Second attempt at predicting the 2011 NFL Drafts 1st round. Quite a few tweaks from Version 1.0. If you haven't seen or want to revisit my Version 1, click here
Without further ado, Carolina, you are on the clock...again.
With the 1st overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers select...
Marcel Dareus, Defensive Tackle, Alabama
I stick with my stance that I believe Ron Rivera will listen to his defensive side of the brain and take Dareus. Marcel Dareus has outstanding athleticism for a big man, with very quick feet and a great burst off the line. Although Cam Newton may bring a new sense of hope to the Carolina faithful, I am still unsold on his ability to live up to a #1 pick billing. Dareus has an incredible skill set and Rivera and his brilliant defensive mind could utilise him to do wonders along all four positions of the Defensive Line, and he will go a long way to improving the 23rd ranked run defense of 2010.
Previous Pick: Marcel Dareus
With the 2nd pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos select...
Nick Fairley, Defensive Tackle, Auburn
Nick Fairley is rising again in my opinion, and is the 2nd best Defensive Tackle in this years draft. I expect to love Fairley's disruptiveness up the middle of the line, something the Broncos will love to have in the new 4-3 front they are reverting back to. Fairley is a big bodied man who plays with great burst and intensity. Success on defense starts from the inside, and no one knows this more than John Fox, who drafted some very solid defensive lineman over the years. Fairley could be great within a few years if he puts his mind and body to work, and should instantly improve the leagues 31st ranked run defense in the run heavy AFC West.
Previous Pick: Da'Quan Bowers
With the 3rd pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills select...
Von Miller, LineBacker, Texas A&M
I am not sold on the "Chan Gailey covets Cam Newton" ideology that is going around in places. Drafting Cam Newton is not going to instantly improve the 32nd ranked run defense. The Bills were 3rd in pass defense in 2010, but why pass when you can gain nearly 200 yards on the ground? With the top 2 defensive tackle options off the board, the Bills will go to a do-it-all linebacker who could be an instant star in the Bills 3-4 set. Von Miller is explosive and determined, and will instantly upgrade the Bills near non-existant pass rush and improve their run defense. I would love to have paired Kyle Williams with one of the top 2 DT prospects, but the next best thing is Miller.
Previous Pick: Von Miller
With the 4th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals select...
Da'Quan Bowers, Defensive End, Clemson
Da'Quan Bowers stock seems to have dropped a little since initial mocks came out, yet I expect the Cincinnati Bengals to ignore that and take a real talent at #4. They could take a long look at Peterson, although I expect Jonathan Joseph to ultimately resign. I am also expecting Mike Brown to push the defensive issue and ignore Carson Palmer threatening retirement on the outside. Bowers is explosive and versatile, and I expect the Bengals to believe their Wide Receiving core is just fine. Bowers will be a great pairing with Dunlap, and provide Marvin Lewis with hope he can finally install that defensive intensity that he has been desperately trying to achieve in Cincinnati.
Previous Pick: Robert Quinn
With the 5th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals select...
Patrick Peterson, Cornerback, Louisiana State
The best player the 2011 draft has to offer (in my opinion) drops to the Arizona Cardinals and Coach Whisenhunt promptly picks him up. I still believe if Von Miller drops to this spot that he will indeed be the pick, but in this mock he doesn't. Peterson is probably the best cornerback prospect to enter the league since Charles Woodson. He shows great play recognition, has excellent change of direction and has outstanding ball skills. Basically he is everything you want in a cornerback, and as the league progresses further towards a pass dominant game, he is worth a premium.
Previous Pick: Patrick Peterson
With the 6th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns select...
AJ Green, Wide Receiver, Georgia
Holmgren and Shurmur are going to give Colt McCoy a real chance to take this offense by the horns and improve. The best way to help his progression in the league? You give him some weapons, and AJ Green is one hell of a weapon to have. Green is big and fast and is outstanding after the catch, something critical in the West Coast offense that the Browns will be running. In drafting Green, you get an elite weapon on the outside who McCoy can grow with, and it will also help the progression of Massaquoi to develop on the other side with less attention his way.
Previous Pick: AJ Green
With the 7th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers select...
Prince Amukamara, Cornerback, Nebraska
In any other year, the Prince would be the most coveted cornerback prospect. As with Peterson, Prince still has all the intangibles of an outstanding cornerback prospect, he is big, fast, plays physical and is great in coverage. He also is not shy about moving forward and playing a little run defense. He can make plays on the ball, and recover quickly if he makes mistakes. He will be a star in this league and will bolster the 49ers pass defense on the other side from Nate Clements.
Previous Pick: Prince Amukamara
With the 8th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans select...
Robert Quinn, Defensive End, North Carolina
The Tennessee Titans could get the steal of the draft here. Robert Quinn didnt play a down in 2010, but review the previous season and you will see a relentless force at the defensive end position who is mean and nasty and plays this game in the same style as Ndamukong Suh, that he is going to hit you hard, and often. He could be the steal of the draft if he plays up to his potential, and I value him as the premier pass rusher of this draft class. Even with a year out of football, he put up outstanding numbers at the Combine, which should put to rest any concerns over work ethic. He will fill the DE void from day one.
Previous Pick: Nick Fairley
With the 9th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys select...
Tyron Smith, Offensive Tackle, Southern California
This could well be the year that Jerry Jones goes against his usual tendencies and drafts an Offensive Tackle with his 1st round pick. Smith has great measureables, and is good in pass protection, which will help ensure the 'Boys keep 4000 yard man Tony Romo on his feet. He needs a bit of polishing in terms of assignments and isnt a terribly effective force in the run game, but he has a high ceiling and should develop into a top tier tackle. He also recently had an outstanding Pro Day with none other than Jason Garrett present.
Previous Pick: Tyron Smith
With the 10th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins select...
Blaine Gabbert, Quarterback, Missouri
Look through Mike Shanahan's most recent quarterback projects and starters, and there is a common pattern. Big armed, mobile quarterbacks who aren't afraid to take off and run. John Elway, Jake Plummer and Jay Cutler all fit this description, and Gabbert will be the next when he lands at number 10 to the Redskins. In Washington, Gabbert will have time to develop behind Donovan McNabb, learning the position from under center and going through multiple progressions. He has the tools to be a solid quarterback in this league in a few years, as for elite though, I am not convinced.
Previous Pick: Blaine Gabbert
With the 11th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans select...
Julio Jones, Wide Receiver, Alabama
I am higher on the Jones radar than I am AJ Green. I like Jones as the more physical receiver and the more NFL ready prospect in the early first round. As for the positioning, I think that Kubiak will have other defensive prospects in the second high on his board too, giving him the luxury of making this pick to finally give Schaub and Andre Johnson some much needed help in the passing game. Too long has it been a one pony show in Houston and Kubiak knows this. The Texans offense could be very scary with a 1-2 pairing like Johnson and Jones.
Previous Pick: Julio Jones
With the 12th puck in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings select...
Cam Newton, Quarterback, Auburn
Tarvaris Jackson is a known commodity and I dont think that Joe Webb did enough to win over the Vikings coaching staff late last season to warrant not drafting a quarterback if one were to be available. Cam Newton slides to #12 in this draft, and the Vikings take a chance on him. It needs not be said the kind of potential that Newton possesses, not to mention his star factor. The best thing about this fit, is that the Vikings offense is pretty solid in terms of weapons. He will have Adrian Peterson in his backfield, a healthy Rice as a number 1 receiver, as well as Percy Harvin. All the pieces are there for Newton to succeed in Minnesota.
Previous Pick: Anthony Castonzo
With the 13th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select...
Aldon Smith, Defensive End, Missouri
I had to stick here with the idea of Schwartz, being a defensive line guy, will take a defensive lineman. Last year he took Ndamokung Suh, and this year he will take someone on the outside of Suh to take advantage of the attention Suh receives. The guy I like here for Detroit is Aldon Smith. Smith is very quick off the edge, moves well laterally which helps a lot in the run game, and has excellent size that compliments his speed. With a bit of strength training and coaching, he could be a force in the pass rush game next to Suh. I think the Lions could go OT or CB here and still be happy.
Previous Pick: Aldon Smith
With the 14th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the St Louis Rams select...
Corey Liuget, Defensive Tackle, Illinois
Steve Spagnuolo's Superbowl winning defense boasted one of the best defensive line rotations in Superbowl history, and the Giants line overpowered the Patriots offensive line all game, leading to one of the greatest upsets in Superbowl history. Spag's will draft to try and duplicate the success in New York by taking the big bodied, run stuffing presence of Corey Liuget. Liuget has a great motor for a big man, and is an underrated pass rusher, and will slot nicely into the Rams defensive line rotations and could be a force in a few years under Spag's guidance.
Previous Pick: Corey Liuget
With the 15th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select...
Gabe Carimi, Offensive Tackle, Wisconsin
I still have Carimi going to the Dolphins in mock 2.0. I just don't think that running backs are worth top 20 picks these days when you see so much success coming from 2nd round (and 2nd day) picks. I think Sparano will look past the running back position and instead the position that dictates a running back's success. The line. Carimi has a nasty streak and plays the game physically, the way Sparano loves in his players. Inserting him to RT from day one allows Carey to move inside to Guard and give the Dolphins one hell of a line to pave the way for whoever lines up in the backfield for Miami.
Previous Pick: Gabe Carimi
With the 16th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select...
Cameron Jordan, Defensive End, California
Cameron Jordan has an outstanding skill set and will likely start from day one at LDE for the Jags. Jack Del Rio has missed in past years with Defensive Ends, and because of that, he is forced to draft another one. Last year Tyson Alualu came out of nowhere to be the Jags pick, but it ended up being a pretty solid one. To continue to help the defensive line improve, Jordan brings his great variety of pass rushing moves as well as his big body to help shore up Jacksonvilles pass rush and run defense woes.
Previous Pick: Jimmy Smith
With the 17th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots select...
Anthony Castonzo, Offensive Tackle, Boston
The New England Patriots take the local standout Anthony Castonzo to shore up their offensive line and in doing so, help prevent Tom Brady from any further serious injuries in the near future. Castonzo was a four year starter for a very solid Boston offensive line, who has quick feet and good lateral mobility against the pass rush heavy AFC East division, not to mention is a very smart player and understands the game. A little bit of strength training and Castonzo could be a very solid starter for a long time in the blue and silver.
Previous Pick: Mike Pouncey
With the 18th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers select...
J.J Watt, Defensive End, Wisconsin
J.J Watt is everything a 3-4 coach would want at the defensive end position. Watt is one of my favorite players in the draft, he is smart, hard working and has outstanding technique, critical for use as a 3-4 defensive end. The Chargers have done a solid job stop-gapping the void left by Igor Olshansky, but now they can insert their defensive end of the next 10 years. I like to compare him to the Steelers own Aaron Smith, which should say enough about how highly I rate this guy. The Chargers could opt to go for and outside pass rusher, but I think Watt has the better value here at #18
Previous Pick: Cameron Jordan
With the 19th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the New York Giants select...
Mike Pouncey, Offensive Guard, Florida
Mike Pouncey has everything that Tom Coughlin looks for in an offensive lineman. He is strong, has good measureables, a high football I.Q and most importantly, he is very versatile. More suited to guard than center unlike his brother Maurkice, Pouncey can slot into either Guard position and be an instant upgrade to the Giants offensive line. He possesses the high character that his brother does, and he is a hard worker who will do everything he can for the Giants. He is the best interior lineman in this draft, and the Giants will be happy to snatch him up.
Previous Pick: Nate Solder
With the 20th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select...
Ryan Kerrigan, Defensive End, Purdue
Ryan Kerrigan has an outstanding motor, the guy may as well be the definition of relentless. The Tampa Bay defensive is young and solid, but what it is lacking is a true pass rusher on the edges. Enter Ryan Kerrigan, an incredibly smart pass rusher who has a variety of potent moves as well as the ability to play with outstanding leverage for a guy who stands 6'4''. Not only is he a great pass rusher, but he also has a potent strip sack, something that Raheem Morris will covet. Never takes a second off.
Previous Pick: Ryan Kerrigan
With the 21st pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs select...
Phil Taylor, Nose Tackle, Baylor
Nose Tackles are hard to find, and great ones are even rarer. Phil Taylor is the top Nose Tackle talent in this years draft by far and prospects of his caliber just do not come along everyday. He is great value here at 21 for the Kansas City Chiefs who will look to find their anchor of their 3-4 defense which performed pretty well last season. Taylor is a load who plays faster than his weight suggests, and he has quicker than advertised feet. Has tendencies to play high on occasions, but that is easily fixed. Should be a starter from day one.
Previous Pick: Phil Taylor
With the 22nd pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts select...
Derrick Sherrod, Offensive Tackle, Mississippi State
I've warmed up to Sherrod a bit more since the last time I did my mock, and even with Solder still on the board, I think the Indianapolis Colts will take Sherrod. Sherrod projects to be a true Left Tackle down the line, which is where his value lies in keeping the soon-to-be $100 million dollar man's jersey clean all day. Sherrod has great size and quickness but needs to learn to use his hands and feet better to be a truly effective tackle. The most attractive thing about Sherrod to the Colts is that he excels at pass blocking.
Previous Pick: Derrick Sherrod
With the 23rd pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles select...
Jimmy Smith, Cornerback, Colorado
In the pass heavy NFC East, cornerbacks are premium. Asante Samuel is still playing at a reasonably high level for the Iggles, but with Ellis Hobbs retiring due to injury, they have a sudden serious need for a #2 cornerback. Jimmy Smith has all the measureables to be a great NFL corner and even a #1 corner down the line. He has red flags raised surrounding his run ins with the law, but if he can mature as a player and a man under Andy Reid, he can be a great contributor early on in his career.
Previous Pick: Brandon Harris
With the 24th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints select...
Mark Ingram, Running Back, Alabama
The Saints are still a very complete team, although you could argue that they need a little help on the Defensive line, however when running back Mark Ingram falls into their laps at 24th, they decide to give themselves a true #1 Running back that they haven't had since Deuce McAlister. Ingram is a polished runner who can do it all, and is a rare 3 down runner who is adept at finding lanes, fighting for the extra yardage, and is more than capable of catching passes out of the backfield. The "dime a dozen" attitude towards running backs hurts his stock, and other teams loss is now New Orleans gain.
Previous Pick: Mark Ingram
With the 25th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks select...
To trade down into the early second. Hell, at least thats what I think they should do if they decide they want to pick a Quarterback with their first draft pick. No one here fits the bill and I think they would be making a mistake reaching for Mallet, Locker or Ponder at #25. Because I choose not to mock trades, the pick I choose for them is:
Nate Solder, Offensive Tackle, Colorado
The next best thing to the Seahawks getting a Quarterback is getting a guy who might buy an extra half second of time for the Hawks current Quarterbacks. Solder is a guy I think most are either really high on or really low on, I haven't seen many with a "if we picked him I wouldnt complain" attitude. Its either a "I love it" or "I hate it" stance. Anyways, I quite like Solder's potential, hes a tall man, but plays with a lot lower center of gravity than you would expect from a guy 6'8''. He's a good pass blocker and has the measureables to excel at the LT position for years to come.
Previous Pick: Cam Newton
With the 26th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens select...
Justin Houston, Outside Linebacker, Georgia
The more I look at Houston, the more I am unsure about where he would land. He didn't make it into the first round in my first mock draft, but I now have his stock rising. Now I am no expect on Baltimore, but the more I look at Houston, the more my mind tells me to slot him in here at 26 to the Ravens. A problem the Ravens had last season was pass rush. No, I dont mean pass rush as in number of sacks etc, but where the rush was coming from. Suggs. Suggs. Suggs. He is the only true pass rusher on that Ravens defense. The more I look at Houston, the more I see an excellent pairing to Suggs. The Ravens defensive potency would be ridiculous with Houston on the opposing side from Suggs. Hence, they take him here.
Previous Pick: JJ Watt
With the 27th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons select...
Torrey Smith, Wide Receiver, Maryland
The Falcons learnt last season that their offense was not as potent as it looked like on paper. The defense kept them in front of opponents for much of last season, but when times got hard (e.g Packers playoff game) they just did not the offensive firepower to sustain prowess in shootouts. Roddy White is about as solid as you can get for a #1 receiver, but behind him, the job just isnt getting done. Torrey Smith will go a long way to changing that. He's an excellent fit as a #2 receiver, he is speedy, doesn't mind getting involved in run blocking, and is a hard worker. Mike Smith and Matt Ryan will love working with him.
Previous Pick: Torrey Smith
With the 28th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots select...
Cameron Heyward, Defensive End, Ohio State
After bolstering their offensive line with their first Round 1 pick, the Patriots turn their attention to the other line. Cam Heyward is a prototypical fit for the 3-4 end position for the Patriots, as he has great strength and handwork at the point of attack, not to mention is a big bodied player who will hold up blockers and open up holes in the opposing offensive lines to take a bit of the heat off New Englands young linebacking corps. He has a little more polishing to do before he is a great starter, but Belicheck will get everything he can out of this impressive young man.
Previous Pick: Cameron Heyward
With the 29th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears select...
Muhammad Wilkerson, Defensive Tackle, Temple
Wilkerson is a guy who is being linked to many teams and appears to be racing up draft boards. His versatility to play each position along the defensive line is definitely what is impressing people around the league. The Bears would have been hoping that one of the tackles or Pouncey drops to 29, but when none of them do, they will turn to the other side of the ball and look to replace Tommie Harris. Wilkerson is strong and penetrating as a defensive lineman, underrated in pass defense and has an excellent motor.
Previous Pick: Stephen Paea
With the 30th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the New York Jets select...
Akeem Ayers, Outside Linebacker, UCLA
The Jets demand more pass pressure and with Akeem Ayers they shall get it. I know that last time Jets fans weren't terribly happy when I mocked them Ayers, but I still think he could be the pick here late in the 1st. Ayers has ridiculous upside, he is a tremendous athlete and has the ability to be a disruptive force from the outside in the Jets 3-4. He is however, in need of polishing as a linebacker in general, but Rex Ryan I am sure will get everything he can out of Ayers. With who is still available, this is probably the hardest damn pick to make this time around.
Previous Pick: Akeem Ayers
With the 31st pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select...
Martez Wilson, Inside Linebacker, Illinois
This is best player available in my opinion. If this is the way the draft is to pan out, then I personally think we should trade back to the 2nd and choose either a guard like Cannon/Ijalana or go the cornerback way with Dowling. I personally do not see the value in drafting Brandon Harris here as I view him as a #3 CB, which we draft too often. We need a CB who has #2 or even #1 potential, such as Dowling.
Anyways, by drafting Wilson, we get an athletic freak who has the ability for LeBeau to recreate the 5 LB rotation package that we had so much success with in 2008, as he is a freak athletically, and is capable of rushing the passer from each of the four linebacker slots. This is how I project we use him in the first year or so as we groom him to be the eventual replacement to Farrior in a year or two.
Previous Pick: Muhammad Wilkerson
With the 32nd pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers select...
Adrian Clayborn, Defensive End, Iowa
Adrian Clayborn is a top 25 talent who falls to the Packers and ends up being BPA at 32. I really wanted to give the Pack an outside linebacker, but Justin Houston rose to the Ravens in 2.0, so I go back to my original pick with Clayborn. Clayborn has the size and strength to develop into a solid 3-4 end in Dom Capers defense, and will have the time to learn and refine his game. Clayborn never gives up, and will chase down plays from behind. He just doesn't know any other way. He is a solid player and will find a home on the Green Bay Defensive Line in the next few years.
Previous Pick: Adrian Clayborn