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March 17, 2011

Mock draft v.2.0: Hey kids, Mock on

Six weeks out from the draft, and maybe you're tired of basketball for the moment.

Even if you're not, I kind of am, so let's hit refresh on the mock draft. If you don't like this one, relax, there will be at least five more between now and then.

Last week, we kind of followed common sense, went with a standard scenario. This week, maybe it's worth looking at it another way.

If the lockout extends into the late summer, and takes away a lot of the preparation time, then some people are going to be less likely to take projects and more likely to go with a guy you can plug in day one and get an immediate boost. There's another school of thought that a draft before free agency would make teams more likely to go BPA (best player available).

But the idea that whoever you take high could have to go soon could change things. Here's a look at the top 10 through that lens:

1. Carolina

DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama

Simply put, they have guys they could stick under center and have them throw passes. They lack enough qualified, warm bodies on the defensive interior.

Dareus is a wide-body with quickness, though he's generally pegged as a run-stopper because he's wide. But he can disrupt a pocket too, and would be an immediate starter here, and help a decent crop of currently employed Panthers ends. 

2. Denver

CB Patrick Peterson, LSU

Will be tempting to try to give John Fox a rush end, and he needs one. But Peterson might be the best player in this draft. 

The Broncos just gave Champ Bailey money to stay, and adding Peterson to the mix will buy Fox some time to get to the quarterback.

He's probably a better corner than the ends are at their jobs in this draft class.



3. Buffalo

QB Cam Newton, Auburn

Perfect scenario for the Bills. 

Coach Chan Gailey was the guy who helped create "Slash" (Kordell Stewart) when he was Pittsburgh's offensive coordinator.

Now you give him a bigger version, and he could really do something. 

Newton, with his natural abilities and star qualities, could give the Bills a face of the franchise for the first time since Jim Kelly.


4. Cincinnati

WR A.J. Green

Say for instance they win the stare-down with QB Carson Palmer.

And say for instance they're tired of the Ochocinco era. 

This guy could easily be the next big thing at receiver, and easily replace the production they've grown accustomed to.


5. Arizona

QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri

They're sitting there on WR Larry Fitzgerald, and had no one decent to throw it to him.

Gabbert's still a puzzle to me. Seems he's being talked up because he's the right size rather than the right guy. Haven't heard a lot of scouts in love with his game, as if someone's drafting him on spec, hoping all those tangibles work out.

6. Cleveland

LB Von Miller, Texas A&M

Pass-rushers never go out of style, and he could be an immediate difference-maker for a defense that needs one.


7. San Francisco

DE Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson

Is it the biggest need? No, he doesn't play QB.

But he's the highest-rated player on the board at this point, and drafting pass-rushers is kind of like stocking up on bread and milk before a snowstorm. It's just the thing to do.

8. Tennessee

DT Nick Fairley, Auburn

The Titans need some help here. It's not so much personnel, but they'll dip if only for the absence of veteran DL coach Jim Washburn.

Fairley might not have an NFL body, but he can push the pocket. He's no Haynesworth, but that's a good thing.


9. Dallas

CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska

Yeah, he was here in the last one too. 

Just seems to make too much sense to fiddle with. We'll get creative next time, promise.


10. Washington

WR Julio Jones, Alabama

I still think they're drafting a QB one way or another, but for the sake of the exercise, let's look at another option.

Jones impressed at the combine, running blazing 40 times on a broken foot. Washington could use a game-breaker for whoever's under center, and there's no telling what Dan Snyder might try to fill that gap.


-- Darin Gantt

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