NFL mock draft 3.0: Ravens address their pass rush

March 30, 2011|By Matt Vensel

The scouting combine and most pro day workouts have been completed, and with the NFL draft just a few weeks away, there has been a significant amount of shuffling in my third NFL mock draft of the offseason.

It all starts at the top, where a pair of passers have soared to the first and third picks in my latest mock. But you don't care about that.

You just want to know who the Ravens are taking with the 26th pick. Well, it's not Maryland wideout Torrey Smith, who was the pick in my first mock. And it's not Florida lineman Mike Pouncey, the Ravens' selection in my second. So who is it? You're going to have to read on to find out.

1. Panthers: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn. The Panthers don’t appear to be set on selecting a quarterback first overall, but by the time the draft rolls around, I have a feeling they will decide they can’t pass up the opportunity to land a potential franchise quarterback. Sorry, Jimmy Clausen. Will it be Newton or Gabbert? I say Newton, especially if a rookie wage scale will be in place. He’ll be a project, but he has the most upside.

2. Broncos: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU. Denver is switching to a 4-3 defense under John Fox and needs new bodies in its front seven, but it would be hard to pass on Peterson, maybe the draft’s safest top prospect.

3. Bills: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri. Like the Panthers, the Bills have a bunch of needs. But if they are confident that Gabbert, who solidified himself as a top-10 prospect with a strong pro day, can be their guy under center, they will take him here and let him ride shotgun to starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick for a year.

4. Bengals: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn. The Bengals, who have a cranky Carson Palmer on their hands, are in need of a new quarterback, too. But with Newton and Gabbert off the board, Cincinnati will snag Fairley and hope he wasn’t just a one-hit wonder at Auburn, as some draft insiders have speculated.

5. Cardinals: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M. Arizona is another team that could eye an upgrade under center, but Miller would be a sweet consolation prize for the Cardinals, who need to beef up their linebacker corps.

6. Browns: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina. I had the Browns taking Georgia wideout A.J. Green in my two previous mocks, and I still think he will get serious consideration here. But the Browns are switching up their defensive scheme and could plug in Quinn, who sat out the 2010 college season, at defensive end.

7. 49ers: Marcell Dareus, DE, Alabama. There is chatter that Dareus could be a top-five pick -- maybe even first overall. If he is there at pick No. 7, the 49ers can boost their pass rush with Terrence Cody’s former linemate.

8. Titans: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois. This may seem like a reach -- a la Tyson Alualu to the Jaguars last year -- but Liuget is a penetrating defensive tackle who would fill a major need for new Titans coach Mike Munchak.

9. Cowboys: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin. The Cowboys could see significant roster turnover at defensive end during free agency, so Watt makes sense here. He’ll get sack opportunities playing alongside DeMarcus Ware.

10. Redskins: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia. This is a dream scenario for the Redskins, who desperately need a playmaking wideout for whoever ends up being their quarterback in 2011. Green has Pro Bowl potential.

11. Texans: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska. Houston took cornerback Kareem Jackson in last year’s first round. But if you watched the Texans secondary get torched in 2010, you know this wouldn’t be a wasted pick.

12. Vikings: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado. The Vikings can shore up their aging offensive line by selecting this towering tackle. If Solder is the real deal, the Vikings can move Bryant McKinnie over to the right tackle.

13. Lions: Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson. Bowers’ stock has taken a hit because of health concerns (some teams have reportedly taken him off their boards). If he proves to be durable, he would be a steal here.

14. Rams: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama. Sam Bradford gets a new toy in Jones, who impressed at the combine.

15. Dolphins: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama. With the futures of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams in doubt, the Dolphins need to bring in a young stud at running back. But will a team trade ahead of Miami to take Ingram?

16. Jaguars: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa. The Jaguars have to be hoping that one of the draft’s top defensive ends falls to them. Clayborn is in the second tier at the position, but he would have pretty good value here.

17. Patriots: Tyron Smith, OT, USC. The Patriots have proved willing to move picks in the past, and with two first-rounders this year, they might do it again. If they stand pat here, they could address a need at left tackle.

18. Chargers: Cameron Jordan, DE, California. The Chargers’ pass rushing is lacking juice after the departure of Shawne “Lights Out” Merriman. They could either go with an end or linebacker here. We’ll say Jordan.

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