An Almost-A-Quarter-Of-The-Way-Through-The-Season NFL Mock Draft Top 10
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Well here we are, late September, only 3 weeks into the NFL season and 4 weeks into the NCAA season and already my mind begins to wonder: How close is the draft? The one sports event that for my money, is even more exciting than the Super Bowl, even though nobody steps on a field and nobody touches the pigskin. The strategy, the surprises, the subplots, the non-stop 24 hour football coverage I love every second of it from pick #1 to Mr. Irrelevant.
And so, without further ado, my predictions for the top 10 picks of first round of the 2011 NFL Draft:
#1 Buffalo Bills- QB Andrew Luck, Stanford
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First off, I should mention that Luck is only a redshirt sophomore, so it is very possible that he will return to Stanford next season.
The Bills have been as bad as advertised this season, having almost nothing positive to show of after the first 3 weeks of the season. They have holes everywhere- from the offensive line, to the linebacker corp, to the wide receivers, but none are more pressing than the now gaping hole at QB. Ryan Fitzpatrick will guide them through the rest of the season now that Trent Edwards is gone, but he is not the long term answer.
Andrew Luck was highly regarded as an NFL prospect at the end of last season, and through the first 4 games of this season, he has only helped his stock. Standing tall at 6'4 and weighing in at 235lbs, Luck has the size and the pocket presence to be an NFL QB. He also has the touch, accuracy, big arm, and good mobility that one would want from a franchise signal caller.
If the Bills want to turn around their franchise anytime soon, taking a franchise QB has to be first on the to-do list.
#2 Cleveland Browns- WR AJ Green, Georgia
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The Browns need a playmakers, and outside of Josh Cribbs, they don't have one. QB is a need, but I think they'll at least give Colt McCoy a chance next year before they realize he's awful.
A.J. Green is a playmaker. 6'4, 212 lbs, 4.4 speed, great hands, good jumping ability, he is the total package. A complete WR and in my opinion, the most solid WR prospect since Calvin Johnson. Browns fans will finally see their offense coming together with Jerome Harrison, Joe Thomas, Josh Cribbs, and AJ Green. They'll get a QB eventually, but WR is more important now.
#3 Jacksonville Jaguars- QB Jake Locker, Washington
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David Garrard's days as a starting NFL QB are numbered and the Jaguars need to find a replacement.
Locker's draft status has taken a hit recently with some shaky play (4-20 for 71 yards against Nebraska) but he is still a solid QB prospect, plus the Jags are not scared of going [way] a little bit off the board in the first round (see: Alualu, Tyson.)
Locker has great mobility, a strong arm, but less than impressive accuracy. He may not be the most complete QB but he has a very high upside and will hear his name called early in the draft.
#4 Detroit Lions- CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
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Detroit is finally getting things sorted out on offense- Calvin Johnson, Jahvid Best, Matthew Stafford (if he can stay healthy), the only other thing they need on offense is a good LT to replace Jeff Backus, but since no LT is worth the #4 spot, they go D.
Patrick Peterson may be the best player in the draft, he is a true shut down corner,a rarity in today's game. At 6'1, 222 lbs he has ideal size and good bulk to go along with great speed and good, fluid hips. He has 5 career picks so he has good, not great, hands as well.
Peterson can play CB or Safety as well as return kicks and punts, he is a total player and will help solidify the Lions secondary for years.
#5 St. Louis Rams- WR Julio Jones, Alabama
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St. Louis made a great pick in Sam Bradoford last year, now they just need to get him someone to throw to. With top WR Green off the board, they go with Julio Jones out of 'Bama.
Jones is very similar to A.J. Green in terms of size and skills, but the main difference between the two is Jones' problem with drops. Jones has not been the most consistent WR in his time at Alabama, but with some solid coaching, he will turn into a stud wideout in the NFL.
#6 New England Patriots (from Oakland)- DE Robert Quinn, UNC
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When Oakland foolishly traded away their 1st round pick for Richard Seymour last year, most people knew they had made a big mistake. It's not that Seymour is a bad player, but he's getting old, and the Raiders will inevitably draft in the top 10 for the foreseeable future.
Who better for the Patriots to take with this pick (which they could use anywhere, its a pure luxury pick) than a replacement for Seymour: DE Robert Quinn.
Quinn is an interesting prospect, he certainly has the production- racking up 11 sacks and 8 more TFL as a sophomore- and the size, at 6'5 270 lbs, but he hasn't played a down this year after being suspended as a part of a wide-ranging scandal at UNC. This suspension could hurt Quinn's draft stock, but I believe his production and abilities outweigh the negatives here and Quinn goes in the top 10.
#6 Carolina Panthers- DE Cameron Heyward, Ohio State
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This one is pretty simple- the Panthers got rid of their (arguably) best defensive player this year in Julius Peppers. The Panthers now need to replace Peppers with another good DE.
At 6'5 288, Heyward fills that void with great size and strength. As a pass rusher Heyward could be a terror off of the edge. The Ohio State Product is a sure fire top 10 pick.
#7 Seattle Seahawks- DE Marcell Dareus, Alabama
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Dareus is an intriguing prospect who, at 6'4 306 lbs, can play DT for a 4-3 team or DE for a 3-4 team. He is quicker than one would think, especially for a 300+ pounder.
Seattle needs help in a lot of places, both on offense and defense, but outside of Lofa Tatupu, they have not had a great defensive player in awhile. Dareus can be that for them, wreaking havoc on NFC QB's for years to come.
#8 NY Giants- DE/DT Greg Romeus, Pittsburgh
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And then run on defensive ends continues. . .
Has there been a more disappointing team lately than the Giants? After beating a weak Carolina team in week one, the Giants have been dismantled by the Colts and Titans in the subsequent weeks. The most glaring need for the Giants is on the defensive line. Mathias Kiwanuka has 4 sacks, but the rest of them team has combines for just 2 and they are currently in the bottom 3 for rushing yards against.
Like Dareus, Romeus can play either DT or DE given the right scheme. He has very good acceleration and speed to go with his impressive strength and tenacity, however he can lose his focus at times and is currently sidelined after having back surgery.
Romeus has the abilities to go this high, but it wouldn't shock me to see him fall into the late first/early second or even later.
#9 San Francisco 49'ers- CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska
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The Niners have also been a big disappointment thus far. A trendy pick to win their division, the Niners have gotten off to an 0-3 start, thanks in large part to their defense, which is giving up a league-worst 29 points per game.
Prince Amukamara is battling with Patrick Peterson to be the best CB in this draft, and although Peterson is starting to pull away, there is still little separation. Amukamara gets everything done, and does it well. He can cover, catch, and tackle very well and has good speed and hips. With Nate Clements not living up to his huge contract, Amukamara could finally give the Niners an All-Pro corner.
#10 Tampa Bay Buccaneers- RB Mark Ingram, Alabama
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Despite a bit of a career resurgence for Cadillac Williams, the Bucs still need help at the RB position. Ingram, the 2010 Heisman winner has great size and speed and good vision. This is right about where he should go in the draft, as long as he can stay healthy.
After missing the first two games of this season with an ankle problem, Ingram has rushed 33 times for 308 yards (9.3 avg) with 4 touchdowns in two games. Any questions about his ability or losing his starting job to Trent Richardson have been answered.
Just Missed It:
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Next Five Players taken:
1.) QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas
2.) T Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin
3.) DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa
4.) WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame
5.) CB Brandon Harris, Miami(Fla)