2011 NFL Mock Draft: Where Do Cam Newton and Von Miller End Up?
As we all know, the National Football League season is never over. The climax of the year, the Super Bowl isn't even a week behind us, and pundits throughout the web are already looking ahead to April, offering their insight on who your favorite team will select in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Last year, Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was a consensus No. one overall lock from day one, as was Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, before he decided to stay in school for another year, leaving draft boards wide open.
This slide show is Part One of a Two Part series that takes a realistic look at where your favorite collegiate stars will end up!
Feel free to share your views on the prospects, and whether I ranked them too high or too low!
No. 1 Carolina Panthers- DT Nick Fairley, Auburn
The Carolina Panthers lost defensive end Julius Peppers due to free agency last year, and their shoddy defensive line was exposed. Derek Landri and Nick Hayden aren't starting-caliber defensive tackles, and they don't allow the young defensive ends Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy to get to the quarterback.
New head coach, Ron Rivera, is a defensive minded coach, and would certainly jump at the chance to grab Fairley, who is a mean and nasty tackle that stuffs the run, and is vicious in pass rushing.
Last year, Fairley racked up 84 tackles, an interception, and 12 sacks. Bringing Fairley to Carolina would most likely allow Jon Beason to move back to his natural position of outside linebacker, instantly boosting the Panthers defense.
No. 2 Denver Broncos- CB Patrick Peterson, Louisiana State University
Champ Bailey isn't getting any younger, and while Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers will be tough to pass on, cornerback Patrick Peterson is a shutdown corner, and can hold his own with the biggest of receivers, as he stands 6'1" 222 pounds.
During his time at LSU, Peterson managed to make 135 tackles, while picking off seven passes; all while opposing offenses refused to pass in his direction.
He is a threat as a returner as well, returning 70 kicks and punts for 1,350 yards, while scoring four times.
Learning under one of the best corners in the game in Champ Bailey wont hurt either.
No. 3 Buffalo Bills- DE/DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama
Alas, the Buffalo Bills are on the clock. The Bills entire roster has more holes than a slice of swiss cheese. Again, Da'Quan Bowers is still on the board, but if the front office is intelligent for once, they will select defensive end/tackle Marcell Dareus, out of Alabama.
Kyle Williams made a seamless transition to the nose tackle position in the new 3-4 defensive front, but the defensive ends Dwan Edwards and Marcus Stroud are both over 30 and their production is declining.
Adding Dareus, the 6'4", 304 pound mammoth, who recorded 66 tackles and 11 sacks to the defensive line would instantly help the Bills in run support.
No. 4 Cincinnati Bengals- DE DaQuan Bowers, Clemson
The Cincinnati Bengals are having some real issues this off-season on the offensive side of the ball. Carson Palmer, Terrell Owens, and Chad Ochocinco want out. The top quarterback and wide receiver are still on the board, but so is Da'Quan Bowers.
Bowers will be extremely hard to pass on, after his impressive collegiate career in which he made 150 tackles and got to the quarterback 20 times, with 16 sacks just last season.
At 6'4", 280 pounds, Bowers will fit perfectly at end in the Bengals 4-3 front.
No. 5 Arizona Cardinals- OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M
Texas A&M outside linebacker, Von Miller, has quietly risen to the top of many draft boards, especially after a dominating Senior Bowl performance.
The Arizona Cardinals defense was awful last year, after losing Antrel Rolle and Karlos Dansby to free agency.
Miller is a relentless pass-rusher, racking up 178 tackles and 34 sacks in his four years at Texas A&M. Thinking of a front seven featuring Miller, Darnell Dockett, Calias Campbell, and Dan Williams will force opponents to pass into the secondary which isn't too bad either.
No. 6 Cleveland Browns- WR A.J. Green, Georgia
Almost every scout out there believes that wide receiver A.J. Green out of Georgia is the second coming of Randy Moss or Andre Johnson, and he certainly fits the mold.
Standing 6'4", Green is a big and physical target with great hands, and is an excellent route runner.
In three years at Georgia, Green caught 166 passes for 2,619 yards, scoring 23 times, all while being double teamed for most of every game.
Colt McCoy needs a big time receiver like Green, who will create mismatches for the smaller, speedier guys like Josh Cribbs and Mohammed Massoquoi.
No. 7 San Francisco 49ers- CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska
This was one of the toughest picks for me in the top 10, as the top ranked quarterback prospect, Blaine Gabbert is still available, as is defensive end/outside linebacker Robert Quinn.
However, the top three cornerbacks on the 49ers roster are at least 28 years old. Nate Clements may have one or two years left in him, and Shawntae Spencer isn't really a game changer.
Prince Amukamara out of Nebraska has great speed and is fluid in hip movement, while having the skill to break up passes and make key tackles.
During his time at Nebraska, Amukamara made 155 tackles, forced three fumbles, intercepted five passes, and even recorded four sacks.
No. 8 Tennessee Titans- QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
Once Andrew Luck declared that he wouldn't be entering the 2011 NFL Draft, Missouri quarterback, Blaine Gabbert became the hot name.
The Tennessee Titans have publicly stated that they are attempting to trade or release current quarterback Vince Young, who could never get on the same page as recently fired head coach Jeff Fisher.
Gabbert will force defenses to cover receivers, rather than stacking eight men in the box to contain running back Chris Johnson. Gabbert has a great arm, and is extremely accurate posting a career quarterback rating of 140.45 in his two years at Missouri.
Gabbert has passed for 3,593 yards, 24 touchdowns, and just nine interceptions, while rushing for eight touchdowns.
No. 9 Dallas Cowboys- DE/DT Cameron Jordan, California
The Cowboys defense was terrible this past season, and Jerry Jones has stated that their poor secondary was "just fine." Dallas needs depth for their 3-4 scheme, and defensive end Marcus Spears is set to become a hot commodity on the free agent market.
At 6'4" 283 pounds, Cameron Jordan out of California would be a perfect fit at defensive end next to Jay Ratliff, and he is definitely an upgrade over Igor Olshansky.
In his four years at Cal, Jordan has racked up 161 tackles and 17 sacks at the defensive tackle position and should make a smooth transition to the defensive end position.
No. 10 Washington Redskins- DE/OLB Aldon Smith, Missouri
Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan lost faith in Donovan McNabb late in the season, and Auburn quarterback Cam Newton doesn't seem like the type of guy Shanahan would become buddy-buddy with.
Sophomore defensive end Aldon Smith, out of Missouri, will be a huge upgrade to the Redskins linebacking corps, and could instantly take over Lorenzo Alexander's spot at the strong side linebacker.
At 6'5" 260, Smith has the ability to drop into coverage, as well as bring pressure to the quarterback, and would be a nightmare for offensive coordinators, who already have to focus on Brian Orakpo.
At Mizzou, Smith made 108 tackles, while bringing down the quarterback 17 times, and added a forced fumble, an interception, and a partridge and a pear tree.
No. 11 Houston Texans- DE/OLB Robert Quinn, North Carolina
The Houston Texans are transitioning to a 3-4 defensive scheme, and while they have major holes in the secondary after the loss of cornerback Dunta Robinson, Robert Quinn would bring a ferocious pass rush and add another weapon to a linebacking corps already featuring Pro Bowlers Demeco Ryans and Brian Cushing.
Quinn didn't play all season, due to violating NCAA rules regarding receiving improper benefits, but scouts still see him as one of the top pass rushers in the draft.
Still raw at just 20 years of age, Quinn stands at 6'5" weighing in at 270 pounds, he made 86 tackles, while forcing four fumbles and racking up 13 sacks as a Tarheel.
No. 12 Minnesota Vikings- QB Cam Newton, Auburn
The Minnesota Vikings are in dire need of a quarterback after Brett Favre retired, and Cam Newton may be the answer in Minnesota. Newton made headlines all year long, from the scandal involving his father Cecil taking improper benefits, to winning the BCS National Championship.
Don't expect Newton to be an opening day starter, as I believe the Vikings will bring in a veteran to man the offense for a year or two, as Newton was only a starter for one year.
In that one year, the 6'6" 250 pound quarterback completed 66.1 percent of his passes, throwing for 2,854 yards, 30 touchdowns, and just seven interceptions, while rushing 264 times for 1,473 yards and another 20 touchdowns.
Newton has a huge arm, and could eventually be the quarterback of the future for the Minnesota Vikings.
No. 13 Detroit Lions- OT Nate Solder, Colorado
The Detroit Lions will run to the podium almost as fast as the Buffalo Bills did during last year's draft to select the top rated offensive tackle, Nate Solder out of Colorado.
The Lions certainly have multiple holes to fill, but they need a line that can allow Matthew Stafford to finish his season with a healthy arm.
Jeff Backus' contract expires, and last year's fourth round choice, Jason Fox, is barely competing with Gosder Cherilus for the right tackle position.
No. 14 St. Louis Rams- OLB Akeem Ayers, UCLA
Bring it on! I know I'm going to get slammed for this pick, while wide receiver, Julio Jones, is still on the board.
What most don't realize is that Sam Bradford has a nice, young corps of wideouts in Danny Amendola, Laurent Robinson, and Mardy Gilyard.
Sure, adding Julio Jones would be a boost to the pass attack, but what about the defense? Defensive end James Hall is approaching 35, and Ryan Kerrigan, the blue-collar pass rusher out of Purdue could form a nasty defensive end combo opposite Chris Long.
Futhermore, the Rams could still grab their big target receiver in later rounds, such as Miami's Leonard Hankerson.
No. 15 Miami Dolphins- RB Mark Ingram, Alabama
Both Miami Dolphins running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are unrestricted free agents this off-season, and it is unlikely that either will return.
Mark Ingram, who won the 2010 Heisman Trophy, finished his career at Alabama with 572 carries for 3,261 yards and 42 touchdowns.
The Dolphins certainly are in need of a quarterback, but Ingram will be an every-down back, allowing wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess to shine.