He selected on odd numbers; I selected on even numbers.
[This post will be updated as selections are made each day so check back often.]
1. (Ricky) Carolina Panthers: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn - Defensive tackle is not a popular or sexy #1 overall pick, but the best way to rebuild a franchise is to start from the inside out. Fairley will step in and be an immediate impact for the Panthers defense and will help turn opponents offenses one dimensional. Not a long track record, but impressed enough with his talent to justify the #1 spot.
Will Fairley be the top pick in April?
Mike: The reason taking a defensive tackle first overall isn’t sexy is because it has never been successful. Since the NFL Draft came into existence in 1967, five defensive tackles have been selected first overall: Walt Patulski, Kenneth Sims, Russell Maryland, Steve Emtman, and Dan Wilkinson. Combined, these five made one Pro Bowl. Was Fairley dominant this season at Auburn? Absolutely, but I think Carolina has a much more glaring need on the offensive side of the ball where they averaged a league-low 12 points per game last season.
2. (Mike) Denver Broncos: Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson - Nothing has changed in this spot since my original mock draft released on January 17th. Defensive end is still a position of need as Denver registered the fewest sacks in the NFL last season after losing bookend Elvis Dumervil to injury during the preseason. Bowers reminds me of a young Julius Peppers. In 2002, John Fox took over as head coach for the Carolina Panthers and used the second overall selection to select Peppers. In 2010, I expect him to do the same with Bowers. The symmetry here is too much to ignore.
Ricky: Have to agree here. I had Bowers going in this spot as well. If Dumervil comes back healthy, these two could be a scary DE tandem. Bowers is versatile enough to stand up a la Brian Orakpo and be used off the edge in a 3-4 scheme. With Fox taking over, wouldn’t be surprised if Denver switches to a 4-3, but either way Bowers will make an impact.
3. (Ricky) Buffalo Bills: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia - Just hang the Bills offensive depth chart on the back of your door and throw a dart. They have needs pretty much all over their offense besides the RB position. Same old story for Bills fans, unfortunately, they have needs along the line and shaky play at QB. But A.J. Green is the top offensive talent on the board and probably the safest pick in the draft. He’s a talent that cannot be overlooked and a threat that they desperately need. They have burners on the outside, but have no one close to a #1 receiver on the field. They might not have a top flight QB in Buffalo, but Green’s size and athleticism allows room for error and his height makes him a superior target in the red zone.
Mike: On talent alone, Green warrants a top-three selection (he’s my favorite player in this draft), but I actually think Buffalo’s wide receiving corps is pretty decent. Steve Johnson, Lee Evans, and Roscoe Parrish can all get open and catch the ball (ignore Johnson’s laughable drop against the Steelers in OT this year). The Bills averaged over 230 passing yards per game when Ryan Fitzpatrick was the starting quarterback, which would have ranked right around league-average. However, they were atrocious trying to stop the run last year, giving up nearly 170 yards a game on the ground. They need defensive line help.
4. (Mike) Cincinnati Bengals: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina - Another pick that I am sticking with here. Death, taxes, and the Bengals employing players with character issues. Life's only certainties. Quinn's off-the-field issues aren't as worrisome as some others have been (he accepted money from an agent and was forced to sit out the 2010 season), but is it a preview of things to come? Cincy better hope not because he has difference-making potential along the defensive front, and the Bengals had the league's fourth-fewest sacks.
Ricky: It’s hard to argue the need for defensive help here. But any team picking in the top 5 is going to have various holes in their team. With Carson Palmer wanting out, I wouldn’t put it past Cincinnati to look quarterback here. Early on I didn’t think highly of Cam Newton, but watching tapes of him he continues to impress. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bengals decided solely on the fact he had more rushing yards in the BCS National Championship (64) than their number two quarterback, Carson’s little brother Jordan, has career passing yards (54).
5. (Ricky) Arizona Cardinals: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado - The Cardinals were atrocious on offense last season. The fact that the Panthers were historically bad helped mask the fact that Arizona was just really, really bad. 31st in the league passing the ball, 32nd in the league rushing the ball. When you have two RB’s that could start by themselves on any other team, there is no reason to be dead last in the NFL running the football. The Cardinals have no depth at the tackle position, and their young QB’s don’t look like the answer because they have no time to take a step back from behind center before they’re looking out of their ear hole. Solder is a highly rated prospect and someone who can inject some youth into an aging offensive line. It’s a smart pick.
Mike: I like the thought of taking an offensive lineman, but Solder seems like a reach right here. Is he that much better than all other OT’s? I’m not convinced. I actually think Cam Newton fits here for the reasons you mentioned above on my Bengals’ pick and because Larry Fitzgerald might take the war room hostage and demand some help at quarterback.
6. (Mike) Cleveland Browns: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama - The Browns haven’t had a 1000-yard receiver since 2007. This season, they finished 30th in passing yards per game, had no wide receiver eclipse 500 yards receiving, and were one of seven teams league-wide to throw more interceptions than touchdown passes. If they truly believe in Colt McCoy at quarterback and want to give him an honest evaluation, Mike Holmgren and Co. will surround him with some desperately-needed playmakers. Jones fits the bill. After being the top recruit in the country coming out of high school, he led the Crimson Tide in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns in each of his three seasons in Tuscaloosa.
Ricky: As much as I’d like to play devil’s advocate here, I can’t. When your most dangerous receiving threat is Benjamin Watson, you’re not going to scare defenses from loading up against the run. The fact they were able to run the ball with any success is a testament to how good this young offensive line can be. They absolutely need a threat on the outside to alleviate the pressure off of their running game and make defenses think twice about putting 8 in the box. Jones fits here.
(Day 1 Ends)
7. (Ricky) San Francisco 49ers: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri – The combination of former NCAA studs – the Smith’s (Alex and Troy) along with David Carr are not going to win the NFC West, let alone compete with the varsity teams in the league. 49ers fans might cringe at the thought of using a top 10 pick on a QB after the Alex Smith experiment, but I think it’s time San Francisco moves on and takes another shot at a QB. Their defense is loaded with talent all around and is anchored by one of the best linebackers in the game, they don’t need any first round help this year. The offense has been The Frank Gore show for a little too long and he looks like he’s starting to show the wear. The 49ers used last year’s first round to grab TWO offensive lineman (Anthony Davis at 11th overall and Mike Iupati at 17th), and have a talent in Joe Staley (who’s coming back from injury) from the first round of the 2007 draft. The line is young, it’s talented, and it’s ready to give a young QB a fair shot. Gabbert is probably the most “NFL-ready” QB in the draft, not a ton of upside like Newton, but also much less of a risk. If they hit with Gabbert, they will solidify an offense for the foreseeable future that’s been missing in San Francisco since Steve Young retired.
Mike: Really can’t argue this one. Although I am not the biggest Gabbert supporter, he can come in and start in Week One. San Fran has some decent weapons already in place - Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree - but have not been able to get the ball in their hands consistently. Gabbert should be able to provide a little stability to the quarterback position in San Fran, and in the pathetic NFC West, he would make the 49ers the favorites. However, anyone with visions of another Steve Young or Joe Montana will be sorely disappointed.
8. (Mike) Tennessee Titans: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU - The Titans gave up the fourth most passing yards per game last season. They found a steal in the 2010 Draft with fourth rounder CB Alterraun Verner, but drafting Peterson would allow Verner to slide down to be the number three corner. Peterson can also contribute in the return game. My only hesitation here was debating the merits of Cam Newton. Ultimately, although I think he will be the better pro, the comparisons and striking similarities to Vince Young - a player who crashed and burned with the Titans - squash any chance Tennessee takes Newton, which means in this mock draft, Cam will be sliding.
Ricky: Going back to 2006, the Titans have used only 4 picks on an offensive lineman. Two picks used in the 4th round (2007 – Leroy Harris, C; 2009 – Troy Kropog, OT) and two used in the 7th round (2007 – Mike Otto, OT; 2009 – Ryan Durand, OG). The offensive line has never seemed like a priority to the Titans, but with Jeff Fisher gone and the team going in another direction, it’s very possible the philosophy changes with Mike Munchak who spent the last fourteen years as offensive line coach for the Titans. He’s a Hall of Fame offensive guard and the only OL coach the team has had since they moved to Tennessee, who will for sure be looking to build this team in the trenches. Fortunately for the Titans they have the most elusive running back in the NFL in Chris Johnson, but if they want to keep it that way they need to protect him with at least some blocking. He can break 10 tackles, but 11 is pushing it.
9. (Ricky) Dallas Cowboys: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska - My computer couldn’t wait to put a squiggly red line under that name! Each season the Cowboys become more popular, and each season their pass defense gets worse. 26th against the pass last season and it was not the fault of the defensive front. Terence Newman will be 33 by the season opener and past his prime while Mike Jenkins is sorely underachieving. Jenkins is a victim of an early career Pro Bowl selection and the false sense of entitlement to his position on the team. Amukamara will not only bring the competitive fire to camp and push these guys, he’ll probably blow Jenkins out of the water and earn a starting spot. His intangibles are what separate him, and leadership quality is something this team has been lacking for a very long time.
Mike: Something is amiss because I like your last two picks. As a Giants fan, you are a little partial to just how bad Jenkins is. He had a down year last season - including an egregious play where he chose not to even attempt to make a tackle - and he is a worse tackler than Deion Sanders. But, the guy can play a little and would be a nice number two corner if Prince can show his skills from day one.
10. (Mike) Washington Redskins: Von Miller, DE, Texas A&M - Coupling Miller with 2009 first round DE Brian Orakpo would have defensive coordinator Jim Haslett doing backflips in DC. The duo would be the best young defensive end pairing in the league within two years. Washington should learn from their division rivals, the Giants, that the best way to shut down an opponent’s aerial attack is by getting pressure on the quarterback. [Tangent: Name the two teams led the NFL in sacks last year. Answer: Green Bay and Pittsburgh. Didn’t they just play a meaningful game a few weeks ago?] Besides Orakpo, no Redskin had more than three sacks last year. The big question is whether Mike Shannahan agrees or if he targets an offensive player to pacify /save his son, Kyle, the team’s offensive coordinator. I said it in the original mock and will say it again, if the Redskins take Newton with the 10th pick, I’ll run a marathon. It is not happening. How far will Cam fall?
Ricky: Welp, there goes the Texans top player off the board. I like where your head is at in terms of the politics of this. I have a feeling Mike Shanahan will in fact stay on the offensive side of the ball even though all the logic in the world says otherwise (aka the Redskins being ranked 31st overall in defense)! He has to protect his son, and also LOVES drafting running backs to run free through his zone blocking scheme. I actually think Mark Ingram could be in play here, bit of a stretch, but he is the best pure running back in the draft by far and comes with no baggage - something Shanahan probably values a lot higher than he used to (see: Haynesworth, Albert).
11. (Ricky) Houston Texans: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado - Dating back to 2004, every first round pick (including two first rounders in 2004) has been used on the defensive side of the football. It hasn’t worked. The Texans most recent first round choice, CB Kareem Jackson (20th overall in 2010), couldn’t help the defense from finishing dead last in the NFL against the pass. They gave up the most touchdowns through the air (33, tied with the Mike Jenkins’ led Cowboys) while allowing a league worst 267 yards a game and could only manage 13 INT’s for the year. They have a beast defensive line and a solid group of linebackers, all young and all getting better, but this secondary needs a lot of work. Enter Jimmy Smith. A solid, highly rated prospect out of Colorado with an excellent work ethic. He’s quiet and leads by example, should be an excellent addition to this secondary - but then again, so would I, and that’s not saying much.
Who is this guy?
Mike: I am going to take some umbrage with this pick. I consider myself one of the biggest college football fans in the country, maybe in the universe, and until two weeks ago, I had never heard of Jimmy Smith. I’m not proud of it, but it’s the truth. I really cannot say whether this guy is a product of the Kiper-McShay hype machine or if he’s a legitimate talent until I throw in some game film and break him down. How can you know that he leads by example? Is there a certain game I should watch first that would let me see this leadership? Are you on the Colorado payroll somehow? You took Solder fifth overall and now Smith at 11. They played on a Colorado team that went 13-23 over the last three seasons and got their coach fired in the process. I agree the Texans definitely need A LOT of help in the defensive backfield, but I have no reason to believe Smith is the guy to do it.
Ricky: I’d be silly not to acknowledge my fellow “college football fan” here and educate him on who Jimmy Smith is. It’s a pretty generic name, so when you Google it you’ll have to add some specifics, like “Co” then Google does this thing where it assumes you mean “Jimmy Smith Colorado” and gives you the option of choosing it’s suggestion. So I researched this Jimmy Smith character and found some very interesting things. Like my friend Mike here, I’m a fan – I’m no scout, I don’t get to pack up and head to these individual workouts and practices, so I have to rely on the material at hand. I found one very interesting article on Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports and this is what stuck out to me: “According to statistics compiled by the University of Colorado, Smith was targeted just 20 times in man coverage throughout his 12-start senior season. He allowed 11 completions (55 percent) and one touchdown. The Big 12 has a reputation as one of the most pass-happy college football conferences. Clearly, offensive coordinators shied away from Smith. Smith also garnered first-team All-Big 12 honors from the coaches, despite not picking off a single pass. It’s an obvious sign of respect.” Could the University of Colorado qualify as an unbiased source? Probably not, and I’m sure his 4.35 40 time is slightly fast, but I don’t see anyone challenging it. Even if that number was 30 targets, in the Big-12 that’s impressive. And even if he really runs a 4.4 – at 6’2”/205, that’s impressive. Teams that throw the ball near 50 times a game would have to literally make an effort to locate him on the field and then proceed not to throw it anywhere near him. If you haven’t heard of him – tough to say he’s a product of anyone’s hype. And that’s where I get he’s quiet and leads by example. BOOM! ROASTED! That and other sources said it, too, because I haven’t met him. And I don’t follow on the teams record, so Chris Johnson was a bad pick since ECU was 14-21 his first 3 years he was there? (8-5 senior season) but THERE’S NO I IN TEAM!
Mike: You still haven’t addressed the accusations that you are on the Colorado payroll. Also, Colorado likely didn’t play man coverage all that often because they don’t have the athletes to pull it off. All signs point to him being a good player, but being selected 11th overall is a stretch. Lastly, I never said teams shouldn’t draft players from losing teams. I was questioning what kind of “leadership” the guy showed while his team was repeatedly getting crushed on the field. In each of his three years at CU, the Buffaloes experienced a three-game losing streak. Still not sure who got “boom roasted.”
12. (Mike) Minnesota Vikings: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn - It’s finally time for Cam to leave the Green Room. That was about to get embarrassing. Big Daddy Cecil almost had to pay someone off. I digress. Newton has the most “upside” of any quarterback in this draft, but will his game translate to the next level? Adrian Peterson better hope so because opposing defensive coordinators are foaming at the mouth just thinking about preparing for Tarvaris Jackson or Joe Webb again. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner would have weapons at his disposal with the aforementioned Peterson, the Great White Hope Toby Gerhart, Percy Harvin, and Sidney Rice. If Minnesota can re-sign three-legged TE Vishante Shiancoe, there’s no reason this offense can’t be among the league’s best, especially with Brad Childress no longer standing in the way. It may not always be pretty, but Newton finds ways to win games. Plain and simple. To me, he proved himself by going into Tuscaloosa and bringing his team back from a 24-0 deficit against a team that hadn’t lost at home in three years. He’ll be the face of the Minnesota franchise…until they move to LA.
Ricky: Tough to argue, he’s the best option available and at his worst is a lot better than Brett Favre’s corpse taking snaps and throwing really terrible interceptions. Tavaris Jackson has gotten plenty of chances to show what he can do and has been very hot/cold. I say you draft Newton here and let him sit/learn while Jackson is used as a piñata for one more season.
13. (Ricky) Detroit Lions: Tyron Smith, OT, USC - If I was the Lions, the clock hit 0:00 about 20 minutes ago and we got skipped over in the draft. I literally couldn’t decide where to go here, good thing I’m not on the clock. Then I remembered the walking, talking barely breathing Powerball Lottery Jackpot named Matthew Stafford face first in the field turf. This guy had his career ended, what, 6 different times and was able to come back from it, one more free shot and this guy is the biggest waste of money since “Tha purp drank” took down JaMarcus Russell. He already has glass for shoulders at this point so this pick is all about protecting what’s left of your investment, and Smith has the tools to do it. He’s light for a tackle at the NFL level (coming in at 290 lbs.), but with the speed rushers inside the division like Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews, that might be the way to go.
Mike: “Just when I thought you couldn't possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this... and totally redeem yourself.” Truth be told, I was just looking for a way to get that line in this article, but I do really like this pick.
14. (Mike) St. Louis Rams: Mike Pouncey, C, Florida - The Rams should look at what the Lions did with Stafford…and do the exact opposite. How can you justify spending over $50m on a quarterback and then not protect him? That’s like buying a Bentley and repeatedly parking it underneath a pigeon coup. Terrible idea. Any money spent on the asset known as Sam Bradford is money well spent. This might be a little high for Pouncey, but I am sure a number of teams regret passing over his brother Maurkice in the 2010 Draft, and Mike is a very similar player.
Ricky: I hate this pick because it’s an obvious reach, he shouldn’t under any circumstance be drafted higher than 19th overall. To the New York Giants. Seriously though, I like what the Rams are doing but I’m shocked they won as many games as they did last year. I still think they have holes everywhere and they happen to be in a great position in the draft. Normally they’re stuck in the top 5 and are forced to back up dump trucks filled with money to guys that they draft. At least in this position it’s more like an SUV filled with money, and here I think they can give it to Marcell Dareus (DE, Alabama). He’s listed as a defensive end but is more natural in the defensive tackle spot at 6’2”, 300 lbs. He can step in and cause havoc right away for a team searching for an identity on defense, why not try stopping the run? All that said, I love Pouncey and hope the Giants can grab him, if not he should read and pick up blitzes well for Bradford and Spags down in Saint Louie.
15. (Ricky) Miami Dolphins: Jake Locker, QB, Washington - Okay, I know the cool thing to do nowadays is to bury Locker on your board and replace him at the top with Cam Newton, and somewhere in the middle there’s Gabbert and Ryan Mallett. I don’t like Mallett, just don’t, I’ll put that out there. Oh, great he has a strong arm, he’s a quarterback so I hope he does, that’s always a good trait to have. Beyond that I don’t see anything, he’s slow and fairly unathletic. Locker took some hits with his stats this year, okay…. So in a year this guy went from automatic #1 overall pick with no questions asked to him being a stretch to go in the first round? And he wasn’t even injured? Holy knee jerk reaction folks. Everyone needs to relax and take a deep breath. The Dolphins are desperate for a quarterback and they need one now. You don’t go out and get an elite wide receiver in Brandon Marshall so he could have a guy who might be a lefty throwing him the ball. Because they went out and got Marshall, they don’t pick again until the 3rd round (79th overall), you grab Locker and you thank him repeatedly for sucking his senior season so you didn’t have to trade up or pay him like the #1 overall pick so many had projected less than a year ago. They can look RB at Ingram, but there are many more options later in the draft, QB is a much bigger need for Miami right now.
Mike: If the draft plays out like we think it will, I’m pretty sure the Dolphins would sprint to the podium knocking over any man, woman, or child in the way to hear Roger Goodell call the name “Mark Ingram.” That being said, this is a bold pick, and I like it. Neither of the Chads - Henne or Pennington - is the long-term solution. Where is John Beck when you need him? Wait, they released him two years after selecting him in the second round? Whoops.
16. (Mike) Jacksonville Jaguars: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri - The Jags could not overcome the loss of DE Aaron Kampman after he suffered a torn ACL during practice midway through the season. They registered the second fewest sacks in all of football last season and need to find a way to get after the quarterback. Last year’s first rounder DE Tyson Alualu appeared in all 16 games and started to show some promise towards the end of the year. In other good news for Jacksonville fans (I went out on a limb and said “fans” instead of “fan” because there must be at least one more out there besides MJD’s mom, right?), this front office led by GM Gene Smith has been very successful in identifying collegiate talent recently. Dareus was a close second here, but he continues to slide.
Ricky: Jacksonville… Another team that seems to have needs at a bunch of positions. Like Mike mentioned, they used their pick last year on a DE/DT and are getting Kampman back for the 2011 campaign – Not a bad idea stocking up on D lineman. Because the WR class is so weak this year and the O lineman can wait until the later rounds, they really have no other choice but to stock up on pass rushers – and that will definitely help them in the long run.
17. (Ricky) New England Patriots (From Oakland Raiders): J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin – The Patriots are golden in the draft, they rarely miss, and they have their option when it comes to defensive ends. I like Watt here because I think he’s the best pass rusher of the DE’s remaining on the board. The Patriots led the NFL in INT’s last season with no real pass rushing threats on their defense. They’ve never had a big time pass rusher through their recent dynasty years, unless you think Willie McGinest was that guy (Ranks second all-time in Pats history with 78 sacks behind Andre Tippet, with 100). They have few holes in this team, and if they can add a premier pass rusher, things could get really scary for the rest of the league. With Bill Belichick running the defense and actually having the personnel to do things with, scores could get lopsided real quick.
Mike: Watt and his nonstop motor seem like a nice fit here. I'm just shocked Ingram and Dareus are still on the board.
(End of Day 2)
18. (Mike) San Diego Chargers: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama - The Chargers, incredibly, had a top-three defense and top-three offense last season yet still missed the playoffs. They don’t have a ton of needs, but Dareus looks like the best player on the board right now. He would give San Diego a run-stuffer in the middle of the defensive line that all teams can use, especially in a division featuring Run DMC, Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones, and Knowshon Moreno (who is a threat when healthy).
Ricky: It’s hard to imagine having an offense and defense in the top three and not make the playoffs in the AFC West. I got to thinking – ‘If those two units were so good, special teams had to be bad, right?’ And what do you know? BOOM! Ranked dead last in special teams by Football Outsiders. We all know that you have to be good in all 3 phases of the game, not great in two and laughable in another – just be average in all three and you’ll be okay. Obviously, you can’t go looking for special teams help in the first round unless Sebastian Janikowski declared for the draft again. It’s the only real need area they have to address, but there’s just no one versatile enough to take in the first round. Ideally you’d like to see them take a WR or DB that can help them in the return game as well, thus addressing two areas for SD, but not the case this year in the first round. Go with the player that can make the most impact right now, and that is Dareus – who could end up going a lot higher in this draft. Great value pick here.
19. (Ricky) New York Giants: Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA - There’s a general consensus NY is targeting an offensive lineman, but I’m not convinced. If Pouncey falls to them at 19, they take him. They have centers riddled with injuries and both are coming back off of surgery next season. Because Pouncey was unfairly taken at #14, the Giants have to address a need they’ve failed to address for years, linebacker. Ayers is a great athlete and can line up anywhere on the field, the type of player Jerry Reese loves. Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell will love this pick as he’ll finally get a linebacker capable of dropping back in coverage or blitzing from anywhere on the field. The Giants linebackers need to compete with speed all over the division from Michael Vick (PHI) scrambling to Felix Jones (DAL) out in the flat, and really no one important in Washington now that I think about it. Ayers returned two INT’s for TD’s in 2009 so he shows surprisingly good ball skills for the position (also returning a fumble for a score). He’d fit right into a ball hawking defense that’s getting comfortable in year two of Fewell’s scheme.
Mike: How can I argue this pick when it’s the same one I made in the original mock? I can’t. Let’s move on.
20. (Mike) Tampa Bay Bucs: Cam Jordan, DE, California - Last year, the Bucs solidified the DT position by taking Gerald McCoy and Brian Price with their first two picks. Adding another piece along the defensive line will go a long way towards the Bucs improving a dismal sack total. Jordan is one of the guys coming on strong during the postseason All-Star / Showcase games. A strong combine might boost his stock into the Top 15.
Ricky: Stocking up on defensive lineman seems to be a theme here, sure we can assume the Bucs will go that route also – but now that they think they’ve found their franchise quarterback, it’s time to start getting him some weapons. Randall Cobb out of Kentucky wouldn’t be a huge stretch here, he’s probably the most versatile all around player in the draft. He’s played QB, returned punts, returned kicks, held for kicks, but primarily lines up as a WR. The Bucs could use a versatile playmaker for Josh Freeman to help open up the offense.
21. (Ricky) Kansas City Chiefs: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue - The Chiefs were dominant rushing the ball last season, #1 in the league. They were dreadful passing the ball, enough to be 30th in the league. They need help on the outside to take the pressure off Dwayne Bowe, but there’s none to be found in the first round. Their defense was largely average, not forcing a ton of turnovers but they’re young. They got an excellent talent in Eric Berry last year who will continue to develop into a stud patrolling center field for the defense. Ryan Kerrigan is a Jared Allen type of player, 100% at all times. He has a motor that doesn’t stop and that’s something this defense has been lacking since shipping Allen to Minnesota. Kerrigan might not be the highest rated DE left on the board, but his solid resume and the tenacity he plays with is what’s going to separate him from someone like Adrian Clayborn – who might be more talented, but also likes to punch cab drivers in the face when they honk at him.
Mike: Earlier, you suggested the Bucs should have selected Randall Cobb to offer Josh Freeman some help. Applying the same logic, why not take Cobb here? Personally, I like Jon Baldwin out of Pitt in this spot. He’s a burner and has the size needed to haul in the errant throws that Matt Cassel regularly makes. The Chiefs already have a defensive line chock full of former first rounders: Tamba Hali, Glenn Dorsey, and Tyson Jackson. Unless they think Jackson is a bust, I’m not sure they can justify spending all this money on another first round DE.
22. (Mike) Indianapolis Colts: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama - It has been assumed the Colts will take an offensive lineman in the first round (they should probably consider taking an OL in each of the first five rounds but that’s a debate for another day). However, when a talent like Mark Ingram falls into your lap, you simply cannot pass up the opportunity to grab him. Indy finished 29th in the league in rushing last season. Sure, some of that had to do with the fact that they had the second best passing offense in the league, but a lot of it also has to do with the fact their running backs were terrible even when healthy. Joseph Addai, a free agent, couldn’t stay healthy and appeared in only eight games. Neither could Donald Brown as he missed three games and was limited in many others. In total, the two did not amass 1000 yards which is laughable when you have one of the league’s best quarterbacks. Take Ingram here, and use the rest of the draft to find players to block for him and protect Peyton.
Peyton's future wingman?
Ricky: I actually don’t think they need help on the OL just yet. They gave up the fewest sacks in the league last season (Tied with Eli’s Giants at 16) and can’t be blamed for the durability issues of who they’re blocking for. The Colts used to have this guy named Bob Sanders who was being talked about more than Troy Polamalu when he was healthy. Since Sanders has only registered 3 tackles since the start of 2009, wouldn’t surprise me if the Colts went with Rahim Moore out of UCLA to shore up a shaky defense.
23. (Ricky) Philadelphia Eagles: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College – The Eagles have one of the most straight forward needs in the draft. Not a ton of holes, but one is glaring and that’s the O-line. They’re fortunate to have Michael Vick and his video game joystick controls so he can elude pass rushers like he was in the Matrix, so Castonzo will be able to make mistakes he wouldn’t get away with on another team (like the Colts). This allows him the ability to step in and play right away and learn on the job without a huge risk of his confidence getting blown up. Vick should help make this look like a great pick.
Mike: Like the pick, like the reasoning.
24. (Mike) New Orleans Saints: Rahim Moore, S, UCLA - New Orleans' defense was torched against the Seahawks in the playoffs for 41 points. This was a Seattle team that averaged 19 points during the regular season. The main culprit: S Roman Harper. The safety position is in need of an upgrade and some playmakers. Don’t believe me? Check out this stat: In 2009, Darren Sharper had nine interceptions; in 2010, the whole Saints team had nine interceptions. Moore is the best safety in the class, and as I mentioned here, teams should no longer fear drafting a safety with their first round pick.
Ricky: 100% makes sense. The Saints went from 26 picks in 2009 to 9 in 2010. 9. Really? That’s just pathetic. Don’t even draft here, just go get Darren Sharper out of the old age home and get him back on the field.
25. (Ricky) Seattle Seahawks: Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas - Okay, we know I don’t like this guy, but Seattle needs a QB. I feel like Matt Hasselbeck has been 40 years old for 10 years now. They shored up the left side of the line with Russel Okung who should be a stud for years to come. With the blindside protected, should be a good time to bring in a QB to develop into a solid starter. Rough spot for Seattle, not that great of a team with a lot of holes and picking in a deep part of the draft usually reserved for a solid team – but someone had to win the NFC West last year. Mallett is a good value pick here, but they could use help learning how to run the ball also. Maybe the Marshawn Lynch run still has enough momentum to carry them into next year.
Mike: Good point about Hasselbeck. His baldness adds 12-15 years to his appearance. I just don’t think Pete Carroll is ready to give up on Charlie Whitehurst. They traded a second round pick for the guy last year, and he played decent football when he was forced into action in Week 17 against the Rams. Even with a healthy Hasselbeck – a decent quarterback - they only averaged 19 points a game. This team needs playmakers. Again, I think Jon Baldwin would be perfect for this team.
26. (Mike) Baltimore Ravens: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa - Surprisingly, the Ravens struggled to get to the quarterback this season. They recorded only 27 sacks, tied for fourth-worst in the league. Clayborn came into this season as a consideration for the top pick. He struggled a bit and subsequently fell down many boards. Since character issues are not an issue on the Ravens (Ray Lewis / Donte Stallworth: murder or Terrell Suggs: domestic abuse, just to name three), they won’t mind that he punches people as long as he can rush the passer. Doesn’t it seem like every year a very good defensive player falls to the Ravens? In 2007, it was Haloti Ngata (11th overall); in 2009, it was Paul Kruger (57th); in 2010, it was Sergio Kindle (43rd) and Terrence Cody (57th).
Ricky: The Ravens also have a sleeper in Sergio Kindle, if he’s allowed back after a DUI at the end of his Injured Reserved season, who is slowly but surely making his way back from a nasty injury that happened just days before camp last summer. With the Ravens history of allowing misconduct, they might ask Kindle to commit a couple more crimes to get his street cred up before inviting him back to camp, but if he can do all that and get healthy, the Ravens and Ozzie Newsome can feel as if they got two first round talents this year (Kindle was selected in the early second round last year).
27. (Ricky) Atlanta Falcons: Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami (FL) - I don’t see this guy up on a lot of boards, so he can be my sleeper pick. Over 1,100 yards and 13 TD’s last season and going under the radar as a WR from the U?? This school has had a knack for producing monster #1 WR talent (Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Santana Moss, Michael Irvin). Personally, I don’t think he’s a #1 go to guy, but absolutely someone who can open up the field for Roddy White and give Matt Ryan somewhere else to look. The Falcons need an upgrade at TE in this draft, but I’m looking round 2 or 3 for them to get it. Tony Gonzalez is still productive, but every year since 2007 his receptions and his yards have been dropping. This should be his last year of a Hall of Fame career.
Mike: Hankerson wouldn’t have to be a number one since the Falcons already have the best wide receiver in the game (yes, in the game), Roddy White, but I think they have bigger needs on the other side of the ball. Green Bay torched Atlanta in the dome during the playoffs because they could not stop the deadly aerial blitzkrieg Aaron Rodgers launched on them. They need defensive backs badly if they have any hopes of ever making a deep run.
28. (Mike) New England Patriots: Jon Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh - Finally, my man Baldwin is off the board. Unfortunately, it’s to the most despised team in all of football, maybe even all of sports. New England, coming on the heels of last year’s incredible draft, gets their replacement for Randy Moss. Baldwin has number one receiver talent, something missing currently on this roster. [Note: Please don’t get me started on Deion Branch.] They would have to be thrilled if this scenario played out as both Watt and Baldwin could start right away. With the luxury of having three of the first 33 picks, this will keep Tom Brady happy and still allow the Pats to address their porous defense with the other two selections.
Ricky: I don’t think Tom Brady really needs any help. They called off the search for Deion Branch last year only to find out he was actually just playing in Seattle the whole time. Seriously, Tom Brady makes these players who they are, just like Peyton Manning does with the supermarket bag boys he throws to. If I’m the Pats here, I look running back. A guy who was getting pre-season Heisman buzz only to have a disastrous season was Ryan Williams of Virginia Tech. He missed some time due to a hamstring injury but has a lot of upside. Does not fumble the ball and has both a physical running style but able to also make guys miss – very athletic. I think the Pats could use a feature back, which would make Tom Brady and his play-fake pretty much deadly.
29. (Ricky) Chicago Bears: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin - The Bears gave up a league high 56 sacks! Jay Cutler had to throw the towel in multiple times last season claiming he was injured when everyone knew he was just tired of getting run over by monster defensive ends. I know the sacks were bad enough, but as a team they also rushed for under 4 yards a carry. A reason might have been the fact that they led the NFL in rushing attempts resulting in negative yards, happened 53 times. This is a no brainer and a desperate need for the Bears. Luckily there’s a deep pool of offensive linemen in this draft, and I think Chicago would be very happy with all 6 foot 8 inches of Gabe Camini falling in, and crushing, their lap.
Mike: I was hoping Carimi slipped to the Jets but to no avail. Chicago needs the offensive line help and I agree Carimi is the best on the board at this point.
30. (Mike) New York Jets: Brandon Harris, CB, Miami - All signs are pointing to the Jets releasing Antonio Cromartie, a move that both I and all of his babies’ mothers vehemently oppose. I think the Jets should franchise him and let Braylon Edwards walk as a free agent. Instead, it looks like they will keep Edwards and fellow free agent Santonio Holmes (who knows what the plan is for Brad Smith). If that’s the case, they need to find a replacement for Cro. They used last year’s first rounder on CB Kyle Wilson who was a bit of a disappointment as a rookie. Add in the fact that Rex Ryan loves defensive backs (he dressed nine of them in the playoffs, not including Jim Leonhard), and I think they go in this direction if none of the top offensive lineman is still available. You cannot win in this league if you can’t stop the pass.
Ricky: I still think Kyle Wilson has a chance to start. He’s got a year of experience under his belt and should come into camp much more confident and assertive. I personally despise Braylon Edwards and would love if he was let go, but it’s not up to me. I think the Jets defense took a step back last season, and I actually think the weakness isn’t in the defensive backfield – it’s along the line. If any team could use some youth on the defensive line, it’s the Jets. Jason Taylor wasn’t the answer, and Vernon Gholston is trying really hard to keep his “draft bust” title. Not sure Ohio State is the place to go to replace Gholston, but maybe one of his own can overtake him – Cameron Heyward who would fit very nicely in the Jets 3-4 scheme. He’s got good bloodlines – father was Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, and minus a small scope of the elbow last month, his stock would probably be a lot higher.
31. (Ricky) Pittsburgh Steelers: Benjamin Ijalana, OT, Villanova – The Steelers are solid all around, but have an aging offensive line. The patchwork job worked last year with Flozell Adams, but he seems to get injured every other play and they need some more depth at the position. This way they can remove Flozell from crawling around the field and save other players from getting leg whipped. Ijalana was the only FCS player to be on the watch list for the Outland Trophy (Nation’s Best Lineman) which ended up going to Gabe Carimi. Villanova averaged a shade under 200 yards a game on the ground behind him (199.5). Ijalana has great bulk, but lacks ideal height, which may have him moved inside to guard. Either way, he’s a versatile and very durable (started every game he played at Villanova, 52) lineman who can step in when needed year one and be groomed to start within a year or two.
Mike: This was going to be my pick for the Packers so I think it’s a good one.
32. (Mike) Green Bay Packers: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois - The defending Super Bowl champions have very few needs. I love the thought of lining up Liuget next to BJ Raji to completely thwart any idea opponents have of rushing the ball against the Packers. That’s 650+ lbs of run-stopping blubber. The division rival Minnesota Vikings did this with Kevin and Pat Williams and had great success.
Ricky: I was ready to blow this pick apart because I honestly thought the Packers were really good against the run, like top 5 good, if not they had to be in the top 8, right? Wait, what? 18th? Okay, I like the idea. Let’s gain another 300+ pounds and make the division with Matt Stafford, Tavaris Jackson and Jay Cutler beat us through the air. I’ll take Packers winning the division by 4 games in 2011. Boom! ROASTED!
Ricky: 3 QBs, 5 OTs, 2 WRs, 1 DT, 2 DEs, 1 LB, 2 CBs; 10 offense, six defense; selected all five OTs
Mike: 1 QB, 1 RB, 2 WRs, 1C, 2 DTs, 6 DEs, 2 CBs, 1 S; five offense; 11 defense; selected six of eight DEs
Total: 8 DE, 5 OT, 4 QB, 4 WR, 4 CB, 3 DT, 1 LB, 1 S, 1 C, 1 RB; 15 offense, 17 defense
Ricky: Nate Solder to Arizona at pick #5. I hate to go against myself, but this is a reach. The problem is, there’s no one else to go with there in my opinion – if I could orchestrate a trade to drop down, I would – but it’s a mock draft. Facts are Solder is a monster at 6’9” and could anchor that line for a long time. But #5 is very high.
Ricky: Mark Ingram to Indianapolis at pick #22. Best pure running back in the draft going to a Super Bowl contender.
Mike: Gabe Carimi at pick #29. He could be popped in the Top-15. He’s also a great fit on a Chicago team that can’t block.
Ricky: A.J. Green to Buffalo at pick #3. I made the pick, so I should be comfortable with it, but WR’s just go to Buffalo and disappear. I don’t see him starting off productive, and sometimes that can lead to a downward spiral and them just tailing off.
Mike: Nick Fairley to Carolina at #1. He’s a stud, but there is no track record whatsoever for top picks being successful at the DT position.
Ricky: Jake Locker to Miami at pick #15. I just think this guy is going to wow people. I still don’t get how he goes from having all the tools to not having them. He still has them, he wasn’t surrounded with talent, he’ll be throwing to Brandon Marshall. He’ll get it together.
Mike: JJ Watt at #17 to New England. This is a defense that is young and plays hard. He’s a great fit.
Ricky: Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia
Mike: Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois
Ricky: Easy to go with Prince Amukamara, fun to say and type – but I like Jimmy Smith. Keep it simple.
Mike: Ben Ijalana. Has a nice ring to it.
Ricky: With it being early yet, the mock draft still had its share of surprises. I’m sure in a couple weeks this board will shuffle up pretty nicely. There are a ton of guys that can prove a lot at the combine and through interviews, then we’ll start to see which way teams are preparing to go in the draft.
Mike: My draft was better than yours.