1) Carolina Panthers – Da’Quan Bowers – DE – Clemson – He can play standing up or with his hand in the dirt and is the best pass rusher in this draft. He will give the Panthers a pass rushing threat off the edge for a team that needs an upgrade in just about every position on the field. To me, they need to pick the guy that will make the greatest impact and this is him.
2) Denver Broncos – Patrick Peterson – CB – LSU – Champ Bailey is back, but is aging. Peterson playing the opposite corner to Bailey can create the best corner duo in the league, or this may give the Broncos a Bucs with Ronde Barber type transition and move Bailey to Free Safety. Either way, the 4.34 40 corner can be a shut down, ball hawking, playmaker that the Broncos could desperately use.
3) Buffalo Bills – Cam Newton – QB – Auburn – He impressed in every measurable drill at the combine, which was expected, but missed 10 throws with no defense there. Granted, he had no chemistry with any of the receivers, but this does still leave some concern. All that being said, the playmaking Newton would still be an excellent fit in Buffalo giving them flexibility in play calls and give Newton time to grow into a NFL star quarterback.
4) Cincinnati Bengals – A.J. Green – WR – Georgia – Finally a change from my first mock. Green is hands down the best receiver in this year’s draft class. He has great hands, runs routes well, and always seems to make the big play. The concern I have for him is his frame. Just seeing his body this weekend at the combine makes me fear he may be subject to injury against the big NFL defenses. The Bengals won’t have TO and just might cut OchoCinco, so the best receiver in the draft could be a huge help to this franchise in turmoil.
5) Arizona Cardinals – Blaine Gabbert – QB – Missouri – The only healthy quarterback to not throw at the combine, but despite that, he handled himself so well in his interviews and with the media, you can see why his maturity is compared to Sam Bradford. He could really help a Cardinal team that is in a weak enough division to easily jump from worst to first next season.
6) Cleveland Browns – Marcell Dareus – DT/DE – Alabama – Was as impressive as it gets at the combine this weekend. He could play 4/3 DT or 3/4 DE for a team that will be changing their defense. He is a big body, but still has the quickness to get up field and make plays. The Browns need a lot of help, but an anchor to solidify the defensive front is as good a pick up as they can get here.
7) San Francisco 49ers – Nick Fairley – DT – Auburn – Many people have him at the top of their boards, and he has the talent to be there. My first mock I had him fall based on gut feeling, this time, I have him falling due to the impressive performances by others. Not that he did anything to hurt his stock, l just don’t see him going earlier than Dareus based on the flexibility you get from him, and he will not go ahead of Bowers due to the pass rushing ability. But Fairley can be a run stuffing presence that can also get into the backfield. And in a division with Steven Jackson, and two teams without quarterbacks, what better fit than a big run stuffer?
8) Tennessee Titans – Robert Quinn – DE – North Carolina – The second coming of The Freak. Jevon Kearse was great for a couple years, Quinn could be great for an entire career. Had he not been suspended for the entire 2010 season, we could very well be talking about the easiest decision at #1 overall in quite some time. Despite all the other problems last year, one of the most overlooked changes to the Titan defense was the loss of Vanden Bosch at defensive end, and Quinn will bring that back and more.
9) Dallas Cowboys – Prince Amukamara – CB – Nebraska – The hole in the roof may be for God to watch his favorite team, but now Jerry’s World can have a Prince in his kingdom. Granted my girlfriend just read that, and as a Cowboy hater, she simply rolled her eyes and uttered “whatever”. All homerisms (not a word but I like it here) aside, Amukamara could be a huge help for an often injured Terrance Newman, underperforming Mike Jenkins, and decent nickel corner Orlando Scandrick. The Cowboys don’t have any decent safeties right now, but do have a bunch of underperforming ball hawking corners, don’t be surprised if Mike Jenkins moves back to a safety position.
10) Washington Redskins – Julio Jones – WR – Alabama – Dude only had a broken foot before going out and running a 4.30 40, 11’3” broad jump, and a 38.5” vertical. In other words, the guy put up some of the best numbers at the combine, on one foot!!! He is having surgery this week to place a pin in the foot, but will be healed in time to be a stud by the time next season starts.
11) Houston Texans – Von Miller – OLB – Texas A&M– Cushing, Miller, Cushing, Miller…anyone calling a Texans game next year better get used to that combination. Adding who is without question the best outside backer this year to a team that already has one of the best in the league, makes for a scary duo. Peyton Manning, MJD, and Chris Johnson might already be looking into trade options if this duo is created in the former land of the Oilers.
12) Minnesota Vikings – Cameron Jordan – DE – Cal – An above average pass rusher, but a great run stopper. Can make a tackle on the other end of the line on most run plays, and as a secondary pass rusher to Jared Allen, Jordan will be a great complimentary piece. I have had people ask why not a QB here, or even a WR with Sidney Rice testing Free Agency. Answers are simple, there are no more #1 receivers, and the only two quarterbacks worthy of first round picks are gone. Believe it or not, the Vikes are best off with the CBA being delayed until after the draft, waiting to see if they get a QB to fall to them, and then sign a veteran that won’t throw 1,000 picks like the crooked gunslinger, Brett Favre.
13) Detroit Lions – Anthony Costanzo – OT – Boston College – This is just too early for Jimmy Smith after looking simply average at the combine. This draft is full of above average, but not great tackles. Costanzo could very well be the first or the fourth tackle taken, but, without a doubt, Stafford needs help to stay healthy, and Costanzo is a big, long armed, smart tackle with the footwork to start right away. He should help Stafford start at least half the games this season before going down with yet another injury.
14) St. Louis Rams – Akeem Ayers – OLB – UCLA– Congrats Torsten, here is your OLB. Problem, he underwhelmed at the combine. So why did he move up here? Because he is the best player at a position of need for the Rams. Ayers didn’t look good at the combine, but watch any game of his, all he does is make smart, big time plays. He will fit in great alongside Laurinaitis in St. Louis.
15) Miami Dolphins – Mark Ingram – RB – Alabama – Ronnie Brown can’t stay healthy, Ricky Williams has lost a step, and Patrick Cobbs will never be a RB you want carrying the ball more than a couple times a game. A former Heisman trophy winning RB in the middle of the first round that can be a game changer would be a great addition for the Dolphins. Sound familiar? Yeah, cause it is exactly what I said last time. This is as sure a pick as I feel in this entire mock draft. Emmitt Smith saying Ingram reminds him of himself only solidifies my feelings here.
16) Jacksonville Jaguars – J.J. Watt – DE – Wisconsin – Top five in every measurable category at the combine among defensive lineman. “Well, he should be to be a first round pick”, you might say. But take into account he is 6’6” and about 290 lbs, and suddenly the agility and speed becomes even more impressive. Watt could very well prove to be a steal for the Jags and potentially battle for a defensive rookie of the year.
17) New England Patriots (from Oakland Raiders) – Tyron Smith – OT – USC – Can play tackle on either side. Matt Light is getting near the end of his career, and let’s face it, he isn’t a premier left tackle anymore. Then you look at the right side right now and the Pats have Sebastian Vollmer. Smith can step in at either side and be an improvement, or he could be the best third tackle in the league, which may be one of the most underrated positions if the CBA decides to expand to a 18 game season.
18) San Diego Chargers – Adrian Clayborn – DE – Iowa – The Charger’s need a rush linebacker and/or a pass rushing defensive end. So how about going and getting a guy that could play either one? That is what they would be getting in Adrian Clayborn. He will never have Shawne Merriman type sack numbers, but he could very well require a double team by the end of his rookie year. Side note…Bob Sanders signed with the Chargers, great pick up, but they need to resign Eric Weddle to help when Sanders goes down with an injury which happens every year.
19) New York Giants – Nate Solder – OT – Colorado – He stands 6’9”, so clearly he has the length to play left tackle. William Beatty is a terrible left tackle, and as much as I would love to see the mouth breather Eli Manning get clobbered over and over, I really do think Solder will help protect him.
20) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Aldon Smith – DE/OLB – Missouri – This team is gonna be fun to watch, and Smith is just the type of guy that will help make them even more fun. Bringing in a young physical specimen like Smith to help with a top notch rush defense and possibly develop into an excellent pass rusher that will help take the Bucs to the next level. Yes, a Cowboy fan just may be sporting wood over the potential of another NFC team. My early NFC favorites are the Bucs, but don’t worry, my delusions will set back in soon and I am sure to write an article about how the Cowboys are the greatest team since…well…the Cowboys, duh.
21) Kansas City Chiefs – Corey Liuget – DT – Illinois – Again, Liuget alongside Glen Dorsey is a scary good defensive core. They would be the equivalent of the Williams wall in Minnesota, only younger and with more pass rushing ability. He will have to draw a double team from the Guard and Center, leaving either Tyson Jackson or Dorsey one-on-one which won’t be good for AFC West quarterbacks.
22) Indianapolis Colts – Gabe Carimi – OT – Wisconsin – Last year’s Outland Trophy winner for best college offensive tackle, standing 6’7” and pushing 315 lbs., giving Peyton Manning more time from the blind side…scary. Manning has put together a hall of fame career with garbage on the line, minus Saturday, but as Peyton loses a step as his career progresses, having a top left tackle will allow him to continue making the playoffs and extending his postseason losing record for years to come.
23) Philadelphia Eagles – Jimmy Smith – CB – Colorado – In a pass heavy division, clearly top corners are a necessity. Right now, the other side of Asante Samuel is bare. Jimmy Smith is certainly a first round caliber corner, and will be able to learn a lot playing opposite as good a ball hawking corner as there is in Samuel.
24) New Orleans Saints – Muhammed Wilkerson – DT – Temple – Kid is 6’5”, 305 lbs, and out of a crappy school like Temple. You know he has skills to be considered at a spot like this. He was a high school basketball star, so he has the mobility, and had 10 sacks last season, so he can get in the backfield. A big man in the center for this Saints team will help solidify an up and down defense.
25) Seattle Seahawks – Torrey Smith – WR – Maryland – Their top receiver last year was Mike Williams. Yes, the same Mike Williams that starred at USC, declared for the draft a year too early, became the 364th consecutive first round receiver taken by Matt “I ruined a franchise but am good enough to color commentate for you” Millen, bloated up to 300+ pounds, then came back and became the “stud” receiver for the first team to make the playoffs with a losing record. Needless to say, best available WR is a good addition here, and Smith is it.
26) Baltimore Ravens – Brandon Harris – CB – Miami (Fla.) – Another Miami defensive back…it has worked out well for the Ravens in the past. Harris has the ability to be a very good coverage corner. He will be fit right in to the Ravens style of football and help shut down the pass heavy AFC North. Again, may sound familiar, but I still believe 100% that this is the right guy for the Ravens.
27) Atlanta Falcons – Ryan Kerrigan – DE – Purdue – Guy is a worker and knows how to get into the backfield. I see him turning into a Patrick Kerney type player for the Falcons with better run defending ability. Time to start bringing in players rather than names on the defensive line, and this is the first step for it.
28) New England Patriots – Justin Houston – OLB – Georgia –A solid linebacker that has the potential to become the OLB they expected when they signed Adalius Thomas a few years back. He can rush the quarterback or stop the run. He needs to improve his footwork in coverage, but you better believe he will learn quickly in Belichick’s system.
29) Chicago Bears – Derrick Sherrod – OT – Mississippi St. – There was a drunken naked man running through Chicago this week asking people if they believed Jay Cutler really hurt his knee. Had the Bears already had Sherrod, this never would have happened. Ask the families in the neighborhood where the naked guy was asking about Cutler’s health was running around who they want the Bears to draft. Enough said.
30) New York Jets – Cameron Heyward – DE – Ohio State – I still would not be surprised if they go with Rahim Moore here, but Cameron Heyward still available might be just what the Jets need to redeem themselves for the disaster that was Vernon Gholston. I guarantee Heyward will have infinitely more sacks in his first year than Gholston had in his Jets career, easy since he had zero sacks in the three seasons.
31) Pittsburgh Steelers – Aaron Williams – CB – Texas – The Steelers two biggest weaknesses are offensive line and defensive secondary, so expect them to go one of the two routes here. Williams is the best available of the positions of need, so this makes for a very simple decision by the Steelers.
32) Green Bay Packers – Bruce Carter – OLB – North Carolina – The Packers need an outside linebacker opposite Clay Mathews, and Bruce Carter is the best available. He continues to move up my board, and I see him just sneaking into the first round more based on need than true ability. He is a early to mid-second round talent, but since the Packers need an outside backer and don’t pick again until the end of the second round, Carter is not too big a reach for them.
33) New England Patriots (from Carolina Panthers) – Mike Pouncey – OG/C – Florida
34) Buffalo Bills – Stephen Pathea – DT – Oregon State
35) Cincinnati Bengals – Mikel LeShoure – RB – Illinois
36) Denver Broncos – Allen Bailey – DE – Miami
37) Cleveland Browns – Jonathan Baldwin – WR – Pittsburgh
38) Arizona Cardinals – Stefan Wisniewski – OC/C – Penn State
39) Tennessee Titans – Jake Locker – QB – Washington
40) Dallas Cowboys – Rahim Moore – S – UCLA
41) Washington Redskins – Ryan Mallett – QB – Alabama
42) Houston Texans – Phil Taylor – DT – Baylor
43) Minnesota Vikings – Christian Ponder – QB – Florida State
44) Detroit Lions – Martez Wilson – OLB – Illinois
45) San Francisco 49ers – Andy Dalton – QB – TCU
46) Denver Broncos (from Miami Dolphins) – Kyle Randolph – TE – Notre Dame
47) St. Louis Rams – Jerrel Jernigan – WR – Troy
48) Oakland Raiders – Danny Watikins – OG – Baylor
49) Jacksonville Jaguars – Ras-I Dowling – CB – Virginia
50) San Diego Chargers – Titus Young – WR – Boise St.
51) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Tyler Sash – S – Iowa
52) New York Giants – Greg Jones – ILB – Michigan St.
53) Indianapolis Colts – Marvin Austin – DT – North Carolina
54) Philadelphia Eagles – Marcus Cannon – OT – TCU
55) Kansas City Chiefs – Randall Cobb – WR – Kentucky
56) New Orleans Saints – Ryan Williams – RB – Virginia Tech
57) Seattle Seahawks – Jabaal Sheard – DE – Pitt
58) Baltimore Ravens – Leonard Hankerson – WR – Miami
59) Atlanta Falcons – Greg Little – WR – North Carolina
60) New England Patriots – Christian Ballard – DE – Iowa
61) Chicago Bears – Rodney Hudson – OG/C – Florida St.
62) San Diego Chargers (from New York Jets) – Orlando Franklin – OT – Miami
63) Pittsburgh Steelers – Jason Pinkston – OT – Pitt
64) Green Bay Packers – Shane Vereen – RB – Cal