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Eric’s Mock Draft 2.0: Pouncey Falls to the Steelers


1. Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn

With Newton, the sky is the limit and the ground is very low, but the Panthers will be willing to take that gamble to turn their team around. While Panthers owner Jerry Richardson might have questions about Newton other than his ability on the field, the rest of Panthers’ personnel will not take the chance of letting a potential franchise quarterback slip through their hands.

2. Denver Broncos: Marcel Dareus, DT, Alabama

There is a difference between my mock draft and how I view prospects. This mock draft is what I am predicting will happen and that is the Broncos will go with the mindset that they need to improve the defensive tackle position with the switch to the 4-3 defense. My view is that the Broncos should take cornerback Patrick Peterson from LSU, the best player on the board in my opinion. Regardless, this is how I see it playing out for Denver at the No. 2 pick.

3. Buffalo Bills: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M

This pick is a no-brainer for Chan Gailey and co. The Bills desperately need to get pressure on the defense, recording only 27 sacks in the 2010 season. Of those 27 sacks, only nine of them came from the linebacker. Miller gives them an immediate starter and will give the Bills’ defense the consistent pressure it has been missing.

4. Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia

The Bengals might take a long, hard look here at Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert amidst the stand-off between owner Mike Brown and current starting quarterback Carson Palmer. They will pass on him for an offensive weapon who can step right in and produce.  They know what they are getting in Green and that is a wide receiver that can stretch the field and give help to whoever the quarterback is in Cincinnati in 2011.

5. Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

Like the Bengals, the Cardinals will also consider Gabbert here with the lack of a franchise quarterback on their roster. Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald recently said he doubts that the team would go quarterback with the No. 5 pick and I agree with him. With Peterson, the Cardinals get the best player on my board. A quality cornerback, he can give boosts to both the defense and special teams in Arizona.

6. Cleveland Browns: Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson

This is a position where teams in need of a quarterback might try to trade up seeing that Blaine Gabbert is still on the board. If the Browns do indeed use this pick though, I feel they upgrade their pass rush with Da’Quan Bowers. While there are many questions surrounding the health of his knee, I have seen some very positive reports and believe the Browns take him at No. 6.

7. San Francisco 49ers: Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina

Another candidate for Blaine Gabbert, I have a feeling the 49ers will pass on him at No. 7 in favor of a solid pass rusher in Robert Quinn. Quinn will bring an immediate upgrade to the 49ers defense, especially in the passing game. While they would love to have Peterson fall in their lap on August 28, San Francisco wouldn’t complain about what Quinn could bring to the table.

8. Tennessee Titans: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri

With Gabbert falling this far, I’d be surprised to see the Titans pass up on the opportunity at No. 8. Vince Young is all but officially out in Tennesee and veteran quarterback Kerry Collins is set to become a free agent. Although some think Collins is likely to return, there is no long-term answer at quarterback. New head coach Mike Munchak will start off his tenure with what he hopes will be his franchise quarterback.

9. Dallas Cowboys: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

I’m going against majority here. Not because I think the Cowboys will draft an offensive tackle but because they will take Anthony Castonzo over USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith. At this moment I believe the Cowboys will view Castonzo as the best tackle in the draft. With Dallas needing help on both sides of the offensive line, I have a feeling Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett will want to address the issue right away.

10. Washington Redskins: J.J. Watt, DE/OLB, Wisconsin

I thought for awhile about the possibility of Jake Locker landing in Washington, a team that also is in need of a young quarterback to be the future. However, No.10 will just be too high for the Redskins to take a flyer on Locker in my opinion. Watt is another solid prospect who can put pressure on the quarterback as a defensive end or outside linebacker in this draft and could compliment Brian Orakpo nicely.

11. Houston Texans: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

It seems as though I have seen many mock drafts were Amukamara falls past this point and I do not believe it every time. The Texans, in my opinion, would be grateful to have a cornerback with this ability fall to them at No. 11 and help out their struggling at-best secondary. The only bright spot for the Houston secondary last season was Glover Quin Jr. Amukamara would be an immediate upgrade and a player who would be able to step in and contribute right away.

12. Minnesota Vikings: Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri

I went back and forth on this one after hearing all of the positive reports about Washington quarterback Jake Locker and the interest the Vikings might have in him. However, at this time I am not buying into the Vikings taking a quarterback this high and will instead elect to go with Smith, a nice pass rushing outside linebacker who could provide depth for the defense. Outside linebacker Ben Leber is getting older and Smith could be the guy to take over for him when he departs.

13. Detroit Lions: Tyron Smith, OT, USC

With Amukamara going to Houston at No. 11, there is no cornerback here that is worth the No. 13 for Detroit to take. Smith is their best bet here as he would become the successor to veteran left tackle Jeff Backus and protect franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford’s blind side for years to come. He is a mauling lineman that can pave the way for Jahvid Best and the running game and has shown to be a good pass blocker at right tackle for USC. The big question is can he adjust to the left tackle position or is he a right tackle all the way through?

14. St. Louis Rams: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

This is the best situation to happen to the Rams in this year’s draft. With wide receiver Julio Jones still on the board, I would be surprised if they took longer than five minutes to deliver their selection card to the table. Jones would give the Rams a potential number one wide receiver for second-year quarterback Sam Bradford. They already have a potent running game with running back Steven Jackson and this selection would help even out their run-pass production.

15. Miami Dolphins: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama

Even with the rumors coming out this week about that Ingram’s knee is in worse shape than many know about, I still think the Dolphins do their homework and take him at No. 15. With running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams likely to depart whenever the free agency period takes place, the will need some help at the position. A former Heisman Trophy winner, Ingram is downhill runner who looks like a good fit for Miami’s offense.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue

The 31 year old Aaron Kampman has suffered a couple major knee injuries the past couple of years and Kerrigan would be a good replacement for whenever the time comes that the Jaguars want to move forward. Kerrigan possesses the ability to get after the quarterback, something the Jaguars defense has failed to do consistently the past few seasons. While Kerrigan would be an upgrade, they still need some improvement from Derrick Harvey, the team’s first round pick in 2008.

17. New England Patriots: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado

One of the two first round picks that the Patriots hold could tell us a little about the future of Matt Light, who is set to become a free agent. Even if they draft an offensive tackle, there is still a chance Light is back in the fold come fall. However, it would be a good idea to address the issue now and Solder seems to be a tackle that would fit right into the New England offense. He has good size (6’8”, 319 lbs.) and can hold his own against pass rushing specialists on the left side of the offensive line.

18. San Diego Chargers: Cameron Jordan, DE, California

As I noted in my last mock draft, Jacques Cesaire is a free agent and on top of that, the Chargers need an upgrade at defensive end/outside linebacker anyway. Jordan impressed many during Senior Bowl practices and also had a very solid combine. He is a player capable of producing right away for San Diego’s defense in an effort to take some pressure off Philip Rivers and the offense.

19. New York Giants: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn

While defensive tackle is probably not the Giants’ biggest need heading into the draft, Nick Fairley here might have too much value at No. 19 for them to pass up. The main concern with Fairley is his consistency. While he had a phenomenal 2010 season at Auburn, that was really his only impressive collegiate season. Regardless, selecting him at No. 19 is a steal for big blue in my opinion.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa

There is no doubt that the Buccaneers will be looking to improve at the defensive end position sometime in the first two or three rounds of this draft. Fortunately for them, they would have a defensive end on the board that is worth the No. 20 pick in Adrian Clayborn. Clayborn is a top five defensive end in this draft in many analysts’ eyes and would be able to contribute right away.

21. Kansas City Chiefs: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

At first I was going to go defensive tackle here for Kansas City but Gabe Carimi is too much value here for Scott Pioli and company to pass up. The right side of the offensive line was shaky last season and Carimi has the ability to be the team’s future starting right tackle. While the Chiefs struggled at times against the run last season, I feel a defensive tackle such as Corey Liuget of Illinois or Phil Taylor of Baylor might be too much of a reach at this spot.

22. Indianapolis Colts: Phil Taylor, DT Baylor

In 2010, the Colts defense gave up 127 yards a game on the ground along with 14 rushing touchdowns. They have arguably the best pair of defensive ends in the league in Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis but need some help in the middle. Taylor could be the run stuffer they are looking for at 6’3″, 334 lbs. He is a player that is capable of drawing a double team to help take some of the pressure off of Freeney and Mathis along with the linebackers. Taylor has the ability to bull rush and collapse the pocket but has some questions about his durability and may be only fully effective in 1st down and 2nd down situations.

23. Philadelphia Eagles: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

This is a position in which the Eagles could go either cornerback or offensive line. The offensive line was inconsistent last season and is a priority for Philadelphia. However, I believe this is the time in which the team improves the cornerback position opposite of Asante Samuel. While many are worried about Jimmy Smith’s character issues, I believe Andy Reid will not let that overshadow his overall talent.

24. New Orleans Saints: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA

With the middle of the defensive line taken care of with the pickup of free agent defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, the Saints can look elsewhere on defense, specifically for a player who can rush the passer. Akeem Ayers is a prospect that’s stock has risen and fallen over the past couple of weeks. At No. 24, I think New Orleans gets good value for Ayers and a player who can get after the quarterback, a piece that defensive coordinator Gregg Wiliams needs.

25. Seattle Seahawks: Andy Dalton, QB, TCU

Last week it was reported that the Seahawks were very impressed by Jake Locker and with that, many thought 25th pick would be a good spot for him to fall. However, I think Andy Dalton is a quarterback that head coach Pete Carroll will like more with his quick delivery and consistent accuracy. Quarterback will need to be addressed at some point in Seattle with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck questionable to return and the question marks regarding Charlie Whitehurst’s play.

26. Baltimore Ravens: Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State

If former Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith were still available, I might have the Ravens going his way. But with no cornerback worthy of this selection at this point in the draft, Hayward is the guy to help bolster the Ravens’ defensive line. Hayward was a consistent problem for offenses in his college career, showing his knack for pressuring the quarterback. He would join an already solid defense with many veterans that he could learn from.

27. Atlanta Falcons: Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona

At No. 27, the Falcons could elect to go for a speedy receiver such as Maryland’s Torrey Smith to give quarterback Matt Ryan another weapon alongside Roddy White. However, the lack of a pass rush was the reason for Atlanta’s slide at the end of the season and they must provide some help opposite defensive end John Abraham. Reed is a pass rusher with quickness and has seen his stock increase over the past couple of weeks. In my opinion, Reed is a safer pick and a player who could consistently produce for years to come for the Falcons.

28. New England Patriots: Mikel LeShoure, RB, Illinois

While running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been better than I expected for the Patriots, I still believe they will be looking for another back to team with him. Running back Fred Taylor told the Gainesville Sun that he is “basically retired” and I’m not sure Green-Ellis could handle a full load of carries for a season. LeShoure has good vision and has the size to withstand the hits he will take at the NFL level.

29. Chicago Bears: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State

The Bears could go two ways with the 29th pick, either offensive line or defensive tackle. At this point , I believe the Bears have to go offensive tackle after giving up a league-high 56 sacks last season. Sherrod is the best offensive tackle at this point and has the potential to be a solid starter in Chicago in a couple of years under the teachings of offensive line coach Mike Tice.

30. New York Jets: Muhammad Wilkerson, DT/DE, Temple

With defensive end Shaun Ellis’ contract up and injuries a huge problem for DT Kris Jenkins, I have a feeling the Jets will look to improve their front seven in this year’s draft. Wilkerson has good size (6’5”, 305 lbs.) and might be one of the most underrated players in the draft. He finished his 2010 season with 13 tackles-for-loss and 9.5 sacks and could be the future of the Jets as far as their interior defensive line.

31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Pouncey, G/C, Florida

When I started this mock draft, I would have bet there was no way that Mike Pouncey would fall this far but with my current scenario it does and the Steelers would likely jump on the chance to get the other Pouncey brother. It seems as though offensive line has been the priority for Pittsburgh the past two or three seasons and this year is no exception. They could use an interior offensive lineman and Pouncey is one of the best prospects for the job.

32. Green Bay Packers: Justin Houston, DE/OLB, Georgia

It is possible the Packers could go offensive tackle at No. 32 with Chad Clifton nearing the end of his career. I don’t see an offensive tackle worth it at this point in the draft and having a prospect such as Justin Houston on the board will make the decision easier. He has the ability to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme and rush the passer. The Packers obviously have an elite outside linebacker in Clay Matthews who recorded 13.5 sacks last year but there are still some questions on the other side. It rides on whether or not the team believes Erik Walden or Frank Zombo is the long-term answer.