SportsCentral's first NFL Mock Draft 2011 Picks 1-16
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*Major contributions have been made to this article from Richard Moore. Richard is a draft nut with an extensive knowledge of this incoming class. Readers may have previously heard him on Bomani Jones' Radio show The Morning Jones.
1. Carolina (2-14)
Ideally Carolina would trade out of this pick and add more raw talent as they have a debt of talent across the board rather than a single glaring hole. Jimmy Clausen may or may not be the answer for the Panthers but Ron Rivera is going to be too tempted by the defensive talent available to him to take a risk on another quarterback.
Had Andrew Luck been available he would be set to land in Carolina but...
The Carolina Panthers select Da'Quan Bowers. DE. Clemson.
Julius Peppers still hasn't been replaced and Charles Johnson status remains uncertain because of impending free agency. The Panthers have a good secondary unit that is exposed due to a lack of pass rush up front. Bowers is only 21 years of age which means he has a great upside also.
It's doubtful that the Panthers change to a 3-4 scheme as Rivera only ever coached that style of defense in San Diego.
Cam Newton’s performance at the combine showed he’s not worth the first pick. If Blaine Gabbert has a good pro day, there is a good chance he will be picked. But there is a strong possibility that the panthers will trade down, all of their positions of need can be filled in the 2nd-4th round.
The safest pick for the Panthers would be to take Da’Quan Bowers but if they took Marcel Dareus I wouldn’t be surprised.
2. Denver (4-12)
Under Josh McDaniels the Broncos repeatedly refused to address their defensive issues in the draft. John Fox should instantly buck this trend and fortify a porous defense.
The Denver Broncos select Nick Fairley. DT. Auburn.
The Broncos will look to Fairley to change around their last ranked defense from last season and become an impact Nose Tackle. Fairley spent limited time on the field in college with only one realistic year of film for scouts to watch. His draft stock will depend vastly on how far along he is as far as coaching goes.
Patrick Peterson would be a great pick up. Champ could mentor him increasing his potential. Nick Fairley is another option for the Broncos, he would start immediately with the expectation to play ever game.
3. Buffalo (4-12)
The Bills' head coach Chan Gailey loves an athletic quarterback. I don't necessarily agree with the decision but it's time for the icon to come off the board.
The Buffalo Bills select Cameron Newton. QB. Auburn.
The Heisman winner was a one year sensation last season on his way to a national championship with Auburn. He becomes the first quarterback off the board even though he is realistically not the best NFL prospect at the position. Newton at the very least would bring some excitement back to Buffalo making an interesting dynamic in the backfield between CJ Spiller and the former Auburn star.
Ryan Fitzpatrick ruined the draft options for buffalo in the last quarter of the season. Chan gaily loves athletic QB’s but Cam Newton isn’t the most athletic. And the best option for buffalo is Ryan Mallet, if he falls to the second round!!
Expect Buffalo to add to the interior of their defensive line. Buffalo will take Nick Fairley for sure.
Unfortunately the Broncos had similar thinking one pick higher.
4. Cincinnati (4-12)
The Bengals are lucky to find very talented options at positions of need when they are on the clock with the fourth pick. Should they look to upgrade wide receiver AJ Green is available, should they replace the want out Carson Palmer, Blaine Gabbert could find himself in a Bengal uniform but...
The Cincinnati Bengals select Marcell Dareus. DT. Alabama.
The Bengals couldn't stop the run in 2010 giving up 4.4 yards per rush. The interior of their defensive lien was soft without giving a push in the passing game. As a team the Bengals recorded 27 sacks last year, fourth worst in the league.
A.J Green will still be available and Marvin Louis would like nothing more than to draft a superstar receiver. The running back class this season is not very good. Expect Cincinnati to look for a Running back in the 2-3 rounds.
There is a large amount of talent on defense in this draft. The Bengals could wait until the second round to fortify their defensive needs.
5. Arizona (5-11)
Vonn Miller? Patrick Peterson? Either defensive stud would vastly improve the Cardinals' 30th ranked defense buuuuuuuuttttttttt Larry Fitzgerald needs a quarterback.
The Arizona Cardinals select Blaine Gabbert. QB. Missouri.
Excluding a trade for may Donovan McNabb or Kevin Kolb, the Cardinals have to take Gabbert at 5 and should be very thankful that he is still available. Gabbert is a young quarterback who is the best pro style player at the position in the draft. His stock rose after Andrew Luck decided to return to school and landing in Arizona should be a good partnership for both parties.
Arizona likes Max Hall and John Skelton, but I would not be surprised if they drafted Blaine Gabbert here, even though they should probably go defense.
6. Cleveland (5-11)
The two offensive minds in Cleveland, Pat Shurmer and Mike Holmgren, must at least consider taking Patrick Peterson here to pair with Joe Haden simply because of his talent but ultimately they would make the right decision and announce...
The Cleveland Browns select AJ Green. WR. Georgia.
Green is a physical beast that reminds you of Calvin Johnson when you see his game tape. He will instantly be the number one receiver in Cleveland as Colt McCoy has a very poor receiving corp missing most notably a big bodied player to beat one on one matchups.
I think that taking Julio Jones this early is not a good decision. Cleveland does need a WR but I could see them going defense with this pick.
7. San Francisco (6-10)
The look of disgust on Jim Harbaugh's face will be frightening when he sees Blaine Gabbert holding up a Cardinals jersey forcing him to extend the Smith era in San Fran.
The San Francisco 49ers select Patrick Peterson. CB. LSU
Peterson could easily be the best player in the draft now and in the future but falls this far because of team needs. At 20 years of age he could be shutting down NFC West receivers for the next decade adding to a formidable group of young defenders for the 49ers ie: Patrick Willis, Taylor Mays and Navorro Bowman.
I don’t see San Francisco taking a QB here. And I also don’t think the talent is there to take an OT this early. I don’t expect an OT to go for another 5 picks.
This team is in a great position to trade down. I would expect teams like New England and St Louis to possibly consider trading up.
8. Tennessee (6-10)
The Titans could use corner help but it's unlikely that Jason Babin won't test free agency where it will be tough to re-sign him.
The Tennessee Titans select Von Miller. DE. Texas A&M.
Miller would be in the odd situation of making the reverse transition to what most college pass rushers must do. Miller played defensive end in college up until last season when he moved to outside linebacker, he will now have to move back to defensive end in order to line up across Derrick Morgan giving the Titans two young stud pass rushers. Miller's level of talent meant the Titans had to take him here.
9. Dallas (6-10)
No point stalling here, there's a cornerback available...
The Dallas Cowboys select Prince Amukamara. CB. Nebraska.
The Cowboys much publicized problems with pass coverage will receive a big boost from the talented Prince. Amukamara will hope to fair better than former first round pick Mike Jenkins who will be lucky to still have a job after his 2010 season. The one question mark over this pick is new head coach Jason Garrett's offensive inclination.
Dallas is known for taking the best available player. I could see them doing the same this year and drafting a defensive Player. Dallas is another team that should consider trading down.
If Prince Amukamara is still available he will be taken by the Cowboys.
10. Washington (6-10)
The Redskins would like a quarterback but Jake Locker would be a reach at this point. Outside of Tight End, all offensive skill positions are needs for the Redskins but the defensive talent is too high to pass on.
The Washington Redskins select Robert Quinn. DE. N Carolina.
The Skins have their replacement for Albert Haynesworth(well replacing what Haynesworth should have been) as he brings some life to the defensive front seven. Brian Orakpo was the only player to record more than 2.5 sacks during last season, Quinn should do a lot to change that with his sheer physicality.
Washington need to improve their offence with this draft. I could see Washington taking a chance on Cam Newton. That would be a good fit for him and he could be mentored by Donovan McNabb. Julio Jones is another option for Washington. He could make an immediate impact in the return and pass game.
The loss of Haynesworth might be enough for them to take a DT but a LB like Ryan Kerrigan could help the team more. I don’t expect Washington to draft a defensive player with the 10th overall pick.
11. Houston (6-10)
The Texans change to a 3-4 defense is going to dictate this selection.
The Houston Texans select Aldon Smith. DE. Missouri.
Von Miller would have been the perfect pick for Houston who need a pass rushing outside linebacker across from Connor Barwin but Smith should be able to hold up his end of the deal playing just outside Mario Williams. The Texans would complete their linebacking corp with this selection-Smith, Ryans, Cushing, Barwin.
The TE’s in this draft are not talented to be drafted this early so I expect Houston would want to pick someone like Julio Jones, he the best WR available.
The defence needs more work than the Offence. I Could see Houston taking some Like Cameron Jordan or J.J Watt here. Helping out Mario willing will allow him to produce stats closer to his rookie season.
12. Minnesota (6-10)
The loss of Sidney Rice makes Julio Jones a viable option here but the Vikings defensive line is in drastic need of new life with the probable departure of Ray Edwards.
The Minnesota Vikings select Cameron Jordan. DE. California.
Everson Griffin's career doesn't look like ever taking off so the Vike's will need a threat across from Jared Allen to keep offensive lines honest. Jordan looked destructive during the Senior Bowl and fills a need as one of the most talented players remaining.
I could see Minnesota taking a chance or Ryan Mallet here.
If the Vikings don’t draft a QB I could see them adding to their defensive line. Adrian Clayborn is an underrated DE he might get taken by the Viking but I see them going offensive.
13. Detroit (6-10)
The Lions are in desperate need of help upfront. Matthew Stafford is casting a fragile figure and their poor offensive line must take some of the responsibility for that.
The Detroit Lions select Tyron Smith. OT. USC.
Unusually the first tackle off of the board isn't even in the top ten. Smith could start straight away at right or even left tackle depending on the level of play Jeff Backus can maintain at 34 years of age. Gosder Cherilus is coming off an injury and hasn't been overly impressive either way.
Tyron Smith would help keep Stafford healthy as well as bolster their interior running game.
14. St. Louis (7-9)
The Rams would be delighted to still have Julio Jones as an option on the board and you could expect the pick to come in an instant.
The St. Louis Rams select Julio Jones. WR. Alabama.
The Alabama standout, dependent on the health of the returning Donnie Avery, could turn an area of obvious weakness for the Rams into a major strength. If Avery has a Wes Welker like recovery from his torn ACL, he and Jones would be tough match-ups on the outside while Danny Amendola is potentially the best slot receiver in the league.
I have a hard time believing that Julio Jones will be available this late. I don’t think it is worth the risk Drafting Mark Ingram, so I Expect the rams to pick a defensive player.
If they don’t get Julio Jones, I could also see the Rams trading down. Or taking a chance on Stephen Pea.
15. Miami (7-9)
A Mike Nolan run defense tends not to need an abundance of talent while the Dolphins' offense struggled last season finishing 30th in points scored. I expect the team to re-sign both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams so don't look for them to take a running back here. The Dolphins are in a tough situation as the top level talent does not match their needs. Trading down would not be a major shock.
The Miami Dolphins select Mike Pouncey. G. Florida.
The brother of All Pro Steeler's center Maurkice, Mike Pouncey is a bit of a reach for the Dolphins but he fills a need. Richie Incognito had an incident free season last year and has resigned with the team. When the best thing you can say about a player is that he had an "incident free" year, you know that's a problem. Incognito may move to center in place of the unimpressive Joe Berger which would put Pouncey at guard.
I think that this is the perfect fit for Cam Newton. I will be hard to believe that Cam Newton fell this late. But it will be the perfect scenario for the young QB. If the Dolphins can resign Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown, I can only predict that we would see the best use of the Wildcat EVER.
I could see the dolphins taking a chance on CB Jalil Brown who had an impressive combine.
16. Jacksonville (8-8)
Jacksonville will probably take people off guard once again with their selection this season but GM Gene Smith has a formula for finding talent.
The Jacksonville Jaguars select Ryan Kerrigan. DE. Purdue.
Kerrigan may not be the best player for the Jaguars on the field but he has all the intangibles the team looks for. He's been in school for four years. He's a 3-year starter. He's an Academic All-America selection. He's a team captain with no character concerns. He is also a very good player that will improve a pass rush that is in desperate need of help.
Jacksonville has a number of DL available here. They took a chance on Tyson Alualu last year so I could definitely see them doing the same with Stephen Pea.
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