Welcome every one to my first attempt at a mock draft for Mocking the Draft. Normally, I spend my time at Mocking the Draft's Prospect Film Library, putting together our collection of game tape on the top prospects for the upcoming draft. I tend to stick to a few tenants when drafting (the biggest being if you don't have a QB, OT, CB, or Pass Rusher, you got to get one) and I'm sure that will lead to more than a few debates. Or maybe just outright scorn. I will do my best to stick with team needs per our "Team Needs" pages, which can be found on the left side of the home page. There is less than a month til the draft, so lets have some fun.
A month before the draft and the first pick is still some what up in the air. This could still very easily be a quarterback, but every thing I read says owner Jerry Richardson won't sign off on Newton and the GM still loves Clausen and thinks he has a future (he did draft him). New head coach Ron Riveria may still convince them to let him draft his quarterback, but for now he gets the highest rated and most versatile D-lineman available. A healthy Dareus is a dominate presence in the middle of the line and has the potential for a Suh-like performance.
2. Denver (4-12) - Patrick Peterson CB
Peterson is too good a talent at a too important a position to fall out of the top five picks. The draft is deep with defensive lineman and Denver could pair Peterson with Bailey for what could quickly be the best corner duo in the NFL, a passing league. Peterson would be entering his prime as Bailey's contract ends. File this under "Just Saying...": Current Bronco GM Brian Xanders used his first two 1st round picks on cornerbacks when GM for Atlanta.
3. Buffalo (4-12) - Von Miller, OLB
With Buffalo sticking with the 3-4 defense, getting a pass rusher has to be a priority. If coach Chan Gailey is serious about sticking with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, there is no more impactful pick than Miller. An instant pass rush threat to help compete in the AFC East.
4. Cincinnati (4-12) - Da'Quan Bowers, DE
This time around, I'm going with Cincinnati calling Palmer's bluff. The Bengals have had some issues at DE. Odom has been a beast when healthy, but he hasn't played a full season in Cincy since signing as a FA. Dunlap has been a nice addition, but Michael Johnson is being moved off the line to linebacker. Adding Bowers and a healthy Odom will make this defense dangerous.
5. Arizona (5-11) - Blaine Gabbert, QB
Arizona can't stop high-fiving themselves. Gabbert's college game would translate well to the Cardinals offense (shotgun heavy, lots of crossing routes) and would already have great receiving weapons. The possibility of their offense running as it did with Warner is too good to pass up.
6. Cleveland (5-11) - Nick Fairley, DT
The Browns are in the midst of switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 and needs a lot of personnel changes. Luckily, the draft is deep in defensive lineman and they can get that talent early and often. With Bowers gone there isn't a 4-3 pass rusher valued this high, so Fairley's potential pass pressure from up the middle is a nice consolation.
7. San Francisco (6-10) - Prince Amukamara, CB
A good balance on value and need, Prince boosts the 49er secondary with Clements and Spencer. Clements is 31 and Amukamara could ease his transition out in the next few years.
8. Tennessee (6-10) - Cam Newton, QB
Newton is too great a talent for Tennessee to pass up. Bud Adams has shown he likes his quarterbacks athletic and new head coach Mike Munchak was part of an offensive staff that got a lot out of Vince Young and Newton is a much better talent than Young.
9. Dallas (6-10) - Tyron Smith, OT
Smith helps upgrade the protection of their franchise. Smith has the size and athleticism to compete with both the quick and powerful pass rushers of the NFC East. Smith and Free can duel for which side of the line they'll play on for the next 5-10 years.
10. Washington (6-10) - Jake Locker, QB
Locker is the ideal QB for Shanahan's system. Lots of play action combined with roll outs to take advantage of his athleticism and accuracy on the move. The Redskins also have two tight end threats that would aid in his development.
11. Houston (6-10) - Robert Quinn, OLB/DE
Houston is another team making a defensive switch which makes getting a pass rusher that fits that system a priority. Quinn could play a Brian Orakpo role by playing standing up and with his hand in the dirt as they transition to their new defensive system.
12. Minnesota (6-10) - Ryan Mallett, QB
I've always thought that Mallett's "character issues" were overblown and this extremely thorough piece by Simon Clancy, Chris Kouffman, and Richard Lines helps separate the rumor from the fact. Mallett's pedigree and experience running Bobby Petrino's offense makes him one of the most prepared quarterbacks to step in and build around. If they can keep Rice and continue to rebuild the O-line through the rest of the 2011 draft, the Vikings could be back competing for the NFC North crown in a hurry.
13. Detroit (6-10) - Jimmy Smith, CB
The Lions have made great strides since their 0-16 season and a lot of that has to do with the improvement of their defense. To continue that improvement, adding talent to the secondary is a must. Jim Schwartz has done well with talented, but trouble athletes and could get the best out of the Colorado corner.
14. St. Louis (7-9) - A.J. Green, WR
Before you go running to write angry comments hear me out. I said I would be sticking to my drafting mantras to keep it interesting and here is a big one after valuing the Top 4 positions: Wide receiver is a luxury pick at the top of the draft. You should only take one when you are covered at the top four positions and generally, when drafting in top ten picks you aren't covered. Take the 49ers of a few years ago. Spent a top ten pick on a WR and are still drafting in the top of the draft while playing in one of the least competitive divisions in the NFL. Any top ten pick team this year that does draft Green or Jones will be drafting there again in 2012, or whenever the next draft is. It won't be their fault though as both are very talented.
15. Miami (7-9) - Julio "Quintorris" Jones, WR
If you follow me on twitter @JoshMTD (where you get instant updates on our YouTube Channel, unleash your hate for my hypothetical situations i.e. mock drafts, talk about the draft and beyond) then you know I am a big fan of Julio Jones's given name. I know it will never happen, but I hope he puts it on the back of his jersey instead of Jones. I mean, they already have Reshad Jones on the roster and you wouldn't want to get them confused ;). Miami has said they are looking to add play makers and speed to the roster. They get both in Quintorris.
16. Jacksonville (8-8) - Cameron Jordan, DE
Jordan is the second most versatile behind Dareus. He can play the 4-3 end position and move inside on passing downs. A high character, high motor guy that helps to solidify their defensive line.
17. New England (14-2) -- from Oakland - Aldon Smith, OLB/DE
The Patriots need pass rushers and Smith is a highly rated prospect that Belichick can move around the field and exploit match-ups. Not unlike his strategy with tight ends on offense last season.
18. San Diego (9-7) - Cameron Heyward, DE/DT
The Chargers need to improve along the defensive line and adding Heyward is a good start. His disruptive play will help free up pass rush on the edge and stuff the run.
The Giants are aging on the offensive line and keeping the franchise quarterback upright and healthy is always a priority. Castonzo is the highest rated OT available and is a good value past the mid way point of round one.
20. Tampa Bay (10-6) - J.J. Watt, DE
Tampa Bay improved the interior of their defense in the 2010 draft and now look to improve the outside pass rush. Watt is another high character high motor guy who gets after the quarterback. Improving the pass rush will be a priority for the Bucs.
21. Kansas City (10-6) - Phil Taylor, DT
Kansas City has shown a lot of interest in Taylor and its easy to see why. Adding him in between Dorsey and Jackson improves that defensive line to the class of their conference. Finding a pass rusher to go with Hali and Vrabel later in the draft will be a big boost as well.
22. Indianapolis (10-6) - Derek Sherrod, OT
Much like the Manning in New York, the Manning in Indy needs to be protected. When they start playing games Manning will be on his last contract and keeping him healthy through it is the way to go.
23. Philadelphia (10-6) - Mike Pouncey, OG
The Eagles have needs on the offensive line and in the defensive secondary. Pouncey has the better fit and value for Philadelphia. He should be able to start at guard and play center if need be.
24. New Orleans (11-5) - Mark Ingram, RB
Ingram finally finds his home and he walks into a great situation. He can step into the lead ball carrier role and free up Bush to be moved around the field. Ingram can take the majority of carries while Bush gets more touches in the passing game and Thomas/Ivory can spell Ingram and play the goal line.
25. Seattle (7-9) - Gabe Carimi, OT
Seattle needs to upgrade their offensive line among other things and Carimi could replace Locklear at RT or move inside and improve their interior support.
26. Baltimore (12-4) - Akeem Ayers, OLB/DE
I know Ayers hasn't tested well this off-season, but his tape shows a dynamic play maker in the same vain as Terrell Suggs. Having Ayers in rotation along that defensive front will keep that pass rush dangerous. Being 27th in sacks needs to be improved.
27. Atlanta (13-3) - Aaron Williams, CB/S
Williams is a weapon that could be used all around the Falcon secondary. He could be teamed with Moore on the back end or be brought up to guard the slot and tight end.
28. New England (14-2) - Leonard Hankerson, WR
New England grabbed a pass rusher earlier in the round and have enough picks to play a little loose. Hankerson is a possession receiver that would team up well with the speedster Tate and the TE group. Hankerson is currently my 3rd rated WR and would be a good value here in the late first, early second.
29. Chicago (11-5) - Corey Liuget, DT
Da Bears need to begin restocking on the offensive line and all over the front seven on defense. There isn't as great a value at this spot on the offensive line as there is on the defensive line at this point in the draft and Liuget helps transition from Tommie Harris.
You can never have enough pass rushers when in a 3-4 defense and Reed can help keep the rush coming with the loss of Jason Taylor. Reed isn't as big a run defender, but his quicks of the snap could make him a terror for quarterbacks.
31. Pittsburgh (12-4) - Muhammad Wilkerson, DE/DT
The Steelers need to get younger along their D-line and Wilkerson presents a great value at the end of the first round. With his size and speed, he should be able to play all across their 3-4 front and rotate in with Brett Keisel and Aaron Smith.
32. Green Bay (10-6) - Adrian Clayborn, DE/DT
Green Bay will be looking to upgrade their defensive end position to be paired with Jenkins (assuming he is re-signed) and Raji. Clayborn can help free up the outside pass rush and help add depth to a position that suddenly needs it. They'll be able to find a pass rusher and offensive lineman in later rounds.