In my second mock draft, 22 picks changed. In two weeks, I’ll be back with another one. Expect about 22 more changes. In almost all cases, expect me to be wrong. Here’s Tomlinson’s latest mock draft, here’s my last mock draft, and here’s the newbie…
1. Carolina Panthers: CB Patrick Peterson, LSU — I continue to stubbornly insist that the Panthers are going to come to their senses and realize that the gap separating Blaine Gabbert/Cam Newton from the handful of quarterbacks available later is too small. And then they’ll take the best players available in this class.
2. Denver Broncos: DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama — With Peterson off the board the Broncos go with the highest-ranked defensive lineman in the draft. Dareus would immediately make an impact as Denver moves back to a 4-3.
3. Buffalo Bills: OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M — My gut tells me they’ll take Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert. I’m hoping they smarten up and take the safer route.
4. Cincinnati Bengals: WR A.J. Green, Georgia — No way Mike Brown lets Carson Palmer get off that easy.
5. Arizona Cardinals: QB Cam Newton, Auburn — Ordinarily, I’d expect the Cards to make a run at a veteran like Kevin Kolb and draft a receiver like A.J. Green. This year, they likely won’t have that opportunity.
6. Cleveland Browns: DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina — He didn’t play in 2010, but at least he doesn’t come with the injury questions that are plaguing Da’Quan Bowers.
7. San Francisco 49ers: DT Nick Fairley, Auburn — I wouldn’t be surprised if the Niners took Da’Quan Bowers or Prince Amukamara, either. It’ll be all about the defence.
8. Tennessee Titans: QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri — Something tells me that between now and Apr. 28, Gabbert’s stock will drop. I’m likely wrong.
9. Dallas Cowboys: WR Julio Jones, Alabama — I still think the Cowboys do everything possible to trade this pick. But with the wide receiver position unsettled beyond Miles Austin, Jones makes some sense here.
10. Washington Redskins: QB Jake Locker, Washington — Locker goes from one Washington to another. With Green, Jones, Newton and Gabbert off the board, I would expect the ‘Skins to attempt to trade down and take Jake later in Round 1. If that doesn’t happen, they’ll snatch him up here.
11. Houston Texans: CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska — Merry Christmas, Wade Phillips. If San Fran, Tennessee and Dallas pass, there’s no way the Texans let Prince drop any further.
12. Minnesota Vikings: DE Da’Quan Bowers, Clemson — The Vikings are getting quite long in the tooth on the defensive line. Bowers’ big slide is Minnesota’s gain.
13. Detroit Lions: OT Tyron Smith, USC – Smith is quickly emerging as the undisputed best tackle in this draft, and it’s time the Lions add some protection for the brittle Matthew Stafford.
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 – The run-first Dolphins offence adds a running back of the future instead of another quarterback of the future.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars: DE J.J. Watt, Wisconsin — This is a best-player-available pick, but a good one. The Jags still aren’t out of the woods as far as their pass rush goes.
17. New England Patriots: DE Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue — And yet another best available player who also happens to fill a need. Still, I highly doubt the Pats keep this pick.
18. San Diego Chargers: DE Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple — His stock is rising quickly, and he’d make a perfect 3-4 end.
19. New York Giants: C/G Mike Pouncey, Florida — The entire Giants’ offensive line is getting old.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DE Cameron Jordan, Cal – The Bucs’ pass rush still has a ways to go. Yes, they’d probably like to take a corner in light of Aqib Talib’s problems, but only Jimmy Smith is good enough for this spot … and he has character concerns of his own.
21. Kansas City Chiefs: NT Phil Taylor, Baylor — You can’t succeed in a 3-4 without a big, strong nose tackle. The Chiefs have a perfect opportunity to fill that hole here.
22. Indianapolis Colts: OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College — Lucky for the Colts, everyone’s passing on tackles in this make-believe draft. Indy will almost certainly take the best one available, regardless of how many have gone off the board.
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: DT Corey Liuget, Illinois — The Shaun Rogers signing indicates that they aren’t happy with who’s clogging things up, and I don’t think they trust Rogers in that role long term. Liuget stops sliding.
25. Seattle Seahawks: OT Nate Solder, Colorado — They wait for Round 2 to snatch up a potential quarterback of the future. It’s a toss-up between Solder, Gabe Carimi and Derek Sherrod. That’s right, a three-sided coin.
26. Baltimore Ravens: OT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin — Offensive tackle is clearly Baltimore’s biggest need. Jared Gaither may have worn out his welcome and Michael Oher doesn’t work on the left side.
27. Atlanta Falcons: DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa — Atlanta could use another solid pass rusher, especially with John Abraham about to turn 33.
28. New England Patriots: OT Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State — It’s unlikely the Pats use both first-round picks on the front seven, so with this pick they’ll start rebuilding an offensive line that is in flux.
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. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bears waited and took Oregon defensive tackle Stephen Paea instead.
30. New York Jets: OLB Akeem Ayers, UCLA — The Jets’ pass rush is overrated. They need to improve at defensive end and outside linebacker. Justin Houston would be a good pick here, too.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Aaron Williams — With all the good tackles gone, the Steelers address their need at cornerback with the versatile Williams. This guy just plays like a Steeler.
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.