Updated mock draft (Jan 10th) and more

Tonight Oregon take on Auburn in the BCS Championship. The two sides are very different – Oregon as a system and man-for-man team are by far the best in the country. Auburn by contrast have one superstar player who happens to be unstoppable.

It’d be unfair to place all of the Tigers’ success on Cam Newton – clearly Nick Fairley has been stunning this year for the defense. However, Newton represents his team’s only chance tonight – and it was no different against LSU or Alabama.

I’ll be watching (and tweeting) so feel free to join in the discussion. I’ll have a post on the blog covering the game tomorrow.

Following confirmation that Janoris Jenkins (CB, Florida) and Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma State) won’t be declaring, I’ve decided to update the mock draft to represent prospects who are likely to be available once the deadline passes on January 15th.

I’ll come onto the mock in a moment, but first a quick thought on the why prospects like the two named above may have chosen to stay in school.

The draft advisory board are notoriously conservative with their gradings. We all know Jake Locker got a grade in round 2-3 last year, although I have a hard time believing he would’ve got past Washington with the #4 pick overall (whether that would’ve been deserved or not is another question).

This year the likes of J.J. Watt, Jenkins and Blackmon have also received similar grades. All three – in my opinion – were first round certainties. I’m not sure if it needs to be re-affirmed to these prospects that the gradings are given with the intention of leaving room for improvement. If everyone got given their exact grade – it could technically send out the wrong signal. For example – let’s say you’re a first round pick before any workouts. It only sets a prospect up for potential disappointment and maybe even lethargy.

Jenkins in particular announced he was going to be leaving Florida to declare for the draft but appears to have made a U-turn after getting his grade and speaking to Florida’s new coaching staff.

I’m not entirely sure what Jenkins has to gain by going back to Gainesville. Alshon Jeffery, A.J. Green and Julio Jones all had their worst games statistically against Jenkins. Teams will throw on the tape and be wowed by those three performances. He may have struggled to tackle Terrance Toliver – but watch him cover the elite potential of Green and the obvious quality/size combo of Jeffery and Jones.

The one knock on Jenkins was a lack of elite size in comparison to Patrick Peterson and Jimmy Smith. That won’t change in 12 months.

Perhaps he’ll benefit from a 2012 draft that won’t be as deep at cornerback, or maybe he’ll struggle to match his 2010 season and drop down the board? Either way – I think the draft advisory grades could do with being defined a little better. The draft has lost two real talents in Jenkins and Blackmon – in a year when Seattle could use as much depth as possible now they won’t be selecting until the latter part of the first two rounds.

To see the latest projection click here or select ‘Mock Draft’ in the title bar.

The mock only has a few tweaks to ammend for the prospects that now we won’t be available and the updated draft order. It means some prospects that previously received second round grades have sneaked into round one. I wanted to wait and see Aldon Smith at the combine before putting him at #20, but with the depth weaknening I think he’s almost certain to be a first round choice health permitting.

Picking for Seattle was tough this time, with a lot of potential picks off the board. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Seahawks made moves up or down the board next April.

It was difficult to pass on Mark Ingram but I don’t believe this regime will draft a running back in round one. It’d be a big investment so soon after trading for Marshawn Lynch and you’d struggle to justify it behind a line that hasn’t blocked well for the run.

Baldwin has been soft at times this year and his effort has been far too inconsistent. At the same time – he’s got a unique blend of elite size and genuine ability to get deep and make big plays. Did he lose interest in what has been a farcical year for Pittsburgh? Will turning pro re-focus his undoubted talents? Questions that need to be answered, but he might be BPA after Ingram.


  1. Charlie

    If Robert Quinn fell to our pick, would you consider him a demarcus ware type player?

    • Rob

      No – but then he isn’t going to fall as far as #25.

  2. Alex

    I highly doubt Quinn will fall to us. IMO, he is closer to the Mario Williams and Julius Peppers comparisons (particularly in pass rush) than Da Quan Bowers. His gametape suggest a top 10 pick and I don’t see a single scenario where he falls past top the 15. The only reason I’m saying top 10,15 rather than top 5 is simply because of the agency issues that forced him to sit out for the year.

    As for Jimmy Smith, I know the people here (and I too) rate him highly, but all the other mock drafts rate him at best in the late 20s or even in the 2nd round. I’m just curious how the hype may drop him.

    As for the Texans, I won’t be surprised if they go for Prince Akumuara. They are just THAT desperate for a CB. Unless they sign Nmada, I see CB. Don’t forget, the Texans have generally speaking reached a bit for need and they in particular have a tendency during draft day to go for need>BPA. Duante Brown as their LT is an example when he was given a mid to late 2nd round grade yet the Texans reached a bit for him at the end of the 1st round.

    As for the Hawks, I’m not too sure about Baldwin. I guess I’m still not convinced by the WRs in this draft aside from Green. I agree that passing on Ingram is heart breaking at this point, but at the same time I can see the reason. I’m curious of what you think of Anthony Constanzo as a potential right tackle opposite of Okung? I’m also curious as to what happened to Drake Nevis of LSU. I’ve seen him earlier in the season (granted, only a few games) and was impressed, but his stock has seemed to drop into early 2nd round. I wonder what happened here. Finally, I haven’t seen tape on CB Brandon Burton, but his physical talents seem like a plus. How is he skill wise?


    • Matt

      I personally wouldn’t touch Costanzo. He’s way too finesse to be a good NFL RT. I’d consider him if we didn’t have Okung. At 25, it would be stupid to pick on need if it means passing on a superior talent. In this case, Baldwin is a supreme talent (with Questions), but we are talking about a 6’5″ WR who will most likelyrun in the 4.4s and has shown BIG play ability. We need more physical talent on offense.

    • Rob

      I can’t legislate for other mocks – my judgement is that Smith could be Asomugha-good. He’s got everything you want at that position. He and Peterson are both tremendous prospects at corner. I suspect after the combine when people have seen him run a great forty time… he’ll be a lot higher in people’s mind.

      Nevis I have dropping into round two. He’s a bit inconsistent, plus also restricted I fear to an under sized three technique. I’m not sold he can play 5-tech which would improve his stock. Castonzo can play right tackle although the issue with him will always be leverage due to his height and as Matt says – he’s finesse. I just cannot advocate another first round pick on a tackle, especially not the blind side, when there are guys like James Carpenter later on (amongst others).

      When I watched Burton vs Baldwin, the thing that struck me was how neat and compact he is – solid build, good height, decent speed. He was competitive for the ball and cover skills seemed fine. I’ve also seen him have a pretty poor game against TCU. I have him at R2 grade but maybe he sneaks into R1 because of the lack of depth.

  3. Ed

    Agree with you Alex. Houston has invested so many picks in the dline and their secondary is horrible. I would say prince too. And wr to bills, they need d and/or oline (which would be big reach). It already seems we have baldwin in BMW. He has the same size and speed (as much as people dog him for not being a deep threat). I know we need playmakers, but not sure about that one. Maybe DE, OT or CB (Burton).

    • Rob

      Baldwin isn’t BMW… there’s a marked difference in ability to get downfield. Williams isn’t capable of the big plays Baldwin is. Houston are switching to a 3-4 defense and while they are desperate in the secondary, they also spent a R1 pick on Kareem Jackson last year. I suspect it will be a free agency target. They need to prepare that team to switch to 3-4. I could certainly see another pass rusher being added.

      • Alex

        I’ve seen more than two mocks project that the Texans will take nose tackle Phil Taylor out of Baylor in Round 2 to prepare the switch. Considering that there isn’t a even a nose tackle (Dareus MIGHTTTT be able to play it) in the 1st round, I could see the Texans simply getting a corner.

        And FWIW, even if the Texans fan base is ok with Kareem Jackson (about 50/50 since some say he improved over the last 4 games), people are definitely unsatisfied with 2nd year Glover Quinn. And the reason I’m saying Akumumara is that the Texans also need a safety. So if Akumumara doesn’t work out, he can switch over to safety where he has the speed and size to play the position.

        The only case where I see the Texans passing on CB is if there A) Dareus is there (BPA+Need) or in the case where Dareus is gone, Peterson is gone, and Robert Quinn is there. Robert Quinn may be too talented to pass on.


        • Rob

          If we have a free agency period there’s some corner depth there – not to mention there will be options outside of round one. I just have a hard time seeing them spend consecutive R1 picks on one position when there will be alternatives. They were no great shakes as a pass rush force last year (30 sacks) despite having one of the league’s best rushers. He needs help. I think part of the plan in switching to the 3-4 will be to create greater pressure in order to help the secondary a bit. They’ll make additions – I could see them going all in for NA.

          • Alex

            I don’t have a problem with going for NT except Dareus is the only possibility of a NT (and he would be on the smaller side of a NT). And in this case, Ryan Kerrigan is a DE and I personally only think Robert Quinn is worthy at 11 (if he lasts that long). The Texans don’t need another DE.


          • Blake

            Alex where do you see Kerrigan as a defensive end in an odd front? He’s 260. Most 5 techs are 290. He’s a prototypical OLB in the form of Mike Vrabel. Connor Barwin will play their other side. I think Miller will blow up the combine and go there, but they undoubtedly willl use this pick on a OLB.

  4. Ed

    But the big east isn’t exactly the nfl and getting past a few db’s there is much different then getting past db’s in the nfl. Heck BMW got deep this weekend. Now I wouldn’t necessarily be mad having two big, fast enough wr’s (throw slants all day long), but I hope there is a different place to go.

    So for houston, does williams and okoye play de?

    And Rob, do you really grade newton a legit #1 pick? I just don’t see. He is a bigger, faster Tebow (whom everyone knocked), and has better mechanics, but he just doesn’t read defenses and never goes to other receivers.

    What do you think of dalton/mcelroy. 3rd/4th rd?

    If we don’t draft a qb this year, do you think carroll picks up leinart at our 3rd instead of losman (assuming hass comes back)?

    • Matt

      Dalton and McElroy will never be more than backup QBs at best. They are both so physically limited. If you have poor arm strength, you better have awesome accuracy, which neither possess.

      I just wouldn’t waste a mid round pick on either guy when you can just sign an un-drafted guy. I’d rather take a chance on a Stanzi, who has significantly better size and tools.

      With how this draft is looking, I wouldn’t be shocked to see a big move to draft our QB of the future. Nobody looks like they will stand out at 25 unless Aldon Smith falls (highly un
      Likely) or Jeff Fuller declares. I know sacrificing picks hurts, but if it looks like you won’t get anything special at 25, might as well trade a few picks to get your guy.

    • Rob

      I think Newton has immense talent. I’d want to draft him, sit him and train him knowing the end product could be sensational. It appears Carolina will appoint Rivera with the intention of standing by Clausen. It’d be a mistake IMO. If you’re going to stick by a QB, make it Newton, Gabbert or Mallett. I like Fairley and Bowers, but the QB position will help Carolina recover, not a DT or 5-tech. It appears that will be the mistake they make.

      Houston are tough to work out. Williams would probably have to play DE and yes – I suppose Okoye too if they want to stick by him. They may make a lot of changes. We need to see how that one plays out.

      I would project Baldwin is going to run a 4.5. I think Williams is probably a 4.65 guy right now. I would recommend people try and get tape of Baldwin in 2009 when he had a QB and a settled environment. He was a major playmaker downfield.

      Dalton is probably a R6 project. I would say McElroy is a UDFA.

      It’s impossible to project what Seattle will do at QB. I heard that it’s unlikely Hasselbeck returns but that was before last Saturday. Would not be surprised if he retired after this season to be honest and left on a positive note (hopefully there’s more positives on the horizon). Would also not be surprised if he signed a one-year deal. Nobody knows right now. I think they’ll make at least one QB addition. I’m not convinced PC goes after Leinart purely because he isn’t a good scheme fit. Would he look at a Young or an Orton? We’ll find out eventually. I still wouldn’t rule out an ambitious swoop for a QB during the draft.

    • Alex

      I gotta agree here about Newton. I’m watching Newton as I’m writing this and I honestly can say that Nick Fairley is having a greater impact. If the game ended now, Fairley should be the MVP.

      Newton is top 15 worthy considering his potential, but he is too unpolished to be a #1. Manning, Palmer, Stafford, and Bradford all had a certain level of polish (granted differing levels), Newton is just way too unpolished. If Luck had came out, he would have had enough polish.


      As for the thing about RT, I can accept evaluation. It’s true RT is primarily for run blocking and Constanzo is not physical enough.

      And finally, I’m curious about Aaron Williams from Texas. I know he isn’t the prototype CB that Schneider wants (Big+Physical), but I’ve seen Williams consistently in the late,late 1st round and early 2nd round.


  5. Ed

    Ditto newton/fairley alex. Carolina gets everyone healthy, fairley and a wr in 2nd would make them much better.

    Doesn’t our organization trade back and value picks, as opposed to trading up. I agree we need a qb, but with our stellar play as of late, we have to throw that out the window and draft bpa and get qb next year. It would take too much to move up and we already don’t have a 3rd.

  6. T-Town

    After tonights NCG game Carolina cant really go wrong with either Fairley or Newton.

    Newton was pretty solid of course but Fairley was……unstoppable.

    • Alex

      I would take Fairley #1 if I had the #1 pick unless it’s a team where I have a young QB and I desperately need a WR of any sort (St Louis for example). Otherwise, I would clearly take Fairley over Bowers and Peterson.

      IMO, DT is the most important position on the defensive side of the ball. If there is a so called heart of a defense, it’s the DT spot. It can make life A LOT easier on the secondary and linebackers because it’s THE position for run defense and also a critical position for pass rush (second to only the DEs). Further, it’s the position that draws the double teams on the OL and allows the one on one matchups at the DE positions. Good DT affects the whole defense. Btw, the Lions improved from 32 in defense to 19 this year with Suh. Now the Lions can build their defense around Suh.

      Of course, Fairley isn’t exactly Suh, but Fairley is rated somewhere between Suh and McCoy.


  7. Cliff

    Seeing that Pete/Gus always seem to find a way to maximize the talent on defense wouldn’t Adrian Clayborn have greater potential than his production shows in our defense? He can play 5 tech and would make our DL much much better. If he starts to produce more like the previous year then he’s a steal. I think him or Jordan Cameron would be best if he falls. Maybe trade up for someone who we think fits our scheme best.
    I like the Jon Baldwin pick though and think he can put it together and be a good deep threat. Tate in the slot with BMW and Baldwin sounds good to me. Butler for Obo for depth makes our running game and WRs that much better.

    • Rob

      Hi Cliff,

      I just wonder whether or not Jordan and Clayborne are more orthodox 5-tech’s. Not many prospects at 330lbs are touted for the role, it really is unique and probably deserves to be defined more. I’m trying to work out whether or not they’d draft a guy 40-50lbs lighter to play that role for Seattle. I can see them investing in someone who offers more of a pass rush threat, but will they need to be in the 305-310lbs range? It’s hard to tell at the moment. It’ll probably take a couple of drafts to work out certain roles and how highly this team values them in terms of draft stock.

  8. Alex

    I’m curious as to what you think of Wisconsin’s Gabe Carimi? I’ve only seen one Wisconsin game this year which was the Rose Bowl and even then I didn’t watch the whole game.

    I heard that he is a good run blocker and would be a good fit at RT. What do you think?


    • Rob

      I’m not a big fan. He’s limited as a RT and while I’ve no doubt he can become a solid run blocker at the next level, he’s also the kind of prospect that can be found outside of round one every year. I wrote a piece on him after the Rose Bowl which is listed among the ‘scouting reports’ section.

  9. Misfit74

    “Following confirmation that Janoris Jenkins (CB, Florida) and Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma State) won’t be declaring, I”

    WHAT confirmation? By who? Link?


  10. Ralphy


    I know you are not high on Kolb but as our position in the draft continues to fall and one of the QBs is less likely to be there does it change your opinion on trading the first round pick to the Eagles? What if it was Kolb and the Eagles third or fourth round pick for our first?

    Also wondering where you heard that Blackmon is staying in school.

    • Rob

      Reporters in Oklahoma have been saying Blackmon has made his decision, we’re just waiting for the announcement. The way they were talking it was a done deal and would be announced asap but we’re still waiting. We’ll see if he changes his mind.

      I’m just not a big fan of Kolb and think his reputation has grown mainly because he hasn’t been playing. I’m not sure how you justify spending a first rounder on a prospect who originally cost a second rounder, hasn’t played all that much and now appears expendable. At the very best I would spend a late second or a third and that would be dependant on being very confident in the investment. I will be stunned if anyone offers a first rounder for him.

  11. Patrick

    I love the Baldwin pick. To me, it would be almost a best case scenario. You’ve mentioned before that Mike Williams was a tremendous story and effective #2 WR, but he wasn’t necessarily someone that opposing teams had to fear. Actually, I don’t have the link, but earlier this week Lovie Smith was mentioned as saying Mike Williams was in fact a big issue that they needed to be able to overcome. Imagine BMW as our #2, with the fast and equally large Baldwin as our #1? Add in an improved Tate, hopefully a resigned Obomanu, an effective Ruvell Martin, and maybe even Stokley, and we suddenly have a terrific and effective WR corps. (I left off Butler from this list because I believe he could be traded.)

    On a side note, Rivera is officially the head coach of the Carolina Panthers. I know it seems like a lot of times defenisve minded coaches go offense in their first drafts…

    Raheem Morris- QB
    Rex Ryan- QB
    Jim Schwartz- QB

    But do you think he might be more tempted with Nick Fairley?

    • Rob

      It’s impossible to say at this stage Patrick. You make a great point regarding those other coaches. I expected Carolina to make big changes this off season but what they’ve done is shuffle the deckchairs on the titanic. Rivera could be a great appointment, but he’s working with the same power and the same tools. I still don’t think drafting Fairley or Bowers and keeping Clausen will change what has become a rotten 2-14 team. I think Newton, Gabbert, Mallett and Locker are all better prospects and therefore represent a brighter future for that team. Even so – I can see them avoiding the position and taking anyone of the top rated prospects from another position. At this moment, one man’s guess is no greater than the others.

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