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1/3/11 4:14 PM
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Nanook
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What's your mock draft look like?
1/3/11 5:28 PM
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Nanook
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As of January 8, 2011.



1. Carolina Panthers
AJ Green
WR
Georgia

- Poor Panther fans.

Needless to say, 2010 has been largely the year to forget. First, they lose Julius Peppers, who was without question the best player that franchise has ever had; and the most popular to boot.

Then, on field, they are completely, historically dreadful and have their worst season in franchise history, falling to 1-15, and were every bit as poor as their record indicated.

For the Panther fan base, their only saving grace was the certainty that Andrew Luck was going to be waiting for them to pick him at #1 overall. Luck had walked in to a Stanford program that had been dreadfully bad over the last 10 seasons and he revived them. Surely, he was going to do the same for Carolina, right?

Oops. After announcing he was forgoing the draft and returning to Stanford for another season, instead of chanting Luck, Panther fans were stuck instead yelling something that sounds quite similar, with F replacing the L.

Now with Luck gone, the million dollar question is, now what?

I'm gonna roll the dice with this one. I originally tinkered with the idea of putting Nick Fairley of Auburn, as Carolina ranked 23rd in the NFL against the rush and really seemed to lack a dynamic pass rusher.

This said, I think WR is a legit need. Steve Smith has aged and quickly. Even though I like Brandon LaFell and David Gettis, neither of them really fills the role of a prototypical #1 WR. Green is easily the best WR to hit the draft since Calvin Johnson, and has the Larry Fitzgerald/Andre Johnson mold of being a player who can take over a game. Carolina's offense stunk out loud in 2010 (ranked 32nd in passing yards, points and total yards), Green will be a major step forward towards fixing it and improving it for the long haul.

If Cam Newton has an incredible showing in the BCS title game and blows up at the Combine, this changes and all bets are off. As of now though, I'm going to give the Panthers the "now" pick in Green.

2. Denver Broncos
Patrick Peterson
CB
LSU

- To me, this is a toss up between Peterson and Auburn's Nick Fairley. Denver's defensive line is atrocious, thus it wouldn't stun me entirely to see them go with Fairley, however their secondary is heading into a bad spot as well. Champ Bailey is a free agent, and has indicated the turnover and uncertainty is something he wants no part of at this point in his career. Parrish Cox, who was their second starter this season appears headed to jail following rape allegations being levied against him.

Peterson has been a shutdown corner from the day he stepped foot in Baton Rouge. His talents project very well to the next level, and he'd be a much needed infusion of new blood into Denver's quickly deteriorating secondary.

3. Buffalo Bills
Nick Fairley
DT
Auburn

- Less than two months ago, Buffalo seemed a lock for the #1 overall pick. The team played with a ton of heart, however they seemed to be lacking at certain positions, and seemed to be on the wrong side of some bad bounces.

However, something happened on the way to the top spot.. The team started winning games. By virtue of their lucky breaks (no pun intended), they essentially played themselves out of the Luck sweepstakes.

Now at 3, the Bills face questions.

Do they take a Cam Newton, Ryan Mallet or Blaine Gabbert to solidify their QB position? Or, do they give the ball to Fitzpatrick and reward him for his efforts in 2010 and draft a QB in Round 2 or 3 like Pat Devlin, Ricky Stansi or Christian Ponder to develop? Do they grab a WR and give themselves another offensive weapon to play with, especially at a position of uncertainty.

With AJ Green off the board here, I see them going defense. While their pass defense is VASTLY underrated and extremely good (Buffalo ranked 3rd in the NFL in pass defense), they lack pass rushers(Aaron Maybin has been a huge bust) and their run defense could use some help.

Fairley offers help on both categories. I look at Fairley the same way I view Albert Haynesworth at his best. It's almost uncanny too because Fairley is a guy who needs a fire lit under his rear end at times, like Haynesworth did. However, when he does, he's got potential and capability of capability of dominating games, as he did in the Iron Bowl against Alabama, completely making a strong Crimson Tide offensive line look like bush leaguers; then again in the SEC title game. Having him in tow will make Buffalo's defense much better. As is, I think they're not far from respectability, and a player like Fairley could allow them to make that step forward.

4. Cincinnati Bengals
De'Quan Bowers
DE
Clemson

- It seems hard to fathom that this team just 12 months ago won the AFC Central, and seemed to be on the rise.

One year later, Cincinnati sits in all too familiar territory, back in the top of the draft, and with many question marks that they have to answer.

Will Carson Palmer be brought back behind center, or do the Bengals need to move in a different direction? Four weeks ago, it seemed like Palmer was taking his final bow as a Bengal. Then, Terrell Owens was lost for the season, Chad Ocho Cinco was hurt and suddenly, Palmer looked like the Palmer of old, leaving questions as to whether or not he truly was the problem.

With this said, WR could be a need. It has already been confirmed Owens won't be returning for a second season in Cincinnati, and one wonders if 2011 will be the season where Ocho Cinco suits up elsewhere. With both gone, the Bengals could well turn to Jerome Simpson and Jordan Shipley, or they could grab Green if he falls.

That said, I feel the Bengals look for help on the defensive line. Antwan Odom can't seem to stay healthy, and Carlos Dunlop could use a running buddy at DE to work along side him.

On a personal perspective, I'm VERY weary if I'm a front office head about taking guys like Bowers. When you're picking this high, taking a player who is so inconsistent and really was a one-year wonder scares the hell out of me. That said, Bowers was damn near unblockable in 2010, and gave some team enough tape footage to spend a first rounder, a high one at that on him. Cincinnati has never shied (in recent memory) from players like Bowers, they won't now.
1/4/11 5:15 PM
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caleb
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cant wait until you get to Dallas
1/4/11 5:43 PM
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Waylay
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Nanook - Here's mine... Round 1 only.

1. Carolina Panthers
Andrew Luck
QB
Stanford

- First, San Francisco apparently wants Luck badly. Reportedly, the team is willing to offer up Michael Crabtree, their first and second; along with a first next year to move up five spots for Luck.

Honestly, if I'm Carolina, I at worst consider this. The Panthers have many holes, and no matter how good Luck is, he's not going to fix them. Crabtree would give them a substantial upgrade at WR, as Steve Smith is aging quickly, and Brandon LaFell isn't there, nor may he ever be.

By moving down, the Panthers could fix that atrocious defense, starting with a player like Robert Quinn.. Or, if they covet a QB that badly and have no faith in either Jimmy Clausen or Matt Moore, they easily could take Ryan Mallett, Blaine Gabbert or even possibly Cam Newton.

As is, I will try to avoid speculating on trade possibilities and do mine under the assumption each team picks where they are currently slotted to.

If this remains the case, Carolina needs everything.. Luck is the best available player in the draft. They can fill the QB hole and start from there.



The Panthers defense was actually pretty good for the most part. They were solid against the run (3.94 ypa) and the pass (12th defensive pass rating). The problem they had was the offense was so amazingly awful that they were constantly ground down by too many 3 and outs, turnovers, short fields etc. They had to contend with an offense that had the third worst time of posession, meaning they spent to much time on the field.  Not to say they couldn't use another playmaker, but the Panthers definitely need to work on offense first.

Andrew Luck is the obvious pick here. But I agree with you that they should trade down. Their o-line was the second worst in the league in protecting the qb. Putting Luck behind that in its current lineup will just see him get killed. Trade down and fix that o-line first. Then see what you have at QB after that.
 
1/4/11 8:35 PM
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Nanook
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Waylay - 
The Panthers defense was actually pretty good for the most part. They were solid against the run (3.94 ypa) and the pass (12th defensive pass rating). The problem they had was the offense was so amazingly awful that they were constantly ground down by too many 3 and outs, turnovers, short fields etc. They had to contend with an offense that had the third worst time of posession, meaning they spent to much time on the field.  Not to say they couldn't use another playmaker, but the Panthers definitely need to work on offense first.

Andrew Luck is the obvious pick here. But I agree with you that they should trade down. Their o-line was the second worst in the league in protecting the qb. Putting Luck behind that in its current lineup will just see him get killed. Trade down and fix that o-line first. Then see what you have at QB after that.


I do agree, I think their OLine is so atrocious that even if you get a scrambler like Cam Newton back at QB, it isn't going to matter because they're gonna get killed. That said, the highest rated OLineman at this point is in the middle of the first and would be a huge reach. If I'm Carolina, I'm putting some money on the table for Jared Gaither of Baltimore. He's vastly underrated and would fix the LT spot. I also could see them taking Gabe Camozi of Wisconsin in the second, who reminds me a bit of Joe Thomas.

I do stand corrected on their defense, although I think they could use a playmaker there to replace the wrinkle Julius Peppers brought to the table all these years that seemed sorely lacking this year.

Luck seems to be the answer, but if they honestly can get an offer like what San Fran reportedly is offering, they should at least consider.
1/4/11 9:41 PM
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Nanook
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5. Arizona Cardinals
Cam Newton
QB
Auburn

- Let me be clear here.. If I'm Arizona, I'm taking a DE/OLB to fix the atrocious pass rush the Cardinals have, or even Prince Amukamara; as the Cards pass defense leaves a LOT to be desired.

Alas, this isn't what I think the Cardinals SHOULD do however, it's what I think they WILL do.

Phoenix fans are notoriously fickle. They want the star power, they want what shines. Many of them still have not recovered from the Cards passing on Adrian Peterson for Levi Brown several years back, although Brown was a much bigger need. Mark my words here, if Arizona goes into 2011 without a fan specific "major upgrade" at QB, heads will roll.

What is known beyond doubt is this. The Cardinals do need work at the QB position. Derek Anderson can't get the hell out of Sky Harbor International Airport soon enough, John Skelton and Max Hall both hardly elicit feelings of long term stability.

Newton has many question marks in my opinion. I don't think he's ready for the NFL just yet, think he needs a year or two on the pine to adjust and learn, and has way too many red flag character flaws for my liking. I also really only have a one-year body of work to judge, and while that one year was a DAMN good one, it's hardly much to hang my head on.

That said, he does have several top intangibles you look for in a QB. He has huge upside, great mobility and a strong, fairly accurate arm. He also is a great leader on field, and is cool under pressure. The physical tools and intangibles are there, but he's a project. If Arizona goes this route, they're going to need to get a vet like Marc Bulger or Donovan McNabb to hold down the job.

I see Arizona doing this to appease it's fanbase more than anything. I also think the Ben Roethlisberger with more mobility comparisons are fair, and we all know Ken Wisenhunt made his bread as a coordinator with Roethlisberger. Also, I can't help but wonder if Arizona feels like if they pass on him, San Francisco won't.





6. Cleveland Browns
Marcell Dareus
DT/DE
Alabama

- What does a team with more holes than draft picks do to fix their problems?

Let's start at the top of what the Browns DON'T need.

I feel Colt McCoy will be given a full opportunity to start in 2011, he showed enough in 2010 working with less than a limited deck of WRs and still was productive. Thus, QB is likely out of the picture.

Peyton Hillis was the mother of all off-season steals. He, and the Browns, are set at HB.

The Offensive Line is decent. No need to spend a first there.

Everything else? Fix it. Ideally, the Browns would love to get a playmaker at WR to give McCoy a weapon to throw to. However, at 6 AJ Green will be long gone. If the small chance occurs that he falls to 6, Cleveland will waste zero time picking him. While the Browns need help at WR, with Green gone and 6 being too high of a reach for them to take the next best WR (Julio Jones), I see Cleveland looking elsewhere.

I feel the direction they go is at Defensive End. The Browns pass rush is dreadful and their starting DE are Kenyon Coleman and Brian Schafering, who between them netted 2.5 sacks total.



Dareus is a good fit for San Francisco's defense because he can play either Defensive End or Defensive Tackle, and fits in any scheme. While he's not the potential disruptive force that Fairley is, playing motivated is never an issue with him, and I see him being a consistent cog in the middle. Where I viewed Fairley as an Albert Haynesworth, I see Dareus as a Trevor Pryce. For Cleveland, that's a pretty nice addition.

7. San Francisco 49ers
Prince Amukamara
CB
Nebraska

- Now that Jim Harbaugh has taken over the reigns in San Francisco, automatically the assumption is the 49ers will try to fill the void at quarterback. Obviously, Alex Smith's days are done in San Francisco, and I question exactly how highly the incoming staff views Troy Smith.

On the flipside of that, none of the current QB available in my mock fit the Jim Harbaugh mold. The top QBs at this phase (Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Mallett) are gunslingers with questionable decision making skills. Also, keep this in mind-- there's ZERO guarantees for next yeat about where Andrew Luck will wind up. If Matt Leinart fell to 10 coming off his run at USC, it's not far fetched to imagine that Luck could drop just enough for San Francisco to reunite him with Harbaugh. Food for thought here, don't be stunned in the least if the 49ers hand the reigns next year to Smith and go after a QB in the second round. It's easier to justify replacing a 2nd round draft pick at QB than a first.. And cheaper.

Outside of the QB position, San Francisco's biggest weakness seems to be at corner. Nate Clemens hasn't panned out as anticipated, and there's some internal grumblings that he could either be moved to safety or released outright. Even if they DO keep him at CB, the 49ers ranked 23rd in the NFL in passing yards allowed. While Larry Fitzgerald remains in the division, and Sam Bradford seems to be making his mark quickly, this has to be fixed for the 49ers to be able to compete.

While many people consider Patrick Patterson to be the best CB prospect to come along in quite some time, Amukamara may be right up there with him, minus some of the hype. The guy is an outright stud who shows signs of being a shutdown CB, he's just what the doctor ordered for San Francisco's secondary.

8. Tennessee Titans
Ryan Mallett
QB
Arkansas

- In my original mock, I still had questions as to who would survive the Vince Young- Jeff Fisher feud, and return to Nashville for 2011. Much to my surprise, the Titans seemingly made the right choice and gave their long tenured coach another year, while sending the former #3 overall pick packing for destinations unknown.

Now with Young gone and Fisher returning, Tennessee's pick became much easier to dictate and predict. Kerry Collins is geriatric, and Rusty Smith certainly isn't the answer.

Mallett, in a lot of ways reminds me a tad of a younger Collins. Thus, at his best, he'd be a good fit for the Titans. He's got a big time arm, has been fairly accurate this season (he has a 67 percent completion rate this year, which is damn impressive considering the level of competition he's played against) and has averaged over 10 yards a completion.

The biggest knocks against him are two fold. One, Bobby Petrino has a poor history of developing quarterbacks for the next level. The names Dave Raggone, Brian Brohm, Chris Redman and Stefan LeFors will elicit more groans than praise when talking to NFL fans. Perhaps it's the play calling, perhaps it's the coach, however with Mallett one automatically winds up with questions as to whether Mallett isn't just another system QB of Petrino's who will flop on the next level.

Also, there have been character concerns and questions as to how much Mallett's heart is in football. This is worth noting, however someone will take a flier on him because of his physical assets. I think on the Titan roster, he's on the right squad that will keep him in line and put those physical gifts to use.

Plus, Bud Adams has seen enough of him being in SEC country and reportedly loves the guy. Meanwhile, Fisher reportedly is in Mallett's corner too, which after the Young fiasco is a plus.
1/5/11 1:20 PM
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Nanook
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9. Dallas Cowboys
JJ Watt
DE/DT
Wisconsin

- The first new addition to my Big Board, Watt declared for the 2010 Draft Thursday and immediately finds himself in the top ten.

With a good Combine, and depending on situations, I could see him winding up much higher than this, and if Cincinnati winds up scared off by the inconsistencies of Bowers, I could see him go there, or even to Buffalo at 3 depending on what happens with Fairley.

As is, I have Watt going to Dallas, who desperately needs an upgrade at RDE, as Igor Olshansky just isn't getting the job done.

Watt's story may be one of the more interesting rags to riches ones in this year's draft. Originally, Watt started his collegiate career as a tight end for Western Michigan, before transferring to Wisconsin to be closer to his family, including a family member with cancer. From there, he walked on to the Badger program, before earning a scholarship after his sophomore campaign.

Noone in this draft has a better work ethic than Watt, and while he's still developing as a defensive player, his intangibles make him a very plum prospect for a team like Dallas.

10. Washington Redskins
Blaine Gabbert
QB
Missouri

- Needless to say, the Donovan McNabb- Mike Shanahan/Washington Redskin marriage is over. The ride was short, tumultuous and frankly didn't work out for either side.

While McNabb did sign a contract extension mid-season, there's also a clause in it where Washington could move on after the 2010 season without penalty. I'd bet the farm the Skins will exercise that clause and frankly it's best for both sides to move on.

With McNabb gone, once again the Redskins find themselves searching for a quarterback. They surely cannot go in to 2011 with Rex Grossman starting, that's a recipe for disaster.

Gabbert has the tools that you seek in a quarterback. He's got good size, a cannon for an arm, a good work ethic and fairly consistent and accurate passes. His biggest pitfall is the fact that he spent his collegiate career in a spread offense, however so did Sam Bradford and thus far, it hasn't limited his ability on the NFL level.

Mike Shanahan gets his young gun to work with, the Redskins feel like they've finally acquired their long term answer at QB. Sounds like a win-win for both parties.

11. Houston Texans
Von Miller
DE/OLB
Texas A&M

- Changes are a-coming to the Texan defense, and frankly they're long overdue.

For as good as the Texan offense is, their defense remains dreadful The team took the first major step towards improving it by firing Frank Bush and replacing him with Wade Phillips. While Phillips the head coach leaves a lot to be desired, Phillips as a defensive coordinator is exceptional. I honestly rank him as one of the top five defensive minds in the game. He alone will improve the overall fortunes of the Texan defense, yet they still need talent to work with.

Don't get me wrong, the Texans aren't completely talent void on defense. Mario Williams is a stud, who continues to prove the talking heads that called him the "Sam Bowie" to Reggie Bush and Vince Young's Michael Jordan are complete morons. Brian Cushing is also a chip to build with, DeMaco Ryans is underrated, Conor Barwin is developing, Kareem Jackson is a good second hand at CB, and Bernard Pollard is a hammer. Yet, they still need a few more pieces before they're complete.

I fully forsee them signing Nnmandi Asomaugh to fix their secondary woes. Once that is resolved, I envision them going after another OLB, specifically on the Weakside, as Zak Diles as a starter just doesn't cut the mustard.

Wade Phillips will be bringing in a 3-4 defense. With the shift to the 3-4, Houston will need a nose tackle to pair with ends Mario Williams and Antonio Smith. DeMeco Ryans and Brian Cushing would play inside linebacker, while the outside pass rushers would be Connor Barwin and whomever they draft. To me, there's not a better player suited for the 3-4 than Miller, who had a monster junior season, then followed with a very good senior campaign. The Texans will find him to be the perfect compliment to Mario Williams, and will find themselves with a dynamic pass rush duo for many years to come.

12. Minnesota Vikings
Alden Smith
DE
Missouri

- Another new addition to the Big Board, Smith is widely expected to declare for the draft. The Vikings will be losing Ray Edwards this off-season, and find themselves in need of a young replacement across from Jared Allen. Smith is an athletic freak of nature, who puts bone smashing pressure on quarterbacks. His pass rush skills are potent, proven by the fact that he notched 4.5 sacks this year despite an injury filled 2010 that caused him to miss a large number of games.

There's a very real possibility, QB could be the pick here also. Brett Favre once again has announced his retirement. Of course we've heard this before.. Many times before. However, with the turmoil that has surrounded him in 2010, and the injuries taking a toll on him to the point where it's causing him to miss games, for some odd reason, I actually believe him this time. I think more people would be surprised if he DID remain retired than if he had a change of mind, me being one. That said, even if Favre does come back, Minnesota needs to find a quarterback to groom for the future, as Favre is only going to get older. However, by this point, all the first rounders are off the board, and picking one would be a healthy reach. I also feel the Vikings would be better suited to trade for Kyle Orton and will wind up doing so.

13. Detroit Lions
Robert Quinn
DE/OLB
North Carolina

- The Lions biggest need is cornerback, however the top three are gone, and the others are reaches at this stage.

What's not a reach will be Quinn, who at 13 is a major steal for the Lions.

Arguably the most talented pass rusher to come out of North Carolina in some time, Quinn fits PERFECTLY in all of Jim Schwartz' defensive schemes and is a disruptive force, who draws many comparisons to another former UNC pass rushing menace, Julius Peppers.

NCAA rules violations caused him to be suspended for the entire 2010 season. While I'm all about laying down the law, Quinn's suspension was one of the few I'd disagree with, as his violations were secondary and petty. Yet, the powers that be decided to lay down the law. This may cause Quinn's value to drop, but not far enough.

The Lions will get a real steal at 13, and with he at his best and Suh at the DT/DE position, the Lion defense takes one step closer to being complete, while the franchise slowly moves back to respectability.



1/5/11 4:05 PM
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Nanook
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14. St. Louis Rams
Julio Jones
WR
Alabama

- What a difference a year, and a draft pick makes.

At this time last season, the Rams were concluding a one-win season, and seemingly had no hope for the forseeable future.

One good draft, a few quality free agent signings later, and
12 months later, the Rams took a major step forward. Yes, they finished 7-9 in the worst conference in football, however the six-win improvement must be noted, as should the fact that they were playing for the NFC West title in the final week of the regular season.

The biggest reason behind their rise, and seemingly hopeful future was Sam Bradford, their number one overall pick last season. Bradford was able to overcome the knee injuries that sidelined him in his senior season, doubts that he'd be able to survive behind St. Louis' offensive line and questions as to whether he was a product of Bob Stoops' less than stellar pro QB development system to have an excellent rookie campaign. He has clearly established that he's the real deal, and will only improve from here.

In order to continue to allow Bradford to grow, they need to walk away from the draft with a true #1 wide out for him. Danny Amendola wound up being a true diamond in the rough and a bargain basement steal, however he's more suited for the slot/#2 WR spot. By bringing in a go-to-WR, it actually makes him more able to expand on his growing skills.

Jones fits the role of go-to-guy to a tee. He's got prototype size (6'4), deceptive speed and shiftiness for his size, toughness and big game experience against top quality defense.

His biggest cons are the fact that he drops WAY too many passes and sometimes shies away from going over the middle and taking big hits. On a talent perspective though, the ability to be a #1 and go to target for Bradford is there, and the Rams will be all too happy to work with him to try and fix some of those flaws.

15. Miami Dolphins
Mark Ingram
HB
Alabama

- Surprisingly, Miami's offense (which was expected to take a major step forward with Brandon Marshall in town) took a big step backwards in 2010. Only Carolina scored fewer touchdowns than Miami's 25, and the team often found trouble developing a routine.

Part of that huge dip was due to having a geriatric old fart, Dan Henning, at offensive coordinator, who's offensive philosophies should have been put out to pasture in the '80s, and the fact that the dumbass would screw any routine Miami had going and any groove they had by relying on the Wildcat, which can follow Henning's ass out of town. Fortunately, a new offensive coordinator will be brought in one way or the next.

What needs to next be brought in is an upgrade at the running back position. For some reason, both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams never quite seemed to get it going in 2010. Once again, this can partially be blamed on Henning, however even when they tried to rely on the run, something seemed lacking. Both Williams and Brown are free agents, both have a ton of mileage anyhow and likely won't be brought back.

Drafting Ingram would allow Miami to return to a reliance on the running game. All Ingram has done at Alabama is produce and produce big. The 2009 Heisman Trophy winner and patriarch behind the Crimson Tide's National Title had a very good freshman campaign, a dominant sophomore one and in each proved he is capable of carrying an offense. He has the right size and speed to be a featured back on the NFL level, a brilliant football IQ and comes from a strong pedigree both on the college level and personally, as his father also had a successful NFL career.

How good is Ingram, and how high are his expectations? By his standards, he had a "let down" 2010.. Yet, despite only playing 10 games, battling nagging injuries all season and having teams triple stack him defensively, he still rushed for 875 yards and had 13 touchdowns.

Ingram's gonna be a stud on the next level. He's going to be a welcomed addition to Miami's stagnant offense.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars
Janoris Jenkins
CB
Florida

- Jacksonville ranked 27th in the NFL against the pass in 2010. In a division with Peyton Manning and Matt Schaub, lack of defense against the pass likely gets you beaten emphatically and finishing in the basement of the division.

Rashean Mathis is ok, but he's going to be 31 next season, and Derek Cox is wildly inconsistent.

Jenkins would be a nice upgrade and with him being a Florida Gator, it might not hurt them to take him to make another final push towards reviving their sagging attendance. Los Angeles remains the albatross that looms large, thus Wayne Weaver is looking for any kind of box office help he can get to keep the team in town. While Jenkins by no means has a fifth of the pull Tim Tebow did, he IS a Gator. For most Jacksonville folk, that's more than enough.

17. New England Patriots (from Oakland)
Cameron Jordan
DT/DE
Cal

- This pick was acquired by New England in the Richard Seymore deal. While some Pat fans had hopes and beliefs the pick would be a top 10 one at the start of the season, Oakland had a much improved 2010, and managed to bump the pick down a few dozen notches from where Pat fans hoped to pick.

Regardless, getting Jordan is a nice pick up for them. The Patriots need major help on their defensive line, and Jordan had a pretty respectable college career, which included a 5.5 sack, 12.5 tackle for loss 2010 campaign. He'd be a nice upgrade for the defensive line. On top of things, Bill Belichick loves his players with pedigrees to them, and Jordan is the son of 13-year NFL vet Steve Jordan, and carries himself in the Patriot mold. He'll be a guy Belichick finds himself coveting.

It also wouldn't stun me to see New England go after a Wide Receiver here, as outside of Wes Welker, the Pats WR core is underwhelming. However, with two picks, they can kill two birds with one stone. More on the WR hole repair to come.

18. San Diego Chargers
Akeem Ayers
DE/OLB
UCLA

- Shawne Merriman is now in Buffalo and Larry English has been a disappointment. Beyond this, the Chargers are in need of a disruptive force who fits their defense.

The junior defensive end/outside linebacker to me is the second best 3-4 LB available, and gives the Chargers a playmaker. This season, he had 18.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks and 44 quarterback hurries. He's made a niche for himself abusing opponents in their own backfield.
At 6'3", 260 pounds, Houston has an ideal size/speed combination for a 3-4 outside linebacker, and would give the Chargers what they lacked since injuries hit Merriman.


1/5/11 4:11 PM
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east
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 Thanks Nanook for working on this.  I haven't had a chance to read it all but I read your writeup on the Giants.  I'm not a big draft-guy so pardon my lack of knowledge. 

I've heard Pouncey being the guy the Giants would target at 19 if they go for an Olineman.  What are your thoughts on him?

Also what do you think of this year's LB class?  Any good fits for the Giants?  I think its about time we invested a premium pick into the LB position.  Clint Sintim seems to be a bust so far and we need more LB talent anyway.
1/5/11 4:31 PM
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Nanook
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19. New York Giants
Travis Lewis
OLB
Oklahoma

- The more I think of it, the more I realize the Giants need help at OLB. Originally, I had them taking Anthony Constanzo of Boston College, and I still feel they could because neither Kareem McKenzie nor David Diehl are getting any younger, and Shawn Andrews is injury prone.

However, I look at that Giant OLB core more and more, and I'm convinced an OLB, specifically Lewis, is going to be the pick now. Keith Bulluck is 33, Michael Boley has injury history and Clint Sintim hasn't panned out.

I like Lewis here due to his instictfulness, his coverage skills and his leadership. He won't ever rack up a ton of sacks, but in that defense, he won't have to.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ryan Kerrigan
DE
Purdue

- Not long ago, Tampa Bay was the prototype defense that every team in the National Football League wanted to be.

Unfortunately, age happened and the crux of the Tony Dungy-built teams retired, aged, or were otherwise sent packing. Over the last few seasons, the new regime has worked diligently to rebuild what the Bucs once had. Now, they need to focus on fixing the defensive end hole, as Michael Bennett and Tim Crowder just don't cut the mustard and the Bucs could use an upgrade.

Kerrigan offers them just that. Not only is he a player with a non-stop motor, a work ethic to kill for, top flight intangibles, schematic versitility and an ability to stop the run as a compliment to his pass rush skills; he's also an ideal compliment to Gerald McCoy, their first round pick from last season.

He lacks eye popping physical tools, and will likely never have double digits in sacks, or other overwhelming stats. He also really doesn't have much in terms of upside, and is going to more or less be a "what you see is what you get" player. However, while I don't envision him being a Pro Bowl regular, he's another I see being a very good player for a lengthy period of time.

21. Kansas City Chiefs
Justin Blackmon
WR
Oklahoma State

- The Chiefs took major strides this season towards finally returning to respectability, making the playoffs for the first time since 2007. With the West being a mess, San Diego seeming like they took a step backwards, Oakland being.. Well, Oakland and Denver being an epic disaster (I honestly think Josh McDaniels set that franchise back 3-4 years with his stupid moves and draft picks), Kansas City is in a position to sustain the success they had in 2010. Granted, they were overwhelmed and dispatched quickly come playoff time, but for a growing team, baby steps are baby steps.

What the Chiefs do with this pick is in question. Frankly, I'm not sold on Matt Cassell, and won't ever be. In my view, he's just not a good quarterback, and if I were Kansas City, I'd strongly consider looking at Jake Locker here. That in mind, Scott Pioli loves the guy, so likelihood of them going this route is slim.

OLB is another position they could look at. Mike Vrabel has had a hell of a career, and his leadership ability has proven once again to be invaluable, however he IS 35 years old, and an infusion of youth and a long term replacement is needed. I honestly think Akeem Ayers of UCLA would be a nice fit here.

However, ultimately I think the Chiefs biggest need is another WR. Dwayne Bowe is respectable, however lined up across from him this season were: Chris Chambers, Verran Tucker and Terrance Cooper. They originally planned on using Dexter McCluster at WR, but the coaching staff quickly realized that putting him there wasn't in either party's best interest. Needless to say, something needs to be done to upgrade.

Blackmon had a monsterous 2010, netting over 1,700 recieving yards and 20 touchdowns. He's got a nice touch, and good speed. I have him lower on my mock than most, simply because Julio Jones is bigger, quicker and has a larger body of work against tougher competition. I also have concerns over some of Blackmon's off-field habits, however the guy has talent galore, and should at WORST be the #3 WR off the board. On top of things, he's WORLDS better than what Kansas City trotted out opposite Bowe this year.



22. Indianapolis Colts
Stephen Paea
DT
Oregon State

- After going to the Super Bowl last season and finishing 14-2 in the regular season, it's fair to say 2010 was a pretty big disappointment all across the board for the Colts. Granted, for most teams, 10-6 and another division title/ playoff appearance is an oasis, but the stakes have been raised for the Colts to the point where this can be called disappointing.

Whereas the cornerback position could be looked at here, and Brandon Harris being high on my list of talents to watch, I think the Colts have much bigger needs, and their draft pick is going to come on the line.

Do the Colts take an OT here? God knows, Peyton Manning felt more pressure than he has in recent memory, and the absolute LAST thing Indianapolis wants is for him to suffer a serious injury. It certainly wouldn't stun me to see them take Boston College's Anthony Costanzo, Mississippi State's Derek Sherrod, Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi or Florida's Mike Pouncey here. Ultimately, they HAVE to protect the franchise at all costs.

That said, this year's crop of OLinemen is to the point where the Colts can wait and grab an equally adequate one in the second. With their first rounder, the Colts will attempt to fix a hole they've had almost as long as Manning has been in town-- a true run stuffing DT. They've recycled names galore, none have done the job. Paea will. He's capable of playing two slots, can rush the passer and is a road grading run stuffer, something Indianapolis has lacked for years. I have Paea as a top ten talent, and an absolute steal at 22. I think he's perhaps the best run stuffer in the draft, but not as disruptive of a pass rusher, which will cause his stock to drop a bit. However, for Indy, it's Christmas late.

23. New Orleans Saints
Brandon Harris
CB
Miami (FL)

- While Gregg Williams has done a fantastic job of putting an otherwise patchwork defense into something that won a Super Bowl, Saturday's playoff loss to Seattle proved that the Saints need the talent on defense, specifically in the secondary, to have staying power.

Think about this.. Matt Hasselbeck had his way with them.. Matt Hasselbeck is no joke of a QB, but even in his PRIME, he wasn't a guy you could expect to put up major yards. He tore the Saint secondary to shreds, and this was with a bunch of no names at WR.

If they get Harris here, we're talking one steal right after another. If you recall, in my previous draft I had Harris going as high as Houston at 11. I think size works against him (5'11) but he's every bit as good of a cover corner as Prince Amukamara and a little shiftier and quicker to the ball. I also feel like he's better than Janoris Jenkins, but will get passed because of the "hometown hero" crap that Jacksonville is looking for to draw crowds to their decrepit stadium.

24. Philadelphia Eagles
Anthony Constanzo
OT
Boston College
- The Eagles allowed 49 sacks this year.. This is with one of the best scrambling QB in the NFL as starter.

I think it's fair to say, the Eagles need help here. I'm higher on Constanzo than most. While some go for upside, Constanzo's is limited. Yet, I see him being a consistant, long term starter and is great in pass protection. He also comes from a school with a strong tradition in developing quality NFL Olinemen.

May not be the "high upside" pick some one, but I think it's the correct one.
1/5/11 4:46 PM
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Waylay
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East, there are a few DE prospects projected at OLB, but mostly as a 3-4 outside rush type. The only true LB I see regularly projected in the first round is Travis Lewis from Oklahoma. walterfootball.com/scoutingreport2011tlewis.php

Mike Pouncey is a projected first round pick. But the Giants will pass on him, because they Eagles want him at 25, okay thanks. Although he played Centre, alot of people are projecting him to play guard. Either way he will almost certainly be the  first interior lineman taken.

I watched a few Giants games. I would think that you would want Lewis over Pouncey.  Your line is okay, but LB is the weakest position on your defense.

1/5/11 5:02 PM
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east
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 ^thanks waylay.  After the Sintim fiasco of trying to convert a 3-4 pass rushing LB into a 4-3 LB'er, I'd like to get a proper 4-3 LB'er.  I've heard Travis Lewis' name thrown about nearly as much as Pouncey's in regards to the Giants.

I've also heard that Pouncey will be a better G than C.  Supposedly they moved him to C this season with poor results.  Although, you have to appreciate Pouncey's willingness to play where the team needed him.  Either way both of our teams could use interior Oline help, I hope we get it before you guys of course hehe. 

Eagles' Oline is definitely in need of an infusion of talent but I also think your CB's could use some help as well.  Your front 7 is great and I know Asante and hobbs were hobbled this season but I think another stud CB would make your defense a real terror. 
1/5/11 5:03 PM
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Waylay
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 Pretty nice work Nanook. I can only imagine how long that took to put together.

I think the 49ers take a QB no matter what. They either trade up as you pointed out earlier, or they stay at 7 and take Newton or Mallett. Their roster is suprisingly decent, with QB the only glaring hole. They lost more games because of coaching this year than any team I think. Of course we will have to wait and see which coach they get first. They are a good chance to get Harbaugh, who coached Luck, so that opens up the trade possibility.

The Bills would be crazy to take AJ Green I think. Receivers picked that high have a long history of being busts. There is no other position where success at college level is harder to project into NFL success. The Bills have so many holes as you say, I think they are much better taking Da'Quan Bowers or Nick Fairley, who have a much higher chance of being an impact player from day one.

The Dolphins pick will be an interesting one. They definitely need a new QB. But they are too low for Luck/Mallett/Newton, and too high for risking a pick on Locker (unless he dazzles the scouts the next couple of months). It sounds like Blaine Gabbert will not declare at this stage. I think they will be looking to move up or down a few, depending on what QB's are available. 


1/5/11 5:06 PM
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Nanook
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east -  Thanks Nanook for working on this.  I haven't had a chance to read it all but I read your writeup on the Giants.  I'm not a big draft-guy so pardon my lack of knowledge. 

I've heard Pouncey being the guy the Giants would target at 19 if they go for an Olineman.  What are your thoughts on him?



I like Pouncey, but he's more suited for the right guard position. He doesn't quite have the skills to offer schematic versitility like his brother, and isn't quite as mentally polished as him. I think his physical tools are BETTER than Maurkice's though, and I think on the right line, he could be a pretty nice pick. Don't expect him to carry the line, or be the anchor of it, but as a cog, he'd be pretty respectable.

Also what do you think of this year's LB class?  Any good fits for the Giants?  I think its about time we invested a premium pick into the LB position.  Clint Sintim seems to be a bust so far and we need more LB talent anyway.


I'm not sure exactly what went wrong with Sintim. Coming out of Virginia, I projected him as, at worst, a servicable OLB on the next level. He seems like he's not fully adjusting to the NFL though. Maybe he'll be a late bloomer, but in this day and age in the NFL, there's little room for error, and you're easily replaced, especially when you're a second round pick.

OLBs available where the Giants pick, that I think would be good fits for them:

Travis Lewis (Oklahoma)-- Reminds me a little of Lance Briggs at his best. He's not the most field aware at times, and not as patient in coverage and gap discipline as he should be, but he's got good work ethic, is consistent and a playmaker with fairly good pass rushing skills and above average closing speed. When he gets in the pocket, and has the player in his cross hairs, he's a bet to finish the tackle/sack. He's also disgustingly good at stopping the run.

Akeem Ayers (UCLA)-- Great in coverage, good tackler.. Not so much in sacks. Might not be bad, but I like Lewis a tad more..

Justin Houston (Georgia)-- He's a better pure tackler, and is good for TFL and sacks. Might not be a bad long term replacement for Umenyiora.

Bruce Carter (North Carolina)-- He's a freak athletically, but is inconsistent as hell and coming off major knee surgery. Yet, he might be a flier pick because of his athletic ability.

Colin McCarthy (Miami)-- I'm higher on him than some, but the guy tackles anything within a three-five yard radius of him, and is tough as nails to run on. His coverage skills are lacking, but he sort of reminds me of a hybrid between Chad Greenway, Patrick Willis and DeMaco Ryans, minus the QB rush abilities.
1/5/11 5:21 PM
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Waylay
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east -  ^thanks waylay.  After the Sintim fiasco of trying to convert a 3-4 pass rushing LB into a 4-3 LB'er, I'd like to get a proper 4-3 LB'er.  I've heard Travis Lewis' name thrown about nearly as much as Pouncey's in regards to the Giants.

I've also heard that Pouncey will be a better G than C.  Supposedly they moved him to C this season with poor results.  Although, you have to appreciate Pouncey's willingness to play where the team needed him.  Either way both of our teams could use interior Oline help, I hope we get it before you guys of course hehe. 

Eagles' Oline is definitely in need of an infusion of talent but I also think your CB's could use some help as well.  Your front 7 is great and I know Asante and hobbs were hobbled this season but I think another stud CB would make your defense a real terror. 
The Eagles Oline is actually serviceable. The Tackles whiff sometimes in pass blocking, but the bigger problem is Vick sucks at identifying DB blitzes and hitting hot routes to counter it (see the Vikings game).  I would love another CB but where the Eagles are picking any CB would be a bit of a reach, so better to take a Pouncey type than reach on a DB. Unless we trade Kolb and use that to move up the draft.
 
1/5/11 5:28 PM
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Nanook
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Waylay -  Pretty nice work Nanook. I can only imagine how long that took to put together.


2 and a half days, gonna finish it off when the playoffs are over. Would do it today and tomorrow, but being the final picks are determined by the playoffs, I'm gonna hold out. Glad you enjoyed it though, and thanks for the praise.

I think the 49ers take a QB no matter what. They either trade up as you pointed out earlier, or they stay at 7 and take Newton or Mallett. Their roster is suprisingly decent, with QB the only glaring hole. They lost more games because of coaching this year than any team I think. Of course we will have to wait and see which coach they get first. They are a good chance to get Harbaugh, who coached Luck, so that opens up the trade possibility.


I honestly feel that outside of Patrick Willis, there's not a player or draft picks the 49ers WOULDN'T trade to get up to 1 for Luck. By all accounts, they're head over heels for the guy, and feel like he's the one to not only get them back to the playoffs, but one who could revive sagging attendance.

Keep in mind, the 49ers are having a hell of a time getting a new stadium funded. I think with all the history that franchise has had in the last 30 years, it's asnine that the cities of San Francisco and San Jose aren't falling all over themselves to build one.

Quietly, LA is lurking in the backburner too. Los Angeles is truly the mistress for all these teams feeling short pricked by their current stadium situations. I honestly feel the 49er brass feels the potential of Luck-Harbaugh coming in as a package is just enough for people in the region to get off their ass and make something happen.

The Bills would be crazy to take AJ Green I think. Receivers picked that high have a long history of being busts. There is no other position where success at college level is harder to project into NFL success. The Bills have so many holes as you say, I think they are much better taking Da'Quan Bowers or Nick Fairley, who have a much higher chance of being an impact player from day one.


I understand what your saying here, and respect your point of view, however both Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson were picked very high in the draft and have been God Sends for their respective teams, being every bit as good as expected. Calvin Johnson has also been awesome, even though it's been shadowed because of how piss poor Detroit has been.

I do feel like Fairley may fill more of a need than Green, however the Bills seem to be moving more into an offensive mode when it comes to patching things up long term. Keep in mind, this is a team that took CJ Spiller last season when HB may have been the last of their needs. I also think their WR core isn't quite as good as it seems. I like Steve Johnson, but I still want to see more, and if I'm the Bills I don't quite bank on him being this good just yet.

The Dolphins pick will be an interesting one. They definitely need a new QB. But they are too low for Luck/Mallett/Newton, and too high for risking a pick on Locker (unless he dazzles the scouts the next couple of months). It sounds like Blaine Gabbert will not declare at this stage. I think they will be looking to move up or down a few, depending on what QB's are available. 


IIRC, Gabbert declared for the draft on Monday. I could very well be wrong on that though.

Major issue with Miami is, they have so many other pressing needs at this point, and currently don't have a second round draft pick (they traded it to Denver last season for Marshall).

Both Williams and Brown are done in Miami, thus leaving Lex Hilliard and Patrick Cobbs as the two backs under contract.

The OLine could use another guard and tackle, Vernon Carey is quickly aging and putting it bluntly, Pat McQuistan as a starter is a horrifying thought. They're weak at center, short at guard and need a RT. I think outside of Jake Long and Richie Incognito, the line all could be sent packing. They need help there.

The secondary: Safety's ok, although Yeremiah Bell is 33. Cornerback, I really like Vontae Davis, but across from him is bleak and concerning.

DT, DE and OLB are pretty set. Wouldn't kill them to upgrade from Tim Dobbins and Channing Crowder, but they have other ways of doing so IMHO.

Quarterback, they have no faith it seems in Henne, Chad Pennington's career is finished, Tom Brandstandter is a practice squad lifer and Tyler Thigpen would be a good starter in the UFL or Canada, not the NFL.

Problem is, again.. So many holes, not enough picks to fill them. I really wouldn't object to them signing a Brandon Jacobs at HB, but then as you said, at QB they're picking too low to get the ones I value high, and Locker is too much of a project to get at that point. Perhaps they could go with Jacobs at HB, get one of the CB in the first, or get another OLB, then pick Ricky Stansi of Iowa, Pat Devlin of Delaware or Christian Ponder of Florida State in the third. That's risking and hoping though.

In my perfect world, Miami franchises Brown with a second rounder and someone signs him. After the 2010 season he had, and with his injury history, that's hoping for too much though.
1/5/11 5:34 PM
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Nanook
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east -  
I've also heard that Pouncey will be a better G than C.  Supposedly they moved him to C this season with poor results.  Although, you have to appreciate Pouncey's willingness to play where the team needed him.  Either way both of our teams could use interior Oline help, I hope we get it before you guys of course hehe. 


Yep, Meyer moved him to center to try and improve his draft value. While it didn't hurt any, he also did nothing to show he's got a long term future as a center. Any team taking him would be wise to do so as a guard. To me, that's more of a premium than center anyhow.

Like you said, his willingness is nice, but ability is higher than willingness.

Eagles' Oline is definitely in need of an infusion of talent but I also think your CB's could use some help as well.  Your front 7 is great and I know Asante and hobbs were hobbled this season but I think another stud CB would make your defense a real terror. 


I can agree with this. The Eagles allowed 43 sacks this season, and this was with Mike Vick behind center. That tells you something.
1/5/11 6:16 PM
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Waylay
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 My bad on Gabbert, he declared two days ago.

On the WR issue,  I wasn't saying that any high pick WR is going to be a bust. Just that if you look at the histroy of first round WR's it is very much a boom or bust prospect. At the college level an athetically gifted WR can burn teams all day with noting but posts and up routes. Then they get to the NFL and they have to run real routes, against corners as good as they are. Other than QB, I think WR is the one position with the biggest jump between college and the NFL. So if you are a team with many needs, you are better off taking another player at a position which is easier to transfer to the NFL. 
1/5/11 6:19 PM
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Nanook
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Waylay -  My bad on Gabbert, he declared two days ago.

On the WR issue,  I wasn't saying that any high pick WR is going to be a bust. Just that if you look at the histroy of first round WR's it is very much a boom or bust prospect. At the college level an athetically gifted WR can burn teams all day with noting but posts and up routes. Then they get to the NFL and they have to run real routes, against corners as good as they are. Other than QB, I think WR is the one position with the biggest jump between college and the NFL. So if you are a team with many needs, you are better off taking another player at a position which is easier to transfer to the NFL. 


Oh you're dead on. I wasn't disagreeing with you persay, just using some best case examples :)
1/6/11 3:08 PM
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east
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 Andrew Luck is apparently staying at Stanford.  What do the Panthers do now?  Try to trade down?  Would anyone even want to trade up?
1/6/11 3:22 PM
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Luck is staying in college anyway
1/6/11 4:14 PM
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Nanook
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If Luck DOES stay at Stanford (I still think he changes his mind, especially if Harbaugh leaves), obviously the entire dynamic of my first mock has changed.

I could see them going with Green number 1 overall.. Maybe Peterson? Hard to say.
1/7/11 4:07 AM
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Waylay
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east -  Andrew Luck is apparently staying at Stanford.  What do the Panthers do now?  Try to trade down?  Would anyone even want to trade up?

There is now zero chance of any team trying to trade up now. They only player  that may warrant a trade up is WR AJ Green, who the Bengals (4th pick) and Browns (6th pick) would both take if he was available. But both teams have needs all over the place, and will be able to fill those needs by staying in place. Both sides need defensive line help and the draft is stacked at the top in that position.
 
1/7/11 12:59 PM
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east
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 ^Agreed, only possible motivation for trading up would be if a rookie payscale is imposed and the #1 pick's salary is relatively reasonable to the rest of the top picks.
1/10/11 3:47 PM
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Nanook
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I've updated my mock, with Luck out, several new names in, and the Eagles, Colts, Chiefs and Saints picks penciled in, now that I know their draft positions.

I also have strong speculation Houston is going to wind up with Nnmandi Asomaugh, changing their draft substantially.

Enjoy and feel free to discuss!

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