Inaugural Aaron Zimmerman NBA Mock Draft

June 26, 2014

I don’t know anyone who is more enthusiastic about college basketball and the NBA draft more than my good friend Aaron Zimmerman.  Last year, he came to me with the idea of guest blogging his mock NBA draft.  He submitted it to me, but I dropped the ball.  This year I present to you  the first of hopefully many AZ NBA mock draft.  With no further ado:

1- Andrew Wiggins, Shooting Guard, Kansas- Cleveland

–          Most potential out of anyone in the draft outside of a healthy Joel Embiid. Should be a lock at #1

2- Jabari Parker, Small Forward, Duke- Milwaukee

–          Parker should help Milwaukee immediately. No brainer after Wiggins goes #1

3- Dante Exum, Point Guard, Australia- Philly

–          Philly was extremely high on Exum before the lottery came out, with Embiid going down, this opened the door for new CEO Scott O’Neil to draft his boy Dante.

4- Joel Embiid, Center, Kansas- Orlando

– Orlando is going to take a few years to rebuild; Embiid may be too good to pass on. Vonleh and Smart are also options here.

5- Noah Vonleh, Power Forward, Indiana- Utah

-If Utah can’t move into the top 2 to pick Parker they will go with potential and Vonleh has tons of it.

6- Aaron Gordon, Power Forward, Arizona – Boston

– Ainge has something up his sleeve, I have a feeling this pick is going somewhere else, like Minnesota!

7- Marcus Smart, Point Guard, OK State- LA Lakers

– Lakers haven’t had a dominate point guard since Nick Van Exel. Look for Smart to get taken here if he’s still on the board. He would complement Kobe well.

8- TJ Warren, Small Forward, NC State- – Sacramento Kings

– Could be a reach but Warren is a scorer and he has impressed many teams as of late. Wouldn’t shock me for the Kings to make a splashy pick like this.

9- Julius Randle, Power Forward, Kentucky- Charlotte

–          With Josh McRoberts starting at PF the Hornets need an upgrade. MJ would be thrilled if Randle drops here. Other options here at LaVine and McBuckets.

10- Nik Stauskas, Shooting Guard, Michigan- Philly

– Stauskas is a shooter and Philly needs shooting badly.

11- Zach LaVine, Point Guard, UCLA- Denver

– LaVine killed it in the comb-ine and I am not sold on Gary Harris.

12- Doug McDermott, Small Forward, Creighton- Orlando

– McBuckets!

13- James Young, Shooting Guard, Kentucky- Minnesota

– Arguably the third best player in the NCAA Championship Game wouldn’t be surprised if he is an all-rookie team player in year 1.

14- Shabazz Napier, Point Guard, Connecticut- Phoenix

– Best college basketball player hands down, homer pick, but he fits phoenix too well.

15- Adreian Payne, Power Forward, Michigan State- Atlanta

16- Elfrid Payton, Point Guard, Louisiana Lafayette- Chicago

17- Gary Harris, Shooting Guard, Michigan State- Boston

18- Kyle Anderson, Point Guard, UCLA- Phoenix

19- Rodney Hood, Shooting Guard, Duke- Chicago

20- Tyler Ennis, Point Guard, Cuse- Toronto

21- Jusuf Nurkic, Center, Bosnia- Oklahoma City

22- Clint Capela, Power Forward Switzerland- Memphis

23- Jordan Clarkson, Point Guard, Missouri-Utah

24- CJ Wilcox, Shooting Guard, Washington- Charlotte

25- Cleanthony Early- Small Forward, Wichita State- Houston

26- Jerami Grant, Small Forward/Power Forward, Syracuse- Miami

27- Mitch McGary, Power Forward, Michigan- Phoenix

28- Jordan Adams, Shooting Guard, UCLA- LA Clippers

29- Glenn Robinson III, Small Forward, Michigan- Oklahoma City

30- Spencer Dinwiddie, Point Guard, Colorado- San Antonio


May 5, 2014

I have strategically held off on the mock draft this year.  Too much can change in the weeks preceding the draft, and this is even more true this year with the draft being pushed back two weeks.  I think that most of the teams have their board’s set.  I won’t try to predict trades, though they are inevitable.  I believe teams picking in the teens will try to trade back, as I believe there to be 8-9 truly elite players. 

1. Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney: DE, South Carolina: Houston’s GM Rick Smith has made it no secret that the team is willing and open to move down.  The latest word is that the Falcons aren’t interested in moving up to select Clowney, but everything leading up to the draft is a smoke screen until it does or does not happen.  In spite of Clowney supposedly not being a scheme fit in Romeo Crennel’s 3-4 defense, his upside is simply too high to ignore, and Houston won’t be the club to pass on a guy who has 20 sack upside.

2. St. Louis Rams: Sammy Watkins: WR, Clemson: This is a very tough call to make. The latest rumor is that Les Snead is high on Johnny Manziel, and as the world’s biggest Sam Bradford detractor I can’t blame him.  The Rams have invested a ton of resources in WR with marginal results, but Watkin’s has the potential to be a Julio Jones like game changer.  If they are going to stick with Bradford, this should be the pick.  OL is another big need, so Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews are also viable options.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Khalil Mack: OLB, Buffalo: The Jags had the least sacks in the league last year, and Mack would provide a desperately needed infusion of talent along the defensive front 7.  He is a natural fit to play the LEO position in Gus Bradley’s defense.  Manziel is another option here, but the Jags will probably be at the top of the draft next year, and with Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston coming out the 2015 draft class will be flush with talent at the QB position.

4. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB: Texas A&M: The Browns have been looking for a franchise QB since the team returned to Cleveland in 1999.  Manziel is probably the most polarizing figure in the draft, but his upside is undeniable and his skill set is taylor made for the offense that Kyle Shannahan runs.  The Browns would probably prefer to get Watkins if he falls and address the QB position later, but they will settle for the electric Aggie.  They would also take one of the tackles here, or reach for Mike Evans

5. Oakland Raiders: Greg Robinson, OT: Auburn: I do not believe the Raiders will take a QB in the first round of this year’s draft.  They traded for Matt Schaub in the offseason and I think that their front office likes Matt Mcgloin as a developmental prospect.  They let Jared Veldheer walk in free agency, and while they signed Donald Penn in free agency, the team needs youth and talent along the offensive line.  I think that Aaron Donald and Mike Evans are also potential picks for the Raiders.

6. Atlanta Falcons: Jake Matthews, OT: Texas A&M: The Falcons are another team that needs offensive lineman in the worst way.  Matthews is one of my favorite prospects in the draft.  He is the son of hall of fame OT Bruce Matthews and cousin of Clay Matthews, so innate football talent is in his blood.  After giving up so much to get Julio Jones just two years ago, I do not think that Thomas Dmitroff will want to give up more valuable resources in what is one of the deepest drafts in recent memory.  Aaron Donald could also be the pick here.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans, WR: Texas A&M: This would be a logical fit with the depature of Mike Williams to the Bills via trade. The Bucs also have needs along both lines but Evans would be a great complement to Vincent Jackson and his eventual successor. Josh Mccown thrived in Chicago with a 1-2 tandem at WR and this would be similar.

8. Minnestoa Vikings: Blake Bortles, QB: UCF: I think that Bortles to Minnesota is a perfect fit.  He’s not a finished product, but the Vikings just re-signed Matt Cassel, so he could sit for a year and absorb the playbook.  Norv Turner is notoriously good with QBs.  Just a year ago he had Brian Hoyer playing like an all-pro before he tore his ACL early in the season.  The Vikings need players on defense, so I wouldn’t rule out UCLA standout Anthony Barr.

9. Buffalo Bills: Eric Ebron, TE: UNC: This is another selection I’m torn on.  The Bills ranked 16th in pass protection last year, and I believe that they do need help along the offensive line.  With that being said, EJ manuel looked so-so as a rookie, and he would benefit tremendously from a Jimmy-Graham like talent at TE, and Ebron fits the bill.  Taylor Lewan of Michigan is also a possibility for the Bills.

10. Detroit Lions: Darqueze Dennard, CB: Michigan State:  The Lions secondary is devoid of talent, and they would benefit greatly selecting the in-state product.  Dennard won the Jim Thorpe award as the nation’s best defensive back.  The Lions have spent resources in the draft on DBs recently, with Darius Slay and Bill Bentley, but Dennard would be a home run selection in my opinion.  I view him as a superior prospect to Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert, and I think that CBs are more valuable than safeties.  Don’t rule out an offensive lineman or a safety here.

11. Tennessee Titans: Anthony Barr, OLB: UCLA: The Titans let Alterraun Verner leave to Tampa Bay in free agency, and they would benefit greatly from a talent like Verner.  While his cover skills are inferior to Dennard’s, Gilbert is a freakish athlete and a phenomenal return man.  The Titans did not pick up Jake Locker’s 5th year option, so Teddy Bridgewater or even Zach Mettenberger could be options as well. 

12. New York Giants: Aaron Donald, DT: Pitt: The defensive front, which has traditionally been the foundation of the Giants defense, has been depleted by attrition. Donald, who has drawn favorable comparisons to Geno Atkins, would fit nicely with Jonathan Hankins to provide an interior pass rush for the Gmen. Other possiblities are offensive tackle and WR, but I believe Donald is their guy.

13. St. Louis Rams: Taylor Lewan, OT: Michigan: The Rams would sprint the pick to the podium of Lewan slides this far.  While there are some character concerns spawning from an Ann Arbor bar fight, Lewan has the potential to be a franchise left tackle for 10 years.  Add that to the fact that Jake Long has a checkered history of injuries, and this seems like a no-brainer.  The Rams also need help in the secondary, so I wouldn’t rule out Ha-Ha Clinton Dix.

14. Chicago Bears: Ha Ha Clinton Dix, FS: Alabama:  The Bears had an atrocious defense last year, and their secondary did not help their cause.  Clinton Dix would be a day one starter and would provide an impact playmaker that the Bears need in the worst way.  CJ Mosley of Alabama would be another possibility here. 

15. Pittsburg Steelers: CJ Mosley, ILB, Alabama:  I was very tempted to stop Mike Evans’ slide here, but its not like the Steelers to use premium selections on skill position players.  The Steelers are getting old and slow in the defense and Mosley would help to stop that trend. He is another guy who I like a lot and would be a natural fit to play ILB in the Steelers 3-4 defense.

16. Dallas Cowboys: Calvin Pryor, SS, Louisville: The Cowboys need help along the defensive front more than any team in the league.  With that being said, I don’t need the value here.  I think the Cowboys would love to trade out here, ideally to a team looking to get Mike Evans. If they stand pat, Pryor would provide a much needed physical presence in the back end of their secondary. 

17. Baltimore Ravens: Justin Gilbert, CB: Oklahoma State: The Ravens could use a playmaker opposite Torrey Smith, but I don’t see the value here at 17. Instead, they’ll opt for the athletic Ok State coverman. He is also an outstanding return man, and some have compared him to a poor man’s patrick peterson.

18. New York Jets: Odell Beckham Jr, WR: LSU:  The Jets need offensive playmakers more than any team in the draft.  They would probably hate to lose out on Evans by one pick, but Beckham Jr wouldn’t be a bad consolation prize.  The Jets could take a look at Martin here as well, but WR is too glaring a need and Geno Smith’s development is contingent upon Idzik surrounding him with playmakers.

19. Miami Dolphins: Zack Martin: OT, Notre Dame:  This would be a sprint the pick to the podium, no-brainer pick for the ‘phins.  Their offensive line was a disaster last year, no thanks to the Incognito-Jonathan Martin mess.  If Martin is gone, the Dolphins could stand to add another weapon for Tannehill, like Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks.

20. Arizona Cardinals: Ryan Shazier, OLB: Ohio State: The Cardinals had one of the best defenses in the league last year, and Shazier would help solidify an already talented unit.  Some speculate the Cardinals will pick Carson Palmer’s successor here, but in such a competitive division, I think they need to into this draft with a win now mentality. 

21. Green Bay Packers: Brandin Cooks, WR: Oregon State: The Packers could really use a safety, but with Clinton Dix and Pryor off the board, I think Cooks would be a great pick here.  Paired next to Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, this could give the Pack the best trio of receivers in the league.  The Pack could use an interior defensive lineman with this selection as well.

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Marquis Lee, WR: USC: With the highly publicized departure of Desean Jackson, WR quickly became a pressing need for the Eagles. Chip Kelly is familiar with Lee from his days coaching at Oregon, and he would pair nicely with Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin.  The Eagles could also use a pass rusher, and Kony Ealy of Mizzou would also fit nicely.

23. Kansas City Chiefs: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT Alabama: The Chiefs lost three key pieces to their offensive line via free agency departure when Brandon Albert, Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah all signed elsewhere.  Last year’s number one pick Eric Fisher will be moving to LT, and Kouandjio can step in and start at RT.  The Chiefs could use a WR and a safety, but I don’t see the value here.

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Kony Ealy, DE: Mizzou:  The departure of Michael Johnson in free agency leaves a glaring hole opposite Carlos Dunlap.  Ealy was a productive pass rusher in the SEC and projects as a 4-3 DE.  There are talks of the Bengals letting Dalton walk and selecting a QB here, but I think the needs at DE and CB are too glaring to pass on at this point. 

25. San Diego Chargers: Kyle Fuller, CB: VA Tech: The Chargers are a team that needs help in their secondary.  Fuller is an athletic cover corner who would step in and start on day one.  The Chargers need help along all levels of their defense.  They also need offensive lineman, so I wouldn’t rule out Todd McShay’s favorite, UVA OT Morgan Moses.

26. Cleveland Browns (from Indy): Jason Verrett, CB: TCU: Ideally, I believe the Browns would like to get a WR here, but I don’t see the value.  Verrett would pair with Joe Haden to give the Browns a solid 1-2 combo at CB.  I think that with the 4th pick in the second round the Browns could still get someone like PSU’s Allen Robinson or Cody Latimer from Indiana.

27. New Orleans Saints: Dee Ford, DE: Auburn: The Saints were in cap hell this offseason and saw Will Smith leave as a result.  Ford would play OLB in Rob Ryan’s 3-4 defense and would provide the Saints with a much needed boost in the pas rush department.  The Saints are another team that could use help along the offensive line, as well as a WR. 

28. Carolina Panthers: Morgan Moses, OT: UVA: At first glance, WR is the no brainer pick for the Panthers.  Steve Smith signed with the Ravens as well as Brandon Lafell signing with New England.  The Panthers did sign Cotchery, Tiquan Underwood and Jason Avant, and the need at OT is even more glaring. Jordan Gross retired and their is no successor in place.  Moses could be that guy, and they could address WR in the 2nd round.

29. New England Patriots: Jace Amaro: TE, Texas Tech:  It’s never easy to predict who the Pats are gonna take, but with Gronk blowing out his ACL and little depth behind him, Amaro could be a good insurance policy.  He’s big and athletic in the mold of Gronk, and Brady and Belichik love to throw to the tight end.  An interior lineman or safety are other possibilities here.

30. San Francisco 49’ers: Bradley Roby, CB: Ohio State: CB and WR are the biggest needs for the 49ers.  There are talks of the ‘9ers using their plethora of draft picks to move up and get one of the premiere wideouts.  I’m not predicting trades, and with that being said I think they’ll stand pat and take Roby. He has had some recent transgressions with the law, but I think he will do alright in a strong locker room like San Fran has.

31. Denver Broncos: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State:  The Broncos need some beef along the defensive front.  Jernigan is a force and would instantly upgrade the interior of the defensive line.  The Broncos could stand to add some depth along the offensive line and at linebacker.

32. Seattle Seahawks: Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG: UCLA:  The Seahawks chose not to exercise James Carpenter’s 5th year option, and with Russel Okung’s free agency approaching, they need to beef up their O-line. Su’a-Filo would be a plug and play starter, and would help keep the soon to be very rich Russell Wilson upright.  They would also look at Ra’shede Hageman here to help offset the loss of Red Bryant to the Jaguars.







2013 NFL Mock Draft

April 24, 2013

I’m late this year, but I’ve talked to my sources around the league and the scouting team is confident that our board is going to be accurate.  With no further ado, my 2013 NFL mock draft.

1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel: OT, Texas A&M: I haven’t been a fan of the Chief’s personnel moves this offseason whatsoever.  They essentially gave up a late first round pick for Alex Smith and are trying to move Brandon Albert before draft day. Instead, they should have signed Albert, taken Geno Smith and kept their 2nd round pick.  I digress, though, as now the pick comes down to one of the two top tackles and my money is on Joeckel.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon: If I were David Caldwell, I’d take Geno Smith.   Pass rushers don’t turn around bad franchises and put butts in the seats, but franchise QBs do.  Regardless, I see new defensive minded HC Gus Bradley taking the Oregon product to fill the ‘leo’ position in his defensive scheme.  The Jags could go a lot of ways here including CB or QB.

3. Oakland Raiders: Ezekial Ansah, DE: BYU: The Raiders underwent a huge cap purge this offseason as GM Reggie Mckenzie tries to undo years of terrible personnel decisions.  With that being the case, they have needs virtually everywhere.  Ansah is new to football but he’s been compared to JPP with his athleticism and upside.  I think the other 3 distinct options here would be Sharrif Floyd, Dee Milner and Star Lotulelei

4. Philadelphia Eagles: Star Lotulelei, DT: Utah:  Chip Kelly and company have done a lot to revamp their defense this off-season.  They did lose Cullen Jenkins, and Lotulelei could be his replacement and be a force along the defensive front.  Other options here are Milliner, Geno Smith and Eric Fisher.

5. Detroit Lions: Eric Fisher, OT: Central Michigan: The Lions can’t go wrong with this first pick as they have needs at CB, OT and DE.  With Ansah and Jordan off the board I think this makes Eric Fisher the logical pick.  They also have needs at DE and CB.

6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner, CB: Alabama: If Lane Johnson is still on the board at this point all bet are off.  I believe some team will trade up in front of Arizona to take the sooner tackle. I’m not going to try to predict trades, so I’ll stick with the Browns taking Milliner to pair with stud CB Joe Haden.

7. Arizona Cardinals: Lane Johnson, OT: Okalahoma: The Cardinals have been ignoring this position for years and its time they address solidifying their offensive line.  Johnson is a plug and play left tackle that will start from day one. Other glaring needs include OLB and RB.

8. Buffalo Bills: Geno Smith, QB: West Virginia: I’m not buying the Nassib to Buffalo at #8 connection.  Geno Smith has the size arm strength and work ethic to be a top 15 QB in this league.  He’ll have a chip on his shoulder given the fact that draftniks around the country have been hating on him throughout the process.  The Bills could also use a pass rushing outside linebacker and help along the defensive front.

9. New York Jets: Jarvis Jones, OLB: Georgia: The Jets are in full re-build mode after shipping Revis Island to Tampa Bay.  They had a non-existent pass rush last year and Jones has been compared to Terrell Suggs, as his less than average measureables shouldn’t  blind people from his outstanding production.  The Jets could also go guard, DT or safety with this pick.

10. Tennessee Titans: Bjoern Werner, DE: FSU : The Titans have next to no talent along the defensive front and lost Jason Jones to free agency.  Werner is raw and new to football, but he’s a good pass rusher and stout at the point of attack. The Titans reportedly like both of the top two guards in the year’s draft, so don’t rule that out.

11. San Diego Chargers: Jonathan Cooper: OG, UNC: The Chargers have one of the worst offensive lines in the game and Cooper would help fix that.  He’s athletic and many believe he’s better than Chance Wormack.  The Chargers also need help at WR but I believe this is as much more pressing need.

12. Miami Dolphins: Xavier Rhodes: CB, FSU:  There’s widespread talk that the Dolphins want to trade up to grab a left tackle to replace Jake Long, but with none of the top 3 falling past Detroit I think they’ll stay put and select the in state product.  They lost Vontae Davis in a trade last year and Sean Smith to free agency this offseason.  Brent Grimes was signed but he’s aging and coming off an injury.  Rhodes is big and physical and would be a day one starter.  Another possibility here would be DJ Fluker, but he’s more of a RT so I don’t see them going that route.

13. New York Jets (from TB): Chance Warmack, G: Alabama: The Jets would upgrade a very weak right side of the offensive line with this selection.  UMass product Vlad Ducasse has been a bust and they lost Matt Slauson to free agency.  The Jets could conceivably take Kenny Vaccaro here to replace Laron Landry, but I think they’ll opt to add a guard instead.

14. Carolina Panthers: Sharrif Floyd, DT: Florida: This would be a slam dunk, sprint to the podium pick for Carolina.  Their run defense is atrocious and Floyd would make an immediate impact.  The Panthers have an awful secondary, so Desmond Trufant or Vaccaro are also possibilities, but I don’t see them passing on Floyd.

15. New Orleans Saints: Kenny Vacarro, Safety: Texas: This would be a great pick for a team that boasted the worst defense in the league last year.  Vaccaro is instinctive and quick, and he would replace Roman Harper who by this point in his career simply can’t cover.  The Saints could also use some help at DT so Sheldon Richardson is another option.

16. St Louis Rams: Tavon Austin, WR: WVU: The Rams lost Brandon Gibson and Danny Amendola in free agency and desperately need an infusion of youth and talent at this position.  While some question his durability and longevity at a mere 175 pounds, his game-changing ability and explosiveness is undeniable.   The Rams could also use help at OLB, so don’t rule out Alec Ogletree.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers: DJ Fluker, OT: Alabama: The Steelers would ideally like to get help at OLB after losing James Harrison, but I think Fluker would be a good selection, as he could step in at either left guard, or left tackle if they believe he has the athleticism to play the position.  One of the two Tennessee WRs is also a possibility to replace Mike Wallace.

18. Dallas Cowboys: Sheldon Richardson, DT: Mizzou: The Cowboys have switched to a 4-3 defense under Monte Kiffin, and they need help along the interior of the defensive line.  Jay Ratliff is getting up there and made waves last year with an in locker room blow up with owner/GM Jerry Jones.  The Cowboys would also like to add a safety, but with Vaccaro off the board I think they’ll go D line.

19. New York Giants: Desmond Trufant, CB: Washington: The Giants secondary was awful last season.  They re-signed Aaron Ross and Terrell Thomas, but due to age and injury the are stop gaps at best. After that the lone dependable CB is Prince Amukamara, so pairing him with Trufant would help immensely. The Giants really need help at RT, but with Fluker gone I don’t see the value here.  Never discount Jerry Reese’s liking of defensive ends, so Tank Carradine is another possibility.

20. Chicago Bears: Arthur Brown, ILB: Kansas State:  The Bears lost the leader/icon of their defense for the last decade Brian Urlacher this off-season.  Brown is one of my favorite players in the draft and I think he’d be a great replacement for the future Hall of Famer.  He’s got good instincts, a good football IQ and would be a great leader for the Bears vaunted defense.  CB and DE are other options here.

21. Minnesota Vikings: Sylvester Williams, DT: UNC:  The Vikings have a host of needs, particularly on defense.  Kevin Williams isn’t getting any younger and the cupboard is relatively bare after him.  Williams is athletic and would immediately help improve their defensive front.  WR and CB are also big needs for the Vikings.

22. Cincinnati Bengals: Eddie Lacy, RB: Alabama: The Bengals have been vocal about their desire to find a complement to BGJE, and Lacy could be that guy.  A lot of people think that he isn’t a first round pick, but save a trade down I don’t see anyone that pops out at another glaring area of need for the Bengals here.

23. St. Louis Rams: Alec Ogletree, LB: Georgia: This would be a great pick for the Rams, as they’d add an athletic playmaker to what is already an up an coming defense.  The Rams could use a safety but I don’t believe that Eric Reid or Jonathan Cyprien would be the pick here over Ogletree.  The rolled the dice on Janoris Jenkins last year and the early returns were great, so I don’t think Jeff Fisher is scared by guys with character red flags.

24. Indianapolis Colts: Barkevious Mingo: OLB, LSU: The Colts went predominately offense in last year’s draft and now GM Ryan Grigson will look to provide Chuck Pagano with playmakers on the other side of the ball.  Mingo has a long frame and is raw but extremely athletic.  There is little talent outside of the aging Robert mathis, and Eric Walden is by no means a sack artist.  They could also use another WR and help along the defensive line.

25. Minnesota Vikings (from Seattle): DJ Hayden: CB, Houston: Hayden overcame an injury sustained in practice generally seen in car accident victims with a survival rate of less than 5%. Doctors have cleared him to play and he profiles as a true cover corner at the next level.  After losing Antoine Winfield the cupboard is bare in the secondary.  The Vikings also have glaring needs at WR and MLB so Patterson and Teo would also be intriguing choices.

26. Green Bay Packers: Tyler Eifert, TE: Notre Dame: This would be a slam dunk pick for GB, and I’m not even certain he makes it this far.  Jermichael Finely has fallen out of favor with his drops and malcontent nature and Tom Crabtree left via Free agency. Eifert is athletic and could be groomed to be Finley’s replacement. The Packers could use a linebacker or a safety and also have needs along the offensive line.

27. Houston Texans: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR: Tennessee: There has been talk for what seems like forever about how the Texans need to find a complement to Andre Johnson.  While he’s raw, Patterson could be that guy.  His football instincts have been questioned, but he is a physical freak of nature and has the potential to be a stud WR.  The Texans lost Connor Barwin to the Eagles, so Demontre Moore of Texas A&M is another potential pick.

28. Denver Broncos: Damontre Moore: DE, Texas A&M: The fax-gaffe that led to Elvis Dumervil signing with the Ravens has left the Broncos with a hole at the defensive end spot.  Moore put up jaw droppingly-bad numbers at the combine (12 reps at 225), but he was very productive in the SEC. With Jon Fox and Jack Del Rio coaching him up he’d be in a situation where he could thrive.  The Broncos also need help in the secondary.

29. New England Patriots: Denadre Hopkins, WR: Clemson: The pats opted not to keep Brandon Lloyd and let Wes Welker leave in free agency.  They currently have no legitimate options outside of Amendola. Hopkins is long and was extremely productive at clemson, amassing 1400 yards and 18 tds last year.  The pats could use another pass rusher or a safety as well.

30. Atlanta Falcons: Tank Carradine, DE: FSU: The Falcons chose not to resign John Abraham and have a huge void to fill at DE.  The Ray Edwards experiment failed last season, and an aging Osi Umenyora is nothing more than a stop gap.  Carradine had a devastating knee injury but was excellent before the injury and would be a great value pick for the Falcons.  They also really need help in the secondary so don’t rule out blidi wreh-wilson from UConn.

31. San Francisco 49’ers: Jonathan Cyprien: SS, FIU:  The 49’ers lost Dashon Goldson to the Bucs in Free agency and Cyprien could be the heir apparent at the position.  He’s physical and would be a significant upgrade over journey Craig Dahl.  They also could use help at CB and another WR.

32. Baltimore Ravens: Manti Te’o: MLB, Notre Dame: The world champs lost all time great Ray Lewis to retirement and they need someone to fill his shoes.  While there are questions about Teo’s mental toughness regarding the girlfriend Hoax, he was talented and would be a natural leader in a good locker room.  This is compounded by Rolando Mcclain’s most recent arrest and likely release. They have a host of other needs, especially safety as both Bernard Pollard and Ed Reid are gone.  Don’t rule out Eric Reid from LSU.

2012 NFL Mock Draft

April 1, 2012

It’s that time of the year ya’ll.  In less than a month 32 GM’s will decide the fates of the talented college football players who entered the draft this year.  Here’s my uninformed opinion on how the first 32 picks will pan out.

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB: Stanford:

This is a done deal.  Owner Jim Irsay has made his man-crush for the Stanford QB who some say is the best prospect since Elway very public.  The Colts cut hall of famer Peyton Manning to make way for the young Cardinal signal caller.  The Colts are in full rebuild mode and what better place to start than with a face-of-the-franchise quarterback?

2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III, QB: Baylor:

Bruce Allen and Mike Shannahan saw the writing on the wall after last year’s grossman/Beck debacle.  They made a power move and traded 2 1st round picks and a 2nd for the #2 overall pick and the right to select the stud QB from Baylor. Griffin has exceptional arm strength, has a high football IQ and great work ethic.  The skins already have a pretty good defense, if they can protect griffin and add some playmakers on the outside they can get themselves out of the cellar of the NFC east.

3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT: USC:

 It’s not shocker that the Vikings need to add some beef to the line.  They lost Bryant Mckinie and Charlie Johnson did a less than stellar job of keeping rookie QB Christian Ponder upright. Kalil, the brother of Panthers center Ryan Kalil, is by far the best blindside protector in the draft.  The Vikings are also very thin at CB, so LSU CB Morris Claiborne is also a possibility here.

4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB: Alabama: 

I know a lot of people think that Blackmon or Tannehill are the logical selections here, but I disagree. First, if history is any indicator GM Tom Heckertt would much prefer to trade back and stockpile draft picks.  While this strategy has seemed to only net the Browns mediocre talent, they have a history of favoring this move.  Second, they selected UNC wideout Greg Little last year who is a very similar prospect to Blackmon.  Neither are burners, and both project as Anquan Boldin-esque physical receivers.  Richardson is an absolute monster in the mold of Adrian Peterson.  Mike Mayock says he’s the best blocking back in the draft, and his receiving skills and breakaway speed are undeniable. In my opinion, he’d be much more of an asset to their offense and Colt Mccoy’s maturation.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, CB: LSU:   

I think GM Mark Dominik will throw a fit in the draft room if/when the Browns take Richardson, but the Claiborne is not a bad consolation prize.  Ronde Barber is likely back for his last year and Aqib Talib has been a mess of the field.  Clairborne is an elite talent who will excel in the Bucs’ cover 2 scheme.  They could really use a LB but the value just isn’t there at 5.  If they don’t trade down and the draft plays out like this, I think it’s a no-brainer.

6. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon, WR: Oklahoma State: 

This would have to be the dream scenario for GM Les Snead.  This would net young QB Sam Bradford the #1 Wr he so desperately needs.  He’s been working with #2’s and 3’s his whole career and this would give him a go-to target to help open up defenses.  Other possibilities here are DT such as Donteri Poe.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB: South Carolina:  

The Gamecock pass rusher is exactly the prospect Jaguars GM Gene Smith likes.  Safe pick, talented player with good character.  While they could really use some weapons for Gabbert or someone to replace Guy Whimper at tackle, I think Smith will opt to beef up a DE position that needs help.  There are some questions as to whether Ingram has the size to hold up full time at defensive end, but his talent is undeniable and his non-stop motor will appeal to Smith.

8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB: Texas A&M: 

 The Dolphins are quickly becoming the running joke of the NFL.  No marquee free agents want to go to South Beach.  After getting left at the altar by both Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn, the Dolphins will shift their attention to the Aggie signal caller.  Tannehill is very raw and has only 19 starts at QB under his belt, but his upside is high.  Add to that the fact that new Miami OC was Tannehill’s college coach and the fit seems perfect.  The ‘phins could also use a WR so Michael Floyd is an outside possibility.

9. Carolina Panthers: Fletcher Cox, DT: Mississippi State

Carolina had the 25th run defense in 2011 and to call their interior d line porous would be generous.  They spent two third round picks on DT’s in 2011 but they are desperate for an impact player at the position.  With Steve Smith an impending free agent and little talent at WR outside of him, Michael Floyd is a possibility but I think that Cox will be hard to pass on here.

10. Buffalo Bills: Riley Reiff, OT: Iowa:  

 Current starter Demetrius Bell is currently unsigned, and the Bills could use to add some bulk to their offensive line.  Reiff could step in right away and start at the tackle position and help keep Ryan Fitzpatrick upright.  The Bills have made some serious improvements to their pass rush this off season, and their defense looks like a force to be reckoned with.  A defensive back is also a possibility, and had Flloyd not landed in Carolina he would have been a great fit.

11. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Keichly, OLB: BC:  

The Chiefs most glaring weakness is at NT, but there aren’t any true Wilfork-like protypes in the top of this year’s draft.  Scouts have said that Dontari Poe would be more suited to play end in the 3-4 base defense that the Chiefs run, and they already have Glen Dorsey and Tyson Jackson locked up there.  Keichly would be paired on the inside with Derrick Johnson to improve on an already stout Romeo Crennell-led defense.  He’s instinctive and athletic, as demonstrated by his outstanding combine results.  Cornerback and o-line are also possibilities, but the value just isn’t here at this spot.

12. Seattle Seahawks: Quinton Coples, DE: UNC:  

 The Seahawks recently locked up Red Bryant at the defensive end position, but as the Giants showed you can never have too many good defensive ends.  NFL film guru Greg Cosle recently compared Coples to a raw Mario Williams, who has all the athletic ability but needs to play up to his potential and develop a pass rush repertoire.  This is great value for the Seahawks here.  They could also use a corner back so dre kirkpatrick and stephon gilmore are other possibilities at this spot.

13. Arizona Cardinals: Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB: Alabama: 

The Cardinals defense lacks any impact pass rushers at the OLB position.  While there are questions as to whether Upshaw is a true 10+ sack guy, he has the talent to excel in the Cardinals 3-4 defense.  The Cardinals also have serious needs along the offensive line, but Jonathan Martin and Mike Adams would not be good value here, unless the Cardinals decide to trade down. 

14. Dallas Cowboys: Mark Barron, Safety: Alabama:  

 The Cowboys have done a good job this offseason of upgrading a porous secondary by signing free agent CB Brandon Carr.  Selecting Barron will be another step in improving a pass defense that was torched in 2011.  Barron is a true playmaker and would be an instant upgrade over Gerald Sensabaugh at the free safety position.  The ‘Boys could also use some help in the pass rush department to upgrade over Anthony Spencer, but the value isn’t here at this spot.

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Dont’a Hightower: LB, Alabama:  

The linebacking corps was easily the biggest weakness for the Dream Team’s defense in 2011.  The Casey Mathews experiment failed horribly and the position needs upgrade badly.  While Hightower might not be ideal value here, he can step in at MLB from day one and improve the Eagles defense.  The loss of Jason Peters made tackle a huge need, but I’d imagine the Eagles will address this in free agency with either Marcus Mcneil or Demetrius Bell.  Another possibility would be SC CB Stephon Gilmore, with the impending release or trade of Asante Samuel.

16. New York Jets: Michael Floyd, WR: Notre Dame: 

With the recent addition of Tim Tebow, the Jets made it clear that they are not supremely confident with Mark Sanchez as their signal caller.  In Sanchez’s defense, the Jets are thin at WR.  Plaxico Burress proved to be slow and washed up after his stint in the bin, and Santonio Holmes isn’t a true #1.  The Jets really need an pass rusher but with the three best pass rushers off the board the value isn’t here.  With Mark Barron gone the Jets will look to add a go-to guy for whoever ends up being their starting QB next year.

17. Cincinnati Bengals: ‘Dre Kirkpatrick, CB: Alabama: 

The Bengals made a mistake last year by letting Jonathan Joseph leave via free agency.  After Leon Washington had a season ending injury they were paper thin at the position.  Kirkpatrick is a solid cover guy, in spite of some concerns that his ideal position is safety.  Even if he ends up having to move to safety, that’s also a position of need for the Bengals so it will be a solid pick either way.  They could also use some help along the offensive line, so Cordy Glenn could also be the pick here.

18. San Diego Chargers: Michael Brockers, DT: LSU 

After being a perennial contender the Chargers roster has been depleted and the team is in somewhat of a rebuild.  After cutting Marcus Mcneil and losing Vincent Jackson to free agency AJ smith needs to restock the cabinet.  After selecting Corey Liuget last year, AJ Smith will select the LSU DT to play the other DE position.  Brockers is big, athletic and can rush the passer. Other options here would be a WR like Kendall Wright or an offensive linemen.

19. Chicago Bears: Cordy Glenn, OT: Georgia

The Bears really need to improve an offensive line that got Jay Cutler killed the past two years.  Gabe Carimi should be healthy this year and step back in at right tackle.  Mike Tice is the new offensive coordinator in Chicago and as former NFL offensive lineman he’ll sure be running a ground and pound attack.  Glenn is a swing tackle who can also play guard.  This would enable the Bears to move Chris Williams inside to guard and would vastly improve one of the team’s biggest weaknesses.  Defensive back is also a big need so Stephon Gilmore could also be the pick.

20. Tennessee Titans: Stephon Gilmore, CB: South Carolina: 

After losing Cortland Finnegan to free agency, the Titans will look to add a playmaker to their secondary.  Gilmore is a big, physical corner who will fit their bump and run coverage scheme.  They could use an infusion of talent at WR so Baylor WR Kendall Wright is another option at this spot.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Kendall Wright, WR: Baylor:

 With the 1st round pick acquired from the Raiders in the Carson Palmer trade, the Bengals will add another playmaker for young QB Andy Dalton.  Wright didn’t run fast as expected at the Combine, but he plays much faster on tape.  He’ll be paired with stud AJ Green to give Andy Dalton a potent 1-2 punch at WR.  The bengals could also use an offensive guard, so David Decastro from Stanford would also be the pick here.

22. Cleveland Browns: David Decastro, G: Stanford: 

The Browns will look to beef up their offensive line to protect their new franchise running back.  Decastro is an aggressive mauler and will instantly upgrade the Browns o-line.  While they could really use a WR at this spot, I think rueben randle would be a slight reach and Stephen Hill might be too much of a project for the Browns liking.  They could also really use a pass rusher so Vinny Curry and Nick Perry would also be options here.

23. Detroit LionsJanoris Jenkins: CB, North Alabama:  

The Lions’ playoff loss to the Saints, where their secondary got utterly torched, was a glaring example of how they really need to upgrade their secondary.  Their best cover guy Eric Wright left via free agency and they absolutely have to add some talent at the position.  Jenkins is a mess off the field, getting kicked out of Florida and fathering 4 children by the ripe age of 22.  Still, talent overrides a lot and I think the Lions will take the talented cover guy. They could really use a tackle, but I think Mike Adams and Jonathan Martin would be reaches here.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kevin Zeitler, OG: Wisconsin:  

The Steelers offensive line has been the team’s weakness the past few seasons.  Aside from stud center Maurkice Pouncey, they lack elite players at the position.  It’s been a revolving door at tackle, with players like Flozel Adams and Jonathan Scott handling the duties the past few seasons.  While I think Cordy Glenn would be the Steelers dream, they’ll settle for the rough and tough interior Badger lineman.  I think if Dont’a Hightower were to fall he’d be a perfect replacement for James Farrior, but if not they’ll opt to reinforce the trenches.

25. Denver Broncos: Dontari Poe, DT: Memphis:

 With DT being a huge weakness going into last year’s draft, many including myself projected Elway to select Marcel Dareus with the team’s #3 overall pick.  They opted for Von Miller, who looks like he’s going to be one of the top 5 defensive players in the league for years to come.  This year, they’ll go with the boom or bust tackle from Memphis.  After his outstanding combine, many are starting to take a second look at Poe’s lackluster game tape, and he’s drawing comparisons to former busts Ryan Sims and Jimmy Kennedy. He had only 1 sack last year coming against Austin Peay, so he has certainly not lit it up against legitimate competition.  Still, I think the potential is too big to pass up on at this point.  I could also see elway pairing Demerius Thomas with fellow Yellow Jacket Stephen Hill to give Peyton another big target to throw to.

26. Houston Texans: Jonathan Martin, OT: Stanford: 

The Texans lost a lot of key players this year via free agency and trade.  RT Eric Winston was released and signed with the KC Chiefs.  The offensive line, which led the way for the league’s best rushing attack, needs to be replenished.  Martin is athletic and not your typical mauler, and he’s a perfect fit for the zone blocking scheme that Gary Kubiak runs.  He can replace Winston and give the Texans bookend tackles.  The Texans are also looking for a complement to Andre Johnson, so don’t rule out Stephen Hill or Rueben Randle.

27. New England Patriots: Vinny Curry, DE: Marshall: 

The Patriots started implementing more 4-3 defensive looks last year, and actually generated some pass rush with Mark Anderson and Andre Carter.  Anderson left via free agency and Andre Carter is coming off of a serious leg injury.  I know a lot of people project the Pats to take pass rushers every year, and they seldom do.  This year I think this will change.  They made some nice free agent additions with Robert Gallery, Stephen Gregory and a few WRs.  Curry is ideal size at 6’4” 265 and was productive all four years at Marshall.  He’d be a nice addition to a team that could use some impact pass rushers at the position.

28. Green Bay Packers: Whitney Mercilus, DE: Illinois:

 The Packers defense, which was one of the best in the league in 2010, really regressed last year.  Losing Cullen Jenkins proved to be pretty detrimental and teams double and tripled teamed Clay Mathews, as he was the only real threat off the edge.  While there are some ‘one year wonder’ concerns about Mercillus, he racked up 16 sacks playing in the big 10 last year and is explosive off the edge.  I also could see Ted Thompson adding another threat for #12 and selecting Stephen Hill, but ultimately I think he’ll go with a pass rusher.

29. Baltimore Ravens: Peter Konz, C: Wisconsin: 

The Ravens heartbreaking playoff loss to the Patriots made two things clear: they need to beef up their offensive line and they need to add a true #1 WR.  I am really torn on this pick, but with the 37 year old Matt Birk on his last legs and guard Ben Grubbs signing with New Orleans, I think Ozzie Newsome will opt to take a lineman with this pick.  Konz could come in and play guard this year and then take over at center when Birk hangs up the cleats for good.  Stephen Hill, Reuben Randle, Alshon Jeffrey and a pass rusher line Andre Branch could also be the pick here.

30. San Francisco 49’ers: Stephen Hill, WR: Georgia Tech:

 The 49’ers have one of the most talented rosters in the league, and do not have many glaring holes on the roster.  They could use another elite cover corner, but the value isn’t there at this point in the draft.  Many say that the signings of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham make receiver a low priority, but no one knows how much the 35 year old moss has left in the tank and Manningham is a #3.  Michael Crabtree is looking to be a top 10 bust and they still need a study #1 for the future.  Hill is raw, and did not have a ton of experience playing in Georgia Tech’s triple option offense.  Regardless, his upside is undeniable and I think the 49’ers would be wise to take a flier on him at this point.

31. New England Patriots: Jerel Worthy, DT: Michigan State: 

The Pats will add another explosive defensive lineman with this pick.  He would be an upgrade over Kyle love and would give the Pats some bulk and athleticism next to Vince Wilfork.  The Pats are always liable to trade down, so that shouldn’t be ruled out.  Depending on how confident they are with Shane Vareen, I could also see the Pats taking a running back like Doug Martin or Lamar Miller.

32. New York Giants: Andre Branch, DE: Clemson: 

The rich get richer as Jerry Reese goes back to the formula that has produced two Lombardi’s in the past five years: more pass rushers.  Osi is in his contract year and Justin Tuck showed serious signs of breaking down in the first half of last year.  Branch could come in as a rotational pass rusher and eventually succeed Tuck and take over the spot opposite JPP.  A lot of people have the Giants taking an outside linebacker like Zach Brown, but the Giants simply don’t invest premium picks on linebackers.  Colby Fleener is another name gaining some buzz, but the signing of Martellus Bennett and having Jake Ballard back next year makes this illogical.  I would also not be surprised to see a WR like Alshon Jeffrey or Reuben Randle, or possibly a DT like Penn State’s Devon Still.

Final Mock Draft (4/28)

April 28, 2011

As Tom Petty once said, the waiting is the hardest part.  Well, thankfully, the wait is over and draft day is upon us.  There is still some uncertainty about the #1 overall pick, and if the Panthers surprise us at it will undoubtedly shake things up.   I think there will most certainly be at least one trade, as a team in need of a QB will try and move up to get their franchise signal caller.  Here, to the best of my ability, is my idea of how the 1st round will pan out.

1. Carolina-Cam Newton:  Not a fan of “Jamarcus Newton,” but think this is where they’ll go.

2. Denver-Marcel Dareus: Von Miller/Patrick Peterson are just as likely, but Denver needs an interior presence and he would be one for sure

3. Buffalo-Von Miller:  Tremendous talent at an absolute area of need.  Pass rush was no existant last season.

4. Cinncinnatti-AJ Green: The more I think about it, the more I can see the Bengals taking Gabbert.  Everyone seems to think that Green is their guy though, and this is definitely a Mike Brown pick.

5. Arizona-Patrick Peterson-How things can change.  Arizona reportedly not interested in Gabbert, so I think they’ll go Patrick Peterson.  Paired with DRC, they’ll be arguably the best 1-2 tandem at Cb in the league.  Another option here is Richard Quinn.

6. Cleveland-Julio Jones-There are a number of ways the Browns could go here.  On value alone, Peterson is the obvious choice.  But the Browns spent the #7 pick last year on Joe Haden, so I don’t think they’ll do that.  Robert Quinn would also fill a huge void.  But Jones is a #1 WR which they don’t have, and he’ll make life easier for Colt McCoy.

7. San Francisco-Blaine Gabbert-Harbough will snatch up gabbert and make him the QB of the future.  Alex Smith can be the stop gap as Gabbert sits and learns the system.

8. Tennessee-Andy Dalton- I can’t believe this is true, but the hype seems to be that the Titans love and will end up selecting him # 8 overall.  I think DT is a much more pressing need, but we shall see.

9 Dallas Cowboys-Tyron Smith-This is another team that would love to get Peterson, but don’t see it happening.  If they don’t trade down, I think they’ll address the tackle position that is thin on talent.  Prince Amukamora is another option.

10 Washington Redskins-Jake Locker-The Redskins have much more pressing needs than QB, but Snyder loves the flashy pick and locker definitely fits the description.  OLB and DT/DE are also huge needs.

11 Houston Texans-Richard Quinn-This would be a great pick for Houston.  Though they are rumored to be looking to move up, Quinn would step in at the OLB position and help their pass rush.

12. Minnessota Vikings-Aldon Smith-  I changed my mind, and I don’t think Speilman reaches for a quarterback.  Instead, he’ll opt to add a premiere pass rusher to eventually replace Ray Edwards.

13. Detroit Lions-Prince Amukamara- I initially had the Lions taking Constanzo, but I decided against it because I just can’t see them passing on Amukamara.  CB is just as big a need and Amukamara is much better value than Costanzo.

14. St. Louis Rams-Corey Liguet- The Rams really need some help at DT and liuget is a monster.  They could also really use a WR, but without a trade the value won’t be there.

15. Miami Dolphins-Mike Pouncey-The Dolphins O-line needs help and Pouncey would provide it.  Miami could also use a Qb or a Rb, so Ingram is a possiblity here.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars-Ryan Kerrigan-  Kerrigan to the Jags is picking up steam.  He’s a max effort guy and they seem to value character.  They could also use a DB, but I think Jimmy Smith’s character concerns will push them off many draft boards.

17. New England Patriots-Cameron Jordan-They need a 3-4 D end, and he is a good one.  They are supposedly looking to trade up, possibly for Patrick Peterson or Robert Quinn, but I smell a smokescreen.

18. San Diego Chargers-JJ Watt-The Chargers need help along the defensive line and Watt is a beast. 

19. New York Giants-Anthony Costanzo-  The Giants need eventual replacements for Kareem Mckenzie and David Diehl, and Constanzo could be a piece to the puzzle.  The Giants love defensive lineman, and DT is a need.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Adrian Clayborn-The Bucs really need a Defensive end, and though there are health concerns with this guy, he was a dominant force at Iowa.

21. Kansas City-Gabe Carmini-The Chiefs really need help along the offensive line.  They could also use a linebacker or WR, but this is priority numero uno in my opinion.

22. Indianapolis Colts-Nate Solder -The Colts O-line is terrible, and Bill Polin admitted he made a mistake in taking jerry hughes over roger saffold last year.  Solder could eventually supplant Charles Johnson and take over the LT position

23. Philadelphia Eagles-Jimmy Smith-CB is a huge need for the Eagles, and while he’s marred with off the field concerns Smith is a top 10 talent.  They also need help along the offensive line so that’s another possibility.

24. New Orleans Saints-Mark Ingram-the long term futures of Pierre thomas and reggie bush are uncertain, and the Saints have been reported to like Ingram.  They also really need an outside linebacker or De, but I don’t see the value here.

25. Seattle Seahawks-Muhammad Wilkerson-I can see Seattle taking the Temple DT.  They need help on the interior D line.  QB, CB and DE are also options here.

26. Baltimore Ravens-Da’Qwan Bowers- I’m very reluctant to make this pick, given the fact that they were burned by Sergio Kindle last year, but Bowers here is a phenomenal value at a position of need.  Aaron williams is also a possiblity.

27. Atlanta Falcons-Kyle Rudolph-There are reports the Falcons could try and trade up for AJ Green or Julio Jones, but I think they’ll stay put and take the TE from Notre Dame. 

28. New England Patriots-Akeem Ayers-The Pats add a pass rushing threat here and continue to improve their young defense.

29. Chicago Bears-Jon Baldwin-Really do believe that the Bears will add the boom or bust Baldwin here to give Cutler a true #1.

30. New York Jets-Phil Taylor-Kris Jenkins is done and the Jets need a 3-4 NT.  Taylor again might be a reach but he’s got the talent to excell.

31. Pittsburgh Steelers-Aaron Williams-There are reports that Tomlin wants to trade up and grab Pouncey, but I don’t see it happening.  Instead, they’ll sure up their weakest position, CB.

32. Green Bay Packers-Danny Watkins-high character, hard working guy fits the Packers very well.

2011 Mock Draft Version 1

January 30, 2011

2011 NFL MOCK DRAFT: VERSION 1 (Updated 4/7/2011)

The draft is now only 4 weeks away and a lot of things are clearer at this point.  With no end in sight to the lockout, this will be the first draft that hasn’t been preceded by a period of free agency.  Todd McCshay made an interesting point on this front; now that teams haven’t been able to fill needs via this route, maybe we’ll see more teams go best player available and not just “draft to fill a need.” Regardless, here is my take on how the first 32 picks will turn out.

1: Carolina Panthers :  Cam Newton: QB, Auburn -The more I read the more I firmly believe that the Panthers will take a  huge gamble and select Newton on April 28.  Owner Jerry Richardson will see the controversial signal caller as a big ticket item that will bring fans into the stadium.  The jury is still out on Jimmy Clausen, and while he was terrible last season, I think that it’s very unfair to judge a qb, muchless a rookie, on a year’s work with that piss-poor supporting cast.  Nonetheless, Newton’s unlimited upside is undeniable, but I think that his lack of maturity and off the field issues make him a huge bust canidate. Rumor has it that aside from Newton the Panthers like AJ Green and Patrick Peterson, so those would be my choices if they pass on Newton.                                             

  2. Denver Broncos:  Marcel Dareus: DT, Alabama: The Broncos are switching back to a 4-3 under John Fox and Dareus could be the anchor of a 4-3 defense for years to come.  While lacking Fairley’s pass rushing ability, Dareus is versatle, hard working and a much safer pick.  I still believe that Patrick Peterson is a great option for any team, and DE Richard Quinn is sky rocketing up draft boards with the amazing private workout he put on for scouts. 

3. Von Miller, OLB: Texas A&M:    I really believe that the Bills would love to have AJ Green, but the Bills are completely devoid of talent on defense in their front 7.  Aaron Maybin is in danger of being cut and is looking like a bona fide bust as a top 15 pick, Paul Posluzny can’t stay on the field, and Kyle Williams is about the only bright spot along the front 7.  Miller is opening eyes in Mobile and all signs point toward him being a top 5 pick.  He can be the pass rush force that the Bills really need.

Cincinnatti Bengals:  AJ Green, WR: Georgia

The TOCho experiment seems to be over, and the Bengals need to restock the cupboard.  Jerome Simpson showed some serious promise and they also have talent with Andre Caldwell and Jordan Shipley, but AJ Green is a prospect in the mould of Andre/Calvin Johnson.  They could also use help along both D and O lines, and at Qb, but I don’t see value here.  I think Green is the pick if he’s available.

5. Arizona Cardinals:  Richard Quinn, DE/OLB, UNC . The Cardinals defense was atrocious last year and they need to bring in a  pass rusher.  Quinn was suspended for the entire 2010 season, so there are certainly some red flags but his talent is undeniable.  They have no talent at outside linebacker and no one that can get to the passer.  Other possiblities here are Blaine Gabbert and Patrick Peterson

Cleveland Browns:  Nick Fairley: DT, Auburn Fairley is an immense talent but is your classic ‘boom or bust’ pick at the defensive tackle position.  He’s got some mild character concerns, takes some plays off and was somewhat of a one year wonder but the immense upside and pass rushing ability are undeniable.  As the Browns transition to the 4-3 defenese he can be the gap penetrating force in the middle that all good 4-3 defenses need.  Juilo Jones and Patrick Peterson are also possibilities.                                                    

7.  San Francisco 49’ers:  Patrick Peterson: CB, LSU this would have to be a dream scenario for 49’ers brass and fans alike.  I love Peterson and like many think he’s the best player in this draft.  Your classic shutdown corner, he’s big athletic and fast.  The 49’ers really need help in the back end of their defense so this is an ideal fit for them.  QB is a glaring need, some Blaine Gabbert is a strong possiblity as well, but I think they would be wise to go with the Tiger here.   


8. Tennessee Titans:  Blaine Gabbert: QB, Mizzou I’m really not a big fan of Gabbert by any stretch but the Titans need help at the QB position bad.  Kerry Collins is a dinasour and VY has played his last day in a Titans uniform.  Gabbert has physical tools and upside and if the Titans bring in a veteran they can ease Gabbert into the role.  The Titans could use another pass rusher so Aldon Smith is a possiblity.                           

9. Dallas Cowboys:  Prince Amukamara: CB, Nebraska  The Cowboys secondary was sub par last season and they could certainly use another playmaker back in the defense.  While safety is a much bigger need, Amukamara will help the defense tremendously.  I think they may try hard to trade out of the spot, but if not they could also take an offensive lineman or JJ Watt from Wisconsin.

                                           10. Washington Redskins:  Julio Jones: WR, Alabama-The Redskins are a mess yet again, as their defense is terrible and Donovan Mcnabb experiment failed big time.  They are also devoid of talent at WR, as Santana Moss is a free agent and Malcom Kelly is a bust.  Jones would be a great fit as he would be groomed to be the #1 WR of the future.  They also really need help on the defensive line so don’t rule out Muhammad Wilkerson.

11. Houston Texans, JJ Watt: DE, Wisconsin, With Wade Phillips coming in, the Texans face the challenge of switching to a 3-4 defense.  Watt is your classic 3 technique, and he is strong powerful and athletic.  The Texans also need some help in the secondary and along the offensive line.                   

12. Minnesota Vikings:  Da’Quan Bowers, DE: Clemson The news about Bowers’ knee is very bad, and if he has to get microfracture surgery he’ll undoubtedly plummet further.  He’s a very talented player and with Ray Edwards becoming a free agent they’ll need to groom his sucessor.  Bowers didn’t run as fast as expected but he players quicker than his 40 would indicate.  Given his injury i’m very uncertain with this pick. QB and another, safer defensive end are strong possiblities.  

13.  Detroit Lions:  Antony Costonzo, OT: Boston College

  There’s nothing that I feel more passionate about in the 2011 draft than the fact that the Lions MUST draft an offensive tackle or a defensive back with their first round pick.  The Lions have progressed the past couple of years and I love the direction that the franchise is going in, but they need to protect Stafford and figure out how to stop opposing passing attacks.  The value at defensive back just isn’t here at 13, and Costonzo can be the heir apparent to Jeff Backus.  Linebacker and defensive end are also possibilities. 

14. St. Louis Rams:  Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois The Rams made strides but still have a roster that is very thin on talent.  They have their bookend tackles in Jason Smith and Safford now they need weapons for Sam the Ram.   With Jones off the board they’ll look to improve their defense that needs help up the middle.  Liuget is a beast and would instantly help improve their run defense.  CB, WR and OLB are also options. 

                                         15. Miami Dolphins: Mike Pouncey: OG/C, Florida The Dolphins regressed in 2010 and a lot of it had to do with their inability to establish a ground game.  They need to improve the interior of their line and Pouncey would certainly do that.  He provides versatility and while he’s not the prospect his brother was he’ll be an instant upgrade. QB and RB are also options. 

 16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jimmy Smith, CB: Colorado -The Jags made some serious strides in 2010 on both offense and defense.  Laughed at by many of draft day, last year’s first round pick Tyson Alualu had a very nice rookie season.  The Jags have little talent in the secondary outside of Rasheen Mathis, and while safety is a far more pressing need the value isn’t there at 16.  Smith has some off the field red flags and is known to take plays off, but the size speed combo is about as good as you could ask.  A defensive end and even running back are possibilities here.



17. New England Patriots (from Oak):  Nate Solder, OT: Colorado- I’ve said it time and time again, its a rarity that anyone can ever predict New Englands pick correctly.  They’ll most likely trade down, but if they don’t I think they’d be wise to go offensive tackle.  Matt Light is nearing the end of his career and there is no successor in place.  Solder is raw and new to the position but incredibly athletic and strong.  Pairing him with Volmer would give the Pats bookend tackles for the next 8 years.  


18. San Diego Chargers:  Tyron Smith, OT: USC -It’s amazing how well Rivers played with their sub-par offensive line.  Marcus McNeal sat out a good portion of the year because of a contract dispute and the rest of the line was mediocre at best.  Smith is raw but also very, very athletic.  The Chargers could also use some help on their defensive line and a WR is also not out of the realm of possiblity.  

19. New York Giants:  Aldon Smith, DE: Missouri-Defensive end is far from a need for the Giants, but I believe that top to bottom they have enough talent on the roster to go best player available.  Smith is similar to Jason Pierre Paul in that he is somewhat raw but has HUGE upside.  Kiwanuka has been injury prone and contract is expired and Osi is nearing the end of his contract as well.  Jerry Reese has shown time and time again that there is no such thing as too many defensive lineman.  Other areas of need are linebacker, cornerback and offensive guard.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers:  Adrian Clayborn, DE: Iowa- The Bucs made the most impressive turnaround of any team in 2010.  With 10 rookies starting, they won 10 games and nearly made the playoffs.  Clayborn has some health and durability issues but he is a very solid defensive end ina 4-3 scheme.  The Bucs also need help in the secondary, especially with Aqib Talib’s recent legal transgressions, so Brandon Harris is an option here.

21. Kansas City Chiefs: Gabe Carmini, OT: Wisconsin -The Chiefs are another team that improved markedly in 2010.  Matt Cassel had a breakout year and they proved they have one of the best young running backs in the game in Jamaal Charles.  Now, it’s time to improve the line that blocks for both these young stars.  Carmini can immediately step in at right tackle and upgrade their line.  Outside linebacker and receiver are other options, but I just don’t see the value at this point.

22. Indianapolis Colts:  Brandon Harris, CB: Miami- The Colts have holes on many parts of their roster; their offensive line is porous, their defensive is soft and their back end is susceptible to getting shreaded.  Harris isn’t an elite talent but he would be a starter from day one on that defense.  The Colts should probably go offensive line, but if the draft unfolds this way I don’t see the value available at this spot. 


23. Philadelphia Eagles:  Akeem Ayers, OLB: UCLA-The Eagles defense was surprisingly bad in 2010.  They fired Sean Mcdermitt and will surely look to turn the defense around in 2011.  Ayers could come in and compete for the SAM backer position and start opposite Ernie Simms.  The Eagles are another team that could use a corner or lineman, but this isn’t the spot in the draft to target those particular positions.  

24. New Orleans Saints:  Stephen Paea, DT: Oregon State-The Saints rush defense was ranked 16th in the NFL last season and could certainly improve.  Former first round pick Sedrick Ellis is rounding into a very good player, and Paea could be paired with him to form one of the younger, better DT tandems in the league.  The Saints could also use a defensive end or an outside linebacker.  


25. Seattle Seahawks:  Jake Locker, QB: Washington:  One of Pete Carrol’s first moves as coach of the Seahawks was trading for Charlie Whitehurst.  While it’s far too early to cast any sort of judgment on Whitehurst, QB is still a position of need.  Locker, in my opinion, is a huge boom or bust canidate, and from what I’ve see, watched and read he reminds me a little bit too much of Alex Smith. Regardless, his upside is through the roof.  Other options for Seattle would be defensive end and running back.

26. Baltimore Ravens: Jon Baldwin, WR: Pitt-I struggled with this one.  I think Ozzie Newsome is one of the better talent evaluators in the league and I believe that Baldwin has huge bust potential.  Nonetheless, the Ravens pass offense was ranked 20th last season, and they need to get some weapons for Flacco.  Boldin is probably the best possesion receiver in the league, but Mason and Housh are old and they have no one to stretch the field.  The could also use a cornerback or a 3-4 defensive end like Cameron Heywerd.

27. Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Rudolph: TE, Notre Dame-The playoff loss to the Packers proved that the Falcons need both pass rushers and more weapons for Matt Ryan.  AT this point, all of the elite pass rushers are off the board so I have them taking the heir apparent to Tony Gonzaelz.  I’ve heard people compare Rudolph to Steeler’s tight end Health Miller.  Not a burner, but an all around good tight end. The Falcons could also go defensive end, defensive tackle or defensive back here.                                                  

28. New England Patriots:  Cameron Heywerd, DE: Ohio State-The Patriots young defense made big improvements in 2010, thanks largely to a rookie class that included standout corner Devin Mccourtey and inside linebacker Brandon Spikes.  They can add another piece to the defense if they select Heywerd, a classic 3 technique tackle in a 3-4 defense.  The Pats could use an outside linebacker, so Justin Houston could be an option here.

29. Chicago Bears, Derek Sherrod: OT, Mississippi St. -The Bears made it all the way to the NFC title game in spite of having one of the worst lines in the league that routinely got their QB killed .  Sherrod could step in at Right tackle and immediately replace J’Marcus Webb and upgrade their line.  With the release of Tommie Harris, they could use a defensive tackle and also need an infusion of youth and talent in the secondary.  

30.  New York Jets, Mark Ingram, RB: Alabama-Ladanian Tomlinson had a surprisingly great start to the 2010 season, but he wore down as the season ended.  Add to that the fact that Shonne Green had a disappointing sophomore campaign, and I could certainly see the Jets taking the Crimson tide running back.  They have a great offensive line, one of the best in the league, so it the Ingram pick would make sense.  They could also use a nose tackle or an outside linebacker.   

31.   Pittsburgh Steelers:  Cameron Jordan, DE: Cal- The Steelers made it to the superbowl with Flozell Adams and Jake Scott starting at offensive tackle.  That alone should be worth something.  With that be said, I think they need help along the offensive line more than any team in the league.  But the Steelers are too smart to reach simply to fill a need, and Jordan is too talented to pass up here.  Brett Keisel and Aaron Smith both have logged in double digit seasons in the NFL, so they could use some more youth at the position.  Jordan is ideal to be a 5 technique tackle in a 3-4, and he can learn under the two veterans before starting.  The Steelers could reach from someone like Baylor OG Danny Watkins, but it’s really not their style.

32. Green Bay Packers, Ryan Kerrigan: DE, Purdue-The Packers are another team that notriously does well with the draft.  If they can select Kerrigan here and start him opposite Clay Mathews they will be very happy.  Kerrigan played defensive end in a 4-3 in college but he’s athletic and smart enough to make the transition to the 3-4 OLB.  The Pack could use a 3-4 defensive end, a running back and even a receiver.

AFC West Offseason Review/Draft Preview

April 21, 2010

Oakland Raiders:  D+

The Raiders suffered through another painfully mediocre season, finishing 5-11, although they did manage to come on strong when Bruce Gradwoski took over under center.   Working on the heels of another head-scratchingly bad draft, with such stellar selections as Darius Heyward-Bey in the first and Ohio safety Michael Mitchell in the 2nd round, Al Davis continues to run this franchise into the ground with his awful selections and terrible allocation of financial resources.  Nnamdi Ashomgua’s hefty two year contract is set to expire, which includes a clause that prevents the Silver & Black from applying the franchise tag.  What this equates to is the Raiders either having to let him walk and receiving nothing in return or having to part with him via trade for what is sure to be far less than fair market value.  Draft and free agent personnel decisions such as these are proof of the fact that Al Davis either needs to step aside or die in order for this franchise to return to its former prominence.  There were almost no notable acquisitions this off-season, save the re-signing of defensive end Richard Seymour and maybe the trade for Browns linebacker Kameron Wimbley.

On the offensive side of the ball the Raiders will enter 2010 with huge concerns at both offensive line and quarterback.  Jamarcus Russell has cemented his place in football history as one of the top 5 biggest draft busts of all time and Gradowski is best served holding a clipboard.  Kyle Boller was signed recently but he’s shown in Baltimore and St. Louis that he doesn’t belong in the NFL.  Their offensive line is one of the worst in the league and they really need to bring in a left tackle to protect whoever is taking snaps next season.   While DHB appears to be a bust they actually do have some promise in terms of playmakers in the passing game.  Louis Murphy, a 5th round pick out of Florida, played well given the circumstances and Zach Miller has emerged as one of the better young tight ends in the league.  That aside, the Raiders are looking at another bad season and I don’t think salvation is on the horizon.

Draft Needs

The Raiders are a team with a number of glaring needs, but offensive line and quarterback are the two most pressing ones.  If Jimmy Clausen were to fall to the #8 pick I believe that they would be smart to select him.  One thing you can’t fault Raider Nation for is their dedication, and a Jamarcus Russell purging would be a much-needed act of good faith on the part of Al Davis.  Clausen doesn’t embody the classic Raider quarterback in terms of his ability to fling it downfield, but he’s got the sort of swagger that the Raiders would like.  If Clausen is gone, they can look to one of the many talented left tackles that will be available at that spot.  Trent Williams, Bryan Bulaga and even Anthony Davis would be options at this spot.  In the 2nd round they should look to draft a CB, as Ashomgua is as good as gone.  Kareem Jackson, Devin Mccourty and Patrick Robinson would be good options at this point.  In the latter rounds, l would like to see the Raiders take a defensive tackle to pair with Tommy Kelly and a middle linebacker to replace Kirk Morrison as he’s expected to be traded.

AFC East off season report card/Draft preview part 2

April 18, 2010

Miami Dolphins:  A

Bill Parcells once again reminded the world that he is far and away the best personnel mind in the NFL.   Over the course of his short tenure in Miami he has drafted exceptionally well, bringing in the likes of Jake Long, Chad Henne and Vonte Davis and also  key free agents such as former CFL standout Cameron Wake.  This off-season was no exception as he has Miami looking like a serious contender in the AFC East.  The most notable move Parcells made was the recent trade for disgruntled Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall for a 2nd round pick this year and a conditional 2nd next year.  This savvy move has my vote for roster upgrade of the off-season.   Henne looks like he is going to be a very, very good quarterback but last season made it apparent that he needed some weapons.  Marshall is bona fide #1, game changing receiver who will be an immediate and substantial upgrade to their passing game.   Along side Davone Bess and Greg Camarillo in the slot Henne will have a fully stocked cabinet.  Richie Incognito was brought in on a one year deal which will help give them depth on the offensive line.

Defensively, the Dolphins made a splash by bringing in MLB Karlos Dansby from Arizona.  Dansby is a premiere talent at the position and they really needed an infusion of talent at the linebacking position.  The re-signing of NT Jason Ferguson to a one year deal was key as he will occupy blockers to free up the rushing lanes for the teams much improved linebacking corps.  Some notable departures were Gibril Wilson, who to date has been the Tunas only real miss in the free agent department.  Joey Porter, who had clearly worn out his welcome, signed with Arizona.

Draft Needs

The Brandon Marshall acquisition addressed the Dolphins only real need on the offensive side of the ball, so I would expect them to focus on defense in this years draft.  In the first round I believe Parcells will select Longhorn safety Earl Thomas, as safety is a glaring at the moment.  As I mentioned, Gibril Wilson left town and former first round pick Jason Allen has been a major bust.  Thomas would step in and be the free-roaming center field type safety that they need.  Another way that they could go with the #12 pick is nose tackle, as Jason Ferguson will likely call it a career after the 2010 campaign.  Dan Williams out of Tennessee would be a nice fit here as he has the bulk to play the 3-4 NT position.  Terrence Cody is an outside possibility here but questions about his work ethic and concerns of him eating his way out of the league will likely keep teams from taking him this high.  In the third round I would like to see the Phins take a take end, possibly local product and athletic freak Jimmy Graham from the U.  Dennis Pitta out of BYU and Aaron Hernandez would also be intriguing choices at that point in the draft.  In rounds four and beyond I would expect Parcells to try to add some depth at the outside linebacking position.  A guy who I would love to see at this point would be Ole Miss DE Greg Hardy.  There are questions about his intangibles but he’d be a great fit in the 3-4 scheme and would really provide them with great depth.  In the final rounds I would expect the Dolphins to try to add a running back, as Ronnie Brown is nearing free agency and Ricky Williams is expected to hang up the cleats after this season.

Buffalo Bills:  D-  

If there’s one thing that’s saving Al Davis and the Raiders from being the most poorly run franchise in the NFL it’s Ralph Wilson and the Buffalo Bills.  As the rest of the AFC east gets stronger and stronger the Bills somehow managed to regress again this off-season.  From an administrative standpoint the hiring of 70-year-old GM Buddy Nix and NFL retread Chan Gailey as the head coach were two head scratching moves.  In my estimation, the Bills should have targeted a young, up and coming talent evaluator, similar to what the Falcons did with Thomas Dmitroff.  From a roster standpoint, the Bills did little to nothing to improve a very mediocre 2009 team.  The only real noteworthy signing was that of defensive end Dwan Edwards, who will fit in well in the transition to the 3-4 defense.  Outside of Edwards, the Bills really did nothing.  Chad Jackson? Really?  From a schematic standpoint I also really do not like the transition to the 3-4 defense.  Former defensive coordinator Perry Fewell had implemented an effective 4-3 scheme and the Bills’ defense was actually pretty decent last year.  They certainly didn’t overhaul the roster to accommodate the scheme change and I think it will be a tough transition and another below average season for the Bills.

Draft Needs:

I believe that the Bills would have to be nuts to pass on Jimmy Clausen if he were to fall to the #9 pick.  Granted, they really woofed it last year by passing on Michael Ohere, and they need a good left tackle desperately, but this franchise needs a blue chip signal caller in the worst way.  It would give their fan base even the smallest bit of hope and would help fill Ralph Wilson stadium.  There are rumblings that their front office prefers Tebow over Clausen, and if this isn’t a smoke screen I think they would be absolutely insane to take Tebow at this spot.  He’s a project and he’s got average arm strength, which could be disastrous in the windy conditions that they play in.  In round two I think they will try to target an offensive lineman.  Roger Saffold out of Indiana or Charles Brown from USC would both be great picks.  In the middle rounds I think that the Bills will add a receiver, possibly Damian Williams from USC or Taylor Price from Ohio.  They also could use some help along the defensive line, so Cam Thomas from UNC would be a good selection in the 3rd or 4th round.

AFC East Offseason Report Card/Draft Needs by Team

April 17, 2010

As the draft rapidly approaches I’ve decided to take a look at how teams have fared up to this point in terms of off season acquisitions and departures.  I decided to examine the AFC East first as I believe that this division has seen the biggest personnel shakeup that will undoubtedly affect things in 2010.   Moreover, based on the moves that teams made I’ll also give my two cents as to what each team should be targeting in next week’s draft extravaganza.

New York Jets:  A- 

As an unabashed Gang Green detractor it pains me to admit that Mike Tanenbaum and Rex Ryan have had a stellar off season.  The trade that netted cornerback Antonio Cromartie for a third round pick will give the Jets a formidable duo at the position and will also help greatly in the kick return game.  Cromartie has regressed since his spectacular rookie season and certainly comes with his fair share of baggage but it’s unlikely that the Jets would have been able to get that kind of talent with a third round pick.   Without a doubt the best move made by the Jets’ brass was the acquisition of troubled Steeler’s WR and former Superbowl MVP Santonio Holmes for a 5th round pick.  Holmes is in his contract season and certainly does not have his head straight on his shoulders but he’s a phenomenal talent at a position that the Jets were in dire need of upgrading.  If Braylon Edwards can return to his 07 form the Jets will have one of the best trio of WR’s in 2010 with Edwards, Cotchery and Holmes.  The only move that I’m critical of is the signing of Ladanian Tomlinson. While San Diego’s line was certainly patchwork last season it became glaringly apparent that Tomlinson was finished.  He had a putrid yards per carry average and lacked the burst that football fans had become so familiar with in his heyday.  Regardless, Shonne Green will likely see the majority of the carries and perhaps Tomlinson will thrive in the reduced role.  Finally, Kerry Rhodes’ departure to Arizona is a classic example of addition by subtraction, as he had clearly fallen out of favor with the  powers that be in New York on top of the drastic regression in his level of play.  Brodney Pool, who signed from Cleveland, should prove to be an upgrade at the position.

Draft needs:  There are several positions of need that the Jets will most likely look to address.  First and foremost, the Jets must look to add an impact edge rusher.  Terrell Suggs was an integral part of Rex Ryan’s vaunted Baltimore defense and there’s no doubt he’ll hope to add that piece to his current squad.  With the 29th pick it’s unlikely that Sergio Kindle will be on the board, but Clemson’s Ricky Sapp and TCU’s Jerry Hughes could be viable options.  In round two I would expect the Jets to try and add a piece to their defensive line, which is a weakness save Shaun Ellis and Kris Jenkins.   Jenkins has been a monster in the Nose Tackle position but has worn down in the latter portion of both of his two seasons in New York.   Cam Thomas out of North Carolina and Brian Price from UCLA are defensive tackles who could make the move to 3-4 defensive end at the pro level.   Ideally, I think that the Jets would love to be able to select Terrence Cody out of Alabama, who has the prototypical size of a 3-4 nose tackle, but that would likely require a trade up into the middle portion of round two.  In rounds 4-7 I believe the Jets will try and add depth at safety and potentially add another running back as it appears that Leon Washington is on the outs.

New England Patriots:  C-

The Patriots had one of the most quiet off seasons in the league after a ’09 campaign that ended in disastrous fashion with the home playoff loss to Baltimore.  The defensive unit, which for so long has thrived up Belichick’s tutelage, regressed greatly and is in need of serious revamping personnel wise.  Defensive coordinator Dean Peas was fired and Belichick will go back to calling the shots, which should help.  In terms of in house solutions I really liked the Leigh Bodden re-signing.  He’s been an under the radar talent at the cornerback since his days in Cleveland and he was undoubtedly the Pats best CB last season.  OLB Tully Banta-Cain was also re-signed, and he was one of the only productive players at the position save Jerod Mayo.  While his numbers certainly reflect the fact that he fits in the system, I believe that the Pats really need to focus on acquiring more athletic 3-4 edge rushers.   They generated little to no pressure on opposing quarterbacks last season and they’ll need to add talented players at the linebacker position.  On the defensive line, New England needs former BC standout Ron Brace to step up in a big way in 2010.  The departure of Richard Seymour was a contributing factor in the defense taking a step back.   If Brace progresses next season, the Pats will have a very good front 3 with Wilfork and Mike Wright.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Pats suddenly have some question marks regarding their weapons in the passing game.  Randy Moss is a year older and in the final year of his contract, and many wonder whether or not this will be the season in which we’ll see him start to decline physically.  Wes Welker is coming off of ACL surgery and will miss a good portion of the 2010 season.  Other than Julian Edelmann there are not many promising in-house fill ins.  Sam Aiken was re-signed, but he’s a #4 at best.  In my opinion, the Pats should have looked at one of the free agent options that were on the market.  Nate Burleson, Antonio Bryant and the like would have been solid fits.  At the tight end position, Ben Watson signed with the Browns and the only successor at this point appears to be the aging, enlarged Algee Crumpler.  They’ll need to address this position in the draft.

Draft Needs: The Pats picked a good year to accumulate a ton of draft picks as they have needs at several positions in what looks to be one of the deepest drafts in recent memory.  First and foremost, they need to add a premiere talent at the outside linebacker position.   In a perfect world Sergio Kindle would  fall to them and the Pats’ brass would spring to the podium to announce the pick.  I do not see him falling to #23, that being said, the Pats would be wise to use the dearth of picks they have to move up and get this guy.  Tight end and Wide Receiver are two other positions that should be addressed early.   Demaryius Thomas out of Georgia Tech would be a great option if he were to slip to the 2nd round.  He’s a physical specimen and could be groomed to eventually replace Randy Moss as the team’s #1 target.  While I love Golden Tate, he’s in the Wes Welker/Julian Edellman mold which is not what the Pats are lacking.  At the tight end position, Rob Gronkowski out of Arizona and Aaron Hernandez out of Florida would be fantastic fits who could come in and start from day one.

My 2010 1st Round NFL Mock Draft Version 1

January 25, 2010

We’re officially one week away from the draft, can you feel the excitement?  I haven’t updated this thing since January and I figured what better time than now.

1. St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford:  QB, Oklahoma
After an exceptionally strong pro day I’m with the majority of draftniks in the belief that the Rams will select the Sooner signal caller.  Billy Devaney has purged the team of the dreadful QB tandem of Boller and Bulger and appears to be ushering in a new era in St. Louis.  While Suh is widely regarded as the best prospect in the draft, the Rams offense was horrendous last year and they desperately need to add a signal caller.  Bradford added bulk to his frame and seemed to answer questions about both his shoulder durability and arm strength.  The Rams have the making of a good offensive line and in a draft class deep at both DT and CB they can address their needs on defensive in rounds 2 and 3.

2. Detroit Lions: Ndamukong Suh: DT, Nebraska If the Rams do take a QB, the Lions will be ecstatic as it will enable them to select the beastly Cornhusker defensive tackle. The Lions defense was horrendous last year and a lot of that can be attributed to the absence of any sort of capable pass rushers in the front 4. Suh demonstrated his ability to get to the passer with his 4 sack performance against Colt Mccoy and he can what Albert Hayensworth was for Jim Schwartz when he was the defensive coordinator for the Titans. The Lions also need a lot of help on the offensive line, as Jeff Backus is aging and mediocre at best. Oklahoma State OT Russel Okung would be the logical selection if they decided to go that route, but he would be a reach at that position. Smart money has them taking a defensive tackle at this spot.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Gerrald Mccoy: DT, Oklahoma
The Buccaneers regressed this season and a lot of that had to do with a defense that lacked talent at all levels. The defensive line is completely devoid of talent which prevents the Bucs from being able to get pressure which is essential in the cover 2 scheme. Mccoy was a beast at Oklahoma and would immediately help to improve the Buc’s D. They saw firsthand what a stud DT can do for a defense as future Hall of Famer Warren Sapp was the heart and soil of their D that won the Superbowl against the Raiders. Eric Berry is a possibility here, as he would pair up with Tanard Jackson to make one of the best duos of safeties in the league.

4. Washington Redskins: Russel Okung: OT, Oklahoma State
It could be argued that the Redskins had the worst offensive line in the league last year. It looks as though all pro tackle Chris Samuels may have reached the end of the road in his NFL career, and Stephon Heyer was nothing short of a train wreck as a replacement. While I’ve had my serious doubts about Snyder’s ability to resist drafting a QB here, the recent rumblings of the uncertainty of the structural stability of Sam Bradford’s shoulder reaffirm my conviction in the OL pick.  Hopefully, for the sake of their franchise, the new Bruce Allen/Mike Shanahan brain trust are allowed to do their jobs without Synders interference and address the offensive line.

5. Kansas City Chiefs: Bryan Bulaga,
There’s no denying that the Chiefs need to upgrade their offensive line.  Matt Cassell was given $70 million and got absolutely killed last year.  Bulaga, opposite Brandon Albert, would be a bookend tackle that would help keep Cassell upright and hopefully help the Chief’s anemic offense.  Releasing Bernard Pollard proved to be a terrible decision last year so Eric Berry is definitely another option here, though Pioli supposedly dislikes taking safeties this early.

6. Seattle Seahawks: Dez Bryant: WR, Oklahoma State
While Bryant has been slipping down draft boards due to supposed character concerns I believe that Pete Carrol realizes the need to add playmakers to the ‘Hawks’ offense.  John Carlson is an up and coming tight end but outside of him they don’t have much ammo in the passing game.  Houshmanzada is a possession receiver on the downside of his career and Deon Branch is constantly injured and a non-factor when he’s on the field.  QB and offensive line are other glaring needs but the acquisition of Charlie Whitehurst may be the answer the former and the latter concern can be addressed at pick 14.  I also wouldn’t be shocked to see CJ Spiller come off the board here as he could be what Reggie Bush was for Pete Carrol at USC.

7. Cleveland Browns:Eric Berry:  FS, Tennessee I’m of the strong believe that this will be the direction Holmgren and co. will go if he’s not off the board by now.  Brodney Pool signed with the Jets and the Browns are completely devoid of playmakers in the secondary outside of Eric Wright.  Abraham Elam is a carry over from the Magini regime in New York but he is above average at best and Berry would be a significant upgrade.   Magini is defense first and Berry is an Ed-Reed type safety who could lead that unit for the next decade.  QB is an obvious issue but Holmgren seems to have addressed that with the head-scratching signings of Senecca Wallace and Jake Delhomme.  There are holes at virtually every other position on defense so Rolando Mcclain, Derreck Morgan and Joe Haden are also possibilities.

8. Oakland Raiders: Jimmy Clausen, QB: Notre Dame I need to preface this pick by saying that I essentially took this idea from Mel Kiper.  Listening to him discuss his most recent rankings he brought up an interesting point in that Clausen embodies the Raider mentality; unjustified swagger and cockiness.  It’s clear that Jamarcus is a bust of epic proportions and Bruce Gradkowski should be starting in the UFL.  The Clausen  pick would surely win over the idiots in Raider nation and he would provide a spark for a fan base that has been justifiably angry over its team’s recent draft efforts.  The far more glaring need is offensive tackle, but as we know Al Davis rarely relies on need/common sense.

9. Buffalo Bills: Trent Williams: OT, Oklahoma After trading away Jason Peters last season the Bills made a grave mistake in passing up on Michael Oher in favor of Aaron Maybin. The results were not good; the offensive line was a disaster and it is clear that this is the team’s most pressing need. Williams would be an immediate upgrade over the scrubs that they trotted out at the position last season. Paired with Eric Wood and Andy Levitre, Williams be an addition that would be extremely beneficial to the Bills’ offense. The Trent Edwards experiment needs to end ASAP, so Chan Gailey could possibly select at QB at this spot, though I believe Bradford and Claussen will be gone at this point.

10. Denver Broncos: Rolando Mcclain, MLB: Alabama The Broncos’ defense improved greatly under Mike Nolan last year but it is a unit that is still in need of impact players at several positions, including the linebacking corps.  Dumervil and Ayers appear to be the answers at the OLB position, and the addition of Mcclain would form a very good LB unit, which is vital in a 3-4 defense.  The Brandon Marshall trade makes WR an obvious need, but with Bryant off the board the only way they could consider another WR would be if they were to trade down.  They also really need help along the defense line so Dan Williams could be an answer at defense end in that scheme.

11. Jacksonville Jaguars: Joe Haden, CB: Florida
The Jags defense generated little to no pressure last year and that is certainly an issue in a division that includes Peyton Manning and Matt Schaub. Del Rio hopes that the Aaron Kampman signing will help the Jags’ defense cause havoc in opposing backfields but I have my doubts.  Kampman is coming off ACL surgery and it’s well known that it generally takes a full year for players to come back to their previous strength.   With that being said, I would not be surprised to see the Jags go with Pierre-Paul or Derreck Morgan here, but I’m sticking with my Joe Haden pick.  Haden went from being a consensus top ten pick to a teens pick due to a 4.45 40 time that he ran at the Gator pro day.  I still think he’s going to be a hell of a player and paired with Rasheen Mathis the Jags would be set at the cornerback position.

12. Miami Dolphins: Dan Williams: DT, Tennessee
Jason Ferguson will enter his 13th season in the league this upcoming season and its clear that the Dolphins need to find a replacement nose tackle. Williams could step in and play the nose tackle position in Mike Nolan’s defense. He’s got good size-weighing in just under 330 pounds and he was productive in the Vols’ defense. The ‘Phins could also use an edge rushing linebacker such as Sergio Kindle or an inside linebacker the likes of Alabama’s Ronaldo Mcclain.

13. San Francisco 49’ers: Anthony Davis: OT, Rutgers
The 49’ers offensive line was terrible last year and Davis would step in at right tackle and immediately improve that unit.  As we’ve seen in previous drafts offensive tackles are highly coveted and a run can start at the position at any given time.  While the 49er’s do have serious needs at outside linebacker and cornerback I believe there will be quality players at both position available when they pick at #17.

14. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver): CJ Spiller: RB, Clemson
While this scenario would result in the Seahawks ignoring a gaping hole at OT, I believe that Spiller would be too hard to pass up on.  He would be a versatile back in the mold of Reggie Bush that Pete Carrol would love to have.  The Julius Jones/Justin Forsett tandem is pedestrian at best and Spiller would make this offense much more explosive.  He’s also a home run threat return man and that sort of versatility would do wonders for  their offense.

15. New York Giants: Derrek Morgan: DE, Georgia Tech
If the draft is to fall as I’ve projected it up to this point I believe that Jerry Reese will be trying very hard to trade down.  With Mcclain and Dan Williams gone the two most viable options at the two biggest areas of need will be gone and the Giants may be forced to reach to an extent.  Similar to the Kiwanuka pick in 06 I believe Morgan will be a classic case of BPA.  People at Georgia Tech rave about his character and work ethic which are clearly of big concern to the Mara family.  He was a productive player and with Kiwi in his contract year and Umenyora declining and unhappy Morgan could be the long term answer alongside Justin Tuck.

16. Tennessee Titans: Jason Pierre-Paul:  DE, South Florida
After Albert Hayensworth left for Washington last offseason the Titans’ defensive front four took a serious hit. Kyle Vanden Bosch is very talented but he’s been injured and is set to be a free agent. Pierre-Paul is incredibly raw and had only one season of serious production but there’s no doubt that his ceiling is as high as any DE’s in this draft.   Similar to the Jags dilemma the Titans play in a division with top-notch QB’s and prolific passing offenses.  That being said, they certainly need to add some talent to that defensive front.  Other options here would be an outside linebacker to take over for Keith Bulluck or possibly another WR.

17. San Francisco 49’ers (from Car): Sergio Kindle, OLB: Texas
With the need at offensive line addressed the 49’ers can add a prolific edge rusher that they so desperately need. Manny Lawson has been a mild disappointment and they really need to add someone that can get to the passer.  Some believe that Kindle is a better talent than Brian Orakpo and that is high praise given the kind of rookie season that ‘Rak had in Washington.  The next logical position to address with this pick would be CB so Kyle Wilson and Kareem Jackson are also possibilities.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Iupati: OG, Idaho
The Steelers desperately need help along the offensive line as Big Ben is routinely running for his life when he’s not assaulting intoxicated women at college bars.  Iupati seems to embody the hard-nosed, blue collar attitude that the Rooney family likes and he’d also help them in the short yardage situations in which they faltered last year.  They could also use help in the secondary so Kyle Wilson very well could be a possibility here as is WR.

19. Atlanta Falcons: Sean Weatherspoon: OLB, Missouri
The Falcons need help at virtually ever position on defense, but the linebacking corps most definitely needs an infusion of youth and talent. Mike Peterson is decent but he’s getting old and there’s little to nothing outside of Curtis Lofton. Weatherspoon would be an instant upgrade and can hold up in coverage and also help against the run. The Falcons could also use a defensive end as Jamaal Anderson has been a huge bust. Carlos Dunlap would also be a logical pick here.

20. Houston Texans: Kyle Wilson: CB, Boise State
I think that the Texans could be absolutely ecstatic if Wilson were to fall to them.  The departure of Dunta “Pay Me Rick” Robinson to Atlanta turned a pedestrian secondary into an abysmal one.   Houston lacks playmakers in every facet of their secondary and Wilson would be an infusion of talent that they absolutely need.  As I stated, their safety play is suspect as well so Earl Thomas of Texas would also be a very good pick at this spot.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Jermaine Gresham: TE, Oklahoma Anyone that watched “Hard Knocks” last year knows that the Bengals are extremely weak at the tight end position.  Reggie Kelly is nearing the end of his career and Chase Coffman was a virtual non-factor in his rookie season.  Carson Palmer really needs some weapons for that passing attack to return to its heyday and at 6′ 5” Gresham would certainly help in that department.  In spite of the Antonio Bryant signing (which I think they’ll end up regretting,) the Bengals could certainly use some help at WR.

22. New England Patriots: Brandon Graham: DE, Michigan
The Pats defense really regressed last year and their pass rush was non-existent.  In the 3-4 scheme it’s essential to have guys on the edge that can get to the passer and Graham can certainly do that.  He shined at the Senior Bowl and seems like a guy that would fit well into Belichick’s system.  The Pats could also use help at WR as Randy Moss is 34 and showing signs of regressing to the malcontent that he was during his tenure in Oakland.   Demaryius Thomas out of Georgia Tech is a guy that I would think they’d take if that’s the route they decide to go.

23. Green Bay Packers: Charles Brown: OT, USC
There cheese heads need to protect their MVP-caliber QB and draft him a capable left tackle.   Rookie TJ Lang showed some promise but they need to draft a guy who can hold down the position and protect Rodgers for the next 8-10 years.  Brown, a converted tight end, is athletic and was productive at USC.  He could step in on day one and take over the duty of blocking AR’s blind side.  With Woodson and Al Harris nearing the end of the line I could also see Ted Thompson taking Kareem Jackson with this pick.

24. Philadelphia Eagles: Kareem Jackson: CB, Alabama
The Eagles had another very solid offseason, making some shrewd trades and accruing a good amount of draft picks.  One of the players who was sent packing was CB Sheldon Brown, which turned arguably the team’s greatest strength into an area of need.  I think Jackson would be a great value for Philly here as he could step in opposite of Asante Samuel and fill in for the departed Brown.  The Eagles could also use help along the defensive line so Everson Griffin is another viable option.

25. Baltimore Ravens: Golden Tate: WR, Notre Dame The Anquan Boldin acquisition made it apparent that Ozzie Newsome realized what the rest of the football watching population has known for two years:  the Ravens’ receivers blow.   By drafting Tate the Ravens will have restocked Flacco’s cabinet and as a result we could see a good offense turn into a great one.  They also have need in the secondary so Taylor Mays and Earl Thomas are also possibilities.

26. Arizona Cardinals: Jerry Hughes: OLB, TCU
The retirement of Betrand Berry and Karlos Dansby’s departure make the linebacking corps the team’s greatest of need.   Hughes is viewed as a pass rush-centric Olb in a 3-4 defense and the Cardinals have lacked that kind of player for quite sometime.  They could conceivably look at Colt Mccoy here, but that would likely be considered quite a reach.

27. Dallas Cowboys: Roger Saffold: OT, Indiana
The playoff debacle in Minnesota made it quite clear that Dallas needs to address their offensive line.  Once Flozell’s patented trip maneuver started to fail him Jerry Jones realized that it was time to cut bait with the former pro-bowler.  Saffold is rising on a lot of draft boards and is seen as a guy who could potentially play left tackle in the NFL.  He’s a hard worker, and although he lacks the lanky arms that are often coveted he was very productive for the sooners.  the Cowboys also need help at the safety position so don’t be surprised if they opt to go with Taylor Mays.

28. San Diego Chargers: Jahvid Best: RB, Cal
Hindsight is 20/20 but the Chargers really should have held onto Michael Turner. Tomlinson has got nothing left and it’s clear that the Chargers do not view Darren Sproles as an every down back. Best would be a great fit here as he’s electrifyingly fast and would also be a threat catching passes from Rivers out of the backfield. The Chargers could also use help on both sides of the lines, particularly at nose tackle, as Jamaal Williams is getting long in the tooth.

29. New York Jets: Jared Odrick: DT, Penn State
My initial mock had the Jets taking Brandon Lafell but the Santonio Holmes acquisition seems to rule that possibility out.  While the Jets defense was very impressive under Rex Ryan in his first season the Indy game made it clear that they needed to upgrade their talent on that side of the ball.  Odrick could come in and be a force as an defensive end in the 3-4 scheme.  They need a disruptive force next to Kris Jenkins to open up the pass rushing lanes for the linebacking corps.  An edge rushing OLB is another possibility as is a cornerback such as Devin Mccourty.

30. Minnesota Vikings: Brian Price: DT, UCLA
the Williams wall is a large reason for the success of the Vikings D as of late. It provides ends Jared Allen and Ray Edwards will one on one matchups against tackles in passing situations. Pat Williams will be 38 next year and at his size its amazing he’s still playing at this level today. Price could be the successor to Pat Williams when he retires and he would fit well in the 4-3 defense. Depending on Favre’s status after this year Longhorn Colt Mccoy could be an option.

31. Indianapolis Colts: Maurkice Pouncey: OG, Florida
The Colts succeeded last year in spite of their offensive line, which was horrible.  Pouncey is viewed as an incredibly safe pick here and a guy that could eventually replace Jeff Saturday when he decides to hang ‘em up.  The Colts could also use help along the defensive line so Everson Griffin could be an option here.

32. New Orleans Saints: Earl Thomas: FS, Texas
The Saints have one of the more talent-rich rosters in the league so they have the benefit of going with the best player available approach. While I believe that OLB is their greatest need all of the first round talents are gone at this point.  Thomas could step right in and fill the shoes of the departed Darren Sharper, who was the heart and soul of the Saints championship defense under Greg Williams.   The Saints could also go defensive end here and select USC’s Everson Griffin.


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