Yet Another First Round Mock Draft

I do one every year and so I figured I'd do this year as well.  But I think that doing it this year, more than any other I can remember, is entirely useless.  With free agency not happening, teams don't even know who is going to be on their roster...and who won't.  Holes that would have been filled with a 2nd-tier free agent are now massive needs.  The real wild cards are the QBs - Locker, Dalton, Ponder and Mallet.  There are so many teams that need QBs, but do these guys really measure up?  And what of Palmer, Kolb and Bulger?  Where do they wind up? 

The real wild card for the Steelers is Jake Locker.  The earlier he goes, the more some team will feel pressure to move back up into the 1st round to get Dalton/Ponder/Mallet.  And the Steelers aren't sitting pretty at 31 because the way many draft boards shake out, the best players available at 31 aren't need by Pittsburgh.  But just one or two trades to reach for one of the above QBs will push a Phil Taylor, Nate Soldier or Jimmy Smith to the Steelers.  But if Locker stays on the board, there won't be nearly the push for someone to move up for a QB and the draft may not line up well for the Steelers.  But if Locker goes, all hell will break loose somewhere around picks 23-25 and it should be entertaining to watch.

For my own mock, I did have a couple of teams trade around in the 1st round, but I didn't mock 2nd round trades.  Hence the teams I think are most likely to trade down out of the 1st round - NE, Pit, Bal - all were "stuck" selecting someone.

1.    Carolina PanthersCam Newton, QB.  I’ll go along with the consensus pick here, but I’m starting to feel that this is a smokescreen.  Given the problems Carolina has had with “problem” athletes (see: Kerry Collins, Rae Carruth), I’m not so sure Newton is the selection.  I could really see Carolina going after Blaine Gabbert for their QB of the future, or selecting Marcell Dareus/AJ Green and then pursuing Vince Young via trade.

2.    Denver Broncos: Marcell Dareus, DT.  Of all the picks in the top 5, I think this is the closest to a sure thing.  Which means it’s probably wrong.  But Denver desperately needs a dominating force for their front 7

3.    Buffalo Bills: Von Miller, LB.  Buffalo needs a LB and perhaps the best player in the draft is waiting for them.

4.    Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green, WR.  Cincy is too hard-headed to believe that Carson Palmer is gone, so they’ll skip Gabbert and go for AJ Green.

5.    Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Peterson, CB.  Arizona will grab the best CB prospect gladly.  Some may think Gabbert is the guy here, but I don't see Whiz grabbing him.  Instead, I see Kolb or Bulger going out west.

6.    Cleveland Browns: Robert Quinn, DE.  It's a toss-up between Quinn and Julio Jones.  But I think Cleveland feels good enough about their young WRs to grab the best pash rusher in the draft for their new 4-3 defense.  If Arizona selects Gabbert and Peterson is on the board, Cleveland will trade down with Houson or Dallas, who then selects Peterson at this spot.

7.    TRADE from the San Francisco 49ers to the Detroit Lions.  Detroit Lions: Tyron Smith, OT.  I think the Lions are likely to trade up for either Prince or Smith .  They desperately need both positions, but protecting Matthew Stafford has to be the priority.  I don't think they want to take a chance on Dallas grabbing Smith with the #9 pick, so they move up to this spot.

8.    Tennessee Titans: Nick Fairley, DT.  With both Blaine Gabbert and Fairley here, the Titans have a tough selection.  But they might be able to get one more year out of Kerry Collins and they might be able to get a competent QB via trade.  So Fairley is the choice.

9.     Dallas Cowboys: Prince Amukamara, CB.  They would have loved to get Peterson and they were thinking about Tyron Smith at this spot, but the rumor that Dallas doesn't like Prince is a smokescreen.

10.    Washington Redskins: Blaine Gabbert, QB.  The Redskins need someone to throw to, making Julio Jones a target.  But they also need someone to throw the ball and are thrilled to see Gabbert fall to them (shades of how Big Ben wound up in Pittsburgh)]

11.    Houston Texans: Aldon Smith, DE.  Houston wanted to move up to get Peterson, but couldn't pull it off.  Smith is their consolation prize.

12.    TRADE from the Minnesota Vikings to the St. Louis Rams.  St. Louis Rams: Julio Jones, WR.  In a battle with New England to grab Julio Jones, the Rams give up a bunch of picks to move up 2 slots to get a target for their young QB.  The Vikings skip on the QB rush and look elsewhere for their needs.

13.    San Francisco 49ers: Jake Locker, QB.  The 49ers traded down, figuring that Minnesota wouldn't grab Locker and they were right.  Locker is probably one of the biggest wild cards in this draft.

14.    Minnesota Vikings: Corey Liuget, DT.  The Williams twins aren't getting any younger.  The Vikings will decide to skip the QB derby in the draft and go after Kolb when the lockout is lifted.

15.    TRADE from the Miami Dolphins to the New York Giants.  New York Giants: Mike Pouncey, G.  The Dolphins don't have a 2nd, so they want additional picks in the later rounds.  The Giants depserately need an OL and want to snag Pouncey before the Patriots do.  I believe that the performance of Maurkice Pouncey has helped elevate Mike Pouncey's stock (not to mention Mike's play and combines).

16.    Jacksonville Jaguars: Da'Quan Bowers, DE.  Everyone has the Jags selecting Kerrigan or Cameron Jordan, but the Jags are happy to get Bowers here, who help with their return to the 4-3 defense.  I just can't see this once-top 5 pick falling any further, but he's currently in a free fall and concerns about his knee could have him slide all the way out of the 1st round.

17.    New England Patriots: Anthony Castonzo, OT.  Rebuffed in their attempt to trade up to get Julio Jones, the Patriots can go any number of ways with this pick.  Cameron Jordan is one option.  Ryan Kerrigan is another and seems to fit with the Patriots mentality.  Mark Ingram is yet another.  Of course, they may always trade out of this slot.  But the Patsies decide to keep Tom Brady upright and select Castonzo.

18.    San Diego Chargers: Cameron Jordan, DE.  San Diego wanted either Jordan or JJ Watt.  They have their pick and select Jordan.

19.    Miami Dolphins: Mark Ingram, RB.  I wouldn't rule out a 2nd trade here, but no one really has to move up and has the firepower besides New England and Philadelphia.  Philly doesn't need to move and Miami doesn't want to trade with a divisional rival.  It's too early for someone to trade up for Dalton or Mallett, who are also looked at by Miami before they grab Ingram.

20.    Tampa Bay Buccaneers: JJ Watt, DE.  If Jacksonville decides not to select Bowers, his slide could stop here.  If not, he could slide right out of the first round.  Since he's gone, Watt is the kind of defensive line player that TB needs and is a great value here.

21.    Kansas City Chiefs: Akeem Ayers, LB.  Nate Soldier and Phil Taylor are major possibilties, but they really, really need a LB - especially if Tamba Hali leaves via free agency in 2011.

22.    Indianapolis Colts: Gabe Carimi, OT.  All the OTs are a possibilitiy here, but Carimi's nimble feet fit the bill best for the Colts to keep Peyton upright.

23.    Philadelphia Eagles: Jimmy Smith, CB.  Phily could easily move down here - perhaps a trade with New England for their 28th or 33rd pick, especially if NE doesn't get an OT with their #17 pick  But I think they'll stay and take Jimmy Smith, who has helped aleviate character concerns about him with some good interviews.

24.    New Orleans Saints: Ryan Kerrigan, DE.  Kerrigan's high motor appeals to the Saints, who are surprised he fell this far.

25.    Seattle Seahawks: Derek Sherrod, OT.  Seattle is a prime candidate to move down, but since I'm not mocking trades outside the first round I'll have Seattle say put and select someone.  They also need a QB and have their pick of all of the remaining guys - Dalton, Mallet and so forth.  So if they get sold on one of those guys, they'll take him here.  But before they select anyone, they have to be able to keep the guy upright.  So they pick Sherrod, who is more NFL-ready than Nate Soldier when it comes to the passing game.

26.    Baltimore Ravens: Cameron Heyward, DE.  If he's already gone, the Ravens will move down.  But since he's not, the Ravens happily select him.  Ray Lewis does a jig in his home and pulls his groin.

27.    Atlanta Falcons: Justin Houston, DE.   A defensive end is a must and takes preceedence over TE Kyle Rudolph replacing Tony Gonzalez.

28.    New England Patriots: Muhammad Wilkerson, DT/DE.  It's tough to make a selection here because I think there's little doubt that the Patriots trade out of this spot for 2012 picks (they only have 5 next year).  But having selected their OT at 17, they help the other line here and go with a DT.

29.    Chicago Bears: Nate Soldier, OT.  They have to keep Jay Cutler upright and Soldier is the best player available at this spot.  Easy pick.

30.    New York Jets: Phil Taylor, DT.  Pass rush or run stuffer?  The Jets really need someone to blitz the QB, but I can't imagine them passing up Taylor at this spot.

31.    Pittsburgh Steelers: Ras-I Dowling, CB.  If Taylor gets to 31, the Steelers will grab him.  But if the draft shakes out like this, I think the Steelers may very well trade down (TN, Minn) to the strength of this draft, which is in the mid-2nd round.  Guys like Ras-I Dowling and Aaron Williams would be a better value around pick 40 and they wouldn't lack for partners, since there are quality DEs and QBs on the board.  Since they're forced to pick, they'll select the best pure CB left on the board rather than go with Aaron Williams, who I believe will be a FS on the next level.

32.    Green Bay Packers: Adrian Clayborn, DE .  A lot of folks think that Brooks Reed will go here, but I think he's too much of a workout warrior for Green Bay to pick at 32.  Clayborn would provide more proven value and is a one of the top players left at the end of the 1st round.

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