1. Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton – Auburn QB - This is the consensus, so I’m not going to argue with it. The owner and GM both seem to love him. I don’t see him playing any time soon and believe that’s for his benefit. He needs to really absorb their new system for a few years.
2. Denver Broncos – Marcell Dareus – Alabama DT – I feel like Denver had their minds made up on this one a while ago. Dareus is a perfect fit here and he’s the most advanced DT in this draft. He’s a technician with his hands and can 1 gap or 2 gap. He’s a solid building piece for Denevr’s interior.
3. Buffalo Bills – Von Miller – Texas A&M LB - In my opinion, this is the best player in the draft. He’s the most complete player and will be an instant impact in this transitioning Bills’ defense. They can run a legit 3-4 with him and fill a desperate need for a pass rush.
4. Cincinnati Bengals – A.J. Green – Georgia WR – Green will be a stud #1 WR in the NFL pretty quickly. I think he’ll be one of the top receivers in the game down the road and the Bengals will have an exciting aerial attack already featuring Chad Ochocinco, Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Gresham.
5. Arizona Cardinals – Patrick Peterson – LSU CB – Questions over Peterson’s weight as a CB in the NFL are definitely a turn-off, but I have to ask, why can’t he be the heaviest CB in the league and still be one of the best? If edge receivers in the NFL run you about an average of 200-225 pounds, why not have a CB who can run with them and physically match them too? And there wouldn’t be any shame in converting him to safety and having the best athlete at that position in the NFL immediately.
6. Cleveland Browns – Julio Jones – Alabama WR – Cleveland has to feel pretty confident that they’ll land one of the top two receivers. I think there’s a great chance of that happening and they’ll pounce on whichever the 2nd one is. They need playmakers and they won’t know how good Colt McCoy can be if they don’t give him any.
7. San Francisco 49ers – Blaine Gabbert - Missouri QB - Gabbert doesn’t get enough credit for what he did behind a shakey Missouri o-line and basically only 5 nab protection on 90% of Missouri offensive snaps. He’s an intellectually advanced QB, which holds a lot of water with NFL coaches/front offices. He can make all the throws and has very underrated mobility. I think there’s a great chance someone trades up for him at 5 with Arizona, but if they don’t, San Francisco could get a steal here.
8. Tennessee Titans – Jake Locker – Washington QB – I’m pretty confident Nick Fairley isn’t on the Titans board and I’m pretty sure they’re hunting for a QB here. The Titans have done a ton of work on Locker and this franchise needs a savior right now. I think this is a pretty likely marriage, with the only exception of Ryan Mallet, who could be a strong possibility here.
9. Dallas Cowboys – Nick Fairley – Auburn DT - The Cowboys will run their pick to the podium if this scenario plays out. He could slot in right now in their defense as a 5-tech. The Cowboys need youth and explosiveness on their defensive line and Fairley would satisfy that immediately.
10.Washington Redskins – Robert Quinn – North Carolina DE – The Skins are in the QB hunt, that’s no secret. But the defense needs to be addressed much more. The Redskins can’t win the NFC East with one great pass rusher (Orakpo) and Quinn could be a huge burst off the edge on 3rd downs right away. The Skins need this pass rush badly and Quinn has attractive upside.
11.Houston Texans – Aldon Smith - Missouri DE – The Texans can plug Smith in from day 1 at rush OLB. I feel comfortable with his ability to play on 1st and 2nd down, unlike a lot of young players on the edge. There also seems to be a misconception that Smith racked up a lot of sacks rushing against guards playing inside, when actually 12 of his 17 career Missouri sacks came rushing against a tackle. The fact that he can kick inside and beat guards shows strength and impressive leverage use, especially considering he plays at around 260.
12.Minnesota Vikings – Ryan Mallett – Arkansas QB - It’s no secret I’ve been a Ryan Mallett fan throughout this process. This is a great fit for him, as Minnesota might be the most QB needy team in the NFL right now. I think he can play early and have success soon given the weapons that would be around him here.
13. Detriot Lions – Prince Amukamara – Nebraska CB – I’ve loved the way Detroit has drafted since Matt Millen left. This would be one of those picks I love too because they would continue to add high talent players at great positions of need. This would give Detroit a playmaker at every level of their defense, and this is only round 1 of the draft.
14. St.Louis Rams – Ryan Kerrigan - Purdue DE - Edge players seem to win out over the interior players when it comes down to a close debate, which is why I have Kerrigan here over Corey Liuget. I think Liuget could be a strong possibility too, but Kerrigan’s motor is special and they could have the 2 best motors in the NFL at book ends, with Chris Long being the other.
15. Miami Dolphins – Jimmy Smith – Colorado CB - The Dolphins are no stranger to risk, and they’re certainly no stranger to taking 1st round corners with questionable character. This team already has a lot of pass rush with bookend OLBs Cameron Wake and Koa Misi, so adding more talented cover guys can only make this defense more elite. Jimmy Smith is the best talent available here, and with no logical QB in sight (no Andy Dalton isn’t logical this high) this should be a somewhat easy pick.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars – Da’Quan Bowers – Clemson DE - Bowers is one of my favorite talents in the draft, so it pains me to see his injury concerns kill his stock. He is a top 7 talent in this draft and could be a great player even if it is just a short period of time. The Jags need athleticism, speed and strength at defensive end and Bowers delivers on all those fronts.
17. New England Patriots – Tyron Smith – USC OT - New England could be drafting anywhere from 2nd overall to not even in the 1st round given their draft history and ammo. They have a lot of picks to work with, so I expect tons of movement. Tyron’s stock is really hot, I just don’t see a fit for him before here. This is a great fit, however, and Smith could replace Matt Light immediately. New England doesn’t draft for need usually, so it’s going to be a value pick with someone falling to them. This just happens to fit a need for them and it has great value.
18. San Diego Chargers – J.J. Watt – Wisconsin DE - This feels like a best player available spot to me, and Watt would be just that. The Chargers could use an infusion of youth on their defensive line and they could use a good motor like this too.
19. New York Giants – Gabe Carimi – Wisconsin OT - The Giants need more consistent offensive line play. Carimi could give the Giants running game a huge boost. I see him as a 10 year right tackle in the NFL for someone.
20. Tampa Bay Bucs – Akeem Ayers – UCLA LB - Ayers is a better football player than the workouts and measurables he’s posted suggest. He’s a great fit for the Tampa 2 scheme, which lets linebackers run and hit with a good amount of freedom. Ayers would be yet another highly talented young piece to this up and coming Bucs team.
21. Kansas City Chiefs – Muhammad Wilkerson – Temple DT/DE - The Chiefs still say they believe in Tyson Jackson, but I don’t think they really believe it. Wilkerson is a big and active interior lineman that can play defensive end in a 3-4 or 3-tech in a 4-3. He did both at Temple and was around the ball a lot. I like the way he plays on tape, even though it is a small school.
22. Indianapolis Colts – Anthony Castonzo - Boston College OT – Indy should be in the tackle market, and I think Castonzo is a better fit than any of the remaining tackles on the board. Castonzo has the 50+ college starts and consistency that the other tackles don’t have. He can be a plug and play guy at left tackle for the Colts for years.
23. Philadelphia Eagles – Corey Liuget – Illinois DT - The Eagles need more interior pass rush and Liuget is one of the best penetrating DTs in the draft. He’s strong and mobile for his size, and on tape he’s usually beating the guy in front of him. He has a pretty good motor too. The Eagles defense was bad last year and they need more from every level.
24. New Orleans Saints – Derek Sherrod - Ole Miss OT - This is a really tough pick to gauge. There’s more needs on the Saints than people think, and a lot of them are on the defensive side of the ball. But to me, a glaring weakness on the offense is Jon Stinchcomb. He’s not an athlete, he loses against speed and is barely an average starting tackle in the NFL. Brees makes up for a lot of his deficiencies. The Saints could use a youth infusion on their offensive line, and Sherrod could eventually move to left tackle if the Saints choose to replace Jeramaine Bushrod, whose also pretty average in his own right.
25. Seattle Seahawks – Christian Ponder – FSU QB - The word is the Seahawks are locked in to trading back, but that doesn’t make sense to me since this seems to be the prime spot to be in if you’re picking one of the 2nd tier quarterbacks. Ponder, Dalton, and Kaepernick will all be tempting for teams picking early in the 2nd round who want a QB to fall to them. The Seahawks don’t have to worry though, because they can just sit here and take which ever one of those 2nd tier QBs they like most. I like Ponder’s fit in the west coast offense the Seahawks are trying to be.
26. Baltimore Ravens – Cameron Jordan – Cal DE - The Ravens need more youth and athleticism on their defensive line, and Cam Jordan could be an early contributer. The Ravens need to seriously address their lack of speed in their front 7. They have plenty of size up there but not enough speed and athleticism. The Ravens seemed gassed and slow late in games on defense, and adding Jordan’s motor/athleticism could be a step to fixing it.
27. Atlanta Falcons – Mark Ingram – Alabama RB - Michael Turner hasn’t been getting any younger, especially while getting 300+ carries 2 of the past 3 years. The Falcons can take the best player available and not have to worry about life after Turner. Kyle Rudolph could be a strong possibility here too. Also, Atlanta has been linked to trade up rumors for A.J. Green, so it’s possible this could be one of the top 5 teams’ picks, and this ends up being a 2nd tier QB for Cincinnati/Arizona.
28. New England Patriots – Colin Kaepernick – Nevada QB - The Patriots have worked out all of the top 7 QB’s pretty hard. A lot of it is to stir up interest in their 1st round picks, so I have Kaepernick here whether it’s New England or someone else. His tools and hard work during this draft season have earned him consideration late in the 1st. It wouldn’t surprise me if one of the top 10 teams who missed out on their QB trade in here to take their 2nd tier QB. Could this be a pick for New England, as crazy as it sounds? Kaepernick is a big time project, so sitting behind Brady for 4-5 years wouldn’t be asking too much.
29. Chicago Bears – Marvin Austin – North Carolina DT - This is a popular pick and for good reason. Austin has the quickest twitch in the draft, and that’s essential for a cover 2 DT. The Bears have missed that kind of production from their interior defensive line. Nate Solder could be a possibility here, as could Alabama tackle James Carpenter.
30. New York Jets – Phil Taylor – Baylor DT - Sione Pouha did an admirable job filling in at nose tackle for Kris Jenkins when he got hurt. And now that Jenkins has moved on, Pouha is all they have left at nose tackle. Taylor could be in a rotation inside early and eventually be the nose for the Jets for years. He has incredible mobility for his size and is one of the few true nose tackles in this draft.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers – Nate Solder – Colorado OT - Solder is higher on most other mocks, but I see him as more of a project than most. The Steelers usually red-shirt all of their rookies, so this would be a good fit for him. The Steelers coached good offensive line play out of less-than-stellar pieces last year, so I like their chances with a young player with a lot of tools and upside like Solder.
32. Green Bay Packers – Cameron Heyward - Ohio St. DT - I see Heyward as an ideal 5-tech in the Capers’ 3-4 scheme. The Packers had serious issues with keeping their interior defensive line healthy in 2010, and they need to make sure they have plenty of depth there. The Packers also have to resign Cullen Jenkins. Heyward could be a comfortable safety net for the Packers with all of their questions on the defensive line.
- Ben Layman
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