Here is my Post Scouting Combine NFL Mock Draft. It will be followed by an additional Post Combine Mock Draft, as well as a Final Mock before the NFL Draft begins on April 28th.
My mock draft has been linked by The Football Fan Spot, Sports Jabber, DC Pro Sports Report, Walter Football, FF Toolbox, hailRedskins.com, The Football Expert, and No Limits Sportsline Fantasy Sports in their Mock Draft Databases. If you're a draftnik like me, be sure to click on their hyperlinks and check out all of their extensive NFL Draft related material.
This is not a mock draft where I attempt play general manager and substitute my own judgment for the 32 NFL teams. I do my best to research what particular players or positions each team may be targeting by searching the internet and listening to Sirius NFL Radio for tips from reliable beat writers and NFL insiders in order to provide links and analysis as to why I think a particular player may end up going to the team that I have him slotted to.
1. Carolina Panthers – Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson: In spite of his raw potential, there are enough questions about whether Cam Newton worthy of the number 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft after only one year as a starting quarterback in college. With no clear cut quarterback to take with the number 1 pick, the Panthers can look to local product Da'Quan Bowers to form a formidable pass rush opposite Charles Johnson and consider a quarterback like Christian Ponder of Florida State in the second round. http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/02/28/2100001/video-a-surprise-no-1-draft-pick.html
2. Denver Broncos – Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn: Denver had the worst ranked defense in the league last season after ex-head coach Josh McDaniel and GM Brian Xanders left this unit nearly devoid of talent. As they transition back to a 4-3 defense Denver has subsequently released defensive tackles Jamal Williams and Justin Bannan, making that position the logical choice for the number 2 selection in the draft given that Marcell Dareus and Nick Fairley are to of the top five projected picks. http://www.denverpost.com/broncos/ci_17531737
3. Buffalo Bills – Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama: If Marcell Dareus is available at pick number 3 he will draw consideration from the Bills. While Buffalo doesn't necessarily need a quarterback after Ryan Fitzpatrick's career year under Chan Gailey, the Bills also need a star that can sell tickets for Ralph Wilson and energize the local fan base, so taking a quarterback is still not out of the question. http://www.lockerpulse.com/News/Dareus-gaining-momentum-S872923/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Buffalo-Bills; http://www.lockerpulse.com/News/2011-NFL-Draft-With-the-3rd-Overall-Pick-the-Buffalo-Bills-Select-S874875/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Buffalo-Bills
4. Cincinnati Bengals – A.J. Green, WR, Georgia: With Carson Palmer threatening to retire if his demand for a trade is not granted the Bengals suddenly have huge needs on both sides of the ball. They could easily justify using this pick on a franchise quarterback, running back, wide receiver, defensive end or a defensive tackle. If the Bengals can appease Palmer, or even if they wait for the second round to address their need at the quarterback position, a wide receiver to ease the loss of the soon to be departed Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens would be a nice start to help rebuild the Bengals offense.
5. Arizona Cardinals – Von Miller, DE/OLB, Texas A&M: Several reports suggest that the Cardinals are not interested in using their first round pick on a quarterback, and that they will instead try to fill their void at that position either via a trade or through free agency. Von Miller is a versatile pass rusher who is ideally suited to come off the edge in a 3-4 defense like the one Arizona runs. http://www.azcentral.com/sports/cardinals/articles/2011/02/17/20110217arizona-cardinals-draft-mike-mayock.html
6. Cleveland Browns – Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina: While a WR would be nice, the Browns really need a defensive end to rush the passer or a defensive tackle in light of Shaun Rogers having been released. If Nick Fairley or Marcell Dareus are around at the sixth pick, either could be Cleveland's choice. http://twitter.com/TonyGrossi/status/38365407370805248#
7. San Francisco 49ers – Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU: Unless San Francisco can make a play for an established veteran like Kevin Kolb (which they won't be able to do until a CBA is reached), the 49ers will have to find their long term answer at quarterback through the draft. While Jim Harbaugh has talked about bringing Alex Smith back for yet another trial of his ability to be an NFL quarterback, the 49ers did not offer him a contract tender, suggesting that all of that rhetoric could have been a smokescreen. Nonetheless, I still like the 49ers to trade for a veteran quarterback and draft an early to mid round player to be his successor. In that event, San Francisco could go for a lock down corner like Patrick Peterson. http://www.csnbayarea.com/02/17/11/Maiocco-Troy-Smith-Westbrook-unlikely-to/landing_maiocco_v3.html?blockID=412581&feedID=5936
8. Tennessee Titans – Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri: Barring a trade, the Titans absolutely need to find a quarterback of the future in this year's draft. While Cam Newton is getting all the hype, Blaine Gabbert is similar in size and stature. Not only does he have more experience in terms of games started than Newon, but he has practiced taking snaps in a pro-style offense with former NFL quarterback Rob Johnson for years to help transition him from playing in a spread offense at the University of Missouri. http://titanstouchdown.com/2011/01/nfl-draft-5-players-the-titans-could-go-with-who-are-not-quarterbacks/; http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110226/SPORTS01/102260317/2080/SPORTS01/At-NFL-combine-quarterback-supply-demand-high
9. Dallas Cowboys – Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska: The Cowboys secondary, amongst other positions, greatly underachieved last season. Terence Newman's days in Dallas appear numbered. While Prince Amukamara may not be a lock down cover corner, he has no glaring weaknesses in his game either. http://www.dallasnews.com/sports/dallas-cowboys/20110124-mock-drafts-predict-cowboys-take-nebraska-cb-prince-amukamara.ece; http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php/option=com_mobile/task=viewaltcast/altcast_code=361bc5f993
10. Washington Redskins – Cam Newton, QB, Auburn: Rex Grosman clearly is not the answer at quarterback for the 'Skins. Ryan Mallett has an incredible arm and can make all of the bread and butter NFL throws like the deep out. The question is whether Mallett has the character and off the field characteristics worthy of a first round draft pick. http://espn.go.com/blog/nfceast/post/_/id/24287/redskins-interested-in-cam-newton
11. Houston Texans – Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri: The Texans would love to land local product Von Miller to provide an edge rush for their new 3-4 defense, but Aldon Smith will have to suffice as a less hyped consolation prize, especially if a defensive back like Prince Amukamara is not available. http://blogs.chron.com/nfl/2011/02/join_the_nfl_chat_at_1130_am_1.html; http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/sports/fb/texansfront/7450698.html
12. Minnesota Vikings – Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas: Minnesota has glaring holes at DT, DE, S and QB. With Rhett Bomar and Joe Webb currently the only options on their roster to take over for Brett Favre, the Vikings may need to use their first round pick on a signal caller. http://blogs.twincities.com/Vikings/2011/01/vikings-need-depth-at-several.html; http://www.bringmethenews.com/vikings-at-the-combine-mallett-impresses-newton-not-so-much/
13. Detroit Lions – Nate Solder, OT, Colorado: With the top two corners off the board do the Lions turn their attention to a desperate need for a playmaker at outside linebacker? The Lions could be in a difficult position in this year's draft if the top cornerbacks are off the board, as the number 13 spot may be too early value wise to draft a 3-4 outside linebacker in this draft. Martin Mahew is definitely not a GM who will reach for a player in the draft just because he fills a position of need. Does that mean we could see the Lions do the unthinkable go after yet another WR in the first round? There is not only a reasonable chance that Julio Jones could be available and the highest rated player on the board when the Lions pick, but he would also fill the role of a much needed deep threat opposite Calvin Johnson with Nate Burleson manning the slot. The other option for the Lions would be to build for the future by taking a raw potential franchise tackle like Nate Solder to provide insurance for Gosder Cherilus who is coming off of microfracture surgery, and ultimately develop him to replace Jeff Backus on the left side. http://www.mlive.com/lions/index.ssf/2011/02/if_prince_amukamara_isnt_there.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+detroit-lions+%28Detroit+Lions+-+MLive.com%29&utm_content=Twitter
14. St. Louis Rams – Julio Jones, WR, Alabama: The Rams need to find a legitimate number one target for quarterback Sam Bradford. This pick should be a no-brainer if Jones is still available when St. Louis picks. http://www.stltoday.com/sports/football/professional/article_b0782b36-2d61-11e0-93b8-00127992bc8b.html
15. Miami Dolphins – Mark Ingram, Jr., RB, Alabama: The Dolphins are looking to trade down from number 15 and acquire a second round pick, having given theirs up to Denver in the Brandon Marshall trade last year. Even if they move lower in the first round they could still be in the mix for former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, Jr., who would replace the Dolphins aging and injury prone duo at running back in Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown. http://blogs.sun-sentinel.com/sports_football_dolphins/2011/01/does-the-2011-draft-match-miami-dolphins-needed.html; http://miamiherald.typepad.com/dolphins_in_depth/2011/03/did-ingram-kill-himself-by-running-slow-no-did-it-help-no.html
16. Jacksonville Jaguars - Ryan Kerrigan, DE/OLB, Purdue: Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan would be a nice situational pass rusher and understudy to DE Aaron Kampman, who will be attempting to come back from knee surgery. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/625900-2011-nfl-mock-draft-complete-1st-round-predictions/entry/50650-2011-nfl-mock-draft-with-the-16th-pick-the-jacksonville-jaguars-select
17. New England Patriots (from Oakland) – Cameron Jordan, DE/OLB, California: New England always seems to be looking for defensive ends/outside linebackers for their 3-4 defensive scheme. Cameron Jordan of Cal showed his ability to play standing up at the next level at the Senior Bowl. http://www.boston.com/sports/football/patriots/articles/2011/01/30/finding_patriot_material_in_this_senior_circuit/?page=3; http://www.nesn.com/2011/03/nfl-mock-draft-v-sees-defensive-end-daquan-bowers-taking-over-panthers-no-1-pick-page-3.html
18. San Diego Chargers – J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin: The Chargers should benefit from a deep defensive line class. They could use help at either a defensive end or with a 3-4 linebacker who can rush the passer. http://www.signonsandiego.com/bigmailbag/chargers/; http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/feb/27/chargers-are-luck-deep-de-class/
19. New York Giants – Tyron Smith, OT, USC: Replenishing an aging offensive line has to be a priority for the Giants, as is adding some new blood at linebacker. Tyron Smith of USC may need some time to put on weight (he put on 20 pounds for the NFL Combine and should ultimately develop into a solid left tackle as he matures and gains weight). http://newyork.sbnation.com/new-york-giants/2011/1/28/1961072/2011-nfl-mock-drafts-tyron-smith-is-consensus-pick-for-giants
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa: While the Bucs have the versatility to go for the best available player for the most part, getting a rush end is their biggest priority. Tampa seems to favor Adrian Clayborn of Iowa over the other defensive ends who might be available at the 20th pick. http://www2.tbo.com/content/2011/jan/28/281701/bucs-beat-a-week-of-reporting-at-the-senior-bowl/
21. Kansas City Chiefs – Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA: While Mike Vrable has given the Chiefs more than they could have ever expected as a throw in on the Matt Cassel trade, he probably doesn't have too many productive years left in the tank. Akeem Ayers would be a nice pick to serve as Vrabel's eventual replacement. Justin Houston of Georgia could also be a consideration if the Chiefs are looking to add more of a boost to their pass rush. http://espn.go.com/blog/nflnation/post/_/id/37663/afc-west-combine-primer; http://bleacherreport.com/articles/626354-2011-nfl-mock-draft-how-far-are-nick-fairley-ryan-mallett-falling/entry/50680-2011-nfl-mock-draft-is-akeem-ayers-a-perfect-fit-for-kanas-city
22. Indianapolis Colts – Anthony Castanzo, OT, Boston College: The Colts survived with a very mediocre offense line for years thanks to Howard Mudd, who may be one of the best positional coaches ever in the NFL. When Mudd left Indianapolis before last season, the Colts line was exposed as a weakness. It's definitely time that Indianapolis looks for some talent at the the tackle position to help protect Peyton Manning and re-establish some sort of running game. http://www.stampedeblue.com/2011/1/30/1963758/2010-colts-positional-review-offensive-tackle; http://www.indystar.com/article/20110301/SPORTS03/103010320/1058/SPORTS03/NFL-Network-s-Mayock-sizes-up-combine-participants
23. Philadelphia Eagles - Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin: The Eagles offensive line has underachieved in recent years based upon the money that they've paid to big name guys. Carimi could start off his NFL career playing right tackle or even guard, which would give the Eagles some depth and versatility on their line. http://www.phillyburbs.com/sports/eagles/article_ec003c5a-da86-52a6-a0de-3636caa8d848.html
24. New Orleans Saints – Justin Houston, DE/OLB, Georgia: The Saints locked down the interior of their defensive line by signing free agent defensive tackle Shaun Rogers after he was released by the Browns. Now they can turn their attention to improving their pass rush. While they could use help at either defensive end or outside linebacker, Justin Houston of Georgia is probably best suited to play end in a 4-3 defense like the Saints employ. http://www.nola.com/saints/index.ssf/2011/02/join_the_new_orleans_saints_ch_3.html;
25. Seattle Seahawks – Jake Locker, QB, Washington: With Matt Hasselbeck still unsigned and Charlie Whitehurst yet to cement himself as Seattle's quarterback of the future, the Seahawks have to consider drafting a quarterback with their first round pick. Hometown college star Jake Locker relieved some of the concerns raised about his accuracy at the Scouting Combine, and would come into a good situation where he would not be forced to play right away in Seattle if a short term deal is worked out with Hasselbeck. Interior offensive linemen like Mike Pouncey of Florida and Danny Watkins from Baylor could also draw consideration if free agent guard Robert Gallery doesn't follow Tom Cable to Seattle, who was recently hired as Pete Carroll's new offensive line coach.
26. Baltimore Ravens – Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado: Baltimore's defense continued to be one of the top units in the NFL in spite of a lack of talent at cornerback. If Jimmy Smith of Colorado falls in this year's draft as expected due to character concerns, he may be a talent that the Raven's may not be able to pass up. While a wide receiver like Torrey Smith of Maryland would make sense given the Raven's need for some outside speed on offense, I'm not sure if his rating is in line with GM Ozzie Newsome's philosophy to draft the best player available over filling a specific need. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/ravens/notes.htm
27. Atlanta Falcons – Torrey Smith, DE, Ohio State: The Falcons lack a wide receiver to compliment and draw coverage away from Roddy White. Torrey Smith of Maryland definitely has the speed to stretch the field and draw some attention from opposing safeties. Atlanta is also still searching for a defensive end to initially compliment, and then replace John Abraham, and Cameron Heyward is a hometown kid who could fill that need if one of the top wide receivers is not available or deemed worthy of the 27th pick. http://blogs.ajc.com/mark-bradley-blog/2011/02/10/in-mcshays-mock-the-falcons-pounce-on-the-other-pouncey/?cxntfid=blogs_mark_bradley_blog
28. New England Patriots – Mike Pouncey, C/G, Florida: Even if the Patriots are able to franchise tag guard Logan Mankins, don't look for him to stay in New England long term given the rift between the parties this past year over his contract. The Patriots apparently liked Maurkice Pouncey coming out of Florida in last year's draft, and will now have a chance to select his twin brother Mike, who could initially help out at guard before ultimately moving to center. http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4692682/patriots-never-got-a-chance-to-pounce; http://www.bostonherald.com/blogs/sports/rap_sheet/index.php/2011/02/26/could-the-patriots-grant-florida-center-mike-pouncey-his-draft-wish/
29. Chicago Bears - Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor: The Bears need help on their interior defensive line. With DT Stephen Paea having been diagnosed with a torn ligament in his knee at the Senior Bowl, Phil Taylor stepped up and showed that he is yet another defensive tackle worthy of a first round pick. Danny Watkins of Baylor or Ben Ijalana of Villanova could also be options if the Bears elect to upgrade their offensive line. http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2011/01/06/bears-draft-could-focus-on-linemen/
30. New York Jets – Rahim Moore, S, UCLA: As good as the Jets defense is on paper, that unit underachieved last season. UCLA's Rahim Moore could bring some much needed depth, athleticism and playmaking ability to the safety position. Defensive tackles Phil Taylor of Baylor or Corey Liuget of Illinois could also be possibilities if the Jets do not plan on resigning nose tackle Kris Jenkins, whom they recently released. http://espn.go.com/blog/new-york/jets/post/_/id/4688/positional-analysis-safety
31. Pittsburgh Steelers – Brandon Harris, CB, Miami: While the Steelers arguably have the best defense in the league, Neither William Gay nor Bryant McFadden are starting caliber NFL cornerbacks. Brandon Harris ran and performed well in drills at the Scouting Combine, and would be a value pick for Pittsburgh this late in the first round. http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11062/1129469-139.stm
32. Green Bay Packers – Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State: Green Bay won the Super Bowl and will have key players returning from injury last season at tight end, tackle, middle linebacker, outside linebacker, 3-4 defensive end and running back. Right now it looks as if Cullen Jenkins, an emerging star at defensive end, will leave the Packers as a free agent, and Cameron Heyward of Ohio State projects as a prototype defensive end in the Packers 3-4 defensive scheme who could replace him. http://packersnews.greenbaypressgazette.com/article/20110226/PKR01/110226044/1058/PKR03
Did Rich Eisen improve his draft status by running his best time (6.18 seconds) in the 40 since 2005?