Keep it here each Monday as I update you on how your team will most likely behave come April 18th. This week I include some very likely trade possibilities. And two new players make it into the first round.
Draft stock is hurting and helping players all over the board. Once considered a second round prospect, Danny Watkins of Baylor has found himself a home in the late first round. Da’Quan Bowers has walked right off the edge of the map. And Mike Pouncey is convinced he will be a Dallas Cowboy. This weeks draft is including trade scenarios which have a high probability of happening.
1. Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
We won’t know this time around who the top pick will be until the actual draft is upon us. The lockout has barred teams from making new contracts. Cam Newton has the most athletic talent at quarterback since Vince Young came out. Ron Rivera could very well go with a defensive lineman, but that doesn’t seem likely anymore.
2. Denver Broncos: Patrick Peterson, CB/KR, LSU
I’m one of the few people sticking with Peterson here. Peterson is the best player in the draft. The Broncos have John Fox at head coach now and he loves him some good defensive linemen. But I don’t think Peterson will get passed the Broncos here.
3. Buffalo Bills: Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M
The Bills could really use a quarterback. But I believe they may be targeting Nevada prospect Colin Kaepernick for the second round since Cam Newton was taken first. Head coach Chan Gaily likes to have athletic quarterbacks, and while Blaine Gabbert is athletic, I think he will want to wait and get better at linebacker.
4. Cincinnati Bengals: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
The Bengals face a difficult situation. QB Carson Palmer is threatening retirement if he is not traded. Blaine Gabbert is probably an upgrade once he gets used to the NFL over Palmer even if Palmer wasn’t trying to leave. The Bengals are set here.
5. Arizona Cardinals: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
The war room for Arizona won’t be able to believe that Marcell Dareus is available. They wanted one of the quarterbacks here. But Dareus is a decent consolation prize. The Cards need help in so many areas, but solidifying a dominate defensive line could help them make huge strides. … Ryan Mallet in round two?
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.
7. San Francisco 49ers: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
The 49ers dream pick would be Patrick Peterson. But if Denver has half a brain they won’t let the best player in the draft and player of his position since Charles Woodson slip past them. But Amukamara certainly is no slouch. The 49ers will enjoy him locking down an entire half of the field for them.
8. Tennessee Titans: Nick Fairly, DT, Auburn
The Fairly to Tennessee combo has been circulating for a long time. Once considered the top prospect, Fairly is starting to show the ear marks of a high pick bust. But the Titans need help and will take the risk after Fairly falls to 8.
9. St. Louis Rams (from Dallas Cowboys): Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
The Rams will make this trade in order to obtain Jones over receiver needy teams like Washington and Minnesota. Houston and Detroit also might have been interested, so the Ram guarantee the Sam Bradford to Jones connection starts now.
10. Washington Redskins: Jake Locker, QB, Washington
Locker couldn’t stay out of the first round for long. After dropping him from my mock last week he ascends to the op ten. Mike Shanahan will be looking to find his kind of quarterback for his new team. If he liked Jay Cutler he will like Locker just as much.
11. Houston Texans: Robert Quinn, DE, NCU
The Texas were so close to getting things in line and making a playoff run. With a great offense that can score from anywhere on the field, putting up points isn’t a problem. The Texas will be switching to a 3-4 scheme which means they will need pass rushing linebackers. Quinn fit’s the bill perfectly.
12. Minnesota Vikings: Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
It’s starting to look more and more like Bowers has lost his spot among the top ten. With a bad knee, a bad workout and just one year wonder stats he will slide on draft day. And that’s ok with Minnesota, they love good linemen there and Bowers will fit in nicely right away.
13. Philadelphia Eagles (from Detroit Lions): Tyron Smith, OT, USC
The Eagles jump up to 13 in order to land the drafts best and most versatile offensive tackle. Smith can protect Michael Vick’s blind side or play left tackle for them. Either way the Eagles will have a pro bowl caliber player for the next decade to watch after their passer.
14. Dallas Cowboys (from St. Louis Rams): Mike Pouncey, C/G, Florida
The Cowboys have said repeatedly that they have trade partners for their 9th overall pick, and picking at 9 for Pouncey would be a reach. They find the perfect partner in the Rams and fulfill Pouncey’s prophesy that he will be a Cowboy next season.
15. Miami Dolphins: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
The Dolphins need a quarterback but won’t reach here. Adding a star on defense would help them become one of the more dominant defenses in the entire league. But Ingram will be the pick here since they are likely to lose their only two starting caliber running backs to free agency.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
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 two years ago. 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
The Patriots remain patient and get exactly what they want. Cameron Jordan dominated the Senior Bowl and 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: Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri
After ranking number one in defense a season ago the Chargers will do whatever they can to make sure they don’t regress. Getting the extremely gifted Smith at 18 is great value. Smith will rush hard every down and develop into the hole left by Shawn Merriman.
19. New York Giants: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
The Giants need offensive line help, and they need it now! Carimi is the self appointed best tackle in the draft. If he can’t play left side, which plenty of people think he can, he will be one of the premier right tackle for years to come. He fits exactly what coach Tom Coughlin likes in a player, brash, cocky and tough.
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 is my sleeper pick in the draft. Rudolph just backed up my confidence in him over the last three weeks with an amazing pro day, he’s first round stuff. 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: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
The Colts need to keep Peyton Manning safe will result in them taking Solder at 22. Solder has a huge wingspan and is very strong. Defenders will have their hands full trying to get around him. His slower feet will cause him to drop to this pick, Indy won’t mind that. Solder is underrated and the Colts patience will pay dividends.
23. Detroit Lions (from Philadelphia Eagles): Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
The Lions defensive front was let down by continued bad play from the secondary. So they fix the problem with the amazingly talented Smith. Smith forces wide receivers where he wants them and plays hard football. He will contribute on special teams where he won awards in college.
24. New Orleans Saints: Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia
The Saint’s are a pretty solid team but could use better pass rush and help in the secondary. I’ve been giving them safety Rahim Moore, but after talking with a person closer to the team I’ve discovered they think more highly of Houston.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State
Christian Ponder has officially established himself as a true first round prospect. Not entirely because he deserves this title but because of teams needs. He won’t get passed the Seahawks here. Seattle is used to fragile quarterbacks so they won’t mind his shoulder concerns.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Rahim Moore, S, UCLA
The Ravens need a corner, but after the Lions took Jimmy Smith they will address an aging position in safety. As long as Ed Reed can lay he will be the starter, but across from him they can start Moore and when he retires the blow won’t be so severe to the defense.
27. Atlanta Falcons: Cameron Heyward, DE/DT, Ohio State
Heyward makes his first appearance in the first round for my mock drafts. He is a big and fast lineman and the Falcons need help to team with an aging John Abraham. Heyward can provide the push they need to get after Drew Brees and Josh Freeman in the NFC South.
28. New England Patriots: Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor
Another first timer makes his appearance. I believe the Patriots were hoping Mike Pouncey would fall to them but after Dallas took him the will begin to weigh their options with Watkins. Watkins can play right tackle or guard, at this point, the Patriots need both.
29. Chicago Bears: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
The Bears will be thrilled to have this guy fall through the first round to them here. Once considered the best tackle in the draft and a top ten prospect, Castonzo has taken some hits on his stock and will be available for Chicago at 29. Jay Cutler is rejoicing.
30. New York Jets: Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
Taylor has started to stall a bit, but the Jets needs their Vince Wilfork. Taylor 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: Derrick Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
Green Bay is looking for a new left tackle. Chad Clifton is getting older and Brian Bulaga will never start on the left side. So they must love the idea of Sherrod being available here. If he falls Green Bay will go offensive line two years in a row and it will pay off for Aaron Rodgers and the offense.