The post-Super Bowl 2011 NFL mock draft was last month. The post-NFL Combine mock draft is today. This bad boy took three days – I went to the local paper of every team in the league, read their thoughts (and coach quotes), and made some educated guesses – while trying to sift through the smokescreens. You’ll see a couple major surprises (Ryan Mallet, Patrick Peterson, Jimmy Smith), I really do think there will be four cornerbacks taken in the Top 13 picks, and I really hate the fact that based on what I’ve read, the Patriots are poised to have another sicktastic draft. If you care, he’s the Pro-Day schedule. I probably have another Mock Draft after those are complete later this month.
1 Carolina Panthers (2–14) – Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama. They’re calling him the “safe” pick. I still think Fairley will be a better pro and I’d grab him No. 1. It appears as if the Panthers are deciding between three defensive lineman. Da’Quan Bowers could be the No. 1 pick, but he’s coming off an injury and nobody will see what he looks like until his Pro Day March 10.
2 Denver Broncos (4–12) – Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson. Previously had star CB Patrick Peterson here. Bowers plus DE Elvis Dumervil returning from injury equals many more than a league-low 23 sacks. Does the resigning of CB Champ Bailey hurt or help Peterson’s case?
3 Buffalo Bills (4–12) – Cam Newton, QB, Auburn. Not buying into this “Cam is falling” stuff Mel Kiper is selling. From a football point of view it’s a bit of a risky move; from a PR point of view, it’ll do wonders for the Bills. Hell, it might even get Buffalo a MNF/SNF TV game next year.
4 Cincinnati Bengals (4–12) – Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn. Or do they go QB with Carson Palmer supposedly on his way out? Or do they go with a wide receiver (Julio Jones?) in hopes of making Palmer happy? Yeah, it’s probably going to be a defensive player.
5 Arizona Cardinals (5–11) – Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M. He’s been rocketing up the charts in the last few days and Mike Mayock is comparing him to DeMarcus Ware. Had the Cardinals taking QB Blaine Gabbert here in my previous mock, but my guess now is the Cardinals land McNabb or Kolb in free agency.
6 Cleveland Browns (5–11) – AJ Green, WR, Georgia. The Browns are desperate for the best offensive skill player in the draft.
7 San Francisco 49ers (6–10) – Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas. Bit of a curveball, as nobody else has Mallet this high. Harbaugh knows the foundation of any good team is a franchise QB, and Mallet is immensely talented. He’s joining a ready-made, capable-of-the-playoffs offense. Wouldn’t be surprised if he were the best QB from this class three years from now.
8 Tennessee Titans (6–10) – Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri. Primary needs are QB, DT and safety , but the best two DTs are gone and there’s no safety of value here.
9 Dallas Cowboys (6–10) – Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU. Absolutely no way he falls this far, seeing as right now he’s better than all three QBs listed above. But if he does, Jerry Jones will do cartwheels in the war room. Peterson will be an immediate upgrade over Terrence Newman.
10 Washington Redskins (6–10) – Julio Jones, WR, Alabama. Thought Cam Newton would be their guy, but he’ll be gone. With no other QB apparently ready to step in and start – and maybe Shanahan likes Rex Grossman, anyway – they take the best player on the board.
11 Houston Texans (6–10) – Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska. A gift for the worst secondary in football. Come on, don’t act like you haven’t watched the Jets’ final drive against them 1.3 million times.
12 Minnesota Vikings (6–10) – Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado. The Vikings desperately need a QB, but I no longer see them making a move on Locker here. This may be a bit high, but I like him more than the corner from Miami. Smith probably needs to cool it with the arrogance, though. I think they’ll grab a QB early in the second round.
13 Detroit Lions (6–10) – Brandon Harris, CB, Miami. Don’t love him, but they need help in the secondary.
14 St. Louis Rams (7–9) – Aldon Smith, OLB/DE, Missouri. There’s a real need at WR, but with Jones gone, they’ll wait to grab one in the 2nd round. Spags loves a strong defense, and I think they’ll grab the local kid.
15 Miami Dolphins (7–9) – Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama. Sounds like Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are done in Miami, and the Heisman Trophy winner is the best back in this draft.
16 Jacksonville Jaguars (8–8) – Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina. Great value here. The Jags have other needs (maybe WR if they don’t keep Sims-Walker, and definitely in the front seven and secondary), but Quinn would have been a Top 10 pick last year.
17 New England (from Oakland) – JJ Watt, DE, Wisconsin. Hate this. Hate it, hate it, hate it. Last year, the Pats and Jets both took CBs in the first round. The scoreboard isn’t final, but the Pats lead. I hate that the Jets have the same position need as the Pats this year.
18 San Diego Chargers (9–7) – Cameron Jordan, DL, California. It’ll almost certainly be on the defensive line, and it seems like Jordan will be the best one left.
19 New York Giants (10–6) – Nate Solder, OL, Colorado. Many folks have Tyron Smith of USC leaping Solder, but Smith has that pesky knee issue and he’s gained 20 lbs. His Pro Day will be one to watch.
20 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10–6) – Justin Houston, OLB/DE, Georgia. Sounds like he’s probably the 2nd best hybrid in the draft. Or has Sam Acho done enough to warrant getting picked here? It sounds like Raheem Morris really needs a DE or OLB with pass-rushing abilities.
21 Kansas City Chiefs (10–6) – Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland. D Bowe needs a wingman.
22 Indianapolis Colts (10–6) – Tryon Smith, OL, USC.
23 Philadelphia Eagles (10–6) – Gabe Carimi, OL, Wisconsin. Gotta protect the franchise, something they didn’t do late in the season.
24 New Orleans Saints (11–5) – Rahim Moore, S, UCLA. The Shaun Rogers upgrade to the DL has me thinking secondary, especially in a division with Matt Ryan and Josh Freeman.
25 Seattle Seahawks (7–9) – Jake Locker, QB, Washington. I contemplated a WR here, but I like the upside in Locker – especially staying in the Northwest and playing for a PAC-10 coach.
26 Baltimore Ravens (12–4) – Mike Pouncey, OL, Florida. They must bolster the OL and rediscover the 2009 running game that averaged 137 ypg (only 114 in 2010).
27 Atlanta Falcons (13–3) – Aaron Williams, CB, Texas. The defense looked great last year … until Aaron Rodgers torched it in the playoffs. I can see them going WR here, too.
28 New England Patriots (14–2) – Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh. Seems highly unlikely Belichick would take a receiver this high, but Baldwin looks like a future stud.
29 Chicago Bears (11–5) – Anthony Costanzo, OL, Boston College. One of the few locks in the first round – the Bears will take an OL.
30 New York Jets (11–5) – Muhammad Wilkerson, DE/DT, Temple. I’ve been preaching DE, DE, DE for months, so why pass up Kerrigan and Clayborn? Because Kris Jenkins is gone, and frankly I’m soured on those two this week. Looks like Wilkerson can play both positions.
31 Pittsburgh Steelers (12–4) – Dan Watkins, OL, Baylor. They’ll take the best OL they can find, right? Or maybe a CB – Ike Taylor is terribly overrated, regardless of what Steelers’ fans think – if Harris or Smith fall this far.
32 Green Bay Packers (10–6) – Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami. Has beast potential. It’ll surely make Aaron Rodgers happy. Looking up and down the roster, the Packers have no pressing needs, although they could maybe use another RB. Are the WRs getting old? Feel like fortifying the line? What about the secondary?