Updated Mock Draft

1.
Carolina Panthers
Nick Fairley
DT Auburn
The Panthers haven’t tipped their hand at all, but the more I think about their situation, the more I think it has to come down Fairley and Bowers. With so many holes, spending a 1st-round pick on a receiver (A.J. Green) or a cornerback (Patrick Peterson) just doesn’t make sense. I think the edge has to go to Fairley right now. Defensive tackle is a greater need than end. However, if Charles Johnson is not re-signed, that could open the door for Bowers.
2. Denver Broncos Da’Quan Bowers DE Clemson
John Fox has stated that he’s committed to make the switch to a 4-3 defense, which means their defensive line needs to be addressed. Elvis Dumervil is probably the only lineman with a guaranteed job. However, Dumervil isn’t a great fit for Fox’s scheme. He’s an elite pass rusher when healthy, but not a true three-down lineman. Bowers is the most complete lineman in this year’s draft class and could fill Julius Peppers’ role in Fox’s defense.
3. Buffalo Bills Patrick Peterson CB LSU
Buddy Nix showed last year that he is more interested in taking the best available player than filling a hole. While they have greater needs than cornerback, taking Peterson wouldn’t come as nearly the shock that the selection of C.J. Spiller did. He is clearly the best available player in this scenario and would start immediately (unlike Spiller). Leodis McKelvin is starting to look like a bust and Drayton Florence is a 30-year-old free agent.
4. Cincinnati Bengals A.J. Green WR Georgia
Carson Palmer’s trade request probably won’t be honored, but the Bengals may appease him by toning down the “circus atmosphere.” That means Terrell Owens definitely won’t be back and Chad Johnson is likely to be traded as well. If either, or both, of their top receivers are sent packing, that position will immediately become their greatest need. Green is an elite talent that many have compared to Randy Moss. He has the rare potential to be a legitimate star from day one.
5. Arizona Cardinals Robert Quinn OLN North Carolina
Cardinals fans will be calling for a quarterback, but I suspect Ken Whisenhunt will be pushing for the team to bring in a veteran (Kolb? McNabb?) rather than go the route of an unproven rookie. That would mean their decision likely comes down to a defensive lineman or linebacker. Quinn may be the most NFL-ready pass rusher in this year’s draft class and has the athleticism to shift to linebacker in Arizona’s 3-4 scheme. He can be their version of DeMarcus Ware.
6. Cleveland Browns Cameron Jordan DE California
Most Browns fans want A.J. Green, but even if he’s on the board I don’t think he’s a realistic option for the Browns. The Browns defensive line is a mess right now, with barely enough players to even field a team. Cameron Jordan may not receive the attention of more high profile players such as Marcel Dareus or Robert Quinn, but he is the best fit for Cleveland’s new 4-3 defense. Jordan is a three-down lineman who can be a difference maker immediately.
7. San Francisco 49ers Blaine Gabbert QB Missouri
Jim Harbaugh’s first priority is to develop a quarterback, and I fully expect the 49ers to draft one with this selection. Gabbert is the consensus top available quarterback and I wouldn’t be shocked if the 49ers traded up to jump over the Cardinals who may also be interested. Gabbert doesn’t quite fall into the category of an elite prospect, but he has the raw tools and the work ethic necessary to play at a high level, especially under the guidance of Harbaugh.
8. Tennessee Titans Marcell Dareus DT Alabama
Unless they decide to roll the dice on Cam Newton, I think the Titans are leaning heavily towards addressing the defensive line with this selection. Since they added Derrick Morgan in the 1st-round last year, I suspect the interior line will be their focus with this pick. Dareus primarily played defensive end in Bama’s 3-4 defense, but I think he’s actually better suited for tackle in the 4-3. Given time to improve his overall strength, he could fill Albert Haynesworth’s role.
9. Dallas Cowboys P. Amukamara CB Nebraska
Don’t fall for the Cam Newton rumors, its a smokescreen to get Newton off the board prior to No. 9, allowing for another great player to fall. The Cowboys secondary was a disappointment this past season making cornerback one of the their top needs with this selection. They are a candidate to trade up in an effort to land Patrick Peterson, but if they stay put they can still get a great player in Amukamara. The addition of a corner here, could mean Terence Newman is moving to safety.
10. Washington Redskins Julio Jones WR Alabama
Cam Newton is definitely a possibility here. They need a quarterback and Mike Shanahan loves athletic signal callers (Elway, Plummer) but I’m not convinced that he’ll view Newton and all his character concerns as an elite prospect. If he passes on Newton, he should immediately turn his attention to Julio Jones. They desperately need a receiver, and Jones would give them an enormous upgrade at the position.
11.
Houston Texans
Von Miller
OLB Texas A&M
Wade Phillips plans to move Brian Cushing to inside linebacker in the Texans new 3-4 scheme, which opens up a gaping hole on the outside. Connor Barwin will likely earn one starting job, but there isn’t another strong option on the roster. Miller, who played the season around 235 pounds bulked up to 246 for the combine, making it easier for 3-4 teams to view him as a potential linebacker. The Texans should also strongly consider Jimmy Smith in this scenarion.
12. Minnesota Vikings J.J. Watt DE Wisconsin
By tagging Chad Greenway as the franchise player the Vikings may have ended the Ray Edwards era. He’ll be one of the most highly sought after free agents and it will be difficult for Minnesota to keep him (assuming we have a free agency). Its possible that the depth at defensive line in this draft played a role in their decision. Watt has top-10 talent but could easily fall due to the incredible depth at the position. He should have no problem filling Edwards’ shoes.
13. Detroit Lions Jimmy Smith CB Lions
Fun fact: the Lions don’t have a single cornerback on the roster who was drafted by the team. It’s time to change that. In a normal years Smith would be the crown jewel of cornerbacks, but this is a strange year with two elite cornerbacks ranked ahead of him. As a result, he’s gone somewhat unnoticed, at least in terms of media attention. He reminds me of Malcolm Jenkins. Like Jenkins he has impressive size and could play either corner or free safety in the pros.
14. St. Louis Rams Akeem Ayers OLB UCLA
This is one of those picks that may not excite the fan base, but it’s probably a smart move. Certainly they’d prefer Julio Jones to fall, but if he’s gone it doesn’t make sense to reach for Jon Baldwin or Torrey Smith. Ayers is a legitimate 1st-round prospect and fills a hole at strong-side linebacker. Another strong possibility is cornerback, but in this scenario the top three are off the board. If Ayers is gone, I expect the Rams to try hard to trade down.
15. Miami Dolphins Cam Newton QB Auburn
This is probably as far as anyone has Newton falling in a mock draft. I certainly believe that there is possibility he goes earlier (Buffalo and Washington are the most likely other landing spots) however, I also believe the Dolphins have the strongest interest – at least for the moment. Additionally, I think owner Stephen Ross is getting desperate enough to throw his weight around and force the team to take Newton, possibly by trading up to ensure they land him.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars Aldon Smith DE Missouri
Only the Broncos had fewer sacks than the Jaguars last season. Aaron Kampman was supposed to help matters, but he did very little and doesn’t have a lot left in the tank. Smith isn’t a finished product, and probably should have stayed in school, but he is as explosive as any pass rusher in this year’s draft class. If the Jaguars are willing to be patient and develop him slowly, he could prove to be one of the best mid-1st-round steals in this year’s class.
17. New England Patriots Gabe Carimi OT Wisconsin
[pick from Raiders] The Patriots chose to franchise Logan Mankins rather than Matt Light, which makes me believe there is a strong possibility the 32-year-old free agent will find a new home this offseason. Sebastian Vollmer may move to left tackle, or they could fill that hole in the draft. Carimi is arguably the most NFL-ready lineman in this year’s class, making him a perfect fit for the Patriots, who have already showed an interest.
18. San Diego Chargers J. Baldwin WR Pittsburgh
It seems unlikely that both Malcolm Floyd and Vincent Jackson will be back in San Diego next season. If so, the Chargers have to add another receiver quickly. Baldwin fits their profile perfectly as a tall, physical receiver with the speed to stretch the field as well. This is a slight reach considering his inconsistent play in college, but if the Chargers want to win now, they need to take some risks. They could also be a candidate to trade up in an effort to land Julio Jones.
19. New York Giants Tyron Smith OT USC
When your youngest starter on the offensive line is 29 (Chris Snee) its time to start planning for the future. Smith’s stock is on the rise after he weight in at 307 pounds at the combine after playing the season around 285. His versatility may actually be of interest to the Giants as much as his upside. Smith played right tackle at USC, but clearly has the size and athleticism to eventually transition to the left side where he would replace David Diehl.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Adrian Clayborn DE Iowa
The Bucs had a grand total of 26 sacks this past season – only the Broncos had fewer. Adrian Clayborn isn’t exactly a sack master, but the Bucs have a glaring hole at defensive end and Clayborn’s value is too good to pass up here. He entered this season with expectations of being a top-10 pick, but a sub-par senior year has him falling down the board. That said, there’s no denying his potential to be an elite three-down lineman at the next level. He’s worth the risk.
21.
Kansas City Chiefs
Phil Taylor
DT Baylor
This is probably as high as Taylor could climb in the draft, but it’s a very realistic possibility considering the Chiefs needs. Scott Pioli was instrumental in the Patriots decision to draft Vince Wilfork and saw first hand what a dominant nose tackle can do for a defense. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, Ron Edwards isn’t that guy. Taylor may be the only nose tackle in this year’s class capable of starting immediately, making him a hot prospect in the late 1st-round.
22. Indianapolis Colts A. Castonzo OT Boston College
The Colts offensive line needs some major work and I would be stunned if they did not draft a tackle in one of the first two rounds. This isn’t a deep class, so they may even move up in an attempt to guarantee they land one of the top tackles. President Bill Polian may have tipped his hand last month when he stated his regret for not drafting Rodger Saffold in the 1st round last year. Castonzo is the most NFL-ready of the linemen still on the board in this scenario.
23. Philadelphia Eagles Brandon Harris CB Miami FL
I had the Eagles taking a corner in the 1st round last week, and that need became more pronounced with the retirement of Ellis Hobbs. I don’t like anyone outside of the top three cornerbacks as a 1st-round pick, but it’s possible that someone will reach to fill a need. Harris is undersized but has impressive athleticism, and the speed to stick with anyone. He could prove to be a nice compliment to Asante Samuel.
24. New Orleans Saints Mikel LeShoure RB Illinois
The Saints most glaring need is a running back, and I expect either Mark Ingram or Mikel LeShoure (and possibly both) to be available. In this scenario they’re both on the board and I give the edge to LeShoure. I know I’m in the minority in that prediction, but I believe Ingram’s high draft status is more media hype than anything else right now. LeShoure is a bigger, stronger, faster player and I think he’ll wind up being the first running back selected.
25. Seattle Seahawks Mark Ingram RB Alabama
Marshawn Lynch may have gone “beast mode” on the Saints, but I refuse to believe that Pete Carroll feels conformable moving forward with him as the Seahawks feature back. Running back may not be at the top of the ‘Hawks draft board, but if either Ingram or LeShoure are available they’ll have to consider upgrading the position. If a running back isn’t available, I believe their attention turns to a defensive tackle such as Corey Liuget.
26. Baltimore Ravens Justin Houston OLB Georgia
This stat shocked me when I first saw it: only the Bucs, Jaguars and Broncos had fewer sacks this past season than the Ravens. Terrell Suggs is a beast, but no one else on that defense is capable of getting to the quarterback. Jarrett Johnson is valuable because of his versatility in their 4-3/3-4 hybrid defense, but he doesn’t scare anyone. Justin Houston should be an intriguing prospect for the Ravens because he has played in both a 4-3 and 3-4 scheme during his time at Georgia.
27. Atlanta Falcons Mike Pouncey OG Florida
The Falcons interior offensive did a solid job in 2010, but unfortunately both Harvey Dahl and Justin Blalock are free agents. It may be difficult to keep both in Atlanta. This isn’t an area that can go ignored if the Falcons want to keep their window of opportunity open while 29-year-old Michael Turner is still effective. Pouncey isn’t as dominant as his brother Maurkice, but is viewed by many as the top available guard in this year’s draft class.
28. New England Patriots Cam Heyward DE Ohio State
This is a no-brainer for the Patriots. Gerard Warren and Mike Wright did an adequate job this past season, but an upgrade is clearly needed. Ty Warren returns from injury, and if he’s 100% the Patriots could once again have a dominant defensive line with the addition of Heyward. He played both end and tackle at times in Ohio State’s 4-3 defense, but has the prototypical blend of size and athleticism to play in New England’s 3-4.
29. Chicago Bears Torrey Smith WR Maryland
Jerry Angelo has to get Jay Cutler some help with this pick – either with an offensive lineman or a receiver. They really can’t go wrong either way, but if Torrey Smith is on the board Mike Martz might be pushing hard for them to go with the receiver. He isn’t a finished product, but his skill set compares favorably to Torry Holt who excelled in Martz’s system in St. Louis. They need a guy like Smith who has the size and speed to stretch the field.
30. New York Jets Titus Young WR Boise State
The Jets have already stated that David Harris will be their franchise player, making Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwads free agents. I would be surprised if both return, and it’s very possible that neither is back in New York. Titus Young is an obvious 1st-round talent in my opinion and compares favorably to Percy Harvin. However, he does come with some character concerns – which means he’ll fit perfectly in New York with Rex Ryan’s merry band of misfits.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers Derek Sherrod OT Mississippi State
Flozell Adams had a solid year at right tackle but he’s 35 and doesn’t have much left. To make matters worse, Willie Colon, who was their best lineman in 2009 prior to getting hurt, is a free agent and is unlikely to return. The Steelers do an excellent job of filling holes before they become a serious need and this would be a perfect opportunity to do just that. Sherrod may not play immediately, but a starting job is waiting once Adams retires.
32. Green Bay Packers Ryan Kerrigan OLB Purdue
Kerrigan is slightly overrated and I have a feel he’s going to fall into the late 1st and possibly early 2nd round. But if he’s on the board here, he becomes a strong possibility for the Packers. They’ve struggled to find the right compliment to Clay Matthews at outside linebacker over the past two years, using Aaron Kampman, Brady Poppinga, Brad Jones and Frank Zombo. Kerrigan could finally be the guy they’re looking for.
Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Mock Draft Comments Off

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Ryan McCrystal

Ryan launched DraftAce in 2004. His Top 100 board is currently ranked 1st out of 20 publications in The Huddle Report's five-year averages. His mock draft is ranked 10th out of 32 competitors.You can also find Ryan's weekly Heisman Predictor series on ESPN Insider every fall.