1. Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, Quarterback, Auburn
6’5″ 248 4.59
Franchise signal callers are hard to find, and maybe Newton is not going to end up being that guy for the Panthers. Certainly, this is a risky pick for this organization, a team with a ton of needs. However, I think Newton provides excellent upside, and from what I’ve heard, he is undoubtedly under consideration for this pick, and Carolina head coach Ron Rivera is a big fan. If you combined Vince Young and Ben Roethlisberger, you would probably get Cam Newton. His escape-ability and athleticism are great, but he does have some baggage. All indications are that he absolutely nailed team interviews at the Combine, and I think he has a strong chance of being the first player selected.
2. Denver Broncos: Marcell Dareus, Defensive Tackle, Alabama
6’3″ 319 4.93
The Denver Broncos will be looking at a complete revamping of their defensive line this season. Everyone who played the hybrid linebacker position last year will likely move to defensive end, and prior to re-signing Kevin Vickerson last night, the Broncos had only two defensive tackles on the roster–Louis Leonard and Mitch Unrein. Vickerson and Leonard are the only ones with actual NFL experience, and Vickerson was the only one to even play for Denver last year.
Clearly, defensive tackle is going to be a priority. The Question now becomes whether the Broncos will go for Nick Fairley or Marcell Dareus. Both guys have their strengths, and both have their weaknesses. I think right now, the safer pick for the Broncos is to take Dareus, who is almost two years younger than Fairley and who has played at a dominant level for a longer period of time. Both have National Titles, and both players are great athletes. I think Dareus’ overall skill-set is better, and that’s why we have him ranked as our top DT in the draft.
3. Buffalo Bills: Da’Quan Bowers, Defensive End, Clemson
The Bills’ pass rush is pathetic, and Da’Quan Bowers is arguably the best pass rusher in the entire draft. In 2010, with a torn meniscus, he led the nation with 16 sacks and was an absolute terror for opposing teams. The former top prep-school recruit has now vaulted himself into the top of the NFL Draft discussion, and likely will be one of the first five players picked in April. He has the potential to be a dominant LDE for a team in the future, and has played literally every position on the line in his time at Clemson.
4. Cincinnati Bengals: Nick Fairley, Defensive Tackle, Auburn
6’4″ 291 4.87
If anyone is in the market to take a character risk in the draft, you can always count on the Cincinnati Bengals. Nick Fairley had an extremely impressive junior season for Auburn. He dominated every single game all the way to a National Title against Oregon where he had arguably his most impressive performance. The only thing about Fairley is that he does have some red flags in terms of character. I am not so sure he won’t fall further than this.
5. Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Peterson, Cornerback, LSU
6’0″ 219 4.34
The Cardinals are getting arguably the best player in the draft here in Patrick Peterson. He and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie would be arguably the best playmaking duo at cornerback in the NFL, and he would add a big, physical presence to the position that the NFL hasn’t really seen before. I think 10 years from now, we’ll be talking about Peterson as one of the best picks in this entire draft.
6. Cleveland Browns: A.J. Green, Wide Receiver, Georgia
6’4″ 211 4.48
AJ Green threw up some red flags on his own when he said that preparation wasn’t really his thing, but he definitely showed that whatever preparation he put it was well worth it over the last couple of years. Green is a huge playmaker and would be a great deep threat for the Browns and their young quarterback Colt McCoy. Green reminds me of Randy Moss, but I think he has the capability to add weight to his frame and be even more dominant.
7. San Francisco 49ers: Von Miller, Linebacker, Texas A&M
6’3″ 246 4.53
Probably going to wind up being the best linebacker in this draft, by a long shot. Miller combines fantastic size with athleticism and speed, and has great bend around the outside. He has a similar makeup to that of Clay Matthews, the man who should have won defensive player of the year in 2010. Miller should be a force for the next decade.
8. Tennessee Titans: Blaine Gabbert, Quarterback, Missouri
Not quite sold on Gabbert yet, and his skill set seems a lot like that of Vince Young coming out of Texas a few years ago, but I think Gabbert is more polished in terms of reading defenses. He could be a top ten pick, or he could fall all the way to 15 to the Miami Dolphins. I like the Titans to add a quarterback in this draft. At the Senior Bowl, they interviewed every single quarterback. I think there is a clear interest.
9. Dallas Cowboys: J.J. Watt, Defensive End, Wisconsin
6’6″ 292 4.78
J.J. Watt has the potential to be dominant for a long, long time. At 6’6″ 292, he is a fantastic athlete and a former tight end who transferred to Wisconsin a couple of years ago and has since shown nothing but consistent dominance for the Badgers as a defensive end. For the Dallas Cowboys and Rob Ryan’s defense, Watt is a perfect fit.
10. Washington Redskins: Julio Jones, Wide Receiver, Alabama
6’3″ 220 4.39
Julio Jones has pretty much everything you look for in a wide receiver prospect. He has great size, speed, athleticism, and he’s a playmaker through and through. He is battling back from an injured foot at the Scouting Combine, which may or may not affect his stock. I am not so sure it will. The Redskins and Mike Shanahan are in dire need of a big playmaker at the receiver position.
11. Houston Texans: Prince Amukamara, Cornerback, Nebraska
6’0″ 209 4.38
This would be a fantastic value pick for Houston. Amukamara is a technician and obviously speed is not a concern for him. He has running back size, and it shows. He is very physical and doesn’t have a lot of interceptions, but that’s because teams rarely test him. He would be a great choice for the Texans at this juncture.
12. Minnesota Vikings: Robert Quinn, Defensive End, North Carolina
6’5″ 265 4.73
This pick seems a bit less likely now with the Vikings re-signing Brian Robison for three years, 14 million dollars, but if Quinn is on the board he might be too enticing for Minnesota to pass up, especially with Ray Edwards hitting free agency and Everson Griffen in some legal trouble. Quinn could turn out to be the best pass rusher of this group of players.
13. Detroit Lions: Brandon Harris, Cornerback, Miami
5’10” 191 4.46
Brandon Harris showed off great hip movement and ball skills at the combine, and just looks like a natural. I thought he was worthy of this pick before, but even more-so now. I really like Harris as an NFL player, and I think he can be an immediate starter for the Lions. They have a great defensive line built over there, and now the key will be taking the opportunities they create and making them into turnovers.
14. St. Louis Rams: Corey Liuget, Defensive Tackle, Illinois
Liuget has potential to be a dominant defensive lineman. The Rams don’t really have a force on the interior right now, and Liuget could be a nice way to start. I think receiver is an option here as well.
15. Miami Dolphins: Jake Locker, Quarterback, Washington
6’3″ 225 4.5
This is a bit of a wild-card selection here. Locker hasn’t exactly proven worthy of a top 15 pick over the last year, but I think a team will love his intangibles and athleticism enough to make him “their guy”. The Dolphins need a guy who can finally be their franchise signal caller.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Cameron Jordan, Defensive End, California
6’4″ 287 4.71
Jordan is good value here. He is a potential top ten talent who falls here because of the overall depth at the top of this year’s draft. He has a great attitude and would be a nice fit with Jack Del Rio and the Jaguars alongside his former Cal teammate Tyson Alualu.
17. New England Patriots (from Raiders): Muhammad Wilkerson, Defensive End, Temple
6’4″ 315 4.96
This is about as high as I think Wilkerson would go, but the need is there for New England, and he certainly fits the mold of what they are looking for. This could be a fantastic fit.
18. San Diego Chargers: Phil Taylor, Nose Tackle, Baylor
6’3″ 334 5.09
The Chargers have a solid rotation at nose tackle right now, but their run defense struggled at times last year. They could move up and try to take a better defensive lineman prospect, but Taylor is solid at this point, and could start at nose tackle for them right away.
19. New York Giants: Akeem Ayers, Linebacker, UCLA
6’3″ 254 4.81
The Giants seem to have ignored their need at outside linebacker for a while now, and there are a couple of guys in this year’s draft that I could see them going after. Ayers didn’t show great straight-line speed at the Combine, but the excellent quickness that everyone knew he had. He should be a good fit for New York.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ryan Kerrigan, Defensive End, Purdue
6’4″ 267 4.67
The re-shaping of the defensive line in Tampa Bay continues with Ryan Kerrigan, one of the most dominant defensive ends in Big Ten history. 34 sacks and 14 forced fumbles for his career made Kerrigan one of the most feared players in Purdue football history, and set a Big Ten record with his 14 forced fumbles. Truly a dominant player who will fit well next to Gerald McCoy and Brian Price on the Bucs’ revamped defense.
21. Kansas City Chiefs: Tyron Smith, Offensive Tackle, USC
6’6″ 307 5.08
This pick could go a number of different directions. Smith is going to probably go higher than this, but for now, we’ll peg him to the Chiefs. Barry Richardson is not much of a pass blocker, and Smith didn’t allow USC QB’s to even barely be touched in his time there from the right side. He could also develop into a left tackle and allow Branden Albert to kick inside to guard, his more natural position.
22. Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Castonzo, Offensive Tackle, Boston College
6’7″ 311 5.21
Big, smart offensive tackle who fits the mold of a player the Colts look for. If they are going to make Peyton Manning the highest paid player in NFL history, they better be prepared to protect him.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: Jimmy Smith, Cornerback, Colorado
6’2″ 210 4.38
Big, physical cornerback with good speed. Falls a bit here due to some character concerns, but a great value for the Eagles. Asante Samuel will love this pick because Smith will take a lot of pressure off of him.
24. New Orleans Saints: Martez Wilson, Linebacker, Illinois
6’4″ 250 4.47
Extremely athletic linebacker with great size. Has boom or bust potential, but working his way back from a serious injury two years ago. He is our top rated inside linebacker, but he can also play on the outside as well, which may be his more natural spot.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Aldon Smith, Outside Linebacker, Missouri
Pass rushing specialist from Missouri has the potential to be dominant in the NFL as a hybrid linebacker, a position the Seahawks could use some star power at. I like their corps right now including Aaron Curry and Lofa Tatupu, but they don’t have a true pass rushing fiend. Smith could be that guy.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Torrey Smith, Wide Receiver, Maryland
6’2″ 205 4.41
Bigger playmaker at the receiver position with excellent speed. Smith is raw, but would be a great deep threat for Joe Flacco who has a huge arm.
27. Atlanta Falcons: Mark Ingram, Running Back, Alabama
5’9″ 215 4.61
Bit of a wild-card pick here. The Falcons have more needs other than RB, but getting two bruisers like Ingram and Turner would give them some weaponry to make a run deep in the playoffs in case of injury. Jason Snelling is a nice piece to have, but Ingram is too good to pass up here. BPA pick.
28. New England Patriots: Nate Solder, Offensive Tackle, Colorado
6’8″ 319 4.96
After getting Wilkerson to solidify the defensvie line, the Patriots take a solid project at tackle in Nate Solder. Sebastian Vollmer has turned out to be a nice pick at right tackle, and Solder is athletic enough to develop into a potentially dominant left tackle at the NFL level.
29. Chicago Bears: Stefen Wisniewski, Center/Guard, Penn State
6’3″ 313 5.29
Wisniewski is a dominant interior lineman, and the Bears had a ton of trouble protecting Jay Cutler. I think they could use three picks on offensive linemen this year. Defensive tackle is another possibility here.
30. New York Jets: Justin Houston, Outside Linebacker, Georgia
6’3″ 270 4.72
Pass rushing outside linebacker who is a fantastic athlete, Houston really intrigues me as a possibility for Rex Ryan’s defense. He has the size of a Vernon Gholston, but the pass rushing skills to back up his athleticism on the field.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Pouncey, Guard/Center, Florida
6’5″ 303 5.12
Pouncey would step in and start immediately next to his brother for the Steelers. Pittsburgh still has problems on the o-line, but this would go a long way toward helping their cause.
32. Green Bay Packers: Gabe Carimi, Offensive Tackle, Wisconsin
6’7″ 314 5.18
Great value pick here, Chad Clifton played well as a left tackle this year, but it was a giant surprise. I would not bank on that production going forward long term. If Bryan Bulaga develops into a left tackle they hope he can, Carimi will fit in perfectly as the right tackle.
Also, do you think you have a great mock draft?? Well email it to me [email protected] and I’ll post it on the front page (I may edit it some if there are spelling mistakes or inappropriate language).