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This is just the first round. I’m focusing more in depth on the first round for this final mock. I’ll do the same for rounds 2-4 Thursday night into Friday morning and for rounds 4-7 Friday night into Saturday morning.
Note: I’m not mocking any trades in this mock. I tried mocking trades, but my brain exploded, so I’m not going to do that anymore.
1. Carolina Panthers- QB Cam Newton (Auburn)
There isn’t much more to say about this one. The Panthers claim that they’re considering four players in this spot, Newton, Patrick Peterson, AJ Green, and Marcell Dareus. However, either that’s not true or it is true, but in that case Newton is likely the clear favorite at this point. Everyone in the know has Newton in this spot and when that happens, normally they’re right, so I’m not going to get too cute with this one and go against the grain.
AJ Green- If not Newton, then I think it’s Green. The defense isn’t the side of the football they have problems on and while defensive tackle is a need, this is a deep class at that position so they could get a good one with one of their two 3rd rounders. If they don’t pick Newton, that means Jimmy Clausen will probably get another shot and they can’t let him do that without better receivers, especially with Steve Smith on his way out. For the record, I’d pick Green. I’m not sold on any of these quarterbacks and Clausen still has some promise. Quarterbacks have bounced back from bad rookie years before.
Marcell Dareus- If they go defense, Dareus will be the pick. Defensive tackle is a major need of theirs.
Patrick Peterson- Just because the Panthers say they haven’t ruled him out.
2. Denver Broncos- RLB Von Miller (Texas A&M)
Every year there’s a surprising pick top 10 pick that gets late momentum. Last year it was the Redskins with Trent Williams over Russell Okung to Washington at 4. In 2009, it was Tyson Jackson to Kansas City at 3 over Aaron Curry. This year, it’s looking like this will be that surprise. Von Miller #2 to the Broncos over Marcell Dareus, the consensus #2 pick for about a month now. Don’t ask me why they’re doing. I’d much rather prefer a player with #2 pick value on all 3 downs, but I’m not making this pick. The Broncos are and they seem to be locked in on Von Miller.
Marcell Dareus- Dareus was the popular pick for a while and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they made the smart move and took him over Von Miller.
Patrick Peterson- Peterson is the other name I’ve heard here. Peterson gives them an instant upgrade over Perrish Cox and a future #1 cornerback when Champ Bailey has to move to free safety.
3. Buffalo Bills- 3-4 DE Marcell Dareus (Alabama)
Fortunately for my sanity, the Broncos picking Miller at 2 won’t blow up my mock too much. The Bills will take whichever one of Dareus or Miller that Denver passes on. Both fill major needs on their defensive front 7 and fit their 3-4 scheme like a glove. Everyone in the know seems to think that the Bills like Ryan Fitzpatrick enough to start him next year, rather than Blaine Gabbert, who they don’t seem to be sold on. Patrick Peterson might also be under consideration, but their defensive front 7 is a lot bigger of a need than their defensive backfield and the last time a cornerback went in the top 3 was 1997. It doesn’t happen often.
Patrick Peterson- Peterson, as I mentioned above, is their other option.
Blaine Gabbert- Maybe they take a quarterback. I doubt it though.
4. Cincinnati Bengals- WR AJ Green (Georgia)
Again, nothing too surprising here. I’d be surprised if I got any of my top 4 picks wrong. Everyone in the know seems to think the Bengals have locked in on Green. The way the Bengals draft is that they focus on a different position in each round and rarely stray from that. They also don’t like to move. With that in mind, it seems very likely they go wide receiver in round 1 and then quarterback in round 2.
Julio Jones- Julio Jones would be the other wide receiver option. The Bengals have actually said they like him more, but no one’s buying it.
Patrick Peterson- I’ve had Peterson here in recent weeks because they’ve spent a good amount of time with the top two cornerbacks in this class and because neither of their two starting cornerbacks are signed for more than one more season.
Nick Fairley- The Bengals were spotted visiting Fairley at his house. Defensive tackle isn’t a huge need of theirs, but at the same time, they don’t have a playmaker like Fairley on the roster.
5. Arizona Cardinals- CB Patrick Peterson (LSU)
This is where it gets interesting. Gabbert was the popular pick here for a while. That’s not the case anymore and I think it makes sense. The Cardinals have said they’re not sold on any of these quarterbacks and their star player Larry Fitzgerald has made it clear he doesn’t want to play with a rookie. Recently, Fitzgerald also said he doubts they take a quarterback at 5. With that in mind, Peterson makes the most sense. I would be surprised if there was a single team in the league that didn’t have him rated amongst the top 5 prospects in this class and it’s not like they don’t need an upgrade over Greg Toler opposite Dominique Rodgers Cromartie.
Blaine Gabbert- Would they take Gabbert and risk pissed off their franchise player? It’s not smart, but teams do stupid things sometimes. They’ve certainly done their homework on him.
Trade down- The Cardinals have a lot of coaches from the Steelers’ coaching tree and the Steelers are known for not valuing the cornerback position high, instead valuing linebackers high. If they don’t want to use a top 5 pick on a cornerback, San Francisco would love to move up. Arizona could then get their linebacker, either Robert Quinn or Aldon Smith, at 7.
6. Cleveland Browns- WR Julio Jones (Alabama)
Tough one here between Jones, Nick Fairley and Robert Quinn. All 3 fill major needs and fit the scheme and the range. I’m giving them Jones for two reasons. One, they prefer experienced college players. Jones has three years of starting experience. Quinn has two and just missed the whole 2010 season. Fairley has one and some change. Two, Mike Holmgren really likes the quarterback Colt McCoy. He hand selected him. It makes sense he’d want to give him a receiver considering how thin this team is at the position.
Robert Quinn- Quinn has the edge over Fairley because he has more starting experience and because defensive ends have more positional value than defensive tackles. There also are no character reasons with Quinn.
Nick Fairley- Fairley is the 3rd option. I’d be surprised if they took him in this situation.
7. San Francisco 49ers- CB Prince Amukamara (Nebraska)
Word out of San Francisco is that they aren’t sold on Blaine Gabbert and they don’t think Robert Quinn or Nick Fairley fit their 3-4 scheme. Jim Harbaugh seems to want to give Alex Smith another shot at starting quarterback. Harbaugh is a great offensive coach. He’ll think he can coach it out of Smith. Eliminating those 3, the easy choice is Amukamara. Nate Clements is old, injury prone, and overpaid. He’ll either be cut or moved to free safety after negotiating a new, smaller contract.
Blaine Gabbert- It wouldn’t surprise me to see Gabbert go here. New regimes mean new quarterbacks. Their dislike of Gabbert could be a smokescreen. Their dislike of Fairley and Quinn might not be as I don’t think either do fit their scheme.
Robert Quinn- Their looking for pass rushers for their 3-4 defense. The last time they had a 10+ sacks guy was 2002, the last time they made the playoffs. I still think Quinn is a square peg in a round hole in a 3-4 defense.
Nick Fairley- Fairley is another pass rushing option. Again, Quinn has more positional value and doesn’t have Fairley’s character concerns.
8. Tennessee Titans- QB Jake Locker (Washington)
This one’s not as crazy as it seems. Locker’s stock is rising right now to the point where many consider him to be a top-12 pick lock. Gabbert’s stock is falling and some are saying he could fall as far to 10 to Washington. Some, including NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi, seem to think that Tennessee actually has Locker higher on their board than Gabbert. There’s always at least one pick on the top 10 that makes you scratch your head. This one could be it.
Blaine Gabbert- Gabbert is the obvious other option
Nick Fairley- If they like one of these two quarterbacks, they’ll take him. If, for whatever reason, they don’t. Fairley is the pick. Some teams have him off their board for character reasons or because he doesn’t fit their scheme. He fits Tennessee’s scheme like a glove and their defensive line coach Tracy Rocker was Fairley’s defensive line coach at Auburn so he knows how to get the best out of him.
9. Dallas Cowboys- 3-4 DE JJ Watt (Wisconsin)
I’ve said I can’t see the Cowboys using the 9th pick on Tyron Smith before because they’ve never used a first rounder on an offensive lineman in the Jerry Jones era and because their issue is at right tackle, not left tackle, and that can be addressed in another round. Rick Gosselin, of the Dallas News, who is one of the best sources for all things Cowboys related come draft time, also has them taking JJ Watt, which just confirms my belief that Watt will be the pick. Also, Tyron Smith #9 to Dallas no longer seems to be the very popular consensus at this spot like it was a week ago. People are split between Smith and Watt. I’ve got Watt.
Tyron Smith- As mentioned above, Smith is the other option if they stay in this spot.
Cameron Jordan- Jordan could be another 5 technique option for them. I haven’t heard his name in this spot much though.
Trade down- Much talk has been made about Dallas trading down. A while ago, Jerry Jones said he had talked with two teams already that were interested in this spot. Dallas seems willing to do so if the board falls right.
10. Washington Redskins- QB Blaine Gabbert (Missouri)
I think this is as far as Gabbert falls. The Redskins’ chances of fixing the situation with Donovan McNabb seems as likely as pigs flying and the chances of Rex Grossman suddenly becoming a franchise quarterback are only slightly better. Quarterback is the big need and Gabbert should get off the board in the top 10 in this weak quarterback class, with so many quarterback needy teams.
Cameron Jordan- Of course there was a point where everyone said “this is as far as Brady Quinn falls” or “this is as far as Aaron Rodgers falls” or “this is as far as Jimmy Clausen falls.” Cameron Jordan’s name has been linked to the Redskins at this spot.
Trade down: They have no 3rd or 4th rounder and have a need at almost every position. A team like Tampa Bay might want to move up for Robert Quinn or New Orleans for Nick Fairley.
11. Houston Texans- RLB Aldon Smith (Missouri)
Again, I think Robert Quinn in a 3-4 as a square peg in a round hole and I’m not the only one who thinks so. Quinn is more talented than Aldon Smith, but Smith is the much better fit for their 3-4 scheme. Reports are that Houston loves Smith and that he reminds Wade Phillips of DeMarcus Ware, who he had in Dallas.
Robert Quinn- Quinn is the more talented player. They may draft talent and try to shove him into the round hole as a square peg.
Cameron Jordan- Most in the know think this will be a front 7 player. Houston has concerns about drafting cornerbacks in the first in back to back years, though they have a need at the position. I haven’t heard Jordan linked to the Texans, but it does make some sense. Jordan is another 3-4 pass rusher and would fit nicely opposite Mario Williams.
12. Minnesota Vikings- DT Nick Fairley (Auburn)
The free fall stops for Fairley here. Too many 3-4 teams in the top 10. Too many character concerns. And that run on quarterbacks did him in and he falls out of the top 10. Minnesota would like a quarterback here, but they wouldn’t mind Fairley. Pat Williams is the oldest defensive player in the league and they don’t have a successor. Fairley fits the scheme and he’s worth the risk outside of the top 10.
Robert Quinn- Quinn also makes sense here. Everson Griffen can’t stop getting arrested. Ray Edwards has one foot and 3 toes out the door. The Vikings will take BPA between these two, unless they fall in love with a quarterback.
Christian Ponder- If they do fall in love with a quarterback, it would be Christian Ponder. He fits their scheme well and they reportedly really like him. I’m not crazy enough to put 4 quarterbacks in the top 12 however.
13. Detroit Lions- DE Robert Quinn (North Carolina)
The BPA loving Lions will take about 5 seconds to hand in their cards in this situation. Quinn fits their 4-3 scheme and is at least a top 10, if not top 5 prospect on almost all 4-3 team’s boards. Kyle Vanden Bosch is getting up there in age and Cliff Avril isn’t great on non-passing downs. Quinn fits in rotation with those 2 well and that defensive end rotation compliments their defensive tackle rotation of Ndamukong Suh, Corey Williams, and Sammie Lee Hill well. That’s the type of defensive line that makes opposite quarterbacks call in sick.
Tyron Smith- If they’re really, really, really high on Tyron Smith, he’d be rated higher on their board than Quinn. Also, if they’re really, really, really high, Tyron Smith would be rated higher on their board than Quinn.
14. St. Louis Rams- DT Corey Liuget (Illinois)
Some people have a defensive end here. I can’t see it. Steve Spagnuolo has done great work with late round ends before in New York and will think he can do the same in St. Louis. As evidence, he drafted 3 ends in the late rounds last year. 2 are still on the roster and I think Spags thinks he can groom one of them to be James Hall’s eventually successor and won’t see the need to use a premium pick on a blue chip rusher, even if Aldon Smith were to fall here. Given that, Corey Liuget makes a lot of sense. They have nothing at defensive tackle other than 34 year old Fred Robbins.
Mike Pouncey- Pouncey would fill a need at guard and he would fit the range.
Ryan Kerrigan- If they do go defensive end, Ryan Kerrigan figures to be that defensive end. A lot of 4-3 teams aren’t sold on Cameron Jordan.
Cameron Jordan- Of course, this could be one of the few that is.
Trade down- If the Rams feel they aren’t in love with anyone at this spot, they could trade down. San Diego and Tampa Bay would both love to get ahead of New England for Cameron Jordan.
15. Miami Dolphins- G Mike Pouncey (Florida)
Mark Ingram has been in this spot for most of the season, but concerns about his knee and overall devaluation of his position drop him here. It seems like his range starts at 19 and experts seem to agree with me. If they don’t trade down, Pouncey figures to be the most likely pick. They really need to shore up their interior blocking and Jeff Ireland doesn’t appear sold on Ryan Mallett after his latest interview.
Ryan Mallett- Of course, they’ve worked him out seemingly every week and they’ve done their homework on him more than any other team in the league. If they like what they see, they’ll pull the trigger. I think it’s more likely they don’t like what they see. In an interview, Ireland said that he wished Mallett the best in the future. That doesn’t sound like someone who is going to draft him.
Trade down- Trading down makes a ton of sense here. Like at 14, someone could really want to jump New England for Cameron Jordan. Tyron Smith is another candidate to go here if this pick is traded. Miami doesn’t have a 2nd rounder and would like to be able to get back into the 2nd round, take a running back, and then take a quarterback like Colin Kaepernick later in the first.
Trade up- If Blaine Gabbert’s there at 9, they could trade up and you know Dallas is selling. They may be in love with Gabbert and feel that a mere 6 spot jump would be worth it.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars- DE Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue)
I can’t remember the last time I had anything different here. If they pass on Ryan Kerrigan, I’ll throw my computer out of the window. Actually, on 2nd though no, these are the Jaguars we’re talking about. They single handedly destroyed every mock in America by taking Tyson Alualu at 10 last year. Still, I am sticking with Kerrigan. This team loves to build in the trenches and with Aaron Kampman’s future in doubt, they need an end after managing just 40 sacks in the last 2 years. Kerrigan is Gene Smith’s type of player, strong motor, blue collar, team captain, productive in college.
Cameron Jordan- Jordan is also a Gene Smith type player and he might want to pair him up with Tyson Alualu, Jordan’s former college teammate, on this defensive line. However, I don’t know if they’ll be sold on him in a 4-3.
Rahim Moore- This one would be straight out of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ “what the fuck” file, but they’ve certainly accessed said file before. Moore is a Gene Smith type player and fills a major need at free safety.
Christian Ponder- They could want a quarterback here and Ponder is a Gene Smith type player.
Go on to 17-32