Simon Clancy’ Mock Draft v.1.0
1). Cam Newton – QB – Auburn
It seems as though this is now written in the stars. I often wondered whether a conservative owner such as Jerry Richardson sign off on Newton but the Panthers need a shot in the arm and it seems only GM Marty Hurney is truly still considering that Jimmy Clausen deserves a shot. Newton’s sole season with the Tigers was phenomenal and he’s a better passer than people have given credit for. Mechanically he’s a lot further forward than Tim Tebow was at this stage a year ago and although he has some issues with his footwork that need to be sorted, he can really put down roots to begin to resurrect this franchise. Of course there is serious work to be done, but new head coach Ron Rivera can build a team around Newton. He has outstanding potential. The question is now, can he maximise that? Carolina is a good fit off the field as well; a small market which may keep the spotlight off him more than most NFL cities.
2). Marcel Dareus – DT – Alabama
I refuse to buy into this QB talk surrounding the Broncos at the very top of the draft, regardless of the work John Elway is clearly doing in auditioning players, although I’m much less sure later on. Whether Tim Tebow or Kyle Orton are the answers remain to be seen and part of me wonders whether, if a new league season began before the draft whether Tebow would get moved on draft day. For me Dareus is the best player in the draft. Super talented and a can’t miss prospect. Why? a) Heavy hands; he has the best hands in the draft and can stone a guard or tackle b) Off the ball explosion; for a guy of his size, he gets moving at a remarkable rate. And c) He constantly disengages because of a and b. If you can’t disengage then you’re dead and he does it play after play after play. You can play him as the 5 technique, the 3 or even as the 0 over the center and I think he’d excel in all three. For me Dareus makes tremendous sense for the Broncos who struggled to stop the run a year ago.
3). Von Miller – DE – Texas A&M
Part of me is sold on this pick and part of me isn’t. For me it’s a toss up between Miller and Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert. Why? Well Aaron Maybin simply hasn’t worked out and the Bills need to be able to get pressure on the likes of Mark Sanchez and Tom Brady if they’re going to start to climb the AFC East ladder once more. But Chan Gailey is a fan of mobile passers and Gabbert’s tape is full of those sorts of plays. However, drafting a passer would be tough on the enterprising and sometimes excellent Ryan Fitzpatrick and so the value of Miller makes this the better pick as he will be able to contribute from day 1 both at OLB and DE when the Bills shift to some four man fronts. He is the best pure rusher in the draft, has an explosive first three steps and can bend and dip to the passer as well as anyone.
4). Ryan Mallett – QB – Arkansas
There’s a reason Mallett has been visiting the top teams in the draft. There’s also a reason why Carolina have him as one of 8 players they’re considering for the top spot. Why? Well he’s actually just a really, really good QB and if you read what we spelt out in our Draft Winds special, you’ll discover that a lot of his off the field issues are overblown. The Bengals need help at TB and WR but with Jermaine Gresham, the steady emergence of Jerome Simpson, Andre Caldwell and Jordan Shipley, the cupboard isn’t completely bare and that’s before we’ve talked about Chad Johnson. Mallett has the talent to start early and with the arm, his ability pre snap and his will to win, this could be a good marriage. He’s spent a lot of time with the Bengals and if Carson Palmer really does mean what he says, then this is a more logical pick than the masses would imagine. The arm strength, ability before the snap and leadership are all huge plus points for a Bengals team with a lot of questions under center. Mallett has All Pro potential and is NFL ready.
5). Blaine Gabbert – QB – Missouri
The Cardinals clearly like Gabbert at the top of the draft. Rumours are that they view him as the safest of the quarterbacks. But is he the best? Well the Cardinals faithful should find out soon enough and with the offensive firepower of Fitzgerald, Breaston, Doucet, Hightower and Wells, etc., Gabbert will have weapons to work with. Bill Bidwell attended the Missouri pro day and whilst he has flaws in his game including a very ugly completion percentage on throws of more than 15 yards, he showed in his final game for the Tigers an unerring accuracy, a rocket for an arm and the potential to fit the ball into the smallest windows. He does an excellent job with his feet to redirect linebackers and safeties and he could be just the player to kick start the Cardinals in 2011. I don’t buy into the talk that he’s falling to the mid teens. Certainly not with less than 72 hours to go.