The 2011 NFL Draft is upon us and with the annual NFL combine rapping up we will now start to hear wear players might realistically end up. Here's my 1st mock draft which will be based a little on how I thing the draft will go and a little on how I think the draft SHOULD go. Cuz I mean their are already enough mocks flying around about what really might happen you can go peep Mel Kiber's mock for that I'm doing my own thing.
1. Carolina Panthers - DT - Nick Fairly - Auburn - 6-4, 291
I've got Fairly going 1st overall for the simple fact that he's the panthers biggest need. The panthers will consider Patrick Peterson and Bowers here and possibly even Newton but unless they sign a new DT in free agency their is no way their new defensive minded head coach Ron Rivera is going to allow that Defense to go into Training Camp with the likes of Dereck Landri and Nick Hayden as their anchors in the middle. And if the panthers resign Charles Johnson this pick pretty much becomes a no brainer unless Cam Newton does something miraculous at his pro day.
2. Denver Broncos - DE - Da'Quan Bowers - Clemson - 6-4, 277
Last year the broncos ran the 3-4 Defense but with new coach John Fox look for them to switch to the 4-3. with that said the only productive pass rusher I see on the roster to play one of the two defensive end spots is Elvis Dumervil who although is a former pro prowler, missed all of last season with a injury so what he might bring to the table this year is in question. Also the Broncos ranked among the bottom of the league in sacks last year. Even if Dumervil comes back healthy the broncos will need another pass rusher which is why I have them taking bowers. He's the best pass rusher in the draft and has great athleticism. Has the potential to post double digit sacks in year 1 and immediately improve this terrible pass rush.
3. Buffalo Bills - CB- Patrick Peterson - LSU - 6-0, 220
In my opinion Patrick Peterson is THE BEST PLAYER in this draft but due to needs in other areas the 1st two teams will most likely pass on him. I feel the bills biggest need is on the defensive line both DT and DE but another need of theirs is CB and even tho its not as pressing a need if you have the 3rd pick and the best player on the board is still available and plays 1 of your positions of needs you just cant pass on him. Peterson plays CB but has the build of a safety as he stands a little over 6'1'' and weighs around 210-215. Combine that with his 4.3 40 at the combine and u have a potential Hall of Famer. I just cant see Peterson falling past this spot. Some other mock drafts have Cam Newton going here but Head Coach Chain Galley has publicly said he has confidence in current QB Ryan Fitzpatrick who had a pretty decent year last year. If the Bills dont take Peterson here look for them to trade this pick to someone who will.
4. Cincinnati Bengals - QB - Cam Newton - Auburn - 6-6, 250
First let me just say there is no way in HELL i'd take Newton this high if I was a GM and that I personally believe Blaine Gilbert is the best QB in this draft. But because of Newton's dream season in college and his freakish size and athletic ability he's gaining alot of supporters. For a while now the consensus has been this is where WR. A.J. Green would end up which is what I thought as well. However with recent reports of Carson Palmer saying he'll retire instead of playing with the Bengals things have changed. Palmer is completely fed up with the Bengals and in my opinion its his time to go anyway. But the reason I have Newton going here is because the Bengals are desperate. Despite having a playoff caliber roster last year their picking 4th overall and Marvin Lewis is sitting on the hottest coaching seat in the NFL right now unless they make the playoffs I cant see him coaching the Bengals next year. With that being said I believe he'll want Newton here in a last ditch effort to try and have Newton carry this team to the playoffs. If somehow Palmer and the Bengals patch their relationship up look for this pick to be WR. A.J. Green.
5. Arizona Cardinals - OLB - Von Miller - Texas A&M - 6-3, 246
Although the Arizona Cardinals NUMBER ONE NEED right now is QB I believe they can get a starting caliber in the 2nd round rather it be locker or mallet or someone else. And I know I said I wouldn't do this but I have a strong hunch the Cardinals are going to get Matt Hasselback. Which if they do it'll give them time to develop a QB like Locker or Mallet which then they can turn their attention to their next biggest need a dominant outside Linebacker. If you look at the great 3-4 defenses across the NFL they typically have 1 thing in common a dominant outside Linebacker. The steelers have Harrison, Packers have Clay Matthews, the Ravens have Terrell Suggs, and I could go on. Joey Porter probably won't be back not to mention that it wouldn't matter cause he's not the player he once was. Almost everyone is raving about Von Miller and calling him the next great 3-4 outside Linebacker. It would not surprise me to see them go with Blaine Gilbert here but for now I have them taking Von Miller and going QB a lil later.
6. Cleveland Browns - WR - A.J. Green - Georgia - 6-4, 211
If A.J. Green slips this far the Browns will have no problem snatching up 1 of the best receivers off the board. Last year we saw that Colt McCoy might be able to play in this league and we saw that they have quite the ground attack with Peyton Hillis. But their is not a single legit receiving threat on this team which is why I have no doubt that if A.J. Green is on the board here the browns won't hesitate to grab him and give Colt McCoy some much needed help.
7. San Fransisco 49ers - QB - Blaine Gabbert - Missouri - 6-4, 234
With the way I have the draft unfolding up to this point this pick will come down to two prospects both positions of need QB Gabbert and CB Prince Amukamara. With Nate Clements not coming anywhere close to living up to that big contract he signed a couple years ago leaving this Defense without a true #1 corner he still has the talent of a solid #2 which I think will be enough to make this team draft their biggest need a new QB. They've tried to make it work with Alex Smith it HAS not it WILL not. It's time to move on. Last year this offense was atrocious especially in its passing game. I believe a big reason why Crabtree has not shown signs of breaking out yet is the QB play even Vernon Davis play dropped off last year. This team has to find a QB that can take advantage of some pretty good weapons they already have in place. Look for new coach Jim Harbaugh to pull the trigger on Gabbert and get a new QB for the future to build his new system around.
8. Tennessee Titans - DT - Marcell Darius - Alabama - 6-3, 319
With the Titans planning to get rid of Vince Young and Kerry Collins on the brink of retirement not to mention his better days way past him the Titans are in need of a QB however it would be a big reach to take one of the remaining QB's this Early and Titans orginization isn't one of those type franchises. So Look for them to address another need the DT position. The Titans pass rush last year was actually quite effective and they have a good stable of young and veteran ends. But aside from Tony Brown the Titans could use help at the DT position especially against the run. A need that Darius can instantly fill. He's a complete DT as he has the ability to stop the run and rush the passer very well he's actually a better pass rusher than the favorite to go 1st overall Fairly and some even think he might go top 5 ahead of Fairley. At pick 8 with no QB worth picking here if the Titans can't move out of this pick this would easily be a steal for them.
9. Dallas Cowboys - CB - Prince Amukamara - Nebraska - 6-0, 206
As great as Patrick Peterson is it is believed that the best pure man to man coverage corner in the draft is this man. He just lacks the isn't quite as physically gifted as Peterson. Prince should be a shut down corner in the League very quickly and even tho corner is more of a concern for the cowboys more so than a need the fact that despite a bad season they still have one of the better rosters in the League they can take the best player on the board at this time. Amukamara will immediately improve the Cowboys pass D as it was extremely vulnerable last year giving up big play after big play. Safety is a far bigger need but their are no safeties worth taking this high. Either way this pick definitely makes the Cowboys a better team and could be the steal of the draft if he falls in their lap at #9.
10. Washington Redskins - WR - Julio Jones- Alabama - 6-3, 220
Even tho I have Green coming off the board before him I believe Julio is the best WR in this class at 6-3 220 he ran a 4.39 at the combine making for a incredible combination of size and speed. Plus we all know he can jump out the gym and go get it. However most GM's have concerns about his durability as he was constantly injured during his career at Alabama which is why he will fall. But if their is anybody out their that doesnt care about any of that and would be looking to add a potential star its Daniel Synder. Receiver is def. a position of need for the skins as well tho as Santana Moss has been the #1 WR for this team about 3 years to long. Just like the Titans this team needs a QB as well with them reportedly wanting to get rid of Mcnabb. And if Synder likes him enough he might try and reach for locker here or move up for Newton. But right now if they stay put this is their best pick.
11. Texans - DE- Robert Quinn - UNC - 6-4, 265
Ok this is just a deep draft because here we are at pick 11 and another top 5 talent is still on the board. The only reason Quinn is even still on the board right now is because he missed all of last season after being suspended for receiving financial benefits. However after a great work out at the combine he's put most of the doubt about what type of shape he's in to rest. Great athlete with a big time motor that u want from a pass rusher he can play DE in the 4-3 or OLB in the 3-4 which is important for the Texans as their looking to play the 3-4 defense this year. If they take him he would be an instant starter at 1 of those OLB spots. And in a conference with Peyton Manning its always nice to have explosive pass rushers that can get after the QB.
12. Minnesota Vikings - DT - Muhammad Wilkerson - Temple - 6-4, 315
The Vikings have a couple of different needs some of which are pending who they resign. But we know for a fact that Bret Farve won't be back and that the Vikings need a new QB and we know that Pat Williams doesn't wanna come back so they need a new DT. Of the available players they can get much better value for a DT here which is why I have them taking the fast rising Muhammad Wilkerson. Solid against the run, can get penetration and has athleticism for his size to rush the passer. Would be a great fit next to Kevin Williams and would go along way to keep one of this teams main strengths, its ability to stop the run, intact.
13. Detroit Lions - OLB - Aldon Smith - Missouri - 6-4, 263
Well what a change of a events here we are outside of the the top 10 and the Lions without making any kinda trade have their 1st pick. I honestly can't remember the last time the Lions picked outside of the top 10 so that in itself should be something their proud of. But they still have needs and have a long way to go before we're talking about them in the playoffs. Their biggest need is LB they need a MLB and a OLB and since their is no MLB worth taking this high I have a feeling they'll go after the later. They also have a need at Tackle they just might address here but I just can't see this team going without trying to get a play maker at linebacker. Their only real play making caliber backer they had last year was Julian Peterson who they just cut, they need a young play maker at LB to help this D and take some pressure of Suh. Aldon Smith is the next best pure LB in this draft after Von Miller he's very athletic with major upside would be a instant starter at the Mike backer spot for the Lions.
14. St. Louis Rams - CB - Jimmy Smith - Colorado - 6-2, 211
Well it was looking like the Rams prayers were gonna be answered and Julio Jones was gonna fall to them but after his workout at the combine unless some weird things and some reaches happen Julio won't fall to 14. Which means the Rams will have to address other needs at the top of that needs list is OLB and CB. And the better players on the board right now play corner so their gonna probably go Jimmy Smith the 3rd best corner in the draft but far from a slouch. Although he doesnt have the immediate ability to step on the field and be one of the better corners in the league like Peterson and Amukamara he's still got the potential to develop into one and more importantly he'd still be at the very least the 2nd best corner on the Rams roster if they took him maybe even the best. I don't think the Rams can turn that down.
15. Miami Dolphins - RB - Mark Ingram - 5-9, 215
Without a doubt the best RB in the draft at this point in the draft phase this is about the surest thing the draft experts around football are sure about right now and i'll have to agree. Both Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown's contracts have expired and their not gonna resign but 1 if either. Both backs are over 30 which in the NFL is the age when running backs careers start to die. Plus in todays in NFL its a 2 back league. The Dolphins are solid at a alot of positions and the one's their not at their aren't players available at those positions better than Mark Ingram this is a no brainer. Not the fastest but has decent speed you can't call him slow, runs with power and great pad level, and hits the holes with force and effectiveness while running with great vision.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars - DE - Adrian Clayborn - Iowa - 6-3, 281
As I look at the Jaguars roster They really only have 1 glaring weakness everything else they really could just use improvements in but their not really weaknesses. That weakness is Defensive End. Aaron Kampman is a good veteran end on the right side but they need someone opposite of him. Their 2008 1st round pick Derrick Harvey is looking like he's nothing more than a back up rotation end a ok starter at best he's definitely not living up to that 8th overall selection. So the Jaguars are gonna have to draft another DE in the 1st round in Clayborn. Although there are a couple better players on the board at his position those are more of 3-4 type defensive ends the Jaguars need a pure pass rusher built for the 4-3 and this is the best 1 on the board.
17. Patriots (from Raiders) - DE/DT - J.J. Watt - Wisconsin - 6-5, 290
Another steal here at 17 as J.J. Watt is a top 10 talent but do to a lack of need and depth at this position he could fall a bit although some mocks have him going in the top 10. He could also be drafted to the Vikings, Rams, or Texans if they feel the need to go talent over need. But this pick is a no brainer for the Pats the best player on the board at a position of need if he's here look for them to pull the trigger quickly Watt is a versatile interior D-Lineman that can play DT in the 4-3 and DE in the 3-4 he'd be an excellent replacement for Richard Seymour which would be quite the coincidence since they traded Seymour to get this exact pick.
18. San Diego Chargers - OT - Tyron Smith - USC - 6-5, 307
The major need for the Chargers here is OLB and Aldon Smith could very well fall here to them but I have him going to the Lions so that means they'll have to address their next big need Tackle. I can't remember the last draft where it went this long without a Tackle being taken especially when we've seen at least one go in the top 5 over the last couple drafts but this years class of tackles is a weaker one. Their are good solid potential starting Tackles in the class but no guys that scream definite pro bowler like the likes of Joe Thomas and Jake Long. Never the less the best tackle in this class still hasn't really been defined without a doubt but in my opinion its smith. He's the most ready to start and be effective as a starting tackle in the NFL immediately and should help keep Rivers on his feet as he'll play RT if drafted.
19. Giants - OT - Nate Solder - Colorado - 6-8, 319
Well after waiting this long for a offensive lineman I have two going back to back. But I do believe that come April this is the part of the draft where some O-lineman will start to come off the board. The Giants are actually a pretty complete team no real weaknesses just places where they could use some upgrades which is usually the case with playoff teams. Even tho they didnt make playoffs they were 10-6 so they def. are of that playoff mold of a team. The Giants biggest need would probably be adding some youth and depth to their aging O-Line and thats exactly what Solder does as he's extremely quick but still needs to get stronger this is the perfect team for him to be drafted to and develop.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - DE - Cameron Heyward - Ohio ST. - 6-5, 294
Another 10-6 team that didnt make the playoffs. The Bucs have come along way from picking 3rd overall last year with one of the biggest turn around seasons in NFL history. And as their record shows their pretty solid as well. But this team does having not jus a need but a weakness, rushing the passer. despite solid play inside from their tackles this team needs some ends that are a legit pass rushing threat. In every draft there are picks that people consider reaches and this might be one. Coming off a surgery he's fallen on some boards and other ends such as Ryan Kerrigan and Christan Ballard have emerged and will probably be much higher than Heyward on alotta boards. But this is a playoff team so they can reach and if healthy Heyward is a top 10, top 15 type talent. Despite being over 290 he's a 4-3 end with athleticism that can rush the passer. If he's fully healthy and the Bucs get them look for them to be better defensively and be a playoff team this year.
21. Kansas City Chiefs - OLB - Justin Houston - Gerogia - 6-3, 260
The Chiefs are the 1st of the playoff teams to draft and usually at this point your either drafting back up players for the future or replacement players for players lost to retirement of free agency and thats the case with this pick. No real need in the starting line up for the chiefs but OLB Mike Vrabel might retire and even if he doesn't he's got a year left at the most so that means its time to draft his replacement. The Chiefs Defense is already loaded with SEC defenders why not add another. Georgia's Houston is a perfect fit for the 3-4 outside LB position he's big and strong and ran a surprising 3-4 at the combine that probably will raise his stock up enough to get picked here over ucla's Akeem Ayers who is also a OLB that will be considered for this spot.
22. Indianapolis Colts - RB - Mikel Leshoure - Illinois - 6-1, 270
Alot of people have the colts going with a tackle here to improve the O-Line. But the colts are a team that are trying to win now and their isn't a tackle available that I feel would be much of an upgrade if any from the players they already have. Also Peyton Manning had over 600 passing attempts this past year a career high. At his age he does not need to be trying to carry this team by himself like that. It wore on him as the season went on and you could tell in his play. But due to the colts having one of the worse rushing attacks in the league they had no choice but to go to the air. What this team needs is a RB and the 2nd best back in the class is on the board. Joseph Addai is a free agent to be and even if they sign him back he's not an elite back or a play maker. Leshoure has the potential to be a big time back in this league and can bring immediate help to that running game which would take alotta pressure of Manning.
23. Philadelphia Eagles - T - Anthony Castonzo - Boston College - 6-7, 306
The Philadelphia Eagles lost in the playoffs but they should return next season a strong contender yet again. They've put the franchise tag on vick so he's gonna be the QB next year. The only potential opening in their starting line up might be RT so I have them taking the best one left in Castonzo. He's not Physically Dominant But he's smart and has superb foot work a fundamentally sound lineman that can protect the QB.
24. New Orleans Saints - DE - Ryan Kerrigan - Purdue - 6-4, 267
The Saints biggest needs would probably be along the D-Line as they need another run stopper in the middle and a pass rusher at end. Both are available right now but the better of their to needs is a DE Ryan Kerrigan who will come in and add hopefully improve their pass rush.
25. Seattle Seahawks - QB - Jake Locker - Washington - 6-3, 230
I do not believe that Hasselback will be back in Seattle but even if he is it won't be for long he's at the end of his career. Their is also a strong possibility that Pete Carroll will want his old QB back in Matt Lineart or even Carson Palmer and if any of those scenarios happen this pick will be different, they might even trade out of it but thats all hypothetical. With what they have now if they stay put and pick here it wouldnt surprise me if they reached for Locker. Locker was the projected 1st overall pick of last year's draft but opted to go back to school. Despite having a not so good season and getting hurt I have to believe some of that potential is still there and at 25th overall its not that big of risk. If Seattle did go with Locker here and he ended up being the player people thought he could be last year it would be the ultimate steal.
26. Baltimore Ravens - CB - Brandon Harris - Miami - 5-11, 195
The Ravens only weakness is at CB it even cost them against the steelers as Big Ben was able to convert a 4 and long throwing it deep as a Steeler receiver beat a Ravens corner to make the big play. The Ravens don't have anything that even closely resembles a #1 corner. Which is why I have them taking Brandon Harris. He's the 4th best corner in the class and even tho he probably won't show signs of a #1 corner his rookie season he definitely has the potential to grow into one unlike any of their other corners and he'd most likely start immediately providing an instant upgrade for a already good defense.
27. Atlanta Falcons - DE - Christian Ballard - Iowa - 6-4, 283
The Falcons are on the verge of becoming an elite team. Actually you could say they already are. They have an elite QB, RB, WR, O Line, good defensive backs, good LB play, and their strong on the interior of the D-Line. Their only concern is the pass rush. John Abraham is getting up there in years and former 1st round pick Jamal Anderson is looking like bust. They need a new young defensive end prospect that can rush the passer and Ballard can be that guy.
28. New England Patriots - T - Ben Ijalana - Villanova - 6-3, 317
The Patriots did it again Best Reg. season record Brady wins MVP and they still don't win the superbowl. There really isn't alot they can do to improve next season with this pick but they can get better for the future. Ben is a solid prospect a Tackle to develop behind their offensive lineman. The pats could also go receiver here which would actually be a better fit but the pats aren't the type to draft receivers in the 1st round especially when taken 1 right now would sorta be a reach they've got plenty of pics to get receivers down that line for better value.
29. Chicago Bears - C/OG - Mike Pouncey - Florida - 6-5, 303
If top 20 talent DE/DT Cameron Jordan is still on the board here its gonna be hard for them to not take him especially after cutting Tommie Harris. But at the end of the day Jay Cutler got killed last year. The Bears simply have to improve on the O-Line and Pouncey is the best one on the board left. rather they play him at C or G he'd be an instant upgrade on the Bears O-Line and would help immediately.
30. New York Jets - DT - Corey Liuget - Illinois - 6-2, 298
The Jets really need a big 300 plus Nose Tackle type here and they'll probably be thinking that Corey Liuget won't fall this far but there is the possibility that he will and if he does the Jets won't be able to deny his physical talent as he he is a top 15 - top 20 talent thats ready to come in and have a impact on the D-Line. Although probably a better fit as a 4-3 DT I see no reason why given his skill set he couldn't work out in Rex Ryan's defense. which isn't a 3-4 all the time anyway because they have so many different looks. If Liuget falls this far I cannot see the Jets passing on him Rex creative mind will find away to make him fit.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers - DE/DT - Cameron Jordan - Cal - 6-4, 287
This draft has been full of steals at this point and they keep coming Cameron Jordan from Cal is a top 20 talent that most have going 17th to the Patriots so if he falls here it would be great for the steelers. Aaron Smith's run with the Steelers is probably over because he's been constantly hurt the past years, and even tho Ziggy Hood has done an excellent job replacing him there is no way the steelers are gonna let a middle of the 1st round caliber prospect slip out of the 1st round. They can pick him up and add great depth to their defense and a potential 3-4 end stud in the future which as a team picking next to last you can't really ask for more.
32. Green Bay Packers - OLB - Akeem Ayers - UCLA - 6-3, 250
The packers despite all their injuries played great on defense last year. And with their Best MLB coming back Nick Barnett and them resigning A.J. Hawk combined with 1 of the best defensive play makers in the game in Clay Matthews the packers almost have the perfect linebacking core. But they can use an upgrade at ROLB and that upgrade comes in the form of Akeem Ayers. If not for an impressive workout at the combine by Houston Jordan Akeem would have been off the board 10 picks ago so this is def. a steal.