Mike Band’s Mock Draft (2nd Edition)

Updated Mar. 6, 2011

1. Carolina- Blaine Gabbert QB, Missouri*

Since 2001, eight quarterbacks, one defensive end, and one offensive tackle have been drafted 1st overall.  Likewise, if there is a quarterback concern on the NFL team that holds the 1st pick, that team should/will/must select a quarterback if they feel the top QB could be their franchise signal-caller.  New head coach Ron Rivera and general manager Marty Hurney face a tough decision regarding the future of former second round pick Jimmy Clausen and I believe they’ll trade him once a new CBA is reached.  Gabbert has very few weaknesses to his game; he’s big, accurate, athletic, and smart.  He’s the only ideal signal-caller who could potentially start from day one.

Other Possibilities: Cam Newton QB, Auburn* & Nick Fairley DT, Auburn*

2. Denver- Nick Fairley DT, Auburn*

The Broncos are in the process of converting from a 3-4 to 4-3 front, and the team is in dire need of new personnel in the front seven.  New head coach John Fox will likely convert linebackers Elvis Dumervil and Robert Ayers to 4-3 end, while addressing the defensive tackle position at #2.  Fairley is a dominating force who works best as a three-technique tackle in a 4-3 defense.  He has the length, strength, and speed to make an impact on all three downs at the next level.

Other Possibilities: D’Quan Bowers DE, Clemson* & Patrick Peterson CB, LSU*

3. Buffalo- Patrick Peterson CB, LSU*

We learned in last year’s draft that head coach Chan Gailey and general manager Buddy Nix favor the best player available philosophy, more specifically athletes.  Either the Bills will address the quarterback position—though they may stick with Ryan Fitzpatrick over Cam Newton—or they’ll address the defensive unit.  Cornerback may not be the Bills’ most pressing need, but Peterson is as athletic as they come and is consistently rated as the #1 player on draft boards.  Peterson’s size, speed, and production appear fitting for the Bills new philosophy.

Other Possibilities: Cam Newton QB, Auburn* & Von Miller OLB, Texas A&M

4. Cincinnati- AJ Green WR, Georgia*

It’s almost certain that Carson Palmer will not be back with the Bengals whenever football resumes.  Head coach Marvin Lewis and owner Mike Brown could address the quarterback position at #4, meaning Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton are serious options; however, expect the Bengals to look for an immediate veteran who can compete for the playoffs right away.  Marvin Lewis knows he’s on the hot seat, and he doesn’t have the time to sit and wait for a quarterback to develop.  Meanwhile, the offensive skill position starters are aging and few can be said to be long-term building blocks.  Chad Ochocinco’s days in Cincy are numbered; the same with Terrell Owens.  AJ Green adds an immediate vertical threat who will strive in the red zone.  The Bengals cannot afford to downgrade at quarterback AND wide receiver.

Other Possibilities: Blaine Gabbert QB, Missouri* & Cam Newton QB, Auburn*

5. Arizona- Von Miller OLB, Texas A&M

The Cardinals draft more for need than most teams in the NFL and they’ll likely select an outside rush linebacker or quarterback at #5.  I anticipate that they’ll address the quarterback position with a veteran such as Kevin Kolb or Carson Palmer, given that they’ll build the team around Larry Fitzgerald rather than an unproven rookie.  Unfortunately, if no CBA is signed by April 28th, the Cardinals could panic and select Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert if available given the uncertainty at the position.  If quarterback is not the option, then my bet is on Von Miller to play the WILL rush linebacker in their 3-4 defense.  Miller is a speed demon off the edge who dominated the Senior Bowl and last week’s combine.  He’ll be an immediate threat to rush passer off the edge.

Other Possibilities: Blaine Gabbert QB, Missouri* & Cam Newton QB, Auburn*

6. Cleveland- Julio Jones WR, Alabama*

The Browns need a receiver more than any team in the league; they lack a true #1 and #2 option.  President Mike Holmgren was quoted at the combine saying he wants a true “home-run threat” with the 6th overall pick.  After a stellar combine workout (6’2, 220, 4.39 40, 38.5” vertical, 11’3 broad jump) Jones has supplanted himself in the top 10.  He’s a true possession receiver who fits well in a west coast scheme.  His most underrated asset is his ability as a blocker.  Receiver blocking is certainly important to a team that features Peyton Hillis as their featured back.  The Browns will be converting from a 3-4 to 4-3 defense, and a 4-3 end is also a possibility.

Other Possibilities:  AJ Green WR, Georgia* & D’Quan Bowers DE, Clemson*

7. San Francisco- D’Quan Bowers DE, Clemson*

New head coach Jim Harbaugh will have to decide what he wants to do with the quarterback position.  If Gabbert is off the board and Newton is available, Harbaugh may still stay away because Newton may not fit in his offensive scheme.  I anticipate they’ll look to the second round for their potential signal caller and allow the rookie to battle Alex Smith for the job.  The Niners need depth at all areas of their defense and it will be interesting to see if they transition from a 3-4 to a 4-3 with the new coaching staff.  The transition will occur over the next two years, and selecting Bowers would be an excellent start.  He’s a true three-down end who works just as well as against the run as he is as a pass rusher.  This is likely the lowest Bowers will fall.

Other Possibilities:  Blaine Gabbert QB, Missouri* & Prince Amukamara CB, Nebraska

8. Tennessee- Marcell Dareus DT, Alabama*

The Titans will either address the defensive line or quarterback with #8.  It comes down to Cam Newton in this scenario and I don’t believe the new regime will target a quarterback who most resembles Vince Young.  The team gets 2010 first round pick Derrick Morgan back from injury so they don’t need an early end.  They’ll likely find a space eating tackle to play nose tackle in their 4-3 scheme.  Dareus is my #2 rated prospect and he could be drafted higher than #8.  If he’s available at #8, the Titans take him.

Other Possibilities:  Blaine Gabbert QB, Missouri* & Cam Newton QB, Auburn*

9. Dallas- Prince Amukamara CB, Nebraska

Jerry Jones and company prefer skill position players early and trench players in the later rounds.  The idea has worked until the aging offensive line showed weaknesses.  They do believe they have their left tackle in Doug Free, so they will likely wait until round 2 or later to find lineman.  Meanwhile, their secondary played horrific last year and they’re in the market for two new safeties.   This is where Amukamara fits; he’s physical enough and big enough to make the transition to free safety if needed and he can play the slot next to Newman and Jenkins immediately.  Amukamara gives them flexibility.

Other Possibilities:  Tyron Smith OT, USC* & Robert Quinn DE/LB, North Carolina*

10. Washington- Cam Newton QB, Auburn*

The Redskins will almost certainly draft a quarterback with the 10th overall selection.  Their board will likely look like this: Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, Colin Kaepernick.  Those four guys resemble the quarterbacks Mike Shanahan covets; athletic with a strong arm.  While Newton could go #1 overall, I anticipate a Jimmy Clausen-like mini fall all the way to #10.  While his potential is through the roof, there are obvious character concerns and off-the-field issues that could scare teams away from investing the entire franchise in Newton, a risky asset.

Other Possibilities:  Tyron Smith OT, USC* & Robert Quinn DE/LB, North Carolina*

11. Houston- Cam Jordan DE, California

The Texans will switch to a 3-4 front under new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, so I expect the 11th pick will go towards a front seven player.  The Texans’ pass defense was pitiful last season, and the team needs help in the pass rushing department outside of Mario Williams.  Cam Jordan is a versatile end who has experience in Cal’s 3-4 scheme.  His ability to hold ground against the run and his ability to rush the passer will be needed in their new defense.

Other Possibilities:  Aldon Smith DE/LB, Missouri* & Prince Amukamara CB, Nebraska

12. Minnesota- Robert Quinn DE, North Carolina*

It’s unlikely the Vikings will be able to re-sign impending free agent defensive end Ray Edwards, leaving a gaping need for youth along the defensive line.  The Vikings cover-2 scheme generates most of its pressure from the front four, so an intimidating pass rushing threat will likely be had with the 12th pick.  Quinn is an enigmatic prospect who could go as high #2 or as low as #14 after missing the 2010 season because of NCAA infractions.   Quinn is an athletic specimen; however, his combine performance was nothing to write home about.

Other Possibilities:  Gabe Carimi OT, Wisconsin & Cam Newton QB, Auburn*

13. Detroit- Tyron Smith OT, USC*

The Lions need to address the plan for left tackle when Jeff Backus leaves.  I don’t believe that it can be Jason Fox or Tony Ugoh.  Given the uncertainty of the CBA, I expect a lot of teams will try to get younger where they have a player close to the end of his career.  Tyron Smith has the best feet in this class and certainly has long-term written all over him.    

Other Possibilities:  Prince Amukamara CB, Nebraska & Jimmy Smith CB, Colorado

14. St. Louis- Aldon Smith DE, Missouri*

The Rams will either select a pass rushing defensive end or a premier wide receiver with the 14th pick.  Unfortunately for the Rams, Julio Jones’ combine performance catapults his stock into the top 10.  Still, there is plenty of value in the later rounds at receiver so they’ll likely select one of the many defensive linemen who project to go in the first round.  If Aldon Smith is available, general manager Bill Devaney and head coach Steve Spagnuolo shouldn’t waste a second to pick him.  His freakish ability and athleticism is shadowed by names like Bowers and Quinn, but I expect Smith to have a bigger impact than the others.  Smith is currently listed as my 5th overall prospect.

Other Possibilities:  Robert Quinn DE, North Carolina & Julio Jones WR, Alabama*

15. Miami- Gabe Carimi OT, Wisconsin/trade down

The Dolphins have consistently drafted for value in the first round, and while Mark Ingram appears to work here, Ingram does not have #15 value.  Without a 2nd round pick, I fully expect the team to trade down and I would not be surprised if the team ends up without a first round pick.  Of their main off-season needs, QB, RB, WR, and TE, the best value rests in the second round.  If the Dolphins do stay at #15, Carimi fits perfectly into their draft philosophy.  The Dolphins understand the importance of the trenches and they could envision Carimi immediately at guard and eventually at right tackle.  It would be a great move in building a young, dominant offensive line.

Other Possibilities:  Mark Ingram RB, Alabama* & Jake Locker QB, Washington

16. Jacksonville- Jake Locker QB, Washington

General manager Gene Smith has avoided taking a quarterback in previous drafts, yet I expect the Jaguars to select their future successor in this year’s class—either in the first or second round.  Locker seems to fit best when breaking down the current Jaguar quarterbacks on roster.  Locker has a live arm and fits well in a pro style system that demands an athletic quarterback.  There are obvious concerns such as accuracy and decision making, but I still anticipate Locker will be selected in the top 25.

Other Possibilities:  Jimmy Smith CB, Colorado & Brandon Harris CB, Miami*

17. New England (From OAK)- JJ Watt DE, Wisconsin*

The Patriots are in dire need of a young fix along their defensive front.  They’ve lacked an impact 3-4 end ever since they parted ways with Richard Seymour.  Given the depth of the defensive line class, I anticipate Bellichick will take JJ Watt (if available).  Watt should be considered a top 15 pick based on his versatility to play in a 4-3 and 3-4 front, however he will likely fall especially if three or four quarterbacks are selected before #17.

Other Possibilities:  Cam Jordan DE, California & Ryan Mallett QB, Arkansas*

18. San Diego- Muhammad Wilkerson DT/DE, Temple*

General manager AJ Smith consistently uses first round picks on players with tremendous upside and athleticism.  Given the talent in this year’s defensive line group, it’s hard to see the Chargers pass on a legitimate 3-4 defensive end.    Wilkerson is a tremendous athlete who deserves top 20 consideration based on his on-field tape and combine workouts.  He’s extremely long and can work well as a pass rusher.  His potential is through the roof.

Other Possibilities:  Jon Baldwin WR, Pittsburgh* & Gabe Carimi OT, Wisconsin

19. NY Giants- Anthony Castonzo OT, Boston College

Every Giants offensive lineman will be at least 30 this fall.  The team has young developmental guys, but none are versatile enough as Castonzo.  He has the ability to contribute right away after logging 52 career starts at Boston College.  He’ll initially back up the tackles and one guard spot until the Giants decide to cut one of their aging bookends.

Other Possibilities:  Tyron Smith OT, USC* & Mike Pouncey C/OG, Florida

20. Tampa Bay- Justin Houston DE, Georgia*

The Bucs need help at both defensive end positions and I would not be surprised if they select two in the first two rounds.  Their cover-2 system demands undersized and fast ends that excel as a pass rusher first and foremost.  Houston is a versatile edge rusher who can play in a 4-3 and 3-4 front, and his athleticism will certainly warrant consideration from the Bucs at #20.

Other Possibilities:  Aldon Smith DE, Missouri* & Ryan Kerrigan DE, Purdue

21. Kansas City- Akeem Ayers OLB, UCLA*

The Chiefs will try to re-sign impending free agent linebacker Tamba Hali, who played at a pro bowl level last season, but there is still a need at outside linebacker on the other side of their 3-4 scheme.  Mike Vrabel is an unrestricted free agent and I don’t think he’ll re-sign.  Ayers has experience in UCLA’s 3-4 front and fits well on the strong side in their defense.  General manager Scott Pioli could also look to add youth to an aging offensive lineman.

Other Possibilities:  Gabe Carimi OT, Wisconsin & Anthony Castonzo OT, Boston College

22. Indianapolis- Nate Solder OT, Colorado

Usually, general manager Bill Polian uses the draft to surround Peyton Manning with weapons.  In this draft, however, he’ll likely add a player to protect Manning who approaches 34 this season.  Solder is an athletic tackle who had a terrific combine workout and he’ll likely be selected by the 25th pick. There are concerns about his technique which could hinder his ability to contribute right away, but the potential is certainly there.

Other Possibilities:  Muhammad Wilkerson DT, Temple* & Derek Sherrod OT, Mississippi State

23. Philadelphia- Brandon Harris CB, Miami*

The Eagles have needs along the offensive line and at the corner position.  They’re rumored to be the leading destination for Nnamdi Asomugha, which tells me how desperate they are for a 2nd option.  Andy Reid prefers aggressive corners with great closing speed and Harris fits the bill perfectly; his closest comparison is Asante Samuel, the Eagles current #1 corner.   Offensive line could also be the pick and this could be where the first interior lineman is selected.

Other Possibilities:  Gabe Carimi OT, Wisconsin & Mike Pouncey C/G, Florida

24. New Orleans- Stephen Paea DT, Oregon State

The Saints will look to bolster the pass rush early in this year’s draft.  Paea is an ideal fit for Greg Williams’ aggressive 4-3 scheme and he could fit instantly next Sedrick Ellis at the defensive tackle position.  The Saints demand athlete and versatile lineman, and Paea fits the bill perfectly.  Paea is a workout warrior who showed his strength with 49 bench reps, a new combine record.  He fits best as the 4-3 NT.

Other Possibilities:  Mikel LeShoure RB, Illinois & Adrian Clayborn DE, Iowa

25. Seattle- Adrian Clayborn DE, Iowa

Expect head coach Pete Carroll to build his team methodically; last year he addressed the secondary and offensive line, while this year, he’ll likely address skill positions and defensive lineman.  The Seahawks could look at a quarterback at #25, but I expect three to be off the board and I don’t see Ryan Mallett as their guy.   Seattle desperately needs to get younger at defensive end and Clayborn fits their requirements for the position.  He’s a big body who works well as a pass rusher, which is similar to what they already have with Chris Clemons.

Other Possibilities:  Jake Locker QB, Washington & Mark Ingram RB, Alabama*

26. Baltimore- Ryan Kerrigan DE, Purdue

The Ravens don’t have many needs so they’ll likely look for the best player available that fits their scheme.  In this situation, Kerrigan contributes to the pass rush opposite of Terrell Suggs. Kerrigan is the high motor, high character guy that Ozzie Newsome favors.  Kerrigan reminds me of the 2nd round DE they took in 2009, Paul Kruger.

Other Possibilities:  Justin Houston DE, Georgia* & Brandon Harris CB, Miami*

27. Atlanta- Kyle Rudolph TE, Notre Dame*

The Falcons have two key weapons in the passing game; Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez—Gonzalez will be 35 next season.  The Falcons are team that runs plenty of two-tight end sets and Rudolph could flourish as the #2 tight end until Gonzalez retires.  While Rudolph has yet to work out this off-season, the lack of depth at the tight end position pushes him into the end of the first round.  Rudolph would be an ideal option for the future development of the offense.

Other Possibilities:  Brandon Harris CB, Miami* & Randall Cobb WR, Kentucky

28. New England- Ryan Mallett QB, Arkansas*

No one plans for the future of his roster better than Bill Bellichick. Likewise, this may be the year that he decides to stash a talented quarterback to success Tom Brady.  Mallett is arguably the most talented natural passer in this year’s class and the main concerns that push him out of the top 20 have more to do with his attitude and decision making.  Very few are concerned with his arm strength, velocity, or his mechanics.  Likewise, something tells me that Bellichick will stash Mallett on the bench similar to Ted Thompson’s Aaron Rodgers-plan.  The Patriots have three picks within the first 33 selections, giving them plenty of flexibility to take value over need.  Expect them to trade one of those picks… again.

Other Possibilities:  Danny Watkins OG, Baylor & Mikel Leshoure RB, Illinois

29. NY Jets- Brooks Reed DE/LB, Arizona

The Jets defense was dominant last season, with the exception of the pass rush.  Rex Ryan desperately needs an immediate pass rushing specialist and I expect the team will take one at #29.  This year’s draft class lacks depth at the 3-4 linebacker position and there are few options beyond the top five options.  This is why Brooks Reed, whom many feel is a second round pick, could end up a New York Jet.  Reed fits the Jet mentality; he’s a high motor, relentless, and powerful specialist who can immediately contribute in passing situations.

Other Possibilities:  Justin Houston DE/LB, Georgia* & Phil Taylor NT, Baylor

30. Chicago- Derek Sherrod OT, Mississippi State*

The Bears have weaknesses on both sides of the trenches, but there are plenty of defensive tackles who could excel in their scheme that can be had in the 2nd and 3rd rounds.  There are, however, limited offensive tackles that will be able to contribute right away and Sherrod is among the top tier.  He’s a quick footed left tackle prospect with serious long-term potential.  The Bears desperately need to improve the protection for Cutler.

Other Possibilities:  Nate Solder OT, Colorado & Muhammad Wilkerson DT, Temple*

31. Pittsburgh- Mike Pouncey C/G, Florida

If Pouncey is available at #31, there is very little chance the Steelers pass on him.  Pouncey would join his brother, Maurkice, on an offensive line that desperately needs a youth movement.  Mike Pouncey played the guard position next to his brother for his entire football career, and it would give the Steelers two building blocks for their interior line that favors the power running game. 

Other Possibilities:  Aaron Williams CB, Texas* & Nate Solder OT, Colorado

32. Green Bay- Mark Ingram RB, Alabama*

It’s hard to tell where Mark Ingram will land in the first round.  He could go as high as #15 to Miami or as low as the 2nd round if teams are frightened by his 4.58 50 time.  If, however, he falls to #32, general manager Ted Thompson will have a hard time passing on such a productive asset that translates well to the NFL despite the lack of elite speed.   The Packers offense is certainly more dynamic with an effective running game.  Ingram fits well in the Packers’ zone blocking scheme and he could flourish in a 1-2 punch next to James Starks.

Other Possibilities:  Aaron Williams CB, Texas* & Cameron Heyward DE, Ohio State

Posted on by Mike Band in 2011 NFL Draft, Draft Links, Mock Draft Comments Off