I have been searching for a mock that seems pretty reasonable and and doesn't try to hard to rely on QB's being taken early in the draft in order for good players to drop to any team. So I found one and tweaked it but wanted some feedback to know if you thought that it was a good mock and what can be done to help it out. More after the Jump
1. Carolina Panthers – Blaine Gabbert – Missouri QB - This franchise needs quarterback CPR and they shouldn’t pass on an opportunity to add one of the safest quarterback prospects in a long time. I won’t dwell on the fact that the Panthers could’ve had Flacco a few years ago. Or that the Dolphins passed on Matt Ryan and the Seahawks passed on Mark Sanchez and its set those franchises back. Gabbert checks out, from his character to his poise, to his quick pro release to his mobility. Fairley is very tempting and so are the defensive ends. But this team isn’t going anywhere with the QBs currently on the roster. How do they expect to compete against Brees, Ryan, and Freeman when their offense is so one-dimensional?
2. Denver Broncos – Nick Fairley – Auburn DT - I don’t quite understand the criticism of Fairley’s newfound Combine size (6’4″ 291) given that Gerald McCoy, last year’s #3 pick, measured nearly the same way. He’s still the same player we saw dominate the SEC last year. He could be an essential building piece to a Broncos defense that needs to shut down Kansas City’s dominant rushing attack and San Diego’s dominant passing attack. Fairley can collapse the middle of an offense and does it with a little bit of nasty too. He’s a safe pick with limitless upside because he’s dominated with basically no technique. It’s scary to think of what he could be like if he learns to use his hands
3. Buffalo Bills – Von Miller – Texas A&M OLB – Like Fairley with the Broncos, this is a perfect fit, it’s a safe pick but offers limitless upside. Miller has elite burst off the edge, but isn’t the soft finesse-type of rusher you expect from a speed guy. He pursues and wraps up when tackling. He’s not afraid to punch before the tackle punches and he can rush on size too. Relax Buffalo fans, this guy isn’t Aaron Maybin. Von Miller is an actual football player who loves the game and has great character. The Bills need to make a low-risk pick that’ll impact their team immediately and Miller can be just that.
4. Cincinnati Bengals – D’Quan Bowers – Clemson DE – Bowers is exactly what the Bengals need in their 4-3 scheme. He’s stout most importantly. He sets an edge and collapses the pocket into runs. In the AFC North, you HAVE to have defensive ends that can be stout versus the run. But also he has some pass rush skills that will keep him on the field for all 3 downs. He needs to develop more in this area, and he might even end up moving inside on 3rd downs (he did this at Clemson) in order to capitalize on his bull-rush ability. This isn’t just a need pick, Bowers to me is the clear-cut best 4-3 defensive end in this draft.
5. Arizona Cardinals – Marcel Dareus – Alabama DT – Dareus’ draft stock has been all over the place since the National Championship ended. After finally getting a stage to show himself off at the Combine, he’s got the fastest rising stock of any prospect. He’s got a great DT lower body which projects to playing anything from the 0-tech to the 3-tech. He even has good enough hands to where he could slide out to the 5-tech and grapple with tackles. He looks the part and now has shown he’s an athletic specimen too. Some say he has better tape than Fairley, so I can’t see him escaping the top 8 in this draft.
6. Cleveland Browns – A.J. Green – Georgia WR - Yes, Julio Jones blew up the Combine on a broken foot. But I think most believed Julio would win the Combine battle versus A.J. Green. The tape is Green’s best argument, as he can run any route and can fit any offensive system. He gets separation with ease. He’s a freak athlete and has the size you need in a WR. I really see this as a no-brainer for the Browns.
7. San Francisco 49ers – Patrick Peterson – LSU CB - The Niners will be taking a good hard look at the QBs. They very well could take one, but with Peterson sitting there on the board, the chance to get an elite future lockdown CB is too tempting. Also, there’s a good chance they’ll be cutting Nate Clements. Need meets big-time value for the Niners. Like the Browns pick, this one seems to be a no-brainer too.
8. Tennessee Titans – Ryan Mallet – Arkansas QB - The first stunner of the draft comes with the Titans picking the draft’s 2nd QB. For me, Mallet checks out on the field better than any of the QB prospects in this draft, including Gabbert. Yes, he’s got great arm strength, but he also showed he could make intermediate and underneath throws, and he did it more accurately than any of the QBs at the combine. Along with his arm strength, he has a quick release, which is good because he has heavy feet. He dominated the SEC and was one of the rare collegiate quarterbacks who transferred and had success at his next stop. He can learn from Kerry Collins for awhile, and when he’s ready he’ll be stepping behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.
9. Dallas Cowboys – Mark Ingram – Alabama RB - The Cowboys have a collection of specialist backs that underachieve. Marion Barber will be cut because he has no more burst, Felix Jones is a change of pace 3rd down back, and Tashard Choice becomes less effective the greater his role increases. The Cowboys could use a reliable running back period, let alone one with the skills Mark Ingram possesses. Jerry Jones loves a sexy pick. The top rated former Heisman running back fits that. Sure, the Cowboys have greater needs at offensive tackle and the 5-technique on the defensive line. But this isn’t a team that plans on drafting in the top 10 often, so they need to make it count with a safe but splashy pick like Ingram. He would bring stability to an offense that desperately needs just that. Jerry probably loves the fact that he is drawing comparisons to Emmit.
10. Washington Redskins – JJ Watt – Wisconsin DE - As inconsistent as Washington’s offense was last year, the defense was what really held them back. They need a serious infusion of talent and youth on their defensive line. JJ has the best motor in this draft and has a special kind of toughness to him. He’s got great size (6’5 290) and long arms, and he’s also a pretty good athlete. He would bring alot of energy and passion to a defense that was uninspired last year.
11. Houston Texans – Aldon Smith – Missouri DE Aldon is a freakish athlete, he’s strong, has long arms, plays the run as well as the pass and seems to have great football instincts. The most important thing for the Texans to consider when drafting their franchise rush OLB is whether or not he can make the transition to standing up, and it’s going to take great football instincts to do that, that’s why I like Aldon the most as a fit here. When healthy this past year, he was a big reason why the Tigers were one of the best defenses in college football.
12. Minnesota Vikings – Cam Newton – Auburn QB – If you notice, I only have the QBs in this draft going to teams where there’s a solid foundation in place on offense. Minnesota fits that bill for Cam. I have a good feeling about this marriage because Cam would have an NFL icon like Adrian Peterson as a mentor, and a great people-manager in Leslie Frazier. I think with those two in place, Cam has a solid foundation to grow with going forward.
13. Detroit Lions – Prince Amukamara – Nebraska CB - With this pick the Lions get the player that many of their fans thought was impossible after his stellar combine but corners do tend to fall and he would be a day one starter who is the BPA and fills a need. Prince came from a similar attacking-style 4-3 defense at Nebraska where he was left on an island to cover man-to-man against the Big 12′s best receivers. He’s a great fit here and will have his plate full with receivers like Greg Jennings and Johny Knox in the NFC North.
14. St. Louis Rams – Julio Jones – Alabama WR - Like the Lions, the Rams will be ecstatic if things unfold this way. They have greater needs on the defensive side of the ball, but Julio is the best talent left on the board. Julio went to the Combine and blew it up on a broken foot, and left some thinking he might’ve overtaken A.J. Green as the top receiver in this draft. I don’t imagine the broken foot holding him back, and if he fell this far it’d be more because teams just valued the quarterbacks and defensive players in this draft more.
15. Miami Dolphins – Jake Locker – Washington QB – Let’s point at the elephant in the room: Locker’s completion percentage in college is a sticking point for anyone evaluating him. He had very poor footwork that lead to inconsistent accuracy on the field. Because he’s an athlete with speed, some think that his footwork is fixable, and therefore his accuracy will improve and in turn his completion percentage. The Dolphins are the most QB-desperate team in football bar none. Their defense is ready to win now and they have pieces on offense that could make for a great attack if they had a real QB running it. Locker will be a project, but the Dolphins need a franchise QB in the dirtiest way, and if it means waiting on Locker then they have to do it.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars – Adrian Clayborn – Iowa DE – The Jaguars were abysmal at getting after the quarterback last year even with the addition of Aaron Kampman through free agency. With the division that they are in they must contend with quarterbacks like Payton Manning and Matt Shaub throwing to pro bowl recievers. They need to be able to get some heat on the passers in that division as well as being able to stop the running game of the Titans and Texans which is a strength of Clayborn's.
17. New England Patriots (from Oakland Raiders) – Cameron Jordan – California DE - I fully expect the Patriots to manipulate the draft and trade multiple times, so plugging a player in here is simply a mock draft formality. I could see the Pats finding a way to get Cam Jordan, as he’d be a great fit on their 3-4 defensive line. The Patriots could use an upgrade in youth and athleticism on their defensive line, as players like Ty Warren and Mike Wright can’t stay healthy, and players like Marcus Stroud and Gerard Warren are older and stiffer. Cam can 1-gap or 2-gap and can hold up against stronger lineman.
18. San Diego Chargers – Gabe Carimi - Wisconsin OT - The Chargers take the best player available and upgrade an average right side of their offensive line. This is a team that still struggles to run the ball and Carimi could help fix that. He’s the kind of road-grading right tackle teams look to run off of. Think Jon Runyan. With the Ryan Mathews pick a year ago, the Chargers need to get the run game going and they just can’t count on it to get better on its own. Replacing Jeromey Clary with Carimi at right tackle could pay dividends.
19. New York Giants – Akeem Ayers – UCLA OLB - I expect the Giants to take the best player available like they always do on draft day. Ayers would be an upgrade to a linebacking core that seriously needs speed and athleticism. Ayers would replace Bullock or Boley, and could be a 3 down linebacker from day 1 for the Giants. This is one of those great value meets great need picks.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Robert Quinn – North Carolina DE – This is the lowest you’ve probably ever seen Quinn on any mock draft but I have my reasons. One, Quinn’s best pass rush move is to run around the tackle and NFL tackles are vastly more athletic than the ones he was running around in college. Two, Quinn never takes an inside pass rush move. You can watch 20 snaps on him and on all 20 he’ll try to run around the tackle. Three, he hasn’t been getting any better on the field because he didn’t play all last year. To me, that doesn’t add up to a top 10 or 15 pick like he’s projected. He does do a great job of getting under the tackle’s pads on most plays and he does have some serious speed for the position. That’s why he won’t get out of the top 20. The Bucs need a franchise defensive end and Quinn could be that guy.
21. Kansas City Chiefs – Phil Taylor – Baylor DT - Phil Taylor is a controversial prospect because he transferred from Penn State after getting kicked off the team. He didn’t play on a good defense at Baylor and doesn’t have great college production. His tools are very rare, however, and he’s a legit nose tackle prospect. The combination of size and quickness, with pretty good hands get him in 1st round discussion. The Chiefs need a nose tackle and Pioli has drafted one in the 1st round before in Vince Wilfork. Pioli knows the importance of filling that position with a special player if the opportunity is there.
22. Indianapolis Colts – Drake Nevis – LSU DT - A bit high for Nevis? Mark Ingram doesn’t think so. When he was asked who the best defensive player he ever faced in college was, he said without hesitation, Drake Nevis. Forget his small size for the position, the Colts don’t care about that in their defensive lineman anyways. Nevis has great feel for leverage because he had to in college at his small size. He has a great nose for the football and always seems to be able to beat the guy in front of him. He’s a football player period. He’s also a great fit in the Colts cover 2 scheme that simply demands their 3-techniques get up field off the snap. I would not be surprised to see the Colts call Nevis’ name on draft day.
23. Philadelphia Eagles – Tyron Smith – USC OT - After seeing Vick’s play drop off substantially when the Eagles couldn’t pass protect in the playoffs, I fully expect Andy Reid to once and for all plug up the right tackle spot with Smith. Winston Justice was replaced mid-game in the playoffs and should probably never see the field again because he constantly gets beat. The Eagles have an explosive offense and should be looking to add to their defense, but they simply can’t ignore the right tackle problem. Smith played right tackle in college so he should easily make the transition to the pro game.
24. New Orleans Saints – Justin Houston – Georgia DE - The Saints pick for need in the 1st round, so going off that I expect them to add a pass rusher. They don’t have a speed rush element to their defense right now, and it really showed in their Seattle playoff loss. The Saints often had to overcompensate for their lack of speed rush on the edges by blitzing and it cost them. Houston could be a 3rd down pass rushing specialist right away.
25. Seattle Seahawks – Corey Liuget – Illinois DT - Liuget is a force and it doesn’t take a genius to notice it when watching Illinois’ defense. He’s disruptive and never cleanly blocked no matter where he lines up. He’s a great fit for the Seahawks’ defense as a penetrating 3-technqiue in their cover 2 scheme. The Seahawks proved to have more than adequate speed rush when Chris Clemons and Raheem Brock were on the field. They could add some push to the middle now with Liuget.
26. Baltimore Ravens – Jimmy Smith – Colorado CB - Smith is a tall corner with outstanding speed for his size. He has all the talent to be a #1 corner in the NFL but has character questions. He’s a bit of a diva and overall has a poor off the field reputation. He’d be a top 15 pick if it weren’t for those questions. The Ravens don’t seem to mind taking risks on character players and rightfully so, because they have great locker room guys in Kelly Gregg and Ray Lewis, who will enforce the Raven-way.
27. Atlanta Falcons – Kyle Rudolph – Notre Dame TE - Like Nevis, Rudolph is another player who I like more than most. He has ideal tight end size at 6’6 260 and runs like a receiver. He has pillows for hands and is a dominant seam route-runner. Tight ends are always better utilized in the NFL, so I expect him to be a better pro than college player. Because he came from a spread, he wasn’t operating as a blocker or running routes in short spaces, so he’s also a tough tight end to evaluate. I see enough raw ability to put him in the 1st round. Rudolph could apprentice under Tony Gonzalez for his rookie year and eventually be Matt Ryan’s go-to target in the middle of the field in the future.
28. New England Patriots – Torrey Smith – Maryland WR - I’ve heard numerous times that the Patriots are in the hunt for a vertical wide receiving threat. They’ve been linked to Chad Ochocinco in trade rumors and A.J. Green in draft trade rumors. It would be more of the Patriot-way to not cash in an asset for one of those guys, and instead, wait to take a late 1st round flyer on a guy like Torrey Smith. Some say he’s exclusively a vertical threat, but the Patriots are all about role players anyway, and if he’s really good at that one role then why not? We know Tom Brady can get him the ball, and having a deep threat like Torrey could allow for more room underneath, where the Patriots live on offense. Torrey also fits the profile of the kind of player the Patriots look for, selfless and team-oriented.
29. Chicago Bears – Marvin Austin – North Carolina DT - One of the most unreported Combine developments was the emergence of Marv Austin. He posted the best 10-yard split for a defensive tackle, which means he had the quickest twitch off the line for a position that demands quickness off the snap. That makes him an ideal fit in Lovie Smith’s cover 2 scheme as a penetrating 3-technique. When Tommie Harris was a dominant force at that position, it made the Chicago Bears defense Super Bowl-caliber. They need to address this missing element and Austin would be an instant boost.
30. New York Jets – Ryan Kerrigan – Purdue DE - Is Kerrigan a good enough athlete to be a stand-up rush linebacker in the NFL? That’s the big question with him. He shocked a lot of people by testing very well at the Combine. He posted one of the best 10-yard splits, which shows he has burst off the line in the same caliber as the best pass rushers in this draft. So does that make him a great athlete? No. But in a lot of ways I don’t think that’s that important. Jared Allen isn’t a great athlete, but he has a motor and a knack for pass rushing, which is what Kerrigan has too. Besides, the Jets drafted a heck of an athlete in Vernon Gholston once upon a time. Maybe this time they should focus more on how good of a football player the prospect is.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers – Muhammad Wilkerson – Temple DE - Wilkerson’s best trait on tape is that he’s always around the ball. He’s active and for his size, he covers a lot of ground. He played defensive end in Temple’s 3-4 packages and slid inside in 4-man fronts. I like him as a fit for the Steelers because he won’t’ have to play right away and can ease into their defensive line rotation slowly like Evander Hood (former 1st round pick) has. The Steelers love the big defensive lineman that can 1-gap and 2-gap and Wilkerson can do both.
32. Green Bay Packers – Nate Solder – Colorado OT - We know Solder has the freakish athleticism. We know he’s 6’8 and well over 300 pounds. So why is he this low? He’s likely a RTO (right tackle only) at the NFL level, which is a death sentence because versatility is so important for offensive lineman, because teams don’t want to suit-up too many of them on game day. Solder gets beat by speed rushers way too easily and has bad technique. He doesn’t “open up the gate” smoothly, and is susceptible to inside rush moves when he does. But he does have tools that NFL offensive line coaches drool over. The Packers need to upgrade their athleticism at their tackle spots and could use a youth infusion there, as Daryn Colledge is old and average anyways. Solder could solidify the right tackle spot and allow for the Packers to play Bulaga at left tackle down the line.