Because this is the internet, and I’m not paying to print anything, I’ll share just about anything interesting that comes my way. Today, I offer up this mock draft created by a reader-Bradley Cobb. Mocks are useless, of course, but fun and harmless. So, mock away…
1. Carolina Panthers – Marcell Dareus (DT) Alabama.
The Panthers simply cannot justify giving up on Clausen after one season (imagine where the Colts would be if they dropped Peyton Manning after his 3-13 rookie season). Instead, they will go with what many believe is a can’t miss prospect in Dareus. And the Broncos will be very, very aggravated.
2. Denver Broncos – Nick Fairley (DT) Auburn.
The Broncos are switching to a 4-3 system and are in need of another DT. Unfortunately, the person they’ve targeted just walked off the stage with a Panthers jersey. They have been faking interest in a QB, so there is no way they take one here (or anywhere else in this draft). They have needs at safety, but no one expects a safety to be taken before the second round. So, as a consolation prize, they choose the man who a few months ago was projected as the number 1 pick by many draftniks. (NOTE: This pick could easily be Von Miller, in which case Tennessee would take Fairley at #8 instead of Miller).
3. Buffalo Bills – Patrick Peterson (CB) LSU.
Almost every mock draft on the internet says Von Miller is going to the Bills. However, the Bills just signed both OLBs to long-term deals. Yes, Miller would be an upgrade, but other needs exist as well. There is a loud contingent that thinks if Carolina passes on Cam Newton that Buffalo will snatch him up in a heartbeat. However, Buffalo’s front office takes the time to step back and look through the hype. Instead, they go with what many have called the top player in the entire draft, hoping to make Tom Brady’s life miserable in their two annual matchups.
4. Cincinnati Bengals – Julio Jones (WR) Alabama.
The Bengals have been giving mixed signals regarding Carson Palmer. Marvin Lewis is sure he’s gone, Mike Brown says he’s not. If the Bengals make a concerted effort to show they are serious about getting some more weapons around him, Carson Palmer might rethink his “trade me or I’ll retire” bit. Julio Jones would be an upgrade on the field and less of a headache off the field. The difference between Jones and A.J. Green is not as wide as some might have you believe, plus the Bengals are impressed by Jones’ combine performance on a broken foot.
5. Arizona Cardinals – Blaine Gabbert (QB) Missouri.
The Cardinals, if they’ve been reading mock drafts like all the fans out there, were sure that Gabbert would be gone by the time they picked. Even though they have confessed their desire to sign Marc Bulger (and Marc has expressed his desire to sign with them), he is not a long-term solution. Bulger is a stop-gap while Gabbert learns the system and steps in full-time in 2012.
6. Cleveland Browns – A.J. Green (WR) Georgia.
Colt McCoy showed enough last season to give Browns fans hope that he could be a long-term answer at QB. If the Browns truly want McCoy to succeed, they need to get him some great weapons to throw to. In a defense-heavy division (Steelers, Ravens), they need someone who can create mismatches in the secondary. They take the man at the top of their draft board and Colt McCoy smiles.
7. San Francisco 49ers – Prince Amukamara (CB) Nebraska.
Many people insist that Jim Harbaugh must waste (oops, use) his 1st round pick on a QB. However, he’s not stupid. Even though there is supposed to be a supposed run on QBs in round 1, there is absolutely no reason to take a so-so QB in the first round when Alex Smith could probably give each of them a run for their money (and that’s not saying much). Instead, the 49ers upgrade their defense and Harbaugh sees which QB is still around in round 2, because there’s not really that much difference between Gabbert and Stanzi (or the ones in between).
8. Tennessee Titans – Von Miller (LB) Texas A&M.
If things work out as scripted in this draft, the Titans would be expected to take Cam Newton. After all, with Vince Young officially (yet unofficially) gone from the team, and a new head coach taking over, they need a new face for the franchise. Are they really ready to bring in someone who is a carbon copy of the man they are jettisoning? The Titans decide to go with someone who will be a long-term improvement to their defense with less question marks.
9. Dallas Cowboys – Tyron Smith (OL) USC.
Jerry Jones would have loved to see one of the top two CBs fall to him, but decides to go with an upgrade at right tackle. One Cowboys fan confided that if the Cowboys keep Tony Romo, he was switching allegiances. This because Romo has a hard time throwing when he’s on his back. Get perhaps the top Offensive Tackle in the draft and Romo might not be looking up from the grass as much.
10. Washington Redskins – Ryan Mallett (QB) Arkansas.
Mike Shanahan has already lost the confidence of both QBs from last year. He needs to bring in someone (rookie or otherwise) and immediately name them the starter and stick with them the whole season. Questions abound about Mallet’s character (but he owned up to his mistakes), his footwork (350 pound O-Linemen ran quicker 40-times), and his dedication (quitting Michigan after a year). However, what seems to get lost in the discussion is that in the short time he was at Arkansas he broke a ton of records which had been held by those who played there for 4 years. Mallet is not going to set the world on fire as a rookie, but he is a much safer pick than Cam Newton and Jake Locker (both of whom have high bust potential).
11. Houston Texans – Robert Quinn (LB) North Carolina.
In the Texan’s dream-world, Peyton Manning would be retiring this year so they could have a chance to compete for the AFC South title. But since that isn’t going to happen, they decide to upgrade their defense hoping to at least slow the Colts down.
12. Minnesota Vikings – Aldon Smith (DE) Missouri.
The Vikings need a QB. They showed in 2009 that they are not too shabby when they have a decent QB leading them. The clock is ticking on this team and they are not getting any younger. If they truly want a shot at the Super Bowl, it will have to be with Donovan McNabb. Drafting a QB in the first round means playing an unproven rookie who came from a class of underwhelming QBs to begin with. Instead, they go with a solid DE with no character concerns (they had enough of that with Farve).
13. Detroit Lions – Jimmy Smith (CB) Colorado.
The Lions were hoping Prince Amukamara would still be around by pick 13, but as a consolation prize, they get the 3rd The Lions will be pleased with this pick at the end of the 2011 season.
14. St. Louis Rams – Torrey Smith (WR) Maryland.
The Rams are among the disappointed teams because the player they coveted was gone long before they ever got a chance to turn in a card with his name. They are in need of a solid #1 WR to help Samuel Bradford escape the sophomore slump. Finding no takers to trade down, they take the #3 receiver in this year’s draft. It is a reach, but if he works out, no one will care that he was drafted higher than Mel Kiper thought he should be.
15. Miami Dolphins – Mike Pouncey (C/G) Florida.
Most mock drafts have the Dolphins taking Mark Ingram here. The Patriots have been very loud proclaiming that they want Ingram. It is a lie, and the Dolphins are not falling for it. Look for Miami to take LeShoure in the second round. They have a need at QB, but unless they wish to throw the season away, they will not go with one here. Instead, they look to upgrade their offensive line and give Henne a chance to stay upright. He deserves the chance to show what he can do with a decent o-line.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars – Cam Newton (QB) Auburn.
The Jags need an upgrade at QB, and Newton fits the Jaguars scheme well. They always seem to be near contention for the AFC South title, and with the addition of Newton, they might just make it in a few years. Newton is a large runner, and the consistent AFC South champs (Colts) are dreadful against the run. Jacksonville is absolutely giddy Newton falls this far.
17. New England Patriots – Ryan Kerrigan (LB) Purdue.
The Patriots show that they were not as high on Mark Ingram as they were making out. Of course, they might still hope he is around when they pick again later this round. Instead, they go after an area of need with a pretty solid prospect. Given that many are sure Kerrigan will go to the Texans at #11, this pick provides great value as well.
18. San Diego Chargers – Da’Quan Bowers (DE) Clemson.
The Chargers have a need at DE, and Bowers was once viewed by some as the top DE in the draft before some medical question marks arose. The Chargers think his upside is worth the risk.
19. New York Giants – Mark Ingram (RB) Alabama.
The Giants likely will be without at least half of their two-pronged RB attack when the season begins. Mark Ingram has a couple possible question marks, but placing him as part of a tandem will be making the best use of his talents. The Giants get an infusion of youth and a RB that can be a staple for the next five years or more.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Cameron Jordan (DE) California.
The need at DE is the most pressing, and Cam Jordan fits the need and is not really a reach at this position. Watch Tampa pull the trigger quickly as soon as Goodell finishes saying “the Giants take Mark Ingram…”
21. Kansas City Chiefs – Gabe Carimi (OL) Wisconsin.
The Chiefs need O-Line help, especially at right tackle. While Costanzo is generally viewed as the more pro-ready, the Chiefs may believe Carimi has more upside and like the fact that he helped anchor the Wisconsin line that was seemingly unstoppable in running the ball last year. More production in the run game will help Matt Cassell immensely.
22. Indianapolis Colts – Anthony Costanzo (OL) Boston College.
Sure, there are O-linemen with more upside, but not a one of them is as ready to start today as Costanzo. One respected game-film expert said Costanzo was one of the 5 safest picks in the draft, and that he would be a solid starter for at least 10 years. The Colts need someone who can start now because Peyton’s window is closing. There Colts are tired of having first round picks that need time to develop (see Jerry Hughes, Donald Brown). Instead, they go with the man who can step in on day one to make a difference.
23. Philadelphia Eagles – Brooks Reed (LB) Arizona.
His stock has been rising since his combine performance, and the Eagles take a flyer on him here. They have a great need at LB, and Reed could be the answer.
24. New Orleans Saints – Corey Liuget (DT) Illinois.
The Saints D-line could really benefit from an infusion of youth and more talent. Liuget has been projected by some to go in the early teens, and would be a great value pick which fills a need for the former champs.
25. Seattle Seahawks – Andy Dalton (QB) TCU.
The Seahawks don’t have a QB. Hasslebeck wants to come back, and is reportedly excited about the possibility of helping a young QB learn the system. Andy Dalton is a smart QB with a winning attitude and dedication to improving his game. If his arm was stronger, Dalton would likely have been in discussion for a top-10 pick. If the Seahawks re-sign Hasslebeck, they have a willing teacher paired with a willing learner.
26. Baltimore Ravens – Randall Cobb (WR) Kentucky.
Many believe that the Ravens biggest needs are Center, Safety, and Cornerback. That may be true, but there are no players left at those positions who are worthy of first-round consideration. Instead, the Ravens upgrade their WR corps instantly by drafting the leader in SEC all-purpose yards. Cobb also serves as a KR, RB, and wildcat QB. Don’t be surprised if he even shows up occasionally at the CB position.
27. Atlanta Falcons – Derrick Sherrod (OL) Mississippi State.
The Falcons face a massive need on their O-line with three of their starters from last year unlikely to be on the team when the season begins. Sherrod is a tackle prospect with a lot of upside who could end up being a steadfast starter for the next decade.
28. New England Patriots – Nate Solder (OL) Colorado.
The Patriots drafted defense with their first pick, and now they go offense. Mark Ingram (who they never really wanted anyway) is off the boards, so they don’t have to keep up that charade anymore. Solder is athletic and fits what could be a massive need, depending on how Matt Light recovers from his shoulder surgery.
29. Chicago Bears – Phil Taylor (DT) Baylor.
The hometown fans were hoping that Liuget would fall to the Bears here, but since he didn’t the Bears grab the best DT still on the board. Tommie Harris is gone, and the team trusts that Taylor’s possible medical issues are overblown by other teams in an effort to make him fall further. While he is not the perfect scheme match, having a man of his size that can take up two blockers frees the rest of the D-line to penetrate and get to the QB.
30. New York Jets – Muhammad Wilkerson (DT) Temple.
His stock has been on the rise as of late, and he fits an area of need for the Jets. If they are able to get more pressure on the QB, then perhaps they don’t lose to the Steelers in the AFC Championship game (and perhaps the game vs. Indy would not have been so close). After this draft pick, Rex Ryan proclaims that they will go undefeated and make everyone forget about those ’72 Dolphins.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers – J.J. Watt (DE) Wisconsin.
The Steelers are amazed J.J. Watt fell this far to them. He is an immediate upgrade as a pass rusher, but also someone who can clog the holes that opposing RBs try to find. Tomlin cannot help but be pleased with this pick.
32. Green Bay Packers – Aaron Williams (CB) Texas.
Though Green Bay gives heavy consideration to drafting one of the remaining QB prospects with their first round selection (Aaron Rogers isn’t getting any younger, you know), they decide to hold off until next year. They have a need at CB, and this big man could fit the bill nicely for them, though there are other CBs that the Packers might consider at this spot.
Significant names not taken in the first round:
· Justin Houston (LB) Georgia
· Jabaal Sheard (LB) Pittsburgh
· Christian Ponder (QB) Florida State
· Jake Locker (QB) Washington
· Colin Kaepernick (QB) Nevada
· Cameron Heyward (DT) Ohio State
best CB in the draft, and there is less difference between #2 and #3 than many people think.