2011 NFL Mock Draft: Can Cam Newton Overcome Controversy and Go First Overall?
Less than three weeks to the draft, and it seems like we might have our consensus No. 1.
If the rumblings are true, and Carolina is going to take the risk and draft Cam Newton first overall, we should see mocking becoming more easy.
Mel Kiper and Todd McShay both posted mocks this week, and they arguably have the most knowledge on what teams are thinking.
Defensively heavy, specifically on the line, the first round will see most teams addressing needs with the best player available.
In the coming weeks more and more reports will be made, and there will be a much clearer image of the first round in particular the top 10 selections.
Let's take a look at this mock...
First Overall, the Carolina Panthers Select...
QB Cam Newton, Auburn
Not much of a shocker here, it seems everyone knows the Panthers are going quarterback.
Any remaining Jimmy Clausen fans may be upset at this pick, but he showed no signs of transcending into a franchise quarterback.
Cam Newton is the biggest gamble this year without question.
Will he have the work ethic and aspire for greatness like Mike Vick, or just get by on skill and no work like Vince Young?
Blaine Gabbert is a safer pick, however he has questions of his own and not many analysts think he will be a great quarterback no questions asked.
Newton's upside is too much for new coach Ron Rivera to resist, and the Panthers organization will put their future on the line with this selection.
Second Overall, the Denver Broncos Select...
DT/DE Marcell Dareus, Alabama
Marcell Dareus has risen on the boards the last month or so, and it appears he is John Fox's guy.
Dareus fits well into any scheme at any position on the defensive line.
Fox needs personnel for his new 4-3 scheme, plus the players are either aging or just not good so his first draft in Denver will focus on defense.
Dareus is a great building block and will help the Broncos get back to competing in the AFC.
Third Overall, the Buffalo Bills Select...
OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M
The Bills land the dynamic pass rusher they badly need.
The backfield isn't great, but is not quite a liability either so Patrick Peterson will not be drafted in this spot.
If Dareus or Newton were to drop, this selection would become much more difficult for Buffalo, but Von Miller will likely be the pick in an effort to solidify the defense.
Fourth Overall, the Cincinnati Bengals Select...
WR AJ Green, Georgia
AJ Green has long been the consensus pick for Cincinnati.
Possessing the height, athleticism, and hands as Green, it is not hard to see why he is considered by some as the top talent of the class.
Some speculate Julio Jones may surpass Green on teams' boards, but to me that's foolish.
Fifth Overall, the Arizona Cardinals Select...
QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
The Arizona Cardinals are reportedly hot on Gabbert.
A quarterback is the biggest need since the cutting of Matt Leinart.
Last offseason was a tough one with the departure of four key players on both sides of the ball, but with a true quarterback, the Cardinals will be contenders out of the NFC again.
Sixth Overall, the Cleveland Browns Select...
DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina
Robert Quinn was once considered the top player in the class before suspension, but everyone knows that by now.
Quinn is being rumored to have drawn interest as a 3-4 OLB, but his true strength is as a 4-3 end.
Quinn has the pursuit and athleticism to be a true impact player for Cleveland from day one.
Dick Jauron will be pleased in the steal he gets in Quinn.
Patrick Peterson is an option here, but Joe Haden is going to be a great player, and the Browns shouldn't look to add another corner in first round and get a different position likely an end or receiver.
Seventh Overall, the San Francisco 49ers Select...
CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
This would be an absolute steal for San Francisco.
Filling a need and representing value as a unanimous top five prospect, Peterson will boost the 49ers defense.
The defensive backfield as a whole was a weakness, and Nate Clements may be on his way out whenever a new CBA is signed, so there will definitely be many corners in consideration for San Francisco throughout the draft.
Also, for more analysis with Peterson dropping to San Francisco check out this article I wrote earlier.
Eight Overall, the Tennessee Titans Select...
DT Nick Fairley, Auburn
Nick Fairley, like Auburn teammate Cam Newton, is a bit of a gamble.
Leading up to the combine, Fairley seemed to go No. 1 overall in most mocks, but after being measured and revealed as smaller than the average defensive tackle in the league, his stock has tumbled.
If Fairley can match the production of his senior year in the NFL, he will fill the hole left by Albert Haynesworth easily.
Some think of Fairley as the next Ndamukong Suh, while others think he just doesn't have the size to be effective in the pros.
The Titans spend consecutive first round picks on the defensive line, and hope Fairley is the anchor they need.
Ninth Overall, the Dallas Cowboys Select...
OT Tyron Smith, USC
The combination of Doug Free, Marc Colombo, and Alex Barron is awful.
It has been well documented that Jerry Jones has never taken an offensive tackle in the first round, but Smith's upside along with the need may be enough to change this.
Prince Amukamara will get a look here, and it's 50-50 for me between Smith and Amukamara, but ultimately, a future blind side tackle will be too much for Jones to resist.
10th Overall, the Washington Redskins Select...
WR Julio Jones, Alabama
It is rumored Mike Shanahan is trying to move out of this spot, but with Jones on the board they can still get value and a player who fills a major need.
Whoever is under center next year will need some weapons, and an aging Santana Moss plus some youngsters signed from the UFL and other leagues will not do.
Jones is all-around and as noted previously, some believe is the top wideout in this class.
Washington could get a steal in Jones if he pans out and fits the projected mold of a Reggie Wayne type receiver.
11th Overall, Houston Texans Select...
CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska
The Texans will take the best defensive player on their board.
The backfield was probably the weakest link of the pitiful Houston defense, so consecutive cornerbacks in the first round would make sense.
With Glover Quinn moving to safety, Kareem Jackson progressing, and Amukamara, the backfield will already be upgraded.
12th Overall, the Minnesota Vikings Select...
DT Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple
The departure of Pat Williams is inevitable, so a replacement will be needed.
Some mocks have Jake Locker here after a strong pro day, but his stock doesn't appear to have returned to early first round yet.
Also, some have a defensive end landing here, but if Ray Edwards does depart, Everson Griffen was drafted last year to replace Edwards.
Da'Quan Bowers could be a possibility if Leslie Frazier thinks he is worth the risk.
Wilkerson projects as a 4-3 tackle and a 3-4 end, and with the experience of Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, and possibly Ray Edwards, he could transition into the pros with some serious players around him.
13th Overall, the Detroit Lions Select...
DE Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson
Da'Quan Bowers is in the midst of a stock tumbling that can ultimately land him out of the first round.
However, it was reported yesterday that 13th is the latest he will fall.
Once a top five prospect, injury concerns plus a poor pro day, Bowers likely will fall out of the top 10.
If he can recover and produce like his 2010 campaign, Bowers would create an incredible duo with Ndamukong Suh.
14th Overall, the St. Louis Rams Select...
DT Corey Luiget, Illinois
Unless Julio Jones is available or Luiget is off the board, this pick appears to be a lock.
No receiver on the board is worth a look here, and Luiget is the best tackle on the board.
Chris Long progressed well last year, and should continue with help from better tackle play.
Aldon Smith or another end could be in play here as well.
15th Overall, Miami Dolphins Select...
RB Mark Ingram, Alabama
After being the longtime favorite landing spot for Ingram, some mocks have Mike Pouncey landing here.
Though I'm not huge on Ingram landing here, Pouncey doesn't make sense for 15th overall. A trade back to get Pouncey later makes more sense.
Ingram makes sense because Ricky Williams is gone and Ronnie Brown may be following him.
The idea was to sign DeAngelo Williams, but it appears he could stay in Carolina. The No. 1 objective is to obtain a starting running back, and Ingram seems like their best option.
16th Overall, the Jacksonville Jaguars Select...
DE Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue
It was reported a while ago that the Jaguars had strong interest in Kerrigan.
A versatile player who could get a look from a number of 3-4 teams to play rush linebacker, Kerrigan would play end in Jacksonville's 4-3 scheme.
With a line consisting of Tyson Alualu, Terrence Knighton, Aaron Kampman, and Kerrigan, there is no reason they can't lead a great defense despite weakness in other areas.
Aldon Smith, Cam Jordan, and any other end is an option here if the Jags decide against Kerrigan.
17th Overall, the New England Patriots Select...
DE JJ Watt, Wisconsin
Some mocks project Watt early as ninth to the Cowboys, however I think he will slide.
Watt fits nicely as a 3-4 end which is probably the Patriots' greatest need.
Replacing Richard Seymour with the pick they received for him seems appropriate.
If Watt is off the board, Cam Jordan is the next best 3-4 end on the board.
18th Overall, the San Diego Chargers Select...
OLB/ DE Aldon Smith, Missouri
Aldon Smith or Cam Jordan will likely be the pick under this scenario.
Smith presents more of an upside, while Jordan is regarded by some as the safest pick in the draft, so it will be up to AJ Smith to choose.
Smith was projected to be a top 10 selection next year, but after leaving early he dropped to a later first round grade.
Smith is extremely versatile and can either take the place left by Shawne Merriman or replace Luis Castillo on the line.
19th Overall, the New York Giant Select...
OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College
The Giants will likely take the best player on their board.
An offensive linemen seems most likely because in a class stacked with defensive ends, the Giants are already stacked in the position.
A defensive tackle like Stephen Paea could be in play, or if Akeem Ayers is high on their board, he would be a possibility.
Mike Pouncey or Nate Solder are the most likely alternates, but Castonzo is the best out of the three.
20th Overall, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Select...
DE/DT Cam Jordan, California
Cam Jordan would be a pretty good selection here.
He can play 3-4 or 4-3 end, or 4-3 tackle.
Gerald McCoy and Brian Price were selected in the first two rounds last year, and a dynamic pass-rusher is next on their wish list.
Stylez G. White is pretty solid on one side, but adding a player of Jordan's quality, this unit has the chance to be extremely disruptive in the NFC South.
As a plus, if Brian Price doesn't heal properly Jordan could slide next to McCoy in the middle of the line.
21st Overall, the Kansas City Chiefs Select...
OLB Akeem Ayers, UCLA
It is being speculated that Akeem Ayers may have found himself in the second round.
This selection will likely come down to Ayers or Phil Taylor depending on Scott Pioli's board.
Both players are of fair value this late in the first round, and either position is one of need.
Ayers would succeed Mark Vrabel well as an all-around outside linebacker across from the dynamic rush linebacker in Tamba Hali.
22nd Overall, the Indianapolis Colts Select...
OT Nate Solder, Colorado
It has been a long time coming that the Colts selected an offensive tackle.
Solder has an athletic upside from being a converted tight end to tackle.
Mike Pouncey will be under consideration, but there are interior linemen at good value in the second and third round.
Solder will protect Peyton Manning and his future gigantic contract in Indy.
23rd Overall, the Philadelphia Eagles Select...
OT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin
The Eagles could look at Jimmy Smith here, but if they think they have a legitimate shot at signing Nnamdi Asomugha, they will look offensive tackle here.
Carimi is aggressive with his hands, and would fit into Andy Reid's West Coast offense blocking scheme well.
Winston Justice and King Dunlap played as well as they should have, but alternating backups will not cut it, and Mike Vick can't continue taking all of the sacks he had last year.
Derek Sherrod would be an alternate, but Carimi seems like a better-rounded tackle.
24th Overall, the New Orleans Saints Select...
DT Stephen Paea, Oregon State
Shaun Rogers is a pretty decent stop next to Sedrick Ellis, but the Saints will likely invest their first round pick in a future starter.
Paea saw his stock soar during the season, but injury concerns dropped him back into the second round.
After displaying his strength at the combine and "winning" the bench press, Paea may have landed himself back into the first round.
It is speculated that some 3-4 teams think he can nose tackle at the next level, but due to size restraints, he would seem much more effective as a 4-3 tackle.
25th Overall, the Seattle Seahawks Select...
QB Jake Locker, Washington
The Seahawks are in need of a future quarterback.
Jake Locker is nearly an ideal match for Seattle.
With a skill-set similar to what is needed for the offensive scheme and being a local product, Pete Carroll will have a hard time passing up on Locker.
Questions about his accuracy are the only thing holding him back from being a top 10 pick, but he appeared to have improved on it between the combine and his pro day.
26th Overall, the Baltimore Ravens Select...
CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado
Jimmy Smith is likely going to be a steal wherever he lands.
Likely to land in the 10-21st range before stating he can cover better than Nnamdi Asomugha, Smith has seen his stock tumble.
Though they are getting up there in age, the Ravens defense is legendary and is continuously dominating even without good corner play.
Adding a corner of Smith's ability, the Baltimore defense may be good enough to lead the team to a Super Bowl run.
27th Overall, the Atlanta Falcons Select...
TE Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame
Sooner or later a replacement for Tony Gonzalez will be needed.
Though he confirmed he will be returning for at least one more year, Atlanta should take advantage of the opportunity to land Rudolph.
Rudolph, like Gonzalez, is a great receiver who, if utilized in the right system, could be dynamic.
Matt Ryan needs at least one more option outside of Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez.
28th Overall, the New England Patriots Select...
OT Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State
The Patriots use their second pick in the first round on the offensive line.
Filling a need, Sherrod could become an elite right tackle under BB's offensive scheme.
Mark Ingram could slide this far on draft day, and could be under consideration if available.
29th Overall, the Chicago Bears Select...
DT Marvin Austin, North Carolina
With no starting tackles on the board, the Bears will look to replace Tommie Harris.
Austin like Quinn lost out on major money after being suspended.
Following a good showing in the Senior Bowl and good workouts in the combine and pro day, Austin may have landed himself back in the first round.
Austin projects as a 4-3 tackle and could make an immediate impact in a strong defensive unit like Chicago's.
30th Overall, the New York Jets Select...
NT Phil Taylor, Baylor
The Jets could take Rahim Moore here if they aren't sold on Phil Taylor in this spot.
After cutting Kris Jenkins, there is a glaring hole at the anchor of Rex Ryans' 3-4 defense.
Taylor is a true heavyweight, and would probably be slated higher if not for the off-field concerns when he was kicked off Penn State for being involved in a on-campus fight.
31st Overall, the Pittsburgh Steelers Select...
OG Mike Pouncey, Florida
Not a huge fan of a Pouncey brother tandem in Steelers Nation, but under this scenario Mike would likely be the pick.
Cam Heyward and Aaron Williams would be under consideration, but after Maurkice had a Pro Bowl rookie season, they can't pass on a player in the same mold.
If selected by another team, Pouncey may play center, but his true strength is lining up as a guard.
Maurkice playing center would enable him to play guard and potentially reach the heights of his brother.
32nd Overall, the Green Bay Packers Select...
DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa
The Packers could look a number of different directions due to limited needs.
If Cullen Jenkins leaves, the Packers will need to find a new starting 3-4 end.
Clayborn would be a great value pick after falling from a top 10 pick to late first rounder.
Not a great pass-rusher, but Clayborn is a physical player who would be great stopping the run. With Clay Matthews being an explosive pass-rusher, Clayborn's skill set would contrast nicely creating an all-around elite defense.