Mock Draft- Round 1

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3rd- Buffalo Bills- Von Miller LB Texas A&M: Still no Newton you ask? Well, if you ask me, I think Ryan Fitzpatrick is good enough to allow Buffalo to fill a greater need in the first round, and go future-QB in the 2nd or 3rd. Miller is a ball-hawk who will no doubt help a Bills defense that was dead last against the run in 2010. Miller is simply perfect for Buffalo. They are a 3-4 scheme and that is where Miller will excel. His lightning-quick speed makes up for his relative under-sized frame, but his athleticism and heart out-weigh the height. He led the nation in sacks in 2009, and was the Butkus Award winner as the nation’s top linebacker. For you NFL combine fans out there, his 60-yard shuttle run time was 11.15 which was the best ever in the combine’s history. He will be an All-Pro and a fan-favorite in Western New York, and help that unit right away.

4th- Cincinnati Bengals- Blaine Gabbert QB Missouri: Ok, so everyone out there says A.J. Green is a shoe-in for the Bengals. Well, I don’t disagree that Green is a fine fit, and is also supremely talented. However, Carson Palmer is threatening retirement, and I don’t think Jordan Palmer is evoking much confidence as a potential heir in the Queen City. So, here is one of those draft day wrenches again, and Cincy shocks us all and goes with Gabbert, thus sending Arizona into a tizzy. As for why Gabbert makes sense here. He is a prototypical QB prospect at 6’4’’ 234, who has been wowing scouts with his football and intellectual acumen, which is an intangible that should be very important in Cincy in 2011 moving forward. He does have a lot to learn while he assimilates to the pro-game and taking snaps under-center was not an every down occurrence while at Missouri. Cincy could easily go Green here, but the best QB in this class could be a more prudent move, while a WR in the 2nd could be a great value way to fill that need.

5th- Arizona Cardinals- Nick Fairley DT Auburn: If Gabbert goes to Cincy, the Cardinals may have to resort to their contingency plan, which should be fill the glaring need of no run support in 2010. The Cardinals have no QB, sure, but I have a feeling a veteran is bound for the desert. Perhaps a Donovan McNabb, but either way the 30th ranked rush defense from a season ago needs help in the middle, and Nick Fairley is talented enough to be a top overall pick. Out of Auburn, the uber-talent has every physical tool imaginable, yet there are some character issues. Regardless of the work ethic and less than boy-scout reputation, he can flat out stop the run, and be a force against the pass as well. Fairley can be a terrific plan B here, but if Gabbert is around, the Cards will likely build their team around him.

6th- Cleveland Browns- A.J. Green: The Browns may as well hug and kiss their in-state rivals should the Bengals actually go someone other than Green. If my prediction comes to fruition and Green slips, the Browns will have no choice but to run up and grab the best WR in the draft. The Georgia Bulldog can join fellow alum Mohammed Massaquoi in the Browns WR corp. and give Colt McCoy a viable go-to threat. For some reason, I love the prospects of Green in Cleveland. As for his attributes and abilities, just go to YouTube and enjoy. He is as close to an NFL-Dream WR prospect as possible at 6’4’’and 4.5 fast (40-yd dash). He can be a day one playmaker for anyone who selects him. Cleveland ranked in the bottom barrel of all receiving categories, so if not A.J. Green, expect Julio Jones to be their guy.

7th San Francisco- Prince Amukamara CB Nebraska: If my scenarios do not play out, and Patrick Peterson slips to 7th, then the Niners will love that. Yet, I can’t see that talented of a player pass through six teams, so the Prince will now be a few hundred miles north of Bel Air. The Niners were ranked 24th on pass defense last season, and the Nebraska CB is a fine talent with Pro-Bowl potential. His 4.43 40-yd is terrific and he has the ability to lock down top-tier receivers. He could be a nightmare in the NFC West for perhaps the worst QB division in football.

8th Tennessee Titans- Cam Newton QB Auburn: There ya go Newtonites. The Titans are done with Vince Young, so may as well go Vince Young 2.011, right? 25th overall in passing yards last year, VY and Kerry Collins didn’t get it done, and Bud Adams will love to throw Cam on a holiday card with Chris Johnson this year. Should the above teams decide to pass on the risky and charismatic prospect, Tennessee will have no other option but to roll the dice. A player like Newton along with Chris Johnson could really make the Titans a dynamic offense, as long as they sign or draft a WR after Newton to partner with Kenny Britt. We have seen stranger QB scenarios before, like Tim Tebow to Denver, Kevin Kolb to Philly and Aaron Rodgers falling all the way down to Green Bay. I’m not saying this will be a lock, but should both QBs be gone, I can see the Titans praying Nick Fairly is still around. Back to Newton. We all have seen his rise, near-fall, and higher-rise over the past year and change. To me, regardless of his college game the NFL system and competition is vastly superior. I don’t see a home-run career here.

9th Dallas Cowboys- Tyson Smith OT USC: This is a pretty easy one here. The Boys need to solidify their line, and make life easier on guys like Tony Romo and Felix Jones. Last year was a mess with injuries on the line, and Smith can anchor a younger unit for years to come. Smith is arguably the top O-lineman in the class of 2011 so the Cowboys have an easy choice here. Big and physical, Smith is a perfect NFL left tackle. His burst and ability to adapt to blocking schemes makes him NFL ready, and the Dallas offense has plenty of skill players but need a few trench guys to do the dirty work to make them look good.

10th Washington Redskins- Julio Jones WR Alabama: Elite WR 1a in the 2011 group, Jones is a beast of a playmaker. He is NFL-ready at the WR position at 6’3’’ 220, and is coming out of a pro-style offense with the Tide. His speed (4.39 40-yd dash) and hops (38.5 vertical) make him an ideal deep threat, and if he can cure a mild case of the occasional dropsies, he can develop into a fine No 1. NFL pass-catcher. Many teams could be interested in Jones in this slot like the Rams for instance, but Washington is lacking weapons for Rex Grossman or whomever the Quarterback will be in 2011. Santana Moss (a Free Agent) and Anthony Armstrong are the only viable threats at the moment in D.C., so Jones fits the bill here for the Skins.

11th Houston Texans- Robert Quinn DE UNC: The Texans have a crazy-good offense, so this is a sure-fire defensive selection here, and matching a DE to bookend with Mario Williams can give the Texans a fearsome pass-rush. This is the DE run portion of my mock, as there are about five guys who can go anywhere from here to about 20th. My gut is that the Texans go with upside and that is Quinn. Quinn didn’t play for the Tar Heels in 2010 but that only means he is rested. He can be an elite sack-artist in the NFL and with attention on Super Mario, Quinn could rack up 10+ sacks in no time. He has tremendous strength and he’d go straight through people as opposed to trying to out-run them on the outside. When we all look back at this draft in five years, this pick could be one we continue to talk about.

12th Minnesota Vikings- J.J. Watt DE Wisconsin: Speaking of that DE run, here it is. The Vikings could trade down here and select a QB later on, but hanging at the 12th-slot should have them fill a pass-rushing need to help out Jared Allen. The Vikes were 20th in the league in sacks, and Watt can help out with that cause. He is a hard-working football player, and will be as consistent as they come. He’ll rely on strength and desire more than natural athletic ability, but he is a perfect kind of player for Minnesota. They’ll address QB in the following rounds.

13th Detroit Lions- Cameron Jordan DE California: Jordan is gaining popularity and his stock is on the rise, and the Lions are a team that needs to patch up some defensive needs, because that offense is playoff-ready. Now before we get crazy, the Lions have a long way to go but the trio of Stafford, Johnson, and Best can do plenty of damage when they all gel. Defensively, adding a solid edge man to go along with Ndamukong Suh would be a wise move for Jim Schwartz and Detroit. Jordan is perfect for the 3-4, and has size, good strength and is a good text-book football player against the run. Nothing sexy with this pick, but Jordan can fit right in and quietly produce right away in the Motor City.

14th St. Louis Rams- Aldon Smith DE Missouri: At this point, there is nearly zero chance Julio Jones ends up a Ram at 14th. They will have to trade up if the covet him that badly, but Plan B will be to stay local and go with need at defensive end with Aldon Smith. He set a school record as a redshirt-freshman in 2009 with 11 sacks, and can help strengthen a Rams defensive line which already is a formidable pass-rushing unit. Athletic, fast, and has a nose for the QB, so watch out for Smith to be among the young sack artists in this league.

15th Miami Dolphins- Mike Pouncey OL Florida: An interesting slot here for the Dolphins, which is sort of in draft no-man’s land. They could easily select Mark Ingram, but I would think that is a waste pick because Ingram at 15th has no value. Also, I believe that a better play for Miami would be to address the running back situation with free agents such as DeAngelo Williams and/or Darren Sproles to replace Ricky Williams, and/or Ronnie Brown. Regardless of who is running (or throwing for that matter) in Miami, it is seemingly more obvious that Miami will want to make their offensive line an elite unit, and make all the skill position players’ jobs a tad easier. Mike Pouncey is the guy to help in that task, as he can play multiple spots on the line, and could be an elite center or guard at this level. Miami could use help at either C or G so Pouncey makes safe-sense here. Of course, the Dolphins could get a little tricky and trade down to get back into the 2nd round (2010 Brandon Marshall trade), and perhaps still be able to acquire Pouncey or other O-line help later in the draft.

16th Jacksonville- Ryan Kerrigan DE Purdue: The Jags were 30th in the league last year in sacks, and DE is a top priority. With the first few on their wish list gone, Kerrigan makes for a safer play over say Clemson’s Da’quan Bowers since his recent injury risk worries have de-valued him a bit. Kerrigan is a perfect Jack Del Rio player and he is versatile, has NFL-strength, and has a motor that won’t quit until someone is on their back. He has flexibility to play either DE or OLB so that is always a nice bonus with a mid-rounder like him. This is another pick that many may not flip over, but in a few years can work out just fine.

17th New England- Anthony Castonzo OL Boston College: Many NFL insiders are calling this a perfect fit because the locality and the fact that the New England O-line ain’t getting any younger. I am not going to disagree, and think Castonzo fits fine here. I just doubt the Pats remain here. They could take this pick and their 28th overall and move up and get a top-10 player, or they can trade this pick down and try to stock pile more picks, or they can go another way like RB Mark Ingram. As for Castonzo, his massive size at 6’7’’, 311 lbs mixed with his ability to move laterally will help with New England’s slants, screens and dump passes. Castonzo could get out up field and help clear paths for the Pats’ skill position players. One thing for certain, no one knows what is up the quarter-sleeves of Bill Belichick.

18th San Diego- Akeem Ayers LB UCLA: The Chargers can use help at LB or DE, but the DE’s should be lacking at this point. Ayers is a local selection going to UCLA, and he can play right away and be a solid player on a great team. Ayers can go inside or outside and can close in on the quarterback. Da’Quan Bowers could also go here, but again, that injury-worry is ever present. Ayers is a simpled, minimal-risk selection for a team that doesn’t really need to do much in this draft to get better. The Chargers are an elite team and are very dangerous heading into 2011.

19th New York Giants- Mark Ingram RB Alabama: And the Heisman winner goes to New York. Can’t you see that happening? And why not? Ahmad Bradshaw is a free agent and may or may not be a Giant in ’11 so that leaves aging and weathering Brandon Jacobs. Ingram makes more sense in New York than most places, as he would be a complement to another runner and a potent pass-attack led by Eli Manning and his young WR group. The pressures of NY will be cake for Ingram, who is coming from Nick Saban and Alabama which is essentially the NFL’s 33rd team. Not really, but you know what I mean. It’s a football factory. Forget the criticisms of his NFL readiness. Ingram is a beast after contact, and the lack of breakaway speed isn’t a concern; a little momentum is all he needs. The Giants get a steal within the top 20 and Radio City rocks with the Big-Blue faithfull’s boisterous cheers.

20th Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Da’quan Bowers DE Clemson: Bowers is a major talent and without speculation of a knee injury he would be a top-10 selection. The Bucs can pounce on Bowers here and get much needed pass-rush help, as they finished with a measly 26 sacks in 2011 which was second to last in the NFL. At this point, the potential out-weighs the slight risk factor with the knee, but these Bucs are a feisty bunch, and Bowers can help make that defense have a bit more bite once he proves he is 100% healthy.

21st Kansas City Chiefs- Phil Taylor DT Baylor: The Chiefs need a nose tackle for that 3-4, and Romeo Crennel can make this kid his project and get his head on straight. He is a perfect NT due to his size and ability to occupy space. He is a monster against the run, and has massive strength defenses in the NFL sought after. The Chiefs aren’t terrible against the run, but Taylor can make them formidable in defense of it in 2011.

22nd- Indianapolis Colts- Gabe Carimi OL Wisconsin: The best interior lineman in the nation in 2010, Carimi is massive at 6’7’’, 314 lbs, and should be a perfect bodyguard for Peyton Manning. He is a terror to get around, and he plays a punishing and attacking style of football. If you ask me, this is the kind of guy you want protecting the best QB in the game. This is a relatively easy call to say that the Colts are going OL because why pay for a RB or a WR when you can just plug and play with the 50th+ guys on the roster when you need to?

23rd- Philadelphia Eagles- Jimmy Smith CB Colorado: This is just one of those “fit-picks.” Smith could be plugged in right away and fall right into place in Philly. The Eagles were 29th in the NFL in pass TDs against, so Smith could help cut that number substantially in 2011. For a corner, he has very good size and could battle with taller NFL receivers better than shorter DBs. He has good speed and play-making ability and excels in press coverage. He has that Philly-toughness quality that Andy Reid loves.

24th New Orleans Saints- Adrian Clayborn DE Iowa: Clayborn is a smart play for the Saints since he is versatile enough to play tackle or end. Both needs for the Saints, Clayborn can fit in and help a unit that is a middle of the pack rushing-defense. He is tough to block, and has good football intelligence so he is an easy to plug in multiple situations.

25th Seattle Seahawks Jake Locker QB Washington : Seattle can do a number of things here, but I don’t think taking a QB here is a great move for them. However, what do I know, and the franchise will probably want to bring in a ready-made popular QB in Washington Huskie Jake Locker. Matt Hasselbeck could do one more season in Seattle as a bridge to Locker in 2012. If they want him, it’s now or never for Seattle, as he will likely not be around at 57th unless they pull a trade somehow. Locker could have been a top pick last season, but stayed in school and cost himself money. However, it could have clinched him not having to change area codes. As a prospect, Locker has a better arm in distance terms as opposed to accuracy. He must work on making all the necessary NFL route throws, but his athleticism and big-play style sets him apart from other prospects. Not many in Seattle would disagree with this pick here.

26th Baltimore Ravens- Marvin Austin DL North Carolina: Sure there are character and desire issues, but Austin is a talent who can be forced into success by Ray Lewis and the rest of that Ravens defense. They struck out with Sergio Kindle last season, and this season they will look to make up for it. Austin, if he gets his head on straight, could make the Ravens even better on defense, which is scary as can be.

27th Atlanta Falcons- Cam Heyward DE Ohio State: The Falcons can use a complement to Jon Abrahams and Heyward is a solid DE in a deep D-line class. He has great size at 6’5’’ which helps him in both his pass-rush and his run stopping. He can play in both a DE or DT capacity, and can help the Falcons strengthen that defense, and improve on their 20th overall ranked sack total from last year.

28th New England- Mikel Leshoure RB Illinois: Many feel the Pats are all about Mark Ingram, but if they don’t get him at 17th, then I believe they will miss out on him. Now they also have the 33rd overall pick so they can get Leshoure in the 2nd round. For sake of this mock, I think they make sure they get a solid RB and address other needs in the 2nd, 3rd, and beyond. Leshoure is a solid overall RB who can get outside the hash-marks as well as run well through the gaps and get some yards after contact. He has good overall size compared to say a Danny Woodhead, and should make the NE backfield very solid. This is typical NE, as they rarely seem to feature one RB.

29th Chicago Bears- Nate Solder OL Colorado: The Bears can use help in protecting Jay Cutler and the run game, and Solder is the best of the rest of the lineman in this class. Solder is huge at 6’8’’, 319 lbs and could be viewed as a steal here. He has many tools that can turn him into an elite left tackle in this league. A Solder on the Field in Chicago…it’s almost too perfect.

30th NY Jets- Corey Liuget DT Illinois: The Jets are one of those teams that more often or not conjure up a collective, “huh?” from its fan base on draft day. A few hits here and there aside, the Jets sometimes puzzle us all, so here is my best attempt in getting inside the head of GM Mike Tannenbaum. This being a DL class in 2011, Liuget I believe slips a bit and the Jets will land a very capable future pro. Out of Illinois, Liuget has both size and speed and should be a great fit for Rex Ryan’s defense.

31st Pittsburgh Steelers- Aaron Williams DB Texas: The Steelers don’t need much help, but they can stand for some secondary improvement. The DB class is a big drop off after the top two or three, but Williams is still a fine prospect. He could excel in Dick LeBeau’s system.

32nd Green Bay Packers- Muhammad Wilkerson DT Temple: The champs get a steal here in Wilkerson who is a perfect 3-4 defender. He has a very good size-speed combo and should fit right in with the defending Super Bowl champions.

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  • tpl

    Its a good article. I hope Miami can trade down, but, failing that, pouncy would be a great selection. Provide depth at center and upgrade the guard position. I think Miami might be able to trade down and still draft pouncy. But if he’s not, Miami can draft one of the top tackles.

  • http://www.fantasyphenoms.com Jason Sarney

    Thanks tpl:

    I agree that the Fins could possibly trade down, acquire a later 1st and a 2nd, but I am skeptical Pouncy will still be there since they’d probably have to trade down in the mid-20′s to get the type of deal they got last year with the San Diego trade.

    I would love that though…

  • fins4ever1

    Great article! Your guess is as good as anyone’s, but you make good sense.

    I love the Pouncey pick. It just makes so much sense. It fills multiple holes and is an immediate upgrade to the running and passing game.

    Yes, saw many drafts having Ingram going to the G men.

    Also could see Costanzo going to Belly real easy. If we don’t get Pouncey, THE PATS WILL.

    Agree on Fitzpatrick too. Miller would be a good fit and maximum value there.

  • http://www.fantasyphenoms.com Jason Sarney

    Thanks fins4ever1-

    As much as I would like playmakers, the FIns dont have the assets to trade up and grab Julio Jones. I have fallen of the Ingram hype recently and realized Pouncy is the safest play here.

  • Ian

    I would go out on a limb and select Rahim Moore (FS) in the late first round after trading down. I know it’s a reach. But the one weakness for the Phins D is a playmaker. Moore is a ballhawk and the safety position is becoming more important every year. Look at the two Superbowl teams…who had Nick Collins and Troy Polamalu.

  • http://www.fantasyphenoms.com Jason Sarney

    Ian-

    I would take that, if we do trade down and Pouncey is gone. I completely agree that championship defenses need that play-maker in the secondary.

    It really seems as if the logical move is the trade down to get back in the second round since this draft could have plenty of value players from 33-60

  • BrassMonkey

    Don’t like the Pouncey pick AT ALL… I think he’s riding his brother’s coattails and will never be anywhere near as good.

    Guard is NOT a value position in the draft. Tackles are certainly important enough to be taken high, but quality interior linemen can be had later. Put it this way: would Mike Pouncey have the same kind of impact on our offense (or even our line in general) as Jake Long (or even Vernon Carey) did? Guards ARE NOT elite athletes – they are just big, mean guys who hopefully can pull a little bit when you ask them to.

    Another point to consider; Do you really think that Pouncey is any better than Jerry or one of the free agents on the market? Even if you believe that Pouncey IS better, does he make a big enough difference to our offense to warrant the #15 pick overall? I say NO. If we’re dead-set on a lineman, we’d be better off taking Constanzo, moving him to the right, and pushing Carey inside!

    Ingram is no better- quality RBs can be had in the mid-late rounds, too. Miami needs to stop drafting for “need” and get back to taking the best guy on the board!

  • http://www.fantasyphenoms.com Jason Sarney

    Brass-

    Your points are well-taken. I like the fact that Pouncey can play multiple areas on the line.Ingram to me is a fine player, but I am happier getting a ready made guy like a DeAngelo Williams and pair him with one of the current backs, or even wait to draft a RB late.

    Over the past years, so many RBs pop up out of nowhere. Peyton Hillis, Chris Ivory, LeGarette Blount…plenty more. They can be found without paying top dollar and a 1st overall pick on. Ingram could be the only RB taken in 1st. Maybe two. 15th is too high for a guy who is not a “can’t-miss” RB talent.

    In all honesty- I believe and hope they trade down, get a later 1st and a 2nd, and do some sort of play which strengthens the offense.

  • Chris Leeuw

    You left out Marcell Dareus….he’ll be the pick in Buffalo should Denver pass him up.

    I like the Pouncey pick, but if we stay at 15, I’d probably rather see Ingram. If we don’t pick up a 2nd rounder, that first pick has to have immediate impact in 2011.

    • Chris Leeuw

      Whoops! My bad..just noticed you had Dareus No. 1! Text kinda blended in and I saw Newton…lol

  • http://www.fantasyphenoms.com Jason Sarney

    Chris:

    Dareus was my No. 1 selection…

    • http://www.fantasyphenoms.com Jason Sarney

      forgiven. Ha.

  • http://www.bleepthatithink.blogspot.com Michael Rosenbloom

    Gotta say that I’m not a huge fan of the Pouncey pick at 15. I agree with Brass that good, big, mean interior linemen can be found later in the draft, and the only OL position that can justified that early is a tackle.

    I’d much rather us grab a skill position guy with this pick (if we can’t move back). We’ve had a million discussions about which QB we could take, plus Ingram and LeShoure will more than likely be there.

    As for the interior, have you done any research about Will Rackley out of Lehigh? He will be around later for us to grab, and I love the way he plays.

    • onole1

      From what I hear they like Rackley a lot, but it seems a lot of other teams do as well. He’s probably moved into round two.

  • onole1

    I first want to say I like Pouncey a lot and even had him as the pick in one of my mocks. Since them I have done some thinking and the Dolphins already have a lot of money tied up in the offensive line. Not that that is the end all be all, but it does have to come into consideration. The bigger factor is Nate Garner will be back and IMO will anchor one of the line positions. I think Incognito win the center spot and Berger is the back-up interior guy. I do not look for them to draft line early and instead go for skilled positions. I think they will draft at least one lineman later in the draft for depth.

    The movement of Incognito to center and Garner coming back makes the line much improved over last year. I really don’t think the line is as big of a concern to the Dolphins as it is to the Dolfans.

  • http://www.fantasyphenoms.com Jason Sarney

    Michael- Rackley is a nice player. Smaller than Pouncey but could work well in the Fins new offense. I think that we could trade down and get him still, so hopefully there is OLine help and skill position help within the first two rounds pending a trade.

  • Ian

    I like Rackley too. The Phins showed a lot of interest early in the off-season, but he has shot up draft boards ever since. I think he was slated for 5th round earlier in the off-season, but now he’s probably 2nd-3rd round. I’m convinced the Phins will take an RB and TE in rounds 3 and 4. And 2nd round seems to high for Rackley.

    • http://www.bleepthatithink.blogspot.com Michael Rosenbloom

      I’m okay with them taking Rackley in the 2nd. If they are able to trade down and pick up a second, I wouldn’t mind a QB in the 1st and Rackley in the 2nd, then a RB later in the draft, 3rd or 4th rounder. I would have no problem with that.