28 March 2011

2011 NFL Mock Draft: Which Quarterback Will Go Number 1?

I am pretty certain that after all, the Carolina Panthers will draft a quarterback with the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. But which one will they choose, Cam Newton of Auburn or Blaine Gabbert of Missouri? Continue reading for my answer in my seventh NFL mock draft. 
2011 NFL Draft Order

1. Carolina Panthers Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Gabbert was fantastic at his pro day, completing 47 out of 50 passes while showing really good accuracy on the deep passes. Is Gabbert worthy of the top selection? I personally do not think so but as I have done my homework on him I do believe he can succeed in the NFL. Carolina needs a quarterback and new coach Ron Rivera will be looking to build with a new signal caller under center and I think that will be Blaine Gabbert. 

2. Denver Broncos Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
I know that Champ Bailey was re-signed and Perrish Cox showed a lot of potential as well. But when you are playing Phillip Rivers twice a year, you need all the cornerbacks you can get and Peterson is simply too good for Denver to pass up. He will immediately improve their pitiful defense and create a very strong secondary on the edges. 

3. Buffalo Bills Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
I really believe that Newton is available here the Bills will take him. Newton did not have a great combine throwing the ball but he has all the leadership traits that you want from a franchise quarterback. Plus he is a very good fit for Chan Gailey's semi-spread offense.

4. Cincinnati Bengals Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
The Bengals need much more pass rush then they are currently getting, even with Carlos Dunlap coming off a nice season rushing the passer this season. Bowers finally realized his great potential this season at Clemson and was a force and he and Dunlap could form a nasty pass rush combo for years. 
With A.J. Green still on the board, I strongly considered him here but defensive end is a bigger need. 

5. Arizona Cardinals Von Miller, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, Texas A&M
Miller was awesome at the Senior Bowl and even better at the combine. He looks like he is a top five pick and could go as high as to Buffalo at 3. He showed all the abilities to be an excellent 3-4 edge rusher. The Cardinals really need to ramp up their pass rush and Miller would be a good fit in Arizona's 3-4 defense.

6. Cleveland Browns A.J. Green, Wide Receiver, Georgia
Colt McCoy desperately needs more weapons around him and especially at receiver, as their receving corps has sharply fallen into the gutter. You think that Mike Holmgren would be happy to see a receving prospect as good as Green fall into his lap. However, it is possible that Julio Jones might go here even if Green is available. 

7. San Francisco 49ers Marcell Dareus, DT/DE, Alabama
The 49ers could use an infusion of talent along the defensive line as Justin Smith cannot go at it alone. Dareus played in a 3-4 in college and he has the strength and size to hold up against the run as well as the speed and athleticism to rush the passer. 

8. Tennessee Titans Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn 
Jason Jones is a sound lineman but the Titans have not fully recovered from the defection to Fat Albert to Washington. The Titans would be ecstatic to add a player to their line with the caliber of a Nick Fairley. Now Fairley's slight slide down the NFL Draft is not due to a falling stock, as he had a good combine. It's just the result of circumstances. 

9. Dallas Cowboys Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
The Cowboys really need help at the cornerback position as Terrence Newman could be released this offseason and Mike Jenkins was putrid towards the end of the season. I do expect the Cowboys to go after Nnamdi Asomugha but even then they can't pass up on the top available player to build a powerful conerback tandem with. Amukamara really is not that far behind Patrick Peterson and he quelled doubts about his speed by running a sub-4.40 in the 40-yard dash. 

10. Washington Redskins Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
The Redskins like to put a lot of stock into the Combine and they had to be as impressed as anybody watching when Julio Jones ran a 4.39 40-yard dash. And then hearing that he did it with a broken foot might have popped all of Dan Snyder's zits and thus I believe he will be the pick due to the 'Skins subpar receiving corps. 

11. Houston Texans Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina
If Quinn were to fall to the 11th pick the Texans might get the pick in before Roger Goodell finishes announcing Washington's pick (if it is not Quinn, of course). Quinn would be a perfect fit for the 3-4 scheme that is being implemented down in Houston. The rise of Von Miller hurt him a little though as did him missing the entire 2010 season due to an NCAA suspension. 

12. Minnesota Vikings Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal-Berkeley
Jordan has been on fire during the pre-draft process as he has been lighting it up. He was awesome at the Senior Bowl and awesome at the combine. If Amukamara is taken before the Cowboys select at 9, he will be the pick there.
The Vikings could use a replacement for Ray Edwards as he is a free agent and Jordan could post big sack numbers opposite Jared Allen. 

13. Detroit Lions Tyron Smith, OT, Southern Cal
Will this finally be the year that the Lions find somebody competent to keep Matt Stafford healthy? I believe so, plus you could make a case that Smith is the top player available. 
Smith is extremely athletic and he eased fears about his slim frame by weighing in at 307 pounds in Indianapolis. He has all the ability to be a top flight blind-side protector. 

14. St. Louis Rams Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
The Rams really need a receiver but one is not available that would not be a reach. One of their bigger needs is defensive tackle and Liuget has had a rising stock of late. He is versatile and is equally adapt at stopping the run and rushing the passer. He and Chris Long would make a great tandem on the Rams' defensive line for years. 

15. Miami Dolphins Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Both Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown were mediocre this season and the 'Phins need to start thinking about replacements. Brown is the best back on the board and would be a great fit down in Miami.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
The Jaguars have struggle to generate any sort of a consistent pass rush and last offseason's signing of Aaron Kampman did not work out as hoped. Kerrigan would be able to rush the passer effectively right off the bat and would complement the impressive defensive tackle tandem very well. 

17. New England Patriots Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri
The Patriots could use some juice rushing the passer and Smith would be a great fit. He is an athletic freak similar to Jason Pierre-Paul but he did more during his collegiate career. This would be a strong vlaue pick for Bill Belichick.

18. San Diego Chargers J.J. Watt, Defensive End, Wisconsin
The Chargers need an upgrade at the 3-4 end slot and Watt would be a strong upgrade over the current situation. His hard-working, blue collar nature plus his high potential makes him a great fit in the trenches. If he falls to San Diego they will be overjoyed. 

19. New York Giants Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
The Giants need an upgrade at the outside linebacker spot as Keith Bullock is simply too old and is a free agent. Ayers is a plus pass rusher and would be a great fit at the SAM spot in Perry Fewell's aggressive scheme.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
The Bucs have a young and talented tackle tandem of Gerald McCoy and Brian Price but have gotten no productivity from their pass rush in spite. Clayborn is coming off a disappointing senior season with only four sacks but has the potential to be a pass rushing force to help take the pressure off of the tackles inside.

21. Kansas City Chiefs Anthony Costanzo, OT, Boston College
Brandon Albert is an adequate left tackle but not in any means elite. The Chiefs need an upgrade to their line and Costanzo is arguably the top tackle available. He had a very strong combine and has all the tools to be a very good left tackle. 

22. Indianapolis Colts Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
Peyton Manning needs much better protection from his offensive line in the future. The Colts' offensive line is crumbling and they need some reinforcements. Carimi is a classic physical Big Ten tackle who should help improve the putrid Indianapolis run game and bring some nastiness to the front five.

23. Philadelphia Eagles Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
Even with Michael Vick at quarterback, the Eagles surrendered a whopping 49 sacks this season. That is why too much especially with an extremely mobile quarterback and the Eagles need to improve their line. Sherrod is the top tackle available at this juncture and would be a nice upgrade over Winston Justice.

24. New Orleans Saints Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple
The Saints need some help inside next to Sedrick Ellis and Wilkerson would be a good fit. He is versatile and very talented and would team with Ellis to make one of the better tackle tandems in the league.

25. Seattle Seahawks Brandon Harris, Cornerback, Miami (FL)
The Seahawks' putrid secondary was exposed throughout the season but not more so than against the Chicago Bears in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. Harris is a very talented corner who would bring an upgrade at the cornerback position for Pete Carroll's defense. 

26. Baltimore Ravens Torrey Smith, Wide Receiver, Maryland
Against the Steelers when the Ravens really needed to move the ball, they were unable too. Their mediocre receiving corps outside of Anquan Boldin got exposed. Smith would give Joe Flacco the burner that he has never had and help open more running room for Ray Rice. 

27. Atlanta Falcons Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
Sam Baker belongs at the right tackle slot and he struggled at times covering Matt Ryan's blind-side in 2010. Now while Solder is said to be a lot better than he really is, he is a solid pick at this point as he can be a difference maker down the road due to his plus size and athleticism. 

28. New England Patriots Jonathan Baldwin, Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh

Tom Brady needs a big time threat at wide receiver. Wes Welker is a great over the middle possession guy, Deion Branch is a sound route runner but not a game-breaker and Brandon Tate has great speed but isn't a great route-runner and does not have consistent hands. Baldwin has great hands, plus speed, and size to be a number one receiver for Brady and has the potential to develop into a stud. 

29. Chicago Bears Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
The Bears desperately need some reinforcements in the secondary as they were awful at times last year defending the pass. Smith is a very talented corner who was very good in college and would be a nice upgrade over what the Bears currently have. 

30. New York Jets Cameron Heyward, Defensive End, Ohio State
Heyward put on a spectacular show in the Sugar Bowl and would be a great fit to the Jets' defense as he would bring the ability to rush the passer which the Jets have struggled to do consistently without bringing the blitz. 

31. Pittsburgh Steelers Mike Pouncey, Guard, Florida
The Steelers' offensive was still really bad this season, even with the superb play from the rookie Maurkice Pouncey at center. His brother Mike is a little bit of a reach at the end of the first round but would be a great addition to a mediocre offensive front. 

32. Green Bay Packers Justin Houston, DE/OLB, Georgia
The Packers are lucky because after years of strong drafting by Ted Thompson, they have very few holes across the roster. And due to the team's youth, that is likely to remain the story for years. 
However, the pass rush has been stagnant at times due to the lack of another consistent rusher opposite the beastly Clay Matthews. Houston would be another strong pass rusher that would complement Matthews beautifully as he excelled in the 3-4 last year at Georgia.  

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