“Way too early” first round mock draft 2.0

Written by Aaron Aloysius on September 14, 2010


The college football and professional football seasons are in full swing. What a better way to celebrate than with a new mock draft? While there were certainly some surprising wins and losses during the week one games, the season is still young. Aaron Aloysius takes you through the second installment of our “Way too early” mock draft series.

1. Buffalo Bills

Andrew Luck – QB – Stanford*

If the Bills are picking #1 overall, the Captain Checkdown project will have reached a calamitous end. The team may flirt with drafting an elite receiver (AJ Green) or pass rusher (Robert Quinn), but — like in the last two drafts — the first pick ultimately will be used on a franchise QB. The two most likely candidates are Jake Locker and Andrew Luck. While Locker more closely resembles the type of athletic QB Chan Gailey prefers, questions about his accuracy and pocket presence could tinge his draft stock. And while Luck isn’t an athlete on Locker’s level, the Stanford QB is far from a statue, and his combination of physical tools, smarts, and leadership qualities make him an ideal #1 overall QB.

2. St. Louis Rams

A.J. Green – WR – Georgia*

The Rams already have drafted their franchise QB in Sam Bradford, and they’ve provided him with a pair of early round offensive tackles. However, Bradford could use an elite receiver who can take advantage of his downfield accuracy and haul in the occasional inaccurate throw. If those are the criteria, AJ Green is a perfect fit for St. Louis. Considered by some scouts to be the wide receiver prospect in 25 years, Green possesses special agility, very good speed, and super-soft hands. If he manages stays healthy and returns at full force following his four game suspension, Green will further solidify his status as an elite prospect.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Robert Quinn – DE – North Carolina*

Tampa added two defensive tackles in this year’s draft, but they didn’t address their need at defensive end. Quinn’s speed off the edge would provide a nice complement to Gerald McCoy and Brian Price’s interior pass rush, providing the Bucs with enough talent to eventually challenge the Vikings’ for the most dominant defensive line in the league. At this point, Quinn’s eligibility for the rest of the season is very much in question, but the freakish athlete should turn heads at the Combine and certify his status as an elite prospect. That said, his Combine medical evaluation will be very important; if teams have concerns about the benign brain tumor he had removed during his senior year of high school, Quinn’s stock could take a major hit.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars

Jake Locker – QB – Washington

David Garrard earned a hefty contract extension after his impressive ’07 season, but he’s been merely average the last two years. With the signal caller turning 33 next February, the team could opt to draft a young QB who possesses more upside. In Jake Locker, the Jaguars would get the ultimate upside prospect. Possessing exceptional speed and a strong arm, Locker can make plays with his feet and fit the ball into tight windows. If he improves his pocket presence and tightens up his accuracy, he should lock up his status as a top five pick. Even if he doesn’t improve, a team likely will fall in love with his physical tools and take him in the top half of the first round.

5. Cleveland Browns

Marcell Dareus – DE – Alabama*

Last year, the Browns’ brain trust missed out on the top QB prospect they coveted (Sam Bradford) and passed on the closest substitute in Jimmy Clausen. In this scenario, the team again misses out on the most intriguing QB prospects. The team’s second biggest need is a #1 receiver; unfortunately, the team also misses out on the opportunity to reunite Mohamed Massaquoi with college teammate AJ Green. As a third but still solid choice, the team could bring a promising five technique into the fold in Marcell Dareus. Other than nose tackle Ahtyba Rubin, the Browns lack any promising up-and-comers on their defensive line. Dareus would provide the team a potentially elite 3-4 end, as well as a guy who could help boost their inconsistent pass rush.

6. Arizona Cardinals

Patrick Peterson – CB – LSU*

Like the Browns, the Cardinals will be hoping to land one the top QBs. However, the team would get a nice consolation prize in LSU corner Patrick Peterson. Arguably the most impressive size/speed prospect since Mario Williams, the 6’1”, 211-pound defensive back would add a second shut-down corner to Arizona’s defense. With offensive tackle Levi Brown slouching towards mediocrity, the team could be looking for a new blindside protector. But with the offensive tackle class so weak and Peterson so superlative, the LSU corner would be the easy pick here.

7. Kansas City Chiefs

Michael Floyd – WR – Notre Dame

Dwayne Bowe’s reportedly improved his work ethic and attitude, but his long-term future in Kansas City remains in doubt. If the team wants to replace or just complement the ’07 1st round pick, Michael Floyd would be an obvious choice. There are questions about Floyd’s speed and durability, but the Notre Dame wideout is a powerful receiver who can go up and highpoint the ball. Charlie Weis recruited Floyd and watched him turn into a dominant receiver at the college level, so it would be no surprise if Kansas City’s new offensive coordinator pushed for Floyd to be the pick here. While receivers Julio Jones and Jon Baldwin may be rated higher by most teams, Floyd’s connection to Weis could provide him a fortuitous draft day bump.

8. Detroit Lions

Anthony Castonzo – OT – Boston College

Jeff Backus long has been the target for Lions fans’ anger and frustration at the team’s lack of success. While Backus is a better tackle than the public perception would indicate, he isn’t anything close to a long-term answer. And if the team’s decision-makers want to ensure that Matt Stafford’s oft-injured shoulder doesn’t turn into mush, they need to find him a better blindside protector. Of the top tackle prospects, Boston College OT Anthony Castonzo appears to be the most ready to handle that role. One of the few football players who’s just as smart as Jim Schwartz —  the offensive tackle is a candidate for a Rhodes Scholarship — Castonzo is a good technician with quick feet who can handle speed off the edge. He could use some added bulk and needs to get stronger, but Castonzo’s the kind of pass protector teams take with a top ten pick.

9. New England Patriots (from Oakland)

Adrian Clayborn – DE – Iowa

The Richard Seymour trade ends up yielding the Pats an impressive defensive end prospect. Clayborn arguably was the most dominant defensive player in the entire country last year, notching 11.5 sacks and 20 tackles for loss. While he isn’t the prototypical five-technique, Bill Belichick will appreciate his tenacity both as a run defender and pass rusher. The team also could go with an elite outside linebacker prospect or a #1 wideout to replace Randy Moss, but Belichick loves to draft top-flight defensive linemen, and Clayborn is just as talented as the available WRs and OLBs. Some mild character concerns could affect Clayborn’s stock, but a strong endorsement from Kirk Ferentz likely will alleviate the Patriots’ concerns.

10. Seattle Seahawks

Julio Jones – WR – Alabama*

Having shown considerable interest in Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson, the Seahawks appear to be in the market for a new #1 wideout. The team also released TJ Houshmandzadeh, showing that Pete Carroll’s committed to a youth movement at the position. While Mike Williams is making waves as a comeback player of the year candidate, Julio Jones would be too good to pass up here as the team’s future #1 target. Jones is a tremendously physical receiver who’s also a willing blocker and very tough to bring down in the open field. He’s displayed some inconsistent hands and could highpoint the ball better, but some improvement in those areas will certify him as a legit top ten pick.

11. Chicago Bears

Prince Amukamara – CB – Nebraska

A physical corner who’s very aggresive at the line, Amukamara is a great fit for Chicago’s Tampa 2 defense. If Lovie Smith is retained, he’ll be more than happy to have the Nebraska corner become part of his defense. If not Amukamara, the team could address some of the holes on their offense, particularly their turnstile offensive line. In addition, a #1 receiver for Jay Cutler could be a possibility here, but Amukamara would be a very strong addition to a defense short on reliable young corners. If Cutlers continues to be pick-happy, the team will appreciate having someone on other side of the ball who make up for those costly turnovers.

12. Denver Broncos

Dont’a Hightower – ILB – Alabama*

Dont’a Hightower was beyond impressive early last season before going down with a leg injury. According to NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah, Hightower – not Roland McClain – was the Bama linebacker scouts were buzzing about. If he stays healthy this fall and improves his coverage skills, Dont’a should be an early first round pick. His aggressive style of play would fit nicely in Denver’s 3-4 defense. In fact, the "thumper" LB could play both inside and outside, adding to his versatility in Denver’s defense. Nick Saban often lines Hightower up on defensive end because he’s one of the team’s best pass rushers, and the Broncos wouldn’t mind having him put his hand in the dirt opposite Elvis Dumervil.

13. Carolina Panthers

Bruce Carter – OLB – North Carolina

At first glance, the Panthers appear to have more pressing needs than adding another outside linebacker; the teams still lacks an effect counterpart to Steve Smith and doesn’t have a proven replacement for Julius Peppers. If a devastating season leads to a front office overhaul, both of those positions could be addressed. However, if Marty Hurney keeps his job, he’s likely to be patient with his draft additions at receiver (Brandon LaFell, Armanti Edwards) and defensive end (Everette Brown, Greg Hardy). Instead, the team could bring in freakish linebacker Bruce Carter, who should amaze at the Combine and make his way up draft boards. Adding Carter would allow Jon Beason to move back inside and would add more aggression and athleticism to the Panthers’ front seven.

14. Washington Redskins

Cameron Heyward – DE – Ohio State

To boost his new 3-4 defense, Mike Shanahan adds a potentially dominant five-technique. Coming off an impressive game against the Hurricanes, Heyward’s stock appears to be soaring. However, Heyward disappeared at times last year, and questions remain as to whether he’ll be a dynamic pass rusher at the next level. If he becomes a more consistent force in his final season with the Buckeyes, Heyward will have multiple 3-4 teams hoping to acquire his services. As a result, the team would be wise to prioritize drafting Heyward over addressing some of its other needs, including wide receiver.

15. Miami Dolphins

Jerrell Powe – DT – Ole Miss

Jerrell Powe is a player who’s very easy to root for. After struggling to meet Ole Miss’s academic requirements, Powe finally made it to Oxford. The massive nose tackle started off extra chunky but has since dropped close to seventy pounds. With his impressive strength and explosion off the ball, the Ole Miss d-lineman could thrive in a number of schemes, but his best fit may be in a 3-4 defense. In Miami, he could hold down the crucial nose tackle spot, allowing disruptive defensive lineman Randy Starks to move back to end. If not Powe, the team could add another edge rusher or a running back, but the big man should appeal to the Dolphins’ brain trust.

16. New York Giants

Mark Ingram – RB – Alabama*

With Brandon Jacobs grumbling about his reduced role and set to earn $4.65M next year, the team could be in the market for a new power running back. If that’s the case, Ingram would make sense as a tough as nails complement to Ahmad Bradshaw. The team arguably has more pressing needs at other positions, but Jerry Reese is particularly adept at making solid value picks, and Ingram would be a nice option at 16th overall. While some expect Ingram to return to Tuscaloosa for another year, the emergence of Trent Richardson as a brutally effective (and possibly better) back could compel Ingram to take his talents to the NFL.


Aaron Aloysius

Aaron began closely following the draft in 2005. Since then, he’s overcome an Al Davis-like obsession with workout numbers, instead focusing more (but not exclusively) on the traits visible on prospects’ tape.

Recent posts by Aaron Aloysius