which keeps him out of the top 10.
14. St. Louis Rams: Julio Jones WR, Alabama
Sam Bradford had a great rookie season even though his top 2 receivers Mark Clayton and Donnie Avery (who weren't very good anyway) got injured early in the year. Jones is a great talent that will provide Bradford with a legit target while taking the 8th man out of the box for Steven Jackson.
15. Miami Dolphins: Mark Ingram RB, Alabama
Simply put, the Dolphins have nothing at RB for 2011. Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown are both free agents. Williams is 33 (which is like 76 in RB years) and Brown cant stay healthy. Ingram is a workhorse former Heisman Trophy winner who should be able to help take pressure off Chad Henne.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jimmy Smith CB, Colorado
Lots of people think the Jags will draft a DE; and while it is a need, they invested their top 4 picks on the DL last year, and their top 2 on DEs in 2008. I just don't think they can afford to miss on an early DE again, especially when the class is so deep they could find a cheaper one in later rounds. Smith is a big corner (6'2") who can pair with and eventually take over for Rashean Mathis.
17. New England Patriots (via Oakland): JJ Watt DE, Wisconsin
The Pats acquired this pick from Oakland for Richard Seymour, so its fitting that they finally replace him with this pick. They need another blocker-eater in their 3-4 to open up things for their pass rush (which also needs help). Watt is a solid pick here at a position of need.
18. San Diego Chargers: Akeem Ayers OLB, UCLA
The Chargers could go basically anywhere in the front 7 with this pick and fill a need. Ayers is a talented local prospect who should be able to provide the pass rush that they've been missing since Shawne Merriman lost his swagg.
19. New York Giants: Tyron Smith OT, USC
The dominant O-Line New York had in 2007 has seriously deteriorated, and they need to get the power they had that year back. Eli Manning will never be an elite QB in my eyes, but the Giants seem to think he is.They need to protect him so that he can get the ball to big-time receiver Hakeem Nicks. They could look at Mikel Leshoure as well if they don't resign Ahmad Bradshaw, but that's a bit of a reach. Brandon Jacobs is too inconsistent to trust.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ryan Kerrigan DE, Purdue
After the interior D-Line overhaul the Bucs made in last years draft, they forgot to get an edge rusher to bring the heat from the outside. Kerrigan led the nation with 26 tackles for loss while notching 12.5 sacks, so you know he loves to get in the backfield. Pairing him with Gerald McCoy will make this D-Line dominant.
21. Kansas City Chiefs: Torrey Smith WR, Maryland
The Chiefs will have to consider Aldon Smith to take pressure off emerging star Tamba Hali, but their 30th ranked pass offense has got to be improved. Smith will add a deep threat outside to take attention away from Dwayne Bowe, who finally decided to be great. With their amazing running game, Bowe, Smith, TE Tony Moeaki, and slot receiver Dexter McCluster, there's no excuse for Matt Cassel to under-perform anymore.
22. Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Castonzo OT, Boston College.
Peyton Manning is about to be the highest paid player in NFL history, which will look extremely foolish if he takes a Tom Brady hit early and is out for the season. The Colts have to give him blindside protection and Castonzo is probably the best LT in this class right now (Solder and Smith went higher based on potential, not film). Of course the Colts have been missing a dominant DT for years now, but until Manning retires they'll continue to cater to what he wants/needs (ex. Donald Brown 2009).
23. Philadelphia Eagles: Gabe Carimi OT, Wisconsin
Wouldn't be surprised to see Philadelphia draft a DT or a CB to pair with Asante Samuel. But if they decide to trade Kevin Kolb protecting Mike Vick will become even more important. Carimi is already a great run blocker, and he played really well against some tough competition at DE this year. He'll only get better as a pass blocker.
24. New Orleans Saints: Adrian Clayborn DE, Iowa
DC Gregg Williams loves to bring the blitz, but he lacks a good pass rusher who can bring pressure by himself. Getting a guy like Clayborn will allow Williams to rely less on the blitz while getting more creative with them as well. Also, DE Will Smith will probably be facing a suspension.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Jake Locker QB, Washington
Seattle's win over New Orleans masked their deficiencies all over their roster. They're in a good position to take the BPA, but passing on future security at QB would be a mistake. Locker is well documented for underachieving in his senior year after being considered a top 5 pick a year ago. The potential is undoubtedly there, and he'll be put in a good situation learning from Matt Hasselbeck for a few years before he has to take over, much like Aaron Rodgers did in Green Bay.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Brandon Harris CB, Miami
Baltimore has perhaps one of the most complete rosters on paper in the league, but there are clearly areas they need to address. They would love a top LT so they could move Michael Oher back to the right, and Flacco needs a young deep threat at WR. They could also look at a pass rusher to play opposite Terrell Suggs. But, if the Ravens had any decent talent at CB in 2010, they probably dont give up that 3rd and 19 in the playoffs and would have at least given Flacco a chance to win the game. They didn't, and the Steelers capitalized on that, but the Ravens won't want to let something like that happen again. Harris is a good all around corner who should be able to contribute early in Baltimore.
27. Atlanta Falcons: Aldon Smith DE, Missouri
Matt Ryan could use a deep threat to take attention away from Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez needs a replacement sooner rather than later. However, Jon Abraham is also on his last legs and the Falcons pass rush already needs an upgrade. Smith is a top 3-4 OLB prospect, but he's too good to pass up here and will play well at 4-3 DE.
28. New England Patriots: Jonathan Baldwin WR, Pittsburgh
Bill Belichick and Tom Brady were embarrassed by New York in the playoffs. the Jets' corners were able to lock up all of NE's receivers and keep them from getting down the field. A lot of people think they'll target RB Mikel Leshoure, but Benjarvis Green-Ellis was still able to put up 1,000 yards and 13 TDs. Baldwin on the other hand has comparable size to Randy Moss and will bring back the deep element to the Pats' offense.
29. Chicago Bears: Mohammed Wilkerson DT, Temple
After the debacle in the NFC Championship Game, the Bears could be looking to add some talent to their O-Line to protect Jay Cutler. Derek Sherrod or Mike Pouncey would be good options for them. But Wilkerson is too good to pass up. He's building his reputation as a great run stuffer who brings a good pass rush as well. Tommie Harris's play has declined to the point where I'm not sure if he'll be in Chicago next year, so Wilkerson would be a good replacement who can take attention away from Julius Peppers.
30. New York Jets: Phil Taylor NT, Baylor
The Jets could use a great pass rusher for Rex Ryan to bring the heat with, but NT Kris Jenkins is way past his prime and coming off two ACL tears in two years. Taylor is the only NT prospect in this class with a first round grade, and with the position in such high demand these days it would be hard for them to pass him up. They might also look at S Rahim Moore, who tries to model his game after Ed Reed, whom Ryan spent a lot of time with in Baltimore.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Pouncey G, Florida
I'm almost positive Pouncey won't last until 31, and I tried to put him much higher. Almost every team from 19-31 could take him. But Pittsburgh lucks out and gets to pair Mike with his brother Maurkice at a dire position of need. This is the ideal situation for Pittsburgh as the Pouncey twins should stabilize the interior O-Line for the next decade. If Pouncey is gone, the Steelers will probably look at the BPA in the secondary. Aaron Williams is the next best CB, but I'm somewhat starting to like the idea of Rahim Moore to be Troy's backup before taking over for Ryan Clark. Moore is a great center-fielding safety who as I mentioned before could be the next Ed Reed. Kevin Colbert and Tomlin will have to consider Phil Taylor if he's available because Casey Hampton needs an heir apparent. They also need an heir apparent to Brett Keisel (Ziggy Hood will replace Aaron Smith) but barring injury I think Brett is still about 3 years away from retiring.
32. Green Bay Packers: Justin Houston OLB, Georgia
If Green Bay doesn't resign or tag Cullen Jenkins, then they will probably look to get a DE like Cameron Heyward or maybe Allen Bailey. They could also look at O-Lineman like Derek Sherrod or Ben Ijalana to replace Chad Clifton when he retires. As it stands now though, their biggest need is for an OLB to pair with Clay Matthews and bring help on the opposite side. Houston knows how to get into the backfield with 18.5 tackles for loss in 2010.