2011 NFL Mock Draft v2.0: Pre-Combine Edition
Posted 02-18-2011 at 12:10 AM by Buckeye
With the Senior Bowl having been played not too long ago that some players saw their stocks go up or down since the last mock draft a month ago. There had been four first-round QBs, but all with significant problems that will have teams thinking twice before spending a high pick on them, with one other prospect having the possibility of sneaking into round 1 after an impressive Senior Bowl workout. With the pending labor strife in the NFL, teams cannot sign free agents or make trades involving players under contract until a new CBA has been established, meaning that team needs are not likely to change between now and the draft.
1. Carolina Panthers - DT Nick Fairley, Auburn
The Panthers were all set to take Andrew Luck until he announced that he was staying at Stanford for one more year. So instead, the Panthers are looking to take the best player in the draft, who also happens to fill in a major need.
2. Denver Broncos - DE Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson
The Broncos are expected to convert to a 4-3 defense with John Fox becoming their new head coach. Even with Elvis Dumervil returning from a torn pec that sidelined him for all of last season, the Broncos still need to upgrade their pass rush. Taking a CB like Patrick Peterson is also an option with an aging Champ Bailey becoming a free agent.
3. Buffalo Bills - QB Cam Newton, Auburn
The Bills are hard to figure out after taking C.J. Spiller in last year's draft even though RB was not a need. As for this year's team, their defense needs to catch up with the offense. But the Bills have a huge need for a QB as Ryan Fitzpatrick is only a short-term solution. Newton needs lots of time to develop, but the Bills are in a position to be patient with him.
4. Cincinnati Bengals - WR A.J. Green, Georgia
The Bengals are a mess, especially on the offensive side with Carson Palmer demanding a trade, T.O. out the door, and the diva now known as Chad Johnson once again is probably out the door as well. Normally, wideouts with a pick this high are risky investments, but Green is an exceptional playmaker that the Bengals need and a relatively safe pick.
5. Arizona Cardinals - LB Von Miller, Texas A&M
While the Cardinals have questions at QB, but the Cardinals are probably better off signing a veteran and developing Max Hall or John Skelton in the meantime. So instead, the Cardinals upgrade their pass rush as it was really anemic last season.
6. Cleveland Browns - DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama
The Browns defense is getting a makeover and are probably shifting to the 4-3 defense and with Shaun Rogers gone, Dareus will fit right in as a 4-3 DT. Wideout is their top need, but with A.J. Green, the only one worthy of this pick, off the board, the best move would be to upgrade their front seven.
7. San Francisco 49ers - CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
QB is the biggest need, but none of the first round QBs are a good fit for the West Coast Offense that Jim Harbugh wants to run. So instead, the 49ers shore up another big need in the secondary. Nate Clements is getting too old and there is a good chance he will be cut this offseason.
8. Tennessee Titans - QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
Vince Young and Jeff Fisher are both gone, so QB becomes their biggest need. He is reportedly the best QB available, but has accuracy issues.
9. Dallas Cowboys - CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska
If Amukamara makes it to this pick, the Cowboys will jump on him as it fills their biggest weakness in the secondary. Should he be off the board, then things get really hard to predict as their next biggest needs are at T and DE.
10. Washington Redskins - DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina
QB is their biggest need now that Donovan McNabb has fallen out of favor. But with Blaine Gabbert gone and Cam Newton also taken (and even if her were there, Mike Shanahan will probably say no to him) that reaching for Jake Locker would be foolish. So instead the Redskins add Quinn, who has potential but miss all of last season. He would play at OLB opposite of Brian Orakpo as Andre Carter is set to become a free agent.
11. Houston Texans - DE Aldon Smith, Missouri
The Texans are switching to a 3-4 defense now that they hired Wade Phillips to be their DC. So they need an OLB with athleticism, and that is what Smith brings to the team.
12. Minnesota Vikings - DE J.J. Watt, Wisconsin
QB is their biggest need now that Brett Favre is set to retire for good. Jake Locker would be enticing here, but he would need a lot of time to develop. Instead, the Vikings go after a guy who can take over for the aging Ray Edwards.
13. Detroit Lions - CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado
The Lions could go a number of ways. CB and LB are their biggest needs, while a T to protect Matthew Stafford is not far behind. Smith has seen his stock really rise, so the Lions would consider taking him.
14. St. Louis Rams - WR Julio Jones, Alabama
If he is still there at this pick, it should be a no-brainer. Sam Bradford needs wideouts to throw to if he wants to take his game to the next level.
15. Miami Dolphins - RB Mark Ingram, Alabama
Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are both free agents and likely to be leaving South Beach. So the Dolphins need to keep the ground game strong for whoever ends up being their QB.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars - DE Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue
The Jaguars improved their DT position in last year's draft, but their pass rush is still lacking with Aaron Kampman's durability issues. Kerrigan is the type of player that the Jaguars like.
17. New England Patriots - DE Cameron Jordan, California
With two first-round picks, look for the Patriots to trade around. Assuming they stay with this pick, Jordan is the type of player Bill Belichick likes, and he fits in as their DE.
18. San Diego Chargers - LB Akeem Ayres, UCLA
With Shawne Merriman gone and Larry English not producing, the Chargers need to fill a big hole at the OLB position. Ayres is a versatile player that can fit in at OLB in either defense.
19. New York Giants - T Nate Solder, Colorado
Protection for Eli Manning was a huge problem for the Giants, and it showed. Their running game had problems with the lack of run bloacking.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa
While the Bucs defense improved last year, they were still having problems rushing the passer. They were not getting production from their DEs, so Clayborn will fill that need.
21. Kansas City Chiefs - LB Justin Houston, Georgia
Houston fills in a big need for the Chiefs as the OLB opposite of Tamba Hali struggled. Houston would make an excellent fit at the other OLB position in the Chiefs 3-4 defense.
22. Indianapolis Colts - T Anthony Castonzo, Boston College
The Colts usually do not take offensive linemen this high, but Peyton Manning needs protection really badly. The line also had a tough time last season opening up holes for their running game.
23. Philadelphia Eagles - T Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin
Here is another team in the NFC East with problems protecting the passer as their offensive line relied on Michael Vick's mobility to bail them out.
24. New Orleans Saints - DT Corey Liuget, Illinois
The Saints need to help out their defensive line as their pass rush was lacking last year. Liuget is the best front seven player available at this point.
25. Seattle Seahawks - QB Jake Locker, Washington
Matt Hasselbeck is a free agent and does not have much left even if he stays in Seattle. Charlie Whitehurst has not shown that he is the one who can succeed Hasselbeck, so Seahawks turn local and get Jake Locker, whose stock is dropping due to concerns about his accuracy.
26. Baltimore Ravens - CB Brandon Harris, Miami
WR is a bigger need for the Ravens, but with no wideout worth the pick CB becomes the best way to go.
27. Atlanta Falcons - DT Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple
The biggest need for the Falcons is at WR so that the pressure can be taken off of Roddy White. But none of the wideouts are worth passing over Wilkerson whose stock has been rising.
28. New England Patriots - RB Mikel Leshoure, Illinois
The Pats addressed their need along the defensive line with their first pick, so the Pats now turn their attention to upgrading their running game as having another RB gives Tom Brady another weapon.
29. Chicago Bears - T Tyron Smith, USC
Jay Cutler took quite a beating last season, so the Bears would be smart to give him some more protection.
30. New York Jets - NT Phil Taylor, Baylor
The Jets defensive line is getting up there in age, and Kris Jenkins has been having problems staying healthy. So Taylor fills in a huge need at NT.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers - G Mike Pouncey, Florida
He would be a perfect fit for the Steelers, although they will probably have to trade up for him. Playing next to his brother, the Steelers offensive line will become formidable with the addition of Maurkice's brother playing alongside.
32. Green Bay Packers - DE Cameron Heyward, Ohio State
Without many glaring needs, the Packers can, more or less, afford to take the best player available. Heyward has a big game in the Sugar Bowl and would fit in as a DE in the 3-4 defense that Dom Capers runs.