NFL Mock Draft 2.0

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With the NFL Draft still 3 months away, actually more, it’s hard to really predict what any team will do.  Players have yet to perform at the Combine or at any pro-days.  Senior Bowl, East vs. West, and of course the BCS games are really all we have to go on as well as a players collegiate career.

In other words, take out a set of darts, blind fold yourself, pick out a team name and throw a dart.  Well, not really, mock drafts actually do utilize research in what teams need and the direction they may in fact go.

After you’re done here, head over DcProSportsReport, FanSided’s official draft database and NFLMocks, Fansided’s official NFL Draft site for more non-stop NFL draft coverage!

So with that, enjoy my Mock Draft 2.0., and if you have an iPad or iPhone or Droid…get our free CatCrave App.  Every article pushed to your device within minutes of it appearing on site.  You can even read the comments.

1:  Carolina Panthers - Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn – There are a lot of mocks that have WR A.J. Green going number one overall.  I don’t buy it.  Ron Rivera is a defensive coach that has some defensive problems and they will need to get an instant playmaker on that side of the ball.  Green is the best WR in this years draft crop but the Panthers spent 3 picks on WR’s last season and can’t afford to spend another one this year.  QB is a huge option but with Andrew Luck staying in school, the Panthers won’t roll the dice and reach on another one but they don’t have a round 2 pick so I think they look later in the draft.  Jerry Richardson, the Panthers owner, stated that he would not trade out of the top spot.  With Luck gone, all bets are off.  Richardson wants a playmaker and he can find that by dropping down.  Fairley however is a playmaker and fills a big need on the Panthers defense that has been void since Peppers left for Chicago.  Fairley would make Charles Johnson even better playing on the opposite end.

2: Denver Broncos: Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson – Denver hired former Carolina HC John Fox to right the Mile High Ship.  He will.  A defensive minded coach, Fox was very well respected by his players but found that Jerry Richardson’s meddling tendencies didn’t work.  In fact, Richardson forced Fox’s hand with the team last year cutting ties with many key veterans.  In Denver, Fox won’t have that problem.  The Broncos need to fix their defense and a pass rushing DE is exactly what John Fox will need.  Fox drafted Julius Peppers in his first year with the Panthers, history should repeat itself with the powerful Clemson DE.

3. Buffalo Bills: Marcel Dareus, DE, Alabama – This is a tough one to call.  I have gone back and forth with Dareus and WR AJ Green.  At one point having Green before going back and changing it.  Green would be a huge compliment to Steve Johnson and would give Ryan Fitzpatrick the best outside target he has ever had since joining the team.  Still, the Bills won’t do anything if they don’t fix their defense and Dareus is a big guy to fill the 3-4 middle.  I still think it could be Green here but I’m going to go safe for now instead of surprise.

4: Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia – The Bengals will likely lose Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco this off-season.  Is there any doubt they will go WR here?  Actually there might be.  Recent news has Carson Palmer asking for a trade under the threat of retirement.  If that holds true, and the Bengals approach the draft without a QB, then they will likely take one here and Green will move down the line.  Of course if the Bills take Green, QB is really the only option they have here.

5: Arizona Cardinals: Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina – Another pick that is hard to predict.  The Cardinals need a QB but their coach’s rear-end is getting warm from the seat he is sitting on.  The Cardinals may try and address their QB issue with a trade.  There are plenty out there to be had.  If they can swing that, then Ken Whisenhunt can try and fix a defense that has it’s share of holes as well.  Quinn is not the best DE in this years draft, but he is a top prospect who should transition well to the NFL.  Whisenhunt knows what defenses need to look like, he saw first hand the Bill Cowher defenses in Pittsburgh.

6:  Cleveland Browns: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU – The Browns would love to have AJ Green.  The Browns would love to have one of the top DE’s.  Instead, they will settle for the best CB in this years draft crop.  The Browns are now under the watchful eyes of Pat Shurmur a former OC.  The team will likely try and move down in the draft if they fail to move up to land Green, which is a possibility if they can swing a trade with Buffalo.  Outside of Green and a QB, there are no other offensive weapons that value out at the 6 spot and the Browns will likely add a QB later to compete with Colt McCoy.  Fixing the defense becomes Shurmurs first priority.

7:  San Francisco 49′ers: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska – I really want to put QB down here.  Given the fact that Jim Harbaugh is a QB guru and is the new HC of a team that simply doesn’t have one.  The problem is that Harbaugh is going to implement the West Coast offense and I’m not totally aboard the top 4 QB’s being the right fit for that.  A lot of this, has to do with the CBA and whether or not teams can trade or pick up free agents.  If they can, Harbaugh may go after Kevin Kolb who would be an immediate fit in his new system, allowing him to go first on the defense.  The 49′ers will be hurting at corner very soon and Nate Clements is due about 16 mill over the next two seasons.  High price for an aging veteran.

8:  Tennessee Titans – Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri - The Titans will not have Vince Young and Jeff Fisher is entering a contract year.  So why take a QB who won’t help you win now?  The truth is there are only so many QB’s available VIA trade and more than a few teams who may be looking to grab one.  Fisher and Bud Adams don’t get along and while Fisher was chosen over Young, he wasn’t given a contract extension.  This may be one of those picks that were forced by the owners hands.  Might be interesting to see if the Titans would consider Cam Newton here as well.  Much more of a project, he already fits the style of offense that the Titans ran with Young…with more athleticism and upside, and less attitude.

9:  Dallas Cowboys - Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri – The Cowboys need someone to man the RE position and Smith is slightly the best still on the board which is why I seriously believe the Cowboys will spend every second trying to move down.  He should have little problem finding takers for the slot.  In reality, the Cowboys have a  lot of needs and unless someone like Prince Amukamara or another top 5 defender falls, Jones will be able to find similar talent later.

10:  Washington Redskins Cameron Newton, Auburn – Maybe this is more hope than anything else simply so that he isn’t still on the board when the Dolphins pick but it’s still a possibility.  Newton is a National Championship winner and you can’t take that away from him.  In addition, he has shown himself to be a class act in the face of adversity.  The Redskins have Rex Grossman, John Beck, and the oft rumored to be traded Donovan McNabb.  In other words, they need a QB…badly.  Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett both have the potential to be stars in the NFL and really comes down to who Mike Shanahan believes will give him the quickest return on his investment.  Considering that Newton can run, I’m guessing he takes a shot here.

11:  Houston Texans - Von Miller, DE/OLB, Texas A&MNo matter who is sitting at the 11 spot, the Texans will draft defense as they are the leagues worst.  Miller or Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan should be the pick here at 11.  Both are speedy DE’s who can drop into coverage and attack a quarterback.  Both would be solid fits for the Texans, I go with Miller because the Texans should have been able to scout him much easier with him being a Texas product.

12: Minnesota Vikings: Jake Locker, QB, Washington – No one doubts that the Vikings will draft anyone but a QB at number 12, the question really comes down to who that QB will be and a lot of it will have to do with how these QB’s perform at their pro-days and the Combine…if any perform there at all.  Locker did not have a great senior year but he still could make the transition to the NFL and to be honest, not all great NFL QB’s have done well their senior year.  Ryan Mallett is also a very solid option for the Vikings as well, but rumors are stirring that off-field problems and maybe even drugs could be making him this years sliding top QB.

13: Detroit Lions: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA – The Lions finally look to have their offense on the right track.  Unfortunately their defense is not.  Ayers is the top true LB in this years draft class and will give the Lions a real defensive stud that can fill the void of Julian Peterson who has been told he won’t be back.  I also think they may go tackle with this pick but 13 may be a little high for a draft that is a little weak at that position.

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