Screwfish's Mock Draft (Trades Included)

Carolina - Cam Newton (QB, Auburn)
This would not be a mistake. It would be a cataclysmic error that will set the Panthers franchise back years.

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Despite their 2-14 record, this Carolina team isn’t really that bad. They’re a few pieces away from being decent. The smart move would be to take a defensive lineman (Marcel Dareus, possibly) and build up from there.

However, rumour is that the Panthers are seriously looking at Newton for the No.1 even after his mediocre Combine performance.

I’m not a Cam Newton hater – in fact, I think he’ll be pretty good if he gets in the right situation. Carolina isn’t the right situation. They have a lousy defense, no one experienced with developing QBs on the coaching staff (and a bad track record of doing so as a franchise), no decent receivers and an O-Line comparable to Swiss cheese. Not the right place for a one-year wonder with no experience of playing under center. Especially when you c.onsider the expectations that will be placed on him as the No.1 pick – he’ll have to come in and be a star from the get-go

One would hope this didn’t happen, but dumber moves have been made in the NFL draft.


Denver – Marcel Dareus (DT, Alabama)
For Denver, their strategy is simple – Best and Most Valuable Defensive Player Available. They’ll consider Patrick Peterson at this spot, but in the end I feel (and hope) they’ll let him fall because a cornerback at this spot is a bit of a luxury pick when there are other holes to be filled, particularly the defensive line.

Dareus moved ahead of Nick Fairley on most draft boards after an excellent Combine, where he ran a 4.92 40 after weighing in at 319 pounds. He’ll be an ideal DT for John Fox’s new 4-3 defense.


Buffalo – Patrick Peterson (CB, LSU)
If Cam Newton doesn’t go to Carolina, I think it’s a fair bet that Buffalo pick him up (and it’d also be a better situation for him). But since I think the Panthers might just be suckered into Newton, I’m predicting Patrick Peterson to the Bills.

Not that they’ll be too sad. In my not very humble opinion, Peterson is the best player in this draft by some margin – the only reason he won’t be a No.1 pick is because cornerbacks aren’t worth being taken that high – and the best cornerback prospect to enter the NFL in years.

Peterson fits in with owner Ralph Wilson’s stated desire in the last draft to “create some excitement” in his team (he’s also a mad kick returner) and it’s not like the Bills don’t need a cornerback, with Terrence McGee aging and often injured. Plus, when you play Tom Brady twice a year there’s no such thing as having too good of a secondary.


Cincinnati – Von Miller (DE/OLB, Texas A&M)

If Carson Palmer makes good on his threats to retire if the Bengals don’t trade him, I’d have to believe that Blaine Gabbert will go here given Mike Brown’s love of spending high on quarterbacks. However, I anticipate this battle to be a long, drawn out one and it’ll be the only non-lockout NFL news we hear until September.

In that case, Von Miller would be the smartest pick. Cincy had a terrible pass rush last season – it was one of the main reasons for their fall from the playoffs to 4-12 – and while the Bengals are one team who won’t care about Da’Quan Bowers’ character concerns, Miller had an incredible combine and probably leap-frogs him as the best pass rusher available. Cincy’s 4-3 defense is not ideal for Miller, who’s a natural 3-4 OLB, but he’s big and strong enough to play defensive end in the NFL.

Of course, Mike Brown rarely makes the smart move, so you might just want to ignore this entire prediction. Ryan Mallett for the #4 pick. I said it first.


Arizona – TRADE (No.5 and  to Tennessee for No.8, No.77 and a 2012 No.2)
Tennessee – Blaine Gabbert (QB, Missouri)

If Von Miller doesn’t go before Zona, they’ll take him before Roger Goodell can even announce the pick. They need to upgrade their pass rush in the worst way.

However, he’s off the board and given the depth of pass rushers in this draft, I can see them trading down to try get a few more picks.

As much as the Cardinals need an upgrade at quarterback, I can’t see Ken Whisenhunt gambling his job on an unproven rookie. I imagine Zona will be looking at a veteran this off-season through trade or FA.

The Titans, on the other hand, desperately need an upgrade at QB and with a new coaching regime, they will be more inclined to gamble on Gabbert. While he is an intriguing prospect, he comes with his own flaws (poor fitness, product of a shotgun spread offense in college). Tennessee isn’t an ideal place for a young QB right now, but I imagine that their offense will mostly be “give the ball to Chris Johnson and get out of his way” no matter who they have under center next year.

With San Francisco also looking closely at Gabbert, the Titans may be inclined to be the aggressors.


Cleveland – A.J. Green (WR, Georgia)

I’m interested in this Browns team. They play hard, showed some good signs this year and, in Colt McCoy, might finally have the franchise quarterback they’ve sought since reinstatement.

If McCoy is to be their man, however, their next job is to get him someone to throw to. A.J. Green was, for a while, being talked about as a No.1 pick and the next Calvin Johnson before an average Combine – but stopwatches and bench press stats don’t measure his talent. The guy is a true deep threat who’s also effective in the short and intermediate game. In short, exactly the kind of No.1 receiver McCoy needs.

The Browns get very lucky with Green’s slip as they get to fill their main hole. Now to see if they can challenge for the AFC North next season.


San Francisco – TRADE (No.7 and No.166 to Philadelphia for Kevin Kolb, No. 23 and a conditional 2012 pick)
Philadelphia – Prince Amukamara (CB, Nebraska)

Left field? Certainly. But when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Philly have nothing at cornerback opposite from Asante Samuel, and in a division with a load of great receivers and QBs you need a strong secondary.

Kolb will be one of the hottest properties this off-season – there’s even talk he could be worth a 2012 No.1 to some teams. However, this move makes sense for everyone. San Francisco get a quarterback who should be hitting his prime for Jim Harbaugh’s new spin on the West Coast Offense. Philly get a potential perennial Pro Bowler for a backup QB. Who loses?

Amukamara is a hell of a CB either way. He may not have quite the explosiveness of Peterson, but he may be an even better man-to-man guy.


Arizona – Robert Quinn (OLB/DE, North Carolina)

Now here’s why Zona weren’t afraid to drop down. Some say that Quinn is as good as Miller and would have shown it had the NCAA Mafia not banned him for the past season. Either way, while he didn’t put up Miller’s combine stats his on-field doings in his two years of college speak for themselves. He’ll instantly beef up the Cardinals’ wimpy rush.


Dallas – Da’Quan Bowers (DE, Clemson)

The main areas of need for Dallas (cornerback, running back, offensive tackle) don’t make much sense here, but I can’t see Jerry Jones and his ego moving down. Therefore, they’ll just take the best player available who works for them.

Bowers has been talked about as a top 3 pick, but he fell in my mock due to only having one really good year in college (and not being a quarterback) and character concerns. However, Jones has shown that he’s willing to take on dodgy types if they fit the team (Dez Bryant last year) and the Cowboys could use an upgrade at DE on their line, with Igor what’s his name declining.


Washington – Nick Fairley (DT, Auburn)

Poor Nick Fairley. For being under 300 pounds at the Combine, he falls from a certain top-3 pick to the nut house of the NFL (and I’m an Oakland supporter).

Like a certain former free agent bust defensive tackle for the Skins, Fairley is probably best suited for the 4-3. However, unlike Fat Albert, Fairley is also able to play defensive end in a 3-4 scheme, and he wasn’t talked about as a No.1 overall pick for no reason. Whether he is able to play under Midget Dan without losing his will to live is another question altogether.


Houston – Aldon Smith (OLB/DE, Missouri)

See the first sentence I wrote for Denver, then apply it to the Texans. Wade Phillips has come out and said he wants to make this a 3-4 team – while I could argue about the merits of putting your only decent defensive player (Mario Williams) in a scheme not suited for his talents, I’ll keep it short and say that the Texans could stand to use an upgrade to their pass rush.

Smith reminds me and many others a lot of Justin Pierre-Paul last year (a raw athletic freak with questions over his football smarts) only with other queries over his fitness. However, the Texans can’t afford to bother themselves with such worries. They need a pass rusher, Smith has to be their guy.


Minnesota – TRADE (No. 12 and No.136 to St Louis for No. 14 and No. 78)
St. Louis – Julio Jones (WR, Alabama)

With Arizona and SF rebuilding and the Seahawks set to slide after their short Cinderella run in the playoffs last season, the NFC West is the Rams’ for the taking in the next few years. However, if they plan to make it so they have to get Sam Bradford a playmaking wide receiver.

Jones’ stock has shot up after his terrific Combine performance, where he ran a 4.39 40 on a broken foot and looked incredible in the passing drills. The one knock on him is that he drops balls he shouldn’t, but that’s more a lack of concentration than Heyward-Bey-esque lack of skill.

The Rams would be lucky if he slipped to 12 – if he did, I see them making this deal. Minnesota would do it because they get a 3rd round pick back to replace the one they pissed away…sorry, gave to the Pats for Randy Moss (bet they’d love that one back). The Vikings’ main areas of need (both lines) can be fixed at 14.


Detroit – TRADE (No. 13 and 2012 No.1 to New England for No. 17 and No. 33)
New England – Tyron Smith (OT, USC)

I know it’s not like the Pats to trade up, but they have one major need (protecting Tom Brady) and a minor one (improving their pass rush).

Once Tyron Smith weighed it at 305 pounds at the Combine, it became a given that he would be the first offensive tackle taken off the board in this draft. Even though he mostly played RT in college, he has the technique and athleticism to be an elite pass-protecting left tackle in the NFL.

As long as they have Brady, the Pats will be title contenders. They’ve got to protect him better than they did this year.


Minnesota – Cameron Jordan (DE, California)
Cameron Jordan put in a terrific Senior Bowl performance that solidified him as a top-15 pick in this year’s draft. Minnesota need a pass rusher and run stopper across from Jared Allen on their defensive line. Too easy. Next pick please.


Miami – Mark Ingram (RB, Alabama)

I am never a fan of taking running backs high in the draft. Unless the guy is an absolute athletic freak of nature (e.g. Darren McFadden) it’s not really worth it. Tailbacks are a dime a dozen these days – last year’s rushing leader was a UDFA, for God’s sake. So I wouldn’t make this pick if I were Jeff Ireland.

However, with both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams halfway out the door, the Phins need a tailback and Ingram is the best in this draft. Need doesn’t always jibe with value, sadly for Miami fans.


Jacksonville – Ryan Kerrigan (DE, Purdue)
The Jags have spent big money shoring up their defensive line in the past few drafts, and while most of their picks have panned out they’re still a pass rushing DE away from elite status.
Kerrigan is one of the best left in this draft, and he’s also a high character, high motor type – Gene Smith loves those guys.


Detroit – Nate Solder (OT, Colorado)

If the Lions plan to make the playoffs any time soon, one thing they’re got to get better at is protecting Matt Stafford. He’s shown in his short NFL career that he has the talent, but with the price of being a “China doll” as Zach Follett put it harshly but accurately.

Solder is a big, athletic guy who is probably a bit too raw to come in and start at LT from the word go, but he could spend a season or so on the openside and improve his pass protection skills to become the Lions’ offensive line leader of the future.


San Diego – Gabe Carimi (OT, Wisconsin)

Oy. I hated this pick, because Carimi is one of my favourite guys in the draft and I would not want to see him play for my team’s division rival and the team I hate the most. But one thing the Chargers really need is a mauling right tackle, and that’s exactly what Carimi is. He’s not an NFL LT – he doesn’t have the athleticism and isn’t a great pass blocker – but he’ll be the run blocker the Dolts need. More’s the pity. Oh well, at least their special teams will still suck and they have Norv Turner as a coach.


New York Giants – Martez Wilson (ILB, Illinois)
A bit out of left field, true, but the Giants need linebacking help. Wilson had an incredible combine that put him on the verge of the first round. This may seem like a stretch to some, but NYG showed with Justin Pierre-Paul last year that they’re not afraid to go after supposed workout warriors and mold them into football players.


Tampa Bay – J.J. Watt (DE/DT, Wisconsin)
The Bucs are another young group that are probably just a couple of pieces away from a perennial playoff team. One of those pieces is a pass-rushing DE. Watt is a high motor (bad pun) guy who’s stock has been rising steadily since a great Combine. Tampa will be happy to have him.


Kansas City – Stephen Paea (DT, Oregon)
The Queefs may have bumbled their way into the playoffs this year, but unless they find a run-plugging nose tackle for their 3-4 scheme it’ll be the last time as long as Darren McFadden is in the division.

Paea’s stock has risen with his record-breaking bench press at the Combine, and I’m not looking forward to the prospect of facing him twice a year.


Indianapolis – Anthony Castonzo (OT, Boston College)
Without Peyton Manning, the Colts are a 4-12 team. Bill Polian surely recognises this. He also surely recognises that therefore the main objective has to be keeping Peyton happy and on the field. A new contract should do the former – keeping him on the field will require an offensive line that grasps the concept of blocking for a quarterback.

Drafting Castonzo would be a start. He doesn’t have the upside of Smith or Solder, but he’s probably the most NFL- ready left tackle in this draft.


San Francisco – Jimmy Smith (CB, Colorado)

The Niners have a pretty decent defense except for their cornerbacks. Jimmy Smith has character issues and seems like an arrogant little twat (saying you’re better than the best pure shutdown corner in the league and a future HOFer? Dude) but he can play and San Fran will ignore his off-field stuff if he can contribute on it. With Kolb and Smith after day 1, they’re set to make a major charge for the NFC West title.


New Orleans – Akeem Ayers (OLB, UCLA)

The Saints are pretty stacked all over except at linebacker. Ayers is probably the best player available at this point. A no-brainer…next please.


Seattle – Stefen Wisniewski (C/G, Penn State)

As nice as the Seahawks’ story was, them winning one playoff game doesn’t change the fact that this is a pretty flawed team with holes all over, especially on the offensive line. Wisniewski is an ideal center for a zone blocking team, and it just so happens that Tom Cable is a ZBS devotee. I bet the fat wife beater would like to get one over Al D as well by taking the nephew of his new assistant O-Line coach and former Raider legend.


Baltimore – Torrey Smith (WR, Maryland)

The Ravens have plenty of possession receivers, but what they don’t have is a true vertical threat. Flacco has the arm strength, now all he needs is someone to stretch the field. Torrey Smith is the best in this draft. Even though his hands are small, he can catch and he ran a 4.3 40 at the combine. Wouldn’t be much of a move either.


Atlanta – Kyle Rudolph (TE, Notre Dame)

Tony Gonzalez has maybe one year max left in him. Matt Ryan needs another reliable guy to throw to. See where I’m going with this?

While Gonzalez is on the team, the Falcons have the opportunity to run a bunch of 2TE sets similar to what the Patriots were doing this year. In a league where tight ends are basically becoming WRs who love KFC a bit too much, Rudolph is more of an old-school tight end who can block in the run game while being a solid receiver. I like him – he reminds me of Zach Miller.


New England – TRADE (No. 27 to Dallas for No. 40 and a 2012 No.1)
Dallas – Rahim Moore (FS, UCLA)

As I covered earlier, Dallas need improvements in their secondary if they plan on getting past Philly and the Giants to make it back to the playoffs. Moore doesn’t always have the greatest motor, but he’s the most talented safety in this draft.


Chicago – Mike Pouncey (G, Florida)

Whether Jay Cutler could have played or not, one thing’s for sure – as long as the Bears offensive line continues to block like a revolving door Cutler’s going to be spending a lot more time with the trainers. With B.J. Raji, Clay Matthews, Jared Allen and Ndamukong Suh all in their division Chicago needs to give Cutler some sort of protection. At least then he doesn’t have an excuse for throwing into quadruple coverage.


New York Jets – Jonathan Baldwin (WR, Pittsburgh)

Even with a great receiving corps, elite running game and offensive line and one of the best defenses in the NFL, Mark Sanchez only becomes a serviceable quarterback when the playoffs come around. With Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards both free agents, if they both leave the playoffs may not even be in the picture for the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS! cause I don’t have an ounce of faith in Sanchez. Either way, if one or both leave Rex Ryan will need a receiver.
At 6’5” and 230, Baldwin is a prototypical modern wideout. He isn’t the most explosive guy and comes with red flags, but he has great hands and runs crisp routes. The ideal safety valve for Sanchez.


Pittsburgh – Phil Taylor (NT, Baylor)

Do the Steelers need another defensive tackle right now? No, but with Casey Hampton approaching the twilight of his career it seems to be a very Steeler thing to do to start looking for the future anchor of the Steel Curtain.
Taylor has been shooting up draft boards recently and is probably the best pure NT in the draft. He’s a big but surprisingly athletic unit who can stop the run .


Green Bay – Brandon Harris (CB, Miami)

The Packers have no obvious holes (how else did they win the Superbowl?) but with Charles Woodson not getting any younger, they may look to the future at CB. Harris was great in the Combine drills in both pass and run support. Give him a while and he could well become the next Woodson.


I’m down to do a second round if anyone else thinks this is good, but since it's mostly rambling and my trades are ludicrous, rip on.

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