1. Carolina Panthers — Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri — This is why it’s smart to do several versions of your mock draft. Gabbert had an incredible Pro Day and the Panthers are now leaning more towards replacing Clausen than strengthening up their d-line.
2. Denver Broncos — Marcel Dareus, DT, Alabama — With the Panthers passing on a DT, the Broncos get the pick of the litter… and Dareus seems to be flying up draft boards.
3. Buffalo Bills — Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson — Like Oklahoma last year (with Bradford and McCoy), the Auburn Tigers will have two players go in the top 5. Chan Gailey is a very creative guy who will be able to get the most out of Newton’s skill-set.
4. Cincinnati Bengals — Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas — Carson Palmer is exiting stage left. Shoot, his house is already up for sale. The Bengals need to start rebuilding, and they believe they can do it with a potential franchise QB like Mallett.
5. Arizona Cardinals — Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU — I suppose they could reach for someone like Cam Newton, considering they really need help at QB, but Peterson will immediately step on the field to help Rogers-Cromartie.
6. Cleveland Browns — A.J. Green, WR, Georgia — Best receiver on the board goes to a team that desperately needs another weapon for Colt McCoy.
7. San Francisco 49ers — Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M — Jim Harbaugh seems content with the Alex Smith/Troy Smith combo (for now), so they’ll use this pick on the best LB in the draft.
8. Tennessee Titans — Nick Fairley, DL, Auburn — Drops from #1 overall to #8, and Tennessee will be glad if that happens. Fairly is still a beast in the middle and should demand some double teams early on. Fills one of many needs for the Titans.
9. Dallas Cowboys — Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska — I’ve seen some mocks having the Cowboys taking another defensive end or OLB, but they have so many problems in the secondary I can’t see them taking anything but a CB here.
10. Washington Redskins — Cam Newton, QB, Auburn — Originally I had them taking an OT, but Newton will be too tempting to pass up. Could also take Locker here. I think they are desperate for QB help and will take one of these two guys.
11. Houston Texans — Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina — The Texas are switching to the 3-4 defense this year, and they’ll need someone to help take it to the next level. Quinn, despite not playing last year, could be that guy. This guy has a non-stop motor that could land him in the starting lineup on Day 1.
12. Minnesota Vikings — Tyron Smith, OT, USC — With multiple teams needing tackles in the back half of the round, the Vikings best bet is to reach a little in round one by getting their choice of the blockers. Smith is considered by many to be the top prospect based on his great feet and tremendous athleticism.
13. Detroit Lions — Cameron Jordan, DE, California — Detroit’s offense is getting better every year, but they need desperate help all over the defense. Jordan should be able to step right in and help this defense from a pass-rushing standpoint.
14. St. Louis Rams — Julio Jones, WR, Alabama — New offensive coordinator is going to want playmakers. With Danario Alexander undergoing his fifth knee surgery and Mark Clayton “in limbo”, Jones makes perfect sense for this offense.
15. Miami Dolphins — Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama — This was a tough one because I think DeMarco Murray is the better overall back, but Ingram is rated higher on just about every draft board. Brown and Williams aren’t getting any younger or faster, and Brown might leave via free agency.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars — Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue — Kerrigan is a throwback player in the Jack Del Rio mold who would fill the team’s need at defensive end. Kerrigan is tenacious and always around the football.
17. New England Patriots — J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin — The Patriots get this pick from trading Richard Seymour and use it to get another defensive line standout. Watt is 6’6″ 290 lbs and tested off the charts at the Combine.
18. San Diego Chargers — Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri — The Chargers have had a hole here since Shawne Merriman wasn’t able to get healthy. They’re still waiting for Larry English to come around.
19. NY Giants — Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College — The Giants are fairly deep at every position EXCEPT offensive line. Boston College continually produces solid offensive linemen in the NFL and Castonzo should be no different.
20. Tampa Bay Bucs — Adrien Clayborn, DE, Iowa — After adding two solid interior defensive linemen, they turn to a pass-rushing defensive end to complete the trifecta.
21. Kansas City Chiefs — Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin — The Chiefs need to get tougher up front, and the big beef from the Big 10 will definitely help on the right side.
22. Indianapolis Colts — Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State — Upgrading the offensive line will be a point of emphasis for the Colts and Sherrod’s strong fundamentals and ability to play the right and left side make him an excellent fit for the Colts.
23. Philadelphia Eagles — Mike Pouncey, C/G, Florida — Gotta hand it to Andy Reid and company… they always seem to be strong in the trenches. If Pouncey is half the player his brother is, the Eagles will be very pleased.
24. New Orleans Saints — Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA — DC Gregg Williams loves aggressive pass-rushers, and although he didn’t test well in the Combine, Ayers will fit perfectly in Williams’ defense.
25. Seattle Seahawks — Jake Locker, QB, Washington — Local boy that Pete Carroll happens to love. Locker’s stock fell dramatically this year, but Seattle desperately needs a QB and Locker would love to stay “home”.
26. Baltimore Ravens — Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado — Smith has the size and physicality to matchup with bigger receivers and the coverage skills to be a number one corner. He allowed just 11 completions the past two seasons while playing man coverage.
27. Atlanta Falcons — Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland — A “stretch-the-field” speed reciever who graded out well in his private workouts and knows what to do with the ball after the catch. Still a little raw running routes but has the potential to create big plays opposite Roddy White.
28. New England Patriots — Justin Houston, DE/OLB, Georgia — Patriots always looking for dynamic pass-rushers. Houston took well to the 3-4 defense this past season, posting 19 tackles-for-loss and 11 sacks. Great motor.
29. Chicago Bears — Nate Solder, OT, Colorado — Simply put… the Bears will go after the best OL available this late in the first round. Solder might be that guy.
30. NY Jets — Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor — No player has seen their stock rise more this draft season than Phil Taylor. Despite being 350 pounds, he actually possesses some solid athleticism for his size. Bottom line: he will command double teams.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers — Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh — Here’s another local talent who might be signed by his hometown team. Hines Ward might only have one year left (if that) and they can’t survive with Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders.
32. Green Bay Packers — Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State — You can never have enough talent on the edge, and Heyward (son of the great Craig “Ironhead” Heyward is a lot better than his numbers might show. The guy can flat out play and will be a nuisance in the backfield.