2011 NFL Mock Draft: Initial Look at How the First Round Could Shake Out
The scouts are completing their evaluation reports, and the draft boards are going up in each team's war room. College players will take more physicals in the next few months than some do in a lifetime. In February, the world's ultimate job interview will begin at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. Let's take a look at the possible choices for next April's NFL Draft.
32) New England Patriots, Jon Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
Why Baldwin is Special: He has the size (6-5, 225 lbs.) and athleticism to become a top receiver at the NFL level.
Why Baldwin Goes Here: Too many games this season with three or less catches, but his supporters will argue that the Panthers were unstable at the QB position all season long.
Why Baldwin Fits: New England needs a young, explosive receiver in its lineup since trading away Randy Moss.
31) Atlanta Falcons, Aaron Williams, CB, Texas
Why Williams is Special: Scouts project him making an immediate contribution on special teams. Williams has blocked four punts in his college career.
Why Williams Goes Here: He has gotten burned too many times this season by the talented group of receivers offered in the Big 12.
Why Williams Fits: Atlanta needs to get more athletic in the secondary.
30) Pittsburgh Steelers, Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
Why Sherrod is Special: He has started at both tackle positions in his college career.
Why Sherrod Goes Here: Good teams draft for depth on their offensive line.
Why Sherrod Fits: Pittsburgh is getting old on the offensive line, as Ben Roethlisberger has taken too many hits this season.
29) Philadelphia Eagles, Von Miller, DE/LB, Texas A&M
Why Miller is Special: He is a natural pass-rusher from either the DE position in a 3-4 defense or from the outside LB position in a 4-3 set.
Why Miller Goes Here: He has battled all season with an ankle injury.
Why Miller Fits: Philadelphia has been looking for a pass rush all season, and Miller fits perfectly into their scheme.
28) New Orleans Saints, Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech
Why Williams is Special: He runs hard on every play, and has waited for his opportunity to shine in the Hokie offense.
Why Williams Goes Here: There are issues with his ball security, as Williams has lost two fumbles that cost Virginia Tech key conference games.
Why Williams Fits: New Orleans is looking for an effective running attack to compliment the arm of Drew Brees.
27) Baltimore Ravens, Quan Sturdivant, LB, North Carolina:
Why Sturdivant is Special: He has the skills to become a dominant inside LB, as Sturdivant makes quick reads in finding the ball-carrier in the backfield for losses behind the line of scrimmage.
Why Sturdivant Goes Here: Some off-field issues (arrested for marijuana possession in July 2010) will scare away some interested teams from drafting him.
Why Sturdivant Fits: Baltimore needs to begin the process of replacing Ray Lewis in the starting lineup.
26) New York Jets, Bruce Carter, OLB, North Carolina
Why Carter is Special: He has all the skills to become an effective outside linebacker in the NFL.
Why Carter Goes Here: His skills still need some developing before achieving that level.
Why Carter Fits: The Jets need a pass rush to have any shot of becoming a realistic Super Bowl contender.
25) New York Giants, Mike Pouncey, G/C, Florida
Why Pouncey is Special: One of the few players in the upcoming draft who can play multiple positions.
Why Pouncey Goes Here: The Giants have been decimated all season with injuries to their offensive line.
Why Pouncey Fits: No NFL team has enough depth on their interior line, and this choice is a no-brainer for the Giants.
24) Chicago Bears, Joseph Barksdale, T, LSU
Why Barksdale is Special: He has shown the ability to neutralize effective pass-rushers this season in the SEC.
Why Barksdale Goes Here: Some scouts project a rise on team’s draft boards after the combines in February.
Why Barksdale Fits: Chicago hasn’t protected Jay Cutler in the pocket all season long.
23) Kansas City Chiefs, Anthony Costanzo, T, Boston College
Why Costanzo is Special: He is the only tackle projected in the draft to start immediately next season.
Why Costanzo Goes Here: Some concerns whether his size will allow him to last long-term in the NFL.
Why Costanzo Fits: Kansas City needs one more piece to the puzzle before becoming an elite offensive line in the NFL.
22) Jacksonville Jaguars, Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame:
Why Floyd is Special: He just makes plays on the field, as Floyd possesses great hands.
Why Floyd Goes Here: Health issues have been a concern for him at South Bend, as Floyd has missed time this season due to hamstring issues.
Why Floyd Fits: Jacksonville needs some identity at the wideout position.
21) St. Louis Rams, Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
Why Paea is Special: His natural strength and low-center of gravity provides great run-stopping skills.
Why Paea Goes Here: His height (6-1) and lack of explosiveness to rush the QB have always been an issue.
Why Paea fits: Coach Spags needs some more players to shore up his defense.
20) Green Bay Packers, Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Why Ingram is Special: His size and running ability will allow him to become an elite RB in the NFL for many years to come.
Why Ingram Goes Here: He lacks the power to run effectively in short-yard situations.
Why Ingram Fits: Green Bay has had too many injuries in its backfield this season, and injecting some youth could be the solution to the problem.
19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma
Why Broyles is Special: A big-time playmaker who possesses soft hands and secures the football in heavy traffic.
Why Broyles Goes Here: Scouts have issues with his undisciplined attitude early in his career.
Why Broyles Fits: Tampa is one wideout away from becoming an elite team in the NFC.
18) Miami Dolphins, Jake Locker, QB, Washington
Why Locker is Special: He has all the physical tools to become an elite pocket-throwing QB in the NFL.
Why Locker Goes Here: He made the mistake of not leaving school early, and Locker suffered through a horrible 2010 season.
Why Locker Fits: Have you seen Chad Henne play? Enough said.
17) Indianapolis Colts, Rahim Moore, S, UCLA:
Why Moore is Special: He is truly a ball-hawking defender, as Moore recorded 10 interceptions last season.
Why Moore Goes Here: A bit leaner (6-1, 196 lbs.) than the other safety prospects available in this year’s draft.
Why Moore Fits: The Colts cannot rely on Bob Sanders to stay healthy all season.
16) San Diego Chargers, Allen Bailey, DE, Miami
Why Bailey is Special: He shows great bull-rushing technique in getting to the QB.
Why Bailey Goes Here: A bit of tweener, as scouts cannot decide if he is a DE or DT.
Why Bailey Fits: San Diego desperately needs to replace Shawne Merriman, as he has taken his talents to Buffalo.
15) Seattle Seahawks, Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
Why Clayborn is Special: He can effectively play the run and pass from the down line position.
Why Clayborn Goes Here: He is still slowed by an ankle injury sustained in the 2008 season.
Why Clayborn Fits: Seattle needs a presence on the defensive line.
14) New England Patriots (from Oakland), Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Why Peterson is Special: Possesses the size (6-1, 221 lbs) needed to shutdown the top receivers in the game.
Why Peterson Goes Here: He needs to better recognize routes in order to become an elite corner.
Why Peterson Fits: New England is near the bottom of the league in pass yardage given up this season.
13) Cleveland Browns, Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Why Blackmon is Special: He completed a season that projects him to be a better talent than former teammate Dez Bryant.
Why Blackmon Goes Here: Scouts would like to see more work on his resume before giving him the elite status.
Why Blackmon Fits: Cleveland needs a playmaker to complement their QB, Colt McCoy.
12) Minnesota Vikings, Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Why Newton is Special: He was named the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner as the best collegiate player this season.
Why Newton Goes Here: He has to show scouts that he is more than a run-first QB.
Why Newton Fits: Minnesota desperately needs a QB, and controversy never seems to avoid this organization.
11) Houston Texans, Janoris Jenkins, CB, Florida
Why Jenkins is Special: He has the size and skills to become a starter in the secondary next season.
Why Jenkins Goes Here: He is too aggressive in trying to make an interception, which results in missed tackles.
Why Jenkins Fits: Houston’s secondary gave up way too many big-play passes late in the game this year.
10) Washington Redskins, Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
Why Kerrigan is Special: He explodes off the ball to create a disruption in the backfield on every down.
Why Kerrigan Goes Here: Scouts feel he is average height (6-4) and weight (259 lbs.), but has above-average speed.
Why Kerrigan Fits: Washington needs to begin a new era on the defensive line after the Albert Haynesworth fiasco last season.
9) Tennessee Titans, Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
Why Jones is Special: He has had another stellar season, as Jones is a four-year starter at Alabama.
Why Jones Goes Here: There have been health issues as far as keeping him on the field.
Why Jones Fits: Tennessee needs to get younger at the wideout position.
8) San Francisco 49ers, Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
Why Ayers is Special: He has great skills to play the run and drop back to defend in obvious pass situations.
Why Ayers Goes Here: Scouts question whether he could rush the QB.
Why Ayers Fits: San Francisco needs to acquire more skilled players on the defensive side of the ball.
7) Dallas Cowboys, Prince Amukamora, CB, Nebraska:
Why Amukamora is Special: His physical play will make him a shutdown corner for many years to come in the NFL.
Why Amukamora Here: It’s a crapshoot to pick players this high in the draft.
Why Amukamora Fits: All season, Dallas has had problems defending the pass.
6) Arizona Cardinals, Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
Why Mallett is Special: His talents have been talked about since his days at Michigan.
Why Mallett Goes Here: No question that he is one of the top-rated quarterbacks in this draft.
Why Mallett Fits: All season, Arizona has been trying to replace Kurt Warner in the offense.
5) Buffalo Bills, A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Why Green is Special: He is an unstoppable threat from the outside position.
Why Green Goes Here: He will be the first skill position player taken after a QB.
Why Green Fits: Buffalo may take a QB with this pick, but Green’s play-making ability might be too tempting to pass up.
4) Detroit Lions, Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
Why Quinn is Special: He has great size and speed to become a dominant pass-rusher.
Why Quinn Goes Here: Don’t be surprised if he moves up to the top spot in the draft.
Why Quinn Fits: Perfect complement for Suh on Detroit’s defensive line
3) Denver Broncos, Nick Fairley, DT/DE, Auburn
Why Fairley Special: He was considered more valuable than Cam Newton to Auburn’s success this season.
Why Fairley Goes Here: Too talented a group of defensive lineman.
Why Fairley Fits: Denver needs to get younger on its defensive line.
2) Cincinnati Bengals, De’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
Why Bowers is Special: He can rush the QB, as Bowers recorded over 13 sacks this season.
Why Bowers Goes Here: He could end up the No.1 overall pick if John Fox remains in Carolina.
Why Bowers Fits: Cincinnati has too many problems to solve this off-season, and they might as well start with the defense.
1) Carolina Panthers, Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Why Luck is Special: He is a talented QB that will start immediately next season.
Why Luck Goes Here: Scouts love his ability to read defenses.
Why Luck Fits: The QB play has been the key to Carolina’s demise this season.