2011 NFL Mock Draft Round One: Will Andrew Luck Land in Carolina?
It seems like just the other day where I was gearing up for the Vikings-Saints opener on Thursday, September 9.
With only four games for each individual team left to be played, it's becoming abundantly clear what teams will be picking in the top ten, maybe five.
Barring you live under a rock, you know that Carolina is the worst team in the NFL this year. They lack serious talent on both sides of the ball.
At this rate, the Panthers will be picking first when the 2011 draft rolls around in late April.
The order of picks, as always, will be based on current record.
Let's get to the picks!
With the first pick in the 2011 NFL draft, the Carolina Panthers select...
1. Carolina Panthers- Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Stanford
While many Carolina Panthers fans will not approve of this pick, it's for the best of the franchise. The Panthers won't take a receiver with the first pick.
Despite taking Jimmy Clausen in the second round in April, he's not the future of the franchise. In my opinion, Clausen was wrong for the Panthers from the get-go.
Andrew Luck is a fantastic quarterback who could easily be playing at a high level in the NFL today. He will be the face of the Panthers' franchise, which they desperately need.
2. Detroit Lions- Patrick Peterson, Cornerback, LSU
Detroit may be getting a little bit better year after year, but with their terrible secondary the way it is, the Lions will constantly be in the lower half of pass defenses.
The Lions are currently ranked 16th against the pass this year, which comes as a surprise to me considering how poor their secondary truly is.
Patrick Peterson is an incredibly talented cornerback that can replace the always inconsistent, Alphonso Smith.
3. Cincinnati Bengals- Da'Quan Bowers, Defensive End, Clemson
The Bengals, arguably the NFL's most disappointing team this season, are almost a lock for a top ten pick in the 2011 draft.
Cincinnati's problems are due to their poor running game, inconsistent quarterback play, and their inability to stop the run.
Da'Quan Bowers is easily the best defensive lineman in the 2011 draft. Cincinnati only has 13 sacks all year, while Bowers, himself, has 15 this year.
4. Buffalo Bills- Nick Fairley, Defensive Lineman, Auburn
Buffalo, who seemed like they could go without a win all year, now have two wins, which takes them out of the top spot in the draft.
The Bills have had serious problems all year long, obviously, but there's no definite area that they'll look at in the first round.
With Luck off the board, I see the Bills going for a defensive lineman that can both stop the run and get to the quarterback.
5. Arizona Cardinals- Cameron Newton, Quarterback, Auburn
Personally, I don't like this pick, but I think it will go down this way when April rolls around.
Arizona's problems this year have mainly come from whoever the heck is starting that week at quarterback. Matt Leinart failed in the offseason, Derek Anderson failed, and Max Hall failed.
Cameron Newton is extremely raw, but the Cardinals will have to take the risk if they want a successful future.
6. Denver Broncos- Prince Amukamara, Cornerback, Nebraska
The Denver Broncos' issues this year are some that you rarely ever see happen to one team. They've dealt with their best defensive player being out for the year, Josh McDaniels being fired, and one of their best secondary players getting arrested.
Oh, and I shouldn't leave out another D.J. Williams DUI!
Denver's secondary is usually a solid force, but with Champ Bailey becoming a free agent this offseason, the Broncos will need to find a replacement.
7. San Francisco 49ers- Ryan Mallett, Quarterback, Arkansas
Unless the 49ers can win out the 2010 season, they'll be looking towards a top ten pick in next year's draft.
If San Francisco fails to make it to the postseason, Mike Singletary's tenure with the 49ers will definitely come to an end. A new head coach often means a new quarterback.
Ryan Mallett is a tremendous quarterback with great strength and power. He will be a great fit with San Francisco's offense.
8. Dallas Cowboys- Marcell Dareus, Defensive Lineman, Alabama
Jay Ratliff, Dallas' current starter at nose tackle, is definitely a big part of the future of the defensive line, but there are question marks at the two other spots.
Stephen Bowen has potential as one of the two defensive end's, but that's a serious risk to take on.
Marcell Dareus would become an instant starter for a Dallas team that knows how to use it's young players the right way.
9. Tennessee Titans- Robert Quinn, Defensive End, North Carolina
Calm down. I'm fully aware that the Titans took a defensive end in the first round this year, but with Jason Babin slated for free agency this offseason, Tennessee will need a back-up option.
Derrick Morgan and Robert Quinn could become one of the best duo's at defensive end in the entire league.
Also, Robert Quinn will have an easy time going from a blue-jersey team to another.
10. Washington Redskins- A.J. Green, Wide Receiver, Georgia
It would be a surprise to some for A.J. Green to fall this year, but very few teams in the top ten need a wide receiver.
Washington has one of the worst offenses in the league, and that has been exposed all year long.
With Santana Moss as the only legitimate deep-threat on the roster, the Redskins will need to find a receiver on the opposite end. It's also nice to know that Green has been labeled as the second-best wide receiver prospect since Randy Moss.
11. Cleveland Browns- Julio Jones, Wide Receiver, Alabama
It's rare to see a wide receiver go in back-to-back picks, but Cleveland should definitely be targeting a wide receiver when they're on the clock.
Can anybody that's not a Browns fan even name who's starting for them at wide receiver as of right now? Doubtful.
Julio Jones is a tremendous receiver that will be Colt McCoy's new favorite target for many years to come.
12. Houston Texans- Stephen Paea, Defensive Tackle, Oregon State
I'll just let his right bicep do all of the talking for me. Just kidding.
Houston has one of the worst defenses that the NFL has ever witnessed, and that obviously needs to be cured as soon as possible.
Stephen Paea's stock has quickly risen as of late, which could lead Houston to taking Paea, who would fill a big need on the defensive line.
13. Minnesota Vikings- Jake Locker, Quarterback, Washington
I've never really been a fan of Jake Locker. From the beginning I questioned whether or not he was truly ready for the NFL.
Locker, who likely would have been the first pick this past April, decided to stay in college, which was a huge mistake for his career.
Minnesota clearly will need a quarterback next year to run the franchise. Jake Locker may just be that guy.
14. New England Patriots- Brandon Harris, Cornerback, Miami
I would normally give the Patriots a 3-4 defensive end here, but there are truly no great ones available at this juncture.
New England really doesn't need to address too many positions in the offseason. However, their lackluster secondary could use a look.
Brandon Harris would easily be an instant starter over Kyle Arrington or Darius Butler.
15. Seattle Seahawks- Ryan Kerrigan, Defensive End, Purdue
Seattle could look at Locker if he's available, but since he's not, the Seahawks will look to address their defensive line.
Chris Clemons has been tremendous all season long for Seattle, but Kentwan Balmer has failed to even record one sack.
Ryan Kerrigan is a fantastic pass-rusher, who could become an instant starter with the Seahawks.
16. Miami Dolphins- Mark Ingram, Running Back, Alabama
You would think that this might be a foolish pick at first, but with both Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown slated for free agency this offseason, Miami will need help at running back.
With that said, I believe Miami will retain Brown. Williams, on the other hand, should be let go.
Mark Ingram is definitely the best running back in the draft, and will be a great option for a change-of-pace back with the Dolphins.
17. St. Louis Rams- Justin Blackmon, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State
Not many have heard of Justin Blackmon, but his name will become stuck in your mind like glue over the course of the next four months.
Blackmon is having a monstrous season with the Cowboys, which has propelled his stock into the top 20.
The Rams are having success throwing the ball without a true No. 1 receiver, but they will have an even better time with a deep-threat like Blackmon on their roster.
18. San Diego Chargers- Akeem Ayers, Hybrid Linebacker, UCLA
After Shawne Merriman went to the Bills, San Diego Chargers fans expected Larry English to step up. Unfortunately for the Chargers organization, that didn't happen.
Although English will still be a part of San Diego's defensive plans next season, they could use another pass-rusher.
Akeem Ayers is likely going to be the best hybrid linebacker available when San Diego is on the clock.
19. Indianapolis Colts- Derek Sherrod, Offensive Tackle, Mississippi State
It's a rare thing to see the Colts picking in the top 20, but that looks as though it's going to be the case at this rate.
Indianapolis has a few needs to address in the offseason, which includes finding an offensive tackle to potentially replace Charlie Johnson.
Derek Sherrod is the best offensive tackle in one of the worst classes for offensive lineman in history.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Adrian Clayborn, Defensive End, Iowa
Adrian Clayborn, once a top five prospect, is now looking towards being picked out of the top 20 if he doesn't impress in Iowa's bowl game against Missouri.
Clayborn not only has character concerns, but his lackluster play with the Hawkeyes this year has many people wondering.
With all that being said, Tampa Bay needs a defensive end that can compliment rookie defensive tackle, Gerald McCoy.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars- Janoris Jenkins, Cornerback, Florida
Jacksonville has played very well this year, especially considering many thought they would be picking in the top five in 2011.
The Jaguars' secondary is one of the few things that is wrong with this team. They need to find a replacement for Derek Cox.
Janoris Jenkins has fallen below Brandon Harris as the No. 2 cornerback in the draft, but I don't think Jenkins will mind that at all.
22. Kansas City Chiefs- Von Miller, Hybrid Linebacker, Texas A&M
Kansas City is easily the most surprising team this year. Very few people expected them to even be a contender to win the AFC West.
The Chiefs have only a couple concerns on their roster that need to be viewed. One of the more concerning is finding another pass-rusher besides Tamba Hali.
Von Miller is a dynamite hybrid linebacker that will pair nicely with Hali and the other Kansas City Chiefs linebackers.
23. New York Giants- Travis Lewis, Outside Linebacker, Oklahoma
Although I believe New York won't be picking this late in the draft, they're currently 8-4, so I have them listed as such.
The Giants need to address their linebackers core, which includes Michael Boley, Clint Sintim, and Keith Bulluck.
That being said, Bulluck is near the end of his career. How much longer can Giants fans expect him to be around for their defense?
24. Baltimore Ravens- Aaron Williams, Cornerback, Texas
Baltimore's defense is usually one of the most feared defenses in the league, but how can they be when their secondary is lacking great players?
Chris Carr, Fabian Washington, and Josh Wilson are all slated for free agency this offseason, and there's a good chance none of them will be brought back.
Domonique Foxworth and Lardarius Webb will not, and should not, be the starting cornerbacks for Baltimore in 2011.
25. Green Bay Packers- Brandon Burton, Cornerback, Utah
Brandon Burton may be having a rough time as of late, but that doesn't take away from the fact that he's one of the best cornerbacks eligible for the 2011 draft.
Charles Woodson will be 35 years old very soon, and there's a good chance he will retire within the next year or two.
Brandon Burton is a 6'1" cornerback, and Ted Thompson loves tall cornerbacks.
26. Philadelphia Eagles- Mike Pouncey, Guard, Florida
The Philadelphia Eagles, despite being a great team, have one of the worst offensive lines in the entire league.
Philadelphia has already allowed 32 sacks this year, which is surprising giving Michael Vick's ability to scramble out of the pocket.
Mike Pouncey, the brother of Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, will be a great fit with the Eagles.
27. Chicago Bears- Anthony Castonzo, Offensive Tackle, Boston College
I shouldn't really have to explain this pick, but I will. Chicago has allowed 44 sacks this year, the most in the NFL.
Chicago needs to address their terrible offensive line if they want to have Jay Cutler as a healthy quarterback for a long period of time.
Anthony Castonzo could very well end up starting from week one for the Bears.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers- Gabe Carimi, Offensive Tackle, Wisconsin
Pittsburgh may be one of the best teams in the league, but their offensive line is having their fair-share of problems at the moment.
Both Max Starks and Willie Colon have dealt with injury problems in the past year, which is a big problem for Pittsburgh.
Gabe Carimi won't likely be a starter right away, but with a little time learning the ropes, he will.
29. New York Jets- Cameron Jordan, Defensive Lineman, California
I had a tough time choosing between Cameron Jordan and Allen Bailey with this pick, but I feel as though Jordan is the better choice.
New York will always have trouble defeating the Patriots if they can't get pressure on Tom Brady.
Rex Ryan being the great defensive coach that he is, will find a way to make Jordan an instant threat.
30. New Orleans Saints- Justin Houston, Hybrid Linebacker, Georgia
New Orleans were high on Jerry Hughes all the way up until the 2010 draft, but he was taken one pick prior to the Saints being on the clock.
This time around, the Saints will have a better chance to land the rush-linebacker they desire.
Justin Houston's stock is currently in the late first, but with a strong showing at the combine, it could raise.
31. Atlanta Falcons- Jonathan Baldwin, Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh
It would be somewhat of a surprise to see Baldwin lasting this long, but it likely will happen. Atlanta should be very thankful, by the way.
Roddy White is having a tremendous year in 2010, but who else is contributing at wide receiver? Almost no one.
Adding the 6'5" Jonathan Baldwin to the mix will make Matt Ryan's job that much easier.
32. New England Patriots- Allen Bailey, Defensive Lineman, Miami
With the second of their two first-rounders, I see the Patriots going for a 3-4 defensive end that can get to the quarterback.
Allen Bailey likely won't be an instant factor, but New England is excellent at making the most out of very little.
This means that Bailey will probably be a situational player, yet he will succeed in doing so.