Dylan here. Instead of starting a new post, I'm simply adding to BGF's mock draft with my picks. Let the competition begin.
1. Carolina - Cam Newton, QB
2. Denver - Von Miller, LB
3. Buffalo - Marcell Dareus, DT
4. Cincinnati - A.J. Green, WR
5. Arizona - Blaine Gabbert, QB
6. Cleveland - Julio Jones, WR
7. San Francisco - Patrick Peterson, CB
8. Tennessee - Nick Fairley, DT
9. Dallas - Anthony Castonzo, OT
10. Washington - Robert Quinn, DE/OLB
11. Houston - Aldon Smith, DE/OLB
12. Minnesota - Jake Locker, QB
13. Detroit - Tyron Smith, OT
14. Saint Louis - Corey Liuget, DT
15. Miami - Mike Pouncey, OL
16. Jacksonville - J.J. Watt, DE
17. New England - Ryan Kerrigan, DE
18. San Diego - Cameron Jordan, DE
19. New York Giants - Gabe Carimi, OT
20. Tampa Bay - Prince Amukamara, CB
21. Kansas City - Nate Solder, OT
22. Indianapolis - Derrick Sherrod, OT
23. Philadelphia - Jimmy Smith, CB
24. New Orleans - Muhammed Wilkerson, DE
25. Seattle - Andy Dalton, QB
26. Baltimore - Da'Quan Bowers, DE
27. Atlanta - Akeem Ayers, OLB
28. New England - Mark Ingram, RB
29. Chicago - Danny Watkins, OG
30. New York Jets - Brooks Reed, DE/OLB
31. Pittsburgh - Cameron Heyward, DE
32. Green Bay - Aaron Williams, CB
As I do every year in order to further embarrass myself, I get together a 2011 NFL mock draft. I am excited to learn which players are going to be officially a part of the NFL and locked out (or possibly not locked out) from playing for the team that selected them. You will see the pick I have made along with brief commentary. I feel less sure about this draft then I have felt about a draft in 3-4 years. I am not even sure who will go #1 overall, much less the rest of the first round. Just like last year, I won't be predicting trades that may occur, so my draft will ultimately be a clusterfuck only saved by my charm and reasoning for making the reasonable pick.
If any information leaks over the next day about which player a team is picking for certain, please forgive me if I was inaccurate in this mock draft. Still, I am stupidly optimistic I did a good mock draft.
1. Carolina- Cam Newton, QB
I have done as much research as possible into the available quarterbacks in this draft. I just don't like Cam Newton for Carolina at the #1 overall spot. My issues are similar to other people's issues with Newton, no need to rehash them. I will say I could talk myself into this pick by saying there isn't really a "#1 overall talent" to be seen in this draft. There isn't a guy who has enough talent and should be taken #1 overall by Carolina, so why not shoot for the moon and see if you can land a franchise quarterback? Is there really a "sure thing" in this draft outside of AJ Green or Patrick Peterson? That part says take Newton, while the logical sports fan in me has many more questions than answers about him.
My other issue is I don't know if Pickles (what we call Clausen in Carolina) was given a fair shot in Carolina last year. He didn't get the proper coaching he deserved and was put in a tough situation. That being said, he stunk last year and lacks all of the intangibles Cam Newton has. So I think Newton will be the pick, but for any pick in this spot (Gabbert, Newton, Darius) I am not going to be overly excited, but hesitantly optimistic. Short-term he won't be ready to play in the NFL, so Pickles will be the quarterback for a while, which could ultimately lead to the Panthers getting the #1 pick next year and then drafting Andrew Luck.
2. Denver- Marcell Dareus, DT
This is an easy pick for me for two reasons. First, John Fox is a defensive coach and he loves drafting defensive players. Second, the Broncos have a huge need at defensive tackle and because Fox likes his teams to blitz as much as he likes his tight ends to get an opportunity to catch the ball (which is never), he will need pressure from the front four to get pressure on the quarterback. Dareus could easily go to Carolina, who also have a gaping hole at DT, but I think he goes to Denver. This pick just makes sense. I see no other player, outside of a trade happening, that would go here.
3. Buffalo- Von Miller, DE/LB
This is where this unpredictable draft gets even more unpredictable. Circumstantial evidence has the Bills taking Christian Ponder in the second round. Even for a team that drafted a running back last year when they had a back coming off a 1,000 yard season and Marshawn Lynch, drafting two quarterbacks in back-to-back rounds might be a bit much, so I don't see the Bills taking a quarterback here (though admittedly, this would be awesome if it happened). The Bills need a pass rush, they run a 3-4, and Miller will fit in well. Great fit here. Normally, I would say the Bills should draft a left tackle, but they have shown they don't give a shit if their quarterback plays behind a faulty offensive line, so I am going on the premise they still feel that way. I firmly feel if a pick came down to a top-notch left tackle and a top-notch punter, the Bills would choose the punter.
4. Cincinnati- AJ Green, WR
I know there is talk this is going to be an offensive draft for the Bengals and I can't help but agree. Though I know it may be hard to pass up Patrick Peterson, the Bengals are going to see a top receiver available at this spot and want to take that guy. Chad Johnson isn't getting younger and I don't know if the answer to the Carson Palmer situation is to bring in a young guy like Blaine Gabbert to compete with him. There's too much immediate pressure on Gabbert to play now and Palmer to be benched now. I would like to see the Bengals trade back and take a guy like Nick Fairley, but good luck to them in doing that. Still, if the Bengals aren't going quarterback, which I don't think they will do for two reasons.
1. They don't want to piss off Carson Palmer.
2. It may work better to draft a guy later in the draft, like Andy Dalton, and groom him to replace Palmer because they can keep Palmer happy now and have his replacement on the roster, but only in a situation when the replacement isn't an immediate threat.
5. Arizona- Robert Quinn, DE
Common sense says the Cardinals pick a quarterback here since they need one badly. Still, they have to please Larry Fitzgerald and I don't think he will be pleased to see a rookie coming in to throw him the ball. Kevin Kolb to Arizona still makes sense to me as the Cardinals figure out if John Skelton can play in the NFL. So I don't think Gabbert is the guy and I think Ken Whisenhunt is smart enough to know Patrick Peterson is going to be a great player, but if he wants to improve his defense, getting a steady pass rush is the way to do it. Robert Quinn, even with the questions about him, is a guy who can rush the passer better than any other player in this draft.
Yes, I agree it is ridiculous that Patrick Peterson is falling down the board so much, especially in an age with strong passing attacks being so prevalent and the lesson we have all learned from a team being able to have a "Revis Island" on one side of the field. I just don't see Peterson going to Arizona.
6. Cleveland- Julio Jones, WR
Maybe I am making this pick too easy, but the Browns need guys who can catch passes from their quarterback. They probably need a pass rusher and Patrick Peterson is still available, but the Browns need weapons on offense. Having said that, imagine if the Browns had Peterson and Joe Haden at the cornerback positions on either side. That would be impressive. Still, it is a luxury when there is a major need at wide receiver. I like Julio Jones as much as I like AJ Green, so this is an easy pick in my opinion. With Quinn off the board, this is a no-brainer in my opinion.
7. San Francisco- Patrick Peterson, CB
I was surprised the 49ers passed on Joe Haden last year. I thought for sure he would end up in San Francisco with one of their first round picks. That brings us to this year. They can't pass on Peterson, even if Blaine Gabbert is still on the board. New coaches mean new quarterbacks, I realize that, and Alex Smith has gotten repeated votes of confidence from the absolute genius that is Jim Harbaugh. Given Harbaugh's vast history of developing quarterbacks in the NFL (I will lay off the sarcasm now about how everyone assumes Harbaugh will be a great NFL head coach), I see him taking one later in the draft and then developing the quarterback into a Hall of Fame member and probable 2040 Presidential candidate.
This madness about Peterson's fall in the draft has to stop here. Peterson has to go to the 49ers. Having said that, the 49ers have a chance to get Gabbert here and they may not pass on it. Part of my confusion in this draft is I feel like there are such split decisions on these quarterbacks available. Some teams seem to hate or love most of the quarterbacks, so I have no idea if Gabbert is loved by Harbaugh. It makes sense for the 49ers to take a quarterback, but can they pass on Peterson? I don't think so.
8. Tennessee- Nick Fairley, DT
I think most mock drafts I have seen have Nick Fairley in this spot. I feel like I am selling out by putting him in this spot, but I don't see the Titans reaching for a guy like J.J. Watt or Ryan Kerrigan. The Titans need help in their pass rush and up front, so Fairley is that guy. There are other guys falling down the board, like Da'Quan Bowers the Titans could take a chance on based purely on his talent. He could be special, but Fairley make sense in this spot. I have also seen Jake Locker taken here. That seems like a reach to me, but of course I don't like Locker much anyway.
9. Dallas Cowboys- Tyron Smith, OT
True, but dumb, story. I wrote "Tony Romo" in here instead of "Dallas Cowboys" until I caught my error immediately after I wrote it. This is a sign from the Football Gods (Easterbrook reference!) the Cowboys are going to do something to help Tony Romo. I think the Cowboys have learned from last year's opening game debacle and the Romo injury they should probably do something about the offensive line. Between Anthony Castonzo and Tyron Smith or trading back to get another tackle, I think the Cowboys go with the guy who is the best athlete and hope he is a Flozell Adams-type fixture for them at tackle. The Cowboys could probably also use a pass rusher or a corner, but I think making sure their quarterback has a great offensive line should be priority #1.
10. Washington Redskins- Blaine Gabbert, QB
Whether the Redskins need a quarterback or not, if Gabbert is available at this point I don't see a way Mike Shanahan passes on him. The Redskins need a pass rusher and they could also use help at receiver. Both of the top receivers are off the board though and with a roster that has McNabb and Grossman at quarterback, I can't help but think Mike Shanahan wants to upgrade this position. He's an offense guy and he wants HIS GUY at quarterback and I think he realizes McNabb isn't his guy. Gabbert going to the Redskins gives Shanahan his guy and gives the Redskins fans something to believe in.
11. Houston Texans- Aldon Smith, DE/LB
I think it is a foregone conclusion this pick is defense. The Texans are moving to a 3-4 defense and they need major help on defense because of this move and their overall talent issue in the secondary. The obvious pick here is Prince Amukamara, but I think new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is smart enough to realize pressure up front is what helps make cornerbacks look good. The Texans need to find a way to get pressure up front. So the question for me is what kind of front seven player will the Texans choose? I think it will be Aldon Smith because he will be perfect for a 3-4 defense and he will probably remind Wade Phillips of DeMarcus Ware. He has seen what a guy like Ware can do for a defense.
You may also wonder why I keep talking about Wade Phillips. It's because Gary Kubiak's job depends on Phillips turning the defense around. He will be fired if the Texans defense isn't improved this year, so I would bet Phillips has more leeway to choose players he likes in this draft.
12. Minnesota Vikings- Ryan Kerrigan, DE
I don't believe Jake Locker is the pick here. I know with new regimes come new quarterbacks, and Leslie Frazier does count as a new regime, but Frazier is a defensive guy and taking Locker this high is a bit of a reach. They can probably get him or another quality quarterback later in the draft. The Vikings have been broadcasting they like Locker, which is code for requesting teams to make an attempt to trade up to #12, presumably so the Vikings can take the quarterback they really like later in the draft and get more draft picks. Ryan Kerrigan may look like another Jared Allen to the Vikings. He's "hard-working," which in NFL speak means "white" because no white pass-rushers area allowed to have talent and have to be seen as hard-working to make up for the obvious physical disadvantage of being white. You don't hear Cameron Jordan heard of as "hard-working" very often. The Vikings need to improve the pass rush and Kerrigan is supposedly able to do that.
13. Detroit Lions- Prince Amukamara, CB
This draft has fallen in the right way for the Lions. They can get help at defensive end, tackle, and cornerback at this point. I put Prince Amukamara here, not because others have done it, but because he is a shutdown cornerback. He didn't beat often this year and when he did get beat he always seemed to have great defensive position on the receiver. I would not be opposed to the Lions taking Nate Soldier, Anthony Costonzo or one of the defensive ends available to them. I think Amukamara is too good to pass up, but if the Lions do pass him up, I think they should do so for Anthony Costonzo or even take a chance on Da'Quan Bowers. I like the Lions position in this draft.
14. St. Louis Rams- Cameron Jordan, DE
There are two things I read when reviewing mock draft reasoning for the pick in this spot.
1. The Rams will take Corey Liuget.
2. Gary Gibson is overmatched.
The bottom line is the Rams can get a defensive tackle later in this draft. Not that Luiget isn't going to be a great player, but I am not sure a defensive end of Jordan's caliber will be available later in the draft. I almost mocked Bowers here, because it must be so tempting to see a guy with that much talent on the board still, but I think the Rams go with a less-future-injury-prone player in Jordan who can stop the run and the pass.
15. Miami Dolphins- Mike Pouncey, G/C
The Dolphins are the anti-Lions for me in this spot. There isn't really a player that stands out which fits their needs more than another and the value they have for those necessary positions isn't spectacular. The Dolphins want to run the ball, but they can get a running back later, and if you aren't drafting Pouncey this is too early to take a guard. If the Dolphins keep this pick, I think they go with their running game, and look to improve it the smart way...on the offensive line. I think if they keep the pick they go with the best interior lineman on the board. That's Pouncey.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars- Brooks Reed, DE
Nearly every mock draft I see has Ryan Kerrigan at this spot. He's off-the-board in my mock draft. As seen by last year's Tyson Alualu pick, the Jaguars don't give a shit what you think of their selection and when that selection is made. Kerrigan is not available, so the athletic---I mean blue-collar, hard-working, Reed is the best choice. It may be a reach, but after the success of last year's Alualu pick, I will not criticize it.
17. New England Patriots- Muhammad Wilkerson, DE/DT
Everyone knows the Patriots will mostly likely trade this pick for a first round pick next year. Bill Belichick will not rest until he has every pick in the Top 10 of at least one NFL Draft. So in a pretend world, if this pick were actually made by the Patriots, then I see them going offensive tackle or defensive tackle. I think Costonzo could be the pick because Matt Light is still a good player, but getting older and Corey Liuget is on the board, and he could fit an end spot in a 3-4 defense fairly well. Still, that's too obvious for the Patriots and I think they will take Wilkerson who can play both DT and DE in a 3-4. This is assuming the Patriots make this pick, which they won't.
18. San Diego Chargers- Corey Liuget, DT/DE
I think Muhammad Wilkerson could be the pick here, but I do have him going to the Patriots. Even saying this, if it comes between Wilkerson and Corey Liuget, it will be Liuget. Liuget is athletic enough to be an end in a 3-4 defense and he is clearly the best prospect on the board at this point, while also meeting a need the Chargers have. The Chargers could also use some offensive line help, so Nate Soldier or Gabe Carmini could be in play here as well.
19. New York Giants- Anthony Costonzo, OT
This pick is too obviously for me to feel good about. It just makes so much sense to me. The Giants need a guy who can play a few positions on the offensive line because they have some age there and that's exactly what Costonzo can do. I don't care about the Boston College ties, he's a solid player and will fit their need. If the Giants like Carmini more, he could go here as well. The Giants could also go with a linebacker in this spot, but I think they can get a quality linebacker later in the draft.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Adrian Clayborn, DE
I have seen Da'Quan Bowers in this spot in several mock drafts. I don't see that happening because he has injury issues and I think the Bucs probably believe Adrian Clayborn can be as productive as Bowers over the long-haul. Clayborn has his own health issues, but his injury issues are from the past (hopefull), while Bowers' could crop up in the future since there is a question of how his knee will hold up.
21. Kansas City Chiefs- Gabe Carmini, OT
I am torn on this pick for the Chiefs. I am 50.5% sure it will be a tackle and will be Gabe Carmini specifically. Still, I can see Akeem Ayers being the pick as well because the Chiefs need a pass-rushing linebacker. J.J. Watt could be a dark horse in this race, but I don't see how the Chiefs don't get a tackle to protect Matt Cassel a little bit better.
What's weird about this draft for me, and it may just be my own personal feelings, is I find it easier to make the picks for the later teams in the draft. It's probably my own feelings, but I feel like the later teams have outstanding holes they will look to fill with certain players that probably will be available. It's probably just they are doing a good job of smoke-screening and confusing me though.
22. Indianapolis Colts- Nate Solder, OT
This is a perfect example of what I was just talking about. There is no way, at least in my mind, the Colts don't take an offensive lineman. They have no reason to bluff this is what they want to do because there will be tackles available at this point in the draft. The positives on Solder are "work ethic" and "intelligence." That sounds like a Colts player, doesn't it? If Solder is gone then I don't know if the Colts get Derek Sherrod or try to get a defensive guy like Marvin Austin.
23. Philadelphia Eagles- Ben Ijalana, G/OT
Tons of mock drafts have Jimmy Smith at this spot. It makes sense, but the Eagles could also use some interior line help. Keeping Mike Vick healthy is a priority and Andy Reid is smart knowing a versatile player like Ben Ijalanaa gives them flexibility along the offensive line. The Eagles could also have the ammunition to move up in the first/second round and take a corner at that point if they choose to.
24. New Orleans Saints- Cameron Heyward, DE
The Saints need a pass rusher and they had success with an Ohio State alum in Will Smith, so why not go with Heyward in this draft since he can provide the same type of success at the defensive end position? Heyward provides help at a spot where the Saints need help and any other need they may want to fill at this point is probably a bit of a reach. I really like this pick for the Saints.
25. Seattle Seahawks- Marvin Austin, DT
I am so tempted to mock Jake Locker here, but Seattle can get by with Charlie Whitehurst and a veteran for at least one year. I am not sure their defense can get by without some assistance. They played great in the playoffs against the Saints, but that wasn't typical for the entire year. This is still a 7-9 team in a weak division, so they have holes. I'm not sure I buy they want Jimmy Smith at this spot. I think he could get past the Seahawks. I think it comes down between J.J. Watt and Marvin Austin. Watt has talent, but Austin has Top 10 talent if he didn't have such character questions. Pete Carroll isn't afraid of players with character questions, so the more talented overall player at a big position of need wins out.
26. Baltimore Ravens- J.J. Watt, DE
This pick is too easy for me. This is probably why I feel like it will be wrong, but I am going with it anyway. I know Jimmy Smith is the fashionable pick at this point in the draft and the Ravens need a cornerback, but they also need help up front to their aging defensive line. Smith or another cornerback can be had later in the draft, while a talent like J.J. Watt may not be available. He's the best defensive end still available, so he fits the Ravens in my mind.
27. Atlanta Falcons- Kyle Rudolph, TE
The Falcons have a theme this year in the draft. They want to draft explosive players. Kyle Rudolph fits the bill. Kyle Rudolph is a popular pick here and I have a feeling the need for a defensive player will override the need for a tight end. I originally had Justin Houston in this spot and then dropped him out when I learned the Falcons were looking to upgrade the passing game by trading up for Julio Jones or AJ Green and Houston failed a drug test.
The Falcons like their defensive ends to drop into coverage and Houston showed he could drop into coverage on the Georgia 3-4 defense last year. He fits the bill in what the Falcons want. I know the Falcons want to get an elite tight end to replace Tony Gonzalez, or at least learn from Gonzalez, but I don't see it as a bigger need than a defensive end. Still, if the Falcons can't trade up then I think Rudolph seems to be the pick...though I 49.9% think it will be Justin Houston.
28. New England Patriots- Derek Sherrod, OT
At this point, there's no way the Patriots keep this pick. There are too many "quality" quarterbacks on the board and a team will trade up to get one. Still, like previously, if the Patriots trade their other first round pick and keep this one then they will probably go offensive tackle. Derek Sherrod is the best guy on the board to fit that spot. Still, like any other New England pick, I don't think the Patriots will be making this pick and will trade it.
29. Chicago Bears- Danny Watkins, G
The Bears need to upgrade their offensive line. Danny Watkins is the second-best guard available in the draft. Maybe this is too simple. I don't think there is a defensive tackle the Bears would want at this spot, so they take a guard and upgrade a different position of need. Watkins is older, which may be a problem for some teams, but I don't think the Bears will mind since he projects to be a really good guard in the NFL.
30. New York Jets- Stephen Pea, NT
The Jets need a nose tackle and the popular pick is Phil Taylor in this spot. The Jets have Kris Jenkins whose only dedication seems to be dedication to getting injured every year. Having said that, I don't see the Jets picking a guy with an inoperable foot condition like Taylor. Stephen Pea has a knee injury, but he showed off his strength at the Combine and if it weren't for the knee injury then he would be a certain 1st round pick. I think the Jets take operable injury over inoperable injury in this spot. Fat guys with inoperable foot injuries don't sound very attractive to me.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers- Jimmy Smith, CB
Merry Christmas Pittsburgh! You get a shutdown cornerback at the end of the first round. Smith has character and personality questions that seem to not make him a fit in Pittsburgh. I am sure the newly matured Ben Roethlisberger can help Jimmy Smith work through his issues. The only question I have about this pick is whether Smith can fit the "Pittsburgh mold" they want in a player. If not, then Marcus Cannon (assuming the Steelers are okay with the fact he has a lymphoma...it would make for a great story in a couple of years once he recovers from it and probably would make the Steelers faithful like him more) or Ras-I Dowling could be the guy. Really though? Would the Steelers pass on a talent like Smith? Smith is very talented and the Steelers need secondary help. I say take a chance on the guy.
32. Green Bay Packers- Akeem Ayers, OLB
I know it may not seem this way necessarily, but I wouldn't be shocked to see the Packers take a cornerback at some point in this draft. Brandon Harris could be going to Green Bay if Ayers is off the board at this point. Sam Shields isn't a starter in the NFL and Charles Woodson will have time catch up to him at some point. In a perfect world, the Packers would get a cornerback later in the draft though. The Packers also need another linebacker and Akeem Ayers has the talent to be the pass-rushing linebacker the Packers need. An offensive lineman is an outside possibility, but I think Green Bay goes defense and can't ignore Ayers still being on the board.
You probably notice there were only two quarterbacks taken in my mock draft 1st round. That's not happening. So I am pretty much assuming this mock draft will be wrong since I can't predict the trades that will eventually happen. I can see four quarterbacks going in the first round, possibly even five of them. As of today, I feel I am right, but on draft day the trades will probably screw this mock draft all up.