This is my first go at a mock draft this year. It took me a while to wade through all the defensive linemen, but maybe I am close. For full disclosure, I am a Colts fan - it may have affected my mock. Be brutal on the mock, but not too brutal on me.
1. Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton, QB, Auburn – I don’t like this pick. I wouldn’t make this pick. But from everything I hear from people in places to hear things…this is the way the Panthers are leaning. Mobile QBs are not top flight, NFL QBs. But no one can deny Newton’s athleticism.
2. Denver Broncos – Marcell Darius, DT, Alabama – This shouldn’t be much of a question for the Broncos. They should be set at DE with Dumerville and Ayers. Darius can anchor the middle for years to come.
3. Buffalo Bills – Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri – Sure they need help on the DLine and in their linebacking corps, but QBs run the NFL and Gabbert is the best in this class.
4. Cincinnati Bengals – A. J. Green, WR, Georgia – With the top two QBs gone, maybe the Bengals can lure Palmer back to the stadium with this year’s #1 WR.
5. Arizona Cardinals – Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M – The top two QBs are gone and this team has blooming CB (or two). Miller gives them a much needed pass rush and will allow their current CBs to look even better.
6. Cleveland Browns – Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson – For a team switching to 4-3, this is a dream come true. The 4-3 is based on quality pressure from the DE and Bowers should be able to supply that. However, no one would be surprised to see the Browns go with Julio Jones. McCoy needs weapons. But there is no sense in switching to the 4-3 without quality pressure from at least one DE.
7. San Francisco 49ers – Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU – Speaking of dreams…the man whom some regard as the best player in this draft drops to a team who is in desperate need of a CB. Even if Peterson is already gone, look for the 49ers to go with Amukamara.
9. Dallas Cowboys – Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska – This is almost a luxury pick for the Cowboys and maybe that is why some speculate that Jones will trade down. I’m willing to bet the other Texas team would make a deal.
10. Washington Redskins – Julio Jones, WR, Alabama – Too easy for the Redskins. The top QBs are gone and the 2nd best WR (and at this point it might be more like 1A and 1B) is just sitting there. Robert Quinn or J. J. Watt could be alternative picks here.
11. Houston Texans – Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina – With Wade Philips running the D and switching to his version of the 3-4, the Texans are in need of another DE and an OLB. I can’t remember who said it, but “Why switch to a 3-4 without linebackers?” Don’t look for the Texans to reach for a CB two years in a row. Actually, last year they were just wrong!
12. Minnesota Vikings – Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri – Ray Edwards seems to be out the door. This team needs LBs, CBs, and youth along both lines. Oh, and a QB. With all those needs, Smith is pretty much BPA. Castonzo, Liuget, and Watt could also go here.
13. Detroit Lions – Tyron Smith, OT, USC – Here is a team that you would forgive for reaching for a CB – Smith or Harris maybe. But so far, they have put the right players in place and right now, they need someone to keep Stafford upright. Tyron Smith seems to be this year’s Jason Pierre-Paul, a freakish athlete who, if coached right, will dominate for years.
14. St. Louis Rams – Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois – With dreams of Julio Jones vanishing, the Rams go to building a team that its head coach will love – allow the front four to destroy the OLine and rattle the best QBs in the league (see Giants-Patriots superbowl).
15. Miami Dolphins – Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama – This seems to be a given, but maybe it shouldn’t be. Maybe Brown just had a down year. And yes, Ricky Williams is 33, but not in RB years. He may have some tread left on the tires. They could go with Akeem Ayers. If I’m Miami, I’m trading back.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars – J. J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin – They have to stop Peyton Manning. It’s too early for Rahim Moore or Jimmy Smith, so look for Jacksonville to try and exploit Indy’s shoddy OLine.
17. New England Patriots – Cameron Jordan, DE, California – The Patriots have a lot of holes in their front 7. Fortunately, they have 6 picks in the first three rounds. Clayborn, Ayers, Heyward, Castonzo, or Pouncey could go here. What a luxury!
18. San Diego Chargers – Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple – What does this team need? They lead in offensive and defensive stats and a great motivational speaker isn’t worth taking this early. The weakest play from this team came from the DE spot. Wilkerson is rising quickly and could probably play NT if they need him to.
19. New York Giants – Mike Pouncey, G/C, Florida – Oline seems to be the consistent thought with the Giants. If Ingram was still on the board, he might be the pick. What I have been reading over the past week is that this team is high on Pouncey. They need youth all over the line and Pouncey looks to be versatile.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue – They have their DTs, now they need their DEs. Kerrigan is probably the best rushing DE on the board. CB Jimmy Smith is also an option here.
21. Kansas City Chiefs – Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA – This team has spent a lot on their DLine so look for them to go another direction this year. Their LBs are getting old; Ayers fixes that problem. Justin Houstin is an option here, or they could grab a solid NT prospect in Phil Taylor.
22. Indianapolis Colts – Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College – This is probably more wishful thinking but if Castonzo drops to Indy and they pass, fans will be calling for Polian’s head!!!
23. Philadelphia Eagles – Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin – Carimi could come in on day one and start at RT – exactly what the Eagles need up front. Jimmy Smith is an alternative pick.
24. New Orleans Saints – Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia – Just one season removed from a Super Bowl win, the Saints need help on defense. They just signed Shuan Rogers so they probably won’t go DT. OLB seems to be the biggest need. Rahim Moore might be an option.
25. Seattle Seahawks – Jake Locker, QB, Washington – Is Locker a reach? Sure. Can you blame the Seahawks? Nope! The second tier of QBs are decent QBs and they may all be gone before the Seahawks pick again.
26. Baltimore Ravens – Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado – DE and CB are the Ravens biggest needs. They have an all-star on the DLine and the all-star in the secondary may not play much longer. Smith even seems to have a “ravens attitude.”
27. Atlanta Falcons – Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa – The Falcons could go with a WR here, and maybe they should – someone to take some of the coverage away from White (although he still gets the job done). Abraham is getting old. Anderson didn’t work. They took an OLB in the first last year. Clayborn may not be the best pass rusher in the world, but he could anchor the LE spot for a long time. Maybe the Falcons should trade back and grab Brooks Reed a little later.
28. New England Patriots – Danny Watkins, G, Baylor – Again, the possibilities are endless. Stephen Neal just retired and the line is aging. Plus, Watkins had just about everyone drooling at the combine. They could grab an OT – Solder or Sherrod.
29. Chicago Bears – Nate Solder, OT, Colorado – The Bears have three main holes in this draft: OT, WR, and DT. And they could fill any of these holes with this pick. Solder or Sherrod, Randall Cobb, or Stephen Paea. With Cutler’s injury and the number of sacks he took last year, I look for Solder to be the pick. Coach him right and he’ll be Cutler best friend for a long time!
30. New York Jets – Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor – The Jets need a quality pass rushing LB, but Kris Jenkins can’t stay healthy and Taylor presents good value at a position of need. This should be an easy pick. Unless Rex needs more CBs.
31. Pittsburg Steelers – Aaron Williams, CB, Texas – The Steelers could go with Sherrod, but getting beat in the Superbowl by the pass will leave a bad taste in your mouth. Brandon Harris may be the better corner, but Williams seems to fit the Steeler mold better.
32. Green Bay Packers – Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State – If Jenkins leaves, then this turns from a luxury pick to a need pick. But I think Heyward is the pick either way. He could do a lot of things in Caper’s defense.