This shall be the first of four editions mocking the draft to help fans get an idea of who their favorite teams will select on draft day.
Big names like Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, Da’Quan Bowers, and Patrick Peterson among many others will rise and fall a million times between now and April 28th. So stay right here for the latest predictions.
1. Carolina Panthers: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
New Head Coach Ron Rivera will realize that owner Jerry Richardson is a revolving door of mediocrity. His refusal over John Fox’s tenure as coach to shell out money for high quality players, (Julius Peppers), will keep Rivera from taking a quarterback that will eventually require hefty cash. Marcell Dareus is a player who can dominate immediately for as long as he lasts in Carolina.
2. Denver Broncos: Patrick Peterson, CB/KR, LSU
Patrick Peterson is the best player in the draft. If there ever could be a guaranteed success in a draft Peterson is it. He will do a lot of things for Denver as they rebuild. Besides teaming with Champ Bailey to give the line more time to get after the passer. Peterson will return kicks and give the team an edge in field position.
3. Buffalo Bills: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Many experts believe this pick will be Cam Newton. But Jim Kelly is next to God for Buffalo and he says that the team should steer clear of Newton. The Bills desperately need a quarterback though, so they take the best one on the board in Blaine Gabbert.
4. Cincinnati Bengals: Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M
The Bengals face a difficult situation. QB Carson Palmer is threatening retirement if he is not traded. The team is going to lose its two top receivers and running back. The popular theory is that rebuilding the receiving corps will be the strategy. But I believe they will take a top three talent in Von Miller and attempt to launch the defense into a new era of dominance. They have good players on defense and Miller would be a huge impact immediately. They play Tom Brady twice a year.
5. Arizona Cardinals: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
They wanted Von Miller to be here, but after Cincy snatches him away the Cardinals will look to appease Larry Fitzgerald. In Cam Newton they have a guy with a strong arm and amazing athletic talent. When things break down on that average offensive line he will make things happen with his feet. His arm is strong and with Fitzgerald as his receiver Newton only has to get the ball close enough to be caught, Larry will do the rest.
6. Cleveland Browns: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
The Browns are trying to build a respectable franchise. The defense doesn’t have much going on at this point. But the offense is still needing something extra. With Colt McCoy coming off his decent rookie debut and the emergence of Peyton Hillis as a dominant force the Browns have a chance to establish a very good offense. The only thing missing? A.J. Green. Green is an explosive talent and one of the best overall players in this draft. He will open the field for McCoy and Hillis and give the Browns a chance to win this year.
7. San Francisco 49ers: Nick Fairly, DT, Auburn
They want either Blaine Gabbert or Patrick Peterson. But the teams ahead of them won’t let the best player in the draft (Peterson), or the best quarterback (Gabbert), slide past them. So the 49ers could become a hot trade item. But if they stay put they will take the best defensive player available. Nick Fairly is having his stock drop some due to the emergence of Marcell Dareus as the best tackle in the draft. But Fairly is still a top five talent and to get him at the seventh pick is a steal.
8. Tennessee Titans: Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
If Bowers isn’t the top overall pick by the Panthers it is very likely he will drop a little ways. Teams have become hesitant over his injuries and the fact that he only had one great season. So the Titans who have a history of developing very good linemen won’t hesitate if they believe his injury is not a problem. Bowers provides the kind of pressure that the Titans fairly decent secondary would benefit from. An amazing value selection for Tennessee.
9. Dallas Cowboys: JJ Watt, DE/DT, Wisconsin
JJ Watt is the best possible pick that the Cowboys could make at this spot. He provides a high energy motor and the ideal size for a DE in the 3-4 scheme. With DeMarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff already in place the Cowboys could create a very formidable defensive front with the addition of Watt. It’s a savvy football decision, so expect Jerry Jones to overrule Jason Garret and pick Julio Jones to be the teams number four receiver. Cornerback and offensive tackle would be equally smart for the Cowboys to address. But defensive lines can make any secondary better.
10. Washington Redskins: Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina
Mike Shanahan is probably still thinking quarterback. His offense is in disarray, particularly at receiver, but everywhere else too. There is potential to get something exciting started on defense. Brian Orakpo is young and they have some good players in the secondary. Adding Robert Quinn, a possible first overall talent, to that defense to give them great pass rushing ability is the best choice for the Redskins.
11. Houston Texans: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
The Texas were so close to getting things in line and making a playoff run. But then everyone realized that they could pass the ball to anyone against the defense and the game was up. Houston is still very close. With a great offense that can score from anywhere on the field, putting up points isn’t a problem. A pass rusher might fit here, think Cameron Jorden from Cal. But if Amukamara falls to them at eleven it will be one of the fastest decisions in draft history to swipe him up.
12. Minnesota Vikings: Jake Locker, QB, Washington
Everything that Vikings officials are saying points to this pick. A desire to find a franchise quarterback after years without one, the high potential Locker possesses, and nothing left to lose anymore. Locker has plenty of concerns, from injuries to accuracy problems. But he could become the steal of the draft if he meets his potential. The Vikings will be pleased to have him fall here. Teams looking to leapfrog St. Louis for Julio Jones coupled with the Vikings desire to add a third round pick will probably result in a trade here. And Locker should remain available for the Vikings even after trading down.
13. Detroit Lions: Anthony Castonzo, OL, Boston College
The Lions have needs along the entire offensive line. In Castonzo they have a chance to fill the need for a left tackle to protect Matthew Stafford’s blind side. It’s a good pick because of Castonzo’s versatility. If he doesn’t pan out well at left tackle or the Lions add another tackle he can be moved to a different spot on the line and produce very well for years to come.
14. St. Louis Rams: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
The odds are starting to pile up against the Rams getting Jones with this pick. Teams are becoming interested in jumping ahead of the Rams to nab him. The Rams are also starting to show an interest to move up and make sure no one does get in front of them. The Rams made huge strides last year and are showing promise. In Sam Bradford they have the potential to stay competitive regardless of who catches passes. But if Julio Jones can be had then the greatest show on turf might be booked for a return.
15. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Mallet, QB, Arkansas
The Dolphins have reached a point where all other roads have failed. The wildcat with two running backs failed, mid-round and veteran quarterbacks have failed, good defense wasn’t enough. They probably like Mark Ingram, but won’t go that way. Ryan Mallet offers the best arm in the draft. His character concerns have dropped him from the top ten. If he can convince the Dolphins that he is ready to mature he will be the pick. The Dolphins have a good defense, they are closer to contention than most people give them credit for. Brandon Marshall will love this pick.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
The Jaguars are secretly wanting a quarterback, but with the top four gone they won’t reach for Christian Ponder or Andy Dalton. The Jaguars made strides last season and could have taken the Colts place in the division. However, bad quarterback play, and a typically slow pass rush foiled those plans. So the Jaguars will go back to the well like last year for a defensive linemen. Adrian Clayborn was a top ten talent last year. Injuries and double teams put his numbers down some last year. But make no mistake, he will help this defense in their never ending battle with Peyton Manning.
17. New England Patriots (from Oakland Raiders): Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal
Cameron Jordan dominated the Senior Bowl, the best offensive tackles from around the country couldn’t block him to save their lives. So Brian Belichick will take Jordan and unleash him. The Patriots struggled mightily getting any pass rush last season. Just what the doctor ordered.
18. San Diego Chargers: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
The Chargers will be thrilled to have the self-proclaimed best offensive lineman protecting Phillip Rivers next season. The offense is already formidable. But give them the best blocking tackle in the draft and good right side protection and the Chargers are sure to reestablish themselves atop the AFC West. A number one ranked defense doesn’t hurt either, they may look to help bolster that unit with this pick.
19. New York Giants: Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA
New York has always been known for great pass rushing defensive ends. But the time has come to bolster the entire front seven. The defense was lackluster and too slow last season. A particular handicap when you play Michael Vick twice a year. So Tom Coughlin will grab the big and fast Ayers to shore up the woes that stopped the Giants march into the NFC playoffs last year.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
Kerrigan is in my humble opinion the most underrated defensive lineman in the whole draft. He is ideally sized, very much like Jared Allen. His motor is non-stop and he plays every down. His 12.5 sacks are a testament of his ability. The Bucs are in dire need of pass rush, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan were able to take them apart down the stretch. Ryan Kerrigan will change that right away.
21. Kansas City Chiefs: Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame
This might be the surprise pick of the draft. But it makes sense. The Chiefs are looking to make things easier for Matt Cassel and Dwayne Bowe. Kyle Rudolph will stretch the field and make some great catches over defenders. Stretching the field will in turn open the running game up for Jamaal Charles. This pick will definitely be a big upgrade and a huge lift for the Chiefs offense.
22. Indianapolis Colts: Tyron Smith, OT, USC
The Colts need to keep Peyton Manning safe will result in the drafts best OT in Tyron Smith finally being taken. Smith can play the right side with dominating force. His possible ability to play the left side will be instrumental in making this decision. Smith is tall, lean, strong, and fast. This could become the steal of the first round.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
The Eagles were probably hoping for Gabe Carimi to block on Michael Vick’s blind side. But Nate Solder is argued to be the best tackle in the draft and his ability on the left side could translate well if the Eagles wanted to move him to right tackle. Solder is a very high value pick for the Eagles here. If the Eagles don’t take Nate Solder they might give S Rahim Moore a shot.
24. New Orleans Saints: Justin Houston, DE/OLB, Georgia
The Saints could very well target Rahim Moore from UCLA to bolster the aging safety position. But with a talent like Justin Houston sliding the Saints will go ahead and take a gamble on the ultra talented prospect. If it pans out the Saints will have a great pass rusher to wreak havoc on division rivals Atlanta and Tampa Bay.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State
Christian Ponder was widely considered one of the top prospect going into his senior year of college. A few injuries later mixed with inconsistent play and he was pushed down the QB list. But after an MVP performance at the Senior Bowl he started to rise. At this point he has reestablished himself as a late first round prospect. With the Seahawks desperate for a quarterback and the top four gone they will settle for Ponder.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
Jimmy Smith has two knocks against him. Character and the lack of interceptions. When it comes to character concerns only the Ravens can decide. But the interception totals are completely misleading. Smith was never targeted by opposing offenses thanks to his great coverage skills. The Ravens play a tough guy style on defense. Jimmy Smith is one of the toughest and hardest hitting corners in the whole draft. So there you go.
27. Atlanta Falcons: Rahim Moore, S, UCLA
The Falcons were undoubtedly hoping to take Jimmy Smith here. With Smith gone Texas corner Aaron Williams might be a possible reach. Other good players abound, but the Falcons draft for need. When looking at Rahim Moore they will address their secondary and find a possible star in the making.
28. New England Patriots: Mike Pouncey, C/G, Florida
The Patriots would have liked an offensive tackle with this pick. But many believe Derrick Sherrod might be a reach in the first round. Mike Pouncey is the best interior lineman of the draft and will provide excellent pass blocking and run blocking for New England. Mark Ingram would be a very likely pick here, a steal for New England. But with running backs starting to take the backseat in offenses it won’t happen. The Patriots can have success on the ground with just about anybody. Pouncey keeps that standard in place.
29. Chicago Bears: Derrick Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
The Bear are desperate for anything on the offensive line. Running has become hard and they can’t protect Jay Cutler at all. Derrick Sherrod is the best remaining tackle and they will take their chances with him. Almost any player in this draft would upgrade that line. Another possibility is wide receiver. But what good would that do until they can keep defenders off Cutler?
30. New York Jets: Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
Phil Taylor is shooting up draft boards. He is the biggest defensive tackle in the draft, fast too. The Jets are looking to get some push with their front seven. Plugging big Phil in there should provide that. Just about any other DT is a possibility being the teams biggest. The Jets need pass rush, if Justin Houston is available they would grab him in a heart beat.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple
As long as the Steelers play vicious defense they can get into the playoffs. Casey Hampton is getting up there in years, the Steelers won’t have to rely on Wilkerson immediately but can take advantage of his skills as a rotational lineman. If any of the top offensive linemen fall here the Steelers would rather go that way. But they won’t reach for someone like Danny Watkins just yet.
32. Green Bay Packers: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
The Packers always take the best player available, always. So despite having glaring needs at offensive line they will take the highly talented running back from Alabama to satisfy another need. Mark Ingram will take advantage of spread out defenses thanks to Aaron Rodgers and company. This is easily the best place for Ingram to land and the Packers will not hesitate to add another dimension to their championship team.