Sean Tomlinson and I were planning to wait to release our mock drafts. We wanted to see if free agency would happen first, because obviously a lot can change during that process. But now that the lockout is officially underway and it looks as though the new league year won’t kick off until May or later, we’re jumping in.
Chances are, we’d be dead wrong with most of our picks either way.
Here’s a look at Tomlinson’s initial mock draft, and here’s mine…
1. Carolina Panthers: CB Patrick Peterson, LSU — Could Carolina be crazy enough to be the first-ever team to draft a corner first overall? With no quarterback standouts in this class, why not?
2. Denver Broncos: DT Nick Fairley, Auburn — Fairley and a healthy Elvis Dumervil would immediately transform a horrible front seven.
3. Buffalo Bills: OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M – Miller would be the perfect addition to Buffalo’s 3-4 scheme. Buffalo waits for the second round or next year to address its quarterback need.
4. Cincinnati Bengals: QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri — Gabbert and Cam Newton are very similar. I’m looking forward to seeing what Gabbert does at his Pro Day Thursday.
5. Arizona Cardinals: QB Cam Newton, Auburn — A.J. Green would make some sense, but they need to keep Larry Fitzgerald happy, rather than look for his replacement. Newton makes the most sense here, but I’d love to see Cincy drop down and take a guy like Ryan Mallett.
6. Cleveland Browns: DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama — And just like that, a major hole is filled with a guy who might have first overall pick talent.
7. San Francisco 49ers: CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska — I get the feeling San Fran would love Miller, but if he doesn’t fall to them they’ll likely take the best cornerback on the board.
8. Tennessee Titans: DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina – They used a first-round pick on Derrick Morgan last year, but with both top-tier quarterbacks gone, they add another in 2011. You can never have too many quality pass rushers.
9. Dallas Cowboys: DE Da’Quan Bowers, Clemson — With Peterson and Amukamara gone, the Cowboys look for trades. No takers? Bowers is the best player available.
10. Washington Redskins: WR A.J. Green, Georgia — Green is the best player on the board and just so happens to fill a major need in Washington.
11. Houston Texans: DE J.J. Watt, Wisconsin — It’s no secret that Houston needs to improve its secondary, but with no defensive backs up for grabs here, they give Mario Williams some support instead.
12. Minnesota Vikings: OT Tyron Smith, USC – A once-mighty offensive line was mediocre at times, horrible at others last year. With no guarantees at quarterback, they lend a hand to Bryant McKinnie and Phil Loadholt.
13. Detroit Lions: OT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin — Too early? Take a look at Detroit’s offensive line and tell me if it’s ever too early for a tackle.
14. St. Louis Rams: DE/OLB Aldon Smith, Missouri — He’d be a wonderful complement to Chris Long.
15. Miami Dolphins: RB Mark Ingram, Alabama — Legally, every mock draft in the country is required to have Ingram in this spot. Wouldn’t be shocked to see Mike Pouncey go here, either.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars: WR Julio Jones, Alabama – The Jags would be thrilled to see the Combine legend drop into their laps, especially with Mike Sims-Walker hitting the road.
17. New England Patriots: DE Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue – Their history of trading first-round picks tells me they probably don’t keep this pick. If they do, they keep building a young defence.
18. San Diego Chargers: DE Cameron Jordan, Cal — Jordan, who fits right in with the Chargers’ 3-4 defence, could become the new Shawne Merriman.
19. New York Giants: C/G Mike Pouncey, Florida — The entire Giants’ offensive line is getting old.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa — The Bucs have to keep building the defence. The pass rush was brutal last year.
21. Kansas City Chiefs: OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College — The Chiefs need a right tackle and potential future left tackle. Castonzo is one of five that could be available in this spot. (Tyron Smith and Gabe Carimi went earlier.)
22. Indianapolis Colts: OT Nate Solder, Colorado — Indy made a big mistake not drafting Rodger Saffold as a left tackle of the future late in the first round last year. They’ll try to make up for it this time.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado – The Eagles need a reliable cover corner. Character questions surround Smith, but he’s the best cover guy remaining.
24. New Orleans Saints: OLB Akeem Ayers, UCLA — The Saints need to bolster the front seven. Who they actually pick here is anyone’s guess. Don’t count out Justin Houston or Muhammad Wilkerson.
25. Seattle Seahawks: QB Jake Locker, Washington — The local boy stays in Washington. Fortunately for Locker, Pete Carroll wasn’t paying attention when he struggled in 2010. Carroll loved Locker the year prior.
26. Baltimore Ravens: OT Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State — And the final first-round-worthy offensive tackle goes to Baltimore, where Jared Gaither may have worn out his welcome and Michael Oher doesn’t work on the left side.
27. Atlanta Falcons: DE Justin Houston, Georgia – Atlanta could use another solid pass rusher, especially with John Abraham about to turn 33.
28. New England Patriots: CB Aaron Williams, Texas — The Pats keep building a weak secondary and lend Devin McCourty a helping hand.
29. Chicago Bears: G Danny Watkins, Baylor — The Bears need help all over the offensive line, and the Canadian Watkins might be the most versatile O-lineman in the draft.
30. New York Jets: DE Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple — Rex Ryan needs better ends, period.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Brandon Harris, Miami — What’s the deal with Ike Taylor? He’s slated to become a free agent.
32. Green Bay Packers: OLB Brooks Reed, Arizona — Reed would be an immediate upgrade over Frank Zombo. Don’t think he’ll fit in with the Pack? Just check out his hair.