NFL Mock Draft 2011 (First Round): All Auburn at the Top?

Nathan Deal@@NateDawgAUCorrespondent IMarch 14, 2011

Auburn's Cam Newton and Nick Fairley taunt Alabama's crowd after the Tigers overcame a 24-0 deficit to beat the Crimson Tide.
Auburn's Cam Newton and Nick Fairley taunt Alabama's crowd after the Tigers overcame a 24-0 deficit to beat the Crimson Tide.

NFL fans are currently in a state of mourning.

Very recently, the NFL entered a lockout mode because apparently, the owners were just too greedy. Let's not kid ourselves—it's both sides' fault.

But while there is a possibility there will be no NFL football this fall, there is still the always-anticipated NFL Draft in New York City.

This year's draft is full of great talent such as Auburn's Cam Newton and Nick Fairley, Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers, Alabama's Marcell Dareus and many, many others.

In late April, as is the case every year, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will take the podium and announce the pick. It's known as the ONLY time NFL fans actually like to see his face.

Anyhow, I'm aware this is probably the 700,000th NFL mock draft you've seen, but hey—the NFL is in a lockout. You're an NFL fan on Bleacher Report. You've already clicked on this article. What else are you going to do?

Here is my mock draft!

1. With the First Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers Select: Cam Newton, Quarterback, Auburn University

Anyone watching Auburn's pro day saw the Panthers' new head man, Ron Rivera, stalking Newton like a dog would stalk a walking strip of bacon. Cam Newton is easily one of the top prospects in the draft, and the Panthers are the only team in the competitive NFC South without a franchise QB.

That's going to change. Carolina will draft the greatest Auburn QB of all time—and if he remains the same Cam Newton I know, the Panthers will not regret this pick.

2. With the Second Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos Select: Nick Fairley, Defensive Tackle, Auburn University

Two picks, two Auburn stars.

Nick Fairley, who was hampered by injuries in 2009, was a monster in 2010, constantly getting in quarterbacks' faces and making offensive lines look softer than a pillow company sponsored by Roger Goodell. Fairley won the Lombardi and along with Newton, led Auburn to the BCS title.

Denver needs a powerful inside presence and Nick Fairley's freakish speed and strength make him the perfect fit.

3. With the Third Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills Select: Marcell Dareus, Defensive Tackle, University of Alabama

Dareus had a fantastic career at Alabama. He was a star in 2009 and is known mostly for his pick-six in the BCS title game against Texas. Injuries and NCAA troubles hampered Dareus early in 2010, but near the end of the season, he once again became a man among boys.

Buffalo needs a defensive presence inside since they were dead last in the NFL last year against the run. Dareus makes perfect sense here since Fairley is off the board, but there is little separation between the former Tiger and Tide stars.

4. With the Fourth Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals Select: Da'Quan Bowers, Defensive End, Clemson University

A common pick I've seen for the Bengals is a WR or QB. But their biggest need could be a great defensive lineman, and with Fairley and Dareus off the board, the next great lineman the Bengals could pick is the outstanding defensive end from Clemson, Da'Quan Bowers.

Bowers has a great combination of speed and strength and has a habit of making game-changing plays. If not for him, the Tigers of Clemson might have been 3-9 instead of 6-7 and in a bowl game. The Bengals get a great pick here.

5. With the Fifth Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals Select: Von Miller, Linebacker, Texas A&M

The Cardinals address their linebacker needs with Texas A&M's Von Miller, who dominated defensively in a conference known for its offense. I don't need to give you any stats or numbers for this guy. He's summed up in three plays: He made three tackles against Oklahoma when the Sooners faced fourth-and-goal at the one. Wow.

6. With the Sixth Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns Select: Robert Quinn, Defensive End, University of North Carolina

The Browns will address their defensive end needs with Quinn, the star from North Carolina who didn't play in 2010 thanks to the results of an NCAA investigation. However, he's one of the most talented defensive linemen in this draft.

While Patrick Peterson, A.J. Green and Julio Jones will tempt the Browns here, I like Quinn to go to the Cleveland Browns to give the Browns a better defensive-end attack.

7. With the Seventh Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers Select: Patrick Peterson, Cornerback, Louisiana State University

The 49ers will be very lucky if Peterson is still available at this point. Peterson is one of the most dynamic players in the draft. He's a ballhawk with explosiveness in the return game. He can even act as a Wildcat quarterback! San Francisco will get a good one here.

8. With the Eighth Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans Select: Blaine Gabbert, Quarterback, University of Missouri

The Titans will be tempted to get a corner here, but without a quarterback right now, the Titans will sign Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert was a consistent winner at Missouri and put up huge stats. However, Tennessee will likely have some growing pains in his first season (which will probably be 2012 because, you know—the lockout).

9. With the Ninth Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys Select: Prince Amukamara, Cornerback, University of Nebraska

This has been a debated pick. Some Cowboy fans want Amukamara; others want J.J. Watt, the terrific tackle out of Wisconsin. However, I think they go with the former Husker here. Amukamara was a part of a Nebraska defense that has been really good the past several seasons.

10. With the 10th Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins Select: A.J. Green, Wide Receiver, University of Georgia

It's amazing that Green slides so far down in my mock draft, but make no mistake—he's perfect for Washington. He gives Washington an offensive threat because, simply put, I think the closest high school team to where I live has a more explosive offense than Washington. Green is known for his leaping ability, underrated speed and his sheer determination.

11. With the 11th Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans Select: Jimmy Smith, Cornerback, University of Colorado

This is the most obvious pick in the draft. Everything is bigger in Texas—including the holes the Texans had in the secondary last year. It was painful to watch for fans.

However, Houston's secondary will be helped by drafting Jimmy Smith out of Colorado. If they don't draft a cornerback, then it's official: Al Davis is a Texan.

12. With the 12th Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings Select: Tyrone Smith, Offensive Lineman, University of Southern California

Minnesota might be tempted by Washington's Jake Locker here, but I think they have put some trust in Joe Webb at quarterback, so they will go with the best offensive lineman on the board: USC's Tyrone Smith.

13. With the 13th Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions Select: Nate Solder, Offensive Lineman, University of Colorado

Detroit is creeping up the rankings of the NFC very quietly.

Their offense is set with Matthew Stafford improving, the wide receivers making plays and running backs like Jahvid Best gaining confidence. Their line play must improve though, and drafting Nate Solder from Colorado will help do just that.

14. With the 14th Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams Select: Julio Jones, Wide Receiver, University of Alabama

St. Louis will get their dream pick.

Julio Jones is big, fast and determined, and the NFL combine proved all of these things. He was big in measurements and ran the 40-yard dash with a fractured foot. Seriously, that's just unreal. I've always been skeptical of Julio Jones, but I actually believe he will be a great pro.

15. With the 15th Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins Select: Mark Ingram, Running Back, University of Alabama

As a fellow B/R writer put it, Ingram is Saban's "parting gift" to the Miami Dolphins. While the Dolphins do have a decent stable of running backs in Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, they are lacking in the run game. That's mostly because of Ricky Williams' inability—not so much Ronnie Brown.

If the Dolphins get Ingram here, they might have one of the best tandems of RBs in the league with Ingram and Brown.

16. With the 16th Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars Select: Aldon Smith, Linebacker, University of Missouri

Pure and simple, the Jags need defensive playmakers. Adrian Clayborn will tempt the Jags, but Smith would be a nice pickup for a franchise that desperately needs a shot in the arm.

17. With the 17th Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots Select: J.J. Watt, Defensive End, University of Wisconsin

The Patriots need a pass rusher—badly. The Patriots could get Jordan out of Cal or Kerrigan out of Purdue, but the best DE available at this point is probably J.J. Watt, the defensive end who was a Wisconsin Badger this time last year.

18. With the 18th Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers Select: Gabe Carimi, Offensive Lineman, University of Wisconsin

For the second-straight pick, a former Wisconsin Badger is selected. The Chargers fans are hungrier for an offensive lineman than any other position in this draft, and Carimi is one of the best linemen on the board.

19. With the 19th Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the New York Giants Select: Mike Pouncey, Offensive Lineman, University of Florida

The Giants should draft this Pouncey brother, but not as a center. He might have been the absolute worst center I have ever seen in college football. However, when it comes to bullying around defensive linemen, Pouncey is one of the best, and Giants QB Eli Manning—as he usually does—lived on the ground last year.

20. With the 20th Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Select: Cameron Jordan, Defensive End, University of California

The Buccaneers were the best team to not make the playoffs last year—simply put. The Bucs are talented at nearly every position. They aren't all that deep at defensive end, and Cameron Jordan from Cal is a great talent, so I believe the Bucs will go this direction.

21. With the 21st Pick in 2011 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs Select: Justin Houston, Linebacker, University of Georgia

The Chiefs rose from the ashes in 2010 to make the playoffs. While they were slaughtered in the playoff game at Arrowhead, most fans were pleased with how improved the team was.

Now, the Chiefs need to go after a player to help bolster their defense and that would be Justin Houston, the linebacker from Georgia.

22. With the 22nd Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts Select: Anthony Castonzo, Offensive Lineman, Boston College

The Colts offensive line was BAD in 2010. Things were even worse when center Jeff Saturday was injured. But the line was still bad all year. To help change things, the Colts will reach into Boston College and grab star lineman Anthony Castonzo.

23. With the 23rd Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles Select: Dan Watkins, Offensive Lineman, Baylor University

The Eagles have a great offensive system set in place, but a new offensive lineman wouldn't hurt them at all. I believe the Eagles will get the beast from Baylor, Dan Watkins. He'll pave some big holes for Mike Vick to run through.

24. With the 24th Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints Select: Ryan Kerrigan, Defensive End, Purdue University

The Saints are loaded on offense, but their defensive production has disappointed fans lately—just see Marshawn Lynch's TD run against them in Seattle's 41-36 win in the Wild Card round last year. The guy broke about 50 or 60 tackles (not literally).

Kerrigan could give the Saints defense a nice boost.

25. With the 25th Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks Select: Jake Locker, Quarterback, University of Washington

Most people in the state of Washington will go from rooting for Jake Locker's team to...rooting for Jake Locker's team.

This makes too much sense. The Seahawks need a young QB who won't start immediately but has a great future. That's Locker. How far is it from Seattle, Washington to Seattle, Washington?

26. With the 26th Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens Select: Leonard Hankerson, Wide Receiver, University of Miami (FL)

The Ravens need a speedy WR to help Joe Flacco. Leonard Hankerson, the great receiver from "The U," is just what they need here. Hankerson has done his best the past few years to make Miami QB Jacory Harris look better than he is.

27. With the 27th Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons Select: Adrian Clayborn, Defensive End, University of Iowa

The Falcons are loaded at nearly every position, but their draft board is likely down to a running back and a defensive end. I think they'll go with the latter and get Adrian Clayborn from the University of Iowa.

28. With the 28th Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots Select: Corey Liuget, Defensive Tackle, University of Illinois

With their second pick in the first round, the Patriots will go with this fantastic tackle from Illinois, who was consistently dominant. They could also go with Stephen Paea from Oregon State University.

29. With the 29th Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears Select: Ben Ijalana, Offensive Lineman, Villanova University

The Bears need an offensive line that can protect Jay Cutler and the best lineman on the board here is Ben Ijalana from little Villanova. Sure, Villanova's huge in basketball, but it isn't every year a Villanova football player is a first-round prospect.

30. With the 30th Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the New York Jets Select: Akeem Ayers, Linebacker, University of California, Los Angeles

The Jets could go with a defensive lineman here but at this point, Akeem Ayers will be the best player on the board. The Jets won't be able to resist the temptation and will reach their arms across the country to grab the linebacker from Los Angeles.

31. With the 31st Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers Select: Derrek Sherrod, Offensive Lineman, Mississippi State University

The Steelers badly need an offensive lineman and their guy could be Derrek Sherrod, the offensive lineman from Starkville. He constantly paves big holes for his running backs.

32. With the Final Pick in the First Round of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers Select: Cameron Heyward, Defensive End, Ohio State University

The Packers are talented at every spot and only one area lacks depth, and that is defensive end.

The Packers will nab Heyward from Columbus and make an already-strong defense even stronger. Really, though, the Packers are just about loaded everywhere, so even if they didn't select Heyward here, they would likely go with a defensive end no matter who he is.

Do you agree or disagree with this draft? Leave a comment giving me your opinion, and thanks for reading!


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