NFL Mock Draft 2011: Round 1 with Surprise Picks, Part 1
The 2011 NFL Draft is quickly approaching and theories are aplenty as to who will go where. I am thinking that this could be an exciting draft with unexpected picks. Cam Newton seems to be the consensus #1 overall pick, but will he be? Let's take a gander at how the draft very well could go in the first half of the first round.....
1. Carolina Panthers: WR A.J. Green, Georgia
Everyone goes on and on about Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert going here, but everyone seems to forget that Andrew Luck will be in the draft next year. Carolina has too many areas to fix that they could very well be in the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes next year. Their only wide out of any value is Steve Smith and he is getting up in age. They still have Jimmy Clausen and he was a rookie last year. He may just need time to mature, hopefully, and improve. It certainly wouldn't hurt him or Matt Moore to have Smith and Green to throw the ball too. A.J. Green would be the first WR to go #1 overall since the Jets took Keyshawn Johnson #1 in 1996.
2. Denver Broncos: DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama
Denver's defense is atrocious. I'm sorry, there is no way around it. They released two of their DT's from last season. So, I would imagine that they'd be spread pretty thin on the DLine. Dareus has passed Auburn's Nick Fairley.
3. Buffalo Bills: QB Cam Newton, Auburn
Buffalo needs a QB and they said they wanted one, so they get one. While, I may think Cam Newton is overrated, the Bills do not. They get who they consider to be their franchise QB. They have a decent rushing attack with Fred Jackson and second year RB and 2010 9th overall pick, C.J. Spiller. They still have Lee Evans at WR and they got a surprise with the break out year that little known Steve Johnson had. QB could be the last piece needed for their offense to be relevant again, which it hasn't been since the days of Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, and Andre Reed.
4. Cincinnati Bengals: QB Blaine Gabbert, Mizzou
This is actually a hard spot to predict or try to figure out which way they are going to go. Carson Palmer is dead set to never play another down for the Bengals. T.O. is gone. Chad OchoCinco is likely to be traded. This pick will likely be QB or WR. I think that QB would be the bigger need given the position. Sorry, Arizona.
5. Arizona Cardinals: DE/OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M
Arizona probably would have liked one of the top two QBs to have been available here. They would likely try to get a vet QB either in free agency or trade for one, whenever the CBA gets done. Von Miller will be an upgrade to their defense. Especially since they have lost Calvin Pace and Karlos Dansby to free agency in recent years. He's been shooting up draft boards and could get picked earlier.
6. Cleveland Browns: WR Julio Jones, Alabama
WR is their biggest need in my opinion. To me, Julio Jones is just as good as A.J. Green. He's a big, fast, physical wide out. He had an impressive combine. Jones would instantly be their #1 WR and he'd be a good weapon for Colt McCoy to improve on his 2010 season. LB is their other big need. If Von Miller was still on the board, no way he gets past the Browns.
7. San Francisco 49ers: CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
Peterson is probably the best player in this year's draft class. Niners have a big need at CB, especially with there being no QB worthy of the 7th pick on the board. Peterson has good size (6', 219) and great speed (4.34 40). Outside of an aging Nate Clements, the Niners do not have a solid starter at CB. They get a steal in Patrick Peterson. Kind of like the when the Vikings got their own Peterson with the 7th pick in 2007 draft.
8. Tennessee Titans: DT Nick Fairley, Auburn
With no QBs available, the Titans have to address their defense, their defensive line in particular. This pick was a toss up for me. It was between DE/OLB Robert Quinn and DT Nick Fairley. Fairley should give them better pressure up the middle and help to consistently collapse the pocket against opposing QBs. Fairley followed an ok combine with an impressive pro day.
9. Dallas Cowboys: 3-4 DE J.J. Watt, Wisconsin
The first somewhat reach of the draft. The Cowboys biggest need is at 3-4 DE. They could go for OT here as well, but I think DE may be the bigger need of the two. Watt had an impressive combine and impressed during a 15-minute position-specific work out at his pro day. Shows good strength, fluid, and very intelligent. I have him as the top 3-4 DE in this year's draft.
10. Washington Redskins: DE/OLB Robert Quinn, North Carolina
The Redskins two biggest need are QB and WR, but there aren't any available that are worth the 10th overall pick. Their next biggest need is Robert Quinn, who slips a little bit to them. He'd play opposite of Brian Orakpo to give the Redskins a formidable duo of rush LBers. His explosion is what sets him apart. he has good size as well for the OLB spot.
11. Houston Texans: DE/OLB Aldon Smith, Mizzou
Their biggest need is NT as they transition to the 3-4 defense under Wade Phillips, their new DC. However there are none that have value at number 11. They could go CB as I still have Prince Amukamara on the board, but the Texans have expressed hesitance to use back-to-back first round picks on CBs. They have 5 OLBs on their roster, assuming that DEs Connor Barwin, Mark Anderson and Jesse Nading make the switch since they all weigh 255-265.
12. Minnesota Vikings: OT Tyron Smith, USC
The Vikings could sure use the help on the OL. They draft Tyron Smith to be their LT, so they can move Bryant McKinnie to RT and Phil Loadholt to RG. This move should help to stabilize the OL to help prevent the QB from getting killed, whoever their QB may be.
13. Detroit Lions: CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska
The Lions are throwing a party because they got the man they have been wanting. CB is their biggest need and they will it with a top 10 CB in Prince Amukamara. He has good size and speed, but he just needs to work on his ball skills. This is a great pick for the Lions.
14. St. Louis Rams: DT Corey Liuget, Illinois
The Rams need help along the DL with several aging starters. Corey Liuget is reported a guy that the Rams are pretty high on, if the Julio Jones and Aldon Smith are already gone. He'd be a good fit in the middle of their DL next to Fred Robbins.
15. Miami Dolphins: RB Mark Ingram, Alabama
It seems doubtful that the Dolphins will have both Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown next season as both are free agents. They draft the first RB in the 2011 draft. They could pair Ingram with De'Angelo Williams, as he his rumored to be interested in Miami. Ingram, the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner, would give their ground game a boost with the uncertainty regardless Williams and Brown. The main questions about Ingram. to me, is his 4.5-4.6 speed and his underwhelming spin/juke moves.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars: DE Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue
One of Jacksonville's biggest needs is at DE. They get, who I consider to be, the best DE on the board. Kerrigan is a good pass-rusher and he holds his end on run plays as well. He'll be an upgrade over oft-injured Aaron Kampman and their other unproven DE's.
To Be Continued..............
Stay tuned for Part 2 of Round 1, picks 17-32...... Who will go where? Who will be the biggest reach? Who will free fall? Please leave all comments and critiques.