I put a lot of time into this mock (just look how long it is). I feel pretty confident with most of my picks.
1. Carolina Panthers- Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
The Panthers only have two viable options with this pick. It’s between Green and Fairley. I put some thought into it, and I just couldn’t stop remembering that the Panthers have too many young receivers with potential on the roster to pick Green and too many former 5th/6th round picks with little potential at defensive tackle to not pick Fairley. With the big and athletic David Gettis getting 508 receiving yards in his first year as a 6th round pick out of Baylor in spite of poor quarterback play, receiver doesn’t seem like it is quite as pressing of a need. Gettis could break out. However, I see no talent from the Panthers’ Nick Hayden and Dmitri Landri, so defensive tackle is quite a pressing need. I like Fairley, but it must be understood that he is not at Ndamukong Suh’s level. Suh was the most dominant defensive tackle I have ever seen. They aren’t near the same level. But Fairley has impressive short area quickness, an outstanding array of pass rush moves, solid strength, and he gets impressive leverage on lineman. However, I think his instincts are a tad below average, and I will see him be fooled on a play action. He is still a good prospect.
2. Denver Broncos- Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
I have taken A LOT of heat for my opinion of Patrick Peterson. Everyone thinks I am crazy. But he seems like a really overrated prospect. I’ve seen him on film, and it feels like he is just a workout warrior. I see him allow so many catches, and make so many mistakes in coverage. Sadly, I don’t have many numbers that backup my opinion, but I want my readers to consider this: am I the only one that has noticed that a lot of teams’ number one receivers seem to get a lot of yards against LSU? Seriously? Last year, Jarius Wright, Markeith Summers, Julio Jones, and Jeff Fuller all got over 68 yards against LSU. That can’t be said about Amukamara, Janoris Jenkins (he is staying in Florida, though), Brandon Harris, Texas’ Aaron Williams, Ohio State’s Chimdi Chekwa, and even Louisville’s Johnny Patrick. Whenever I bring up this point, people will tell me that Peterson only covers one side of the field. I realize this. Most first string corners are going to cover the strong side of the field. But, most number one receivers start at flanker, which is the strong side outside receiver. So, a majority of the time, Peterson will be lined up against the opponent’s number one receiver. I will admit, Peterson is probably the most physically gifted corner I have ever seen. 6’2 and real fast. A lot of talent, but a lot of catches allowed, too. I’ll get deeper into the subject of Peterson later. On the other hand, cornerback is a pressing need for the Broncos. Da’Quan Bowers is another option here too, but the pass rush for the Broncos should improve when Dumervil comes back, and a pass rusher won’t be as much of a need.
3. Buffalo Bills- Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
I am undecided on my opinion of Bowers. Honestly, I saw half a dozen Clemson games in ’09, and I had so much scouting information of the Tigers that I hardly made an effort to watch them in 2010. I saw two games, and, by sheer coincidence, they were the only two games all season in which Bowers didn’t get a sack (South Carolina and South Florida). The only Bowers I am aware of is the instinctive, strong run stopper (on pace for 73 tackles in ’09 before an injury), but the raw, below average pass rusher (on pace for 4 sacks in 09′ before the injury). Frankly, the Bowers that got 16 sacks in 2010 doesn’t exist to me. I am going to watch the N.C. State vs. Clemson game on ESPN3 in the next couple of days, so I will get back to you guys on my opinion of him as a pass rusher soon. However, I can confidently say that he has phenomenal strength and instincts, and he is among the best athletes I have ever seen. With the release of Marcus Stroud on Wednesday, 3-4 defensive end becomes a must need for Buffalo, and Bowers would be a great fit for the Bills. Although he played in a 4-3 in college, his tremendous 285 pound frame makes him an ideal fit for 3-4 defensive end at the NFL level.
4. Cincinnati Bengals- A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Drafting A.J. Green right here would be a common sense pick for the Bengals. However, as a resident of Cincinnati, I have come to realize that the Bengals aren’t exactly known for their common sense. Green is outstanding. Watching him play, I can’t help but see a Larry Fitzgerald clone plus a bit more speed, but a bit less bulk. He can jump as well as any receiver I have ever seen, he adds a lot of height to his ridiculous jumping ability, and he does an excellent job of catching the ball at its highest point, just like Larry Fitzgerald. With the expected departures of Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, wide receiver is a vital need, and A.J. Green makes a lot of sense here. But I am skeptical that they will draft him.
5. Arizona Cardinals- Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
So far, this is the hardest pick I have had to mock yet. I have been extremely back and forth between the Cardinals drafting Miller and Blaine Gabbert, but with the likely departure of Joey Porter, I decided to choose Miller here. In regards to Miller, I think he is a slightly underrated prospect. His instincts and quickness is above average, but he is a mediocre athlete for a first round prospect and he could afford to improve how he uses his hands. An okay player, and this would be an okay pick.
6. Cleveland Browns- Marcell Dareus, DE, Alabama
I don’t really know what to do with this pick until I know whether Cleveland will be running a 4-3 or a 3-4 this year. Most people say that Marcell Dareus would be a great fit in either, so that’s why I went with Dareus here. But I am not into the idea of Dareus being a defensive tackle. What I have always found is that a heavy 4-3 defensive end transitioning to 3-4 end is usually an easy, seamless transition. Because, let’s be honest; a 5 technique end is a 5 technique end, whether the team he plays on runs a 4-3 or a 3-4. The transition isn’t difficult. But a 3-4 end going to 4-3 defensive tackle or visa versa will be tough. Because going from a 5 technique to a 3 technique will be difficult and will require a long adjustment period. I’d keep Dareus, who played as 5 technique in a 3-4 at Alabama, at end, and away from the Browns if they run a 4-3, but I think Cleveland may draft Dareus regardless of what defense they run. I think he would do better in a 3-4, but I can’t say for sure. Regarding need, Brian Schaefering and Kenyon Coleman are the starting defensive ends right now. They need to upgrade. On another note, I think Dareus is an overrated prospect. I love stats for defensive lineman. And frankly, Marcell Dareus is awful statistically. He got 66 tackles and 11 sacks in his entire career at Alabama (33 tackles each year and 6 sacks as a junior and 5 as a senior). To give my readers an idea how bad that is, Bowers got 67 tackles and 16 sacks this season while playing the same position. These horrible stats despite a high grade from most NFL scouts makes me think of Gerald McCoy from a year ago, who got 32 tackles and 6 sacks his final season at Oklahoma, and struggled with Tampa this season, ranking 5th among rookie defensive tackles in sacks and in tackles. Expect similar numbers for Dareus in the NFL. Dareus lacks quickness, instincts, and change of direction skills and will struggle at the NFL level.
7. San Francisco 49ers- Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
This was a hard pick to mock. I have already dished out my love for Newton in a different post. I love his decision making ability and I do think he is an accurate quarterback. He is an underrated prospect. What made this pick hard to mock was whether I would go with Newton or Blaine Gabbert (even Amukamara is a possibility too). I just think Gabbert is overrated. Most people think Gabbert is a better prospect than Newton. Most people think he is the best quarterback overall. Some will say he is the number one overall prospect. I’ll sum up argument against Gabbert with this statement: how can anyone justify ranking a spread offense system quarterback with the 69th ranked quarterback rating in the FBS as the number one quarterback in the 2011 draft? Gabbert isn’t even a system quarterback. In order to be a system quarterback, he needs to have success in the spread offense he plays in. That can’t really be said about Gabbert. I do like Newton, though, and I bet Jim Harbaugh is smart enough to draft Newton instead of Gabbert. This would be a good pick for the 49ers.
8. Tennessee Titans- Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
As I mentioned in the 49ers pick, I don’t think Gabbert is a very good prospect. I don’t need to reiterate those numbers. Now, I am going to explain why Gabbert isn’t productive. He is a poor decision maker, he is a poor athlete, and he has mediocre accuracy. However, he has impressive arm strength, and he has a very quick release. I don’t like what I have seen from him, and I think he won’t be successful at the NFL level. Quarterback is an obvious need for the Titans though, and I don’t see Tennessee drafting another running quarterback after the Vince Young debacle, such as Jake Locker.
9. Dallas Cowboys- Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
Amukamara is a slightly overrated prospect, but he is a very good fit for the Cowboys and they are in dire need of a corner. Amukamara has average production for a first round corner. Neither excellent nor poor. My issue with him is that if he is going to be a first round corner prospect with mediocre production for a first round corner, he ought to have superior physical tools. Amukamara has average physical ability. He is 6’0 tall and he runs a 4.49 40 yard dash. And to be picked as high as he is despite his production, he ought to be one amazing athlete. Guys that are 6’0 tall and run a 4.49 grow on trees. I’ll need a lot more to be impressed. Terrence Newman is 32, and the Cowboys 26th ranked pass defense won’t get better without Amukamara. This would be an okay pick, but Amukamara is slightly overrated.
10. Washington Redskins- Cameron Jordan, DE, California
If the previous scenarios mentioned all come true, then Washington doesn’t have many options with this pick. The lone other player I really considered with this pick is Alabama’s Julio Jones. I ended up going with Jordan because I feel like that, by now, Washington must know that if they are going to switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4, they absolutely must draft accordingly. In 2009, the Packer switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4 and drafted accordingly, bringing in B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews in the first round of the draft. They made an effort to make sure that the transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 would go smoothly, and it resulted in the 2nd ranked defense in the NFL in the first season with the new defense. In 2010, Washington went from a 4-3 to a 3-4, and drafted no players in the entire draft that had any experience in a 3-4 in college or would be well suited in a 3-4 at the NFL level, and, not surprisingly, they finished with the 31st ranked defense in the NFL during their first season with the 3-4. The lack of an effort by Washington to change their defensive personnel in 2010 killed them this year, and I don’t think they will make that mistake again. Regarding Jordan, he seems like an underrated prospect. He is an exceptional pass rusher for a 290 pound prospect, he is pretty athletic, he uses his hands well to shed off blocks, he is very versatile, he has a long wingspan, and and he has been very productive at Cal. A good prospect, and this would be a good pick for Washington.
11. Houston Texans- Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
Very few people have Robert Quinn falling this far. The Texans (who are switching to a 3-4 this year) really don’t have many options with this pick. They need a pass rusher (23rd ranked pass rush in the NFL), and Quinn fits the bill. The only thing that makes me hesitant is the fact that I don’t like converting a 270 lb end to 3-4 outside linebacker. The best 3-4 outside linebackers in the NFL, such as James Harrison, Clay Matthews, DeMarcus Ware, Joey Porter, and Cameron Wake, are all well under 265. I’ll make an exception for Quinn, whom I believe is fast enough for linebacker at the NFL level. If the Texans stay off Quinn, they will probably draft Adrian Clayborn or Julio Jones, with Jones being a second receiver to Andre Johnson. However, I really think Quinn is an overrated prospect. My main issue with Quinn is his stats. At first glance, his stats appear to be great; 52 tackles, 11 sacks Sophomore year. But let’s take a closer look. Let’s divide the stats from all of the North Carolina games last year based on the strength of the teams Quinn played against. Against The Citadel, East Carolina, Virginia, Georgia Southern, Duke, Boston College, and North Carolina State (7 games), he got ALL of his 11 sacks and 33 of his tackles; against Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, Florida State, Miami, Connecticut, and Georgia Tech (6 games), he got a mere 19 tackles and 0 sacks! That is a staggering dispersion of stats between teams he played! He made absolutely no impact in games against good teams, yet he dominated against bad teams. First of all, this is pretty awful. I don’t care if he can dominate against whatever tackle the Citadel has. Considering he played in the ACC, he was engulfed and dominated by every lineman that could be considered average that he faced. His lack of production against decent linemen makes me think he won’t be a legitimately good prospect at the NFL level (think: Vernon Gholston, who took over the Big Ten in one of its worst years). But, I will admit this; I have an extremely clouded opinion of Quinn. I can’t get game film on Quinn playing against these bad teams. The five games in which I have seen him play are the ones against the teams I considered good (except I didn’t see him play Georgia Tech). He didn’t get over three tackles or a sack in any of those games. And, honestly, amateur or pro scout, if someone sees an end play 5 games, get 0 sacks and 3 tackles or less in every game, and then get suspended for an entire season, and this scout is told that he is an early first round prospect, would they think he is overrated? Absolutely.
12. Minnesota Vikings- Cory Liuget, DT, Illinois
I want to start out by saying that I don’t think defensive end is the slightest position of need for the Vikings. Although the Vikings have the 20th ranked pass rush in the NFL, it had nothing to do with the play of Ray Edwards and Jared Allen. Somehow, the Williams duo plus every linebacker on the team got a combined 3 sacks. But the 19.5 sacks put up by Edwards and Allen is pretty impressive, and isn’t an issue. Pat Williams is 38 and the Vikings need youth at defensive tackle. Liuget was a late riser whom I haven’t got much game film on yet, but I will see some Illinois games over the next few days on ESPN3. Analysis will come soon.
13. Detroit Lions- Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
I considered Ryan Kerrigan, Aldon Smith, and Akeem Ayers with this pick, but I went with Smith because of the Lions’ need for an improvement at corner. I think the Lions are headed in the right direction, so I am not very confident the Lions won’t be smart enough to draft another player, but they need a corner. I haven’t seen much of Colorado this season, but Colorado has the 110th ranked pass defense in the FBS yet most scouts say they will have 2 corners drafted (Smith and Jalil Brown). I can’t be the only one that notices this issue. I haven’t seen much of Smith this season (again, I’ll watch them on ESPN3 soon), but 68 tackles? I have never seen so many tackles from a corner. To get that many tackles, Smith is probably awful in coverage. I see a lot of size speed, but the outlook does not look good. Many people will content that his supporting cast is awful and that’s why the pass defense numbers are so bad. But, how can these people explain Texas? Awful supporting cast for corners Aaron Williams and Curtis Brown in the Big 12, but they can overcome their supporting cast and have the 8th ranked pass defense in the NCAA! Why can’t Smith and Jalil Brown do that with Colorado? Because they aren’t that good! I’ll get back to you guys on Smith later.
14. St. Louis Rams- Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
This was a pretty easy pick. The Rams are in desperate need of a wide receiver, and Julio Jones would be good value at pick 14. Coming into the season, I though Jones was overrated. He got a mere 596 receiving yards sophomore year. But this year, I saw a significant improvement from Jones, getting 1113 receiving yards Junior year. And that improvement in production makes him an underrated prospect. He has impressive size and strength, and he is pretty athletic, but his route running is mediocre and his hands are extremely inconsistent. A great fit for St. Louis.
15. Miami Dolphins- Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Mark Ingram would be a good player for the Dolphins. The Emmit Smith comparisons are very apt. He isn’t too fast, but he is a really tough runner with outstanding vision and strength. His is extremely productive, and he has excellent hands. The Dolphins are very desperate for a running back, and Ingram’s yards per carry is ridiculous. A good fit here. Ingram will do well with the Dolphins.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars- Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
It’s never easy to tell what the Jaguars will do with their picks. This year, I see them drafting either Kerrigan, Aldon Smith, or Adrian Clayborn. I see them drafting Kerrigan because of their recent history of drafting high character guys that don’t have a ton of physical tools (such as Tyson Alualu, Eugene Monroe, and Eben Britton). Kerrigan isn’t fast, but he uses his hands well, and he is absolutely relentless in pursuit. No player on the Jaguars got over 5 sacks last year, which is pretty awful, and Kerrigan could change that.
17. New England Patriots- J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
J.J. Watt would be a very good fit for the Patriots. They’ve gotta pick a 3-4 end. This year, opposite Gerard Warren (who isn’t that good anyway), they used a pretty pitiful rotation of Mike Wright, Ron Brace (who is pretty good, but is best fit for nose tackle), Brandon Deaderick, Myron Pryor, and Kyle Love. Ty Warren will be returning to the Pats this year, but there is no guarantee that he will be healthy, and Watt would be an improvement over Gerard Warren regardless. I also considered Adrian Clayborn and Aldon Smith here. I think Watt’s intangibles is a more natural fit for the Patriots over Clayborn, and Smith’s lack of experience doesn’t make him seem like a great fit for New England. Any of these players would be good here. Watt has underrated quickness, good strength, and he uses his hands well to shed off blocks. Watt would be a good pick here, and I think he is an underrated prospect.
18. San Diego Chargers- Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
I think Solder is the best tackle of this year’s draft class. He is an outstanding athlete with a lot of strength and potential, and he is among the best run blockers of this years draft class. His strength is outstanding, he plays hard, and he is a very productive run blocker, but he has one major flaw in his game; he can’t stay low in pass protection. He has tremendous height, so he really needs to learn how to stay low in pass protection to get good leverage in pass protection. He is a very poor pass blocker for this reason. But he is a small change in fundamentals away from becoming a tremendous player, and I think he has the work ethic to make this change in fundamentals , which makes him an underrated prospect. He will probably replace Jeromey Clarey at right tackle. Adrian Clayborn, who wold probably replace Jacques Cesaire, would be another good option, but Solder would be a good pick.
19. New York Giants- Stephon Paea, DT, Oregon State
This would be a bit of a reach here, but I have absolutely no idea why so many people think the Giants need a lineman. They allowed 16 sacks last season, tied for fewest in the NFL last season, and they got among the most rushing yards of any team in the league. Offensive line is not an issue. I am not to0 high on Paea. He is very short, he is poor at using his hands, and he isn’t the best athlete. However he has impressive strength, and he would be an upgrade over Chris Canty. This pick would be as reach, but the Giants don’t have many options.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
Clayborn is a good prospect, and would be a great fit for Tampa at pick 20. Tampa is in desperate need of a defensive end. Their leading pass rusher last year, Stylez White, got 4.5 sacks last year, and Clayborn would be a good fit for Tampa Bay. He is very athletic, he uses his hands well to shed off blocks, he is instinctive, and he has good strength. He also has a lot of quickness off the ball and he plays very hard. However, he did regress as a pass rusher this year, and he has some character issues. However, his on field intensity makes not worry as much about his character issues and makes me think he is an underrated prospect. A good player and a great fit for Tampa.
21. Kansas City Chiefs- Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri
With Mike Vrabel at the age of 35, the Kansas City Chiefs need an outside linebacker, and Aldon Smith would be a great fit in a 3-4 outside linebacker position. I love Smith and it kills me to have him fall this far in a mock. I will be honest; Smith’s athleticism is overrated. It’s slightly above average. Nothing that special. Not as good as everyone says it is. But that doesn’t mean he is an overrated prospect. I have never seen a player that has learned the fundamentals of football as quick as he has. He played wide receiver in high school, but in redshirt freshman year, he was one of 6 players in the country with 60 or more tackles and 10 or more sacks. A redshirt freshman new to defensive end with those kind of numbers? Unbelievable. His numbers make him really underrated. Not only that, but his greatest strength is his uses of hands. His array of pass rush moves is astounding and nothing short of perfect, he has outstanding short area quickness, and he has suddenness with the use of his hands. I will never know how he managed to become such a polished player with the use of his hands in such a short amount of time, but it is astonishing. Smith is a great player, he is such a quick learner that I have absolutely no fear in how well his transition to linebacker will go, he has the instincts and speed for linebacker, and he will have success wherever he goes. This would be a good pick for Kansas City.
22. Indianapolis Colts- Justin Houston- DE, Georgia
I know I am in the minority with this pick, but why not? Houston would be a bit of a reach here, but I have absolutely no idea why so many people think the Colts need a lineman. They allowed 16 sacks last season, tied for fewest in the NFL last season. The Colts tend to crave undersized defensive ends in their 4-3, with the 6’1 Dwight Freeney and the 245lb Robert Mathis starting at end, Mathis is a free agent 2012 and is unhappy with his contract, and the Colts don’t have a history of drafting players for need (Mike Pollak when they have Jeff Saturday and Donald Brown when they have Addai come to mind). At 255lbs, Houston fits their history of undersized speedy pass rushing defensive lineman and makes a lot of sense here.
23. Philadelphia Eagles- Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
Philadelphia doesn’t exactly have many options with this pick. They really need an offensive tackle to play opposite Jason Peters (Winston Justice was awful last year), and Carimi’s run blocking ability would really help the Eagles. He is tall, athletic, and strong but he really needs to improve his ability to combat pass rush moves and good fundamentals. This would be a solid pick.
24. New Orleans Saints- Mike Pouncey, C, New Orleans
I considered Muhammad Wilkerson here, but Jonathan Goodwin isn’t a very good center and Mike Pouncey would be an improvement here. Mike isn’t as good as his brother. He fails to snap the ball successfully often, and he isn’t actually a great blocker, but he has the on field awareness to make valuable audibles and line calls before the play. Would be a decent pick.
25. Seattle Seahawks- Brandon Harris, CB, Miami
I have always loved Harris, whom would be an immediate impact on the Seahawks 27th ranked pass defense in the NFL. I agree with everything my colleague Jesse Bartolis said about Harris. I love Harris’ intangibles and fluidity as an athlete. And Harris would be a major improvement over Kelly Jennings immediately. This would be a good pick.
26. Baltimore Ravens- Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
I considered Aaron Williams here, but the Ravens need an improvement at outside linebacker opposite Terrell Suggs, and Ayers could be the guy. Jarrett Johnson got only 1.5 sacks at outside linebacker last year for the 27th ranked pass rush in the NFL (I can’t believe it either), and that’s unacceptable in a 3-4 defense. Ayers is an athletic linebacker that has a lot of coverage skills and strength, but he is a raw prospect. He could afford to improve his instincts, and he is poor with the use of his hands, but he has great height and athleticism that would allow him to be a playmaker in a 3-4 at the NFL level. His pass rush skills (4 sacks at 4-3 outside linebacker, which is pretty rare) would be a good fit for Baltimore, and this would be a good pick.
27. Atlanta Falcons- Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
I love Torrey Smith and I think he will be a pro bowl receiver at the NFL level, and the Falcons are in desperate need of a receiver that will play opposite Roddy White, but I don’t feel too confident with this pick because Smith is an exact clone of Roddy White. They couldn’t be much more alike. Smith would be an immediate improvement over Michael Jenkins, but Smith isn’t the tall back-of-the-end-zone threat that would be an ideal compliment to White. White and Smith are identical prospects. It’s almost spooky. They are both 6’1, run a sub 4.45 40, one has a 14.5 career yards per catch (Smith), the other has a 14.1 career yards per catch (White), and, if this mock comes true, they would both be 27th overall picks by the Falcons! They are also both excellent route runners and fluid athletes, but the both will trap some passes against their frame. The resemblance is unbelievable. And, even though Smith is a great player, he isn’t the big receiver that will make catches in the back of the end zone that would be a good compliment to White. He is White. Part of the reason I like think Smith is underrated is because of his resemblance to White. I have a feeling they will have identical careers. But they aren’t the best compliments to each other. However. considering how well the Donald Driver/Greg Jennings tandem worked out for Green Bay the past few years, I think the same could happen with White/Smith. And that’s why I think Smith will go here. And he will be a great player.
28. New England Patriots- Mikel LeShoure, RB, Illinois
In a few days, I am going to come out with an article about taking running backs in the first round. To be honest, in this scenario, I see the Patriots trading down as usual, but, if they pick anyone, I think it will be LeShoure. In this mock, the Patriots have very few options with this pick. They end up filling their biggest hole by drafting J.J. Watt for defensive end at pick 18, all the top tier outside linebackers are already taken, and they have the option to reach on a big receiver like Jonathan Baldwin, but it doesn’t sound like Patriots football to reach on a player. I ended up going with LeShoure because, even with the emergence of BenJarvus Green-Ellis (an awesome name), the Patriots have a history of using multiple running backs, and Danny Woodhead is too small for a major workload. LeShoure is an underrated prospect that is big, and he moves really well for a 230lb back (think Steven Jackson), plus he has been very durable and his vision is excellent. Also, considering Illinois never passes, his receiving numbers are insane for a big back. He has absolutely no downside whatsoever.
29. Chicago Bears- Tyron Smith, OT, USC
This scenario would make the Bears extremely happy. The only thing that could possibly stop the Bears from drafting Smith is the historical ineptitude of the Bears scouting department when drafting offensive linemen. They always turn out terrible. And it may make the Bears draft some other lineman, aka Castonzo. Smith is a solid player. To me, he always seemed like a “jack of all trades, but the master of none,” kind of tackle. I see good (but not great), athleticism, intangibles, strength, on field awareness, and polish from Smith. He is among the safest picks among all linemen in the draft, but he also doesn’t have a very high ceiling. This would be a good pick for the Bears, and an immediate improvement on a Chicago offensive line that allowed the most sacks in the NFL last season.
30. New York Jets- Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple
As I have said before, I hate making a player transition from defensive tackle to defensive end when switching him from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4, but Muhammad Wilkerson is a good player. Because I don’t like making these guys change positions, I feel that Cameron Heyward would be a better pick here, but I adore Muhammad Wilkerson. He is an outstanding pass rusher (which is why most think he would do well at end) for a defensive tackle, he is pretty athletic, he uses his hands well to shed off blocks, and his numbers are just ridiculous (68 tackles and 10 sacks in 2010), but he has mediocre short are quickness. He is an underrated player, but I still think he would be better suited for defensive tackle. This would be an okay pick for the Jets.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers- Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
This is an easy pick to mock. The Steelers offensive line has been horrendous for a while, and Castonzo would probably start immediately. I always thought he was overrated. He is an awful pass blocker and his strength is mediocre, but he is a solid atlete with good size and some potential. This would be a decent pick for Pittsburgh.
32. Green Bay Packers- Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
My favorite team is pretty lucky (I’m from Cincy, but my mom is from Green Bay). Rarely does a Super Bowl winning team have a need that will be easy to fill with their first pick. As mentioned before, most of Packers needs the Packers have will be filled via injured players returning, but the Packers have two needs that won’t be filled this way; 3-4 end opposite Cullen Jenkins and 3-4 outside linebacker opposite Clay Matthews. Ryan Pickett is a good player, but at 340lbs, it’s amazing that the Packers survived with him playing end. Frank Zombo isn’t a long term solution at outside linebacker. And it would take a miracle for Heyward, Akeem Ayers, J.J. Watt, Aldon Smith, Muhammad Wilkerson, Cameron Jordan, Justin Houston, and Christian Ballard to all be drafted before Green Bay picks. So Green Bay will have an easy pick to make. With 4 sacks this year, Heyward is slightly overrated due to his poor numbers, but he is an ideal fit for 3-4 defensive end because of his bulk and experience at defensive end. Heyward has solid strength and quickness, but he is inconsistent and he has mediocre athleticism. But this would be a good, easy pick for the Packers.