The off-season has officially begun for me, and that means it is MOCK DRAFT SEASON! I know, there really is no way to accurately pick anything after the first 3-5 picks really, but I have always loved mock drafts because it provides speculation and interesting possibilities that spark much needed off-season conversation. This is the first of many, and will be subject to change every week or two. Expect MAJOR change after the combine. Here we go:
#1 Carolina Panthers – Nick Fairley, DT Auburn
This pick here is a very tricky one. Most years the #1 pick is a pretty obvious one. As of right now, I don’t think there is any way Carolina cannot take Fairley. He has a potential to be the kind of DT that can single handily take over a football game.
I really think there is a solid chance that A.J Green goes here, but that is after he tears up the combine.
#2 Denver Broncos – Patrick Peterson, CB LSU
Should be pretty obvious. A lot of things can change but Champ Bailey is old, a free agent, and just not the lock down man he used to be. Peterson could be the next great CB in the NFL.
#3 Buffalo Bills – Robert Quinn, DE/OLB UNC
Very tricky pick here. Lots of talent left on the board with Green and Bowers, but they don’t fit an immediate need. Green is maybe the most talented player in the draft, but Quinn fills a major void in this Bills defense. The offense in Buffalo wasn’t terrible, so I think Quinn is the man for them here. Bowers doesn’t fit the 3-4 scheme very well, and Quinn is the perfect rush LB.
#4 Cincinnati Bengals – A.J Green, WR Georgia
A lot of different mock drafts have this guy going here. Cincinnati is a great fit for Green here. First off, Carson Palmer might not be a complete waste just yet. Ochocinco might be out of time in Cincy, and who knows with TO. Shipley had a great rookie year, and with a #1 like Green, this passing offense can and will flourish.
#5 Arizona Cardinals – Blaine Gabbert, QB Missouri
Maybe a surprise here. Arizona needs something to keep this offense going. Skelton and Anderson clearly aren’t the answers, and they still have the second best (in my opinion) WR in the NFL in Larry Fitzgerald. Bowers doesn’t fit the 3-4 scheme very well, and QB is a major need here.
#6 Cleveland Browns – Da’Quan Bowers, DE Clemson
Da’Quan is the pick here because he is clearly the best player on the board left. There seems to be always be a surprise player who falls more than expected, and this year I believe it is Bowers. Cleveland might not be addressing their biggest need, but it is a need nonetheless, and Bowers is a great player.
#7 San Francisco 49ers – Jake Locker, QB Washington
Another big surprise pick. Locker is one of those guys who had a fantastic junior season and if he would have declared, would have likely been a top 5 pick. However, he did no such thing and now is a mid-1st prospect. I see the 49ers taking a shot here and drafting a guy with plenty of upside. New coaching regime often times means a new QB, and I think Locker could be a very surprising pick here. I plan on him having an excellent combine.
#8 Tennessee Titans – Aldon Smith, DE Missouri
Plenty of average QB’s in this draft will leave later opportunities. Aldon Smith is an absolute athletic freak and should definitely be taken here.
#9 Dallas Cowboys – Prince Amukamara, CB Nebraska
Terrence Newman is getting old and is starting to lose a step. This team has a lot of talent, and with a top-10 pick can be very dangerous next season. I think people should watch out for teams like San Francisco and Dallas in 2011-12.
#10 Washington Redskins – Von Miller, DE/OLB Texas A&M
Really difficult pick for me here. I see this one changing a lot over the next couple of months. Von Miller is a great player and would fill a great hole in the skins D, but they really need a QB. Mallet has some serious concerns, and Newton isn’t a top-10 talent. With the way this mock is going, I see the skins going with someone like Stanzi in the 2nd round.
#11 Houston Texans – Ryan Kerrigan, DE/OLB Purdue
Pass rushing OLB that can provide an immediate impact.
#12 Minnesota Vikings – Cam Newton, QB Auburn
Minnesota needs a QB in a bad way. Drafting Newton gives them 3 QB’s who are all really similar in style of play, but there really isn’t a better choice here. Newton is a ways from being a starter, but has leadership qualities and is just a winner, which is something that doesn’t come around too often. Tavaris Jackson can be sufficient until Newton is ready.
#13 Detroit Lions – Akeem Ayers, OLB UCLA
Very versatile player who will have an immediate impact. The LB corps in Detroit is not very good. This will be a great pick for them, and can help the D who looks to complement that explosive offense.
#14 St. Louis Rams – Julio Jones, WR Bama
No-brainer here. Before Blackmon and Floyd decided to return to school I had hopes for Jones in KC, but now he is the 2nd best WR in the draft and is an easy pick here. St. Louis needs to get Bradford some help because he is a very solid player. Jones is explosive and should be a solid target for Bradford.
#15 Miami Dolphins – Marcell Dareus, DT Bama
Strong, versatile player who can really fit any scheme. He has potential to be a very dominant DT in the NFL.
Jacksonville has had a recent history of taking some odd picks. They have a new tendency to reach for players, and I see this trend continuing. This is definitely a stretch here, but Baldwin is an absolute freak of an athlete, and can help this offense greatly. Marcedes Lewis is a solid TE, but the WR corps is very unproven. Sims-Walker was great as a rookie, but I am still not sold on him.
#17 New England Patriots – Cameron Jordan, DT/DE Cal
Another player who is very versatile. This guy has top-10 talent and can have an immediate impact for these guys. New England has a knack for snagging quality players late, and I see this as being a fantastic pick for them.
#18 San Diego Chargers – JJ Watt, DE Wisconsin
Watt is one of my favorite players in this draft. Being a Hoosier fan, I have been able to watch the badgers play a lot in the recent years, and Watt is an incredible player. I hate seeing him go to the Chargers, but he will be a great player there and will anchor that D in the next 2-3 years.
#19 New York Giants – Tyron Smith, OT USC
When is the last time the first OT to be taken in the draft was at 19? Well, he is the best OT in the draft, and fills a major hole in the Giants offense.
#20 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Cameron Heyward, DE/DT Ohio State
Will be a great complement to Gerald McCoy.
#21 Kansas City Chiefs – Mike Pouncey, G/C Florida
Lots of speculation on this pick and a lot of people have the Chiefs going with an OLB to help complement Tamba Hali. I however think that the Chiefs like who they have in Andy Studebaker, and will address an issue on the O-Line. Weigmann is old and is likely done, and Niswanger is straight up awful. Pouncey can play C or G wherever he is needed.
#22 Indianapolis Colts – Nate Solder, OT Colorado
Very athletic OT. Peyton Manning struggles when he is being rushed (who doesn’t?) and will need help on the blind side. Solder will be a solid OT for the Colts.
#23 Philadelphia Eagles – Adrian Clayborn, DE Iowa
Clayborn has a few character issues, but that will be perfect for the Eagles. Clayborn is an incredible talent and could the biggest steal in the draft.
#24 New Orleans Saints – Stephen Paea, DT Oregon State
Very solid team all around, Paea can help this D-line a lot. He had 7 sacks on the year and should complement the rest of the D-line very nicely.
#25 Seattle Seahawks – Torrey Smith, WR Maryland
Look for this kid to tear up the combine. This team has the makings of a solid offense. However, I am not sold on Obamanu yet, and Smith will fit in nicely with Williams and Tate.
#26 Baltimore Ravens – Brandon Harris, Miami
The Ravens have way to many ego’s on this team, so adding another player from ‘the U’ is just perfect. Harris addresses a major need at corner, and has the ‘swagger’ that comes from playing at the U, so he is perfect for this team.
#27 Atlanta Falcons – Gabe Carimi, OT/G Wisconsin
I don’t know how they do it, but Wisconsin has a knack for powerful RB’s and huge offensive linemen. Linemen that come from Wisconsin seem to have very successful NFL careers and Carimi is a versatile player that can help fill a whole wherever needed.
#28 New England Patriots – Derek Sherrod, OT Mississippi State
The Patriots really don’t have any major needs, and Sherrod is a solid player who will somehow find a way onto the field. Look for him to have a solid combine and maybe return a kick or two for 60+ next season.
Houston is a great player here at #29. He is a great pass rusher and will make Revis and Cromartie’s jobs so much easier.
#30 Chicago Bears – Stefen Wisniewski, G/C Penn State
The Bears had serious issues with the Oline this year, and need to give Jay Cutler some more time.
#31 Green Bay Packers – Mark Ingram, RB Bama
A pick that I absolutely LOVE right here. Ingram is going to be an incredible NFL RB, MARK MY WORDS! He is as good as anyone there is at being patient and following his blocks. Grant is solid but has injury problems, Jackson isn’t very good and Starks could potentially be a nice story, but isn’t likely. Ingram can take this offense to another level, as if there is a level higher than where they are currently.
#32 Pittsburg Steelers – Anthony Castonzo, OT Boston College
Plenty of injury and aging going on on the Steelers offensive line. Upgrades are needed, and Castonzo is the best option in this spot.
#55 Kansas City Chiefs – Tandon Doss, WR Indiana
Doss is a player that I think will light up the combine this year. He is very athletic, and has a perfect NFL body. Great route runner and some of the best hands in the draft. A player who has flown under the radar, and should get his chance to shine come combine time.
#86 Kansas City Chiefs – Casey Matthews, ILB Oregon
Brother of the dominant Clay Matthews for the Green Bay Packers. Casey plays with the same fire and passion that his brother does, and has a knack for the ball.
#117 Kansas City Chiefs – Daniel Thomas, RB K-State
#148 kansas City Chiefs – Ben Chappell, QB Indiana
A prospect player here who has also flown under the radar. Has a solid arm with solid accuracy. He has fantastic touch but needs better decision making. The guy has toughness and heart like none that I have ever seen. If anyone needs any proof of this toughness, just watch the Indiana Purdue Football game from this past season. This is a guy that can develop into a very solid backup.