A Fairley good mock draft

 

1. Carolina Panthers - Nick Fairley DT Auburn

 

    There is a huge hole at the Panthers DT spot, and Fairley knocks out the team’s biggest need while getting great value at the pick. Fairley was an absolute beast in the National title game and is drawing comparisons to Ndamukong Suh, one could argue he’s done better than suh did last year but you might lose that argument. Fairley does draw character concerns and has been called a "dirty player" as we saw when he slammed Lamichael James's head into the turf. I was thinking about making a Bengals "joke" about him, but there’s no possibility he falls out of the top 3. I expect Fairley to have a phenomenal pro day, but his stock can’t improve in this mock draft, but maybe in a future update. There are a few other options out there for the Panthers at this spot, being QB and AJ Green. I know some of you will be like hey what about Da'Quan Bowers? Well there are concerns about why he didn't produce in his first 2 years and his inconsistency in his tape. As far as the QB's go, none of them are worth the #1 pick for reasons I will state later. AJ Green would be a great weapon for the Panthers, but who will throw him the ball? Another very real possibility is trading down, but I don’t see any trade partners yet.

 

2. Denver Broncos - Da’Quan Bowers DE Clemson

 

    John Fox has always had talented DE’s as the cornerstone on his defense, look at Julius Peppers and Everette Brown. Pressure can always take pressure off your DB’s and Denver needs all the help back there they can get. With Peterson as the other option here, Bowers monster season has put him ahead of Peterson for now. Besides with the 4-3 now in place, they need another pass rusher outside of Elvis Dumervil.

 

3. Buffalo Bills – Patrick Peterson CB LSU

 

    Peterson is an elite CB and is one of the best in a long time. The Bills lack a #1 CB and Peterson would bring a huge upgrade here. Not only is he an elite CB but he is a game changer in the return game. Anytime you can get both of those with the 3rd pick in the draft you have to pull the trigger. Also Peterson is the best player available.  

 

4. Cincinnati Bengals – AJ Green WR Georgia

 

    For now, I have AJ Green falling to 4 because Nick Fairley had an absolutely monstrous National Title game performance. AJ green has been called the “perfect receiver” and with TO unlikely back, and Chad Ochocinco possibly not coming back this pick makes sense for the Bengals. Green will not drop lower than this, and if he has a good combine he could easily move up to the #1 pick.

 

5. Arizona Cardinals – Von Miller DE/OLB Texas A&M

 

    Von Miller was easily the best player on the field for the senior bowl. He improved his draft stock beyond belief and is a huge upgrade for the Cardinals here. Ken Wisenhut has already said they will target an outside linebacker with this pick and they have to be praying Von Miller falls here. Not only is Von Miller a sack machine who will upgrade a very weak pass rush, he also can drop into coverage. We saw many examples of LB’s who can’t cover and that being the Achilles heel of their defense such as Houston LB Zach Diles.

 

6.  Cleveland Browns – Marcel Dareus DT/DE Alabama

 

    Marcel Dareus would provide a much needed upgrade at DE from Brian Schaefering. Dareus didn’t have a spectacular year, but he didn’t need it. He can play in both the 3-4 and the 4-3 which boosts his value even more. Cleveland would be out of their mind not to draft him if he’s available.  The other option here is to trade down so they can land Julio Jones because he’s not worth of the 6th pick.  If Amukamara is still available I wouldn’t be surprised if Dallas tried to move up.

 

7. San Francisco 49ers – Blaine Gabbert QB Missouri

 

    The Top QB in this class since Andrew Luck decided to declare I expect Jim Harbaugh to mold Gabbert into a Luck. San Francisco’s QB situation has been a mess for a while now and they have to fix it. You can’t have your franchise QB screaming at your head coach anymore.  One thing I’ve seen that really alarms me on Gabbert is the fact that he made some very amateur mistakes in the bowl game. One prime example was the play when he threw the ball across the field (from sideline to sideline) and it got picked off. He is not ready to be a game changer yet, but some team will take a chance on him because of his upside and his mobility.

 

8.  Tennessee Titans –  Nate Solder OT Colorado

 

    A top 10 pick, Solder at 6-8 is an absolute beast. I had a hard time picking a player here, because I see Cam Newton as Vince Young 2.0. Surely the Titans new head coach won’t do that. With multiple reports of Ryan Mallett dropping out of the first….and as low as the third he won’t be picked here. Might as well go with a player that fits their needs, and Solder is an elite LT that will protect whoever their QB is and Chris Johnson.

 

9. Dallas Cowboys – Prince Amukamara CB Nebraska

 

    The moment all cowboy fans have been waiting for, a shutdown corner. Their defense was a huge liability this season and Amukamara provides an immediate upgrade. This man will be a pro bowler for years to come. Patrick Peterson is the best CB to come along in a long time, but Amukamara isn’t too far behind. I really am having a tough time deciding between Robert Quinn and Amukamara for this pick because they both fill needs for the Cowboys. Quinn has not played all year; I think his stock will rise at the combine so I will give this spot to Prince for now.

 

10.  Washington Redskins – Robert Quinn OLB/DE UNC

 

    Andre Carter has looked lost in the Redskins 3-4 system, and Shanahan will certainly look for an upgrade this offseason. Somehow, Quinn has fallen this far and Redskins fan should be rejoicing. Quinn offers a huge pass rushing upgrade to the Redskins and is an elite versatile player. Quinn would be a top 5 lock if he had not gotten suspended for something I consider outrageous. The NCAA wanted to make a point and Quinn provided the perfect opportunity for them to do that, he simply fell victim to being caught at the wrong time for the wrong thing.

 

11. Houston Texans – Aldon Smith DE/OLB Missouri

 

    A year filled with injuries really hurts his draft stock, however, even in a very deep DE class he is still a top 15 lock. He is an athletic freak that played with injuries, which helps his draft stock and still having 6 sacks on the year. Houston had a very weak pass rush this year and has to improve it. Smith is an athletic freak whose stock will soar at the combine. Houston fans will be amazed when they see what this kid can do.

 

12. Minnesota Vikings – Cameron Newton QB Auburn

 

    The Vikings are very thin at QB with developmental QB Joe Webb and Favre officially retired…maybe.  With Locker’s stock lower than the Vikings roof, the only QB option in this mock draft is Newton. While he does have good intangibles he does not project well as an NFL QB because he lacks accuracy. With this pick he might actually see a decrease in salary from his $180,000 “paycheck” last year. Regardless, he will have a nice supporting cast with Percy Harvin, Sydney Rice and Adrian Peterson. I personally hate this guy, and he reminds me of Jamarcus Russell if only he could get on his knees and throw a pass from midfield into the uprights.

 

13. Detroit Lions – Akeem Ayers OLB UCLA

 

    Ayers is a great versatile LB with sideline to sideline speed and can drop into coverage. That is a complete LB, oh and he can rush the QB. The Lions really need an OLB with Julian Peterson not expected back and Ayers is a great fit here.

 

14. St. Louis Rams – Julio Jones WR Alabama

 

    In the regular season finale we all saw how badly Sam Bradford needs weapons around him. The Rams have Donnie Avery coming off a season ending injury along with Mark Clayton and promising rookie Danario Alexander who has a bright future, but they have to get a sure fire playmaker. If Danario pans out to what the Rams think he could be they would have a very potent offense in 1 or 2 years with Josh McDaniel’s as their new Offensive Coordinator.

 

15. Miami Dolphins – Mark Ingram RB Alabama

 

    With Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams scheduled to hit FA and no worthy QB’s left here Mark Ingram is the likely choice. There will be 2nd round options for them to pick a QB, but you don’t get a chance to draft a player like this with the 15th pick often.

 

16.  Jacksonville Jaguars – JJ Watt DE Wisconsin

 

    With Aaron Kampman coming off his 2nd ACL tear it’s looking less and less likely he’ll ever make an impact. The Jaguars have to find a way to get pressure on Peyton Manning, Matt Schaub and whoever the Titans QB ends up being.  For now I have Watt ahead of Cameron Jordan, because of reports by scouts that have him as their best pass rusher at this point in the draft.

 

17. New England Patriots (from Oakland) – Cameron Jordan DE California

 

    The Patriots have to improve their pass rush this offseason and Jordan provides the perfect opportunity for Bill Belichick to get even more production out of rookies than he did this year. Slowly but surely he is building a good solid defense, don’t expect him to focus on offense outside of the line.  Jordan projects as a good 3-4 edge rusher and would really help a NE D-line that should be a point of emphasis on improving this offseason. Cameron Jordan was another player who shined in the senior bowl. He dominated the line of scrimmage and really helped his draft stock. He also has ideal size for a 4-3.

 

18. San Diego Chargers – Ryan Kerrigan DE Purdue

 

    Kerrigan had one of the best statistics in the nation this year totaling 26 TFL and 12.5 sacks. With an amazing DE class this year Kerrigan would normally be a steal this late in the draft. SD like many other teams needs another DE and Kerrigan gives them the perfect opportunity to do that.

 

19. New York Giants – Gabe Carimi OT Wisconsin

 

    Carimi is a player who can step in immediately and protect Eli Manning’s blindside. Eli already has one of the best young receiving corps in the league, a young solid starter like Carimi who is ready to step in on day 1 will improve Eli Manning beyond belief. He will solidify Eli Manning’s blind side and give him more comfort so he doesn’t throw more interceptions than Jay Cutler and Brett Favre.

 

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Adrian Clayborn DE Iowa

 

    A very talented group of DE’s this year I think Watt wanted the money this year and was afraid of the CBA as well as possible injuries that could occur. I won’t criticize him for wanting the sure money and not wanting to be injury plagued, however, he could have gotten more in next year’s draft. Character concerns really hurt Clayborn’s draft stock, but the Buccaneers are desperate for a pass rusher and will disregard these.

 

21.  Kansas City Chiefs – Corey Liuget DT/DE Illinois

 

    Liuget is not far behind Dareus and Fairley as a great DT in this draft, but he falls because of the stacked DE class. He can also play DE in a 3-4. The Chiefs have to get another pass rusher outside of Hali, who they are expected to use the franchise tag on.

 

22.  Indianapolis Colts –Tyron Smith OT USC

 

    Smith is in a 3 way race for the best OT in this class and Indianapolis’s first priority this offseason has to be improving Peyton’s protection. You do not want the best QB in football to have a mediocre line. Smith gives him a great LT that won’t make him keep peeking over his shoulder.

 

23.  Philadelphia Eagles – Mike Pouncey G Florida

 

    It seems like everyone I have talked to wants Pouncey on their team. With good reason as his brother, Marcus Pouncey was a pro bowler this season. Mike resembles him in almost everything he does, he will be a great addition to whatever team gets him.

 

24.  New Orleans Saints – Stephen Paea DT Oregon State

 

    The Saints have a very solid line with Sedrick Ellis and Will Smith. However, they lack another DT beside ellis. Paea has been an immovable force this year and would be a great addition to their line.

 

25.  Seattle Seahawks – Jimmy Smith CB Colorado

 

    With Kelly Jennings headed for FA this offseason, the Seahawks must find an upgrade at CB especially after Jay Cutler and Drew Brees lit them up in the playoffs. Jimmy Smith is currently the #3 CB in this years class, after poor play by Brandon Harris in the bowl game against Michael Floyd.

 

26.  Baltimore Ravens – Torrey Smith WR Maryland

 

    The Ravens lack a deep threat, and Coach John Harbaugh has already said he will pursue a deep threat in the offseason. Torrey Smith is that guy, with a 6-1 200 lbs. frame and a vertical threat that the Ravens lack.

 

27.  Atlanta Falcons – Justin Houston DE/OLB Georgia

 

    Houston had a great junior season with 19.5 TFL and 11 sacks.  Houston is the other hybrid in this class who is going to be a great Sunday player. The Falcons need a DE that could replace an aging John Abraham, or learn behind him for a year.

 

28.  New England Patriots – Cameron Heyward DE Ohio State

 

    After a great Sugar Bowl performance, his draft stock improved dramatically. He was a 1 man wrecking crew and caused havoc in the backfield. This is exactly the type of guy NE needs, and 2 pass rushers with their first two picks is not outrageous, however, I would not be surprised to see them trade down here. Besides, if they do get Heyward 1 man who can get the best out of players is Bill Belichick.

 

29.  New York Jets – Muhammad Wilkerson DE Temple

 

    At 6-4 306 pounds this guy has the size of a DT, with the moves of a DE. He is a guy the Jets can build around and a playmaker Rex Ryan loves. Wilkerson can play in any scheme and he is one of those guys I’m sure Ryan would love to have.

 

30.  Chicago Bears – Anthony Castonzo OT Boston College

 

    The Bears have been known this year for their terrible line. Jerry Angelo has to improve this after giving up 60 sacks this year. Cutler was getting hammered in the pocked and somehow still found a way to produce like he did. Imagine what he can do with sometime in the pocket for once, who knows he might fall asleep or not know what to do with that much time.

 

31.  Green Bay Packers – Christian Ballard DE Iowa

 

    The other Iowa DE, at 6-4 almost 300 pounds Ballard was a force on Iowa’s line creating havoc for opposing QB’s. With one of the few flaws on the Packers team DE they should upgrade it with this pick in an incredibly deep DE class, a ton in the first round so far.

 

32. Pittsburgh Steelers – Phil Taylor NT Baylor

    Another player whose stock went way up at the senior bowl. At 337 pounds Taylor could replace a 33 year old Casey Hampton. The Steelers already have an elite pass rush, but imagine them with two fresh and strong NT’s.

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