Here's my second attempt at a mock, also with what I was thinking when I made each pick and how I made my decisions. Please leave any of your thoughts in the comments....
DT MARCELL DAREUS, ALABAMA
As much as I think the potential of Cam Newton makes sense at #1 overall, we can't forget a very important fact about the first overall pick: who's making it. To be honest, the Panthers are a boring team. They aren't the team to make a splashy move or take huge gambles. Their new head coach (Rivera) will want to rebuild the defense, a task which begins with a stronger defensive line, and Dareus. The Panthers aren't the sort of team or management who gives up on a second round pick after one year. A team which employed Jake Delhomme as their QB for many years is not the one who's going to take the risk of Cam Newton. The Panthers are a model of stability and consistency. While this is hardly a sexy pick (it's not sexy AT ALL), it makes more sense for the Panthers than the boom or bust quarterback in Newton.
DB PATRICK PETERSON, LSU
Peterson is too good of an athlete for them to pass up. With the chance to take a slam-dunk impact player, they'll do it here. Von Miller also might make sense, but I think Peterson comes with as much excitement with less risk.
OLB VON MILLER, TEXAS A&M
This defense has to improve. A potential elite pass rusher helps achieve that. Let's also address the question you'll have here: why not Newton? I don't think Gailey sees himself as having enough security to take the time to develop Newton. The fastest way that this team moves from awful to mediocre is by sticking with Fitzpatrick on offense (making them solid, but not great on that side of the ball) and making huge strides defensively. Gailey needs to win now, and taking a guy who could need years of time before you'd be confident to play him is not something he has time for. (At least not at the #3 overall pick)
WR JULIO JONES, ALABAMA
Wait? Why not AJ Green? Clearly you picked the incorrect WR for the Bengals! Actually, no. I think the Bengals pass on Green to take Jones. Jones is a much more physical receiver who's a better blocker. He showed at the combine that he's at the same level as Green. The Bengals will take the elite WR who's a better fit for their system. Answering the question of "Why not Gabbert?", I think they'll shoot for Dalton or Ponder in Round 2, who are much clearer fits in a West Coast offense than the mobile QBs of Gabbert or Newton.
DE/OLB ROBERT QUINN, UNC
The 3-4 Defense needs pass rushers. They take the best 3-4 OLB prospect available. (And don't take Newton or Gabbert because it's hardly Wisenhunt's style to take risky, raw prospects. A team that is trying to establish a mentality of making solid moves won't roll the dice on the project QBs, at least not at 5th overall).
WR AJ GREEN, GEORGIA
Darn it. He didn't fall to the Redskins.
CB PRINCE AMUKAMARA, NEBRASKA
Phew, he didn't fall to the Cowboys.
QB BLAINE GABBERT, MISSOURI
First off, I don't think the Titans take Nick Fairley. Too many red flags. While he might be similar to Albert Haynesworth, I don't necessarily think the new Head Coach wants to bring in a new head case. (If my view of Haynesworth is skewed by the fact I'm a Redskins fan, please tell me in the comments). I think this is the type of team that wants to take a QB to tell the league: We're new management, Vince Young is definitely gone and there's going to be a new look/face of this team. It then comes down to Gabbert or Newton. I think Newton's red flags scare them away, and his similarities to Vince Young would also be a little alarming. They take the QB with no character concerns here.
OT ANTHONY COSTONZO, BOSTON COLLEGE
The Cowboys want to win now. Costonzo will be able to protect Romo sooner than Tyron Smith. Smith is also a much riskier prospect, and while he has more upside, Costonzo could be plugged right in as a solid player. (I see Tyron Smith falling a bit- it seems as though the project left tackles fall further than we expect them too, think of Bruce Campbell or Michael Oher.) (I may be 110% wrong about Smith, so please don't hurt me in the comments.)
QB CAM NEWTON, AUBURN
What's the one coach with the ego to ignore any concerns about character to take a raw player with immense skill and believe that they are the one who can make them into a superstar? Hello Mike Shanahan. Your ego and Cam's will be very happy together. (I'm still undecided on how I would feel about Cam going to the Redskins....On one hand he seems to have "it," but on the other hand it seems like a huge project that we'd be impatient with). In any event, Cam better be ready to run with only one NFL-caliber o-lineman blocking for him.
The rest after the jump....
11: Houston Texans
DE/OLB ALDON SMITH, MISSOURI
DT NICK FAIRLEY, AUBURN
As the Williams Wall cracks, a new DT is brought in. HC Fraiser will see himself as the type of coach who could coach Fairley into a superstar and harness his potential, so they make this pick to help improve the D-line.
13: Detroit Lions
DE JJ WATT, WISCONSIN
I feel like a broken record: a great Defense starts with the D-line. Watt helps improve the d-line even more. He's the best d-lineman available (Bowers better get comfortable because those injury concerns could cause him to drop, and the Lions wouldn't bank the progress of their rebuilding effort on a really risky player with a bad knee.). Watt is a solid player who fits the Lions mentality. While I know he seems like a photocopy of Adam Carricker, I think he's faster and more suited to 4-3 DE rather than 3-4 DE. (Lions fans, before you filet me, remember I didn't mock you a tackle! Be thankful!) (I don't give them Smith here because I don't think taking a project tackle (who's a risk to play LT) is the Lions M.O. with high first round picks. Next year is the turn around year, they need immediate impact).
14: St. Louis Rams
COREY LIUGET, DT, ILLIONIS
15: Miami Dolphins
QB JAKE LOCKER, WASHINGTON.
Henne is not the answer. Locker has a bit of the "it" of a superstar QB, so I have a good feeling about him. Teammates actually seem to like him, he's played in a pro style system, and he's a great athlete. Look how far McNabb got without being accurate..... I think the Dolphins take the chance, especially as Sparano needs to try to put his chances on the shoulders of someone that isn't Chad Henne.
(Did anyone else see the ESPN Year of the QB "Three for the Show" special the other night? I love the exchange between Locker and his trainer after he was seemingly knocked out by a viscious hit:
Locker: "I can't see! I can't open my eyes!"
Trainer: "Jake, it's your helmet. Your helmet is over your eyes."
Locker: "Ohhhhhh...did I get the first down?")
DE CAMERON JORDAN, CAL
I made this pick in my last mock and Jaguars fans were very happy with it. Not touching it now, unless Jordan goes earlier.
DE/OLB RYAN KERRIGAN, PURDUE
OLB AKEEM AYERS, UCLA
19: New York Giants
OG/C MIKE POUNCEY, FLORIDA
I could also see Pouncey going #15 to the Phins if they don't take a QB.
DE ADRIAN CLAYBORN, IOWA
Again, Da'Quan Bowers knee is too much of a red flag. Remember, the Bucs like CHARACTER red flags, not injury ones. Clayborn fills the need for a pass rusher and his knee isn't made of legos, so he's the pick here.
OG DANNY WATKINS, BAYLOR
Hmmm...Scott Pioli makes the Chiefs literally the Kansas City Patriots by picking the tough, gritty, 26 year old offensive guard. Considering the team's new M.O., I think Watkins is the pick here. (Yes, Watkins fits perfectly with the Pats mentality, making him a perfect pick for KC).
OT TYRON SMITH, USC
Smith falls this far due to concerns he's a project pick. At this point, however, he's the best option among himself, Carimi, and Solder. Manning needs protection, and Smith makes the most sense at this point to do it.
23: Philadelphia Eagles:
DE DA'QUAN BOWERS, CLEMSON
The Eagles are always looking to improve their pass rush (it's almost like they know that one team in their division has a JV offensive line.....). Bowers is the best pass rusher left, and the Eagles are the type of brave organization to stomach the risk of Bowers knee. (Similar to the Ravens taking Sergio Kindle last year. The fact that the team management knows they're safe enables them to make a very risky pick that could really help the team if it pans out).
DE JUSTIN HOUSTON, GEORGIA
After the last mock draft, where I mocked them a DT, Saints fans got really really angry. I'll try an athletic DE, but please don't be angry if that's not right. In any event, you have one of the best QBs in the league, one of the best coaches, and a super bowl trophy! I have Dan Snyder and the second era of Joe Gibbs! No reason to be angry over one mock draft! (At least the angry Lions fans have reason to be bitter....)
25: Seattle Seahawks
QB CHRISTIAN PONDER, FSU
I love Ponder. He's athletic, has an accurate arm, and a masters degree. He's a leader. He seems to have that "it" quality. I bet Carroll sees that too and makes the pick. (He's also a great fit for a West Coast offense. And the Seahawks are on the West Coast! (And more importantly run a West Coast offense).
26: Baltimore Ravens
CB JIMMY SMITH, COLORADO
Character Concerns + Ray Lewis = No problem. The Ravens need CBs badly, so they take the most talented CB left on the board. (The Ravens needed a CB so badly last year they traded QB John Beck for a Redskins scrub CB. QB JOHN BECK! You have to REALLY REALLY REALLY need a CB to give up JOHN BECK for one! Like, it's JOHN EFFING BECK!!) (I'm being facetious of course, yet he is the only QB we have under contract right now...)
27: Atlanta Falcons
TE KYLE RUDOLPH, NOTRE DAME
It looks like Gonzalez might be retiring. In any event, that leaves Matt Ryan with only one or two targets. The Falcons will increase that number by one with Ron Gronkowski 2.0, I mean, Rudolph.
28: New England Patriots
RB MARK INGRAM, ALABAMA
He better not end up the next Emmit Smith, because if he does, it's not fair that the Pats get Tom Brady and the new Emmit Smith. We have Rex Grossman and Keilland Williams. No fair. (In all likelihood, I think this pick is traded to the Bengals as they trade up to ensure themselves Andy Dalton. But I don't believe in mocking trades)
29: Chicago Bears
OT GABE CARIMI, WISCONSIN
They need to protect Cutler so he doesn't get any more injuries that call into question his toughness. (Notice something: Nate Solder is not in my first round. Something about him reeks Bruce Campbell. I think he falls A LOT).
30: New York Jets
DE MUHAMMED WILKERSON, TEMPLE
Is Muhammed Wilkerson more of a 3-4 or 4-3 DE? I thought it was more the former, so I put him here. Rex Ryan will find a way to use him either way (assuming his name isn't Vernon Gholston).
CB AARON WILLIAMS, TEXAS
Phil Taylor's injury concerns scare the Steelers away, who wouldn't take that much risk on a first round pick.
DE CAMERON HEYWARD, THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY