It is way too early to have a good feel for what any NFL team will do this coming April in the 2011 NFL Draft. But that won't stop us from predicting the first 96 picks in the upcoming draft.
We take a look at the first three rounds, pick-by-pick and team-by-team, breaking down what every NFL team needs and who they will find on their draft board.
The current draft order is based on week 15 standings. Underclassmen are included only if there is a strong indication they will enter the 2011 NFL Draft.
Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Stanford
Analysis: This is a no-brainer for the Panthers. We are not giving up on Jimmy Clausen, but he is not the same caliber player as Luck. He also gives them trading power since they traded their second round pick to New England.
What can be said about Luck that has not already? If he enters the 2011 NFL Draft, he will be the No. 1 overall pick. Luck is the type of quarterback you build an entire franchise around.
Patrick Peterson, Cornerback, LSU
Analysis: The Broncos find themselves in a great position to draft the best available player.
Replacing Champ Bailey at cornerback is priority No. 1 in Denver. Patrick Peterson has Bailey potential and we do not say that lightly.
In Peterson, Denver finds an athletic corner who can contribute in the return game, but is also a speedy cover man who can lock down the offense's best receiver.
Nick Fairley, Defensive End/Tackle, Auburn
Analysis: Offensive tackle is a big need in Buffalo, but the team does not want to reach for a position of need this early. Instead they take aim at college football's best defensive lineman: Nick Fairley.
A dominant interior lineman, Fairley could play at defensive end in a 3-4 or tackle in a 4-3 scheme. He is versatile enough to move around on the line, creating matchup problems for offensive coordinators.
Cam Newton, Quarterback, Auburn
Analysis: Let us preface this by saying we do not believe Cam Newton deserves to be drafted this high. With that said, it only takes one general manager to fall in love with his potential.
Carson Palmer has had a terrible 2010 and the writing is on the wall for the Bengals to begin their move on from him. They may even consider moving Palmer to one of the many NFC teams needing a quarterback (Arizona, Minnesota, San Francisco).
Ryan Mallett, Quarterback, Arkansas
Analysis: With the quarterbacks coming off the board fast, Arizona moves to secure their franchise passer.
Matt Leinart fell on his face when given the chance to claim the starting job in Arizona, and Derek Anderson is at best a backup. This leaves Arizona with nothing to build on at the position. Hence the pick of Mallett.
Mallett is NFL-ready after playing in a pro system at Arkansas. He has the big body type that NFL coaches love, and the arm to go with it.
Julio Jones, Wide Receiver, Alabama
Analysis: The Browns have their quarterback of the future in Colt McCoy. They have three of five pieces needed for a dominant offensive line. And they have a bruising running back who can punish defenses. What is missing? A viable target at receiver.
Jones will give McCoy his first real go-to receiver. This is a partnership that will pay off huge for the Browns.
Jake Locker, Quarterback, Washington
Analysis: The desperation in San Francisco causes them to reach for a quarterback early in Round 1. It is also very possible the 49ers will attempt to bring in a Carson Palmer or Donovan McNabb to groom a second or third-round pick at the position.
Jake Locker is a great athlete, a good passer and a fine leader on the football field. We love his potential, but he is not ready to start as a rookie. This is something fans will expect in the Bay City.
Given time, Locker could be great. Thrown in to the fire too early, he could crash and burn.
Prince Amukamara, Cornerback, Nebraska
Analysis: Detroit gets lucky here with the nation's best cornerback falling to them at pick No. 5.
We really like the aggressive play of Amukamara. He will not excite anyone with brilliant returns and Heisman Trophy poses, but he will lock down any receiver put in front of him.
Amukamara is a finished product, ready to attack from day one.
Da'Quan Bowers, Defensive End, Clemson
Analysis: Dallas is a team with many needs on both sides of the ball. Depending on who the new head coach is, and what schemes he brings in, this pick could go a number of directions.
The safe pick is to draft the best player on the board. Right now that is Bowers. A speedy defensive end at Clemson, Bowers projects well as a 3-4 pass rusher from outside linebacker or as a right defensive end in a four-man front.
No matter where you line him up, Da'Quan Bowers has the tools to terrorize NFL offenses.
A.J. Green, Wide Receiver, Georgia
Analysis: Very quietly one of the best players in the entire draft is still on the board at pick nine.
A.J. Green has been as dominant as any receiver in recently memory, but few people are getting excited about him. Lost in the hype of Andrew Luck, Cam Newton and a duo of cornerbacks that can start from their first day, many people seem to have lost the fact that A.J. Green may be the best college receiver we have seen since Calvin Johnson.
Washington will be rebuilding their offense, but there are no quarterbacks worth drafting this early. Instead the team focuses on finding a No. 1 receiver for their new quarterback.
Brandon Harris, Cornerback, Miami (FL)
Analysis: The Texans have the worst secondary in the NFL, a feat that could lead to the dismissal of this coaching staff.
Brandon Harris gives Houston a very active corner who can line up with the best receivers in the game. Combined with 2010 first-round pick Kareem Jackson, Harris will help push the Texans into the playoffs in 2011.
Robert Quinn, Defensive End, North Carolina
Analysis: Ray Edwards is looking at free agency this offseason, and many people believe he will take big money to leave the Vikings.
Quinn might be better than Edwards already. He has moved down draft boards after losing his eligibility for the 2010 season at UNC, but once the NFL Combine comes around, his name will be hot again.
Ryan Kerrigan, Defensive End, Purdue
Analysis: Seattle has drafted well in the past, but there are still sizable holes on offense and defense.
Kerrigan will fill a need at defensive end, where Seattle has rotated players in and out this season in an attempt to find a consistent pass rush. Kerrigan has the moves to play well as a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme.
Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame
Analysis: Vince Young will be back in 2011, even if Jeff Fisher is not. For the Titans to contend for a playoff position, they must build up the offense around Young.
The offensive line and running game are great, but the talent level at receiver is weak. Kenny Britt looks good when healthy, but Nate Washington has not emerged in the No. 2 role as hoped.
Floyd has a skill set at receiver the Titans have never seen. He will be a welcome addition in Nashville.
Adrian Clayborn, Defensive End, Iowa
Analysis: When looking at the Patriots roster, it is surprising how few needs they actually have. With three of the first 33 picks in the draft, the Patriots can load up on talent.
Clayborn has top five talent, but he fits best in a 3-4 scheme and will not be considered at defensive end by the teams running a 4-3. Thankfully for New England, he is still on the board for them.
Defensive end is as close to a need as you will find in New England, but this is also a pick of the best available player.
Mark Ingram, Running Back, Alabama
Analysis: Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are playing out the final years on their contracts, leaving a huge question mark at the running back position after next week.
Ingram, whose dad played for the Dolphins, is a perfect fit for the power running game Miami prefers. He is a one-cut back with excellent vision, ball security and enough speed to keep defenses honest.
Gabe Carimi, Offensive Tackle, Wisconsin
Analysis: The Chargers entire season was affected by the holdouts of Marcus McNeill and Vincent Jackson. Had the two Pro Bowlers been on the field all season, the Chargers would not be picking this early.
The good news for San Diego is that they now have a chance to land a more talented player at a position of need—right tackle.
Carimi is among the most underrated players in the entire draft. He has played left tackle for four seasons against the best defensive ends in college football, but we like him even better at right tackle.
Cameron Jordan, Defensive End, Cal
Analysis: Smart drafting by Jacksonville saw them rebound nicely this season. The Jaguars are guaranteed a winning record, which is impressive after finishing in the bottom 10 last year.
Jordan will team up with former college line-mate Tyson Alualu to give the Jags a powerful pass rush. Jordan, who can play end or tackle, is the kind of versatile lineman Jack Del Rio loves.
To compete with Indianapolis next year, the Jags must get to Peyton Manning. This is the first step toward accomplishing that goal.
Akeem Ayers, Outside Linebacker, UCLA
Analysis: Few people expected the Buccaneers to go from picking No. 3 overall last year to a winning record and a shot at the playoffs. How have they turned things around so quickly? Smart drafting.
Ayers is next in a line of brilliant draft picks by Tampa Bay. Outside linebacker is a position of need, but Ayers also brings speed and play-making ability to a defense that needs to force more turnovers.
In a division with two amazing quarterbacks (Drew Brees and Matt Ryan), Tampa must make defense a priority this offseason.
Janoris Jenkins, Cornerback, Florida
Analysis: Charles Woodson and Traman Williams form one of the best, if not the best, cornerback tandems in the NFL. Williams was signed to a long-term deal this season, but Woodson has to be slowing down over the next few seasons.
Before letting the position become a need, Green Bay can move to add a corner with enough talent to start and eventually replace Woodson. In the meantime, Jenkins will play a valuable role in nickel situations.
Von Miller, Outside Linebacker, Texas A&M
Analysis: The Rams are among the favorite stories from the 2010 NFL season. From the No. 1 overall pick to playoffs, the Rams have improved faster than any team in recent memory.
To continue their climb back to the top of the NFC, the Rams must get better on defense. This is where Von Miller comes in to play.
With their selection of Miller, the Rams add a fast, physical outside linebacker who can rush the passer as well as drop in to coverage. He will quickly become a favorite of head coach Steve Spagnuolo.
Derek Sherrod, Offensive Tackle, Mississippi State
Analysis: Improving the offensive and defensive lines has to be the entire focus of the Colts 2011 NFL Draft plan. The team is winning only because of Peyton Manning.
Sherrod is ranked in our top 10 players, but the lack of a need at left tackle has pushed him down the board slightly. Sherrod is a very talented player, with great experience against top defenses in the SEC. We like him to start at left tackle from day one.
Matt Reynolds, Offensive Tackle, BYU
Analysis: There are "better" tackles on the board, but none that project well at right tackle in the NFL. Reynolds has greatly improved his stock with a strong bowl game. He looks like a top-notch right tackle prospect.
With Reynolds added to the offensive line, Kansas City has the makings of a very, very good offensive line for the next decade. This pick will also improve the team's pass protection, a need as they become more competitive.
Tyron Smith, Offensive Tackle, USC
Analysis: The Giants are another team here in the late first round with considerable needs on the offensive line. The team has done a nice job plugging in players this year, but that strategy will not hold up over time.
Smith could easily be considered the best offensive lineman in the draft when April rolls around. He has great footwork, agility and the length to keep defenders at bay.
Brandon Burton, Cornerback, Utah
Analysis: If we learned anything watching the Falcons and Saints play on Monday Night Football, it was that Jabari Greer is a weak link for the Saints defense. Roddy White continually beat him, exposing a weakness that teams will exploit in the playoffs.
Burton is the type of rangy cornerback the Saints need to shut down White and the other big receivers in the NFC South. Burton has the talent to become a starter in his rookie season. He compares well to Patriots rookie Devin McCourty.
Nate Potter, Offensive Tackle, Boise State
Analysis: Chicago has surprised many people this year with a balanced offense and a dominating defense. To continue their reign atop the NFC North, they must fix problems along the offensive line.
Potter is a name to remember should he decide to enter the 2011 draft. He is a lean offensive tackle with great footwork and the long arms needed for pass protection. What most people don't see is that he is a dominating drive blocker in the run game.
Much like another tackle from his alma mater, Ryan Clady, Potter could see a huge rise in the weeks leading up to the draft.
Ryan Broyles, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma
Analysis: Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes and Brad Smith will enter the offseason as free agents. While the Jets may want to pay all three, it is unlikely they will be able to afford the price tag.
Broyles is a Holmes-clone. He is a shorter receiver who can get in and out of space quickly, runs well through traffic and has dependable hands. He is also an underrated deep threat.
Jimmy Smith, Cornerback, Colorado
Analysis: The Ravens playoff run this season has been overshadowed by the weakness of their pass defense. This is a very good team, but they will not make the Super Bowl with the holes at cornerback they have now.
Smith is a bigger cornerback at 6'2", but he has the feet of a player four inches shorter. He is also aggressive and not afraid to step in against the run.
Anthony Castonzo, Offensive Tackle, Boston College
Analysis: The Eagles are in a position to draft the best available player, which just so happens to be on the offensive line. An upgrade at tackle is considered a need for Philadelphia, especially on the right side.
Castonzo, like so many Boston College linemen before him, is a well-rounded blocker. He excels in the running game, which is why we like him to make the move to right tackle in the NFL.
Nate Solder, Offensive Tackle, Colorado
Analysis: It seems that every year we are projecting Pittsburgh to draft an offensive tackle or a cornerback. Maybe this year the Steelers will listen.
Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked 32 times this season in only 11 games. That average puts Pittsburgh in the bottom six in sacks allowed. Pittsburgh will not win another Super Bowl until Roethlisberger is protected better.
Solder is a big, strong offensive tackle—a perfect fit for the aggressive style of play in Pittsburgh.
D.J. Williams, Tight End, Arkansas
Analysis: The Falcons are an incredibly talented team, and as such have very few needs to address. Depth is needed at cornerback, but that can wait.
Tony Gonzalez has been brilliant. He will go down in NFL history as the best tight end of the current era; but his career is nearing the end.
Williams does not have the size advantage that Gonzalez has held over NFL linebackers and safeties, but he has top end speed for the position and a great understanding of how to get open. He will be a favorite target in the red zone for Matt Ryan.
Jon Baldwin, Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh
Analysis: With Christmas just passing, we all know how hard it is to buy for that person who has everything. This is how the NFL Draft must feel for New England.
Bill Belichick has done a great job assembling talented players who can fit in to his system. The Patriots dominance in 2010 is a testament to the brilliance of Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.
The mid-season trade of Randy Moss had many questioning Belichick, but it paid off well for New England. Deion Branch has filled in nicely, and he will likely be rewarded with a return season in 2011.
Baldwin gives New England something they do not have right now—a red zone threat at wide receiver. He has a big frame and great vertical ability, but he is also a smart route runner with solid hands.
Remember this word when it comes to Baldwin: Steal.
Previous Picks: Adrian Clayborn (DE), Jon Baldwin (WR)
Pick: DeMarcus Love, Offensive Tackle, Arkansas
Analysis: After finding a defensive end and wide receiver in round one, New England can load up on talented players still available. That is, unless they trade this pick.
Love is a very good offensive lineman from a power conference (SEC). He comes in to the NFL ready to start early on. Love will be groomed as the eventual replacement for Matt Light at left tackle, or even for Logan Mankins at guard should the team not re-sign him.
Previous Pick: Cam Newton (QB)
Pick: Allen Bailey, Defensive End, Miami (FL)
Analysis: After a surprise pick in round one, Cincinnati gets back to business by addressing a huge need on defense. Robert Geathers has not become the pass rusher the team hoped, and Antwan Odom cannot stay on the field.
Bailey gives the Bengals a legitimate pass rusher, and a defensive end capable of stopping the run.
Previous Pick: Patrick Peterson (CB)
Pick: Marcell Dareus, Defensive Tackle, Alabama
Analysis: No one knows what to expect in Denver next year, but no matter what defensive system is brought in, the team must get better up front.
Dareus can fit in to either scheme, either as an end in the 3-4 or a tackle in a 4-3. Dareus is among the most talented players in the draft, but there are serious questions about his drive and work ethic.
Previous Pick: Prince Amukamara (CB)
Pick: Rodney Hudson, Offensive Guard, Florida State
Analysis: Improving the run game will be a key to the Lions hopes of a playoff push in 2011, but the team must also think about how to keep Matthew Stafford on the field for an entire season.
Hudson is the draft's best guard. A smart technician on the inside, he has the footwork and agility to pull and trap at an NFL level.
Previous Pick: Nick Fairley (DL)
Pick: Aaron Williams, Cornerback, Texas
Analysis: Getting better on defense is the mantra of the 2011 draft class in Buffalo. Williams will give the Bills a tall cornerback with top speed and agility. Williams has been battle tested against the best in the Big 12 on a weekly basis. He is ready for the NFL.
Previous Pick: Ryan Mallett (QB)
Pick: Travis Lewis, Outside Linebacker, Oklahoma
Analysis: The loss of Karlos Dansby is still being felt in Arizona. The Cardinals attacking, versatile scheme is dependent upon speed at linebacker, something they are lacking right now.
Lewis is a very good all-around linebacker. He can immediately help in run support, but will also bring value in pass coverage.
Previous Pick: Da'Quan Bowers (DE)
Pick: Rahim Moore, Free Safety, UCLA
Analysis: Both safety positions could use an upgrade in Dallas. Alan Ball has been serviceable only at free safety, and strong safety Gerald Sensabaugh is a free agent.
Rahim Moore is better right now than either safety on the Cowboys roster. He is an athletic play maker who will give Dallas an advantage in the turnover battle.
Previous Pick: A.J. Green (WR)
Pick: Christian Ponder, Quarterback, Florida State
Analysis: Ponder has seen his stock fall from No. 1 overall pick to the second round. Or later. We don't quite understand the dramatic fall that some are predicting, but we do see Ponder available in Round 2. Injuries, more than anything, have moved him down our list.
Mike Shanahan needs a quarterback, badly. Ponder fits the mold as an athletic passer who can move around in the pocket and make deep throws on the move.
Previous Pick: Brandon Harris (CB)
Pick: Kenny Tate, Free Safety, Maryland
Analysis: Tate may or may not enter the 2011 Draft, much depends on the NFL Advisory Committee, but we believe he should. General Managers will love his tackling ability and range from centerfield.
In Houston he will be an immediate upgrade and contributor.
Previous Pick: Robert Quinn (DE)
Pick: Terrelle Pryor, Quarterback, Ohio State
Analysis: There is a strong chance that should the board fall this way on Draft Day, the Vikings could either sign a free agent or trade for a quarterback. Since we are not predicting either in this mock draft, the Vikings are instead forced to reach for a project at the position.
Some love Terrelle Pryor, others think he should move to tight end. We see upside here, and with the right coaching, Pryor could become an NFL quarterback.
Previous Pick: Julio Jones (WR)
Pick: J.J. Watt, Defensive End, Wisconsin
Analysis: The Browns are lucky to find Watt still on the board here, as he is a top 30 talent. Many teams need defensive ends, but Watt fits best in a 3-4 scheme. Perfect for the Browns.
Watt is good enough to be a late first-round pick. Much like they did in the 2010 NFL Draft, Cleveland finds great value with each pick.
Previous Pick: Jake Locker (QB)
Pick: Cameron Heyward, Defensive End, Ohio State
Analysis: An outside linebacker for the 3-4 or a cornerback are bigger needs here, but with no player on the board to fit these needs the 49ers grab the best player on their board.
Heyward will likely be a first-round pick in April, depending on which juniors enter. He has a big frame and is good as a pass rusher, but his best value is as a defensive end in the 3-4.
Previous Pick: Michael Floyd (WR)
Pick: Martez Wilson, Inside Linebacker, Illinois
Analysis: There is talk that starting middle linebacke Stephen Tulloch may not be back with the team in 2011. Either way, an upgrade is needed. Wilson is a bigger player than Tulloch, but he is also faster and better against the run. Tulloch may be missed on third down, but Wilson has potential in pass coverage.
Previous Pick: Ryan Kerrigan (DE)
Pick: Bruce Carter, Outside Linebacker, North Carolina
Analysis: Pete Carroll knows good football players, especially on defense. Bruce Carter has top 15 talent, but a torn ACL has shut him down this offseason. Carter should be cleared for mini-camp this summer.
In Carter, Seattle will get a very fast outside linebacker who can make plays from sideline to sideline. Carter is the perfect replacement for Leroy Hill.
Previous Pick: Patrick Peterson (CB), Marcell Dareus (DL)
Pick: Torrey Smith, Wide Receiver, Maryland
Analysis: The loss of Brandon Marshall caused problems in the Denver offense all season long. Even with the emergence of Brandon Lloyd and the return of Demaryius Thomas, the Broncos cannot afford to overlook a talent like Smith in the second round.
Previous Pick: N/A
Pick: Orlando Franklin, Offensive Guard, Miami (FL)
Analysis: Quarterback is on top of the Raiders wish list, and if Terrelle Pryor is available they could easily pull the trigger. With no quarterbacks of value available, look for Oakland to instead try and shore up the offensive line with this massive guard from Miami.
Previous Pick: Cameron Jordan (DE)
Pick: Quinton Carter, Free Safety, Oklahoma
Analysis: The Jaguars secondary was bad this season. Very bad. Adding Carter to patrol from free safety will improve their pass defense immediately.
Carter shows good range at free safety, but he is also a punishing tackler and shows ability in coverage.
Previous Pick: Akeem Ayers (OLB)
Pick: Greg Jones, Inside Linebacker, Michigan State
Analysis: Starter Barrett Ruud will be a free agent following the season. The team has a big decision to face there. Is Ruud worth big money, or can they find a player with more potential in the draft?
Jones is a tough-as-nails inside linebacker with great instincts. He will be a valuable addition to this young defense.
Previous Pick: Janoris Jenkins (CB)
Pick: Mikel LeShoure, Running Back, Illinois
Analysis: The injury to Ryan Grant has put the Packers playoff hopes in jeopardy this season. For the Packers to improve as a team, they must find a quality backup to Grant, and also someone who can spell him late in the year.
At 230 pounds, LeShoure is a Rashard Mendenhall clone out of Illinois. His tough running style and speed will be a perfect fit for the cold winter games in Green Bay.
Previous Pick: Gabe Carimi (OT)
Pick: Leonard Hankerson, Wide Receiver, Miami (FL)
Analysis: Will Vincent Jackson be back in 2011 or not? That question holds as much weight in the San Diego Chargers plans as any other.
Without Jackson the offense is not the same, and they must move to replace him. Hankerson, like Jackson, is a big receiver who can separate downfield. He will be a solid target in the Chargers downfield passing game.
Previous Pick: Von Miller (OLB)
Pick: Marcus Cannon, Offensive Line, TCU
Analysis: Cannon, a tackle for TCU, projects very well at right guard in the NFL. At 350 pounds, he has excellent size and strength, but he is also surprisingly agile and quick.
The Rams will be looking to replace Adam Goldberg at right guard after this season. Cannon, much like 2010 second-round pick Rodger Saffold, has the talent to step in and play right away.
Previous Pick: Derek Sherrod (OT)
Pick: Drake Nevis, Defensive Tackle, LSU
Analysis: After finding their left tackle of the future in Round 1, Indianapolis must start worrying about the defensive line. Nevis is an ideal fit for the Colts defensive line; he is fast, somewhat undersized and tough as hell in the trenches.
The Colts have wisely fixed two areas of concern quickly in Rounds 1 and 2. In Round 3 they can be less predictable.
Previous Pick: Tyron Smith (OT)
Pick: Zach Brown, Outside Linebacker, North Carolina
Analysis: Brown, a player with the talent to be drafted much higher, could see a draft-day slide due to weight concerns (he is only 225 lbs).
The Giants will be happy to end his slide. Speed at linebacker is a need in New York, where Mathias Kiwanuka has been often injured and will be a free agent.
Previous Pick: Matt Reynolds (OT)
Pick: Stefen Wisniewski, Center, Penn State
Analysis: It will be somewhat odd seeing "WISNIEWSKI" on the back of a Chiefs jersey after years of seeing his father play for the Raiders, but the Chiefs desperately need help at center, and Wisniewski is the best in this draft.
The 2010 draft class was a turning point for the Chiefs franchise. The 2011 class will be built to support the skill players already on the roster.
Previous Pick: Nate Potter (OT)
Pick: Stephen Paea, Defensive Tackle, Oregon State
Analysis: The Bears, for all their success, have many team needs. Defensive tackle happens to be one of those needs, and here they find a player tailor-made for the Cover 2 scheme they prefer.
Paea is undersized for the position, but he has a quickness that will allow him to shoot the gaps and pressure the quarterback. Playing next to Julius Peppers won't hurt either.
Previous Pick: Ryan Broyles (WR)
Pick: Shane Vereen, Running Back, Cal
Analysis: The 2010 season brought to notice the Jets dependence on a second back to compliment Shonn Greene. In fact, LaDainian Tomlinson was used more as a featured back than Greene. With Tomlinson slowing down as the season grows longer, the Jets must add a younger back to share carries.
Vereen is a lot like Tomlinson. Both are small for a feature back, but have good hands and good speed.
Previous Pick: Jimmy Smith (CB)
Pick: Mike Brewster, Center, Ohio State
Analysis: The Ravens have loved Matt Birk at center, but his career is nearing an end. Replacing Birk will be a top three priority for the Ravens' offseason.
Finding a replacement for a Pro Bowl center and a leader in the locker room will not be easy. Brewster is a smart player, and a gritty fighter for a center. The Ravens fans will love him.
Previous Pick: Brandon Burton (CB)
Pick: Jurrell Casey, Defensive Tackle, USC
Analysis: The defending Super Bowl champs have seen a let down in 2010, largely in part to a defense that is allowing too many big plays. In Round 1, the Saints added a cornerback to stop the best receivers. In Round 2, they add a play-maker at defensive tackle to not only pressure the passer, but to stop the run.
Casey will team up with Sedrick Ellis to give New Orleans a great young foundation at tackle.
Previous Pick: Nate Solder (OT)
Pick: Mike Pouncey, Offensive Guard, Florida
Analysis: We all know that Pouncey has said he wants to play alongside his brother Maurkice in Pittsburgh. Thankfully the Steelers need help at guard in a bad way.
By adding Pouncey and Nate Solder to the offensive line, Pittsburgh is building the type of offensive line they can win multiple Super Bowls with.
Previous Pick: Anthony Castonzo (OT)
Pick: Mark Herzlich, Outside Linebacker, Boston College
Analysis: I had no intention of giving Philadelphia two Boston College players in a row, but it happened. And it really works out well for the Eagles (of Philadelphia and BC).
Herzlich has made a heroic return to football after being diagnosed with cancer and missing the 2009 season. In 2010 he returned to his former greatness. A clean bill of health at the NFL Combine is a must before this pick can happen.
Previous Pick: D.J. Williams (TE)
Pick: Jeremy Beal, Outside Linebacker, Oklahoma
Analysis: Until weakside linebacker Mike Peterson is re-signed, this will be a top need on the Falcons' list.
With the second to last pick in Round 2, Atlanta finds a steal. Jeremy Beal would be a solid replacement for Peterson. He is faster, provides more of a threat as a pass rusher and is simply much younger.
Previous Pick: Adrian Clayborn (DE), Jon Baldwin (WR), DeMarcus Love (OT)
Pick: Phil Taylor, Nose Tackle, Baylor
Analysis: Vince Wilfork remains one of the best nose tackles in the NFL, but why not give him a little help? Phil Taylor is an enormous man, at 6'5" and 340 pounds, he doesn't shy away from anyone. Putting Taylor and Wilfork on the line together in running situations all but guarantees the Patriots the best push up front.
Taylor also gives New England a much needed backup to Wilfork as he enters the second half of his career.
Previous Pick: Andrew Luck (QB)
Pick: Muhammad Wilkerson, Defensive Tackle, Temple
Analysis: The Panthers are in the midst of a massive rebuilding project, involving all three phases of the game. At this point they can simply draft the best players available. At pick No. 65, that is Wilkerson. At defensive tackle, Wilkerson will be able to line up over the center or in the "A" gap to generate push and control the run.
Previous Picks: Patrick Peterson (CB), Marcell Dareus (DL), Torrey Smith (WR)
Pick: Lance Kendricks, Tight End, Wisconsin
Analysis: Improving the offense in Denver will largely come in the area of the pass attack. Adding a tight end not only creates matchup problems for defenses, it gives Tim Tebow a viable outlet when the pass rush gets close. Kendricks is also a great target in the red zone, where his height is an advantage over smaller defensive backs.
Previous Picks: Cam Newton (QB), Allen Bailey (DE)
Pick: DeMarco Murray, Running Back, Oklahoma
Analysis: Cedric Benson will be a free agent after this season, and Cincinnati has no one on the roster capable of carrying the load in replacement. Signing Benson will be a priority, but so will finding a dependable backup and change-of-pace back.
Murray is a quality runner, but he adds value as a receiver and return man. He will give the Bengals offense a much needed spark.
Previous Picks: Nick Fairley (DL), Aaron Williams (CB)
Pick: DeAndre McDaniel, Strong Safety, Clemson
Analysis: The Bills have ignored two needs that most fans feel they will attack first: quarterback and offensive tackle. The truth is that Buffalo likes Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, and they feel they have young tackles in Demetrius Bell and Ed Wang who they can build around. What they do not have is defense.
McDaniel, the draft's No. 1 rated strong safety, is the type of in-the-box safety the Bills need to stop the powerful offenses of the AFC East.
Previous Picks: Ryan Mallett (QB), Travis Lewis (OLB)
Pick: Mike Adams, Offensive Tackle, Ohio State
Analysis: Levi Brown has failed to develop into the type of offensive tackle the Cardinals needed him to be. The situation at right tackle is even worse.
Adams is a projected right tackle, due mainly to his height and a slower foot speed than you would like. At right tackle, he can concentrate on powering the run game, and also use his length to redirect pass rushers.
Previous Picks: Prince Amukamara (CB), Rodney Hudson (OG)
Pick: Marvin Austin, Defensive Tackle, North Carolina
Analysis: The third round is a comfortable place to take a risk on a talented player with some character issues. Especially when that player was considered as the preseason No. 1 overall prospect.
Austin screwed up by taking money from an agent, and he has paid for it. In the NFL, he will be given the coaching he needed to transition from an incredible athlete to a game-changing tackle. Playing next to Ndamukong Suh should help out a lot too.
Previous Picks: Brandon Burton (CB), Jurrell Casey (DT)
Pick: Dontay Moch, Outside Linebacker, Nevada
Analysis: Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams knows how to put his players in a position to hurt the offense as well as anyone in the NFL. Imagine what he can do with a linebacker that ran a legitimate 4.28 in the 40-yard dash?
Moch is a bit of a freak. He has good size and sprinter speed, but he plays outside linebacker. At this point he is very raw, but as a pass rusher he will be downright scary.
Previous Picks: Brandon Harris (CB), Kenny Tate (FS)
Pick: Jared Crick, Defensive Tackle, Nebraska
Analysis: The Texans have done a great job of adding to their defense through three rounds of the 2011 draft. In Crick they find a natural pass rusher at defensive tackle, and a player many rated the best defensive tackle in the country before the season began.
Houston has targeted defense with each of their first three picks. In Rounds 4-7, they can address adding depth at wide receiver, a tight end and more.
Previous Picks: Adrian Clayborn (DE), Jon Baldwin (WR), DeMarcus Love (OT), Phil Taylor (NT)
Pick: Davon House, Cornerback, New Mexico State
Analysis: This is the pick the Vikings sent to New England for four weeks of Randy Moss. Smart trade, huh?
The Patriots do not necessarily need a cornerback, but they can sit back and draft the best players available. It is also important to remember that the Patriots trade draft picks more than any other team.
House is in the mold of the Patriots other corners in that he is tall, lean and fast. He is also a very smart player who can adapt well to the NFL.
Previous Picks: Julio Jones (WR), J.J. Watt (DE)
Pick: Levy Adcock, Offensive Tackle, Oklahoma
Analysis: The Browns are set with Joe Thomas at left tackle, but opposite Thomas they have a need for the position.
Adcock is a natural left tackle, but he shows the strength to move to right tackle in the NFL. He actually reminds us a lot of former Miami Hurricanes left tackle Eric Winston, who is now a Pro Bowl right tackle.
Previous Picks: Jake Locker (QB), Cameron Heyward (DE)
Pick: Ras-I Dowling, Cornerback, Virginia
Analysis: The 49ers cannot overlook defensive positions, other than middle linebacker. As Nate Clements ages, and Tarell Brown fails to develop, the 49ers must get better at cornerback.
Dowling is a quiet player, but he has serious NFL potential. Remember this name when Dowling is starting in the NFL.
Previous Picks: Da'Quan Bowers (DE), Rahim Moore (FS)
Pick: Jason Pinkston, Offensive Tackle, Pittsburgh
Analysis: Doug Free has been a nice replacement for Flozell Adams at left tackle, but the Cowboys problems on offense start with his counterpart at right tackle.
Pinkston is a logical choice to move in at right tackle. He has the build for the right side, and the power to anchor the run game. He could start as a rookie.
Previous Picks: Gabe Carimi (OT), Leonard Hankerson (WR)
Pick: Daniel Thomas, Running Back, Kansas State
Analysis: With the first of three picks in the third round, San Diego looks at improving a position they thought they took care of in the 2010 Draft.
Ryan Mathews was supposed to be the future at running back, but his rookie season was a disappointment. Adding a powerful runner in Daniel Thomas will allow Mathews breathing room and also let the Chargers use him more as a break-away runner.
Previous Picks: Michael Floyd (WR), Martez Wilson (ILB)
Pick: Curtis Brown, Cornerback, Texas
Analysis: The Titans have found a steal in Alterraun Verner at cornerback, but depth is still a huge need in the Tennessee secondary.
Brown brings athleticism to the position and a knack for special teams. Brown does not look like a starter at cornerback, but he does have the makeup of a long-time nickelback.
Previous Picks: Orlando Franklin (OG)
Pick: Pat Devlin, Quarterback, Delaware
Analysis: We fully expect Al Davis to fall in love with a quarterback at some point this offseason, and Devlin fits the Al Davis mold well.
He is big, with a rocket of an arm, and enough mobility to get outside the pocket. John Elway he is not, but Devlin is a well-rounded quarterback with NFL potential.
Previous Picks: Mark Ingram (RB)
Pick: Jaiquawn Jarrett, Free Safety, Temple
Analysis: The Dolphins have no pick in the second round thanks to a trade that brought in Brandon Marshall. In Round 3, Miami must look to get better at safety or guard.
Jarrett is a player many see rising up draft boards. His tough style of play will fit in great on the aggressive Miami defense.
Previous Picks: Akeem Ayers (OLB), Greg Jones (ILB)
Pick: Jabaal Sheard, Defensive End, Pittsburgh
Analysis: After fixing their problems at linebacker in Rounds 1 and 2, Tampa can now focus on the pass rush.
The team is set at defensive tackle, but at end they are weak. Sheard brings a tenacious style of pass rushing to the Bucs defense. He'll be a welcome addition when facing Drew Brees and Matt Ryan.
Previous Picks: Janoris Jenkins (CB), Mikel LeShoure (RB)
Pick: Christian Ballard, Defensive End, Iowa
Analysis: Ballard is the perfect fit for the 3-4 defense, and more specifically the Packers 3-4. Green Bay prefers a fast approach on defense, and Ballard is one of the faster 3-4 end prospects in the draft. A match made in Cheese Heaven.
Green Bay always does a nice job during the draft. This is just another example of smart drafting.
Previous Picks: Gabe Carimi (OT), Leonard Hankerson (WR), Daniel Thomas (RB)
Pick: Jarvis Jenkins, Defensive End, Clemson
Analysis: The second of three picks in this round, San Diego is in a position to make big improvements to a roster that has gotten worse over the last few seasons.
Jenkins, a defensive tackle at Clemson, will make the move to defensive end in the Chargers three-man front. He has the height to block passing lanes, and the girth to plug holes in the running game. He is also oddly fast for a 315-pound lineman.
Previous Picks: Cameron Jordan (DE), Quinton Carter (FS)
Pick: Andy Dalton, Quarterback, TCU
Analysis: Jack Del Rio loves David Garrard. The two have been through a lot together, and we admire Del Rio's loyalty. With that said, it is time for the team to look at replacing Garrard in the next few seasons.
Dalton is a favorite of ours. He is tough, mobile, has a great arm and a high football IQ. He has the look of a starting quarterback.
Previous Picks: Von Miller (OLB), Marcus Cannon (OG)
Pick: Kendall Hunter, Running Back, Oklahoma State
Analysis: Steven Jackson has been the Rams entire offense in previous seasons. In 2010, the addition of Sam Bradford took pressure off Jackson, but he has still seen a ton of carries in the past four seasons.
Hunter is added here as a change-of-pace back. He has good hands, is a solid runner between the tackles and has some ability to break away.
Previous Picks: Derek Sherrod (OT), Drake Nevis (DT)
Pick: Benjamin Ijalana, Offensive Guard, Villanova
Analysis: The Colts continue to add talent to the offensive line in Round 3. Ijalana is again the ideal fit for the mobile Colts offense. He has the ability to pull and trap, but also to get upfield on screens.
Keeping Peyton Manning unharmed is the new goal of the Colts offense. To sustain their success, Manning has to stay healthy.
Previous Picks: Matt Reynolds (OT), Stefen Wiskniewski (OC)
Pick: Sam Acho, Outside Linebacker, Texas
Analysis: Acho, a defensive end at Texas, has the ability to move outside to linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Opposite Tamba Hali, Acho will be asked to step up against the run and also to jam tight ends and backs coming out on pass routes. He has the body size and agility to excel at this.
Previous Picks: Tyron Smith (OT), Zach Brown (OLB)
Pick: Colin McCarthy, Inside Linebacker, Miami (FL)
Analysis: We are of the opinion that the Giants need to add youth and speed at every linebacker position. McCarthy is a bit raw, but with the excellent coaching in New York, he will be up to speed in no time.
McCarthy is your protypical 4-3 MIKE linebacker at 240 pounds and running a 4.6 in the 40-yard dash.
Previous Picks: Gabe Carimi (OT), Leonard Hankerson (WR), Daniel Thomas (RB), Jarvis Jenkins (NT)
Pick: Deunta Williams, Free Safety, North Carolina
Analysis: With their final choice in the third round, San Diego makes a smart pick to improve their secondary. Williams is a very good free safety, in fact he could be drafted one full round higher come April. His ability to track the ball is impressive, as is his range in coverage.
Previous Picks: Jimmy Smith (CB), Mike Brewster (OC)
Pick: Ronald Johnson, Wide Receiver, USC
Analysis: Replacing veteran wide receiver Derrick Mason will be key for the Ravens as their offense continues to progress. Johnson is an underrated receiver from Southern Cal. At USC he has not had the benefit of playing with a consistent quarterback, causing his touches to be fewer than other premier receivers. He does come with great speed and an ability in run-after-catch yards.
Previous Picks: Brandon Burton (CB), Jurrell Casey (DT), Dontay Moch (OLB)
Pick: Ahmad Black, Strong Safety, Florida
Analysis: Defensive end remains a need for the Saints, but in Round 3 they find a missing piece to the secondary in Black. With starting safeties Roman Harper and Darren Sharper both expected to hit free agency, finding a player like Black, who has played in an NFL style defense and is ready to start as a rookie, is a haul.
Previous Picks: Nate Potter (OT), Stephen Paea (DT)
Pick: Austin Pettis, Wide Receiver, Boise State
Analysis: Chicago needs to find consistency at receiver, and also add players who can contribute in Mike Martz's spread passing attack.
Pettis is a great find this late. He will excel in underneath routes out of the slot. Think of Wes Welker or Danny Amendola here, that is what Pettis will be for the Bears.
Previous Picks: Anthony Castonzo (OT), Mark Herzlich (OLB)
Pick: Shareece Wright, Cornerback, USC
Analysis: Philadelphia has had a great secondary for as long as we can remember, but the talent is getting thinner due to age and free agency. Marlin Jackson looks like he may move to free safety next year and Ellis Hobbs is a free agent. This makes adding an NFL-ready corner early in the draft a priority.
Previous Picks: Nate Solder (OT), Mike Pouncey (OG)
Pick: Johnny Patrick, Cornerback, Louisville
Analysis: Pittsburgh, as mentioned before, has needed help at cornerback for a few years now.
One name we continue to hear as a "riser" on draft boards after the first week of bowl games is Patrick. He is a tough corner with elite speed, something we do not see often. Expect a big offseason for Patrick, and a shot up draft boards.
Previous Picks: D.J. Williams (TE), Jeremy Beal (OLB)
Pick: Stephen Schilling, Offensive Guard, Michigan
Analysis: We consider going defensive end here, or even cornerback, but guard makes the most sense and we found a sleeper sitting on the draft board.
Schilling is well-versed in multiple blocking schemes due to a coaching change at Michigan. He is also a powerful run blocker, perfect for the right guard position in Atlanta.
Previous Picks: Adrian Clayborn (DE), Jon Baldwin (WR), DeMarcus Love (OT), Phil Taylor (NT), Davon House (CB)
Pick: Jerrel Jernigan, Wide Receiver, Troy
Analysis: It should be said that New England will never keep all of the picks they have currently once the draft rolls around. With that out of the way, the Patriots have really assembled a nice draft class here.
New England has one final pick, and with that pick they find another talented player who slipped through the cracks in Jerrel Jernigan of Troy. Jernigan brings tons of speed with him to the NFL, clocking in the high 4.2s in the 40-yard dash. He will be an excellent return man and slot receiver.