Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Final 2011 NFL Mock Draft: Your Complete First Round NFL Draft Guide

Here is my Final 2011 NFL Mock Draft. It may be updated slightly on draft day if any late breaking changes are warranted.

My mock draft has been linked by The Football Fan Spot, Sports Jabber, DC Pro Sports ReportWalter Football, FF Toolbox,, The Football Expert, and No Limits Sportsline Fantasy Sports in their Mock Draft Databases. If you're a draftnik like me, be sure to click on their hyperlinks and check out all of their extensive NFL Draft related material.

I would like to give special thanks to Dave-Te' Thomas of Scouting Services, Inc. and The NFL Draft Guide. Dave-Te' is also the official player biographer for the NFL. He was gracious enough to provide me with his 2011 draft ratings and some of his in depth player profiles that can be found on Definitely check his work out, it is amazing stuff!

This is not a mock draft where I attempt play general manager and substitute my own judgment for the 32 NFL teams. I do my best to research what particular players or positions each team may be targeting by searching the internet and listening to Sirius NFL Radio for tips from reliable beat writers and NFL insiders in order to provide links and analysis as to why I think a particular player may end up going to the team that I have him slotted to.

1. Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton, QB, Auburn: The Panthers could use help at quarterback, defensive tackle and defensive end. With talented players available at each position, it's up to the Panthers front office to determine which position is the most worthy of the first overall pick of the draft. Almost all reports have them going with a franchise quarterback at this point. If they do, it appears as if owner Jerry Richardson's interest lies in Cam Newton.;

2. Denver Broncos – Von Miller, OLB, Texas A and M: Denver had the worst ranked defense in the league last season, and ex-head coach Josh McDaniel and GM Brian Xanders have left that unit nearly devoid of talent. As the Broncos transition back to a 4-3 defense, they have some major holes to fill on the interior of their defensive line after releasing tackles Jamal Williams and Justin Bannan. With Marcell Dareus and Nick Fairley being two of the better prospects in this year's draft, defensive tackle seems like the logical and only choice with the second overall pick. In fact, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock is on record as having said that his NFL inside sources would consider it a major surprise if the Broncos do not select Dareus. However, breaking news suggests that the Broncos covet outside pass rusher Von Miller of Texas A and M.;;;;;

3. Buffalo Bills – Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama: If Marcell Dareus is available with the third pick, he would definitely draw consideration from the Bills. While Buffalo GM Buddy Nix has acknowledged that the Bills don't necessarily need a quarterback after Ryan Fitzpatrick had a career year under Chan Gailey, he has also indicated that they would not pass on a player if they view him as their franchise quarterback of the future. While Nix and owner Ralph Wilson seem enamored on Cam Newton, he appears to be headed to Carolina. In that scenario, the question becomes whether the Bills view Blaine Gabbert of Missouri as a franchise quarterback. While it could be a smokescreen, the buzz does not seem to be there, and the Bills seem to be leaning towards drafting Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder in the second round. That leaves the Bills free to take either Von Miller of Texas A and M or Marcell Dareus of Alabama. If Denver takes Von Miller as late breaking reports suggest, the Bills would be more than happy to select Dareus and plug him in as a disruptive 3-4 end.;;;;

4. Cincinnati Bengals – A.J. Green, WR, Georgia: With Carson Palmer threatening to retire if his demand for a trade is not granted, the Bengals suddenly have huge needs on both sides of the ball. They could easily justify using this pick on a franchise quarterback, a running back, a wide receiver, a defensive end, a defensive tackle or a cornerback. A.J. Green will likely be the highest rated player when the Bengals draft with the fourth selection according to most draft boards, and he would ease the loss of soon to be departed wide receivers Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens. The Bengals seem to think that they can find better value by addressing the quarterback position in the second round with someone like Andy Dalton of TCU.;;;

5. Arizona Cardinals – Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU: Several prominent draft prognosticators are suggesting that the Cardinals should take Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert if Von Miller is not available when they pick. On the other hand, local reporters out of Phoenix believe that the Cardinals are not interested in using their first round pick on a quarterback, and that they will instead try to acquire a signal caller either via a trade or through free agency with someone like Kevin Kolb or Marc Bulger. While the Cardinals lack an elite edge rusher from the outside linebacker position, trying to force someone like North Carolina's Robert Quinn to play standing up in a 3-4 defense when he is a natural 4-3 end could be too much of a gamble with the fifth overall pick of the draft in the Cardinals' eyes. The safer pick is LSU's Patrick Peterson, who would be a nice compliment opposite Dominique Rogers Cromartie at cornerback.;;!/ZReportDraft/status/60386931929923584

6. Cleveland Browns – Julio Jones, WR, Alabama: While Cleveland seems to like Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green, he may very well be off the board by the time they select. The Browns would then have to decide if they want to fill their need for a playmaking receiver with Alabama's Julio Jones. Alternatively, they could go for a defensive end to rush the passer or a defensive tackle to plug the middle following the release of Shaun Rogers. If Green is off the board, look for the Browns to target Jones, but possibly by trading down with a quarterback needy team like Washington. They could also settle for an elite 4-3 pass rush end like North Carolina's Robert Quinn, and then target receivers like Jonathan Baldwin of Pittsburgh or Greg Little of North Carolina in the second or third rounds in the draft.;;

7. San Francisco 49ers – Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina: Unless San Francisco can make a play for an established veteran like Kevin Kolb (which they won't be able to do until a new CBA is reached), the 49ers will have to find their long-term answer at quarterback through the draft. While Jim Harbaugh has talked about bringing Alex Smith back for yet another trial of his ability to be an NFL quarterback, but all of that rhetoric could have been a smokescreen. San Francisco would have to seriously consider Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert in the event that he falls past Arizona and the 5th pick. However, reports suggest that the 49ers are not all that high on Gabbert, so look for them to select North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn in the first round and then target Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the second.;;

8. Tennessee Titans – Nick Fairley DT, Auburn: While Tennessee is another team with a big void at quarterback, the Titans are a veteran team that seems to prefer bringing in a veteran signal caller via trade or free agency. If Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley falls due to concerns about his attitude and motor, then the Titans should jump at their opportunity to find a replacement for Albert Haynesworth that they can build their front seven around. They could then look into trading back into the first round for a quarterback like Andy Dalton or Jake Locker should either player remain available.;;;

9. Dallas Cowboys – Tyron Smith, OT, USC: The Cowboys seem to like USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith, as well as defensive ends J.J. Watt of Wisconsin and Cameron Jordan of Cal. If the Cowboys do not trade with the number 9 pick, then a future left tackle like Smith seems like the better value. However, if they do manage to trade down with someone like the Rams, then Watt, Jordan and even Boston College offensive lineman Anthony Castonzo would become their likely targets. In the event of a trade down the Cowboys could use the extra mid round picks that they receive in order to trade back into the first round and select a right tackle like Derek Sherrod of Mississippi State to play opposite Doug Free.!/espn_macmahon/status/62948737554726913;;;;

10. Washington Redskins – Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri: While the Redskins desperately need to find a quarterback, there may not be value in drafting a signal caller with questionable accuracy like Jake Locker or character concerns like Ryan Mallett in the top ten. Accordingly, the Redskins may look to trade up and get the mobile quarterback with a strong arm that coach Mike Shanahan is seeking to run his version of the West Coast Offense in Blaine Gabbert of Missouri. If the Redskins are unable to trade up, they could target Julio Jones since they have had a glaring need for a go-to receiver for several years. If Jones is off the board as well, they could select Cal defensive end Cameron Jordan, or they could look to trade back a few spots and target Mallett or Locker.;;;;

11. Houston Texans – Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri: The Texans would love to land local product Von Miller to provide an edge rusher for their new 3-4 defensive scheme, but he'll likely be long gone by the time they pick. They would also love to put LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson in their anemic secondary. If they are unable to trade up for either of those players, look for the Texans to settle on Missouri DE/OLB Aldon Smith. They could also consider Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt, who would fit in perfectly with their 3-4 defense.;;

12. Minnesota Vikings – Jake Locker, QB, Washington: Minnesota has holes at DT, DE, S and QB. The Vikings seem to have an interest in Washington quarterback Jake Locker, but does he have enough value to be selected by the Vikings with the 12th pick without trading down? Trading up for Gabbert is also a possibility, as is taking an accurate but lesser armed quarterback like Christian Ponder or Andy Dalton in the second round. In that event, the Vikings could elect to draft a defensive lineman like J.J. Watt of Wisconsin or Cameron Jordan of Cal at number 12. Even if the Vikings draft a quarterback in the first or second rounds, don't be surprised if they end up working out a deal with Donovan McNabb to be their starting quarterback for next season.;;;;;

13. Detroit Lions – Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska: The Lions have big needs at cornerback and outside linebacker. It is pretty much a given that no outside linebacker in this draft aside from Von Miller is worth selecting with the 13th overall pick. Martin Mahew is the type of General Manager who will draft for the long term future instead of immediate need, so the question remains whether that means the Lions will select an offensive tackle like USC's Tyron Smith to fill in on the right side and eventually replace Jeff Backus on the left; a defensive end like Missouri's Aldon Smith to serve as Kyle Vanden Bosch's understudy, or a cornerback like Nebraska's Prince Amukamara to immediately step in and start. With Amukamara and Tyron Smith rated similarly (and far ahead of Aldon Smith on some scouting boards), the Lions can afford to draft for need without giving up value.;;;;;

14. St. Louis Rams – Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois: Look for a possible trade between the Rams and Cowboys if Julio Jones is still available at the 9th pick. If not, the Rams may have to settle for Illinois defensvie tackle Corey Liuget in the event that Missouri DE/OLB Aldon Smith is no longer available.;;;,131767,131781;;

15. Miami Dolphins – Mike Pouncey, C/G, Florida: Miami would desperately like to trade down and acquire a second round pick to replace the one that they gave up to Denver in the Brandon Marshall deal last year. If they keep the 15th pick,  Florida C/G Mike Pouncey and Alabama RB Mark Ingram, Jr. will be their top targets.;

16. Jacksonville Jaguars - Ryan Kerrigan, DE/OLB, Purdue: While safety and wide receiver are more pressing needs, there will be little value at those positions on the board when Jacksonville picks at number 16. A defensive end like Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan would be a nice understudy to initially play opposite, and then ultimately replace Aaron Kampman. Aldon Smith of Missouri and Adrian Clayborn of Iowa would also be possibilities at defensive end, while Jake Locker or Christian Ponder could be outside candidates for the Jaguars' pick if they are looking to push quarterback David Garrard.;;;

17. New England Patriots (from Oakland) – Cameron Jordan, DE/OLB, California: New England always seems to be looking for defensive ends and outside linebackers who fit their 3-4 defensive scheme. While Cameron Jordan of Cal is a natural 3-4 defensive end, he also showed the ability to play standing up and drop into coverage at the Senior Bowl, which is just the type of versatility that the Patriots love. J.J. Watt of Wisconsin would also be a value and fit at 3-4 end, but New England will likely avoid him given their aversion to dealing with his agent, Tom Condon. The Patriots could also target Alabama running back Mark Ingram, but either he or Mikel Leshoure of Illinois should still be available when they pick again with the 28th selection. Rumors also persist that New England could package some of their six picks in the first three rounds in order to trade up for either Robert Quinn or Cameron Jordan. Just don't count on the Patriots giving up full value pursuant to the NFL Draft Pick Value Chart in the event that they do trade up. When it comes to draft day trades the Patriots are "selfish lovers," meaning that while they love to receive value when they move up, they very seldom give up value pursuant to the value chart when they move down in their trades.;;

18. San Diego Chargers – J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin: The Chargers should benefit from a deep defensive line class. They could use either a defensive end or a 3-4 linebacker who can rush the passer. Reports indicate that the Chargers front office is targeting Purdue DE/OLB Ryan Kerrigan, but in this scenario he is off the board. They would be equally happy with Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt. UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers could also draw a look.;;
Not only did draft day primadonna Eli Manning have to endure chants of "WEAR THE HAT!" from Jets fans, but the Chargers walked away with the better quarterback in Phil Rivers when Eli forced a trade from the Chargers to the Giants in 2004

19. New York Giants – Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College: Replenishing an aging offensive line has to be a priority for the Giants, as is adding some new blood at linebacker. Anthony Castonzo of Boston College has the ability to step in immediately at right tackle or even guard, and then ultimately wind up as a book-end left tackle. Florida center/guard Mike Pouncey will also get a strong look from the Giants based upon his ability to play guard and provide insurance at center if he is still available.;;;;;

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson: While the Bucs have the depth to go for the best player available, getting a rush end via the draft or free agency is probably their biggest off-season priority. Tampa Bay has shown interest in Ryan Kerrigan of Purdue and Aldon Smith of Missouri. If both are off the board by the time they pick at number 20, this selection could come down to Adrian Clayborn of Iowa and Da'Quan Bowers of Clemson. While Bowers has some medical issues regarding the potential longevity of his career given his most recent off season knee surgery, if he is cleared by Tampa Bay's doctors, a pass rusher of his ability could be a considerable bargain this late in the draft. Cornerback may also be a consideration if they follow through with reports that they will release Aqib Talib after his recent arrest for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.;;

21. Kansas City Chiefs – Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin: Kansas City could go many different directions in this year's draft. A 3-4 nose tackle like Phil Taylor is a definite possibility, as is UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers. However, an offensive tackle like Gabe Carimi would not only solidify the right side of their line, but he could eventually move to the left side and let Brandon Albert become a dominant force at guard or right tackle.;

22. Indianapolis Colts – Nate Solder, OT, Colorado: The Colts survived with a very mediocre offensive line for years thanks to Howard Mudd, who may well be one of the best position coaches NFL history. After Mudd left Indianapolis last season the Colts offensive line was exposed as a major weakness. It's definitely time for Indianapolis to look for some new talent at the the tackle position in order to protect Peyton Manning and re-establish some sort of running game. Nate Solder of Colorado is probably projected to be the best left tackle over the long run in this year's draft, which would make him an ideal choice for the Colts.

23. Philadelphia Eagles - Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado: While the offensive line for the Eagles has underachieved in recent years based upon the amount of money that they've paid to big name players, their primary target at that position,Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi, might not be available at the 23rd pick. Even if he is, ESPN Insider John Clayton has gone on record as saying that Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith will not make it past the Eagles.;

24. New Orleans Saints – Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State: While the Saints could use help at either defensive end or outside linebacker, there are reports that they are interested in drafting Temple defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson. This makes very little sense to me given that the Saints currently have Sedrick Ellis and Shaun Rogers as tandem on the interior of their defensive line, with Anthony Hargrove able to move over from end on pass rushing downs. Cameron Heyward of Ohio State is rated similarly to Wilkerson, and would fill a more immediate need for a pass rusher. outside linebacker Akeem Ayers of UCLA could also draw consideration.;;;

25. Seattle Seahawks – Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas: Seattle would ideally like to trade down from the 25th spot and accumulate additional picks. If an offensive tackle like Gabe Carimi of Wisconsin is off the board, Seattle could select Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett in the event that they are unable to trade. Baylor guard Danny Watkins and Mississippi State offensive tackle Derek Sherrod could also be considerations.;

26. Baltimore Ravens – Muhammad Wilkerson, DT/DE, Temple: While Baltimore has been widely linked to Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith, he seems to be alleviating character concerns and re-establishing himself on draft boards. In the even he is gone, Baltimore could look for offensive tackles like Nate Solder of Colorado or Gabe Carimi of Wisconsin, or go for a 3-4 defensive end like Muhammad Wilkerson of Temple or Cameron Heyward of Ohio State.

27. Atlanta Falcons – Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa: While the Falcons lack a wide receiver to compliment and draw coverage away from Roddy White, drafting a receiver after A.J. Green and Julio Jones in the first round is probably too much of a reach. Atlanta is also still searching for a defensive end to compliment John Abraham. Adrian Clayborn of Iowa is a high character, high motor kid who could fill that need and get to the passer while playing with his hand in the dirt. Depending on how the defensive ends go off the board, the Falcons could also have an interest in Justin Houston of Georgia, but a failed drug test could push him into the second or third rounds of the draft. Akeem Ayers of UCLA could also fill a similar need for pass rusher who is also versatile enough to play in coverage at linebacker.;;

28. New England Patriots – Mark Ingram, Jr., RB, Alabama: With two picks in each of the first three rounds of this year's draft, the Patriots have plenty of options. Rumor has it that they already have a deal in place with a team looking to trade back into the first round to select a particular quarterback if he is still available at the Patriots 28th pick. If they are forced to stay in this spot, Alabama running back Mark Ingram would be a tremendous value and give New England the reliable inside running game they are seeking to remove some pressure from Tom Brady. An interior lineman like Danny Watkins of Baylor or a tackle like Derek Sherrod of Mississippi State could also be considered, as Patriots must also address their offensive line early in this draft.;;;;

29. Chicago Bears - Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State: The Bears desperately need help at defensive tackle and offensive line. While defensive tackle Corey Liuget of Illinois would be an ideal fit for the 4-3 defensive scheme that the Bears run, he will likely be gone before they select. That makes Derek Sherrod of Mississipi State a good value for a huge position of need. Another good value would be North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin, but character issues probably push him back into the early part of the second round.,0,7308129.story;;;;;;,0,3238500.story;

30. New York Jets – Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor: Defensive tackle Phil Taylor of Baylor would be a logical choice if the Jets do not plan on resigning nose tackle Kris Jenkins at a discounted price after he was released. The Jets currently lack a strong anchor at nose tackle, one of the key positions in their 3-4 defense. Interestingly, an article written by Eric Allen linking the Jets to Taylor on was recently removed from their official website. Hmmm...;;;;;!/ZReportDraft/status/60386931929923584;'t see Taylor getting past the Jets

31. Pittsburgh Steelers – Aaron Williams, CB, Texas: While the Steelers arguably have the best defense in the league, neither William Gay nor Bryant McFadden are ideal starting caliber cornerbacks in the NFL. Texas cornerback Aaron Williams is a big versatile cornerback who could also fill in at safety should Troy Palamalu miss time with injury. Brandon Harris of Miami is another corner who might be considered, and Pittsburgh could also be intrigued by any defensive or offensive linemen who might fall to the end of the first round.;;;;; /

32. Green Bay Packers – Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA: An outside linebacker like Akeem Ayers of UCLA who can cover and rush the passer would be ideal to compliment opposite Clay Mathews. Alternatively, the Packers could look for a 3-4 defensive end like Cameron Heyward of Ohio State or Muhammad Wilkerson of Temple if they anticipate that Cullen Jenkins will leave via free agency. If Ayers and the top defensive ends are off the board, Arizona DE/OLB Brooks Reed could also be the pick as a pure pass rusher that the Packers have a need for.;;

Now let's cue up some Arcade Fire and enjoy the draft!
Trivia Note: With teams alotted 10 minutes each to make their pick, the First Round of the 2010 NFL Draft took 3 hours and 25 mins.

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