Three Round Mock Draft – March 13th

Written by Ryan Lownes on March 13, 2011


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1. Carolina Panthers Carolina Panthers


Cam Newton – QB – Auburn
 

Cam NewtonThe decision-making process behind the first overall pick could last up to the day of the draft for Carolina. The list of needs for the Panthers is a long one that includes several key positions such as: Defensive End, Defensive Tackle, Cornerback, and Wide Receiver. The team’s Achilles heel a year last season, however, was the play at the Quarterback position. Jimmy Clausen did not prove himself enough to deter the Panthers from taking the top QB on their board. Even after a disappointing Combine performance, Cameron Newton has the upside to be a franchise signal-caller. His college resume is a small but highly decorated one and his physical tools are unparalleled. He’ll need some time to develop, but Newton offers the franchise a true face and unique talent moving forward. Carolina may decide that Cam is too risky to warrant such a lofty selection and may instead target Clemson Defensive End Da’Quan Bowers, LSU Cornerback Patrick Peterson, or Alabama Defensive Tackle Marcell Dareus.

2. Denver Broncos Denver Broncos

Marcell Dareus – DT – Alabama

Marcell DareusThere is no doubt that the Broncos will target a defensive player with their first pick at second overall. The team is in dire need of help in the front seven and starters will need to be added on the interior defensive line. With Robert Ayers and Elvis Dumervil penciled in as starters on the edge, drafting a Defensive Tackle early will be a top priority. Marcell Dareus is a very big, stout, defensive lineman with incredible athleticism and light feet for his size. He projects as an instant starter at Defensive Tackle in 4-3 schemes and could be a disruptive force in the backfield for years. The team could also look at Auburn Defensive Tackle Nick Fairley, Cornerback Patrick Peterson, or Texas A&M Outside Linebacker Von Miller with this pick.

3. Buffalo Bills Buffalo Bills

Patrick Peterson – CB – LSU

Patrick PetersonWithout potential franchise Quarterback Cam Newton on the board, the Bills look defense with their first round pick.  While a front seven player would fill Buffalo’s most glaring need, Patrick Peterson may prove to be too good a value to pass up for a Cornerback-needy team. Peterson is an incredible athlete with the look of a future shut-down corner. Early in his career, he also adds significant value as a game-breaking punt returner. The Bills could also look at Defensive End prospects such as Marcell Dareus, Wisconsin’s J.J. Watt, or California’s Cameron Jordan. Also tempting could be Von Miller or USC Left Tackle Tyron Smith.

4. Cincinnati Bengals Cincinnati Bengals

AJ Green – WR – Georgia

AJ GreenIt’s no secret that Marvin Lewis’ Bengals will be targeting offense early in the NFL Draft after a disappointing 2010 campaign. They’d surely take a long look at Newton were he available, but the next best offensive move would be to take a true #1 Wide Receiver such as A.J. Green. The team is in dire need of a young primary receiver to complement Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Gresham, two impact rookies for this past season. Green is an extremely gifted and fluid athlete with excellent size, speed, and a huge catching radius. Other options for Cincinnati’s fourth pick include Missouri Quarterback Blaine Gabbert, Alabama Wide Receiver Julio Jones, and Defensive End Da’Quan Bowers.

5. Arizona Cardinals Arizona Cardinals

Von Miller – OLB – Texas A&M

Von MillerAll indications are that 2010 free agent Joey Porter didn’t provide the pass-rush that the Cardinals were looking for when they signed him. His exit leaves a hole in the depth chart and an important role behind. Despite a huge need for a franchise Quarterback, Von Miller is too good a value here for Arizona to pass on. Instantly, Miller gives the team an explosive pass-rusher off the edge that could develop into a difference-maker early. He plays with tremendous speed and is at his best turning loose & getting after the passer. If not Miller, the Cardinals could target Baline Gabbert, Nebraska Cornerback Prince Amukamara, or even Tyron Smith.

6. Cleveland Browns Cleveland Browns

Da’Quan Bowers – DE – Clemson

Da'Quan BowersWith the exit of coach Eric Mangini also comes the abandonment of the Browns largely unsuccessful 3-4 defensive scheme. A front seven player will more than likely be Cleveland’s top priority early in the NFL Draft. Da’Quan Bowers is a bargain at sixth overall for a team severely lacking a gifted pass-rusher. His injuries may scare some teams off, but when healthy Bowers is a dominant player with size, elite closing speed, and three-down ability. He instantly gives Cleveland a new building block along the defensive line for their new 4-3 scheme. The team could target a different Defensive Lineman in Macell Dareus, J.J. Watt, Cameron Jordan, or North Carolina’s Robert Quinn. Additional options for the Browns could be Julio Jones and Prince Amukamara.

7. San Francisco 49ers San Francisco 49ers

Blaine Gabbert – QB – Missouri

Blaine GabbertIt will be a tough choice at seventh overall with rookie head coach Jim Harbaugh. The most obvious and glaring hole for the 49ers is their lack of a franchise Quarterback on the roster. If possible, Harbaugh would like to groom and develop a young player. Though I’m not completely sold on him, it looks as if Blaine Gabbert will go very early on April 28.  He gives San Francisco a young signal-caller with all the physical ability you can ask for and enough mental capacity to excel in a pro-style offense. If the team passes on a QB, the pick could be a Defensive Lineman such as J.J. Watt, Cameron Jordan, or Marcell Dareus. The 49ers could also potentially take a long look at a Cornerback in Prince Amukamara.

8. Tennessee Titans Tennessee Titans

Nick Fairley – DT – Auburn

Nick FairleyThe Titans are another team that would love to add a young franchise Quarterback more than anything. Still, without Newton and Gabbert off the board, Tennessee will look to address on of their holes on defense with the eighth overall pick. Nick Fairley was the most dominant defensive player in college football a year ago and would be a perfect pick to start the Mike Munchak era in Tennessee. Fairley is quick, very explosive, and plays with a rare mean streak. Other potential selections with the pick are Prince Amukamara and Defensive Linemen Robert Quinn, Cameron Jordan, or J.J. Watt.

9. Dallas Cowboys Dallas Cowboys

Cameron Jordan – DE – California

Cameron JordanThere are already rumors that the Cowboys covet Patrick Peterson in the NFL Draft, but at this point it doesn’t look like that they have the assets to make a move and trade up.  If Dallas and Jerry Jones stay put, however, it’s likely that they’ll target a Defensive Lineman with their first selection. Cameron Jordan has been the story of the pre-draft process. After looking like a man amongst boys at the Senior Bowl, Jordan shocked fans and scouts alike by running a 4.71 at 287 pounds at the recent NFL Combine. He fits Dallas’ defense as a 5-Tech and would step into a starting role immediately. The Cowboys may also look at Tyron Smith, Prince Amukamara, or J.J. Watt with this pick.

10. Washington Redskins Washington Redskins

JJ Watt – DE – Wisconsin

JJ WattThe Redskins are yet another team that would ideally like to add a young signal-caller with their first pick. It’s unlikely that Mike Shanahan will be reaching to get his guy here with so much defensive talent to be had early in this draft. J.J. Watt was the talk of the Defensive Line group in Indianapolis after showcasing surprising athleticism and feet for a 290-pound end. He burst onto the scene originally this year in the Big Ten where he recorded 21.5 tackles for loss. Watt would fill an enormous void at 5-Tech for the Washington defense and projects as an early contributor. Other possibilities with the tenth pick include: Julio Jones, Linebacker Robert Quinn, Washington Quarterback Jake Locker, and Baylor Nose Tackle Phil Taylor.

11. Houston Texans Houston Texans

Prince Amukamara – CB – Nebraska

Prince AmukamaraIdeally, Houston would like to add a talented 5-Tech prospect with this top pick; however, with Watt, Jordan, and Dareus all off the board, the Texans could look to address another problem area on defense. Despite having spent a first round pick on Alabama Cornerback Kareem Jackson a year, the team could absolutely target the position high in the draft again in 2011. Prince Amukamara is the consensus #2 corner in the class behind Peterson, but the two may not be as far apart as players as some think. Prince has some very impressive tape and is the complete package with excellent size and athletic ability. He instantly upgrades the Texans pass-defense in a division where Peyton Manning has ruled through the air for years. Additional options for the Texans include Defensive End/Linebacker Robert Quinn, Ohio State Defensive End Cameron Heyward, or even potentially a game-breaker such as Wide Receiver Julio Jones.

12. Minnesota Vikings Minnesota Vikings

Tyron Smith – OT – USC

Tyron SmithAt the start of the season few would have suspected the Vikings would hold a top 15 pick in April’s NFL Draft. A rookie Head Coach, Leslie Frazier, will be counted on to quickly turn Minnesota around and lead the team back into the playoffs. Quarterback is the team’s most pressing need but they may be unwilling to reach to get their man with so much talent on the board. Tyron Smith was a college Right Tackle that will most likely be moved to the left side in the NFL. Physically, Smith has everything you look for: extremely long arms, an excellent frame (currently 307), and shocking athletic ability. The sky is the limit for his potential and the Vikings could use his help immediately in pass-protection. Also possible with the twelfth pick are players such as: Robert Quinn, Illinois Outside Linebacker Martez Wilson, and Boston College Left Tackle Anthony Castonzo.

13. Detroit Lions Detroit Lions

Robert Quinn – DE – North Carolina

Robert QuinnIt looks certain that the Lions will target a defensive player with their first round pick in the upcoming draft. Detroit has several holes in the depth chart on that side of the ball and the team desperately will look to add a Cornerback or Linebacker. The value of Robert Quinn would ultimately be too much for the organization to pass on as they continue building a scary front four. A young, dynamic pass-rusher would take double-teams away from 2010 second overall pick Ndamukong Suh. Quinn flies off the edge, is very athletic, and lives in the backfield. He could be a big part of future Lions playoff efforts. It would not be a shock to see Detroit go after a Linebacker such as Martez Wilson here. The dark horse pick could be an Offensive Tackle such as Anthony Castonzo or Wisconsin’s Gabe Carimi.

14. St. Louis Rams St. Louis Rams

Julio Jones – WR – Alabama

Julio JonesRealistically it’s not likely that the Rams could be so lucky to have a terrific Wide Receiver prospect fall into their laps here at fourteenth overall. If Julio Jones were to fall past Washington’s tenth pick, phones would be ringing off the hook with teams trying to move up for the Alabama product. Jones was the talk of the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, proving himself as a rare athlete for his size. He’d be a perfect addition to for Sam Bradford in St. Louis and has the potential to be a star in the league. The broken foot he sustained in Indy isn’t likely to affect his draft stock. The Rams would be crazy to pass on this slam-dunk pick, but if they were to look another direction it could be Linebacker Martez Wilson, Miami Cornerback Brandon Harris, or a pass-rushing Defensive End such as Georgia’s Justin Houston or Missouri’s Aldon Smith.

15. Miami Dolphins Miami Dolphins

Mark Ingram – RB – Alabama

Mark IngramWithout a second round pick, it looks likely that the Dolphins will be willing to part with this pick to add more later on. If they must keep the pick, Miami’s pressing needs are on the offensive side of the ball. The team is in the market for a Quarterback capable of getting the ball down-field to Brandon Marshall, but a new Running Back may be the best value with this pick. Mark Ingram is a former Heisman Trophy winner and brings a rare blend of balance, vision, burst, and power. He appears very capable of carrying a load early on and looks to have a bright future in the NFL. The Dolphins could also target a Quarterback such as Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett or Jake Locker. Although unlikely, the team could fall in love with Notre Dame Tight End Kyle Rudolph in the first round.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars Jacksonville Jaguars

Martez Wilson – OLB – Illinois

Martez WilsonThis past season, the Jaguars were able to make things very interesting in the AFC South as they challenged Indianapolis for a playoff spot. Though they were outlasted by the Colts, Jacksonville appears a tweak or two away from again pushing to play in January next season. The team has a gaping hole at Linebacker, where Martez Wilson could make an instant impact. At 6’4 250, Wilson is an extremely gifted athlete who can contribute as a blitzer and take over a starting job either in the middle or on the strong-side. If they don’t target a Linebacker early, they could go after a Cornerback such as Colorado’s Jimmy Smith or Brandon Harris. Another attractive option for Jacksonville would be a pass-rusher like Defensive Ends Aldon Smith, Justin Houston, or Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan.

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Ryan Lownes

Ryan is currently an undergraduate student at Ohio University pursuing a degree in Sport Management. He has been attending the NFL Draft in New York City since 2005 and has aspirations of a career in scouting. He is currently a draft writer and analyst on the Draft Breakdown team, posting his latest rankings, mock drafts, scouting reports, and more. Be sure to follow Ryan on twitter for year-round NFL Draft analysis. See all posts by Ryan Lownes.