As the NFL playoffs begin to come to a close, NFL mock drafts are starting to heat up. Everyone has their own opinions of who will or won’t go where. Now that we know who will be in the draft, the speculation is at an all-time high.
With a ton of talent in this year’s draft class, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype. One man who is now falling, though, is Washington quarterback Jake Locker. Locker was one of the highest regarded players last year and would have been a top pick, but he decided to stay in school. With other positions dominating the top of the draft and other quarterbacks rivaling Locker’s ability, Locker is falling down many draft boards.
Who will snag the potential franchise quarterback and in which round?
New head coach Ron Rivera knows defense wins championships. Fairley is a ferocious defensive lineman with a mean streak and non-stop motor. Right now, he seems to be a can’t-miss player if he can keep that intensity up in the NFL.
He will open things for Panthers linebacker Jon Beason.
With Elvis Dumervil returning in 2011, the Broncos draft Dareus to boast a fantastic pass rushing duo to attack the opposing AFC West quarterbacks. The Broncos need a ton of help on defense and while Patrick Peterson is a popular mock pick, Dareus’ pressure up front will help the secondary unit.
The Broncos are also the front-runners to retain Champ Bailey.
The Bills continue to build one of the most explosive young offenses in the league. Green will join wide receiver Steve Johnson to create a dynamic pass catching duo, which will also send Lee Evans to the slot, where he could potentially thrive.
These receivers will open things for sophomore running back and 2010 first-round draft pick C.J. Spiller, who had a disappointing rookie campaign.
The Bengals defense underachieved last year, but they actually have a lot of talent. Bowers has number-one talent and will be a welcomed addition to the Bengals defensive line, which needs the most upgrading on the defensive side of the ball.
Arizona ends up with arguably the steal of the draft in Peterson at number five. Ken Whisenhunt opts to not overpay for a quarterback after drafting Max Hall and John Skelton last year.
Peterson rounds out one of the most talented secondary units in the NFL as he joins Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes.
The Browns need to continue to build their defense to compete with the powerhouses of the AFC North. Quinn was a top prospect last year who should not be overlooked in this draft. Defensive line is a great start for the Browns in this draft.
Jim Harbaugh’s offense is close to dominating in the NFL. Frank Gore and Vernon Davis are among the best at their respective positions and Michael Crabtree can become one of the premier possession receivers in the NFL.
Harbaugh decides to draft his quarterback of the future in Blaine Gabbert, who will be able to step in and play from the start.
Smith has freak-like potential and the Titans could use an upgrade on the defensive line to compete against Indianapolis, Houston and Jacksonville. A dominating defensive end goes a long way in Tennessee’s defensive scheme and Smith will fit right in.
The Cowboys do have a nice secondary, but they couldn’t catch a cold. Amukamara is 1B to Peterson’s 1A in this draft class. The Cowboys could use a shutdown corner like Amukamara for the next decade.
Actually, every team could use a talent like Prince; he shouldn’t even fall this far.
Washington needs upgrading at a lot of positions. This defense is not far off, though.
They have a good secondary and Brian Orakpo is a very good pass rusher. J.J. Watt is a safe pick to enhance the defensive front.
Mike Shanahan passes on a quarterback as he decides to give Rex Grossman an opportunity in 2011. Washington could go offensive line, but the position is deep this year and they could choose one in the second round.
Houston needs to upgrade its secondary badly but they are very close to securing a dominant defensive line. Von Miller and Mario Williams will be a lethal combination for any offensive line to compete against.
There are plenty of secondary players to be had in this draft, so Houston opts to wait until the next round.
Tarvaris Jackson is not the answer. I wouldn’t rule the Vikings out of taking a chance on somebody like Vince Young or Donovan McNabb in the offseason, but for now, Ryan Mallett is the guy I’m giving them.
Mallett has a strong mallet, which is beneficial for receivers Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice.
The Lions need to find a way to keep franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford healthy. If so, they could make a serious run at the division title with Stafford, Jahvid Best, Calvin Johnson and Ndamukong Suh.
Sherrod has the talent to be the best offensive lineman in this draft.
Sam Bradford displayed remarkable accuracy and poise in his rookie season. The Rams desperately need to provide him with a playmaker if they want to take over the division.
Jones is the second-best option behind A.J. Green.
Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are not expected to return, and I still think Chad Henne deserves another chance at quarterback.
Mark Ingram is the best running back in this year’s draft class and is the workhorse back the Dolphins desperately need to run behind their big, powerful offensive line.
A surprise pick here, the Jaguars go after star power and talent. Although the Jaguars need help on the defensive line, Newton is a talent they cannot pass up.
Newton would be served well learning from David Garrard, who plays a rather similar style of game as Newton. The Jaguars finally land their quarterback of the future as Garrard will only take this team so far.
New England must account for the amount of injuries that happens to its defensive line each season. Kerrigan could be a potential steal at No. 17 and will fit in just fine in New England.
The Chargers defense played well last season but should not neglect to continue providing pieces to keep that momentum in 2011. Cameron Jordan is a fantastic prospect who will greatly help the already solid pass rush of the Chargers.
New York needs help on the offensive line as the once-solid unit is aging fast. However, defense comes first right now.
The Giants need linebackers and Akeem Ayers is too good to pass up here as he falls to No. 19 overall. The Giants have passed on solid linebackers in the past such as Brandon Spikes; this shouldn’t happen again.
The Buccaneers suffered injuries late in the season but this defense is starting to really come together. With the offense set for the next decade with Josh Freeman, LeGarrette Blount and Mike Williams, Tampa Bay needs to focus on defense.
Adrian Clayborn and Gerald McCoy will be an excellent tandem on the line for the next decade.
The Chiefs’ young defensive unit played well throughout the year. The secondary is set but they need more help up front.
While the Chiefs need another weapon opposite Dwayne Bowe, Allen Bailey is too good to pass up here right now. He will be a great addition to Kansas City’s defensive line.
Peyton Manning was hit more this season than in several years past combined. The Colts suffered so many injuries this season but need to make sure Manning stays upright.
Carimi is one of the premier offensive lineman in the draft and will be warmly welcomed by Peyton Manning.
The Eagles have one of the most explosive offenses in the game with Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek. Although they could use an upgrade on the offensive line, building a stronger defense is the way to go.
The Eagles need help in the secondary and Brandon Harris will represent an immediate upgrade.
The Saints need help on both the offensive and defensive line. At the moment, nothing is more important than making sure Drew Brees is protected.
The Saints continue making this a first round dominated by offensive linemen as teams realize they need to keep their star players healthy.
Pete Carroll needs his quarterback of the future as Matt Hasselbeck and “Clipboard Jesus” Charlie Whitehurst are not that man. Seattle nation is lucky Jake Locker, a top prospect last season, falls all the way to No. 25.
The Ravens secondary was torched throughout the season. It’s actually surprising Dwayne Bowe didn’t have a bigger game in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.
The Ravens have a great core on offense and defense, but they are in desperate need of a quality corner. Aaron Williams will step in immediately as a rookie.
The Falcons had a “bend-but-don’t-break” defense all year. Personally, I wasn’t that impressed with the unit overall.
The Falcons need another playmaker on the line to take pressure away from John Abraham. Cameron Heyward could very well be that man.
The Patriots should continue upgrading their defensive line as the rest of the unit is set for the next decade. Belichick believes he can find an offensive lineman later in the draft, so defense is the way to go. However, he loves versatile players and Houston is the type of player Belichick can do a lot of things with.
Aaron Rodgers took a bit of a beating this season and suffered two concussions. Although one concussion was the end result of a nice run, the Packers need to keep their most important player healthy as they look to make another Super Bowl run. Castonzo is one of the top offensive lineman in the draft.
The Jets have a fantastic defense but in order for Rex Ryan to maintain his relentless blitzing, he needs quality defensive lineman. Kris Jenkins can’t stay healthy and the Jets need to more pressure up front from the tackle position. Paea would be a solid pick for the Jets.
The Bears have needs at several positions, but I still believe offensive line is the biggest. In Mike Martz’s offense, the Bears must keep quarterback Jay Cutler upright. They will only go as far as he takes them and in order for him to take them back to the playoffs next year, he needs to be on the field and not the sidelines.
The Steelers seem to suffer injuries on the offensive line each year. They need to limit the hits quarterback Ben Roethlisberger takes each season as he gets older. Tyron Smith is a fantastic prospect who will not only add depth, but could start right away.
The Patriots continue to build their defensive line to account for the string of injuries they seem to suffer each season. They already addressed the defensive end position and now will address their interior needs with Drake Nevis.
The Patriots could consider drafting a wide receiver or running back here, but that didn’t work out well when they took Chad Jackson and Laurence Maroney high, so defense is the way for Belichick to continue venturing.
Previous Picks :
Ryan Kerrigan, DL, Purdue
Justin Houston, LB, Georgia
The Bills need a playmaker on defense. Paul Posluszny and Wilson would create a dynamic linebacker tandem. The Bills still have other pressing needs on the defensive line, but Wilson will make a great addition to this unit.
A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
The Bengals need to start rebuilding the offense. Cedric Benson was just a quick fix two years ago; he is not the future. Williams can step in immediately next year and improve this offense, which needs to go back to running the football.
Williams and Benson would take a ton of pressure off Carson Palmer and the aerial attack.
Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
The Broncos need to upgrade their secondary and Jimmy Smith is the perfect fit. Smith appears to be a complete corner and will learn a lot from Champ Bailey, who has said Denver is at the top of his list as he approaches free agency.
Marcell Dareus, DL, Alabama
The Browns desperately need a playmaker on offense besides Peyton Hillis, who most likely will not duplicate his breakout 2010 season. Torrey Smith is one of the highest-rated wide receivers in the draft class.
Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
The Cardinals need a powerful force up front and Liuget is the man for the job. The Cardinals are building a fantastic defense, which has the power, speed and playmaking abilities to dominate the NFC West.
We’ve seen defense lead teams to victory to make up for the lack of offense; that’s the direction the Cardinals are heading.
Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Burton is one of the premier corners in this year’s draft class. The Titans need another corner opposite Cortland Finnegan, especially if Finnegan decides he wants to get roughed up by Andre Johnson again and risk suspension.
Besides, the Titans have to deal with Peyton Manning and Matt Schaub in the division; you can never have enough talented corners to throw against those two.
Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri
After seeing Tony Romo get decimated by the New York Giants, they may want to look into upgrading the offensive line. Love is a great pick here for the Cowboys, who could use some depth anyways.
Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
LeShoure is a fantastic pick for the Redskins, who really need to upgrade the running back position. Neither Ryan Torain nor Keiland Williams is the answer for the Redskins.
LeShoure will be the workhorse the Redskins haven’t had since Portis’ decline a few seasons ago.
J.J. Watt, DL, Wisconsin
Brown is one of the better corners in this draft, but for the Texans, he’ll probably already be the best. That’s how terrible the Texans secondary is. They put out one of the worst secondary units week after week in the NFL.
Brown is a must-have pick right here.
Von Miller, DL, Texas A&M
The Vikings selected the immobile Ryan Mallett in the first round, meaning they must now keep him upright. The Vikings already have a solid offensive line but need to make sure they have the talent secured for years to come.
Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
Detroit needs help in the secondary and could even use another end, but linebacker Bruce Carter will immediately bolster the linebacking unit.
Ndamukong Suh and Carter would be the faces of the Lions defense in 2011. Carter is a solid pick here.
Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
The 49ers need an explosive force up front and Marvin Austin is the missing piece to the puzzle. Patrick Willis, arguably the game’s best defensive player, will be thrilled to have a player of Austin’s caliber up front to create space.
Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Denver continues their overhaul on defense and selects Moore, who is one of the top-rated safeties. The Broncos now have a great, young unit to throw out there with Brian Dawkins, Champ Bailey and Elvis Dumervil in 2011.
Marcell Dareus, DL, Alabama
Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
The Rams get a steal here as Ballard could very well go late in the first round or early second. James Hall had a great year for the Rams, but St. Louis needs to get younger up front. Ballard has beastly talent and should excel in the NFL.
Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
The Raiders need to protect their offensive investments in Darren McFadden and Jason Campbell. The Raiders' quarterbacks were repeatedly roughed up.
The Raiders have a chance to have a solid offense once again, but they need to make sure the offensive line remains strong.
The Jaguars need to continue to bolster the defensive line. If they want to win the AFC South title, they need to create pressure up front to disrupt quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Matt Schaub.
Jacksonville gets a steal here in the second round as Wilkerson very well could be a first-round pick.
Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
The Chargers have one of the top defenses in the league, but with more safety help, they could boast a Super Bowl-caliber defense. Deunta Williams will step in and present an upgrade at the position.
Cameron Jordan, DE, California
The Buccaneers are very close to dominating the NFC South. They have the offense but the defense is still missing a few pieces. The secondary already has two great corners, but the safety position could use an upgrade.
That’s where Robert Sands comes in.
Adrian Clayborn, DL, Iowa
The Giants need to think about the future of their aging offensive line in order to protect their investments in Eli Manning and Ahmad Bradshaw. The unit was better this season than last but still needs some new blood injected into the unit.
Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA
The Colts desperately need more playmakers on defense. Gary Brackett is declining. Greg Jones will step in and make an immediate impact, and a much-needed one, in 2011.
Gabe Carimi, OL, Wisconsin
The Eagles need playmakers in the secondary. They started to fill that need and they now complete it in the second round. Carter provides an upgrade in the secondary as the Eagles close in on a championship.
Brandon Harris, CB, Miami
The Chiefs are putting together a fantastic team. The offense is just about set but they need another playmaker opposite Dwayne Bowe. Baldwin is that man and his addition will open up things even more for the electric Dexter McCluster in the slot.
Allen Bailey, DL, Miami
The Saints defense got burned against the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card round, so upgrading the defense is a must. The Saints do have a good defensive line, they just need more playmakers in the linebacker unit beside Jonathan Vilma.
Kelvin Sheppard will step in immediately to help out.
Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
The Seahawks need to upgrade their defense big-time. After securing their quarterback of the future with Jake Locker, the Seahawks land a big-time defensive tackle who will instantly improve the defensive line.
Jake Locker, QB, Washington
The Ravens continue adding much-needed depth and playmakers to their secondary unit. The Ravens are so close to winning a Super Bowl. While they could use another playmaking wide receiver, now is not the time to search.
They must bolster the secondary for 2011.
Aaron Williams, CB, Texas
It remains to be seen if Tony Gonzalez will give it another go in 2011. It seemed like he was leaning towards retirement in 2011, but the Falcons are on the brink of winning, so he may stick around.
Still, the Falcons should think about the future of their tight end position and Rudolph tops this year’s class.
Cameron Heyward, DL, Ohio State
BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead did a great job for the Patriots, but Bill Belichick enjoys employing three running backs. Kevin Faulk, Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris are on short leashes and the Patriots could stand to inject some youth into the backfield.
Ryan Kerrigan, DL, Purdue
Justin Houston, LB, Georgia
Drake Nevis, DT, LSU
The Packers have a great secondary but seem to be bit by the injury bug each year. The Packers need depth at the corner position. Wright not only fills that need but could start if needed in his rookie season.
Anthony Castonzo, OL, Boston College
The Chargers need to continue to ensure that the offensive line has depth to protect the one cog they cannot afford to lose in Philip Rivers. The Chargers need to more of a push up front for the run game as the offensive line has not been the same for a few years now.
Cameron Jordan, DE, California
Deunta Williams, S, North Carolina
Like his brother Clay of the Green Bay Packers, Casey Matthews has a non-stop motor and will make for a great professional linebacker. The Bears send a bit of a shot to the Packers by drafting Matthews’ brother.
They’ll hope Casey can duplicate the magic Clay has shown this season for the Packers.
Mike Pouncey, OL, Florida
The Steelers could use a young linebacker as insurance in case James Farrior gets hurt in 2011. Sturdivant will be able to learn a lot from Farrior, one of the game’s better inside linebackers.
The Steelers always have pieces to plug in on defense and Sturdivant will be one of the best young backups the game would have to offer.
Tyron Smith, OL, USC