Why would anyone set out to write a seven-round mock draft in early March?
This is a very good question.
What started as a simple one-round mock draft turned into two rounds, then three. Before looking up, I had four rounds typed out. At this point, I figured we might as well finish the thing.
And so here we are, six weeks before the NFL Draft with a full seven-round mock draft for your enjoyment.
When writing this mock, we did not take into account the potential of free-agent signings, only looking at team needs in areas needing improvement and also replacing potential free agents if and when players are able to move around.
Another thing to consider is that without a new collective bargaining agreement, NFL teams will not be able to sign undrafted free agents. This caused many teams in our mock draft to reach in filling needs in the fourth-through-seventh rounds.
Blaine Gabbert, Quarterback, Missouri
"And with the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers select..."
How that sentence ends is on everyone's mind right now. The Panthers have tons of needs on both sides of the ball. New head coach Ron Rivera has said that 2010 second-round pick Jimmy Clausen is not guaranteed the starting spot at quarterback next fall, leaving open the possibility that the Panthers could draft a quarterback first overall.
The team has definitive needs at almost every position, making this pick an educated guess at this point in the process. With so many needs, the Panthers can truly sit back and draft the player rated highest on their draft board.
There is also a great chance the Panthers start shopping this pick if and when a new CBA is signed.
In the end, we believe this pick will be Blaine Gabbert, whether the Panthers still hold the pick or not.
Marcell Dareus, Defensive Tackle, Alabama
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 Dareus, 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 the defensive backfield.
Dareus is quickly shooting up draft boards and moving ahead of SEC rival Nick Fairley of Auburn. As the draft nears, it is becoming more likely that Dareus will be the first defensive tackle off the board.
Nick Fairley, Defensive Tackle, Auburn
The Bills could go so many directions here.
They have needs at left tackle, cornerback, outside linebacker and potentially quarterback to address during this draft class.
There are few sure things in this draft. The Bills know that quarterbacks and defensive ends have the highest "bust potential" of any position when drafting early in Round 1. The smart pick is to draft an interior defensive lineman who can anchor their defense for the next 10 years.
Robert Quinn, Defensive End, North Carolina
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.
We previously believed the Bengals would draft Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers here, but questions about a serious knee injury have hurt his stock. Quinn, who sat out 2010, is a fine defensive end with the burst to make dangerous plays off the edge.
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 their 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.
Miller's stock is soaring. There is a fine chance he will not be on the board when the Cardinals' pick comes up.
A.J. Green, Wide Receiver, Georgia
The Browns are facing an offseason in which 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.
As Colt McCoy matures and becomes the Browns' franchise quarterback, he will need receivers to grow with him. Cleveland could pull the trigger as early as Round 1 on a No. 1 receiver for McCoy.
Should the Browns decide to go after a wide receiver in the first round, they will be lucky to find A.J. Green on the board. Green has a rare ability to attack the ball and make plays after the catch. He'll be a fan-favorite immediately in Cleveland.
Some may say Alabama's Julio Jones is the better athlete, but Green is a more polished receiver and a bigger threat in the red zone.
We could also see Cleveland trading this pick to a team hot on Cam Newton.
Patrick Peterson, Cornerback, LSU
How is it that the draft's best player is still on the board with the seventh overall pick?
Many teams above the 49ers have needs at cornerback, but no team has a dire need to add a player at the position. San Francisco will gladly take the speedy Peterson off their hands.
The 49ers would love to see Blaine Gabbert here, but they also know a quarterback can be found in the second round.
Cam Newton, Quarterback, Auburn
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 that the Titans brass is very enamored with the athletic freak known as Cam Newton.
Newton comes from a spread offense that allowed him to make one read and then run if he didn't like what he saw, leaving many to wonder if he is ready to play in the NFL right away. In Tennessee, Newton would have the luxury of playing behind veteran Kerry Collins for at least one season.
Prince Amukamara, Cornerback, Nebraska
Von Miller may be begging to play in Dallas, but there is no way he's still on the board when pick No. 9 comes around.
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.
Jake Locker, Quarterback, Washington
In perhaps the first real surprise in the draft, Washington decides to draft their replacement for Donovan McNabb early on. With few picks remaining due to trades, Washington must address their needs immediately.
Locker fits well in coach Mike Shanahan's offense. He is mobile, has a strong arm, and will play well in a moving scheme. While Locker does need work on his footwork and accuracy, who better to teach him than Shanahan and son Kyle?
We see it too, but you have to think Mike Shanahan sees a little bit of John Elway in Locker.
Cameron Jordan, Defensive End, California
The Texans would love to see Von Miller, Robert Quinn or Prince Amukamara on the board here. Unfortunately, at pick No. 11, they are just outside the reach of the top outside linebackers and cornerbacks.
Barring a trade up, Houston will find themselves in a position to draft the best available player for their new 3-4 defense.
Cam Jordan has worked out at defensive end, defensive tackle and even outside linebacker for NFL teams. He is a rare athlete at the position.
Houston will love plugging him in opposite Mario Williams, and then moving both around to find the best matchup.
Ryan Mallett, Quarterback, Arkansas
Our job in writing a mock draft is to predict what NFL teams will do this April, not project what we would do with the pick or try and predict a player's NFL success.
We will go on record here to say that Ryan Mallett should not be drafted in Round 1 and probably not even Round 2. Rumors aside, Mallett has poor mobility and does not understand the concept of touch passes. When pressed, he completely falls apart.
But Minnesota needs a quarterback, badly. The strong right arm and imposing size of Ryan Mallett will be too much for this franchise to resist.
On a good note, Minnesota is one city where we believe Mallett can succeed. They have a dominant offensive line, a top running back and enough skill at wide receiver to win right now. If drafted by a less talented team, Mallett would struggle and potentially implode. In Minnesota, he has a chance to be the savior.
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 Broncos Pro Bowler Ryan Clady.
The Lions may have gotten lucky here at No. 13.
Julio Jones, Wide Receiver, Alabama
The Rams did a lot this year with little talent at receiver. Donnie Avery will be healthy next year, and Danny Amendola is a nice slot receiver. The jury is out on Danario Alexander as a true No. 2 receiver, but he looks promising. With a young quarterback, the Rams could afford to add more talent at receiver.
Should Jones fall to No. 14 overall, the Rams will have found an absolute steal for new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and franchise quarterback Sam Bradford to work with. Jones can be inconsistent at times, but he also has a rare ability to pressure a defense and make plays.
Jones has the talent to go much higher in the draft, but another injury has sidelined him this offseason. Jones' ability to stay healthy, or lack thereof, is the only negative right now.
Mark Ingram, Running Back, Alabama
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.
If you read our mock drafts each week, you may have noticed a back-and-forth here between Ingram and Illinois running back Mikel LeShoure. In the end, this will be a pick of preference by the Miami personnel department.
Our preference is LeShoure, but Ingram's pedigree and ties to the Dolphins will be hard to overlook when the Dolphins are on the clock.
Da'Quan Bowers, Defensive End, Clemson
Aaron Kampman can be a dominating pass rusher, but for the second straight year he tore an ACL and had to have surgery. His long-term value has to be in question.
This makes adding a defensive end in the first round all the more important for Jacksonville.
Bowers has been listed as high as No. 1 overall on many draft boards this offseason. The talent is definitely there, but a serious knee injury has Bowers' stock slipping as the draft nears. His April 1st workout will be key in determining his actual draft status.
J.J. Watt, Defensive End, Wisconsin
We have previously slotted the Patriots to draft an offensive tackle here, with the belief that they will move to replace Matt Light with their first pick in the draft. It is also worth noting that we firmly believe the Patriots will consider trying to trade this pick.
Should the Patriots hold on to pick No. 17, they will be faced with many options, chief of which is a chance to draft an outside linebacker who can rush the passer. As good as the Patriots defense is, they are weak on the edge and have not done an effective job rushing the passer as of late.
Watt is the best of the many 3-4 defensive ends in this draft. He is recently receiving notice as a potential top-10 pick.
Corey Liuget, Defensive End, Illinois
There might be bigger-name defensive ends available right now, but the Chargers' 3-4 defense requires a special kind of player who can stop the run and push the offensive line back toward the quarterback. Corey Liuget has the speed to pressure and chase on the edge, but the size and strength to sit down against the run.
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 Liuget.
Gabe Carimi, Offensive Tackle, Wisconsin
Injuries decimated the Giants offensive line this year, but this also exposed weaknesses and areas of need. No position needs more attention than offensive tackle. Building depth at tackle is a need, but the Giants can also look for young players who can eventually start.
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 he has the tools to become an elite pass protector.
A strong performance at the NFL scouting combine has many analysts moving Carimi up their draft boards.
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.
When watching Clayborn on film you can walk away amazed or disappointed. We believe teams will look hard enough at his 2009 film to be thoroughly impressed. If you are running a 4-3 defense you have to consider Clayborn among the best defensive ends in the class.
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 when looking at film, but in workouts, Kerrigan has looked fast and athletic.
We are confident Kerrigan will be nothing short of impressive in team workouts and interviews, leading to his selection here by Kansas City.
Anthony Castonzo, Offensive Tackle, Boston College
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.
Castonzo 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.
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.
Brandon Harris, Cornerback, Miami (FL)
Ellis Hobbs, the team's number two corner, has retired due to injuries. 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 or defensive tackle.
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.
Aldon Smith, Defensive End, Missouri
Smith is normally projected as an outside linebacker for a 3-4 scheme, but we love his ability as a pure pass rusher from a 4-3 defensive end position.
Smith has experience with his hand in the dirt, not dropping back in to coverage. Given the task of attacking the quarterback every down, he could excel. Playing next to big tackles Shaun Rogers and Sedrick Ellis will not hurt either.
Nate Solder, Offensive Tackle, Colorado
Russell Okung's rookie season has been up and down due to injury, but he looks like the long-term answer at left tackle. Right tackle is more of a question mark with Sean Locklear. Locklear will be a free agent and could leave for more money and a guaranteed starting job.
Tackle may not be the Seahawks' primary need heading in to the offseason, but the team cannot pass on grabbing a franchise right tackle late in Round 1. Solder will team with Russell Okung to give the Seahawks a dynamic one-two punch at left and right tackle.
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 of speed 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.
Cameron Heyward, Defensive End, Ohio State
Why would Atlanta draft a defensive end here instead of a wide receiver or tight end?
John Abraham had a great season in 2010, but he is only going to last another year or two at a high level. Kroy Biermann has been good, but he is a situational player at best. Neither of the aforementioned ends offer help in stopping the run.
Heyward is a complete defensive end. Turn on film of the Ohio State vs. Arkansas game and you will see why some had Heyward's name listed as the No. 1 overall player before the season began.
Brooks Reed, Outside Linebacker, Arizona
The NFL is a copycat league. It always has been.
In the 2009 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers selected defensive lineman B.J. Raji and then picked up outside linebacker Clay Matthews later in Round 1. The two players eventually anchored a Packers defense that won the Super Bowl in 2010.
The Patriots picked up the draft's best 3-4 defensive end (J.J. Watt) earlier in Round 1. Now is their chance to draft a Clay Matthews clone in Brooks Reed.
Since we are talking about the New England Patriots, there is a great chance Bill Belichick will have traded this pick before they are able to use it. Should they hold on to the choice, New England will be in position to add a talented player at a position of immediate need.
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.
Muhammad Wilkerson, Defensive End, Temple
The Temple Owls do not put many players in the first round of the NFL draft. Muhammad Wilkerson is a rare talent.
The Jets have needs across the board at wide receiver, right tackle, defensive end, outside linebacker and cornerback. Many needs can be addressed if they are able to re-sign key players in free agency.
Depending on how long teams must wait to begin signing players, the Jets will be faced with a situation where they must draft the top player on their draft board at these key positions.
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.
Justin Houston, Outside Linebacker, Georgia
The Packers have a few needs on the roster coming off their Super Bowl win. One such need is at outside linebacker opposite stud Clay Matthews.
Houston played defensive end at Georgia but has the speed and agility to make the move to outside linebacker without issue.
Green Bay could also look at offensive guard and defensive end here.
Mikel LeShoure, Running Back, Illinois
The Patriots know the value of the first pick on day two of the draft and will likely trade this selection for a 2012 first-rounder.
If the Patriots hold the pick they can draft a major upgrade to the running back position.
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 LeShoure will bring from day one. For the Patriots to become more versatile and more attacking, this pick is a need.
Randall Cobb, Wide Receiver, Kentucky
The Bills need to find out if Ryan Fitzpatrick is their long-term answer at quarterback. To do this, they must give Fitzpatrick the targets and talent to excel.
Cobb is a dynamic receiver with outstanding ability to make plays with the ball. He will also give Buffalo an upgrade as a punt returner.
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.
Jimmy Smith, Cornerback, Colorado
Denver was able re-sign future Hall of Fame cornerback Champ Bailey before the lockout began. 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.
Smith 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.
Jabaal Sheard, Defensive End, Pittsburgh
As much as they need a defensive end to open up the outside pass rush, the Browns need someone who can actually rush the passer from outside. This has been a need for Cleveland since moving to a 3-4 defense and will be an even bigger need now that they are transitioning back to a 4-3. They must make adding a speed rusher a priority in the 2011 draft.
Sheard is making a quick move up draft boards with a strong performance this offseason. We previously had him rated as a mid second-round pick but have moved him up in our latest rankings.
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.
Martez Wilson, Inside Linebacker, Illinois
The Titans have done a good job of patching up holes in the defense. This is a testament to the job Jeff Fisher has done there. The need at middle linebacker is becoming more obvious, though, and it is starting to hurt the overall defense.
Wilson has had an awesome rise up draft boards with a jaw-dropping performance at the NFL combine. Strong work in private workouts could move him in to Round 1.
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 of 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.
Aaron Williams, Cornerback/Safety, Texas
With their quarterback of the future found in Round 1, the Redskins can focus on improving a defense with many holes and weaknesses.
Some will tell you Washington is "fine" at cornerback. These are the same people who foolishly voted DeAngelo Hall in to the Pro Bowl.
Washington had the 31st-worst rated passing defense in 2010, in some part due to bad pass rushing but also due to big plays given up by cornerbacks.
Washington could reach for an outside linebacker here, but drafting a potential shutdown corner is the smarter pick.
Akeem Ayers, Outside Linebacker, UCLA
This might be a slight reach in terms of Ayers' value, but the Texans need an outside linebacker too bad to think twice about it.
Ayers did not test well at the NFL scouting combine and will need a big performance in private workouts to convince teams like Houston to make him a high pick in the second round.
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.
Ras-I Dowling, Cornerback, Virginia
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.
Dowling has the talent of a first-rounder, but injuries have pushed him down in this mock draft. He will bring an aggressive style of play and physicality that is missing from the Lions secondary.
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.
It is worth noting that new head coach Jim Harbaugh did not attend Cam Newton or Ryan Mallett's pro day workouts but did travel to see Dalton work out in person.
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 him into the middle of Round 2. Wherever he is drafted, it is all but certain that Rudolph will be an impact player if healthy.
Phil Taylor, Defensive Tackle, Baylor
The Rams got lucky when wide receiver Julio Jones fell to them in Round 1. Here, luck strikes again with pick No. 47.
Taylor has first-round talent but will fall due to concerns about his off-field character. A perfect fit as a zero-technique tackle in the Rams' scheme, Taylor will be a major improvement to the defensive line.
Orlando Franklin, Offensive Tackle, Miami (FL)
The Raiders surprised everyone with a very good 2010 draft class. In 2011, they are off to a strong start with their first pick.
Franklin has played guard at Miami but projects well at tackle in the NFL. With Bruce Campbell expected to take over one starting spot, Franklin could easily move in at left guard or right tackle during his rookie season.
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 center fielder to patrol the deep-thirds and create turnovers.
Moore was one of the better playmaking safeties in college football this past year.
Sam Acho, Outside Linebacker, Texas
The Chargers are not happy with the duo of Larry English and Shaun Phillips' production. Adding a third outside linebacker will not only push the incumbents to play better but also shield the Chargers against English leaving in free agency in the coming years.
Acho, a defensive end at Texas, has the athletic ability to shine as an outside linebacker. His ability to stop the run from a stand-up position will be much welcomed in San Diego.
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.
Stephen Paea, Defensive Tackle, Oregon State
Paea is a beast at the defensive tackle position. At only 300 lbs, he set the NFL combine record for bench press reps...with a damaged shoulder.
He'll sit out a few weeks while recovering from surgery, which could cause him to miss offseason workouts with teams before the draft. Paea's stock may suffer because of this, but teams will wisely scoop him up if he starts to fall in Round 2.
New York will gladly add this powerhouse to the middle of the defensive line.
Rodney Hudson, Offensive Guard/Center, Florida State
The Colts found a left tackle for the future with their first pick in the draft. With pick No. 2, they add a left guard to play right next to him.
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 Colts have a steal here.
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.
Titus Young, Wide Receiver, Boise State
Kansas City looks set at receiver with Dwayne Bowe playing well this year. Depth is a concern here, as is finding a legitimate receiver to take pressure off Bowe. Kansas City could also benefit from adding a slot receiver to open up the downfield passing game.
Young had an amazing week at the Senior Bowl, drawing comparisons to DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. He would be a great addition to the already fast Chiefs offense.
Ryan Williams, Running Back, Virginia Tech
Pierre Thomas recently signed a four-year contract to stay in New Orleans, but it seems more and more likely that Reggie Bush will not be back in 2011. This leaves the team with only Chris Ivory on the roster to pair with Thomas.
Williams' ability to break long runs and make defenders miss will be too much to pass up here at No. 56.
Getting better on defense is also a priority for Sean Payton and co., but this is a position of need that should be bolstered.
Curtis Brown, Cornerback, Texas
The Seahawks allowed opposing quarterbacks to rack up an average rating of 89.7 against them. Changes must be made at cornerback.
Curtis Brown is not the athletic freak that teammate Aaron Williams is, but he is the better cover corner. Seattle struck gold with a fellow Longhorn with Earl Thomas in 2010. They are hoping to find another 10-year starter in Brown.
Christian Ballard, Defensive Tackle, Iowa
The Ravens do a great job of filling holes before they even open. Christian Ballard is drafted with that in mind.
The team wants to add quality young players to their rotation at the position and allow Haloti Ngata to spend more time inside.
Ballard will team will with Paul Kruger and Arthur Jones to give the Ravens a potent rotation at the position for years to come.
Leonard Hankerson, Wide Receiver, Miami (FL)
Roddy White emerged as one of the NFL's best receivers during the 2010 season. What is more surprising is that White is doing so well without a legitimate threat opposite him.
Michael Jenkins has been average and inconsistent at times. We do like Harry Douglas in the slot, but Atlanta could look to upgrade over Jenkins in Rounds 1 or 2.
Hankerson is wildly talented, but he is also an inconsistent player who will drop easy passes and run sloppy routes. He'll need work, but he has the skills to be a very good NFL player.
Jon Baldwin, Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh
With their fourth pick in the first two rounds, the Patriots look to replace the deep threat they lost when trading Randy Moss to the Vikings.
Baldwin has impressive talent, but his production has been so-so, and there are concerns about his attitude. When placed in the Patriots locker room, he will become an immediate weapon for quarterback Tom Brady.
Quan Sturdivant, Inside Linebacker, North Carolina
The Chargers are serious about getting better on defense in the 2011 NFL draft. By adding a defensive end and outside linebacker before this, they are set to pick up an inside linebacker.
The team has many free agents at the position with Kevin Burnett, Stephen Cooper, Brandon Moore and Brandon Siler slated to hit the market.
We do like Donald Butler here, but the team needs to draft one linebacker and re-sign another.
Greg Little, Wide Receiver, North Carolina
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.
Little will come in and immediately challenge incumbents Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett for the No. 1 receiver position.
Brandon Burton, Cornerback, Utah
After addressing their need at right guard in the first round, the Steelers can focus now on drafting improvements at cornerback. With Ike Taylor set to hit free agency Pittsburgh needs to make drafting a cornerback a high priority in this draft.
Burton is a lanky cover man with very good range. He is an underrated talent who can start from day one in the NFL.
Allen Bailey, Defensive End, Miami (FL)
The Packers enter an offseason where both Cullen Jenkins and Johnny Jolly are free agents. Mike Neal was drafted last year to replace one of them and will be ready to step in to the starting lineup in 2011.
Bailey is an often forgotten player in this class, but he should not be. A great athlete for his size, Bailey is ideal for a 3-4 scheme that asks the defensive ends to make plays in the backfield.
65. Carolina Panthers
Drake Nevis, Defensive Tackle, LSU
66. Cincinnati Bengals
DeMarco Murray, Running Back, Oklahoma
67. Denver Broncos
James Carpenter, Offensive Tackle, Alabama
68. Buffalo Bills
Benjamin Ijalana, Offensive Tackle, Villanova
69. Arizona Cardinals
Stefen Wisniewski, Offensive Guard, Penn State
70. Cleveland Browns
Kenrick Ellis, Defensive Tackle, Hampton
71. Dallas Cowboys
Quinton Carter, Free Safety, Oklahoma
72. New Orleans Saints from Washington
Dontay Moch, Outside Linebacker, Nevada
73. Houston Texans
Davon House, Cornerback, New Mexico State
74. New England Patriots from Minnesota
Clint Boling, Offensive Guard, Georgia
75. Detroit Lions
Chris Carter, Outside Linebacker, Fresno State
76. San Francisco 49ers
Mason Foster, Outside Linebacker, Washington
77. Tennessee Titans
Will Rackley, Offensive Guard, Lehigh
78. St. Louis Rams
Pierre Allen, Defensive End, Nebraska
79. Miami Dolphins
Luke Stocker, Tight End, Tennessee
80. Jacksonville Jaguars
Shareece Wright, Cornerback, Southern California
81. Oakland Raiders
Chimdi Chekwa, Cornerback, Ohio State
82. San Diego Chargers
Jerrel Jernigan, Wide Receiver, Troy
83. New York Giants
Kendall Hunter, Running Back, Oklahoma State
84. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Greg Jones, Inside Linebacker, Michigan State
85. Philadelphia Eagles
Jason Pinkston, Offensive Tackle, Pittsburgh
86. Kansas City Chiefs
James Brewer, Offensive Tackle, Indiana
87. Indianapolis Colts
Jurrell Casey, Defensive Tackle, Southern California
88. New Orleans Saints
Joseph Barksdale, Offensive Tackle, LSU
89. San Diego Chargers from Seattle
Robert Sands, Free Safety, West Virginia
90. Baltimore Ravens
Marcus Gilchrist, Cornerback, Clemson
91. Atlanta Falcons
D.J. Williams, Tight End, Arkansas
92. New England Patriots
Johnny Patrick, Cornerback, Louisville
93. Chicago Bears
Jarvis Jenkins, Defensive Tackle, Clemson
94. New York Jets
K.J. Wright, Outside Linebacker, Mississippi State
95. Pittsburgh Steelers
DeAndre McDaniel, Strong Safety, Clemson
96. Green Bay Packers
Jordan Todman, Running Back, Connecticut
97. Carolina Panthers
Edmond Gates, Wide Receiver, Abilene Christian
98. Seattle Seahawks from New England via Denver
Tyler Sash, Strong Safety, Iowa
99. Buffalo Bills
Rob Housler, Tight End, Florida Atlantic
100. Cincinnati Bengals
Niles Paul, Wide Receiver, Nebraska
101. Cleveland Browns
Lawrence Wilson, Outside Linebacker, Connecticut
102. Arizona Cardinals
Marcus Gilbert, Offensive Tackle, Florida
103. Philadelphia Eagles from Washington
Stephen Schilling, Offensive Guard, Michigan
104. Houston Texans
Curtis Marsh, Cornerback, Utah State
105. Minnesota Vikings
Buster Skrine, Cornerback, Chattanooga
106. Detroit Lions
Kristofer O'Dowd, Center, Southern California
107. San Francisco 49ers
Lawrence Guy, Defensive End, Arizona State
108. Tennessee Titans
Pernell McPhee, Defensive End, Mississippi State
109. Dallas Cowboys
John Moffitt, Offensive Guard, Wisconsin
110. Miami Dolphins
Jaiquawn Jarrett, Free Safety, Temple
111. St. Louis Rams
Virgil Green, Tight End, Nevada
112. Oakland Raiders
Ross Homan, Outside Linebacker, Ohio State
113. Jacksonville Jaguars
Pat Devlin, Quarterback, Delaware
114. San Francisco 49ers from San Diego
Shane Vereen, Running Back, California
115. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Lee Ziemba, Offensive Tackle, Auburn
116. New York Giants
Tim Barnes, Center, Missouri
117. Kansas City Chiefs
Jerrell Powe, Nose Tackle, Mississippi
118. Indianapolis Colts
Daniel Thomas, Running Back, Kansas State
119. Philadelphia Eagles
Joe Lefeged, Strong Safety, Rutgers
120. Jacksonville Jaguars from New Orleans
Tandon Doss, Wide Receiver, Indiana
121. Buffalo Bills from Seattle
Ricky Stanzi, Quarterback, Iowa
122. Baltimore Ravens
Kelvin Sheppard, Inside Linebacker, LSU
123. Atlanta Falcons
DeMarcus Love, Offensive Guard, Arkansas
124. New England Patriots
Ricky Elmore, Outside Linebacker, Arizona
125. New York Jets
Terrence Toliver, Wide Receiver, LSU
126. Chicago Bears
Jamie Harper, Running Back, Clemson
127. Pittsburgh Steelers
Ian Williams, Nose Tackle, Notre Dame
128. Green Bay Packers
Zach Hurd, Offensive Guard, Connecticut
129. Carolina Panthers
Ugo Chinasa, Defensive End, Oklahoma State
130. Buffalo Bills
Colin McCarthy, Inside Linebacker, Miami (Fla.)
131. Cincinnati Bengals
Casey Matthews, Inside Linebacker, Oregon
132. Tampa Bay Buccaneers from Denver
Mark Herzlich, Outside Linebacker, Boston College
133. Arizona Cardinals
Jalil Brown, Cornerback, Colorado
134. Cleveland Browns
Derek Newton, Offensive Tackle, Arkansas State
135. Houston Texans
Chris Conte, Free Safety, California
136. Minnesota Vikings
Greg Romeus, Defensive End, Pittsburgh
137. Kansas City Chiefs from Detroit
Brandon Fusco, Center, Slippery Rock
138. San Francisco 49ers
Austin Pettis, Wide Receiver, Boise State
139. Tennessee Titans
Jordan Cameron, Tight End, Southern California
140. Dallas Cowboys
Ahmad Black, Strong Safety, Florida
141. Washington Redskins
Ronald Johnson, Wide Receiver, Southern California
142. St. Louis Rams
Chris Culliver, Free Safety, South Carolina
143. Miami Dolphins
Denarius Moore, Wide Receiver, Tennessee
144. Jacksonville Jaguars
Da'Norris Searcy, Strong Safety, North Carolina
145. Oakland Raiders
Greg McElroy, Quarterback, Alabama
146. Philadelphia Eagles from San Diego
Brian Rolle, Outside Linebacker, Ohio State
147. Minnesota Vikings from New York Giants
David Arkin, Offensive Guard, Missouri State
148. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Da'Rel Scott, Running Back, Maryland
149. Indianapolis Colts
Jeron Johnson, Strong Safety, Boise State
150. Philadelphia Eagles
Nate Irving, Inside Linebacker, North Carolina State
151. Detroit Lions (exchange with Kansas City)
Delone Carter, Running Back, Syracuse
152. Washington Redskins from New Orleans
Sione Fua, Defensive Tackle, Stanford
153. Seattle Seahawks
Jeremy Kerley, Wide Receiver, TCU
154. Baltimore Ravens
Chris Hairston, Offensive Tackle, Clemson
155. Atlanta Falcons
Shiloh Keo, Strong Safety, Idaho
156. New England Patriots
Derek Hall, Offensive Tackle, Stanford
157. Chicago Bears
Charles Clay, Fullback, Tulsa
158. New York Jets
Rashad Carmichael, Cornerback, Virginia Tech
159. Pittsburgh Steelers
Willie Smith, Offensive Tackle, East Carolina
160. Green Bay Packers
Vincent Brown, Wide Receiver, San Diego State
161. Carolina Panthers
Lance Kendricks, Tight End, Wisconsin
162. Cincinnati Bengals
Keith Williams, Offensive Guard, Nebraska
163. Cleveland Browns from Denver
Kendric Burney, Cornerback, North Carolina
164. Buffalo Bills
Eddie Jones, Outside Linebacker, Texas
165. Cleveland Browns
Justin Boren, Offensive Guard, Ohio State
166. Arizona Cardinals
Deunta Williams, Free Safety, North Carolina
167. Minnesota Vikings
Greg Salas, Wide Receiver, Hawaii
168. Seattle Seahawks fom Detroit
Tyrod Taylor, Quarterback, Virginia Tech
169. San Francisco 49ers
Owen Marecic, Fullback, Stanford
170. Tennessee Titans
Jake Kirkpatrick, Center, TCU
171. Dallas Cowboys
David Carter, Defensive End, UCLA
172. Washington Redskins
Jarriel King , Offensive Tackle, South Carolina
173. Houston Texans
Nate Williams, Strong Safety, Washington
174. Miami Dolphins
Brandon Hogan, Cornerback, West Virginia
175. St. Louis Rams
Bilal Powell, Running Back, Louisville
176. Oakland Raiders
Cecil Shorts III, Wide Receiver, Mount Union
177. Jacksonville Jaguars
Jonas Mouton, Outside Linebacker, Michigan
178. San Diego Chargers
Stevan Ridley, Running Back, LSU
179. Detroit Lions from Philadelphia via Tampa Bay
Doug Hogue, Outside Linebacker, Syracuse
180. New York Giants
Jeremy Beal, Outside Linebacker, Oklahoma
181. Philadelphia Eagles
Jacquizz Rodgers, Running Back, Oregon State
182. Kansas City Chiefs
Mike Mohamed, Inside Linebacker, California
183. Indianapolis Colts
Ryan Whalen, Wide Receiver, Stanford
184. New England Patriots from New Orleans
Cortez Allen, Cornerback, Citadel
185. San Francisco 49ers from Seattle
Jermale Hines, Free Safety, Ohio State
186. Baltimore Ravens
Alex Linnenkohl, C/OG, Oregon State
187. Atlanta Falcons
Scott Lutrus, Outside Linebacker, Connecticut
188. Denver Broncos from New England
Cliff Matthews, Defensive End, South Carolina
189. New York Jets
Darvin Adams, Wide Receiver, Auburn
190. Chicago Bears
Brandon Bair, Defensive End, Oregon
191. Pittsburgh Steelers
Dwayne Harris, Wide Receiver, East Carolina
192. Green Bay Packers
Chykie Brown, Cornerback, Texas
193. Green Bay Packers from Carolina
D.J. Young, Offensive Tackle, Michigan State
194. Denver Broncos
Taiwan Jones, Running Back, Eastern Washington
195. Buffalo Bills
Chris L. Rucker, Cornerback, Michigan State
196. Cincinnati Bengals
Alex Henery , Kicker, Nebraska
197. New York Jets from Arizona
Thomas Keiser, Outside Linebacker, Stanford
198. Seattle Seahawks from Cleveland
Markus White, Defensive End, Florida State
199. San Francisco 49ers from Detroit
Jason Kelce, Center, Cincinnati
200. San Francisco 49ers
Josh Bynes, Inside Linebacker, Auburn
201. Tennessee Titans
Martin Parker, Defensive Tackle, Richmond
202. Dallas Cowboys
Tori Gurley, Wide Receiver, South Carolina
203. Washington Redskins
Ryan Winterswyk, Outside Linebacker, Boise State
204. Houston Texans
Chris Neild, Nose Tackle, West Virginia
205. Minnesota Vikings
Terrell McClain, Defensive Tackle, South Florida
206. St. Louis Rams
J.T. Thomas, Outside Linebacker, West Virginia
207. Miami Dolphins
Taylor Potts, Quarterback, Texas Tech
208. Miami Dolphins from Jacksonville
Ryan Hill, Cornerback, Miami (Fla.)
209. Oakland Raiders
Julius Thomas, Tight End, Portland State
210. Dallas Cowboys from San Diego
Korey Lindsey, Cornerback, Southern Illinois
211. New York Giants
Jerrard Tarrant, Free Safety, Georgia Tech
212. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Anthony Gaitor, Cornerback, Florida International
213. Kansas City Chiefs
Stanley Havili, Fullback, Southern California
214. Indianapolis Colts
Cedric Thornton, Defensive Tackle, Southern Arkansas
215. Baltimore Ravens from Philadelphia
Andre Smith, Tight End, Virginia Tech
216. New Orleans Saints
Justin Rogers, Cornerback, Richmond
217. Seattle Seahawks
Henry Hynoski, Fullback, Pittsburgh
218. Baltimore Ravens
Dane Sanzenbacher, Wide Receiver, Ohio State
219. Atlanta Falcons
Byron Maxwell, Cornerback, Clemson
220. Atlanta Falcons from New England
Ricardo Lockette, Wide Receiver, Fort Valley State
221. Chicago Bears
Stephen Burton, Wide Receiver, West Texas A&M
222. Detroit Lions from New York Jets
223. Pittsburgh Steelers
Richard Sherman, Cornerback, Stanford
224. Green Bay Packers
Derrick Locke, Running Back, Kentucky