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April 7, 2011

Mock Draft 5.0: M.O.C.K. in the USA

    Three weeks to go, and while some things are coming into focus, others seem as confused as ever. 

    Teams have hunkered down into scouting meetings, with the evaluations finished and only the sifting and jockeying (and lying) left for the next few weeks.

    Meanwhile, a few of you seem confused about what we're doing here. For the most part, the last four mock drafts have been about presenting options, adjusting to different scenarios that could arise (such as a CBA before the draft, etc.). Most of you got that. One or two of our less sophisticated readers have mistaken it for equivocation (and spelled most of the words right in their rebukes).

    My stance is as it has been since the combine. The Panthers are looking at a lot of guys, but they have to make sure they don't pass a potential franchise quarterback. They know they need one, so they're going to turn over every rock.

    Now, if they're not convinced, and someone offers the moon, they're listening. We'll see in the next three weeks if anyone feels more strongly about the top pick than they do.

    1. Carolina

    QB Cam Newton, Auburn

    Is he a sure thing? He is not. Is he the best quarterback in this draft? He is.  That doesn't make him Andrew Luck, but that makes him the top pick.

    In a sense, with a younger staff geared toward teaching (Mike Shula might have been the most underrated hire of the bunch), and a roster designed to insulate (great running game, good O-line and they didn't sign Jeremy Shockey for his charm) it's actually not a bad time to pick a quarterback first.

    2. Denver

    QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri

    Here's where things could get screwy. There's no compelling reason to believe John Elway or John Fox give a hoot about Tim Tebow, and Kyle Orton's a guy in the last year of his contract. So maybe the Broncos throw the first curveball of the weekend, or sit back and wait for the desperate and needy to make a deal with them instead of the Panthers.

    3. Buffalo

    DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama

    With the QBs off the board, the Bills are able to stick with their stated intention of taking the best defensive player available. This could be Miller or Peterson, but we'll see.

    4. Cincinnati

    WR A.J. Green, Georgia

    If they can't get a passer, they can at least get someone to catch passes, and get out from under the reign of Chad.

    5. Arizona

    CB Patrick Peterson, LSU

    They need help now, and he's ready to roll. Would give them a solid secondary.

    6. Cleveland

    LB Von Miller, Texas A&M

    When in doubt, take the best pass-rusher you can find.

    7. San Francisco

    DE/OLB Robert Quinn, UNC

    He's the main beneficiary of the uncertainty about Da'Quan Bowers' health, and probably better able to stand up and rush.

    8. Tennessee

    DT Nick Fairley, Auburn

    His star has dimmed as people got a load of a body that's not exactly chiseled. But he can still disrupt from inside, and that has value.

    9. Dallas

    OT Tyron Smith, USC

    It's fair to expect them to make some noise on draft weekend. Sitting and watching is not Jerry Jones' style. But if they stay put, fixing their line makes sense.

    10. Washington

    QB Jake Locker, Washington

    Or maybe it's Ryan Mallett. We know they need a new QB, so whoever they fall in love with makes sense. Locker's better on the run, and with the Skins' O-line, that may help.

-- Darin Gantt

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