Here it is, the first Mock Draft of draft season.
Most of the teams have their draft boards set going into the combine, which starts on Thursday.
They are on targeted missions for more information on players and will adjust their boards accordingly after the combine.
The Falcons are all set, too.
“We just finished our February cross-check meetings and we have, through that process, really refined our position
stacks across our draft board,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We are starting to narrow down on potential draft picks going into the combine. We feel like we are right on track where we planned on being at this point.”
The Falcons could go a couple of different directions in the first round, but given the depth at the defensive end position I have them taking Allen Bailey from Miami. More on him later.
“Those draft meetings in February are vital because we are able to move away from the generalize stack by position to a much more specific stack,” Dimitroff said. “At this point in the year, you get to a point were you feel that the pieces are really starting to come together.”
All righty then, on to Mockiavelli 1.0.
A.J. Green is the best player in the draft, so he’s going No. 1. It’s really that simple.
“The game that really caught my eye, was when he came back against Colorado,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike “On
the Money” Mayock said. “Colorado has got two NFL corners in Jimmy Smith and Jalil Brown. He came out and he had like seven catches for 118, 120 yards and two touchdowns. He dominated the game.” Check the video.
Green will interview well with teams and that will help him rise to the top of the draft.
“He’s got the best combination of height, weight and speed and he can catch the ball,” Mayock said. “I believe he’s physical enough to get off of press coverage. If you are every going to look at a wide receiver and say this is a guy that’s going to fit any offense, A.J. is the guy.”
He’ll be the first of three Georgia Bulldogs going in the first round.
Offensive lineman Clint Boling is going to Chicago with the 29th pick and Linebacker Justin Houston is going to New York Jets with the 30th pick.
THE BOOK OF BAILEY: The “Book of Bailey” is not all good.
He was inconsistent at Miami and didn’t make plays to match his athleticism.
He will have to interview well in Indianapolis and more importantly defensive line coach Ray Hamilton will have to figure out if he can motivate this kid and turn him into a stud.
He’s going to be the biggest, fastest and strongest defensive end at the combine. With his athletic ability, Bailey should put on absolute combine show.
But there are some issues . . . .
“He has all of the tools,” ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said. “It just hasn’t all come together yet. I think part of it is inconsistent effort. Sometimes you see him and he’s not going 100 miles an hour.”
OK, that’s going to be a big problem. But Hamilton can fix it.
“But I also think part of it is his instincts and consistently knowing what he wants to do in certain situations,” McShay said. “He’s played different positions. That could factor into it, that he hasn’t really settled into what he’s doing. He’s struggled sometimes getting off blocks.”
The Falcons will likely view him as a scheme fit at left end.
“I think he could be a good player in the NFL, I just don’t think its all come together,” McShay said. “He has to continue to work and be willing to pay the price in order to get there. If he does, he could wind up being a steal in the second round.”
He could be a steal at 27 in the first, too.
1. Carolina: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia: They get Jimmy Clausen a weapon and look to trade Steve Smith.
2. Denver: Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson: They go for the elite pass rusher.
3. Buffalo: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn: Chan Gailey elects to take on this disruptive force to anchor his defense.
4. Cincinnati: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama: Bye-bye T.O. and OchoCinco. They can pair Jones with Jordan Shipley, Jerome Simpson and tight end Jermaine Gresham in the passing game.
5. Arizona: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama: Some have him rated over Fairley.
6. Cleveland: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU: With Peterson and Joe Haden the Browns will have their best cornerback tandem since Hanford Dixon and Frank Minnifield.
7. San Francisco: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn: The Alex Smith experience is officially over. Newton will face some scrutiny at the combine, but if he is frank with teams, he’ll be the top QB selected.
8. Tennessee: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin: “I’m very impressed with J.J. Watt from Wisconsin,” Mayock said.
9. Dallas: Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M: The Cowboys get some help for their front seven.
10. Washington: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri: “On the Money” Mayock has Gabbert rated as the top quarterback in the draft.
11. Houston: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska: They have to improve the worst secondary in the league.
12. Minnesota: Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas: I can’t imagine the conversation between Bill Musgrave and Bobby Petrino over this one. Hey they are professionals and will work it out.
13. Detroit: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College: The Lions get quarterback Matthew Stafford some protection.
14. St. Louis: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina: It seems like the Rams have been drafting defensive linemen for the last decade.
15. Miami: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama: They get Ingram to help the aging backfield.
16. Jacksonville: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa: They get a bookend for Tyson Alualu.
17. New England: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado: The Patriots’ line is starting to show come cracks.
18. San Diego: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA: Larry English (remember him) has been a bust.
19. New York Giants: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois: They fortify their defensive front.
20. Tampa Bay, Cam Heyward, DE, Ohio State: “Just put their bowl game,” Mayock said. “He dominated that game. He was phenomenal against Arkansas.”
21. Kansas City: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin: Their offensive line was not up to playoff standards last season.
22. Indianapolis: Tyron Smith, OT, UCLA: They get Smith in order to improve Peyton Manning’s protection. He took too many hits last season.
23. Philadelphia: Brandon Harris, CB, Miami: Harris will come up in run support and the Eagles are getting very thin at the position.
24. New Orleans: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue: He’s one of those super motor guys.
25. Seattle: Jake Locker, QB, Washington: Matt Hasselbeck won’t play forever. The Seahawks go with the local legend who’ll eventually compete with Charlie Whitehurst for the starting job.
26. Baltimore: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado: They address a need.
27. Atlanta: Allen Bailey, DE, Miami: See above!
28. New England: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri: They get some more help for the young defense.
29. Chicago: Clint Boling, OL, Georgia: Offensive line coach Mike Tice worked wonders with the offensive line last season.
30. New York Jets: Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia: The Jets need another pass rusher as Jason Taylor is getting old and Vernon Gholston’s hasn’t panned out.
31. Pittsburgh: Mike Pouncey, G, Florida: He joins his brother and the twins anchor the line for the next decade.
32. Green Bay: Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State: They always go with the biggest, baddest and meanest dude left on the board. That’s Paea, even though they have B.J. Raji.
ON THE FRINGE: Aaron Williams, CB, Texas; Marcus Cannon, OL, TCU; Christian Ballard, DE, Iowa; Titus Young, W, Boise State; Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland; Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame; Danny Watkins, OL, Baylor; Cam Jordan, DE, California; Martrez Wilson, LB, Illinois and Rahim Moore, S, UCLA.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog