Last time I did a mock here I was both ripped apart for some of my moves, while I managed to get some props for others. So I went away, did some adjustments, factored in pro days and came up with this two round monstrosity.
This mock is done with the assumption that we will have a new CBA in place that allows for the trading of players with picks by the time of the draft. Seems unlikely, but stranger things have happened.
Fire at will. NB: Yes, I am a Raiders fan. I’ve tried to be fair with every team (in fact, it was easiest to mock for the other AFC West teams given that I know their strengths and weaknesses pretty well) but I won’t pretend to hide my bias.
Carolina - Cam Newton (QB, Auburn)
I criticised Newton as the No.1 pick before, but now it seems more and more likely that it’s gonna happen.
I’m of the school of thought that Cam Newton will be a very good (maybe not elite, but not far off) quarterback in the NFL once he develops into a pro-style offense. Carolina isn’t the worst place for him to develop - they have a good offensive line, Steve Smith and a couple of other OK receivers, a halfway decent defense and good run game.
The main reason I think Newton will do well is because he seems to really give a crap. It may not seem like much, but having suffered through the JaMarcus Era as a Raiders fan I know how important it is for your QB to be committed, to lead the team and to have fire in the belly. Newton has all of these attributes which I think override his other questions (mostly relating to immaturity, which will come with time). I think Ron Rivera sees the same things in him.
Still, the Panthers QB coach will need to work hard with him, and I certainly wouldn’t throw him as a starter from the get-go.
Denver - Marcel Dareus (DT, Alabama)
This pick pretty much seems like a given. Denver’s defense isn’t so much a colander but a destroyed bomb shelter right now that needs to be totally rebuilt, which new coach John Fox plans to do. Dareus, a massive defensive tackle with the athleticism to rush the passer and stop the run, is the focal point of said rebuild. He’s not as good as Ndamukong Suh was last year - but who is? I certainly don’t look forward to watching my team face him twice a year.
Buffalo - Patrick Peterson (CB, LSU)
GM Buddy Nix says he likes to take the best player available - hence, CJ Spiller last year. This time, however, the BPA is of more use to the Bills. Peterson is a star in the making and possibly the best CB prospect since Charles Woodson. You can’t afford to pass a guy like that up at any point, especially when your best CB is frequently injured and aging and the best quarterback in the league plays in your division.
I’ve seen Von Miller mocked here previously, a pick that would make sense - but I can’t look past Peterson’s ability as a pure shutdown corner.
Cincinnati - Blaine Gabbert (QB, Missouri)
I highly doubt Carson Palmer is bluffing. He’s spent nine years in Cincinnati where the team’s made the playoffs twice (and never won a game), his receiving corps are either very raw or a punchline, his owner refuses to spend the money to improve the team and he has to practice in the cold of Cincy winters. Plus, he has plenty of money, a wife who doesn’t like the city and a couple of kids he wants to be able to play with before some big defensive end puts him in a wheelchair for good. Do you see where I’m going? While part of this (especially the playoff losses) is on him, I imagine he’s just had a gutsful and wants to go back to California.
In which case, the Bengals will need a new quarterback, and Mike Brown loves spending high on QBs. Blaine Gabbert has good accuracy, a strong enough arm and all the intangibles (pro offense experience since high school excepted) to succeed in the NFL. Hopefully he can get out of Cincy before his spirit is completely crushed.
Arizona - Von Miller (OLB, Texas A&M)
Easiest pick of the draft so far. Miller is the best player available, he fills a major area of need for the Cardinals (a pass rushing OLB for the 3-4) and he’ll be ready to dominate from the get go. He could also go to Buffalo at 3, but Zona will be happy to have him considering how lousy their pass D was last year.
Cleveland - Julio Jones (WR, Alabama)
If Colt McCoy really is the future in Cleveland (I’m not convinced yet) they’re gonna have to get him some playmaking WRs to throw to to find out for sure.
A.J. Green may be the slightly more talented receiver (IMO, not by much) but Jones is a much better fit for the Browns’ new West Coast Offense (great route runner, effective on both short and deep routes, good hands, terrific run blocker, gets yards after the catch) so I’m making him the pick.
San Francisco - Robert Quinn (OLB/DE, North Carolina)
The Niners have three major areas of need - QB, CB and pass rushing OLB - so they could go a number of ways here. They could trade up for Peterson or Gabbert, trade down for a second tier QB or take Prince Amukamara here, which I almost did.
Quinn, however, is just too talented to pass up. With Von Miller also entering the NFC West, Sam Bradford should be worried.
Tennessee - Nick Fairley (DT/DE, Auburn)
The Titans have lacked a large, truly intimidating DT for their 4-3 front defense since Albert Haynesworth left. Fairley fits the mould as well as probably being the best player available. Unless the Titans trade up for Gabbert/Newton or trade down/massively reach for another QB, I can’t see any other pick.
Dallas - Tyron Smith (OT, USC)
Another very popular pick around the mock draft ranks. The NFC East is one of the tougher divisions in the league - Dallas have the talent in many areas to make the playoffs, but they need to shore up their O-Line and secondary. Prince Amukamara could be the pick here, but word is Jerry Jones doesn’t like him much. So I’ll go with the mock consensus here and take Smith, who can start at right tackle for a few years (his college position) before eventually moving left. Dallas can’t afford to lose Tony Romo for another season.
Washington TRADE (No.10 to St Louis for No. 14, No. 78 and No. 111)
St. Louis - A.J. Green (WR, Georgia)
The Rams have to come out of this draft with at least one stud WR for Sam Bradford. Unfortunately, even if Green was to slip past Washington (unlikely, given that they have a hole at WR as well) no way he falls past Minnesota. So they make the trade up, and Washington does the deal given their need for later round picks (they have none of their own in the 3rd or 4th rounds).
Most commentators are calling Green the best WR in the draft, and he could go as high as 4th overall to Cincy. However, I just get the feeling that he might have a Crabtree-esque slide given his poor Wonderlic score, poor run blocking (not ideal for a West Coast offense) and egocentric rep - but St Louis is a near-ideal landing spot for him. With Josh McDaniels pulling the strings, Bradford to Green could become the next Brady to Moss.
Houston - Aldon Smith (DE/OLB, Missouri)
New Houston DC Wade Phillips wants to implement a 3-4 defense. In fairness, given how lousy the Texans’ D was last year it’s hard to see how they could get any worse with a new scheme - but they’re gonna need to do a lot of personnel tweaking. It wouldn’t surprise me if they took defensive players with every pick they made in this draft.
They start here with an outside rusher in Aldon Smith. Smith isn’t fully formed as a 3-4 OLB, having spent most of his college career at DE - but he’s a hell of an athlete and pass rusher. His coverage skills will come with time and coaching, as he has the physical tools.
Minnesota TRADE (No. 12 and No. 167 to New England for No.28 and No.33)
New England - Anthony Castonzo (OT, Boston College)
I know Belichick trades down, not up - but think about it for a while. The Pats have six picks in the first three rounds, including three in the top 35 - don’t you think that this is the year they finally make a big move? Plus, as good as they are they do have some needs as a team. With Matt Light possibly leaving in free agency, Tom Brady needs a new left tackle. Castonzo may be the best LT prospect in the draft. He doesn’t have the greatest speed, but he’s quick, athletic, has terrific technique, a bit of a nasty streak that you love in linemen and makes good decisions when blocking. The ideal guy to prolong Brady’s career.
Detroit - Prince Amukamara (CB, Nebraska)
The Lions have the talent to make a playoff run in the next couple of seasons, but if it’s on the cards they have a few areas they need to develop first, primarily their Swiss cheese secondary.
Given that Amukamara is also the best player available (and as such fits with the Lions’ strategy) Martin Mayhew will probably be running as fast as he can to hand his pick in.
On a related note, I’m trying to start the nickname “The Principality” for Amukamara. Get it? I’m here all week...
Washington - J.J. Watt (DE, Wisconsin)
The Skins’ transition to a 3-4 defense continues. Along with picking up a few more picks to build themselves up, they get to take the best 5-technique 3-4 end in this draft in Watt. A pretty simple pick really - now they just need to figure out what to do with Haynesworth.
Miami - Mike Pouncey (G/C, Florida)
I tried really hard to find a trade partner for Miami where they got a No.2 back, but in the end just couldn’t work anything out. I do think Jeff Ireland will however, but in the meantime I’ll shore up the inside of their line by giving them Mike Pouncey. Pouncey is both one of the best players available and fills a need for the Dolphins, who don’t have much on their line beyond the American Dragon.
Jacksonville - Jimmy Smith (CB, Colorado)
Here’s the deal - the Jags have a pretty nice team, but if they ever plan to get past Peyton Manning and into the playoffs they have got to improve their pass defense.
Smith isn’t a typical Gene Smith pick - he tends to place a high value on character and leadership - but he’s a top-10 talent and maybe the best man-to-man cornerback in this draft. The Jags can’t afford to pass him up if they want to make the playoffs.
New England - Cameron Jordan (DE, California)
After plugging their main hole on the offensive end, the Pats will look to use most of their remaining picks that Belichick doesn’t trade away on defense. The Pats haven’t shown the ability to rush the passer in the past couple of seasons - this is an area where improvement is necessary. Cameron Jordan will give them a boost as a 5-technique end in the 3-4 as he can rush the passer from that position and stop the run while never quitting on or taking plays off.
San Diego - Corey Liuget (DT/DE, Illinois)
Can the Chargers draft a special teams superstar with the 18th pick? Because really that’s their greatest need by some margin. And I’d love to see it. However...they also need to upgrade their defensive line. Liuget wouldn’t be a bad starting point. He’s athletic enough to be a 3-4 DE but could also become a nose tackle once he bulks up a bit, given his ability against the run.
New York Giants - Nate Solder (OT, Colorado)
The Giants’ O-Line, which has been a strength in recent years, began to fall away this season. GM Jerry Reese likes taking the best player available (Especially ones who look good in workouts), but at this stage it makes more sense to go for Nate Solder. Solder is a very athletic 6’8” and 313 pounds with decent technique, but is too raw to start at left tackle away. Still, the Giants can afford to risk it here.
Tampa Bay - Justin Houston (DE, Georgia)
Here’s one trade that would make a lot of sense were we not in a lockout situation - Tampa Bay trades the No.20 pick and a No.2 or 3 to Houston for Mario Williams. Houston get more picks to build their 3-4 defense, Williams gets to play as a pass rushing 4-3 end (i.e. the scheme he’s most effective in) and TB get a leader for their defense and a real pass rush. Who declines that deal?
Since it can’t happen, I’m just going to give the Bucs Houston as they’re apparently very interested in him. They’ve invested a lot in their line in recent years but still need a pass rusher on the outside to complete it.
Kansas City - TRADE (No.21 to Chicago for No.28 and 2012 No.1)
Chicago - Derek Sherrod (OT, Mississippi State)
The Bears desperately need O-Line upgrades, but can’t afford to wait till No.28. Jerry Angelo’s gonna have to be aggressive here if he doesn’t want Jay Cutler spending half the season with the training staff and getting trash talk Twitter messages.
Moving up for Sherrod gives the Bears a guy with experience at LT and ability who can anchor the line for years to come.
Indianapolis - Gabe Carimi (OT, Wisconsin)
With Peyton Manning, the Colts are title contenders. Without him, they’re a 4-12 team. The moral? If they want to win, keep Captain Forehead happy and standing up. Carimi would go a long way to helping upgrade the Colts O-line, which currently resembles a saloon door at times. He’s not a natural left tackle - the Colts will need to move up or wait for a plug-in LT, cause Carimi doesn’t have the natural athleticism to be a blindside pass protector. But he’s a big strong mofo who mauls in the run game and is a natural intimidator. The Colts may think they can make him into an LT.
Philadelphia - Aaron Williams (DB, Texas)
The Eagles’ main areas of need are on the offensive line and at cornerback opposite Asante Samuel. Williams is one of my favourite players in this draft - I have him listed as a defensive back because he can play both CB and safety, and he’s a special teams beast. Not a hard pick really.
New Orleans - Ryan Kerrigan (DE, Purdue)
Kerrigan had a great Pro Day and could well go higher than this, particularly to Jacksonville - but I had him sliding simply because I wasn’t sure where to put him. The Saints don’t have many needs and can therefore afford to go BPA, adding to their pass rush.
Seattle - TRADE (No. 25 to Denver for No. 36 and No. 67)
Denver - Da’Quan Bowers (DE, Clemson)
It’s not so long ago that we were talking about Bowers for the No.2 pick. Unfortunately a horror Pro Day and stories about a dodgy knee have led to his massive slide.
However, his talent as a pass-rusher can’t be ignored. Denver needs an every-down DE for their new 4-3 because Elvis Dumervil is too small to be used for run downs. Therefore, they use one of their extra 2nd round picks to trade up with Seattle, who have many needs and could use extra picks.
Baltimore - TRADE (No. 26 to Tennessee for No. 77 and 2012 No.1)
Tennessee - Ryan Mallett (QB, Arkansas)
Quarterback rush alert! Quarterback rush alert!
The first of the QBs goes here, and Baltimore get what could well be a top-10 pick next year in return for the Titans getting the chance to select Mallett.
We’re all aware of the questions surrounding the former Razorback - I don’t need to re-hash them here, but he’s a great fit for the Titans. Tennessee have the line to protect him from getting nailed every play, and when he’s not handing off to Chris Johnson he has the arm to air it out for Kenny Britt and co. The Titans could possibly have waited, but with the teams in front of them they had to be aggressive and move up.
Atlanta - TRADE (No. 27 to Washington for No. 41 and No. 78)
Washington - Jake Locker (QB, Washington)
I’m not a Jake Locker fan. Some flaws in a QB can be ironed out quickly once a guy reaches the NFL - but sub-par accuracy and questionable football smarts aren’t two of them. At least, not quickly. I see Locker as a guy who bounces around the league for a few years before eventually winding up either in the UFL or carrying a clipboard for the rest of his career.
That said, Shanahan apparently likes him and the Redskins need a QB. What do armchair critics like me know? Let the cripple fight between Locker and Rex “I got run out of Chicago a year after making the Super Bowl” Grossman begin.
Minnesota - Christian Ponder (QB, Florida State)
The quarterback rush ends for now in Minnesota for the player who might just be the best of the second-tier QBs in this draft when all is said and done. Ponder doesn’t have a massive arm, but new Vikings OC Bill Musgrave is a West Coast Offense guy so that won’t be a problem. Ponder is one of the most experienced pro-style QBs in the draft (coming from a WCO in Florida State), he has great accuracy and pretty good mobility and he’s a winner with all the intangibles. If you don’t ask him to hoof it downfield too much, he’s the kind of QB who can take you a long way.
Kansas City - Phil Taylor (NT, Baylor)
The Chiefs are susceptible to teams who can pound the ball inside (hello, Raiders) because they don’t have a true run-plugging nose tackle for Romeo Crennel’s 3-4 defense. Scott Pioli surely realises this, but he’s also a smart enough GM (As much as I hate to admit it) to know that Taylor is a reach at #21. Therefore, he uses the lessons he learnt from the master of manipulating the draft and gets his man eight picks later, with an extra 2012 pick for his trouble. I’m not looking forward to the prospect of Taylor on the Chiefs frontline next year against Satele or whoever else Oakland trots out at C.
New York Jets - Brooks Reed (OLB/DE, Arizona)
The Vernon Gholston experiment failed, and now Rex Ryan and his merry band will be looking for a pass rusher to hopefully ensure he didn’t stick a foot in his mouth...sorry, his foot in his mouth again. (Sorry, Jets fans. It was too easy.)
Reed led a solid Zona defense and was terrific at the Combine. Plus, unlike Gholston coming out of college, he actually has experience in the 3-4 as an OLB.
Pittsburgh - Brandon Harris (CB, Miami)
It’s kinda funny that both the Pennsylvania teams have similar weaknesses - at cornerback and on the offensive line. With no O-line picks worth the time at this pick, the Steelers go CB.
Harris looked fantastic in the Combine drills, and he’s a high character, hard working sort for a team who tend to look for such players in the draft. Pittsburgh don’t traditionally spend high on cornerbacks, true, but they’re good enough in most other areas to gamble here.
Green Bay - TRADE (No. 32 to Buffalo for No. 34 and No. 169)
Buffalo - Colin Kaepernick (QB, Nevada)
Now here’s another quarterback to watch out for. Kaepernick isn’t in the top tier of QBs because he played in a wacky offense in the WAC and has some mechanical issues - but his arm is possibly the best in the draft, he can make plays with his feet, he’s a hard worker, very intelligent, a gamer, all the good stuff.
Buffalo head coach Chan Gailey likes mobile QBs, and has a history of bringing college system guys up to speed with the NFL. I imagine he’s gonna love Kaepernick, hence the trade up to grab him at the end of day 1. They’ll let him sit for a while behind Ryan Fitzpatrick and work on his mechanics before easing him into the NFL.
Minnesota - Muhammad Wilkerson (DT/DE, Temple)
Convention states that when you draft a new potential franchise quarterback, you spend your next pick either upgrading the offensive line or giving him someone to throw to - but the Vikings also need youth on the defensive line and Wilkerson is easily the best player available. They can give Ponder a new toy with their other second round pick.
Green Bay - Randall Cobb (WR/KR, Kentucky)
With no urgent needs, the Super Bowl champs can look to the future with their picks. Donald Driver doesn’t have a lot of gas left in the tank, and James Jones might be looking elsewhere. The Packers could do worse than giving Aaron Rodgers a speedy receiver to throw to. Cobb can also return kicks, which was the only real weakness of the Packers last season.
Cincinnati - Adrian Clayborn (DE, Iowa)
Clayborn’s slide has mostly been due to fears over what impact his medical condition (he has Erb’s Palsy in his right arm, which I believe limits his strength and ability to fully extend that arm, but I could well be wrong here) could have on his game, as well as concerns over an old assault charge - but this is the Bengals we’re talking about so they won’t care. Their pass rush last season was a joke - they’ve got to upgrade it before considering any flash picks like wide receivers (they have a decent young WR core already even without Johnsonochocinco).
Seattle - Cameron Heyward (DT/DE, Ohio State)
Seattle could use an upgrade on their defensive line. Heyward is the best player available. Next pick please. The Seahawks will be hoping he turns out better than the last highly-touted defensive lineman out of OSU.
Arizona - Ben Ijalana (OT/G, Villanova)
Another easy pick. Whoever the Cardinals have at QB next season, they’re gonna need to keep him standing up. Their offensive line last season was atrocious at both pass and run blocking. Ijalana is an ideal pick in that regard. He probably has to play right tackle or guard in the NFL, but he’ll be pretty effective at both.
Cleveland - Marvin Austin (DT, North Carolina)
Now that the Browns have a first-rate weapon for Colt McCoy, it’s time to focus on their other major area of need - 4-3 defense personnel. Austin didn’t play in 2010 for the same reason as Robert Quinn (some benefits-related bollocks that I don’t know or care about) but he’s been great in workouts. Some say he could even go in the first round - but this is a fine landing spot for him.
Tennessee - Jonathan Baldwin (WR, Pittsburgh)
I said it earlier - if you draft a new QB who you see as your franchise guy, the next pick usually goes either on the offensive line or receiver/tight end. With new OC Chris Palmer’s more pass-oriented strategy, the Titans go with a big, solid possession receiver in Baldwin who gives Mallett a safety valve while Kenny Britt (if he returns) and co open up the field.
Baldwin has struggled somewhat in workouts, but his game tape shows a guy with first-round talent.
Dallas - Rahim Moore (S, UCLA)
While the Cowboys are apparently interested in Michael Huff as a free agent safety (Jerry Jones can have him as far as I’m concerned, which shouldn’t be a good sign for Cowboys fans) they need to upgrade both S positions. Moore needs to bulk up, but he has great coverage instincts and is a generally safe tackler.
Atlanta - Kyle Rudolph (TE, Notre Dame)
With Tony Gonzalez probably only having one more season before hanging up the boots for good, the Falcons are naturally showing a lot of interest in Kyle Rudolph, who could well be this year’s Rob Gronkowski (first round talent who slips because of injury history and relative positional value). They’ll be more than happy to get him 15 spots later, at a lower salary and with an extra pick in return.
Houston - Stephen Paea (DT/NT, Oregon State)
After grabbing a pass rushing OLB in the first round, the Texans get themselves a 3-4 nose tackle in the second. Paea will scare some teams away with his knee injury and not being a classical 0-technique NT, but his athleticism and sheer power will surely intrigue the Texans.
Minnesota - TRADE (No. 43 to San Diego for No. 61 and No. 89)
San Diego - Akeem Ayers (LB, UCLA)
San Diego use some of their extra picks to move up and grab Ayers, who slides out of the first round because of a poor Combine showing and not enough teams needing a 3-4. The Chargers, however, need a pass rushing OLB to replace the hole Shawne Merriman left (and Larry English isn’t filling) and will also appreciate Ayers’ skill against the run and in coverage. Minnesota, meanwhile, get a third round pick back for the one they pissed away on Randy Moss.
Detroit - Mark Ingram (RB, Alabama)
For the second round running, the Lions will be jumping for joy as they get an ideal fit for their needs just falling into their lap.
I don’t like teams taking running backs with Day 1 or 2 picks unless they’re extremely athletically gifted (I’m talking Darren McFadden/Chris Johnson level speed here), especially ones with dodgy knees - but Ingram was too productive in college for the Lions to pass up this late, especially given their BPA philosophy. They need an every down back to take pressure off their passing game.
San Francisco - Davon House (CB, New Mexico State)
In an ideal world, SF would be able to just trade this pick (and probably another one in 2012) to Philly for Kevin Kolb and everyone would be happy. But since the lockout prevents that, I’ll have them eschew QB here and go for House. He needs to bulk up a bit, but his speed and coverage ability will surely intrigue the Niners who have a need at corner, with Nate Clements declining fast.
Denver - Ras-I Dowling (CB, Virginia)
Two speedy CBs in a row to teams who need upgrades at the position. While the Broncos re-signed Champ Bailey, he isn’t a long term solution. Plus, they need someone opposite him which so far Perrish Cox and Alphonso Smith haven’t been able to succeed at.
Dowling has great size, athleticism and instincts - once he improves his tackling, he could well become elite.
St. Louis - Jarvis Jenkins (DT, Clemson)
The Rams spent high on A.J. Green, but now they have to focus on their other area of need - the defensive front. Jenkins can play both defensive end and tackle in a 4-3 front, and Steve Spaugnolo will hope he can coach the inconsistency out of his game that’s plagued him at Clemson. He was terrific at the Senior Bowl and pretty good at the Combine and his Pro Day, outshining his more highly reputed teammate Da’Quan Bowers.
Oakland - Marcus Cannon (OG/OT, TCU)
If Marcus Cannon really falls to #48 and the Raiders pick him, I’ll be jumping up and down in celebration. Coach Hue Jackson plans to move away from zone blocking and towards a hybrid system with more of a power basis. Cannon is the ideal guard you want in such a scheme - he’s a man mountain with a nasty streak who ploughs his opposing man in the run game and will open holes for McFadden and Bush. One can only hope it happens.
Jacksonville - Andy Dalton (QB, TCU)
I’m not an Andy Dalton fan. (No, not because of his hair - I have nothing against people of the ranga persuasion). While he won and won well in college, he played in a gimmick spread offense which didn’t require him to make any deep throws - probably because he doesn’t have the arm to. It’ll take him a while to adapt to an NFL offense.
The Jags, however, can afford to keep him and let him develop behind David Garrard for a couple of years. Dalton fits the mold of guys Gene Smith usually looks for.
San Diego - Martez Wilson (ILB, Illinois)
San Diego spend two consecutive picks on linebackers. Wilson is probably the best player available and showed great physical ability at the Combine. His football skills lag a bit behind, but he’s worth a shot here and the Chargers will feel they can coach him up.
Tampa Bay - Mason Foster (LB, Washington)
Barrett Ruud is a free agent. If he leaves, the Bucs will need a new inside linebacker for the Tampa-2. Foster is one of my favourite LB prospects in the draft - he’s not the fastest guy around, but he’s quick enough to cover effectively and he’s excellent against the run. Excatly what Tampa Bay need for their ILB.
New York Giants - Quan Sturdivant (LB, North Carolina)
Three linebackers in a row. The team that once starred the Big Blue Wrecking Crew have needed help in this area for a while now. Sturdivant can play Mike, Will and Sam linebacker in a 4-3 alignment and shone at UNC. A nice safe need pick.
Indianapolis - TRADE (No.53 to Seattle for No.57 and No. 168)
Seattle - Stefen Wisniewski (C/G, Penn State)
Tom Cable is a devotee of the zone blocking system. He’ll be looking for smaller, more athletic linemen to play this style. Linemen, in a nutshell, like Stefen Wisniewski. Mini Wiz (as he’s known on Silver and Black Pride) isn’t the biggest guy, but he’s tough, finishes plays and has great football IQ. The fact that the Seahawks desperately need interior line upgrades makes this a natural pick, hence they move up a few spots to secure him.
Philadelphia - Danny Watkins (G/T, Baylor)
Just because Michael Vick can escape most sack attempts doesn’t mean the Eagles don’t need to protect him. They’ll be looking at offensive linemen early in the draft. Watkins is a guy who on talent alone should be a late first/early second round pick, but his age (26) will turn off teams looking for higher-upside prospects. Philadelphia, however, don’t need to be too picky. For someone who’s only been playing football for four years, he has very nice technique in both pass and run blocking, and Philly like versatile linemen.
Kansas City - Torrey Smith (WR/KR, Maryland)
The Chiefs need a wide receiver opposite Dwayne Bowe who can stretch the field for him. Smith has small hands which has caused him to fall from a fringe first-round prospect, but there’s a lot to like otherwise. He’s got real speed and runs great routes, and despite the small hands thing he catches pretty well also unlike a certain former Maryland WR with a double-barrelled surname.
New Orleans - Mikel Leshoure (RB, Illinois)
The Saints re-signed Pierre Thomas, but they’ll still be on the look out for RBs and won’t hesitate if Leshoure is still on the board. Some say he may be a better pick than Ingram - either way, he’s a big unit who’s very hard to bring down when he winds up. He’ll be a solid every-down back in the NFL.
Indianapolis - Rodney Hudson (G, Florida State)
Same reasoning as Indy’s first round pick. Hudson is the best available guard for the zone blocking Colts - he’s not the biggest lineman but he has great tecnhique which allows him to play heavier than his size, and he finishes blocks.
Baltimore - Titus Young (WR, Boise State)
This is a pretty common pick, but only because it makes perfect sense. The Ravens need a deep threat for Joe Flacco who can also open things up for Boldin and Housh. Young has been compared to DeSean Jackson - while he doesn’t have quite the sheer speed of Jackson, he’s a similarly explosive athlete who also runs good routes. Falls this far mostly because of his size.
Atlanta - Christian Ballard (DE/DT, Iowa)
John Abraham wound the clock back last season, but the Falcons can’t rely on him doing so again. They need to look for pass rush help. Ballard has great athleticism, versatility, a hell of a motor and the ability to bull rush the passer. Atlanta are lucky to get him this late.
New England - Sam Acho (OLB/DE, Texas)
After getting his left tackle and defensive end, Bill Belichick gets himself one of the more underrated pass rushers in the draft. If this year’s class weren’t so deep with them Acho would be a first round prospect - but he’ll be a pretty good 3-4 OLB once he learns the position. He has a great combo of athleticism, skills and heart. The kind of guy Belichick loves.
Minnesota - Orlando Franklin (G/T, Miami)
The Vikings’ offensive line needs upgrades, especially with a new quarterback. Franklin will be able to play RT or G in the NFL and will fit in with the Vikings’ power blocking scheme as they transition from their veterans to a young new group.
Chicago - Leonard Hankerson (WR, Miami)
Let’s get one thing straight here - Jay Cutler is the quarterback in Chicago. A few snarky tweets won’t change that. Mike Martz is an offensive guru, but he and Cutler could use a big possession receiver to compliment Devin Hester and Johnny Knox. Enter Hankerson. Not the fastest receiver in the draft, the latest in the U’s receiver production line is big, strong, runs good routes and blocks well in the running game. His hands are also generally solid, although he gets hit with the dropsies on occasion.
Pittsburgh - Kenrick Ellis (NT, Hampton)
The Steeler way is that they keep building on their lines. While offensive line is probably a more urgent concern for them, it’s also their M.O to look at best player and best fit, and therefore I’m mocking Kenrick Ellis to them as a future replacement for Casey Hampton, who’s getting on in years. Ellis will need some time to adjust from D-II to the NFL and doesn’t always have the greatest motor, but what better environment for him to develop than Pittsburgh?
Green Bay - Curtis Brown (CB, Texas)
Again, a pick made by Green Bay looking to the future. As great as Charles Woodson is, he’s not going to play forever. The Packers would therefore be wise to invest in a young cornerback who can learn under him and then step up once Woodson rides into the sunset. Brown is a bit raw but has the physical tools to become something pretty special.
Well, there you have it. My two round mock for the 2011 NFL Draft.