Over at NFLSoup.com, we're putting out our final NFL mock drafts and making any necessary adjustments to player profiles, player rankings and big boards. Today, however, we thought we'd add some life to the whole "mock scene," as NFLSoup's own Taylor Smith joins me in our first-ever LIVE NFL Mock Draft.
We're rolling through the first and second round with picks and analysis for all 32 NFL teams, as Taylor and I switch picks for each team, taking over the reins for each franchise and make the best educated pick possible in preparation for the real thing.
Hit the links for team needs and player profiles, and enjoy the live mock!
The Panthers will be looking for a new face of their franchise, and Newton fits the bill. There are certainly questions about his mental makeup and throwing mechanics, but no player in this class has a ceiling as high as Newton's.
There's talk about Denver wanting a quarterback, but that's likely a smoke screen. If they go quarterback, it simply won't be in this round. At two, Denver needs to address defense. That means its likely down to Patrick Peterson, Von Miller, and Marcell Dareus. Given how weak Denver's defensive line is, getting a big man in the middle like Dareus is key.
Buffalo may be looking hard at Blaine Gabbert with this pick, but with the way Ryan Fitzpatrick performed last season, a QB doesn't need to be at the top of the Bills' draft board. The Bills struggled mightily to get pressure on the quarterback last season, so a pass-rush specialist like Miller would be an ideal addition.
I can see A.J. Green here, but what's the point in getting an elite receiver when you have no one to throw to him? I don't think Carson Palmer is bluffing about retirement, and the Bengals need to make the right move by getting a quarterback for the future. They can't be sad about having Gabbert fall into their laps.
Which quarterback should go first?
Gabbert would've been a nice fit here, but with the Bengals having snatched him up, Peterson isn't a bad consolation prize. Many believe him to be the best overall player in this class, and the Cardinals couldn't stop anybody through the air last season. This gives Arizona a potentially dynamic duo on the outside with Peterson alongside Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Cleveland has zero play-makers on offense. Mohamed Massaquoi could benefit greatly from a stud number one option across from him, but isn't consistent or a major threat on his own. A lot of people don't buy into Green because he's not necessarily an ideal fit for the Browns' offense, but the guy makes plays. He also happens to be the best receiver in this draft, and Cleveland is hurting at the position. Easy call if he's here.
This is an interesting spot for the 49ers, because they could go several different ways. Jake Locker, Nick Fairley and Robert Quinn are all intriguing options, but Amukamara fills what is likely the team's biggest need. Jimmy Smith's stock is on the rise, but I still feel like Amukamara will be the second corner off the board.
Tennessee badly needs a quarterback with Vince Young not coming back, but they'll probably seek out a veteran quarterback, while maybe adding one later in the draft. With this pick, though, they can't afford to pass up a guy that many compare to former Titan Albery Haynesworth. Fairley has the talent to go number one overall, and the Titans get a steal here.
Doug Free enjoyed a nice first season as the Cowboys' starting left tackle, but they're aging all over the rest of the O-line. Jerry Jones would love to find a way to get his hands on Patrick Peterson, but he's long gone. Tony Romo was getting knocked around throughout last season, and broke his clavicle as a result of porous play from the offensive line. Smith should come in and help shore that up a bit.
Mike Shanahan appears to be enamored with Locker, and Washington clearly has a major need at the quarterback position. I'll hear cases for Julio Jones or a stud defensive end, but in my opinion, this is exactly the guy the Redskins are after with this pick, as Locker is a perfect fit for Shanahan's offense.
The Texans will be looking to add a dynamic pass-rushing outside linebacker to Wade Phillips' new 3-4 scheme, and would be thrilled to see Robert Quinn fall right into their hands at No. 11. He's one of the best athletes in this draft, and, despite having been suspended for the entire 2010 season, appears ready to come in and contribute right away.
Is this a reach? Maybe, but Minnesota badly needs something to look forward to or possibly lean on in 2010 at quarterback, and Mallett has the big arm and size you look for. I think the Vikings like Jake Locker a little more, but with the quarterback crop in this class thinning fast, they'll deliver a knee-jerk reaction and grab their guy here.
As mentioned earlier, Smith's stock is on the rise, and the Lions will be able to fill one of their biggest needs by taking him at No. 13. He's very good in run support, and has the potential to be a shutdown corner on the outside.
Sam Bradford needs a true play-maker on offense, and Jones more than fits the bill. He has the talent to go in the top-five, but necessity will have him drop. If the Redskins don't take him at 10, Rams fans can rejoice; Jones will be coming to St. Louis.
I feel like this is where Ryan Mallett will go if he falls here, but the Dolphins will be happy with Ingram if not. There are some concerns about the former Heisman winner's surgically reconstructed knee, but with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams seemingly on their way out of town, Ingram is the guy.
You'll see a lot of Ryan Kerrigan in mocks, and that's definitely possible, but Bowers is a top-five talent when you take away his health concerns. Jaguars need more help on their defensive line, and Bowers figures to be a tremendous value pick. This is the kind of situation where you could look back in 4-5 years and easily cit Bowers as the steal of the draft. That remains to be determined, but for now, Jacksonville at least addresses their pass rush.
What should the Patriots do with the 17th pick?
With Logan Mankins likely entering his final season with the Patriots, it's time to start looking for his replacement. Pouncey is undoubtedly the best interior offensive lineman in this draft, and would be an ideal fit in New England. The rich get richer here.
You can argue for Ryan Kerrigan or J.J. Watt, but I still think Heyward is the best fit on the defensive line for the Chargers. Regardless, San Diego badly needs help on the line, and Heyward is a beast who can help immediately.
New York loves to beef up that defense, but their offensive line is starting to show some serious age. Castonzo is one of the most experienced linemen in this class, having started at Boston College for four years. The Giants' O-line youth movement begins here.
Who should Tampa draft at No. 20?
Tampa Bay was rumored to be at least slightly entertaining the thought of bringing in a 37-year old Simeon Rice, so you know they are hurting on the defensive line. Ryan Kerrigan and J.J. Watt deserve arguments here, but Jordan is arguably the more talented player. He could go in the top-10, but he falls here and the Buccaneers pounce.
Justin Houston is a tantalizing choice, but Kerrigan seems like the safer choice. The Chiefs have been revamping their defense through the draft for the last several years, and they'll continue to get stronger here. Mike Vrabel doesn't have many productive years left, so Kerrigan is a logical choice.
Indy needs to address their offensive line at some point, but when Watt falls into their lap, they'll have to pull the trigger. Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis won't be around forever, while Watt could be used immediately in a deeper rotation.
Michael Vick's great elusiveness helped mask the deficiencies of the Eagles' offensive line, but it needs to be addressed in this draft. Solder is still very raw, but he's immense and has very good athleticism to boot. He'll likely have to start his career on the right side of the line, but has the potential to be a top-tier left tackle someday.
New Orleans needs to improve their run defense. They got smashed up by Marshawn Lynch, of all running backs, and Sedrick Ellis just can’t do it all on his own all the time anymore. Time to get some talent and youth on the inside of that line.
This is where the real quarterback frenzy begins. Ponder's stock has been steadily on the rise since the Senior Bowl, and the Seahawks will jump on him here. Matt Hasselbeck will still likely be the starter for the immediate future, so Ponder will have time to learn and grow with a clipboard in his hands.
The Ravens don't have a ton of holes to address, so why not attack a position of strength? Sheard is athletic and versatile, and could be that new terrorizing defender in Baltimore we'll all be talking about. Brooks Reed could be here, too, but I think Baltimore will appreciate Sheard's versatility a little bit better.
27. Atlanta Falcons (13-3) - Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri
Depending on circumstances, we could see Smith shoot all the way up to No. 11. However, the Falcons get a gift when he tumbles to them here. He's still extremely raw technique-wise, but his athleticism and motor have teams intrigued. John Abraham won't be around forever, so Smith makes sense.
The Patriots more than likely trade out of this pick, but if they stick here, it's a great spot to land the falling Liguet. New England could use another body to throw in the mix on their defensive line, drug allegations be damned.
Carimi has often been linked to Philadelphia at No. 23, but with the Eagles opting for Nate Solder, the Bears wind up with the more seasoned player. The Bears allowed an NFL-high 56 sacks last season, so keeping Jay Cutler upright and alive should be at the top of their agenda heading into next season.
The Jets don't know for sure if they'll have either Santonio Holmes or Braylon Edwards back, so suddenly receiver is looking to be a major hole. Baldwin is a big, strong target that could take Edwards' place and be an impact play-maker.
Corner is the Steelers' primary weakness, as evidenced by Aaron Rodgers' demolition of their defense in the Super Bowl. Williams' stock has been climbing a bit, and a visit between the two parties reportedly went well last week. Williams can step in and make an impact right away.
Justin Houstin should be gone by now or would be the pick here, but drug allegations are a red flag for Ted Thompson and co. Brooks Reed has been compared to Green Bay pass rusher Clay Matthews, and his similar gold locks will look just right on the opposite side.
33. New England Patriots (from Carolina) - Justin Houston, DE/OLB, Georgia
The positive marijuana test hurt Houston's stock a bit, but he's too much of a talent to fall past the Patriots here at No. 33. They passed on outside linebackers with their first two selections, and get a first-round caliber player here at the top of round two.
34. Buffalo Bills - Brandon Harris, CB, Miami
Buffalo's secondary was one of their few decent areas last season, but they were 32nd in the league in interceptions. Harris is a quick, playmaking corner with the ability to grow into a real dynamite stopper.
35. Cincinnati Bengals - DeAndre McDaniel, SS, Clemson
What should the Bengals take at 35?
Roy Williams was a starting safety for the Bengals last season. Need I say more? Cincy would love to be able to nab a wide receiver here to pair with first-round pick Blaine Gabbert, but without a clear-cut choice, they address the secondary.
36. Denver Broncos - Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame
Denver doesn't have a tight end worth mentioning, so that needs to be an area of concern. Kyle Rudolph is the top tight end on the board and should be able to start immediately.
37. Cleveland Browns - Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
The Browns will need a penetrating defensive tackle for the 4-3 defense, and Paea fills that void nicely. He had a tear in his right lateral meniscus that kept him out of the Senior Bowl, but that won't cause him to slip very far.
38. Arizona Cardinals - Andy Dalton, QB, TCU
The Cardinals will likely add a veteran quarterback to start in 2011, but I still don't think their quarterback of the future is on their current roster. Andy Dalton isn't a sexy pick, but he looks to be a good fit for Arizona's offense.
39. Tennessee Titans - Rodney Hudson, G/C, Florida State
Tennessee addressed the defensive line with their first-round pick, and will switch over to the offensive side here. Hudson can play any interior position, but would likely slide in at guard for the Titans. Their current guards are fairly weak, so Hudson is an immediate upgrade.
40. Dallas Cowboys - Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
Dallas got their big guy on the offensive line in Tyron Smith, and now they turn it right back around and beef up their defensive line with a stud in Taylor.
41. Washington Redskins - Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
Santana Moss is still a productive player, but the Redskins have very little to work with outside of that. Smith is a very fast receiver, and, while a bit raw, has plenty of talent to groom.
42. Houston Texans - Davon House, CB, New Mexico State
Everyone knows how bad the Texans' secondary was in 2010. They could go safety here, too, but I think a talented cover corner like House would be more useful.
43. Minnesota Vikings - Bruce Carter, OLB, North Carolina
Minnesota still has plenty of talent in their linebacking corps, but thats an area in which you can never have too much depth. Carter was a tackling machine at North Carolina, so he'll fit right in with the Vikings.
44. Detroit Lions - Ben Ijalana, T/G, Villanova
Detroit needs to bolster up their offensive line in an effort to better protect Matthew "Mr. Glass" Stafford. Ijalana is extremely versatile and should be ready to step in immediately.
45. San Francisco 49ers - Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
Manny Lawson is a serviceable player, but the 49ers weren't able to generate much of a consistent pass rush last season. Ayers is a potentially dynamic playmaker in the open field and can change that quickly.
46. Denver Broncos (from Miami) - Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia
Denver passed on an elite corner to bolster their defensive line, so now is a good time to invest in a corner that can grow behind Champ Bailey. Ras-I Dowling looks like a good fit.
47. St. Louis Rams - Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA
The Rams' pass defense was relatively weak last season, and with safety OJ Atogwe headed to Washington, they'll be seeking a replacement. Moore has dropped pretty far here, and St. Louis will happily take him off the board.
48. Oakland Raiders - Kendric Burney, CB, North Carolina
Oakland might be losing Nnamdi Asomugha via free agency, so it's going to be crucial that they add fresh blood at corner. Burney is a potential shutdown corner that can be left alone, so he makes a ton of sense here.
49. Jacksonville Jaguars - Titus Young, WR, Boise State
With Mike Sims-Walker likely headed out of town, the Jags will be looking for someone to line up opposite Mike Thomas. Young is small, but his speed makes him a tremendous big-play threat, which Jacksonville has never really had in the passing game.
50. San Diego Chargers - Lance Kendricks, TE, Wisconsin
San Diego could reach for a strong safety here or look to reel in another pass rushing specialist. However, with Antonio Gates aging and dealing with nagging foot issues, I think they'll go tight end. Kendricks looks to be a great fit.
51. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Martez Wilson, LB, Illinois
Nobody is quite sure exactly where Wilson will line up as a pro, but he does have lots of potential as a tackling machine at inside linebacker. Just what the doctor ordered for the Bucs.
52. New York Giants - Muhammad Wilkerson, DE/DT, Temple
Wilkerson could very well go towards the end of the first round, but he falls to the G-Men here at No. 52. They love stocking up talent on the defensive line, and Wilkerson is versatile enough to play anywhere.
53. Indianapolis Colts - Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois
Leshoure is another guy whose draft position ranges anywhere from the late first round to the mid-second. Donald Brown, a first round pick in 2009, has shown very little so far, and Indy may be ready to move on.