CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Mock draft: Fairley certain at No. 1 with shifts ahead


The NFL's scouting combine has come and gone, which means it's time to update the mock draft.

Just remember as you scan through this second try, I'm not a big believer in downgrading guys based on the combine.

What I did do is put a player I liked a ton heading into 2010 into this mock, although he didn't play last season. That player is North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin. His combine experience was different than other players, which is why it mattered.

Nick Fairley fits one of Carolina's many needs. (Getty Images)  
Nick Fairley fits one of Carolina's many needs. (Getty Images)  
He needed to show well and he did. He put on a performance that said he was in good shape, even though he missed last season because of dealings with an agent.

Austin always had first-round talent in my mind. The concern I had was rust. But he showed really well at the combine, which is why he's in this mock, going 24th to the Saints.

There are a few other changes, but the top spot still belongs to Nick Fairley of Auburn.

It makes too much sense for Carolina to pick him, even if he's being picked apart with more than a month to go to the draft.

There will be several more of these mocks heading to the draft, so, again, don't lock me in on this one.

There are still pro days to see, tape to watch and data to acquire.

That's more than enough to cause big-time shuffling in the next one, which will come in about a month.

1. Carolina Panthers: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn. He fills a need and I don't buy this talk that he's falling. Have you watched the tape? Did you see his combine workout?

2. Denver Broncos: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU. You can never have enough premier cover players. Peterson will learn at the feet of Champ Bailey.

3. Buffalo Bills: Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson. The Bills will likely consider a quarterback here, but I think they pass on one to take Bowers.

4. Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia. Even though Julio Jones ran faster, Green is the receiver NFL personnel talked up at the combine. He plays faster, that's for sure.

5. Arizona Cardinals: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri. They are in need of a franchise passer. If they don't get a vet -- think Donovan McNabb -- they might grab Gabbert here.

6. Cleveland Browns: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M. They would love to plug this guy into their 4-3 defense. He is rising up the boards after a great Senior Bowl week and a good combine.

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7. San Francisco 49ers: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska. They need to get a top-notch corner. This kid might be the cleanest of all the players. He ran under 4.4 at the combine.

8. Tennessee Titans: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama. You can never have enough good inside people, which is where he would play in their 4-3.

9. Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith, T, Southern California. He weighed in at more 300 pounds, which is important for him. He played right tackle at USC but would move to the left side on the next level. The Cowboys could move Doug Free to the right side.

10. Washington Redskins: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn. He didn't show well at the combine, but can make amends at his pro day. They need a quarterback.

11. Houston Texans: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina. It's time to get Mario Williams some speed help. Quinn is that guy.

12. Minnesota Vikings: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa. They might be losing Ray Edwards and Clayborn has shown he has pass-rush ability.

13. Detroit Lions: Nate Solder, T, Colorado. They have to improve up front and this huge tackle would be a nice start.

14. St. Louis Rams: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama. Don't believe the talk he is falling in this draft. It's not true. He has a foot issue, but it's nothing serious. If anything, he's going up.

15. Miami Dolphins: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama. His 40 time wasn't great at the combine, but neither was Emmitt Smith's time. He reminds me of Smith.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue. They've addressed this position a lot, but without success. This kid has Jaguars general manager Gene Smith written all over him.

17. New England Patriots (from Raiders): Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri. The pass rush has to improve from the outside and this kid can move from defensive end or rush outside linebacker in the Patriots' scheme.

18. San Diego Chargers: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin. He is perfect for their 3-4 scheme. He will be a lot like Aaron Smith, the Steelers' 3-4 end.

19. New York Giants: Anthony Castonzo, T-G, Boston College. He is a smart, hard-working lineman who could play either guard or left tackle. Age is a concern up front for this team.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State. They need to amp up a pass rush that wasn't very effective. This kid's Sugar Bowl tape should excite them about that.

21. Kansas City Chiefs: Gabe Carimi, T, Wisconsin. They are rebuilding their offensive line and Carimi could step in and start at right tackle.

Marvin Austin: A good risk? (Getty Images)  
Marvin Austin: A good risk? (Getty Images)  
22. Indianapolis Colts: Mike Pouncey, G-C, Florida. They have to improve their line. He can play either guard or tackle, so could be their center when Jeff Saturday retires.

23. Philadelphia Eagles: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado. He has great size and good speed. Off-the-field issues are a concern. He sure is cocky.

24. New Orleans Saints: Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina. He missed last season for off-the-field issues, but he wowed them at the combine. He was considered a top-10 pick before the season. Even with the signing of Shaun Rogers to a one-year deal, this makes sense.

25. Seattle Seahawks: Ryan Mallet, QB, Arkansas. They badly need a long-term answer and Pete Carroll isn't one to shy away from players with problems.

26. Baltimore Ravens: Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia. They didn't get what was expected from Jarrett Johnson last season and Sergio Kindle is still a question mark.

27. Atlanta Falcons: Cameron Jordan, DE, California. They need to get better at left end. Jordan has that left-end look, a bigger end who can hold up against the run.

28. New England Patriots: Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland. The playoffs taught us how much they missed the deep speed. Smith has that.

29. Chicago Bears: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois. They let Tommie Harris go, which means they need help inside. They take the local kid to take a step in that direction.

30. New York Jets: Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh. With Santonio Holmes or Braylon Edwards possibly leaving, they need to get help outside.

31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Aaron Williams, CB, Texas. They need an upgrade at corner and Williams is considered the fourth guy in this draft. He fits their style of corner.

32. Green Bay Packers: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA. He didn't have a great combine, but he's a productive player who would fit in the Packers' 3-4 scheme at outside linebacker.

Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.

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