2011 NFL Mock Draft: Todd McShay Mock 3.0 Pick-by-Pick Critique
A few weeks ago, ESPN's Todd McShay released his third NFL mock draft. Obviously, all of this came out before the NFL scouting combine, so by the time he releases his next mock draft, some of these choices will change.
However, to get us ready for that, we are going to take a look at each first-round pick that he has and critique whether that would be the right move or the wrong move for the team to make.
This draft is very heavy on defense, and McShay's mock draft has seven of the first 10 picks coming from the defensive side of the ball.
Who does he have going No. 1? What surprises does he have in store?
We will have a breakdown of all 32 first-round picks according to the ESPN Scouts Inc. guru, Todd McShay.
1. Carolina Selects Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers
The consensus before the combine was that Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers or Auburn DT Nick Fairley were the two choices to be the No. 1 pick in the draft.
After the combine, things are more cluttered at the top of the draft than they have been in a long time. Todd McShay had Bowers at the top in his latest mock draft, but it is definitely not a lock at the top. In fact, there are no fewer than five guys who could make a case for the top spot.
Carolina needs help in a number of areas, which only adds to the confusion at the top of the draft.
2. Denver Selects Auburn DT Nick Fairley
With the Broncos re-signing Champ Bailey for four years, things seem set up for them to take Fairley with the second pick. He's not a proven commodity—remember, he only had one productive year in college—but a potential pass-rushing defensive tackle is difficult to come by.
If the Broncos were so inclined, they could go after LSU CB Patrick Peterson, who was one of the best prospects coming out of the scouting combine, giving them a potentially great 1-2 combo in the secondary.
3. Buffalo Selects Texas A&M LB Von Miller
If you were to ask around today, Von Miller would probably be a near-unanimous choice to be defensive rookie of the year. He is a physical beast, running a 4.46 40-yard dash, and could be the most impactful rookie—offensively or defensively—in the NFL this year.
Buffalo does have other needs they could address, like quarterback or receiver, but Miller gives them someone who can get after the quarterback. When you play in a division with Tom Brady and Mark Sanchez, you need those kinds of players on your team.
4. Cincinnati Selects Georgia WR A.J. Green
With all the uncertainty surrounding Carson Palmer, the Bengals could go with a quarterback—Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton—with the fourth pick. However, they will also have to find a receiver for whoever their quarterback will be to throw to, and A.J. Green is the best in the draft class.
I would say this is a logical pick, but with the Bengals, you don't really get a lot of logic with what they do.
5. Arizona Selects Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert
Blaine Gabbert seems to have done himself a tremendous favor by not throwing at the combine last week. Other top quarterbacks, like Cam Newton and Ryan Mallett, really did more harm than good to their draft stock by throwing last week. Gabbert, by doing nothing, is probably the top quarterback option in this draft.
Arizona has a lot of defensive needs, but in this league you need a quarterback to win and Gabbert is the best of a pretty average bunch.
Gabbert didn't ever play great in college, but he has a lot of the physical tools that scouts like to see in a high first-round pick.
6. Cleveland Selects Alabama DT Marcell Dareus
This might be low for Marcell Dareus after his combine workout, which was fantastic considering his size and the position that he plays.
Before the combine, the consensus was that Nick Fairley was the top defensive tackle, and Dareus was second. Now, the two are fighting for the top spot on a lot of those draft boards.
The Browns took some strides last year, but they are still in desperate need of a pass rusher. Dareus will be more than capable in that regard.
7. San Francisco Selects LSU CB Patrick Peterson
Patrick Peterson made a strong case for the No. 1 overall pick with his combine workout, which was fantastic. He has the size, speed, physicality and technique to be an instant impact player in the NFL.
If Peterson is still available at seven, San Francisco would be insane to pass on him.
8. Tennessee Titans Select Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara
Tennessee could go with a quarterback since they won't have one, at least not one that will get them where they hope to go, but if Gabbert is off the board, they will look in another direction.
They won't take Cam Newton because he is too similar to Vince Young, and this franchise doesn't want to do that again.
Prince Amukamara could come right in and be the best cornerback for this team from day one. Plus, when you have two offenses like the Colts and Texans in your division, you need to load up on defenders if you want to stop them.
9. Dallas Cowboys Select Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt
The Cowboys could use some help on the offensive line and in the secondary, but their pass rush was nothing to write home about either.
J.J. Watt isn't the sexy name that the Cowboys like to go after in the draft, but he is the best fit for what they need, which is a guy who can stop the run and pass-rush off the edge.
10. Washington Redskins Select Auburn QB Cam Newton
Cam Newton continues to be an enigma. At the combine, he had moments where he looked like a great quarterback, showing arm strength, great phyiscal skills and tremendous upside. Then, he came back and looked like a second-round pick at best, showing no accuracy, looking nervous and bombing the interview process.
The Redskins love taking on players who have big names but aren't necessarily going to be great players, and Newton definitely fits into that category.
11. Houston Texans Select Colorado CB Jimmy Smith
The easiest prediction to make in this entire draft is the Houston Texans addressing their cornerback situation with their first pick.
Jimmy Smith has really come out of obscurity to be ranked right behind Patrick Peterson and Prince Amukamara among cornerbacks in this draft class.
Smith will be given every opportunity to play right away because no one else on the team is very good right now.
12. Minnesota Vikings Select North Carolina DE Robert Quinn
Minnesota could go with Colorado OT Nate Solder with this pick, but their defensive line is getting older, and they need to find someone who can inject some life back into it.
Robert Quinn comes with some baggage—he was suspended for the 2010 season for having contact with an agent—but he is too good to pass up here.
The Vikings would also like to find a quarterback, but there really isn't a good value pick here. They could wait until the second round when someone like Ryan Mallet, Andy Dalton or Christian Ponder is available.
13. Detroit Lions Select Colorado OT Nate Solder
Detroit got a lot better as the season went on. Ndamukong Suh is a star in the league already and, if his game continues to evolve in 2011, could become the best defensive tackle in football.
The one thing that this team needs to do if they want to fight for a playoff spot is keep Matthew Stafford healthy. Nate Solder is a big, hulking lineman who specializes in pass protection.
USC OT Tyron Smith turned a lot of heads at the combine and could move to the top of the offensive line rankings. If he does, that would make him the Lions' pick.
14. St. Louis Rams Select Alabama WR Julio Jones
If Julio Jones falls to them at No. 14 they should thank their lucky stars because he moved up a lot of draft boards with his combine workout. He showed a combination of speed and power that a lot of people didn't think that he had.
The Rams are in desperate need of receivers to help out QB Sam Bradford, and Jones would be the perfect fit for them.
15. Miami Dolphins Select Alabama RB Mark Ingram
No real surprise here; Ingram has been thought of as the pick for the Dolphins since he announced he was going to enter the draft.
Critics will point to his slow 40-yard time (4.6 seconds), but he has a quick first step and is very physical out of the backfield.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars Select Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn
The Jaguars need a ton of help on the defensive line. In fact, there were times last year when you would have thought that they didn't even play with a defensive line—things were that bad.
It's hard to argue with this pick. If Cam Newton makes it to this point in the draft, the Jaguars could snatch him up. They need fans to fill the stadium, and for better or worse, Newton is going to sell tickets right away.
17. New England Patriots Select California DE Cameron Jordan
New England's weaknesses were exposed in the playoff loss to the Jets. They need help on the defensive line, specifically a pass rusher off the edge. Cameron Jordan is in the pass rush and can hold his own against the run.
New England needs a speed receiver, but given Bill Belichick's history there is no way that the Patriots use a first-round pick on a receiver.
18. San Diego Chargers Select Missouri DE/OLB Aldon Smith
San Diego has been searching for Shawne Merriman's replacement since even before Merriman was let go last season.
Aldon Smith is the answer for the Chargers. He is fast and physical and can get after the quarterback. He is a little small, but he has time to add some muscle to his frame.
19. New York Giants Select USC OT Tyron Smith
Tyron Smith had a great combine workout and might not even make it to this point in the draft. He went from being a mid first-round talent to a possible top-10 pick.
The Giants would love it if Smith did make it this far because they would have a potentially dominant offensive line all set up for the next five years with him in the fold.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Select Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan
Tampa Bay was the biggest surprise of the 2010 NFL season, coming from nowhere to win 10 games and finish so close to making the playoffs. They did that despite not a lot of production from their defensive line.
Head coach Raheem Morris will cure what's ailing this team by upgrading that unit with Ryan Kerrigan. He's not the most athletic guy in the world, but no one will work harder and give more effort on the field.
21. Kansas City Chiefs Select UCLA OLB Akeem Ayers
In 2010, Kansas City was seen as a cute story, but ultimately a team that wouldn't be able to hold off San Diego in the AFC West. They did, and they looked very good at times during the season.
Offensively, this team is set with Matt Cassel, Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe.
Defensively, they are still putting pieces into place, and they will continue to add pieces through the draft. Todd McShay has them taking Akeem Ayers, which is a fine pick. Personally, I think that they will go with Georgia LB Justin Houston, but both players are similar so it's hard to argue against Ayers.
22. Indianapolis Colts Select Boston College OT Anthony Castonzo
No surprise here. The Colts offensive line was bad in 2010, and Peyton Manning is the quarterback. What did you think they were going to do?
23. Philadelphia Eagles Select Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi
Another pick that's not surprising anyone. Michael Vick needs all the help he can get up front, and Gabe Carimi is the best option available.
The Eagles do need some help in the secondary and at linebacker. Miami CB Brandon Harris looked great at the combine, but with Vick being the key for this team in 2011, they will do everything they can to make sure he has all the protection he needs to stay healthy for 16 games.
24. New Orleans Saints Select Georgia LB Justin Houston
New Orleans could address their secondary, which was exposed against the Seahawks in the playoff game, but the Saints need help with their pass rush, and Justin Houston is a rising prospect in this draft class.
One way or another, this team is drafting defense.
25. Seattle Seahawks Select Washington QB Jake Locker
Matt Hasselbeck, for all the good that he did in the playoff game against the Saints, is going to be 36 years old, he can't stay healthy, and this team would be best served to look towards their future at quarterback.
Jake Locker, while he does have a lot of question marks, has as much upside as any quarterback in this draft class. He is a great athlete who happens to play quarterback. He will need time to develop, but given the right circumstances, he can make whatever team drafts him look very, very good.
26. Baltimore Ravens Select Kentucky WR Randall Cobb
Baltimore had Pittsburgh on the ropes in the AFC Divisional playoff game, but ultimately some costly turnovers and poor play by the receivers did them in.
The Ravens have a lot of big, physical receivers, but they don't have a great downfield threat. That's where Randall Cobb comes in. He's a smaller guy, but he is as fast as any receiver in this draft class. He is versatile, too, having played quarterback, running back and receiver in college.
27. Atlanta Falcons Select Florida G/C Mike Pouncey
This is one pick that I definitely don't agree with. The Falcons have much more pressing needs in the secondary and for a pass rusher, and while there may not be the most value or upside of any of the guys left, this team would be best served going in that direction.
Cameron Heyward from Ohio State would make more sense for this team moving forward. There's nothing wrong with Pouncey, who could be an All-Pro guard or center, but for this team, he isn't the best fit.
28. New England Patriots Select Baylor G Dan Watkins
New England already addressed their defensive line, and now, they will look to stabilize their offensive line with this pick.
The Patriots could trade this pick and stockpile some more later on in this draft or get some more picks for next year, as they have a tendency to do.
29. Chicago Bears Select Illinois DT Corey Liuget
Chicago really should go after an offensive lineman at this spot. The best one available, at least going by Todd McShay's first 28 picks, is Villanova's Ben Ijalana.
That said, Corey Liuget was impressive at the combine and will give the Bears a big body in the middle of that defensive line, which will make Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher better.
They could use a cornerback, but there isn't really any good value at this spot.
30. New York Jets Select Baylor DT Phil Taylor
The Jets are doing a lot of internal housecleaning this offseason. They got rid of Kris Jenkins, the big defensive tackle who has suffered season-ending ACL injuries each of the last two years, and they need a replacement to run their 3-4 defense.
Phil Taylor is a HUGE presence, at nearly 340 pounds, but he has had off-field issues in college that could lower his draft stock quite a bit.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers Select Villanova OT Ben Ijalana
Another pick that's not a real surprise. The Steelers' biggest need is on the offensive line, and they would love it if Mike Pouncey, brother of Steelers rookie Maurkice, were available. If he's not, Ben Ijalana will be a more than welcome addition.
Ijalana is still a little raw, but he won't have to be great right away for this team to win.
32. Green Bay Packers Select Temple DE Muhammad Wilkerson
The Packers don't really have a glaring weakness. They are at least solid at every position on the field. The one area where they lack any real depth is at defensive end, but given the strength of their defensive tackles and linebackers, you wouldn't know it by watching them.
Muhammad Wilkerson looks like a good 3-4 defensive end, effective against the run and strong as a pass rusher. Dom Capers will get another shiny new toy to play with.