Eric’s Final Mock Draft: Da’Quan Bowers Falls to No. 18




This is FINAL AS consitutued.

1. Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn


While there will definitely be reports of the Panthers possibly not going with Newton in the couple of days leading up to the draft, my opinion is that Marty Hurney will not be able to pass up the physical ability that the former Heisman Trophy winner brings to the table. Many have questioned his mechanics in the pocket but the Panthers personnel department will not take a chance on missing out on Newton’s athleticism and potential to be the quarterback for a long time in Carolina.



  1. 2. Denver Broncos: Marcel Dareus, DT, Alabama



Dareus to the Broncos is a pick that has grown on me over the past couple of weeks. I had problems with them not taking LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, who is my No. 1 ranked player in the entire draft but with the switch to the 4-3 defense, Denver must draft a prospect who can be effective in the interior of the defensive line. Dareus can do just that. He is a powerful player who can stuff the run as well as collapse the pocket and get after the quarterback.

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


The Bills had only 27 sacks last season and desperately need a pass rusher to come in and help out the defense. Miller is the popular choice in this draft as the best pass rusher. He has terrific burst off of the edge and is excellent at using his hands to get around offensive tackles. This is exactly the type of player the Bills need at this moment.

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


While Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert is absolutely in play here, I have a feeling owner Mike Brown will not budge on the Carson Palmer stare down. That said, the Bengals need a playmaker at receiver and A.J. Green is exactly that. He can stretch the field, has terrific hands, and simply knows how to get open.

5. Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU


The Cardinals will also look at Gabbert in this spot but will not pass up the talent and potential of Patrick Peterson. The top overall play on my board, he is excellent in coverage and can also bring produce in the kick return game. Look for Arizona to look at quarterbacks later on after getting arguably the best player in the draft in Peterson.

6. Cleveland Browns: Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina


Mike Holmgren and company would love to have receiver A.J. Green here to give Colt McCoy another weapon in the offense but he will likely be gone. The next best player for Cleveland is Quinn, a phenomenal athlete who missed all of last season due to NCAA violations. Even with the suspension, many teams in my opinion would be willing to take the chance on him with his potential.

7. San Francisco 49ers: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri


I think the time is now for the Niners to go quarterback. Even with the talk that new head coach Jim Harbaugh likes Alex Smith and is looking forward to working with him, there is no guarantee with him set to become a free agent. Harbaugh will look at this as a chance to draft his guy as they both start their NFL journey together. Niners fans hope this one goes better than the last quarterback chosen in the first round.

8. Tennessee Titans: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn


In my previous mock draft, I had Fairley falling significantly in the first round. This time around, I am not so sure. Having his former position coach Tracy Rocker now in Tennessee coaching the defensive line seals the deal for me. Fairley was previously a prospect in the mix for the No. 1 selection after his dominant 2010 season. While Tennessee is not in dire need for interior defensive linemen, Fairley is good value here and could bring to the Titans what Albert Haynesworth once did.

9. Dallas Cowboys: J.J. Watt, DE/OLB, Wisconsin


Offensive tackle will definitely be in play here as the Cowboys will want to keep Tony Romo upright, unlike last season. Now I am not positive on how much they love prospects Tyron Smith or Anthony Castonzo but my guess is Watt will be ahead of them on the Dallas’ big board. Watt is an explosive defensive end/outside linebacker that would fit well in Dallas’ defensive scheme.

10. Washington Redskins: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama


I gave serious thought to Washington quarterback Jake Locker with this pick as many others have as well. Locker seems like a quarterback Mike Shanahan would be interested in. However, the Redskins at this point decide that he’s a reach and take the second best receiver in the draft in Julio Jones. Jones gives the Redskins big-play threat, which is something they will need if free agent Santana Moss departs.

11. Houston Texans: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska


I just can’t envision the Texans passing up on Amukamara if he indeed falls to them at No. 12. While it certainly should be noted that the Texans reportedly are interested in trading up for either Von Miller or Patrick Peterson, this is the pick in the instance that they do not find a trading partner. Amukamara is one of the best in the draft in man coverage and has above average skills in run support. The Texans should be thrilled with him after watching their secondary get torched last season.

12. Minnesota Vikings: Jake Locker, QB, Washington


I am going out on a limb here. While it is very possible the Vikings will want to trade back due to a quarterback like Locker, Mallett, or Ponder likely being there, they might end up not wanting to take the chance. Many have criticized Locker’s inaccuracy which is very fair. However, he does have advantages over quarterbacks such as TCU’s Andy Dalton and Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert who both played in spread offenses during their collegiate careers.

13. Detroit Lions: Tyron Smith, OT, USC


The Lions would absolutely love to have Prince Amukamara fall in their lap at No. 13 but I would bet against that scenario. Because of that, Detroit would be smart to go after Tyron Smith to man their left tackle position once Jeff Backus is out of the picture. Backus is still a solid offensive tackle and can be a mentor to Smith for the next couple of seasons or so.

14. St. Louis Rams: Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri


With no Julio Jones on the board for St. Louis, they look towards the defensive side of the ball which is head coach Steve Spanuolo’s specialty. Smith is an athletic pass rusher who is probably geared to be an outside linebacker over a defensive end. He has long arms and knows how to put pressure on the quarterback. His only real weaknesses are his lack of experience and his acceleration.

15. Miami Dolphins: Mike Pouncey, C/G, Florida


If the Dolphins here and the Patriots at No. 17 pass on Alabama running back Mark Ingram, he could fall a long way. At this point I think the injury concerns surrounding Ingram’s knee scare off the Dolphins and they go with Pouncey, the versatile linemen from Florida who has seen his stock shoot up over the past month. The Steelers are reportedly very interested in trading up to get Pouncey, who is the twin brother of their starting center Maurkice. However, this might be too high for them and the Dolphins take care of a need.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue


The Jaguars have not gotten close to the production they expected out of defensive end Derrick Harvey and Aaron Kampman has battled injury problems over the past couple of seasons. While Kerrigan is a little smaller than the prototypical defensive end, he has a non-stop motor and has good burst to beat bigger offensive tackles who may not have the quickest feet off of the ball.

17. New England Patriots: Cameron Jordan, DE, California


As I mentioned earlier, the Patriots might have interest in running back Mark Ingram. That or they were sending a smoke screen when it was reported they were very interested in him. At this point they feel they still have a good shot at him with the No. 28 pick and instead go with Jordan. Bill Belichick can never have enough players who can get after the quarterback and that’s what Jordan does best. Also, no one can ever rule out the Patriots trading back to pick up future picks.

18. San Diego Chargers: Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson


This is one of those mock draft picks where I can’t believe a prospect falls this far. However, in this scenario Bowers takes a slide and San Diego gets good value with the No. 18 pick. As noted in the previous mock draft, defensive end Jacques Cesaire is set to become a free agent. Bowers had been No.1 overall potential until questions about the health of his knee arose. Either way, San Diego could not pass up on this opportunity.

19. New York Giants: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin


While many analysts have predicted the Giants to go defensive tackle here, I really feel this would be too early to go after a Corey Liuget or Muhammad Wilkerson. William Beatty has been less than impressive during the first couple years of his career and David Diehl will likely be moved inside to left guard. Carimi is a powerful run blocker and has the strength to stand his ground against bull rushes that will come his way when pass blocking in the NFL.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State


The Bucs need a defensive end after going interior defensive line last year with the selection of Gerald McCoy. Heyward is a fierce pass rusher who has long arms and has outstanding lower body strength. He has good upper body strength that he uses to bull rush offensive tackles and is effective in pushing his man back into the pocket. His biggest weakness is consistency.

21. Kansas City Chiefs: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado


The Chiefs are likely looking to get younger on the offensive line. Many have Wisconsin’s Gabe Carimi falling to this spot but I don’t see that happening. Instead I think they get a steal in Colorado’s Nate Solder. I believe he is the best offensive tackle in this draft and a player who has great potential. He could be the protector of Matt Cassel’s blind side for years to come.

22. Indianapolis Colts: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State


Of all the offensive tackle prospects, Sherrod might be the last available in the first tier in my mock draft. Left tackle Charlie Johnson was very mediocre as a starter for the Colts and on top of that, is set to become a free agent whenever the new league year rolls around. Sherrod has good size and is a very smart football player that is capable of being a solid starter at left tackle in the NFL.

23. Philadelphia Eagles: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado


At No. 23, the Eagles will take a chance on Smith even with all of the character concerns surrounding the former Buffalo. Dimitri Patterson struggled in his fifth season last year starting opposite of Asante Samuel and Smith has potential to be something special with his physical attributes. He is excellent at jamming receivers off the line of scrimmage and is fluid in man coverage.

24. New Orleans Saints: Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple


With the signing of veteran defensive tackle Shaun Rogers early in the offseason, the Saints can probably look to go outside with this pick in Wilkerson. Although many see him as a defensive end, Wilkerson is a versatile player who can also play inside if Gregg Williams needs him to. This pick gives the Saints options. Wilkerson can play at end and when Rogers’s time is up, the coaching staff can evaluate whether or not Wilkerson can step inside and start in the interior.

25. Seattle Seahawks: Andy Dalton, QB, TCU


If Seattle definitely wants a quarterback early like I think they do, they will absolutely consider trading back. However, if they are not able to find a trading partner, I think they go with Andy Dalton, who has seen his stock rise dramatically over the past month. I do not believe head coach Pete Carroll is satisfied entering this draft with Matt Hasselbeck set to become a free agent and Charlie Whitehurst sitting atop the depth chart. Dalton is a smart quarterback who is very accurate and has a quick release. Let’s see if he can make the transition from the spread offense to the pro-style offense.

26. Baltimore Ravens: Brandon Harris, CB, Miami (FL)


If Colorado’s Jimmy Smith falls to this point I think the Ravens scoop him up. With him not being on the board in this scenario, I still think they go corner with Brandon Harris. Chris Carr, Fabian Washington, and Lardarius Webb are all Ravens cornerbacks who are going to be free agents when the new league year begins. Harris has great instincts and is at his best in man coverage. The Ravens need to get younger and add depth at this position and Harris the best prospect remaining for them.

27. Atlanta Falcons: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa


The Falcons could look for a receiver such as Maryland’s Torrey Smith to stretch the field at this point but I have to think they go defense with a pass rusher like Adrian Clayborn still on the board. Falcons fans have to remember the struggling pass rush from the dirty birds in the NFC Divisional Playoffs against the Packers. Clayborn would compliment defensive end John Abraham nicely.

28. New England Patriots: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama


Many questions have arisen about Ingram’s knee problems and it was reported by NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi in the last month that two teams had actually taken him off their draft boards completely due to concerns over his health. I have a feeling Bill Belichick sees Ingram as a flat-out good football player who can get the job done. Benjarvus Green-Ellis has done a good job recently but adding a bigger back like Ingram is just what the doctor ordered for the Patriots’ offense.

29. Chicago Bears: Danny Watkins, G, Baylor


The Bears ideally would prefer an offensive tackle at this point but there is simply not a prospect at that position worth taking at No. 29. They certainly could use any help available on the offensive line and Danny Watkins is a prospect who has seen his stock rise recently. He has good strength and is strong at pulling. One concern about him is his age, he is already 26 years old.

30. New York Jets: Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor


The Jets would really like to upgrade at defensive end and put some pressure on the quarterback but I am not sure there is an end worth taking here. Taylor ideally would be placed in the interior of a 3-4 scheme that Rex Ryan and co. run. He has good acceleration for his size and is won’t let offensive linemen push him backwards. He also uses his hands well and made many plays in the backfield for the Bears.

31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Aaron Williams, CB, Texas


If there is a weakness on the Steelers’ defense, it is at the cornerback position. Williams is the best on the board of the cornerbacks and definitely worthy of a first round pick. He is terrific in zone coverage and can jump will most receivers (37.5” vertical jump at the combine). Veteran cornerback Ike Taylor’s future is in question right now as he is set to become a free agent and the Steelers will need a cornerback who likes to come up and help in run support like Williams.

32. Green Bay Packers: Brooks Reed, DE/OLB, Arizona


The Packers’ weaknesses lie on the offensive line and at outside linebacker opposite of Clay Matthews. Erik Walden and Frank Zombo are serviceable but I doubt they are in the long term of plans of the Packers’ coaching staff. Reed is a very athletic pass rusher who can beat offensive linemen with finesse moves or simply bull rush them back into the pocket. He will rarely miss tackles and is ideally fit to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. He also led all defensive linemen and linebackers with a 1.54 10-yard split at the combine in February.

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