McCrystal’s updated mock draft

Carolina Panthers Blaine Gabbert QB Missouri
I still 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 everyone. 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 for 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 Julio Jones WR Alabama
SI’s Peter King claims that the Bengals have Julio Jones as the top receiver on their draft board, and I’m inclined to believe him. As Marvin Lewis said in King’s article “My boss loves offense.” His boss also loves making bonehead decisions. I like Jones, I gave him a 1st-round grade, but he isn’t a top-five talent. That said, they need a receiver – especially with Ochocinco’s future in question – and if Jones is tops on their board, he could be the pick.
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 A.J. Green WR Georgia
Almost everyone seems to have A.J. Green evaluated as a top-five talent, but I think there is a strong possibility that he falls to Washington. The Bengals and Browns are the only teams I can see taking him prior to the Redskins. And if Peter Kings’s report is to be believed, the Bengals aren’t an option. So it could all come down to Cleveland, and I just can’t see them passing at Peterson at No. 6. That leaves Green on the board here, and the Redskins will sprint their card up to the podium.
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 OT 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 Cameron Jordan DE California
The Jaguars anemic pass rush desperately needs an upgrade, and I think the odds of them adding a defensive end here are over 90%. I have Jordan at No. 4 on my big board, and I believe he’s the most underrated 1st-round prospect. Jaguars GM Gene Smith fell in love with Cal’s Tyson Alualu last year and I think he may do the same with Jordan in this draft. He is a true three-down defensive end and who can improve their pass rush without becoming an liability against the run.
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 Ryan Kerrigan OLB Purdue
The Chargers drafted Larry English in 2009 in hopes of creating a defensive set with three outside linebackers. But Merriman never got healthy and English looks like a bust. The Chargers defense is built around their pass-rushing linebackers and they currently lack the talent and depth that they’d love to have. There are mixed reviews about Kerrigan’s ability to play with his hand off the ground, but I think he would be a nice fit in San Diego.
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 Brandon Harris CB Miami FL
Asante Samuel is among the best in the game, but the retirement of Ellis Hobbs has left the secondary depleted of talent. I have concerns about Harris’ size and his ability to be a No. 1 corner, but in Philly they have the depth to put him in situations that fit his skill set. There’s no denying his speed and athleticism, making him an ideal guy to match up with some of of the smaller, faster receivers that many teams are turning to such as the Giants’ Steve Smith.
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 Jimmy Smith CB Colorado
The Ravens have depth at cornerback but they lack that one big, physical shutdown corner. Jimmy Smith has the talent of a top-15 pick, but character concerns are going to push him down the board. The Ravens are Super Bowl contenders though, which may make them willing to roll the dice on a guy with the talent to come in and make an immediate impact. If Smith played up to his full potential, he would help push the Ravens defense back to their elite form.
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 Corey Liuget DT Illinois
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. Liuget has rare size and athleticism and should be able to step into a starting role from day one in Chicago. Stephen Paea is a similar player who could also be a fit.
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 Aaron Williams CB Texas
The Steelers have needed to upgrade their secondary for three or four years and it sounds as though they’re finally willing to spend a high pick on addressing the issue. Brandon Harris and Aaron Williams would both be nice fits and I expect at least one of them to be on the board. I’m not crazy about either guy as a 1st-round prospect but when you’re a legitimate Super Bowl contender like Pittsburgh, you can afford to reach to fill a need with someone capable of making an instant impact.
32. Green Bay Packers Martez Wilson OLB Illinois
This is a slight reach, but Wilson could be a great fit in Green Bay. The Packers need a pass rusher to start opposite Clay Matthews. Wilson played mostly inside at Illinois, but has the size, speed and overall athleticism to become an elite pass rusher. His instincts aren’t great and he is definitely raw, but the Packers could use him as a pure pass rusher as he works on developing into a true three-down player.
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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.