2011 Mock Draft Version 1

2011 NFL MOCK DRAFT: VERSION 1 (Updated 4/7/2011)

The draft is now only 4 weeks away and a lot of things are clearer at this point.  With no end in sight to the lockout, this will be the first draft that hasn’t been preceded by a period of free agency.  Todd McCshay made an interesting point on this front; now that teams haven’t been able to fill needs via this route, maybe we’ll see more teams go best player available and not just “draft to fill a need.” Regardless, here is my take on how the first 32 picks will turn out.

1: Carolina Panthers :  Cam Newton: QB, Auburn -The more I read the more I firmly believe that the Panthers will take a  huge gamble and select Newton on April 28.  Owner Jerry Richardson will see the controversial signal caller as a big ticket item that will bring fans into the stadium.  The jury is still out on Jimmy Clausen, and while he was terrible last season, I think that it’s very unfair to judge a qb, muchless a rookie, on a year’s work with that piss-poor supporting cast.  Nonetheless, Newton’s unlimited upside is undeniable, but I think that his lack of maturity and off the field issues make him a huge bust canidate. Rumor has it that aside from Newton the Panthers like AJ Green and Patrick Peterson, so those would be my choices if they pass on Newton.                                             

  2. Denver Broncos:  Marcel Dareus: DT, Alabama: The Broncos are switching back to a 4-3 under John Fox and Dareus could be the anchor of a 4-3 defense for years to come.  While lacking Fairley’s pass rushing ability, Dareus is versatle, hard working and a much safer pick.  I still believe that Patrick Peterson is a great option for any team, and DE Richard Quinn is sky rocketing up draft boards with the amazing private workout he put on for scouts. 

3. Von Miller, OLB: Texas A&M:    I really believe that the Bills would love to have AJ Green, but the Bills are completely devoid of talent on defense in their front 7.  Aaron Maybin is in danger of being cut and is looking like a bona fide bust as a top 15 pick, Paul Posluzny can’t stay on the field, and Kyle Williams is about the only bright spot along the front 7.  Miller is opening eyes in Mobile and all signs point toward him being a top 5 pick.  He can be the pass rush force that the Bills really need.

Cincinnatti Bengals:  AJ Green, WR: Georgia

The TOCho experiment seems to be over, and the Bengals need to restock the cupboard.  Jerome Simpson showed some serious promise and they also have talent with Andre Caldwell and Jordan Shipley, but AJ Green is a prospect in the mould of Andre/Calvin Johnson.  They could also use help along both D and O lines, and at Qb, but I don’t see value here.  I think Green is the pick if he’s available.

5. Arizona Cardinals:  Richard Quinn, DE/OLB, UNC . The Cardinals defense was atrocious last year and they need to bring in a  pass rusher.  Quinn was suspended for the entire 2010 season, so there are certainly some red flags but his talent is undeniable.  They have no talent at outside linebacker and no one that can get to the passer.  Other possiblities here are Blaine Gabbert and Patrick Peterson

Cleveland Browns:  Nick Fairley: DT, Auburn Fairley is an immense talent but is your classic ‘boom or bust’ pick at the defensive tackle position.  He’s got some mild character concerns, takes some plays off and was somewhat of a one year wonder but the immense upside and pass rushing ability are undeniable.  As the Browns transition to the 4-3 defenese he can be the gap penetrating force in the middle that all good 4-3 defenses need.  Juilo Jones and Patrick Peterson are also possibilities.                                                    

7.  San Francisco 49’ers:  Patrick Peterson: CB, LSU this would have to be a dream scenario for 49’ers brass and fans alike.  I love Peterson and like many think he’s the best player in this draft.  Your classic shutdown corner, he’s big athletic and fast.  The 49’ers really need help in the back end of their defense so this is an ideal fit for them.  QB is a glaring need, some Blaine Gabbert is a strong possiblity as well, but I think they would be wise to go with the Tiger here.   

 

8. Tennessee Titans:  Blaine Gabbert: QB, Mizzou I’m really not a big fan of Gabbert by any stretch but the Titans need help at the QB position bad.  Kerry Collins is a dinasour and VY has played his last day in a Titans uniform.  Gabbert has physical tools and upside and if the Titans bring in a veteran they can ease Gabbert into the role.  The Titans could use another pass rusher so Aldon Smith is a possiblity.                           

9. Dallas Cowboys:  Prince Amukamara: CB, Nebraska  The Cowboys secondary was sub par last season and they could certainly use another playmaker back in the defense.  While safety is a much bigger need, Amukamara will help the defense tremendously.  I think they may try hard to trade out of the spot, but if not they could also take an offensive lineman or JJ Watt from Wisconsin.

                                           10. Washington Redskins:  Julio Jones: WR, Alabama-The Redskins are a mess yet again, as their defense is terrible and Donovan Mcnabb experiment failed big time.  They are also devoid of talent at WR, as Santana Moss is a free agent and Malcom Kelly is a bust.  Jones would be a great fit as he would be groomed to be the #1 WR of the future.  They also really need help on the defensive line so don’t rule out Muhammad Wilkerson.

11. Houston Texans, JJ Watt: DE, Wisconsin, With Wade Phillips coming in, the Texans face the challenge of switching to a 3-4 defense.  Watt is your classic 3 technique, and he is strong powerful and athletic.  The Texans also need some help in the secondary and along the offensive line.                   

12. Minnesota Vikings:  Da’Quan Bowers, DE: Clemson The news about Bowers’ knee is very bad, and if he has to get microfracture surgery he’ll undoubtedly plummet further.  He’s a very talented player and with Ray Edwards becoming a free agent they’ll need to groom his sucessor.  Bowers didn’t run as fast as expected but he players quicker than his 40 would indicate.  Given his injury i’m very uncertain with this pick. QB and another, safer defensive end are strong possiblities.  

13.  Detroit Lions:  Antony Costonzo, OT: Boston College

  There’s nothing that I feel more passionate about in the 2011 draft than the fact that the Lions MUST draft an offensive tackle or a defensive back with their first round pick.  The Lions have progressed the past couple of years and I love the direction that the franchise is going in, but they need to protect Stafford and figure out how to stop opposing passing attacks.  The value at defensive back just isn’t here at 13, and Costonzo can be the heir apparent to Jeff Backus.  Linebacker and defensive end are also possibilities. 

14. St. Louis Rams:  Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois The Rams made strides but still have a roster that is very thin on talent.  They have their bookend tackles in Jason Smith and Safford now they need weapons for Sam the Ram.   With Jones off the board they’ll look to improve their defense that needs help up the middle.  Liuget is a beast and would instantly help improve their run defense.  CB, WR and OLB are also options. 

                                         15. Miami Dolphins: Mike Pouncey: OG/C, Florida The Dolphins regressed in 2010 and a lot of it had to do with their inability to establish a ground game.  They need to improve the interior of their line and Pouncey would certainly do that.  He provides versatility and while he’s not the prospect his brother was he’ll be an instant upgrade. QB and RB are also options. 

 16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jimmy Smith, CB: Colorado -The Jags made some serious strides in 2010 on both offense and defense.  Laughed at by many of draft day, last year’s first round pick Tyson Alualu had a very nice rookie season.  The Jags have little talent in the secondary outside of Rasheen Mathis, and while safety is a far more pressing need the value isn’t there at 16.  Smith has some off the field red flags and is known to take plays off, but the size speed combo is about as good as you could ask.  A defensive end and even running back are possibilities here.

 

 

17. New England Patriots (from Oak):  Nate Solder, OT: Colorado- I’ve said it time and time again, its a rarity that anyone can ever predict New Englands pick correctly.  They’ll most likely trade down, but if they don’t I think they’d be wise to go offensive tackle.  Matt Light is nearing the end of his career and there is no successor in place.  Solder is raw and new to the position but incredibly athletic and strong.  Pairing him with Volmer would give the Pats bookend tackles for the next 8 years.  

 

18. San Diego Chargers:  Tyron Smith, OT: USC -It’s amazing how well Rivers played with their sub-par offensive line.  Marcus McNeal sat out a good portion of the year because of a contract dispute and the rest of the line was mediocre at best.  Smith is raw but also very, very athletic.  The Chargers could also use some help on their defensive line and a WR is also not out of the realm of possiblity.  

19. New York Giants:  Aldon Smith, DE: Missouri-Defensive end is far from a need for the Giants, but I believe that top to bottom they have enough talent on the roster to go best player available.  Smith is similar to Jason Pierre Paul in that he is somewhat raw but has HUGE upside.  Kiwanuka has been injury prone and contract is expired and Osi is nearing the end of his contract as well.  Jerry Reese has shown time and time again that there is no such thing as too many defensive lineman.  Other areas of need are linebacker, cornerback and offensive guard.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers:  Adrian Clayborn, DE: Iowa- The Bucs made the most impressive turnaround of any team in 2010.  With 10 rookies starting, they won 10 games and nearly made the playoffs.  Clayborn has some health and durability issues but he is a very solid defensive end ina 4-3 scheme.  The Bucs also need help in the secondary, especially with Aqib Talib’s recent legal transgressions, so Brandon Harris is an option here.

21. Kansas City Chiefs: Gabe Carmini, OT: Wisconsin -The Chiefs are another team that improved markedly in 2010.  Matt Cassel had a breakout year and they proved they have one of the best young running backs in the game in Jamaal Charles.  Now, it’s time to improve the line that blocks for both these young stars.  Carmini can immediately step in at right tackle and upgrade their line.  Outside linebacker and receiver are other options, but I just don’t see the value at this point.

22. Indianapolis Colts:  Brandon Harris, CB: Miami- The Colts have holes on many parts of their roster; their offensive line is porous, their defensive is soft and their back end is susceptible to getting shreaded.  Harris isn’t an elite talent but he would be a starter from day one on that defense.  The Colts should probably go offensive line, but if the draft unfolds this way I don’t see the value available at this spot. 

 

23. Philadelphia Eagles:  Akeem Ayers, OLB: UCLA-The Eagles defense was surprisingly bad in 2010.  They fired Sean Mcdermitt and will surely look to turn the defense around in 2011.  Ayers could come in and compete for the SAM backer position and start opposite Ernie Simms.  The Eagles are another team that could use a corner or lineman, but this isn’t the spot in the draft to target those particular positions.  

24. New Orleans Saints:  Stephen Paea, DT: Oregon State-The Saints rush defense was ranked 16th in the NFL last season and could certainly improve.  Former first round pick Sedrick Ellis is rounding into a very good player, and Paea could be paired with him to form one of the younger, better DT tandems in the league.  The Saints could also use a defensive end or an outside linebacker.  

 

25. Seattle Seahawks:  Jake Locker, QB: Washington:  One of Pete Carrol’s first moves as coach of the Seahawks was trading for Charlie Whitehurst.  While it’s far too early to cast any sort of judgment on Whitehurst, QB is still a position of need.  Locker, in my opinion, is a huge boom or bust canidate, and from what I’ve see, watched and read he reminds me a little bit too much of Alex Smith. Regardless, his upside is through the roof.  Other options for Seattle would be defensive end and running back.

26. Baltimore Ravens: Jon Baldwin, WR: Pitt-I struggled with this one.  I think Ozzie Newsome is one of the better talent evaluators in the league and I believe that Baldwin has huge bust potential.  Nonetheless, the Ravens pass offense was ranked 20th last season, and they need to get some weapons for Flacco.  Boldin is probably the best possesion receiver in the league, but Mason and Housh are old and they have no one to stretch the field.  The could also use a cornerback or a 3-4 defensive end like Cameron Heywerd.

27. Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Rudolph: TE, Notre Dame-The playoff loss to the Packers proved that the Falcons need both pass rushers and more weapons for Matt Ryan.  AT this point, all of the elite pass rushers are off the board so I have them taking the heir apparent to Tony Gonzaelz.  I’ve heard people compare Rudolph to Steeler’s tight end Health Miller.  Not a burner, but an all around good tight end. The Falcons could also go defensive end, defensive tackle or defensive back here.                                                  

28. New England Patriots:  Cameron Heywerd, DE: Ohio State-The Patriots young defense made big improvements in 2010, thanks largely to a rookie class that included standout corner Devin Mccourtey and inside linebacker Brandon Spikes.  They can add another piece to the defense if they select Heywerd, a classic 3 technique tackle in a 3-4 defense.  The Pats could use an outside linebacker, so Justin Houston could be an option here.

29. Chicago Bears, Derek Sherrod: OT, Mississippi St. -The Bears made it all the way to the NFC title game in spite of having one of the worst lines in the league that routinely got their QB killed .  Sherrod could step in at Right tackle and immediately replace J’Marcus Webb and upgrade their line.  With the release of Tommie Harris, they could use a defensive tackle and also need an infusion of youth and talent in the secondary.  

30.  New York Jets, Mark Ingram, RB: Alabama-Ladanian Tomlinson had a surprisingly great start to the 2010 season, but he wore down as the season ended.  Add to that the fact that Shonne Green had a disappointing sophomore campaign, and I could certainly see the Jets taking the Crimson tide running back.  They have a great offensive line, one of the best in the league, so it the Ingram pick would make sense.  They could also use a nose tackle or an outside linebacker.   

31.   Pittsburgh Steelers:  Cameron Jordan, DE: Cal- The Steelers made it to the superbowl with Flozell Adams and Jake Scott starting at offensive tackle.  That alone should be worth something.  With that be said, I think they need help along the offensive line more than any team in the league.  But the Steelers are too smart to reach simply to fill a need, and Jordan is too talented to pass up here.  Brett Keisel and Aaron Smith both have logged in double digit seasons in the NFL, so they could use some more youth at the position.  Jordan is ideal to be a 5 technique tackle in a 3-4, and he can learn under the two veterans before starting.  The Steelers could reach from someone like Baylor OG Danny Watkins, but it’s really not their style.

32. Green Bay Packers, Ryan Kerrigan: DE, Purdue-The Packers are another team that notriously does well with the draft.  If they can select Kerrigan here and start him opposite Clay Mathews they will be very happy.  Kerrigan played defensive end in a 4-3 in college but he’s athletic and smart enough to make the transition to the 3-4 OLB.  The Pack could use a 3-4 defensive end, a running back and even a receiver.

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