2011 NFL Mock Draft: Do The Panthers Get Lucky Or Pass?
The draft order in this mock draft is based on the current standings.
1. Carolina Panthers - Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
The Panthers drafted two QBs last draft, but Jimmy Clausen hasn't played like a starter, and Tony Pike couldn't beat Brian St. Pierre to be the emergency starter, so he's clearly not the future, and if the Panthers end up being the first pick in the draft, it means Clausen continued to struggle, and a new coach will likely be hired, so he'll want to start fresh.
The Panthers may give Clausen another chance next year, but drafting a defensive lineman or wide receiver first generally isn't a good idea.
Also, in general, the early pick goes with the QB in the end, and it's the smart move. The Falcons took Matt Ryan over Glenn Dorsey. The Lions took Matt Stafford over Jason Smith. The Rams took Sam Bradford over Ndamukong Suh.
2. Detroit Lions - Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
The Lions are a decent pass defense away from becoming a playoff contender, and they generally draft the best player available. Peterson fits that category here.
3. Cincinnati Bengals - Robert Quinn, DE/LB, North Carolina
Quinn has had trouble with the NCAA along with other North Carolina players, but the Bengals aren't a team to put character concerns too heavily into consideration, and they have a glaring lack of a pass rush. They have the lowest amount of sacks in the NFL with 11. Quinn would greatly improve their pass rush.
4. Buffalo Bills - Nick Fairley, DE/DT, Auburn
The Bills miss out on a top five QB here, so the next best option for them is to draft a defensive lineman. They have zero pass rush, and their defense as a whole is terrible.
Fairley has led Auburn's run defense, which has performed very well this season. His performance against Alabama shot his draft stock through the roof.
5. Arizona Cardinals - Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
The Cardinals' pass defense has been an embarrassment, possibly even more so than Derek Anderson lashing out at the reporter in his post-game interview.
Amukamara is the leader of Nebraska's defense and was always just as big a part of their success as Ndamukong Suh when he was there.
Ryan Mallett will be the pick if they pass on Amukamara, but considering their pass defense woes, Amukamara will be too hard to ignore. They may sign a veteran QB, who knows? Maybe McNabb or Favre will come to Arizona.
6. Denver Broncos - Marcell Dareus, DE/DT, Alabama
Defensive line is a glaring issue for the Broncos. They have no pass rush with Elvis Dumervil out and can't stop the run.
7. Dallas Cowboys - Allen Bailey, DE/DT, Miami
Igor Olshansky and Marcus Spears don't belong in the starting lineup, especially Olshansky.
Bailey would be an upgrade as a 3-4 defensive end. Offensive line is the most glaring issue for the Cowboys, but no tackles are worth taking in the top 10. Trading down is a possibility.
8. San Francisco 49ers - Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
Troy Smith was unspectacular against the Cardinals' pass defense, so he isn't the long-term answer at QB.
Mike Singletary is in danger of getting fired, so the 49ers will likely draft a new QB.
9. Minnesota Vikings - Jake Locker, QB, Washington
Locker hasn't played like a top 10 pick, but his potential alone will make the Vikings give him a chance, and he can't be any worse than Brett Favre has been this year.
Brad Childress' departure will also cause the Vikings to draft a new QB since new coaches usually start with QBs. Tarvaris Jackson won't be giving the starting job either and may not even be a Viking next season.
10. Cleveland Browns - A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Colt McCoy has surprisingly done well as a rookie, but he has nobody to throw to. Peyton Hillis has given the Browns a great running game, and Montario Hardesty's return will make it even better.
Green gives McCoy a true receiving threat, and some say he's one of the greatest prospects in a long time.
11. Seattle Seahawks - DaQuan Bowers, DE, Clemson
Patrick Kerney's retirement has hurt the Seahawks' pass rush greatly. Their defensive line is solid when healthy, but a defensive end is a pressing need.
Bowers has finally lived up to his potential at Clemson, and he has 15 sacks this season.
12. New England Patriots (from Oakland) - Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been a serviceable running back, but he isn't the long-term answer. They have little depth too, so Ingram would give them a better threat in the backfield.
13. Washington Redskins - Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
McNabb hasn't performed up to his $78 million extension, but having no receiving threat to throw to doesn't help matters. Santana Moss has been solid, but Anthony Armstrong and Joey Galloway are far from being No. 2 receivers.
Jones has been on fire lately, including a 10-catch, 199-yard game against Auburn. His potential is unlimited.
14. Tennessee Titans - Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Newton's stock is rising every week. He's the frontrunner to win the Heisman, and ESPN has been talking about him as a top 10 prospect.
Jeff Fisher and Vince Young aren't on the same page, so chances are a new QB will come to Tennessee, and Newton's upside will be too hard for Fisher to pass up.
15. Houston Texans - Brandon Harris, CB, Miami
The Texans' pass defense is even worse than the Cardinals'. Glover Quin should be benched. Harris is excellent in coverage, and if Kareem Jackson improves, their pass defense will improve greatly.
Safety and defensive tackle are needs for the Texans too.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars - Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
The Jaguars still lack a pass rush, and Aaron Kampman can't stay healthy, so defensive end is a major need.
17. Miami Dolphins - Janoris Jenkins, CB, Florida
The Dolphins' biggest need is at running back, but none of them are good enough to be drafted here, so the Dolphins are going with a cornerback. Vontae Davis has done well, but a threat across from him would improve their pass defense.
18. Kansas City Chiefs - Von Miller, DE/LB, Texas A&M
Miller's gone through injuries, but he's still having a solid year, and his potential as a pass rusher is sky high.
Tamba Hali could use a threat across from him to take the pressure off of him.
19. New York Giants - Travis Lewis, LB, Oklahoma
The Giants could use some linebacker depth with Keith Bulluck aging, and Michael Boley is injury-prone.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
The Buccaneers started rebuilding their defensive line by drafting Gerald McCoy and Brian Price. Now it's time to complete it and take a defensive end.
Clayborn hasn't done too well this season, but he's shown great potential in the past, so he'll be too hard to pass up.
21. St. Louis Rams - Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
Sam Bradford is somehow doing well as a rookie with no receivers to throw to.
Baldwin has had a bad QB this year, so his stats look mediocre, but he'll shine in St. Louis, and Bradford's job will be much easier.
22. Indianapolis Colts - Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
The Colts have a terrible run defense, and it's easy to get past them as long as you double-team Dwight Freeney since there's no threats up the middle.
Which QB prospect will be the biggest bust?
Paea is a great run-stuffer and can get some sacks, so drafting him would never allow 231 rushing yards in a game again.
23. Chicago Bears - Anthony Castonzo, T, Boston College
The Bears lead the league in sacks allowed, and they're lucky that no tackles are top 15 talents, so they might as well take advantage of that.
24. Baltimore Ravens - Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia
Dowling is a solid prospect who can play cornerback and safety, and cornerback depth needs to be filled for the Ravens with free agency looming.
25. San Diego Chargers - Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Vincent Jackson has been a huge pain for the Chargers this year, and despite his void, Philip Rivers has managed to be on pace to break Dan Marino's single-season yards record, so the Chargers may very likely opt to not re-sign him.
Blackmon would replace Jackson as the true threat for Rivers, and he's posting incredible numbers at Oklahoma State. He has 102 catches, 1,665 yards, and 18 touchdowns.
26. Philadelphia Eagles - Derek Sherrod, T, Mississippi State
Michael Vick's comeback season has made it easy to forget how bad the Eagles' offensive line is. Jason Peters is aging and inconsistent, so a replacement at left tackle is the ideal choice for the Eagles.
27. Green Bay Packers - Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech
Ryan Grant's injury has hurt the Packers' offense and forced Aaron Rodgers to carry it on his back, which he's done well at.
Brandon Jackson is terrible, and Williams would make a much better backup to Grant. Their offense would be even more explosive with a better running game.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers - Mike Pouncey, G, Florida
The Steelers have little depth on their offensive line, and they usually maintain depth in the trenches, and Maurkice would love to reunite with his brother.
29. New Orleans Saints - Akeem Ayers, DE/LB, UCLA
Ayers is versatile, which fits the Saints' defense perfectly since they like to switch between the 4-3 and 3-4. Their pass rush could use some improvement.
30. New York Jets - Cameron Jordan, DE/DT, Cal
The Jets could use some more depth at defensive line, and Jordan has been having a solid season at Cal, worthy of being a first-round pick.
31. Atlanta Falcons - Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Roddy White has been the best receiver in the NFL this year, and Matt Ryan has played like the franchise QB he was drafted to be, but he could use more weapons, especially considering Tony Gonzalez is contemplating retirement.
Floyd isn't doing as well as last year with injuries, but he has first-round talent when healthy, and the offense could potentially become even more explosive than it already is.
32. New England Patriots - Stefan Wisniewski, G, Penn State
The Patriots will likely lose Logan Mankins, and Stephen Neal said he's retiring after the 2011 season, so the Patriots will need depth at guard. As long as Brady stays protected, the Patriots' offense will continue to shine.
If you have any writing tips, feel free to shoot me some, and leave your comments and discuss what you think of each pick and if you like your teams' pick. Tune in next week for another edition of a 2011 NFL mock draft.
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