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. If the Panthers end up with 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 a reporter in his post-game interview.
Amukamara is the leader of Nebraska's defense and was 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 to groom rookie John Skelton.
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. San Francisco 49ers- Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Troy Smith has been unspectacular, and 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 under a new regime. Even if Singletary stays, it's clear that a new QB is needed.
Newton had a spectacular performance in the SEC Championship to virtually wrap up the Heisman, and is becoming even more likely to be a top 10 pick.
8. 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.
9. Tennessee Titans- Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
The Titans have a six-game losing streak, and Jeff Fisher is on the hot seat, so a new coach will likely want a new QB, and even if he stays, Vince Young won't last as the starter.
10. Washington Redskins- A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
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.
Green is considered one of the greatest receiving prospects in a while, and he would take pressure off of Moss.
11. Houston Texans- Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
Paea is a great run-stuffer, and the interior of the Texans' defensive line needs improvement to take the pressure off of Mario Williams.
The Texans' pass defense is last in the NFL, but Paea is the best player available that fills a need.
12. 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. 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 given the starting job either, and may not even be a Viking next season.
13. Cleveland Browns- Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
Colt McCoy has surprisingly done well as a rookie, but 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.
Jones finished the season strong with a 10 catch, 199 yard game against Auburn. His potential is unlimited.
14. San Diego Chargers- Von Miller, DE/LB, Texas A&M
The Chargers have a solid pass rush with Shaun Phillips, but Miller is the best player available and would form a scary pass rush with Phillips. You never know what A.J. Smith will do in the draft.
15. New England Patriots(from Raiders)- Brandon Harris, CB, Miami
The Patriots are a powerful team, but their pass defense could improve, and Harris is a good cover corner.
Running back is a possibility, but Belichick doesn't often draft running backs in the first round.
16. 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 has 15 sacks this season.
17. Indianapolis Colts- Anthony Castonzo, T, Boston College
The Colts need a better offensive line, and it could be a factor in Peyton Manning's recent struggles.
18. Miami Dolphins- Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are both free agents, and chances are only one will be re-signed. The depth will need to be maintained through the draft.
Neither Brown nor Williams are franchise running backs anyway, so Ingram will be an upgrade.
19. 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.
20. New York Giants- Travis Lewis, LB, Oklahoma
The Giants could use some linebacker depth with Keith Bulluck aging and Michael Boley being injury-prone.
21. St. Louis Rams- Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Sam Bradford is somehow doing well as a rookie with no receivers to throw to.
Blackmon is posting incredible numbers at Oklahoma State. He has 102 catches, 1,665 yards and 18 touchdowns.
22. Jacksonville Jaguars- Ryan Kerrigan, DE/LB, Purdue
The Jaguars still lack a pass rush, and Aaron Kampman can't stay healthy, so defensive end is a major need.
23. Kansas City Chiefs- Akeem Ayers, DE/LB, UCLA
Ayers is a presence that Tamba Hali could use across from him.
24. Chicago Bears- Derek Sherrod, T, Mississipi State
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.
25. Baltimore Ravens- Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia
Dowling is a solid prospect who can play corner back and safety, and corner back depth needs to be filled for the Ravens with free agency looming.
26. Philadelphia Eagles- Gabe Carimi, T, Wisconsin
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. James Starks looked good in his debut, but he's injury-prone and still unproven. 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- Justin Houston, DE/LB, Georgia
Houston has versatility, which fits the Saints' defense perfectly. They switch between the 4-3 and 3-4.
Houston's a great pass rusher and tackler. He has 86 tackles and 10 sacks.
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- Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
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.
Baldwin's stats haven't been as good this year, but that's because his QB hasn't been good. Baldwin would thrive in the Falcons' offense.
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.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!