1. Carolina Panthers: Blaine Gabbert, QB Mizzou
For the Panthers I have Gabbert going #1 for a couple of reasons, the #1 reason is because I genuinely believe that Jimmy Clausen does not have what it takes to be an NFL QB and at this point the Panthers have very little to lose by just starting over. That being said I also believe that Gabbert is one of the most over rated prospects in the draft, his stat line isn't all that impressive especially when you consider that his competition isn't exactly amazing in the Big 12. None the less I still have him going as #1 for right now.
2. Denver Broncos: Marcell Dareus, DT Alabama
I made this pick because, as the good folks at ESPN will tell you, the Broncos are in a great position at the moment. Now I know what some of you are thinking, anything involving a record of 4-12 doesn't necessarily conjour up those warm, fuzzy feelings huh? Well be that as it may the Broncos have their pick of defensive talent which they will sorely need and that John Fox will almost certainly want with his first draft pick as the new head coach in the Mile high city. I was tempted briefly to put in Patrick Peterson who I'm really high on at the moment but I also believe that Denver's struggles against the run started up front so I chose the top rated DT prospect in this draft.
3. Buffalo Bills: Cam Newton, QB Auburn
A really big hit or miss target here for the Bills, Newton is probably the most controversial figure in this draft with many contending that he has a Roethlisberger like skill set with even better scrambling skills, others think that he's a shady kid who came out of nowhere and is destined to be a bust. I chose Newton for this spot because I think Chan Gailey wants Newton's mobility and realizes that Fitzpatrick is not the type to take the Bills to a deep playoff run. Newton offers a chance for the Bills to find a true franchise guy with the mobility that Gailey likes in a QB
4. Cinncinati Bengals: AJ Green. WR Georgia
Here I decided that the Bengals are going to be pressing the reset button here as they get younger at wideout it would be nice to have a dynamic young leader for a young corp of possibly talented pass catchers (Gresham and Shipley) to open up the middle of the field for Shipley and Gresham to cry havoc and let slip the
5. Arizona Cardinals: Von Miller, LB Texas A&M
Arizona could use a QB but I have my doubts (and by doubts I mean I think there is no chance) that the Cardinals organization goes draft to fill this need. Whisenhunt is on the hot seat and the team is in no position to be breaking in a rookie QB. The best course of action therefore considering the sturdiness of Arizona's wide out corp (Larry Fitz heals all wounds) I figured the Cardinals defense would like a blue chip pass rusher and could make a run at Kolb when/if there is free agency.
6. Cleveland Browns: Patrick Peterson, CB LSU
Here I went with a top flight cornerback for Mike Holmgren's new regime. This pick could also easily be Julio Jones but I decided that I really like the idea of Peterson being paired up with Joe Haden in the back 7 of Cleveland's defense. It would be a step in the right direction aka out of the AFC north basement.
7. San Francisco 49ers: Prince Amukamara, CB Nebraska
Again there are no QB's worth taking this high (2nd round?) but either way Jim Harbaugh's defense could benefit from one of the best cover corners I've seen in some time. Amukamara is a blazing fast prospect second only to Peterson in this draft in terms of corners.
8. Tennessee Titans: Robert Quinn, DE/OLB North carolina
The Titans are also in desperate need of a QB, their offensive coordinator is designing a system with no idea who his QB is. But I'll say this for the last time I promise, there are no QB's worth taking this high. So I gave them a truly fantastic pass rushing prospect in Robert Quinn an absolute nightmare operating off the edge who would no doubt be going in the top 5 if he had not been suspended this season. If the Titans are planning on trying to claw their way past Peyton Manning and the Colts they will need to pressure Manning early and often and hit the Colts where it hurts, their O-line but more on that later
9. Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith, OT USC
If there's a pick in my top 10 that I'm not sure about there is no doubt that it is this guy. Tyron Smith in my opinon projects well as the OL with the most upside. That being said the 'Boys could use some defensive help, and I made this pick based on an interesting tidbit that surfaced this morning. Mike Pouncey, twin brother of Steelers center Maurkice, tweeted that he is almost certain he is going to Dallas. I'm skeptical about this at best because I really can't see Pouncey going in the top 10 as a center based off my assesment of him. Then again Jake Long went #1 and I couldn't have called that one either so I'll keep a finger on the pulse of this one.
10. Washington Redskins: JJ Watt, DE Wisconsin
This one is also kind of a toss up when you assess all the needs that Washington has, Quarterback, Running back, Wide Receiver, anything involving line play, coach (yeah I said it). So where to begin? I chose Watt in the process giving the Redskins a pass rusher to pair with the juggernaut that is Brian 'Holy Crap He's Strong' Orakpo.
11. Houston Texans: Da'Quan Bowers, DE Clemson
Once a candidate for #1 overall Bowers takes a bit of a tumble here after reports surfaced that he failed a team physical on his left knee. In addition to that I have my concerns about Bowers' production over the first two years of his career compared with his junior campaign. Here he falls out of the top 10 ending up with the End needy Texans as they look to change defensive systems to suit new coordinator Wade Phillips. Though I could also see the Texans going for a DB if both of the top flight defensive backs weren't already off the board. I'd explain why I think the Texans need this...but this speaks for itself http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlvOUG8nuZ4
12. Minnesota Vikings: Nick Fairley, DT Auburn
Also once a candidate for #1 Fairley is considered a bit on the light side (291 lbs) for a defensive tackle but I know that the Vikes are in need of D-Line help as what was once a truly epic conglomerate of quarterback eaters (Allen, Williams, Williams and Edwards) is on the verge of what could be a massive decline as the Vikes haven't got a real backup plan for Williams' inevitable retirement (38 years old) besides Jimmy Kennedy. So I gave the Vikings a player who basically lived in the SEC backfield through the second half of this past season despite my concerns that he's a possible one year wonder.
13. Detroit Lions: Akeem Ayers, OLB UCLA
Lost in the midst of Von Miller's stellar combine performance is a great pass rushing option by the name of Akeem from the magical land of California. Ayers is a solid OLB which will strengthen a maturing Lions defense in year two of the Suh era. Of course the better choice here is to take an offensive tackle considering that Stafford is in danger of losing the early stages of his career to injuries and an aging Jeff Backus must face the likes of Peppers, Allen and Matthews 6 times collectively throughout the year. So yeah investing in some protection where your multi million dollar star player can't see...might want to get on that. But the Lions seem to not be in crisis mode about it so I mocked them Ayers.
14. St. Louis Rams: Julio Jones, WR 'Bama
If Jones somehow slips this far there should literally be a exactly 2 seconds off the clock between Goodell saying who the Lions pick and who the Rams pick. That's one second to stamp Jones' name on the envelope and one second to deliver it. Jones may have lost some very catchable balls in his time at Bama but Jones is the only wide out in this draft who comes close to AJ Green's skill set. A dynamic playmaker with blazing speed and rock solid toughness (he played hurt through out his junior season at Bama), Sam Bradford and Josh McDaniels may become the next youtube phenom if there is a camera phone present as they do a choreogrpahed jig of glee with the kind of awe inspiring pizz zazz not seen since the Jackson 5.
15. Miami Dolphins: Mark Ingram, RB 'Bama
Surprised? Yeah I didn't think so. Everybody has Ingram charted for the Dolphins as he is definitely the best running back prospect in this draft with a keen sense of balance and determination that remind me of a young Emmit Smith.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Muhammad Wilkerson, DE Temple
I went with a pass rusher here for Jacksonville for the same reason I chose Bowers for Houston. To beat the Big P (Peyton Mannning) you need to focus on the three P's. Pressure, pressure and pressure. Jacksonville's pass rush is lacking and Aaron Kampman tore his ACL again. So I mocked them a defensive end. Made sense to me.
17. New England Patriots (Oakland Raiders): Nate Solder, OT Colorado
Here I decided that Belichick is painfully aware that his #1 priority must be to protect Brady even if it means putting some pads on over that hoody and doing it himself. Belichick has a ton of momentum for this draft with 6 picks in the first three rounds. So I mocked the Patriots the most established tackle on the grounds that Matt Light's contract is coming up soon and it could pay to have an insurance policy on Brady blind side (and by could I mean anyone who hasn't grasped this concept needs to review any game of football...ever)
18. San Diego Chargers: Aldon Smith, DE Mizzou
Pop quiz! Name the starting defensive lineman for the Chargers, name their biggest pass rushing threat, how about anybody on their defense who is not Quentin Jammer? If you had no response to any of these questions congratulations!! You have a life and are not just some nerd who spends his nights writing mock drafts...oh wait. Anyway my point is that there is nothing to fear from the San Diego pass rush since Shawn Merriman injured his knee and lost his burst. So the Chargers get to add a pass rushing threat as they desperately try to thread the needle while QB Phillip Rivers is still in his side slinging prime.
19. New York Giants: Corey Liuget, DT Illinois
I decided on Liuget because I feel that the Giants will continue to try and build around their defense and when they build around their defense they start with the guys up front. A nice presence in the middle might add a new dimension to this unit. Which is good because their line backing corp is unremarkable and the team plays best when its line plays best.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Cameron Jordan, DE Cal
This pick is tentative as both me and the guy who runs Walter Football (Huge fan of his work) are determined that the Bucs' best bet is to take an edge player (lot of that going around) to pair with last year's #3 overall pick DT Gerald McCoy. I say tentative because NFC South blog editor Pat Yasinkas contended a few days ago that Aqib Talib a rising star on the field at the corner position has run afoul of the law and might be heading to prison. Talib brings a lot to the table as a cover corner who dominates an entire half of the feeling and who QB's were just beginning to fear. This really made the whole defense concept start clicking. Coach Rahim Morris will need to look into back up plans in case Talib is suspended or worse.
21. Kansas City Chiefs: Jonathan Baldwin, WR Pitt
Baldwin presents an intriguing prospect to the Kansas City Chiefs building off of last year's surprise run and early exit from the playoffs. While dealing with the loss of offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, Kansas City must right the ship with quarterback Matt Cassel. The best way to do this that I can think of at the moment is to find him a compliment to #1 receiver and go to guy Dwayne Bowe. Options are always better than no options and I'm still not completely sold on Bowe's sudden resurgence after years of flirting with the bust label. We'll see in the coming year if he's all hype or all real.
22. Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Castonzo, OT Boston College
The logic behind this is pretty simple, Peyton Manning (like most people) is better equipped to accurately throw a football while standing still than while lying on his back. If the Colts are serious about making more run like the ones of yester year and not being labeled as chokers who got lucky once they must strengthen the unit up front. Maybe a running back in the later rounds, but not here.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: Derek Sherrod, OT Miss. St.
The same thing I just said for Manning applies here, Vick was an absolute nightmare for a defense last year suddenly showing a new found ability to make more than one read, running only when he needed to and surrounded by one of the best corps of skill playersin the NFL. That being said it's easier to throw with his ribs intact and his quad not bruised. Head Coach Andy Reid will make this call to keep Vick in the pocket more. Something he'll need if he pulls the trigger on a Kolb trade.
24. New Orleans Saints: Ryan Kerrigan, DE Purdue
It's hard to mock for the Saints because they have so few needs, I'd mock them a guard if we had any idea as to whether or not blue chip guard Carl Nicks was leaving...but we don't so I gave them a defensive end because I had too many. Oh yeah and because of this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0GXdQdDLKM
25. Seattle Seahawks: Jake Locker, QB Washington
Locker falls here to the hometown Seattle Seahawks and their 2nd year coach Pete Carrol. Locker presents an interesting figure to say the least. A quarterback who was in the running to go #1 overall last year drops to 25 here after scouts noticed some difficulties with his accuracy. That being said Locker was apparently deadly accurate on his pro day. But that has to be taken with the grain of slat that there was no defense at his pro day. I have Locker going here because Carrol doesn't know what will happen with Matt Hasselbeck, new regimes mean new QB's, Locker is a hometown hero and the fact that in spite of his awesome beard Charlie Whitehurst (aka Clipboard Jesus) was an epic waste of money by Carrol and is clearly not the answer for the team's long term issues.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Brandon Harris, CB Miami
"It's in Dallas this year" there was at time last summer where you couldn't turn on ESPN without seeing Anquan Boldin, newly minted Ravens wideout talking about Ray Lewis' call to him essentially declaring that with him on the roster that Baltimore was now unstoppable and would be charging full speed to the playoffs. About a week later basically the entire defensive backs section of the Raven's defense was injured in some way. Both starting corners were injured (one in a non contact drill tore his ACL of all the rotten luck) Ed Reed feared ball hawk of the Ravens defense was sidelined in the meantime whilst he recovered from hip surgery. My point is this the Ravens have two massive needs in this draft: Cornerback and wide out. I had Titus Young mocked here but I figure the Ravens' needs at corner are far greater than their need of a speed receiver to stretch the field.
27. Atlanta Falcons: Torrey Smith, WR Maryland
I also considered mocking Mike Smith and his team a pass rusher here but I decided that Matt Ryan needed another receiver more than John Abraham needed someone else to put on the belt with. Torrey Smith presents a nice option for Ryan to go to that should ease the coverage off of Rowdy Roddy White
28. New England Patriots: Gabe Carimi, OT Wisconsin
Carimi is here for the exact same reason as my last Patriots pick.
29. Chicago Bears: Mike Pouncey, C/G Florida
The twin brother of Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey Mike Pouncey isn't quite as talented as his brother but will still provide a massive upgrade at left guard that will make Jay Cutler feel a little better dropping back and delivering the ball.
30. New York Jets: Justin Houston, OLB Georgia
Consider this as a QB would, you have the most feared cornerback in the game blanketing your favorite wideout to the point you're not quite sure where Revis Island begins. Ok So you look to the other side and one of the best finesse corners in the league (Antonio Cromartie) is blanketing the other. What would you do? If your answer was check the slot then you've found the weakness...unless of course there's a massive pass rushing linebacker by the name of Justin Houston already in the midst of sacking you. Ryan's defense could really benefit from a pass rusher who is not named Jason Taylor.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Aaron Williams, CB Texas
Pittsburgh's front office has really been gooving on the first round sleection over the past few years (Polamalu, Pouncey, Hampton and Roethlisberger to name a few) so surely the front office noticed that the Steelers' iron curtain defense has a hole a hole that can be exploited by teams built like the Saints or even worse the Packers, teams with a clearly defined #1 but that have such talented receivers that you need an extra CB just to cover them all. The Steelers got beat in the Super Bowl on that, Mike Tomlin is gonna have a fire in his mind about how to claim another super bowl ring and will want to address this issue since there are no more first round linmen on the board at this point and he just missed out on the chance to draft the brother of his star center.
32. Green Bay Packers: Ryan Williams, RB VT
The Packers realized through this year that while it can be done if you have a tremendously talented QB no NFL offensive attack should be almost completely air based. Green Bay had next to no ground game throughout most of the year before alighting on the James Starks option. That being said Green Bay could stand to bring on another running back or a rush linebacker to compliment Clay Matthews.
Whew! All done and with a newfound respect for Mel Kiper and anybody else who does draft analysis. Hope you enjoy this sports fans, and be on the look out for some new articles either today or tomorrow!