Daily Blog • March 18, 2011

Phil Steele’s Mock Draft Version 1.0

Welcome to my first mock draft of the football season. I usually wait until after the combine and some of the pro days are complete to get a better grasp of where players will be going in the upcoming NFL Draft, which is just six weeks away.

A word of caution, remember these are not necessarily the order of the top players (check my updated top position by position breakdown for that info) but where they fit into that organization’s needs. I will have at least two more mock drafts in the upcoming weeks before the draft and naturally with trades impossible to predict, these do not take them into consideration, which could effect the entire draft.

1. Carolina-DT Marcel Dareus, Alabama.

Rivera is naturally a defensive minded coach and Dareus is a versatile DL that fits one of the Panthers’ biggest needs. While popular opinion right now says the Panthers take a QB here, I’m not sure that the organization has completely lost hope on Jimmy Clausen and that they are completely sold on either Gabbert or Newton at this point.

2. Denver-DT Nick Fairley, Auburn.

The Broncos run defense and pass rush was a major weakness for them last year and with Fairley they get a player that does both exceptionally well.

3. Buffalo-CB Patrick Peterson, LSU.

While the CB position is not a major need for the Bills, Peterson is arguably the best overall player in the draft and the Bills made a similar pick last year getting the best player on the board in RB Spiller. The Bills 28-11 TD/Int ratio naturally needs improvement and when you have to face Tom Brady twice a year having a Top CB is not a bad idea. Ask the Jets.

4. Cincinnati-WR Julio Jones, Alabama.

Jones' outstanding combine performance turned heads around the league. He has a foot injury similar to Crabtree's who had a solid rookie season despite his holdout. Jones toughness and athleticism puts him over the “safe pick” over AJ Green.

5. Arizona-QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri.

The Cardinals would absolutely love for Gabbert to fall to this pick. With the QB position in such disarray last year ARZ definitely needs a QB that can come in and start immediately and Whisenhunt has experience starting a rookie QB with Roethlisberger in 2004.

6.  Cleveland- WR AJ Green, Georgia.

Green is arguably the Top WR in the draft and has great size to go along with his sure-fire hands. The Browns drafted McCoy last year and while he was respectable look for them to add a big weapon to his arsenal and see if he can truly be their “franchise” QB.  

7. San Francisco-OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M.

The 49ers would love for Gabbert to fall here but with him off the board, Cam Newton does not fit new HC Harbaugh’s offense so they go with Miller who would create an unbelievable tandem with Patrick Willis.

8. Tennessee-CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska. 

The Titans desperately need a QB as Rusty Smith right now looks to be the starter. They did just get done dealing with Vince Young and may be hesitant to draft Newton. While Warren Moon is lobbying the new coaching staff to select him. The Titans are about to start a painful transition and take the best pass defender on the board now to help them continue to operate the gameplan of run the ball to control the clock & play solid defense. They can get a solid QB in round 2.

9. Dallas-OT Tyron Smith, USC.

The Cowboys need a CB too but with Amukamara off the board they go to another position of need and finally draft an OT. While Solder may be the best OT prospect, Jerry Jones is known for being a little unconventional and take Smith.

10. Washington-QB Cam Newton, Auburn.

It may be a reach to see Newton fall this far and it’s possible other teams will trade up to get him. The Redskins do need a QB for the future and I think Shanahan keeps McNabb for another year to mentor.

11. Houston-DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina.

The Texans desperately need a CB to improve one of the league’s worst pass defenses but with Amukamara already off the board they go with the next best thing in improving your pass defense, an excellent versatile pass rusher in Quinn who fits their new 3-4 scheme.

12. Minnesota-DE Da’Quan Bowers, Clemson. 

The Vikings have no QB, 22 guys are slated for FA, have LT concerns and if Newton falls out of the Top 5, I could see them trading up to get him but for now they use the Tony Dungy philosophy and take the best player on the board with Bowers. Also it is very unlikely Bowers would fall this far even with his current knee injury so look for someone to trade up for him.

13. Detroit-OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College.

The Lions would love to have Amukamara here but the chances are very slim that he falls past #11. With the #3 CB (Jimmy Smith) a reach here, they go OL as they try to keep Stafford healthy for an entire season.

14. St. Louis-DE Cam Jordan, California. 

The best offensive options are gone at this point for the Rams and it’s quite possible they trade up to get a Jones/Green at the WR spot. Character is huge and they go with Jordan.

15. Miami-RB Mark Ingram, Alabama. 

Ingram is the best RB in this year’s class without question and the Dolphins could use more offensive firepower to help QB Henne succeed. With a new run oriented OC in Brian Daboll, Ingram's skill sets will help give the Dolphins the balance it needs to get back on track.

16. Jacksonville-DE Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue.

The Jaguars take Kerrigan as he has the same body style as Aaron Kampan, has great character and work ethic and a is a fantastic fit.

17. New England-DE JJ Watt, Wisconsin. 

The Patriots have two picks in the first round and have needs on the OL and DE. While it’s entirely possible that they trade one of those picks, this mock again does not take trades into consideration. OT Solder is still on the table but they select Watt who along with Wilfork and Warren could turn the DL into a strength.

18. San Diego-DE Cameron Heyward, Ohio St.

Despite LY's disappointing 9-7 finish, Chargers HC Norv Turner remarked late in the year that he had 20 players playing at a career high. SD is still a very deep team and they can develop Heyward for a year as they have neglected their depth on the DL but their window for opportunity is closing.

19. NY Giants-OG/OC Mike Pouncey, Florida.  

The Giants desperately need help on the OL and go with the most versatile OL in the class. Pouncey’s brother had an outstanding rookie season and if he can come close this would be a very good pick.

20. Tampa Bay-DE Aldon Smith, Missouri.

The Bucs need a pass rusher and Smith is the best one left on the board at this point after his impressive combine performance.

21. Kansas City-DT Corey Liuget, Illinois. 

Kansas City needs a NT to fit into their 3-4 defense similar to what GM Pioli had with Wilfork in NE. Liuget has been rising on many draft boards and look for him to go here.

22. Indianapolis-OT Nate Solder, Colorado. 

Colts GM Polian admitted he whiffed LY when he skipped Saffold at the end of the 1st round. This year he reinforces the OL with Solder who some feel has the most upside of any of the OL in this year’s class.

23. Philadelphia-OT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin. 

The OL selections continue to roll on here. Carimi would be a great fit for the Eagles’ new found run game.

24. New Orleans-DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa.

Will Smith is likely to be suspended for the first 4 games but if not then Will Smith, Shaun Rogers, Sedrick Ellis and Clayborn gives NO the best DL in the division.

25. Seattle-QB Jake Locker, Washington.

Clearly Hasselbeck has only a year or two left and Whitehurst despite having some success last year is not the long term answer. Carroll is quite familiar with Locker already and with Whitehurst and Hasselbeck there for another year Locker can continue to develop his mechanics.

26. Baltimore-CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado. 

The Ravens defense is not getting any younger specifically their secondary and while Smith has had his issues off the field, it might make a good fit in BAL under the tutelage of Reed and Co and there’s no one questioning his overall talent.    

27. Atlanta-DE/OLB Justin Houston, Georgia. 

Houston weighed in at the combine at 270 pounds and can be a versatile player now even as a DE in a 4-3 scheme. DE Abraham is not getting any younger and Houston could be his heir apparent.  

28. New England-OT Derek Sherrod, Mississippi St.

It is tough to predict the Patriots draft with their multiple selections and the possibilities of trades. Sherrod is a bit of a reach here but he is the best available OT left on the board at a position of need for the Patriots.

29. Chicago- OG/OC Stefen Wisniewski, Penn St.

This might not be a great spot for the Bears but the OL is a position of need at multiple spots and Wisniewski is the most versatile OL left on the board that can play multiple spots.

30. NY Jets-DT Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple.

With the FA moves made already the Jets need help on the DL and Wilkerson has been rising on many boards as of late and no doubt they would be thrilled to be able to draft him here.

31. Pittsburgh-CB Brandon Harris, Miami, Fl. 

The Steelers could go OL again but really any of the remaining prospects would be a reach here. CB is also a spot that needs improvement and while Aaron Williams of Texas may be a better overall prospect, Harris fits the Steelers’ defense better.

32. Green Bay-OLB Akeem Ayers, UCLA. 

The Packers are a very deep team but their LB spot despite the presence of Matthews and Hawk need more depth and Ayers is a prospect that can do it all in the pass/run game.