“Way too early” first round mock draft 2.0

Written by Aaron Aloysius on September 14, 2010

17. Pittsburgh Steelers

Allen Bailey – DE – Miami

Since Mike Tomlin’s arrival in Pittsburgh, the team has brought in several defenders who possess exceptional straight-line speed an athleticism. If the team wants to add another athletic freak, Miami defensive end Allen Bailey certainly would fit the bill. The big DL reportedly runs a 4.65 40 and posts gaudy numbers in the weight room. Though Bailey needs to work on his hand play and improve his quickness off the snap, the Miami product would fit in nicely as a 3-4 defensive end in Pittsburgh’s system. And combined with ’09 1st round pick Ziggy Hood, the team would have a duo capable of replacing long-time starters Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel.

18. New York Jets

Von Miller – DE/OLB – Texas A&M

Calvin Pace is the Jets’ youngest edge rusher, and he’ll turn 30 next fall. Unfortunately, Vernon Gholston’s bustitude as a 3-4 outside backer has left the team without any youth at outside linebacker. With Von Miller, the Jets get a savvy speed rusher who’s very comfortable playing with his hand up. Miller might struggle against the run, but he should be able to contribute immediately as a situational rusher, something a team with its eyes on a Super Bowl run certainly will value. The team also could improve its defense by adding youth to the defensive line; if either Powe, Heyward, or Bailey slides, the Jets could go DL in Round 1.

19. Houston Texans

Stephen Paea – DT – Oregon State

The Texas have added many high-priced players to their defensive line, yet they remained in the middle of the pack against the run in ’09. In order to improve, the team needs to add a powerful plugger in the middle of their defense, and Paea appears more than capable of filling that role. Though a bit undersized, Paea is a beast in the weight room and one of the strongest defensive linemen in college football. He has the potential to be a more explosive version of Kelly Gregg and one of the final pieces in what is quickly becoming a very good Texans defense. The team could look to add more weapons on offense, but the newly strong running team needs to be able to stop the run as well.

20. Philadelphia Eagles

Travis Lewis – OLB – Oklahoma*

Due to injuries and ineffective play, the Eagles have started a mixed multitude of linebackers over the last few years. Other than Stewart Bradley, the team hasn’t found any standout starters, making the position a possible area of focus in next year’s draft. Oklahoma linebacker Travis Lewis would be an ideal addition: the Sooner LB is a tackling machine, notching over 250 tackles in the last two years. In addition, Lewis possesses good athleticism and is explosive playing downhill. Though he hasn’t proven himself as a pass rusher, Lewis could fit in nicely as a blitzer in Philly’s attacking defense, oscillating between rushing the passer and being very effective in coverage when other Iggles get after the QB.

21. New England Patriots

Ryan Williams – RB – Virginia Tech*

The Patriots have officially given up on the Laurence Maroney experiment, trading the former first round pick to the Broncos. Without any intriguing young players at the position, the team is likely to draft a running back; in fact, there  were reports indicating that the team hoped to select Montario Hardesty last April. Redshirt Sophomore Ryan Williams would be a strong solution to the team’s running back problems. Though Williams has had a slow start this season, the Hokie displays impressive balance, good power for his size, and a special knack for finding the end zone, making him a potentially solid first round selection.

22. San Francisco 49ers

Aaron Williams – CB – Texas*

Last year, the Niners had a top five run defense, yet they were only average against the pass. The team could address the issue by bringing in another hybrid pass rusher, but the best value pick here is at corner. Aaron Williams is a promising underclassman who — if he declares — should fit somewhere in the first round of next year’s draft. The Texas corner possesses enough speed to run with receivers downfield and the physicality to punish running backs and QBs: just ask Sam Bradford how hard he hits. His potential and punch ’em in the mouth mentality likely will endear him to Mike Singletary, making him a perfect Niners pick.

23. Tennessee Titans

Kyle Rudolph – TE – Notre Dame*

Bo Scaife appears to be wearing out his welcome in Tennessee, which could leave the Titans searching for a long-term solution at tight end. In Kyle Rudolph, the Titans get a potentially elite receiving TE who could stretch the middle of the field and help Vince Young progress as a passer. If Jared Cook makes good on his potential, the Titans could be set at the position, but Cook’s been a chronic underachiever, so it’s not at all guaranteed that he’ll solidify the spot. Rudolph, on the other hand, looks like the kind of dynamic, sure-handed target that could complement the Titans’ somewhat inconsistent wideouts.

24. Atlanta Falcons

Derek Sherrod – OT – Mississippi State

In 2009, the Falcons’ passing game took a step back, and its franchise QB battled injuries. To protect their long-term investment, the team would be wise to acquire a quality pass-blocking offensive tackle. Though not quite the mauler the Falcons seem to prefer, Derek Sherrod is an exceptional pass blocker who could excel at the right tackle spot, perhaps even unseat Sam Baker on the left side. In addition, Sherrod would allow Tyson Clabo to move inside, solidifying two positions with one late 1st round addition. Alternatively, the team could look to add a defensive end, but Kroy Biermann impressed in the pre-season, raising the possibility that he could play a big role in boosting the team’s pass rush.

25. San Diego Chargers

Jonathan Baldwin – WR – Pittsburgh*

Chargers GM AJ Smith has been toying with receiver Vincent Jackson, who could be in another team’s uniform very soon. If that happens, the team will be in need of a new number one receiver who can replace Jackson as the team’s stretch the field target. In Jonathan Baldwin, the Chargers get the consummate deep threat: a big, physical receiver with very good buildup speed. Questions about Baldwin’s quickness off the line and elusiveness could hurt his stock, but he’d be a tremendous value late in the first round. With Marcus McNeill ensconced in the same contract limbo as Jackson, the team instead could opt for and offensive tackle, but Baldwin is a better value than the remaining OTs on the board.

26. Minnesota Vikings

Christian Ponder – QB – Florida State

If 2010 is the final year of the Brett Favre saga, the Vikings will go into the offseason looking for a capable replacement. Fortunately, they have the opportunity here to nab Christian Ponder, whose skill set is a nice fit for the Vikings’ West Coast Offense. Ponder struggled mightily in his first bigtime game this year against the Sooners, suggesting that the early 1st round talk surrounding the Florida State QB is a tad premature. Like other solid college QBs with less than elite physical tools, Ponder could end up dropping into the late 1st/early 2nd round rage. But at that point, he’d be a solid value, especially for a team that wants a smart young QB who can master the playbook and take the reins very soon.

27. Baltimore Ravens

Da’Quan Bowers – DE – Clemson*

Bowers wasn’t consistently productive for the Tigers last year, raising concerns as to whether the elite talent will ever live up to his potential. But Bowers reportedly has upped his commitment to the game and conditioning, dropping 25 pounds this summer to get ready to audition his way into the first round. If he maximizes his ability and dominates this year, Bowers could go much higher than this, but there will be lingering concerns as to whether he’ll loaf once he gets his big payday. That could scare away some teams, but the Ravens haven’t been afraid of taking gambles on supremely talented prospects, and Bowers clearly is one of them. If they’re lucky, he’ll turn out to be the defensive counterpart to Michael Oher, wreaking havoc going after AFC North QBs.

28. New Orleans Saints

Akeem Ayers – OLB – UCLA

The Saints long have lacked exceptional talents at their outside linebacker spots. That would change with Akeem Ayers. The big, athletic LB has the speed to go sideline to sideline and the strength to take on blockers. Perhaps more importantly, Ayers has flashed the potential to be a very good pass rusher, something the Saints desperately need. Whether it’s by putting his hand in the dirt on passing downs or by stunting in Gregg Williams’ blitz-happy scheme, Ayers could improve the team’s pass rush while also being a very effective strongside LB. The team could go for a pure defensive end prospect, but Ayers’ dual use ability could provide the most intriguing option.

29. Cincinnati Bengals

Rahim Moore – S – UCLA*

The Bengals may have the best young cornerback tandem in the league, yet they lack playmakers behind Hall & Joseph. As a result, the team could use a ballhawk deep in the secondary, which Rahim Moore has proven to be. Moore intercepted an uber-impressive ten passes in ’09. He’ll likely have trouble replicating those numbers this fall, so it will be important that he shows improvement in other facets of his game, especially his tackling. If he takes bad angles and gets burned trying to make plays, Moore could slide down a round or two, much like Morgan Burnett did last year. But continued improvement could earn him a spot in the late 1st, perhaps even higher.

30. Dallas Cowboys

DeMarcus Love – OT – Arkansas

The Cowboys learned in the season opener that you can’t win with Alex Barron. While the team is hoping that Marc Colombo can return at close to 100%, it may be time for them to invest in an alternative solution. In DeMarcus Love, the Cowboys get a lineman with tremendous physical tools. A bit raw and inconsistent with his technique, Love would be better served beginning his career at guard, but he possesses the upside to become a very good right tackle. With Jerry Jones being an Arkansas alum and longtime supporter of the program, he’s likely seen a lot of Love, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him fall for the offensive lineman next April.

31. Indianapolis Colts

Jurrell Casey – DT – USC*

The Colts proved in Week 1 that their run defense is still a mess. Indy has relied on its epic passing attack to win games, but the team could flounder if opponents are able to run out the clock on them. For that reason, adding a strong defensive tackle would help to ensure that the Colts remains competitive for the next couple years. While not your typical plugger, Jurrell Casey could be a big help to the Colts’ run defense. Casey has very quick hands, which allow him to fight off blocks and make plays in the backfield. The quick defensive tackle is the type of disruptive defender who could thrive the team’s Tampa 2 defense. Along with Freeney & Mathis at the end spots, Casey could make sure that teams also don’t have time to throw the ball downfield.

32. Green Bay Packers

Jimmy Smith – CB – Colorado

The Packers added Morgan Burnett to the secondary, but they still need to address the cornerback position. Though many cornerbacks who could fit in this spot, Jimmy Smith would be a smart, solid addition. At 6’2”, 202 lbs., Smith possesses excellent size for the position. And unlike many other tall corners, the Colorado CB displays the ability to hold up in man coverage and keep pace with speedy wideouts. Smith needs to show more aggressiveness in run support and consistently play up to his potential, but he possesses the physical attributes of a quality starting cornerback. With Ryan Grant landing on IR early in the season, the team could draft a running back, but the team’s high-powered offense can afford to take a back seat as Dom Capers gets more pieces to put together a great defense.

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.

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