NFL Mock Draft 2011: 1st Round Predictions Plus Odds Each Pick Is A Bust
The 2011 NFL draft is less than a month away, meaning coaches, general managers and scouts are suiting up for judgement day, when they'll sit in their draft rooms—which resemble a war room—and decide what player they would like to strike a deal with.
It's hard to predict who will become a star player, however, that's the beauty of film.
Spending countless hours since the day the season ended, coaches across the league have hibernated into film rooms as they try and find their next great pick, with hope their knowledge can avoid a first round bust.
Inside we will go through the entire first round and discuss why each player is potential bust.
32. Green Bay Packers: Brooks Reed, DE/OLB, Arizona
The Green Bay Packers were a top five defense a year ago, however, with issues at the defensive end and right outside linebacker, head coach Mike McCarthy might decide to bulk up his front seven in the first round.
With a high ankle sprain in 2009 at Iowa, Reed was forced to miss three games. Besides the injury, he will need to get stronger if he is going to play defensive end in the NFL as he only ways 263-pounds.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor
Last season the Pittsburgh Steelers allowed 43 sacks, indicating they must improve their offensive line to protect quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
The only real issue with Danny Watkins is that he'll be a 27-year-old rookie, who has only played four years of football. You can either look at the glass as half empty or half full. I choose the half full scenario and think Watkins goes on to have a solid career.
30. New York Jets: Phil Taylor, NT, Baylor
It is no secret the New York Jets need to upgrade at outside linebacker, however, with the departure of veteran Kris Jenkins, drafting a nose tackle who weighs 330-pounds with quick feet is way to hard to find or pass up.
Before transferring from Penn State, Phil Taylor suffered a knee injury during 2007 spring practices and missed the first nine games of the season.
In 2008, he had an issue off-the-field while still attending Penn State. With no charges filed against him the program decided to suspend him eventually dismissing Taylor for academic issues.
Taylor has stayed out trouble since and looks to move forward and become an effective every down tackle.
29. Chicago Bears: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
Chicago led the NFL in sacks allowed last year (53) and must upgrade their offensive line, to get a running game established and to help protect quarterback Jay Cutler.
There is very little if anything to say Solder could be a bust. However, being 6'8" and weighing 319-pounds, it has to be noted that one wrong move at his stature makes it a whole lot easier to get hurt.
28. New England Patriots: Ryan Kerrigan, DE/OLB, Purdue
The New England Patriots ranked in the middle of the pack in sacks a year ago, with 36. With that being said Ryan Kerrigan gives the Patriots a big and strong outside linebacker who has amazing pass rushing skills and a will to get to the quarterback no matter what it takes.
In the final game of 2009 he was sidelined with a broken foot forcing offseason surgery. Coming into 2010 things looked bright for Kerrigan, until he aggravated the foot injury in the spring, but pushing through the pain he showed some toughness and had a successful season.
27. Atlanta Falcons: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
The Atlanta Falcons rounded out at the No. 20 spot for sacks in 2010, with 31. Head coach Mike Smith is defensive minded and their 4-3 could use another end who can rush the passer with an awareness to stop the run.
In March of 2010, Clayborn pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after he was originally charged with assault causing bodily injury for allegedly punching a cab driver for honking at him. With a short fuse, he will need to mature.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
The Baltimore Ravens really need to address their cornerback need, however, with the track record of the Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, most would assume Newsome and front office officials would stray away from say a, Jimmy Smith—whose known to have some character issues.
In comes Cameron Heyward, he's a tall, bulky defensive end who plays with a quick first step and explodes onto opposing offensive lineman.
Durability isn't much of an issue with Heyward as he only suffered an ankle injury in 2009 that did little to get in his way. The biggest issue for this monster is his lack of athleticism, meaning he likely will struggle if asked to drop back into coverage.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
Current Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is entering his 13 season with an aging body that began to break down last season. Though the 35-year-old quarterback missed only two games last season he also missed two the previous year as well.
If head coach Peter Carroll likes what he has seen in the tall, lanky, quarterback with a rifle for an arm, Ryan Mallett could land the Seahawks a potential franchise signal caller.
Over the past two seasons Mallett was sacked for a combined 49 times and this wasn't due just to poor offensive line play. The young quarterback is known to have terrible pocket awareness and cement blocks for feet, giving him zero chances of being a mobile quarterback.
24. New Orleans Saint: Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple
Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams loves to attack with the blitz, sometimes with too many guys. That's why the Saints will draft Muhammad Wilkerson to help regulate the inside on the line, hopefully resulting in more sacks.
Wilkerson's biggest ear mark against him is the fact that he played his college ball at Temple, not necessarily the best place to play your college football. However, with good size and strength, Wilkerson will be a solid anchor for a defensive line.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
The Philadelphia Eagles have a history of drafting by needs and drafting Jimmy Smith to help a struggling pass defense that allowed an average of seven yards per reception in 2010 would certainly be a move in the right direction.
With a vast amount of rumors since the NFL combine, it has become public knowledge that Smith may have some character issues that scouts weren't originally aware of. In addition, he didn't have a single interception his senior season, which raises the question, can he make big time plays in the NFL?
22. Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
The Indianapolis Colts are getting older on thee offensive line, drafting Anthony Castonzo would add a smart and reliable player for years to come.
Castonzo is effective on his feet for a man of his stature at 6'7".
He will need to add some strength to his big frame if he wants to be a solid starter, however, he did start all 41 games his first three years at Boston College.
21. Kansas City Chiefs: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
The Kansas City Chiefs and quarterback Matt Cassel would benefit a ton if they could add depth at the offensive tackle position. Gabe Carimi (6'7", 314-pounds) is a great pick to play opposite of left tackle Branden Albert, solidifying their offensive line.
Carimi will need to bulk up a little to compete at the next level, adding insult to injury, in 2008 he was forced to miss three games due to a knee injury that eventually required offseason surgery the following season.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Justin Houston, DE/OLB, Georgia
In last years draft the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beefed up the interior of their defensive line, selecting Gerald McCoy. This year they'll draft Justin Houston to come off the edge and counter McCoy, adding another weapon to attack the quarterback.
Houston is very strong for an outside linebacker, however, if he's going to play end at the next level in a 4-3 scheme he must add some strength to his 6'2" frame.
19. New York Giants: Mike Pouncey, C/OG, Florida
The New York Giants biggest need is at linebacker, but with nothing good there, they select Mike Pouncey. With center Shaun O'Hara turing 34 years old in June, it makes perfect sense drafting a center.
Not to mention he is the twin brother of the Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey—who was a Pro-Bowler in his first season. Mike and Maurkice both play very similar with physical hands and quick feet.
With the early success of his brother, all signs point to Mike having a durable career after starting 32 consecutive games dating back to 2007.
18. San Diego Chargers: Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal
The San Diego Chargers number one need is a defensive end that can fit the 3-4 scheme and their is no one better than Cameron Jordan that'll qualify for their needs. While at Cal, Jordan became an elite pass rusher off the edge in their 3-4 defense, giving hope to team executives he can make an immediate impact at the next level.
Other than some small character concerns—due to an arrest for suspicion of DUI in 2008—Jordan naturally has football in his blood. His father Steve Jordan, had a 13-year career at tight end with the Minnesota Vikings and was a six-time Pro-Bowler. If he doesn't make a some noise, it'll be a huge disappointment.
17. New England Patriots (from Oakland): J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
As stated earlier, the front seven for the New England Patriots is a serious need to address. With the selection of J.J Watt, head coach Bill Belichick gets a freak of an athlete off the edge.
In three-years at Wisconsin he played in every game for the Badgers, but, he will need to get stronger to be fully effective at the next level.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri
The Jacksonville Jaguars ranked 30 in sacks last season, with only 26, which is why this year they'll draft Aldon Smith. Learning from 12-year veteran Aaron Kampman, the young Smith could develop into a lethal weapon as a pass rusher with the ability to also drop into coverage.
Due to a broken foot in 2010 he was forced to sit out in three games, other than that, he is a very athletic football player that should fit in at either position depending on the scheme.
15. Miami Dolphins: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
With Ronnie Brown becoming an injury machine and Rickie Williams playing in to his young-30's, the Miami Dolphins need to have some sort of weapon on offense if they're not going to have a quarterback. That's where Mark Ingram comes in, whom some compare his physical running style to the great Emmitt Smith.
Ingram was the winner of the 2009 Heisman Trophy Award, however, if history repeats itself Ingram could have a short lived career—as a majority of former Heisman winners migrate to the NFL without their previous talent.
14. St. Louis Rams: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
The St. Louis Rams biggest need is at the wide receiver position, however with the top two receivers off the board combined with a lack of elite receivers in this years draft, the Rams select Corey Liuget. With the possibility of Fred Robbins hanging up the cleats after this upcoming season adding a young interior lineman is nothing to complain about.
Liuget will need to work on his pass rushing ability to add a repartee to his disruptive and active play on the interior.
13. Detroit Lions: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
The Detroit Lions allowed on average 7.3 yards per reception last season, showing a clear sign that cornerback is must need to address. Head coach Jim Schwartz will be salivating over the selection of Prince Amukamara–who is top-10 talent.
In his first two seasons at Nebraska, Amukamara inched his way into the starting lineup, hopefully this won't be a reoccurring theme in the NFL.
On the flip side, in four seasons he didn't miss playing time due to injury once in 47 games.
12. Minnesota Vikings: Jake Locker, QB, Washington
It's no secret that quarterback has been a major issue for the Minnesota Vikings—despite Brett Favre putting a plug at the position for the past two seasons. Before Favre, they played musical chairs at quarterback, starting five different quarterbacks in a three year span.
Drafting a young and athletic quarterback in Jake Locker is a nice investment at the right price.
With an array of small injuries including a broken thumb in 2008 that ended his season.
Adding to his injuries he needs to improve on his decision making, as he has a tendency to force throws that aren't their, much like Favre used to. If he can be half of what Favre was it's fair to say this is a good pick.
11. Houston Texans: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
The Houston Texans really need an upgrade in their secondary, however, pass rushing goes hand-in-hand with coverage when you host the leagues worst passing defense. Now that Wade Phillips is running the 3-4 in Houston, Robert Quinn could become a poor-mans Demarcus Ware off the edge with the ability to drop back in coverage.
Quinn does lack your proto-typical size, weighing a cool 265-pounds. However, with his amazing speed he will become a solid rusher off the edge for many years opposite of Mario Williams.
10. Washington Redskins: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
The Washington Redskins have lacked an elite wide receiver for the longest time and have the opportunity to boost their depth at the position by drafting Julio Jones. A lanky and athletic receiver who runs with great speed is exactly what the Redskins have been missing.
This pick is justifiable because what's the point of drafting a quarterback if he doesn't have anywhere to throw the ball.
Jones has been known to catch balls with his body rather than his hands—a big no-no in the NFL. In order to become a top notch receiver at the next level he will need to be consistent in catching the ball and continue to work on his separation skills.
9. Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith, OT, USC
The Dallas Cowboys will shock everyone when they select Tyron Smith to buffer up the offensive line. Drafting Smith gives Dallas an eventual blindside tackle who ranks a the top tackle on a majority of boards, thanks to his athleticism and quickness at 6'5" and weighing 307-pounds.
This past December, Smith had his knee scoped to clean out some excess fluid and was even advised to sit out from the NFL combine by trainers. With durability issues and a possible concern of the need to add some pounds to his frame, Jones hopefully prevails with a solid career.
8. Tennessee Titans: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
WIth the departure of defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth a couple years ago, the Tennessee Titans now have the opportunity to replace those empty footmarks left behind from Haynesworth's enormous stature, with Nick Fairley.
Fairley likely won't dominate opposing lines like Haynesworth once did, but, his athleticism is unquestionable and makes him worthy of a top-10 pick.
Along with the need to bulk up for the NFL, Fairley will need to learn to control his body on-the-field. While at Auburn it was widely known that he can be a dirty player, with evidence of a multitude of personal foul calls in 2010. If he wants to hang with the big boys he will have to learn some self control.
7. San Francisco 49ers: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
The San Francisco 49ers secondary was an embarrassment last season, ranking 24 in the league in pass coverage. That's why new head coach will Jim Harbaugh will select Patrick Peterson in order to give his team an elite shut-down corner.
Whether its playing press or zone coverage, Peterson can get the job done against anyone.
Peterson comes from a family tree of NFL players—relative of Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Bryant McFadden, New York Giants wide receiver Sinorice Moss and Washington Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss.
Unless for whatever reason he isn't successful at corner, Peterson likely won't be a bust due to his size for the safety position.
6. Cleveland Browns: Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
The Cleveland Browns ranked 25 in the league last season, with 25 sacks. Which gives the new defensive coordinator Dick Jauron plenty of reason to want to draft Da'Quan Bowers, who can give the Browns a strong and athletic off the edge rusher in a 4-3 scheme.
Bowers recently had surgery on a torn meniscus in his knee, which forced him to miss two game in 2009. WIth an issue already present about his overall speed, a nagging knee injury isn't anything positive to move forward on.
5. Arizona Cardinals: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
The Arizona Cardinals will be thanking the Buffalo Bills for making their decision much easier and will draft Blaine Gabbert. Finally giving the Cardinals a young, smart, strong and accurate quaterback—which Larry Fitzgerald will be salivating over.
Gabbert ran the spread-offense at Missouri, an offense that rarely transfers over to the next level, however, with the NFL teams becoming more-and-more willing to spread out opposing defenses, this young quarterback has an elite receiver to work with.
4. Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
With the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer threatening to retire if he isn't released or traded, drafting A.J. Green could force second thoughts on Palmer. Taking a wide receiver this earlier is a high-risk/high-reward scenario and makes complete sense with Terrell Ownes and Chad Ochocinco likely on the next plane out of Cinci.
With amazing route running skills for his size and spectacular hands, Green will become what Ochocinco once strived to be—a Hall of Famer.
3. Buffalo Bills: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
The Buffalo Bills will feel forced to draft Cam Newton third overall in order to keep fans happy. With the news of drafting a future "franchise quarterback" fans rush to the box office before we are even through the first round.
Newton has amazing upside with his few and far between combo of size and speed.
However, there are a few character issues to address: Whether its the stolen laptop or cheating on grades at Florida to the recent investigation of his father auctioning him off to the highest bidder after his brief JUCO stint.
If the young quarterback can put his past behind him, there is a bright future for him, but remember he also is a former Heisman Trophy Award winner...
2. Denver Broncos: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
The Denver Broncos new head coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, will look to immediately revamp their defensive front seven as they transition back to a 4-3 defense. There is no better player to select here than Von Miller who can help make an instant impact alongside Elvis Dumervil—he led the league in sacks two seasons ago.
It's a must for Miller to get stronger, especially in his lower-body if he is going to be able to handle the force brought upon by opposing lineman in pass rushing situations. Either way he should have a solid career on the outside.
1. Carolina Panthers: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
After a dismal 2-14 season, the Carolina Panthers must bolster their defensive front seven. The best way to start this rebuilding process is drafting Marcell Dareus to anchor the interior part of the line for years to come. He is an amazing athlete for a man of his stature at 6'3" and weighing 319-pounds.
The fact that Dareus couldn't manage to play a full season as a fulltime three-down starter while at Alabama, is evidence in hand that he must improve his conditioning in order to become an effective starter in the NFL.