In Brian Galliford’s latest mock draft on SB Nation, defensive players are running the show, as eight of the top ten picks are either linebackers, cornerbacks or linemen. The other two are A.J. Green from Georgia and Alabama’s Julio Jones.
The top of the draft is a bit of a mystery, since so many new coaches are in play, and so many of the defensive linemen are seemingly interchangeable. Galliford believes that if he slips to #6, the Browns would take Da’Quan Bowers from Clemson, as a result of Dick Jauron’s focus in the 4-3 defense, and the sheer fact that the Browns need pass rushers badly.
The Browns are in good shape, regardless of how the first five picks shape up. Nick Fairley, Robert Quinn, Patrick Peterson, A.J. Green, Von Miller, Marcel Dareus and Prince Amukamara would all help the Browns, as their main needs are at the WR position and all over the defense.
CB might be a bit of a stretch, but if a guy like Peterson or Prince are available, the Browns could look that direction to give Cleveland a very strong 1-2 punch with Joe Haden.
Here is the Top Ten as it stands today:
1. Carolina Panthers: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn. Fairley is still the slight early front-runner to be the first player off the board this April, as he would be a great fit in Ron Rivera’s defense. His character concerns – however minor – are all that stand in the way of his being the first defensive lineman selected this April after a dominant junior season.
2. Denver Broncos: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina. With Denver moving back to a 4-3 defense under John Fox, there’s a great chance that they look to complement Elvis Dumervil at end. Nobody’s talking about Quinn right now – with good reason, considering how his 2010 went – but rest assured that they will be following the Combine.
3. Buffalo Bills: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU. There are several different directions that Buffalo could go here, but almost all of them are on the defensive side of the football. Peterson might be the only junior to get positive reviews from the Senior Bowl, and he’d fit a growing need for a Bills team that has seen its DB depth depleted of late.
4. Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia. Terrell Owens is on his way out of Cincy, and given that Chad Johnson Ochocinco Johnson is fed up with Marvin Lewis, it’s safe to assume he’s soon to follow T.O. Green is not only the best player available here, but fills a need – and could help keep the disgruntled Carson Palmer happy.
5. Arizona Cardinals: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M. Miller, a 3-4 rush linebacker at A&M, played outside linebacker in a 4-3 at the Senior Bowl, and handled the responsibility shift extremely well. He proved that he is versatile and athletic enough to cover; combined with his rush ability, he’s an absolutely perfect fit in Arizona’s 3-4 under system.
6. Cleveland Browns: Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson. Dick Jauron is Cleveland’s new defensive coordinator, and early signs are that the Browns will be moving back to the 4-3. If Bowers is available to them, he’d have to be the pick, as Cleveland isn’t equipped with personnel that could handle end in that system, aside from free agent Matt Roth.
7. San Francisco 49ers: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska. The Boston Celtics drafted Larry Bird as a draft-eligible junior, signing him a year later. Does anyone doubt that Jim Harbaugh wishes he could do the same with Andrew Luck? With no QB a lock here, the Niners would do well to add Amukamara to help replace the fading Nate Clements.
8. Tennessee Titans: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama. This is the hot spot for the first quarterback off the board, but if Dareus were available to the Titans, they’d give him serious consideration. Tennessee needs better players along its defensive line (aside from free agent Jason Babin), and Dareus has elite potential.
9. Dallas Cowboys: Cameron Jordan, DE, California. With the top two corners off the board, Dallas can simply take the best defender available. There’s little doubt that that’s Jordan here, who drew rave reviews from the Senior Bowl after dominating a surprisingly good group of blockers in 1-on-1 drills during three straight practices last week.
10. Washington Redskins: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama. This would be an intriguing scenario for Mike Shanahan, who would have his pick of the quarterback crop here. They’d still give serious consideration to Jones, one of the draft’s most under-appreciated prospects that some believe will be a better pro than Georgia’s Green.