More than halfway through the season, and the draft is still up in the air. This is the second installment of my mock draft series that will be released periodically throughout the 2010-2011 NFL season, leading up the the NFL Draft in April. Picks are made according to current standings and player projections. Don't forget to leave your thoughts and comments!
Sit back, relax, buckle your seat belt and enjoy the ride!
Georgia wide receiver: A.J. Green
No, this pick will not be Andrew Luck. The Panthers drafted Clausen as insurance, just in case Matt Moore's solid campaign at the end of the 2009 season was a fluke. Guess what...it was.
Green is arguably the best receiving prospect since Calvin Johnson and even Randy Moss. The guy is pure dynamite and will open up plenty of throwing lanes for Jimmy Clausen. Alas, Steve Smith will be a happy man.
LSU cornerback: Patrick Peterson
I would love to make this pick an offensive tackle, but the Lions have sold their souls to Jeff Backus, which is really unfortunate for Matthew Stafford. For those of you who didn't know, Backus allowed both sacks that caused Stafford to separate his shoulder.
Patrick Peterson has had a dominant year at LSU, showing himself to be a true cover-corner. He has good size at 6'1" and reminds me of a younger Nnamdi Asomugha.
Stanford quarterback: Andrew Luck
Oh, how the tables have turned on Carson Palmer. He is playing horrendous football this year, thanks in part to Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. They were more focused on their reality show than getting in sync with Palmer in the offseason.
Andrew Luck has been unanimously slotted the top quarterback in this year's class, but it all depends on whether or not he declares. Regardless, Marvin Lewis is surely on his way out of Cincinnati, and we can only assume that the new regime will want to have a young quarterback to build around.
If they stick with Palmer for the final year of his contract, this pick will most likely be a defensive end or tackle such as Robert Quinn or Marcell Dareus.
Alabama 3-4 defensive end: Marcell Dareus
This guy is the definition of a beast. He is nothing less than a bull on the defensive line, much like Richard Seymour in his New England dynasty days.
It's unfortunate that Ryan Fitzpatrick will probably be the starter in Buffalo next year, because Andrew Luck is a special quarterback, many calling him the best prospect since Peyton Manning...
Arkansas quarterback: Ryan Mallett
Did anyone else get a kick out of Derek Anderson's press conference after the Cardinals monday night loss to the 49'ers? That was absolutely hilarious.
Mallett is actually a lot like Derek Anderson—not very athletic, not very mobile, but he has a cannon of an arm. He is more like Peyton Manning in that regard, but his decision making and accuracy need more work before we can start comparing him to guys of Manning's stature.
North Carolina 3-4 outside linebacker: Robert Quinn
If you Google search "Robert Quinn" you may get the result "freak of nature." This guy is the definition of an athlete. The only downside is that he was suspended for the 2010-2011 season (along with numerous other Tar Heels) and thus has been away from football for a considerable amount of time. This didn't hurt Dez Bryant all that much, considering he is making play after play in Dallas this year.
After Elvis Dumervil went down with a season-ending injury, the Broncos season was instantly shot. Quinn will come in and help take pressure off Dumervil and help against the run, which has been a major problem for Denver this year. It's a good thing they drafted Tim Tebow right...
Miami 3-4 defensive end: Allen Bailey
Many have Nick Fairley rated higher than Bailey, but I just don't agree with that. Bailey is 110 percent motor all day, every day. An absolute monster on the line of scrimmage, he would be comparable to Ray Lewis in the sense of his intensity on the field.
Dallas may want to look at an offensive tackle, but they would have to trade down in order to do that, since none are worth taking in the top 15 this year.
Nebraska cornerback: Prince Amukamara
With Taylor Mays holding down in the middle of the field, the 49'ers could really use a guy on the outside to shut down the edges. Amukamara fits the bill and will take the place of an aging Nate Clements.
Washington quarterback: Jake Locker
With Brett Favre insisting he will retire (which isn't much of a surprise anymore) and a new regime likely in place next year, the new Vikings staff will put a young guy in place to build the franchise around. Plus, not many guys look good in purple, but Locker fits the bill.
Jake Locker has had his ups and his downs this year and would have benefited from declaring last year, but whats done is done and Locker looks to be a mid first-round pick. He plays like Ben Roethlisberger but has decision issues like J.P. Losman or an early Michael Vick.
Auburn 3-4 defensive end: Nick Fairley
Fairley has seen his stock rise this year, racking up stats on a talented Auburn team. Cleveland needs help in the front seven, and Fairley will do just that. This guy is a solid player—not much bust potential here.
Clemson defensive end: Da'Quan Bowers
Seattle has solid tackles, but their defensive ends are subpar at best. I mocked Derrick Morgan (now with Tennessee) to them last year...obviously my "expert" advice went unheard.
The Seahawks may also opt for a receiver such as Julio Jones or a defensive back like Janoris Jenkins.
Texas A&M 3-4 outside linebacker: Von Miller
Bill Belichick is usually savvy with his draft picks and will most likely trade one of his two first-round picks, but it would be really hard to pass on Von Miller here. His stats might not show it because he has been playing through an ankle injury all year, but he is dominant. He fits well as a 3-4 rush linebacker, which fills a big hole on the Pats defense.
Alabama wide receiver: Julio Jones
Whether it's Cutler or McNabb throwing passes in DC next year, a new target is needed. Jones is a big threat in the red zone and is known for his blocking abilities that will help the Redskins pathetic run game.
Oklahoma outside linebacker: Travis Lewis
Tennessee could do a number of things in this year's draft; it all depends on whether or not the franchise wants to make a Super Bowl run with the team they have now (plus a few guys), or if they want to take a break and build for a couple years.
Lewis is an upgrade over both starting linebackers on the Titans defense, but they might opt for a defensive back or even trade down.
Iowa defensive end: Adrian Clayborn
I would have liked to have made this pick a defensive back, but Clayborn is too good to pass on here. The Texans defense is atrocious, with the exceptions of Mario Williams and Brian Cushing. Clayborn will take pressure off Williams and allow the secondary to make plays by rushing the quarterback into quick decisions. The Texans will have a defensive line that will rival that of the Colts, with Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.
Purdue defensive end: Ryan Kerrigan
Kerrigan is a touchy prospect, in the sense that he isn't a great athlete but makes plays with his intensity and skill. He'll be a solid player, but I'm not sure that he'll ever amount to anything that special, much like Aaron Kampman.
Florida cornerback: Janoris Jenkins
Miami has had subpar play from its corners for years now. Jenkins is a local guy who will help out the Miami secondary and hopefully be able to take advantage of the mistakes caused by Koa Misi and Cameron Wake.
UCLA 3-4 outside linebacker: Akeem Ayers
Kansas City is another team that could go in multiple directions this year. With Tamba Hali slated to become a free agent (and demand a good amount of money), the team should and probably will re-sign him. With Mike Vrabel on the other side, the Chiefs could definitely use an upgrade. The only problem with Ayers is that he is a tad bit thin for an ideal 3-4 rush linebacker.
Texas cornerback: Aaron Williams
Travis Lewis would be the ideal pick for the Giants, but since he is gone and no other OLB is worth taking here, the team will most likely look to upgrade its inconsistent secondary. I thought about Stephen Paea here, but the Giants have a ton of money invested in their line already.
Boston College offensive tackle: Anthony Castonzo
Poor Bears. They really needed Castonzo (and will most likely trade up to get him). Tampa Bay needs a defensive end in the worst way, but none are worth taking here. They may look to trade up with a team like Dallas, Cleveland, Tennessee or New England. But seeing as though I cannot predict trades, this pick is Castonzo, who is by far the best player available. The Bucs could use help on the offensive line and are getting Castonzo for a pretty cheap price considering he is best suited to play right tackle, probably saving them a couple million dollars in the end.
Pittsburgh wide receiver: Jonathan Baldwin
Sam Bradford needs a big, reliable target in a bad way. Baldwin is a huge red zone threat at 6'5" and can stretch the field as well. The Rams could also use a linebacker but will be fighting with three or four other teams for Travis Lewis.
Oregon State defensive tackle: Stephen Paea
This pick is tricky due to last year's selection of Jerry Hughes. The Colts have a ton of money invested in their defensive ends, but lack ideal tackles that can stuff the run, much like the situation of the New York Giants. This could be a safety like Rahim Moore or Ras-I Dowling as well.
Mississippi State offensive tackle: Derek Sherrod
Potentially the best tackle in the class, Sherrod is oozing with athleticism but needs work on his technique. He could very well be picked in the top 15, but that will probably be decided after the NFL Combine. Chicago might want to use its first five picks on linemen...
Miami cornerback: Brandon Harris
Harris plays with the intensity of a top flight corner in the NFL, which will intrigue many of the scouts looking his way. He has the athleticism to cover just about any receiver he lines up against, but only stands 5'11" which is about two inches shorter than the other top corners in the class.
California 3-4 defensive end: Cameron Jordan
Depending on how the Vincent Jackson situation pans out, San Diego may opt for a new receiver. For now, Jordan is the best 3-4 defensive end available and fills a need for the Chargers.
Florida center/guard: Mike Pouncey
Too bad Steeler fans, the Pouncey brothers will not be playing side-by-side according to this mock. The Eagles could opt for a cornerback, but I think they will patch up their interior line.
Alabama running back: Mark Ingram
Ryan Grant may or may not be "fine" when he returns next season, but Mark Ingram is better. Aaron Rodgers has had "trouble" this year because teams aren't afraid of the Packers running backs, and with good reason. Ingram is a solid blocker and will carry the Packers to the Super Bowl in 2012.
Wisconsin offensive tackle: Gabe Carimi
Carimi is an iffy prospect because he is extremely unpolished. He lacks elite athleticism that would allow him to play left tackle, but he should do fine on the right side. Either way, the Steelers should be happy, Carimi is known for being a "mauler" in the run game, which will help out Rashard Mendenhall. Nate Solder is also an option, but he is more of a early-mid second-round prospect at this point.
North Carolina linebacker: Bruce Carter
Carter is a unique prospect; he has the ability to play all linebacker positions, which will really intrigue the Saints, who need help at outside linebacker. This pick could also be a defensive end or tackle, but no 4-3 linemen are worth taking here.
Ohio State 3-4 defensive end: Cameron Heyward
Heyward really should have declared last year, but it's too late now. He has lost his first-round grade by most accounts, but I think the Jets are a team that can take a chance on him. They have plenty of talent along their defense if he doesn't work out, so why not take the chance? No one questions Heyward's talent, it's all a matter of getting him not to take plays off.
Virginia cornerback / safety: Ras-I Dowling
I really liked Dowling last year, and I haven't changed my opinion this year; Dowling is a solid defensive back that can play both cornerback and safety. This is exactly what Atlanta needs, a guy in a Malcom Jenkins (Saints) mold who can make plays at both positions.
LSU offensive tackle: Joseph Barksdale
This pick is tricky because of the Matt Light situation. If he returns (which he won't), then this pick will be traded or used on an interior linemen, if he leaves (which he will), then this pick will probably be the best lineman on their board.