For my draft preview article at Bleed-Green.com, I chalked up a first-round mock draft and a seven-rounder for the Eagles. Was interested to hear what you guys think about both of them:
1. Carolina Panthers: QB Cam Newton, Auburn
Comments: The Panthers’ new coach, Ron Rivera, is a defensive guy and could ultimately look to bolster Carolina’s pass rush or interior line with a polished tackle like Marcell Dareus, but the demand for a quarterback in Charlotte is high, and it doesn’t appear the Panthers are in the position to sit around and wait for 2012, when Stanford’s Andrew Luck will be available. Missouri’s signal-caller, Blaine Gabbert, is probably a safer pick at No. 1 overall, but Newton has the larger upside and his athleticism will bring an immediate explosion (whether it’s a good one or not is unclear) to an offense that was simply horrendous through the air this past season.
2. Denver Broncos: DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama
Comments: Picking Patrick Peterson would arguably give the Broncos one of the league’s top defensive backfields and a long-term starter at the cornerback spot. However, Denver unloaded a big contract on Champ Bailey this offseason and has pressing needs in the trenches, where Dareus flashed dominance throughout his NCAA career for Alabama. A run stuffer and productive pass rusher, he would fit right in as a tackle in the Broncos’ 4-3 scheme, and while he doesn’t have as much potential as fellow DT Nick Fairley, he has steadily risen on many analysts’ big boards as the premier defensive lineman of the 2011 class.
3. Buffalo Bills: CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
Comments: If Newton would have slipped to the Bills in this mock draft, I probably would have rewarded him to Buffalo, for he possesses the hype and upside the organization needs at the quarterback position. However, they could easily land a solid developmental prospect like Colin Kaepernick in the middle rounds, and arguably have greater needs on the defensive side of the ball. Outside linebacker Von Miller would undoubtedly be a tempting selection at the No. 3 spot, but the Bills are known to pull some surprises on draft day, and could very well look to acquire the best player available; in this case, the freak of an athletic specimen, Peterson, is that guy, and would almost certainly shore up what’s been a lackluster secondary in Buffalo.
4. Cincinnati Bengals: QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
Comments: Carson Palmer continues to make it clear that he’ll never play for the Bengals again, and while Cincinnati executives insist they will not give into their quarterback’s demands and put Palmer on the trading block, the situation as a whole just doesn’t look good, and it’s becoming more and more likely the team will pull the trigger on a quarterback of the future early in the 2011 draft. Even with Newton off the board, the Bengals would still have Gabbert available to choose, and many scouts consider the latter to be a better all-around prospect anyway. If they don’t opt to snag a signal-caller, however, look for Cincinnati to reel in the top-ranked wideout of the draft, A.J. Green.
5. Arizona Cardinals: OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M
Comments: The Cardinals could use a quarterback just as much as some of the teams ahead of them in the draft, and would almost surely run to the podium at Radio City Music Hall to select Gabbert or Newton if either player is available, but in this mock, both are off the board and so Arizona’s attention turns to another huge need—the team’s pass rush. Joey Porter isn’t getting any younger and didn’t make as big of an impact as the Cards would have liked in 2010 to begin with, and the club’s desire to bring in a top-notch blitzing specialist is becoming very evident. Miller, arguably the most dynamic rusher of his class, is a perfect fit for the Red Birds’ 3-4 scheme as an outside linebacker and would make immediate contributions.
6. Cleveland Browns: WR A.J. Green, Georgia
Comments: Cleveland desperately needs some help along the defensive line, especially since the team is moving to the 4-3 scheme this year, so guys like Da’Quan Bowers and Nick Fairley will definitely be tempting if they are still on the board at the sixth overall spot. However, team president Mike Holmgren is an offensive guy and the Browns could use a true No. 1 wide receiver. Green is the consensus top-ranked pass catcher in this year’s draft, and has drawn comparisons to NFL greats like Randy Moss and Keyshawn Johnson. With impressive size and a great skill set, he would give the Browns something to look forward to on the offensive side of the ball, and provide young QB Colt McCoy with a weapon to work with as he develops.
7. San Francisco 49ers: DT Nick Fairley, Auburn
Comments: The 49ers hold one of the toughest selections in the first round to mock. If somehow Peterson would fall to them, he would almost definitely be the pick for a San Francisco team that needs some long-term players in the secondary. Meanwhile, a quarterback is also a serious option, but both Newton and Gabbert, who head coach Jim Harbaugh reportedly recruited out of high school, are already taken in this mock draft. Unless the Niners fall deeply in love with Prince Amukamara and find him worthy of a top-10 pick, Fairley is probably the most likely option at No. 7. He isn’t necessarily an ideal 3-4 lineman, but has the versatility to line up at multiple positions and would bolster an aging defensive front.
8. Tennessee Titans: DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina
Comments: The Titans spent a first-round draft pick on defensive end Derrick Morgan last year, and Jason Babin broke loose with a double-digit sack total on the other end of the line, but the former suffered a serious knee injury as a rookie, and the latter is headed for free agency and doesn’t expect to be back as a result of the departures of Jeff Fisher and Jim Washburn as head coach and defensive line coach, respectively. So, unfortunately for Tennessee, one of the team’s main priorities is bolstering its pass rush. Quinn would do just that, despite some questions about his consistency after having just one spectacular year in college and sitting out 2010 due to a suspension.
9. Dallas Cowboys: OT Tyron Smith, USC
Comments: Many analysts see defensive lineman J.J. Watt as a perfect fit here, and he would make a ton of sense as the Cowboys’ selection. But I feel as though Dallas has finally realized that upgrades are needed along the offensive line, especially after a disastrous 2010 season, and could find a decent defender later in the draft because of the amount of depth of this year’s rookie class. So, going with the best offensive tackle available at this point in the mock, the ‘Boys get themselves a high-potential blocker in Smith, who has a lot of athleticism and would be a top-tier prospect for both the short- and long-term future.
10. Washington Redskins: WR Julio Jones, Alabama
Comments: To say the Redskins franchise is a mess would, in my honest opinion, be an understatement. Even if I wasn’t a follower of the Eagles, I’d most definitely agree that Washington has a ton of issues, and their first-round pick this year won’t solve everything. However, they would at least be stepping in the right direction by taking Jones, who has been on the rise as a prospect after an astounding workout at the Scouting Combine. Santana Moss is slated to become a free agent, and the ‘Skins could really use someone to throw to on offense; asking who will be doing the throwing brings up an entirely different issue, and one the team could address later in the draft or as the result of a trade to snag someone like Jake Locker, who’s been linked to D.C. quite a bit as of late.
11. Houston Texans: CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska
Comments: The Texans’ pass defense was torn to shreds in 2010, and they’ll assuredly be looking to bolster their secondary through the draft this year. High-potential blitzing prospects such as Cameron Jordan and Robert Quinn would undoubtedly garner consideration from the Houston front office if the draft plays out as this mock has, but with a potential shutdown corner in Amukamara on the board, this selection would probably be a sure bet. While he isn’t as athletically gifted as fellow defensive back Patrick Peterson, the Nebraska product is regarded as one of the most NFL-ready players set to be available in the 2011 draft, and has enough talent to develop into the mold of a Darrelle Revis type.
12. Minnesota Vikings: DE Da’Quan Bowers, Clemson
Comments: Like so many other teams in this year’s draft, the Vikings could use a quarterback, unless management truly believes in young, 2010 injury replacement Joe Webb, which seems extremely unlikely after head coach Leslie Frazier said the team will consider Kevin Kolb and others as trade options. However, Minnesota isn’t likely to have the benefit of choosing between the top players at the QB position at No. 12 overall, and is expected to address their underrated needs up front. Jared Allen is one of the best pass rushers in the league, but the club needs someone to start opposite him with Ray Edwards set to hit free agency and Everson Griffen likely to remain in a backup role. If Julio Jones or Tyron Smith ends up being available here, they could easily be targeted, but at this point in the first round, Bowers would be quite a value pick after once being considered a surefire top-three selection.
13. Detroit Lions: OT Nate Solder, Colorado
Comments: As much as I think the Lions could snag someone like Aldon Smith or Cameron Jordan to put a formidable pass rusher next to the monstrous Ndamukong Suh along the defensive line, the team seems to have realized that it simply cannot go on without adding a talented offensive lineman. QB Matthew Stafford hasn’t been healthy for a full season since coming into the league, and Detroit needs him to stay out of harm’s way to take the next step and compete in the NFC North. Solder is probably a reach at No. 13 in the first round, but has the potential to develop into a long-term left tackle and would be a solid fit in Motor City.
14. St. Louis Rams: DE Aldon Smith, Missouri
Comments: If Julio Jones is available at this point in the draft, I would almost guarantee he would be picked by the Rams, who have been unlucky and unfortunate in recent years when it comes to hosting a dangerous receiving corps. Even when they appear to have emerging standouts, injuries plague the team or something seems to cause disarray. However, with Jones off the board in this mock, St. Louis opts to shore up its defensive front with one of this year’s most raw, yet explosive blitzing specialists in Aldon Smith, who has been compared to the freakishly athletic Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul. Smith might not dominate early on, but he certainly has enough upside to develop into a productive starting pass rusher.
15. Miami Dolphins: RB Mark Ingram, Alabama
Comments: Ingram has been linked to the Dolphins and predicted to land in Miami so many times this offseason that I almost feel inclined to give the ‘Phins a different prospect in this mock. But there probably isn’t a more ideal fit in the 2011 draft than the Alabama running back as a member of the Dolphins. Undoubtedly one of the most complete rushers of his class who is credited for being a very NFL-ready player with a solid all-around skill set, Ingram would fill the void in the backfield that’s expected to be created by the predicted departure of both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams through free agency, and would take some pressure off whoever lines up under center for Miami in ’11.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars: DE Cameron Jordan, California
Comments: The Jags have been rumored to be targeting a quarterback of the future as their first-round pick, but taking someone like Jake Locker or Ryan Mallett at No. 16 would almost certainly be a reach, especially with the talent on the defensive side of the ball in the first few rounds. With the opportunity to take a guy like Christian Ponder or Andy Dalton in the later rounds, Jacksonville will likely look to bolster its D-line with a reliable prospect such as Jordan, who is considered a perfect fit as a 3-4 end but is praised for his versatility and has the ability to immediately step in as a defensive tackle as well.
17. New England Patriots: DE J.J. Watt, Wisconsin
Comments: As a result of intelligent front office moves, the Patriots are loaded with early picks in this year’s draft, and have two in the first round alone, so there’s really no telling which direction the club will look to follow first. They could use another offensive lineman, but they’ll probably wait until later in the draft to address that need if guys like Solder and Smith are already off the board at this point in the selection process, instead opting to bolster the defensive unit with a sturdy prospect who is an ideal fit in a 3-4 scheme as an end in Watt. A hard-working, forceful run stopper, the Wisconsin product is a perfect fit for the Patriots’ system.
18. San Diego Chargers: DT Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple
Comments: The Chargers should, and likely will, make the outside linebacker position a priority this offseason after losing the seemingly defunct Shawne Merriman and needing a tempo-setting pass rusher. Nonetheless, they also figure to stock up their defensive line with a prospect capable of lining up as both a tackle and end in San Diego’s system. Wilkerson, who flashed dominance against the run and pass for the Owls in his collegiate career, can do just that, and has been on the rise as a prospect over the last few weeks. Expect the Chargers to also consider Ohio State’s Cameron Heyward as the 18th pick if he’s available at this point, which is likely.
19. New York Giants: OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College
Comments: At one point, I thought the Giants would almost definitely go with someone like UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers with their first-round pick, and while they do need to upgrade an aged LB corps that’s not likely to include starter Keith Bulluck in 2011, all indications are that the team will opt to address the offensive line with the 19th overall selection. A versatile guy like Mike Pouncey could be an option, but Castonzo is one of the safest blocking prospects of his class and has enough talent to step in and make immediate contributions at the tackle position.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DE Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue
Comments: The Buccaneers took a defensive lineman with their first-round pick last year, but their pass rush remained unimpressive, and they’ve been unable to develop a top-tier blitzing specialist for several years now. A number of prospects could fit as the team’s selection, but Kerrigan is one of the rising ends of his class and has drawn comparisons to hard-working Pro-Bowl defenders like Aaron Kampman and Jared Allen. There’s a good chance Kerrigan could be off the board within the first 15 picks after a solid Scouting Combine showing, but if he’s available when Tampa Bay is on the clock, I have to believe he will be the pick, providing the Bucs with a long-term starting option in the trenches.
21. Kansas City Chiefs: DT Phil Taylor, Baylor
Comments: The Chiefs could opt to address either side of the line, but with a dominating presence like Taylor available in the late-first round, it’s hard not to see them making such a pick. A massive specimen at over 330 pounds, he surprisingly isn’t lacking in mobility, and fits the nose tackle position that Kansas City could use an upgrade at. With potential to be a productive, forceful starter at the professional level, Taylor would be a great selection for a team like the Chiefs, which is arguably just a few pieces away from legitimately competing in the playoffs. Another possibility at the No. 21 pick could be O-lineman Anthony Castonzo (if he lasts) or Akeem Ayers, if the team believes it definitely needs to bolster its pass rushing/linebacker unit.
22. Indianapolis Colts: OT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin
Comments: As perfect as the Colts seem to have been over the last decade or so, they’ve recently been worn down by injuries and some inconsistency, especially along the offensive line, and immediate improvements are necessary, especially if the team plans on Peyton Manning continuing to perform atop the league’s crop of starting quarterbacks for years to come. Nate Solder makes a lot of sense at this position in the mock draft, but since he’s already off the board, Carimi fits as a more-than-promising compensatory prize. The Wisconsin lineman doesn’t blow people away with his abilities, but finds ways to get the job done and has been praised for his aggressiveness in the trenches.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado
Comment: Last year, I failed with my prediction that the Eagles would take a cornerback in the first round of the draft, but I have confidence that won’t be the case in 2011. Offensive line is a pressing need, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the club make some trades to stock up on blockers in the rounds after the opener on April 28, but because of the uncertainty of the offseason and free agency, it’s become evident that Philadelphia will look to make changes in the secondary through the early parts of the draft. Smith has some character concerns after reportedly failing some drug tests in college, but worked out for the team and arguably has as much potential as any corner of his class with a physical frame and an exceptional press coverage technique. Also, make note, Eagles fans: do not be surprised if the Birds look to move up in the first round and go after someone like Prince Amukamara, a prospect they have expressed interest in.
24. New Orleans Saints: DT Corey Liuget, Illinois
Comments: Ideally built at the defensive tackle position and more athletic than most of his counterparts along the line, Liuget’s name hasn’t been mentioned that often in first-round draft discussions, but he possesses enough talent to be taken early, especially by a team like the Saints, which needs help up front and has a system that is practically built for a young prospect like the former Illinois standout.
25. Seattle Seahawks: QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas
Comments: If the new league year had already begun, there’s little doubt in my mind that Seattle would have acquired a new signal-caller. Matt Hasselbeck isn’t getting any younger, and Charlie Whitehurst doesn’t appear to be the Seahawks’ desired starting quarterback, or at least at this point in his career. And while Hasselbeck enjoyed a solid 2010 postseason, he’s scheduled to hit free agency, leaving the ‘Hawks in need of a reliable man under center. The team has other important priorities, but adding a top-notch QB to compete in the NFC West is crucial, so the club drafting one in the first round this April shouldn’t be a surprise. The main question is who they’ll take. Washington’s Jake Locker could certainly be an option here, but I believe Mallett is regarded as more of a first-round talent by most NFL scouts, and has the arm to shine as a first-string quarterback in the pros. His character issues have been questioned, but his skill set makes him a high-potential player with plenty of talent.
26. Baltimore Ravens: CB Brandon Harris, Miami (Fla.)
Comments: The Ravens have ignored the cornerback position for quite a while, opting not to make serious upgrades in the secondary, only to stumble throughout the season on the outside of the defensive backfield. It’s believed the team will finally make a move or two to shore up the CB spot this year, however, and Harris is arguably the best player available at this point in the mock draft…or at least the best player with the skills to make an impact in the secondary. While slightly undersized with a tendency to allow deep completions on passing plays, Harris has proven to be a productive, speed-based corner that has the potential to star in the NFL with a team that will utilize his abilities.
27. Atlanta Falcons: DE Justin Houston, Georgia
Comments: The Falcons have one of the league’s better defensive ends in John Abraham, but their need for another pass rusher is growing, and Houston is a solid fit at the 27th spot in the first round. Many have labeled him a one-trick pony in terms of his blitzing technique, but he has potential as both an outside linebacker and lineman, and has drawn comparisons to some of the NFL’s relentless D-ends, such as the Eagles’ Trent Cole. Atlanta is arguably a few pieces away from vying for the Super Bowl on a yearly basis, and the selection of Houston would bolster an already-capable defensive unit on a team that quietly dominated the league in 2010.
28. New England Patriots: OG Mike Pouncey, Florida
Comments: With their first pick in this mock draft, the Patriots addressed their primary defensive need by adding J.J. Watt, and at the 28th spot, I believe they’ll upgrade their offensive line if the actual event plays out as it has in this simulation. While guard Logan Mankins is likely to be back after being slapped with the franchise tag, New England could use some depth in the trenches. After all, the team’s got to keep Tom Brady (and his luscious locks of hair) healthy, right? Pouncey is the best lineman available at this point, and is athletically gifted like his older brother, Maurkice, who plays for the Steelers. With experience at the OG and center positions, he’d make a great late-first-round choice for a contending team like the Pats.
29. Chicago Bears: DT Stephen Paea, Oregon State
Comments: If Mike Pouncey is on the board at this pick, I’d almost guarantee the Bears would call his name and welcome him into the Windy City to shore up what was a horrendously inconsistent offensive line this past season. However, I doubt he’ll slip past New England at the previous spot, so Chicago might be forced to address another priority—defensive tackle. Paea is probably a reach in the first round, but the Bears rid of Tommie Harris this offseason and I personally don’t believe one of the remaining top-ranked blockers (i.e. Derek Sherrod) is their guy at the 29th overall selection. Paea is a monster in the middle of the line and would make the Bears’ defense, which is already an admirable unit, quite a force in the coming years.
30. New York Jets: OLB Akeem Ayers, UCLA
Comments: The Jets are in need of some pass rushing help, and while Ayers isn’t primarily considered a blitzing specialist (many see him as a 4-3 OLB-type player), he would be a quality value pick late in the first round and has the potential to develop into a long-term, play-making defender. Some big names on the team’s defense are scheduled to hit the free agent market, and bringing in a high-potential linebacker like Ayers, who stood out all over the field for the majority of his collegiate career, seems like a perfect move for New York, a team that already has an explosive defense and is expected to compete in the playoffs for years to come.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Aaron Williams, Texas
Comments: The Steelers could use some O-line help, and I’m pretty sure the team would pull the trigger on Pouncey if he somehow lasts until the second-to-last pick in the first round, but with few proven blockers worthy of a selection at this point, Pittsburgh would be best suited to bolster its secondary, which could be without its best cornerback, Ike Taylor, in 2011. By no means is Williams a lock to make an immediate impact in the secondary (in fact, his stock hasn’t exactly been improving over the last few months), but the former Longhorn has potential as both a corner and safety, and possesses enough athleticism to grow into a large role at the professional level. The Steelers have great coaches, and Williams would assuredly benefit from their instruction.
32. Green Bay Packers: DE Cameron Heyward, Ohio State
Comments: It’s hard to predict what position the 2010 Super Bowl champions will choose to address when they really don’t have a dire need on their roster. Running back could use an upgrade, but I don’t think Green Bay likes Mikel Leshoure or anyone else enough to take them in the opening round. Lineman Danny Watkins could be an option at this point, while Justin Houston would be a great fit if he’s available at the 32nd slot. Heyward is a solid defensive end prospect, however, who has the skill set to succeed in the Packers’ 3-4 scheme off the edge and eventually take over for an aging, oft-injured guy like Cullen Jenkins. The former Ohio State standout also has experience at the tackle position, so he could certainly have an impact in various roles in Wisconsin.
|7-Round Eagles 2011 Mock Draft|
|1 (23rd overall)||CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado|
|2 (54)||OG Benjamin Ijalana, Villanova|
|3 (85)||DE Sam Acho, Texas|
|4 (104)||OLB Lawrence Wilson, Connecticut|
|4 (120)||FS Jaiquawn Jarrett, Temple|
|5 (149)||RB Alex Green, Hawaii|
|5 (153)||WR Jeremy Kerley, TCU|
|7 (228)||OLB Doug Hogue, Syracuse|
|7 (236)||DT John Graves, Virginia Tech|
|7 (239)||QB Josh Portis, California (Pa.)|