The 2011 NFL Scouting Combine will start winding down early this week, leaving us with pages and pages of notes and numbers to go through. Also notable this week was the signing of more franchise players (Paul Soliai, Chad Greenway, etc.), which greatly affects team needs as we head into a tumultuous offseason.
Despite labor uncertainty, one thing is certain, there will be an NFL draft in late April. NFL teams will start putting together their "big boards" this week in preparation for pro days at individual schools across the country.
How have things changed this week? Greatly, actually. Here is our latest three-round mock draft.
A.J. Green, Wide Receiver, Georgia
It is hip right now to have the Panthers selecting Cam Newton (QB, Auburn) or one of the elite defensive players in this class, but neither of those picks seem entirely likely.
The Panthers have Jimmy Clausen, a second-round pick in 2010 and a player many feel can develop into a starter if given talent at receiver. They also have Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy at defensive end—making it unlikely that either Da'Quan Bowers or Robert Quinn are drafted here.
This leaves Carolina in a position to draft the best player available. For many that will be A.J. Green.
With Steve Smith's talent declining and a strong chance he will be moved this offseason, Carolina makes the smart pick and grabs a player who could easily be the next Andre Johnson/Charles Rogers.
Nick Fairley, Defensive Tackle, Auburn
The Broncos are making a move back to the 4-3 defense under John Fox this year, leaving a big question mark at defensive tackle. The team moved last week to re-sign cornerback Champ Bailey, temporarily filling a need at cornerback.
This leaves Denver in position to draft Fairley, who will play next to Pro Bowler Elvis Dumervil in the four-man front. This gives Denver a viable defensive line to build around and also will help pressure the quarterback and shorten the amount of time their patchwork secondary has to cover their man.
Denver could also consider LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson here.
Patrick Peterson, Cornerback, LSU
Peterson has been atop many draft boards all season, and he still sits at No. 3 overall on our board. The electric cornerback brings playmaking skills, cover ability and a dangerous ability as a return man to Buffalo.
The Bills are rebuilding (still) and need to simply add the best players they can. With team officials saying this week that Ryan Fitzgerald is their starting quarterback and someone they can win with in the future, it is becoming less likely the Bills would consider either Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert here.
Da'Quan Bowers, Defensive End, Clemson
We have a feeling the Bengals will find a way to re-sign both Cedric Benson (RB) and Jonathan Joseph (CB) this offseason.
Carlos Dunlap flashed his brilliance in 2010, but his potential was halted by injuries. Dunlap will be back in 2011, a fact that has many Bengals fans excited and optimistic. Opposite Dunlap, there is a need at end. A pass rusher with speed is a welcome addition to Cincinnati and could be the team's focus with the fourth overall pick.
Bowers is the ideal prospect for a 4-3 defense. He is big, fast and strong enough to set the edge in run support. His raw athleticism and ability will make his name a hot topic early in the 2011 draft.
Von Miller, Outside Linebacker, Texas A&M
The Cardinals have not recovered from the loss of Calvin Pace and Karlos Dansby last offseason. Look for the 2011 draft to focus on replacing lost stars on the Cardinals roster at positions like outside linebacker and quarterback.
Miller's stock is rising as the draft nears. He showed at the Senior Bowl that he can not only rush the passer but set the edge and stuff the run when needed. In a pass-heavy NFC West, the Cardinals need a player of Miller's caliber to pressure the quarterback and lock down athletic tight ends.
Marcell Dareus, Defensive Tackle, Alabama
The Browns are facing an offseason where they need to add targets for Colt McCoy and rebuild their defense while changing from a 3-4 to a 4-3 system. Oh and they must replace Shaun Rogers after releasing him in a salary cap move.
Dareus has the talent to be the first player chosen in the 2011 NFL Draft, but the questions about his work ethic might move him down the list a bit. He is supremely talented—when motivated—but there appear to be gaps in his game.
The Browns will love plugging in Dareus on their defensive line and building their defense around him. Perhaps more so than any other player in this draft, Dareus is ready to step onto an NFL field and make an impact right now.
Robert Quinn, Outside Linebacker, North Carolina
The 49ers plan to keep their 3-4 alignment on defense, meaning they must look to improve at outside linebacker. Speed is needed, but more importantly, they need an edge rusher who can scare offenses. This is something San Francisco never had under Mike Nolan or Mike Singletary.
Robert Quinn's name has been heating up lately, with many calling him the best defensive end/outside linebacker in the draft. Quinn, who did not play in 2010, was among the best defensive players in college football during the 2009 campaign.
He will need to answer questions about taking money from agents, but he will also be incredibly impressive in workouts.
Yes, the 49ers need a quarterback and they need help at cornerback, but Quinn is the best player available here and he fills an immediate need.
Blaine Gabbert, Quarterback, Missouri
The Titans franchise is in shambles. Gone are head coach Jeff Fisher and franchise quarterback Vince Young, with relative newbie Mike Munchak taking over as the top dog.
Quarterback is the obvious need here and word has it the Titans brass is very enamored with Blaine Gabbert.
Gabbert comes from a spread offense, much like Sam Bradford at Oklahoma, leaving many to wonder if he is ready to play in the NFL right away. In Tennessee, Gabbert would have the luxury of playing behind veteran Kerry Collins for at least one season.
Prince Amukamara, Cornerback, Nebraska
New defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will implement an aggressive, pressure-based scheme that asks the cornerbacks to play on an island. While this results in productive cornerbacks, it also requires a special talent at the position. Many feel Terence Newman will have to move to safety, or another team.
Amukamara was rated as the No. 1 player in the country before the 2010 season by many draft experts. His play in 2010 was shaky compared to 2009, but there is no doubt he has the talent to excel in the NFL.
Dallas has few real needs, which puts them in a great position to draft the best available player here.
Julio Jones, Wide Receiver, Alabama
Jones was incredibly impressive on Sunday while working out at the NFL combine. This might not push his stock higher than it already is, but we feel it will solidify his place among the top 10 picks in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
Washington has major needs at quarterback and wide receiver, not to mention cornerback, but they will use their first overall pick on the best player available at those positions. Lucky for them, Jones is sitting here waiting for them.
Washington must address their need at quarterback early in the draft if they choose to draft Jones here. With limited draft picks in later rounds due to trades, Washington is also very likely to trade this pick to one of many teams hoping to land a quarterback.
Aldon Smith, Outside Linebacker, Missouri
The Texans are making the change to a 3-4 defense this year, which means they will be drafting players for virtually every position on defense. Stars Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans and Brian Cushing will be asked to play positions they are unfamiliar with, leaving the Texans without a presence on the edge to rush the passer.
It is surprising that a top-11 pick in the first round would fly under the radar, but Smith is doing just that. Many players at his position (Von Miller, Robert Quinn) are receiving massive hype, but Smith is hardly mentioned in the top outside linebacker groupings.
Cam Newton, Quarterback, Auburn
Many people will say the Vikings have a similar player on their roster in Joe Webb. Let's get this out in the open right now: Joe Webb will never be Cam Newton.
Newton had a shaky first day at the NFL combine, but passing drills at the combine do not show a quarterback's timing, or ability to connect with his receivers. Newton needs work—he is far from ready to lead an NFL team—but his potential and promise are too much for the quarterback-needy Vikings to pass on here.
Newton remains a popular pick for the first overall selection, but we simply do not see it. No matter how fast he can run.
Tyron Smith, Offensive Tackle, USC
Jeff Backus turns 34 this season. Matthew Stafford's two seasons in the NFL have ended with injuries. Offensive tackle is a need here.
Lions fans will tell you they need to focus on defense in Round 1, but we disagree. They do need to add a cornerback and outside linebacker, but this can be done later on. Grabbing a franchise left tackle must take precedence in a draft loaded with talent in Rounds 2 and 3.
Smith has rare athletic ability for the position and in fact reminds us a lot of Denver Bronco Pro Bowler Ryan Clady.
The Lions may have gotten lucky here at No. 13.
Cameron Jordan, Defensive End, California
The Rams are seriously hoping wide receiver Julio Jones will somehow fall to them here at pick No. 14, but too many teams are taking notice of Jones' talent.
The consolation prize here is not too bad, though. Cameron Jordan has been talked about as the best defensive end in the entire draft. He is a rare combination of pass rusher, run stopper and a great overall person.
Head coach Steve Spagnuolo made a name for himself as defensive coordinator of the New York Giants by moving around his defensive linemen and exploiting weaknesses on the offensive line. With Cameron Jordan on the roster, Spags will be able to move him from end to tackle without missing a beat.
Mikel LeShoure, Running Back, Illinois
Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams will both enter free agency this offseason. The Dolphins are not expected to bring both back and could ultimately choose to start fresh at the position and let both leave. Whichever they decide, running back figures to be a key need for Miami in the draft.
LeShoure is not as high on some boards as we have him, but you cannot help but fall in love with his combination of power, speed and agility in the open field.
Jimmy Smith, Cornerback, Colorado
We have previously written our mock drafts with the Jaguars focusing on defensive end with players like Ryan Kerrigan or Adrian Clayborn. We have wisened up some this week.
The Jaguars do have a need at defensive end, but in looking at their statistics from 2010 it is obvious this team needs help at cornerback before they look at any other position.
Smith's name will continue to jump up on boards as we get closer to the draft and more teams take notice of his unique skill set and dominating size.
Jacksonville will be tempted to look at quarterback here should one of the top players fall, but they can also look there later in the draft.
Gabe Carimi, Offensive Tackle, Wisconsin
Matt Light is a free agent if/when the new Collective Bargaining Agreement is signed and could fall under the Patriots' history of not re-signing older players. Light can be replaced on the left side by Sebastian Vollmer, but this leaves a hole on the right side.
No matter what is done with Light, adding a future right tackle is a focus for New England with one of their three picks in the first 33 selections.
Carimi is slightly underrated by NFL analysts and TV scouts, but having seen him firsthand numerous times, it is hard to not be impressed with Carimi's ability on the blind side. He is a dominant force in the run game and has the tools to become an elite pass protector.
A strong performance at the combine has many analysts moving Carimi up their draft boards.
J.J. Watt, Defensive End, Wisconsin
Watt might be the draft's preeminent 3-4 defensive end, depending on who you ask. There is no questioning he is a very talented player and a bit of a steal with the No. 18 pick overall.
San Diego has needs at many positions on defense, and they will spend many selections focusing on outside linebacker and inside linebacker later on in the top three rounds. The Chargers will also need to look at running back, wide receiver and right tackle at some point in this draft.
In Round 1 the Chargers are fortunate enough that they can aim in many directions, but no other available players are as ready to make an impact as Watt.
Akeem Ayers, Outside Linebacker, UCLA
Keith Bulluck is a 34-year-old and a free agent. The Giants will focus early in the 2011 NFL Draft on upgrading at strongside linebacker.
The Giants have needs at offensive tackle and defensive tackle, but an area where they can make an immediate upgrade and impact is at outside linebacker, where Bulluck and weakside linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka are questionable to return in 2011.
Ayers is a very versatile player who could slide inside on passing downs, or even drop down to defensive end at times. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell will appreciate this selection.
Adrian Clayborn. Defensive End, Iowa
At one point this year we had Adrian Clayborn rated as our No. 1 overall player. That was until he decided to play poorly down the stretch and cause many to question his work ethic and character. A dominant end in 2009, Clayborn was average in 2010.
Clayborn has a chance to redeem himself with a strong pre-draft workout, causing teams with a need for an outside pass rush to take a look at him late in the first round.
Ryan Kerrigan, Outside Linebacker, Purdue
The Chiefs are desperate for help opposite Pro Bowler Tamba Hali, and their focus this offseason will be adding a talented young pass rusher at outside linebacker.
Kerrigan's stock is hot and cold, depending on which person you talk to and when you ask them. In reality, Kerrigan is a dynamic pass rusher who may be too small to hold up as an every-down defensive end. There will be questions about his speed and ability to drop his hips and rush off the edge.
We are confident Kerrigan will be nothing short of impressive in workouts, leading to his selection here by Kansas City.
Nate Solder, Offensive Tackle, Colorado
Peyton Manning had to feel a little human this season after being beaten into the turf by the Chargers and then the Cowboys. Even in the playoffs Manning looked rushed, rattled and scared in the pocket. We can hardly blame him after looking at how terrible the Colts offensive line was this year.
Solder is an elite athlete for a left tackle, a must in the Colts' zone blocking scheme. He has long arms, a big frame and the footwork to get to the second level and pull on screens and stretch plays.
Solder may be too tall for many offensive systems, but Manning is a bigger quarterback and able to see over, around and through a player like Solder.
Brandon Harris, Cornerback, Miami (FL)
Ellis Hobbs, the team's number two corner, is a free agent after the season. The end of Round 1 would be a smart place to find a future starter at cornerback, leaving Round 2 for the need at guard. Reid tends to like aggressive corners who attack the ball. Brandon Harris of Miami fits the Eagles' scheme very well.
The Eagles like physical cornerbacks who can face the receiver and make plays on the ball. Harris not only fits this mold, he has the size to run with the NFL's biggest receivers.
Harris' name is shooting up draft boards lately. He is a lock to hear his name called in Round 1.
Anthony Castonzo, Offensive Tackle, Boston College
You will not see many people predicting the Saints will pick up an offensive tackle in Round 1. When you consider that left tackle Jermon Bushrod is a free agent and also played poorly this year, left tackle becomes a more obvious need.
Castonzo is rated by almost all draft experts as a late first-round pick. He is a solid tackle with good athleticism, great size and excellent length. He shows ability to play in the NFL as a rookie.
The Saints have a roster talented enough to make it back to the Super Bowl, but they must draft smart and fill needs left by free agency.
Jake Locker, Quarterback, Washington
Let me preface this by saying I firmly believe someone will trade back in to the late first round to select Jake Locker, much like the Denver Broncos did when drafting Tim Tebow last year.
Seattle is in a great position to draft their quarterback of the future here. Matt Hasselbeck is a free agent and the team will be faced with a huge decision on his future with the team. Pete Carroll swapped second-round picks and sent a third-round selection in the 2010 NFL Draft to San Diego for Charlie Whitehurst, but there are doubters in the organization about his ability to lead the team deep in the playoffs.
Locker is not NFL-ready at this point. He needs to work on his accuracy, his understanding of NFL offenses and his ability to read defenses. What Locker does bring to the table is amazing athletic ability, good arm strength and an unbeatable work ethic.
Torrey Smith, Wide Receiver, Maryland
Many will cite that Torrey Smith is all speed and no substance. We would argue that Smith is closer to a complete receiver than many will admit.
Yes, his game is prominently about speed, but is that such a bad thing? Smith will bring a next level to NFL offenses while he learns the intricacies of the position.
The Ravens have one of the slowest receiving crews in the NFL and would jump at the chance to add a burner like Smith to line up opposite Anquan Boldin. A deep threat would open up more options in the Ravens offense and force safeties to respect the deep ball.
Jon Baldwin, Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh
The Falcons need to add more targets for stud quarterback Matt Ryan. Roddy White had an amazing 2010, but he cannot be a one-man show at receiver any longer.
Baldwin is a big-bodied receiver in the mold of Anquan Boldin. He will be a red-zone threat and an exciting player deep down the field. His size alone will make him an instant mismatch against many NFL cornerbacks.
Some might worry about Baldwin's perceived character issues, but any questions about him should have been answered during a flawless 2010 season.
The Falcons could look at tight end or defensive end here, but this draft is heavy on both positions in later rounds.
Mark Ingram, Running Back, Alabama
Bill Belichick has not historically drafted running backs high, especially after missing on Laurence Maroney. Danny Woodhead and BenJarvus Green-Ellis did a fine job, but depth is a concern with the aging Fred Taylor as the best option behind them.
None of the players on the Patriots roster today have the same skills or impact ability that Ingram will bring from day one. For the Patriots to become more versatile and more attacking, this pick is a need.
With three selections in the top 33 picks, it is also very likely the Patriots will trade this selection.
Derek Sherrod, Offensive Tackle, Mississippi State
The Bears shocked everyone by making a run to the NFC Championship Game this past season. Had Jay Cutler not gone down to injury, the Bears had a chance to surprise people by appearing in the Super Bowl.
What does Chicago need to do to have a legitimate chance to play for the 2011 NFL championship? Adding a left tackle to protect Cutler and wide receivers who can get open are key to this offseason.
Sherrod is a left tackle by trade, but has the strength to play on the right side in a zone blocking system or West Coast offense. He is an underrated run blocker and in pass protection he is NFL-ready.
Justin Houston, Outside Linebacker, Georgia
It never hurts to have too many pass rushers, especially when you have to face Tom Brady twice every year. For the Jets to finally make a Super Bowl appearance in 2012 they must be able to generate a pass rush that can stop the Bradys, Mannings and Roethlisbergers of the NFL.
Houston's name is one getting more notice as we come within two months of the NFL draft. His 11 sacks against a super-competitive SEC schedule drew scouts in. His raw ability as an edge rusher will result in his being drafted in the first round.
Mike Pouncey, Offensive Guard, Florida
The Steelers were so close to another Super Bowl ring—and we believe they have the talent to be back in the "big game" next season. The team is loaded at wide receiver, running back and on defense. They also have a top-five quarterback and a young coach who are excellent leaders.
Where Pittsburgh is obviously lacking is in the offensive line and the secondary. With pick No. 31, the Steelers are in a great position to draft the best available cornerback or offensive lineman.
In this case the best available player happens to be the younger brother of 2010 rookie and Pro Bowl selection, Maurkice Pouncey.
Putting the two Pounceys side-by-side will be an automatic improvement to the Steelers' pass protection.
Corey Liuget, Defensive End, Illinois
The Packers enter the offseason after winning the Super Bowl with few immediate needs. One area of concern is defensive end in their 3-4 scheme.
Cullen Jenkins, a free agent, recently said he was "99 percent sure" he would not be back in Green Bay next fall. Opposite him, Johnny Jolly looks like a potential salary cap cut. Mike Neal was drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft, but he has yet to see the field enough for anyone to have a feel on his potential.
All of this adds up to the selection of Liuget here. A powerful defensive tackle for the Fighting Illini, he projects as an ideal defensive end in a three-man front.
Christian Ballard, Defensive End, Iowa
The Patriots do a great job drafting for future needs, but the selection of Ballard is all about right now. The team limped through the 2010 season with Mike Wright and Gerard Warren at defensive end. Ty Warren will be back in 2011, but how effective will he be?
Ballard fills a need on a Patriots defense that continues to get younger each year.
Cameron Heyward, Defensive End, Ohio State
For the time being, the Bills will continue scouting and drafting for a 3-4 defense, even though many believe they will convert to a 4-3 defense at some point in the future.
Drafting Cameron Heyward fits both defensive philosophies, as he has the size to play as a five-technique in a 3-4 defense and the speed to play in a traditional 4-3 system if lined up outside or over the tackle.
Heyward proved late this season that he has the talent to be a pure defensive end at the NFL level.
Christian Ponder, Quarterback, Florida State
In 1992, franchise quarterback Boomer Esiason asked Bengals owner Mike Brown to trade him. Brown declined and instead drafted David (not Mike) Klinger in the first round of the '93 NFL Draft to replace Esiason, who was then traded to the New York Jets one full year after requesting a trade.
Why is this relevant? This offseason franchise quarterback Carson Palmer requested a trade, which Brown denied. See a pattern?
Before the 2010 season began many saw Ponder as a potential No. 1 overall pick. Injuries and inconsistent play hurt his stock, but Ponder is enjoying a comeback during pre-draft workouts. First he was MVP of the Senior Bowl, followed by a very strong performance during quarterback sessions during the Scouting Combine.
Brandon Burton, Cornerback, Utah
Denver moved this past week to re-sign future Hall of Fame cornerback Champ Bailey. While this move brings good PR at a time when NFL news has not been optimistic, it is but a band-aid on the roster needs of the Broncos.
Bailey will turn 33 this summer and has regressed in recent years. He is still a good cornerback, but he is far from his days as an elite "shutdown" cornerback.
Burton will not be able to fill the hole left when Bailey does eventually retire, but he is a promising cornerback with great size and very good natural instincts. He would have a strong chance to start as a rookie.
Leonard Hankerson, Wide Receiver, Miami (FL)
The Browns need to make moves during the draft to add players who can step in and perform in a 4-3 defense, but they must also look to add more targets for young quarterback Colt McCoy.
General manager Mike Holmgren recently said the team needed to add playmakers, something Leonard Hankerson has been during his Hurricanes career. While he is not the fastest receiver available here, nor the most consistent, he has the size and route-running skills the Browns need on the outside.
Colin Kaepernick, Quarterback, Nevada
It is hard to imagine any team having a worse quarterback situation than the Arizona Cardinals during the 2010 NFL season. The Cards will look long and hard at all available quarterbacks in the NFL draft and free agency this offseason.
One player enjoying a late rise up draft boards is Nevada's dual-threat star Colin Kaepernick. A raw passer with great running ability, Kaepernick has the athleticism and intelligence to grow in to a solid starting quarterback early in his NFL career with the right coaching.
Jabaal Sheard, Defensive End, Pittsburgh
The team will have to make a decision on end Jason Babin this offseaso, and predicting if he will be able to duplicate his 12.5-sack season again will be a tough question for them. If Babin returns, this pick is used as insurance should he flop and also to provide depth behind Babin and youngster Derrick Morgan.
Should Babin go elsewhere in free agency, defensive end becomes a primary need for Tennessee.
Marcus Cannon, Right Tackle, TCU
A guard during his career for the in-state Horned Frogs, Cannon has looked more and more like a right tackle this offseason with strong workouts and practices at the Senior Bowl.
Dallas' offensive line was patched together several seasons ago and never had the look of a unit. As evidence to that, Marc Colombo remains one of the worst starting offensive linemen in the NFC.
The selection of Cannon all but guarantees Colombo will be cut before the season begins.
Phil Taylor, Nose Tackle, Baylor
In Round 1 the Redskins found a star wide receiver to build their offense around. In Round 2 they would love to find a young quarterback to build with, but none are available that fit what Mike Shanahan looks for in a quarterback.
Instead, Washington uses this pick to draft a replacement for Albert Haynesworth, who one would think has to be traded or released this offseason.
Taylor is the best nose tackle available in this NFL draft class and could hear his name called late in Round 1, depending on team needs and draft boards.
Stephen Paea, Nose Tackle, Oregon State
Houston's decision to move to a 3-4 defense under new coordinator Wade Phillips means drafting players to fit that scheme early and often in the draft.
Stephen Paea does not fit the mold of your prototypical nose tackle, but he has the low center of gravity and rare strength to hold up against center/guard combinations.
Bruce Carter, Outside Linebacker, North Carolina
Had it not been for a torn ACL late in the 2010 season, Bruce Carter would have been a candidate for the Vikings in Round 1.
A rare athlete with excellent speed and vision, Carter will fill the hole left by Ben Leber in free agency and pair with Chad Greenway to give the Vikings a formidable linebacking crew.
Aaron Williams, Cornerback, Texas
Unlike other teams picking in the middle of the first round, Detroit has many identifiable needs they must address. Near the top of that list is the cornerback position.
Williams has great size to match up with the bigger receivers found in the NFL, but he also has excellent speed and agility. He will be a welcome addition to a weak secondary in Detroit.
Andy Dalton, Quarterback, TCU
The 49ers added a key to the defense in Round 1, but now they must focus on finding the perfect quarterback for Jim Harbaugh's West Coast offense.
Dalton is not a perfect quarterback and for many systems he would be a bad selection. However, in San Francisco, Harbaugh will be running a system based on timing and accuracy, Dalton's two biggest assets.
Try not to put too much into how well Dalton does in terms of accuracy at the Scouting Combine, as his entire game as a quarterback is built on timing with his receivers—something that cannot be seen in workouts such as this.
Kyle Rudolph, Tight End, Notre Dame
Using the pick they received in exchange for wide receiver Brandon Marshall, the Broncos find a great threat for quarterbacks Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow.
Rudolph could be drafted in the first round based on pure talent, but two seasons of injuries could push Rudolph into the middle of Round 2. Wherever he is drafted, it is all but certain that Rudolph will be an impact player if healthy.
Titus Young, Wide Receiver, Boise State
The Rams hoped they would find Julio Jones available in Round 1, but the Redskins snagged him from them with the 10th pick overall.
Young is a great consolation prize one round later. A burner at receiver, Young compares well to Philadelphia Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson.
If Young can have the same impact as Jackson on the Rams offense, they will be looking at a playoff run in 2011.
Rodney Hudson, Offensive Guard, Florida State
The Raiders surprised everyone with a very good 2010 draft class. In 2011 they are off to a strong start with their first pick.
Hudson is, in our estimation, the best pure blocker at offensive guard in this draft class. He lacks the size and pedigree of Mike Pouncey, but Hudson is a stone wall when it comes to blocking. The Raiders have a steal here.
Rahim Moore, Free Safety, UCLA
At some point in this draft the Jaguars will need to add a young quarterback and at least one defensive end, but first they must address the weak link on their roster: the secondary.
In Round 1, Jacksonville added a cover man who can lock down NFL receivers. Here they find a centerfielder to patrol the deep-thirds and create turnovers.
Moore was one of the better playmaking safeties in college football this past year.
Martez Wilson, Inside Linebacker, Illinois
Three of San Diego's inside linebackers, Kevin Burnett, Stephen Cooper and Brandon Siler, will enter free agency this offseason.
San Diego is looking to improve their defense through the draft and find a gem in Round 2 with Wilson. The third player from Illinois in the top 50 of our 2011 NFL Draft, Wilson is your classic bone-crunching inside linebacker.
Danny Watkins, Right Tackle, Baylor
Tampa Bay's rotation of Jeremy Trueblood and James Lee was terrible in 2010 and something the team must improve if they want to push themselves over the hump and in to the playoffs next fall.
The Bucs could go a few directions here, but finding Watkins on the board is a great surprise to them.
Watkins has played guard at Baylor, but has the size and strength to become an elite right tackle with some coaching.
Drake Nevis, Defensive Tackle, LSU
In Round 1, the Giants found a versatile linebacker who can pressure and scare offenses into mistakes. In Round 2 the Giants will go back and look at addressing needs on the defensive line.
Nevis is your classic three-technique defensive tackle who can split the gaps in the offensive line and collapse the pocket.
While running back and offensive tackle are still needs for New York, the chance to grab a defensive tackle of Nevis' talent cannot wait.
Stefen Wisniewski, Offensive Guard, Penn State
In Round 1, the Colts hope they have found a left tackle who can keep Peyton Manning on his feet for the next several years. Round 2 finds Indianapolis again adding to a porous offensive line with the versatile Wisniewski.
A center/guard prospect with NFL pedigree, Wisniewski is one of the more impressive interior linemen available in this draft class. He will be an immediate upgrade at right guard.
Marvin Austin, Defensive Tackle, North Carolina
The Eagles would love to add an offensive tackle here, but none of value are available with this spot. Instead the Eagles look to replace free-agent defensive tackle Mike Patterson.
Austin was a preseason candidate to be the No. 1 overall player on many draft boards before his season was lost after he was ruled ineligible by the NCAA.
Randall Cobb, Wide Receiver, Kentucky
The Chiefs addressed their need at outside linebacker by drafting Ryan Kerrigan in Round 1. Here the Chiefs make another smart selection by grabbing a wide receiver to line up opposite Pro Bowler Dwayne Bowe.
Cobb is known for his ability to generate yards after the catch, something that is much needed in a vanilla Chiefs passing game.
Winning the AFC West again in 2011 will be dependent upon a more evenly distributed passing attack.
Ryan Williams, Running Back, Virginia Tech
It seems more and more likely that both Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas will not be back with the Saints in 2011. This leaves the team with only Chris Ivory on the roster at RB.
Williams will be a great complement to Ivory's power running game with his ability to break long runs and make defenders miss.
Getting better on defense is also a priority for Sean Payton and co., but this is a position of need that must be addressed.
Ras-I Dowling, Cornerback, Virginia
If you are looking for a player outside the first round who could be a contender for Defensive Rookie of the Year, Dowling is a name to remember.
Oddly underrated by many in the industry, Dowling has the physical ability and speed that every NFL general manager would love to add to his roster. His penchant for tackling and bump-and-run skills are top-three in this class.
In Seattle, Dowling will have a great chance to start from Week 1.
Davon House, Cornerback, New Mexico State
The Ravens had a need at wide receiver and moved to fill that in Round 1. In Round 2 they address another need and grab a talented man-cover cornerback.
With three of their top four cornerbacks entering free agency this summer, adding a cornerback here is incredibly important.
Sam Acho, Defensive End, Texas
Atlanta must find a way to generate an even pass rush and also look toward the future with John Abraham certain to slow down in the near future.
Acho is a prototypical pass rusher who failed to live up to expectations in a hybrid scheme at the University of Texas. Freed to line up and rush the passer, he has the raw ability to excel.
By adding a wide receiver and defensive end with their first two picks, the Falcons have eliminated two of their key offseason needs.
Brooks Reed, Outside Linebacker, Arizona
A defensive end at Arizona, Reed is the type of player the Patriots love to draft and unleash on AFC quarterbacks. A phenomenal athlete for the position, one scout compared Reed to Clay Matthews of the Green Bay Packers.
Reed has shown the ability to really turn loose and stalk the quarterback, but he will need work as a complete player before Bill Belichick is ready to trust him on every down.
Jason Pinkston, Right Tackle, Pittsburgh
With the pick they received in exchange for cornerback Antonio Cromartie, the Chargers look to address the right tackle position. Many feel the team needs an immediate upgrade over Jeromy Clary. Here is their chance to do so with an established and experienced right tackle.
Vincent Brown, Wide Receiver, San Diego State
The Bears defense and running game are good enough to win a Super Bowl, but they had no passing attack in 2010 due in large part to the inability of their receivers to get open and to secure easy catches.
Brown will come in and immediately challenge incumbents Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett for the No. 1 receiver position.
Muhammad Wilkerson, Defensive End, Temple
Wilkerson is a bit of an intriguing prospect. Some people have him rated as a mid-to-late first-round player, while others see him as a player who could only play in a 3-4 defense and rate him as a second-rounder.
We have Wilkerson in that second group as a pure 3-4 defensive end. He does show great potential for the position and will fill a need in Pittsburgh, where Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel will eventually give way to Wilkerson and Ziggy Hood.
Johnny Patrick, Cornerback, Louisville
Charles Woodson is a lock for the Hall of Fame once his brilliant career ends. Before he heads to Canton, the Packers could entertain moving him to safety for a few seasons.
Doing this will open up a position opposite Tramon Williams, where it seems Sam Shields is the front-runner to take over for Woodson.
Patrick would not only provide depth, but competition for a highly coveted spot.
65. Carolina Panthers
Kenrick Ellis, Defensive Tackle, Hampton
66. Cincinnati Bengals
Jordan Todman, Running Back, Connecticut
67. Denver Broncos
Ahmad Black , Strong Safety, Florida
68. Buffalo Bills
Orlando Franklin, Offensive Tackle, Miami (FL)
69. Arizona Cardinals
Benjamin Ijalana, Offensive Guard/Tackle, Villanova
70. Cleveland Browns
Allen Bailey, Defensive End, Miami (FL)
71. Dallas Cowboys
Quinton Carter, Free Safety, Oklahoma
72. New Orleans Saints (from Washington)
Jurrell Casey, Defensive Tackle, Southern California
73. Houston Texans
Curtis Brown, Cornerback, Texas
74. New England Patriots (from Minnesota)
Shareece Wright, Cornerback, Southern California
75. Detroit Lions
Mark Herzlich, Outside Linebacker, Boston College
76. San Francisco 49ers
Chimdi Chekwa, Cornerback, Ohio State
77. Tennessee Titans
Colin McCarthy, Inside Linebacker, Miami (FL)
78. St. Louis Rams
Luke Stocker, Tight End, Tennessee
79. Miami Dolphins
Ryan Mallett, Quarterback, Arkansas
80. Jacksonville Jaguars
Jeremy Beal, Defensive End, Oklahoma
81. Oakland Raiders
Rashad Carmichael, Cornerback, Virginia Tech
82. San Diego Chargers
Dontay Moch, Outside Linebacker, Nevada
83. New York Giants
Daniel Thomas, Running Back, Kansas State
84. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Greg Jones, Inside Linebacker, Michigan State
85. Philadelphia Eagles
DeMarcus Love, Offensive Guard, Arkansas
86. Kansas City Chiefs
Joseph Barksdale, Offensive Tackle, LSU
87. Indianapolis Colts
Jarvis Jenkins, Defensive Tackle, Clemson
88. New Orleans Saints
DeAndre McDaniel, Strong Safety, Clemson
89. San Diego Chargers (from Seattle)
DeMarco Murray, Running Back, Oklahoma
90. Baltimore Ravens
Lawrence Guy, Defensive End, Arizona State
91. Atlanta Falcons
D.J. Williams, Tight End, Arkansas
92. New England Patriots
Austin Pettis, Wide Receiver, Boise State
93. Chicago Bears
Jerrell Powe, Defensive Tackle, Mississippi
94. New York Jets
Jerrel Jernigan, Wide Receiver, Troy
95. Pittsburgh Steelers
Kelvin Sheppard, Inside Linebacker, LSU
96. Green Bay Packers
K.J. Wright , Outside Linebacker, Mississippi State