The draft will be here soon, and in the process, there will be more guesses about what teams will draft or do on that day, and with the lockout in progress, the NFL fanbase has nothing but the draft to be happy about.
I wrote a preliminary mock located here
Of course, things have changed. Reports from teams, inside sources talk to writers, and pro day results by various players impact the minds of GMs for all 32 teams.
Now for the second version of my mock draft that I’m sure will be wrong because all mock drafts are.
1. Carolina Panthers select: Quarterback, Cam Newton of Auburn
Their offense scored less than 200 points all season long, and between Jimmy Clausen, Matt Moore and Brian St. Pierre at quarterback, they only had nine passing touchdowns to 21 interceptions. What’s the point of having Steve Smith if you’re not going to throw him the ball?
Cam Newton has a lot of controversy surrounding him, but in the end, his sheer talent will make him the top choice, and if Carolina rebuilds correctly, which they normally do, Cam Newton can have an amazing career there.
Other need(s): Defensive line, secondary, another wide receiver and that’s about it. The team isn’t disorganized, it’s just low on talent.
2. Denver Broncos select: Defensive Tackle, Marcell Dareus of Alabama
A beast defensive lineman. The Broncos are aged and sub-average on the defensive line, and Marcell Dareus is just an incredible player for them to get. They need an impact player, and he’ll be that impact player. Is he Ndamukong Suh? No, but he’s still a great pick.
Other need(s): Luck, cornerback and maybe wide receiver. The McDaniels era is one that Bronco fans will have to stomach forever, and hopefully John Elway can help the team progress beyond the bottomless pit they were becoming under McDaniels.
3. Buffalo Bills select: Defensive End, Da’Quan Bowers of Clemson
The Bills are, to be kind, pathetic. They have not posted a winning season in this millennium. They have not benefited from the draft at all with picks like Trent Edwards, Aaron Maybin and C.J. Spiller.* The team has traded away most of its good players in Jason Peters and Marshawn Lynch, so the talent level is low, and this fanbase doesn’t even have all of its home games because at least one is played annually in Toronto, Ontario.
*Granted, Spiller was only drafted last year, but he had zero impact in the 2010 season, so I count that as an error from the management
They need to do the smart thing and draft somebody good, but I doubt they will. That’s why I’m having them pick Da’Quan Bowers. He’s a pretty good defensive end from the tape, but he never jumped out to me, and his knee is raising several questions. The last thing an NFL team wants is an injured player, but what can I say? The Bills are a laughingstock for a reason.
Bowers will attempt to undo the harm that Aaron Maybin has done with a better pass-rush, but I’m not so sure he will even get on the field.
Other need(s): Brains, owner, coach, wide receiver, quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick is not the long-term solution), offensive line and linebacker could use an upgrade.
4. Cincinnati Bengals select: Quarterback, Blaine Gabbert of Missouri
He’ll bust with Cincinnati probably, but he’s a guy I think might be a bust anywhere. I’m not impressed by him, he just looks the part, and teams don’t know how to judge quarterbacks, they really don’t. However, they’ll get him because they need him.
I take the threat to leave by Palmer seriously though. I really think he’s done with Cincinnati. He’s tired of the owner, the chaos, the diva receivers, the bad luck, the inconsistency and especially the losing. When a guy loses enough, he starts to lose the love for the game because he forgets the fun he had when winning.
Once the fun leaves, the idea of quitting is appealing, and Palmer has said that he’s playing only for fun now; he’s got about $80 million in banks (that lucky dude), and it is not fun in Cincinnati anymore.
Cincinnati will draft a quarterback if they give up on Carson.
Other need(s): Defensive line, wide receiver, owner, luck and offensive line.
5. Arizona Cardinals select: Outside Linebacker, Von Miller of Texas A&M
Arizona is a perfect fit for Von Miller because they run that 3-4 defense, and Joey Porter is set to retire eventually. They do need a quarterback, and will get Gabbert if he falls, but with Newton and Gabbert both gone, I see them grabbing Von Miller more than anybody else.
In fact, I’d take him over the quarterbacks any day of the week really. He’s an amazing rush guy with a high motor, and that defense needs a dominant pass rusher like Miller. The highest sack number by any Cardinal player was six.
Other need(s): Luck, quarterback, offensive line, nose tackle and safety (Adrian Wilson is 31).
6. The Cleveland Browns select: Wide Receiver, A.J. Green of Georgia
The Browns need A.J. Green. If I’m Mike Holmgren, the GM of the Browns, I would not trade the pick, I’d get A.J. Green. There is not enough talent in this draft to make up for A.J. Green, so even if the Browns trade the pick and get a couple of late round picks, it still won’t matter because none of those picks will make up for this young man’s playmaking ability.
I watched his tape, and all I could do was stare open-mouthed at his amazing catches. Best hands I’ve seen in a while. While he scored low on his Wonderlic test, I don’t think you can question his work ethic or his ability.
The Browns were 31st in scoring offense last year, and Colt McCoy did not have a real threat at receiver. The leading receiver was tight end, Ben Watson, with 763 yards. That ranks up there with Romeo and Juliet in degree of sadness.
A.J. Green is the receiving threat the Browns need if they intend on doing anything relevant anytime soon.
Other need(s): Faith in Colt McCoy, another offensive lineman possibly, defensive line and linebacker.
7. San Francisco 49ers select: Cornerback, Patrick Peterson of Louisiana State
The 49ers had disorganization among the offense, and Mike Singletary could not solve it because he is a defensive coach. I think that the acquisition of Harbaugh from Stanford was a good one, but the 49er fan base will have to be patient with him on this one because he’ll be working with Alex Smith for now. I don’t think they should reach for a quarterback when they have a better option for a big need on defense.
The 49ers defense was sixth in rushing yards and eighth against rushing touchdowns allowed, but their pass defense? They were 24th in passing yards allowed and 21st in passing touchdowns.
That tells me they need secondary help, and Patrick Peterson is a steal at the seventh pick. He can play corner and transition to safety when he gets older, he is the unanimous choice for best defensive back in the draft, and the 49ers have Shawntae Spencer and Nate Clements for their cornerbacks, so they need help there.
Peterson can come in and help out while Alex Smith gets one last chance to improve, and if he doesn’t, the 49ers can focus on obtaining Luck next year if the lockout is resolved by then.
Other need(s): Quarterback unless Smith transforms overnight, running back, linebackers are getting older and defensive line.
8. Tennessee Titans select: Defensive Tackle, Nick Fairley of Auburn
They need that giant big man now that Haynesworth is gone. The team really just had a lot of bad luck and dysfunction. In terms of talent, they are a good team.
They need a quarterback, but nobody worth grabbing in this draft, and the other need is defensive line. Fairley can come in and just do his thing. I am concerned if he is a one-hit wonder guy because he just came out of nowhere this year, but he’s worth a shot with that draft choice.
Other need(s): Quarterback and owner.
9. Dallas Cowboys select: Offensive Tackle, Tyron Smith of the University of Southern California
Perfect fit here in Dallas. He’s a textbook right tackle, and we have a textbook injury-prone right tackle named Marc Columbo. Smith is a big guy with good athletic ability. I’m not very impressed with his pass-blocking, but he’ll be a right tackle for Dallas.
Prince Amakumara was the favorite at first, but signs point to Dallas addressing either side of the line before they look at a cornerback.
If Dallas is thinking about drafting him, then I’d trade down a few slots and get some picks because I don’t see many teams reaching for Smith that high. Jerry Jones has to get this draft right for the team because the Cowboys are running out of time. Injuries and lack of discipline have kept this team out of the Super Bowl.
Hopefully for me and my fellow fans, Jason Garrett will change that.
Other need(s): More offensive line, cornerback, defensive line and safety.
10. Washington Redskins select: Wide Receiver, Julio Jones of Alabama
The Skins need a playmaker to throw to. Santana Moss was their best receiver (93 catches,1115 yards and six touchdowns), and he may not be there next year. The Skins under Shanahan will be more disciplined, but they are aging, declining, lack key spots, and have not had stability at the management position.
The fans are losing faith in them, the team has been changing coaches more often than I change socks, and while they have had contributions from their top picks in their recent drafts, their late round picks, the third rounders on, have not helped the team out at all.*
*I know one or two have done something, but the grand majority are not in the NFL anymore.
You can’t have a draft of just one or two good players. In order to win, you need fifth round picks that substitute starters and do a starter’s work. The Packers' sixth round pick, James Starks, filled in at running back in the postseason and look where the Packers are now.
I am suspecting the Redskins could also draft a quarterback, but I’m thinking Shanahan won’t be that desperate to do it with Gabbert and Newton gone. Julio Jones is a good fit there. They will probably trade McNabb and aim for a quarterback in a later round.
Other need(s): Quarterback, owner (sue me if you want Danny boy), defensive line, interior offensive line, inside linebacker, secondary is old and a lot of luck.
11. Houston Texans select: Cornerback, Prince Amakumara of Nebraska
Just dreadful. It was just dreadful to watch the Texans last year because you knew that it didn’t matter if they threw five touchdowns, the other team would score six. I was hearing boos about the head coach, Gary Kubiak, and how he should get fired, and I’m eyeballing people with a look that asks, “Are you an idiot?”
I’m glad the Texans kept Kubiak because he’s an offensive genius. The Texans have a guy who is building a Hall of Fame career in Andre Johnson, and a great running game with a smart quarterback. All they need is defensive help, especially in the secondary. John McClain of the Houston Chronicle tweeted that their secondary was “the worst” he’d ever seen in his years of covering a team.
And the man’s been covering football for more than three decades.
Prince is a solid prospect. He’s got speed, pretty good in coverage, not a bad tackler. He doesn’t jump out in the film, but he’ll be a good fit for Houston. Wade Phillips, the new defensive coordinator, will definitely teach this kid something. Houston will be happy to get this kid for sure.
Other need(s): Defensive consistency, maybe another offensive lineman and more secondary really. I think the transition to a 3-4 won’t be easy, but they’ll fit the scheme for sure.
12. Minnesota Vikings select: Quarterback, Jake Locker of Washington
I thought they should’ve grabbed Clausen last year to learn under Favre, but do the Vikings pay attention? No!
They are in a bind. The team may not even be in Minnesota for much longer: The defensive line, which is their defense, is getting older, and they may lose Sidney Rice to free agency. It is amazing how quickly things can fall apart on a team.
Defensively, they need/could use help everywhere but the line. The line is still stable, but the linebackers are good players, none are playmakers. The corners and safeties are just average. Minnesota went 12-4 in 2009 because Brett Favre got a huge lead, and the pass rush kept the opposing team from scoring. When Favre did not play at his 2009 level, teams were able to mix the run and pass, and score on the Vikings.
I’d try to grab a defensive lineman in the later part of the draft instead of using my number one pick on one.
It is so much easier for a defense to get sacks when they KNOW that the opposing team HAS to throw the ball. When you’re down 14+, you don’t call 22 halfback lead, you call for a 4-wide spread formation. Then, the defensive end just focuses on getting by that tackle for a pass rush.
Vikings probably could address several issues, but I think they’ll pick a quarterback because they want to win sooner than later, and not getting a quarterback would cost them a year. They don’t have the confidence in Joe Webb to be the next starter. They were boom or bust last year with Favre, and they busted like a glass vase falling from the Empire State Building’s roof.
Other need(s): Offensive line is getting older, defensive line, cornerback, safety and maybe wide receiver.
13. Detroit Lions select: Offensive Tackle, Anthony Costanzo of Boston College
The Detroit Lions are doing a good job so far with their drafts. Stafford, Pettigrew, Cherilus, Suh and Best are good players. They just need a few more, and they will be…dare I say it? Contenders? I’m serious. They remind me of the 1989 Cowboys team that is getting good players and progressively getting better and better.
To get even better, they need another lineman, and Anthony Costanzo is a perfect replacement for Jeff Backus, who is 33 years old. If not Costanzo, I’d go for Mike Pouncey, he’s a really good guard/center prospect.
The offensive line will be key for the Lions if they want to win. They have to protect Stafford, who has already been on I.R. twice in two years.
Other need(s): Cornerback, safety, outside linebacker, luck and that constant hope that Lions fans give their team every year.
14. St. Louis Rams select: Wide Receiver, Titus Young of Boise State
Rams are odd. For a 7-9 team, they do not have a lot of “needs,” but rather improvements from the players they already have. They have young players at a lot of positions. They could use younger guys on the defensive line, but I think they’ll get them in later rounds. So many defensive linemen are in this draft, it’s like an Easter egg hunt. They are everywhere; you just need to find them at the right time.
Safety is also a position to look at because O.J. Atogwe just signed with the Redskins, but the best safety is Rahim Moore, and he isn’t worthy of the 14th pick.
Wide receiver is a position they need because both Mark Clayton and Donnie Avery had knee injuries that put them on I.R., and Titus Young was a playmaker at Boise State.
If they had scored 11 more points against the Seahawks, the Rams would’ve made playoffs. They need offense now.
Other need(s): Need Bradford to stay healthy, defensive line and safety.
15. Miami Dolphins select: Running Back, Mark Ingram of Alabama
Miami may lose both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams to free agency. No quarterback is worth taking right now, so if I’m in charge, Ingram is a no-brainer.
Other need(s): Quarterback and luck. That’s it.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars select: Defensive End, J.J. Watt of Wisconsin
Derrick Harvey has been a bust of a player, Aaron Kampman is injury-prone, and there is a question of if the Jaguars will stay in Jacksonville. J.J. Watt can play either defensive end of any scheme, and he has the heart that you can’t teach to players. His stock rose when I saw him crying after the Rose Bowl loss to TCU.
They need him, and he’ll be a stud there.
Other need(s): Wide receiver, quarterback and offensive line.
17. New England Patriots select: Offensive Guard, Mike Pouncey of Florida (Pick originally the Oakland Raiders)
His brother, Maurkice, became a Pro Bowl center for the Steelers right off the bat. Mike Pouncey is not as good a center as his brother, but he can play guard too, which is perfect for New England because while Logan Mankins is an All-Pro, Steve Neal is 34 years old.
Patriots win games by protecting Brady, so the bodyguards have got to stay young, and Pouncey is an amazing prospect for them.
Other need(s): Patriots don’t have needs. They make anybody they get a good player, and they can take old veterans and have them defy time. It is beyond mysterious, but they do it.
18. San Diego Chargers select: Outside Linebacker, Robert Quinn of North Carolina
His suspension hurt him tremendously, but I think A.J. Smith, the GM for the Chargers, will see this guy as the best player to take a chance on. The Chargers were kept out of playoffs solely because of bad special teams play. They had an amazing offense and defense, so I think that Quinn would be the best addition because while Shaun Phillips had 11 sacks, the other outside linebacker, Antwan Applewhite, had only three.
Other need(s): Maybe a wide receiver, defensive line and another corner.
19. New York Giants select: Offensive Tackle, Gabe Carimi of Wisconsin
None of the starting offensive linemen for the Giants are younger than 30 except Chris Snee who is 28. Offensive line is the clear need for the future. The Giants just need to finish games, and they are in the playoffs again. Gabe Carimi is the best of that massive unit that Wisconsin had.
Other need(s): Linebackers are getting older. That’s it.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers select: Defensive End, Ryan Kerrigan of Purdue
Tampa is amazing. They have an accomplished team with youth at nearly all positions, and they are poised to possibly be a dynasty, not just a contender. I know those are big goals, but all they have to do is execute. They have the talent now.
The big need is they lack a defensive end pass rusher for their 4-3 defense. Kerrigan’s stock has been on the rise since the Combine, and people like his tape. Stylez White is 31, and their best rusher with 4.5 sacks, so Kerrigan can step in and get double-digit sack numbers if he’s good enough.
Other need(s): Cornerback is it. Aqib Talib may be going to prison after he allegedly shot at his sister's ex-boyfriend and Ronde Barber is 35.
21. Kansas City Chiefs select: Outside Linebacker, Justin Houston of Georgia
This draft has so many defensive ends/outside linebacker prospects that it is quite fortuitous that Kansas City’s biggest need is just that. Mike Vrabel is 35 years old, so they need another domiant rusher opposite Tamba Hali. Simple as that. Vrabel can teach Houston everything and anything he needs to know, and the Chiefs can possibly return to playoffs again.
Other need(s): Consistency, offensive line is getting old and another wide receiver.
22. Indianapolis Colts select: Offensive Tackle, Nate Solder of Colorado
The Colts survive by protecting Peyton Manning and his amazing arm. Bill Polian has stated regret about not drafting Roger Saffold last year, and getting Jerry Hughes instead. Hughes only had six tackles on special teams duty, and Peyton Manning took a beating this past year. The Colts are getting old, so Solder will be the pick.
I’m not high on Solder. He can’t handle the quick guys real well, but he’ll get some teaching and he will protect Peyton Manning. His career depends on it.
Other need(s): Cornerback, safety, linebacker and head coach (I’ve never liked Caldwell. Too conservative).
23. Philadelphia Eagles select: Defensive End, Cameron Heyward of Ohio State
The Eagles look they are switching to a 3-4, and Heyward is a textbook 3-4 defensive end. He’s got the size and strength, and the Eagles struggled most last year on defense with the line. Their offense is poised to destroy teams, but their defense has to help them win.
Other need(s): Offensive line always could use help, linebacker and luck.
24. New Orleans Saints select: Defensive End, Cameron Jordan of California
Saints need that edge rusher for their 4-3 defense. They did not have that last year. Alex Brown only had two sacks, and he’s 31 years old. The Saints need a youthful pass rusher, and this is the draft for them. Jordan fits the bill, and is a good prospect.
Other need(s): Offensive line could use some youth, linebacker and a real running back.
25. Seattle Seahawks select: Cornerback, Aaron Williams of Texas
Seattle made the playoffs with a 7-9 record. While that is amazing to accomplish, their draft was severely hurt by that accomplishment. Luckily for them, Aaron Williams is a pretty good corner who is just overshadowed by Peterson and Amakumara.
The two corners are getting up there in age, and the pass defense was not that great at all. The team is still rebuilding even though they made playoffs.
Other need(s): Quarterback, offensive line is up there in age, strong safety, defensive line and another wide receiver.
26. Baltimore Ravens select: Offensive Guard, Stefen Wisniewski of Penn State
Matt Birk is in his golden years, and the young Wiz can be a guard in the mean time, then transition to center for the Ravens. His father was an All-Decades lineman in the 90s, so the genetic factor is in his favor.
Other need(s): Wide receivers that will catch the ball. Even Boldin was bad at times. That and cornerback depth.
27. Atlanta Falcons select: Defensive End, Adrian Clayborn of Iowa
He’s a force pick. The team has good players at all positions, but John Abraham is getting up there in age, and the biggest need is wide receiver, but no real receiver will be available here which is why there is a lot of suspicion that the Falcons will trade with Cleveland to get A.J. Green, who would fit perfectly with them.
28. New England Patriots select: Outside Linebacker, Akeem Ayers of UCLA
They need a pass rusher, and he’s the best one left.
Other need(s): Addressed at pick 17.
29. Chicago Bears select: Defensive Tackle, Corey Liuget of Illinois
Look, we all know the Bears need offensive line help, but after conversing with two good friends and Chicago natives, Gary and Cameron, I think that the best offensive linemen left will fall into round two where Chicago can grab them. Corey Liuget fills the hole that Tommie Harris left when he was cut.
Liuget also just set the Combine’s strength record; he is from the same school that George Halas went to and he’s a prototypical 4-3 defensive tackle. How perfect is this? The stars are aligned for this pick.
Other need(s): Offensive line, a backup quarterback, maybe wide receiver, cornerback and linebacker depth.
30. New York Jets select: Defensive End, Aldon Smith of Missouri
The Jets defensive line is old and Kris Jenkins was cut, so they need a young guy like Smith for the future. If the guy stays out of trouble, it is a HUGE steal for the Jets.
Other need(s): Nose tackle, outside linebacker and, depending on free agency, maybe a wide receiver.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers select: Offensive Tackle, Ben Ijalana of Villanova
The Steelers are old at the tackle spot; Willie Colon may not be back with them and Flozell Adams is temporary, so to be blunt, they need offensive line more than anything.
Other need(s): Cornerback and defensive line (Casey Hampton cannot play forever).
32. Green Bay Packers, and the reigning champions, select: Cornerback, Brandon Harris of Miami
I don’t think I have ever met a Packer fan who did not truly love them. I think I will see a lot of bandwagoners, but I congratulate my friend and fan voice, Zach Kruse, for his team’s success.*
*Psst! Zach? How did it feel when that pass to Ward was incomplete?
The Packers do need cornerback help because they almost ran out of them in the Super Bowl, and Charles Woodson is set to retire now.
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James Williamson’s nonfootball thought of the day: GO AGGIES BASKETBALL TEAM! AGGIE WOMEN ARE THE MOST ATTRACTIVE IN THE WORLD!
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