In one short announcement, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck effectively killed 20 million 2011 NFL mock drafts that had been posted over the past week. The surefire first pick decided to forego millions upon millions to earn his degree, or help his team, or to do something else equally as inconsequential.
Meanwhile, we now have the very difficult task of replacing him at the No. 1 overall spot all the while taking into account the ripple effect that his decision has.
Obviously, with the best quarterback in the draft off the board, Ryan Mallet, Cam Newton and Jake Locker suddenly find themselves in much higher demand. And once you start moving those guys around, all hell breaks loose on the ol’ board.
With no further delay, here is how the new mock draft ends up looking with the Stanford passer taken off the board:
1. Carolina Panthers – A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
With the quarterback they were hoping to replace Jimmy Clausen with no longer being an option, the Panthers would be best served turning their attention to making Clausen a little better. The solution is simple – go Green.
2. Denver Broncos – Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
For whatever reason, a clear line has been drawn in the sand between the supporters of the various CBs in this draft. Most people have the Broncos shoring up this position, however, when it comes to particular players it becomes a matter of preference. Peterson is arguably the best player in this draft, and he’d be a smart, safe pick for John Elway and the gang.
3. Buffalo Bills – Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
The Bills need a franchise quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick is nice, and he may even serve as a capable starter on a losing team next year, but he’s not a guy you build behind. While quarterback seems to be the consensus pick for Buffalo, which quarterback is debatable. Even though Ryan Mallett is coming on strong, I personally believe Newton is a proven winner who will have no problems translating his talent to the professional level.
4. Cincinnati Bengals – Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
This is where things start getting interesting after Luck’s decision. Originally, Green was the ideal pick to land with the Bengals to help out Carson Palmer since Terrell Owens and Twitter Dumber are sure to be gone next year. With Green likely off the board, look for this team to shore up a defensive weakness. Bowers is a nice pick here, and the best DE available in the draft.
5. Arizona Cardinals – Nick Fairley, DE/DT, Auburn
This is a tough pick because both Fairley and Marcel Dareus would fit with the Cardinals. While Dareus is a bit more NFL-ready, Fairley is the more versatile talent. The two could easily swap places depending on combine results and an assortment of other factors.