McCrystal’s updated mock draft

Carolina Panthers Blaine Gabbert QB Missouri
I have no idea what the Panthers are going to do with this pick and you’re lying to yourself if you think you do. But here’s my best guess: they really want to trade down. So they’re making sure that no one knows who they want by saying they’re considering as many as eight players. Their hope is that someone like the Bills or Bengals gets their heart set on one guy (Newton maybe) and trades up. But if they stay put, I think they’re going with a quarterback.
2. Denver Broncos Marcell Dareus DT Alabama
Dareus’ stock has been on the rise throughout the offseason, and now that Da’Quan Bowers’ knee injury is raising concerns I think Dareus may now be the favorite here. Additionally, I believe tackle is actually a greater need in Denver. Elvis Dumervil and Robert Ayers should give them serviceable ends, but Marcus Thomas and Kevin Vickerson aren’t going to get the job done on the inside. There’s also an outside shot that Patrick Peterson could land here.
3. Buffalo Bills Cam Newton QB Auburn
If it were completely up to Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey, I think the Bills would move forward with Ryan Fitzpatrick for another season. However, I believe owner Ralph Wilson is pushing toward a quarterback. He wants to the see the Bills win sooner rather than later and believes (correctly) that you can’t win a title with a guy like Fitzpatrick. Newton is a big risk, but this franchise has been a mess for a decade and is willing to roll the dice.
4. Cincinnati Bengals A.J. Green WR Georgia
Mike Brown seems committed to being too stubborn to trade Carson Palmer, so even if a quarterback is on the board here I’m starting to think they’ll pass. An alternative plan could be to trade Chad Ochocinco and bring in A.J. Green in order to convince Palmer to stay – and I suspect it will work. I’m usually against taking receivers in the top 10, but Green is special. And as a side note, anyone who ranks Julio Jones higher is out of their mind.
5. Arizona Cardinals Von Miller OLB Texas A&M
Von Miller has done nothing but boost his stock this offseason and he now looks like a pretty safe bet for the Cardinals at No. 5.  Miller is slightly undersized for a 3-4 outside linebacker, but he is a truly elite athlete and would greatly improve the Cardinals struggling pass rush. He has the potential to be an instant-impact player. The only scenario in which I could envision the Cards passing on Miller would be if they decide to take the best available player – Patrick Peterson.
6. Cleveland Browns Patrick Peterson CB LSU
The Browns need a receiver and defensive linemen far more than they need another cornerback, but GM Tom Heckert strongly believes in taking the best available player. In this scenario there is no question that Peterson is the top prospect on the board. I know plenty of Browns fans would prefer a receiver, but I simply can’t see Heckert gambling on a receiver in the top 10 when the best player in the draft is still on the board.
7. San Francisco 49ers P. Amukamara CB Nebraska
This is probably the worst-case scenario for the 49ers, who would love to see Peterson, Gabbert or even Miller fall. Based on the players on the board, this decision should come down to Amukamara and Fairley. Neither fills a huge need, but they’re the best available players. I’ll give the nod to Amukamara because he is capable of making the bigger immediate impact and will give the Niners some security when they eventually part ways with the overpaid Nate Clements.
8. Tennessee Titans Nick Fairley DT Auburn
Fairley, Dareus and Bowers are all in frustrating positions. All three could go No. 1 overall, but one of them is likely to fall to the Titans at No. 8. Fairley is an elite athlete and should be an instant-impact pass rusher from the interior line position, however, he’s slightly undersized and isn’t strong against the run. I believe this deficiency will make him the one to fall. In Tennessee he’ll team up with Derrick Morgan to give the Titans two great young linemen to build around.
9. Dallas Cowboys Tyron Smith OT USC
The Cowboys would love to land Prince Amukamara, and would probably consider trading up for him or Peterson if the opportunity presented itself. But with both top corners off the board, the Cowboys have to reach to fill another position of need. Tyron Smith played right tackle at USC, but has demonstrated this offseason that he has the athleticism and the size to easily shift over to the left side. This is definitely a risky pick, but the Cowboys don’t have many other options.
10. Washington Redskins Julio Jones WR Alabama
If I had to place a percentage on it, I’d say I’m about 95% certain the Redskins will take a receiver here. Either A.J. Green falls, in which case it’s a no brainer, or they settle for Julio Jones. The other 5% accounts for the chance that they reach for a quarterback – most likely Ryan Mallett. Mike Shanahan gambled on Jay Cutler who entered the league some character concerns, so it’s possible that he’ll look past the concerns surrounded Mallett as well.
Houston Texans
Aldon Smith
OLB Missouri
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. Smith is raw, having entered the draft as a redshirt sophomore, but has the elite physical tools necessary to transition from end to linebacker at the next level. He’s a bit of a project, but could provide an immediate boost to Houston’s pass rush.
12. Minnesota Vikings Da’Quan Bowers DE Clemson
This is a long way for Bowers to fall, but I there there is a strong possibility that either he or Nick Fairley drops to the Vikings. As of right now, Bowers is the top prospect who is falling fastest due to concerns about his injury. He’ll have a chance to work out on April 1 and prove that he’s healthy, but if he isn’t 100% there’s a decent chance that some teams will drop him on their board. No matter how bad the injury is, I can’t see him falling past the Vikings.
13. Detroit Lions Robert Quinn DE North Carolina
There is a very strong possibility that the Lions won’t be picking at No. 13. I believe they’d love to move up for Prince Amukamara, and if they can’t they’ll try to trade down. If they do stay put their options will be to reach for a cornerback, linebacker or offensive tackle or to settle for the best available player. Quinn doesn’t fill a glaring hole but he’s a top-five talent and could be a great fit in Jim Schwartz’s system. Cameron Jordan and Ryan Kerrigan may also be options.
14. St. Louis Rams M. Wilkerson DT Temple
Muhammad Wilkerson has arguably been this offseason’s fastest riser. He didn’t get much attention at Temple but he’s proven his talent in offseason workouts. The Rams would absolutely love to have Julio Jones fall to them, but if he’s gone their attention will probably turn to the defensive line, if for no other reason than it’s the deepest position in the draft. Wilkerson has the potential to step right into the Rams starting lineup and anchor an underachieving defensive line.
15. Miami Dolphins Ryan Mallett QB Arkansas
The popular pick here is Mark Ingram, and I admit he’s a very realistic possibility. However, I think the Dolphins would much prefer to end the Chad Henne era and start over with a new franchise quarterback. There are obviously some character concerns surrounding Mallett but none of the rumors have amounted to anything concrete. As a result, I believe someone will look past the concerns and fall in love with his raw talent and the Dolphins could be that team.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars Ryan Kerrigan DE Purdue
The Jaguars anemic pass rush desperately needs an upgrade, and I think the odds of them added a defensive end here are over 90%. Kerrigan isn’t the top available defensive end, but he’s probably the one best suited for their 4-3 scheme. And as Gene Smith showed last year, he isn’t afraid to reach for a player that he believes fits their system. The Jags are also a candidate to trade up a few slots for a chance at someone like Robert Quinn.
17. New England Patriots J.J. Watt DE Wisconsin
[from Raiders] With Watt and Cameron Jordan still on the board it would be hard for the Patriots not to select a defensive end in this scenario. The return of Ty Warren will certainly help their front seven, but they need to add youth to the defensive line. Watt is a top-10 talent, but the depth at defensive end will likely cause him to fall into the 10-20 range. He’s a great fit for New England’s defense and should be a starter from day one.
18. San Diego Chargers Cameron Jordan DE California
I’m a huge fan of Jordan and think he is a top-10 talent. However, the consensus seems to be that he’ll fall to the second half of the 1st-round. If he’s still on the board it will be difficult for the Chargers to pass on him. He has a rare size/athleticism combination which makes him a prototypical 3-4 defensive end, which also happens to be the Chargers biggest need this offseason. Even if Jordan is gone, another quality end should be available.
19. New York Giants Mike Pouncey OG Florida
The Giants aging offensive line needs an upgrade and they have shown a strong interest in Pouncey this offseason. He’s an intriguing player because he could potentially play any of the three interior line positions. In New York he may not start right away, but would provide them with valuable depth before taking over for Shaun O’Hara at center or Rich Seubert at guard. A tackle such as Anthony Castonzo is also an option here.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Justin Houston DE Georgia
The Bucs finished with just 26 sacks last season and desperately need an upgrade at defensive end. Someone such as Adrian Clayborn may be a more complete player, but Houston has more upside as a pure pass rusher. The only concern with taking Houston as a defensive end is that his career didn’t take off until switching to linebacker in Todd Grantham’s 3-4 scheme. However, his offseason workouts have shown that he’s probably best suited to play with his hand in the ground.
Kansas City Chiefs
Brooks Reed
OLB Arizona
Tamba Hali has developed into a legitimate superstar, but the Chiefs don’t have anyone else capable of consistently getting to the QB. Reed has been drawing comparisons to Clay Matthews this offseason and I think he could have a Matthews-like impact in Kansas City. Two bookend linebackers like Hali and Reed could give the Chiefs a dangerous defense capable of leading the team back to the playoffs in 2011. Another option is Phil Taylor, who could fill a hole at nose tackle.
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 is a weak class of offensive linemen, but they should have their pick of anyone other than Tyron Smith with this selection. With Peyton Manning getting up their in age, the Colts philosophy should be to find someone capable of playing immediately and Castonzo fits that description. He’s fundamentally sound and ready to play immediately.
23. Philadelphia Eagles Jimmy Smith CB Colorado
Asante Samuels is among the best in the game, but the retirement of Ellis Hobbs has left the secondary depleted of talent. Smith is a top-15 talent, but character concerns could cause him to fill into the latter half of the 1st round. The Eagles have become one of the teams confident in their ability to work with players who have some character flaws, so I don’t believe they’ll be scared off. If he’s on the board here, the Eagles should take the risk.
24. New Orleans Saints Akeem Ayers OLB UCLA
The Saints can’t afford to pass on Ayers if he’s on the board. They need help at both strong-side and weak-side linebacker and Ayers is the only player worth a late 1st-round pick who could fill that hole. He is a prototypical 4-3 strong-side linebacker and would be a significant upgrade over JoLonn Dunbar. If Ayers is gone, their attention will simply turn to the best available player. Cam Heyward would be a nice fit due to his ability to provide depth at both end and tackle.
25. Seattle Seahawks Cam Heyward DE Ohio State
The Seahawks need a quarterback, but I just can’t see them settling for Locker or Ponder here. The safer move would be to take the best available defensive player, which could be Heyward. He’s particularly valuable for Seattle because of his versatility. If Brandon Mebane leaves, they could plug him in at tackle. If he re-signs, they can use Heyward at defensive end. There is also a strong possibility that they trade down to acquire an extra 2nd-round pick to use on a quarterback.
26. Baltimore Ravens Kyle Rudolph TE Notre Dame
The Ravens drafted two tight ends in 2010 but neither Ed Dickson nor Dennis Pitta is the next Todd Heap. I believe Rudolph would be a 1st-round lock had he stayed healthy throughout the 2010 season, but there is still a good chance he slips into the end of the 1st round. In a very weak class of tight ends, Rudolph could come off the board much earlier than expected. If you don’t land Rudolph, you aren’t getting a future starter in this draft.
27. Atlanta Falcons Adrian Clayborn DE Iowa
The Falcons swung and missed on Jamaal Anderson in 2007 and now they’re looking for an upgrade at defensive end. Clayborn is exactly what they’re looking for – a big, physical three-down lineman. He isn’t an elite pass rusher, but he’s well rounded and would be a nice compliment to John Abraham. The need for an end isn’t enough to reach for someone, but Clayborn is a top-15 raw talent and well worth the risk here. His upside is just too great to pass up.
28. New England Patriots Gabe Carimi OT Wisconsin
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 will probably be shifted over to left tackle, opening up a hole on the right size.  Carimi is arguably the most NFL-ready lineman in this year’s class and a prototypical right tackle, making him a perfect fit for the Patriots, who have already showed an interest.
29. Chicago Bears Stephen Paea DT Oregon State
By releasing Tommie Harris the Bears opened up a gaping hole on their defensive line. If the season started today they would probably be forced to start Matt Toeaina and Henry Melton at tackle. The Bears defense has been great for a number of years now, but the system only works if the defensive line does its job. Paea is built line a bowling ball and has the strength to take on multiple blockers, making him a great fit in Chicago.
30. New York Jets Phil Taylor DT Baylor
The Jets defensive line was solid in 2010, but they lack depth and they also need to get younger. Sione Puaha has been a serviceable nose tackle while filling in for the oft-injured Kris Jenkins, but he’s already 32 and doesn’t really have any upside. Taylor is a behemoth of a man with rare athleticism for his size. He has the potential to anchor Rex Ryan’s defense for the next decade and make an impact similar to what B.J. Raji has done in Green Bay.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers Danny Watkins OG Baylor
The Steelers value tough, physical linemen who excel as run blockers. Watkins fits that description perfectly and would be a huge upgrade at right guard. An added benefit would be Watkins’ versatility. He played left tackle at Baylor, and while he lacks the athleticism to play the position in the NFL, he could play right tackle if needed. The Steelers are obviously looking to win it all in 2011, so adding an immediate contributor with this pick should be a priority.
32. Green Bay Packers Mark Ingram RB Alabama
While most mocks have Ingram at No. 15 to the Dolphins, I think there’s a strong possibility that they pass and he falls a long way. The Packers probably aren’t entering the draft with running back high on their wish list, but they would be wise to take Ingram here. He’s arguably the best available player and gives them insurance behind the injury-prone Ryan Grant. Yes, they do have James Starks, but after that first breakout postseason game he did very little down the stretch.
Round 2Round 3
Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Mock Draft Comments Off

About the author

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.