2011 NFL Mock Draft: Luck Opts Out, Creates Domino Effect
As you have heard, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck has decided to forgo the draft and play his redshirt junior season for the Cardinal.
Surprised? Don't be.
Luck comes from a family who stresses that you go to college to get your degree, and if you don't, then you haven't accomplished what you were supposed to. However, this decision could come back to bite Luck. He was projected to go No. 1 overall, and with another season now before he will actually declare, anything could happen (i.e, Jake Locker).
He also is going to lose a ton of guaranteed money, even if he is the No. 1 pick next season, because the NFL is suspected to put a cap on rookie salaries, much like the NBA.
So, how does Andrew Luck's decision to stay in school affect the Panthers and other teams after them? Continue to read and find out.
Round 1 Pick 1: Carolina Panthers Select Da'Quan Bowers (DE, Clemson)
Andrew Luck seemed like a lock to be a Panther, but with him out of the draft, Carolina will take the best defensive player available in this year's draft. Many see him as the next Mario Williams, and with a huge season for Clemson this past year, I wouldn't expect anything less.
Carolina will also look at Cam Newton, AJ Green and Nick Fairley, but in the end, Bowers will make the biggest impression.
Da'Quan Bowers' NFL Comparison: Mario Williams
Round 1 Pick 2: Denver Broncos Select Patrick Peterson (CB, Louisiana State)
It looks like Champ Bailey will be a Bronco no more not far into the start of the offseason.
With no solid backups to replace him, Denver will make a smart move by taking one of the best cornerback prospects in years in Patrick Peterson. He is a solid cover guy who can also make the pick when the pressure is on. He has very minimal weaknesses and will bring defense back to Denver.
Prince Amukamara is on the rise as well, and the Broncos will take a look at him, as well as Nick Fairley.
Patrick Peterson's NFL Comparison: Nnamdi Asoumugha
Round 1 Pick 3: Buffalo Bills Select Cam Newton (QB, Auburn)
With his stock rising every week, Cam Newton will be swiped up by Buffalo in an attempt to finally solidify their quarterback position.
Newton is very mobile and also has a strong arm, which is becoming rare among NFL quarterbacks. If Auburn wins the national championship, Newton could be a lock as a Top Five pick, and here I have him at No. 3.
Because of the Bills' massive amount of holes, they could look at other players such as Fairley and end/linebacker Robert Quinn.
Newton's NFL Comparison: Josh Freeman
Round 1 Pick 4: Cincinnati Bengals Select AJ Green (WR, Georgia)
I never thought at the beginning of the season I would have the Bengals drafting a wide receiver.
However, with it clearly looking like Ochocinco and Owens will no longer be in Cincinnati soon, the Bengals will have to stop their offense from completely diminishing. That's where Green comes in. He is the best wide receiver prospect since Randy Moss, and he has the potential to live up to all the hype.
The Bengals will look at Cam Newton if he is still available, along with Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert. However, Marvin Lewis has made it clear he wants Carson Palmer as his signal caller next year, so that's why AJ Green makes sense to pick here.
Green's NFL Comparison: Calvin Johnson
Round 1 Pick 5: Arizona Cardinals Select Robert Quinn (OLB, North Carolina)
Ever since the departure of Karlos Dansby to Miami, the Cardinals linebacking corp has been mediocre at best. They lack a playmaking outside linebacker who can get to the quarterback. With the No. 5 pick, the Cardinals make the smart choice and take Robert Quinn, who played end in college but looks like he will transition nicely to the outside linebacker position in the pros.
Amukamara and Gabbert are also possible choices for the Cardinals at pick No. 5.
Quinn's NFL Comparison: Terrell Suggs
Round 1 Pick 6: Cleveland Browns Select Nick Fairley (DT, Auburn)
With how good he is, I'm surprised that I have Fairley falling to No. 6. With that said, the Browns catch a steal with a big man who will fit well in their 3-4 defense. He would most likely play end for Cleveland, but he has the strength to play the nose if needed.
Receiver Justin Blackmon would also be good fit for Cleveland, but with how talented Fairley is, they will not pass on him if he is available.
Fairley's NFL Comparison: Aubrayo Franklin
Round 1 Pick 7: San Francisco 49ers Select Blaine Gabbert (QB, Missouri)
Finally, the 49ers are in the perfect position to draft that superstar quarterback they have been searching for.
With a spot in the No. 7 slot, and with Alex Smith being a free agent, this is perfect for San Fran. Blaine Gabbert was not a high projected draft pick earlier in the year, but with scouts realizing his talent and with his leadership, that helped Missouri be successful this season, he quickly climbed up the boards.
Amukamara and Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett are also fairly possible at this slot.
Gabbert's NFL Comparison: Matt Ryan
Round 1 Pick 8: Tennessee Titans Select Von Miller (OLB, Texas A&M)
The Titans got below average production from their outside linebackers this year.
Stephen Tulloch is becoming a star in the middle, but they will need another well talented linebacker if they want to stay strong on defense. Von Miller is a multi-talented guy who can get to the quarterback or drop back into coverage when needed. He can play linebacker or end if they need him to.
Ryan Mallett could be taken by the Titans here, but it just makes more sense for them to go with a free-agent quarterback rather than drafting another one in the Top 10.
Miller's NFL Comparison: Lance Briggs
Round 1 Pick 9: Dallas Cowboys Select Prince Amukamara (CB, Nebraska)
The secondary in Dallas performed very poorly this year, mainly given the lack of depth at safety.
Terrence Newman is transitioning and could be a full time safety next season. The Cowboys will need someone to fill his place across from Mike Jenkins, and I believe that Prince Amukamara will be that guy. He has the athleticism and hands that would fit perfectly into the Cowboys aggressive defense.
End/linebacker Ryan Kerrigan could also be taken here, along with big defensive lineman Marcell Dareus.
Amukamara's NFL Comparison: Jonathan Joseph
Round 1 Pick 10: Washington Redskins Select Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma State)
Washington tends to spend massive amounts of money in the offseason, which winds up reaping minimal results.
Coach Mike Shanahan loves his offensive players, and Justin Blackmon is one of this year's most athletic prospects. Blackmon had unbelievable stats this past season (111 receptions for 1,700+ yards and 20 touchdowns) and had his stock rise faster than any other player in college football.
Dareus and Mallett are also possibilities to enter the nation's capital at No. 10.
Blackmon's NFL Comparison: Dwayne Bowe
Round 1 Pick 11: Houston Texans Select Marcell Dareus (DT, Alabama)
With Wade Phillips being brought in as the new defensive coordinator in Houston, it's pretty much a certainty he will implement the 3-4 scheme there. The Texans will now need a big, strong defensive tackle who can play nose, and Marcell Dareus comes from a great program famous for producing these kinds of players.
Kerrigan will also get a look from Houston, as he could be great at the outside linebacker position.
Dareus' NFL Comparison: Jay Ratliff
Round 1 Pick 12: Minnesota Vikings Select Ryan Mallett (QB, Arkansas)
Brett Favre's days in Minnesota are over...I think.
With that said, they will need a new quarterback to fill his place, and Joe Webb just isn't the ideal guy to do that. Ryan Mallett is a tall, accurate quarterback who has the potential to be a superstar in the NFL. He will help Minnesota get back to the level they are capable of.
The Vikings could choose Washington's Jake Locker instead, but it'd be smarter of them to go with Mallett.
Mallett's NFL Comparison: Matt Schaub
Round 1 Pick 13: Detroit Lions Select Janoris Jenkins (CB, Florida)
Detroit had one of the worst secondaries in the NFL this past season.
This has been their biggest weakness for a few years now, and they have failed to address the cornerback position in the first round. However, they can't afford to not scoop up a guy like Janoris Jenkins at the No. 13 slot. He is a speedy corner with great tackling instincts who will be a starter from Week 1 for the Lions.
Miami cornerback Brandon Harris would be another fairly logical choice at this position for Detroit.
Jenkins' NFL Comparison: Dunta Robinson
Round 1 Pick 14: St. Louis Rams Select Julio Jones (WR, Alabama)
St. Louis had many depleting injuries to their receivers this season and ended up starting certain players most of us have never even heard of.
When Mark Clayton and Donnie Avery come back, the Rams still won't have an ideal No. 1 receiver. I think they will make the smart choice by filling that gap with Alabama's star receiver Julio Jones.
Harris and receiver Jonathan Baldwin are also contenders to be selected here.
Jones' NFL Comparison: Sidney Rice
Round 1 Pick 15: Miami Doplhins Select Mark Ingram (RB, Alabama)
The Dolphins weren't able to get what they expected out of their running game last season or their offense at all, for that matter. Mark Ingram is the best running back in this year's draft, and he could help fire up the Miami offense fast.
Jake Locker is definitely a big possibility here.
Ingram's NFL Comparison: LeSean McCoy
Round 1 Pick 16: Jacksonville Jaguars Select Brandon Harris (CB, Miami)
The Jaguars are a young, talented team, who are showing more and more that they could be contenders soon.
Even still, they could stand to improve their secondary a bit. Brandon Harris is the best tackling cornerback in the draft, and he is a home state guy who could help bring in more fans to the stadium, which Jacksonville desperately needs.
The Jaguars could select a safety or receiver such as Baldwin here, too.
Harris' NFL Comparison: Jabari Greer
Round 1 Pick 17 (f/OAK): New England Patriots Select Ryan Kerrigan (OLB, Purdue)
The Patriots acquired this pick from Oakland in the Richard Seymour trade.
New England has a poor group of outside linebackers, and I would be dumbfounded if they failed to address that position early. Ryan Kerrigan would fit perfectly into the Patriots defensive scheme and could be a big disruptive force in the AFC East.
Ends Allen Bailey and J.J. Watt could also land in New England here.
Kerrigan's NFL Comparison: Brian Cushing
Round 1 Pick 18: San Diego Chargers Select Jonathan Baldwin (WR, Pittsburgh)
If San Diego fails to re-sign Vincent Jackson, they will need to address the wide receiver position early.
Jonathan Baldwin is a strong lengthy receiver who would be great as a part of the San Diego offense, giving Phillip Rivers a consistent go-to guy he lacked for most of the 2010 season, especially with injuries to tight end Antonio Gates.
If the Chargers were to decide to go defense, and Allen Bailey was still on the board, he could be the pick here.
Baldwin's NFL Comparison: Brandon Marshall
Round 1 Pick 19: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Select Akeem Ayers (OLB, UCLA)
The Buccaneers have a young and talented defense, but they still have some holes that need to be filled. Outside linebacker is one of those.
Tampa Bay placed a waiver on current Bills linebacker Shawne Merriman earlier in the year but failed to pick him up. Akeem Ayers could be just as productive for the Bucs, being faster and more athletic than any of their current linebackers.
Ends J.J. Watt and Aldon Smith could also be chosen here to fill a glaring need at defensive end.
Ayers' NFL Comparison: LaMarr Woodley
Round 1 Pick 20: New York Giants Select Allen Bailey (DT, Miami)
The Giants did not get the production they expected out of their defensive tackles this past season.
Justin Tuck played as good as ever, and Osi Umenyiora came back to full potential, but they still lack a strong, agile defensive tackle to help clog up the middle and get to the quarterback. Allen Bailey is one of the strongest players in the draft and would make sense here for New York.
California defensive tackle Cameron Jordan could also help fill the defensive tackle slot for the Giants, so there is a possibility they go with him instead, but if Bailey is still available, I don't see them doing that.
Bailey's NFL Comparison: Tommie Harris
Round 1 Pick 21: Kansas City Chiefs Select Derek Sherrod (OT, Mississippi State)
The Chiefs did not address their needs at offensive line in the first round last year like they were expected to do. It would be smart of them to do so this year.
Derek Sherrod has really risen to the occasion at Mississippi State this year, showing great blocking skills and rising fast on draft boards. This would be a safe and logical pick for Kansas City.
Gabe Carimi is also a guy who could fit well in the Chiefs system.
Sherrod's NFL Comparison: Kareem McKenzie
Round 1 Pick 22: Indianapolis Colts Select Gabe Carimi (OT, Wisconsin)
Ever since the retirement of Tarik Glenn, the Colts have failed to find a new left tackle who can measure up.
Gabe Carimi has perfect dimensions (6'7", 327 lbs.) for an offensive tackle and will help give Peyton Manning solid protection on his blind side for years to come. He can also help get the running game going again, as he is solid as both a pass and run blocker.
I wouldn't be surprised if the Colts decided to go defense at this pick, though. Perhaps a corner like Aaron Williams from Texas could be on their radar.
Carimi's NFL Comparison: Joe Staley
Round 1 Pick 23: Philadelphia Eagles Select Mike Pouncey (G, Florida)
The Eagles have had offensive line troubles all year long. Their interior linemen are especially mediocre, and they desperately need some young talent in there.
Mike Pouncey would help improve the Eagles line fast. He can play guard or center, much like his Steeler brother Maurkice. Mike is very quick on his feet for an interior lineman and has great awareness to prevent against the sacks.
Pouncey's NFL Comparison: Ben Grubbs
Round 1 Pick 24: New Orleans Saints Select Aldon Smith (DE, Missouri)
Will Smith and Alex Brown performed well below expectations for New Orleans this year. They are getting older and not any better. The Saints will need to find a way to replace them—most likely sooner rather than later.
Aldon Smith comes from a great program at Missouri with a history of producing talented defensive players, and with his combination of speed and strength, he could be the next sack-master in the Bayou.
Tar Heels linebacker Bruce Carter could possibly get the nod here, but it would be smarter of the Saints to go with Smith.
Smith's NFL Comparison: Osi Umenyiora
Round 1 Pick 25: Seattle Seahawks Select Jake Locker (QB, Washington)
This will most likely be Matt Hasselbeck's last season in Seattle, or the NFL as a whole, for that matter. With that said, the Seahawks will be looking to replace him, and who better to take over than the homestate hero Jake Locker?
Locker is a big bodied player with an arm like a cannon. He could help keep Seattle at the top of the division if he becomes their quarterback.
Defensive tackle Stephen Paea from Oregon State could also be picked up by the Seahawks here instead of Locker if they were to decide to go defense.
Locker's NFL Comparison: Ben Roethlisberger
Round 1 Pick 26: Green Bay Packers Select Aaron Williams (CB, Texas)
This is a tough pick to predict, especially given the Packers minimal weaknesses.
Charles Woodson is one of the best cornerbacks in the league, and Tramon Williams is climbing quick. However, it wouldn't hurt to be grooming a young corner like Aaron Williams to eventually take Woodson's place. Sam Shields is having a great rookie season but doesn't look like he will be a starter in the future.
Green Bay could look at outside linebacker Carter, but he doesn't seem to have the size yet to play well in a 3-4 defense.
Williams' NFL Comparison: Ellis Hobbs
Round 1 Pick 27: New York Jets Select J.J. Watt (DE, Wisconsin)
New York has had one of the best defenses in the league, mainly thanks to their secondary. Defense could definitely be improved, though.
J.J. Watt was a key part in the Badgers' surprising success this year. He is a big, strong 3-4 type end who would be disruptive in the Jets' system.
Iowa's Adrian Clayborn is another possible pick here.
Watt's NFL Comparison: Aaron Smith
Round 1 Pick 28: Baltimore Ravens Select Adrian Clayborn (DE, Iowa)
Haloti Ngata is one of the best defensive lineman in the NFL. However, Baltimore has not been getting good production out of their other defensive lineman. With picking Adrian Clayborn, they could definitely turn that around.
Clayborn is a scrappy end who would fit great in the Ravens aggresive 3-4 defense.
Baltimore could choose to go wide receiver here, even after the addition of Anquan Boldin. Look for them to have their eyes on Notre Dame's Michael Floyd.
Clayborn's NFL Comparison: Darnell Dockett
Round 1 Pick 29: Chicago Bears Select Anthony Castonzo (OT, Boston College)
The Bears' offensive line has just been horrible. Jay Cutler has been getting no protection, and the running game has not been up to snuff because of poor blocking. Right tackle is the biggest weakness the Bears have.
Anthony Castonzo could immediately fill the right tackle slot, and be in there for the next few seasons at least. He would be great in the offense Chicago has established.
Stephen Paea is also a possibilty here if they look to go defensive line.
Castonzo's NFL Comparison: Sam Baker
Round 1 Pick 30: Pittsburgh Steelers Select Rahim Moore (S, UCLA)
The Steelers have a stud safety in Troy Polamalu but could stand to improve their secondary aside from him.
Rahim Moore has been ranked atop the big boards at safety for a while now, and Pittsburgh would be smart to select him at No. 30. He has great awareness and is a totally different type of athlete than anyone else on the Steelers squad.
UNC safety DeUnta Williams is also a possibilty for the Steelers.
Moore's NFL Comparison: Brian Dawkins
Round 1 Pick 31: Atlanta Falcons Select Stephen Paea (DT, Oregon State)
The Falcon offense is one of the best in the NFL, with a great running game combined and a solid air attack. However, Atlanta remains inconsistent on the defensive side of the ball, especially the defensive line and secondary. John Abraham remains solid at end, but they lack a force in the middle to plug the holes.
Stephen Paea from Oregon State could do just that. He will be a solid role player in the NFL who the Falcons can rely on as a quality starter for years to come.
Cornerback Ras-I Dowling would be a reach, but I wouldn't but it past the Falcons to take him either.
Paea's NFL Comparison: Domata Peko
Round 1 Pick 32: New England Patriots Select Cameron Jordan (DE, California)
With the Patriots second pick in the first round, they address the defensive line position.
Ty Warren is getting up there in years, and they still lack a solid starter across from him. Vince Wilfork has been playing quite a bit of end lately, but they would like to keep him at nose tackle, seeing as he is the best in the league.
Cameron Jordan is a good fit as an end in the 3-4, and he will wind out the first round of the draft.
Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure would be a good fit for the Patriots, but they have been getting good play out of their running game lately, so they should address the defensive line instead.
Jordan's NFL Comparison: Glenn Dorsey