2011 NFL Mock Draft Round 1: Where Will Cam Newton Go?
We're only four months away from what is known as one of the more exciting events in sports today—the NFL draft.
Last April, we witnessed Sam Bradford taken with the No. 1 pick by the Rams. Eight months later, St. Louis is on top of the NFC West division.
In April of 2011, nobody knows for sure who will be picking first overall, but we're starting to see a clear picture as the regular season in the NFL winds down.
The order of picks will be based on current record, like always before.
I apologize for having to include that in every mock, but people still insist on criticizing me if their team is too low on the board.
Without further explanation, 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
Carolina Panthers fans seem split on whether or not their team should take Andrew Luck with the first pick, but to me, it's clear.
Jimmy Clausen may have been a solid college quarterback, however he's just not a starting quality quarterback in the NFL.
Andrew Luck is far too good of a prospect to pass up on. Luck has turned around the Stanford Cardinal, and there's a heck of a chance he'll do the same with the Panthers.
2. Cincinnati Bengals: Cameron Newton, Quarterback, Auburn
While I'm not completely sold on Cameron Newton, his talent is evident. I'm just not sure if that will equate to him being a great professional.
That being said, Carson Palmer's days with the Cincinnati Bengals are seriously numbered. His terrible showing this year could force the Bengals to part ways with the former Heisman trophy winner.
Cam Newton is a great kid with tremendous skills. Soon, many will be on his bandwagon.
3. Denver Broncos: Patrick Peterson, Cornerback, LSU
The Denver Broncos are going to struggle for years to come if their defense plays the way it has this year. Changes need to be made for Denver.
After losing Elvis Dumervil for the year, the Broncos' defense struggled in each and every capacity. Much of this is due to several key players suffering injuries (Andre Goodman, Brian Dawkins).
Patrick Peterson is a tremendous cornerback that can do it all. Peterson is a great tackler but an even better cover-corner.
4. Detroit Lions: Da'Quan Bowers, Defensive End, Clemson
While it may not be as big of a need as cornerback, Da'Quan Bowers is far too good of a football player to pass on.
Kyle Vanden Bosch is also getting up there in age, so it's very likely that he'll only stick around for a few more years.
Bowers, as I mentioned before, is way too good to pass on. His 15 sacks this year for the Clemson Tigers is enough reason for Detroit to take him with the fourth pick.
5. Buffalo Bills: Nick Fairley, Defensive Lineman, Auburn
With the top two quarterbacks in the draft off the board, the Buffalo Bills will look to improve their defensive front.
Nick Fairley is a great lineman that can play either a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. With the Bills often switching schemes, Fairley will have no trouble in adjustments.
He dominated the Alabama Crimson Tide's offensive line on Thanksgiving, almost guaranteeing that he'll be a Top 10 pick in April.
6. Arizona Cardinals: A.J. Green, Wide Receiver, Georgia
I would love to give the Cardinals a quarterback here, but I don't feel as though the team is ready to give up on the potential of John Skelton.
A.J. Green is an incredibly talented receiver who would be able to take a lot of the pressure off Larry Fitzgerald.
Green is being viewed as the "best wide receiver prospect since Randy Moss." Enough said.
7. Dallas Cowboys: Prince Amukamara, Cornerback, Nebraska
Marcell Dareus would be tough to pass up on with this pick, but Prince Amukamara would be a better option for Dallas if he falls this far.
Dallas needs help on both sides of the ball, obviously. Terrence Newman will be 33-years-old by the time the 2011 season rolls around.
The Cowboys, ranked 27th against the pass this year, need serious help in the secondary. Prince Amukamara will provide a ton of that.
8. San Francisco 49ers: Ryan Mallett, Quarterback, Arkansas
I debated giving the 49ers Robert Quinn, but San Francisco needs a quarterback of the future. Alex Smith's time in the Bay area is done.
As far as Troy Smith goes, he's also not the solution to many of San Francisco's problems. With that said, he's a great No. 2 quarterback.
Ryan Mallett is an incredible quarterback with a strong arm. With Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree as targets, Mallett should have a solid transition to the pros.
9. Washington Redskins: Marcell Dareus, Defensive Lineman, Alabama
Washington's defense has been horrible all season long. They currently rank 29th against the pass and 28th against the run.
My point? The Redskins need some serious aid on the defensive side of the ball.
Marcell Dareus or Robert Quinn are great options with this pick, but I believe that Dareus is the better of the two prospects. He should go along nicely with the Redskins 3-4 defense.
10. Tennessee Titans: Robert Quinn, Hybrid Linebacker, North Carolina
Tennessee looked like a serious threat at the beginning of the year, but then Vince Young went down with an injury.
The Titans are now stuck with the aging Kerry Collins at quarterback, so things aren't going well at all for this franchise.
The Titans need help with their pass rush, so why not take one of the best pass-rushers eligible for the draft? Makes sense to me.
11. Cleveland Browns: Julio Jones, Wide Receiver, Alabama
Cleveland is a much improved team compared to the past two years, but they still need help in key areas on both offense and defense.
Can you even name who starts for the Browns at wide receiver? I bet many would have to look it up in order to find out.
Brian Robiskie, Mohamed Massquoi and Even Moore as receiver's just isn't going to cut it. Julio Jones would become an instant starter if he were to go to Cleveland.
12. Houston Texans: Brandon Harris, Cornerback, Miami
In my last mock draft, I had the Texans taking defensive tackle, Stephen Paea, in the first round, which would still be a great pick, but Houston's secondary needs more help.
Kareem Jackson, Houston's 2010 first-rounder, has struggled all year long, giving up many big plays to opposing wide receiver's.
While he will likely still start next year, Houston still needs help in the secondary. Brandon Harris could find his way into the starting lineup in 2011 with Jackson.
13. Minnesota Vikings: Stephen Paea, Defensive Tackle, Oregon State
It's definitely not the most sexy pick for the Vikings, but Stephen Paea is needed on Minnesota's defensive line more than you would think.
Minnesota has struggled to stop the run unlike years past, which is due to poor tackling, Pat Williams getting older, and the Vikings not stacking the box.
Pat Williams may not retire after this year, but he should. He's clearly not as good as he was a couple years back.
14. Seattle Seahawks: Jake Locker, Quarterback, Washington
I can just picture the Seahawks fans telling me that Charlie Whitehurst still has potential to be a star in the NFL soon. Seriously, you're in denial.
Seattle made a desperate trade to acquire Whitehurst, and it clearly hasn't panned out for them whatsoever.
Jake Locker, who plays in the same state as Seattle, would be a fan-favorite from the very get-go.
15. New England Patriots: Ryan Kerrigan, Hybrid Linebacker, Purdue
First off, I'm fully aware of how much potential Jermaine Cunningham and Rob Ninkovich have, but I strongly doubt New England would be able to pass up on Ryan Kerrigan's talent.
Kerrigan has moved high on many draft boards due to how wonderful he's played in his senior season at Purdue.
Ryan Kerrigan has 26 tackles for loss this year, along with 12.5 sacks. He could become a future Pro-bowler with a team that knows how to utilize their talent.
16. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State
While Danario Alexander has a ton of potential, he still hasn't proven that he can be trusted as a No. receiver for the Rams.
Sam Bradford is having an easy time throwing this year, though he would have an even better experience with more reliable targets.
Justin Blackmon is having a tremendous season with Oklahoma State, which is causing his stock to quickly rise.
17. Miami Dolphins- Mark Ingram, Running Back, Alabama
You wouldn't think off the bat that Miami needs a running back, but with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams both scheduled to be free agents this offseason, they need help.
Ronnie Brown will likely be retained, while Ricky Williams either retires or is allowed to go to a different team.
Mark Ingram seems as though he's being forgotten amongst the prospects for the 2011 draft, but he's still an extremely talented running back.
18. San Diego Chargers: Von Miller, Hybrid Linebacker, Texas A&M
San Diego continues to do well in December, but I believe they will struggle to win once January rolls around... Again.
The Chargers' defense has been great this year, despite not having much for "star quality" on that side of the ball.
Von Miller is a great hybrid linebacker that would be able to replace Shawne Merriman, who is now a Buffalo Bill.
19. Indianapolis Colts: Derek Sherrod, Offensive Tackle, Mississippi State
The Colts have been like a roller-coaster all season long. At times they are high, but they've also experienced many lows.
Indianapolis' struggles can't be placed all on Peyton Manning, but it's clear that he needs more protection from his offensive line.
Derek Sherrod is the best offensive tackle prospect for the 2011 draft.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Adrian Clayborn, Defensive End, Iowa
I used to have high hopes for Adrian Clayborn, but after a down year for the Hawkeyes, Clayborn's stock has seriously dropped.
With that said, Tampa Bay needs a pass-rusher to go along side Gerald McCoy on the Buccaneers defensive line.
Clayborn may have struggled in his senior year, but I think he will thrive in more ways than one with Tampa Bay.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Janoris Jenkins, Cornerback, Florida
Despite Jacksonville's surprising season, they still need help on both sides of the ball, mainly in the secondary.
Derek Cox plays well against average quarterbacks, but he gives up big plays against the likes of Peyton Manning, Matt Schaub, etc.
Janoris Jenkins would likely start across from Rashean Mathis next year, moving Derek Cox to the bench where he belongs.
22. Kansas City Chiefs- Akeem Ayers, Hybrid Linebacker, UCLA
Kansas City continues to win, which will make it official that they are for real this year. I will be honest when I say that I didn't even expect them to be .500 back in October.
The Chiefs need help in their front-seven. Tamba Hali is a great player, but he can't be the only significant pass-rusher on the team.
Akeem Ayers will be a rush-linebacker that will make the Chiefs even better and more feared on defense.
23. Green Bay Packers: Aaron Williams, Cornerback, Texas
Green Bay isn't looking too good after coming off a loss to the Detroit Lions, but they're still likely to make the playoffs in the NFC.
Charles Woodson is nearing the end of his career, which means that the Packers need to find an eventual replacement.
Aaron Williams is an underrated cornerback with plenty of potential. He'll be a great pick for Green Bay.
24. Chicago Bears: Anthony Castonzo, Offensive Tackle, Boston College
If you watched the Bears game, you would know why I have them taking an offensive lineman, but I will explain the pick anyways.
Chicago's offensive line is horrendous, which will inevitably end up being the Bears' demise once they're in the playoffs.
Anthony Castonzo may not be very well known, though he will be a difference-maker for a team that needs him the most.
25. New York Giants-: Travis Lewis, Outside Linebacker, Oklahoma
The New York Giants, coming off a big win against the Minnesota Vikings, are looking like a stacked team right about now.
However, I feel that the Giants will fizzle over the next month or so. Fortunately for them, Hakeem Nicks is back and healthy.
Travis Lewis is a great outside linebacker, which the Giants need. Clint Sintim has been a bust for the Giants in his short career.
26. New York Jets: Cameron Jordan, Defensive Lineman, California
What has happened to the New York Jets as of late? The Jets haven't scored a touchdown since their Thanksgiving game against the Bengals.
New York is struggling mainly on offense, which is due to Mark Sanchez being far too inconsistent at the helm.
Cameron Jordan is quickly rising up draft boards, and he would fill a big need on the defensive line for New York.
27. Baltimore Ravens: Greg Jones, Linebacker, Michigan State
The Ravens don't need much help at all on offense, so they will look towards improving their already solid defense.
Baltimore reportedly has been giving Greg Jones serious thought for months now. In my opinion, if he's available, the Ravens will take him.
Jones would likely start at middle linebacker somewhere down the road for Baltimore.
28. Philadelphia Eagles: Mike Pouncey, Guard, Florida
Philadelphia has become one of the more exciting teams in the league thanks to a man who was in prison three years ago—Michael Vick.
That said, the Eagles still need help on their offensive line. Michael Vick is being pressured far too often, and he can't even escape it most times.
Mike Pouncey, the younger brother of Maurkice Pouncey, would become an instant starter at guard for the Eagles.
29. New Orleans Saints: Drake Nevis, Defensive Tackle, LSU
New Orleans, the defending Super Bowl champions, are currently on a six-game winning streak, and they're looking as strong as they ever have.
The Saints don't have many holes on their entire team, but they could use somebody to pair along with Sedrick Ellis on the defensive line.
Drake Nevis' stock has risen all the way into the first round after a great season with the LSU Tigers.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers: Gabe Carimi, Offensive Tackle, Wisconsin
Pittsburgh is looking great right now, but they won't be able to do much damage if Ben Roethlisberger can't get healthy.
The Steelers' offensive line has experienced several key injuries this year, which is why Roethlisberger isn't getting more time in the pocket.
Gabe Carimi is another prospect whose stock has been elevated into the first round. Carimi is also perfect in Pittsburgh's blocking scheme.
31. Atlanta Falcons: Jonathan Baldwin, Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh
Kyle Rudolph was seriously considered for this pick, but I don't think Tony Gonzalez will retire if the Falcons fail to win the Super Bowl.
The Falcons, however, do need a receiver on the opposite side of Roddy White. Michael Jenkins could be that man if he were more consistent.
Jonathan Baldwin is a 6'5" wide receiver with a ton of potential. He should thrive with Matt Ryan as his quarterback.
32. New England Patriots: Allen Bailey, Defensive Lineman, Miami
With the second of their two first-rounders, New England should look towards finding a 3-4 defensive end that can stop the run and get to the passer.
New England had plans to draft Jared Odrick last year, but they let him fall to the Miami Dolphins in the first round.
Allen Bailey was once considered a top 15 pick, but now his stock is in the early second round. The Patriots will definitely be willing to make the slight reach here.