It Feels So Good to be Mocked by You…04.07.11
- Carolina Panthers (2-14) – Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
For months now I’ve been saying that Cam Newton is an obvious boom-or-bust prospect. He could be the next Ben Roethlisberger. He could also be the next JaMarcus Russell. Personally, I don’t see the Russell comparisons at all. Not only was Russell an Al Davis pick (meaning he probably should have gone in the middle of the first), but his passion for the game and off-field decision making were even more in question then Newton’s. Russell, while possessing incredible size and an awesome arm, had no feel for the pass rush like Newton does. It’s going to take a little coaching, but Newton has everything you need from a franchise quarterback. Also consider the fact that Ron Rivera has all but endorsed Newton as his pick, and Marty Hurney felt the need to come out and defend Newton’s character from Nolan Nawrocki’s scathing scouting report (though he did write the same things about Jimmy Clausen last year…so that’s something to look out for). I’m starting to think though that Newton to Carolina is pretty much a done deal, since Carolina will only take A.J. Green if they can move down and I can’t see that happening.I don’t necessarily disagree with a lot of things in Nawrocki’s scouting report, but seeing as he’s never met Newton it seems difficult to personally attack him for having a “fake smile.” He does hit one thing on the head though–Newton’s success will make or break Marty Hurney’s career.
- Denver Broncos (4-12) – Marcel Dareus, DT, Alabama
Dareus may not be the most eloquent off-the-field, but he lets his play on the field do the talking. Dareus is as gifted as they come and projects as the ideal 4-3 defensive tackle. He can penetrate and is just as disciplined a run stopper. There may not be a safer pick in this draft then Marcel Dareus. He’s not Ndamukong Suh, but he should have a very good NFL career.
- Buffalo Bills (4-12) – Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
I’ve been really starting to see some things about Von Miller I don’t like. Notably, he seems to really lack any pass rushing moves and that’s a major red flag at the next level. It’s been the death knell of really every big-time pass rushing prospect in the last two decades. One thing to ease the concerns of the fans of the team that drafts Miller is this recent column about Miller’s drive to be the best. If it’s true, then when an NFL coach gets a hold of him, Miller’s shortcomings will turn into strengths. I don’t think he’s going to contribute right away, but I could see him, again with proper coaching, being a real success by his second year.
- Cincinnati Bengals (4-12) – A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Carson Palmer will never play for Cincinnati again. Mike Brown won’t trade Carson Palmer unless he gets a first round pick. No team in the NFL is likely to give up a first (though a desperate QB needy team that wants to win now could give up two seconds). The Bengals need to a quarterback, but Gabbert really doesn’t fit the West Coast Offense of new coordinator Jay Gruden. The Bengals would be better off simply taking the best player available and going after Kevin Kolb or Alex Smith in the off-season.
- Arizona Cardinals (5-11) – Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri
My favorite player in the draft, I think Aldon Smith will be a stud regardless of team or position. Ideally I’d like to see him play 4-3 defensive end, but there’s no question he’s athletic enough to play linebacker in a 3-4. I see him as the next DeMarcus Ware. He has a bevy of pass rushing moves, outstanding physical attributes, and a great motor. What’s the main concern? He has to stay healthy after an injury-plagued sophomore season in 2010-11. He’s also a redshirt-sophomore, so he’s developmentally still young. Redshirt sophomores tend not to contribute at the next level until there second or third seasons. A healthy Smith will get there though. I can’t imagine Arizona taking a quarterback here, because Ken Wisenhunt’s Super Bowl loss will only hold up for so long if the Cardinals continue to have losing seasons. The team badly needs a quarterback, but the team is built to win now and they have young QB prospects on the roster. Arizona’s best bet is to go after a veteran and see if John Skelton or Max Hall develop. Kevin Kolb and Donovan McNabb would both be nice fits here.
- Cleveland Browns (5-11) – Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
Julio Jones is another player I’m totally sold on, and a perfect fit for the West Coast Offense. An outstanding run blocker and route runner, my only concern is that Cleveland in there desperation for a pass rusher will choose to pass on Jones. However, this draft is incredibly deep with pass rushers, and finding one at the beginning of round two will not be difficult. Blaine Gabbert will again be an option here, but I think Holmgren is prepared to let Colt McCoy quarterback for a full season (before realizing it’s a mistake).
- San Francisco 49ers (6-10) – Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Gabbert’s slide could end here, but San Francisco has enough talent to win immediately in the weak NFC West. They’d be better suited to draft an impact player in round one and then take a pro-ready quarterback in the beginning of round two (or go after Kevin Kolb or Donovan McNabb in the summer when the lockout inevitably ends).
- Tennessee Titans (6-10) – Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Tennesse seems to be as perfect a fit for Gabbert as anywhere else in the league. They’ve got a strong offensive line, running attack, seriously good young prospects in the passing game in Kenny Britt and Jared Cook and a defense that is good, but fell apart down the stretch as the team came apart at the seams. With a rookie head coach, it seems only too perfect for Tennessee to grab a rookie quarterback as well, which has been running trend. I don’t love Gabbert, but I do like him. I can see him having above average success in the NFL, and if on the right team, maybe even winning a Super Bowl. He doesn’t lack talent, he’s just never put it all together. He’s never been overly impressive and his downfield accuracy is quite poor. That being said, Gabbert might be the rallying point that helps a team like Tennessee get back to winning. The other option here is Prince Amukamara, and it’ll be tough to pass him up because Amukamara is the only corner who can really compare to Patrick Peterson.
- Dallas Cowboys (6-10) – Tyron Smith, OT, USC
While it seems a little suspicious that a report would come out so close to the draft indicating that Dallas’ top choice is Tyson Smith, it should not shock anybody that Smith is on the top of the Cowboys draft board. Smith’s stock is red hot right now. His impressive athleticism has made him a candidate to play either left or right tackle in the NFL, versatility that can be hard to come by. This report also says that Dallas may want to trade down, which I actually believe. Dallas doesn’t need to take a right tackle at 9th overall. Pure right tackles usually don’t go this high, and it could be an attempt to garner more interest in Smith and allow the Cowboys to force a trade with some team looking to land a Top 10 pick. Smith is highly unlikely to go before this pick, so Dallas is in prime position to try a trade down.
- Washington Redskins (6-10) – Jake Locker, QB, Washington
All reasonable logic says there is absolutely 100% no freaking way that Jake Locker goes 10th overall. There are only two people who can really tell us the answer to this–Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan. Locker is undoubtedly the most polarizing quarterback or player outside of Cam Newton. He has been described as going from anywhere in the top ten picks to the third round. The disparity is unbelievable. Will Washington draft Jake Locker? Yes. I really think they will. Shanahan is said to love Locker’s skill set and how it fits into his offense. What’s probably going to happen? A team wanting to trade up and snag Amukamara or Fairley who will likely fall out of the top ten will come up. If Washington can move back into the late teen’s, this pick really won’t be as bad for the franchise since they can at least get some valued draft picks out of it.
- Houston Texans (6-10) – Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
Taking back-to-back first round corners is becoming more and more necessary in the NFL as cornerback becomes a prime position thanks to the use of five-wide offenses. Amukamara is my favorite corner in this draft, and the best pure cover corner. He won’t make plays like Peterson, but he has the capability to shut down an entire side of the field. I could see him going as high as seven to San Francisco.
- Minnesota Vikings (6-10) – Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
Fairley’s big time drop-off in stock doesn’t change his amazing talent, and in Minnesota he’s a near perfect fit. Fairley is a penetrator in the mold of Glenn Dorsey. He needs to be in a 4-3 where he can play undertackle. Kevin Williams can move to 4-3 nose with Pat Williams likely gone. I’m not sold on Letroy Guion, and Minnesota may be willing to pass on other tackles to let Kevin Williams and Guion run the interior, but if Fairley falls here it would be foolish for Minnesota to pass up such a talent.
- Detroit Lions (6-10) – Anthony Castanzo, OT, Boston College
Alright fine I’ll give in on Castanzo. For a while I was not particularly sold on the BC product, but recent comparisons to Jake Long are starting to make sense. He’s a disciplined pass protector and a good run blocker, but necessarily elite in either area. Detroit knows keeping Matthew Stafford upright is now priority one.
- St. Louis Rams (7-9) – Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
Quinn’s stock has been going up and down, but I think as long as Cleveland doesn’t take him at 6, he can fall all the way to 14 where the Rams will happily add him to a defensive line that overachieved in 2010.
- Miami Dolphins (7-9) – Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Despite several reports that Miami isn’t going to draft Mark Ingram, I’m not buying it. I do agree that running backs value has severely dropped off because of the successes of players like Arian Foster, but Ingram is the best back in this class, a dynamic runner, and fills possibly Miami’s biggest off-season need. With free agency and trades looking grim, this is a pretty cut and dry decision.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8) – Cameron Jordan, DE, California
Teams are beginning to buy Jordan in either a 3-4 or a 4-3, and the Jaguars could have a very versatile, diverse, and scary pass rush by reuniting 2010 1st round pick Tyson Alualu with Cameron Jordan.
- New England Patriots (from Oakland, 8-8) – J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
There may not be a better five tech defensive end in the 2011 NFL Draft, making Watt a perfect selection for a team that is going to be seriously dangerous if they can ever develop a good pass rusher that will allow them not to have to manufacture one in each season. Watt helps with the manufacturing process, and New England will address the pure pass rush later.
- San Diego Chargers (9-7) – Muhammed Wilkerson, DE, Temple
His stock is skyrocketing up, and this is unquestionably San Diego’s biggest need. Wilkerson is said to be coveted by Baltimore at 26, so a trade up may not be out of the question.
- New York Giants (10-6) – Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
I really think the Giants are going to take a long hard look at a running back, but inevitably allow Bradshaw a chance to correct his fumbling issues. The Giants offensive line is beginning to deteriorate, but they don’t need an immediate upgrade at tackle, which is perfect for Solder. They can ease Solder in as a swing tackle while he continues to develop his technique.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-6) – Da’Quon Bowers, DE, Clemson
Finally somebody takes the risk on Bowers, who just a few short weeks ago was a candidate to go first overall. But teams seem legitimately concerned about Bowers possibility of needing microfracture surgery and his availability for 2011. Now Andre Smith still went 6th overall in 2009 despite more concerns than just his injuries (and Michael Crabtree 10th overall in 2009 as well), but Bowers has not had a positive review since the season ended. Tampa Bay is the type of team who will take a risk on a guy who when healthy could be a prototypical blind side rusher.
- Kansas City Chiefs (10-6) – Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
The Chiefs will take a long-hard look at Phil Taylor, but they need a game-breaking receiver. They’ve already got a great possession and red zone threat in Dwayne Bowe, a good young tight end in Tony Moeaki, and a utility man in Dexter McCluster. They need a legit number two who can stretch the field in lieu of losing Charlie Weis and his creative packages and playcalling.
- Indianapolis Colts (10-6) – Derrek Sherrod, OT, Missisippi State
Sherrod is one of the most underrated players in this draft. He reminds me a lot of Michael Oher. He can play on the left side if asked, but can dominate on the right. Possibly the most technically sound of all the linemen in this draft.
- Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) – Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
Character concerns may drop Smith entirely out of round one, but Philadelphia is rumored to be one of the teams that isn’t concerned with Smith’s character issues.
- New Orleans Saints (11-5) – Corey Liguet, DT, Illinois
Another fast-riser, Liguet may find himself still available at the start of round two, but New Orleans run-stopping was not up to par with Remi Adoyele starting at nose tackle.
- Seattle Seahawks (7-9) – Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State
Quarterbacks are trending upwards with teams afraid they won’t be able to acquire free agents or other NFLers before the draft. Ponder is a perfect fit in any West Coast offense and is pro ready. To me he’s simply Trent Edwards on wheels, and I don’t think he merits a first round grade. Right now though, Ponder’s stock is slowly creeping up to first round status.
- Baltimore Ravens (12-4) – Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
The Ravens are said to covet a five-tech end, and with Torrey Smith off the board as well, the Ravens can still snag a five-tech in what is a heavy draft for 3-4 players.
- Atlanta Falcons (13-3) – Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
Carimi still needs a bit of work before he’s a finished project, but he’s an excellent athlete and a strong run blocker.
- New England Patriots (14-2) – Brooks Reed, OLB, Arizona
Possibly the steal of the draft, Reed’s motor, pass rushing moves, and hair have earned him fair comparisons to Clay Matthews. If Reed shows even half the on-field instinct as Matthews, he’s going to be every bit as good as Clay.
- Chicago Bears (11-5) – Mike Pouncey, OG, Florida
I won’t be at all shocked if Pittsburgh trades up to snag Maurkice’s brother, but Mike Pouncey is a really solid offensive guard who simply can’t play center.
- New York Jets (11-5) – Phil Taylor, NT, Baylor
I can see Taylor going as high as eleven, so the Jets catch a break here. With Shaun Ellis likely testing the free agent waters, the Jets have become very thin on the line. Sione Pouha has a done an admirable job filling in for Kris Jenkins, but he lacks the pass rushing skills Jenkins had. Moving Pouha over to end and allowing him more one-on-one opportunities will benefit him. Taylor may not start right away, but inevitably he will be the Jets nose tackle.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) – Benjamin Iljana, OG/OT, Villanova
Iljana’s versatility and domination at the lower levels have given him an outside shot at a first round selection. The Steelers will draft an offensive linemen within the first two rounds after the slew of injuries and poor play that plagued them in 2010.
- Green Bay Packers (10-6) – Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
Well Jennings and Nelson are going to be the top receivers in 2011 (with Driver slowly fazed out), but Jermichael Finely had to have a second knee operation a few months ago, and as insurance, the very deep Packers can keep Aaron Rodgers well supplied at receiver with Baldwin, who isn’t pro-ready anyway. A year or two of good coaching will allow Baldwin to go from being a red-zone threat to a really solid flanker.
Round two will be posted later on Tuesday April 7th.