With the draft order nearly set and college all-star games in full swing it’s time to take the leap from only tracking/criticizing mock drafts to making one of my own.
1. Carolina (2-14): Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
A breakout year from DE Charles Johnson and signs of life from young DEs Everette Brown and Greg Hardy puts Carolina in great position to build a very dangerous DL for new head coach Ron Rivera.
2. Denver (4-12): Patrick Peterson, CB/FS, LSU
With Champ Bailey possibly on the way out of Denver and talking about a position change even if he does stay an elite, versatile DB like Peterson is exactly what Denver needs behind what should be a much improved pass rush with the return of Elvis Dumervil.
3. Buffalo (4-12): Marcel Dareus, DE, Alabama
Buffalo ranked dead last in adjusted line yards, last in % of runs stuffed, 31st in 2nd level yards, but 13th in open field yards. The back 7 can bring a runner down, but the DL is getting blown off the ball so badly by the time they can do so, the damage is already done.
4. Cincinnati (4-12): A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Maybe a young, sane, stud WR will stop Carson Palmer from running away from this team screaming as he seems set to do. At the least it’ll make it less likely his replacement quickly follows Palmer out the door.
5. Arizona (5-11): Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
Prince should round out a pretty nice secondary with DRC, Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes. The QB spot will still be a disaster barring a move for a veteran FA, but none of the highly touted QBs are all that Pro-ready.
6. Cleveland (5-11): Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
Cleveland’s overall pass D (15th) outperformed it’s pass rush (20th) and the run D issues look to fall squarely on the DL (31st adjusted line yards, 28th vs power running, 31st stuffing runs). An accomplished pass rusher whose run D draws rave reviews. Bowers would be an excellent piece in the Browns new 4-3 D.
7. San Francisco (6-10): Brandon Harris, CB, Miami (FL)
In addition to QB, SF is desperately in need of help in the secondary. An excellent run D and above average pass rush were dragged down by coverage failings to make for a bottom 10 pass D. Harris is better value with quicker impact than any of the QB prospects.
8. Tennessee (6-10): Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
Pairing Jones with Kenny Britt and moving the stone handed Nate Washington into the far more appropriate role of field stretching 3rd WR gives Tennessee a great foundation to support a new QB.
9. Dallas (6-10): Cameron Jordan, DE, California
While 3-4 DEs are largely space eaters, no sacks and ~60 tackles from both DE spots combined isn’t much impact. Throw in a #25 ranking in adjusted line yards and 29th place finishes both against power running and at stuffing runs and some more DL talent is definitely needed.
10. Washington (6-10): Robert Quinn, OLB, North Carolina
Pairing Quinn with Brian Orakpo should do a lot to fix the Redskins anemic pass rush, 30th in the league by adjusted sack rate. Quinn was declared ineligible for the entire 2010 season for accepting improper benefits but is a freak athlete who produced immediately at UNC.
11. Houston (6-10): Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
The size and pass rushing ability to play outside in the Texans new 3-4, but with the cover skills to complement Connor Barwin the presumptive starter on the other side and a more pure pass rusher. The secondary is the real issue, but the switch to the 3-4 creates some holes and the DB value isn’t there.
12. Minnesota (6-10): Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Minnesota has a couple options to work with at QB, so wouldn’t have to dump a QB straight into the starting lineup. When they do play Gabbert his combination of great physical tools and mindbogglingly bad decision making will be a pleasant reminder of the one year before Brett Favre decomposed into a pile of dust (then sent Jenn Sterger a picture).
13. Detroit (6-10): Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri
It’s pretty much the end of the line for Kyle Vanden Bosch. He wasn’t totally cooked as I had thought going into the year, putting up 4 sacks in 11 games, but with only 10.5 sacks in 37 games over the last 3 years, he’s no longer the kind of edge rusher that Suh and the emerging Cliff Avril deserve working with them.
14. St. Louis (7-9): Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
With the playoffs on the line the Rams were taking deep shots to a 270lb TE. Bradford needs someone he can just lob it to and expect a decent success rate. Baldwin is the kind of big physical WR who can make life much easier on a young QB.
15. Miami (7-9): Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Ronnie Brown and Sticky Ricky may not be back and aren’t the most durable/reliable guys out there even if they are. Henne was pretty solid last year, but they need to keep the pressure off him with a strong running game.
16. Jacksonville (8-8): Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
Kerrigan is showing more athleticism than expected at the Senior Bowl, fantastic news for a player with unimpeachable performance at the college level (30.5 sacks, 54.5 TFLs and 13 FFs over the last 3 years). In a draft heavy on DL talent the league’s worst defensive according to DVOA in is great position to add talent next to the excellent DT combo of Knighton and Alualu.
17. New England (from Oakland 8-8): Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia
The Pats D came on late, but needs more talent on the defensive side of the ball, especially if the offense slips even slightly from the absurd efficiency of this past year. A promising 4-3 DE in 2009 Houston took to the 3-4 OLB position very well last year with 11 sacks and 19.5 TFLs. Solid size and some coverage experience make him a more well rounded prospect for a 3-4 D.
18. San Diego (9-7): Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
The Chargers biggest problem was that their division-mates improved to the point where their “get it together at midseason” schtick didn’t work for once. That and wretched special teams play. Miller wrecked havoc in college backfields the last two years with 27 sacks, 49 TFLs and 7 fumbles forced. A fearsome, but pretty one-dimensional weapon which should push the Chargers pass rush to pants soilingly scary levels.
19. New York Giants (10-6): Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
The Giants OL played quite well over last year though with some issues power running and having runs stuffed, but both OTs are on the wrong side of 30. Carimi gives them a bookend for the more athletic William Beatty a pair that could anchor great lines for years to come.
20. Tampa Bay (10-6): Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
Give the Bucs back 7 a frickin’ medal, they really overperformed considering what they got for a pass rush. 13th overall pass D with the 31st ranked pass D by adjusted sack rate. While Clayborn didn’t begin to live up to his All-American 2009 season last year he’s a 3 down DE who has shown the ability to dominate at a high level of competition.
21. Kansas City (10-6): Mikel LeShoure, RB, Illinois
I understand not wanting to overwork or beat up a somewhat slight of build speed-back in Jamaal Charles, but giving a clearly inferior back in Thomas Jones that many touches is just criminal. Jones carried the ball 15 more times than Charles and gained 571 less yards. Ball security is an explanation I’ve seen proposed, but both put the ball on the ground 3 times last year. I don’t care what else they need right now, what they are doing in that backfield is sickening and need to stop.
22. Indianapolis (10-6): Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College (MtD Scouting Report)
A poor start to the Senior Bowl by Derek Sherrod (combined with some hesitancy to invest in another LT from a run-heavy, not especially pro-style offense) and a disastrous Senior Bowl for Stephen Paea (coming at 295 as opposed to his listed 311 and suffering a knee injury that will require surgery) leaves Castonzo my favorite on the board. While lanky and lacking strength in the running game, he has elite athleticism and excellent pass blocking skills. A 4 year starter at BC. Serious academic chops as biochemistry major and nominee for a Rhodes Scholarship.
23. Philadelphia (10-6): Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
While mobile QBs tend to inflate sack numbers it’s hard not to see 50 sacks and bottom 5 finish in adjusted sack rate as an indictment of the Eagles OL, especially since Kevin Kolb, while sacked less frequently than Vick, still took sacks at a rate well above league average. Sherrod has the versatility to play 4 positions and should feel relatively at home in the Eagles O coming from an offensive featuring plenty of rollouts and QB runs.
24. New Orleans (11-5): Allen Bailey, DE/DT, Miami (FL)
For a team with an above average pass D and a passion for blitz the Saints were awfully mediocre when it came to sacking the QB. Bailey is an athletic, versatile D-lineman who will help the Saints dial up the pressure whether they send extra rushers or not.
25. Seattle (7-9): J.J. Watt, DT/DE, Wisconsin
While Jake Locker would be the favorite in the Seahawks ticket offices the FO can’t give up on Whitehurst when they put significant resources into getting him last year and his performance in limited PT this year gives reason to believe they could get some real return on that investment. Watt provides a versatile playmaker on a line that was pretty lackluster as a whole.
26. Baltimore (12-4): Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
While signing every free agent WR on the market didn’t turn the Ravens into an elite passing attack, it wasn’t a complete failure (as some might blow a couple big drops in the playoffs up into it being). Mason, Boldin and Housh all had positive DVOAs. If Mason retires and Housh isn’t re-signed WR will be a big need, but your big money WRs being merely above average isn’t a good reason to dump more resources into the position.
27. Atlanta (13-3): Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame
Tony Gonzalez is coming back for another year, but he’s not “Tony Gonzalez” anymore. Gonzalez put up the lowest yards per reception of his career, his lowest yardage total since 1998, his least receptions since 2002 and finished in the 20s for TE DYAR and DVOA when over the last decade it was rare for him to fall outside the top 5 and almost unheard of for him not to rank in the top 10. Rudolph and learn for a year behind a living legend, then become Matt Ryan’s security blanket.
28. New England (14-2): Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
Matt Light turns 33 this summer and will be a free agent this offseason. The Pats had success recently with another towering, but lanky OT in Sebastian Vollmer. Solder gives them a matching set.
29. Chicago (11-5): Marcus Cannon, T/G, TCU
The Bears OL was awful by any measure (except for the ones that say the were terrible). Worst adjusted sack rate and power success, bottom 3 in having runs stuffed and bottom 5 in adjusted line yards. The only times they were particularly good running the ball was avoiding the OL all together and running around either end. The 6’5″ 350lb Cannon played left tackle at TCU, which tells you about all you need to know about his rare combination of size and athleticism.
30. New York Jets (11-5): Martez Wilson, LB, Illinois
The Jets had a solid pass rush, but no big single threat and each of the 4 Jets defenders to record more than 4 sacks last year are over 30. Wilson has a nice varied set of skills with edge rusher size and athleticism combined with experience as a MLB.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4): Mike Pouncey, G, Florida
The Steelers OL is in disarray. Big Ben’s style is a major contributor to the very high sack rate, but the run blocking isn’t especially good either and Big Ben’s hold the ball or no, they gave up too many sacks. Trouble switching to center hurt Pouncey’s stock, but he’s still an excellent guard prospect.
32. Green Bay Packers (10-6): Tyron Smith, OT, USC
With Chad Clifton still under contract and Bryan Bulaga in the fold the Packers can take the time to develop the immensely talented, but very raw Smith. Aaron Rodgers took far more sacks than you want to inflict on the future best QB in football. Smith could help put an end to that down the line.
33. New England Patriots from Carolina (2-14): Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio St.
Missing time after elbow surgery cause a big hit to Heyward’s draft stock. While he went out on a strong note against Arkansas, not being able to match up head to head with other top prospects lets others pass him up. Of course this leads to the Pats getting a stud D-lineman. : (
34. Buffalo Bills (4-12): Jake Locker, QB, Washington
Fantastic talent, but never put it all together on the college level. Fitzpatrick is competent enough that there won’t be riots while Locker develops on the bench.
35. Cincinnati Bengals (4-12): Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina
Marvin Austin is shooting up boards with a good showing for the scouts after being suspended for the 2010 season. After going WR in the first, Cincy needs to get on the DL talent while it’s still hot.
36. Denver Broncos (4-12): Phil Taylor, NT, Baylor
A massive DT turning heads at the Senior Bowl. The Broncos ranked 29th in adjusted line yards and 22nd against runs behind/between the guards despite getting a full season from the 34 year old Jamal Williams.
37. Cleveland Browns (5-11): Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
TE Ben Watson was the only Brown to break 500 yards receiving and only one Cleveland WR broke 350 yards. Torrey Smith provides another much needed option.
38. Arizona Cardinals (5-11): Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
Think the Cards miss Kurt Warner? I’d never heard of half the guys they started at QB next year. Mallett could step right in and lob deep balls in the general direction of Larry Fitzgerlad at least as well as Derek Anderson those some bench time would be best.
39. Tennessee Titans (6-10): Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon St.
Coming in lighter than expected and hurting his knee at the Senior Bowl is a major blow to Paea’s draft stock, but by the 2nd round, to a 4-3 team in need of some DT talent, Paea is a fantastic value.
40. Dallas Cowboys (6-10): Demarcus Love, OT, Arkansas
Need and value on a Razorback? If he’s there, this is happening. Love has extensive starting experience at several positions and could slot in at any of several positions on the Dallas OL.
41. Washington Redskins (6-10): Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
The Redskins seem to be through with McNabb already so the Shanahan regime needs a more promising plan at QB than Rex Grossman.
42. Houston Texans (6-10): Aaron Williams, CB, Texas
This time the value is there for the Texans to get to work on fixing that terrible secondary.
43. Minnesota Vikings (6-10): Ahmad Black, S, Florida
Minny shores up the back end of a D that was sub-par against the pass.
44. Detroit Lions (6-10): Greg Jones, LB, Michigan St.
Jones’ size is less than ideal, but that didn’t stop him from building an undeniably impressive resume of production in college.
45. San Francisco 49ers (6-10): Corey Liuget, DE, Illinois
A strong disruptive lineman with experience playing in a 3 man front. Another piece for the D that the Niners will have to lean on with no solutions at QB on the horizon.
46. Denver Broncos from Miami (7-9): Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple
Another piece in the ongoing rebuild of a D that doomed a pretty effective offensive.
47. St. Louis Rams (7-9): Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech
It’s a two back league and it’s best for Stephen Jackson that the Rams embrace it. After Jackson with 330 carries, the 2nd leading ballcarrier for the Rams had just 34 carries. Williams gives the Rams a great pairing to support a still developing passing game.
48. Oakland Raiders (8-8): Davon House, CB, New Mexico
Without Asomugha the Raiders will need to inject a lot of talent into their D to prevent a backslide against the pass. Adding a corner is the most direct route.
49. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8): Rahim Moore, S, UCLA
The safety position was so bad around the AFC South that Paul Kuharsky declined to name a another safety alongside Antoine Bethea to his All-AFC South team.
50. San Diego Chargers (9-7): Stefen Wisniewski, C/G, Penn State
The Chargers offensive success was as much despite it’s OL play than because of it. Wisniewski is could contribute quickly anywhere along the OL.
51. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-6): Rodney Hudson, G, Florida State
The Bucs ranked bottom 3 in adjusted line yards and adjusted sack rate. Doing anything offensively with OL play like that is both impressive and hard to repeat.
52. New York Giants (10-6): Johnny Patrick, CB, Louisville
A total collapse of the Giants secondary late against the Eagles was the different between a division title and spending the playoffs at home. Some young talent at CB should help avoid an embarrassing repeat.
53. Indianapolis Colts (10-6): Quinton Carter, S, Oklahoma
A high character player with good skills in zone coverage and run support. If Indy brings back both Sanders and Bullitt safety is much less a concern, but the status of both is very much up in the air.
54. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6): Brandon Burton, CB, Utah
A top 5 pass rush should yield a overall pass D better than 11th if the secondary is doing it’s job.
55. Kansas City Chiefs (10-6): Jeremy Beal, OLB Oklahoma
Beal gives KC an effective rusher across from Tamba Hali without giving up run defense or the ability to drop into coverage.
56. New Orleans Saints (12-4): Bruce Carter, OLB, North Carolina
57. Seattle Seahawks (7-9): Jerrell Jernigan, WR, Troy
58. Baltimore Ravens (12-4): Danny Watkins, T/G, Baylor
59. Atlanta Falcons (13-3): Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pittsburgh
60. New England Patriots (14-2): Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky
A speedy little YAC monster Cobb will fit very well into the Pats O.
61. San Diego Chargers from Jets (11-5): Drake Nevis, DE, LSU
62. Chicago Bears (11-5): Tyler Sash, S, Iowa
63. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4): Curtis Brown, CB, Texas
64. Green Bay Packers (10-6): Dontay Moch, OLB, Nevada