Headlining tonight's draft, 'Labor Uncertainty.' In a rather strange turn of events, a record setting number of potential selections are planning to attend The NFL Draft this weekend. With potentially the last time we get to see these players till the NFL labor agreement is sorted out, it should get exciting.
A crop of players lacking the 'it' guy, questions swirling around more than one big-time player, and many questions dying to be answered - We're mocking the entire first round this morning, let's dive right in!
1. Carolina: Cam Newton, QB Auburn If you read anything coming out of Carolina you'd really question why you were thinking negatively about Newton. They believe he's a franchise player, they believe he can compete against Drew Brees and Matt Ryan, and they believe he will put this team on the right track and quickly. For our take on Newton - listen to TheRightNowPodcast; Episode 4.
2. Denver: Von Miller, LB Texas A&M Over the last week, the Broncos have indicated this selection is going to be Miller. Jon Fox looks at Miller as an elite pass rusher who can immediately improve the Broncos in that spot. To keep my opinions to a minimum, I think this is a mistake.
3. Buffalo: Marcell Dareus, DT Alabama The 'Bama defensive tackle is one of the top three defensive players in this draft and it's Buffalo's biggest area of need. In a draft where they don't believe the quarterback position needs to be filled this high, Dareus is the pick.
4. Cincinnati: A.J. Green, WR Georgia The pick should be Julio Jones, but it won't be. Whether Carson Palmer remains the quarterback in Cincinnati or not, new coordinator Jay Gruden owns this selection and he's going to pick the biggest target who can be a legitimate #1 right away. Ochocinco is on his way out.
5. Arizona: *Patrick Peterson, CB LSU The best player in the draft is coming off the board at #5, the Cardinals may move back but whoever jumps into this spot is jumping in to select Peterson. Best case scenario, the Cardinals fill a need with the best athlete/player in this years draft. Period.
6. Cleveland: Julio Jones, WR Alabama Drafting Colt McCoy really worked out for Cleveland, putting Julio Jones in his offense does two significant things. (1) Gives him a great team player in the huddle, a player willing to block as much as he runs routes - (2) He's an athletic freak.
7. San Francisco: Blaine Gabbert, QB Missouri As much as new head coach Jim Harbaugh wants to tell you he likes Alex Smith, he's taking Blaine Gabbert if he's available. I've got to think Gabbert becomes the franchise quarterback in San Francisco, if he's what everyone is saying then it's a steal at seven.
8. Tennessee: Jake Locker, QB Washington He's a hard worker, he's a mature player, he's been coached in a pro-style offense, to put it simply, he's the anti-Vince Young. I still believe that there was a reason everyone put him atop draft boards prior to his senior year.
9. Dallas: J.J. Watt, DE Wisconsin Maybe Mike Jenkins wasn't that good in 2009, maybe his Pro Bowl season was more a reflection how often Dallas was getting after the quarterback and making his job much easier in the secondary. With Watt stepping in on the right side of the defense, with a ton of attention being paid to Stephen Bowen and Jay Ratliff, he can make an impact right away.
10. Washington: Robert Quinn, DE North Carolina Quinn is flat out very good. With a Washington team surprised he is still available, I would expect the 'Skins to pair him with Brian Orakpo and address the offensive side of the ball with veterans when they're allowed to start making moves in free agency.
11. Houston: Cameron Jordan, DE California This pick is to instantly help Wade Phillips new defense and their offensive line. Jordan is going to be a monster in the NFL and he's come on very strong in the last month. If the Texans don't trade up and Jordan is available, he'll come off the board here.
12. Minnesota: Aldon Smith, DE Missouri This is going to be a team centered around defense under Frazier, drawing similarities to a player like Justin Tuck, Aldon Smith is going to start the transition. Run the ball and play defense under Leslie Frazier.
13. Detroit: Prince Amukamara, CB Nebraska While there are some concerns around an undersized Amukamara, he's a fantastic talent. Prince is a very mature kid for his age and will have an easier time adjusting to the life of the NFL than most.
14. St. Louis: Corey Liuget, DT Illinois The Rams want to upgrade their defense after hitting a homerun with Sam Bradford. Adding Corey Liuget gives you a guy who is very mature and can stop the run, the opposite of Nick Fairley (not a good work ethic, or track record).
15. Miami: Mark Ingram, RB Alabama They're going to lose Brown or Williams and who knows what is going on with Brandon Marshall. Ingram is a very good runner who is probably the only running back we're going to see drafted on Thursday night.
16. Jacksonville: Ryan Kerrigan, DE Purdue Can't rely on Kampman and Harvey any longer, the Jaguars have got to address how they get after the quarterback. Kerrigan does that and he's a player who has displayed a ton of production.
17. New England: *Mike Pouncey, C/OG Florida I like Pouncey a ton for the Patriots. New England loves having depth on the offensive line, they love developing players a year or two before they have to fill in for good, and the Urban Meyer connection is still here with the pick of Pouncey. Oh, and I don't expect New England to stay at seventeen.
18. San Diego: Anthony Castonzo, OT Boston College I love the Chargers finally realizing they need to protect Rivers. The veteran quarterback has got to be in love with San Diego making this selection. I even think the Chargers would be willing to move up if they saw Castonzo slipping with the Patriots in front of them.
19. New York Giants: Gabe Carimi, OT Wisconsin Safe pick for the Giants who are always in the market for solid players who can develop into Pro Bowl selections, exactly what Carimi can be on the next level.
20. Tampa Bay: Adrian Clayborn, DE Iowa The Bucs are beefing up the defense yet again in the first round. If they're going to make a real run at Atlanta and New Orleans, as they did in 2010, adding Adrian Clayborn is a quality move
21. Kansas City: Nate Solder, OT Colorado Think about it, GM Scott Pioli loves transition guys. Solder used to be a TE and has developed into a pretty fine tackle. Needing more protection is the first need Kansas City should address.
22. Indianapolis: Derek Sherrod, OT Mississippi State Looking to sure up their offensive line, the Colts will provide even more protection for Manning. They've got a hole that needs to be filled and if they feel Sherrod is the best available, he'll be the pick.
23. Philadelphia: Jimmy Smith, CB Colorado There are a ton of teams that think Smith is 1A or 1B as far as defensive backs go in this years draft class. Philadelphia is definately in the market for a cornerback and without being able to go to free agency, the Eagles will address it right now.
24. New Orleans: Marvin Austin, DT North Carolina The Saints will have to acknowledge the character issues with Austin, but just like Quinn earlier in the round, their talent can't be denied. Expect Bowers from Clemson to be in play here as well.
25. Seattle: Danny Watkins, OT Baylor The Seahawks could use protection on their offensive line, and Watkins can play every position on the offensive line. He's an older player (27) but that maturity is going to really help him adjust at the next level.
26. Baltimore: Cameron Heyward, DE Ohio State Baltimore hits home runs most years in the draft. Everyone looks better playing in front of Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, the Ravens would love to improve their pass rush with someone who is versatile like Hewyard.
27. Atlanta: Brooks Reed, OLB Arizona Mike Smith is going to address rushing the passer and work on adding a tight end or second pass catching option for Matt Ryan in the later rounds. Reed would be a near perfect fit in Atlanta and address a need in the first round.
28. New England: Akeem Ayers, OLB UCLA The Patriots won't be here but if they are, Ayers is a linebacker that would help New England. He would be a pass rusher that could help the Patriots secondary.
29. Chicago: Tyron Smith, OT USC I love the Bears adding help to their offensive line to protect Cutler. When given time in his career, Cutler has been very impressive, it's the time part the Bears haven't got to yet.
30. New York Jets: Nick Fairley, DT Auburn I don't actually expect Fairley to be around at this point, really it's a bit too crazy but I wanted to address concerns with a lazy player who had one great year.
31. Pittsburgh: Brandon Harris, CB Miami I really like corners from Miami, they play tough and with a huge amount of speed. The way the Steelers were roasted by Green Bay in the Super Bowl, it showed their need to fill this void through the draft.
32. Green Bay: Muhammad Wilkerson, DT Temple Pairing another mauling tackle with Raji is exactly what Green Bay would like to do, not knowing what is going to happen with Cullen Jenkins. Wilkerson has some question marks but the Packers can risk it.
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