1. Carolina Panthers - Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
It is completely outside of my realm of understanding why NFL teams burn high draft picks on quarterbacks whom they aren't absolutely convinced can become elite professional talent. When you take a QB in the first round, you're putting five years, $40-$50 million, your job and all of your coaches' jobs on the line. I've come to think that one of the reasons we see this happen so much is that we commonly mistake athleticism for potential. Just because a college quarterback might be athletic does not mean he has potential. For all of the droning on about whether or not Cam Newton "wants to be great," I think a lot of people are missing the forest for the trees. If you have to question whether or not a guy has the maturity, the work ethic, the leadership skills or the intelligence to be your franchise quarterback, then he doesn't have those things. How are those not considered when evaluating potential? Vince Young has all the athletic talent in the world, but he's a head case whose teammates dislike him and he's dumb as a brick. Tim Tebow has all of the likability and leadership skills, but he's a mechanical mess and can't really pass. Year after year, poorly operated teams are tantalized by athletic freaks who play QB in college, rather than just find someone who's an accurate passer and a reasonably intelligent human, which is really all you need. Cam Newton will be a disaster as an NFL quarterback. He might not approach JaMarcus-level bust status, but make no mistake, this is going to be a hilarious farce.
One more thing to throw out there, and I'll say this now so that I can repeat it several more times: there is no legitimate reason for any team in the top ten to pass on Patrick Peterson.
2. Denver Broncos - Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
This draft is perversely deep on the defensive line, and the Broncos will be able to scoop up a lineman later on. Here, though, they go with the outside pass rusher who challenged the legality of the NFL Draft in federal court. The Broncos recently re-signed Champ Bailey, so it would stand to reason that they would not strongly consider drafting Patrick Peterson. This is, of course, a mistake.
3. Buffalo Bills - Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
Buffalo might be just as happy to take Von Miller here in an attempt to make up for the disappointing Aaron Maybin, but Dareus is just as fine a choice. He'll be able to step in and play immediately, and the Bills' defense needs as many of those guys as it can possibly muster. Hey, you know who would be a great pick here? Patrick Peterson.
4. Cincinnati Bengals - A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
The most fun part of picking for the Bengals in a mock draft is getting to make a list of things that you speculate Mike Brown might be thinking:
- That boy Palmer ain't going nowhere, and if he keeps this up, I'm going to trigger his Carl Pickens Clause.
- Andre Smith will be healthy this year, so the offensive line is peaches 'n' cream!
- On defense, we have that guy with the hair, so we're find on defense.
- Palmer will quit being such a little turd if I get him a new toy.
- Wait, do we have a running back? Who is our running back? Is it still that fellow with the boat? What's his name again? How'd he do last year?
- That Mexican, Julio Jones, might be cheaper, but I don't employ no dadgumming illegals on this team. Father would never have allowed that.
5. Arizona Cardinals - Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
You don't seriously think they're going to go into next season with Max Hall and John Skelton, do you? Neither do I, but this team is in rapid descent, and Ken Whisenhunt needs to eventually hitch his wagon to some kind of quarterback. That said, they should consider developing the best cornerback tandem in the league by drafting Patrick Peterson.
6. Cleveland Browns - Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
This wouldn't be a terrible pick, but it wouldn't be the right one, either. The Browns need to develop a pass rush, and drafting a receiver does not accomplish that. But Mike Holmgren doesn't draft pass rushers. He drafts receivers. Even though Mohammad Massaquoiiisqisiissan and Brian Robiskie are passable, Colt McCoy could use a better target. The Browns should don't need a corner or a return specialist, so Patrick Peterson doesn't make much sense for them, despite his unparalleled awesomeness. However, if another team were looking to move up to get Peterson, the Browns would be the team to call. Cleveland can trade down out of this spot, pick up extra draft picks, and still address their most pressing needs (WR, DL) later in the first round.
7. San Francisco 49ers - Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Convenient that San Fran needs a corner. They should also consider drafting Patrick Peterson.
8. Tennessee Titans - Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
Who is running this team? Does anyone know? Is there even anyone left on this team besides Chris Johnson? Nick Fairley seems to be the consensus pick to go at this slot, and I'm just going to go along with that because he addresses Tennessee's primary need for living football players. The Titans could also go for a quarterback here. TCU's Andy Dalton is a possibility, which is such an outrageous misuse of a top-ten pick that if they're willing to make that kind of a reach, you might just as well see them draft Bill Stull.
9. Dallas Cowboys - Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
If it were anyone other than Jerry Jones making this pick, I'd bet on the Cowboys taking an offensive tackle because they're desperately in need of about three of them. But tackles aren't sexy. Jerry Jones likes his picks sexy. Cornerback? Now that's sexy! A cornerback named Prince? MEGASEXY. Jason Garrett needs to lock Jerry Jones in a bathroom so he can trade out of this pick and take a tackle later in the first.
10. Washington Redskins - Jake Locker, QB, Washington
Mike Shanahan loves toolsy quarterbacks (quarterbacks who are tools) with power arms, and Locker fits that mold. He's not worth the tenth overall pick, but Donovan McNabb wasn't worth second- and fourth-round picks and that didn't stop the Redskins from pulling the trigger. Also, the idea that any team would enter a season with Rex Grossman and nobody else is too hilarious to actually come to fruition. The Redskins will ignore their defensive needs and Shanahan will stake his tenure with Washington on Locker.
11. Houson Texans - Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, UNC
Houston needs help at every defensive position not occupied by Mario Williams. If Quinn is off the board, J.J. Watt becomes a likely candidate. The Texans need to draft almost exclusively for defense this year.
12. Minnesota Vikings - Tyron Smith, OT, USC
Tyron Smith lasts this long because he's uncoachably stupid. The Vikings are going to need to convince Brett Favre that he'll be safer this year than he was last year if they're going to get him to come back, and that means adding a tackle. No, I'm not serious. They'll probably take Cameron Jordan or some shit.
13. Detroit Lions - Anthony Costanzo, OT, Boston College
Matthew Stafford isn't getting any less hurt. Taking a tackle would allow the Lions to move Jeff Backus to guard, and beef up their protection of Stafford's blind side.
14. St. Louis Rams - Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
The Rams' defense sucks.
15. Miami Dolphins - The Other Pouncey, C, Florida
The Steelers' dream of reuniting the Pounceys dies here, as a team makes one of three good picks that you'll see in this first round.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars - Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri
Jacksonville's defense sucks, except for Rashean Mathis.
17. New England Patriots - J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
New England's defense sucks.
18. San Diego Chargers - Cameron Jordan, DE, California
San Diego's front seven suck.
19. New York Giants - Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
With Costanzo off the board, the Giants take the best available tackle. Look for the Steelers to do nothing here.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
The concern over his knee is legitimate, but he's still an elite talent. This pick will prompt Skip Bayless to completely lose his shit and insinuate that Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan has only fallen this far because NFL teams are racist toward white people.
21. Kansas City Chiefs - Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
Just to get Skip to shut the fuck up.
22. Indianapolis Colts - Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
Keep Peyton Manning alive.
23. Philadelphia Eagles - Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
Sources close to the Eagles have informed FTC that Andy Reid has already checked the box on the draft applet for "autopick" because he wants to get to bed as early as possible tonight before waking up at 5:45 to watch the Royal Wedding. Reid is particularly interested in seeing which of the vacant dukedoms the Queen will bestow upon Prince William. He has his money on Cambridge.
24. New Orleans Saints - Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
25. Seattle Seahawks - Anyone, Any Position, Any School
Will Seattle take tackle Derek Sherrod? Sure! Will they roll the dice on FSU quarterback Christian Ponder? You bet! How do they feel about Virginia cornerback Ras-I Dowling? They love him and want to pick him! The Seahawks are winners here, as long as they select any eligible, living football player.
26. Baltimore Ravens - Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
Heyward indignantly quit football after Roger Goodell announces he attended college at "Ohio State" and not "The Ohio State University."
27. Atlanta Falcons - Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
I'm just going to follow Mayock on this one.
28. New England Patriots - Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Bill Belichick loves injury-prone running backs who can not contribute on every down.
29. Chicago Bears - Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pitt
The Bears need a receiver. Also, they need a guard. And a left tackle. And a guard. Two guards, actually. And a center. Also, a linebacker, and probably a quarterback and new coaching staff
30. New York Jets - Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
If you're Rex Ryan, once you've officially cut Vernon Gholston to the point where you're slamming him in your book, it's time to draft a new pass rushing linebacker who can actually play in the 3-4.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers - Aaron Williams, CB, Texas
The Steelers need help at defensive back more than any other position, and Williams is fine here. There's been a lot of buzz the last 24 hours about the Steelers wanting to trade up to take The Other Pouncey, but that would be so expensive that it wouldn't allow them to draft for the depth they need at other positions, like defensive tackle, left tackle, right tackle corner, safety, left guard, Brett Keisel, kicker, punter, offensive coordinator and third-down back.
32. Green Bay Packers - Danny Watkins, G, Baylor
By this point, you've probably tuned out.