I am a total draft dork. I love any draft, every draft, and I will watch them all to the bitter end. I love the concept of team building and everything involved with scouting the next great player for your team’s franchise. One of the reasons I started ShockblastMedia.com was not to simply be another gaming website on the internet, but moreso, to be vehicle that gives me an opportunity to talk about all the things I love.
This mock draft is going to be very unique, and to be honest, I probably should have done it a lot sooner! Not only am I going to be picking the players as I think they will be selected in the first round this Thursday, but I will be giving you a look at what they may look like in game via Madden 2011. Maybe it has been done before, but I certainly have never seen it, and I look for all the mock drafts. This is going to become a new tradition on ShockblastMedia.com. With each pick, I will give you who I think the team in question will take, followed by who I think they should take if I disagree (I’m looking at you Carolina).
I don’t claim to know the inner workings of every team, so if you disagree with a certain pick I made, please be constructive in your reasoning as to why I am dumb/stupid/whatever. The NFL Draft begins this Thursday April 28th and runs through the 30th.
1. Carolina – Cameron Newton QB Auburn
This pick has disaster written all over it. At this point, Cam Newton has been talked up as the #1 pick in the draft because of tremendous intangibles. However, he didn’t play in a pro style offense at Auburn and has never really had to make quick decisions. That is not entirely uncommon for freakishly athletic players, but it very rarely translates to the NFL without time to acclimate. Guys like Michael Vick and Randall Cunningham don’t grow on trees, and even they have enjoyed moderate levels of success. Carolina invested heavily in the draft last year in Jimmy Clausen and should not be surprised that the rookie struggled when thrown to the wolves. They are very clearly not going to be good this year, owning one of the toughest schedules in the NFL. I know teams don’t want to think that way, but I see absolutely no reason to reach on a player like Cam Newton here when there are three guys that could be franchise cornerstones available at other positions of need: Alabama DT Marcel Dareus, Georgia WR AJ Green and LSU CB Patrick Peterson. All three would fill massive holes for the Panthers, as would a trade down. Unfortunately, they seem destined to repeat past mistakes and will end up with Newton. If you are wondering why they are picking first, that is your answer.
2. Denver – Marcell Dareus DT Alabama
This is the first pick where I think the player selected is exactly what I would do as well. The argument can be made for Patrick Peterson, as Champ Bailey is certainly not getting any younger, but I believe Dareus is going to be one of the safest picks in the draft. The guy flat out dominates the middle, and that is exactly what Denver has been searching for for quite some time.
3. Buffalo – Von Miller LB Texas A&M
I wouldn’t want to be a fan of the Buffalo Bills right now. This team is so plainly average across the board, that I don’t know if there is one pick that is really going to make an impact more than another. No player has ascended through the draft boards quite like Von Miller, and considering the fact that the road to an AFC East title goes through New England, adding to a defense that is clearly stronger than the offense could make a lot of sense. I gave a lot of thought to Blaine Gabbert here, and he still may be the pick, but based on everything that coach Chan Gailey has been saying out of Buffalo, it doesn’t look like QB is where their head is at here. With some really solid prospects likely to be around at the beginning of round 2, this is probably the best pick.
4. Cincinnati – Patrick Peterson CB LSU
I feel bad for Bengal fans. Their ownership’s only skillset that they have acquired over the years is failure, and it doesn’t look like that will be changing any time soon. The Bungels are notorious cheapskates, and the fact that Marvin Lewis is still around as head coach is just further confirmation that they don’t know what they are doing. Carson Palmer wants out, and the Bengals seem hell bent on keeping him there. Go ahead, keep mashing that square peg in the round hole. If the Bungels were smart (and they’re not) Blaine Gabbert would be the pick here and Carson Palmer would be traded like he wants to be. Instead, I have them addressing another need in the secondary with Patrick Peterson, who is an outstanding pick. (editors note: upon further review, this probably isn’t the best pick, but it is way too late to change, sorry Bengals fans)
5. Arizona – Blaine Gabbert QB Missouri
No team is hurt in the draft quite as much as the Cardinals are here. They absolutely need a quarterback, but I think they would rather address the need via trade or free agency. Since the lockout prevented that from happening, they need to make sure they have something to show for their troubles, and I think Gabbert is going to be the best QB to come out of this draft. Having Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston on the roster to throw to should give Gabbert a great foundation to start his career, and I really think this is the best move for the Cardinals at this point if he is around.
6. Cleveland – AJ Green WR Georgia
This has to be a dream scenario for coach Pat Shurmur and GM Mike Holmgren. Josh Cribbs is not a receiver, and the rest of the lot that they have just isn’t going to get the job done. AJ Green may be dumb as a box of rocks, but he is a game changer and exactly what the Browns need. If he is available at this point, Mike Holmgren may have a heart attack before he even gets the chance to make the pick, and it will certainly be the fastest we’ve ever seen him run to the podium (yes, I know he won’t actually be going to the podium, the theatrics of it all were just too much to pass up).
7. San Francisco – Prince Amukamara CB Nebraska
The 49ers have a defense on the rise in desperate need of secondary help. Their fingers are crossed to get Peterson here, but it was just not meant to be. They could use a QB, but this may be a bit high for Jake Locker. Prince Amukamara just makes too much sense.
8. Tennessee – Nick Fairley DT Auburn
If you told me Nick Fairley would drop this far in the draft two months ago, I would have called you crazy. This guy is the epitome of nasty, and while Tennessee could really use someone to move on from Vince Young, they also need someone up front to fill the void left by Albert Haynesworth’s departure. Enter Fairley, who will do that and more.
9. Dallas – JJ Watt DE Wisconsin
So there is nothing wrong with this pick considering the lack of depth at the DE position Dallas has and the free agents pending (Marcus Spears, amongst others), but conventional wisdom would have it that the offensive line is a massive question mark that needs addressing. Tyron Smith from USC would make a lot of sense and a lot of people are mocking the Cowboys to take him, but Jerry Jones has never drafted an offensive lineman with a first round pick. While Watt is not a “sexy” player by any means, he certainly has more flash then a masher on the o-line. I think given the sheer amount of lineman available in this draft, Dallas can hold off until round 2.
10. Washington – Julio Jones WR Alabama
This one could go either way, but the Redskins really have a lot of junk in the receiver department. Julio Jones could very well be better than AJ Green in the long run, and I know there are going to be some sad people in St. Louis if the Redskins go with Jones here. This could also be a landing place for Jake Locker.
11. Houston – Robert Quinn DE/LB North Carolina
Houston is a team constantly in search of defense. I am pretty sure they would love to see Peterson or Amukamara drop down here, but the reality is that this probably won’t happen and it is way too early to start looking at anyone beyond those two. Robert Quinn could be a steal at 11, so I am sure they would be very satisfied to be “stuck” with him here.
12. Minnesota – Jake Locker QB Washington
Brett Favre is not walking through that door folk, and the entire NFL is saying “praise Jebus” for that. The rumors making the rounds are that Jake Locker could be the guy if he is here, and since he is and the Vikings literally have no one of interest throwing the ball, this is as good a time as any to jump on Locker.
13. Detroit – Tyron Smith OT USC
A few years ago, I made the case that taking Matthew Stafford #1 overall would have been a big mistake over a safer pick like Jason Smith since they had no offensive line to speak of and throwing him to the wolves would just get him destroyed. While Stafford has gone on to get hurt by the suspect OLine, he has actually turned out to be the right pick for once. Getting him some protection here would be huge, and the consensus seems to be that Tyron Smith will be the first offensive tackle off the board.
14. St. Louis – Da’Quan Bowers DE Clemson
There was a point in time when Da’Quan Bowers was being mentioned as a #1 overall pick. Enter a bum knee and all sorts of pre-draft misinformation, and St. Louis could be in for the steal of the draft at #14. Yeah, I think their hearts are set on Julio Jones, who would truly be the ultimate pick here and possibly worth a trade up, but if they stay put, I could totally see them being the team that takes a chance on Bowers.
15. Miami – Mark Ingram RB Alabama
I don’t buy all of the Mark Ingrim downplay out of Miami. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are free agents and not getting any younger, and Ingrim has the potential to be better than both. Yeah, I said it. This could end up being a steal for the Dolphins, who could otherwise start looking around for a Quarterback as well. Ingrim is more of a sure thing, so I think that is the direction they will go.
16. Jacksonville – Ryan Kerrigan DE Purdue
Jacksonville needs a lot of things and can’t really afford to take any risks here in drafting a quarterback, as David Garrard is clearly not the future of the franchise. They made the reach of the draft last year at #10, taking Cal defensive tackle Tyson Alualu to the surprise of everyone. Ryan Kerrigan is as safe as they come, and perfect for the Jags 4-3 defense at end. He is a hard worker that comes to play every day and I think he could pay instant dividends in the Jags defense from the start.
17. New England (from Oakland) – Cameron Jordon DE California
This pick could very easily be traded, as it is the New England Patriots we are talking about here. As a matter of fact, it likely will be traded. In this situation, I hope it is not, because as a Patriots fan, Cameron Jordan is everything we need and should be looking for. He is the prototypical 3-4 defensive end and by golly, we don’t have one of those. Ron Brace is making improvements, but beyond that, it is a lot of question marks and aging vets. I could easily see the Pats going offensive line with Stephen Neal retiring and the status of Logan Mankins up in the air.
18. San Diego – Aldon Smith DE/LB Missouri
The lights are out on Shawne Merriman as a member of the Chargers, and the search for his successor should be in full swing. It has become quickly obvious that Larry English is not that guy. Enter Aldon Smith, who at 18, could be a huge steal and a dream come true for the Chargers.
19. New York Giants – Anthony Costanzo OT Boston College
There are a number of direction that the Giants could go here, but offensive line seems like a really great place to start. Anthony Costanzo could be the best offensive lineman in the draft, and going to the Giants would be a great opportunity for all parties involved. Someone like Corey Liuget or Mike Pouncey could also get a look here.
20. Tampa Bay – Adrian Clayborn DE Iowa
Tampa Bay has gone all out in improving their defensive line, with Gerald McCoy really helping to sure things up at the top of last years draft. Adrian Clayborn would be an outstanding addition to the team, though the impending Aqib Talib debacle could have the club looking at Brandon Harris (though probably not Jimmy Smith).
21. Kansas City – Corey Liuget DT Illinois
This is a prime trading spot, as the hunt for the end of round quarterbacks will start fast, and Scott Pioli is one of the best in the business in manipulating the draft. The Chiefs also happen to have some pretty serious needs, and adding help along the defensive front is high on the list.
22. Indianapolis – Gabe Carimi OT Wisconsin
This is a position that has been ignored for too long. Peyton Manning’s career is winding down, and the Colts need to do everything in their power to keep him upright. That starts here with Carimi, who will likely be able to step in right away and provide serious help
23. Philadelphia – Brandon Harris CB Miami
The Eagles could really use some help opposite Asante Samuel (and maybe even next to him) and Harris could get a look here. Free agency could have changed that, but being what it is, the Eagles probably want to ensure that they beef up the secondary somehow.
24. New Orleans – Akeem Ayers LB UCLA
The Saints are going to be out to prove that their Super Bowl run was not an anomaly, and in order to do so, they are going to have to keep adding to their defense, as Drew Brees and company are clearly not the problem.
25. Pittsburgh (from Seattle) – Mike Pouncey C/G Florida
The Steelers are looking at a great opportunity to move up a few slots and reunite the Pouncey brothers once more. At the cost of a third round pick to move up six slots, Seattle gets to move down and likely grab a player they would have taken anyway, and the Steelers get the guy they want at a position they want at an expense that is far lower then what they probably thought they would have to pay. I don’t have any kind of inside information that this will happen, but it seems like a great situation for all parties involved. If Seattle stays here, they could take Pouncey for themselves, or they could look to replace Matt Hasselback.
26. Baltimore – Jimmy Smith CB Colorado
This is a guy with a ton of red flags and teams need to look no further then what Tampa Bay is going through with the before mentioned Talib to understand why. Both players come with huge warning signs in advance, and Talib has shown that sometimes, the red flags are there for a reason. Smith is extremely talented and probably couldn’t go into a better situation then Baltimore, where he could share the locker room with a reformed murderer and hopefully keep his life on the right track.
27. Atlanta – Muhammed Wilkerson DE Temple
Atlanta has really struggled to add to their defensive front line, and that happens to be one of the strongest assets available this year. Muhammed Wilkerson toiled away for a terrible Temple program, and that could work to Atlanta’s advantage. I’ve heard a lot of really great things about this guy, and I think Atlanta would really come out strong by going this direction.
28. Tennessee (from New England) – Ryan Mallett QB Arkansas
There is going to be a huge run on quarterbacks at the end of the first round, and I don’t know exactly where it is going to start, but there is no doubt that New England is going to be involved. Tennessee would be sacrificing a 2012 first round pick and a swap of seconds with New England to jump up 11 spots and get their guy, but in the grand scheme of things, it could be worth it. The Patriots are always looking for the future, and for them, the gamble of seeing if they can improve upon the #28 selection next year while moving up 21 spots in the second round is just too enticing.
29. Chicago – Nate Solder OT Colorado
I don’t think there is any doubt that one of the best offensive lineman available is going to Chicago, as Jay Cutler took an absolute beating last year. Solder is massive, talented and will likely start right away for the Bears.
30. New York Jets – Phil Taylor NT Baylor
Kris Jenkins is getting old and becoming unreliable. Phil Taylor is a massive stopper in the middle. This seems to make a lot of sense to me.
31. Seattle (from Pittsburgh) – Colin Kaepernick QB Nevada
I could have seen Seattle making this pick if they stayed at #25, but adding an extra pick in the process makes it that much sweeter. Matt Hasselback has probably played his last game for Seattle, and even if he comes back, it likely won’t be for an extended period of time. That would be huge for Kaepernick, who could use some time to ease his way in.
32. Washington (from Green Bay) – Christian Ponder QB Florida State
Washington is no stranger to making big moves, and their need to make sure they leave this draft with a quarterback makes them a prime candidate to jump back into the first round. With the first round taking place on its own day, Green Bay is in a great spot to milk the value of the pick and move down a few slots while grabbing something extra. The buzz going into the draft is TCU QB Andy Dalton, but I think Ponder makes more sense for Washington here.
Bonus! – Admittedly, I am a huge Patriots fan, and I anticipate mostly Patriots fans will end up reading this. I am also going to show off a number of other players that could end up in Patriots uniforms below. It’ll be impossible to get numbers right, but I’ll do my best! (editors note: yeah so um, I actually didn’t even look at the numbers before making the pics, Madden chose them for me… and yes, Mark Ingram may be a bit pigmentally challenged. Sorry!) Check it out: