Final Mock Draft
Here goes the last mock draft of the season. This is what I expect to go down on draft day, Thursday, with the first round turning out some big time surprises. We’ve done a few mock drafts here at LL.com, most recently a team mock that had 4 different guys playing GM for a day. But this one is different, this takes into account all the hoopla involved in the pre-draft process. I’m talking about rumors and needs and “what I hear” and all that good stuff. This one will be the most accurate of any mock we’ve put out. This is always a great time, a bunch of poor kids get rich! Enjoy the draft.
1. Carolina Panthers select Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
I don’t know how you pass on Gabbert’s all around safety and upside, but Newton might very well have the highest ceiling in the draft. Is that always worth the #1 pick? I don’t think so, but I get it.
2. Denver Broncos select Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
Dareus is a beast in the middle, and the Broncos just flat out haven’t had anything close to that since, well, a long time. This team struggles against the run, Dareus will help them sure that area up. If you want safety, MD is the guy.
3. Buffalo Bills select Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
This youngster has a ton of upside as an all around player, and is a great fit for a team that really struggles defensively. Miller will help out against the pass, with his ability to put pressure on the quarterback, and he just plays football with a contagious effort level. I think an OLB is a tough pick at #3 overall, but he’s a game changer.
4. The Cincinnati Bengals select Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
You just don’t get a guy with no holes in his game, anymore. I’m sure Blaine doesn’t have the upside of Cam Newton or the immediate impact of Marcell Dareus, but shoot, he’s a possible franchise quarterback that is fast, big, has a strong arm, has some smarts, and a solid personality. I like Fairley a lot, but it looks like he’s got too many questions. I love A.J. Green –but I get going for a QB here. This “surprise” pick changes the rest of the draft going forward.
5. Arizona Cardinals select Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, Carolina
Arizona gets lucky by not being forced to go Gabbert with #5, I like Gabbert, but the team will get better faster if they get help in the trenches. Before Quinn was kicked off the football team for extra benefits, he was a Top 5 pick in the making – a stud DE that was a force, a big bad man that could play as a 4-3 end or a 3-4 OLB, similar to Terrell Suggs. Well, there’s no NCAA sanctions in the NFL, and Quinn is still that guy. Da’Quan Bowers’ knee questions certainly upped Quinn’s stock, but like I said, he’s always had the talent.
6. Cleveland Browns select A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Mike Holmgren isn’t above taking a wide receiver early, especially when he’s quite possibly the best offensive player in the draft and still on the board at #6. The Browns have some young WRs coming into their own, but they don’t have a guy like A.J. Green. While the Browns certainly don’t have an air-it-out attack, Green can help improve that area with his elite hands and ability to get open.
7. San Francisco 49ers select Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
The 49ers get lucky. This is the kind of guy their defense needs, a defense that is already tough in a bunch of areas, but Peterson just ups the entire group. He may be a Top 3 player from this class.
8. Tennessee Titans select Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
A lot of people have questions about Fairley’s personality, and he may be more difficult than your average bear, but he’s still a stud. Fairley is exactly what the Titans are missing since Haynesworth ran off to Washington DC – except I think there are less questions about Fairley’s personality than Big Al’s – Big Al is wild.
9. Dallas Cowboys select Tyron Smith, OT, USC
Dallas should get as much help in the trenches as possible. Amukamara is an option here, to help an ever-struggling secondary – but I think Romo’s health is of more importance, and Smith will assist in that category while improving the run game to boot.
10. Washington Redskins select Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
I’m not so sure that Splinter Shanahan will be enamored with the idea of going WR in the Top 10, but Jones really adds a lot to a small WR crew in Washington. Julio was supposed to be gone already, but A.J. Green’s small slip has JJ still available. DE or DT still an option here, JJ Watt or Cory Liuget possibly?
11. The Houston Texans select Cameron Jordan, DE, California
Jordan is all the hype right now, and he seems like a great fit opposite Mario Williams. Jordan does a lot of things well, and it’s not surprising that the more people look at him, the more they like what he brings to the table.
12. Minnesota Vikings select Jake Locker, QB, Washington
The Vikings could really use help on the offensive line, as evidenced by Brett Favre being used as a piñata by opposing defenses last season – but they also need a QB of the future, and the current regime doesn’t think they have one on the roster. Locker has great upside, works his A off, and is a strong leader. It’s a reach, but not as much as many think. If they hold off on QB, they could go in a number of different directions, J.J. Watt, Prince Amukamara, Anthony Castonzo (to name a few).
13. Detroit Lions select Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
Prince not only has a great name, but the guy has all the speed and shut down ability you need to grab a corner this high. The Lions defense is really improving, but they can’t take that next step without a stud CB – they just happen to luck out and get one here.
14. The St. Louis Rams select Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
Liuget fits that DL mold that Spagnola was a big part of during his time in New York. The Rams could use Corey’s ability to disrupt the run and pass with his speed and strength. I think Liuget is a can’t miss option on the DL.
15. The Miami Dolphins select Mike Pouncey, OG/C, Florida
I think this is high for a center/guard player, even if his upside is grand. I know his brother is a stud, but remember, his brother is better. Still, I watched the Dolphins’ offensive line really struggle in the middle last season, and Pouncey will guarantee an improvement in that area – so it makes some sense.
16. The Jacksonville Jaguars select J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
I liked the Jaguars grabbing Ryan Kerrigan here, but think that Watt is just a little more impressive as a prospect. He’s still on the board in this scenario, so I think he’s gone, as Jacksonville gets a very solid and safe player in the middle of Round 1.
17. The New England Patriots select Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple
I know that a lot of boards have Castonzo going here, and I certainly see the value in that from a Patriots’ perspective – but this team really missed Richard Seymour, and I think Wilkerson is going to be a stud DE in the 3-4 scheme – I also think the Patriots are really smart – those two thins add up to Wilkerson going here.
18. The San Diego Chargers select Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
Castonzo has starting LT upside, and right off the bat he could be plugged into the RT job in San Diego. This team has gone to the pass a ton over the last couple years, but bookends that can pass block and run block could help even things out in SD.
19. The New York Giants select Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
Carimi is a mauler, and the Giants need to improve their run-game. Some think the best way to do that is to go grab Ingram, but anybody in the know highlights the need of new blood on the offensive line. Jacobs and Bradshaw are decent enough, and there’s plenty of RB options to be won later in the draft – right here, it’s OL or bust for the Giants.
20. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
One could argue that they are just getting rid of the last troubled CB they picked in Round 1. I’m going to go ahead and argue that Jimmy Smith doesn’t have those same concerns, and that he’s quite possibly the best cover guy in the draft. The Bucs need me to be right.
21. The Kansas City Chiefs select Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona
I don’t know how I missed this guy in my first couple mocks. I’ve hit up some film on him, because I heard a lot about his climb into the 1st round. He looks like the real deal to me. I know that Arizona had a stud defense this season, and he’s a big reason why. Tamba Hali is a solid pass rushing force for the Chiefs, but Reed coming form the other side could mean great things for the Chiefs D.
22. The Indianapolis Colts select Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
The Colts protect Manning here. Seems like a good move for a smart front office. If they were wild and crazy, they could think about picking up Aldon Smith and grooming him behind two greats – but the league’s getting tougher, and if they want to compete they need to protect their #1 guy, and improve the run-game.
23. The Philadelphia Eagles select Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
I love the Eagles to trade back here, but if they don’t, it’s because they find a value pick too good to pass up, or maybe they like Akeem Ayers enough to grab him this high? Tough call with the Eagles, per usual, but Sherrod helps them in a huge need area, and I think he’s the last top-tier OT option in this draft.
24. The New Orleans Saints select Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Does this clear up the running back position? I think so. I just don’t really get it. I love Ingram, really, I do – I think he’ll be a stud – but the Saints have proven that they can get a lot of production out of a number of RB options, why go RB with a valuable 1st round pick? Maybe the rumors are for the birds, I don’t know – if they don’t take Ingram, Ryan Kerrigan is a great value pick here, and Aldon Smith is another huge upside, value option.
25. The Seattle Seahawks select Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
I think the Hawks would love Sherrod or Solder to be here so they can improve the other side of that porous offensive line – but that’s just not the case in this mock, and that leaves them thinking… Jake Locker is already gone, so the home town boy options is out the window. I know DE isn’t a huge need for this team, but I still think Ryan Kerrigan is a great value pick this late – if he does indeed slip down the draft. But, with Paul Allen’s money, and a great place to risk it, why not grab Da’Quan Bowers? The kid is a stud, and if his knees do stay healthy for the next 5 years, what an absolute steal for a team looking for gamebreakers.
26. The Baltimore Ravens select Aldon Smith, OLB/DE, Missouri
I’m not sure what they’ll do with him, he’s obviously not big and bad enough to be a 3-4 DE, and they aren’t in need of an OLB in their 3-4, but this is a team getting older, and Smith is a steal here – he could learn from some greats. If they think Ryan Kerrigan can play DE in the 3-4, they’ll grab his motor here. Adrian Clayborn is an option, too. Maybe Brandon Harris or Ras-I Dowling to fill their biggest need? It gets tougher this late.
27. The Atlanta Falcons select Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
The Falcons are looking for a DE to help them put pressure on the passer and be stout on the edge against the run. Kerrigan is going to be a starter, and while he might not project as a Pro-Bowler, the safety in this pick has to be reassuring, the fact that they might get a sure thing this late in a huge position of need will be too good to pass up.
28. The New England Patriots select Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
I’ll be stunned if the Patriots don’t trade one of their first round picks. But there are no trades in my mock, so the Pats fill one of their biggest needs with Akeem Ayers, the playmaker from UCLA. He has the versatility the Patriots want from their players, and is decent value here.
29. The Chicago Bears select Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor
The bottom line here is that Chicago has to upgrade their offense line in Round 1. There’s no OT guy worth their top pick, but I don’t think that will keep them improving their biggest hole. Watkins is a beast, and I think a surefire upgrade is the right decision.
30. The New York Jets select Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
I think Clayborn is a great fit both in value and position of need. It’s tough to find good 5-technique players anywhere in the draft, and if they can do that with pick #30, that’s a great option. Clayborn is the type of guy that will fit perfect on a team that goes all out all the time.
31. The Pittsburgh Steelers select James Carpenter, OG, Alabama
The Crimson Tide had one of the best rushing attacks in the land, and that’s partly due to what Carpenter did on a weekly basis. James might not be the best run or pass blocker in the draft, but he’s well rounded in both areas. The Steelers really need help on the offensive line, and I think Carpenter will sure up the middle.
32. The Green Bay Packers select Will Rackley, OG, Lehigh
It doesn’t look like any of the Packers’ dream scenarios fall here. Brooks Reed, Cameron Heyward, or even Akeem Ayers are all gone, and that leaves them picking the best available guy to help them defend their Super Bowl. They could always use help on the offensive line, and Will Rackley could be their guy as an OG that could solidify their offensive line right away. If Clayborn or Ayers fall this far, they become the targets.
Alright, we got the Lucky Lester team together for one final mock draft. We all don’t completely agree on all the picks but these are the guys we felt most comfortable with.
- St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma: We’ve decided that this is not only the move that will most likely happen, but the best move. Think about it like this, would you rather have Albert Haynesworth or Peyton Manning. Al’s a home run at defensive tackle, Peyton’s a home run at QB. Makes sense, right?
- Detroit Lions: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska: The Lions might be too stupid to make this pick. They have a franchise quarterback, they have an elite playmaker at receiver, they need help on defense and this guy is the king of the draft. It’s a no-brainer, which means even the Lions should be able to pull it off.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma: Pick number 3 seems like a good one for the Bucs. They need McCoy, and he’s one of the top players in the draft, and he fits their scheme perfectly.
- Washington Redskins: Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State: We all think the Redskins should trade down, as the value for what they want just doesn’t hold here, but Okung’s a big bad man, and he’d certainly help the Redskins where they are hurting the most.
- Kansas City Chiefs: Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma: We’re a little torn here, but in the end, we think the Chiefs go with the best lineman available. Right now, we think that’s Anthony Davis – but all the “draftniks” say Trent Williams is the guy. They pass on Eric Berry, decide not to pay a safety Top 5 money, and get better up front.
- Seattle Seahawks: Eric Berry, S, Tennessee: The Hawks end up getting lucky, and grab one of the best players in the draft. Not only is that great for any team, but especially a team that has been getting killed in the secondary, and has questionable safety play.
- Cleveland Browns: Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma: This is a questionable pick in many respects, as nobody has the Browns taking a chance on the infamous Oklahoma wide receiver – however, he’s the best prospect left, and the Browns could use that big play ability.
- Oakland Raiders: Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers: I can’t believe that we agree on the Raiders making a good pick and taking a valuable offensive lineman – but that’s what we’re doing. I’m sure we’re off on this one, the Raiders NEVER do anything close to what I think is right.
- Buffalo Bills: Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa: The Bills need lots of things – nobody is questioning that, but their new head coach has done good things with questionable offensive weapons, so there’s no reason to think they reach for anything “special” here. We all agree they need offensive line and defensive line help immediately. The elite offensive lineman will be all gone by the time the Bills pick next and there are many great defensive tackles.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Earl Thomas, S, Texas: We like to “joke” with Jack Del Rio’s lack of intelligence, and expect him to do something mentally representative of that “joke”, but if he doesn’t he’ll just take the playmaker in the secondary they’ve been trying to draft since Jack stole the job…
- Denver Broncos: Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee: Denver gets a big bad nose tackle to help sure up their improving defense. We all agree that they’d like to see one of the top safeties on the board, but Earl just got sniped by the Jaguars leaving them with Williams.
- Miami Dolphins: Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech: We think Morgan can make up for the loss of Jason Taylor. He’s a very versatile defensive lineman that would likely play the OLB in a 3-4 for the Dolphins. I don’t know if he’ll have tons of versatility in coverage, but he’ll be able to rush the QB and hold up against the run.
- San Francisco 49ers: Joe Haden, CB, Florida: The 49ers could use some young stopper in the secondary, and everyone loves Haden – they need help at offensive line, but Haden is good value here (though I like Kyle Wilson more). I was voted off this island, so Haden’s the guy.
- Seattle Seahawks: C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson: I don’t like the Hawks taking a running back when they could use a lot of help in many places, but he’s a touchdown maker, and the Hawks could use some explosion. Sold.
- New York Giants: Rolando McClain, ILB, Alabama: They need a big playmaking linebacker and one of the best defensive players in the draft just happens to be on the board at that very position. Sold.
- Tennessee Titans: Jason Pierre Paul, DE, South Florida: The Titans could be big trade players this year, but without a trade they’ll have to improve their defense against the pass. They could do that by grabbing a corner like Kyle Wilson, but everybody knows good corners aren’t the only way to improve your pass defense – Pierre Paul has great upside and is a good value pick here. We think they go that way.
- San Francisco 49ers: Mike Iupati, G, Idaho: The 49ers wait until pick 17 to get one of the best offensive linemen in the draft. They need help at OT, but there are many that think Iupati has the versatility to play OT as well.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Maurkice Pouncey, C/G, Florida: The Steelers have some soul searching to do, no doubt about it – but what they do need, without a doubt, is good help up front. They haven’t been a good blocking team in a long time, and we all think Pouncey could help at multiple places along the offensive line. Papa Weimer think they’ll ignore that and go for the best player available and take Brandon Graham. I’m thinking Kyle Wilson – but in the end, we all agree, Pouncey is the likely guy here.
- Atlanta Falcons: Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan: Sometimes a team gets lucky in the middle of round 1, a great player just happens to fall into their laps and he just happens to be at a major position of need. This is the case with Graham.
- Houston Texans: Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State: I think Taylor Mays would be a good pick here. I think Kyle Wilson, or other help at CB (Kareem Jackson?) would be a solid pick for need here. But I also think this team needs more toughness up front, and Pouncey is one of if not the best interior lineman in the draft. I’m sold.
- Cincinnati Bengals: Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma: The Bengals could really use help in making their offense more explosive. Gresham is the 2nd best receiving option in the draft – a good pick here.
- New England Patriots: Jerry Hughes, OLB, TCU: He’s the best player left on my board and he’s the best pass rusher in the draft. The Patriots get lucky with Hughes still on the board.
- Green Bay Packers: Charles Brown, OT, USC: He might not be the elite OT they need, but Brown has a bright future and enough talent to make him worth the Packers’ 23rd pick.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Sergio Kindle, DE, Texas: Kindle might not be the best fit for the Eagles, but he’s a dynamic defensive player for a team that lacks a pass rushing presence and big hitters. Sounds like a better fit than I thought.
- Baltimore Ravens: Jared Odrick, DE, Penn State: This big bad man will help the Ravens stay stout up front. He’s talented and has a non-stop motor, and he’s big enough and quick enough to hold up at DE for the Ravens.
- Arizona Cardinals: Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame: Hey, 2 out of 4 of us think Clausen will be good, and none out of four of us think Matt Leinart will be good. Kind of a nuts pick for the Cards, but I’m sure they could do worse with it.
- Dallas Cowboys: Taylor Mays, S, USC: Taylor Mays has really fallen. He’s not the best cover corner in the draft, don’t get me wrong, but he’s a big hitter, a top flight physical specimen, and I’m sure he’ll help the Cowboys right off the bat. A few of us think Mays is now being underrated after being overrated to the point of being labeled an overrated player. Do that math.
- San Diego Chargers: Ryan Matthews, RB, Fresno State: I like Jahvid Best, think he’s the best running back on the board – but Matthews has good size, good speed, good vision, and good power. He’s not amazing at any one area, but good at all of them. The Chargers need somebody in that mold.
- New York Jets: Carlos Dulap, DE, Florida: They aren’t going to take a wide receiver, I know that. I think they’d give Kindle the call if he were left on the board, but as is, he’s not. I think Carlos Dunlap is getting overlooked here – he’s got a great NFL body, and with Rex pushing the buttons, they could get a steal here.
- Minnesota Vikings: Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama: This kid is very good, and was a shut down player for one of the best defenses in college football. Nobody threw his way, and for good reason. The Vikings could really use more talent and youth at corner.
- Indianapolis Colts: Roger Saffold, OT, Indiana: A late mover, the Colts get future help for the NFL’s franchise player.
- New Orleans Saints: Lamar Houston, DT, Texas: Lamar is one of the most underrated defensive linemen in the draft and I expect him to be a late 1st Round pick. The Saints got a little shallow toward the end of the year at DT, and I think Houston helps them right away.