2011 NFL Draft: How will notable Pro-Day workouts affect our latest Mock Draft?
As I'm sure you're all aware of by now, the owners have successfully locked out the current players for the time being; and a cloud of uncertainty is now taking the league by storm.
With no new collective bargaining agreement in place, free-agents and potentially undrafted rookies are now fearing for the lives as money now becomes a pressing necessity.
On the brighter side of things, the 2011 NFL Draft and all it's illustrious hype will commence forward.
Over the last few weeks, we've taken careful note to each prospect's workouts at both the NFL Combine and noteworthy Pro-Day sessions held at each school. Some have seen their respective draft stocks rise quickly; others have unfortunately watched their stocks recoil.
So as we get a final glimpse of the last Pro-Day workouts, let's take a look at how our latest mock draft shakes out.
Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Arguably the most versatile player in this year's draft class, Peterson excelled at his Combine and Pro-Day workouts -- proving again that he is indeed the man for the job in Carolina.
For a Panthers ballclub void of a franchise-icon, now is the time to select a perennial Pro-Bowler in the making; all while bolstering a weakened defense along the way.
Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
In my previous mock drafts, I have the Broncos taking Da'Quan Bowers with the second overall selection. However; due to a knee injury that will actually postpone his Pro-Day workout to early April, the Broncos will have to settle for the draft's most versatile defensive tackle, Marcell Dareus.
A hefty 6-4, 306 pounds, Dareus would be an absolute force for Denver in the years to come.
If John Fox is truly focused on getting this team back into postseason contention in the seasons yet to come, they must be willing to draft a subjugating defensive beast like that of Dareus.
Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
This pick makes perfect sense on many different levels.
Buffalo isn't likely to commit to an inconsistent quarterback like Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Chan Gailey would work wonders for any quarterback the Bills decide to take third overall.
For Auburn's star-studded quarterback Cam Newton, many of his workouts have left scouts disappointed, but a solid Pro-Day will solidify him as the third overall selection.
With this pick, Buffalo takes one giant leap towards reaching the playoffs once again.
Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Yes, Gabbert is clearly the draft's most complete package at the quarterback position. Yes, he ran a faster 40-yard dash time than Cam Newton. And yes, we realize that Cam Newton will be taken off the board before Gabbert.
While Gabbert is by far and away this year's most prototypical quarterback available in the first-round, the top three teams shouldn't have the slightest interest in Gabbert.
But for a Cincinnati ballclub looking to deal away Carson Palmer for other seasoned talent, now is the time to cement your signal-caller of the future.
Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
Ken Wisenhunt's defense is now clinging to life after becoming the laughing stock of the entire NFC last season.
Age at the line-backing position is now becoming a problem, and taking undoubtedly the draft's most complete talent at linebacker in Von Miller is the best choice for Arizona.
Miller should bring a Cardinal defense back to respectability in the near future.
A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
While the Browns could certainly use this pick to better their young defense on the rise, they simply cannot afford to pass on a talent like Green. And if Colt McCoy has no talent to throw to, how can Cleveland be serious about the playoffs in the near future?
Standing at 6-4, 212 pounds of raw skill, Green could potentially become a force like that of Detroit's Calvin Johnson.
This pick is almost a done-deal.
Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
With the seventh overall pick in the draft, many see the 49ers going with North Carolina's Robert Quinn.
However; with a much more seasoned talent like Bowers still available for the taking, San Fransisco should be glad to know Bowers will most likely be patrolling the line of scrimmage for the next few seasons.
Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
After his stellar performance against Oregon in the National Championship game just a few months ago, Fairley's draft stock was flying through the roof.
After an average combine and pro-day workout, however, things look much different for the 6-4, 300-pound Fairley.
Most had him going as high as number one overall to the Panthers just a few weeks ago, but his declining stock has had a major impact on where most believe he will fall.
Nevertheless, the Titans are in need of some defense -- and Fairley would certainly help a lagging Tennessee defensive front seven.
Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
While Wisconsin's J.J. Watt is being widely projected as a likely pickup for the Cowboys in the first round, Nebraska's Amukamara would probably be a more valuable pick with the ninth overall selection.
A season ago, the Cowboys finished seventh in the league in interceptions (20), despite having aging problems in the secondary and on the edge.
With his stellar performance at the combine, Dallas would be wise to take Amukamara with their first round selection to bolster their press-coverage against teams such as the Eagles and Giants who maintain notable big-play receivers.
Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
After once again certifying that his arm strength is second to none, Ryan Mallett is now drawing high praise from analysts across the country.
A solid showing at the combine now has us projecting Mallett going to the Washington Redskins at the number 10 spot, where he will fit in nicely with Mike Shannahan and a ballclub in serious need of direction at the quarterback position.
Robert Quinn, DE, UNC
Just a few seasons ago, the Texans shocked the world by taking Mario Williams number one overall above now epic flop Reggie Bush. How did that turn out?
Pretty well, I'd say.
With the 11th selection in the first round of the draft, Houston should be as optimistic as possible with Robert Quinn more than likely sticking around.
Imagine a Williams-Quinn attack for the Texans; now imagine Peyton Manning on his back.
That's how things are shaping up to be for the Texans next season.
Jake Locker, QB, Washington
Plain and simple, Minnesota is void of any leadership at quarterback, and I'm thinking (despite a few impressive outings towards the end of the regular season) Joe Webb isn't what the Vikings had in mind when they were deciding who their next franchise quarterback would be.
In this case, Locker is the best quarterback available with the number 12 overall selection, and God knows they need his talents.
Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
As one of the league's most improving teams likely to make a serious playoff push in the next few seasons, the Lions will desperately need consistent production from Matthew Stafford; who was the highest payed rookie in NFL history.
To shore things up on the offensive line, making Stafford's life a whole lot more simple, the Lions must take a atypical offensive lineman like that of Boston College's Anthony Castonzo, who is currently the top rated offensive tackle in this year's draft class according to NFL Draft Scout.
Castonzo's 6-7, 305 pound frame would work wonders for Detroit in the long-haul.
Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
Sam Bradford's historic rookie season would have been a whole lot more impressive had he been granted some amount of talent at the wide-receiver position. So in this year's draft, it's safe to say St. Louis will be keeping a keen eye on Alabama's freak wideout Julio Jones.
Jones, who furnished one of the best combine workouts by a wide-receiver in recent memory, would be a stellar first-round selection for the Rams, who's leading receiver last season was Danny Amendola with just 689 yards through the air.
Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
After a lackluster showing at the NFL Combine just a few weeks ago, Alabama's Heisman Trophy-winning tailback revamped his draft status at Alabama's pro-day workouts. And though most have projected him going towards the end of the first round, possibly to New England, the Dolphins would be wise to pick up the draft's most consistent running back.
Both Ronnie Brown and Rickie Williams are prone to injuries at any time, and Ingram's presence would be invaluable to a team most likely looking to improve their ground-attack next season.
J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
Bursting onto the scene and vaulting into national prominence after his impressive performance against TCU in the Rose Bowl, J.J. Watt was (at that time) thought to be just an above average defensive end that could potentially be drafted this April.
Well, let's just say things have changed.
Watt's awe-inspiring performance and workouts at the NFL Combine have sent scout raving across the country -- so much so that many analysts seen him being selected by the Cowboys at number nine overall.
However for the time being, Watt will have to wait to here his named called on draft day; when the Jacksonville Jaguars successfully snatch up one of the most complete defensive ends the draft has to offer.
Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
Realizing that J.J. Watt would probably be the best potential pickup for the Patriots with the 17th overall selection, that situation at hand isn't what Bill Belichick had initially envisioned. So in place of Watt, New England will certainly be willing to take Kerrigan: a near carbon-copy of Watt.
Standing in at an athletic 6'4'', 255 pounds, Kerrigan would become a serious threat off the edge for a Patriot defense in serious need of a playmaker in the trenches.
A good workout at the combine should serve Kerrigan well come draft day.
Cameron Jordan, DE, California
The Chargers were by far and away the biggest disappointment of any playoff-hopeful team last season. However in light of their untimely blunders, San Diego did in fact lead the league as a unit in a considerable amount of defensive categories, including team sacks (47).
So, in all honesty, do the Chargers really need to upgrade at defensive end via the draft?
Adding depth and talent never hurt anybody, and California's Cameron Jordan would without question bring more capacity to a defense already on the verge of breaking though.
Tyron Smith, OT, USC
The Giants, surprisingly enough, boast one of the most consistent offensive lines the league has to offer. However the lack of athleticism in particular is hurting Eli Manning considerably in meaningful situations when the pocket breaks down.
Tyron Smith, who is currently ranked 16th overall prospect according to NFL Draft Scout, would be a great addition to a Giants offensive line looking to improve.
Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
Clayborn stakes his claim as one of the most explosive and physical defensive linemen in all of college football last season, ripping his way through even the most massive of Big Ten offensive lines.
Tampa Bay is on their way to returning to the defensive glory days of a few years ago, and Clayborn would be an enormous upgrade for Raheem Morris' defensive squad.
Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
Solder—by far the draft's most physical offensive tackle—would aid in Kansas City's already productive ground attack.
Mike Pouncey, OG, Florida
How much longer can the Colts be willing to live on their offensive line's physical abilities?
Pouncey's 6'4'', 310-pound frame is exactly what Peyton Manning needs. Youth never hurt anybody, either.
Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
In Philadelphia's 21-16 wild-card loss to the Packers, Michael Vick was sacked three times at the most critical of moments by an infiltrating defense led by Dom Capers.
If the Eagles are planning on keeping Vick in the league for more than three more seasons, they'll have to shore up things on the offensive line; none are more qualified to do so than Castonz
Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech
In a league where passing the football with consistency is the most important asset to any teams' Super Bowl changes, the New Orleans Saints are fairly well set with quarterback Drew Brees. But for the time being, the Saints don't have much talent to speak of in the backfield. Can Reggie Bush and Chris Ivory really carry the load for Shaun Peyton moving forward.
It's not likely.
So in light of New Orleans' lack of stability in the ground game, now is the time to carefully watch Virginia Techs' Ryan Williams: the most viable running back fit for the Saints' run game in the years to come.
Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
The heart of Seattle's problems lie their current quarterback situation. Matt Hasselbeck and Charlie Whitehurst are probably not the answer for Pete Carrol and the Seahawks moving forward; however their must be an explanation for their upset victory over the Saints in the playoffs last season, right?
Seattle was able to effectively balance their run and passing games against the defending Super Bowl champions, eventually leading to a 41-36 victory.
However, after a peek at Seattle's group of wide receivers, you'd find that Mike Williams led the team with just 751 yards last season, the next closest being Ben Obamanu with 494.
If the Seahawks want to improve in the first round, they should take a look at Maryland's star receiver Torrey Smith; who is ranked as the third best wideout available in this year's draft class.
Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia
Outside of Texas A&M's Von Miller, Houston is the most ferocious and complete outside linebacker available in the first round.
Yes, Baltimore still holds true to their dominating ways with Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs. However, I don't think Jarret Johnson is the answer for the Ravens at outside linebacker in the years to come.
Taking Houston would be Baltimore's best possible first-round pickup.
Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
The Falcons maintained one of the league's most stable defensive units through the first half of the season in 2010; however things began to slip away from Mike Smith's crew late in the season -- most notably in their blowout loss to the Packers in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Atlanta's most improved young talent at the cornerback position, Brent Grimes, showed his versatility towards the latter stages of the regular season. However Dunta Robinson's lack of consistency holds down a prospering Falcons secondary.
With the 27th pick in the draft, Atlanta must target Colorado's 6'2'', 205-pound cornerback Jimmy Smith.
Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
The Combine didn't exactly help Ayers' draft stock, posting a 4.81 40-yard dash with just 18 bench reps, however the need for a versatile outside linebacker remains intact for the Patriots.
New England failed miserably last season defensively, and taking Ayers with their second first-round selection would shore up a needy front seven.
Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
Paea's 6'1'', 295-pound physique had scouts raving at the beginning of Oregon State's 2010 season. However after an outstanding showing at the combine in which he broke the record for bench reps (49), his draft stock is now soaring through the clouds.
With the 29th selection in the draft, most would assume Chicago would take a worthy offensive lineman to help ensure Jay Cutler's health.
Be that as it may, the Bears are aging defensively. Brain Urlacher and Lance Briggs are still effective to make a difference, however the defensive front four isn't getting the job done.
Taking Paea, who could potentially be moved to the linebacking position if need be, would be Chicago's best bet in the first round.
Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami
Offensively, the Jets are as fundamentally sound as any team in the league. But could New York use another big-time receiver downfield to help Mark Sanchez?
Miami's Leonard Hankerson would certainly be a viable threat for Rex Ryan and a Jets offense continuing to improve, and could put New York over the top heading into the 2011 season.
Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA
Moore's impressive showing at the combine solidifies him as the draft's most complete safety, and Pittsburgh could (belive it or not) use an upgrade via the draft to bolster an already dominant 3-4 defensive unit.
Under the direction of Troy Polamalu, Moore would quickly become a perennial Pro-Bowler in the years to come, as well as lead Pittsburgh's defense of the future.
Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
Dom Capers took what was once a afterthought defense in Green Bay and made it into one of the most feared units in all of football, culminating in a Super Bowl XLV victory.
However, with an defensive end spot up for grabs heading into next season, Ted Thompson and the Packers would be wise to take a look at Ohio State's physically imposing defensive end Cameron Heyward.