I thought it would be fitting for my return post be an always controversial Mock Draft. I am honored to have the opportunity to return to Mocking the Draft and help Dan provide great draft coverage. You can expect to see a ton of mock drafts, scouting reports, and other draft related thoughts. Below you can find my updated Mock Draft, I expect to see some interesting comments, so fire away!
1. Carolina (2-14)- Nick Fairley- DT- Auburn
- The interior of the Panthers defensive line has been a problem for a few years and I am sure its recognized by Coach Rivera. The addition of Fairley will help keep double teams away from Charles Johnson and offensive coordinators on their toes.
2. Denver (4-12)- Da'Quan Bowers- DE- Clemson
- The new coaching brain trust in Denver will be making the switch from a 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 system. The majority of 4-3 defenses are successful if a rush can be generated by the front 4. Adding Bowers to a line that will also feature Elvis Dumervil should allow the rest of the defense to drop into coverage. Bowers would complement Dumervil nicely because of his ability to create pressure and also hold up against the run.
3. Buffalo (4-12)- Patrick Peterson- CB- LSU
- Check out Dan's article about Peterson to know all you need to know Patrick! The Bills have a lot of different needs but I would argue that they just need playmakers. Peterson is a guy that will contribute in 2 phases of the game, defense and special teams. Peterson has a rare mix of size and talent that will allow him to control an entire side of the field. Also he will instantly become one of the more dangerous kick returns in the NFL.
4. Cincinnati (4-12)- AJ Green- WR- Georgia
- It is still unclear whether or not Ochocinco returns but either way Green is to talented to fall any further. Green's addition will be sure to quiet Carson Palmer's calls for a trade.
5. Arizona (5-11)- Blaine Gabbert- QB- Missouri
- I don't see a scenario where the Cardinals can avoid taking a quarterback this early. I have question marks on all the quarterbacks in this draft and don't have any in my top 10. However, the Cardinals are desperate and need to make a move to address this need. The plan of attack should be draft their quarterback of the future and sign a free agent to mentor.
6. Cleveland (5-11)- Robert Quinn- DE/OLB- UNC
- Cleveland is also making the transition back to the 4-3 defensive system and they have holes to fill. Finding a pass rushing end is going to be a major priority for this Browns' defense. Quinn is a bit undersized but possesses the skills to wreak havoc in the offensive backfield. He has an excellent speed rush with the ability to flatten out around the edge on his way to the quarterback.
7. San Francisco (6-10)- Von Miller- OLB- Texas A&M
- The 49ers will be keeping a close eye on the available quarterbacks but would be wise to wait. Miller would push their defense to an elite level as he would provide the pass rush they lacked in 2010. Miller's stock might not be done climbing and he could end up a lot higher than #7.
8. Tennessee (6-10)- Ryan Mallett- QB- Arkansas
- Mallett has seen his stock take a major hit but after watching 10 plus games I feel he still has a bright future. Mallett's big arm and experience in Bobby Petrino's offense will benefit him as he transitions into the NFL. I have Mallett and Gabbert closely rated, both having potential but major question marks. The Titans are in the same boat as the Cardinals; being desperate is an unenviable position.
9. Dallas (6-10)- Prince Amukamara- CB- Nebraska
- Dallas is going to have a tough decision to make if this is the way the draft falls. They will be grateful if both Amukamara and Dareus are on the board at this position. Ultimately, their defensive backfield was a major weakness therefore needing the bigger upgrade. Amukamara is an elite talent that will have an immediate impact.
10. Washington (6-10)- Cam Newton- QB- Auburn
- Coach Shanahan's ego will not prevent him from selecting a quarterback that needs a ton of work. Newton's big arm and running ability fits in line with what Shanahan prefers behind center. Again I don't have Newton rated this high but the theme with this mock draft has been need over value.
11. Houston (6-10)- Marcel Dareus- DT- Alabama
- I am shocked with the way this mock has shaped up and the fact that a top 5 talent like Dareus is still available here. Dareus' versatility will allow Wade Phillips to use him all along the defensive front.
12. Minnesota (6-10)- Tyron Smith- OT- USC
- Smith is a 20 year old tackle prospect with great strength and balance. Most will look at his slender build (for an offensive lineman) and think he would lack strength but that is anything but the truth. His balance and leverage allow him to push defenders off the football. He would be able to step in from day one and help fix a spotty offensive line.
13. Detroit (6-10)- Akeem Ayers- LB- UCLA
- Ayers is a guy that will fit any defensive scheme because he possesses great athletic ability. His speed and quickness allows him to cover ground sideline to sideline. Adding Ayers to an already improved defense will only speed up the Lions rebuilding process.
14. St. Louis (7-9)- Julio Jones- WR- Alabama
- The tandem of Jones and Bradford has the potential to be very special. The Rams need to focus on giving their star quarterback weapons and Jones has good size and speed.
15. Miami (7-9)- Mark Ingram- RB- Alabama
- Ingram has been a popular pick for the Dolphins in many mock drafts. I am not going to be different just to be different, the pick makes too much sense.
16. Jacksonville (8-8)- Ryan Kerrigan- DE- Purdue
- Jacksonville has struggled to find a consistent pass rush, not for a lack of trying! Kerrigan is a kid that has a great motor and the ability to get after the quarterback. The Jaguars could also look at the quarterback and safety position.
17. New England (from Oakland 8-8)- Cam Jordan- DE/DT- Cal
- Again this seems a little low for Jordan but he just didnt fit with the earlier teams. This would be a true dream scenario for the Patriots as they get value at a position of need. As the draft approaches and we get a better feel for what teams are targeting and you could see Jordan move up the draft.
18. San Diego (9-7)- Rahim Moore- S- UCLA
- Eric Weddle is a free agent and there is a good possibility that the Chargers let him walk. History has shown that San Diego is not afraid to let players leave as free agents but their is the possibility that they use their franchise tag on the talented safety. However, if Weddle moves on Moore is a very capable replacement.
19. New York Giants (10-6)- Gabe Carimi- OT- Wisconsin
- The Giants have seen their best success when they feature a strong running game. During their Super Bowl run the offensive line was a main cog in that machine. But now that offensive line is aging and under performing so adding the massive Carimi to the fold would be a great choice. Carimi's run blocking ability would fit right in the the Giants game plan.
20. Tampa Bay (10-6)- Brandon Harris- CB- Miami
- On paper this might not look like a great fit but I don't trust the futures of either Ronde Barber or Aqib Talib. Barber is pondering retirement and Talib has had frequent run ins with off the field trouble. Having a solid secondary is just to important in the pass heavy NFL to leave to chance.
21. Kansas City (10-6)- Phil Taylor- NT- Baylor
- I am well aware that this might be a reach and that the Chiefs tend to shy away from character issues but I went this direction anyway. The Chiefs brass have shown (with Tyson Jackson) that they are not afraid to reach for a player if it fill a need and Taylor has the potential to be a dominate nose tackle.
22. Indianapolis (10-6)- Anthony Castonzo- OT- Boston College
- Peyton Manning struggled this season when he was faced with pressure so focusing on the offensive line would be wise. Castonzo is a very athletic tackle that has a strong base and balanced footwork.
23. Philadelphia (10-6)- Aaron Williams- CB- Texas
- If there is one glaring hole on the defensive side of the ball its at cornerback. The stop gap opposite Asante Samuel came loose during the playoffs and it cost the Eagles. Williams is a solid prospect with good length and balance, he has the ability to contribute early on.
24. New Orleans (11-5)- Adrian Clayborn- DE- Iowa
- The Saints have some questions that need answering at the offensive tackle position but defensive end is also a need. It appears likely that Alex Brown will be moving on next season and Clayborn is a similar style player. A team drafting Clayborn has to come to grips with the fact he may never develop into a double digit sack guy. However, he will provide good run support and a solid pass rush, he is just an all around good player.
25. Seattle (7-9)- Jake Locker- QB- Washington
- Locker is sitting right on the edge of my top 32 players and that is only because he has potential. Locker is far from a finished product but Pete Carrol's familiarity of him may be the deciding factor. It would be a good situation for Hasselbeck to return and mentor the young quarterback.
26. Baltimore (12-4)- Jimmy Smith- CB- Colorado
- The Ravens main focus should be addressing their porous secondary. Ladarius Webb is a good corner but they lack a true top notch player at the position. Smith is a guy that can excel in man press coverage which will come in handy when the Ravens blitz.
27. Atlanta (13-3)- Justin Houston- DE- Georgia
- John Abraham is starting to wear down and Houston is built in a similar mold. The question is what position best fits his skills, defensive end or outside linebacker.
28. New England (14-2)- Aldon Smith- DE/OLB- Missouri
- Having two first round picks provides you with the luxury of taking a project type player. Smith has awesome physical skills but lacks a true position. He doesnt have the size and strength to hold up against the run as a defensive end and lacks experience dropping into coverage. However, if there is a coach that can find a role for him its going to be Bill Belichick.
29. Chicago (11-5)- Corey Liuget- DT- Illinois
- I know the Bears are in dire need of offensive line help but that doesn't mean they must go that direction in round 1. Liuget would be a perfect if as a 3 technique in the Bears defensive system. He possesses a quick first step that allows him to penetrate the pocket.
30. New York Jets (11-5)- Cameron Heyward- DT/DE- Ohio State
- The entire Jets defensive line is in need of a talent upgrade and that's exactly what Heyward will provide. He showed in the Sugar Bowl that he is capable of dominating a football game.
31. Green Bay (10-6)- Christian Ballard- DT/DE- Iowa
32. Pittsburgh (12-4)- Derrick Sherrod- OT- Mississippi State
- I am sure I am not the only one that is surprised the Steelers made it through the playoffs with their pair of starting tackles. Nevertheless, the display Suggs put on against this tandem shows that this is an area of need.