2011 NFL Mock Draft v5.0: The Final Version
Posted 04-28-2011 at 02:56 PM by Buckeye
Updated 04-28-2011 at 06:57 PM by Buckeye
This is it. The 2011 NFL Draft begins tonight at 7pm ET and a lot is different between last year and this year due to all the labor uncertainty going on. The lockout has been lifted for now, but with the owners appealing and all the nasty bickering going on that there is no telling what the result of the new CBA will be. With that, this year's draft is particularly hard to predict as there is no knowing what holes need to be filled with free agency delayed until after the draft.
Now that I have said enough, it is now time I make my final mock draft. Once again, this assumes no trades as predicting trades are really tough to do. Thus, I consider picks to be a hit if they go to the right team or position if a trade does happen.
1. Carolina Panthers - QB Cam Newton, Auburn
Although this is not the right course of action for the Panthers, this is probably what will happen as the Panthers appear to be settling on Cam to be their top choice. The Panthers are not impressed with Jimmy Clausen as their QB of the future. What Cam brings to the table are his tremendous athletic ability and a winning attitude. But being from a spread offense that he is a project that will need a lot of developmental time. This pick is all about being a high risk, high reward prospect as Newton can lead the Panthers if properly developed.
2. Denver Broncos - LB Von Miller, Texas A&M
While defensive line is the most obvious need for the Broncos, the latest from Adam Schefter is that the Broncos are in love with Miller. Miller is the better prospect than Marcell Dareus coupled with the fact that this draft is deep in DTs that the Broncos can get a good one later. Either way, Denver's top priority is to improve the pass rush that is transitioning back to the 4-3 defense. Miller provides more explosiveness, and thus that is what the Broncos are attracted to.
3. Buffalo Bills - DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama
Seeing how the Bills have needs everywhere, they can't go wrong with Dareus. He is perfectly suited to play in either the 4-3 or the 3-4 defense. He is a safe pick that should help out the Bills get pressure on the quarterback. They could opt for a QB to learn behind Ryan Fitzpatrick or a CB as their secondary is not in ideal shape.
4. Cincinnati Bengals - WR A.J. Green, Georgia
This pick has to be for their offense. Chad Ochocinco is likely on his way out, and T.O. is not coming back. Carson Palmer is playing a chess game with the Bengals indicating that he may or may not be back with the Bengals. No matter who ends up being the QB, the Bengals need to give the guy a go-to wideout.
5. Arizona Cardinals - CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
The Cardinals QB situation is a mess, but they do not appear to be high on Blaine Gabbert. Von Miller is the guy they want, but he is probably off the board. The Cardinals have another big hole in the secondary as the player opposite of Dominique Rogers-Cromartie has struggled badly. Coupled with the fact that he is the top player on many boards that Ken Whisenhunt prefers this course of action. This is also a hot spot for a team wanting Peterson to trade up.
6. Cleveland Browns - WR Julio Jones, Alabama
The Browns have big needs on the defensive line and at wide receiver. Julio Jones has closed the gap between him and A.J. Green that some teams are rating Jones higher than Green. Nevertheless, if Colt McCoy is going to have any chance to lead the offense, he needs a go-to receiver. The Browns have too many wideouts that are second or third options.
7. San Francisco 49ers - CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska
If Patrick Peterson falls, the 49ers will waste no time with the pick. But if he is taken earlier, there are a number of ways the 49ers can go. Since Blaine Gabbert is here and the 49ers really need a QB that he could be the pick here despite the issues with accuracy that is needed to run Jim Harbaugh's West Coast Offense. Robert Quinn is also another possibility as a 3-4 OLB. But here, Prince fills a huge need at CB as Nate Clements is getting old. While second to Peterson, he is believed to be almost as good as Peterson.
8. Tennessee Titans - DT Nick Fairley, Auburn
The Titans need a QB badly and Gabbert is there for the taking in this mock. But the value Nick Fairley brings to the Titans is to great to pass up. The Titans did struggle on getting any pass rush last season.
9. Dallas Cowboys - DT J.J. Watt, Wisconsin
The Cowboys are looking to trade down with this pick. If not, then the Cowboys have needs at tackle, cornerback, and defensive end. Watt has been impressive in workouts and is someone the Cowboys would love to have. Mike Pouncey or Anthony Castonzo is probably who they target if they are successful in trading down.
10. Washington Redskins - QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
This is the absolute latest where Gabbert will be taken. The Redskins are in the market for a QB with Donovan McNabb on his way out. The Redskins are looking to possibly trade up to get him, but it may be tough without a third or fourth round pick. If not Gabbert, then the Redskins could looks at Julio Jones should the Browns pass on him, or some pass rushers.
11. Houston Texans - DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina
The Texans are due for a huge makeover on defense as Wade Phillips will convert the defense into a 3-4. Their secondary is also a huge mess, which means that if Prince Amukamara is available, he is another option. But here, Quinn is available for the Texans to take and if not, Aldon Smith is another guy they will consider. They could also look at a DE in J.J. Watt or Cameron Jordan. Quinn is very talented and appears to not have missed a beat despite not playing all last season. He would be an OLB in the 3-4 defense.
12. Minnesota Vikings - QB Jake Locker, Washington
Let the run on teams reaching for QBs begin. The Vikings are one such team with a desperate need at QB, and they really like Locker a lot to warrant making the selection here. The Vikings did not prepare for life after Brett Favre as he is presumably retired for good. If the Vikings are locked on Locker, they should look for a team willing to trade down.
13. Detroit Lions - T Tyron Smith, USC
At this point, Smith represents the best course of action for the Lions. If they are going to have any chance to compete, they need to keep Matthew Stafford standing. CB is another big weakness the team needs to address and if Prince Amukamara falls, this is as far as he gets.
14. St. Louis Rams - DT Corey Liuget, Illinois
The Rams need a WR more than anything, but with A.J. Green and Julio Jones both off the board and the next best WR not worthy of the pick that the Rams help out their defensive line. The Rams appear to be very high on Liuget as he makes their defensive line a lot bigger.
15. Miami Dolphins - C Mike Pouncey, Florida
Mark Ingram seemed like the obvious choice for a long time. But now there are concerns about him, combined with the value of the position with most teams going two-back instead having a workhorse back. The Dolphins really like Pouncey, but they may also try and trade back to get Ryan Mallett to lead their offense that needs a QB. Should the Dolphins fail to trade down, Pouncey is who the Dolphins should select.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars - DE Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue
This is the type of player GM Gene Smith loves. He has a high motor and is all about production, something that the Jaguars tend to favor in their selections.
17. New England Patriots - DE Cameron Jordan, California
Bill Belichick will always be fielding calls for trades with this slot. Should they stay put, Jordan is a guy that fits the profile of a guy that Belichick loves. He has all the football smarts and can take on double teams.
18. San Diego Chargers - DE Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple
With Jacques Cesaire winding down his career, that leaves a huge hole at the DE position in the Chargers 3-4 defense. They would love to have J.J. Watt, but he probably will be off the board by this pick as is the case here. Wilkerson is the type of player A.J. Smith really likes.
19. New York Giants - T Anthony Castonzo, Boston College
This player is perfect for the Giants, whose offensive line has been getting up there in age and has lately been ineffective in run blocking. He can come in and start right away at RT, allowing some shifting
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - DE Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson
At one time, Bowers was poised to be the in the running to be the top pick of the draft. One serious knee injury and several poor workouts later, he has dropped to the bottom of the first round. Should Bowers be fine, he can step in and help the Bucs improve their run defense.
21. Kansas City Chiefs - T Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin
The biggest need for the Chiefs is at right tackle as Brandon Albert has been a disappointment and needs to switch to guard, putting a huge hole at tackle. An OLB in their 3-4 like Aldon Smith or Akeem Ayres is also another possibility.
22. Indianapolis Colts - T Nate Solder, Colorado
Offensive tackle is the biggest need for the Colts, but which one do they take? Here, Solder gets the nod since he has all the football smarts and possesses great athleticism.
23. Philadelphia Eagles - CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado
Smith his highly talented, but carries a lot of character baggage causing him to fall. The Eagles need secondary or offensive line help, and this is the type of player that Andy Reid can coach up considering what he has done for Michael Vick.
24. New Orleans Saints - DE Aldon Smith, Missouri
Smith probably will not fall this far, but if so the Saints get a huge steal. He is raw, but has a lot of upside. The Saints need front seven personnel more than anything.
25. Seattle Seahawks - QB Andy Dalton, TCU
Matt Hasselbeck is not getting any younger. Out of the QB prospects in the draft, the Seahawks appear to like Dalton the best. Also, they are looking to trade down so that perhaps, a team that is looking at Dalton will take him.
26. Baltimore Ravens - DE Cameron Heyward, Ohio State
Heyward will be a DE on a 3-4 team and the Ravens could use him. The Ravens are another team that could look to trade down with a team that needs a QB, but should they stay the Ravens could really use Heyward. This is a value pick, and he is a player that fits the profile for the team.
27. Atlanta Falcons - DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa
The Falcons don't have many needs, but they could always use help in stopping the run. Clayborn is that type of player who can help them. WR is another big need as production opposite Roddy White was lacking, but nobody is worth the pick.
28. New England Patriots - RB Mark Ingram, Alabama
With the second pick, the Pats go for value here. Given how unpredictable Bill Belichick is that there is a good chance this pick will be traded to a team needing a QB. But should the Pats stay here, Ingram is the type of player that Belichick loves.
29. Chicago Bears - T Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State
Jay Cutler just got hammered last season as the protection was problematic. So the Bears need to address that need. Also, DT could be taken since they did release Tommie Harris.
30. New York Jets - DT Phil Taylor, Balyor
The Jets are another team looking to trade down. If they stay here, Taylor would fill in a huge hole at the NT position with the oft-injured Kris Jenkins having been released. Taylor has some question marks against him, but he is well-suited to be the NT, a critical position in the 3-4 defense.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers - CB Aaron Williams, Texas
The Steelers defense was great, but in little thanks to their cornerbacks. Their defense could use help at that position and Williams is the type of guy that Dick LaBeau loves. He is a ball hawk who loves to go for the pick.
32. Green Bay Packers - DE Brooks Reed, Arizona
The Packers do not have a lot of needs, so they have the luxury of taking the best available player. Reed is that guy who can pair up with Clay Matthews and become a dominating force to be reckoned with for years to come as he has been very impressive in workouts.