Time to mock! Kiper, McShay say Falcons take . . .

Kiper says Falcons will take Maryland receiver Torrey Smith.

Kiper: Falcons take Maryland receiver Torrey Smith.

McShay: Justin Houston will go from Dogs to Falcons.

McShay: Justin Houston goes from Dogs to Birds.

It’s that time of the year again: Football darts!

Yes, NFL mock drafts officially shifted into full gear with ESPN’s two major draftniks, Mel Kiper and Todd McShay (seeming mortal enemies), both releasing their projections.

Not surprisingly, both agree on little beyond the fact that the other is an idiot. Also, the Washington Redskins are going to draft Auburn quarterback Cam Newton with the 10th overall selection.

Below, I’ve listed the mock drafts of each. They’re available only to ESPN “Insider” subscribers. But I’m a man of the people so I’m giving it to you.  Besides, I figure if ESPN threatens me with violence for giving away this high-level information for free, I’ll at least get about 17 mocking blogs out of it. So I’m pretty sure they’ll leave me alone.

Here are the other picks I’ve highlighted (with Kiper’s and McShay’s analysis):

– Kiper has Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green going sixth to Cleveland. McShay has Green going fourth to Cincinnati. So they agree on the state of Ohio.

– Kiper has Bulldogs outside linebacker Justin Houston going 24th to New Orleans. But McShay has Houston being selected 27th by — ta-da! — the Falcons.

– Kiper has the Falcons drafting Maryland wide receiver Torrey Smith.

OK, here are the mocks. Feel free to mock. They’re for entertainment purposes only. Tell me what you think.

By Jeff Schultz

Mel Kiper’s mock draft

1. Carolina: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn.
2. Denver: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU.
3. Buffalo: Marcell Dareus, DE, Alabama.
4. Cincinnati: Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson.
5. Arizona: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri.
6. Cleveland: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia.
The Browns need a No.1 wideout and Green has fit the profile since he landed between the hedges at Georgia. Green is a complete package, with size, speed and solid route-running skills, and he will be the best friend of a young quarterback as a player that’s able to go up and take the ball away. Cleveland has some good pieces, and Green is exactly what Colt McCoy needs.
7. San Francisco: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina.
8. Tennessee: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M.
9. Dallas: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska.
10. Washington: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn.
A gifted athlete, Newton has good arm strength and size, has developing accuracy and continues to show that the more you ask him as a passer, the more he’ll develop. This spot might be a bit high based on his current grade in the eyes of scouts, but Newton’s skill-set is such that personnel people are going to become more enamored, if they already aren’t. Newton has character questions that need to be answered, but the Redskins have a long-term need at this position and the prospect of developing Newton is a tantalizing one.
11. Houston: Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri.
12. Minnesota: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado.
13. Detroit: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA.
14. St. Louis: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama.
15. Miami: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama.
16. Jacksonville: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa.
17. New England: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin.
18.  San Diego: Cameron Jordan, DE, California.
19. N.Y. Giants: Mike Pouncey, G/C, Florida.
20. Tampa Bay: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue.
21. Kansas City: Stephen Paea, DT. Oregon State.
22. Indianapolis: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College.
23. Philadelphia: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin.
24. New Orleans: Justin Houston, DE, Georgia
An outside linebacker to some, I see Houston developing into a great edge-rusher as a 4-3 defensive end. The Saints need help at that spot and Houston is a guy who could pay big dividends into the second half of his rookie season as he grows into the role. With great length, quickness and pass-rushing instincts, he’ll help the Saints get to opposing QBs without being forced to rely on the blitz.
25. Seattle: Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas.
26. Baltimore: Brandon Harris, CB, Miami.
27. Falcons: Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland.
Atlanta needs to develop a pass-catching target across from Roddy White, and Smith is a guy who can get downfield, work underneath and will always be a home run threat when he catches the ball. He also offers a serious threat in the return game. Atlanta doesn’t have a lot of holes and Smith could help take this offense to another level as an explosive threat opposite White.
28. New England: Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois.
29. Green Bay: Christian Ballard, DE, Iowa.
30. N.Y. Jets: Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple.
31. Chicago: Aaron Williams, CB, Texas.
32. Pittsburgh: Tyron Smith, OT, USC.

Todd McShay’s mock draft

1. Carolina: Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson.
2. Denver: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
3. Buffalo: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri.
4. Cincinnati: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia.
The Bengals need to find the heir apparent to Carson Palmer at some point but won’t find him in this scenario. With Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco likely on their way out of town, Green would be an ideal replacement. He is very smooth for his size and plays the ball better than any receiver in the 2011 class.
5. Arizona: Patrick Patterson, CB, LSU
6. Cleveland: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina.
7. San Francisco: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama.
8. Tennessee: Jake Locker, QB, Washington.
9. Dallas: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska.
10. Washington: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn.
A gifted athlete, Newton has good arm strength and size, has developing accuracy and continues to show that the more you ask him as a passer, the more he’ll develop. This spot might be a bit high based on his current grade in the eyes of scouts, but Newton’s skill-set is such that personnel people are going to become more enamored, if they already aren’t. Newton has character questions that need to be answered, but the Redskins have a long-term need at this position and the prospect of developing Newton is a tantalizing one.
11. Houston: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M.
12. Minnesota: Tyron Smith, OT, USC.
13. Detroit: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado.
14. St. Louis: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama.
15. Miami: Mike Pouncey, C, Florida.
16. Jacksonville: Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas.
17. New England: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue.
18.  San Diego: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA.
19. N.Y. Giants: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois.
20. Tampa Bay: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa.
21. Kansas City: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri.
22. Indianapolis:  Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College.
23. Philadelphia: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin.
24. New Orleans: Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State.
25. Seattle: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin.
26. Baltimore: Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State.
27. Falcons: Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia.
Houston played a hybrid role in college and could be a 3-4 outside linebacker, but he makes sense here as the heir apparent to DE John Abraham. Houston would help the aging Abraham stay fresh and have the chance to develop his skill set.
28. New England: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama.
29. Green Bay: Cameron Jordan, DE, California.
30. N.Y. Jets: Drake Nevis, DT, LSU.
31. Chicago: Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor.
32. Pittsburgh: Benjamin Ijalana, OT, Villanova.

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Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

143 comments Add your comment

Dawg in Oregon

January 20th, 2011
5:19 am

The Falcons need to beef up D and also establish a deep threat, but I would go for a deep threat first to open up the offense. We can’t compete very well in high scoring games without a quick strike ability. Fill the pass rush void thru free agency.bb

Desert Dawg

January 20th, 2011
5:23 am

Get Houston if he’s there…secondary needs help, in the form of someone who wants to SACK the QB…not just put a hand on them!


January 20th, 2011
5:36 am

Not only did they both think Cam would go to Skins, they thought about it word for word. Is Ripley’s Believe It or Not still around?


January 20th, 2011
5:53 am

I hate mock drafts, it reminds me of the silliness that is college football recruiting. Well, that is without the players having any choice of destination.

The thing is, looking at both; the thing that stands out is that the teams above Atlanta in our division really get better in this draft…

I’m going to be bluntly honest about Justin Houston. He’s going to be a fine pro. But, he is a step below what we already have in terms of completeness. We need someone ready to contribute. Put it this way, do you think a player like Houston is better than Biermann (right now)?

Joe Tess Fish House

January 20th, 2011
6:02 am

Irregardless who ever the Falcons pick I garuntee he will be a bust.

Time Travaler

January 20th, 2011
6:05 am

Tess is rite. I won’t say who the Flacons pick but he does turn out 2 be a bust

The Ghost of Wally Butts

January 20th, 2011
6:09 am

So Mel has E-Bay Green going to Cleveland? Heh heh heh. Was it worth it skipping the last year at Fulmer Cup University? Why live in, say, Phoenix/Scottsdale or San Francisco when you can live in lovely CLEVELAND? Ha!


January 20th, 2011
6:18 am

Hey Jeff, since I havent heard from you I guess I can assume that I didn’t win the I-Pad.
It’s Richt, thats what I get for picking UGA over any team from Florida.


January 20th, 2011
6:20 am

They are NOT taking a WR with the first pick. No way. You don’t take a WR that takes a few years to develop. You go FA at WR and get a defensive player in the fist round


January 20th, 2011
6:28 am

no one has the birds looking for a great running back to spell or replace Turner. I know he is the burner but come play off time this guy is all but burned off twice now. Time to get a healthy change of pace back maybe the Murry kid out of Oklahoma.


January 20th, 2011
6:48 am

Joe Tess……not only are you a liar but you now have added stupid to what people think; irregardless is not a word. You hate the Falcons, why bother with their blog news? Go back to your Bengals!

leman bennett

January 20th, 2011
6:55 am

AJ on one side White on the other? why not trade up to get him?

The Real Falcon

January 20th, 2011
6:56 am

These are always a joke. It takes a WR 2-3 years to develop in the NFL and we can’t wait that long for contributions. Kiper and McShay both have DE’s going after our 27th pick which is what our real need is.
They only have an idea about the first 10 picks.

The Real Falcon

January 20th, 2011
6:58 am

leman bennett- because the Falcons are NOT the Bulldogs.


January 20th, 2011
7:18 am

No “Dawgs” needed. Losers.

Dr. Warren

January 20th, 2011
7:24 am

Kiper says the “Falcons don’t have a lot of holes.” What?! I saw 48 points worth of holes against Green Bay. Until we fix the pass rush and the secondary, why should next year against elite teams be any better?

Double Zero Eight

January 20th, 2011
7:26 am

The following have not proven to be recent
legitimate Number 1 picks:
Jamal Anderson (no pass rushing ability)
Michael Jenkins (inconsistent)
Peria Jerry ( very few tackles)
Sean Witherspoon (too many missed tackles)

Roddy White has proven his worth.

The Falcon sneed to take the best defensive end
available. A good QB will pick any secondary
apart if given the time to do so. Shore up the
secondary with a free agent.

Double Zero Eight

January 20th, 2011
7:29 am

Misplaced the “s” on Falcons with need in previous post.
It should state the Falcons need to take………


January 20th, 2011
7:38 am

Just proves even more that Kiper is a blowhard. Falcons need D especially on the edge. If Falcons need help on the O, it’s with a change of pace RB to counter Turner and not another WR in the first round.

Sports Review

January 20th, 2011
7:40 am

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]


January 20th, 2011
7:41 am

The secondary was fine before nickel back Williams went out so we won’t go secondary. The offense was just as productive before we got Gonzalez (and Ryan looked downfield more) so we won’t go TE. These guys seem to have it right that it will probably be one or the other, (DE or WR). However, if Ingram fell to Falcons slot they would probably jump all over him.

Watch some old footage of Turner with the Chargers and compare that with what he is now. He is a shell of his former self, speed and quickness wise, and will be 29 yoa next season.


January 20th, 2011
7:43 am

Kiper? Seriously? How could the Titans not pick a QB with their first pick? How could the Falcons not pick a D player after their showing in the playoffs?

Willie Coyote

January 20th, 2011
7:43 am

I would go Defensive line first. You can’t consistently defend elite QBs/offenses if you can’t get pressure with your front 4. I would think Sidbury would help the pass rush but maybe he can’t handle the run well enough, who knows.

Our receivers aren’t the ones to blame for the lack of explosive pass plays, the offensive philosophy of throwing everything underneath and to the sidelines is the real problem. Our deep routes are never run in the middle of the field and the routes our receivers run (outs, stops, etc.) are possession routes with little chance of the receiver having a chance to run after the catch.

I would also look for a speed back to complement Turner & Snelling.


January 20th, 2011
7:46 am

We dont need Justin Houston thats for sure and that Wr might be nice in the 2nd round

Gator Mike

January 20th, 2011
7:51 am

I wonder what the cut will be for Cam’s scum bag preacher dad.

BeeBoppa LuLu

January 20th, 2011
7:56 am

I hope somebody takes Richt.

Walker, Texas Ranger

January 20th, 2011
7:57 am

No on BOTH, if Cameron Heyward is available, that’s who we need in the first.


January 20th, 2011
7:57 am

AJ and MoMass reunited in the league! That would be excellent.


January 20th, 2011
8:02 am


January 20th, 2011
8:08 am

I would agree with drafting Houston over Torrey Smith for the Falcons. If Todd McShay is right about Mark Ingram still being available when the Falcons pick then I would definitely take Ingram over anyone else.


January 20th, 2011
8:10 am

The only problem with the spawn of “Ironhead” is lack of consistent effort/results–one of Smitty’s pet peeves. If J Houston falls to 27 it would be tempting but I have to agree with going with a proven vet DE through FA. I would be shocked if we took a WR in the 1st although there will be some good ones on the board. We can pick up a speedy RB in rd 2 (I like the kid from Okla, too) so my guess is CB in rd 1. Dimitroff seems to consider himself an “expert” judge of talent at the position so he may try to find another mid-round gem. Heck, it may be Heyward, after all…draft is a fun time to speculate and discuss, ain’t it?


January 20th, 2011
8:12 am

I’m with Walker, if Heyward is available then I think he has to be the pick. That dude blew up Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl. He was a one-man wrecking crew. Bring him home!!!


January 20th, 2011
8:14 am

If the Falcons keep their present DC Houston will be their pick, they will deal for a proven receiver in the free agency market. It takes too long to develop a pro receiver now days from rookie up, and they have their team for the most part now. Calvin Johnson is just now starting to show up on the radar, and he is one of the best I have ever seen.

I don’t think Green will go as high. I think Jones will go before Green. If Georgia’s freshman quarterback is as good as advertised then Green is not. Carolina needs a quarterback more than a defensive player they can pick up in the lower rounds. I would look at Ryan Mallett but I can imagine what his IQ is,maybe playing in the offense he did in college he may be able to overcome the darkness. I know nothing about Jake Locker but the prototype QB in the pros needs to be like an offensive lineman in height. I just keep thinking the Falcons almost took Dorsey instead of Matt and if they had we wouldn’t of had a chance to get blown out by Green Bay, New Orleans would have taken that blow, Tampa Bay would have beaten Seattle and Atlanta would be having a better draft choice this year to screw up again.

You were prophetic, Jeff

January 20th, 2011
8:15 am

And the Falcons need a whole lot of defense to help us get over that 48 point, most embarassing playoff loss ever, -

This just in, Green Bay just scored again, and the Falcons D STILL has not stopped them from scoring….


January 20th, 2011
8:17 am

They need a pass rushing DE. If that’s Houston then so be it, but they have got to get more pressure off the end. They should get a speedy WR via FA.

Is Mark Bradley really...

January 20th, 2011
8:18 am

…that delusional, writing an article that seeming tried to paint Matt Ryan as being the culprit in the loss Saturday night? Last time I looked (and I am still having nightmares), the defense had not stopped the ‘Pack’ even one time after the first series when they fumbled…I think Green Bay just scored again….

[...] Time to mock! Kiper, McShay say Falcons take . . . – Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) Yes, NFL mock … draftniks, Mel Kiper and Todd McShay (seeming mortal enemies), both releasing their projections. Not surprisingly, both agree on little beyond the fact that the other is an idiot. Also, the Washington Redskins are going to draft Auburn … Jan 19, 2011 10:19pm [...]

Reid Adair

January 20th, 2011
8:49 am

Thanks for sharing that “inside” information with the common folks, Jeff.

I can understand possibly taking a wide receiver, but an outside linebacker? Not so much.


January 20th, 2011
8:57 am

First of all, Cam will be drafted higher than 10. Carolina, Arizona, San Fran & Buffalo all have QB issues and I don’t see them passing up Cam. As far as the Falcons, the answer for plugging our critical areas is not in the draft, at a #27 pick. Pick the best available player in the draft and move on free agency. The key to plugging the Falcons gaps will be found in free agency. The birds need “impact” players that can produce now. Other than Fairely, there are no immediate impact players in the draft. Sorry…….


January 20th, 2011
8:58 am

I really wish Carolina would take A.J.Green. They badly need a compliment to Steve Smith so they can keep the offense on the field for more than 15 minutes per game.

Jeff Schultz

January 20th, 2011
9:05 am

JSS — You might be right about Justin Houston. But for what it’s worth, I’m not as big on Kroy Biermann as I used to be.

Jeff Schultz

January 20th, 2011
9:06 am

Puma — Sorry, no you didn’t win the iPad. Neither did I. And yes, I foolishly also thought UGA would win the Liberty Bowl. Go figure.

Jeff Schultz

January 20th, 2011
9:09 am

If Mark Bradley really… — I’ll let Mark defend Mark. Safe to say both the defense and Ryan played roles in the loss. But I’d agree with you that the defense played a bigger role. Pretty bad when the other team doesn’t punt once.

Jeff Schultz

January 20th, 2011
9:10 am

Reid — Not saying Justin Houston would be a good or bad pick, but some think he can transition from OLB to DE.


January 20th, 2011
9:13 am

SPEED is what the falcons need and a defense.

Jeff Schultz

January 20th, 2011
9:15 am

If Mark Bradley really … — Actually I just read the column and I thought it was pretty well thought out. Mostly just laid out facts but in concluded that Ryan is fine. I don’t disagree with the column.


January 20th, 2011
9:15 am

I like houston but i dont think a rookie will provide the pass rush help the birds need .


January 20th, 2011
9:18 am

These are preliminary picks but both are WAY off.

Kiper is giving the nod to Smith because Kiper is obsessed with all things Maryland.

Justin Houston is a 3/4 OLB. That’s where he has the highest value (see Tyson Jackson) He’s not going to be a 4/3 DE. If that’s the case then he’s not a 1st rounder at all.


January 20th, 2011
9:20 am

I wish that kid Kerrigan from Purdue would fall to us, he would be a good addition to the team.


January 20th, 2011
9:24 am

The thing that’s going to be weird this year is not having free agency before the draft. Probably helps the Skins a whole lot actually. The Falcons though need at least one NFL ready defensive rush end and they will probably have to get that through free agency even if they do draft another DE high.

I don’t feel like Abe is done by anymeans but… what depth do we really have at defensive end? Biermann is coming along, haven’t seen much of Sidbury really, Chauncey Davis is a career backup, you can take or leave Anderson really but he’s not making a whole lot of plays in the backfield either.

If they want to be an elite defense, they are going to have to get better at defensive end.