Thursday, April 28, 2011

2011 First Round NFL Mock Draft

There are a million Mock Drafts out there (take a look back at my 2010 Mock Draft), so I decided to do something a little different this year. Instead of trying to predict what teams are going to do, since I have no real inside information, I am going to serve as every team's general manager for their pick. I am not going to make trades despite the fact that I think a number of teams are going to trade, especially towards the end of the first round. Here is what I would do if I was in charge of each team when they pick in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft:

#1) Carolina Panthers: Patrick Peterson (CB, LSU) - This would mark the first time a cornerback was selected #1 overall. Peterson looks like the next Charles Woodson in the making that can contribute all over the defensive secondary and in the return game. I know they will probably take Cam Newton but since the Panthers have a ton of needs, I would take the best player in the draft if I was in charge.

#2) Denver Broncos: Marcell Dareus (DT, Alabama) - It was hard to pass on linebacker Von Miller and defensive tackle Nick Fairley but Dareus had more consistent production in college, which gives Dareus a slight edge over Miller and Fairley.

#3) Buffalo Bills: Von Miller (LB, Texas A&M) - An impact defensive player is not as sexy as taking a flashy quarterback like Cam Netwon. With a feisty quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick) already on the roster, its smarter for the Bills to target the next potential Clay Matthews as opposed to a potential franchise quarterback that has all the makings of being the next Vince Young.

#4) Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green (WR, Georgia) - Despite their unrest at quarterback with Carson Palmer saying he will retire instead of playing another down for the Bengals, A.J. Green is the last of my four "close to can't miss prospects" in the 2011 NFL Draft. The Bengals might be forced to trade back into the first round to get a quarterback but Green projects to be a much better player than the quarterbacks available.

#5) Arizona Cardinals: Blaine Gabbert (QB, Missouri) - There was a huge drop off from 2009 to 2010 following Kurt Warner's retirement. As a result, this is a need pick as opposed to taking the best player available (Julio Jones or Nick Fairley) so it makes sense to draft their next potential franchise quarterback.

#6) Cleveland Browns: Julio Jones (WR, Alabama) - With A.J. Green off the board, the Browns take the other stud receiver in the 2011 NFL Draft to help their second-year quarterback Colt McCoy.

#7) San Francisco 49ers: Nick Fairley (DT, Auburn) - Last year the 49ers added two offensive lineman (Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati) so this year they need to improve their defensive line. Part of the reason I took Fairley as opposed to Cam Newton is that I think rookie head coach Jim Harbaugh wants to wait for 2012 to take his former quarterback at Stanford Andrew Luck. Oh that and I think Newton is going to be a bust as an NFL quarterback.

#8) Tennessee Titans: Robert Quinn (DE, UNC) - Much like the 49ers, the Titans need a quarterback but I see too much Vince Young in Cam Newton. Despite being suspended for the 2010 college football season, Quinn is still one of the best players in the entire draft.

#9) Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith (T, USC) - Let me give you the understatement of the year, one way to keep franchise quarterback Tony Romo healthy is to add an offensive lineman that can block. Smith is a young, athletic offensive lineman that has a chance to be a once in a decade offensive lineman.

#10) Washington Redskins: Cam Newton (QB, Auburn) - Is Newton the next Josh Freeman or the next Vice Young? I am not a big Newton fan but I was also the same guy that didn't like Josh Freeman coming out of Kansas State. I see Newton turning out more like Freeman as opposed to Young. After screwing up the McNabb trade, there is no way owner Daniel Snyder could pass on Newton.

#11) Houston Texans: Prince Amukamara (CB, Nebraska) - Gary Kubiak is turning into the Mike D'Antoni of the NFL...puts up big numbers on offense but also yields a ton of points on defense. With new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips in the fold, Amukamara gives them a corenerback they desperately need.

#12) Minnesota Vikings: Aldon Smith (DE/OLB, Missouri) - The day after the 2010 NFL Draft every draft expert had Washington QB Jake Locker as the #1 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Unfortunately everyone got to see Locker play last year and his draft stock has plummeted. Smith is the smart pick but the Vikings have proven not to be the smartest organization over the last decade. Does that mean the Vikings "reach" for Locker?

#13) Detroit Lions: Anthony Castonzo (OT, Boston College) - If Matt Millen were still in charge the pick would be Pittsburgh wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin. Much like the Dallas Cowboys, the Lions need to keep their franchise quarterback healthy and that is why they are going to take the best tackle left.

#14) St. Louis Rams: Corey Liuget (DT, Illinois) - The biggest beneficiary of the time between the combine and the draft vaulted Liuget from a borderline first round pick to a mid first round pick. Liuget has the tools to be a good player at the next level. For a little more insight into Corey Liuget, check out my chat with him.

#15) Miami Dolphins: Mike Pouncey (C, Florida) - If Maurkice Pouncey had a mediocre year in the NFL last year for the Pittsburgh Steelers then Mike probably doesn't go till the end of the first round...what are brothers for?

#16) Jacksonville Jaguars: Ryan Kerrigan (DE, Purdue) - A perfect complimentary player to Tyson Alualu and Aaron Kampman gives the Jaguars one of the best defensive lines on paper in the NFL. Thought about Washington quarterback Jake Locker but barring a trade, no team between 16 and 25 needs a quarterback, so the Jaguars (and other teams) could trade back into the first round to get a quarterback depending on how the rest of the first round plays out.

#17) New England Patriots: Cameron Jordan (DE, California) - This is the pick the New England Patriots got when they traded defensive end Richard Seymour to the Oakland Raiders. At the time the Patriots thought they would net a Top 5 pick for Seymour but only getting the 17th pick for Seymour looks like the Raiders actually got good value in trade. Jordan has a chance to be a good NFL defensive lineman but would be shocked if he ever approached being as good as Seymour.

#18) San Diego Chargers: J.J. Watt (DE, Wisconsin) - This would set-up the Jordan v. Watt debate. Watt will do everything physically possible to make it in the NFL. Watt may never turn out to be a flashy player but he will give maximum effort and make everyone around him better.

#19) New York Giants: Gabe Carimi (LT, Wisconsin) - Eli Manning had to get rid of the ball faster than he wanted to all last year. Carimi gives the Giants a quality offensive lineman that can start right away and perform.

#20) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Da'Quan Bowers (DE, Clemson) - The Brandon Roy of the 2011 NFL Draft finally comes off the board. There are rumors that Bowers will need microfracture surgery, which is why he dropped out of the Top 5. The Buccaneers finished 30th in the NFL in sacks in 2010 so when a guy like Bowers is available at 20 you have to pick him. For a little more insight into Da'Quan Bowers, check out my chat with him.

#21) Kansas City Chiefs: Nate Solder (OT, Colorado) - I like Carimi more than Solder but the Chiefs have a need at offensive tackle that has to be addressed if they expect Matt Cassel to succeed so I took the best one left.

#22) Indianapolis Colts: Derek Sherrod (OT, Mississippi State) - Speaking of the best one left...every year there is a run on specific positions. The 2011 NFL Draft is going to go down as the year of the lineman.

#23) Philadelphia Eagles: Jimmy Smith (CB, Colorado) - A head case with the potential to be a shutdown cornerback. On talent alone Jimmy Smith is every bit as good as Patrick Peterson and probably more talented than Prince Amukamara. Unfortunately Smith's off the field issues caused him to drop 10 to 15 slots in the 2011 NFL Draft.

#24) New Orleans Saints: Mark Ingram (RB, Alabama) - With all the injury trouble the Saints had at running back last year, Mark Ingram is the perfect guy for the Saints to add. The knock on Ingram is that he doesn't have top end speed but with the quality interior line that the Saints have Ingram will excel running up the middle for the Saints.

#25) Seattle Seahawks: Jake Locker (QB, Washington) - Oh if it were only 2010. In a perfect world the Seahawks would undue their trade for quarterback Charlie Whitehurst and take Locker 25th overall. Instead of dwelling on the negative, the Seahawks should snag the guy that all draft experts had as the #1 pick of the 2011 NFL Draft following the 2010 NFL Draft.

#26) Baltimore Ravens: Muhammad Wilkerson (DL, Temple) - Much like Liuget, Wilkerson has benefited from having the time between the combine and draft. The versatility of Wilkerson fits the scheme the Ravens like to play with the 3-4. For a little more insight into Muhammad Wilkerson, check out my chat with him.

#27) Atlanta Falcons: Adrian Clayborn (DE, Iowa) - The Falcons are rumored to be trying to trade into the Top 10 to snag either wide receiver A.J. Green or Julio Jones. Assuming the Falcons keep the 27th pick, Clayborn provides the Falcons another pass rusher they desperately need. For a little more insight into Adrian Clayborn, check out my chat with him.

#28) New England Patriots: Danny Watkins (OG, Baylor) - With all the uncertainty surround guard Logan Mankins long-term in New England, the Patriots add a perfect pass protector to keep Tom Brady upright.

#29) Chicago Bears: Phil Taylor (DT, Baylor) - With all the good offensive lineman off the board, the Chicago Bears add a defensive tackle to pair with Julius Peppers to create pressure.

#30) New York Jets: Akeem Ayers (OLB, UCLA) - We all know that Ayers had a below average combine workout but as many draft experts say, the game tape never lies. Ayers is the perfect outside linebacker for the 3-4 defense and that makes Ayers the perfect player for the Jets.

#31) Pittsburgh Steelers: Aaron Williams (DB, Texas) - The secondary swiss army knife of the 2011 NFL Draft is the perfect player for the Steelers. Whether Williams plays safety or cornerback doesn't really matter since Dick LeBeau's defense allows defensive backs to move all over the field.

#32) Green Bay Packers: Cameron Heyward (DE, Ohio State) - With most of the guys that I thought the Packers would target off the board, I took the "safest" player left. With the uncertainty surrounding Cullen Jenkins returning to the Packers and 2010 second round pick Mike Neal returning from injury the Packers add quality depth along their defensive line by taking Heyward.

In case you missed my look at potential Day 1 picks in the 2011 NFL Draft for the Green Bay Packers, click here.

In case you missed my look at potential Day 2 picks in the 2011 NFL Draft for the Green Bay Packers, click here.

In case you missed my look at potential Day 3 picks in the 2011 NFL Draft for the Green Bay Packers, click here.

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