Reversal of Fortune: Predicting the First Round If the Order Was Reversed
It's no secret that it's hard to predict the first round of the NFL draft, let alone the top 10.
The team with the worst record goes first, and usually has so many holes their team looks like swiss cheese.
But what if it was the Super Bowl champions that got the first pick and not the worst team.
If that was the case, where would all the top prospects go? Who would experience free-falls with teams that have so many fewer needs?
1. Green Bay Packers: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
How nice it would be for the Packers if they had the first pick in the draft.
If they did, it would be a three-man race between Peterson, A.J. Green, and Von Miller.
Green would add to the offense, Miller would be a stud paired with Clay Matthews, and Peterson could learn from Woodson.
Drafting an elite corner and letting him learn from Woodson is too good to pass up on here.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
This is a tough pick.
At this point, cornerback and offensive line wouldn't really be worth taking.
So the Steelers go with the best player on the board, Marcell Dareus.
Dareus could learn from an experienced defense and take over the defensive line in a couple of years.
3. New York Jets: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
The Jets could be losing several free agents this year, including a couple of linebackers.
That leads them to take Miller, the most talented pass-rushing linebacker in the draft.
Miller can also drop back into coverage, and would be able to aid the Jets in trying to get back to another AFC Championship Game.
When your rival is Tom Brady, it's always good to have a great pass rusher.
4. Chicago Bears: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
Nick Fairley was at one point considered the top NFL prospect. Having said that, that was at a time when many were high on Fairley after his epic BCS Championship showing.
Fairley faces questions about his size, but that shouldn't deter the Bears from picking him.
With Tommie Harris becoming a free agent, the Bears have a gaping hole in the middle.
Fairley would fill it immediately.
5. New England Patriots: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Though Deion Branch has reconnected with Tom Brady, the Patriots don't really have any stud receivers besides him at the moment.
A.J. Green has shown that he is a large receiver with reliable hands.
If Brady has both Green and Branch, then the Patriots can definitely make a better run in the playoffs than they did last season.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Robert Quinn, DE, UNC
The Falcons defensive line has problems getting to the passer.
Robert Quinn does not.
Though he hasn't played in a year, Quinn would give Atlanta someone to be reckoned with in their front seven.
7. Baltimore Ravens: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
Even though they have one of the better defenses in the league, pass defense was not the Ravens' strength.
You might think that because they have Ed Reed they would be good, but the Ravens need to add a possible shutdown corner if they want to compete.
Prince Amukamara is the second-best corner in the draft, and had a good combine.
This would be a nice pick.
8. Seattle Seahawks: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
The Seahawks have several pressing needs as they only made the playoffs because they live in a division called the NFC West.
They could take Tyron Smith or a defensive player, but Hasselbeck is getting old.
Hasselbeck may last one more year, but probably won't be effective after that.
Newton would sit and then take over the reigns for the Seahawks.
9. New Orleans Saints: Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
Da'Quan Bowers might have been the number-one pick in the draft if it wasn't for his knee injury.
Marshawn Lynch tore through the Saints defense on that famous play, and the Saints must upgrade their defensive line.
Bowers could be a steal here, and the Saints would love it if he was in one of their jerseys.
10. Philadelphia Eagles: Tyron Smith, OT, USC
There wouldn't be much to say about this pick if it actually happened.
The Eagles need help on their offensive line. Michael Vick needs to stay healthy.
This would be a no-brainer.
11. Indianapolis Colts: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
There was a time when Nate Solder was considered the top offensive lineman in the draft.
Now, Tyron Smith is almost unanimously the top offensive lineman.
Since Smith is off the board and the Colts should try to keep Peyton Manning happy, Solder would be picked here.
12. Kansas City Chiefs: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
Julio Jones is the second-best WR in the draft, and actually closed the gap between himself and A.J. Green so much that some have Jones as the best.
The Chiefs already have Dwayne Bowe, and Jones could take some of the attention off of him.
Or, Bowe could take the attention off of Jones.
Either way, things would work out for the Chiefs.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
The Buccaneers are a young and upcoming team and should make a run for the playoffs next season.
If they want to get far though, they will need a new defensive end.
Watt is the best one left on the board, and they go with the best player of their biggest need.
14. New York Giants: Anthony Castonzo, OL, Boston College
Their once was a time when the Giants line was mighty, but they have fallen.
The Giants need to upgrade their offensive line, and take one of the more pro-ready offensive lineman in the draft.
Castonzo doesn't have too high of a ceiling, but would anchor the Giants line for a while if picked.
15. San Diego Chargers: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri
Aldon Smith is a long, athletic defensive end with a ton of potential.
The Chargers finished in the top five in most categories, but still couldn't make the playoffs.
Defensive end is a want for the Chargers, and the potential of Smith would be too good to pass up on.
16. New England Patriots: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Handyman Danny Woodhead was good last season, averaging about 5.5 ypc.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis was also good, topping 1,000 yards.
So why pick a running back?
Green-Ellis could be headed elsewhere, and isn't as good as many think. Woodhead was also good, but will struggle as people figure him out.
Mark Ingram would be of great value, and would be the featured back for the Patriots for at least five years.
17. Jacksonville Jaguars: Cameron Jordan, DE, California
The Jaguars seriously need to generate some pass rush.
Defensive end is a top priority, and Cameron Jordan is a workhorse who would be selected if available here.
Jordan also has NFL blood, as his father Steve Jordan played for the Minnesota Vikings.
18. Miami Dolphins: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Blaine Gabbert should've been a top-five pick, but in this mock draft the teams don't need him.
Gabbert takes a landing spot in Miami, where the Dolphins probably won't want to keep Henne.
The Dolphins might be able to struggle through another year with Henne while Gabbert adjusts from his spread-style offense to the pros.
19. St. Louis Rams: Ryan Kerrigan, DE/OLB, Purdue
Not only is Ryan Kerrigan a talented pass rusher, but he just never gives up on plays.
Kerrigan is more of a mix between an OLB and a DE, but could play either depending on which system he ends up in.
The Rams run a 4-3 defense which would probably make Kerrigan a defensive end.
Spagnuolo has developed good pass rushers in the past and could make Kerrigan one of the steals of the draft.
20. Detroit Lions: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
Jimmy Smith's problems don't lie in the talent department, they lie in the section devoted to character and work ethic.
Smith has faced questions about his character throughout his career, and they didn't go away after the combine.
But put that aside, and you have a super-talented cover corner.
21. Minnesota Vikings: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
Carimi is a mammoth. There is no other way to put it. At 6'7" and 314 pounds, Carimi is a force on the offensive line.
Carimi excels in run blocking, something that most Wisconsin lineman do. He is a good pass protector but should need to improve his footwork in order to become better.
The Minnesota Vikings would look to pick up an offensive lineman here, and they do with Gabe Carimi.
22. Houston Texans: Brandon Harris, CB, Miami
It may be a bit of a stretch here to take Brandon Harris but it should pay off.
The Texans were the worst pass defense in the league as opposing quarterbacks accumulated a 100.5 QB rating against their secondary.
There is no real way for the Texans' pass defense to get work, and they must take Harris here, even if it is a bit of a stretch.
23. Washington Redskins: Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple
There are many different positions at this point where the Redskins could use an upgrade.
Muhammad Wilkerson has been rising up the draft boards, and while he played for a small school, he should be able to be productive in the NFL.
The Redskins need someone besides Brian Orakpo to do something in their front seven, and the Redskins take him here.
24. Dallas Cowboys: Mike Pouncey, G/C, Florida
The two biggest holes on the Cowboys are their offensive line and their secondary.
Their isn't really a player in the secondary worth taking here, so they go with Mike Pouncey out of Florida.
Pouncey, like his brother, was a good offensive lineman in his time with the Gators.
Pouncey has versatility on the line, and could play several positions if the Cowboys need him to.
25. Tennessee Titans: Martez Wilson, ILB, Illinois
Stephen Tulloch is a free agent, and there is no telling if the Titans will be able to bring him back.
With Tulloch gone, the Titans have a bit of a hole at inside linebacker.
Wilson was a stud at Illinois, recording over 11 tackles in six of his games this past season.
Wilson would be thrust into playing time with the Titans and could be an instant impact player.
26. San Francisco 49ers: Corey Liuget, DT/DE, Illinois
Back-to-back Illinois standouts would be taken in this type of mock draft.
Liuget is one of the top DTs in this year's draft and may be able to make the transition to DE, but the 49ers wouldn't need him to in this case.
Liuget was more of a run stuffer than a pass rusher, but wasn't bad at either.
Liuget is a well-rounded DT and looking as if the 49ers need one, than Liuget gets picked here.
27. Cleveland Browns: Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
Torrey Smith is a borderline first-round pick, but the Browns desperately need a huge playmaker on offense.
The Browns seem to have found their quarterback of the future in Colt McCoy, but they need someone who will give McCoy a target for years to come.
Torrey Smith is a speedy wideout and could be able to fill that hole for the Browns.
28. Arizona Cardinals: Rodney Hudson, OG, Florida State
Though the Cardinals need one, it appears that Ken Whisenhunt wasn't particularly impressed with the QBs in this draft class.
The other big need for the Cardinals is an offensive guard, and they can afford to take one of the better ones, Rodney Hudson, with this late of a pick.
Hudson performed well for the Seminoles, and the Cardinals can only hope he'll do the same for them.
29. Cincinnati Bengals: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
Clayborn was supposed to be one of the best prospects coming into 2011, but didn't live up to the hype.
His previous success still keeps him in the first round, but his senior season didn't go as many expected.
The Bengals need a WR badly and Randall Cobb is certainly an option, but they also need a defensive end and Clayborn might be the best player left on the board.
30. Buffalo Bills: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
Derek Sherrod is a battle-tested junior who does everything well but nothing spectacular.
Sherrod played left tackle and started most games for Mississippi State.
The Bills need a QB and could take Jake Locker, but decide to go with the safer pick in Sherrod.
31. Denver Broncos: Justin Houston, DE, Georgia
Houston has bulked up and seems committed to playing defensive end in the NFL. I don't think many teams will object to that.
With John Fox moving in, he would look to select a defensive end at this point in the draft, one of the many holes the Broncos have.
Houston shot up the boards with a great junior campaign and would look to start immediately for the Broncos.
32. Carolina Panthers: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
Akeem Ayers is one of the top true outside linebackers in the draft.
Ayers has good coverage skills and is a good pass rusher, but has fallen down the draft boards after his showing at the combine. He ran a 4.9 in the 40-yard dash and didn't have many reps on the bench press for a linebacker.
Outside linebacker is one of the many needs for the worst team in the NFL and Ayers ends up being the last pick in the first round in this scenario.
The 2011 NFL Draft will be an entertaining event to watch as there are always players falling and players rising up the boards.
It wouldn't be very fair if this was the actual draft order, but it would be something fun to think about.
If you liked this mock draft and want to see a real one, look no further.