NFL Mock Draft 2011: Blaine Gabbert Headlines Three QBs Snapped Up in Round 1
All the focus of the NFL draft has been on which quarterback will be drafted first.
Carolina has the first pick, and have kept their plans hidden on whether they will take a QB or not.
Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, and Jake Locker lead the quarterback class of 2011, and we will probably see all three hear their names called by the end of round one.
No. 1: Carolina Panthers, QB Blaine Gabbert
Mel Kiper has Blaine Gabbert number one overall in his draft.
Although the Panthers took Jimmy Clausen last year, he hasn't shown too much promise in his time in the NFL. If there's any chance Gabbert can be a franchise QB, the Panthers need to pull the trigger on him.
No. 2: Denver Broncos, DT Marcell Dareus
The Broncos were absolutely horrible against the run in 2010, and had one of the worst all-around defenses in the NFL.
Marcell Dareus leads the deep defensive tackle draft class, and could help the Broncos out immediately. There is no way they can win many games in the AFC West without improving their defense.
No. 3: Buffalo Bills, DT Nick Fairley
The Bills have a lot of holes to fill, including the QB spot.
With Gabbert off the board, they could go after Cam Newton, but he doesn't fit too well into the Buffalo system. A better option would be Nick Fairley, who could help them compete against the strong offenses in the AFC East.
No. 4: Cincinnati Bengals, WR A.J. Green
Cincinnati has a ton of issues that need to be resolved.
Carson Palmer has stated he's never playing for the Bengals again, but we won't know how serious he is until next season.
Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco have their own issues, and grabbing A.J. Green would really benefit them in the future.
No. 5: Arizona Cardinals, QB Cam Newton
Cam Newton will be the second QB taken in the NFL draft.
Arizona has Derek Anderson and Max Hall, but it is pretty clear that neither is a franchise quarterback. If Newton is still up for grabs, the Cardinals have to take him. They simply can't win anything with the current starters on their roster.
No. 6: Cleveland Browns, DE Da'Quan Bowers
Cleveland has trouble keeping up with the defenses of Pittsburgh and Baltimore.
If they ever want to contend in that division, they need a strong defense—Bowers will be able to help them in that area.
No. 7: San Francisco 49ers, CB Patrick Peterson
Peterson may just be the best overall player in the draft.
Unfortunately for him, corners just don't get drafted that early. San Fransisco would love to get Peterson to strengthen their already powerful defense.
If they can get a QB in the off-season and draft Peterson, they should be considered the favorites to win the NFC West.
No. 8: Tennessee Titans, OLB Von Miller
The poor pass-rush in Tennessee is a huge issue, and Von Miller could fill in immediately and provide a strong presence against the pass.
Miller is naturally talented, wildly athletic and should be able to excel in Tennessee.
No. 9: Dallas Cowboys, DE Robert Quinn
Dallas has a few options with this selection.
They can trade down which would probably be the best option, and still get good value with a mid-round pick.
They can take a top athlete like Prince Amukamara, even though they don't necessarily need a corner.
Or they can improve their defense, which is what I'm going with here.
No. 10: Washington Redskins, WR Julio Jones
The Redskins really need a play-maker who they can rely on in the future.
Their quarterback situation with McNabb and Grossman has become overly complicated, and Santana Moss is past his prime.
Julio Jones is a fantastic athlete who could have a great future in the NFL.
No. 11: Houston Texans, CB Prince Amukamara
Following the history of their last draft, the Texans should take a corner here in Amukamara if he's still available.
They have a horrible defense and play in one of the best offensive divisions in the NFL. Amukamara has the potential to be a Pro Bowl corner and has the skills comparable to Raiders All-Star, Nnamdi Asomugha.
No. 12: Minnesota Vikings, QB Jake Locker
Jake Locker would probably be a stretch to take this high, but hey, it's the NFL draft—anything can happen.
Locker could come in and compete for the starting job right away. That's probably not the best thing for him, but Minnesota doesn't really have a great future option. Another choice would be trading down to try and select Locker later in the first round.
No. 13: Detroit Lions, OT Anthony Castonzo
Detroit has a tough decision here. They really need to improve their corners, but there aren't any great options at this point in the draft.
Another main need is at offensive tackle, and Anthony Castonzo is the best available option.
No. 14: St. Louis Rams, DT Corey Liuget
Sam Bradford was a gold-medal pick for the Rams in 2010, almost taking them to a division title.
Their defense still needs work before they can fully transition into a legit NFL team. Liuget is excellent at locating the ball, and has shown a lot of potential over the past few weeks, which could bounce him into the top 15.
No. 15: Miami Dolphins, RB Mark Ingram
Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram has been anticipating this draft for a long time now.
Miami would love to use him in their unique RB combo with Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown. This could be beneficial for both if Ingram can wait in line behind the duo before he gets thrown into action.
No. 16: Jacksonville Jaguars, OLB Akeem Ayers
Akeem Ayers hasn't had great showings in the past couple weeks, but his stock won't fall that much.
The Jags have a good defensive interior but need help on the outside. Ayers would be a fit in Jacksonville where he can show off his ability in the pass-rush.
No. 17: New England Patriots, DE J.J. Watt
The Patriots don't have many weaknesses, but they need to secure a stronger defensive line.
J.J. Watt won't have much of a learning curve, and can start right away in New England. Another option for the Pats is trading this pick. Considering they do this almost every year, it won't be a surprise to see them let go of one of their two picks.
No. 18: San Diego Chargers, OT Tyron Smith
San Diego could go with a defensive end here, but Tyron Smith is the best available player left, and I think that they'll choose that option first.
Smith can help pave the way for Ryan Matthews and his sophomore season, which should be better than his rookie season.
No. 19: New York Giants, G/C Mike Pouncey
Mike Pouncey, twin brother of Maurkice, would have a great opportunity in New York if he got the chance.
The Giants need to improve their run game to take the pressure off Eli Manning, and improved guard play would do that.
No. 20: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, DE Cameron Jordan
The Bucs still need to improve their defense, and Cameron Jordan is the best option at this point.
Tampa Bay has a good enough offense now to keep up with most teams, but they reside in a high-powered offensive division which means they need a strong defense as well.
No. 21: Kansas City Chiefs, OLB Aldon Smith
Aldon Smith chose to enter the draft this season, even though his stock would probably have been a lot higher next season.
The Chiefs need outside linebackers who can get to the passer, and Aldon Smith is a great fit for them. They need help competing in a division which has suddenly become pretty good.
No. 22: Indianapolis Colts, OT Nate Solder
Whether the Colts decide to go with Solder or Carimi here, they desperately need help at the offensive tackle position.
Solder has more potential, so he'll probably go before Carimi. Either way, an improved offensive line means improved running, which the Colts need to have.
No. 23: Philadelphia Eagles, DE Justin Houston
The Eagles might consider taking an offensive lineman here, but Justin Houston is the best available player and should probably be taken first.
We all know Philadelphia has an amazing offense, but their defense lacks consistency and cost them a few games. Improving the D-line should make them dangerous.
No. 24: New Orleans Saints, DT Muhammad Wilkerson
It would be great for the Saints if Wilkerson could slip all the way down to number 24.
New Orleans could really use a guy who is versatile and knows how to get to the quarterback. This could be real steal considering Wilkerson has top 10 potential in some people's eyes.
No. 25: Seattle Seahawks, OT Derek Sherrod
With Locker out of the picture, the Seahawks should really just take a risk.
Sherrod has slipped in value recently, but has the potential to be really good in the NFL. Seattle has a decent run game, but it's not perfect—grabbing a tackle here wouldn't be the worst thing.
No. 26: Baltimore Ravens, CB Jimmy Smith
The Ravens already have an excellent defense, but adding depth is never a bad thing.
Smith is definitely the top corner at this point, and giving him a chance to learn behind the great leaders on the defensive side of the ball in Baltimore could be really beneficial for him.
No. 27: Atlanta Falcons, DE/OLB Ryan Kerrigan
There are a few good options here, including two good defensive ends in Kerrigan and Clayborn.
I think Kerrigan might go right before Clayborn, just because he is so versatile and is a great pass-rusher. The Falcons don't have too many issues to work out in the off-season, but improving their front seven can't hurt.
No. 28: New England Patriots, DE Adrian Clayborn
If the Falcons don't take Clayborn, the Patriots will.
He is a phenomenal athlete and puts tremendous pressure on the quarterback, every game. He is considered by some to the best defensive end in his class, and will be given a good opportunity to show it in New England.
No. 29: Chicago Bears, OT Gabe Carimi
Chicago should consider themselves lucky if they can find a player such as Carimi, this late in the first round.
Jay Cutler doesn't need any more football injuries, so protecting him is a must. Carimi played with some of the best defensive ends at his time in college, so he should be able to step into the NFL right away.
No. 30: New York Jets, DT Phil Taylor
The Jets certainly need to improve their defensive line before anything else.
They built up the franchise in the past few years but have failed to cash in the playoffs. Taylor is strong and athletic, and would fit well in New York.
No. 31: Pittsburgh Steelers, OG Danny Watkins
The Steelers don't have any pressing needs, so taking a guy like Watkins is most likely what they will do here.
He can give the Steelers a consistent performance, and is capable of sustaining run-blocks against some of the NFL's best.
No. 32: Green Bay Packers, OLB Brooks Reed
Playing on the opposite side of Clay Matthews could be great for both.
It would take pressure off Matthews, and give Reed the chance to shine as well. Just like some of the better teams, Green Bay doesn't have any major needs to address, but depth for an injury-prone team is the best option.