Since everyone else is doing it, why can't I? I'm sure you all are just thrilled to be reading another mock. Anyway, I'm doing the first round, then giving my picks for the Steelers and Lions for the rest of the draft (I was born in Pittsburgh, and the whole family is from western Pennsylvania. They're my favorite, with the Lions close behind).
1. Carolina Panthers – Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Tough call for Carolina between Gabbert and Newton, but after what was apparently a spectacular Pro Day Gabbert needs to be the guy taken here. The consensus seems to be that’s he a true franchise QB, and while he doesn’t offer the upside of Newton, he doesn’t have the kind of boom/bust tag that you don’t want to be picking number 1. I had Newton here until Gabbert’s pro day, but now my entire mock is shaken up.
2. Denver Broncos – Marcel Dareus, DT, Alabama
Denver needs to take the best defensive player they can, and they don't have anything at defensive tackle in their new 4-3. Some people think Peterson or Bowers will be the pick, but they need Dareus. He's soaring right now, and has the potential to be the second best defensive tackle in the league in a few years (behind Ndamukong Suh, of course).
3. Buffalo Bills – Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
This is the RIGHT pick, which means it might not happen, since it's Buffalo. There’s a STRONG chance Buffalo takes Newton. It’s been mocked a lot because it makes sense, but Fitzpatrick can stand another year and I think Miller might be the best player in this draft - a once in a generation player at rush linebacker in the 3-4. Peterson is going to be outstanding, and they could use a corner, but a pass rush is more important, especially when you're playing the likes of Tom Brady. Miller has to be the pick. He’s just too good to pass up. Besides, they can always take Kapernick in the second round, and he has the mobility Chan Gailey likes. It’s a good match.
4. Cincinnati Bengals – A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Cincy is about to go through a dramatic reordering of their offense. Their defense honestly isn't THAT bad (they need some safeties, true) because I think Carlos Dunlap, sadly, might develop well and they'll have a pass rusher. I'm not sold on Jerome Simpson's sudden heroics, and A.J. Green is probably going to be a great player. The Fitzgerald comparisons are a bit much, but he has a lot of potential and can play right away.
5. Arizona Cardinals – Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Whisenhunt is having a tough time. He misses on Von Miller, whom he desperately needed. He's probably still hoping he can developJohn Skelton or Max Hall at QB. If he can't, he can make a run at Andrew Luck or Matt Barkley next year (assuming he's still employed). This basically leaves him with Peterson - there isn't a linebacker, receiver, or offensive lineman worth this pick, so he'll have to "settle" with the best corner prospect in a decade and take having a fairly strong secondary.
6. Cleveland Browns – Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
Cleveland is pretty thrilled. Though they missed A.J. Green (and they should consider Julio Jones here, though it's a touch high), they get to take Fairley. He'll be an impact player for them in their new 4-3, they hope. Personally, I'm not entirely sold on this guy (where was he before this?) but he has definite boom potential.
7. San Francisco 49ers – Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
Kind of a tough spot for San Fran this year. They really need a quarterback, obviously, but there isn’t one here that fits the system, so I think they pull the trigger on Prince. Their entire secondary is questionable, and Prince gives them a very, very talented corner to help beef up a defense that, frankly, has a lot of potential. A good corner might just put that defense over the top into something dominant.
8. Tennessee Titans – Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
Pairing Bowers with a healthy Derrick Morgan (who I think will rehab and develop fine) would give Tennessee a monster pass rush. Yes, they need some beef in the middle of that defensive line a bit more, but that’s unavailable. Newton is interesting here, but I’d be worrying about fan reaction to taking another quarterback who’s known for his legs more than his arms. Vince Young was a sad disaster; that boom bust thing has got to make them nervous for a second time.
9. Dallas Cowboys – Tyron Smith, OT, USC
Dallas has to be pissed. With Newton going first, I had Gabbert going to SF and Amukamara falling to the Cowboys. Now they’re stuck. Jerry Jones doesn’t really like taking offensive linemen in the first round (probably because he’s a moron) but I don’t see that he has much of a choice. This, however, makes this a pretty solid spot to trade down.
10. Washington Redskins – Robert Quinn, OLB, UNC
As has been fairly well covered, the Redskins have nothing to rush the passer except for Brian Orakpo (who’s a beast, by the way). They have to get help – the 3-4 defense is nothing without the outside linebackers, and Quinn could be terrorizing across from Orakpo. Which one do you double? Too bad Haynesworth is such a little snot, because with him tearing up the middle and these two guys charging from the outside, the Redskins would be hard to play every week.
11. Houston Texans – Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri
Same thing as above – I know the Texans are going to move Connor Barwin to OLB, which might work, they still don’t have a guy to rush the passer. Wade Phillips is used to having a good one – Shawne Merriman in San Diego (back when he was on steroids he was really good) and DeMarcus Ware in Dallas. He needs that guy – Aldon Smith will be it in Houston.
At last – he’s off the board. First, Minnesota needs a QB and Leslie Frazier has expressed an interest in getting one. Second, Minnesota doesn’t care too much about character concerns, it seems. It’s actually not a bad fit for Newton either. Peterson can keep the pressure off and he’s got an interesting receiving core to play around with. While Minnesota has needs on the offensive line and the defense, Newton’s ridiculous potential (if he becomes the Vick/Roethlisberger cross some people think he will, Minnesota will be in contention every single year, it’s just scary to think about) makes him worth number 12.
13. Detroit Lions – Mike Pouncey, C/G, Florida
Perhaps a little bit high, I know. He did just have a meeting with the Lions, though, and no one can doubt that this guy is going to be a player. There is some discussion about Julio Jones here (Megatron, Jones, and Burleson moving to the slot, with Javhid Best coming out of the backfield and Brandon Pettigrew at tight end would make this a terrifying offense) and he’s definitely BPA. Even so, I don’t see the Lions taking them. Personally, I think this is an ideal spot to trade down from. The Lions have some faith in Jason Fox, who they’re trying to develop at LT, so I’m not sure they reach for any of the available tackles here. No corners are worth this pick, but Detroit does having a gaping hole at both guard AND center (Raiola needs to be out of there at the earliest convenience), so maybe they trade back and take Pouncey. If not, it isn’t a horrible reach here for a guy who, though slightly less talented than his brother, still has the look of a ten year starter and potential Pro Bowler.
14. St. Louis Rams – Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
Yeah… do I really have to explain this one? Probably the biggest no brainer in this draft. If he’s here, St. Louis has to take him. End of discussion.
15. Miami Dolphins – Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
I don’t know what to think about Miami. On the one hand, I feel like they don’t have any major flaws. Certainly positions that could use upgrading, but they aren’t a bad team, just consistent underachievers. Probably because they took that tool Chad Henne (I went to Michigan State, my rage is real and justified) who seems to be struggling. With that in mind, I go with the popular pick here – Ingram. Ronnie Brown is unreliable and a free agent, and Ricky Williams (also a free agent, I think) is too old to be a starter.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars – Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
Kerrigan is up to 274 pounds – let’s stop talking about his 3-4 potential. This guy is a 4-3 defensive end, and despite Jacksonville’s investments in the defensive line lately, they STILL can’t really get after the quarterback. Kerrigan is a high-motor, high-character player who plays better than his talent would suggest. He’s a good pick here.
17. New England Patriots – Cameron Jordan, DE, California
This is actually kind of a slide for Cam Jordan. He’s been a monster all off-season and people are raving, but I just don’t see the perfect fit until he gets here. His versatility is totally up Belicheat’s alley, and the Patriots have a desperate need for a 3-4 end. With a healthy Ty Warren opposite Cameron Jordan and Wilfork in between, the Patriots could have the best 3 man front in football.
18. San Diego Chargers – Phil Taylor, NT, Baylor
Earlier than some people have him going, but I was thinking yesterday – who does San Diego have at nose tackle? I had no idea. For a team that had Jamal Williams for so many years, they definitely have a void here, and I think Phil Taylor might actually be a better player than B.J. Raji when he came out a few years ago. The Chargers don’t really need anything on offensive, but their defensive line is suspect, and Taylor could do well there.
19. New York Giants – Anthony Costanzo, LT, BC
I think the Giants miss the days of 2007, when they unquestionably had the best lines (on both sides) in football. They were so good they could mask any deficiencies on the team. Costanzo is a pick to get them back to that point, and he’s good value here. He could go much higher, but the Giants shouldn’t hesitate to snap him up.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
Most people seem to be mocking the Buccaneers a defensive end – that makes a lot of sense, and they need one. Considering this is a young team, when you take recent picks into account, they really only need to address the ends and linebackers. They could use a thumper in the middle, but Watt is too talented to pass up.
21. Kansas City Chiefs - Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
Scott Pioli is pissed. He was sure that Phil Taylor was going to be there and probably just stood staring at the screen when the Chargers call his name, weeping openly. Alas. Outside of nose tackle, the Chiefs need a QB (no, Matt Cassel doesn’t have it) and another OLB to take some pressure of the stunningly good Tamba Hali. I bet Romeo Crennel thinks he can coach Ayers pass rushing skills up enough to make him a force, so they take him here. If he really could go as high as 13 to Detroit as some people think, getting him at 21 is great value.
22. Indianapolis Colts – Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
Peyton Manning sucks when he is pressure. Everyone raves about how good he is against the blitz, but he throws it away more than he actually makes plays. He has no ability to make something out of nothing, which seems to be what you need in the NFL these days. He needs a perfect pocket, and so the Colts (who consistently sniff at the concept of getting defensive tackles who can, you know, play football) take Solder and hope he can protect Peyton’s blindside. If I seem a little hostile toward the Colts, I apologize. I go to law school at Indiana University, and the Peyton craze is nuts. During the Superbowl, a bunch of tools showed up to my party and just screamed through the entire game "PEYTON! PEYTON! PEYTON WOULD HAVE MADE THAT PLAY!" Really? I’m not sure he would.
23. Philadelphia Eagles – Gabe Carimi, RT, Wisconsin
Perfect match here. Vick is a lefty, and could use a great protector for that side. Carimi, who is probably the best offensive lineman in this class (though don’t buy this stuff that he can play left tackle – he’s a right tackle, and a damn good one), is great value and should be the pick for Philly.
24. New Orleans Saints – Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
Sedrick Ellis is awesome, but he could use some help. The Saints get their defensive tackle tag team here by taking Liuget, who can stand next to Ellis and take some pressure off. They need a defensive end, but there aren’t any good 4-3 pass rushers I like for them at this spot. Some people say Justin Houston, but I like him more as a 3-4 OLB.
25. Seattle Seahawks – Jake Locker, QB, Washington
This is just too perfect. Really. This needs to happen. Locker has the potential to be a star in the league. He played on bad teams, and while he struggled with some accuracy, I think there’s a chance Pete Carroll can correct that. He’s got some time to develop behind the tragically aged Matt Hasslebeck (seriously, what a great guy and a solid quarterback who never got the appreciate he deserved), and that time will serve him well. I honestly think Locker could end up being the best QB out of this year, and he’s good value here. Seattle needs to get him some weapons in the later rounds though.
26. Baltimore Ravens – Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
It was a toss-up between a corner like Brandon Harris, Jonathan Baldwin, or Torrey Smith. In the end, I went with the speed receiver, because Baldwin doesn’t really give them anything they don’t already have (except youth) and I think Baltimore might wait on the corners. They seem to have been pleased with the play of some of their corners last year and they really, really need a depth threat. Joe Flacco’s arm is kind of going to waste and they could open things up.
27. Atlanta Falcons – Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
I think the Falcons would have preferred Torrey Smith, but Baldwin is faster than most people think. Ryan needs someone else to throw to, and Baldwin is the big receiver they don’t have. I know some people are concerned about his character, but Roddy White was kind of cocky for awhile too, but he grew up. I think the leadership of Tony Gonzalez & Matt Ryan, and the toughness of Mike Smith (who I like despite his seeming inability to jump without tearing something) could keep him in check. It’s a good match, I think.
28. New England Patriots – Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia
Dammit. The evil empire gets the pass rusher they very much need and suddenly the Patriots defense finishes its transformation into the young and talented unit they’ve lacked for years. Ugh. I hate them so much.
29. Chicago Bears – Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
As much as I dislike Jay Cutler (and that’s a lot), you almost couldn’t help but feel bad for the guy. What a pounding he took. The Bears need to get him some protection NOW, before he develops an irreversible case of David Carr syndrome. You cannot, cannot, cannot let a quarterback who is already prone to unnecessary risks play behind a line as bad as Chicago has. It will just exacerbate the interception problem, and the injury problem.
30. New York Jets – Muhammed Wilkerson, DE, Temple
Honestly, I really don’t like either of the Jets outside linebackers, so someone like Brooks Reed from Arizona is a potential pick here.Shaun Ellis is a good 3-4 end, but he’s old and 3-4 ends shouldn’t be your best pass rushers. Even so, I’m not sure he’s worth it here and Rex Ryan doesn’t seem to care that much. They do need upgrades on that defensive line, though, and for a team without too many needs, they should be able to get Wilkerson here. He has the talent to go higher, but the Jets should be happy to get him here.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers – Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA
Tough spot. There’s no corner here worth it, in my opinion, and no offensive lineman either. If the draft comes out this way, I would love for the Steelers to trade down and try to grab Ras I-Dowling and Marcus Cannon in the second. Even so, Moore isn’t a bad pick here. The Steelers need some youth at safety. Ryan Clark is coming off the field on big passing plays and they don’t have the depth at defensive back to let that happen. Moore is talented and there could be an argument made for BPA.
32. Green Bay Packers – Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
I wanted to give the Packers Jonathan Baldwin, but he’s off the board. A tall, big bodied receiver, another OLB, and defensive end are their biggest needs. This means Heyward, who is a little inconsistent but undeniably talented. He will help make an already strong defense even better. It’s a good, solid pick, and Ted Thompson knows his business.
Round 2 Pick 31: Ras I-Dowling, CB, Virginia
Love this guy. He's a great fit for the Steelers and the kind of corner they love. Neither of my two favorite second rounders, Marcus Cannon or Dowling, might be there at 31, but there's a greater chance of Dowling because of his injury history. I'm actually not concerned about that, though - after a good NFL strength and conditioning program, he might be just stay healthy.
Round 3 Pick 31: John Moffitt, RG, Wisconsin
Moffitt falls to the third only because of his position, in my opinion. RG isn't hugely sought after (though it should be) and Moffitt is a talented player. The Steelers should be happy to get him here.
Round 4 Pick 31: Ian Williams, NT, Notre Dame
More youth on the defensive line - Williams has good value here and gives the Steelers a guy to groom behind Casey Hampton. I'd like to see him put on some muscle though and get stronger. I'm going to miss having Big Snack destroying people all day with sheer, overwhelming force.
Round 5 Pick 31: Marcus Gilchrist, CB, Clemson
Not sure he'll be here, but I don't really understand how he isn't a higher round pick in the first place. I see a guy with a lot of athleticism and talent, and I'd love for the Steelers to get him.
Round 6 Pick 31: Alex Henry, K, Nebraska
Some people have him going as high as the fourth round - this just seems like a stretch to me. No matter how good he is, he's still a kicker. The Steelers need one, though, and Henry's leg would be nice in Heinz Field. We need to make some of those field goals.
Round 7 Pick 31: Marc Schiechl, OLB, Colorado School of Mines
No one has heard of this guy because of his school's size, but let me break it down. It's the seventh round. This guy had 45 career sacks (the all-time record), runs a 4.64 forty at 6' 2.5" & 251 lbs. He has a 35 inch vertical and a broad jump of 10 feet, five inches. He also posted up THIRTY-EIGHT reps on the bench press at his pro day. He was also apparently great in linebacker drills. I don't care where he went, this guy is the definition of what you want to take in a flier with the second to last pick of the seventh round. With some good coaching to control that absurd athleticism, we could have a monster OLB or special teamer.
Round 2, Pick 44: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
I know people are concerned about his character, but this guy has top 15 talent and he's available here in the second. I say you take him and try to whip him into shape. If he gets out of line, let Suh knock him around a bit. Suddenly you've got a great cover corner and you got him in the middle of the second round. It's worth the try.
Round 3, Pick 75: Tandon Doss, WR, Indiana
Doss is a good pick here - I saw him play at IU and he has a lot of potential. Burleson needs to be a slot guy only, and Doss provides a good number 2 receiver option. He's also 6' 2" and 200lbs and while he doesn't have burner speed, he's decently fast, willing to go over the middle, and likes to block. Solid player.
Round 4, Pick 106: Greg Romeus, DE, Pittsburgh
This guy was a potential first round pick before the season started - incredible talent, but injuries dropped him this far. Getting him into the Lions rotation and working with the NFL strength and conditioning coaches without a full starter workload sounds perfect. Honestly, the Lions should take this guy. If he can overcome his injuries, he'll be a sick pairing with Suh.
Round 5, Pick 151: Marcus Gilbert, OT/G, Florida
This guy is a potential starter at guard - this might be a little low for him, but if Pouncey can work on his snaps and move to center, they put Gilbert at guard, which would give the Lions line of the future a look of Fox, Sims, Pouncey, Gilbert, and Cherilus. That might be a pretty solid line.