The NFL Scouting Combine has wrapped up and as such, it’s time for another NFL Mock Draft. Some players sent their stock soaring with a great showing at the Combine, while other saw their’s tumble after poor performances. I’ve added who I had for each pick in my last Mock Draft and if you are looking for scouting reports on any of the players, try the sites below:
1. Carolina Panthers
QB Cam Newton (passing drills/media day) and WR AJ Green (40 time) both took themselves out of the running for this pick with their performances at the NFL Combine. That leaves the Panthers with the option of addressing one of three possible positions here: DT (Marcel Dareus or Nick Fairley), DE (Da’Quan Bowers) or CB (Patrick Peterson). Even with the possible loss of DE Charles Johnson (C Ryan Kalil was franchised instead), I think Carolina has enough talent at end to let that need slide. That leaves CB and DT. This may not jive with the opinions of a lot of experts, but I think the value of the CB position in today’s NFL is not nearly as high as many would have you think. So that leaves us with the DT position and Dareus and Fairley. Both had solid showing at the Combine, but I think Fairley has the higher upside and fits better in the 4-3. He’s got the ability to take over games with his penetration ability and you can be sure teams are coveting young tackles like him after what they saw Ndamukong Suh do this past season.
Prediction: DT Nick Fairley, Auburn
Last Mock: Fairley
2. Denver Broncos
The Broncos needs actually line up pretty closely with the Panthers. They both need help in the secondary and on the line for their 4-3 defense. As such, the Broncos are pretty much left sifting through the three players that the Panthers didn’t select (Dareus, Bowers, Peterson). Allegedly John Fox is satisfied with Elvis Dumervil and Robert Ayers at the DE positions, so that takes Bowers out of the running. It’s a tough call between Dareus and Peterson, but I think the re-signing of Champ Bailey makes Dareus a better fit here. He will play inside in Denver’s new 4-3. He doesn’t have the great playmaking ability that Fairley does, but he’s a very steady player and showed well at the Combine. He’ll hold down the middle of the defense while Dumervil flies off the edge.
Prediction: DL Marcel Dareus, Alabama
Last Mock: DE Da’Quan Bowers, Clemson
3. Buffalo Bills
The Bills #1 option by far is a blue chip LT, but there are none in this draft that will warrant a pick this high. Da’Quan Bowers would be a good value pick here, but unless Buffalo commits to a 4-3 defense completely he doesn’t make much sense schematically. Patrick Peterson would certainly fill a need, as would Cam Newton and LB Von Miller (if Buffalo goes with a 3-4). It’s hard to peg Buffalo’s pick without knowing which way they will go schematically on defense (I’m not sure they even know). I have a hard time seeing an old school coach like Chan Gailey wanting to take a chance on Newton, especially after the comments the latter made at the Combine. In my mind, that makes Peterson the pick here. He’s a big CB, measuring in at 6’ even and 219 lbs at the combine. His size makes me nervous, as bigger CBs usually have to move to safety eventually, but his 4.34 40 yard dash at the Combine has me resting a little easier. He should slot into the starting lineup right away and form a solid young corner combination with Leodis McKelvin.
Prediction: CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
Last Mock: DL Marcel Dareus, Alabama
4. Cincinnati Bengals
With Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson (formerly Chad Ochocinco) both demanding trades and so far sticking to their guns, Cincinnati has quite a few needs. AJ Green and Da’Quan Bowers would both fill areas of need and provide value at this spot. You also can’t discount the possibility that Cincinnati takes a hard look at Cam Newton here. Yes, he struggled in passing drills at the combine and made some questionable comments to the media, but he’s still a great physical talent and this wouldn’t be the first time the Bengals looked past serious character concerns when going after a player. With that said, I think the Bengals make the right choice, selecting AJ Green. Green is a legit #1 receiver with speed, hands, great leaping ability and excellent run after the catch skills. His 4.48 40 at the Combine won’t blow anyone out of the water, but he plays much faster than that and he measured in at a very solid 6’3.5’’, 211 lbs.
Prediction: WR AJ Green, Georgia
Last Mock: QB Cam Newton, Auburn
5. Arizona Cardinals
Bowers isn’t really a fit here and even though WR Julio Jones had a very good Combine, I have a hard time seeing him jumping quite up this high (plus Arizona already has some guy named Fitzgerald). I think this pick comes down to two players: OLB Von Miller and OT Tyron Smith. Miller had an excellent combine, showing very well in drills and weighing in at a solid 246 lbs, up from the 237 he weighed at the Senior Bowl. Tyron Smith didn’t work out because of injury, but weighed in at 307 lbs, which is a huge bump from the 280 he was listed at during the season. However, he played right tackle at USC and I’m not 100% sold on his ability to move over to the left side. That makes Miller the pick, and I can’t really say it’s a reach. The guy is an absolute terror off the edge. If his play against the run and in coverage can be anything around solid, he’s going to be an excellent player.
Prediction: LB Von Miller, Texas A&M
Last Mock: CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
6. Cleveland Browns
This is a dream scenario for the Browns as two excellent players at huge positions of need are available: Da’Quan Bowers and Julio Jones. It’s a close call, and to be honest the right call would probably be to take Bowers to help build a terrible defense that’s transitioning to a new scheme, but I think Jones’ huge Combine and the desire to find QB Colt McCoy a weapon trump that. Still, Jones would be an excellent pick. He’s a big, physical receiver (6’4’’, 220 lbs) and he showed better speed than expected by running a 4.39 40 at the Combine. His vertical and broad jumps, which were excellent, backed up what we saw on tape with his incredible leaping ability. His hands are really the only thing that put him a notch below Green, though they aren’t awful. He’s actually got a stress fracture in his foot right now that will require surgery, but he should be fully recovered in plenty of time for the ’11 season (if there is one).
Prediction: WR Julio Jones, Alabama
Last Mock: WR AJ Green, Georgia
7. San Francisco 49ers
There’s a big hole at QB, but I don’t expect first year coach Jim Harbaugh to go that direction here. Despite the Niners’ poor showing last season, they are actually very close to the playoffs, especially in the horrid NFC West. Rush LB and the secondary look like the best bets for this pick, and with Von Miller off the board, the Niners decision becomes pretty easy. CB Prince Amukamara put to rest any concerns about his speed by running a 4.43 40 at the Combine. He’s a big, physical corner (6’, 206 lbs) and should be able to hang with the larger receivers in the league. As stated above, larger corners make me nervous as they often have to move to safety, but you have to think with the 40 times that Amukamara and Patrick Peterson put up, teams will likely look past that.
Prediction: CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska
Last Mock: QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
8. Tennessee Titans
The Titans biggest need is clearly at the QB position. I’m torn between whether or not I think they will take one here. On one hand, despite their terrible finish, there is a lot of talent on this roster, and they could conceivably make a run in the near future. However a lot of that talent is young and a young QB could grow with the rest of the roster. My gut says new head coach Mike Munchak, a former O-Line coach and offensive lineman himself, goes with a player in the trenches, selecting the best player on the board in Da’Quan Bowers. Bowers is an absolute beast, measuring in at 6’3.5’’ and 280 lbs at the Combine. He didn’t work out, but the kid is a physical freak. He’s the prototypical left end in a 4-3 scheme, possessing the speed and athleticism to rush the passer and the strength to hold up against the run. Julius Peppers comparisons have been thrown around, and that’s not as far off as one might think.
Prediction: DE Da’Quan Bowers, Clemson
Last Mock: DE Cameron Jordan, California
9. Dallas Cowboys
The secondary was awful this year and both corner and safety are huge needs for the Cowboys. Unfortunately they would have to make a big reach to get a player at either position here. They also need help on both lines, and there are players of value here on both sides of the ball. In the end, I think Dallas makes the safe pick, going with DE Cameron Jordan. He was the best player at the Senior Bowl and showed very well at the Combine as well. At 6’4’’, 287 lbs, he’s the prototypical size for a 5-technique in the 3-4 scheme. He’s not just a space-eater either, showing a good pass rush in drills and running a 4.78 40. He’ll be a terror when he slides inside on passing downs.
Prediction: DE Cameron Jordan, California
Last Mock: CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska
10. Washington Redskins
The needs are plentiful for the Skins on both sides of the ball. QB, RB, WR and OL are all needs on offense and help is needed at all three levels of the defense. I have a hard time seeing them going O-Line two years in a row, so I’m ruling out that position for now. A DL would be a great pick here, but I think this is a bit too high for DL JJ Watt and NT Phil Taylor. I’m going to go out on a bit of a limb here and tab OLB Justin Houston, one of my Combine risers, for this pick. He had a very good senior year and I don’t think he’s getting enough post-Combine hype. He measured in at a very solid 6’3’’, 270 lbs and ran a nice 4.68 in the 40. He’s got long arms, big hands, and put up 30 reps in the bench press, which is excellent for a man his size. He and Brian Orakpo would form a very formidable pair rushing the passer from the outside in Washington’s 3-4 scheme.
Prediction: DE/OLB Justin Houston
Last Mock: DL JJ Watt
11. Houston Texans
I have to say, Houston’s move to the 3-4 doesn’t make a ton of sense to me. Mario Williams is easily their best defender and his skills will not be utilized properly in that scheme. However, if they are going to make the move, they need a legit 3-4 NT and another edge rusher. There aren’t any NT prospects that would be a good value this high, but possible rush LB’s like Aldon Smith, Ryan Kerrigan and Robert Quinn would be good fits here. Quinn wins out because he has the best combination of measurables and production between the three. He had a very nice Combine and alleviated a lot of the concerns that people had about him after missing the entire 2010 season. He measured in at 6’4’’, 265 lbs and was very good in positional drills. He’ll provide a pure pass rusher for new Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips to mold into his next DeMarcus Ware.
Prediction: DE/OLB Robert Quinn, North Carolina
Last Mock: LB Von Miller, Texas A&M
12. Minnesota Vikings
Again, QB is a big need here, but this team is built to win now with older players, so a young signal caller doesn’t make a ton of sense. The offensive line, secondary and linebacking corps could all use upgrades. However, the top corners are long gone and LB Akeem Ayers stock is plummeting after his workout at the Combine. DE Ray Edwards looks like he is going to leave via free-agency, so a pass rusher to put across from Jared Allen would be a nice addition. DE Ryan Kerrigan is the best one left on the board and is a spitting image of Allen earlier in his career. Kerrigan is a high effort, non-stop motor guy. He also plays the run very well for his size (6’4’’, 267 lbs). He performed very well at the Combine in drills as both a LB and DE and will only strengthen Minnesota’s already strong defensive line.
Prediction: DE/OLB Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue
Last Mock: LB Akeem Ayers, UCLA
13. Detroit Lions
After a horrid stretch of seasons, the Lions managed to win a few games and take themselves out of the top 10 this year. They have some excellent building blocks to work with on both sides of the ball, but their offensive line could really use some help. It looked as if there wouldn’t be a lineman that warranted this pick, but OT Tyron Smith is starting to separate himself from the pack. We knew he had the athleticism and the ability, and when he weighed in at 307 lbs at the Combine (up from his listed 280 lbs), he automatically became the best tackle on the board. He’s going to need some work to learn the LT position, but for a talent like this, the Lions can afford to bring him along slowly.
Prediction: OT Tyron Smith, Southern California
Last Mock: DE/OLB Robert Quinn, North Carolina
14. St. Louis Rams
WR is a big need here as Sam Bradford was throwing to guys off the street last year. Unfortunately for the Rams, both AJ Green and Julio Jones are off the board in this scenario. With no other wideouts of value available here, St. Louis tabs DT Corey Liuget to help their young defense. He’s not in the same class at Fairley or Dareus, but Liuget showed well at the Combine and can play either tackle position in the 4-3. He’s a good penetrator and can hold blocks and make plays at the line. He’ll help Chris Long jump to another level after breaking out this past season.
Prediction: DT Corey Liuget, Illinois
Last Mock: WR Julio Jones, Alabama
15. Miami Dolphins
RB’s Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are likely leaving via FA, but the Dolphins can’t possibly by stupid enough to take RB Mark Ingram this early, as many are predicting. Running back might be the worst position to draft in round 1. Teams find good backs in all rounds of the draft and most backs aren’t productive for more than a few years. Miami almost kicked Head Coach Tony Sparano to the curb this offseason, and he’s probably gone if the team underperforms again this coming season. I know the front office has voiced support for QB Chad Henne, but they can’t possibly be sold on him after the way he has performed since getting a shot at the starting job. That makes a changing of the guard all the more likely and I’m seeing this as a possible landing spot for Cam Newton. Newton could sit for most of this year, while Henne proves for the final time that he’s not an NFL caliber starting QB, and then take over next year when Miami brings in its new coach.
Prediction: QB Cam Newton, Auburn
Last Mock: RB Mark Ingram, Alabama
16. Jacksonville Jaguars
I have to say, I was quite impressed with Jacksonville last season. I did not expect them to contend for a playoff spot and they almost snuck in there. The Tyson Alualu pick last year was crucified by the experts, but he turned in a solid rookie season playing next to human mountain Terrance Knighton. These are two solid tackles for the Jags’ defense, but they could use an edge rusher on the outside as they have struggled with their pass rush the past few seasons. DE Aldon Smith is the pick in this scenario. He had a solid Combine, measuring in just over 6’4’’ and 263 lbs with very long arms. His 4.75 in the 40 was nothing to sneeze at either. He’s raw, but he’s got a ton of talent and athleticism to work with.
Prediction: DE/OLB Aldon Smith, Missouri
Last Mock: DE/OLB Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue
17. New England Patriots (via Oakland)
The Patriots have a huge stockpile of picks in the first few rounds of this draft, including two in the first. Their main goal should be to get younger on both lines. DE JJ Watt would be an excellent pick here. He’s the prototypical 5-technique for the Patriots 3-4 defense. He had a very underrated week at the Combine and could go even higher than this if a team falls in love with him. He doesn’t do any one thing great, but he plays both the run and pass well. He’s also a very smart player and a great leader. He’ll slot in right next to NT Vince Wilfork and start from day 1.
Prediction: DL JJ Watt, Wisconsin
Last Mock: OT, Tyron Smith, Southern California
18. San Diego Chargers
For a team that didn’t make the playoffs, San Diego doesn’t have ton of needs. They could use a WR with Malcolm Floyd becoming a FA and Vincent Jackson wanting out, but there’s really not one of value here. RT and DE could both be upgraded as well and OT Gabe Carimi would be a solid fit. He’s a massive man (6’7’’, 317 lbs) and showed the ability in pass protection to stick outside. Some are even going as far as saying he could play on the left side, but I think that’s a bit of a stretch. He is however an excellent drive blocker in the run game. Either way, he would be a solid addition at RT for the Chargers and fit their power blocking scheme very well.
Prediction: OT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin
Last Mock: DE/OLB Aldon Smith, Missouri
19. New York Giants
The Giants have loaded up on the defensive linemen the last few years while other units of theirs have continued to struggle. The offensive line in particular has shown its age the past two seasons. The Giants could use a young blocker at right tackle right now and eventually to replace David Diehl at left tackle. OT Nate Solder fits that description. Solder is raw, but he measured in at a jaw dropping 6’8’’, 319 lbs at the Combine. He looked very good in drills and if the Giants can get him to look that good with pads on, he could be an elite level LT. He and Will Beatty could form solid bookends for the foreseeable future.
Prediction: OT Nate Solder, Colorado
Last Mock: Solder
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs badly need a speed rusher to complement their two young tackles they drafted last year. Unfortunately, the ones that merit a first round pick are all off the board already. A lot of people are projecting DE Adrian Clayborn here, but he’s not really a speed rusher and didn’t show exceptionally well at the Combine. He’s also got very short arms which makes me nervous. You really can’t go wrong beefing up your offensive line and I think Tampa goes that direction in this scenario, taking OT Anthony Castonzo. Castonzo performed very well at the Combine and showed the tools to play on either side at the next level. He and Donald Penn will form solid bookends to protect QB Josh Freeman.
Prediction: OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College
Last Mock: DE/OLB Justin Houston, Georgia
21. Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City has needs at NT, rush LB, OL and WR. All of the top rush LB’s are off the board and the remaining receivers would all be reaches here. C Stefen Wisniewski is a solid prospect and would fit their scheme perfectly, but he would be a reach here as well. Taking all this into account, I think Scott Pioli goes and gets his Kansas City version of Vince Wilfork in NT Phil Taylor. Taylor is a mountain of a man at 6’3’’, 334 lbs and is the prototypical NT for Kansas City’s 3-4 scheme. He’s got long arms and big hands, which are both important attributes for a NT. He has some character concerns, but if Pioli deems that they are in the past and not of concern, Taylor could be the pick here.
Prediction: NT Phil Taylor, Baylor
Last Mock: Taylor
22. Indianapolis Colts
Indy needs help at tackle on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. There are still some solid DT’s on the board, specifically DT Stephen Paea, who made a big impression with his performance at the Combine. He sustained an injury at the Senior Bowl, so he couldn’t participate in drills, but he broke the Combine bench press record (49 reps at 225 lbs) and measured in at a solid 6’1’’ and 303 lbs. He’s as strong as an ox and would solidify the middle of the Colts line which has struggled at times against the run.
Prediction: DT Stephen Paea, Oregon State
Last Mock: OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College
23. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles need to figure out what they are going to do with the Kevin Kolb/Michael Vick situation. But no matter what they decide, they need to keep whoever is playing QB upright better than they did this past season. G/C Marcus Pouncey could play either position and would provide versatility and strength along the interior of the line. The brother of Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey, he had a nice Combine and would make for a solid pick here for the Eagles.
Prediction: G/C Marcus Pouncey, Florida
Last Mock: OT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin
24. New Orleans Saints
The Saints don’t have a ton of holes, but they could use some upgrades here and there. LB is a spot that could certainly use some help as the guys playing on either side of Jonathan Vilma are probably better suited as backups. LB’s Akeem Ayers and Martez Wilson are both the type of versatile players that Saints Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams loves, and they are both still on the board in this scenario. They are polar opposites at this point, as Ayers looks great on tape but was awful at the Combine and Wilson looks stiff on tape but looked very good in his workouts. I think the Saints stick to what they see on tape and take Ayers. He’s got good size and is a solid cover guy. He’s raw as a blitzer, but his size and athleticism would seem to indicate that he has potential there.
Prediction: OLB Akeem Ayers, UCLA
Last Mock: DT Corey Luiget, Illinois
25. Seattle Seahawks
Seattle has needs all over the field, but I have a feeling Pete Carroll falls in love with one of the quarterbacks. As luck would have it, in this scenario Blaine Gabbert falls all the way down to him at pick #25. Gabbert has a very good arm and can make all the throws. His only real questions are his decision making, which is sometimes suspect, and his ability to run a pro offense (he played in a spread at Missouri). He’s probably the best pure passer in this draft class and he could sit a year behind Charlie Whitehurst, or Matt Hasselbeck if they bring him back.
Prediction: QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
Last Mock: QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas
26. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens have one need that is far and away their biggest: corner. For a while it looked like there wouldn’t be one worth taking here (assuming both Patrick Peterson and Prince Amukamara were off the board). But lo and behold, not one, but two corners bumped their stock up to the late first round area at the Combine. Both Jimmy Smith and Brandon Harris looked very good and could be taken somewhere in this area. They are quite different players, as Smith is a big, physical corner while Harris is small and fast. I think Baltimore looks at the smallish corners they already have on their roster and opt for Smith. He measured in at an eye-popping 6’2’’, 211 lbs and ran a very good 4.46 40. His comments about being as good as Nnamdi Asomugha make me doubt his maturity a bit, but there’s no doubting that size/speed combo.
Prediction: CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado
Last Mock: CB Brandon Harris, Miami (FL)
27. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons could really use a young pass rusher to groom behind John Abraham, but in this scenario, all of those guys are off the board. OT Tyson Clabo is likely leaving via free-agency and the Falcons could us a replacement at tackle. Derek Sherrod is still on the board and he would be a solid value pick here. He can play both the right and left side and is equally good in run and pass blocking. He didn’t stand out at the Combine, but he’s got all the measurables you look for in a LT (6’5’’, 320 lbs, long arms, big hands). He would be a solid addition and will help keep Matt Ryan healthy.
Prediction: OT Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State
Last Mock: WR Jon Baldwin, Pittsburgh
28. New England Patriots
The Patriots got some help for their defensive line with their first pick and can now address their offensive line. G Stephen Neal just retired and it’s hard to see the Logan Mankins situation ending well, so guard is clearly a need. Danny Watkins really stood out at the Senior Bowl and had a solid Combine as well. He has an interesting story as he’s already 27 and didn’t play football until 2007. Things like that might turn off most teams, but I could see it actually being a plus to the Patriots. He played LT at Baylor, but will slide inside to G at the next level. He’s got a real mean streak and doesn’t give ground in pass protection. A very solid pick.
Prediction: G Danny Watkins, Baylor
Last Mock: DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa
29. Chicago Bears
The Bears have one very clear need: offensive line. Jay Cutler may not be the greatest QB in the NFL, but no QB can survive when hit as much as Cutler was this year. Unfortunately in this scenario all of the top OL are off the board. Chicago will either need to reach for one or go another route like corner or receiver, both positions where they need help. I think the need for line help is too great though and the Bears reach for the best blocker available, OT Ben Ijalana. He’s not the prototypical size (6’3.5’’, 317 lbs) and he needs to refine his technique, but he’s got the athleticism and strength that teams covet along the line. He might not be a blue chip LT, but he should be able to help them somewhere up front.
Prediction: OT Ben Ijalana, Villanova
Last Mock: OT Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State
30. New York Jets
The Jets could really use a rush LB to help them get constant pressure on the QB. They simply have to blitz too much, leaving their secondary exposed. However, there isn’t really any value at that position here in this scenario and I think the franchise has been scared off by the lack of development from Vernon Gholston (recently released). In this case, I think the Jets target the best defensive lineman on the board in Cameron Heyward (DE, Ohio State). Shaun Ellis and Trevor Pryce are getting up there in years and Mike DeVito is probably best suited for a rotational role. Heyward had a somewhat disappointing season, but showed what he is capable of in his dominating showing in the Sugar Bowl. He has the prototypical size to be a nice fit as a 5-technique in the Jets’ 3-4.
Prediction: DL Cameron Heyward, Ohio State
Last Mock: Heyward
31. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers clearly need offensive line help, but the top blockers are all gone and I have a hard time seeing them wanting to start multiple youngsters along the line. They could also use help at corner where they were abused late in the playoffs. CB Brandon Harris is still sitting there and he would make a solid addition to the Steelers’ secondary. He’s not the biggest guy (5’9.5’’, 191 lbs), but he’s got good speed (4.45 40) and good cover skills. Pittsburgh is going to need help at corner if they are going to keep taking on pass-happy teams like Indianapolis and New England in the playoffs every year.
Prediction: CB Brandon Harris, Miami (FL)
Last Mock: G/C Marcus Pouncey, Florida
32. Green Bay Packers
The Packers, fresh off a Super Bowl victory, don’t have a ton of glaring needs. They could use a LB across from Clay Matthews and a LT to groom behind Chad Clifton, but there isn’t one area (assuming they get their injured players back healthy) that is a major red flag. However, after releasing and subsequently re-signing AJ Hawk, it’s clear they are not happing with their ILB’s. Martez Wilson burned up the track at the Combine with a 4.49 40 yard dash. He’s a very good athlete, but doesn’t always play up to his abilities. He’s big at about 6’4’’, 250 lbs and would slot in nicely in the middle of Dom Capers’ defense.
Prediction: LB Martez Wilson, Illinois
Last Mock: G Danny Watkins, Baylor