Cowboys will shore up offensive line
If they can't trade down, Cowboys will go with consistent performer from B.C. at No. 9
Analysis: I know the Panthers would love for a team to come forward and take this selection from them, but GM Marty Hurney has been in this league long enough to know that's not going to happen. The Panthers will select a talented football player, but one that carries the most questions. The Panthers will hand in that card and hope that all the work they have done on Newton will prove to be correct.
Analysis: Was the best defensive linemen I studied in this draft. Will be a perfect fit for a Broncos team trying to rebuild a defensive line that was one of the poorest against the run last season. Is a load to have to deal with down after down. Strong and physical. Never see him stop. Always attacking his man. Never see him come off the field. It's interesting that you are hearing whispers about Von Miller here, but I don't see it scheme-wise.
Analysis: One of the safest selections in this draft. The Bills were ranked 30th in the league in 3rd-down defense last season and 23rd in sacks per pass attempt. The one thing that Miller can do is rush the passer, and he proved during Senior Bowl practices and the game that if he is called on to drop, he can do that, too. I know people have put Blaine Gabbert here, but Ryan Fitzpatrick is no throwaway. Bills take the pass rusher.
Analysis: One of the most dynamic play-makers in this draft. Green gives the Bengals an instant threat. His ability is tailored for the NFL game. He can make plays all over the field and, more importantly, in the red zone. The Bengals are not known as an aggressive team when it comes to draft day trades so I can see them sitting and waiting to see if a quarterback gets to them in the second round.
Analysis: The Cardinals' quarterback situation was a mess last season. Three different starters took snaps at various points. Gabbert will be asked to do what Matt Leinart couldn't when he was selected 10th overall in the 2006 NFL Draft, and that is to bring stability to the position that has been lacking since Kurt Warner retired. Offensive line selections here would help as well.
Analysis: It will be hard for Mike Holmgren to pass on Julio Jones in this draft because I know how much he loves wide receivers for his offense, but if you look at the Browns' defensive line, and especially at end, there is no one that can put pressure on the quarterback. In studying Quinn in 2009, the one thing he excelled at was rushing the passer. Robert Quinn will be the first step in fixing this defense.
Analysis: I know for a fact that Jim Harbaugh wants a quarterback in this draft, but with the two top signal-callers off the board he turns his attention to the player that many clubs have as the best on the board. The 49ers could use a cornerback with some man-to-man cover skills in their secondary to move Spencer to the nickel role. The talent is too great to pass here.
Analysis: This selection would have me a little nervous, but Fairley's former defensive line coach at Auburn, Tracy Rocker, would be his position coach for the Titans. Any help that the Titans can get along the defensive line will be a real plus. Fairley will have something to prove here because you do see the flashes of greatness, but he needs to be more consistent. Also watch for a quarterback at some point in draft.
Analysis: In my first mock draft I had Tyron Smith going to the Cowboys at this spot, but two weeks later, I don't believe that will be the case. Smith has some outstanding traits, as does Catronzo, but I feel they are looking for a tough, smart, steady, consistent performer. The Cowboys have studied the whole body of work here and that's why I feel they will select Castonzo. With Julio Jones on the board, the possibility of trading down looms, as well.
Analysis: The Redskins can go in several different positions and in my book that makes them the "wild card" in this first round. Mike Shanahan needs a quarterback after what happened last season. Shanahan likes to work with quarterbacks and isn't afraid to draft them, much like he did Jay Cutler. The Redskins make the first "wow" selection in my mock draft.
Analysis: Wade Phillips is the new defensive coordinator in Houston. Club is going back to the 3-4 defense and will need ends and outside linebackers. In my first mock draft I had them selection J.J. Watt, and that still is a possibility, but I can see Phillips seeing a little DeMarcus Ware in Smith and wanting to use him the same way in his scheme for the Texans. There were two pass rushers that I was impressed with: Robert Quinn and Aldon Smith.
Analysis: Like the Redskins, the Vikings can go several ways, but with the Cowboys passing on Smith I believe this will be the selection. Both McKinnie and Loadholt struggled last season, so the club will look to address one of those spots. The Vikings could also use a corner or a defensive end. Smith will most likely be their highest-ranked tackle on the board when they select.
Analysis: Lions Head Coach Jim Schwartz understands talent -- and he understands defensive talent. The Lions could use some help at corner and a player of Amukamara's skill would be welcomed. The Lions will look at offensive tackle and defensive linemen, as well.
Analysis: The Rams are dying for a receiver to help Sam Bradford and they get what they need with the talented Jones. We didn't have trades in this mock draft, but if Jones were to get to the Cowboys at 9, the Rams would consider moving up. If Jones is not on the board, defensive tackle is a possibility.
Analysis: The Dolphins will be tempted to hand the card in for Mark Ingramfrom Alabama but they really need the help inside with the center/guard spot. Center Ritchie Incognito does nothing for me and most likely doesn't do it for GM Jeff Ireland. Pouncey's brother at Pittsburgh was tremendous as a rookie.
Analysis: Bowers was projected by many to be a top-five player in this draft but concerns about his health allowed his stock to drop. The Jaguars are more than happy that this pass rusher has fallen into their laps, and paired with Aaron Kampman, the Jaguars can bring some pressure off the edge.
Analysis: The Patriots -- on a selection from the Raiders -- add a tough, hard-nosed defensive end to their 34 front. Watt is the type of player the Patriots love with his position flexibility and no-nonsense approach. Effective against the run as a stout point-of-attack player, but helps you in the passing game with his effort as a rusher.
Analysis: Along with Von Miller, is one of the best outside linebacker in the draft. Will play all over the place. Impressive as a rusher with his hand in the dirt. Can make things happen. Chases the ball, redirects and gets in on plays. Can drop, but you want him attacking the pocket.
Analysis: Tom Coughlin would have like a shot at an offensive tackle because of the age of his current group (all 30-plus). Carimi makes a lot of sense here because of his toughness and nasty side. The Giants have a history of taking Big 10 linemen that goes back to the George Young days. The Giants could also use some speed at linebacker.
Analysis: The Bucs could use a guard here, as well, but the need at right tackle is more pressing . Donald Penn did a solid job at left tackle, but James Lee off waivers from Cleveland is not the answer on the right side. Look for the Bucs to do everything in their power to help Josh Freeman at quarterback and LeGarrette Blount running the ball. Solder is an athlete that can play in space and mirror edge rushers. Derek Sherrod from Mississippi State is a possibility, but l like Solder better.
Analysis: This is where the run of offensive tackles in the first round could end. Chiefs could use a receiver with speed but all the top ones are long gone. Another large need was at center, but Pouncey is gone as well. The Chiefs will look to gain a starting tackle out of this draft, mainly on the right side where Barry Richardson currently plays.
Analysis: Colts GM Bill Polian has always had a different approach to the draft and has had some success doing it his way. Yes, the Colts can use some size inside and Temple Muhammed Wilkerson or Phil Taylor of Baylor could be the selection, but Polian will look to add a quarterback to sit behind Manning and learn. Polian knows there is a good chance that when it's his turn again in the second round that Dalton will most likely not be there, so he pulls the trigger now.
Analysis: The Eagles get the second-best corner in the draft in my view. If Smith did not have the off-the-field questions there is no doubt in my mind that he would be a top-15 pick. The Eagles have taken players before that have had off-the-field issues and it has worked out well, namely wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Smith has a chance to be a special player.
Analysis: Sometimes you just catch a break in the draft, and this is one of those times. Jordan slides through the draft and winds up on a defense that can really use a base end. Where Jordan will really be the most effective is when he lines up over the guards as a nickel rusher. This is where the majority of his sacks will come.
Analysis: The Seahawks were hoping that Locker would have been there when they are on the clock but it doesn't work out that way. GM John Schneider has been all over the country scouting quarterbacks and knows he needs one now. He will try and trade back but if the phones don't ring, he has to make the pick. Schneider sees too much risk with Ryan Mallett and selects Ponder to be his guy.
Analysis: Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome has an incredible knack for drafting players that fit his scheme and play for a high level for many years. Head coach John Harbaugh also has an outstanding eye for talent as. Williams is a physical player on the outside that is not afraid to come forward and set the edge in the running game. He can play press coverage, as well as off. At Texas he also lined up in the slot. Might one day be a pretty solid safety.
Analysis: Feel there are a couple of different directions that the Falcons could go in this draft. In my first mock draft I put Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph with the Falcons, which I think would be a nice fit. I like Kerrigan and what he did at Purdue. He played as the strong-side end was nice against the run. Where he is going to be most effective is off the edge where he can get that first step on the tackle. Guy has a big motor.
Analysis: Alabama head coach Nick Saban and New England's Bill Belichick once worked together with the Cleveland Brownsand share a good friendship from over the years. Saban and Belichick also have similar views on players and the type they need to have to be successful. The Patriots take the best back in the draft and don't look back.
Analysis: There are three ways that the Bears might want to attack this draft. On the offensive side of the ball they could use a left tackle, a corner that has some man-for-man cover skills that can play in the slot or a play-making defensive tackle. I see them going the route of the defensive tackle. Wilkerson played as an end at Temple and is projected inside. His best trait is his ability to rush the passer. With Peppers and Idonije on the outside, Wilkerson could be a match up nightmare inside.
Analysis: Jets look to add a big, powerful player at the point of attack. Taylor has the size and strength to hold up nicely in the running game but give the Jets some push in the middle of the pocket. Kris Jenkins was this guy, but knee injuries have been his downfall in recent seasons. Taylor is just more than a big inside space-eater. He is a sideline-to-sideline player that has nice athletic ability.
Analysis: The one thing the Steelers learned in the Super Bowl was that you have to match up against teams that attack you with multiple wide receiver packages. The Steelers can put pressure on you all day, but if they can't cover then there are going to be problems. Harris can play press coverage and match up in the slot. He doesn't have ideal height but he will fight for the ball in the air. He really is a nice value at this point in the draft for a team that needs help here.
Analysis: Packers GM Ted Thompson has always believed in building through the draft. He values picks and his staff does an outstanding job of fitting the player to the scheme they are playing, whether that's on offense or defense. The Packers will have a couple of options from the final spot in the first round. One, they can select a guard in Danny Watkins and plug him in on the left side. Or they can take a high-motor and intensity guy in Brooks Reed and pair him with Clay Matthews to bring some pressure off the backside of the opponents offense. This is the route I believe they will go.