2011 NFL Mock Draft (v.2)
Normally I'd be on my 5th version of my mock draft by now but chemistry's kickin me right now so I haven't had the time. Leave some comments, suggestions, whatever, I just do this for fun and because I'm partially obsessed with the Draft.
1. Carolina Panthers- DT Nick Fairley (Auburn)
There are a ton of options here for the Panthers and for the first time since I can remember there isn’t a consensus #1 guy out there (I guess you could argue when the Texans picked Mario Williams but NO ONE saw that coming). I could easily see the Panthers taking Fairley, Da’Quan Bowers, or Cam Newton but Fairley makes sense here. With a lacking defense, Fairley could become an immediate impact if his character issues don’t come into play.
2. Denver Broncos- DE Da’Quan Bowers (Clemson)
The Broncos are revamping their defense under John Fox’s 4-3 system and the Broncos are going to need another pass rushing DE across from Elvis Dumervill for his system to work. Bowers fits the mold perfectly and the Broncos should have some nice pieces for this rebuilding defense.
3. Buffalo Bills- QB Cam Newton (Auburn)
Not crazy about this pickup, I’m still not a Cam Newton fan but it makes sense for the Bills. Newton is still raw (as his combine performance proved) and would benefit from coming into a system with Ryan Fitzpatrick starting and learning his way as a backup. Wouldn’t surprise me if Patrick Peterson was picked here though.
4. Cincinnati Bengals- WR A.J. Green (Georgia)
I’m going with the consensus pick here and for the same reasons as pretty well any other mock draft lists. Green’s a monster at 6’4, 211 pds who has extremely good hands and not bad speed. With T.O. gone and more than likely Chad Johnson/Ochocinco/Whatever also out and Carson Palmer unhappy in Cinci, the Bengals will try to persuade him to stay by bringing in a guy like Green.
5. Arizona Cardinals- CB Patrick Peterson (LSU)
I really don't see the Cardinals drafting a QB here even though they do need one but coach Ken Wisenhunt is going to be coaching for his job and he needs to win now. With several veteran quarterbacks on the market I think that direction makes more sense for the Cardinals and a guy like Peterson could contribute not only in their brutal secondary right away, but also on special teams as a returner. The guy may be the best corner to come out of the draft in years and at 6'2 with lightning speed (4.34 40’) could be a home run if he falls to #5.
6. Cleveland Browns- DT Marcell Dareus (Bama)
The Browns are switching back to the 4-3 and need another DT especially with Shaun Rogers recently being released. Dareus played both DT and DE in college but at 6'4 305 pds, he would more than likely play DT in the NFL. Dareus has a huge burst that he used to get around tackles at the DE position but has the size and strength to make an immediate impact as a pass-rushing DT in the NFL.
7. San Francisco 49ers- OLB Von Miller (Texas A&M)
There’s quite a few options for the 9ers here but Miller is going to be the best talent available at this spot. Miller would make an instant impact at the outside backer position, this is all of course assuming that coach Jim Harbaugh doesn’t go with maybe Blaine Gabbert here, which I believe is huge possibility.
8. Tennessee Titans- QB Blaine Gabbert (Mizzou)
I tried to convince myself that Bud Adams would be content with the QB’s on the roster for now (or maybe bring in a veteran on the market) but I just don’t see it happening. Gabbert’s a solid QB but there are worries that his exceptional numbers in college were system-influenced. He has the physical tools to be successful in the NFL (6’4, 234 pds), but if I were in the ownership position here I’d opt for UNC’s Robert Quinn to match opposite Derrick Morgan at the DE position.
9. Dallas Cowboys- CB Prince Amukamara (Nebraska)
Jason Garrett is going to want to make an impression with his first draft and getting a guy like Amukamara is a great start. Amukamara was almost never thrown against his senior year and he's got great instinct and size (6'1 225 pds). The Cowboys need secondary help badly and he'd contribute right away to what really isn't a bad team like their record indicated. And with a 4.37 40 at the combine, Amukamara may have solidified himself as a top 10 pick.
10. Washington Redskins- DE/OLB Robert Quinn (UNC)
The Redskins struggled mightily to get to the QB in ’10 and a pass rusher like Quinn on the outside could help to fix that problem. There are questions about Quinn (since he hasn’t played a down of football in a year) but he had a decent combine that upped his stocked a little, and I don’t think Mike Shanahan will be able to resist picking him.
11. Houston Texans- DE/OLB Aldon Smith (Mizzou)
The Texans are switching to the 3-4 with Wade Phillips as their defensive coordinator. With that that means the team's gotta stack up on linebackers and with Cushing and Ryans in the middle, the Texans need some pass rushing outside backers. Smith fits the mold perfectly.
12. Minnesota Vikings- DE Cameron Jordan (Cal)
The Vikings D-line is finally showing signs of aging and with Ray Edwards becoming a free agent, Jordan would fit nicely across from Jared Allen. Lezlie Frasier has noted that he’s looking for a franchise QB but I don’t see Gabbert or Newton falling this far. I could see Christian Ponder here if his stock continues to rise with a good pro day though.
13. Detroit Lions- OT Nate Solder (Colorado)
This is a tough one because the Lions could take a number of players here at different positions (OT, CB, OLB) and it would be a huge upgrade from what they have now. Akeem Ayers, who seemed to be the consensus pick for the Lions, has fallen off after his combine (a 4.88 40..really?) and unless Amukamara falls here I don’t see them reaching for Brandon Harris or Jimmy Smith (“reaching” is a matter of opinion, yes I realize). Solder’s raw, but he has great physical tools at 6’8, 319 pds and could benefit from sitting behind Jeff Backus for a year to learn the tools to become a starting LT in the NFL.
14. St. Louis Rams- WR Julio Jones (Bama)
Sam Bradford needs help probably more than any other quarterback in the NFL. He had a great rookie year with Danny Amendola as his top target. Mark Clayton was a good surprise, but he was lost for most of the season with an injury. Jones is a large (6'4 220 pds), physical receiver with very good hands and helped his cause with a great combine workout. I could see Jones going earlier (maybe to the Redskins), but if he falls here to the Rams, they’ll grab him without a hesitation.
15. Miami Dolphins- RB Mark Ingram (Bama)
I think the Dolphins would go for a QB here if Newton or Gabbert fall this fall, or maybe if Christian Ponder continues to rise, but their biggest need (maybe besides in their interior line) is at running back, with Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown becoming free agents at the end of the year.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars- DE Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue)
I’m sticking with Ryan Kerrigan, which seems to be a recurring pick for the Jags by different mock drafts. The pick makes sense, and Kerrigan would fit nicely opposite Aaron Kampman on the outside of the Jags revamped defensive line.
17. New England Patriots- C/G Mike Pouncey (Florida)
With arguably the best guard in the league in Logan Mankins leaving (not official but it's more than likely) next season, the Pats are going to need to get a replacement. Pouncey's twin brother had a terrific rookie season in Pittsburgh and there's little difference between the two in their style of play or their talent level. I honestly expect Belichek to trade down here like he always does but if he doesn't, either Mark Ingram if he's available or Pouncey could be his pick.
18. San Diego Chargers- OT Tyron Smith (USC)
The Chargers excelled in almost every statistical category last season except for one: total rushing. Their defense let up the least amount of yards and their offense put up the most, thanks entirely to a monster passing game. If 2nd year RB Ryan Matthews is going to get more carries this season, he needs much better blocking than he had last year and Smith could provide that for him as a starting RT.
19. New York Giants- OLB Akeem Ayers (UCLA)
Ayers stock is dropping quickly so he needs a good pro day to solidify himself in the first round, but I don’t think that will matter with the Giants here. They need a replacement for an aging Keith Bullock on the outside backer spot, and there aren’t many solid 4-3 outside backers in this draft.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- DE J.J. Watt (Wisconsin)
Watt’s stock is skyrocketing, and he’s proved that he has a strong work ethic and an all-around love for the game that you don’t see from many young players. He worked his way from playing TE at Central Michigan to a walk-on spot as a defensive end at Wisconsin, and finally to an almost certain first round pick in the draft. Watt would fit perfectly with the new and improved Buccaneers defensive line and would free up a lot of the attention placed on Brian Pryce and Gerald McCoy.
21. Kansas City Chiefs- OT Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin)
It's pretty well known that the Chiefs are in need of a tackle and at #21 they should have a lot to choose from in Carimi, Boston College's Anthony Castonzo, possibly Tyron Smith, or maybe Mississippi State's Derrick Sherrod. Out of this lot (assuming that Smith is gone), I think Carimi's the best pick and most NFL ready. Carimi could take the RT spot but he also has the size (6'6 320) to develop into a solid LT.
22. Indianapolis Colts- OT Anthony Castonzo (Boston College)
At this point in the draft, no doubt the best tackle available as I really do think Carimi's gonna get drafted before him. Castonzo's a great fit for the Colts here because of their complete ineffectiveness on the ground game this year (29th in the NFL). Former first round picks Donald Brown and Joseph Addai have to have holes to run through and Castonzo could help to do just that.
23. Philadelphia Eagles- OT Derrick Sherrod (Mississippi State)
The Eagles were flat out awful in protecting the quarterback last season and they have to fix their offensive line problems if they want to win next year. Sherrod is another lineman in a rich draft full of tackles that could help out the Eagles protect Michael Vick next year.
24. New Orleans Saints- OLB Martez Wilson (Illinois)
The Saints are getting older at the outside linebacker position, with starting OLB’s Scott Shanle and Danny Clark combining for 19 years of NFL experience. Wilson’s a large, physical backer who could eventually develop into a very solid starter in the NFL.
25. Seattle Seahawks- OG Danny Watkins (Baylor)
The Seahawks are going to want to run the ball more efficiently then last and most of the problem was their inefficient interior line. Tyler Polumbus isn’t the answer at the LG spot and Watkins could come in and make a difference right away.
26. Baltimore Ravens- CB Jimmy Smith (Colorado)
The Ravens are going to need to address their secondary with this pick, and with corners like Smith, Brandon Harris, and Aaron Williams more than likely being available, they’ll have their pick of a good group. Smith has some character questions about some incidents in college, but he’s arguably the most gifted corner out of the three (Kiper has had him going as high as #13) that could be available here.
27. Atlanta Falcons- WR Torrey Smith (Maryland)
The Falcons are going to need to find other targets for QB Matt Ryan other than Roddy White, especially with Tony Gonzalez getting well into his 30's. Smith would mold perfectly with Roddy White, being a speedy receiver with good size (6'1 230) and White being the main possession threat. More importantly Smith could start right away, possibly being that push the Falcons need to get to the Super Bowl.
28. New England Patriots- RB Mikel LeShoure (Illinois)
The Pats struggled to produce much offense in their loss to the Jets in the playoffs last year, and part of the problem was the true lack of a solid running game to relieve some pressure of Tom Brady and that passing attack. Benjarvis Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead just don’t cut it if this team wants a dangerous rushing attack.
29. Chicago Bears- WR Leonard Hankerson (Miami U)
I’m still not convinced that the Bears are okay with their receiving core and although they have big issues with their offensive line, I don’t see any of the top linemen falling to them here and so if they’re going to pick an offensive lineman they’re going to have to reach into the mid-2nd round caliber players. I’m going with Hankerson here though. He’s a possession receiver but still has the speed that OC Mike Martz would want in a receiver in his offense.
30. New York Jets- OLB Justin Houston (Georgia)
On a defensive that's already scary good, it may just get better. With few options likely left at the wide out spot, the Jets could go with a great fit to their 3-4 here with Houston. Houston (6'3 258) has great size for a pass rushing OLB and sheds block like, well it's his job. The Jets could go with Notre Dame TE Kyle Rudolph here too, I guess you never know with Rex Ryan.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers- DE Adrian Clayborne (Iowa)
I realize this is a weird pick since Clayborne has been projected almost unanimously in the top 20 but I don’t see Clayborne going that high with other DE’s like Kerrigan and Watt rising on the draft boards but if he falls here I don’t see the Steelers passing on him. He’s a pass rushing specialist and never takes a play off. Questions about this year as he seemed to lose some of the explosiveness he had his junior year but Clayborne has said he was pushing through injuries. Seems like the Steelers’ kind of guy.
32. Green Bay Packers- CB Aaron Williams (Texas)
Not a ton of needs for the Pack but with Charles Woodson getting older it wouldn’t hurt to pick a gifted corner like Williams and let him develop under Woodson for a year or two. If there’s a tackle available here (I don’t believe there will be but who knows) expect them to go in that direction instead.