2011 NFL Draft: Two Quarterbacks in the Top 10 and Cam Newton Takes A Fall
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The NFL Draft continues to be a great lifeline for struggling franchises. Teams can get their pick of some of the best college players to help turn around their team.
Sometimes they hit the jackpot. Other times, they completely miss and set back their franchise years—even decades.
With a collective bargaining agreement still up in the air, some think football won't start up right away in 2011, while others are optimistic that it will be done in time for free agency and the draft.
Either way, teams will change the lives of dozens of young men who look to play amongst the world's best in one of the most successful sports in the world.
With The 1st Pick in The 2011 NFL Draft, The Carolina Panthers Select...
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Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
Organization Analysis: The Panthers are coming off one of their worst seasons in franchise history.
Head coach John Fox was released because his contract expired. Ron Rivera, who coordinated San Diego's defense in 2010, is the new head coach.
The Panthers have some solid pieces in place, including RB DeAngelo Williams, who could be a huge trade asset when the draft rolls around.
The defense is really solid but spent a ton of time on the field. The offensive passing game struggled, but the quarterbacks and receivers were inexperienced outside of Steve Smith.
How This Pick Helps: Fairley is an absolute monster in the middle. He can have an Ndamukong Suh-type impact his rookie year.
He's huge, strong, and is difficult to handle one-on-one. Many label him as a dirty player, but you have to admire the intensity he plays with—that cannot be taught.
An explosive, up-the-field defensive tackle is vital in just about any system, and new defensive coordinator Sean McDermott will find ways to move this kid around to maximize his value.
With The 2nd Pick in The 2011 NFL Draft, The Denver Broncos Select...
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Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Organization Analysis: The Broncos fired Josh McDaniels after 12 games, ending a disappointing tenure that saw the Broncos ship off Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall and Peyton Hillis.
The defense has been one of the league's worst the past two years. All-world CB Champ Bailey is a free agent after this season, and the Broncos don't have a great replacement.
Quarterback is a strength of this team, as Tim Tebow showed he can be solid, and Kyle Orton could be a good trade piece.
New coach John Fox has a lot of work to do, but he did a great job in Carolina and has some good pieces to work with.
How This Pick Helps: As the NFL grows into a passing league, the demand for shut-down corners is rising.
Peterson brings excellent size, athleticism and technique to the position. He can match up with all the top wide receivers in the league. Also, he is a skilled return man, which could spark just about any special teams unit.
Cornerbacks can't always be measured by interceptions. If a quarterback doesn't throw towards a guy, it means he must be doing something right.
With The 3rd Pick in The 2011 NFL Draft, The Buffalo Bills Select...
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Marcell Dareus, DE, Alabama
Organization Analysis: Many people thought the Bills would go winless in 2010. In fact, they ended up winning four games and were close in a handful more. Theoretically, they could have won as many as 10 games last year!
The Bills need to figure out if Ryan Fitzpatrick is the guy.
Steve Johnson turned out to be a good option when he wasn't tweeting about God. Is CJ Spiller going to be a big-time player, or will he be a poor man's Reggie Bush?
NT Kyle Williams had an unbelievable year and is a great piece to build around. I'm anxious to see if OLB Shawne Merriman can tap the potential that once made him the most feared player in the NFL.
How This Pick Helps: When Chan Gailey took over, he wanted to build a 3-4 defense. Teams will tell you that finding good 3-4 linemen is one of the hardest spots to evaluate.
They already know Kyle Williams is a great player, so adding another piece to that puzzle would allow them to be competitive in a division that has Tom Brady.
Dareus can move around the line because of his size and quickness and can open things up for the linebackers to flow to the football.
With The 4th Pick In The 2011 NFL Draft, The Cincinnati Bengals Select...
AJ Green, WR, Georgia
Organization Analysis: The Bengals brought back Marvin Lewis.
Why? Because, honestly, they couldn't find an upgrade.
Also, the key to any team's success is continuity. After all, we're talking about a coach that was Coach of the Year in 2009 after going 6-0 in the AFC North.
The Bengals have really drafted well defensively the last few years. Carlos Dunlap finished very strong in 2010 and looks to be a fixture at defensive end. Jonathon Joseph could leave via free agency, which would leave a huge void in the secondary.
Carson Palmer remains the QB for now, but the Bengals could part with Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson, who is due a big salary in 2011.
How This Pick Helps: If the Bengals did want to get younger at wide receiver by releasing Terrell Owens and/or Chad Johnson, they would be left with a bunch of number 2 and 3 receivers.
AJ Green is the prototypical number one wide receiver: At 6'4", 200-plus lbs and 4.4 speed with great hands, Green has been called one of the best receiving prospects next to Calvin Johnson and Randy Moss.
Green would take pressure off Palmer and open things up for Jermaine Gresham and the running game.
With The 5th Pick in The 2011 NFL Draft, The Arizona Cardinals Select...
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Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Organization Analysis: How much money do you think the Cardinals would have paid Kurt Warner to come out of retirement? The Cardinals severely missed Warner's leadership and poise in 2010.
Matt Leinart was cut, Derek Anderson was awful—even though he gave one of the best post-game rants in recent memory—and the rookies were, well, rookies.
The defense was breaking in a lot of new players, but they have a lot of young talent. The biggest concern moving forward is the offensive identity: Do they want to be a power running team, or open up the passing game like they did with Warner?
How This Pick Helps: I'm not a huge fan of Gabbert, mostly because I don't know a lot about him.
However, I am cautious about junior quarterbacks who come from spread offenses.
But Gabbert isn't a typical short guy with a weak arm. He's a fluid thrower who stands in the pocket well with excellent size.
I really struggled with Da'Quan Bowers; that would have been a great defensive line with Dockett, Williams and Campbell starting, with Bowers rotating in.
But in a quarterback-driven league, guess who wins.
With The 6th Pick In The 2011 NFL Draft, The Cleveland Browns Select...
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Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
Organization Analysis: Pat Shurmur was brought in from St. Louis to be the new head coach. He did very well with the progression of Sam Bradford that Mike Holmgren hired him above many of the other sexier names.
Colt McCoy had a solid year and looks like he'll come into the season as the starter. Peyton Hillis was one of the biggest steals in trades last year. If he can overcome fumbles, he'll be tough to stop.
Their offensive line is really solid. Defensively, their front seven won't scare too many people. Joe Haden and TJ Ward both had great rookie years and should be solid for many years.
How This Pick Helps: Regardless of what defensive system the Browns eventually settle on, Bowers can fit. He is strong and plays the run and pass strong.
The defense was ranked 27th against the run in 2010, so Bowers could help tighten it up.
Any way you look at it, Bowers is a great value at the sixth spot and can really be an asset to Cleveland's defense.
With The 7th Pick In The 2011 NFL Draft, The San Francisco 49ers Select...
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Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
Organization Analysis: Jim Harbaugh was lured away from Stanford for the big-time job in the Bay. He inherits a tough defense that plays the run well but needs some work on its pass defense.
Will Alex Smith still be the quarterback, or will Jim Harbaugh find a quarterback to fit his West Coast offense? The other skill players are really solid, and the offensive line has excellent potential.
Nate Clements could be released this offseason due to a high salary, so the pass defense could take a huge hit.
How This Pick Works: Amukamara was one of the best corners in college football next to Peterson, who went second overall. He is as technically sound and athletic as Peterson, but doesn't have his big-play ability.
Amukamara will get the job done in front of him and take away each team's top receiver. The 49ers will probably look to add another pass rusher and quarterback—maybe—later in the draft.
With The 8th Pick in The 2011 NFL Draft, The Tennessee Titans Select...
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Jake Locker, QB, Washington
Organization Analysis: The Titans will not retain Vince Young, meaning the team will look for a new quarterback.
The team is built around Chris Johnson, who didn't put up the big numbers everyone expected, but was still very good.
Randy Moss didn't work out, but the Titans found a gem in Kenny Britt.
Defensively, the unit overachieved the first few weeks of the season, then came back to Earth as it struggled the last few weeks. Corteland Finnegan is a gritty, tough corner who loves to brawl.
How This Pick Helps: The Titans needs a quarterback.
Kerry Collins is old, Chris Simms is a backup, and Rusty Smith is a developmental player.
Locker hasn't put up crazy number in college, mainly because of his lack of supporting cast, but this kid is an awesome football player. He's athletic, tough, and has a cannon. He's very similar to Jay Cutler coming out of school, and playing well in the Senior Bowl could have the same effect it did five years ago.
If he comes to a team with a star running back and developing deep threat, it could really speed up his development.
With The 9th Pick In The 2011 NFL Draft, The Dallas Cowboys Select...
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Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
Organization Analysis: Jason Garrett gave the team a spark towards the end of the season and guided the Cowboys to 6-10. They still remain one of the most talented teams in the league at the skill positions and outside linebackers.
Tony Romo will be healthy, which will be a huge boost. Dez Bryant was having a great year before hurting himself. Jason Witten is one of the best tight ends in the league. DeMarcus Ware is one of the best 3-4 OLBs in the game.
Dallas' secondary needs to add a player who will initiate contact and not shy away. Offensive tackle remains a huge issue.
How This Pick Helps: Solder is massive at 6'8" and still has room to add weight to his frame. He's the best offensive tackle in the draft and can be an immediate starter.
He might not be an elite left tackle, but he can certainly hold his own and is extremely intelligent at this point in his career.
Doug Free struggled last year, and Alex Barron didn't provide much depth.
With The 10th Pick In The 2011 NFL Draft, The Washington Redskins Select...
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Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
Organization Analysis: Big Albert should be gone soon, and the team will probably let Donovan McNabb go, leaving a huge void at quarterback.
The skill players are nothing special. The same can be said about the offensive line. The defense had a hard time adjusting to a 3-4 defense, but linebackers Brian Orakpo and London Fletcher are great in any scheme.
The safeties were pretty awful, and while DeAngelo Hall had a good year, his stats were highly inflated by Jay Cutler's unnecessary generosity in Week 7.
How This Pick Helps: I think Mike Shanahan will get a veteran quarterback for his offense. I don't see him going after Cam Newton.
Jones would be a huge target for any quarterback and would finally give the Redskins a tall receiver who can snag balls out of the air.
Jones is right up there with Green in terms of being a great prospect, except he has concentration lapses and relies on physical gifts too much.
With The 11th Pick In The 2011 NFL Draft, The Houston Texans Select...
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Bruce Carter, DE/OLB, North Carolina
Organization Analysis: The Texans had the worst pass defense last year with young corners and a lack of cover safeties.
They fired defensive coordinator Frank Bush and hired former Dallas head coach Wade Phillips to run the defense.
Unfortunately, Phillips ran a 3-4 defense in Dallas, and that is what the Texans will run. What will Mario Williams'—the team's greatest defensive asset—role be in this new defense?
Their offense has explosiveness and balance thanks to a surprise year by leading rusher Arian Foster.
How This Pick Works: Carter didn't play football in 2010, so it makes you wonder how his conditioning is. However, three of the top rookies in the 2010 class—Sam Bradford, Mike Williams and Dez Bryant—played little to no games in 2009.
Carter has obvious physical gifts and can really rush the passer, but how will he develop as an outside linebacker? Getting a great outside pass rusher is a huge building block for a 3-4 defense.
With The 12th Pick In The 2011 NFL Draft, The Minnesota Vikings Select...
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Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
Organization Analysis: With Brett Favre allegedly retiring, the Vikings will be looking for a quarterback.
They have great skill players—especially if Sidney Rice re-signs. The offensive line looks decent, but McKinnie had a down year in 2010 and the line wasn't the same.
The Williams Wall is starting to get old, and Ray Edwards could be an unrestriced free agent. Secondary help could also be added.
Basically, the Vikings could be looking for a lot of new players.
How This Pick Helps: Paea is a beast in the middle and could eventually replace Pat Williams. He uses his hands well and can really dominate players. If he can play with proper leverage, he could be a real interior force.
Ryan Kerrigan could be a selection if Edwards doesn't come back, replacing a former Boilermaker. Many people think Ryan Mallett could go here, but I'm not really sold on him as a first-round draft pick.
Also, Cam Newton could be a possibility. Could you imagine a backfield of Newton and Peterson? Woof!
NOTE: Paea suffered a torn lateral meniscus in his knee and will miss the rest of the Senior. It is uncertain how this will affect his draft stock.
With The 13th Pick In The 2011 NFL Draft, The Detroit Lions Select...
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Tyron Smith, OT, USC
Organization Analysis: The Lions finally got out of the NFC North cellar in 2010 by winning six games.
Matthew Stafford missed almost the entire season. Jahvid Best was solid his rookie year. Calvin Johnson is going to his first Pro Bowl.
The offensive line was decent but could use some talent. Ndamukong Suh was a monster as a rookie, and Kyle Vanden Bosch brought great intensity to the defense.
The secondary remains a concern outside Louis Delmas. Head coach Jim Schwartz is starting to build a competitive, intense football team that plays hard to the finish.
How This Pick Helps: Jeff Backus is an average left tackle and might be better suited at guard or right tackle at this point in his career.
Smith is catching the eyes of many scouts because of his feet and athleticism. He can kick slide well and mirror almost any defensive end. He'll need to pack on some weight and get stronger, but he has great potential.
It will be important to keep Matthew Stafford upright. He has taken some big hits and awkward landings, which have led to his injuries.
With The 14th Pick In The 2011 NFL Draft, The St. Louis Rams Select...
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Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
Organization Analysis: The Rams improved to 7-9 and nearly made the playoffs as the NFC West champs.
Sam Bradford proved me wrong by having a very solid year without a great receiving threat. Steven Jackson may be one of the most underrated players in the NFL.
The offensive line is really solid—rookie Roger Saffold was great at left tackle. The defensive line provided solid pressure.
The linebacking corp is good in the middle with James Laurinaitis, but the outside guys aren't that great.
The corners could use an upgrade, but they aren't terrible. Steve Spagnuolo is doing a great job with this team.
How This Pick Helps: As the defensive coordinator in New York, Spagnuolo loved to collect big linebackers to hold down the strongside. Miller has the size and pass-rush ability to be a great player in this defensive system.
Hall and Long got solid pressure from the outside, and Fred Robbins was great on the interior. No cornerback is really worthy of this spot, so Miller is a good value here.
St. Louis has the inside track to win the NFC West because it has the best quarterback.
With The 15th Pick In The 2011 NFL Draft, The Miami Dolphins Select...
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Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Organization Analysis: After trying to court Jim Harbaugh, the Dolphins gave head coach Tony Sparano a two-year contract extension.
Am I missing something here? If you try to replace a guy and can't, you have to pay your guy more money? This business is weird.
Anyways, the Dolphins may lose Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown to free agency. The offensive line is very strong, anchored by left tackle Jake Long.
Chad Henne didn't progress like many thought, so where do the Dolphins go from here? They can't draft another project.
Their defense is really solid, and if they can find another pass rusher opposite Cameron Wake, the Dolphins can be a really strong defense.
How This Pick Helps: Ingram is the best pure runner in this draft because of his low center of gravity, power and acceleration.
The former Heisman Trophy winner wasn't as productive in 2010 because he had a few injuries, but he still can develop into a quality starter.
They say that you can find good running backs just about anywhere in the draft, but it's hard to really find a three-down back.
Ingram is improving in his pass protection and catching the ball out of the backfield, making him an all-purpose back.
With The 16th Pick In The 2011 NFL Draft, The Jacksonville Jaguars Select...
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Rahim Moore, S, UCLA
Organization Analysis: As long as Jack Del Rio is coach, I'm convinced that David Garrard will be the quarterback. He's a really solid guy, but what is his potential?
Maurice Jones-Drew is a beast, and Rashad Jennings proved to be a great complement to him. The receivers are really solid but don't blow anyone away.
The pass rush got better this year, but the biggest concern with this team is their pass defense. Their safeties are terrible and they are in need of a serious upgrade.
How This Pick Helps: Moore gives them some stability on the backend, something the Jaguars have really lacked the past few years.
Moore might be a bit of a reach, but I was hesitant to give them another defensive end. They have so many young ones they can develop, so why should they take another one?
I really couldn't find a good fit for Jacksonville, and I understand that I reached, but Jacksonville did it last year to grab Alualu. It wouldn't surprise me if they do it again.
With The 17th Pick In The 2011 NFL Draft, The New England Patriots Select...
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Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
Organization Analysis: The Patriots acquired this pick for Richard Seymour. They have Tom Brady and Bill Belichek. With these two, the Patriots should win at least 11 games in 2011.
They need to add a few explosive athletes on both sides of the football in order to elevate this team to the next level.
They haven't won a playoff game since the 2007 AFC Championship game. Are they in a funk? Can they be figured out?
How This Pick Helps: Kerrigan was an extremely productive pass rusher at Purdue. He has the size to contribute as an outside linebacker in this defense.
The Patriots lack a true pass rusher in their defense, but Kerrigan could provide the extra rush they need to put them over the top.
They have a lot of good young players who need to mature. But as long as No. 12 is throwing passes, they'll be fine.
With The 18th Pick In The 2011 NFL Draft, The San Diego Chargers Select...
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Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
Organization Analysis: The Chargers had one of the best offenses and best defenses in the NFL. They finished 9-7 and failed to make it to the playoffs.
Why? They had a terrible special teams unit that could have kept them in a few games, and the Kansas City Chiefs took advantage of an easy schedule and went 11-5.
Philip Rivers is a top-notch QB. If the team can figure out a deal for Vincent Jackson, the offense will be explosive and continue to put up points. The defense is really solid, but they need to upgrade their defensive line.
How This Pick Helps: Clayborn is not only a great value at 18, he's a perfect fit for the 3-4. He can hold the edge against the run due to his great strength, but he can also get after the passer with his good array of pass-rush moves.
He wasn't as productive in 2010 because teams were targeting him more. He could have been a top-10 pick last year, but he came back to try and win a national championship. Still, he will be a really solid defensive end.
With The 19th Pick In The 2011 NFL Draft, The New York Giants Select...
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Mike Pouncey, OL, Florida
Organization Analysis: The Giants missed out on the playoffs after an epic collapse against the Eagles, which eventually cost them the NFC East title and the No. 2 seed in the playoffs. However, they have a good collection of talent.
Eli Manning threw 25 interceptions in 2010. Some of those picks were from tipped balls, but it still an insanely high amount.
Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs combined for 2,056 yards and 17 touchdowns. If Bradshaw comes back, they should be able to duplicate that success.
Despite injuries on the offensive line, Manning was sacked just 16 times the entire season. The combination of Osi Umenyoira and Justin Tuck is the best pair of 4-3 defensive ends in the league, with Jason Pierre-Paul as an excellent rotation guy.
The linebackers played really solid with the addition of veteran Keith Bullock. The secondary was pretty solid, notching 16 interceptions.
Antrel Rolle made the safety position more consistent, and Kenny Phillips was healthy for 2010.
How This Pick Helps: As well as the offensive line has played, the interior of the line could use some depth. Shaun O'Hara is 33 years old—still a good player, but no spring chicken—and the Giants don't have an adequate backup.
Pouncey doesn't have to be rushed along, although he can push for playing time. He's right up there with his brother last year because of his technique, toughness, and versatility.
With The 20th Pick In The 2011 NFL Draft, The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Select...
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J.J Watt, Defensive End, Wisconsin
Organization Analysis: Josh Freeman had a great sophomore campaign and looks like he could be special. Twenty-five touchdowns to six interceptions? Those are outstanding numbers!
Raheem Morris saved his job by turning the Bucs into a 10 win team. He is a great candidate for Coach of the Year.
The skill positions are special. LeGarette Blount rushed for 1,007 yards and six touchdowns as an undrafted rookie.
Mike Williams, a fourth-round pick, caught 11 touchdowns and nearly 1,000 yards. The offensive line played very well together, despite suffering some injuries late in the season.
Gerald McCoy had a strong rookie year and looks like he'll be a really good player.
Aqib Talib had six interceptions, showing off his ballhawking skills. If he continues to mature, he'll be a top-notch player. The defense had just 26 sacks on the season.
How This Pick Helps: The Bucs had one of the poorest pass rushers last year and were ranked 28th against the run.
Watt is a high-energy player who defends the run well and can rush the quarterback. He's not a quick-twitch, explosive athlete, which is why he falls to 20, but he can bring some toughness to a defense that severely needs it.
I'm not sure if the Bucs are ready to knock off Atlanta and New Orleans, but they are on the right track.
With The 21st Pick In The 2011 NFL Draft, The Kansas City Chiefs Select...
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Akeem Ayers, Outside Linebacker, UCLA
Organization Analysis: The Chiefs won 11 games and clinched the AFC West division title.
They hosted the Baltimore Ravens in the Wild Card round but were exposed of their inexperience with a 30-7 loss at home.
Matt Cassell had an extremely efficient year and will replace Tom Brady in the Pro Bowl. Jamaal Charles is developing into an elite back.
Dwayne Bowe flashed the potential of a first-round pick, catching 13 touchdowns and being named First Team All-Pro.
Tamba Hali is quietly developing into one of the most feared pass rushers in the NFL, notching 14.5 sacks.
The secondary received a big boost from rookie Eric Berry, who had four interceptions. Brandon Carr and Brandon Flowers are two young, very solid corners to build the defense on.
How This Pick Helps: With no receiver to take pressure off Bowe, the Chiefs to take the best defensive option available, and Ayers can fit that bill.
He needs to improve his toughness against the run and stick his nose in there, but he has the pass rush potential and ball skills to be an effective outside 'backer opposite Tamba Hali.
If they can find a nose tackle later, it would really help progress this defense.
With The 22nd Pick In The 2011 NFL Draft, The Indianapolis Colts Select...
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Gabe Carimi, Offensive Tackle, Wisconsin
Organization Analysis: Peyton Manning's contract is up after this season, but Indy has every intention to bring back its star player.
Running backs, wide receivers and tight ends were banged up, but Manning still put together a quality season.
Reggie Wayne, who was the only target that was healthy consistently, had a strong year with 111 catches. The offensive line was decent, but it didn't provide a great push in the run game.
Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis once again wreaked havoc off the edge, combining for 21 sacks.
The back seven was banged up and used a lot of undrafted rookies and guys off the streets. Bob Sanders missed almost the entire season and could have played his last game in a Colts' uniform.
How This Pick Helps: The Colts have gotten by with their lack of elite young talent with Peyton Manning, but they need to take a physical offensive tackle.
Carimi is a Midwestern blue-collar player who would bring some great run locking to a team that lacks it. He may not have the great athleticism to be an elite left tackle, but he's good enough to protect Manning's blindside.
With The 23rd Pick In The 2011 NFL Draft, The Philadelphia Eagles Select...
Anthony Castonzo, Offensive Tackle, Boston College
Organization Analysis: The Eagles traded Donovan McNabb in hopes of Kevin Kolb developing into a quality starter.
When Kolb went down, Michael Vick stepped in, and the rest is history. Vick showed the athleticism that once made him the most electrifying player in football. But, it was his improvement as a passer that made him such a threat.
The skill positions are loaded with young, explosive talent.
Trent Cole had a great year, although he didn't put up as great of numbers down the stretch.
The Eagles would love to see Brandon Graham get healthy so they can have a dynamic pass rush.
How This Pick Helps: As good as the Eagles' offense was, the quarterbacks were sacked an awful lot. Vick and Kolb were sacked a combined 49 sacks.
Winston Justice isn't the answer at right tackle, so it would be the best move to get a right tackle who can also play the left tackle position.
Castonzo needs to add some bulk and improve his run blocking technique, but he can be a really solid tackle for many years.
With The 24th Pick In The 2011 NFL Draft, The New Orleans Saints Select...
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Aldon Smith, Defensive End, Missouri
Organization Analysis: Drew Brees had a great year, although he threw 22 interceptions. The Saints had no running game with Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush injured most of the season.
The receivers are deep and very solid, and tight end Jimmy Graham could be a huge weapon in the future.
The defense wasn't as aggressive as it was in 2009, which could explain its early playoff departure. The Saints didn't have a consistent pass rush, and there was no true replacement for Darren Sharper.
How This Pick Helps: Smith is a wiry, long-armed kid at 6'5", 260 pounds. He is a dynamic pass rusher who would immediately upgrade the Saints' pedestrian pass rush.
He is raw in terms of his technique, but there a lot of veterans on this defense who will help Smith develop into a quality player.
You can tell this team will use its loss to Seattle as extra motivation to knock off the Falcons and regain the NFC South crown.
With The 25th Pick In The 2011 NFL Draft, The Seattle Seahawks Select...
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Cam Newton, Quarterback, Auburn
Organization Analysis: The Seahawks finished 7-9 and won the NFC West.
They hosted the defending Super Bowl champs and knocked them off at home. In the divisional round, they were brought back to Earth after being humbled 35-24 by the Chicago Bears.
Who will be the quarterback next year? Matt Hassleback could be re-signed, but can he be healthy and productive? Is Charlie "Clipboard Jesus" Whitehurst the heir to the throne?
The Seahawks are a motivated team behind head coach Pete Carroll and are going to be the NFC West favorite until the other teams pose a legitimate threat.
How This Pick Helps: This could be the first shock of the first round. Newton has the physical skills to be a Vince Young-type runner, but his passing technique needs a lot of work.
He has never made an audible call on his own and played in a spread offense, so he'll have some growing pains.
It would be great to see a battle in the NFC West with Sam Bradford, Gabbert and Newton.
With The 26th Pick In The 2011 NFL Draft, The Baltimore Ravens Select...
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Brandon Harris, Cornerback, Miami FL
Organization Analysis: The Ravens are a team that develops talent extremely well. Seldom do they miss on some of their top picks.
Hopefully, Sergio Kindle can recover from his fractured skull and be a valuable contributor. Joe Flacco has won a playoff game in each of the last three seasons.
Ray Rice is a versatile back and Willis McGahee is a great power runner. They need a wide receiver who can stretch the field and let Flacco unleash his big arm.
The defensive front is as stout as they come, led by Ray Lewis and Haloti Ngata. The Ravens have been weak at cornerback for the past few years.
How This Pick Helps: Harris won't be the lockdown corner like Peterson and Amukamara could be, but he is a well-coached, very solid player.
He has really solid size and athleticism. He reminds me of Leon Hall in 2007, just not as decorated.
He could got higher if he runs a fast 40 time at the Combine, but 26 seems like a fair spot for him.
With The 27th Pick In The 2011 NFL Draft, The Atlanta Falcons Select...
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Cameron Heyward, Defensive End, Ohio State
Organization Analysis: The Falcons were the No. 1 seed in the NFC. They were beaten at home by the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round.
Matt Ryan continues to develop into a quality quarterback. Michael Turner returned to Pro Bowl form, and Roddy White showed he is a legitimate number one receiver.
The offensive line lacks a big name, but they play well together. John Abraham is an explosive pass rusher, but the Falcons need another pass rusher to take pressure off him.
How This Pick Helps: Heyward is a complete defensive end who can hold his ground on the run and can get after the quarterback. He isn't a quick-twitch athlete, but he can make plays opposite Abraham.
The Falcons were 22nd against the pass in 2010 and had 31 sacks, but no defensive end could match Abraham.
With The 28th Pick In The 2011 NFL Draft, The New England Patriots Select...
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Mikel Leshoure, Running Back, Illinois
Organization Analysis: Did the O.A when the Patriots picked earlier.
How This Pick Helps: Danny Woodhead and BenJarvus Green-Ellis have been great role players for the Patriots, but I think they would love to get a No. 1 running back who can run between the tackles on a consistent basis.
Leshoure put up big numbers on a .500 team without many playmakers against some good defenses in the Big Ten.
He is a very good physical specimen, and if he runs under a 4.5 at the Combine, he could create some buzz and go even higher.
With The 29th Pick In The 2011 NFL Draft, The New York Jets Select...
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Justin Houston, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, Georgia
Organization Analysis: The Jets made the AFC Championship for the second consecutive year.
Head coach Rex Ryan has this team in a position to compete for a long time. They mastered Peyton Manning and Tom Brady and almost pulled off a comeback against Ben Roethlisberger.
Mark Sanchez is showing that he can be a great quarterback in the NFL, and I'm buying this kid as a potential elite quarterback.
The defensive front was banged up, especially with Kris Jenkins out for the season, but they need a young pass rusher. They thought they had it with Vernon Gholston, but he's been one of the worst busts in recent memory.
It will be interesting to see how the Jets handle their abundance of free agents. They also traded their second-round pick to San Diego for Antonio Cromartie.
How This Pick Helps: Houston played in a hybrid role with Georgia, but he would move to outside linebacker in the Jets' 3-4 alignment. He has a great first step and can really pressure the quarterback.
The Jets would have a strong young pass rusher to go with Calvin Pace. This defense will be one of the toughest to play against if they can get healthy.
With The 30th Pick In The 2011 NFL Draft, The Chicago Bears Select...
Corey Liuget, Defensive Tackle, Illinois
Organization Analysis: The Bears reached the NFC Championship game and almost tied the game with a third-string quarterback. Jay Cutler will play in the same offense for the first time since his second season.
The Bears have a strong running attack with Forte and Taylor. They have great speed at the receiver position.
The offensive line will need some tweaking after allowing 52 sacks. The defense has great pieces with Urlacher, Peppers, Briggs and Chris Harris, but they need an upgrade in a few spots to remain elite.
How This Pick Helps: The most vital part of a Tampa-2 type defense is penetrating three-technique.
Tommie Harris played well in two of the final three games, but his huge salary may make him expendable this offseason.
The Bears don't have a tackle that can consistently get up the field and create havoc next to Julius Peppers.
As one of the best players available, the Bears should be thrilled to get a kid that played at Illinois and was extremely productive. He will learn a lot on this veteran-based defense.
With The 31st Pick In The 2011 NFL Draft, The Green Bay Packers Select...
Muhammad Wilkerson, Defensive Lineman, Temple
Organization Analysis: The Green Bay Packers, with all of their injuries, made it to the Super Bowl. They got hot at the right time and knocked off the NFC's top three seeds.
Aaron Rodgers is on his way to superstardom. The receiving corp is deep and they have an improved offensive line.
Clay Matthews has a chance to be Defensive Player of the Year. Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson create one of the best cornerback tandems in the NFL.
How This Pick Helps: This is purely a value pick. The Packers don't have too many needs and had many players step up for those who were injured.
Wilkerson gives them some versatility in their defense if they want to move to more four-man fronts and create more confusion for offenses.
There was no pass rusher here who could really overtake Wilkerson, who is an underrated prospect that could create some buzz among 3-4 teams.
With The 32nd Pick In The 2011 NFL Draft, The Pittsburgh Steelers Select...
Cameron Jordan, Defensive End, California
Organization Analysis: The Steelers have the opportunity to win their seventh Super Bowl. Ben Roethlisberger can put his name into Hall of Fame discussion with a win.
The Steelers have a very balanced offense with a power running game and receivers that can stretch the defense.
Their defense is consistently among the best in the NFL. They are excellent on every level and don't have many holes.
How This Pick Helps: The Steelers would love to see an offensive tackle here, but there isn't one worthy of this pick.
Jordan can play the 5-technique in the Steelers' 3-4 defense and slide inside on passing downs. He is very solid and can play both the run and pass.
There have been questions about his immaturity, but coming to a leadership-strong organization can turn his attitude around.
I also wouldn't be surprised if the Steelers turned around and traded this pick.