Join Date: Jan 2010
Section: Fort Kickass
Re: Anyone have Mel Kiper's final mock draft?
* Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Is he the top player on my Big Board? No. But it's hard to blame a franchise in Carolina's position for falling in love with the extremely high ceiling of Newton. As I said when I projected him here before, there are immediate needs, and there is a decision that you believe will change the direction of your franchise for years to come. While I'm not certain Carolina isn't still listening for the right offer for this pick -- if you've heard me at all lately, you'll know I see this is one of the more unpredictable top 10's I can ever remember -- if the Panthers really see Newton as a transformative player who can be both a Pro Bowl quarterback and face of the franchise who draws a lot of buzz, they make this pick. If talent alone was all they were concerned with, Newton would be an easy choice. But this pick also requires a belief in his development and maturity. Will the Panthers have the patience to let him develop on the bench?
Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M
Based on what I know, there are several guys that have been and will be in play here on the defensive side of the ball. But if you want dynamic upside, it's hard to go wrong with Miller. In Denver, he can be the SAM linebacker, a devastating option when the Broncos want to get after opposing QBs. Miller is a smart, explosive, natural pass-rusher with the speed to track down QBs and also drop into coverage, then play the run down the line. Miller is a special talent and is a common pick as the rookie who can provide the most immediate impact.
* Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
There are several guys Buffalo could take here to bolster its defense, but Dareus makes a lot of sense. A scheme-versatile player who can be a disruptive, penetrating force as an interior lineman, or a fantastic pass-rusher as a defensive end in a 3-4 scheme, he's a safe pick. He doesn't have remarkable quickness, but his agility and versatility at a full 319 pounds is the stuff of an elite lineman. Saying that a guy is the top defensive lineman drafted in this class is to say a lot.
* A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
We know that Cincinnati is still dealing with questions at quarterback, but whether the Bengals' answer is to trade Carson Palmer, somehow keep him or perhaps try to import the likes of Kevin Kolb, Matt Hasselbeck, Donovan McNabb or someone else, they'll need to help whoever will be throwing the ball in 2011 and beyond. This is one I'm sticking with -- by drafting the best pure pass-catching talent in the draft, they help the QB, and also fill holes from obvious departures. Green is an immediate starter and a rare big-time, physical, fast receiver who has the route-running skills and understanding to help right away.
* Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
This is a spot where I'll stamp a big "TRADE POSSIBILITY" tag on my notes as the picks start to come off the board. But if the Cardinals don't make a move for a pick that could turn into Kolb or some other veteran quarterback, Peterson is the guy they should take. He's the best overall talent in the draft, the No. 1 player on my Big Board and, even if he's not dealt, well, is it so bad to have the best player in the draft all the way down at No. 5?
* Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
Jones is by far the best consolation prize in the draft, as the Ohio franchises combine to clear the board of the top wideouts. This is a guy Colt McCoy will love. Jones' size and speed combination is the best in the draft at the position and his development as a wideout over the past year shows a determination and work ethic that will be loved by the coaching staff. The Browns need a true No. 1 at wide receiver, and if healthy, Jones can be that guy. A gifted athlete, what you love about Jones is that he blocks as hard as he runs routes. He played hard while in pain last season at Alabama.
San Francisco 49ers
* Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
I picked Peterson to fall to this point in my previous mock draft, but I don't think he gets there this time around. He offers too much trade leverage. This time, I think Gabbert lands here. While Jim Harbaugh has taken the dignified route and stated how much he wants to work with Alex Smith, I think it's pretty fair to assume the Niners will be looking for a long-term solution for their new coach. Harbaugh's track record says he should have confidence he can turn Gabbert's solid skill-set into something at the NFL level. Like Newton, this isn't a quarterback you want starting games in 2011, but if San Francisco is patient, Gabbert is a player it can build with.
* Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
I'll stick with Fairley here. As I've said before, defensive line probably falls lower on the list of team needs behind the obvious question of who will be taking snaps, but it's not a minor need. And to get the most productive interior lineman in the college game last year, a player who was simply unblockable against really good competition, is a solid get for the Titans at No. 8 overall. Fairley gives you immediate help at a key position and he offers the value of a top-five pick. Disruptive versus both the run and the pass, he will help this defense now and the Titans can look for a linebacker later on. Why has Fairley fallen? For me, it's just mainly because of the fact that, while brilliant in that one season, he has less of a body of work. But he's by no means dropping on talent questions.
Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal
UPDATE: Now indications that USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith could be taken here.
A shift from the previous mock, where I had the Cowboys targeting a corner. This is a team that needs to find solutions on front seven and Jordan offers a lot of versatility. Think about lining up a dynamic pass-rusher who can take on double-teams as a 3-4 defensive end and forcing the offense to make a decision on doubling him or DeMarcus Ware. There are questions in the Dallas secondary, but we know so much of what gets exposed down the field starts with what you're not doing up front. I can see Dallas moving off this pick, but I like Jordan if the Cowboys stay put.
* Robert Quinn, LB, North Carolina
In our Hot Button series earlier this week, I said I believe that given his versatility and remarkable skill-set, Quinn could make the biggest immediate impact of any player in the draft. This is a guy who could be a feared pass-rusher off the edge in a 4-3 alignment, with the size and strength to take on blocks and hold up against the run, or an almost impossible guy to block consistently in the 3-4. Washington could also move down to maximize picks, but if Quinn had played last season for North Carolina, I truly believe we're talking about a possible No. 1 overall pick. That's a lot of value to get at No. 10.
Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri
The Texans have needs all over the defensive side of the ball and I also think they're looking to move off this pick for the right package of picks. But if they can't get a deal done and stick at No. 11, Smith represents a ton of upside for a defense that really needs to add some pass-rushing help opposite the great Mario Williams. Again, a lot of the problems in the Houston secondary started up front. I think they should find the tools Wade Phillips needs to get to opposing quarterbacks in his scheme, and Smith will remind him of Ware, a real matchup headache to be used on the edge of that 3-4.