With the 2011 NFL Draft just days away, speculation is in high gear. Rather than simply write yet another mock draft, I decided to write out a few of what I think are the worst-case scenarios for each team.
Without further ado:
1. Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton
When you have a pick this high, it is typically wise to take someone you are quite sure about. Remember the Raiders and JaMarcus Russell?
A wise pick that won't hurt them would be A.J. Green or Marcell Dareus. Even Patrick Peterson would be a bit savvier than taking this make-or-break QB.
2. Denver Broncos: Blaine Gabbert
The rumor about John Elway wanting another quarterback in Denver hopefully isn't true. Even if Gabbert does pan out (I doubt he will), the Broncos will essentially be wasting several picks from a year ago when they got Tim Tebow and this one.
They would be better served to take Marcell Dareus here.
3. Buffalo Bills: Nick Fairley
The Bills and Fairley haven't been tied together too often, mostly because it sounds as if Gabbert or Von Miller is going to be one of the guys taken here.
But if Dareus is gone, there is a chance Buffalo would entertain thoughts of drafting Fairley. After all, it wasn't that long ago that he was being called the draft's best prospect.
4. Cincinnati Bengals: Julio Jones
Green is the best receiver in this draft. Get that set in your head, Marvin Lewis.
Jones is the typical "workout warrior" who comes around for every draft. What we know about those guys is that football numbers never live up to athletic numbers.
Jones should not be considered a top-10 pick.
5. Arizona Cardinals: Blaine Gabbert
Yes, Gabbert is being mentioned twice in this article. No one should be considering him in the first round, let alone the top 10.
Alas! He will go far sooner than he deserves. If the Cards play their, umm, cards right, they will avoid this future bust.
6. Cleveland Browns: Da'Quan Bowers
Bowers could very well be rubbing the pre-draft criticism he is receiving in everyone's face one day.
However, his knee could also go to Hell like everyone thinks it will. In that case, the Browns had better look at Robert Quinn for their pass-rushing needs.
7. San Francisco 49ers: Jake Locker
Yes, it is possible that with two quarterbacks likely gone and teams planning to deal back into the first round for quarterbacks, the 49ers could miss out if they don't take one here.
Locker should not go this high, but at the worst, San Fran should be one of the teams dealing up later.
8. Tennessee Titans: Ryan Mallett
The pre-draft rumors are starting to swirl with this marriage, but the Titans would be wise to take the best player available since they need plenty.
Mallett could very well be considered a great pick in the future, but the point of a draft is to get as much as you can, and the Titans would fail if they took Mallett here.
9. Dallas Cowboys: Mike Pouncey
I think it is hilarious that not only is Pouncey being open about the Cowboys' interest in him, but that he expects them to draft him ninth overall.
In any book, a C/OG does not go this high. Dallas has some needs, and while his position is one of them, biting this early is just sinful.
10. Washington Redskins: Aldon Smith
Don't count this one out.
I think if Quinn is gone, the Redskins might actually make this pick. And even though Smith is extremely talented, I just don't understand the idea of taking players who have not shown a great understanding of the game.
Smith reminds me of Vernon Gholston, so buyer beware.
11. Houston Texans: Jimmy Smith
If Peterson and Prince Amukamara are gone, the Texans may turn to Plan B, which all Houston fans better hope is not Smith.
While he is very talented, he comes with baggage. He also has not shown great ball-handling skills, and while that doesn't make him a bad corner, it does make him an unexceptional one.
12. Minnesota Vikings: Cameron Jordan
This is one of the picks where it seems that the happy-go-lucky storyline has taken over common sense.
Jordan really shouldn't have been given a first-round grade, at least not based on his actual football numbers as a pass-rusher. The Vikings would be better served addressing other areas or trading down, but it just might happen that they take the overrated DE from Cal at No. 12.
13. Detroit Lions: Da'Quan Bowers
Bowers surfaces yet again.
The Lions are starting to show life for the first time in a long time. All they need to do is have a good draft here. They don't even need to blow it out of the park; they just need to do all right.
Bowers is hit or miss, and if they miss, then they leave themselves empty-handed. If Ryan Kerrigan can be had, he would be what they need beyond doubt.
14. St. Louis Rams: Torrey Smith
You think this is absurd, right? I agree.
But if the coveted Jones is gone, the Rams may feel overly desperate about getting Sam Bradford a go-to guy. Smith is a late-first-round to early-second-round prospect.
But the Rams could examine other options. Hopefully they don't overreact and do something crazy here.
15. Miami Dolphins: Mark Ingram
Okay, I know Ingram is pretty good. But there are going to be several other running backs with high potential available as late as the third round, due to the passing attack offense that is taking over the league.
So why bite on a guy like this so early?
Miami isn't desperate for anything except a quarterback, so they should start there.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Adrian Clayborn
The Jags need pass-rushers to help them get over the hump and into the playoffs.
Clayborn put up great numbers a couple of seasons ago, but struggled as a team's top target. Jacksonville doesn't have someone who can carry the double-teams, and thus Clayborn would more than likely be rendered nonexistent.
17. New England Patriots: J.J. Watt
New England would probably regret this pick. Watt is going to be solid against the run for sure, but that's not what New England is needing. They need pass-rush.
Watt is not going to be a rushing threat at the next level, as he hardly was one in college.
This is the pick that is of the least amount of value. None of the guys they really want are left, so expect them to trade. If they take Watt, it will go down as a misstep.
18. San Diego Chargers: Phil Taylor
Big Phil is going to be a great player on first downs.
After that, his conditioning and laziness will make him a headache to the defensive coordinator. Taylor should be looked at in the second round, not the first. If the Chargers were wise, they would consider Justin Houston instead.
19. New York Giants: Anthony Castonzo
If he hasn't been picked yet, Castonzo had better be a pass right here.
He is one of the guys I see being a big bust down the road. New York can't afford to leave Eli Manning without enough time to call up Peyton before each snap for directions.
Castonzo won't be able to give him that time.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kyle Rudolph
There is a chance that with Kellen Winslow's injuries and inconsistency, the Bucs are looking to draft a tight end for insurance.
But taking another injury-prone player to back up an injury bug isn't smart. Still, there is a chance that with Rudolph's ability, the Bucs would take him.
If you are a fan of the Bucs, write to your local head coach and say, "NO!"
21. Kansas City Chiefs: Christian Ponder
Haven't heard of this, have you?
You have heard that the Chiefs' brass was very upset with Matt Cassel, though.
Does that mean they are upset enough to draft a new quarterback? Maybe.
Ponder is by no means a bad pick, let me clarify that. But if the Chiefs burn a first-round pick on a QB while they still have problems on the team elsewhere, it would hurt them down the road.
22. Indianapolis Colts: Nate Solder
The Colts are no stranger to underperforming offensive tackles.
Solder put up the best combine numbers for his position, but that really doesn't mean anything. He was dominated during Senior Bowl week against the top competition, and that shows more than jumping and running in shorts does.
Solder would be a steal in the second round if a team can play him on the right side, but at pick No. 22, the Colts would be better off with Gabe Carimi.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: Nate Solder
The Eagles could be facing the same dangerous situation that just faced the Colts.
If Indianapolis is smart enough to pass, then Eagles fans better be hoping Andy Reid makes the same decision and goes with another option.
Of course, the options are fewer if Carimi and Tyron Smith are gone.
24. New Orleans Saints: Cameron Heyward
It is possible that the Saints will be looking for a solid defensive end. If that's the case, it would be wiser to wait until Round 2 and take Sam Acho of Texas.
Heyward is one of the guys on my black list. If he isn't a bust, it will be due to defending well against the run. But pass-rush is what the Saints are after, so be praying against this pick, New Orleans fans.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Andy Dalton
With so many trades and dealings, the Seahawks would be better served to try and get something back instead of reaching again, like they did with Charlie Whitehurst.
Dalton will be a solid quarterback, and he actually reminds me of Jon Kitna. But he doesn't belong in the first round, even though this is more likely to happen than most people realize.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Aaron Williams
Williams is one of my favorite players, but unfortunately he isn't going to play corner, which is what the Ravens need more than anything right now.
Of course, safety is a position of need, but with no previous experience, there is no certainty that Williams can do that for them either.
Rahim Moore would be a better pick, but Baltimore might hope Williams can in fact play corner.
And that is where they would trip.
27. Atlanta Falcons: Christian Ballard
It is very possible that the potential upside of Ballard could lead him into the first round, and it is very possible that the Falcons would be the team to pick him, too. There is nothing there at this point that could warrant such reach.
However, the Falcons draft for need, and this position is a need.
28. New England Patriots: Danny Watkins
Once considered a second-round prospect, Watkins seems to have jumped into the first round overnight.
He is a fine player except for two things.
First, he simply isn't going to be an elite right tackle like some people are trying to say, and that is what the Patriots would want him to be.
Second, he is 26 years old. That's practically the cemetery in this sport.
Just kidding. But seriously...
29. Chicago Bears: Derrick Sherrod
The Bears will undoubtedly take Sherrod if he is the last offensive lineman left.
But the need factor outweighs the reward.
Sherrod, at best, would play a good right tackle, but the Bears need someone to guard Jay Cutler's blindside. A better solution would be a wide receiver. However, I wouldn’t count on them passing on Sherrod here.
30. New York Jets: Akeem Ayers
The Jets recently cut ties with Vernon Gholston, the linebacker they drafted to rush the passer. Now they may be considering another linebacker who isn't great at creating pressure up front.
Don't get me wrong, Ayers is a great prospect. But he isn't the 3-4 rushing linebacker the Jets need.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Rodney Hudson
Like Chicago, the Steelers face a conundrum on the offensive line.
If they are smart, need won't get in the way of making a sound pick.
If they dont stick to their guns though, the Steelers could be looking at a first-round miss if they take Hudson here.
32. Green Bay Packers: Bruce Carter
I recently saw a mock draft where Carter landed in Green Bay.
This was confusing to me. The Packers already have plenty of linebackers and in no way should entertain Carter over a pass-rush threat such as Brooks Reed.
Sure, Carter will be good, but first round to Green Bay?