One of the problems with accurate prognostication for mock drafts is the unpredictability of trades. Well here’s my attempt to correct that by having a first round mock with trades that make sense in my mind. One of the big questions about this year’s draft with all the CBA and labor stuff how will it affect first round trades. I don’t think it will have a significant impact on trades, at least not in the first round. I do think teams will be a little more frugal with their middle round picks, allowing them to keep the picks to fill multiple needs and holes rather than going for the big splash at the top of the draft. But I do think we’ll still see trades, just probably a little later than we’re used to. I think the real drama and trade talk won’t come until the end of the night when teams that aren’t picking in the Top 5 look to move back into the first round to nab the quarterback of their choice.
1. Carolina Panthers – QB Cam Newton, Auburn
Again, I’m on the Newton bandwagon as far as the Panthers pick here. Personally, I think Gabbert is the better QB prospect and smarter fit, but I get why the Panthers sans 2nd round pick would prefer the guy with higher upside like Newton, as they reportedly do.
2. Denver Broncos – DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama
The Broncos try to tempt offers with their reported interest in the quarterbacks, but at the end of the day they get no bites and take the best defensive lineman on the board in Dareus.
3. Buffalo Bills – OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M
With Newton off the board, the Bills look at either Dareus or Miller with their top pick. And with Dareus gone as well, then Miller becomes the no-brainer pick here.
4. Cincinnati Bengals – QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
It seems the tide is changing on the Bengals taking a quarterback, and while I don’t think Mike Brown wants to use his top pick at this position. The option of taking Gabbert and someone else in the second round probably sits better than settling for one of the second round prospects.
5. Arizona Cardinals – CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
They might nibble on one of the passers and probably really hope Miller falls here, but they’d happily settle for Peterson, the best player available at this point. It gives them three good corners now and upgrades their defense which was a need.
6. Cleveland Browns – DT Nick Fairley, Auburn
In the end, the Browns are hoping one of the defensive tackles or Peterson fall to this spot, and their wish is granted with Fairley being here.
7. San Francisco 49ers – OLB Robert Quinn, North Carolina
He’s raw as an outside linebacker prospect, but Vic Fangio had some great pass rushers like Pat Swilling and Rickey Jackson in past decades, and it’ll be hard for them to pass up a player with Quinn’s potential.
8. Tennessee Titans – WR A.J. Green, Georgia
This position is not a need for the Titans, but how can they pass on a talent of Green’s caliber at this point in the draft. They’d happily snatch him up.
9. Dallas Cowboys – OT Tyron Smith, USC
The Cowboys will probably shop this pick, looking to move down a few spots and still nab Smith. But if they get no takers, I’m sure they won’t have any issue taking him this high.
Redskins get: 1st round pick (18th overall) and 2nd round (50th)
Chargers get: 1st round pick (10th overall)
10. San Diego Chargers – WR Julio Jones, Alabama
The Chargers have shown some aggressive maneuvering in recent drafts moving up to get players they like early on. The team targets Jones because of his size and fit in their offense, which would allow them to potentially trade franchised receiver Vincent Jackson this summer, or at least give them some leverage in case they don’t manage to retain Malcom Floyd. The Redskins happily move down, hoping to nab some picks in the 2nd through 4th rounds to fill a plethora of needs.
11. Houston Texans – CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska
The two players that I think the Texans really want are Robert Quinn or Amukamara, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they try to jump up a few spots to get one of them if one of them is drafted in the top seven picks. But for now, Amukamara falls to them and he helps out their secondary a lot.
12. Minnesota Vikings – OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College
I think the Vikings are a team that might to look to move down, but if they stay here, they will happily draft a solid left tackle in Castonzo to improve their weak offensive line.
13. Detroit Lions – DE Da’Quan Bowers, Clemson
The concerns about his knee cause Bowers to fall out of the Top 10, and I think Detroit snatches him up figuring that the risk is worth the reward to upgrade their edge pass rush and improve their defense.
14. St. Louis Rams – DT Corey LIuget, Illinois
Maybe the Rams really do want to get one of the receivers and may contemplate moving up to get them. But I don’t see the Rams being that aggressive without a glut of picks to give up. And in the end, I think they are very happy to upgrade their defensive line with a player like Liuget.
15. Miami Dolphins – DE Cameron Jordan, California
For months we’ve been penciling Ingram here, but either the Dolphins are doing a great job at smoke-screening us by talking about trying to get a more explosive running back option, or they are indeed looking in another direction. Defensive line is a strength, but I think the Dolphins believe in best player available, and can’t pass up as good a 3-4 prospect as Jordan is at this point in the draft, hoping to upgrade running back later.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars – DE J.J. Watt, Wisconsin
The Jaguars have been secretly accumulating 3-4 talent over the years and it seems like Watt is right up their alley by giving them an end that can be comfortable playing in either scheme.
17. New England Patriots – OLB Aldon Smith, Missouri
The Patriots are always a threat to move down in the drive to accumulate future picks. And with the Redskins picking behind them, they’ll burn up the phone lines looking for any takers wanting to jump ahead of the Redskins to take a quarterback. But I think this year they won’t pass up on the opportunity to seriously upgrade their needs on defense and probably won’t have too many takers looking to trade up this high for a passer. Without Watt or Jordan on the board, the best fit at outside linebacker makes the most sense which is Smith.
18. Washington Redskins – OLB Justin Houston, Georgia
I can already hear Chris Berman and Rich Eisen being shocked that Washington didn’t take one of the quarterbacks at this point. But I honestly don’t see the Shanahan fit in this draft, and certainly not to the degree that even with the trade down they will take a guy. *Spoiler alert* Getting that extra second round pick from San Diego helps them because they still have the ammo to move back into the first at the end to get the QB they want for better value. Instead, they opt to upgrade their pass rush with Houston.
19. New York Giants – RB Mark Ingram, Alabama
There is talk that Ingram’s stock could be falling, and I can somewhat buy it. Teams that draft smart rarely use high picks on running backs in the first. But I think at this point in the draft, the Giants can’t pass him up, with questions surrounding whether Bradshaw and Jacobs are long-term options. Ingram is a perfect fit int he physical style of running game the Giants want to employ.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – DE Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue
Talib’s off-field problems might force their hand to get secondary help with a player like Aaron Williams, but I think they’ll opt to upgrade their pass rush before their secondary, especially given their defensive scheme which doesn’t rely on elite cover men.
21. Kansas City Chiefs – OLB Akeem Ayers, UCLA
Besides Seattle, the Chiefs might be the team picking the latest that has the most holes on their roster. Which means they could go in a variety of directions, but I think they go with the pass rushing outside linebacker like Ayers, who should be a very good fit in their defensive scheme.
22. Indianapolis Colts – OT Nate Solder, Colorado
I think the Colts want Castonzo, but will happily settle for Solder here.
Eagles get: 1st round pick (27th overall), 3rd (91st), 6th (192nd)
Falcons get: 1st round pick (23rd overall), 4th (104th)
23. Atlanta Falcons – DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa
With the Bucs taking Kerrigan, and the Saints about to be on the clock, the Falcons can take the chance and move up to get Clayborn to fill their need at defensive end. This trade makes sense in my eyes because it fills a glaring need for the Falcons, as well as it makes sense for the Eagles who always seem to make a move on day one of the draft every year. I think the Eagles are hoping they can move back a few spots and still land either Jimmy Smith or Gabe Carimi.
Saints get: 2nd round pick (39th overall), 3rd (77th), 4th (109th), and 3rd round pick in 2012
Titans get: 1st round pick (24th overall), 3rd (88th)
24. Tennessee Titans – QB Jake Locker, Washington
Now that the Falcons snatched Clayborn off the board, the Saints don’t have any obvious needs or fits, and thus look to move back. The Titans oblige, trying to get ahead of Seattle to get their quarterback, which I think is going to be Jake Locker. The Titans seem like a good landing place for Locker because they have the option to bring a veteran like Kerry Collins back to keep the seat warm, and have enough pieces around Locker that he shouldn’t struggle even if he’s forced to play relatively early.
25. Seattle Seahawks – OT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin
I think the Seahawks will be laughing in their war room because they had no intention of taking a quarterback with this pick. The Seahawks have too many needs across their roster to use their top pick on a passer, especially when they can get by another year with Hasselbeck. Whoever is their QB needs a running game, a No. 1 target, and an offensive line to succeed. And I think the Seahawks go the latter route by taking Carimi who slides in immediately to take over the vacant right tackle spot.
26. Baltimore Ravens – CB Brandon Harris, Miami FL
The Ravens might be a team willing to move down to oblige a team trying to get back into the first round to get a quarterback. But in the end, I think they look to upgrade their secondary by adding another U player in Harris. They’ve had success going to that well, so why not keep digging.
27. Philadelphia Eagles – CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado
With Carimi off the board, this is pretty much a no brainer for them, and they take Smith.
28. New England Patriots – DE Cameron Heyward, Ohio State
I think with the way this first round is shaping up, the Patriots might shop this pick around but they will wind up using it on a defensive end. They probably can’t afford to wait until pick No. 33 and hope either Heyward or Wilkerson are there. INstead, they will try to shop that pick to see if they can get any biters at the beginning of Day Two.
29. Chicago Bears – DT Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple
The Bears get the interior pass rusher they wanted in Wilkerson who should replace Tommie Harris.
Jets get: 2nd round pick (41st overall) and 3rd in 2012
Redskins get: 1st round pick (30th overall)
30. Washington Redskins – QB Christian Ponder, Florida State
Ponder seems to be the guy if I had to guess that the Redskins are looking most intently at. He seems to be the best fit for a Shanahan type of guy. And they get better value for him at this point and still manage to keep a second round pick. The Jets make this trade because they have needs, but there is no obvious value here with their needs up front on defense, and hope there will be some better options elsewhere early on Day Two.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers – OG Mike Pouncey, Florida
With all the maneuvering and drama at the end of Night One of the draft, the Steelers get their man in Pouncey, Maurkice’s twin. Their biggest needs are at cornerback and right guard, and while they probably would like to have a player like Aaron Williams on defense, as good a fit as Pouncey is too hard to pass up.
32. Green Bay Packers – OG Danny Watkins, Baylor
I’m sure the Packers are shopping this pick like crazy to see if they can get any takers looking to get in on the QB sweepstakes (San Francisco?), but to no avail. People are going to find the Patriots terms a little bit more agreeable one pick later. So they take a good player at an obvious need at left guard. And so now we all applaud as Danny Watkins and his firefighting friends finally leave the green room in New York to go up on stage with the Commissioner. You can’t find a better cap to the first night of the draft than that.
And then the second day of the draft will likely preceed with talk of which team: Buffalo, Arizona, Minnesota, Jacksonville, or Seattle is going to try and make a move to secure one of those remaining quarterbacks: Dalton, Mallett, or Kaepernick early in the second round. Here’s a hint at what I think might happen: the Patriots will trade the thirty-third pick to the 49ers who will then take Dalton.