2011 mock draft, take three

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1. Panthers: Cam Newton, quarterback, Auburn.

Newton presents a bust factor, but he’s the most dominant talent in the draft at the sport’s most important position.  The Panthers are leaning toward a quarterback with the No. 1 overall selection, and Newton outplayed Blaine Gabbert by a massive margin at the college level.

2. Broncos: Marcell Dareus, defensive tackle, Alabama.

NFL Network’s Mike Mayock reported last week that “everybody in the league” believes it would be an “upset” if the Broncos didn’t use the No. 2 pick on Dareus.  The best defensive tackle in the draft according to Mayock, Warren Sapp, and Rob Rang, Dareus is a no-brainer pick for Denver.

3. Bills: Von Miller, linebacker, Texas A&M.

Chan Gailey sent out indications at last week’s owners meetings that he’s head over heels for Newton and Blaine Gabbert.  We’re not buying it from a coach who specializes in turning non-premium quarterbacks into productive passers.  Miller is everything that Aaron Maybin isn’t.

4. Bengals: Blaine Gabbert, quarterback, Missouri.

If Carson Palmer skips the season (likely) and there’s no pre-draft free agency (also likely), who’s going to play quarterback in Cincinnati?  Palmer is in physical decline anyhow, so even stubborn Bengals owner Mike Brown can’t afford to pass on perhaps the highest-rated passer in the draft.

5. Cardinals: Robert Quinn, linebacker, North Carolina.

Arizona has made its interest in Gabbert clear, but he’s not getting by the Bills and Bengals after the Panthers draft Newton first.  The Cardinals’ pick then comes down to Patrick Peterson and Quinn, and the latter plays a more needy position while also offering a higher long-term upside.

6. Browns: A.J. Green, wide receiver, Georgia.

Green is a top-five player on film, and Colt McCoy’s potential to be a franchise quarterback will be significantly reduced if Cleveland rides the status quo at receiver.  A game-breaking deep threat, Green is exactly the sort of “home-run hitter” that club president Mike Holmgren is pining for.

7. 49ers: Patrick Peterson, cornerback, LSU.

Peterson will receive consideration from teams drafting second through sixth, but cornerbacks have little history of going so high.  He’s certainly worth the No. 7 selection for a 49ers team that ranked 24th against the pass last year and is likely to part with overpriced veteran Nate Clements.

8. Titans: Nick Fairley, defensive tackle, Auburn.

Concerns about Fairley’s “bust factor” are real, echoed last week by both Mike Mayock and Todd McShay.  While defensive tackle is a position of relative strength in Nashville, the new coaching staff would struggle to justify passing on the best player available with its defense-first mindset.

9. Cowboys: Tyron Smith, offensive tackle, USC.

The Cowboys are known to have Peterson atop their draft board, and might trade up once they see him slip a few spots.  If not, Jerry Jones should be happy to “settle” for one of the draft’s most athletic, longest offensive linemen.  Smith would start in place of Marc Colombo at right tackle.

10. Redskins: Jake Locker, quarterback, Washington.

Rex Grossman is a free agent, and Donovan McNabb won’t see a dime of his $10 million roster bonus after flopping in his first year under Mike Shanahan. Shanahan’s system requires an athletic quarterback, and Locker is at his best throwing outside the pocket.  He could “develop” for a year behind Grossman.

11. Texans: Ryan Kerrigan, linebacker, Purdue.

Kerrigan’s stock is rising to the point where he’s likely to go in the top 15.  The Texans would prefer Miller or Quinn, but behind them Kerrigan is the safest pass rusher available.  He’d team with Connor Barwin and Mario Williams to give Houston a real chance at 45 sacks.

12. Vikings: Da’Quan Bowers, defensive end, Clemson.

Bowers could push his stock back into the top ten with a big April 1 Pro Day, but for now he’s got too many medical red flags, on top of one-year wonder concerns, to be considered a lock to go that high. The Vikings are in danger of losing left end Ray Edwards to free agency.

13. Lions: Prince Amukamara, cornerback, Nebraska.

Offensive tackle tops the Lions’ list of needs with Gosder Cherilus coming off microfracture knee surgery, but G.M. Martin Mayhew can’t pass on an elite cornerback.  Amukamara has experience as a press corner, making him a terrific fit in Gunther Cunningham’s aggressive defense.

14. Rams: Julio Jones, wide receiver, Alabama.

We know for sure Jones isn’t getting past the Rams; the question is whether he’ll make it to them. February foot surgery made it a bit more likely, and the chances will increase dramatically if the Redskins don’t draft Jones with the No. 10 overall pick.

15. Dolphins: Christian Ponder, quarterback, Florida State.

The Fins seem to swing and miss on second-round quarterbacks every offseason, so it’s time to get serious.  Ponder would be an upgrade over Chad Henne in terms of accuracy, smarts, athleticism, consistency, and touch.  He’d take over as the starter at some point in year one.

16. Jaguars: Aldon Smith, defensive end, Missouri.

The Jags are known to be high on Ponder, but he may be out of G.M. Gene Smith’s reach after putting together the best spring by a draft-eligible quarterback.  With freakish length and pluses for character and production, Smith is right down Smith’s alley at a trouble spot on defense.

17. Patriots: Brooks Reed, linebacker, Arizona.

The Pats have been searching for a difference-making outside linebacker since Willie McGinest ran out of steam.  Reed, whose stock soared with the top ten-yard split by a pass rusher at the Combine, could immediately help as a bookend for 2010 second-rounder Jermaine Cunningham.

18. Chargers: J.J. Watt, defensive end, Wisconsin.

The Chargers are also in the market for linebackers, but their biggest need area is five-technique defensive end.  Watt is the best in this class.  At 6-foot-5 and 290 pounds, he’s a bigger, harder-to-move run plugger than Cameron Jordan and a superior rusher from both the inside and out.

19. Giants: Anthony Castonzo, offensive tackle, Boston College.

Castonzo needs to improve his strength, but he’s an NFL-ready pass protector after 54 starts in Boston College’s pro-style offense.  Offensive line is a position that G.M. Jerry Reese would be smart to address with multiple high-round picks.  The Giants are aging and injury-riddled up front.

20. Buccaneers: Cameron Jordan, defensive end, Cal.

The Bucs have glaring holes at both defensive end positions.  G.M. Mark Dominik will likely target a more natural pass rusher entering the draft, but he can settle for a safe prospect in Jordan after Kerrigan, Bowers, and Aldon Smith go in the teens.  Jordan would start at left end in Week 1.

21. Chiefs: Phil Taylor, nose tackle, Baylor.

Taylor doesn’t project as a pass rusher, but he’ll be coveted by 3-4 teams as an immovable “zero-technique” nose tackle at 337 pounds.  The Chiefs need a youth injection inside, and may lose veteran starters Ron Edwards (315 pounds) and Shaun Smith (325 pounds) to free agency.

22. Colts: Derek Sherrod, offensive tackle, Mississippi State.

Left tackle Charlie Johnson isn’t signed for 2011, and aging right tackle Ryan Diem is due a hefty $5.4 million salary coming off a career-worst season.  Indianapolis needs to get serious about protecting Peyton Manning or risk missing what’s left of the 35-year-old quarterback’s “window.”

23. Eagles: Jimmy Smith, cornerback, Colorado.

Some teams have removed Smith from their boards due to character concerns, but the Eagles can’t afford to overlook the draft’s third most talented cornerback.  A true size corner at 6-foot-2 and 211 pounds, Smith would solidify the longtime trouble spot opposite Asante Samuel.

24. Saints: Muhammad Wilkerson, defensive tackle, Temple.

Wilkerson is another red-hot pre-draft riser, even earning the tenth overall player spot on Mel Kiper’s Big Board.  While we’re not quite buying what Kiper is selling, Wilkerson certainly is a first-round pick.  He’d help form a dynamic duo adjacent Sedrick Ellis.

25. Seahawks: Mike Pouncey, guard/center, Florida.

Interior offensive linemen typically don’t go so high, but the success of brother Maurkice is going to help Mike immensely on draft weekend.  Seahawks incumbent center Chris Spencer is a free agent, and right guard Stacy Andrews is a surefire salary casualty, due $5.25 million in base pay.

26. Ravens: Torrey Smith, wide receiver, Maryland.

NFL Network’s Mike Lombardi is on record as predicting Smith will be the third wideout drafted in April, and we agree.  A true field stretcher with sub-4.4 speed, the former Maryland Terrapin would be a local favorite in Baltimore and help upgrade the league’s slowest receiver corps.

27. Falcons: Gabe Carimi, offensive tackle, Wisconsin.

The 2010 Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year, Carimi is NFL ready after starting all four years at Wisconsin as Joe Thomas’ successor.  While A.J. Green rumors are swirling, the Falcons’ most pressing need is in the front five.  Harvey Dahl, Tyson Clabo, and Justin Blalock are all unsigned.

28. Patriots: Nate Solder, offensive tackle, Colorado.

Free agent Matt Light is recovering from shoulder surgery, turns 33 in June, and may have torpedoed his value to the Pats by calling out Bob Kraft for sitting out the end of CBA talks.  Solder would team with Sebastian Vollmer to give New England the NFL’s most athletic tackle duo.

29. Bears: Corey Liuget, defensive tackle, Illinois.

The Bears haven’t drafted an Illinois alum in 25 years, a trend that probably needs to halt out of respect for club history (Red Grange, George Halas, Dick Butkus).  Regardless, the quick-footed Liuget offers good value for a team searching for its new Tommie Harris at three-technique tackle.

30. Jets: Jabaal Sheard, linebacker, Pittsburgh.

Sheard has been written off as a first-round possibility by many draftniks due to off-field concerns that were ultimately overblown.  Last season’s Big East Defensive Player of the Year is highly disruptive, and the Jets are desperate for improved speed across from Calvin Pace on the edge.

31. Steelers: Aaron Williams, cornerback, Texas.

Coach Mike Tomlin has a history of success with big corners, and Williams fits the mold at 6-foot and 204 pounds.  Pittsburgh is in danger of losing two of its top three cornerbacks to free agency, including top cover man Ike Taylor.  Williams could push Bryant McFadden into a nickel role.

32. Packers: Justin Houston, linebacker, Georgia.

Houston is considered raw from a technique perspective, but he’s arguably the most explosive pure pass rusher in the draft.  It’s scary to think how dangerous Green Bay’s defense could be with a talented bookend for Clay Matthews.  Frank Zombo and Erik Walden are “just guys.”

Missed first-round cut: Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett, Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn, Alabama running back Mark Ingram, Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward, UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers, Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure, Miami cornerback Brandon Harris, Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph.

71 responses to “2011 mock draft, take three

  1. Bengals won’t take a QB. Did you watch Hard Knocks? Owner and mngmt staff was sweating bullets trying to get Andre Smith signed and playing and you could see the pain they had in worrying about getting him on the field early and the fan/media backlash, they won’t want to go through that again with an even bigger potential problem of getting their draft pick on the field if Carson Palmer all of a sudden wants to play and their high draft pick is wasting away on the sidelines all year.

    That’s what Carson wants is to put them in THAT position. Bengals will avoid that by simply not drafting a QB.

  2. This is the Lions dream draft where Prince somehow makes it all the way down. I just don’t see that, or Peterson falling to 7, happening. I feel like the Lions are gonna end up with a tackle

  3. Evan uses the term “bust” twice in the article, which two players? The Auburn guys.

    Of course, he still doesn’t have the guts to knock them out of his top 10.

  4. If Jerry Angelo drafts another DL early – especially first round – the Chicago faithful will give up altogether … unfortunately based on history you’re probably right.

  5. How you arrive at the conclusion that Acromegaly Head “massively outperformed” Gabbert at the college level? Newton had a better 2010 season for sure, but Gabbert had better numbers in 2009 with Missouri than Newton did in J.C. He also had better numbers in 2008 when both saw limited action. Overall, at the D1 level, Gabbert had nearly triple the passes thrown and yardage gained in the air. Plus he had a lower career interception ratio.

  6. Locker has slipped out of the first round in many projections, so we’d naturally take him at 10.

  7. That’s what Carson wants is to put them in THAT position. Bengals will avoid that by simply not drafting a QB.

    Not sure why you’re getting the thumbs down….that’s the same playbook Favre ran with a couple of years ago to get out of Green Bay.

  8. Jake Locker @ 10 are you crazy even I know better than this…I say take either a defensive player with this selection or receiver and I like Andy Dalton in the second round 41st pick…

  9. Evan is correct that Miami needs to get serious about finally taking a QB in the first round, but no way will it be Ponder. This isnt exactly my choice but my feeling is that whether or not my Fins trade back, they take Ryan Mallett in round one. He has a lot of the same characteristics as Marino when he came out, and the fans down here havent had anything close at QB since he retired. Again, just my gut

  10. Ravens will not draft a wide receiver in the first round, other areas are in higher need and there are a plethora of good receivers in this draft. Ravens will go for an outside pass rusher or a left/right tackle and pick up a WR in the 2nd or 3rd round.

  11. While I like Muhammed Wilkerson to the Saints as a long-term fix next to Sed Ellis, I wonder whether it fills an immediate need since Shaun Rodgers is there on a one-year deal.

    The holes at OLB and DE seem to be more pressing since OLB Scott Shanle is a FA who probably should be replaced instead of resigned while the DE combo of Jimmy Wilkerson and Alex Brown underachieved last year across from Will Smith.

  12. I agree that it’s likely that Ingram may fall out of the first. He’s just not a special back, and the value of the RB position in the modern NFL is as low as it’s ever been.

  13. Every last one of these picks fills a need for that team. Every single one. And that’s why mock drafts like this are pointless. A trained monkey can look at a teams’ needs as well as the best available players at each position and fill them in.

  14. We as fans of our team need to keep the draft in perspective this year. Every year we get our hopes up that these draft picks will step in and make a huge impact this year. However, if the season doesn’t start til mid-August or later, the chances grow these rookies will not have enough time to digest the playbooks or have enough opportunity to show their respective coaching staffs what they have until mid to late season. The longer the lockout continues, the more likely it is that we will not see a huge impact from this rookie class until the 2012 season.

  15. Oh yeah, and the ones who hold out for any amount of time, might as well forget making an impact this year if the Lockout affects the preseason and beginning of the regular season. Something that will not boast well for anyone drafting in the top 10 (where many of the lockouts occur).

  16. Not feeling this mock really. It looks like some things were kind of just moved around because right now is pretty boring around the NFL. I gotta think the Eagles would take the freakish sized OT from Colorado over their freakish sized CB. Then again, their board is usually sorted with undersized DL and QBs towards the top.

  17. did you guys just pull names out of a hat? Ponder at 15? Not even Ross/Ireland are that dumb

  18. Eagles won’t take Smith in the first round. They’ll take an OT. If this falls anything close to true to your call, there will be a couple of solid tackles, or maybe even a C/G in Pouncey.

    Second round will be the CB

  19. “Newton outplayed Blaine Gabbert by a massive margin at the college level.”

    So by this thinking a team would rather have Matt Leinart than Josh Freeman cause Leinart outplayed Freeman by a massive margin at the college level.

  20. 23. Eagles: Jimmy Smith, cornerback, Colorado.

    Some teams have removed Smith from their boards due to character concerns, but the Eagles can’t afford to overlook the draft’s third most talented cornerback. A true size corner at 6-foot-2 and 211 pounds, Smith would solidify the longtime trouble spot opposite Asante Samuel.

    Long time trouble spot? What 1 season is a long time? They had Sheldon Brown there for years and before that Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor. Real troublesome.

  21. I do see Peterson or Miller falling to the niners at 7 barring any trades up. Either guy fills a HUGE need. Now I’m just hoping Dalton or Ponder is there when the niners draft in the second. Maybe Stanzi in the third

  22. flake says: So by this thinking a team would rather have Matt Leinart than Josh Freeman cause Leinart outplayed Freeman by a massive margin at the college level.

    what do you expect them to do- contact the future to find out? basically what they have now is that cam was great in college (as much as it gags me to say) and blaine has pretty hair.

  23. The Vikings WILL NOT take a DE in the 1st round… it’s that simple. Why would they? They have Jared Allen locked up for the next 5 years and they just resigned Brian Robison to a 3-year deal. They have far more pressing needs, they’ll most likely trade down in the first and pick up that 3rd we wasted in the Moss Trade.

  24. You mention the possibility of at least one team “trading up.” If the lockout is still in place, will teams be able to trade players during the draft or picks only?

  25. @strategyexpert- After the rookie wage scale is implemented there won’t be any issues trying to get your first round pick signed in time for camp, they won’t be able to negotiate they’ll get what they get depending on where they’re drafted.

    The Bengals don’t need to draft QB at #4, they can wait around until round 2 or trade down.

    I don’t see 4 QB’s going in the top 15, but anything is possible.

  26. I don’t get how someone has a greater upside than Peterson? What’s his downside? Revis playing until he is 40, so Peterson is never considered the best CB?

  27. Sorry, but this IS NOT the year the Bears go Defense in round 1…the O’Line is in disarray, so that’s where they go…

  28. @acerockefellar

    Um, writers do their best work while drunk. Or didn’t you get the memo?

    Its pretty much a requirement.

  29. As a Redskins fan I can tell you exactly what we’ll probably do…We’ll bundle up our 1st, 2nd, and two fifths to move up one spot and draft Locker at #9.

  30. Just a thought.. If the Cards loose out on both QB’s could they become desperate enough to call the Eagles for Kolb and pay overprice or would they trade back if possible and maybe take Locker or Ponder?

  31. Tryagainplease says: “what do you expect them to do- contact the future to find out? basically what they have now is that cam was great in college (as much as it gags me to say) and blaine has pretty hair.”

    Cam is a Great talent, but will be a HUGE bust in the NFL. He will do something stupid that will cost him a few years (ALA Mike Vick).

    These guys aren’t playing college ball. Gabbert reminds me of Dan Marino. Cam Newton reminds me of Mike Vick or Vince Young. I agree that Cam has huge talent, but the bust factor is too big to take him Number 1. He would be a good fit in Cincinatti with the other jokers.

  32. acerockefellar says: Mar 28, 2011 4:46 PM

    If i would have know that writers were aloud to be drunk on the job i would have changed my major.

    I can only presume your ‘major’ is in green-keeping.

  33. one of my favourite players of the draft is ryan kerrigan but for both his and the texans sake i sincerely hope this doesnt happen. The guy is a 4-3 beast! its like trying to make freeney/jared allen a 3-4 olb….a good player it might work but why would you risk ruining something that works?!

    Texans just went to a 3-4 so if this draft goes as planned up to their pick, why would they not take J.J Watt? or another 3-4 end…..hell if prince amakumara is there like this suggests, then surely he’d make a ton of sense for that secondary….

  34. No way the Redskins pass on Jones or Kerrigan. Not even Mel “I shill for my agent friends” believes Locker goes before the late 1st early 2nd round. Redskins may take Locker in the 2nd Round, but Shanahan knows he needs a pkaymaker at WR like he had with Brandon Marshall or a OLB opposite Orakpo in the 3-4. Now if Cerrato were still running the draft…….oh, nevermind. Vinny would have drafted Clausen with the 4th pick last year.

  35. I have to agree w/gosuhgo, Amukamara will not be on the board when the Lions pick @ # 13, also purple raid is somewhat right, the Vikes will not take a de in rd #1..IF Amukamara is on the board. If Amukamara is there @ #12 the Vikes BETTER GRAB HIM!!!!!!!!!

  36. Agree that the Saints draft defensive line first, but they just signed Shaun Rogers a couple weeks ago. No way they go first round on another DT. Loomis goes for and off the edge pass rusher, DE or a quick OLB.

  37. What’s with two guys from Colorado going in the first round? That’s not going to happen in my lifetime.

  38. Every buc fan will dislike this prlly but we really neeed a corner with wats goin on wit talib we need help there badly

  39. If the Phins can’t trade down to get a 2nd rounder, I just can’t see them going with a QB unless Gabbert or Newton fall that far. Not that I would want those QB’s anyway. I would think the Phins go for O-Line…Castonzo, Carimi, Pouncey, etc.

  40. You have completely lost it at number 12. Da’Quan Bowers will not be drafted by the Vikings at 12. That would be idiotic the Vikings have holes all over and with all those injuries he has had. Nope he wont even be considered at 12.

  41. Vikings will trade up to get Gabbert. No chance in hell they’re going to take a DE in the first round.

  42. acursor says:
    Mar 28, 2011 4:28 PM
    You mention the possibility of at least one team “trading up.” If the lockout is still in place, will teams be able to trade players during the draft or picks only?

    Picks only can not trade players

  43. To,thestrategyexpert…LOL.
    Palmer will not play their again,they need a qb now !
    I dont know what your an expert of but its not sports in cincinnati.

  44. Understand this; if Patrick Peterson is still on the board at the sixth pick, the Browns will not pass on a for sure thing like that.thats fact.

  45. the browns will not take peterson at 6. they just took a corner last year. they need a legit WR. If mccoy has any chance of being the guy in cleveland he needs targets. they should nab up rudolph in the second. locker@10…… hahahha

  46. I kind of feel bad to see Torrey Smith continuing to go in the mid-to-late-20s. I think the best thing that could happen to him, and to the Packer’s organization, is for him to somehow make it down to them. The guy has all the tools and a good attitude, but he’s not quite ready yet. Getting to play the 3 or 4 in GB until Driver retires and then stepping in for him is ideal for both Smith and the club.

    And this is coming from a Vikings fan…..

  47. I agree with with some of his picks.I like how he has my bucs taking Jordan,I dont think he makes it to us and then we will have to settle on taking Clayborn. But Ponder to the Fins in the first round is way to high. And there are picks that I never even heard of the guy, and Im really into the draft. Who’s Brooks Reed?

  48. jonvp1981 says:
    Apr 2, 2011 5:21 PM
    I agree with with some of his picks.I like how he has my bucs taking Jordan,I dont think he makes it to us and then we will have to settle on taking Clayborn. But Ponder to the Fins in the first round is way to high. And there are picks that I never even heard of the guy, and Im really into the draft. Who’s Brooks Reed?

    Strictly pass-rushing 3-4 OLB. Think Clay Matthews…. Won’t drop into coverage well and can’t hold up every play against NFL tackles, but is a high-effort 3-year starter who makes himself a factor behind the LOS. Could do well in the right system, but I was a little surprised to find him in the first round too. NE would be a good destination for him, but I have a hard time believing they would make a grab for him this high.

  49. I heard an interview on ESPN radio in San Diego this week with the guy who’s the head NFL writer for this very website. He’s highly respected and is known for his uncanny ability to root out any character issues that a collegiate player may have.

    He really ripped Newton a new one too. He said that there are several major character and lack of maturity issues that Newton has, that he’s disingenuous and puts on a big phony front for the media.

    According to him, about “75% of the incidents involving Newton will likely never come out in the press”. Can you say, the next Ryan Leaf???

    Carolina’s in a tough spot, because they can’t afford to blow the top pick in the draft and the oft dazed and confused Jimmy Clausen clearly ins’t an NFL starting QB.

    The reason that they are in such a tough spot is because they also have a lot of otherwise unsold tickets to sell, and the buzz generated by taking Newton figures to be on par with what it was in Atlanta when they took Michael Vick (it sure doesn’t hurt that Newton is from just down the road Auburn either).

    Although Newton hasn’t proven that he can QB under center and only knows how to run a spread offense, the flip to that is that if any team is in the position to tailor a new offense to a QB, it’s Carolina.

    This pick is going to come down to whether the owner overrules new head coach Ron Rivera and dictates that Newton will be taken, or Rivera does the smart thing and selects Gabbert.

    Great call though on Pollard to Miami at #15 overall. Pollard has soared up the board based on his personal workouts and interviews and will likely be the only potential impact player left on the board when Miami’s pick comes up.

  50. If Gabbert is available when the Bengals pick,I think they take him.They are taking Palmer’s
    retirement threat seriously.He has 4 years left on his contract,so he cant sit out 1 year and come back as a free agent like 99% of the people on the internet keep saying.They can probably get Baldwin in the second rnd if they wanted to fill a need at wr.

  51. Detroit need a CB and a LB that can cover the short pass that would get the Lions very close to a playoff team.
    They all so need a C or G to improve the running game a a player that can move the pile to kill the clock late in game when a first down is needed a clock killer. T for the future that would be a good draft for the lions.

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