My first mock draft of the year! Wow this is exciting, since I usually have the misfortune of giving the No. 1 pick to Detroit or St. Louis every year. Oh how the tables have turned...
I based the order off current standings (not including Week 7), as well as a few predictions of my own.
So sit tight and enjoy the ride!
With the first overall pick in my 2011 NFL mock draft, the Buffalo Bills select...Andrew Luck, Stanford.
It's been a media harassment for Buffalo over the last few years regarding the quarterback situation. From JP Losman, Kelly Holcomb, JP Losman (again), Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Brohm, back to Trent Edwards and now Ryan Fitzpatrick again.
The team has to be drooling over the thought of choosing between any of the top three quarterbacks in the NCAA, those being: Luck, Locker and Mallett. But, could they go in a different direction? I think so. The team needs help at 3-4 OLB desperately, as well as an upgrade at both OT positions. Nevertheless, with the No. 1 overall pick there is usually only one way to go, quarterback.
With Fitzpatrick's strong play this year, this pick becomes increasingly more difficult to predict. It's amazing how well someone can play when their job is threatened by young talent...
Georgia wide receiver: AJ Green
Green has an amazing skill set. He plays fast, strong, tough, smart and lethal football. He'll be a great asset to the aging Steve Smith not to mention Jimmy Clausen.
Carolina could also go with a defensive tackle or end, but that all depends on who's stock goes up or down.
Washington quarterback: Jake Locker
Cleveland was "reportedly" playing phone tag with St. Louis up until draft day, trying to move up and take Sam Bradford. They must be kicking themselves right now seeing the success coming from his rookie season.
Regardless, Cleveland is/was in a situation much like Buffalo. Locker can sit for a year if they re-sign Delhomme or Seneca Wallace. I highly doubt the team believes that Colt McCoy is the long term answer not to mention the short term.
Another intriguing option for the Browns is Alabama defensive end Marcell Dareus, who has the ability to play 3-4 DE and take some pressure off a weak linebacker squad.
Arkansas quarterback: Ryan Mallett
For now, this pick is Mallett. Personally, I like Alex Smith, I feel bad that the kid has two divas for targets, and those two targets are his only targets. He's had a different offensive coordinator every year, and the team plays inconsistently around him.
The thing is his contract expires after this season, and I doubt San Francisco will re-sign him—in steps Ryan Mallett, who has a strikingly similar playing style as Smith. Both have big arms, questionable accuracy and decision making and both stand tall in the pocket.
The 49'ers could also use help in their front seven, but that all depends on who gets re-signed.
Alabama 3-4 defensive end: Marcell Dareus
This guy is a beast! For those who haven't seen him play, he is arguably the most exciting player on a talented Alabama defense.
I would rather give the the Patriots a guy like Mark Ingram or a 3-4 outside linebacker, but none is worthy of the No. 5 overall pick. Personally, I expect the Patriots to be trading in and out of spots all day during the draft since they have two picks in each of the first three rounds.
The reason for Dareus, though, is the Pat's defense has suffered a bit since the loss of Richard Seymour. I would also have given them a cornerback, but they used their first-round pick on Devin McCourty last year...too bad.
Mississippi State offensive tackle: Derek Sherrod
This may be a bit early for Sherrod, but he has a ton of upside, and the Cowboys desperately need help on the line. This pick could also be Anthony Castonzo, but I feel like Sherrod will turn a couple heads at the combine.
Nebraska cornerback: Prince Amukamara
This was a toss-up between Amukamara and LSU's Patrick Peterson. Overall, I think that Peterson gets more attention because of his punt return skills...something that Detroit doesn't desperately need.
Matt Stafford gets to suffer behind LT Jeff Backus for at least another year.
North Carolina DE/OLB: Robert Quinn
Denver's Defense has shown just how useless it is without Elvis Dumervil—in steps Robert Quinn.
Quinn is a defensive end—outside linebacker "tweener," who is a perfect 3-4 OLB candidate for Denver's defense. The only problem is that he may have trouble making the transition, which is a recurring theme in the aforementioned "tweeners."
Depending on the play and contract situation of Champ Bailey, LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson is also a contender.
LSU cornerback: Patrick Peterson
Peterson is a "huge" cornerback, standing 6'1" at roughly 210 lbs. He and Prince Amukamara are in a dead heat for the No. 1 cornerback spot in the draft, and it'll probably come down to their 40 times at the combine.
I also considered wide receiver Michael Floyd here, as well as defensive tackle Allen Bailey, but Jacksonville is currently ranked 28th in pass defense.
Miami cornerback: Brandon Harris
Harris is third in line after Amukamara and Peterson, but that doesn't mean the guy can't play. He has average size for a corner and has the ability to be a shutdown-type corner, much like the guys infront of him.
Arizona would probably like one with the top quarterbacks, but that all depends on what happens with Alex Smith in San Francisco. They could also use upgrades along the front seven, but Harris is too good a prospect to pass on here.
Miami 3-4 defense end: Allen Bailey
Bailey is motoring 110 percent of the time. This guy is exciting and is relentless on each and every play. He fits with San Diego because he has the ability to play DE and DT, which pretty much means that he can play DE in the 3-4.
This will come down to what happens with the Chargers in free agency. Two DE's and Vincent Jackson could all walk, which could pressure them into taking someone like Michael Floyd or Jonathan Baldwin.
Iowa defensive end: Adrian Clayborn
The Bengals are currently ranked 30th in sacks. With little pressure coming from their front four, it's no wonder they are in shambles. I realize that Antwan Odom is a solid defensive end, but he was just suspended for performance enhances, so how good will he be when he gets off the juice?
Virginia safety Ras-I Dowling could also fit here.
Perdue defensive end: Ryan Kerrigan
With Ray Edwards set to hit free agency at the end of the year, the Vikings will probably let him walk and waste no time selecting his replacement. Kerrigan will be able to draw pressure away from Jared Allen and the "Purple Blob" that makes up the interior of the Vikings front four.
The Vikings have been getting decent production from their secondary, therefore a safety/cornerback such as Ras-I Dowling doesn't seem like more much of a need than upgrading the pass-rush ranked 31st in the NFL.
Texas cornerback: Aaron Williams
The Redskins could also use a wide receiver, but Donovan McNabb has been making do with what he has. If Carlos Rogers is re-signed, a guy like Michael Floyd from Notre Dame could be the pick. Though, I doubt that the Skins would overlook their pass-defense with is currently ranked 31st in the NFL.
Mark Ingram was also in consideration.
Alabama wide receiver: Julio Jones
I'm not convinced that Denario Alexander is anything special; his glass knee is going to give any minute now. I like what Mark Clayton did with Sam Bradford, so just imagine what Jones could/will do!
This could just as well be a guy like Ras-I Dowling to improve the secondary or an end or tackle to help along the defensive front. But, I think that Bradford needs to be given every advantage possible in his early career.
Florida cornerback: Janoris Jenkins
I would love to make this pick Mark Ingram, but it depends on what happens with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams in the offseason.
This pick is Jenkins for now because of the lackluster play from cornerback Jason Allen.
Alabama running back: Mark Ingram
I had Ingram fall a bit, but he is first-round talent nonetheless. The Buccaneers rank 27th in rushing yards per game and have only two scores on the ground so far...that is just horrendous. With a young quarterback in Josh Freeman, Ingram would take a ton of pressure off of him, allowing the Buccaneers to have a balanced offense.
The Bucs could also look to upgrade the front seven, but with money tied up in Gerald McCoy, I'm not sure how realistic that is.
Notre Dame wide receiver: Michael Floyd
This could also be a corner or safety, but I feel like Seattle needs a true No. 1 receiver for whichever quarterback is starting next season.
UCLA 3-4 outside linebacker: Akeem Ayers
I would much rather give Kansas City a nose tackle here, but as long as they have cash tied up in Glen Dorsey, it isn't happening.
Enter Akeem Ayers. With Tamba Hali set to hit free agency, Kansas City will probably look for a replacement. Even if Hali stays, they could use help across from him.
Jonathan Baldwin was also a consideration.
Ohio State 3-4 defensive end: Cameron Heyward
Green Bay has numerous players in their front seven set to hit free agency, so they will probably upgrade early in the draft. Heyward is a beast at the line of scrimmage and will take pressure off of Clay Mathews and the rest of Green Bay's linebackers.
Clemson defensive end: Da'Quan Bowers
New Orleans may or may not need help on the offensive line, but for now, Bowers is the best player on the board. He is a physical beast and will bull rush his way into the pocket on every play.
Virginia cornerback/safety: Ras-I Dowling
I realize that Kareem Jackson was taken in the first round last year, but they are ranked 32nd in the NFL in pass defense and allowed the Chiefs to pass all over them.
Dowling brings size to the secondary at 6'2", allowing him to play cornerback (because of his speed) or safety (because of his size).
Stephen Paea and Anthony Castonzo also considered.
Pittsburgh wide receiver: Jonathan Baldwin
I figured Atlanta's front seven would be awful this year, but they've proved me wrong. Therefore, the next position of need is a No. 2 receiver to take pressure away from Roddy White. Baldwin is a HUGE target, and is able to stretch the field with his playmaking ability. Also, Tony Gonzalez won't be around too much longer, might as well start grooming another target.
Look for Atlanta to upgrade at defensive end in Round 2.
Oklahoma linebacker: Travis Lewis
Tennessee could use an upgrade at outside linebacker, therefore Lewis makes a ton of sense. He knows how to track the ball and is decent in coverage.
Stephen Paea was also considered.
Boston College offensive tackle: Anthony Castonzo
I was tempted to put Gabe Carimi here, but Castonzo is the better tackle, even though he'll be on the right side.
Texas A&M 3-4 outside linebacker: Von Miller
(I apologize that I couldn't find a picture of Von Miller, above is George H.W. Bush with a Texas A&M hat.)
The Pats could use help at outside linebacker, and Miller is still a great prospect, despite injuries this season. His stats are misleading because he has been reportedly playing injured all year.
LSU offensive tackle: Joseph Barksdale
The Bears cannot afford to let Jay Cutler get knocked around multiple times per game—something needs to change. Barksdale has prototype size and potential to be a premier left tackle in the NFL.
Florida guard/center: Mike Pouncey
Pouncey's ability and versatility to play all interior line positions will attract a good number of teams come draft day in April. Philly could use help along most of the line, because having the most overrated left tackle in the NFL can only get you so far. Look for Philly to draft a franchise tackle within the next few years as well.
North Carolina safety: Deunta Williams
Recent allegations against Williams will probably push his stock down to the end of the first round, which is perfectly fine with Indy. Bob Sanders has proved, once again, that he is a piece of glass. There is no reason to pay a guy millions of dollars to get injured and miss three-fourths of the season.
Utah cornerback: Brandon Burton
Pittsburgh's defense is solid but could use some help in the secondary—in steps Brandon Burton. He has great size for a corner (as most of the corners in this class do) and will improve the "weak spot" on the Steeler defense.
(Once again, sorry for the lack of photo.)
California 3-4 defensive end: Cameron Jordan
Can anyone actually take Vernon Gholston seriously, honestly? The guy is a class A bust. Jordan plays a 3-4 scheme at Cal, therefore there shouldn't be much of a question as to whether or not he can make the transition.
Oregon State defensive tackle: Stephen Paea
Most people have Paea rated higher, but I haven't really seen what a the buzz is about yet. As of now, I can give him a late first or early second-round grate, but until I get wow'd, he doesn't compare with guys like Marcell Dareus or Allen Bailey.
Hope you enjoyed my first mock of the year. Stay tuned for more to come.
Don't forget to leave your comments, questions and concerns. They are appreciated!