Time for my second mock. I actually made quite a few changes on this one - Pro Days have shaken things up. I'll probably do one more of these a couple days before the draft. I'm doing the first round and picks for the Steelers and Lions (my two teams) for the rest of the draft.
1. Carolina Panthers - Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Tough call for Carolina between Gabbert and Newton, but after what was apparently a spectacular Pro Day Gabbert needs to be the guy taken here. The consensus seems to be that's he a true franchise QB, and while he doesn't offer the upside of Newton, he doesn't have the kind of boom/bust tag that you don't want to be picking number 1. I had Newton here until Gabbert's pro day, but Gabbert is probably the pick. Even though you could demand another year for Clausen and suggest Carolina should leap upon this year's absurd level of defensive talent, QBs go high every time. Just the way it is.
2. Denver Broncos - Marcel Dareus, DT, Alabama
Denver needs to take the best defensive player they can, and they don't have anything at defensive tackle in their new 4-3. Some people think Peterson will be the pick, but they need Dareus. He's soaring right now, and while I'm becoming less sure (because of his inconsistency in college) that he'll ever be close to the superpower that is Ndamukong Suh (the standard against which all defensive tackles should now be judged), he can be the force in the middle John Fox needs for his defense. If Gabbert was available, I might actually have mocked him here - Elway seems to be
The Bills are terrible drafters. Look, we all know Newton has absurd potential and would be a good fit in Chan Gailey's offense (which I, personally, despise), but they can last another year with Fitzpatrick. I don't buy this "Newton will sit for a year" nonsense. That never happens anymore. First round QBs always get pushed into start ASAP. Still though, Newton will struggle and suffer because of it, and the Bills are so bad they're almost guaranteed a shot at Andrew Luck or Matt Barkley next year. So why not wait (or take Colin Kapernick in round 2) and take Von Miller or Patrick Peterson? Because they suck, that's why.
4. Cincinnati Bengals - Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Cincy's a tough pick this year. Palmer's issues, Jonathan Joseph probably leaving, little pass rush, no one at receiver... the team is a mess and I don't know that there is a pick here that just blows away the others in terms of DO IT. I'm slating them Peterson, because he's the BPA. If Joseph leaves, no problem. If he stays, they now have one of the best safeties in the league, filling another (albeit lesser) need and giving them the best secondary in the league, bar none.
5. Arizona Cardinals - Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
Whisenhunt is freaking out. There's no way Von Miller should be here. The Bills should have taken him. Dumbasses. Von Miller is the incredibly talented, and if I ever actually MADE a big board, he'd be 1b with Peterson's 1a. This guy looks like he'll be a monster. I don't buy all this crap about his behavior - that surfaced when he was a freshman and by all accounts it's ancient history. He's simply the best 3-4 OLB prospect in recent memory (he can cover better than any other prospect at that position that has come out lately) and Whisenhunt needs him.
6. Cleveland Browns - A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Browns get lucky here and Green falls past Cincy. I don't buy this Julio Jones passing him stuff - Jones is a great player with a load of talent, but Green's hands, route running, ability to vertical, and his absurd breaks in and out of his cuts... Green goes before Jones. He's BPA and the Browns need him desperately. No brainer pick. If this scenario unfolds and the Browns don't take him (though this could be an interesting place to trade down from), Holmgren should be fired.
7. San Francisco 49ers - Robert Quinn, OLB, UNC
Tough call for SF. I'm going for Quinn here over Amukamara because corners fall, pass rushers rise, and Quinn just tore up his Pro Day. Mayock is salivating over this guy's skills, and San Francisco really doesn't have a good rush linebacker. They need someone who can beat Roger Saffold and Russell Okung for the foreseeable future, and Quinn could be their guy.
8. Tennessee Titans - Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
Tennessee is getting good value here. Fairley is sliding a little bit, but he has untapped potential and the Titans need a force in the middle of their defensive line. People are going defensive end, but they've had a pretty good pass rush and that was with Derrick Morgan being hurt. If he heals up and develops into what everyone thinks he could be, the Fairley/Morgan pair could be devastating.
9. Dallas Cowboys - Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
I had Tyron Smith here, but only because Prince (I refused to repeatedly type that last name, haha) was unavailable. Dallas needs a corner badly, and Prince is too talented to pass up. Factor in Jerry's aversion to taking offensive linemen in the first round (look where it has them, by the way) and that makes Prince the pick.
10. Washington Redskins - Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
Poor Washington. QBs are gone. The top prospects at 3-4 OLB are gone, though Aldon Smith is a possibility. Jones, however, is a good pick here for them (though I could absolutely see them trading down and grabbing Jake Locker lower - St Louis will be interested in moving up to get Jones). He gives them a weapon they need for whomever their QB will become in the future. Over the next couple years if they could find another OLB, a QB, and some help on their defensive line, they could have a team.
11. Houston Texans - Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri
I know the Texans are going to move Connor Barwin to OLB, which might work, they still don't have a guy to rush the passer. Wade Phillips is used to having a good one - Shawne Merriman in San Diego (back when he was on steroids he was really good) and DeMarcus Ware in Dallas. He needs that guy - Aldon Smith will be it in Houston.
12. Minnesota Vikings - Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
Bowers apparently blew his pro day horribly, barely running the 40 in under five seconds. His injury still appears to be a problem, and when you combine all that with his one year wonder status, he might slide a bit. Still, the Vikings need a defensive end, and they have a chance to take a potential top 5 talent at number 12. Pull the trigger.
13. Detroit Lions - Tyron Smith, OT, USC
Tough break for the Lions, really. I can't see them getting a defensive end here - not sure about the remaining prospects for a 4-3 end, though they could use one. Their big needs are secondary and offensive line, and Smith is probably the BPA at this spot, so the Lions take him. Even if he can't play left tackle, they can put him at right tackle and move Gosder Cherilus to guard to disguise his deficiencies a bit. Wouldn't be a bad move, especially if Jason Fox is the play they think he can be.
14. St. Louis Rams - Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
Nothing but rage. Jones is off the board and there's no way another receiver is worth this pick. They need receivers, a tight end, corners, outside linebackers... and this isn't a good spot for any of those, really. I foresee a trade down if this happens, but otherwise they have to take a defensive end or defensive tackle. Tackle is a bigger need, so Liuget is the choice. It's high for him, but they have nothing there.
15. Miami Dolphins - J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
I'll be honest. I don't know what to think about Miami. On the one hand, I feel like they don't have any major flaws. Certainly positions that could use upgrading, but they aren't a bad team, just consistent underachievers. Probably because they took that tool Chad Henne (I went to Michigan State, my rage is real and justified) who seems to be struggling. With that in mind, they take the best player available, who is obviously J.J. Watt, a great fit for the 3-4. A lot of people are mocking Ingram here (I was too) but I'm not a big fan of running backs in the first round unless they are truly special.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars - Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
Kerrigan is up to 274 pounds - let's stop talking about his 3-4 potential. This guy is a 4-3 defensive end, and despite Jacksonville's investments in the defensive line lately, they STILL can't really get after the quarterback. Kerrigan is a high-motor, high-character player who plays better than his talent would suggest. He's a good pick here.
17. New England Patriots - Cameron Jordan, DE, California
This is actually kind of a slide for Cam Jordan. He's been a monster all off-season and people are raving, but I just don't see the perfect fit until he gets here. His versatility is totally up Belicheat's alley, and the Patriots have a desperate need for a 3-4 end. With a healthy Ty Warren opposite Cameron Jordan and Wilfork in between, the Patriots could have the best 3 man front in football.
18. San Diego Chargers - Phil Taylor, NT, Baylor
Earlier than some people have him going, but I was thinking yesterday - who does San Diego have at nose tackle? I had no idea. For a team that had Jamal Williams for so many years, they definitely have a void here, and I think Phil Taylor might actually be a better player than B.J. Raji when he came out a few years ago. The Chargers don't really need anything on offensive, but their defensive line is suspect, and Taylor could do well there.
19. New York Giants - Anthony Costanzo, LT, BC
I think the Giants miss the days of 2007, when they unquestionably had the best lines (on both sides) in football. They were so good they could mask any deficiencies on the team. Costanzo is a pick to get them back to that point, and he's good value here. He could go much higher, but the Giants shouldn't hesitate to snap him up.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Martez Wilson, MLB, Illinois
Most people seem to be mocking the Buccaneers a defensive end - that makes a lot of sense, and they need one. Considering this is a young team, when you take recent picks into account, they really only need to address the ends and linebackers. I have a friend who is a really passionate Bucs fan, and he just gets a misty look in his eyes when he thinks about a good, athletic thumper in the middle of their defense. This pick is for him - Wilson would be a good player in that defense, and his athleticism works for the coverages he'll need to do.
21. Kansas City Chiefs - Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
Scott Pioli is pissed. He was sure that Phil Taylor was going to be there and probably just stood staring at the screen when the Chargers call his name, weeping openly. Alas. Outside of nose tackle, the Chiefs need a QB (no, Matt Cassel doesn't have it) and another OLB to take some pressure of the stunningly good Tamba Hali. I bet Romeo Crennel thinks he can coach Ayers pass rushing skills up enough to make him a force, so they take him here. If he really could go as high as 13 to Detroit as some people think, getting him at 21 is great value.
22. Indianapolis Colts - Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
Peyton Manning sucks when he is pressured. Everyone raves about how good he is against the blitz, but he throws it away more than he actually makes plays. He has no ability to make something out of nothing, which seems to be what you need in the NFL these days. He needs a perfect pocket, and so the Colts (who consistently sniff at the concept of getting defensive tackles who can, you know, play football) take Solder and hope he can protect Peyton's blindside. If I seem a little hostile toward the Colts, I apologize. I go to law school at Indiana University, and the Peyton craze is nuts. During the Superbowl, a bunch of tools showed up to my party and just screamed through the entire game "PEYTON! PEYTON! PEYTON WOULD HAVE MADE THAT PLAY!" Really? I'm not sure he would.
23. Philadelphia Eagles - Gabe Carimi, RT, Wisconsin
Perfect match here. Vick is a lefty, and could use a great protector for that side. Carimi, who is probably the best offensive lineman in this class (though don't buy this stuff that he can play left tackle - he's a right tackle, and a damn good one), is great value and should be the pick for Philly.
24. New Orleans Saints - Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
I almost gave them Marvin Austin. Austin is soaring and people are starting to slate him in the first round. The guy IS an undeniable talent and if not for the issues in the past would probably be a top 15 pick. New Orleans was, however, on their 37th running back or something during the playoffs. They actually called me for a tryout, but I was busy. Reggie Bush is a borderline bust, Pierre Thomas can't stay healthy, and while that Ivy kid showed some flashes, they'd be getting incredible value here and the already awesome offense of the Saints would have a running game again.
25. Seattle Seahawks - Jake Locker, QB, Washington
This is just too perfect. Really. This needs to happen. Locker has the potential to be a star in the league. He played on bad teams, and while he struggled with some accuracy, I think there's a chance Pete Carroll can correct that. He did very well at his Pro Day and showed improvement in the areas people wanted, so I think they should take him. He's got some time to develop behind the tragically aged Matt Hasslebeck (seriously, what a great guy and a solid quarterback who never got the appreciate he deserved), and that time will serve him well, though I'm sure he'll play at some point during the year. I honestly think Locker could end up being the best QB out of this class, and he's good value here. Seattle needs to get him some weapons in the later rounds though.
26. Baltimore Ravens - Brooks Reed, OLB, Arizona
They're unlikely to take a corner here - they seem fairly pleased with their play from last year. They need some help on both lines (a young DE like Wilkerson would do them good) so Pouncey is an option, but I think that would just break my heart. I don't know if they're sold that Sergio Kindle will ever recover though, and they do need some help at linebacker. Brooks Reed could give them that, so they pull the trigger.
27. Atlanta Falcons - Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
Baldwin is faster than most people think. Ryan needs someone else to throw to, and Baldwin is the big receiver they don't have. I know some people are concerned about his character, but Roddy White was kind of cocky for awhile too, but he grew up. I think the leadership of Tony Gonzalez & Matt Ryan, and the toughness of Mike Smith (who I like despite his seeming inability to jump without tearing something) could keep him in check. It's a good match, I think.
28. New England Patriots - Mike Pouncey, G, Florida
Dammit. While the evil empire doesn't get the pass rusher it needs, for which we should be grateful (Justin Houston is a 4-3 end only, in my opinion), but they get some offensive line help by taking Mike Pouncey. Sadface.
29. Chicago Bears - Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
As much as I dislike Jay Cutler (and that's a lot), you almost couldn't help but feel bad for the guy. What a pounding he took. The Bears need to get him some protection NOW, before he develops an irreversible case of David Carr syndrome. You cannot, cannot, cannot let a quarterback who is already prone to unnecessary risks play behind a line as bad as Chicago has. It will just exacerbate the interception problem, and the injury problem.
30. New York Jets - Muhammed Wilkerson, DE, Temple
Honestly, I really don't like either of the Jets outside linebackers, so Justin Houston could be here, though I've already mentioned he's a 4-3 end only. Shaun Ellis is a good 3-4 end, but he's old and 3-4 ends shouldn't be your best pass rushers. They do need upgrades on that defensive line, and for a team without too many needs, they should be able to get Wilkerson here. He has the talent to go higher, but the Jets should be happy to get him here.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers - Aaron Williams, CB/S, Texas
Balls! There's no corner here worth it, in my opinion, and no offensive lineman either. Even Wilkerson is gone. If the draft comes out this way, I would love for the Steelers to trade down and try to grab Ras I-Dowling and Marcus Cannon in the second. Even so, Williams isn't a bad pick here. Lord knows everyone associated with the team showed up at his Pro Day. He's versatile, and while he can give us some help at corner he'll eventually move to safety, where we need some youth. Ryan Clark is coming off the field on big passing plays and we don't have the depth at defensive back to let that happen. Williams is talented and there could be an argument made for BPA.
32. Green Bay Packers - Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
I hate having anyone at 32 except for the Steelers. It hurts my eyes. I imagine I'd be fine with the Lions, but I'm still waiting. I wanted to give the Packers Jonathan Baldwin, but he's off the board. A tall, big bodied receiver, another OLB, and defensive end are their biggest needs. This means Heyward, who is a little inconsistent but undeniably talented. He will help make an already strong defense even better. It's a good, solid pick, and Ted Thompson knows his business. Heyward is also looking good and moving up, so I think this is a good pick.
Round 2 Pick 31: Ras I-Dowling, CB, Virginia
Love this guy. He's a great fit for the Steelers and the kind of corner they love. I was worried about him not being here, but he apparently couldn't do much at his Pro Day, so he's going to keep sliding. I know he has an injury problem, but I think we could get him into shape, and he was a first round prospect not too long ago. This could be an amazing steal.
Round 3 Pick 31: John Moffitt, RG, Wisconsin
Moffitt falls to the third only because of his position, in my opinion. RG isn't hugely sought after (though it should be) and Moffitt is a talented player. The Steelers should be happy to get him here.
Round 4 Pick 31: Ian Williams, NT, Notre Dame
More youth on the defensive line - Williams has good value here and gives the Steelers a guy to groom behind Casey Hampton. I'd like to see him put on some muscle though and get stronger. I'm going to miss having Big Snack destroying people all day with sheer, overwhelming force.
Round 5 Pick 31: Alex Henry, K, Nebraska
Some people have him going as high as the fourth round - this just seems like a stretch to me. No matter how good he is, he's still a kicker. The Steelers need one, though, and Henry's leg would be nice in Heinz Field. We need to make some of those field goals.
Round 6 Pick 31: Brandon Blair, DE, Oregon
A little more youth at defensive end. I don't really see this guy as ever being more than depth for us, but that's okay. Also, it wouldn't be the first time we've taken a DE low and had him end up being awesome.
Round 7 Pick 31: Marc Schiechl, OLB, Colorado School of Mines
No one has heard of this guy because of his school's size, but let me break it down. It's the seventh round. This guy had 45 career sacks (the all-time record), runs a 4.64 forty at 6' 2.5" & 251 lbs. He has a 35 inch vertical and a broad jump of 10 feet, five inches. He also posted up THIRTY-EIGHT reps on the bench press at his pro day. He was also apparently great in linebacker drills. I don't care where he went, this guy is the definition of what you want to take in a flier with the second to last pick of the seventh round. With some good coaching to control that absurd athleticism, we could have a monster OLB or special teamer.
Round 2, Pick 12: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
I know people are concerned about his character, but this guy has top 15 talent and he's available here in the second. I say you take him and try to whip him into shape. If he gets out of line, let Suh knock him around a bit. Suddenly you've got a great cover corner and you got him in the middle of the second round. It's worth the try, and Mayhew doesn't seem too bothered. I don't think the Lions are one of the teams who took him off their board, and he really could fall this far.
Round 3, Pick 11: Tandon Doss, WR, Indiana
Doss is a good pick here - I saw him play at IU and he has a lot of potential. Burleson needs to be a slot guy only, and Doss provides a good number 2 receiver option. He's also 6' 2" and 200lbs and while he doesn't have burner speed, he's decently fast, willing to go over the middle, and likes to block. Solid player. He might go in the second.
Round 4, Pick 10: Greg Romeus, DE, Pittsburgh
This guy was a potential first round pick before the season started - incredible talent, but injuries dropped him this far. Getting him into the Lions rotation and working with the NFL strength and conditioning coaches without a full starter workload sounds perfect. Honestly, the Lions should take this guy. If he can overcome his injuries, he'll be a sick pairing with Suh.
Round 5, Pick 23: Marcus Gilbert, OT/G, Florida
This guy is a potential starter at guard - this might be a little low for him, but it gives the Lions a future line of Smith, Sims, Gilbert, and Cherilus with only a need at center to fill. If Cherilus continues to struggle, he can also be moved inside.
Round 7, Pick 2: D.J. Young, OG/RT, Michigan State
Purely a pick because I watched him at school - he's big a strong and a fairly good road grader. Probably not a starter, but could provide some depth and fill in for a pinch. Not too bad for a seventh rounder.