The 2011 NFL Draft is finally in sight. After months of player profiles, mock drafts and rampant speculation, we'll soon find out who the six-time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers will be welcoming to the family. The festivities begin Thursday evening in primetime and continue through Saturday afternoon. More info on the schedule and what's in store for the week here at BTSC soon enough. For the time being, I'll hand the floor over to Big Jay who has just finished his final complete, seven round mock draft for us. HUGE thanks to Jay and the rest of you all for all the hard work, interesting information, and conversation fodder this draft season. Been fun. - Michael B. -
1. Carolina Panthers - Cam Newton QB, Auburn
2010 1st Pick: Jimmy Clausen QB, Notre Dame
Team Needs: DT/WR/QB/OG/TE/DE
As Adam Schefter of ESPN has reported, there's an 80 percent chance that the Panthers will select Auburn's Cam Newton with the first pick in the 2011 NFL draft. For their sake I hope they pass on him but it's looking like Newton's their guy. The new regime has no ties to Jimmy Clausen and even though he's only had a year in the NFL they are looking for someone who can carry over a winner's mentality. Barring a last minute change of heart the next options would be Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert or Georgia WR A.J. Green as reported by local Charlotte newspapers this pick will definitely be an offensive player.
2. Denver Broncos - Marcell Dareus DE/DT, Alabama
2010 1st round Draft Picks: Demaryius Thomas WR, Georgia Tech/Tim Tebow QB, Florida
Team Needs: DT/CB/SS/OLB/RT
I was genuinely surprised that Champ Bailey resigned with the Broncos. He seemed dead set on signing with another team. John Fox must be one hell of a salesman. The Broncos have several issues on the defensive side of the ball come the 2011 season. Even with resigning Bailey they still need help in the secondary as 2010 rookie Perrish Cox may be looking at some serious jail time in the near future as well with a pending rape charge. And to add to all of that, 2009 rookie Alphonso Smith (for who the Broncos traded a 2010 first round pick to acquire) was so bad that they traded him away after only a year. Upfront they need a complete overhaul of the defensive line. Fortunately for the Broncos the 2011 draft is loaded with D-line and secondary prospects. I've seen some mock drafts that have Denver taking Texas A&M's Von Miller but that just ridiculous. They currently have OLB's Robert Ayers and Elvis Dumervil on the roster and will probably have both of them playing DE in 2011. Plus Miller is not suited to play OLB in a 4-3 defense. So this pick really only comes down to LSU CB Patrick Peterson or Alabama's Marcell Dareus. DT is a much bigger need at this point after the Broncos released Jamal Williams and Justin Bannan.
3. Buffalo Bills - Von Miller DE/OLB, Texas A&M
2010 1st round Draft Pick: C.J. Spiller RB, Clemson
Team Needs: OT/DE/OLB/WR/CB
This pick is going to come down to Auburn's Cam Newton or Von Miller with LSU CB Patrick Peterson and Marcell Dareus getting some consideration, and with Newton and Dareus both gone this pick is a lot easier to predict. As of right now there aren't any offensive tackles in this draft that are worth a pick this high so Buffalo will have to wait to fill that huge void until the second round. New head coach Chan Gailey loves athletes and Miller is certainly that. He'll help a Bills pass-rush that was raked at the bottom of the NFL last season. Miller was by all accounts the top prospect at the Senior Bowl, beating all of the "elite" offensive line talent in Mobile and has assured himself a selection in the top ten of the draft. At the combine he even managed to increase his draft stock, if it was even possible, by running a 4.46 40 and dominating the drills.
4. Cincinnati Bengals - A.J. Green WR, UGA
2010 NFL Mock Draft Pick: Jermaine Gresham TE, Oklahoma
Team Needs: DE/WR/SS/RB/QB
The top three for Cincy will be A.J. Green and Patrick Peterson, with Da'Quan Bowers no longer an option. Cincy's pass-rush was absolutely dreadful this past year except for Carlos Dunlap. Current DE Antwan Odom is always injured. Unfortunately there is too much uncertainty regarding Bowers' knee. CB Jonathan Joseph is a free agent and if he's not retained by the time the draft rolls around the Bengals would certainly consider Peterson, who many feel is the best overall talent in the draft. The Bengals offense is currently in the midst of a complete overhaul. T.O. won't be resigned, Chad Johnson will probably be traded, and it sounds as though Carson Palmer is prepared to walk into the sunset unless he's traded or released. So whoever QB's the Bengals offense in 2011 will need an elite talent like Green to throw the ball to, and Green is certainly the one to be that talent. Given the issues with Carson Palmer it wouldn't surprise me to see them draft Blaine Gabbert but I think stubborn owner Mike Brown is going to go into the future with the assumption that Palmer is bluffing and forego taking a QB in the first round. Plus the word around the rumor mill is that offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is enamored with TCU's Andy Dalton.
5. Arizona Cardinals - Patrick Peterson CB, LSU
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Dan Williams NT, Tennessee
Team Needs: QB/LT/OLB/OG/CB
A lot of mock drafts, including my own previously, have had the Cardinals taking a QB given all of the struggles of Derek Anderson, Max Hall, and John Skelton. But I believe given enough time Skelton can turn into a quality QB in the NFL. They would be better off signing a veteran like Marc Bulger or trading for Kevin Kolb. Coach Whisenhunt is in hot water already and cannot afford to have another year with a struggling rookie QB. Peterson would give the Cardinals one of the best young CB duos in the league when paired with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and he would replace Greg Toler who has been absolutely dreadful. Arizona's pass-rush is anemic so if Von Miller somehow makes it past the Bills I would have to believe he would be Arizona's pick. They could also give some consideration to UNC's Robert Quinn, who would be rated even higher if he had not been suspended for the entire 2010 season.
6. Cleveland Browns - Julio Jones WR, Alabama
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Joe Haden CB, Florida
Team Needs: WR/DT/DE/RT/OLB/CB
It's no secret that Cleveland's biggest need is for WR's. While Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie have shown small flashes of potential neither one of them are ever going to be better than a solid number two at best. Cleveland will also be switching to a 4-3 defense and after cutting both Kenyon Coleman and Shaun Rogers it is imperative that they stock-up on defensive linemen. At CB Eric Wright had a disappointing 2010 season and is a pending free agent, and Sheldon Brown is 32 years old. Even though Cleveland used a top 10 pick on Joe Haden last year GM Mike Holmgren has a history of taking DB's in the first round. So the top targets for the Browns will be A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Patrick Peterson and Robert Quinn. With Green and Peterson already gone it'll come down to Jones and Quinn. Julio Jones had a combine for the ages and Cleveland needs to find some weapons for young QB Colt McCoy to utilize.
7. San Francisco 49ers - Blaine Gabbert QB, Missouri
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Anthony Davis OT, Rutgers/Mike Iupati OG, Idaho
Team Needs: QB/CB/OLB/DE/FS
With a new coach this pick is going to be a difficult one to make. Obviously this team needs an upgrade at QB. Alex Smith is a pending free agent but Jim Harbaugh may feel he can work some magic with him. Troy Smith has been erratic when given his chances to play. An interesting tidbit to know is that when Gabbert was a 5-star recruit Jim Harbaugh was putting on the pressure to get him to come to Stanford because he played in a West Coast offense in high school and would've been a perfect fit for Harbaugh's offense. If they pass on Gabbert then Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara would be a great replacement for Nate Clements who's due more than 15 million dollars over the next two years and is likely to be released sometime soon. On the other side Shawntae Spencer is very inconsistent. Aside from a needed upgrade at the Cornerback position they could also use an upgrade over Isaac Sopoaga and Ray McDonald at Defensive End which will cause them to give some consideration to Nick Fairley. And San Fran needs to find players that can also be effective pass-rushers.
8. Tennessee Titans - Nick Fairley DT/DE, Auburn
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Derrick Morgan DE, Georgia Tech
Team Needs: QB/LG/OC/ILB/DE
With Vince Young and Jeff Fisher both out at Tennessee this pick has become incredibly hard to pick. They'll probably resign Kerry Collins who's good enough to play another year or two, but they really need someone to develop for the future. With the top two QB's already off of the board I can't see them taking a QB here anyway. Given the headaches this franchise has endured with one running QB I doubt they'll take another in Cam Newton if he's available anyway, but of course owner Bud Adams was so enamored with Young's athletic ability he could see an upgraded 2.0 version in Newton. Ever since Albert Haynesworth left town they've had a hole along the defensive front. Given his rocky relationship in Washington it wouldn't surprise me to see the Titans trade for Haynesworth, of course that can only happen if a new CBA is reached before the draft. Another issue they have is the pending free agency of DE Jason Babin. He's 31 years old and will be looking for a big payday and the Titans will probably not want to pay the price tag. So with the top QB's gone this will come down to the highest rated DT or DE depending on the Babin and Haynesworth situations. For the time being I'm going to go with Nick Fairley until Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers' knee checks out. It should also be noted that Tennessee's new D-line coach Tracy Rocker also coached Fairley at Auburn.
9. Dallas Cowboys - Tyron Smith OT, USC
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Dez Bryant WR, Oklahoma State
Team Needs: OT/CB/FS/OG/DE/SS
The Cowboys biggest needs are at OT, OG, CB, FS, and DE. Free Safety Alan Ball is decent but certainly not spectacular. Igor Olshansky needs to be replaced at DE. Doug Free is marginally good at LT and Mark Colombo is dreadful at RT. OG Kyle Kosier is a 32 year old free agent. At CB, Mike Jenkins was terrible all year and has become a pass-interference machine, and Terrence Newman will be 33 years old before the start of the 2011 season. Everybody knows that owner Jerry Jones has never taken an offensive lineman in the first round of the draft but this could very well be the year that he does so as they must find better protection for Tony Romo. Jones has also stated that he doesn't see a need to upgrade his secondary. I'm not quite sure if he really believes that or that he wants other teams to believe that so he can snag the top available CB without having to trade up. Ultimately I went with Tyron Smith because at number nine this is too early to draft Florida OG Mike Pouncey. I know Mike Pouncey tweeted that it's a done deal, he's going to be a Dallas Cowboy, but they are not going to take him at this spot. In the end though it's likely they'll trade back with someone and take him later. For all those doubters of Tyron Smith, saying things like he only has one year of experience and that was a right tackle, remember that Matt Kalil is the current starting left tackle for the Trojans and he'll be a top five pick next year if he chooses to declare early.
10. Washington Redskins - Robert Quinn DE/OLB, UNC
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Trent Williams OT, Oklahoma
Team Needs: QB/WR/NT/DE/RT/OLB/CB/FS/RG/OC
If he's available Julio Jones will be the pick for Washington but they have so many needs it's hard to know where to start. Santana Moss is a 32 year old free agent and their best WR. QB is their biggest need but with Gabbert and Newton gone they'll need to look in the later rounds to satisfy that need. Clinton Portis has been released and Ryan Torrain is not a full time starter in which case Mark Ingram would make a lot of sense here. And besides that a QB's best friend is a RB. On the defensive side of the ball the Redskins need a replacement for Andre Carter who is clearly not cut out to be an OLB in a 3-4 defense. Cameron Jordan would be good to replace Albert Haynesworth at DE. And at CB both Carlos Rogers and Phillip Buchanon are free agents. With the talent available Quinn makes the most sense. If not for his year-long suspension he would probably be a top five pick, so getting him at ten is a steal.
11. Houston Texans - Aldon Smith DE/OLB, Missouri
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Kareem Jackson CB, Alabama
Team Needs: NT/OLB/FS/CB/SS/WR
Now that Wade Phillips has been hired to be the new defensive coordinator the Texans will be switching schemes to a 3-4 defense. Not knowing how the Texans will use what they have currently to fill out the new scheme makes this difficult. DeMeco Ryans will play ILB, and Brian Cushing will probably play inside as well. Mario Williams will play DE and although he is very athletic he may not be quick enough to play OLB. That will still leave a vacant spot at OLB. In a division with Peyton Manning you can never have enough DB's and they really need a replacement for the recently released Free Safety Eugene Wilson, so Prince Amukamara still on the board it'll be very tempting to take him here. But the word is that the Texans front office is uncomfortable taking cornerbacks in the first round in back to back years. They will also need a NT to anchor the middle of their new 3-4 defensive front. Right now it would be a reach for Baylor's Phil Taylor, unless they trade back, so they will need to wait until the second or third rounds for a NT and target Ole Miss' Jerrell Powe, Hampton's Kendrick Ellis, or Stanford's Sione Fua. They could also use another DE to go with Mario Williams. Taking Amukamara out of the equation leaves Aldon Smith as the best available talent that fits a need for the Texans. He's an athletic freak who's drawing comparisons to Jason Pierre-Paul.
12. Minnesota Vikings - Jake Locker QB, Washington
2010 1st Draft Pick: Chris Cook CB, Virginia
Team Needs: QB/RG/SS/FS/CB/DE/OC/DT
The biggest question facing the Vikings in 2011 will be who is playing QB. Favre is definitely gone, Tavares Jackson has never shown that he's consistent enough to be anything more than a quality back-up and he's a free agent, and after a promising start against Philly rookie Joe Webb deflated his value with a dreadful showing against the Lions. In addition to needing a QB the Vikings also need to look for replacements for the Williams' wall as Kevin Williams will be 31 years old and Pat Williams will be a 38 year old free agent. Add to that Ray Edwards will also be a free agent and the Vikings stout D-line could look very different at the start of the 2011 season. They drafted Chris Cook last year but still have a lot of needs in the secondary as Cedric Griffin is very injury-prone and Antoine Winfield will be 34 years old to start the 2011 season. AT DE Ray Edwards probably won't be resigned and 2010 rookie Everson Griffin can't seem to stay out of trouble. I expect Minnesota to trade back to the end of the first round for Locker but since I don't do trades they'll have to take him here because they absolutely cannot go into the 2011 season with Joe Webb as the only viable starter.
13. Detroit Lions - Prince Amukamara CB, Nebraska
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Ndamukong Suh DT, Nebraska/ Jahvid Best RB, Cal
Team Needs: CB/OLB/LT/OC/RB/SS
Oh happy day, the Prince falls to the CB-needy Lions. Detroit's drafting philosophy is always to take the best available player. They could take one of the DE's available like Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan but they already have so much money and talent invested in the defensive line. They also need someone at OLB to replace Julian Peterson. On offense they desperately need some O-line help soon or Matt Stafford will become the next David Carr. Detroit will never climb up from the basement of the NFL if they can't keep their well-paid and prized QB healthy and upright. This franchise can no longer kid themselves into believing that current LT Jeff Backus can anchor the blind side. Prince Amukamara's talent level is only a shade below Patrick Peterson's and he fills a dire need in the Lions secondary.
14. St. Louis Rams - Corey Liuget DT, Illinois
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Sam Bradford QB, Oklahoma
Team Needs: WR/RG/FS/DT/WLB/RB
The Rams really need to add weapons for QB Sam Bradford to succeed as well as adding pieces that take pressure off of workhorse back Steven Jackson. Unfortunately Alabama combine warrior Julio Jones is no longer available. After recently releasing O.J. Atogwe the Rams will have to target a replacement Free Safety in rounds two or three. They also desperately need to replace Adam Goldberg at RG so Mike Pouncey will get some consideration. On the defensive line they need a replacement for Gary Gibson at DT as he's a big liability against the run, and even though James Hall is a good DE he's 34 years old. So this pick will come down to the best DT or DE available. Personally I think this is a little high for Liuget but apparently the Rams really like him and he does fit a big need. Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan will also garner a lot of consideration from the Rams as will Florida OG Mike Pouncey.
15. Miami Dolphins - Mike Pouncey OG/OC, Florida
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Jared Odrick DT/DE, PSU
Team Needs: QB/RB/FS/TE/LG
After months of mocking Alabama RB Mark Ingram here I've finally settled on someone else. In the 2011 offseason Ricky Williams will be a 33 year old free agent and Ronnie Brown will be a free agent with a history of injury issues. Mark Ingram would be the perfect option for the Dolphins. Unfortunately there are too many questions regarding possible degenerative arthritis in Ingram's knee for him to go this early now. Given how ineffective Chad Henne has been at QB it wouldn't surprise me to see them target a QB if one of the top prospects is available. It's been noted that they really like Arkansas QB Ryan Mallet. Defensively they could use an upgrade at ILB for the often injured Channing Crowder but that need will have to wait until the later rounds. They will also need to address the free safety position at some point because Chris Clemons can't cover anyone. Pouncey fills perhaps one of Miami's biggest needs as they need to completely upgrade the interior of their offensive line. If they do want Mallett they'll have to take him here as they do not have a second round pick, and because of that don't be surprised to see Miami trade back, get better value for Mallett, and pick up a second round pick in the process.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars - Ryan Kerrigan DE, Purdue
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Tyson Alualu DT, Cal
Team Needs: DE/FS/SS/CB/WR
Personally I think Jacksonville needs to replace David Garrard. Unfortunately the Jags seem to be content with him under Center. They could also use some WR help as well, especially if they don't resign Mike Sims-Walker. On defense they need someone generating a solid pass-rush. Aaron Kampman's body just doesn't seem to be holding up anymore. Kerrigan is a relentless pass-rusher with a great work ethic. They also need help at CB opposite Rashean Mathis as Derek Cox is no longer consistent enough to be counted on. And at both Safety positions the Jags need to find upgrades for Don Carey and Courtney Greene. In the later rounds they'll need to address Offensive Tackle depth after cutting Jordan Black.
17. New England Patriots (via Oakland Raiders) - Cameron Jordan DT/DE Cal
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Devin McCourty CB, Rutgers
Team Needs: OG/LT/OLB/DE/WR/RB
Current LT Might Light will be a 33 year old free agent this offseason. The Patriots could move Sebastian Vollmer to the left side but that would create a hole on the right side. It also appears as though Logan Mankins may be traded at some point regardless of the fact that he's been franchised. In addition to the Mankins situation Stephen Neal just announced his retirement. They also could use someone to help generate a pass-rush from the linebacker position. UCLA OLB Akeem Ayers possesses the kind versatility that the Coach loves. Cameron would fill the large hole vacated by the Richard Seymour trade to Oakland. I don't think the recent signing of Marcus Stroud will have any impact on their draft decisions as Stroud is at the twilight of his career and was probably signed as insurance because of the uncertainty of the CBA. If they don't resign Matt Light it'll be a toss-up between Jordan and Boston College OT Anthony Castonzo.
18. San Diego Chargers - J.J. Watt DT/DE, Wisconsin
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Ryan Matthews RB, Fresno State
Team Needs: OLB/DE/ILB/DE/WR
For statistically being first in the NFL in total offense and defense the Chargers have a lot of issues to address in the offseason. On offense they could see their WR corps become seriously depleted with the pending free agency of Malcolm Floyd and eventual trade of Vincent Jackson. A very tempting option would be Pitt's Jon Baldwin. He's a perfect fit for the type of WR the Chargers covet. Defensively they will need to replace pending free agent DE Jacques Cesaire. But more importantly they will need to get someone who can generate a consistent pass rush. Larry English was supposed to be that man, replacing Shawn Merriman, but so far has barely been noticeable. This pick will come down to the top OLB or DE. Previously I would've had Georgia's Justin Houston but after watching him at the combine I don't think he'll be good enough in coverage to play OLB. Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi would be the perfect replacement for disappointing RT Jeromey Clary.
19. New York Giants - Anthony Castonzo OT, Boston College
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Jason Pierre-Paul OLB, USF
Team Needs: LT/OC/RB/OLB/OG
The Giants need a total overhaul of their linebacking corps. Michael Boley can never seem to stay healthy and Keith Bullock is just plain old. Akeem Ayers would fit Perry Fewell's defensive scheme perfectly. On the offensive side they really need a Left Tackle. They drafted William Beatty to fill that need but so far he's been very underwhelming. They'll have to address their needs at both Center and Guard at some point. Shaun O'Hara and Rich Seubert are entering the final years on their contracts, are 34 and 32 years old respectively, and are coming off of injury plagued seasons. At this point it'll come down to Akeem Ayers, Mike Pouncey, and Anthony Castonzo, with Castonzo representing the most valuable option.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Justin Houston DE, UGA
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Gerald McCoy DT, Oklahoma
Team Needs: DE/ILB/CB/RT/OG
Tampa Bay certainly upgraded the interior of their defensive line with 2010 picks Gerald McCoy and Brian Price but they added nothing to the DE spot. Coming into the 2011 draft this is going to be a huge need for them. Fortunately there is a plethora of quality 4-3 DE's in this draft to choose from. The Bucs could also use a replacement for the ageless wonder Rhonde Barber, not to mention the fact that Aqib Talib may be looking at some jail time plus a suspension. And at RT Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi would be an option to replace Jeremy Trueblood. Also don't count out Akeem Ayers because Barrett Ruud and Quincy Black are both free agents. Previously I've had the Bucs taking Iowa's Adrian Clayborn. I think they like him but after an inconsistent year and the Erb's palsy I think they'll pass on him in the first round.
21. Kansas City Chiefs - Nate Solder OT, Colorado
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Eric Berry S, Tennessee
Team Needs: NT/OLB/WR/OC/RB
Personally I don't think the Chiefs will get far going forward with Matt Cassell as their Quarterback. He's got a very weak arm and his intermediate to deep passes always seem to sail a bit. However given their success I don't think they make a change anytime soon. They also need to add another passing option for Cassell to compliment DeWayne Bowe. Tamba Hali was franchised but they really need another rusher to compliment him. Current Nose Tackle Ron Edwards is a free agent and the Chiefs could certainly use an upgrade over him anyway. Baylor NT Phil Taylor would have been the perfect choice but now it's come out that Taylor was diagnosed with an inoperable foot condition that causes the bones to grow together and as such he's likely to take a tumble on many teams' draft boards. I know I'm going to get a bunch of crap from Chiefs fans but the team can no longer believe that Brandon Albert is the answer at LT, just as Barry Richardson is not the answer at RT. They should move Albert to RT, or back to his natural position at guard. Apparently the Chiefs are really interested in Solder, and given a year in an NFL strength and conditioning program he could be a cornerstone LT for the next decade. Mike Mayock called Solder the next "Tony Boselli". Personally I don't see it but Solder is an excellent pass-blocker and if he can add some bulk to his extremely lean frame he could become a steal.
22. Indianapolis Colts - Gabe Carimi OT, Wisconsin
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Jerry Hughes OLB, TCU
Team Needs: OT/OG/DT/WR/SS
Charles Johnson, Tony Ugoh, and Adam Terry will all be free agents this offseason. Add to that Jeff Saturday will be 36 years old and his body has already started to break down. The Colts are in desperate need of an offensive line overhaul. Personally I think that Nate Solder or Derek Sherrod would be a better fit for the Colts offense but GM Bill Polian seems to have a thing for Big10 players. They could also target Florida's Mike Pouncey. Aside from the O-line they could also use an upgrade at DT in which case Stephen Paea would fit their defensive scheme. And after cutting the often-injured Bob Sanders the Colts will probably target another Hawkeye safety in the second or third round in Tyler Sash.
23. Philadelphia Eagles - Jimmy Smith CB, Colorado
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Brandon Graham DE, Michigan
Team Needs: CB/OG/OLB/SS/RT
Philly's two biggest needs are on the offensive line and in the defensive secondary. Outside of Asante Samuel they really have nothing at CB. Ellis Hobbs has already announced his retirement and Dimitri Patterson was routinely burned. Offensively they need to do a better job of protecting Michael Vick. As far as I see it this pick is going to have to be Jimmy Smith with Florida OG Mike Pouncey and Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi, who fit Philly's blocking scheme, both off of the board.
24. New Orleans Saints - Da'Quan Bowers DE, Clemson
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Patrick Robinson CB, Florida State
Team Needs: DT/OLB/DE/RB/RT/SS
It's a pretty safe bet that the Saints will draft defense here as their offense is as potent as any in the league. Their biggest needs are at OLB and for a DE to play opposite of Will Smith. The signing of Shaun Rogers filled their need for a DT, albeit temporarily, to pair with Sedrick Ellis but that won't stop them from taking a DT. They could also take an ILB and move Jonathan Vilma to WLB. On offense they could use an upgrade at RT over Jon Stinchcomb. At running back they have a lot questions marks. Reggie Bush is injury-prone and not worth the money he's making, and Chris Ivory is still pretty unproven. This pick will come down to the highest rated DT or DE on the Saints draft board. This is a huge drop for Bowers, who has fell victim to rumors about his knee, but he has far too much potential for the Saints to pass up here.
25. Seattle Seahawks - Muhammed Wilkerson DT, Temple
2010 1st round Draft Picks: Russell Okung OT, Oklahoma State/ Earl Thomas FS, Texas
Team Needs: CB/QB/SS/RT/OC
Matt Hasselbeck is nearing the end of the line, and Charlie Whitehurst is nothing more than a career clip board holder. There's a reason he could never beat out Billy Volek for the #2 QB job behind Phillip Rivers in San Diego. This would be a perfect spot for Jake Locker, unfortunately he's no longer available, and so if they opt to stay with Whitehurst for the 2011 season their attention will shift to the defense where a lot of holes will need to be filled along the front line and in the secondary. Seattle's pass defense is atrocious with the exception of 2010 first round pick Earl Thomas, and CB is perhaps their biggest need especially with Kelly Jennings being a free agent. Brandon Mebane and Raheem Brock are free agents and Wilkerson has the versatility to play DE and DT.
26. Baltimore Ravens - Cameron Heyward DT/DE, OSU
2010 1st Draft Pick: Sergio Kindle DE/OLB, Texas
Team Needs: CB/RT/RG/DE/WR/ILB
Offensively the Ravens do have a few issues at OC, RT, and WR. Current starting OC Matt Birk will be 35 years old at the time of the 2011 draft and Jared Gaither will probably be traded in the offseason. Even though most teams view Florida's Mike Pouncey as a Guard, don't be surprised to see the Ravens take him as a Center if he's available. At WR none of the Ravens starters are younger than 30 years old, and they need someone who can stretch the field vertically. Defensively everyone knows the Ravens biggest weakness is in the secondary. Chris Carr, Fabian Washington, and Josh Wilson will all be free agents this offseason. Last offseason Ed Reed gave some serious consideration to retirement as his mounting injury history is taking a toll on his body and as such 2010 may be his last season. Because of this I would expect the Ravens to possibly target UCLA's Rahim Moore here or Oklahoma's Quinton Carter in the second round. Outside of Terrell Suggs they haven't been able to generate nearly as good of a pass-rush from their linebackers in recent years as well. I know they drafted Sergio Kindle in the second round of the 2010 draft, and it still may be too early to tell whether or not he's going to pan out, but they can't count on him to recover from a serious head injury. They could also use an upgrade at DE over Cory Redding who hasn't been that good in pass-rushing situations. Previously I went with Illinois ILB Martez Wilson to be the heir apparent to Ray Lewis and because of his potential to be an outside rusher as well. Unfortunately he had such a bad pro day that he's probably no longer going to garner first round consideration. Apparently Cameron Heyward is the number one guy on Baltimore's draft board. He's an extremely tough run blocker with some decent pass-rush capabilities and would help give the Ravens a fearsome D-line for years to come when paired with Haloti Ngata and Terrence Cody.
27. Atlanta Falcons - Kyle Rudolph TE, Notre Dame
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Sean Weatherspoon OLB, Missouri
Team Needs: WR/OG/OT/SS/CB/TE/DE
The offensive line is a big issue with starters Tyson Clabo, Justin Blalock, and Harvey Dahl all free agents this offseason. And Sam Baker really struggled in 2010 and would be better served playing on the right side. Tony Gonzalez has stated that he will retire if the 2011 season doesn't happen, and the Falcons need to find his replacement anyway. After being absolutely abused by Green Bay's offense in the divisional round of the playoffs Atlanta's defense could also use an infusion of talent. DE John Abraham will be 33 years old before the start of the 2011 season. In the secondary they could use an upgrade from William Moore as well as a nickel CB. With all of the top O-line talent gone Rudolph becomes the easy choice to become the hier to Tony Gonzalez.
28. New England Patriots - Mark Ingram RB, Alabama
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Devin McCourty CB, Rutgers
Having already used a first round pick the Patriots are likely to trade this one, especially with all of the QB-hungry teams out there looking to take the better of the second tier, especially given their draft history. If they do stay here Ingram would makes sense as he is the best available prospect at this point, provided the Patriots aren't concerned with his knee, and would certainly be an upgrade over Danny Woodhead and Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis. If the Patriots do stay put and give any other prospect any consideration it would be Arizona DE/OLB Brooks Reid to bolster their lack of a pass-rush.
29. Chicago Bears - Derek Sherrod OT, Miss. State
2010 1st Pick: Major Wright FS, Florida
Team Needs: OT/OG/DT/OC/WR
Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz finally discovered a play set that doesn't get Jay Cutler killed, however it's only masking the serious deficiencies on the O line. Frank Omiyale can't pass-block, Chris Williams is looking like a bust, and Olin Kreutz is a 34 year old free agent. On the defensive side they could certainly use some help in the secondary and a complimentary pass-rusher to Julius Peppers. And they also need to find a replacement for Tommy Harris at DT. Derek Sherrod is the easy choice as he is the last of the first round O-linemen. If he's gone though the Bears would have to reach for Villanova OG/OT Ben Ijalana or UNC DT Marvin Austin.
30. New York Jets - Phil Taylor NT, Baylor
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
Team Needs: OLB/DE/NT/CB/K/WR
The Jets have serious issues along the defensive line. Nose Tackle Kris Jenkins was recently cut after missing 25 games in the last 3 years. Also Defensive End Shaun Ellis will be a 32 year old free agent. They also have a serious need for pass-rushers, especially after cutting Jason Taylor and the woefully disappointing Vernon Gholston. Offensively they are relatively set except that they'll probably need a WR to replace Santonio Holmes or Braylon Edwards, whichever the Jets let walk in free agency. Of course it's almost an absolute certainty that if one of them isn't resigned it'll be Edwards. And with the release of Damien Woody they are now in the market for a Right Tackle as well. Taylor's stock has taken a tumble with the revelation of an inoperable foot condition but his value is too much to pass up at this point and apparently the Jets like him. If his foot condition does scare off the Jets their next available option would be Arizona DE/OLB Brooks Reid or UCLA OLB Akeem Ayers.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers - Ras-I Dowling CB, Virginia
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Maurkice Pouncey OC, Florida
Team Needs: RG/CB/OT/DE/P/NT
By now every Steelers fan knows their weaknesses and what the team needs to be focusing on come draft day. In the secondary the team needs to find a solid CB to play with Ike Taylor. And Taylor himself is on the wrong side of 30 and a free agent. Bryant McFadden has been very poor in coverage and has become injury prone. Willie Gay is barely serviceable as a nickel CB. Hopefully Crezdon Butler will make strides in his second year but that can't be counted on. On the defensive line age has become a very big concern. Aaron Smith has missed a significant portion of the season for the second time in 3 years. After a very slow start to his career Ziggy Hood has come on as of late. Also NT Casey Hampton will turn 34 years old by the start of the 2011 season.
The biggest issue by far is on the offensive line. Outside of rookie Maurkice Pouncey every other position has been a struggle just about all year. Both starting OT's ended the season on I.R. LT Max Starks, even when healthy, is only an above average option and would be better suited at RT. Willie Colon, who suffered a ruptured Achilles, will be a free agent and has been looking to cash in. The most pressing issue has been at RG where we have seen a revolving door of players such as Trai Essex, Ramon Foster, and Doug Legursky unable to stabilize the position or capitalize with their chance to start. Mike Pouncey would be the perfect fit and seems to be destined to join his brother in Pittsburgh. And as I've stated in previous mock drafts, when it comes time for contract renewals both brothers might take a discount to continue playing on the same team which would be a good added bonus.
The problem for the Steelers is that there are several teams ahead of them that could also use Mike Pouncey's services and as such he will not be available here. However I do expect the Steelers to make a move up for him come draft time. But since I don't do trades in my mock draft I'm going with Ras-I Dowling. A lot of mock drafts have the Steelers selecting Texas' Aaron Williams but I think Dowling has way more upside as a potential number one CB. Williams would be nothing more than a solid number two, and may even have to move to Safety at some point because of his lack of athleticism. If not for an injury riddled senior season as well as a minor hamstring pull at the combine he would be the third highest rated CB in this draft, and had he come out last year he would've been a top 20 selection. He's still considered a bit of a reach here but the Steelers have almost no chance of getting him at the end of the second round.
32. Green Bay Packers - Brooks Reed DE/OLB, Arizona
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa
Team Needs: OLB/LG/RB/DE/OT/WR
The Packers will have a few holes to fill come the 2011 draft. For one they need to find a replacement for Ryan Grant. James Starks was good in the playoffs but he has a long injury history and even if he pans out they'll still need someone to compliment him. Perhaps one of their biggest needs is for someone other than Clay Matthews to apply pressure. At defensive end Cullen Jenkins is a free agent and Johnny Jolly will be a free agent next year. And even with the drafting of Bryan Bulaga in the first round last year they still need help along the offensive line. OT Chad Clifton is nearing retirement. The bigger need is at OG. Daryn Colledge is a free agent and not very good anyway. However there are plenty of solid Guards that will be available in the next two rounds. The hype on Brooks Reed has just been growing and grow and he's drawing some comparisons to Clay Matthews and not just because he's a white guy with long-blonde hair.
33. New England Patriots (via Carolina Panthers) - Benjamin Ijalana OG/OT, Villanova
New England has to address the issues on their offensive line. Matt Light is a free agent, Logan Mankins wants to be traded, and Stephen Neal retired.
34. Buffalo Bills - Martez Wilson ILB, Illinois
I would love to give the Bills an OT here but any of the available ones would be a reach. The next option would be Wilson who has the versatility to play inside or outside and the athletic ability that Chan Gailey loves. Aaron Maybin has been a huge disappointment and they could use an upgrade over 32 year old Andre Davis.
35. Cincinnati Bengals - Andy Dalton QB, TCU
The Bengals need to plan for the future after Carson Palmer, which could be the 2011 season if Palmer gets his way. Previously I've had Ryan Mallett going here but Dalton is a much better fit for Jay Gruden's West Coast offense. Plus, apparently Gruden is in love with Dalton.
36. Denver Broncos - Marvin Austin DT, North Carolina
Denver needed multiple DT's and strikes it rich here getting Austin, who's a top-15 talent but falls due to character concerns stemming from dealings with an agent that cost him his final season at UNC. Having Dareus and Austin at DT, and putting Robert Ayers at RE and Elvis Dumervil at LE would give the Broncos one of the best D-lines in the NFL after having one of the worst in 2010.
37. Cleveland Browns - Adrian Clayborn DE, Iowa
Having secured a number one WR in the first round Cleveland now must straighten out their defensive line issues. Clayborn has first round talent but concerns over his Erb's palsy will cause him to slip.
38. Arizona Cardinals - Akeem Ayers OLB, UCLA
The Cardinals have to upgrade their pass-rush. It's ridiculous to have an aging Joey Porter and Clack Haggans at OLB.
39. Tennessee Titans - Ryan Mallett QB, Arkansas
Tennessee can't afford to not take a QB here. Mallett will need to sit a year and learn behind Kerry Collins. He has the size and arm strength of a top five pick, but he still needs a lot of work on his throwing motion and footwork.
40. Dallas Cowboys - Brandon Harris CB, Miami
Mike Jenkins had a terrible 2010 season and Terrence Newman is 33 years old.
41. Washington Redskins - Christian Ponder QB, FSU
Washington can't be serious about Rex Grossman as their starting QB. Ponder is a good fit for Shanahan's offense.
42. Houston Texans - Rahim Moore FS, UCLA
With no NT's available, this pick will come down to the BPA at CB or Safety. Houston cut FS Eugene Wilson.
43. Minnesota Vikings - Stephen Paea DT, Oregon State
Pat Williams is retiring and Kevin Williams may be suspended the first four games of the year.
44. Detroit Lions - Stefen Wisniewski OC/OG, Penn State
The Lions always take BPA and they need an upgrade over Dominic Raiola at center.
45. San Francisco 49ers - Jabaal Sheard DE/OLB, Pittsburgh
The 49ers have to find someone to generate a consistent pass-rush.
46. Denver Broncos (via Miami Dolphins) - Mikel Leshoure RB, Illinois
When Knowshon Moreno is hurt, which is a lot, and out of the line up Denver's ground game is non-existent. Plus new Head Coach John Fox likes to use a multiple-back system.
47. St. Louis Rams - Torrey Smith WR, Maryland
After missing out on Julio Jones in the first round they have to take a WR in the second round.
48. Oakland Raiders - Davon House CB, New Mexico State
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Rolando McClain ILB, Alabama
Team Needs: CB/RT/LG/OC/TE/WR
When Oakland cut Nnamdi Asomugha this pick became pretty easy to predict. They will have to take the best CB available. After giving Oakland a lot of respect for their 2010 draft I thought that as a franchise they had finally righted the ship, but after cutting Nnamdi Asomugha and giving Stanford Routt a 3-year/32mil contact I'm convinced Al Davis is no longer on his meds. House has the size (6'1", 200lbs.) and speed (4.35 40 time) that the Crypt Keeper covets.
49. Jacksonville Jaguars - Aaron Williams CB, Texas
This pick will be the top rated CB or Safety prospect available. Williams ran a decent 40 time (4.52) but didn't look very fluid in his drills which will probably facilitate his switch to Safety.
50. San Diego Chargers - Jonathan Baldwin WR, Pittsburgh
The Chargers love tall, big-bodied WR's. Vincent Jackson will probably be traded at some point, while Malcolm Floyd and Legedu Naanee are both free agents.
51. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Allen Bailey DE, Miami
The Bucs make back-to-back picks at DE like they did last year with DT.
52. New York Giants -Ryan William RB, Virginia Tech
Ahmad Bradshaw can't stay healthy for an entire season.
53. Indianapolis Colts - Tyler Sash SS, Iowa
Indy replaces Bob Sanders with another Iowa Hawkeye.
54. Philadelphia Eagles - Marcus Cannon OG/OT, TCU
Philly needs to overhaul the right side of their O-line.
55. Kansas City Chiefs - Sam Acho DE/OLB, Texas
K.C. needs an outside rusher to pair with Tamba Hali.
56. New Orleans Saints - Quan Sturdivant LB, UNC
The Saints desperately need a replacement for Scott Shanle.
57. Seattle Seahawks - Curtis Brown CB, Texas
Seattle needs a complete overhaul of their secondary with the exception of 2010 rookie FS Earl Thomas.
58. Baltimore Ravens - Randall Cobb WR/RB/PR, Kentucky
Baltimore lacks a deep threat at WR.
59. Atlanta Falcons - Danny Watkins OG, Baylor
Justin Blalock and Harvey Dahl are both free agents and the Falcons can probably only afford to resign one of them.
60. New England Patriots - Jerrel Jernigan WR, Troy
New England needs someone who can burn the top off of the coverage.
61. San Diego Chargers (via New York Jets) - Chris Carter DE/OLB, Fresno State
The Chargers need an upgrade at rush linebacker and competition for Larry English.
62. Chicago Bears - Will Rackley OG, Lehigh
Chicago has issues all along the offensive line.
63. Pittsburgh Steelers - James Carpenter OG/OT, Alabama
If the Steelers take a CB in the first round this pick will most likely be the highest rated OT or OG on their draft board. Carpenter is the big, mauler type that fits the Steelers mold for an O-lineman. He can fill in right away at RG and even play RT if needed.
64. Green Bay Packers - Christian Ballard DE/DT, Iowa
Cullen Jenkins is a free agent and Johnny Jolly can't seem to stay out of trouble.
65. Carolina Panthers - Leonard Hankerson WR, Miami
Carolina needs to move on from Steve Smith.
66. Cincinnati Bengals - Taiwan Jones RB, Eastern Washington
Cedric Benson is a free agent. Jones cashed in at his pro day, running a 4.29 40 and doing very well in the drills.
67. Denver Broncos - Quinton Carter S, Oklahoma
Brian Dawkins just can't cut it anymore.
68. Buffalo Bills - Colin Kaepernick QB, Nevada
Chan Gailey won't be able to resist an athletic QB like Kaepernick if he misses out on Cam Newton in the first round.
69. Arizona Cardinals - Rodney Hudson OG, Florida State
The Cardinals need a replacement for Alan Faneca.
70. Cleveland Browns - Marcus Gilbert OT, Florida
The Browns need to completely rebuild the right side of their O-line.
71. Dallas Cowboys - Orlando Franklin OG/OT, Miami
Kyle Kosier is a 32-year-old free agent.
72. New Orleans Saints (via Washington Redskins) - Jarvis Jenkins DT, Clemson
They signed Shaun Rogers but he's just a 32 year old rental.
73. Houston Texans - Jerrell "Boom Boom" Powe NT, Ole' Miss.
The Texans need a NT for their conversion to the 3-4 defense.
74. New England Patriots (via Minnesota Vikings) - James Brewer OT, Indiana
Matt Light is a free agent.
75. Detroit Lions - Bruce Carter OLB, UNC
Detroit will need to address both OLB positions with Zack Follett injured and after releasing Julian Peterson.
76. San Francisco 49ers - Johnny Patrick CB, Louisville
Nate Clements and Shawntae Spencer both need to be replaced.
77. Tennessee Titans - Mason Foster OLB, Washington
The Titans will most likely not resign Stephen Tulloch.
78. St. Louis Rams - Clint Boling OG, UGA
Adam Goldberg needs to be replaced at RG.
79. Miami Dolphins - Shane Vereen RB, Cal
Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are both free agents.
80. Jacksonville Jaguars - Titus Young WR, Boise State
Mike Sims-Walker is a free agent and will probably not resign.
81. Oakland Raiders - Derek Newton OT, Arkansas State
Robert Gallery and Langston Walker are both free agents.
82. San Diego Chargers - Colin McCarthy LB, Miami
All of San Diego's ILB's are free agents.
83. New York Giants - Brandon Fusco OC, Slippery Rock
Shaun O'Hara will be a 34 year old free agent next offseason.
84. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Lance Kendricks TE, Wisconsin
Tampa needs an upgrade over Kellen Winslow and they are apparently in love with Kendricks potential.
85. Philadelphia Eagles - DeAndre McDaniel S, Clemson
Quintin Mikell is a 30 year old free agent seeking a big contract.
86. Kansas City Chiefs - Tandon Doss WR, Indiana
K.C. has no one at WR besides Dewayne Bowe.
87. Indianapolis Colts - Edmund Gates WR, Abilene Christian
Reggie Wayne will be 33 years old this coming season, Anthony Gonzalez can't seem to stay healthy, and Austin Collie may be forced to retire if he gets another concussion.
88. New Orleans Saints - DeMarco Murray RB, Oklahoma
Reggie Bush is injury-prone and costs too much money.
89. San Diego Chargers (via Seattle Seahawks) - Marcus Gilchrist CB, Clemson
The Chargers need an upgrade at Nickel CB.
90. Baltimore Ravens - Casey Matthews ILB, Oregon
The Ravens need a successor to Ray Lewis and some competition for Jameel McClain.
91. Atlanta Falcons - Kendall Hunter RB, Oklahoma State
Atlanta needs someone to ease the burden on Michael Turner.
92. New England Patriots - Dontay Moch DE/OLB, Nevada
The Patriots need to upgrade their pass-rush. Moch is a very intriguing prospect and worth at gamble at this point.
93. Chicago Bears - Daniel Thomas RB, Kansas State
Chicago needs a power back for short-yardage situations.
94. New York Jets - Greg Little WR, North Carolina
Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards are both free agents. It's likely that the Jets will resign Holmes and let Edwards walk. Little has the talent of a first round pick but like the other Tar Heels in this draft he comes with a lot of baggage but Rex Ryan welcomes players like that with open arms.
95. Pittsburgh Steelers - Jah Reid OT, Central Florida
With all the questions marks regarding the Steelers offensive line they will probably take multiple linemen in this draft. Flozell Adams was a nice free agent acquisition last offseason but at this stage of his career he's a 35 year old rental. Willie Colon is a top-5 player at RT but he's coming off of a ruptured Achilles and is a free agent seeking a big contract. Max Starks is coming off of an injured neck. Jonathan Scott is a free agent that the Steelers should let walk. Jah Reid really impressed at his Pro Day. He has the size at 6'7", 321lbs. to play RT and the enough agility to be a pulling Guard on the inside.
96. Green Bay Packers - Luke Stocker TE, Tennessee
The Packers released Donald Lee and they love to run two-TE sets.
97. (Compensatory pick) Carolina Panthers - Jurrell Casey DT, USC
Carolina will need to double-dip at DT because they currently have nothing at the position.