Based on my quarterback theories for the 2011 off-season (see below), I will now try to fill in the rest of a two-round mock draft.
Note I really hate mock drafts. Are they predictions? Are they what should happen? Am I trying to make sense/fans happy? Remember, my Big Board is more a representation of the value of players and where they should go.
But I guess since I blog about this stuff, I have to do it (I’ve never done one before to this degree). Tell me what you think.
1. Carolina Panther - Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Carolina is clearly way behind the other teams in their division at the quarterback position. Based on his 10 starts and 300 attempts, I don’t think you can move forward depending on Jimmy Clausen. And going the route of another 2nd rounder isn’t being assertive enough. This team DOES have talent and the ability to run the ball but will not get far in the division without getting its team QB rating up above 80. In my opinion, Gabbert is the best bet to make that happen in the next 2-3 years.
2. Denver Broncos - Marcel Dareus, DT, Alabama
Denver has struggled with its front-7 for the past half decade. Dareus is a monster 3-down player that can shore up the lack of size/strength in the middle and hopefully allow a healthy Elvis Dumerville to reassert himself as a tier-1 pass rusher.
3. Buffalo Bills - Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
I’m not a big fan of Newton but going to the Bills is the best situation for him. He will be in a small market. He can sit behind a workaholic in Ryan Fitzpatrick. And Gailey is creative enough to design a potentially great offense around Newton/Spiller if given the time and resources to do that. A defensive pick will never change the Bills status in the AFC East. Only hitting a home run with Newton can elevate them into the Jets/Patriots class. It’s a risk you have to take.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (from Cincinnati) - Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
When Peterson becomes available, Philadelphia and Cincinnati agree to swap 1st rounders in exchange for Kevin Kolb. Peterson is the gem of this year’s draft class and Philadelphia gets their man to play opposite Asante Samuel. Cincinnati follows that up with trading Carson Palmer to the Arizona Cardinals for pick #38 and Cincinnati now has 4 picks in the first 66 selections plus Kevin Kolb.
5. Arizona Cardinals - Von Miller, OLB, Texas
When Gabbert goes 1st overall, Arizona goes to plan B which is trade their 2nd round pick to Cincinnati and select Von Miller to shore up their terrible OLB core. No player in the draft is a better fit based on value and need than Miller at #5.
6. Cleveland Browns - A. J. Green, WR, Georgia
Mike Holmgren is a tough guy to predict. In his 18 years as head coach/GM he selected a WR high in the draft once and got burned (Koren Robinson, #9 in 2001). Is Green enough of a talent to pull the trigger again? I think yes, but this pick could be very late in arriving to the podium. Wide receiver makes sense since the two 2nd rounders selected in 2009 weren’t west-coast guys like Holmgren wants/needs so they are irrelevant in the decision process. I think Holmgren realizes to beat Pittsburgh and Baltimore you have to spread them out and the more threats on the outside the better. This pick gives them the ability to do that.
7. San Francisco 49ers - Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
I don’t think this is exactly what Jim Harbaugh wants in his first draft, but the talent level is too high to pass up. Vic Fangio (new defensive coordinator) grew up with Dom Capers and plays his system so adding athleticism to the front-7 is probably never frowned upon. San Fran will be more aggressive with blitzing and Fairley could help that at various positions on the defensive line. Playing with Justin Smith will help Fairley a lot in my opinion.
8. Tennessee Titans - Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
I think once Bowers finally works out this off-season everything will go back to normal with his elite draft status. He’s an ideal fit in Tennessee’s system even with newly appointed Jerry Gray as D.C. (Gray come from Gregg Williams’ defensive system/tree). Tennessee will rely on 4-man rush principles and adding Bowers to elite DT’s in Jones/Brown seems a decent plan. Even if Derrick Morgan pans out, Bowers is just as suited to play either end position.
9. St. Louis Rams (from Dallas) - Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
St. Louis leapfrogs Washington (picks #14 and #78) to draft Jones and pair the potentially elite receiver with Sam Bradford. Jerry Jones begins a strong evening of potential trades (this might not be the only one) as he has multiple targets at OT, DL and CB still available.
10. New England Patriots (from Washington) - Robert Quinn, OLB, North Carolina
Belichick makes his first big move by trading picks #17 and #60 to move up and select the elite pass rusher the team so desperately needs. I know Belichick normally trades down, which is why doing the opposite is exactly what I expect from him this year. Washington wanted Jones, but with him gone the opportunity to get more picks (the Redskins don’t have a 3rd or 4th rounder this year) is too good to pass up.
11. Houston Texans - Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
This is a very common spot for Amukamara to land in most mock drafts and I don’t disagree. Houston needs help/depth in the secondary and this spot suits Amukamara’s draft grade. He should be a good fit in that division and system.
12. Minnesota Vikings - Cameron Jordan, DE, California
If Steve Jordan had a successful career in purple, why not his son? This is a safe pick and Jordan can play multiple positions along the front-4 and provide some 3rd down options. I still feel by targeting someone like McNabb in free agency, this team could win 10+ games with its talent level. Offensive tackle could be a target but Bryant McKinnie still has a few years in the tank and I like Loadholt on the right side.
13. Detroit Lions - Tyron Smith, OT, USC
In all honesty, this is the type of player Detroit should select at tackle instead of someone like Gosder Cherilus. Cherilus is a nice player, but he can’t play 10 games a year in a dome - his footwork was never that elite. Smith on the other hand is perfect for the quickness he’ll see week-in/week-out. This kind of upgrade on the offensive line should help Detroit continue its improvement long-term.
14. Dallas Cowboys (from St. Louis) - J. J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
Dallas gets their guy and picks up a 3rd rounder in the process. I don’t think O-line is as much an issue as people are making it out to be. They will re-sign Free at LT. Watt provides a lot of depth in an aging D-line and an immediate long-term upgrade to the defensive front-7.
15. Miami Dolphins - Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
I really think Miami shouldn’t overthink this pick. They don’t draft again until Round 3 and using this pick on a high-risk quarterback doesn’t make sense. I am trying to find a trade partner to trade back (since I think Ingram could potentially be left alone for another 10 picks), but can’t justify the cost/benefit for any team in the early 20’s right now.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars - Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
I kept trying to talk myself out of a DE into something interesting, but couldn’t do it. Jack Del Rio and the Jaguars go back to the D-line again. I’m not really a fan of the Jaguars program right now or where it’s headed. It’s just average on too many fronts (from front office to coaching to talent to quarterback). This team will eventually need a shake-up.
17. Washington Redskins (from New England) - Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri
Washington makes out great by getting an extra pick in round 2 (which they need) and still picking up a quality front-7 player. Smith is capable of playing opposite Orakpo and making a formidable pass rush duo.
18. San Diego Chargers - Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
The first round starts to settle down as teams continue to not find trade partners and multiple options are available. San Diego could go OT (Solder?), another DE (Heyward or Wilkerson) or an OLB (Ayers, Houston). Difficult pick for me to make since I’ve heard very few rumors about AJ Smith this off-season. Clayborn seems versatile enough to be a nice asset in the Chargers’ 1-gap 3-4 system.
19. New York Giants - Anthony Costanzo, OT, Boston College
Most mock drafts have this selection but I am still unsure how high Coughlin and the Giants are on William Beatty. That kid was talented but raw. If they think he’s the answer eventually would OT really be the way to go? Other options are CB (Brandon Harris?) or LB (Ayers or Houston).
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Justin Houston, DE, Georgia
Tampa Bay reaches a bit for need in grabbing raw pass rusher Justin Houston. He’s an explosive edge rusher and combined with the DT’s from last season (McCoy and Price) could make for a top-notch defensive line. Don’t count out a CB (Harris?) now that Talib is in trouble.
21. Kansas City Chiefs - Phil Taylor, NT, Baylor
I was really tempted to take Pouncey here, but think the value of the NT to Kansas City wins out over interior O-line. Taylor has been attached to this selection for months and it really comes down to whether or not Taylor’s character issues pass Pioli’s test. Based on the fact New England often didn’t shy away from sketchy players (Maroney, Meriweather), I don’t think Pioli passes on his version of Vince Wilfork.
22. Indianapolis Colts - Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi
I like Sherrod very much as a match for what Indianapolis likes to do. Sherrod is a much better version of Tony Ugoh and should be starting very soon at LT. Bill Polian doesn’t normally go offensive line this early in drafts, but he’s desperate to improve a group that is pretty disorganized right now.
23. Cincinnati Bengals (from Philadelphia) - Cameron Heyward, DE/DT, Ohio St.
Cincinnati has three of the next of the next 17 selections and begins by adding the in-state defensive lineman. Heyward provides a lot of options at the next level and should be a solid, long-term professional. I know what I’m doing with Cincinnati is opposite of what Mike Brown will ever do and make every Cincinnati fan happy. I really do sympathize with that fan base.
24. New Orleans Saints - Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
The two most difficult teams to pick for are New Orleans and Green Bay because both have few needs. I went with best player available at a valuable position and decided on Corey Liuget. He would make a nice addition next to Shaun Ellis and provide depth for that group.
25. Dallas Cowboys (from Seattle) - Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
Jerry Jones wheels and deals again to move back up into the 1st round (trading picks #40 and #78) to select the gifted Jimmy Smith. After taking the solid character in JJ Watt, Jones has a bit of house money to play with and he is too tempted by Smith’s ability to not make this move. Dallas will find a way to patch up the O-line, but grabbing Watt and Smith should really help the defense long-term. I know my quarterback article below has Seattle taking Ponder here, but I think Seattle takes a chance and trades back hoping to still get him at pick #40. And Seattle has so many holes they need multiple picks right now.
26. Baltimore Ravens - Brandon Harris, CB, Miami
Baltimore might have been tempted by Smith here but go back to the Miami connection in taking Brandon Harris. This seems like a match preordained. Harris will come into the Lewis/Reed/Gooden fraternity of Miami players and be expected to perform. Harris has the skill to be able to contribute immediately somewhere on the back end.
27. Pittsburgh Steelers (from Atlanta) - Mike Pouncey, OG, Flordia
Pouncey falls just enough for Pittsburgh to trade up and get him (trading #31 and #95 for Atlanta’s #27 and #124). This really is the wet dream of most Steelers fans right now. Trying to find a way to pair up the twins back together and fix their offensive line once and for all. If the Steelers can get back a healthy Starks and Colon, keep Adams/Scott as insurance and have the Kemoeatu/Pouncey/Pouncey across the middle, things may really start to improve for this group long term.
28. New England Patriots - Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple
New England continues its youth movement on the defensive side of the ball adding the incredibly big and athletic Wilkerson. This guy is the perfect Belichick/Parcells type DE with raw strength, size and length for the position. Belichick can never have too many defensive linemen.
29. Chicago Bears - Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
The draft couldn’t play out better for the offensive line depleted Chicago Bears. Carimi is an ideal fit for the Bears’ field and weather conditions. Similar to Detroit, he’s the type of player they should have drafted instead of Chris Williams and should find a home somewhere on the O-line. Bears fans should love this pick.
30. New York Jets - Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
The Jets take the versatile Ayers at pick #30 to fit well with Ryan’s ever changing defense. Ayers has just type of athleticism/size Ryan likes from his front-7 players and can play OLB and ILB and move around pre-snap. Those are the types of linebackers Ryan loves.
31. Atlanta Falcons (from Pittsburgh) - Kyle Rudolf, TE, Notre Dame
Atlanta trades back, improves their 4th round selection into a 3rd rounder and grabs the guy they would have selected at pick #27 in Kyle Rudolf. I know many are having Atlanta go defensive or offensive line, but I think this is a huge need/talent matchup that can’t be overlooked. Dimitroff comes from Belichick’s tree that loves tight ends. Rudolf is a great all-around tight end talent. And with aging Gonzalez losing a step and no one else on the roster, this pick just makes too much sense for me. No one else is really targeting this guy either, which makes trading back once (and possibly twice if someone wants to jump up here for a QB) a likely possibility for Atlanta.
32. Green Bay Packers - Brooks Reed, OLB, Arizona
Once again, Green Bay “reaches” a bit on a guy not many know about or thought of as a 1st round talent 3-4 months ago. But Reed makes a lot of sense in Green Bay’s system and really fits with how Kevin Green is teaching his guys and how he matches up opposite Clay Matthews. Yes, he’s not the athlete Matthews is, and yes this appears on the surface as picking Matthews v2.0, but Reed has picked up a lot of steam this off-season and Green Bay is a great fit for his talents.
33. New England Patriots - Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor
New England gets the offensive lineman they want waiting until the start of day 2. This is Logan Mankins insurance (Quinn, Wilkerson, Watkins).
34. Buffalo Bills - Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
Buffalo needs defense but can’t pass up the value Solder presents at pick 34 (Newton, Solder).
35. Cincinnati Bengals - Benjamin Ijalana, OT, Villanova
If you know anything about how Cincinnati picks offensive linemen, you learn they are OBSESSED with arm length. And no prospect has better arm length (36”) with a nice compact body (6’-3½”, 317lbs) like Ijalana. No way does Cincinnati pass on this kid if given the opportunity (Kolb, Heyward, Ijalana)
36. Denver Broncos - Rahim Moore, S, UCLA
Moore has fallen a bit, but there is value here and Denver jumps on the chance to get a true playmaking center fielder (Dareus, Moore)
37. Cleveland Browns - Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon St.
Cleveland begins its transition to a 4-3 defense by selected the best available defensive lineman (Green, Paea).
38. Cincinnati Bengals (from Arizona) - Jon Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
Cincinnati completes their off-season transformation by selecting the talented Jon Baldwin to bolster the receiving core (Kolb, Heyward, Ijalana, Baldwin, traded Palmer).
39. Tennessee Titans - Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
The 2nd tier quarterbacks start to fall into place (Bowers, Mallett).
40. Seattle Seahawks (from Dallas) - Christian Ponder, QB, Florida St.
My article below had Seattle taking Ponder at pick #25, but this is better value (Ponder).
41. Washington Redskins - Jake Locker, QB, Washington
Shanahan get the QB he most covets at the correct spot/value (A. Smith, Locker)
42. Houston Texans - Kendrick Ellis, NT, Hampton
Houston desperately needs a NT to let Williams and the LB’s to do their thing in Wade Phillips 3-4 defense. Ellis might be a bit of a reach, but his raw talent/size is 2nd round worthy (Amukamara, Ellis)
43. Minnesota Vikings - Stefen Wisniewski, C, Penn State
A boring but good pick in my opinion. Minnesota comes out of the draft with two high-character, quality players for their lines (Jordan, Wisniewski).
44. Detroit Lions - Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois
I struggled a lot with deciding where the RB’s start to fall in round 2 (and if they even do at all). There is a lot of depth at RB in this draft and if I was GM I might wait another round or two. But Leshoure is a really, really good talent and Detroit gets another weapon to put around Stafford (T. Smith, Leshoure).
45. San Francisco 49ers - Aaron Williams, CB, Texas
San Fran gets the top rated CB/S left on the board to really help a weak secondary (Fairley, Williams)
46. Denver Broncos - Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada
After nice defensive picks at #2 and #36, Elway finally pulls the trigger on the athletic Kaepernick (Dareus, Moore, Kaerpernick).
47. St. Louis Rams - Martez Wilson, LB, Illinois
Wilson reminds me a lot of the big, athletic LB’s Spagnoulo liked in New York. Guys that can blitz and do a lot of things. The Rams are weak at a lot of positions and Wilson is a nice value selection (Jones, Wilson).
48. Oakland Raiders - Devon House, CB, New Mexico State
Al Davis selects the raw but fast House to replace Asomugha in the secondary (House).
49. Jacksonville Jaguars - Curtis Brown, CB, Texas
I know Jacksonville is probably the most boring team to pick for. Brown is a value/need selection (Kerrigan/Brown).
50. San Diego Chargers - Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami
San Diego is definitely a team that could move up having two 2nds and two 3rds to play with. Hankerson provides some much needed depth at WR with the uncertainty of Vincent Jackson’s future with the team (Clayborn, Hankerson).
51. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech
Tampa Bay continues to improve its overall talent level by selecting Ryan Williams, who is a gifted (potential star) running back to pair with LaGarrett Blount (Houston, Williams).
52. New York Giants - Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina
I have never seen the Giants shy away from selecting a quality defensive lineman and Austin is just that. He’s a bit raw but has enormous talent, size and strength that the Giants covet (Costanzo, Austin).
53. Indianapolis Colts - Drake Nevis, DT, LSU
An ideal 3-technique DT that fits the Tampa-2 system well (Sherrod, Nevis).
54. Philadelphia Eagles - Marcus Cannon, OT/OG, TCU
Similar to the way the Giants pick D-linemen, Andy Reid loves his big offensive lineman and no one is bigger or nastier than Marcus Cannon in this draft. Could replace Winston Justice at RT almost immediately (Peterson, Cannon, traded Kolb).
55. Kansas City Chiefs - Jabaal Sheard, OLB, Pittsburgh
Pioli is very happy to find Sheard at this spot and pair him up with Tamba Hali at OLB. This is a big position of need for the Chiefs and Sheard is nice value (Taylor, Sheard).
56. New Orleans Saints - Mason Foster, LB, Washington
New Orleans again find quality value and character at a position of need in Mason Foster, who is a smart sideline to sideline guy that will do well in Gregg Williams system (Liuget, Foster).
57. Seattle Seahawks - Rodney Hudson, G/C, Florida State
After trading back and picking up their quarterback, the Seahawks (who need everything) pick up the most technically sound lineman in the draft and a guy who fits Carroll’s system perfectly (Ponder, Hudson, pick #78).
58. Baltimore Ravens - Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
Baltimore is happy to find the locally grown, speedy deep threat they need still available in Torrey Smith (Harris, Smith).
59. Atlanta Falcons - Clint Boiling, G/T, Georgia
Atlanta has some question marks on the O-line and Boiling (in-state guy) could be a nice solution with his versatility and growth potential. Boiling is really rising on draft charts. (Rudolf, Boiling)
60. Washington Redskins (from New England) - Titas Young, WR, Boise St.
I really compare this pick to when Shanahan selected Eddie Royal at #42 in 2008. Very similar players and a good fit for the thin Redskin receiving core (A. Smith, Locker, Young).
61. San Diego Chargers - Donte Moch, OLB, Nevada
San Diego continues to add depth with the talented but raw Donte Moch at OLB (Clayborn, Hankerson, Moch). San Diego still has two high picks in round 3.
62. Chicago Bears - Jurrell Casey, DT, USC
Casey is the best available DT that really fits what they look for in a 3-technique. Casey's a bit raw but has a lot of potential for Marinelli to work with (Carimi, Casey).
63. Pittsburgh Steelers - Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia
Pittsburgh reaches a bit and selects a need position (not having a 3rd round pick). Dowling fits well with what Lebeau does and he could surprise in this system (Pouncey, Dowling, no 3rd, two 4ths).
64. Green Bay Packers - Jason Pinkston, OG/OT, Pittsburgh
I would love to hear who Packer fans would pick here as I am a bit stumped. I selected the versatile Pinkston who can fill in a lot of spots but players like Ballard, Kendricks, another CB or even a safety (McDaniel?) might be options (Reed, Pinkston).
65. Carolina Panthers pick - Christian Ballard, DE/DT
Carolina needs a lot of things so picking Ballard here seems like great value (Gabbert, Ballard).
So what do you think? I would really like to hear from specific team fans and tell me if they like who they ended up with or who they would select instead.