New England Patriots: Cameron Jordan, DE/DT, California
The Patriots acquired this pick in the Richard Seymour trade.
It is hard for me to fathom Cameron Jordan sliding down the board, but my opinion of him is probably higher than the consensus. This is also a ridiculously deep class on the defensive line. If the Patriots have a chance to add him up front it will be a rare time they are glad to make a first-round pick.
Ty Warren is coming off an injury and Gerard Warren is just about finished. Jordan is a rare player with collegiate experience in a 3-4. His father Steve was a tight end for the Vikings. Players don't get much safer this early in the draft.
I have always thought the Patriots would trade up from No. 17 and trade down from No. 28. I am implying a trade up here, possibly to No. 12 because I believe Jake Locker might still be on the board for the Vikings to take and it puts the Patriots ahead of the Lions and Rams who both could take Jordan.
San Diego Chargers: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
The Chargers have to improve their defensive front. Jacques Cesaire is fading fast and is a free agent. Luis Castillo is not exactly lighting the world on fire either. This is a popular landing spot for J.J. Watt for those reasons.
There is plenty of talent on this roster. It is really just a matter of finding guys to make the key plays on defense and with better play up front that becomes easier. If the Cowboys do not take Watt this is the most sensible spot for him.
New York Giants: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
When the Giants are successful, both of their lines are stout. On the offensive side it is questionable whether or not William Beatty is going to be able to take over for left tackle David Diehl.
Head coach Tom Coughlin loves Boston College, which is a factory for NFL linemen, and while that isn't a huge factor, it can't hurt. Anthony Castonzo is the latest player to come off their assembly line, and I like the fit. I can hardly wait for NFL Network's Mike Mayock to gush over him on April 28. Yes, that is sarcasm if you couldn't tell.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
A lot of players have been bounced around as options in this spot, but defensive end is the consensus position the Buccaneers are going to target. Stylze G. White headlines an unimpressive group of defensive ends comprised of guys who failed elsewhere like Tim Crowder (Denver) and Alex Magee (Kansas City), or were not high draft picks.
It is definitely time to add talent. After spending two early selections on defensive tackle last year, the Buccaneers need support on the outside. Justin Houston failed a drug test at the Combine, taking him out of their equation. Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers both have medical issues. Clayborn has been playing with his Erb's Palsy. They know what they are getting with him more than Bowers, but the upside factor could sway them in the other direction.
Kansas City Chiefs: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
The Chiefs have problems at right tackle. Barry Richardson and Ryan O'Callaghan are not starters on a team with aspirations of winning division titles. They have visited with Nate Solder and I could see them sitting him for a season, then possibly even shifting Branden Albert to the right and letting him take on the blind side.
I know they like Solder and I have to stand behind the pick assuming the Giants don't take him at No. 19 in which case Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi would be the choice. Or Florida's Mike Pouncey if he is on the board.
Indianapolis Colts: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Well here we go. Do the Colts really pass on offensive tackle again? I'm looking at it this way. The past two years I got them right which was not easy to do late in the first round, especially with Donald Brown and Jerry Hughes who were both surprising choices.
I could go safe and give them Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi or Mississippi State's Derek Sherrod to fill their need at offensive tackle, but is that any way to keep the streak alive? I have to swing for the fences. They want to get their power running game going as Peyton Manning ages. Mark Ingram is an elite back ready to stay on the field quite a bit and solidify their uncertain backfield.
Philadelphia Eagles: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
It looks like the Eagles have turned into vultures flying over Jimmy Smith. I can see the logic behind the move. Paying for Nnamdi Asomugha in free agency is going to be expensive and a lot of teams will be bidding for his services. I don't see him landing there.
Jimmy Smith was not thrown at very much at Colorado. He will need to prove he can hold up under scrutiny because teams are going to avoid Asante Samuel. I think he will be just fine and if not for some character questions would be off the board in the top 15.
New Orleans Saints: Phil Taylor, NT, Baylor
I had this before, and in the final hour, it feels right again. The Saints have Shaun Rogers as a quick fix to provide beef for their defensive line, but Phil Taylor gives them a player to lean on for years to come.
Seattle Seahawks: Muhammad Wilkerson, DE/DT, Temple
When injuries hit the defensive front during the 2010 season the Seahawks were crippled on defense. Teams were able to run right at them. Adding another impact player on the defensive line provides them with some insurance.
I am a Muhammad Wilkerson believer. I think he fits either front and can move around in an even front. There is also an excellent chance for the Seahawks to trade down with a team anxious to draft a quarterback in the first round.
Baltimore Ravens: Gabe Carimi, OT/G, Wisconsin
When Jared Gaither missed the season with a back injury Michael Oher had to play the, wait for it, blind side. He was not the star of that movie. He might need a pep talk from Leigh Anne Touhy.
If Gabe Carimi is on the board the Ravens will not use up much of their time before turning in the card. Perhaps Oher takes a step forward at left tackle, but one way or another Carimi gives them potential book ends.
Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame
Reportedly the Falcons are zoned in on Kyle Rudolph. I am not one to argue. Early in the process I believed this to be a natural fit.
Tony Gonzalez is highly unlikely to play another season. Rudolph gives their offense an all-around talent to take over for him. An injury cut his season short, but being the consensus top tight end by a wide margin with no one else in the conversation makes this a possibility.
Cincinnati Bengals: Andy Dalton, QB, TCU
PROJECTED TRADE: The Patriots trade this pick to the Bengals who have to get their quarterback because Carson Palmer has quit on them. It isn't really a matter of them getting ahead of teams that would have taken Andy Dalton, it is more a matter of them making sure another team does not deal up.
Chicago Bears: Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina
This is one of a few "buzz" picks. Marvin Austin has done a lot to repair his draft stock by impressing teams with his ability. The Bears appear to be one of those teams sold on him as a possibility in the first round.
Another buzz is that the Bears are thinking of trading down. Austin could be a player they feel they can get even after trading down to the second round with a team interested in moving up for a quarterback. I also like the idea of them moving up if one of the top offensive tackles is within range.
Finally, Mississippi State offensive tackle Derek Sherrod's value is inflated. He is not a lock for the first round which is why I have left him out of my final mock. I'm not saying it is a sure thing he falls out, but it is possible.
New York Jets: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
The Jets have trouble generating a pass rush. I am not sold on Akeem Ayers as a prospect in all situations, but for this defense he should be able to make some impact plays so I am keeping this pick for my final mock.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Cameron Heyward, DE/DT, Ohio State
The Steelers are built on both lines and at linebacker. That is their philosophy and most of the time it works.
Age is a significant issue on the defensive line. They recently drafted Evander "Ziggy" Hood to help prepare for that, but more help is needed.
I think they will be considering possible options at nose tackle like Stephen Paea (Oregon State) and Phil Taylor (Baylor) in this spot as well if he should fall. Medical status is going to be a big factor in their decision, but I think defensive line is the move with whichever guy they are comfortable with of these three.
Buffalo Bills: Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State
PROJECTED TRADE: Again, I am sure people will ask why the Bills would trade ahead of the No. 33 pick belonging the Patriots in order to select a quarterback. It is a pretty easy explanation. They want to secure their quarterback on Thursday night before their division rivals open up their phone lines to teams with plenty of time to negotiate.
The Bills could also select Nevada's Colin Kaepernick with this choice whom I think fits what they do a little better than Christian Ponder.
The only trades I projected were ones that either already happened or ones that aren't motivated by draft picks. (Ex. I had the Pats getting an early second rounder for Jimmy G, but I won't have any trades where a team trades up only to select a player in the draft.