|Mock draft, Take 3: Short move for Anthony Castonzo?||02.09.11 at 7:52 am ET|
Until the combine takes place, the mock draft is at the point where it’s being fine-tuned to take different needs into consideration. The big shakeup this week starts with the Vikings going with a quarterback and the Lions opting to take the fourth cornerback off the board at pick No. 13.
1. Carolina (2-14) Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson Nothing has changed in the top 10 picks, and with the Panthers unable to pluck a quarterback better than Jimmy Clausen, their decision will come down to taking Bowers or Nick Fairley or trading the selection. Bowers had 15.5 sacks last season for Clemson.
2. Denver (4-12) Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn The Broncos might find themselves in the same position the Buccaneers were in last year, when they simply took whichever guy the Lions passed on. Bowers and Fairley are clearly the top two players in this draft, though there remains some debate over which one will ultimately be selected first.
3. Buffalo (4-12) A.J. Green, WR, Georgia If former first-round pick Lee Evans leaves, it’s hard to see Green not being the pick. If he stays, the Bills can look at guys like Patrick Peterson, Prince Amukamara or Von Miller. The argument to be made for Green is that Evans is coming off his worst season and the team could cut him to avoid handing out a bonus.
4. Cincinnati (4-12) Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU This pick would make too much sense for the Bengals. Jonathan Joseph, whom the team selected in the first round of the 2006 draft, is a free agent, and Peterson is the best cornerback prospect to come out in years. To be able to land him fourth overall would actually be something of a steal, and in the event that he’s off the board, they could also consider Amukamara.
5. Arizona (5-11) Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M If there is no CBA and they don’t have the option of trading down, the Cardinals could be forced to take a quarterback too high and therefore pay him too much. Instead, they can get better value by selecting the draft’s top linebacker in Miller. He isn’t the biggest guy in the world, but he can fly when getting after the quarterback.
6. Cleveland (5-11) Cameron Jordan, DE, California The Browns would likely take A.J. Green if he were to be available, which would make him the second wide receiver the team took in the top 10 since 2005. Jordan’s Senior Bowl week catapulted him from a mid-first-round grade to potentially going ahead of Marcell Dareus, as we have here.
7. San Francisco (6-10) Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska Amukamara has the talent to step in as the team’s No. 2 corner as a rookie and the potential to be the team’s No. 1 corner over Nate Clements before long. After not playing in the Senior Bowl, he has only the upcoming combine to boost his stock, which already has him as a safe bet to go in the first 10 picks. The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder had five picks two seasons ago.
8. Tennessee (6-10) Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina Quinn dealt with a brain tumor in high school and was told that he would never play football again. While he overcame that to become one of the draft’s best prospects, he was also kicked off the team at UNC for receiving benefits from an agent and hasn’t played since his sophomore season in 2009. His 11 sacks as sophomore and his athleticism will still make him a top-10 pick.
9. Dallas (6-10) Marcell Dareus, DL, Alabama The Cowboys got a strong effort from Stephen Bowen when a strained calf landed Marcus Spears on the IR. The problem is that both are Bowen and Spears set to become free agents. Should they leave, the versatile Dareus would be the best option.
10. Washington (6-10) Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri Again, we’ll keep an eye on what happens with the quarterback situation in Washington to see whether Gabbert ends up being a fit here, or if for the first time since 2000 no quarterbacks are taken in the draft’s first 10 selections.
11. Texans (6-10) Brandon Harris, CB, Miami The loss of Dunta Robinson to free agency seemed to be even worse than people may have expected going into last season. Kareem Jackson couldn’t be the saving grace right away, and the Texans allowed a league-worst 267.5 passing yards per game. Jackson, who did start every game last season, definitely has the potential to be a starting cornerback in the NFL, but he can’t do it all himself.
12. Minnesota (6-10) Cam Newton, QB, Auburn Coach Leslie Frazier definitely is set on bringing in quarterbacks to compete for the starting job, and while Cam Newton won’t be starting anywhere next season, he would provide the Vikings with a quarterback of the future. That’s a step in the right direction after playing last season with a quarterback of the past.
13. Detroit (6-10) Aaron Williams, CB, Texas Williams makes his debut in this week’s mock, and though the team could consider moving down to secure him, their need at cornerback is strong enough for them to not risk taking any chances.
14. St. Louis (7-9) Julio Jones, WR, Alabama Given all that Sam Bradford was able to accomplish in his rookie season (3,512 passing yards, 18 touchdowns), it’s only fair that the Rams reward their franchise player with a target. Donnie Avery missed all of last year with a torn ACL, and three touchdown receptions should have been enough for Danny Amendola and Michael Hoomanawanui to lead the team.
15. Miami (7-9) Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama Ingram isn’t anywhere near the level of prospect C.J. Spiller when the Bills took him eighth overall last year, but that won’t stop the Dolphins from being the second AFC East team in as many years to take a first-round running back. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams aren’t a sure thing to return.
16. Jacksonville (8-8) Mike Pouncey, OL, Florida With both Gabbert and Newton off the board, the Jaguars might be in a tough spot if they want to go with a quarterback. Ryan Mallett would be the next signal-called on the board, but the Jaguars didn’t like him when his name was Byron Leftwich. As a result, they’ll add Pouncey to a roster that already includes former high picks Eugene Monroe (first round, 2009) and Eben Britton (second round, 2009).
17. New England (from Oakland (8-8)) Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College The Patriots should take an offensive lineman with one of their earlier picks, but do they do it this early? Castonzo could be this class’ best offensive line prospect, and if the Pats end up parting ways with Matt Light, they’ll need someone to play either left tackle or right tackle, with Sebastian Vollmer potentially sliding over to replace Light.
18. San Diego (9-7) Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa Jacques Cesaire and Travis Johnson are going to become free agents, and neither have played well enough to warrant A.J. Smith rushing to sign them and give them the other defensive end job. Clayborn has been a solid contributor in each of the last three seasons, including an 11-sack junior campaign in 2009.
19. New York Giants (10-6) Nate Solder, OT, Colorado Some will rate Solder as this class’ top offensive tackle based on his size (6-foot-8 2/8, 314 pounds) but he remains raw and has a ways to go before reaching a ceiling that’s just about as tall as he is.
20. Tampa Bay (10-6) J.J. Watt, DL, Wisconsin In the case of the Buccaneers, they need 2010 first-round pick Gerald McCoy healthy and contributing about all else. If they can get that in his sophomore campaign, they’ll be reminded why the disruptive defensive tackle had many wondering whether he could potentially have gone higher than Ndamukong Suh. Placing Watt next to him will make it an easier second year for McCoy.
21. Kansas City (10-6) Corey Liuget, DL, Illinois Despite starting just six games prior to this past season, Liuget had five sacks as a junior and worked his way into the first-round discussion. With Ron Edwards set to become a free agent, the Chiefs, who surprised many with their 10-6 showing this season, could add the final piece to their young defensive line.
22. Indianapolis (10-6) Tyron Smith, OT, USC While most other teams in need of an offensive tackle would take Gabe Carimi in this spot, Smith is a better fit for the Colts based on his size (or lack thereof) and athleticism. This selection would likely mean the end of free agent Charlie Johnson’s days in Indianapolis.
23. Philadelphia (10-6) Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia Coming off a 10-sack junior season, Houston would add to the influx of youth in the front seven after the Eagles made Brandon Graham a first-round pick last year. Houston would be able to start over Moise Fokou.
24. New Orleans (11-5) Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois At 6-foot-0 and 230 pounds, Leshoure will really be able to use the combine to build his case for surpassing Ingram as the draft’s top back. Assuming Leshoure measures and weighs in close to what he’s listed as, teams will see a guy who looks somewhat like a power back but has the speed to make him a threat to take it to the house. Pierre Thomas doesn’t have a contract for next season, so Leshoure to the Saints is a real possibility.
25. Seattle (7-9) Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas A team probably doesn’t want to devote its future to someone who had four games last season with a completion percentage of 50 percent or worse. Guess that rules Jake Locker out. Mallett has a big arm that needs a bit of tweaking in mechanics, and if the complete lack of mobility can be overlooked, the Seahawks could have their man.
26. Baltimore (12-4) Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State After their first pick last year, Sergio Kindle, saw a head injury end his first (and potentially only given that he only signed a one-year deal) season, the Ravens may be set on getting a sure thing. Heyward is coming off of Tommy John surgery, but he has the ability to contribute both as a five-technique and a three-technique.
27. Atlanta (13-3) Ryan Kerrigan, DE/OLB, Purdue With John Abraham set to see his deal expire following the coming season, the Falcons can grab his future replacement while also improving the team’s pass rush for the coming season with this sack artist. Kerrigan had 13 sacks last season.
28. New England (14-2) Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA The Patriots simply must address the pass rush with one of their first three picks, and in this scenario, it would make sense to grab Ayers rather than take their chances and hoping the same type of difference-maker is there five picks later. Ayers is very athletic and has about the size Bill Belichick likes, though he might not yet be the tackler he’ll need to be.
29. Chicago (11-5) Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia Five cornerbacks in the first round? Not only is it possible, but it would match the number that went last year (Joe Haden, Kareem Jackson, Devin McCourty, Kyle Wilson, Patrick Robinson). The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Dowling is coming off a season derailed by knee and ankle injuries, as he played in only three games of his senior season.
30. New York Jets (11-5) Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor Getting sick of this pick yet? Unless Taylor, who got kicked off the team at Penn State for academic issues and for being involved in a fight, fails to behave himself leading up until the draft, the 351-pound nose tackle should continue to be the pick here as the weeks go on.
31. Pittsburgh (12-4) Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin We have had Benjamin Ijalana in this slot for the past two weeks, but this would be a scenario the Steelers would welcome, as Carimi appears a superior prospect than the Villanova tackle. It isn’t every day you see an Outland Trophy winner fall all the way to No. 31, but in a class in which there’s some still some uncertainty as to where the tackles will fall, anything is possible.
32. Green Bay (10-6) ) Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri Generally, teams picking at the beginning of the first round and teams picking at the end of the first round have the widest range of directions to go in, and it is again the case year. The Packers don’t seem to have any area on their depth chart screaming for attention, so they have the luxury of being able to add Smith and stick him at outside linebacker.
33. New England (from Carolina (2-14)) Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
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