AJ’s final mock draft before the festivities kick off this extended weekend…
1. Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton
Everyone has Newton going with this pick, and I can’t argue.
2. Denver Broncos- Marcell Dareus
Denver had a thrilling competition with the Texans last year for the league’s worst defense, I was really tempted to put Patrick Peterson in this spot as that is what I would do but it seems the Broncos like Dareus more. Denver might also look to trade out of this spot, if the price is right.
3. Buffalo Bills- Blaine Gabbert
Buffalo looks to land their franchise QB. Chan Gailey will let Gabbert sit at least the first half of the season behind Ryan Fitzpatick before giving him a shot.
4. Cincinnati Bengals – AJ Green
The best WR in the draft, doesn’t get out of the top five. It will be interesting to see how the circus in Cincinnati plays out this year.
5. Arizona Cardinals- Von Miller
Miller experiences a bit of a slip, but should feel a lot better going to Arizona than Buffalo or Cincinnati. The Cardinals get a very nice consolation prize with the top two QB’s off the board, and new defensive coordinator Ray Horton gets a new toy to play with.
6. Cleveland Browns – Julio Jones
The Browns have a tough choice between Jones or Robert Quinn, I’m going to go with Jones here, Mike Holmgren will want to improve the offense ASAP, and Jones is a physical receiver who will be able to get open over the middle for Colt McCoy.
7. San Francisco 49ers – Patrick Peterson
I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I dropped Patrick Peterson any lower; he is the best player in this draft and is prime for a long and prosperous career.
8. Tennessee Titans – Nick Fairley
Once a contender for the #1 pick, the buzz on Fairley has cooled off a bit, but that does not mean the kid can’t play. While the Titans could look in different directions, I don’t think they will be able to pass up on him, even if he does have football character issues, which are the worst variety in my opinion.
9. Dallas Cowboys- Tyron Smith
The Cowboys are a bit handcuffed into drafting an OL and the best one will still be on the board with the #9 pick.
10. Washington Redskins- J.J. Watt
The Redskins pick up a very talented player here who is versatile enough to move back and forth between the 5 and 3 techniques. However, look for the Redskins to perhaps trade out of this pick, they apparently really like Jake Locker, so if they think they could move back, pick up some extra picks, and get Locker I think that’s what they will do. They could also potentially trade back into the 1st round with the Jets if Locker is available at 30.
11. Houston Texans-Robert Quinn
The Texans war room is ecstatic that Quinn, a definite top ten talent, drops to them at 11. Quinn on the other hand is not happy at all and will use this as motivation for an explosive season and an even more successful career.
12. Minnesota Vikings – Anthony Costanzo
The Vikings pass on a couple of high quality defensive prospects to fill a pressing need at Tackle. Costanzo is the top rated tackle at this point and the BC Offensive Line reputation speaks for itself.
13. Detroit Lions- Prince Amukamara
The Lions find themselves in unfamiliar waters this year as they pick outside of the top ten. But fear not, they still are able to land a very highly touted CB.
14. St. Louis Rams – Aldon Smith
The cat is out of the bag that the Rams would love to have Julio Jones playing for them next year, but with him off the board St. Louis drafts a player who is able to get to the QB.
15. Miami Dolphins – Mike Pouncey
In my first mock I had Ingram at this spot to help the Dolphins running game, but Pouncey has the opportunity to improve their running game just as much if not more than Ingram. Pouncey comes in and starts day one for the Phins and replaces my least favorite player in the AFC east not named Tom Brady, Richie Incognito.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars- Ryan Kerrigan
The Jaguars try to bounce back from one of the most perplexing picks since Darius Heyward-Bey in Tyson Alula. Like the Jets, the Jags have an aging defensive line and will need to infuse some youth (and talent) sooner or later.
17. New England Patriots – Cameron Jordan
Jordan is the best available DE at this point in the draft and will fit well in a Belichick defense (who doesn’t). The Patriots continue to reload on the defensive side of the ball and put more pressure on the Jets to sure up their offensive line.
18. San Diego Chargers – Corey Liuget
The Chargers are fortunate to get Liuget at this point in the draft who has tremendous upside and will be able to make an impact in 2011. Liuget plays both the run and pass very well.
The boring team in New York misses their guy in Pouncey but is still able to find a quality lineman in Gabe Carimi. It seems that offensive line is the pick here for the Giants and they will take the best available linemen whether he plays guard or tackle.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Da’Quan Bowers
Da’Quan Bowers’ draft stock has been like a game of shoots and ladders. Lately, he’s been riding the biggest shoot on the board but finally lands in Tampa Bay, and for the second year in a row the Bucs get a very talented defensive line prospect.
21. Kansas City Chiefs – Derrick Sherrod
Sherrod should be able to step into the right tackle role that the Chiefs so desperately need. If nothing else, Sherrod has experience on his side playing 50 games and only missing three to injury.
22. Indianapolis Colts- Nate Solder
Solder is a monster at 6’8’’ 319 pounds and should be able to help the Indianapolis running game that struggled all of last year. While the trendy thought is that the Colts will pick up a QB with this pick, I don’t think they pull that trigger yet and instead address a more pressing need.
23. Philadelphia Eagles- Brooks Reed
The Eagles are pretty much set on the offensive side of the ball and while they need a tackle, with Sherrod and Solder off the board, a OL would be a reach at this point.
24. New Orleans Saints- Adrian Clayborn
Defensive end is a big need for the Saints and Clayborn is a great value pick at 24. Clayborn’s battle with Erb’s Palsy, which leaves him temporarily paralyzed in the upper arm, has been well documented in the last couple of months which is why he drops this far, but he is a top 15 talent that has overcome a lot in his life and will continue to defy odds as a Saint.
25. Seattle Seahawks- Jake Locker
While I think Mallet is probably the third best QB prospect in this draft, he seems to be doing everything wrong and might even slip into the third round. Locker is an extremely athletic player that Pete Carroll will love to have on his team. Accuracy is a concern which is why he goes this late in the 1st round.
26. Baltimore Ravens- Jimmy Smith
Jimmy Smith is an exceptional talent that has been hurt by “character issues,” meaning he got drunk in college. (OMG!) He is an absolute steal at this pick as he can go toe for toe with Prince Amukamara.
27. Atlanta Falcons- Justin Houston
The Falcons take a bit of a gamble with Houston, as the biggest concern with him is his motor.
28. New England Patriots- Mark Ingram
Ingram is a tough back who will compliment everyone’s favorite story Danny Woodhead in New England’s offense. Ingram has been dropping like a ton of bricks lately but he finds a home with New England.
29. Chicago Bears- Danny Watkins
There is no getting around it in Chicago, Jay Cutler has gotten ROUGHED UP during his time in the Windy City and the Bears need to do something about it immediately.
30. New York Jets- Muhammad Wilkerson
Why not? This would be a huge steal for the Jets at this point as teams seem to really like Wilkerson’s skill set. He is exactly what the Jets need and offers a lot more hope than Phil Taylor who is practically already drafted by the Jets if you look around different mock drafts.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers – Phil Taylor
Taylor doesn’t slide after the Jets pass on him as the Steelers defense looks to avoid the curse of Super Bowl losers and get back to the playoffs.
32. Green Bay Packers – Cameron Heyward
Cameron Heyward got out of Ohio State at just the right time and his luck continues as the defending Super Bowl champions draft him with the last pick in the first round. Dom Capers will coach the heck out of Heyward and he should fit well in his defense.