Everybody makes a mock draft around this time of year, and we all are wrong. I have to wonder if there ever has been anyone who wrote a mock draft that actually got half of the picks correct—let alone all of them.
So many things prevent a mock draft from being correct: teams trade picks, some teams reach for players that don't have a first-round draft grade, others just make wrong decisions etc.
So obviously, when I make this draft board, I'm going to be wrong on more than one occasion. The reality is writers make these mocks to address each team, and look at what their individual weaknesses inside the roster, and which player coming in from college can help correct a weakness.
As the Cowboys fan, I can state right now that the Cowboys biggest weaknesses are their mistake-prone secondary and injury-prone offensive line. This draft does not have a great depth at offensive line, but there are two cornerbacks that look like future stars, and since Dallas has the ninth pick, they have a good chance of securing at least one.
And here we go with the first version of my mock draft for the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft!
1. Carolina Panthers select: Defensive Tackle, Marcell Dareus of Alabama
Fairley was a popular pick, but he's lost some stock due to the fact that he just came out of nowhere this year while Dareus has been a monster all of his college career. He can play the three-technique, the five-technique, and nose tackle. A great prospect, and I think the best defensive lineman of the draft.
How's the mock?
Other need(s): I'd give Clausen a shot, but I'm located in Texas, so I can't honestly say that Clausen is or isn't the guy. Athletically, he's fine, but Carolina could go forquarterback here. Wide receiver is even a possibility
2. Denver Broncos select: Cornerback, Patrick Peterson of Louisiana State
Denver has so many needs on defense that they could grab anything with this pick. However, I'm going to go with what I'd do, and I'd get a young guy to learn from the best cornerback of the best decade, Champ Bailey.
Patrick Peterson posted an amazing 4.32 forty time. I also looked at his film, and I really believe this guy will be a future star for any team that selects him.
I'm picking him because he's most likely to succeed, and the Broncos need to show the fans that the McDaniels era that rivaled a Marx Brothers comedy skit is over.
Other need(s): Defensive line mainly even though Elvis Dumervil is coming back. The Broncos had no pass rush, and they are getting older and declining.
3. Buffalo Bills select: Defensive Tackle, Nick Fairley of Auburn
What Cam Newton was to the offense, Fairley was to the defense.
He ran a 4.82 at the combine, has a meanness about him, and was the leader of the Auburn defense that won the National Championship over the Oregon Ducks. I'm not so sure on him because there are questions as to his motivation, his intelligence (had to go to a junior college because of academic problems), and he's only had one giant year. I had never heard of him before this year.
But, he's a good prospect, and Buffalo needs help everywhere. Pair him with Kyle Williams, and the Bills can have a dominant defensive line.
Other need(s): Owner, general management, a possible upgrade a linebacker, offensive line, quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick is a short-term solution).
4. Cincinnati Bengals select: Defensive End, Da'Quan Bowers of Clemson
This is a great fit for the Bengals because the only guy who had more than three sacks on the team last year was Carlos Dunlap. The defensive line of the Bengals was just awful, and in football, the defensive line is the most important part of the defense because they have to get penetration and make plays or the game is lost.
Bowers is 6'3, 280 pounds, was a pure beast a Clemson, and recorded 11 tackles in the ACC Championship game against Georgia Tech.
Despite having surgery on a torn meniscus, he's worth a risk. Maybe not at number two, but definitely worth a risk, and I think the Bengals will take that risk.
Other need(s): Quarterback, wide receiver, and the offensive line could use some more help.
5. Arizona Cardinals select: Outside Linebacker, Von Miller of Texas A&M
Now we can get to talk about someone I've watched a lot. Many of my friends (I love you to those friends reading this) go to Texas A&M, and everyone is high on Von Miller in Texas.
The thing about Miller is that he works very hard from what I've seen, and despite one former NFL scout, Dave Razzano, comparing him to Vernon Gholston, many think Von Miller is a great prospect to draft. Arizona runs a 3-4 defense, and Von Miller might be the next great pass rusher of this era.
I was listening to an old football coach, and he made comparisons of Von Miller to Reggie White. That's a compliment. Von Miller also had a great combine posting a 4.46 forty time and 21 bench reps.
I'm not sure, though, Razzano's comments about Miller not shedding tacklers in some games he saw, and the fact that Miller has lent his name to a the lawsuit against the NFL to prevent a lockout hurts his stock.
He's a guy I'd like to sit down with for a day and find out what kind of person he is. He's got the talent, no question there, but most NFL busts are busts because they just don't have enough competitiveness, desire, or dedication to the work to make it as far as they can.
Other need(s): Quarterback, offensive line could always get upgraded, safety (Adrian Wilson is 31), nose tackle, and cornerback.
6. The Cleveland Browns select: Wide Receiver, A.J. Green of Georgia
Perfect guy, perfect pick, perfect place for the young A.J. Green. I watched his highlight tape, and I was higher on him than I am on sugar.
I'm a hands guy when it comes to receivers. I'd rather have the guy who can put his hands anywhere around his body and catch something over the guy who has to have the ball thrown to him over the shoulder. A.J. Green has the best hands without question. He's also 6'4 and 211 pounds and runs a 4.48 forty-yard dash. Just an amazing receiver.
Yes, he was suspended at the beginning of the season, but my instincts tell me that his suspension for selling a jersey to a former college player, Chris Hawkins, makes me think he just did something... well, stupid. That doesn't mean he is going to be a bad egg, I'm 21 years old, and I can't say that I haven't done something I've regretted in college.
How good is he? Amazing. The Browns have to draft him. Their leading receiver was their tight end, Ben Watson, with 763 yards. The Browns may have had Peyton Hillis at running back, but they were one of the worst offenses in the league, scoring only 271 points all season.
The Browns drafted Colt McCoy last year, and after injuries to Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace, McCoy got his chance, and he showed he could lead the Browns. Colt McCoy is a guy I truly believe can win a championship for Cleveland, but he will need help.
A.J. Green is the help he needs. He needs a receiver that will hold on to the ball. My good friend and fellow writer, Robert Cobb, a Cleveland fanatic would routinely point out that Colt McCoy would throw beautiful spirals, but his receivers would just drop the ball.
At the University of Texas, Colt McCoy had Jordan Shipley. With the Cleveland Browns, he should have A.J. Green.
Other need(s): offensive line was putrid at times, defensive line, linebacker, and luck.
7. The San Francisco 49ers select: Cornerback, Prince Amakamura of Nebraska
The 49ers could draft a quarterback, but I think Jim Harbaugh will realize that none of these prospects are really worth that big of a gamble, and he should try to work with Alex Smith for one year before giving up on him entirely.
The 49ers had a really good front seven, but the cornerbacks are getting old, and Prince Amakamura is only slightly less than Patrick Peterson. Either guy is going to be a great pro player, and Amakamura runs a 4.37 forty and his 6'0, 206 pound body makes him a very good physical corner for the 49ers to take.
Other need(s): Running back, because Gore is very injury prone, safety, maybe a defensive lineman because the starting three are late 20s to early 30s.
8. The Tennessee Titans select: Quarterback, Cam Newton of Auburn
The Titans have drafted the young athletic quarterback before. In 2006, they grabbed Vince Young with the third overall choice, and in 1995, they drafted Steve McNair with the third overall choice.
I think they'll follow history again, and grab Cam Newton despite his possible flaws. Newton has hurt his stock at the Combine, but he's still an amazing athlete, and after carrying Auburn to a National Championship, he'll get drafted in round one for sure.
Other need(s): Defensive line and owner.
9. The Dallas Cowboys select: Offensive Tackle, Anthony Costanzo of Boston College
I think right now that the Cowboys will probably get Prince Amakamura, but if he's not there, I'd like to get this guy.
I like Costanzo. He's not the finished product by any means, but from looking at film, he definitely is a better prospect at offensive line. Pretty good pass protector, needs a bit more work on run blocking. I read parts of his diary that were featured on CBSsports.com, and he's quite intelligent.
However, I'm not sure Dallas will draft him. The last time Dallas drafted an offensive tackle in the first round was in 1981 with Howard Richards.
Other need(s): Cornerback, safety, defensive end, and luck.
10. The Washington Redskins select: Quarterback, Blaine Gabbert of Missouri
I'm not real high on him, but he's the best passer in the draft, and I think the Redskins are going to try to get rid of Donovan McNabb because he is not a fit there. Gabbert can learn from Mike Shanahan.
Other need(s): Offensive line is always an issue, defensive line, wide receiver, running back, inside linebacker to learn from the 35-year-old London Fletcher, and most importantly, the Redskins need Dan Snyder to keep out of the management because he's the worst owner I've ever seen.
And if he wants to sue me, he can. He won't win anything from me except this laptop computer and my beat-up 2000 silver Corolla.
11. The Houston Texans select: Cornerback, Aaron Williams of Texas
A local kid falling to them, but the Texans really should trade up for Prince or Peterson because Aaron Williams is a good prospect while those other two are great prospects.
Texans need a secondary desperately. Kareem Jackson was a bad pick from last year, and John McClain of the Houston Chronicle has been writing for probably twice my lifetime, and he tweeted that the Houston secondary was the worst secondary he had ever seen in his life.
Other need(s): Outside linebacker, defensive line, safety, and some luck.
12. The Minnesota Vikings select: Quarterback, Ryan Mallett of Arkansas
I had wanted the Vikings to draft a quarterback last year like Jimmy Clausen or Colt McCoy, but do they listen to me? NO!!!!
The Vikings were a boom or bust team with Brett Favre in his last season, and they failed miserably. I feel sorry for the fans, I really do. They had a weak head coach, and no depth at quarterback. Now, with the Metrodome's roof caved in due to excess snow, they may even move out of Minnesota.
I'm not sold on Ryan Mallett. He's not a great quarterback under pressure, but the Vikings are desperate, and teams reach for the guy they hope will be the franchise quarterback all the time.
Other need(s): Offensive line is getting older, defensive tackle to eventually replace Pat Williams, cornerback, and safety.
13. The Detroit Lions select: Offensive Tackle, Tyron Smith of USC
The Lions need help on the offensive line with Jeff Backus turning 34 in September. Tyron Smith is not a great prospect, but with some proper coaching, he should be able to be a solid player for a Lions team that is turning itself around.
I'm rooting for the Lions with Matthew Stafford in charge. I'd love to see a championship go to Detroit.
Other need(s): cornerback, linebacker possibly, and maybe safety.
14. The St. Louis Rams select: Wide Receiver, Julio Jones of Alabama
The Rams need receivers for the weak division they are in. Donnie Avery tore his ACL, and Mark Clayton tore a patellar tendon to end their seasons early last year. Julio Jones is a young guy with great speed--He ran a 4.39 with a stress fracture in his left foot--and I love his ability to make plays.
If he falls to the Rams, they should not hesitate on drafting him.
Other need(s): defensive end and linebacker could use some youth, and now free safety with Atogwe signing with the Redskins.
15. The Miami Dolphins select: Running Back, Mark Ingram of Alabama
Ingram is a power back, not a speed back. His best forty time at the combine was a 4.62. Yet, Miami needs him because Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown are not guaranteed to stay with them in the future. Ingram can go there and blossom once they solve their quarterback problem.
Other need(s): Quarterback because I'm not sold on Chad Henne, and some more help on the offensive line can help too.
16. The Jacksonville Jaguars select: Defensive End, J.J. Watt of Wisconsin
Many have him going to the Pats, but after I saw his tape, and how he was in pure tears after Wisconsin lost the Rose Bowl, my opinion of him cracked my ceiling due to its growth. I love this guy. He play multiple positions on the defensive line, is 6'5 and 290 pounds, runs a 4.78, and Jacksonville needs an end like him.
Other need(s): Quarterback, running back to help out Jones-Drew, wide receiver possibly, and a lot of luck.
17. The New England Patriots (From the Oakland Raiders) select: Offensive Guard, Mike Pouncey of Florida
This guy's brother was a Pro Bowl center automatically, and he's been productive at Florida as well. The Patriots have a 34-year-old guard in Steve Neal, and Dan Connolly is pretty good, but not great. Pouncey has a shot to be great.
Other need(s): The Patriots don't have needs. They are just amazing at taking small talent and working it around Tom Brady. They just need to address depth at certain positions in case guys get hurt. Don't be surprised to see the Patriots draft no-name guys and have a 13-3 season next year.
18. The San Diego Chargers select: Outside Linebacker, Robert Quinn of North Carolina
This young man was suspended the entire 2010 season, so he is expected to fall, but the question is how far?
I'd say if he's here by the time the Chargers are on the clock, they will grab him because Shawn Merriman is finally gone, and the Chargers need another outside pass rusher to accompany Shaun Phillips, who had 11 sacks over the season.
Quinn ran a 4.70 forty at the Combine, and from my analysis of his tape, I think he has a good chance to be a star outside pass rusher.
The Charges are an amazing team, without question the best team that missed playoffs. The Chiefs had a 10-6 record to the Chargers 9-7 and the Chargers lost a minimum of three games due to horrible special teams play. Their offense and defense finished first in total yards, so if the special teams doesn't choke, then the Chargers may actually be the champions over the Packers.
So, the Chargers don't have a giant hole to fix except get some contributors on special teams, and they are in place for a real championship run.
Other need(s): Maybe wide receiver if Vincent Jackson gives them problems or depth on the lines, but that's it.
19. The New York Giants select: Offensive Tackle, Gabe Carimi of Wisconsin
Wisconsin had this gigantic offensive line that led them to win the Big Ten and go to the Rose Bowl where they were beaten by TCU in a classic game. Gabe Carimi is the one who is most ready for the NFL. He's 6'7, 314 pounds, and runs a 5.12.
Excellent run blocker. His huge body just makes him a natural for pushing guys out of the way. Not the greatest pass protector, but that can be coached. He's a great fit for right tackle, and the Giants Kareem McKenzie is 31 and Shawn Andrews, a backup offensive lineman is injury-prone.
Other need(s): Luck, a more patient fan base, outside linebacker could use some young blood possibly, and maybe a tight end.
20. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers select: Defensive End, Ryan Kerrigan of Purdue
The Buccaneers have youth and talent at almost all positions. Only two guys are over thirty on the defense. Defensive end Stylez White is 31, and Ronde Barber is 35. Now, Barber is sticking around, but White has only 4.5 sacks for a team that had 26 sacks total. They need a great pass rusher, and Ryan Kerrigan is the guy.
He's almost 6'4, 267 pounds, a hard worker with a tough bull rush, and very smart too. I think the Bucs could use a guy like him to get around the tackle and plant the quarterback in the ground.
Other need(s): Discipline, and cornerback because Barber is 35. That's it though. They have young players at all positions that have high futures. This team, once it learns how to win big games, could be the next dynasty.
21. The Kansas City Chiefs select: Outside Linebacker, Justin Houston of Georgia
The Chiefs finished 10-6 and won the AFC West division, so they have a solid team, but Mike Vrabel, a leader of the team, is 35 years old and it going to retire soon. I think that the Chiefs should grab Houston so he can learn from one of the better linebackers in the league.
Houston is 4.63 forty guy, had 30 bench reps, a vertical leap of 36.5 inches, 10'5 broad jump, and is an amazing pass rusher. I think Vrabel could teach him the intricacies of coverage, and then the Chiefs could show him tape of Derrick Thomas to be an amazing pass rusher.
Very solid pick here.
Other need(s): Interior linemen, but none are worthy of a pick this high. I definitely think receiver will be a need eventually to help Dwayne Bowe. Other than that, this Chiefs team just needs to fight off the Chargers next year and they can win the division again.
22. The Indianapolis Colts select: Offensive Tackle, Nate Solder of Colorado
The Colts need offensive line help because they're about protecting Peyton Manning, and last year, he wasn't protected nearly as much. He was sacked 16 times and it could've been more except for Peyton's machine-gun quick release. He threw 17 interceptions as well.
Bill Polian, the Colts President, has stated that he regrets not drafting Roger Saffold last year (he went 33rd overall to the Rams), and they drafted Jerry Hughes, who only had six tackles over the year. Not that Hughes was a bad pick, the Colts just needed Saffold more.
Solder is not that great of a prospect to me. He struggles significantly with speed rushers, but he's the best guy left, and the Colts will take him and work with him to protect Manning.
Other need(s): Stay healthy, secondary, head coach (I have very little respect for Caldwell. He's too conservative for me), upgrades on defense because they have solid starters, but none of those guys are probably even top 15 at their positions beside Freeney and Mathis.
23. The Philadelphia Eagles select: Defensive Tackle, Cameron Heyward of Ohio State
Before any Eagles fans want to attack my article with slurs, I'm not sure about the Eagles being in a 4-3 defense forever. The drafting of Brandon Graham, is curious because he is more a 3-4 outside linebacker than a 4-3 defensive end.
So, I'm going to assume that the Eagles are going to a 3-4, and they need help on the defensive line, and Cameron Heyward is a prototypical 3-4 defensive end.
Other need(s): Luck, some linebackers, and no disrespect intended at all, but they need a gypsy to communicate with Jim Johnson in the afterlife because he was an AMAZING defensive coordinator. If he was still alive for the Michael Vick breakout year, the Eagles probably have a great enough defense to beat the Packers and maybe even win the Super Bowl.
24. The New Orleans Saints select: Defensive End, Cameron Jordan of California
He isn't the greatest pass rusher or run stuffer, but he does both pretty well. I think the Saints will reach for him because they need help on the defensive line. Will Smith only had six sacks, and Sedrick Ellis had 5.5. The team needs a real pass rush threat. The reason the Saints didn't repeat is because they did not replicate the turnovers they had last year. They need a pass rusher not only to get sacks and cause fumbles, but to hurry the quarterback into making a bad decision and an interception.
Other need(s): Outside linebacker, center
25. The Seattle Seahawks select: Quarterback, Jake Locker of Washington
Perfect place for this young man. He had a bad senior year in terms of completions, but when I look at Jake Locker, I like his style more than a lot of other quarterbacks like Newton, Gabbert, or Mallett.
For a team that finished 7-9, still made the playoffs, and upset the defending champions, the Saints, they are still a team that need significant improvements in a lot of areas if they expect to make playoffs again.
With Matt Hasselbeck in his late thirties and possibly not returning, the Seahawks need a legitimate guy, not Charlie Whitehurst. Jake Locker is a legitimate guy to work with, and he'll be home for good.
Other need(s): Cornerback, strong safety, improvement on defense, defensive line.
26. The Baltimore Ravens select: Wide Receiver, Titus Young of Boise State
I think the receivers of the Ravens were just underachieving all year, including Anquan Boldin. T.J. Houshmanzadeh dropped passes that hit him square in the chest, and Boldin wasn't sharp in the playoffs.
Titus Young was an amazing receiver at Boise State. Just an incredible talent with great speed—he ran a 4.43 forty—and made big plays when they needed him to.
The Ravens are only missing big plays from their receivers. That's the thing that separates them from the Super Bowl.
27. The Atlanta Falcons select: Defensive End, Adrian Clayborn of Iowa
The Falcons have solid players all over the defense. They could use another wide receiver, but Green, Jones, and Young will be off the board by then.
Clayborn is a fit there because the defensive line, besides John Abraham, was not that great of a threat overall. Clayborn could be an end or a tackle in a 4-3 scheme, and he was a real beast at Iowa. He should cause pressure or take up blockers at least.
Also, Abraham is 32, so they could use Clayborn for the future.
Other need(s): Wide receiver, center, tight end, and luck.
28. The New England Patriots select: Outside Linebacker, Akeem Ayers of UCLA
The Patriots need a real effective pass rusher. Other than that, they are a great team. Ayers is a guy whom I can see Belichick turning into a great player.
Other need(s): Addressed at pick 17
29. The Chicago Bears select: Offensive Guard, John Moffitt of Wisconsin
The Bears have the greatest need at offensive line. Jay Cutler has taken too great of a beating under center, and the Bears have not had any top first round picks for the last two years because they traded them to get Cutler.
Now, they have to address the offensive line. I'd possibly trade up for the best offensive lineman in the draft and get Danny Watkins from Baylor in round two.
I picked Moffitt because that Wisconsin line was just a massive unit in general. If there is a better guy available, please tell me so I can correct myself. I haven't found enough tape of guards and centers to make the best judgment here.
Other need(s): Maybe wide receiver, luck, less criticism of Cutler, and more offensive line.
30. The New York Jets select: Defensive Tackle, Corey Liuget of Illinois
The Jets cut Kris Jenkins, and Shaun Ellis is aging, so they need a defensive lineman. Liuget just broke the strength record at the combine, and I think Rex Ryan will see him as a brand new toy for Christmas.
They get him, and I say watch out AFC East.
Other need(s): Receivers need to catch the ball, and that's probably about it. They are a very good team.
31. The Pittsburgh Steelers select: Offensive Tackle, Ben Ijalana of Villanova
The Steelers need offensive line help because they suffered so many injuries from last year, that there were times when they had zero depth left over. Flozell Adams is a nice fit for them, but they need someone to rely on for the future.
Other need(s): cornerback, nose tackle, defensive end is a maybe.
32. The Super Bowl Champions, the Green Bay Packers, select: Safety, Rahim Moore of UCLA
How can you get better than winning the Super Bowl? Well, you address age or possible weak link, and Charlie Peprah is not a guy I'd trust forever with the strong safety position.
Other need(s): Offensive tackle because Clifton is getting up there in age, maybe cornerback for depth and Woodson is finishing his Hall of Fame career, and defensive end possibly.
Well, there you have my first mock. I'm going to try to make more, but I can't promise because between you and me? College is EVIL!
Have a nice day, drop a comment, and be critical if you must, but please don't insult me.
James Williamson's nonfootball related thoughts: I actually picked Butler in my bracket! Also, I had a great spring break. So great, I think we should have two. Who agrees?
The original article is located here at NFLtouchdown.com
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