2011 32-Team NFL Mock Draft, Version 2.0: Cam Newton Still No. 1 to Panthers

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2011 32-Team NFL Mock Draft, Version 2.0: Cam Newton Still No. 1 to Panthers
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

You can view the first version of my 2011 Mock Draft here.

1. Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn

From what I’ve been hearing, the Panthers are targeting three players here: Newton, Patrick Peterson, and Marcell Dareus.  With a new coaching staff in Carolina, there probably won’t be much loyalty to quarterback Jimmy Clausen.  Head coach Ron Rivera personally attended Newton’s Pro Day, and he still seems to be the favorite at this point.

Last Mock: Same

2. Denver Broncos: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

New head coach John Fox always seems to covet top-tier defensive ends, but there are a ton of concerns about DaQuan Bowers’ health.  Von Miller is a beast, but he probably won’t fit into the Broncos’ scheme.  If Denver goes defensive tackle, I think Marcell Dareus will be the choice over Nick Fairley due to concerns about the latter prospect’s work ethic, but Patrick Peterson’s talent may be too great to pass up.

Last Mock: DaQuan Bowers, DE, Clemson

3. Buffalo Bills:  Von Miller, OLB, Texas AM

Blaine Gabbert is an option here, but I think the Bills will select Cam Newton or a defensive player over the Missouri signal-caller.  With Peterson off the board, look for the Bills to target a top-tier pass-rusher.  They haven’t hid their interest in Miller.

Last Mock: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

4. Cincinnati Bengals:  Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama

Are Carson Palmer’s retirement threats real?  I actually think so, but it is beginning to appear as though Cincy may still pass on a quarterback in the first-round.  The Bengals are reportedly very interested in Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara, which makes sense with Jonathan Joseph set to hit free agency.  Dareus still seems like the more logical choice here, though, due to a combination of need and value.

Last Mock: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri

5. Arizona Cardinals: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri

The Cards have shown a lot of interest in Gabbert—so much so that they reportedly prefer him to Newton.  They also like Miller, but it will be difficult to pass on a potential franchise quarterback.

Last Mock: Von Miller, OLB, Texas AM

6. Cleveland Browns:  Nick Fairley, DT/DE, Auburn

The Browns have a lot of holes, and while I still think wide receiver is an option, they’re reportedly in search of a dominant defensive lineman.  Fairley certainly fits the bill.

Last Mock: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

7. San Francisco 49ers:  Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, UNC

Quinn could very well drop due to health/character concerns, but he’s probably the best all-around edge-rusher in this draft and he fits the Niners’ scheme perfectly.

Last Mock: Same

8. Tennessee Titans:  DaQuan Bowers, DE, Clemson

Like Quinn, Bowers could fall some in April.  His Pro Day will be huge.  If he performs well there, he’ll be on the Titans’ radar.  Unfortunately, I don’t think Bowers has much value to 3-4 teams.

Last Mock: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn

9. Dallas Cowboys:  Tyron Smith, OT, USC

It doesn’t appear as though Dareus has much of an opportunity to still be on the board for Dallas.  If Peterson falls to the sixth or seventh spot, look for the ‘Boys to move up.  If not, they could do the opposite.

If neither situations pans out, I think the Cowboys should target an offensive tackle.  Smith is my top-rated player at the position, but Anthony Castonzo could be an option.  At defensive end, the ‘Boys might look at Cameron Jordan or J.J. Watt.

Last Mock: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama

10. Washington Redskins:  Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

In my last mock, I had Washington selecting A.J. Green, but that was only because Jones was off the board.  I think most teams will place Jones ahead of Green, but either player would be a significant upgrade for the ‘Skins.

Last Mock: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia

11. Houston Texans:  Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

Amukamara helped himself at the Combine more than just about anyone, so he could be off the board by this point.  Houston’s secondary is atrocious, so they’ll be looking for help.  Justin Houston is also an option here.

Last Mock: Same

12. Minnesota Vikings:  Jake Locker, QB, Washington

This is my first major surprise of this particular mock.  There are reports that Minnesota is very interested in Locker, with local newspapers even claiming they would be shocked if the first-round ends with Locker landing in Minnesota.  It’s possible the Vikings will try to trade back into the latter portion of the first-round for Locker, but I think he’s a legitimate option here.

Last Mock: Same

13. Detroit Lions:  Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

The Lions are reportedly seeking a top-tier cornerback.  It will be interesting to see if they provide that label to anyone other than Peterson or Amukamara.  If not, there are rumors they will choose between Castonzo and Nate Solder.  For their sake, I hope they choose the former.

Last Mock: Tyron Smith, OT, USC

14.  St. Louis Rams:  A.J. Green, WR, Georgia

The Rams will run this pick up to the podium.  The more I do mock drafts, the more I think one of the top two receivers will fall to St. Louis.  The Cowboys should root for one of them to get selected before their No. 9 pick, however, so that St. Louis becomes eager to move up ahead of Washington for the other.

Last Mock: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri

15.  Miami Dolphins:  Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama

Is there anyone else to consider here?  If the ‘Phins let free agents Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams walk, they will obviously be desperately thin at running back.  I think running back is perhaps the most overrated position in football, but when your current starter is Lex Hilliard, you have issues.

Last Mock: Same

16.  Jacksonville Jaguars:  Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue

I’m not personally a Kerrigan fan, but he just seems like a good fit in Jacksonville, doesn’t he?  The Jaguars could actually look quarterback here, so Locker and Ryan Mallett are also options.

Last Mock: Same

17.  New England Patriots (from Oakland):  Cameron Jordan, DT/DE, Cal

This is a long way for Jordan to fall, but there aren’t many 3-4 teams in between Dallas and this pick.  You know the Pats will have interest in such a diverse player.  They’ll likely value Jordan over Watt if for no other reason than their bad relations with Watt’s agent.

Last Mock: Same

18.  San Diego Chargers:  J.J. Watt, DT/DE, Wisconsin

The Chargers reportedly have a ton of interest in a few of this year’s second-tier 3-4 defensive ends: Jordan, Watt, and Cameron Heyward.  I think Heyward is a reach here and with Jordan off of the board, Watt seems like a surefire pick.

Last Mock: Same

19.  New York Giants:  Nate Solder, OT, Colorado

I would be thrilled to see the Giants take Solder, as he’s just my eighth-rated offensive tackle and 78th player overall.  Either way, I think the G-Men are in a pretty good spot to secure an immediate starter at tackle.

Last Mock: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

20.  Tampa Bay Bucs:  Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri

Smith might not last this long due to his impressive measurables, but he’d sure be a great fit in Tampa.  They’d likely choose between him and Justin Houston.

Last Mock: Justin Houston, DE, Georgia

21.  Kansas City Chiefs:  Phil Taylor, NT, Baylor

If Taylor goes to Kansas City, he’ll give the Chiefs one of the most devastating 3-4 lines in the league.  Taylor, Glenn Dorsey, and Tyson Jackson (and even Tamba Hali at times)?  Yikes.  There are also rumors the Chiefs will move left tackle Brandon Albert to right tackle or guard, so a player like Derek Sherrod might be considered.

Last Mock: Same

22.  Indianapolis Colts:  Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State

I don’t think Sherrod is the top offensive tackle left, but he fits well in Indy.  The Colts reportedly met with Sherrod at the Combine, so there’s some interest.

Last Mock: Same

23.  Philadelphia Eagles:  Justin Houston, DE, Georgia

The Eagles plan to use their defensive ends in nine-technique positions in 2011—meaning they’ll rely less on an awesome pass-rush repertoire and more on pure speed.  Houston has a ridiculous first step.  I have him higher than just about anyone at No. 5 overall on my Big Board.

Last Mock: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

24.  New Orleans Saints: Corey Liuget, DT/DE, Illinois

The more I watch Liuget, the more I see him as a three-technique player.  He’d be a heck of a run defender as a five-technique in Dallas, but not much else.  He’s a slightly worse Marcus Spears, in my opinion—which won’t please Cowboys fans one bit.  He’s a better fit in New Orleans.

Last Mock: Same

25.  Seattle Seahawks: Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State

This pick is subject to change based on the Seahawks’ plans with Matt Hasselbeck and even (potentially) Kevin Kolb.  As it stands, however, Ponder’s skill set is a great fit for Pete Carrol in Seattle.  Even with Jimmy Smith still on the board, the Seahawks might need to look quarterback.

Last Mock: Brandon Harris, CB, Miami

26. Baltimore Ravens:  Ben Ijalana, OT/OG, Villanova

Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome values versatility, which is exactly what Ijalana brings to the table.  He’s not being mentioned much as a first-round pick (and I really hope he falls to Dallas in the second), but he should be.  Mark my words: he could be the best offensive lineman out of this class when it’s all said and done.

Last Mock: Same

27. Atlanta Falcons:  Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA

I’m not that high on Ayers, but the Falcons really need to bolster their defense.  They over-performed last season.  Iowa’s Adrian Clayborn could also be on the radar here.

Last Mock: Same

28. New England Patriots:  Mike Pouncey, G/C, Florida

With the 17th, 28th, and 33rd overall selections, the Pats have a lot of freedom.  That means Pitt’s Jonathan Baldwin may be on their radar, even in the first-round.

I think they’ll love Pouncey’s toughness and versatility, though.  Like Casey Matthews, Pouncey is getting pub for having a talented brother in the NFL.  Unlike Casey Matthews, Mike Pouncey can play well.

Last Mock: Same

29. Chicago Bears:  Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

Because teams view Carimi as only a right tackle, he will probably drop a bit come draft day.  I think that’s unwarranted.  Carimi is probably the most NFL-ready of all the offensive tackles, and while he may not possess the incredible upside of someone like Tyron Smith, selecting a “sure thing” in the first-round is never a bad idea.

Last Mock: Same

30. New York Jets:  Brooks Reed, DE/OLB, Arizona

Iowa’s Adrian Clayborn drops out of my first-round due to concerns about the length (or lack of it) of one of his arms.  Kind of strange to me, but you know how much NFL teams value arm length.  Brooks Reed has been gaining steam since his impressive Combine performance, and the Jets are almost sure to target a pass-rusher.

Last Mock: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa

31. Pittsburgh Steelers:   Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

This pick is all about talent.  Smith has plenty of it, but will his character concerns be too much to handle?  Miami’s Brandon Harris actually fits Pittsburgh’s style of play quite well, but he’s been falling on most boards.

Last Mock: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado

32. Green Bay Packers:  Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple

Predicting the Packers’ selection is very difficult.  They don’t have many holes, but they do have a couple of free agents at defensive end.  If they allow them to walk, Wilkerson is a real possibility.  He received mixed reviews at his Pro Day, but I think his game film is superior to that of Cameron Heyward.

Last Mock: Cameron Heyward, DT, Ohio State

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