Alright everyone is getting in the spirit of making mock drafts and I figured I would do the same but do a full first round mock draft. Here we go:
1. Carolina - Nick Fairley (DT - Auburn) Lets face it the Panthers need help in a lot of different areas. They have Jimmy Clausen at QB but after a weak showing in his rookie year we will see if he develops and they have no reason to replace him with Luck staying in school. The next glaring weakness for Carolina is their D Line which used to be their bread and butter with Peppers. Fairley is easily the best available player at the #1 spot and he will help the Panthers start to rebuild their defense starting in the trenches.
2. Denver - Patrick Peterson (CB - LSU) The Denver Broncos underachieved in 2010. Their team is not as terrible as their record indicates and this could be due to coaching or some their weak defense. Either way with John Fox coming in they will probably switch back to the 4 - 3 defense and with Fairley off the board, Fox will pick Peterson. Peterson has all the skills and athleticism to be a shut down corner in this league and with the possible departure of Champ Bailey thats exactly what Denver needs to help rebuild their defense.
3. Buffalo - Da'Quan Bowers (DE - Clemson) The Bills are in a tough spot at number 3. Their major needs are at QB and OT. While Ryan Fitzpatrick is a decent QB, he is not the franchise QB the Bills need and is merely a fill in until the Bills find someone better. The Bills also need help on the Offensive Line badly. Demetrius Bell is a hot topic issue in Buffalo with some who think hes the long term answer and others who do not. Chan Gailey seems to be supportive of Bell which means they are set at LT but still need a RT which they can grab later. With no QB of value on the board they take Bowers who is great talent on the defensive line and could help add another Pro Bowl caliber player to help Kyle Williams on the line.
4. Cincinnati - A.J. Green (WR - Georgia) The Bengals were a massive disappointment in 2010 given their star (diva) studded offense (Owens and Johnson) but now stand to lose most of their weapons on offense this off season. The Bengals clearly have a need at defensive line but with Bowers and Fairley off the board in this mock they pick the next best player which is Green. With Owens, Benson and maybe Johnson all possible leaving the Bengals need to add young talent to their offense as well and Green is that. Green has the ability to give Palmer a reliable and talent threat that defenses won't be able to ignore.
5. Arizona - Blaine Gabbert (QB - Missouri) The Cardinals need a QB no matter what. John Skelton was a nice story and he might be kept as a back up but after a long season of rotating QBs, the Cardinals need to come away from this draft with a new franchise QB. At the 5th spot their are obviously better value in players like Prince Amukamara or Marcell Dareus but the Cardinals need a QB and the take the best one available. Gabbert is no Sam Bradford or Matt Ryan, he will not come in and light it up in his first season. No Gabbert will take a little work before he gets to a quality level but Gabbert will be a great QB and by selecting him the Cardinals will have invested in their future.
6. Cleveland - Marcell Dareus (DE - Alabama) The Browns could choose between Dareus or Robert Quinn here but because of Quinn's character concerns it looks like he is falling down some draft boards. The Browns need a wideout for Colt McCoy to throw to but with A.J. Green off the board and Julio Jones being a reach at 6, the Browns select Dareus. Dareus will come in right away and help improve the Browns line and pass rush. Though Dareus would be better in the 3 - 4, I believe he can adjust just fine and be effective.
7. San Fransisco - Prince Amukamara (CB - Nebraska) With Jim Harbaugh taking over the 49ers need help primarily on the defensive line and they need a QB. In this mock though both Gabbert and Dareus are off the board and I don't think Harbaugh will take Quinn based on his character concerns. This makes the 49ers next best option, Amukamara. Amukamara can come in right away for the 49ers and be a Pro Bowl corner. He has all the skills and instincts to be great and will help give the 49ers a shut down corner for the next decade.
8. Tennessee - Von Miller (LB - Texas A & M) The Titans need a QB with the departure of Vince Young but with Cam Newton and Ryan Mallett the next best QBs available and Jeff Fishers job on the line in 2011 I think the Titans will look to trade or sign a QB instead. The Titans need some offensive line help as well but Miller is a talent the Titans can't pass up. Miller can rush the passer better then any other linebacker in the draft and he also can drop back and provide quality coverage as well. With the Titans defensive line having a great 2010 season, the Titans selection of Miller will shore up their linebacking core and improve even more one of the best run stopping and pass rushing defenses in the league.
9. Dallas - Robert Quinn (DE - UNC) The Cowboys do not have too many glaring needs which is surprising for a team that only one won 6 games, but I blame that on the coaching. There are a lot better players in other positions on the board here at #9 but the Cowboys need a right end and Quinn is their best choice here. Quinn has been slowly falling on draft boards cause of character concerns and offers the Cowboys a beast on the defensive line. The Cowboys really need a cornerback but with the two best corners off the board the cowboys focus on their line instead.
10. Washington - Ryan Mallett (QB - Arkansas) Mike Shanahan did not really give himself a choice here, he has to select a QB in this draft if they do not make a move in the offseason to acquire another QB through trades or free agency (Kolb is a definite option). Assuming the Redskins don't make a big signing or trade, Shanahan has to get himself a quarterback for the future and Mallett is the next best option here. Mallett has some character issues and did not show up for big games this season but he has a big arm which Shanahan will love. Mallett will become his new project and the new starting QB for the Redskins in 2011.
11. Houston - Akeem Ayers (OLB - UCLA) This is a perfect fit for multiple reasons. With Wade Phillips entering town the Texans will be switching to the 3 - 4 defense and Ayers is a perfect fit in the 3 - 4 defense. He has the rushing ability and build of a 3 - 4 linebacker. Houston who needs help in their secondary as well, could start by getting Ayers who is great at rushing the QB. Ayers would be able to put pressure on opposing QBs such as Manning which would in turn improve their secondary. If Ayers is available at 11, this is the pick.
12. Minnesota - Cam Newton (QB - Auburn) The Vikings are finally free of Brett Favre and Tarvaris Jackson proved he is not he answer so the Vikings are in search of a new franchise QB. This selection comes down to the choice between Jack Locker and Cam Newton but I have a hunch that Newton will be the selection here. Newton needs some work and coaching before he will be a good quarterback but his athleticism and size gives him the advantage of Locker's more refined skills.
13. Detriot - Nate Solder (OT - Colorado) The Detriot Lions need help at linebacker and cornerback first and foremost but unfortunately for them both Miller and Ayer are off the board and the next best corners are second round value. The Lions offensive line is probably there third biggest need as they need to keep Matthew Stafford as untouched as possible because he seems to get injured every time he gets hit. This years tackle crop is pretty week but Solder seems to be the best of that group and he gets the pick here. With this selection Solder can take over at LT and Jeff Backus can move over to RT where he belongs.
14. St. Louis - Julio Jones (WR - Alabama) This pick is another perfect fit. The Rams need to give Bradford more weapons on offense, namely a #1 receiver. Jones will give Bradford that go to wide out that he needs and hopefully catch 50+ passes of those insane 590 passes he threw in 2010 (rookie record). There is a rumor going around that Steven Jackson might retire so if that happens I wouldn't be surprised if Ingram gets picked here but right now its just a rumor so Jones is their best option.
15. Miami - Mark Ingram (RB - Alabama) With the possible departure of both Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown the Dolphins have a huge need at RB but also need a new QB as Chad Henne seems to not be the answer. I doubt the Dolphins are going to reach for Locker so Ingram seems like the logical pick. He offers the Dolphins a quality starting running back with good vision and strength. He doesn't have the Chris Johnson type speed but is still a great back.
16. Jacksonville - Ryan Kerrigan (DE - Purdue) At this point in my mock draft the three best players available are Adrian Clayborn, Kerrigan and J.J. Watt. With Gene Smith at the helm and character being a huge factor in his decisions, Kerrigan gets the nod easily. The Jaguars pass rush improved in 2010 but still placed them near the bottom of the league. They need help at corner and safety but there are no players who meet the value here at 16. The Jaguars could also go with a QB but with Locker being the only QB left on the board, I think the Jaguars will wait until a later round to select a new QB to groom. Kerrigan gives the Jaguars a player opposite of Aaron Kampman who will also be able to dominate. Kerrigan is a hard worker and though he lacks upside he has shown that he has all the skills to come in right away and be effective. He is impossible to block and is a hard worker, what more can you ask from a DE. With a starting defensive line of Kerrigan, Knighton, Alualu, and Kampman the Jaguars will have an extremely dominant defensive line in 2011.
17. New England - Adrian Clayborn (DE - Iowa) The Patriots only get richer with this pick which was acquired from Oakland. The Patriots spent most of their picks last draft on rebuilding their secondary and this draft need to turn their focus to the the defensive line which needs a injection of youth, enter Adrian Clayborn. Clayborn only had 4 sacks this season but was a force on the line and has all the athletic tools to be a force. He would also benefit from the Patriots coaching and the veterans the Patriots still have on the line.
18. San Diego - J.J. Watt (DE - Wisconsin) The run on defensive ends continues with San Diego who could also use some help at defensive end and Watt gives them that. Even though Watt will be the 5th defensive end taken in this draft he more then meets the values as he was a pass rushing specialist in college. Finishing the season with 7 sacks but was consistently all over opposing QB's, Watt will help improve San Diego's pass rush which could use a little work. With Watt added to their defensive line, the Chargers should hopefully improve their defense which could bring them back to the playoffs in 2011.
19. New York Giants - Gabe Carimi (OT - Wisconsin) Like Detriot the Giants need help on the offensive line. Unfortunately for both teams this years OT crop is weak and there are only two tackles even worthy of 1st round consideration and with the Lions picking Solder, the Giants take Carimi here. Carimi has all the tools to be a good LT, just needs some work on refining his skills. Should be able to come in right away and either push Beatty out of the LT spot or at least take the RT job on day 1.
20. Tampa Bay - Cameron Heyward (DE - Ohio State) The Tampa Bucs on had 26 sacks on the season and need to add another pass rusher in order to improve that number. They were a surprise team in 2010 and though their offense was impressive, they need to get more pressure on the quarterback. The decision at this spot is between Heyward and Allen Bailey, I'm giving the nod to Heyward due to his athleticism and the fact that he has played some higher caliber teams. The combine and workouts might change this, and Bailey could easily be the pick here as well.
21. Kansas City - Cameron Jordan (DT - Cal) Like the Tampa Bay pick this pick is also a toss up. There are two good DTs remaining in this mock and both represent two types of players. Kansas City needs help on the defensive line and the interior especially. Kansas City needs to a DT that can get at the QB and both Cameron Jordan and Drake Nevis fit that need but Nevis has a smaller frame and even though Nevis has a higher motor, Jordan is bigger and size is hard to come by.
22. Indianapolis - Anthony Castonzo (OT - Boston College) The Colts need to give Peyton Manning more protection. He was hit way to much for the Colts liking this year and improving their offense line would go a long way to keeping Manning's career last as long as possible. Castonzo is the Colts best bet at 22 even though he could have dropped into the early second round. Castonzo can step in and play RT for the Colts and help keep Manning a lot more protected.
23. Philadelphia - Mike Pouncey (G/C) The Eagles also need help along their offensive line as well. They need to give Michael Vick more time to make decisions even though he is great on the run, he seemed to have to be on the run to much when he probably could have stayed in the pocket and thrown the ball. Mike Pouncey is an interesting player because he is naturally a guard but played center this past season with his brother absent. The Eagles need help on the line but they don't necessarily need a Left or Right Tackle with Peters and Justice though Justice is not great their right guard and center spot need more depth and improvement. Enter Pouncey who can start at RG on day one and also fill in at center in an emergency, though his center play this season was shaky at best.
24. New Orleans - Drake Nevis (DT - LSU) The 2009 Superbowl champs were knocked out early this season because they could not stop the run of the Seahawks which is amusing because before that game the Seahawks looked awful in the running game. New Orleans needs another big body up front to help shore up their defensive line and Nevis is a great fit. He offers the Saints a high motor, hard working DT that can get to the QB. His size is a little smaller then desired but makes up for it in explosiveness.
25. Seattle - Jake Locker (QB - Washington) Finally Locker, who probably would have been Top 10 last year, goes off the board to Seattle. Seattle has had the aging Matt Hasselbeck at QB for what feels like decades and they urgently need to get a young replacement ready especially with Hasselbeck being constantly injured. Locker offers the Seahawks exactly what they need, a QB who is ready to play in the NFL, has the character and skill set but doesn't have the upside that the other three QBs have. Locker though might end up being the better pro and has the ability to be Matt Hasselbecks back up his first season and learn from a quality QB. Plus he would be able to stay in state!
26. Baltimore - Brandon Harris (CB - Miami) The Ravens looked like a pretty complete team going into the post season but after a disappointing lose to Pittsburgh the Ravens can use this pick to add a potential star cornerback to their already powerful defense. Harris is the next best cornerback in this draft other then the Peterson and Amukamara. Though Harris is not as talented as the other two, he can easily come in and be a shut down corner given a little coaching and time. With Baltimore's defense filled with veterans and skilled players I can't see why Harris wouldn't be able to come in and learn from his teammates in turn making him grow.
27. Atlanta - Derek Sherrod (OT - Miss. State) Atlanta had a disappointing end to the 2010 season with their lose to Green Bay. The #1 seed does not have too many major areas of need but they can always use more depth on the offensive line to protect Matt Ryan from opposing defenses. Sherrod is a great talent and depending on who you talk too, some have him ranked as one of the top 2 tackles in the draft, though it is a weak class. This might end up being a steal for Atlanta who might be able to turn Sherrod into a permanent fixture at RT for years.
28. New England - Allen Bailey (DE/DT - Miami) New England picks for the second time in the first round and once again they focus on their defensive line. You can never have too many big bodies in the trenches and the Patriots will love Bailey who has great size, good motor and has recorded 7 sacks in each of his last two season with Miami. Bailey will team up with Clayborn (#17) to give the Patriots a fearsome D Line for years to come. Look out Mark Sanchez.
* The order of the next four picks are subject to change, this is my projection
29. Chicago - Tyron Smith (OT - USC) The Bears need any help they can get on the offensive line. Jay Cutler was constantly harassed all season and needs another quality lineman to help offer him some protection. The combine will determine which order the OTs are taken but right now Smith is ranked out after a few others in my mock so Chicago takes Smith since he is the best available. Smith is very athletic at 290 pounds but might need refinement of his skills. He would be a great addition to the Bears line and though he might end up playing RT, he is a good need selection.
30. New York Jets - Justin Houston (DE/OLB - Georgia) Houston has been rising up draft boards and after his 11 sack season could turn out to be a steal at #30. The Jets defensive is already a powerful force but with not many other needs adding Houston who can play OLB or DE depending on the system would be a great pick for the Jets who need to get pressure on Tom Brady. Houston will fit in well in New York and be able to join the frat house that is the New York Jets.
31. Green Bay - Corey Liuget (DE/DT - Illinois) The Packers have one of the best defenses in the league and though they need a running back to pair with the returning Ryan Grant, the Packers could opt to improve their already dominant defense. With lose of Aaron Kampman after 2009 and the possible loss of Cullen Jenkins this offseason, the Packers could use another DE on their line. Enter Liuget who had 5 sacks this season has the size and tools to be a quality DE, exactly what the Packers need.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers - Ben Ijalana (OT - Villanova) Yes I am predicting the Steelers as Superbowl Champions, we will see if this pans out but you never know. The Steelers like every other elite team need to add depth to their offensive line in order to protect their star QB, Big Ben. With a lot of the Steelers O line coming of injuries the Steelers might opt to add the rising Ijalana to their roster. He offers the ability to play tackle or guard and might be a steal as many people have not heard of him, though Mel Kiper recently added him to his Top 25 Draft Board. Though it pains me to agree with Kiper, I do think he will be a good git in Pittsburgh.
Notables Left Out:
Stephen Phea (DT - Oregon)
Kyle Rudolph (TE - Notre Dame)
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