Here it is, The Mockiavelli 2.0.
Any Mock Draft done before the NFL scouting combine is just mere guess work. It’s just some basement hack throwing darts at a board.
After speaking with the Falcons and other teams, listening to more than 200 player interviews and riding around Indianapolis with Jerry Jones on the Dallas Cowboys’ bus, some things have come into focus.
My man, Allen Bailey from Miami, will not be selected by the Falcons with the 27th pick. While he did meet with the team, he’s clearly a second-rounder.
The move not to re-sign Brian Finneran and coach Mike Smith’s comments about the young wide receivers – Harry Douglas, Kerry Meier and Eric Weems – getting a chance to step up, means you can forget about Boise State’s Titus Young or Maryland’s Torrey Smith in the first round. However, Pat Kirwan, of NFL.Com and Sirius NFL Radio, has the Falcons selecting Pittsburgh wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin in the first round.
The Falcons are not picking a quarterback, safety, running back or tight end in the first round. You can eliminate those positions.
They are really picky about their cornerbacks and believe that Christopher Owens will develop into a ball player.
So, that leaves them with a value pick and trying to balance the need for a pass rushing defensive end against the possibility of losing Pro Bowl right tackle Tyson Clabo. Or, they could elect to fortify their linebacker corps.
“The defensive line, in general is phenomenal,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. “I’ve got nine defensive ends with first-round grades.”
Here are the top defensive ends (according to NFLDraftScout.com):
1. Da’Quan Bowers, Clemson
2. Robert Quinn, North Carolina
3. Cam Jordan, California
4. Adam Clayborn, Iowa
5. J.J. Watt, Wisconsin
6. Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue
7. Cam Heyward, Ohio State
8. Jabaal Sheard, Pittsburgh
9. Christian Ballard, Iowa
10. Allen Bailey, Miami
This is not considered a very good draft for offensive tackles. But the Falcons may have a shot at Wisconsin’s Gabe Carimi or Mississippi State’s Derek Sherrod, who measured in at 6-foot-5 and weighed 321 pounds.
“Carimi is as solid as it comes,” Mayock said. “He’s a guy that you plug in at right tackle on day one and he’s a starter for the next 10 years. I think Derek Sherrod from Mississippi State is a gifted left tackle.”
But under this 2.0 scenario, I have the Falcons landing the best pass rushing prospect in the draft, North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn, a 6-4, 265-pound terror. He’s going to slip because of his suspension. The NCAA determined that he received $5,642 in “improper” benefits. He was suspended for last season.
But those problems are minor when stacked up against his talent. He’ll have to get a character clearance from the Falcons’ character review department. He’ll also need a medical clearance. He had brain surgery in high school.
“I’m just going to move on from the past and let people make their judgments on that,” Quinn said. “I made a selfish mistake and I paid –- me, my team, my family and coaches paid a price for it. I truly apologized for it.
“When I took the jewelry, it was from a jeweler. In the back of my mind, it wasn’t an agent, so I was thinking it wasn’t as bad or wasn’t bad at all. But coming all the way through, actually it was.”
Draft this kid and give him some cash so he can buy his own jewelry. Show him a picture of Drew Brees and Josh Freeman and let him go to work.
Quinn might just be worth the risk. It’s not like he committed one of the B.A.R.R.K. crimes (Burglary, Arson, Robbery, Rape or Kidnapping.)
“He’s as good of a natural pass rusher as I’ve ever seen,” Mayock said. “Now, he’s 20 years old. . . Some of the 3-4 teams might want to see him stand up. He’s unbelievable coming off the edge.”
Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff stated to the 715 gathered members of the media that the Falcons will always consider character. He stated that team has been tempted, but has passed on some “challenging souls.” But they might just have to take the football player if Quinn drops to their spot.
1. Carolina: Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson: They get a replacement for Julius Peppers.
2. Denver: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn: He can be a disruptive force in the middle of the defense .
3. Buffalo: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama: The Bills have plenty of holes to fill.
4. Cincinnati: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia: The Bengals have to restock their wide receiver corps. The Browns and Carolina are also very interested in Green.
5. Arizona: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri: He didn’t throw at the combine and is Mayock’s top quarterback in the draft.
6. Cleveland: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU: Some consider Peterson to be the top talent in the draft.
7. San Francisco: Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M: He’s just too good for the 49ers to pass up.
8. Tennessee: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin: A versatile talent. He was all cranky when I asked him in the hallway of Lucas Oil Stadium, if he’d interviewed with the Falcons. Clearly, teams were telling some of the prospects not to reveal their interviews.
9. Dallas: Cameron Jordan, DE, California: He will work out just fine in the Cowboys’ 3-4 defense.
10. Washington: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama: The Redskins need an offensive weapon like Jones.
11. Houston: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska: The Fresh Prince of Nebraska lands in Texas. Sounds like a good television series.
12. Minnesota: Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas: I came away impressed with his spunk after he didn’t back down from the pack of media wolves questioning him about his alleged recreational drug use. He can throw the ball 80 yards.
13. Detroit: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College: He’s considered the most pro-ready tackle, while Southern California’s Tyron Smith might be the most talented.
14. St. Louis: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama: They get a replacement for Steven Jackson.
15. Miami: Tyron Smith, OT, Southern California: He drew raves from Mayock at the combine.
16. Jacksonville: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa: His production dropped last season. “Just double-teams and triple-teams and tight ends chipping me and running backs chipping me,” Clayborn said. “There was a lot of different
stuff going on.”
17. New England: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado: He’s 6-foot-8, 319 pounds and has an 81-inch arm span. “It’s a big group of us and that will sort itself out in time,” Solder said. “I think I’m more athletic than they are. I can move a little better in space.”
18. San Diego: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA: The Chargers are looking for help on defense.
19. New York Giants: Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri: Is a force coming off the edge. Some 3-4 teams like him as a outside linebacker.
20. Tampa Bay, Cam Heyward, DE, Ohio State: His elbow injury kept him from doing the bench press. He likely won’t lift at Ohio State’s Pro Day.
21. Kansas City: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin: He’s been compared to former Badger tackle Joe Thomas.
22. Indianapolis: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State: He could be a good left tackle for years to come. “I feel like I can move pretty good at any weight,” Sherrod said.
23. Philadelphia: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado: Some consider him the second best corner in the draft behind Peterson.
24. New Orleans: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue: “We had a great strength program at Purdue and that’s helped me become the player I am,” Kerrigan said.
25. Seattle: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn: This could be the perfect spot for Newton. He could learn how to read defenses from Matt Hasselbeck and won’t have to worry about being an “entertainer” or “icon” right away.
26. Baltimore: Brandon Harris, CB, Miami: He was a three-year starter for the Hurricanes. He gave up one touchdown last season and that was in the bowl game.
27. Atlanta: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina: The Falcons can’t resist the talent. They know about his issues at North Carolina, but figure that the good guys in the locker room can show Quinn the path to the straight and narrow.
28. New England: Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple: He’s in that second group of defensive tackles behind Fairley and Dareus. He’s massive at 6-5, 305.
29. Chicago: Mike Pouncey, C/G, Florida: The Bears try to get some protection for quarterback Jay Cutler.
30. New York Jets: Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia: “Justin Houston from Georgia isn’t as consistent as I would like to see,” Mayock said. “But he’s another guy that people are looking at.”
31. Pittsburgh: Aaron Williams, CB, Texas: The Steelers get some help for their secondary.
32. Green Bay: Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois: James Starks played well down the stretch and Ryan Grant is expected back, however, Leshoure is too intriguing to pass on.
Jake Locker, QB, Washington
Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
Marcus Cannon, OL, TCU
Christian Ballard, DE, Iowa
Titus Young, WR, Boise State
Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame
Danny Watkins, OL, Baylor
Martrez Wilson, LB, Illinois
Rahim Moore, S, UCLA
Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog