It's time to take a look at the 2011 NFL mock draft. With the regular season winding down and so many teams out of the playoff hunt, fans are focusing their attention on the help coming on the horizon.
With a deep class of quarterbacks and defensive prospects, the 2011 draft could fill a lot of needs for a lot of teams.
One of the more notable teams are the Buffalo Bills. Once a juggernaut in the AFC, the Bills haven't had consistent quarterback play since Wade Phillips benched Doug Flutie.
Surely, their fans think, with us being so bad, and the quarterback pool being so deep, we'll finally have the first franchise quarterback since Jim Kelly!
So, who's it going to be? The cannon armed Ryan Mallett of Arkansas? Or the dynamic Cam Newton of Auburn? Perhaps, the Bills won't take a quarterback at all, and will keep their fans on the brink of a coup.
To find out who's going where, read on!
Why He’s the Pick: The Patriots are in dire need of help at cornerback, so look for them to nab the talented Williams to help bolster what has been a terrible secondary.
What He’ll Do: Give New England someone to pair with Leigh Bodden in 2011, and provide them with a potential shutdown corner.
Who Else? The Pats could go offense here and take Oklahoma wideout Ryan Broyles or Pitt receiver Jonathan Baldwin. Or, if they don't address the defensive line with their pick from the Raiders, they could snag Nebraska defensive end/tackle Jared Crick.
Why He’s the Pick: Beal is a fantastic outside linebacker, a position the Falcons could use some speed at. He's a good pass-rusher, and will help immensely with Atlanta's lackluster blitz.
What He’ll Do: Beal will serve as a disruptor on the outside for the Falcons, using his size and speed to stop the run and harass the quarterback.
Who Else? Atlanta could grab a wideout to pair with Roddy White, or get some kind of secondary help, given the sorry state of their pass defense this season.
Why He’s the Pick: Heyward is a bit of a freak of nature for the Buckeyes, and he's capable of making quarterbacks nervous all game long. For a Saints team whose pass rush and run defense aren't great, he's a definite boon.
What He’ll Do: Boost the pass rush while helping to fix the Saints' shoddy run defense.
Who Else? The Saints could go after a linebacker here, or they could get some running back insurance from a John Clay or LaMichael James.
Why He’s the Pick: Pouncey's a fantastic offensive lineman, and the Steelers already have his brother, Maurkice. Why not get the matching set?
What He’ll Do: Help stabilize the Steelers' offensive line even more.
Who Else? Pittsburgh doesn't have a ton of holes, but they could use a good cover corner, or perhaps a tight end. But offensive line is the best way to go here.
Why He’s the Pick: Harris has the size, speed and athleticism to play corner in the NFL, and the Packers could use another potential shutdown corner.
What He’ll Do: Back up Charles Woodson for a year or two and learn the ropes, then take over when he leaves. Or fill in on the opposite side from Woodson.
Who Else? The Packers could use a running back, although there's not much there at this point.
Why He’s the Pick: The Bears' offensive line can't seem to protect the quarterback, which is a serious problem in Mike Martz's system. Carimi would help to fix that.
What He’ll Do: Keep Jay Cutler from getting concussed again.
Who Else? If Carimi's not there, look for the Bears to take a different offensive lineman (DeMarcus Love?), or perhaps a wide receiver with this pick.
Why He’s the Pick: Love's a big, strong offensive tackle, and the Eagles line has kept its quarterbacks on their toes all season.
What He’ll Do: Help keep Michael Vick from getting blasted while he's making plays.
Who Else? The Eagles could go with a different offensive lineman here, particularly Gabe Carimi, if they feel a need to do so. They could also try to bolster their defensive line or linebacking corps.
Why He’s the Pick: Jenkins is another one of this year's talented corners, and anyone who's watched Baltimore's defense work knows they're going to be looking for help there this offseason.
What He’ll Do: Shore up the cornerback position, and give the Ravens someone they can build around at the position.
Who Else? The Ravens don't have a ton of needs, so there really isn't anyone else who could get picked, unless they like a different corner more.
Why He’s the Pick: As good as the Jets' defense may be, the fact of the matter is that they need to improve their pass rush. Jordan is a nasty pass-rusher who's borderline unstoppable on the outside.
What He’ll Do: Harass Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and every other quarterback the Jets face.
Who Else? The Jets could pull a running back out of their hats, or try and bolster their linebackers, but the real need is a pass rusher.
Why He’s the Pick: The Chiefs' offense looks pretty solid, but their pass defense has been suspect all season, and Burton's turned into an excellent corner, who can further bolster the young Chiefs' defense.
What He’ll Do: Help Kansas City continue to build the defense by providing them the kind of top-tier corner they lack right now.
Who Else? The Chiefs could use another wide receiver, since right now it's more or less Dwayne Bowe and no-one else.
Why He’s the Pick: The Giants can't seem to get consistent production from their offensive line. Guys get hurt or don't play well. Solder would be a solid choice to protect Eli Manning's blind side.
What He’ll Do: Help stabilize the Giants' offensive line, which will hopefully help the team play more consistently.
Who Else? The Giants' biggest need is on the offensive line. Depending on where they finish and who's available, they could take a number of people besides Solder.
Why He’s the Pick: If you've watched the Colts this season, you know they miss Ryan Lilja. That's why Costanzo is the pick here. He's one of the best offensive line prospects in this season's draft.
What He’ll Do: Keep Peyton safe. Plain and simple.
Who Else? The Colts could use a linebacker, or maybe a normal sized safety.
Why He’s the Pick: The Bucs could sure use someone to pair with Barrett Ruud, and to use as a pass rusher. That's where Ayers and his speed come in. He's one of the fastest, strongest linebackers around, and he's more than capable of getting the job done.
What He’ll Do: What won't he do? He'll rush the passer, disrupt rushing lanes, force turnover and generally be a nuisance.
Who Else? The Bucs could also choose to bolster their defensive line, or their secondary. But for now, linebacker is the biggest area of concern.
Why He’s the Pick: With so much wrong with the Jags' defense, it's hard to pick where to start. But they need a pass rush, and Bailey's one of the best available, so he's the pick.
What He’ll Do: Get to the quarterback. Doesn't sound so hard, right?
Who Else? The Jags need talent at every defensive position, and wide receiver.
Why He’s the Pick: The Rams could use a top-tier receiver to go with their top-tier quarterback prospect, and Jones has the speed and ability to turn into one of the greats. His hands are a bit shaky, but they showed improvement in 2010.
What He’ll Do: Give Sam Bradford someone to throw to.
Who Else? Any of the big-name wideouts could go here (Blackmon, Baldwin), as could an offensive lineman.
Why He’s the Pick: Clayborn is the perfect addition to the Patriots defense; he's a stellar pass-rusher capable of disrupting rushing lanes and making plays.
What He’ll Do: Wreak havoc in opposing backfields.
Who Else? The Pats could go wideout or corner here, depending on how they feel about what's on the board.
Why He’s the Pick: The Chargers could do with a big-play linebacker now that Shawne Merriman is off being hurt in Buffalo. Miller fits the bill perfectly; he's fast, strong and a fantastic player with a great motor.
What He’ll Do: Cause chaos from the outside.
Who Else? The Chargers could use a defensive lineman, or perhaps a wide receiver.
Arkansas offensive line
Why He’s the Pick: The Dolphins need a workhorse, power runner for their system, and Ingram fits the bill to a tee. The former Heisman Trophy winner is still as dangerous as ever; the Dolphins would be a perfect fit for him.
What He’ll Do: Be better than Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams combined.
Who Else? The Dolphins could sure use a decent quarterback, but it's hard to turn down a guy like Ingram.
Why He’s the Pick: Blackmon's a physical freak, much like former Cowboy turned Dallas Cowboy Dez Bryant. The Browns need someone for Colt McCoy to throw to next season, and Blackmon's a big-time receiver.
What He’ll Do: Become the Browns' number one wideout.
Who Else? Cleveland needs a cornerback, and a safety couldn't hurt. But Blackmon's talent is undeniable, and he gives them the kind of weapon they haven't had since Braylon Edwards could catch.
Why He’s the Pick: The Texans need to rebuild their defense again, and combining Paea with former number-one pick Mario Williams would create serious havoc on the line of scrimmage.
What He’ll Do: Be the same kind of force he was at Oregon State, and shut down the run.
Who Else? The Texans need a corner, and maybe a wideout to team with Andre Johnson.
Why He’s the Pick: The Seahawks have issues everywhere, but among the biggest ones is the fact that Matt Hasselbeck isn't getting any younger. Locker needs a year or two to develop, which makes him a perfect fit.
What He’ll Do: Learn the ropes from Hasselbeck, then become the most talented quarterback in Seahawks history.
Who Else? Pick a position. Odds are, the Seahawks could use someone in it.
Why He’s the Pick: The Vikings have everything offensively except a franchise quarterback. Brett Favre's old, Tarvaris Jackson's a bust. Mallett and his cannon would bring life back to the Vikes' passing game.
What He’ll Do: Become the starter and throw deep balls to Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin.
Who Else? The Vikes could use a corner, safeties and probably linebackers.
Why He’s the Pick: Forget that Quinn got suspended for taking money from an agent. That's not a character issue, that's a being broke issue. He's a top-10 caliber talent, and the Titans could use another pass rusher.
What He’ll Do: Wreak havoc on opposing offenses and generally play like he did at North Carolina.
Who Else? The Titans could use a wideout here, or a quarterback. But look for Jeff Fisher to try and upgrade his defense.
Why He’s the Pick: Green is the most talented wideout in college football. The Redskins have to give Donovan McNabb someone to throw to. Therefore, Green's a logical pick here.
What He’ll Do: Immediately become Washington's go-to wideout.
Who Else? There really isn't someone else for the 'Skins, although they could grab a corner.
Why He’s the Pick: The 49ers' defense could use a real pass rusher (no, Justin Smith does not count), and Kerrigan's one of the best in all of football.
What He’ll Do: Wreak havoc and cause chaos. Pretty much what he did at Purdue, more or less.
Who Else? The Niners could pair A.J. Green with Michael Crabtree, or could take a cornerback here.
Why He’s the Pick: The Cowboys need help on the defensive line. Dareus can play both defensive tackle and end, perfect for the Cowboys' 3-4 defensive scheme. It's a match made in heaven!
What He’ll Do: Clog running lanes, occasionally cause a quarterback some grief and do everything Igor Olshansky can't.
Who Else? Pick a defensive lineman, corner or offensive lineman, and the Cowboys might grab them.
Why He’s the Pick: The Broncos might not be able to spell his name, or say it, but they know all about this superb corner. They need secondary help more than anything else, and he can provide it immediately.
What He’ll Do: In the event Champ Bailey leaves, he'll take over for him. If Bailey stays, he'll form a nasty tandem with the Champ.
Who Else? Pick a defensive position.
Why He’s the Pick: Buffalo never takes a quarterback, don't you get it?! They do need help defensively, particularly on their line, and Fairley's been a beast all season for Auburn. So, he's the pick.
What He’ll Do: Be just as unstoppable at the line of scrimmage as he was at Auburn, and help bolster one of the league's worst run defenses.
Who Else? I don't know if you've heard, but the Bills need a quarterback.
Why He’s the Pick: Newton might not be quite NFL ready yet. But he's close enough that the Cardinals, who need a quarterback more than anyone else in the draft (except maybe Carolina), will jump all over him here, hoping his unreal skills pay off.
What He’ll Do: Everything. Mostly move the offense and serve as the face of the franchise. So, you know, no pressure or anything.
Who Else? Ryan Mallett. Other than that, there's no one the Cards need more than a quarterback.
Why He’s the Pick: Peterson is the best cornerback in this year's draft. He's a lockdown defender with a nose for the ball, and a good tackler. Sound like something the Lions could use?
What He’ll Do: Give Detroit their best corner in over 20 years.
Who Else? The Lions could go defensive lineman or linebacker, if Peterson gets snapped up before the third pick.
Why He’s the Pick: The Bengals haven't had a dominant pass-rusher in franchise history. No, I mean it; their career sack leader is Eddie Edwards, with 47.5. So, the Bengals have to take Bower here, to give themselves a decent pass rush.
What He’ll Do: He'll cause havoc in every opposing backfield.
Who Else? The Bengals could use a quarterback, running back, wide receivers or offensive linemen. But the pressing need is in the defensive front.
Why He’s the Pick: Wait, you say; didn't the Panthers draft Jimmy Clausen last season? Yes, but anyone who's watched him can see that he's at least two years from being a functional NFL quarterback. Things move too quickly for him, and his perfect throwing mechanics won't do him any good if he can't find open receivers. Luck's a better all-around player, and merits being taken first overall, regardless of who has the pick.
What He’ll Do: Become Carolina's real franchise quarterback.
Who Else? The Panthers need wideouts, defensive linemen, corners, safeties, linebackers, everything.