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.
A Real Mock Draft – For Better (OR WORSE) Team LL.Com Makes the Pick!
Alright, so I had this idea about a mock draft that I thought would be twice as good as your late mock that all but copies the super-NFL writers that have all the inside information and basically know the picks heading into draft. This one is different. This isn’t a “what will happen” mock draft, this is more of a fantasy rookie draft. The fantasy? Team LuckyLester.com gets a random number, 1, 2, 3, or 4 (it would have been 5, but Red Red Ryan was “too busy” – scoff!). They pick for the team at that number all the way down the draft. Josh (JA) picked #1 out of the hat, I (LL) got #2, Papa Weimer (PW) got #3, and Nate Kuhns (NK) got last, #4, but at least he doesn’t have to pay his guys as much…
So Josh has picks #1, #5, #9, and so on. I pick #2, #6, and on and on. Papa #3, #7… Nate #4, #8….
It makes sense, I’m sure of it.
For this mock, we get to be the team owners, the GMs, the coaches, whoever decides the guy we’ll pick in Round 1. You’ll notice that I make all the best decisions… (as the editor, I get to write that without getting it deleted)
I have the initials down at the end of the write up, letting you know each guy who made the pick for each team, so you know who to write in (firstname.lastname@example.org) and trash. I’ll be posting good trash talking, arguments, agreements, etc – so write in!
Josh is on the clock….
1. The Carolina Panthers select Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
Taking Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton will be the temptation here, but both are risky picks that weren’t projected as first rounders before Andrew Luck decided to stay in school and Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett faded down the stretch. Bowers will give the Panthers a pass-rushing monster to pair with Charles Johnson on the other side, wreaking havoc in opposing backfields. The Panthers need to stay ahead in turnover margin (-8 in 2010) for them to be successful, and getting pressure on the quarterback results in those impact plays that a defense feeds off of. I know his “knee concerns” will have him out of this spot, but I think he’ll be a very good player for a very long time. JA
2. The Denver Broncos select Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
I originally had the Broncos drafting Nick Fairley here, and while he came across poorly during the combine, I still think he’s the best defensive tackle in the draft (yes, better than Marcell Dareus) and he should be considered here. I watched the kid cause ruckus on the line all season long, and despite playing on the same team as Cam Newton, he was the best player on the field plenty of big games this season. However, I love me some Patrick Peterson, and think he has the make-up to be one special player on the outside. In a game that is becoming more pass friendly than ever, a player like Peterson can’t be overlooked. LL
3. The Buffalo Bills select Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
Like Lucky said, Fairley was the best defensive player in college football last season. He affected games from the DT position similar to the way Suh did last season. Now, I don’t think Fairley is Suh, but he certainly has an amazing skill set for a big man on the line, and Buffalo needs to stop the run and rush the passer, two things that Fairley can do from the time he steps foot on the field. A quarterback might be tempting here, but Fitzpatrick is solid, at least, and this is a team that needs to start finding ways to win. A young project QB isn’t the answer if winning is the goal. They might be able to trade down and get him, but either way, Fairley would help this team more than anybody else on the board. PW
4. The Cincinnati Bengals select A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Green simply put is a beast at 6’4′ and 212 pounds with 4.38 speed, Green has the tools to make an immediate impact. With Ochocinco kicking balls instead of catching them, as well as Owens departure, the Bengals will need to look for an incumbent and Green is their man. I typically like to build inside out with the Top 5 picks, however with this kind of talent on the board, Green is my guy. NK
5. The Arizona Cardinals select Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M
Another QB-needy team will look to address those needs either later in the draft or via a trade or free agency. As pressing as the need is I remain unconvinced that either Gabbert or Newton will put the Cards over the edge in the NFC West in the coming seasons. Von Miller would be an immediate upgrade to an Arizona defense that relies on the big play rather than being a shutdown unit. Bringing him off the edge in Ken Whisenhunt’s 3-4 scheme would instantly improve a pass rush that struggled to get to the quarterback at times during the 2010 season. I expect the Cards to make a major push for Kevin Kolb, and if they are able to attain his services with a package of 2012 draft picks and nab a top defensive talent like Miller with this pick, they could well be in position to return to the top of the weakest division in football sooner rather than later. JA
6. The Cleveland Browns select Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
Dareus is just too good of a find here. With AJ Green already off the board, Von Miller headed to Arizona, Peterson gone early to Denver, Fairley slipping in at 3, the Browns are still lucky to get Dareus here. They won’t be looking for a quarterback at this point – Colt McCoy seems like the guy in Cleveland. I don’t think they’d reach for Julio Jones, and unless the like Robert Quinn more than Big MD, this one is tough to pass on. Dareus has proven to be a beat up front throughout his college career, and has done plenty for himself in the off-season. Many have Dareus plowing past Fairley as the top DT, and getting a game changer in the middle with the 6th pick will be great for the Browns. LL
7. The San Francisco 49ers select, Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
I have to believe that we’re wrong up to this point, and a quarterback has already been taken (I know I’m not wrong, it must me one of the other guys) – but if we aren’t, and teams are actually following our path of sound advice, then the 49ers will get their choice at QB. There’s no Andrew Luck in this class, as new headman Jim Harbaugh certainly recognizes, but I’m willing to bet there’s enough in Gabbert’s upside to woo the Stanford coach into taking a chance. Gabbert has a cannon, he worked out as well as any QB on the board, and he’s looked comfortable under pressure and in the pocket. I think he’s the choice here, even though this QB class scares me a bit. The 49ers could go for Cam Newton instead, but I think they’ll be more smitten with Blaine. Prince Amukamara is another very good player that would probably help this team more than a QB, but that chance of hitting gold might be too much to pass up if their favorite signal caller is still on the board. PW
8. The Tennessee Titans select Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
With the majority of high impact defensive players off the board, including highly targeted Da’Quan Bowers, the Titans will look to address the most important offensive position on the field at QB. Fisher has targeted athletic QB’s in the past, and will look to do so again. The risk here remains high, however with K. Collins going into his 18th season and the debacle surrounding V. Young, Tennessee and Fisher will look for the next signal caller. NK
9. Dallas Cowboys select Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
Jerry’s crew should be thrilled to land Amukamara with the 9th pick in the first round. While Patrick Peterson profiles as the better athlete with the slightly higher ceiling, in my opinion Prince is more technically sound and possesses the higher floor. The cornerback position opposite Terence Newman has been a black hole for the Boys for years now and grabbing the heir to the throne both in name and position-wise would make too much sense to ignore. Securing the former Husker would allow the Cowboys to bump Mike Jenkins to the nickel back role or possibly transition Newman to safety as he approaches his age 33 season. JA
10. Washington Redskins select Julio Jones, wr, Alabama
With no true star at receiver, the redskins would have a tough time passing on a possible star in jones. His speed/size combo is very impressive and it’s even better that he’s not a princess like most star college receivers. This guy is as good a blocker as he is a playmaker and he’s big time in both areas. Think Brandon Marshall size and speed with no crazy tendencies. LL
11. The Houston Texans select Robert Quinn, de, Carolina
Robert Quinn would be a nice pick here, the Texans have needed production from the opposite DE spot as teams plan around Mario Williams but this corner is super talented and Houston needs more help in the secondary desperately. Tough choice. I’m going with Quinn here because his pressure will help the secondary as well as against the run. Pressure is a secondaries best friend. PW
12. The Minnesota Vikings select Tyron Smith, OT, USC
The glaring need here shines on the QB position, however with both top QB prospects off the board, Minnesota will look to solidify up front. Smith has the size and athleticism to become an impact player in both the run game as well as the pass. An investment here in Smith will increase the chances of the new QB in Minnesota staying off his back, as well as the Vikings getting back to a more balanced attack. NK
13. The Detroit Lions select Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
In the first real shocker of the draft, I like the Lions to avoid drafting based on need. If Amukamara slips this far I think he becomes the pick, but in this scenario Prince is long gone. Ingram is not a burner, but the presence of second-year man Jahvid Best allows the Lions to pair Ingram’s thump and grinding approach with Best’s big-play ability. The defense in Detroit has taken a major step forward under the guidance of DC Gunther Cunningham (not to mention an influx of talent headed by a boy named Suh). With the recent upgrades at the skill positions, this team is ready to ascend to the next level if QB Matthew Stafford can stay healthy under center. JA
14. The St. Louis Rams select J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
I know Watt has been pegged an ideal 3-4 DE and thus is linked to a lot of teams moving to that style of defense, or looking for an end to plug in. But Watt has a great size to be any kind of defense end in any style of defense. His relentless motor and strength is going to immediately upgrade the Rams pass-rush and run defense. He truly is in the mold of those New York Giant defensive linemen that Steve Spagnuolo has first hand knowledge of. He already has his quarterback, there’s not a receiver worth drafting here, I like him improving that defensive line. LL
15. The Miami Dolphins select Anthony Costanzo, OT, Boston College
Despite being known for the wildcat offense, a run-heavy attack, and possessing two very talented runners last season, the Dolphins really had trouble running the ball. We all know they have one very talented OT in Jake Long, but they could use another and Constanzo is the best on the board. Not many people realized that the Dolphins struggled on the line last season, but it didn’t go unnoticed form my point of view, and something tells me the Dolphins realized it as well. Rarely do you get a chance to pick arguably the best offensive tackle in the draft at pick #15, and with Mark Ingram already off the board, Costanzo’s the next best (maybe first best?) way to get that running game going again. PW
16. The Jacksonville Jaguars select Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
The plethora of talent from the DE position holds true with the selection of Kerrigan from the Boilermakers. An athletic smooth mover, Kerrigan, will help specifically with pressure on the quarterback, as well as add versatility to the defensive scheme. If I’m going to miss, I’m going to swing after a guy with a motor like Ryan’s. NK
17. The New England Patriots select Cameron Jordan, DE, California
The Pats will enter this draft looking to improve along the front seven and Jordan will give them a boost on the outside to pair with a healthy Ty Warren. When you factor in space eater Vince Wilfork the Patriots should be very stout against the run. Not a true sack master, Jordan has excellent intangibles and does everything well, a perfect fit for a Bill Belichick coached team and an excellent value in the middle of the first round. JA
18. The San Diego Chargers select Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple
Wilkerson is a beast and will go to some team looking for a 3-4 defensive end in this draft. He may not have that big school pedigree, but when you watch him play the game, you certainly see how impressive the young man is. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s gone by this pick, but if he’s still on board, the Chargers will pounce at the chance to improve their defensive line at #18. LL
19. The New York Giants select Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
If you ask the draftniks which offensive lineman has the most upside, 3 out of 4 will tell you that Colorado’s Nate Solder is the guy. I know that Mike Pouncey has great name recognition, and that he may be the more versatile of any 1st round lineman, but I think Solder’s upside at #19 is quite the steal for a team without many holes. The Giants could go a lot of directions with this pick, but I see them improving their offensive line, a position that has gotten old over the years – when you’re not talking about cheese or wine, aged isn’t a good thing. PW
20. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
Tampa Bay keeps it in Colorado selecting another Buffalo in Jimmy Smith. Smith has the size speed and athleticism to make it at the next level. Jimmy’s past run in with the law has spawned character issues, and is the main reason why Smith is still on the board at 20. The Bucs will take the risk. NK
21. The Kansas City Chiefs select Gabe Carimi, OT, Boston College
The Chiefs certainly have needs, like any team, but it’s easy to see how much better they are when Matt Cassel gets time. He’s a very accurate passer when he’s not rushed, and Carimi would just add one more piece to an impressive offensive attack that produced the best rushing attack in football, and a solid passing game that saw KC in the playoffs in 2010. JA
22. The Indianapolis Colts select Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
Liuget is probably the best player that people know the least about coming into this draft. I’m not sure he’s going to slip this far in the real world, because he’s really good. Not only is he very quick on the line, solid against the run, and able to rush the quarterback, but the DT from Illinois has a great motor. It’s tough to find big talented bodies that give the effort he does. The Colts are usually in the business of going offensive line with this pick, but a little help on the defensive side of the ball could go a long way. Liuget is a Top 15 talent, and thus his value at a spot of need is too good to pass up, here. LL
23. The Philadelphia Eagles select Mike Pouncey, OG/C, Florida
The Eagles could be bummed if the draft goes like it did in our mock. They waited and waited and had 2 great fits left with just 2 teams to pick ahead of them, and whammy, both guys get drafted before it’s their turn on the clock. Carimi could really help an Eagles team that needs to get better on the offensive line (especially OT). Liuget would have been a steal for a team like Philly, looking to get more beasts of burden on the defensive line. As is, both those guys are gone, so I think the Eagles should go get Mike Pouncey. Pouncey is the type of guy that immediately upgrades your offensive line, because he can fit at multiple spots. He’s not a stud OT, but will be a really good player at either center or guard, and building your line with a piece like that is perfect. I do think Jake Locker is an interesting fit here, and the Eagles may consider it. I’ve never been crazy about Locker’s jitters in the pocket or just the way he looks player quarterback, but the Eagles could be without Kolb, and Vick isn’t a tadpole, either, he’s in his 30s and the way he plays, health isn’t a guarantee. The Eagles did well improving Vick’s accuracy, and Locker has the arm and athleticism that Andy Reid seems to love in his quarterbacks. That would be a huge surprise here, but I’m wouldn’t be stunned at all. Still, I think Pouncey’s the pick if I’m on the clock. PW
24. The New Orleans Saints select Justin Houston, OLB/DE, Georgia
The Saints needs are clearly highlighted on the defensive board. The need help on the defensive line, as well as speed in the secondary. With a strong showing at the combine, Houston makes himself a legitimate first round pick. Justin’s hybrid ability to play standing up allows for support on the edge as well as the ability to rush the QB. If Ingram some how slips to this position, even with all of the needs on the defensive side you might see Peyton go for a steady ball carrier, where the Saints will again be chasing points opposed to zeros. NK
25. The Seattle Seahawks select Jake Locker, QB, Washington
I don’t know that this is a match made in heaven but I do know that Carroll recruited Locker hard while at USC then had a front row seat to the QBs athleticism for the next three years. I think there are a lot of areas Locker needs to improve upon, but I also know his toughness, leadership and work ethic are second to none on this class. A year or two to study under Hasselbeck would do his career a world of good, allowing him to grow more comfortable in a pro offense as well as giving him time to hone his accuracy and pocket presence. JA
26. The Baltimore Ravens select Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
One wonders if the Ravens could steal Aldon Smith here, despite him not really having a perfect fit in their defense. He doesn’t have the size to be an End anchor in that 3-4, and I don’t know if he has the athleticism to be even a OLB that rushes the passer more often than not. I just don’t think he fits. I think the Ravens go for Akeem Ayers here, to do the same kind of thing they tried to draft Sergio Kindle to do last year. Everyone hopes Kindle gets healthy again, but a young stud athlete that moves around the field very well – seems like a good move for an aging Ravens defense. Ayers is only falling because of some sub-par numbers at the combine, but he’s really good at football – that should count for something. Corner here might be an option, as I still like Brandon Harris, Ras I Dowling, and Aaron Williams, but I think Ayers potential upside, and his great value, is too much to pass up. LL
27. The Atlanta Falcons select Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
This kid is a stud. He has some issues with his shoulder, a nerve condition, but he’s been tough and solid throughout his career. He’s not a “best of the bunch” pass rusher, run defender, or numbers guy – but he’s an NFL starter right out of the gate because he does everything well. Not okay, but well. He only had 4 sacks in 2010 after tallying 11 in 2009, but he was still one of the best defenders on a great defense in the Big 10. I think Clayborn is a great value pick here, and the Falcons could definitely use some punch at DE. PW
28. The New England Patriots select Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri
Already selecting a defensive end to man the 3-4 spot with the 17th pick, New England can afford to go elsewhere with this decision. There are still a ton of really talented options on the board, guys that certainly have 1st round ability, but I’m not sure there’s a guy that really fits what the Patriots need desperately, Randy Moss in his prime. Since there’s not a guy like that in draft, and the closest thing to that will get picked in the top 5. I think the Patriots grab talented depth at a key spot, the line. They could go for Derek Sherrod here, a talented OT, maybe even a guard like Danny Watkins – but I think they head over to the defensive side of the ball and pick upside with Aldon Smith. Guy is a freak physically, and while he hasn’t played OLB much, and certainly isn’t refined coming in, the Patriots could really use his tools at that position. Smith is a Top 15 talent and a steal here. NK
29. The Chicago Bears select Derek Sherrod
The Bears need to take the best offensive lineman on the board if indeed there is one of top tier guys. Sherrod is a solid guy that would instantly improve one of the weakest links on a good Bears squad. Aldon Smith might be the pick here, if he’s available, but a very good defense doesn’t have as much need to improve as their sieved of an offensive line. JA
30. The New York Jets select Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
The Jets need a nose tackle to crush up the running game in the middle, and provide a physical force inside that can eat up blockers so the linebackers and pass rushers get a chance to make plays against single coverage. The Jets had a great player on their roster, Kris Jenkins, but the big man just couldn’t stay on the field, and a great player on paper doesn’t mean much during the playoffs. This team is very good, and a couple key players away – a big, bad defensive nose-tackle could be that guy. LL
31. The Pittsburgh Steelers select, Brandon Harris, CB, Miami
The Steelers have a stud defense in the front 7, and they are solid in the secondary – they just need more speed and coverage ability on the corners. Harris has plenty of speed, and he measures out as a great athlete. He has good ball skills and he’ll immediately give the Steelers another body in the secondary, something they desperately need. Help on the offensive line is always an option, and a guard like Danny Watkins would be a good move, but they can get a good guard later and a very solid corner prospect right now. That seems like the best option. PW
32. The Green Bay Packers select Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
How do the rich keep getting richer? Like this. Cameron Heyward has some medical issues, he had Tommy John surgery on his elbow, and somehow that scares off everyone else in the first round except the Super Bowl Champs. It’s not like Heyward is going to be throwing 60 yard bombs or 30 yard outs, not for the Packers – they have Aaron Rodgers to do that type of work, and if he gets hurt, Matt Flynn ain’t bad either. Heyward will be fine holding his own as a 3-4 DE for the Packers, and the rich get richer! NK
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.