2011 Mock Draft

UPDATED:  4/26/11

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1. Carolina – Cam Newton, QB, Auburn

If I were in charge of the Panthers (which they are probably glad I’m not) Cam Newton would be nowhere on my radar with this pick.  If I were going to go quarterback, Gabbert would be the pick.  Most likely I would go with one of the truly elite talents of this class like Patrick Peterson or A.J. Green.  None of that changes the fact, however, that all signs are pointing towards the Panthers taking the ultimate gamble with Newton.

2. Denver – Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama

Denver is weak up and down the middle of their defense.  I discard all of Elway’s quarterback talk and give the Broncos some strength on the defensive line in Dareus.  Dareus is big and fast, and should help the Broncos from becoming the worst team at notching sacks in the NFL for the second year in a row.

3. Buffalo – Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M

I would hate to be Buffalo right now.  There they are having to choose between Von Miller, A.J. Green, Patrick Peterson, and Blaine Gabbert.  That is certainly not an easy choice.  Miller is a splashy pick, however, and should be versatile enough to excel in whatever type of defense Buffalo chooses moving forward.

4. Cincinnati – A.J. Green, WR, Georgia

Guys like Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert might be worth reaching on for truly desperate quarterback-needy teams.  I’m not convinced that the Bengals qualify as truly desperate yet.  Although, they are experiencing a huge amount of change on offense, so taking care of the #1 receiver spot is going to go a long ways towards stabilizing things on that side of the ball.

5. Arizona – Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

Arizona has to face the choice of bringing in yet another unproven quarterback or risking the wait and trying to find a veteran in free agency.  I wouldn’t be overly surprised if Gabbert is the pick here, but I have to think they are going to take the best player on their board in Peterson and wait on finding a solution at quarterback.

6. Cleveland – Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

The Browns seem like one of the biggest wild cards in the top 10.  There are really no positions, other than center, that should make that front office completely comfy.  However, Colt McCoy appears to be their guy moving forward, and he desperately needs some playmakers.  If the Vikings, Dolphins, or Redskins liked Gabbert enough, they might all be on the phone talking to Cleveland.

7. San Francisco – Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri

I have little doubt that Jim Harbaugh will be on the hunt for a new quarterback at some point in this Draft, and he reportedly tried to recruit Gabbert out of high school.  Gabbert, like all quarterbacks in this Draft, has analysts completely undecided as to where he should end up.  One thing everyone can agree on, however, is that the Niners need a quarterback of the future.

8. Tennessee – Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn

There has been a lot of talk recently of Fairley sliding out of the top 10 (please, please fall to the Vikings) but I’m not buying it.  Once thought of as the consensus top prospect of this class, Fairley lands here with the hopes of making Titans fans forget all about the good old days of a dominant Haynesworth creating havoc on the defensive line.  Fairley is my favorite player in this Draft and last season he was a man amongst boys.

9. Dallas – Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

Immediately following the 2010 season, Jerry Jones expressed that his defense disappointed him more than anything and I think, at that point in time, he was being honest.  That is why I think we can politely cast Tyron Smith talk to the side a bit and place our focus on guys like Amukamara and J.J. Watt.  The way this Draft shakes out, the Cowboys could still get a decent pass rusher in the second round, while the cornerback talent sees a greater drop off after the top three guys.

10. Washington – Jake Locker, QB, Washington

It has been talked about that Mike Shanahan really wanted to draft Locker last year, before the quarterback decided to go back to school.  Time will tell if he still holds the Washington product in such high regard, but it is looking like the Skins might just be desperate enough at QB to ignore the numerous other positions on their roster that need help.

11. Houston – Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri

Six years ago Dallas drafted DeMarcus Ware with the 11th pick to be a centerpiece in their 3-4 defense.  Now, Wade Phillips is installing the 3-4 in Houston and has a prospect that is very similar to Ware.  I think it is stupid for the Texans to change to a 3-4 defense in an offseason that is screwy enough as it is, but they are doing it.  A number of picks will go towards getting them the right guys to fit their system.

12. Minnesota – Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina

So, here we are, faced with a conundrum while the Vikings are on the clock.  Do they reach on a quarterback like Ryan Mallett, take a potential top five pick that fell into their laps, or do they attempt to trade down?  In my recent article where I revealed my “Top 12” I have Quinn a full three spots ahead of Mallett.  It sure is tempting to take that quarterback here, but with trades unavailable in this mock, I have to believe the Vikings will be happy to add one of the best defensive linemen in this Draft to their rotation.  Now, it is time to sit back and hope a quarterback falls to them in the second.

13. Detroit – Tyron Smith, OT, USC

If the Lions are not comfortable with Jimmy Smith as a person, then there are no secondary players worthy of being picked here, and I think protecting Matt Stafford has to be of the upmost importance to the team.  Tyron Smith is nearly the consensus top tackle in this class, although there are some questions about his ability to play on the left side, but the value is pretty darn great right here for Detroit.

14. St. Louis – Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois

Last year, the Jaguars surprised the draftnik community by drafting Tyson Alualu with the 10th pick.  While it would be slightly less surprising than the Alualu pick, I think the Rams could turn to Liuget if Julio Jones is indeed off the board.  They need some help along the defensive line, especially on the interior, and this could be a great fit worth being scorned for “reaching.”

15. Miami – Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama

I haven’t changed this pick since my very first mock, and I don’t plan to.  The Fins could use a quarterback, but the presence of Chad Henne tells me that they aren’t going to be reaching on one.  With Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams on their way out, the Fins need to make sure they don’t take too far of a step back in that area.  I also think they would rather have Ingram on their side than face him twice a week as a member of the Patriots.

16. Jacksonville – Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue

Da’Quan Bowers needs to be considered here, as the Jags could use a top notch pass rusher, but adding Bowers’ knee to Aaron Kampman ACL issues might create more question marks than one defensive line can handle.  Kerrigan is hard working and consistent pass rusher that will be a solid addition to any roster.

17. New England – Cameron Jordan, DE, California

This is a case of best player available filling a big need, which is a perfect combination to strive for in the NFL Draft.  The Patriots went 14-2 despite having a poor pass rush, so adding a few talented players, especially one as talented as Jordan, to their front seven will more than keep them in contention for the Super Bowl.

18. San Diego – J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin

Rumor has it the Chargers are targeting Watt as a replacement for Jacques Cesaire who is a free agent this offseason.  Like the Patriots pick one slot ahead, it could also be argued that Watt is the best player available at this point.  Although, if a guy like Anthony Castonzo is higher on their board than Watt then he could be the pick, as they also need some help on the right side of their offensive line.

19. New York Giants – Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

Current left tackle William Beatty didn’t exactly get a ringing endorsement from New York’s brass this offseason, and it is no secret that the team is looking to upgrade the offensive line.  Castonzo is arguably the “safest” offensive line prospect in this class and represents great value at this point.

20. Tampa Bay – Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson

The Bucs need as much help at the defensive end position as they can get their hands on.  This is a good draft class to have that as your priority.  A guy like Ryan Kerrigan or Justin Houston might be a safer pick at this point (if they’re available) because of Bowers’ questionable knee situation, but Bowers just has way too much upside to pass up at this point.  Don’t be surprised if they target another pass rusher in the second round.

21. Kansas City – Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

The Chiefs had an excellent Draft in 2010 adding playmakers on both sides of the ball, including Eric Berry and Dexter McCluster.  Now it is time to focus on shoring up both lines to the best of their ability, and getting Carimi to replace Barry Richardson at right tackle would be a huge improvement allowing for immediate contribution and impact.

22. Indianapolis – Nate Solder, OT, Colorado

The Colts better give Peyton Manning some major help along the offensive line if they want to protect what is about to be a monumental investment.  They need to keep Manning as healthy as possible for as long as possible which will only get harder as he gets older.  I expect that they will take the best offensive lineman available at a couple of points in this Draft, starting with the mammoth Solder in the first round.

23. Philadelphia – Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State

Michael Vick’s jitter bug ways made the Eagles’ protection look better than it is (except against the Vikings) but they still need to find a way to improve.  They have a number of options here like Akeem Ayers and Jimmy Smith, but I’m going to say Sherrod edges them out because of Smith’s character issues and the relative depth at outside linebacker in this class.

24. New Orleans – Mike Pouncey, G/C, Florida

More than any other team in the league, the Saints have no idea how the new CBA is going to shake up their roster outlook.  They face a potential upheaval at most positions including the interior of their offensive line.  Protecting Drew Brees has to be priority number one and Pouncey is a versatile player, something of value given their predicament, that would make a ton of sense at this point.

25. Seattle – Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

What Seattle really needs on defense is a defensive tackle, but I’m not sure their guy is here.  Smith is one of the few remaining elite talents and, despite his character concerns, it would be a steal to nab him at this point.  That is especially true if he can shut down half the field in the NFL the same way he did at Colorado.

26. Baltimore – Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia

Baltimore could use some help at a number of spots on their defense, including the front seven.  All the buzz is that they are targeting Cameron Heyward to replace Cory Redding but I think those people assume Houston won’t be available.  In this case, Houston presents them with the best value.

27. Atlanta – Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland

Atlanta could benefit from some quarterback hungry team offering them a chance to move back a bit where they could still get a guy like Smith or even a defensive end.  For now, though, I think Smith is high enough up on their board that they will be happy to see him added to a roster that needs more dangerous receivers to take attention away from Roddy White.

28. New England – Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois

If there is a running back available here like Leshoure that New England covets then they run the risk of Green bay picking him before they pick again.  If it is a defensive lineman they are after, then the Jets, Steelers, and Packers may pounce before they pick next.  I gave the Pats Cameron Jordan earlier, though, and Leshoure is the type of back that could conjure up memories of the glory days with Corey Dillon (you know, when they won Super Bowls).

29. Chicago – Benjamin Ijalana, OT, Villanova

No team gave up more sacks than the Bears did last season.  Their offensive line needs a rebuild in a major way.  Ijalana is a versatile, paving blocker that could go a long ways towards opening some holes up for Matt Forte and keeping Jay Cutler from suffering poorly timed MCL sprains.

30. New York Jets – Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor

The Jets could use some help across their front seven, and it will be hard to pass up Muhammad Wilkerson or Cameron Heyward here, but nose tackles are like gold for 3-4 teams.  Taylor reportedly has an inoperable bone condition in his foot, which means he will be playing with pain, but it hasn’t kept him from being productive to this point.

31. Pittsburgh – Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple

One of the best parts about having a Super Bowl contending roster is that you can afford to select talent over need in the Draft.  Sure, Mike Tomlin could view cornerback and offensive line as the biggest needs, but Wilkerson presents too great of a value to pass up at this point.

32. Green Bay – Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State

It is kind of ridiculous how talented and deep the Packers roster is, especially when they get those zillion players back off of injured reserve.  Like the Steelers, the Pack can afford to take the best player available.  Heyward would be a solid addition to any defensive front, and would fit quite nicely for the Packers.

ROUND TWO

33. New England – Stefen Wisniewski, C/G, Penn State

34. Buffalo – Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State

35. Cincinnati – Andy Dalton, QB, TCU

36. Denver – Akeem Ayers, DE, UCLA

37. Cleveland – Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame

38. Arizona – Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada

39. Tennessee – Titus Young, WR, Boise State

40. Dallas – Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona

41. Washington – Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State

42. Houston – Aaron Williams, CB, Texas

43. Minnesota – Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas

44. Detroit – Martez Wilson, ILB, Illinois

45. San Francisco – Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia

46. Denver – Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA

47. St. Louis – Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky

48. Oakland – Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina

49. Jacksonville – Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa

50. San Diego – Will Rackley, G, Lehigh

51. Tampa Bay – Brandon Harris, CB, Miami

52. New York Giants – Rodney Hudson, G, Florida State

53. Indianapolis – Danny Watkins, G, Baylor

54. Philadelphia – Marcus Cannon, G, TCU

55. Kansas City – Sam Acho, DE, Texas

56. New Orleans – Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh

57. Seattle – Allen Bailey, DE, Miami

58. Baltimore – Davon House, CB, New Mexico State

59. Atlanta – Quan Sturdivant, OLB, North Carolina

60. New England – Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy

61. San Diego – James Carpenter, OT, Alabama

62. Chicago – Orlando Franklin, G, Miami

63. Pittsburgh – Curtis Brown, CB, Texas

64. Green Bay – Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech

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