1. Carolina – Cam Newton | QB | Auburn | 6’5” | 250
This pick comes down to Gabbert or Newton. I think the 2011 season will be played under the 2010 rules, meaning there will be no rookie salary cap or team cap. There is really no player worth the big contract here, so in that case you have to go bang for your buck. Newton would create a buzz, sell merchandise and put butts in the seats at least for a couple of years. Clausen will still be the starter and Newton can be slowly slid into the position with a few plays here and there. With Rivera being a new coach he will have a few years to develop and Rod Chudzinski will try to develop Gabbert into and NFL QB.
2. Denver – Marcell Dareus | DT | Alabama | 6’3” | 319
John Fox will be changing Denver to a 4 man front and he will build from the indie out. Dareus could have a similar impact to the Broncos defensive line as Suh did for the Lions in 2010. Denver was dead last in defense in 2010 Dareus will be the anchor of he defense going forward.
3. Buffalo – Von Miller | DE/OLB | Texas A & M | 6’3” | 246
Buffalo has one of the worst defenses for creating sacks in the NFL. Miller is the best pure pass rusher in the draft. Miller should be the pass rushing OLB that Maybin is not.
4. Cincinnati – AJ Green | WR | Georgia | 6’4” | 212
The Ocho/Owens experiment is over at least one if not both will be gone and Jay Gruden will be running a west coast offense. Green is perfect for a west coast offense he is big and can get YAC yards. Drafting Green may be a bit of a ploy to convince Palmer to stay, but ploy or not Green is worth the pick. He can be compared to Johnson and Fitzgerald and those comparisons would be accurate
5. Arizona – Patrick Peterson | CB | LSU | 6’1” | 212
I know most people would have Gabbert going here is he is still on the board, but I think Zona will go the route of a veteran QB and give Skelton a chance to develop. The Cards would have loved to have Miller sitting here, but with him off the board arguably the number 1 player in the draft is still here, and at a position of need. Peterson helps the defense right away.
6. Cleveland – Julio Jones | WR | Alabama | 6’4” | 212
Holmgren will give McCoy a weapon Jones can be a bit inconsistent but when the ball is in his hands he can do some amazing things with it. Jones’s foot surgery could set him back a bit but when he’s back to 100% he will be a huge addition to the offense.
7. San Francisco – Blaine Gabbert | QB | Missouri | 6’4” | 234
Harbaugh is saying all the right things about Smith, but the reality is Smith is not the answer. If Smith stays Harbaugh will be able to take his time with Gabbert and teach him the west coast system he will run and bring him on slowly. Also, don’t forget Harbaugh recruited Gabbert out of high school.
8. Tennessee – Robert Quinn | DE | North Carolina | 6’5” | 270
The Titans need and edge guy and Quinn is the top DE in the draft even after having to sit out a year. Quinn is strong enough against the run and excels at getting up the field after the QB.
9. Dallas – Tryon Smith | OT | USC | 6’5” | 307
Dallas needs offensive line help and defensive back field help. Amukamara could be the choice here, but ultimately I think they go offensive line and plug Smith in day one at RT moving Doug Free to LT. There are good enough corners that can be had in later rounds, but offensive tackles are in limited supply this year.
10. Washington – Cameron Jordan | OT | USC | 6’5” | 307
This pick is up for sale, but for the purposes of this mock draft there are no trades. Washing would have loved to see Jones sitting here, but that isn’t the case. They could go a couple of different ways and if they are forced to pick here with Jones off the board I think they look at DE. Some have them going QB, but I just don’t see one of the remaining QB’s being a good pick here. Some people have Watt rated higher but I really like Jordan and after listening to him in interviews I like him even more.
11. Houston – Aldon Smith | DE/OLB | Missouri | 6’4” | 258
With Phillips coming in to run the defense the Texans will be switching to a 3-4 defense. Smith will be the guy that can come in and give edge pressure. Smith has great athleticism but did miss some games in 2010 that could draw a red flag.
12. Minnesota – Jake Locker | QB | Washington | 6’2” | 231
The drafts first real curveball. I like everything about Locker except his accuracy. Many claim this is due to several different reasons, but to me it is what it is. I have said for a long time that Locker has the most upside of any QB in this draft. I have stepped back from that a bit because I think Newton might edge him out there slightly, but Locker’s upside is still there. The rumors are the Vikings like him, and they are QB starved. I look for them to bring a vet in and to let him sit for a year to learn the pro game.
13. Detroit – Prince Amukamara | CB | Nebraska | 6’0” | 206
Detroit would sprint to the podium with this pick of Prince is still on the board when they pick. Amukamara has top 10 talent and to find him sitting there at #13 with CB being a need would be a no brainer for the Lions. They will continue to build on this young defense that is quickly becoming very good.
14. St Louis – Mike Pouncey | OG | Florida | 6’3” | 323
The Rams would have loved for Jones to be on the board, but with him gone they can look at addressing either line. This draft is deep for defensive linemen so I think at this spot they take the #1 interior lineman on the board and put Pouncey in the starting line-up from day one. Pouncey will help protect the investment in Bradford and open up running lanes for Jackson.
15. Miami – Christian Ponder | QB | Florida State | 6’2” | 225
I am sticking to my guns with Ponder. I do think first and foremost Miami will try and trade back but if they can’t and Ponder is their guy they will pull the trigger. Rumors out of Jacksonville is they like Ponder a lot as well, so Miami may have to take him here if in fact he is the guy they want. Ponder is a cross between Aaron Rodgers and Chad Pennington. He is a leader on and off the field. Miami is looking to run a hybrid of the New England offense and it doesn’t appear that they have faith in Henne. Ponder is the most accurate passer in the draft within 15 yards which in the NE offense the majority of passes are within the 15 yards and call for quick decisions and accurate passing. Ponder fits that to a tee.
16. Jacksonville – Da’Quan Bowers | DE | Clemson | 6’4” | 275
Jacksonville is still looking for the DE that can create pressure. There is no doubt Bowers can do that, but the medical flags on him scare many teams off. Bowers was once being considered as the #1 pick in the draft and for the Jags to find him sitting here at #16 is worth the risk.
17. New England – JJ Watt | DE | Wisconsin | 6’6” | 292
Watt has risen in many mocks, and while I think he is a good prospect I have other things playing out in this one. The front seven needs help and it starts with the line. Watt is a very unselfish type of player that is stout against the run and can get pressure in passing situations. He seems like a perfect fit for the Patriots.
18. San Diego – Muhammad Wilkerson | DT/DE | Temple | 6’5” | 315
Wilkerson has moved up many boards due to his agility at his size. I think SD would really like Watt and this could be a spot where a move up could happen. Wilkerson will help anchor the defensive line. He can play over the tackle in the base defense and move inside in nickel situations. He is a true three down player and would be a solid addition to one of the most talented rosters in the NFL.
19. NY Giants – Anthony Castonzo | OT | Boston College | 6’7” | 305
The G Men need to improve the line. Castonzo is a solid lineman that can step in day one at RT and start. He will eventually move to LT but could spend a year at RT building his strength.
20. Tampa Bay – Justin Houston | DE | Georgia | 6’3” | 270
The Bucs must continue to build the D Line. This pick will be a defensive end and rumors are they like Watt, so once again this is a position that could target to move up in front of Jacksonville or New England. If they don’t they have spent a lot of time and effort looking at Houston and I feel he would be the pick here.
21. Kansas City – Nate Solder | OT | Colorado | 6’8” | 314
The Chiefs could look in a few areas, but they need to protect Cassel. Solder would step in day one and start on the right side moving Richardson to depth where he should be. Solder at one time was considered the top OT in the class, but has dropped somewhat. Pioli gets a solid linemen here that should start at RT for years.
22. Indianapolis – Derek Sherrod | OT | Mississippi State | 6’6” | 312
Manning only has a handful of years left, and if he continues to take the beating he took last year it won’t be that many. Sherrod could be a sleeper and a steal for the Colts. Needless to say he will supply help for keeping Manning upright.
23. Philadelphia – Jimmy Smith | CB | Colorado | 6’2” | 205
Smith is not that far behind Peterson and Amukamara in ability but his off the field concerns has kept him from being mentioned in the same breath. The Eagles always have one of the best locker rooms and that will help keep Smith in check. Smith would give the Eagles instant help in a defensive backfield that needs it.
24. New Orleans – Mark Ingram | RB | Alabama | 5’10” | 215
This will be a team doctor pick. The Saints need a running back and if they feel Ingram is worth the risk at #24 they will pull the trigger. If they don’t I would look for them to go defensive line and possible Cameron Heyward.
25. Seattle – Corey Liuget | DT | Illinois | 6’3” | 300
Seattle could go a few ways and I feel if Ponder was here they would take him. However, they do need help on the interior defensive line and Liuget fits what they are looking for.
26. Baltimore – Cameron Heyward | DE/OLB | Ohio State | 6’5” | 288
According to Baldy on The Path to the Draft he claims if Heyward is there the Ravens will take him. Heyward reminds me a little of Adalius Thomas all be it a bigger version. Heyward will play DE but he is athletic enough to stay outside on pass rushing situations. This is a good fit for BPA vs. need.
27. Atlanta – Mikel Leshoure | RB | Illinois | 6’0” | 230
Injuries have added up against Turner and he was worn down at the end of the season. Leshoure is a big bruising back that can run hard between the tackles yet still get the edge. His running style is very similar to Turner’s and would fit right into the Falcons offense.
28. New England – Akeem Ayers | DE/OLB | UCLA | 6’4” | 255
Belichick will more than likely move out of this spot as this will be a prime spot for one of those teams in the top of round two to move up and get a QB if one is there that they want. If they do stay here I think they continue to rebuild the front seven and Ayers will add speed and versatility to it.
29. Chicago – Gabe Carimi | OL | Wisconsin | 6’7” | 315
Chicago need to fix the line and keep Cutler upright. Carimi can play inside or out and no matter where on the line he will step in day one and be an instant upgrade.
30. NY Jets – Phil Taylor | DT | Baylor | 6’4” | 337
Sexy Rexy would love to see Taylor sitting there at #30. With Jenkins gone the Jets need to bolster the NT position and at 337 lbs Taylor is very athletic. He will be able to plug the middle and still get pressure on passing downs.
31. Pittsburgh – Danny Watkins | OG | Baylor | 6’4” | 312
The Steelers would love for the other Pouncey to be there, but they desperately need help on the line. Watkins will line up next to Markice and will strengthen the interior line.
32. Green Bay – Brooks Reed | DE/OLB | Arizona | 6’2” | 263
Although the Pack are the Super Bowl Champs they still need to find someone opposite of Mathews. Reed had a very good offseason and would be a nice fit opposite Mathews.