NFL mock drafts are always fun, but what happens when 32 random internet people get together to do one? The Big Lead’s Reader/Commenter Mock Draft for 2011, that’s what happens. One of the things about mock drafts is that they are usually done by one person, who expert as they may be, has a certain way of thinking about the draft. A difficult thing about mock drafts is trying to re-create the chaos of the actual draft, where you have 32 moving parts. Well, I think we took care of that and then some, and I think it turned out pretty good, with some surprises, runs on positions, and lots of fun along the way.
The one thing we didn’t allow is trading of picks here. Obviously that is going to happen at some point in the draft. I think this exercise was a good way of seeing where those hot spots might be. Without further ado, here’s the reader/commenter picks in the first round, with the contributor listed in parentheses after the team. My random editorial comments are in blue, but if you have any issues, remember to complain in the comments section. I didn’t make any picks.
1. Carolina Panthers (Ryan Campbell): QB Cam Newton, Auburn. The Panthers essentially have two choices in this draft: 1) Draft risky upside to fill the most important void on the field (QB Newton) or 2) go with established talent to fill a semi-important hole (DT Dareus, CB Patterson, WR Green). If they can trade down (targets: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Arizona, Washington) they might elect path two, but the front office seems to have changed the “we don’t need to draft a QB” mantra from the Delhomme era and seems set on drafting a potential franchise changer, for better or worse.
2. Denver Broncos (Gerard Portmanteau): LB Von Miller, Texas A&M. Miller will provide a bookend pass rusher to complement Elvis Dumervil and is capable of covering backs and tight ends in space, so he can walk in as a strong-side LB in Fox’s 4-3. This team needs Talent in a bad way and Miller’s one of the cleanest prospects in the draft. Plus he’s rocking an economical first name. Go $%&# yourselves, Vaughns of the world. [I checked with Ty Duffy, and since the use of the curse word was not the story, I edited it out. I also thought we would get to at least pick 4 before a F-bomb appeared]
3. Buffalo Bills (Tim): DT/DE Marcell Dareus, Alabama. The Bills need size up front. I think he will project as a DE in the Bills 3-4. If Von miller is on board he’s probably the pick.
4. Cincinnati (Spencer096): QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas. Here’s what you need to know about the Bengals front office heading into the draft…EVERY OTHER TEAM IN THE NFL has more SCOUTS than the Bengals have EMPLOYEES in their scouting “department”…and two of those people are Mike and Pete Brown (long live nepotism), one is a secretary and the other is “consultant,” ex-Ohio State coach John Cooper. With that information now shared, and the Bengals roster in need of a comprehensive overhaul due to seemingly every productive player either becoming a free agent, retiring or being a likely cap casualty, the notoriously cheap Mike Brown figures he won’t have to pay Mallett what another 1st round QB would normally get because Mel Kiper had him falling to the 2nd round in his March 23rd mock draft. If that doesn’t make any sense, just look at the Bengals and you’ll see that it makes PERFECT sense.
[It was at this point that we had our first non-troversy. There were accusations of not taking it seriously, and threats of drafting someone’s lil’ Brett Favre when their turn came around. After much effort and thought (5 to 7 eye squints), I overruled any objections. It comes down to this. Can you actually rule out the Bengals doing anything? Didn’t think so. I also suspect Spencer did this because he wants Phil Simms to remain employed. Oh, and enjoy the video, and just envision Mel Kiper saying “Spencer” instead of the Jets]
5. Arizona (Smallie Bigs): CB Patrick Peterson, LSU. With a hole at every position except WR and DL, there are a lot of options here. QB is the most glaring because Horseballs sucks Horse balls, but I don’t see a franchise QB in this draft. Von Miller is the player that all 9 of us Cardinals fans are hoping for, but with Miller off the board, you go for best player available, and that is Patrick Peterson.
6. Cleveland (Matt Borcas): WR A.J. Green, Georgia. The trio of Mohamed Massaquoi, Brian Robiskie, and Chansi Stuckey isn’t doing any favors for Colt McCoy’s development. By selecting Green, the Browns get arguably the best player in the draft at the position they need the most. Kudos to Spencer for making this possible!
7. San Francisco 49ers (Ballz): CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska. Prince on one side of the coin, Peterson on the other. Either way you’ll be happy. Amukamura is the 1b to Petersons 1a.
8. Tennessee Titans (Kent Chitwood): DT Nick Fairley, Auburn. Since Carolina solved the problem of Bud Adams forcing me to take Vince Young, Jr., I will listen to Tracy Rocker and select Nick Fairley. Hopefully, he will be the second coming of the pre-Redskins Albert Haynesworth.
9. Dallas Cowboys (Gaseous Clay): OT Tyron Smith, USC. Dallas will now waste 15 minutes of everybody’s time trying to get out of taking a right tackle with the #9 selection. Would you care to hear about his almost limitless potential? I implore you to listen to me while I tell you how long his arms are, and how big his hands are (and you know what big hands mean). In real life, this still isn’t that bad, because Dallas could be calling both Minnesota and Miami who may want to jump Washington for Gabbert. I think they can also sell this spot for Julio Jones to the Rams, or the last of the edge rushers.
10. Washington Redskins (Jay V of Considerable Influence): DE Cameron Jordan, California. A few people have asked me recently what I want out of the Redskins’ draft this year. Well, here’s what I want — I’d like Bruce Allen & Mike Shanahan to hire to a few tough guys to keep Daniel Snyder away from Redskins Park for the duration of the draft. Or forever. I guess I better not say much else, lest this website be sued by Mr. Snyder. As for the pick itself, most people expect the Skins to draft a “skill” position. But they are in more need of “skilled” linemen on both sides of the ball. Cameron Jordan, unblockable in the Senior Bowl, gives the DL an immediate upgrade.
[There are way too many Cammy Cams in this draft. I accidentally announced the pick as Cameron Heyward initially in a brain cramp. Then there is Jordan Cameron. And Cam Newton. Cam Cameron would be proud.]
11. Houston Texans (Mgamaguche): WR Julio Jones, Alabama. The Texans have obvious needs on defense. Hell, I would have been happy to have Petey Faggins or Frenchy Reeves (“what is this turning of the head when the ball is thrown that you speak of?”) in the defensive backfield rather that the Kareemsicle last year. Although I don’t fault him completely for his play (damn you Frank Bush!).
The problem is that there’s not a S or CB I would take this high. As for the front seven – I think we could be set at each position so a pick here would be for depth. I’m not convinced that Robert Quinn or Aldon Smith are good enough to be drafting at 11 for depth. So I’m going with what I consider the BPA at this moment. Andre Johnson will be 30 this year and (as much as I love him) Kevin Walter played like a corpse in 2010. This gives the Texans even more power on the offensive side of the ball. Something they need since they can’t stop anyone from scoring.
12. Minnesota Vikings (S1rweeze): QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri. Ugh… I am not at all crazy about Blaine Gabbert but, it’s the pick that makes the most sense here, since it fills a need and he’s the best available. His name alone fits in seamlessly with the likes of Heath Shuler and Akili Smith, but I have to believe Gabbert would have a good chance of success with the Vikings, with Harvin catching passes (Rice is a UFA, this pick may be incentive to re-sign) and All Day getting the ball 20+ times a game. I would consider a trade but I think it could be a gift that Gabbert fell this far — if he falls into a situation where they plan on building the franchise around him (like Alex Smith in 2005), he’ll be a huge flop. In Minnesota, I think it’s a good fit.
13. Detroit Lions (Jim Harbaugh Scramble): DE Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue. The Lions biggest needs are OL, LB and CB. However, with the top CBs drafted, top OT drafted and no LB worthy of this pick, the Lions will further strengthen their DLine.
14. Saint Louis Rams (Winnie the Pujols): DE Aldon Smith, Missouri. Spags gets an edge rushing DE he loves to fit his 4-3. Really needed a wr, but nobody left is worthy of the pick. Aldon gets picked ahead of Bowers and Quinn because of his tremendous speed off the edge, as well as because I was at Mizzou this past weekend and Aldon Smith drove down the middle of campus in his brand new white Mercedes, makin’ it rain out the sunroof.
15. Miami Dolphins (Reggie Dunlap): RB Mark Ingram, Alabama. They need running backs.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars (Geezeus): DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina. The Jaguars poor pass defense was related to a combination of a weak secondary and a lack of pass rush. Hopefully Quinn provides consistent QB pressure from the end position as the status of Aaron Kampman (torn ACL) is questionable, Derrick Harvey has been a bust and Jeremy Mincey is unproven.He should provide a nice compliment to Tyson Alualu and Terrance Knightley. Quinn should also be more prepared for the lack of football due to an NFL lockout than most of the other rookies.
17. New England Patriots (WideWordofSport): DE J.J. Watt, Wisconsin. If there is anything Boston loves, it’s their hard-working white guys with intangibles. This one happens to have good defensive end size and athleticism, with the versatility needed for the Patriots defense. [You're not allowed to say that. You must use the adjective 'sneaky' in front of athleticism if you are talking about Watt]
18. San Diego Chargers (Ty Webb 1.0): DE Da’Quan Bowers, Clemson. Norv will roll the dice and take Da’Quan Bowers (DE, Clemson). If his knee isn’t 100% Luis Castillo has a few “supplements” he can use to get back on track…
19. New York Giants (Heretic D): OT Nate Solder, Colorado. With Bowers having gone just before my pick, the Giants drafted for the future. We don’t need a first year starter, and Solder has the best upside of the remaining OL.
20. Tampa Bay Bucs (Reader M): DE Justin Houston, Georgia. No secret that the Bucs need a DE bad and with all the others ones taken, Houston feel to be the pick and Houston is versatile enough to play whatever crazy scheme Raheem wants in 4-3 DE , 3-4 OLB or 3-3-5. Also like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that with all the Sanchize,Ryan&Flacco overrated talk, Josh Freeman just completed a 25 TD,6 INT season in only his 2nd year( example of where both eye test&stats prove that this dude is a Future Elite QB in making). [Wait, you snuck in a non-draft related comment. It will stand]
21. Kansas City Chiefs (Daniel Stave): OG/C Mike Pouncey, Florida. If Wiegmann comes back, Pouncey may not have a position open right away, but we’re old at all 3 interior OL spots with Waters and Lilja at G, and there’s good value with those positions because the best prospects are still available in the 20s (Pouncey for Pit last year, Mack to Cle in 09, Grubbs to Balt in 07).
22. Indianapolis Colts (Bsanders37): OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College. A four-year starter at Boston College, Castonzo – a 6-7, 305 mauler – is perhaps the most pro-ready offensive tackle in this year’s draft. Castonzo would be an immediate upgrade over either incumbent left tackle Charlie Johnson (a natural guard playing out of position) or rapidly declining right tackle Ryan Diem (who’s due $5.4 million in 2011). His second-level power and leverage could be a career life preserver for edge specialist Donald Brown and help reestablish the Colts’ once-feared (now often mocked) stretch play.
23. Philadelphia Eagles (PhillyMantis915): OT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin. Gabe Carimi is the kind of player that Andy Reid would draft in a heartbeat if he’s available at pick 23. Gabe would take over for the shit show known as Winston Justice at RT almost right away and would draw natural comparisons to Jon Runyan. Sorry to upset you Jersey, but he’s not lasting to the Jets.
24. New Orleans Saints (Breesus): QB Jake Locker, Washington. The Saints need help on defense, but the players who would help them are taken in this mock draft. Therefore, I’m going QB. Drew Brees is getting older. He played hurt all year. Chase Daniel, the backup, is not Pro Bowl material.And since Sean Payton fancies himself as a “quarterback guru,” let’s see if he can make something out of this immensely talented but immensely erratic QB prospect. [Don't see this happening at all, but think Locker could go in this range with a trade possibility. I like the curveball though]
25. Seattle Seahawks (Shutinstandup): CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado. Reputation be damned. (Com)Pete Carroll needs talent and this guy is big and athletic. The real smart move is to trade out of this pick and move down. Let Cincy, Buff, and Minn waste picks on Ponder, Locker, Kaepernick. Move down, get more picks and fortify both Lines.
26. Baltimore Ravens (Razeup): DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa. With all of the top offensive lineman, cornerbacks, and wide receivers off the board, the Ravens shift their focus to the pass rush, and take a player who is a good fit for their 3-4 defense. Cam Heyward is another possibility, but the best odds are on the Ravens trading their 1st pick, something they’ve done 4 out of the past 5 drafts. The could move either up to grab some OL help, or back down into the 2nd round, netting some extra picks in an effort to shore up all major needs earlier in the draft. No matter what; in Ozzie, they trust.
27. Atlanta Falcons (Parrish Walton): OT Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State. The run on DEs really hurt Atlanta here. Clayborn was the last gasp but the Falcons fell just short. Atlanta needs explosive players on the edge on both sides of the ball, but none are available. They also have three starting offensive linemen who are free agents. That’s scary. Due to that, I’m going with OT Derek Sherrod. Kyle Rudolph was tempting, but I went need over potential.
28. New England Patriots (WideWordofSport): WR Johnathan Baldwin, Pittsburgh. Potentially very good WR with great hands, good speed, from my alma mater, who never had a good QB in college. High risk pick but the Patriots have enough picks to take that chance.
29. Chicago Bears (Hawkeye): OG/OT Danny Watkins, Baylor. The Bears are in dire need of offensive line help. Mike Tice did what he could with the dreck that is Chicago’s offensive line, and it wasn’t much (22nd in rushing yards, 56 sacks given up). Needless to say, they’re going offensive line and Watkins can play guard or tackle. He’s a little long in the tooth (he’ll be a 26 year-old rookie), but should fit in well protecting Cutler.
30. New York Jets (Senator Jersey): DE/DT Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple. Would have loved to take Heyward or Kerrigan here, but Wilkerson seems to have the gifts to play a 5 technique AND nose. Rex would probably love having that type of versatility in front. I feel like there is more potential than substance in taking WIlkerson here, but I can’t ignore what he could become. Now excuse me while I go tear up my Gabe Carimi love letters.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers (Brawny Tom): DE Cameron Heyward, Ohio State. The Steelers typically pick young guys who they can mold and have fill a need 2-3 years down the road, such as Lawerence Timmons and Ziggy Hood. Looking at the team needs in the next couple years, defenesive line stands out as all the starters will be 33 or older next season. At 22, Cameron Heyward fits their style and has the size/frame to become an effective 3-4 end. [He would have been a bust had the Jets drafted him a pick earlier, but now he will be a star, because Pittsburgh didn't draft Vernon Gholston and Heyward won't have that Ohio State to the Jets curse.]
32. Green Bay Packers (Butters Brickowski): LB Akeem Ayers, UCLA. Wanted to go DE here since the Super Bowl champs (fist pump) stand to lose Cullen Jenkins if and when free agency starts and Johnny Jolly enjoys codeine more than being an NFL player but there was a strong run on them here and all that’s left is that Arizona tweener I’m not high on. So instead let’s go with a playmaking OLB to compliment Clay Matthews and bring more to the other side than was seen last season (no offense to Frank Zombo and his loyal supporters). Haven’t seen this kid play since life’s too short to watch UCLA football but people on the internet have nice things to say about him.
Rumors are that the drafters wanted to press on and do a second round. I’ll post that over the weekend if they get it to me. Let them know what you thought.
[photo via Getty]