2011 NFL Mock Draft: Comparing the Latest Mocks from Around the Web
We've gotten a little ways down the road now in the process of prognosticating the 2011 NFL Draft.
While it's still almost three months away, most sports websites (including this one) have already thrown their hats into the ring and mocked the draft, with varying degrees of similarity and differences.
While guys like Nick Fairley and A.J. Green are unanimously predicted to go at or near the top, there are significant differences when it comes to exactly where. What of the four first-round quarterback prospects? And as we get later into the first round, many different names start popping up.
Here, I'll make my own latest round of predictions, while comparing them to other predictions around the web.
1) Carolina Panthers: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
In my last mock draft, I had Fairley at number one overall, and I'm keeping him there this time around. Peter Schrager of FoxSports.com, as well as ESPN's Todd McShay have Da'Quan Bowers as their number ones. ESPN's Mel Kiper is also going with Fairley.
Bowers was great this year, and is potentially the most explosive pass rusher in the draft. But his lack of consistency in previous seasons is still a bit of a red flag.
Fairley has no such red flags, other than perhaps playing a bit dirty on the field. But, that could actually play in his favor.
You like your defensive linemen to play with an edge.
He was a premier pass rusher and run stopper this year, and was unblockable on the NCAA's biggest stage.
2) Denver Broncos: Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
I keep Bowers at number two. McShay had him at one, and goes with Fairley at number two. Kiper says Patrick Peterson, as does Peter Schrager.
Yes, Denver could certainly use a cornerback with how unsettled things currently are in their secondary.
But, new coach John Fox is a defensive-minded coach—and a team's defensive identity starts on the defensive line.
Despite the concerns I've raised about Bowers when comparing him to Fairley, he's still got tremendous upside as a cornerstone pass rusher off of either end. I like Patrick Peterson, but I don't view him as the potentially special talent that Bowers can be.
3) Buffalo Bills: Marcell Dareus, DE, Alabama
I'm bumping Dareus up above A.J. Green and Robert Quinn here. Kiper and Schrager agree, while McShay really likes Blaine Gabbert enough to have him go third overall.
I don't quite like him that much. A.J. Green is a tempting offensive weapon, but the Bills needs on the defensive side of the ball are just too great to ignore. Dareus' game tapes are more fresh in people's minds than those of Quinn, and being from an SEC powerhouse will only help him.
He also fits perfectly into Buffalo's 3-4 defensive scheme.
4) Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
I previously had Robert Quinn going here because Green was off the board, but with Buffalo's switch to Dareus, Green is still available. This is the first time I agree with McShay, while Kiper had Bowers slipping to four, and Schrager had Fairley dropping here.
I don't think either Bowers or Fairley is still available by the time the Bengals pick. Also, the word is that they really like Green, and would love to scoop him up to revitalize their passing attack. Maybe getting him would convince Carson Palmer to stay.
It would also open the door for them to trade increasingly disgruntled incumbent Chad Ochocinco.
5) Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
I'm sticking with my choice of Peterson here. Kiper had him off the board and goes with Blaine Gabbert, while McShay again agrees with me. Schrager puts Von Miller in this spot.
Peterson could go higher, but I think Arizona makes the most sense for him of all the top five teams. They're in need of a defensive re-imaging, and their pass defense specifically could use an upgrade.
They could of course go for one of the quarterbacks here, but I don't think any of them deserve to be this high, and Arizona will take the chance that there will be better options via either free agency or a trade.
6) Cleveland Browns: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
I'm basically swapping Quinn and Dareus in this scenario. Since Dareus is off the board this time around, Cleveland goes with Quinn. McShay says the same thing. (That's three in a row. Don't know if that's good or bad.) Kiper and Schrager say A.J. Green lasts this far.
The Browns would certainly take a playmaking wideout like Green were he available, as he'd be a good compliment to young QB Colt McCoy, giving him a shiny new weapon to work with. But with him gone, I don't think they're high enough on the next best receiver, Julio Jones, to make that call here.
Quinn is rusty after a year off due to NCAA violations, but he's a beast in the mold of Da'Quan Bowers. The Browns can use a pass rusher of his caliber.
7) San Francisco 49ers: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
I think one way or another, a quarterback will finally come off the board here, at number seven. McShay, who thinks Gabbert will already be gone, says Marcell Dareus will go here, while Kiper, who thinks Gabbert will have gone to Arizona, says Robert Quinn. Schrager says Cam Newton.
I'm not as high on Newton as a fit in San Francisco. Newton is a freak of nature, and might have more upside than Gabbert, but the Missouri quarterback has less potential red flags. While both played in spread style offenses in college, I think Gabbert has a better potential to adjust to a pro scheme.
Of course, there's been recent talk about the Niners bringing back Alex Smith, but I'm not willing to go there.
8) Tennessee Titans: Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M
I move Miller back up here, ahead of Akeem Ayers. Kiper agrees with this selection, while McShay has Locker going here and Schrager pegs Gabbert.
I know Tennessee needs a long term solution at quarterback, but they just finished a sloppy relationship with a big time college signal caller who was drafted in the first round and it didn't work out. Do they really want to risk going down that exact same path again so soon?
Miller impressed during Senior Bowl week in Mobile, and I think his draft stock will be helped as a result. I also think he'll impress during the combine and other pre-draft workouts. He's fast, mobile, aggressive, and versatile, and will be an instant defensive upgrade for the Titans.
Plus he's more of a sure, safe bet than any quarterback.
9) Dallas Cowboys: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
I had Amukamara going here last time. Amazingly, Kiper, McShay and Schrager all agree, also.
He's a good fit because none of the other top players available here fill a glaring need for the Cowboys, and he's the best defensive back left on the board after Peterson, who will certainly have been long gone by number nine.
Plus, I think after Prince, it's a step down to any other defensive back in the draft, so if they want one, they need to snag him here or forever hold their peace.
10: Washington Redskins: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
I had Ryan Mallett here before, but he seems to have continued his fade from view of late. \Kiper and McShay both agree, and Schrager says Jake Locker, since in his predictions, Newton is already off the board (at seven to San Francisco).
Washington definitely needs its long term answer at quarterback, and Newton appears to be rising by default now, with Mallett and Locker moving backwards.
He's got question marks, but he's also got great size and athleticism, as well as an NFL arm. If we're hyping him up, we can say he compares to a young Ben Roethlisberger.
It's well documented how Donovan McNabb is not the solution for the 'Skins, and neither is Rex Grossman. The Heisman Trophy winner gets his chance.
11) Houston Texans: Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA
Ayers slips just a bit down to Houston here, since I've bumped Von Miller back up in this mock. The other three I'm referencing all have variations on a theme for this pick. For Kiper it's Aldon Smith. For McShay it's Von Miller. For Schrager it's Robert Quinn.
I went with Smith here last time, but perhaps I was jumping the gun just a bit. He can still move himself higher with good impressions at the combine, but that hasn't happened yet, and I have to go with what things look like right now.
Much has been made of new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and the 3-4 system he'll be implementing.
Ayers is versatile enough to fit into that or any other scheme. He can be a pass rusher off the edge, or he can drop back into coverage.
12) Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
With Newton off the board in this mock, the Vikings take a chance on Mallett. Schrager agrees, while Kiper and McShay have Minnesota passing on him and instead taking an offensive tackle, either Nate Solder or Tyron Smith.
I don't think Mallett should be this high, either, but quarterbacks are routinely drafted too highly, because nobody wants to pass on the next star signal caller. And with Brett Favre finally no longer an option, the Vikings certainly have a need at that position.
He has his faults, but he still put up big numbers for one of college football's top teams, in its top conference last season.
Footwork can potentially be taught. And what else does Minnesota have to lose here?
13) Detroit Lions: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
Kiper and Schrager go with Akeem Ayers, while McShay echoes this selection.
Offensive line actually isn't the Lions biggest area of concern right now, but it's still not a strength either, and if they ever want Matthew Stafford to have a chance at being healthy, they need to make sure he spends less time on his back.
Solder was another player who impressed during Senior Bowl week down in Alabama, and will find his draft stock higher than it was before.
He stands out among a very good class of offensive linemen due to his size. At 6'8", 320 pounds, he'll be a tall order for any defensive end (pun intended).
14) St. Louis Rams: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
I've had Jones here all along, and this is the second pick where everyone I'm referencing here agrees.
Jones is a dynamic pass catching talent with big play potential.
He'll team well with second year centerpiece Sam Bradford to form a potent combination on offense that every secondary in the league will have to respect.
He's the perfect compliment to help the Rams get over the hump from mere respectability into true contention.
With Josh McDaniels on board now as well, watch out for the possible reincarnation of the Greatest Show on Turf.
15) Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Yup, two Tide players in a row. Only McShay doesn't agree this time, with his choice being Mike Pouncey instead.
Perhaps this is a bit of a stretch for Ingram. Even though he's clearly the best runner in this year's draft class, tailback is has become a position where value can be found lower down the board on a regular basis.
Nevertheless, Ingram has star potential, and is a better bet at this point than any quarterback would be.
What better way to hide your quarterback's flaws than to simply have him hand the ball off more often?
16) Jacksonville Jaguars: Cameron Jordan, DE, California
Jordan maintains his spot at 16 in my mock. \Kiper goes with another DE, Adrian Clayborn, while McShay pegs Ryan Mallett here. Schrager names Rahim Moore.
Jordan did nothing to hurt his stock last week, as he was one of the big stars of Senior Bowl week, really establishing himself as someone who could be a dependable pass rusher and run stopper at the next level.
He might move up even higher than this.
For now though, I'll leave him to be scooped up by the Jags, looking to rebuild on the fly and finally topple those pesky Colts.
17) New England Patriots (from Oakland): Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
Another Senior Bowl star, Kerrigan keeps his slotting for me. McShay agrees, while Kipers says J.J. Watt, and Schrager goes with Cameron Jordan.
For Kerrigan, a lot depends on his performance at the combine.
The issue with him (if there is one) has been his athleticism when it comes to the next level. A good showing will quell those concerns.
For what it's worth, he got a chance to go up against top tackles at the Senior Bowl and he made the most of it.
A savvy team like New England won't let that slip under their radar.
18) San Diego Chargers: Aldon Smith, LB, Missouri
With Mel Kiper and Todd McShay both looking at guys I already have off the board for this pick (Cameron Jordan and Akeem Ayers, respectively), I'll agree with Fox's Peter Schrager and go with Smith.
I had him higher before, but that was before Senior Bowl week. He wasn't there, and while as a junior that's not his fault, other guys' performances are more fresh in scouts minds right now.
He'll have his chance to shine at the combine, where his raw talent should show through.
The keyword there is raw—he'll need to refine his technique to truly become a star at the next level, but he's shown the drive to be able to put in the needed work.
19) New York Giants: Tyron Smith, OT, USC
He's not Mike Pouncey (Kiper's pick) or Corey Liuget (McShay's pick), or even Nate Solder (Schrager's pick), but Tyron Smith is my pick for the Giants.
He's another player who didn't get the recent exposure that the Senior Bowl provided since he's an underclassman, but he's already moved himself up from earlier predictions based on scouts anticipation of his workouts.
He's very athletic and shows the versatility to play either tackle.
Plus, the Giants incumbent offensive linemen have started to wear down, and could use an infusion of youth.
20) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
Schrager and McShay both have the same name in this spot as I now do, while Kiper went with Ryan Kerrigan.
I had Clayborn a bit higher last time around, but dropped him a bit because while he didn't exactly struggle during Senior Bowl week, he didn't stand out as much as some of the other top defensive linemen in this class—namely Cameron Jordan and Ryan Kerrigan.
Plus the memories of his somewhat less-than-stellar senior season are still there.
But his junior season is also still there for scouts to admire, and he'll help a Bucs pass rush that saw no one on the team tally more than four and a half sacks all season.
21) Kansas City Chiefs: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
We all agree on a front-seven defender for Kansas City, only the names are different. For Schrager, it's Justin Houston. For Kiper, it's Stephen Paea. For McShay, it's Aldon Smith.
Watt hasn't had as much chatter about him lately as he used to, but he's still the same big, strong, versatile defensive force he's always been.
His pedigree, coming from traditional Big Ten defensive powerhouse Wisconsin, only helps.
He'll take some of the attention off of Tamba Hali, while providing a complimentary skill set.
Hali can get after the passer, while Watt can clog up the running lanes.
22) Indianapolis Colts: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
There's a wide range of opinion on this pick. Schrager says cornerback Brandon Harris, but at least Kiper and McShay both agree with me on the position, even if the specific player they slot here is different (BC's Anthony Castonzo).
I'll go with Carimi since he was another standout at the Senior Bowl. Perhaps I'm letting that influence my projections too much here, but the game did just happen, so it's the most recent thing I have to work off of. Besides, it's fun.
The Colts don't usually go this high for blockers, but Carimi fills a hole on the rapidly aging Colts O-line, which finds itself in a similar state to the Giants one.
He'll help give Peyton Manning some more good years.
23) Philadelphia Eagles: Brandon Harris, CB, Miami
Both Kiper and McShay have Carimi landing here instead of Indy, but Schrager goes with off-the-radar Muhammad Wilkerson.
I go in a different direction than all three of them, but I keep my pick the same as last time. Harris is a sneaky good corner, who may have actually been a bit hampered by being at Miami, a school that has had its program questioned in recent years.
Either way, he'll provide help across the field from Asante Samuel, making Philly's secondary that much more potent.
24) New Orleans Saints: Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
Everyone's united that the Saints look for help on the defensive side of the ball, but only Todd McShay agrees that they'll go after Stephen Paea.
As a defensive tackle, Paea fills a need better than if New Orleans were to go with a defensive end, and he'll help solidify a defensive front that could definitely be stronger against the run, something that was glaringly obvious in the playoff loss to Seattle.
I previously pegged Drake Nevis here, but with Paea available in this projection, he's the new choice.
25) Seattle Seahawks: Jake Locker, QB, Washington
Nobody seems to be able to agree about Seattle's pick. Kiper goes with Ryan Mallett, McShay has them taking J.J. Watt, and Schrager names cornerback Jimmy Smith.
I, for one, think that for all of Locker's inconsistencies, he still holds up as someone worth a late first rounder.
I also think that, while he didn't exactly blow anyone away last week, he did help his stock somewhat at the Senior Bowl. He at least showed he has the ability to learn from his mistakes, and can be coached.
Perhaps I'm playing too much into the hometown aspect of this, but you have to admit, it would be a good story. He could learn for a year under Matt Hasselbeck before taking the reins himself.
26) Baltimore Ravens: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
The end of the first round is where things get hairy, and again, there is little agreement on the 26th pick. Will it be Cameron Heyward (McShay), Brandon Harris (Kiper), Aaron Williams (Schrager), or my choice, Sherrod?
Only time will tell, but top-tier offensive tackles are as smart and safe a bet as anybody, and the Ravens, like most teams, definitely wouldn't mind an upgrade there.
Sherrod doesn't have the high profile of some of the other big names at this position, but he's a consistent player who should only to continue to improve as he matures.
This is a pick that would make quarterback Joe Flacco very happy.
27) Atlanta Falcons: Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
While our Fox friend likes Mike Pouncey, and the duo at ESPN like Torrey Smith (Kiper) and Justin Houston (McShay), I'll stick with this wide receiver out of the Big East.
Although Miami's Leonard Hankerson was a major performer at the Senior Bowl, I still think Baldwin edges him out getting into the first round. Hankerson was definitely helped though, and should hear his name called no later than the first part of the second round.
Baldwin gives the Falcons another deep threat to complement and take some of the pressure off of Roddy White, and makes their offense that much more dynamic.
28) New England Patriots: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
Both Kiper and McShay think New England will take a running back here, but BenJarvus Green-Ellis should continue to provide what they need from the position, and the Pats have shown that running backs are interchangeable in their system. I don't think they'll go for one in the first round.
I'll echo Schrager here, and go with Castonzo, instead.
He may not fall this far, as another featured performer from the Senior Bowl, but if he does, New England would be smart to snatch him up, especially if they've already shored up the defensive line with their earlier pick, as I predict.
Plus, he's a local kid, always good as an easy fan-favorite.
29) Chicago Bears: Mike Pouncey, G, Florida
I'm in the same zip code as Schrager on this one, who goes with Derek Sherrod instead. Kiper and McShay go in different directions for the Bears, with Mel naming Aaron Williams, and Todd picking Drake Nevis.
All worthy choices, but I'll say Mike Pouncey ends his wait here.
He ended up skipping the Senior Bowl, which may cause him to slide a bit, but he's still a first round talent, and the attention his brother is getting with the Steelers should only help him stay on the radar.
The Bears offensive line could certainly use the help, and with Castonzo now off the board, they'll turn to upgrading their interior instead of their edges.
30) New York Jets: Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
The consensus among the three prognosticators I've been tracking is that it's going to be someone on the defensive line for Rex Ryan and Gang Green, but everyone differs on exactly who that lineman will be.
I'm the only one going out on a limb and naming Cameron Heyward. I've named him before here, so I figure why stop now?
His bowl performance got people talking about him again, and Ryan's motivational skills should be able to get Heyward's engine revving full blast more often than it was during his time at the Ohio State.
Can he be the piece that finally helps the Jets go one game further? Tune in next January.
31) Green Bay Packers: Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia
Mel and Todd have the Packers grabbing a defensive end in the first round, while Peter Schrager has them staying in-state to go after Gabe Carimi.
I'll stick with my selection from last time of Justin Houston.
He's been climbing up many draft boards of late, and might not be around here, but if he is, his position and skill set match Packer needs.
If he had stayed in school for his senior year, we might be talking about Houston as a top ten pick in 2012.
32) Pittsburgh Steelers: Benjamin Ijalana, OT, Villanova
Everyone is highlighting the offensive line as a place of need for Pittsburgh moving forward, and that was even before Maurkice Pouncey went down with his ankle injury.
I'll take Todd McShay's pick here for the final one of the first round, since our other two mock drafters have them taking Tyron Smith here—who I have already off the board.
Ijalana comes from off the grid in the old Division 1-AA, but has forced himself to be in the discussion by being such a valuable member of the Villanova team this season, and by showing off an NFL-sized body and skill set.
He can take some time to learn and smooth out his rough edges in the Steelers' proven system, and eventually work his way into being a starter down the road.