2011 NFL Mock Draft: How Will Da'Quan Bowers' Knee Injury Impact the Draft?
Da'Quan Bowers was in contention for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft only a mere two months ago.
Since then, scouts and front office members of NFL organizations have been worrying about the knee injury he sustained in a victory over North Carolina State. After not working out at the combine, Bowers has proclaimed the knee is 100 percent and won't be an issue.
However, we are in a time where every minuscule thing is being examined under a microscope, leaving NFL teams to wonder if he will need surgery, if he may have lost a step, and if they will be getting the same player who recorded 16 sacks in his final season at Clemson.
I will be comparing the picks to my previous mock draft, which can be found here (and may be a bit outdated now).
First Pick, Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, QB (Auburn)
Previous Pick: Cam Newton
I had Newton at No. 1 in my previous mock draft, and nothing has changed my mind.
New Coach. New Start. New Quarterback.
The Panthers do not have a second-round pick, so they need a quarterback who can win games by himself. Blaine Gabbert is a great passer, but his playmaking ability is nowhere near Newton's. Finally, Steve Smith has a legitimate quarterback to throw him the ball.
Second Pick, Denver Broncos: Marcell Dareus, DE (Alabama)
Previous Pick: Da'Quan Bowers
I'm not buying John Elway's bluff that the team needs a quarterback.
No way Jose.
Dareus is a plug-in-and-play guy who will help the Broncos' run defense in a division that features Jamaal Charles, Darren McFadden and a young Ryan Mathews. With Elvis Dumervil coming back from injury, teams will have to choose which one they want to double-team.
Dareus will look to improve the Broncos' run defense, which gave up the second most rushing yards in the NFL.
Third Pick, Buffalo Bills: Von Miller, OLB (Texas A&M)
Previous Pick: Marcell Dareus
Aaron Maybin is a bust. Merriman has lost it since the series of knee injuries.
Buddy Nix has stated that quarterback is not the team's biggest need, so the Bills upgrade their defense. Miller was a standout player at Texas A&M and is an exquisite pass-rusher, something the Bills lacked last year.
I wouldn't be surprised to see Miller in contention for Rookie of the Year honors next February.
Fourth Pick, Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green, WR (Georgia)
Previous Pick: A.J. Green
T.O. will be gone. Ochocinco may be on his way out too.
A.J. Green has shown during his time at Georgia that he is an elite wide receiver. This pick entirely depends on whether Mike Brown gives into Carson Palmer's demands to be traded or if he will retire. If he does go, don't be surprised if Dan LeFevour is given a shot at QB.
No matter who is under center, they will have a target man in Green to throw to.
Fifth Pick, Arizona Cardinals: Blaine Gabbert, QB (Missouri)
Previous Pick: Von Miller
Derek Anderson. Max Hall. John Skelton. Richard Bartell (well, for one game).
Notice the trend?
None of these are franchise quarterbacks. The Cardinals' quarterback quandary last year was horrendous, with none of them proving they were worthy of the job. They desperately need a quarterback if they want to convince Larry Fitzgerald to re-sign with his contract running out next season.
Sixth Pick, Cleveland Browns: Robert Quinn, DE (North Carolina)
Previous Pick: Julio Jones
The Browns need to realize what they are getting themselves into with Quinn. He can be a headache off the field, but on the field he is a flat-out beast.
Though he was suspended last year, he is still one of the best pass-rushers in the draft. The Browns ranked 25th in sacks in 2010, which shows they need a major upgrade in that department.
This will be a risky pick, but one that will have great rewards if they can keep Quinn under control.
Seventh Pick, San Francisco 49ers: Patrick Peterson, CB (LSU)
Previous Pick: Patrick Peterson
Nate Clements is old, overpaid and losing steam. Shawntae Spencer is nothing special.
On the other hand, Peterson is something special.
Many people have Peterson as the No. 1 prospect in this year's draft. If no team trades up to take Peterson before the seventh spot, Jim Harbaugh will have a great player with his first pick as an NFL coach.
Eighth Pick, Tennessee Titans: Nick Fairley, DT (Auburn)
Previous Pick: Nick Fairley
Tracy Rocker is now the defensive line coach for the Tennessee Titans, joining from the Auburn Tigers. Rocker knows how to get the best out of Nick Fairley, who finished second in sacks in the SEC with 10.5. The rather large ghost of Albert Haynesworth will not vanish until the Titans get a stud defensive tackle.
Although Tennessee needs a quarterback, they will not pass on Fairley.
Ninth Pick, Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith, OT (USC)
Previous Pick: Prince Amukamara
A sexy pick for Jerry Jones.
Smith is athletic and has bulked up since the combine. The Doug Free experiment didn't really reap the rewards Dallas expected, and Marc Colombo has become injury-prone as he gets on in age.
Jones might be inclined to take a corner, but with plenty of secondary talent in the second round, he finds somebody to protect Tony Romo for years to come.
Or will he be protecting Jon Kitna?
10th Pick, Washington Redskins: Aldon Smith, OLB (Missouri)
Previous Pick: Blaine Gabbert
Feel free to give me some stick, Redskins fans, but as much as the Redskins need a receiver, they can get plenty of value in the second round.
As good as it is to have Brian Orakpo on one side, they need another edge rusher to cause havoc on the other side. Smith is the best 3-4 outside linebacker available.
The Redskins could take a Julio Jones here, but Shanahan has a history of getting the most out of receivers who have been drafted in the late rounds (Brandon Marshall, Ron Smith, Ed McCaffrey). He has also stated that adding a pass-rusher is "top priority," so this pick goes to Smith.
11th Pick, Houston Texans: J.J. Watt, DE (Wisconsin)
Previous Pick: Robert Quinn
Any defensive pick here is a good one.
The Texans need to revamp their defense after changing to a 3-4 under new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. They could go with a pass-rushing linebacker like an Aldon Smith, but the Texans need a cornerstone to hold down the defensive line.
J.J. Watt's draft stock has soared after a strong combine and has very limited concerns, making him a great pick for the Texans.
12th Pick, Minnesota Vikings: Ryan Kerrigan, DE (Purdue)
Previous Pick: Jake Locker
I considered Jake Locker at this pick, but it's a big reach for the Vikings. A trade down wouldn't surprise me, with a team who might want to jump up for Prince Amukamara or Julio Jones.
However, if the Vikings keep the pick, Ryan Kerrigan is the best available. With Ray Edwards heading toward free agency, the Vikings need a somebody to play opposite Jared Allen. Kerrigan racked up many sacks at Purdue, and there isn't much to suggest he won't be able to do the same in Minnesota.
13th Pick, Detroit Lions: Prince Amukamara, CB (Nebraska)
Previous Pick: Nate Solder
Martin Mayhew can barely control himself.
The Lions have their lock-down corner, someone to take away the likes of Greg Jennings, Sidney Rice and Johnny Knox/Devin Hester/Earl Bennett. Amukamara doesn't fall here for any reason other than the Cowboys and Texans have bigger issues to deal with.
This might be the fastest a card is handed in at this year's NFL draft, which is surprising since it may take a couple of tries to spell his name right.
14th Pick, St. Louis Rams: Julio Jones, WR (Alabama)
Previous Pick: Cameron Jordan
Another contender for fastest card handed in.
Glaringly obvious is the need for a No. 1 receiver for Sam Bradford. This could be the pick that helps give the Rams the NFC West title if Jones can translate his form from his senior year to the NFL.
15th Pick, Miami Dolphins: Mark Ingram, RB (Alabama)
Previous Pick: Mark Ingram
No more Ronnie Brown and no more Ricky Williams mean that we have two Alabama players selected back-to-back.
The Dolphins may look to take Mike Pouncey here as there is a big need at guard, but with no viable option at running back, the Dolphins can't afford to put the ball in Chad Henne's hands all game.
16th Pick, Jacksonville Jaguars: Da'Quan Bowers, DE (Clemson)
Previous Pick: Ryan Kerrigan
So this is where Bowers lands.
He's been injured, but there is no doubting his ability. He only had two regular season games last year where he didn't have a sack, and if it wasn't for his knee, he would be a top five pick.
However, his knee still may need surgery. The Jags won't be left disappointed if his knee does check out though because they will get an elite pass-rusher with a mid-round pick.
17th Pick, New England Patriots: Cameron Jordan, DE (California)
Previous Pick: Akeem Ayers
The Patriots need help in their front seven on defense, hence why they select Cameron Jordan.
Jordan has the ability to lock down the defensive end spot in a 3-4 defense like he did at Cal. He gets great inside penetration and is equally strong in the run game as he is in the passing game. He showed how athletic he is with an outstanding Senior Bowl, followed up with a great combine and pro day.
18th Pick, San Diego Chargers: Akeem Ayers, OLB (UCLA)
Previous Pick: Stephen Paea
Though the Chargers could do with a 3-4 defensive end, there aren't any worthy of the 18th selection, so they have three choices.
They could trade up for a Cameron Jordan/J.J. Watt, they could trade down to look for a Muhammad Wilkerson/Cameron Heyward or they could improve their linebacker corps with Akeem Ayers.
Ayers plays fast and is a great option on the edge for the Chargers, who will look to maintain their great defense despite the loss of defensive coordinator Ron Rivera.
19th Pick, New York Giants: Nate Solder, OT (Colorado)
Previous Pick: Tyron Smith
The Giants are getting older on an offensive line that looked fragile at times with injuries to starters Shaun O'Hara, Rich Seubert and Shawn Andrews.
Nate Solder can inject some young blood to this aging offensive line. Solder has no previous injury concerns and is able to slot in straight away at right tackle. Give him a chance to gain some experience as he develops, and he could be a solid left tackle for years to come.
20th Pick, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Adrian Clayborn, DE (Iowa)
Previous Pick: Adrian Clayborn
The Buccaneers are doing a great job of reassembling their team under Mark Dominik and Raheem Morris. Last year, they lacked pressure from the defensive end in the passing game though.
Clayborn's numbers may have been down his senior year, but that was only because teams were double-teaming him and limiting his ability. Clayborn will team up with the Buccaneers' 2010 first-round picks, Brian Price and Gerald McCoy.
21st Pick, Kansas City Chiefs: Justin Houston, OLB (Georgia)
Previous Pick: Aldon Smith
Kansas City will be looking to stay atop the West by building upon their solid defense. Tamba Hali is a beast at outside linebacker, but the Chiefs need somebody on the opposite side to get some sacks too.
Houston racked up 10 sacks last year for Georgia and seven the year before. If he can continue that form into the NFL, the Chiefs will have a good chance at playing football in January.
22nd Pick, Indianaoplis Colts: Anthony Castonzo, OT (Boston College)
Previous Pick: Anthony Castonzo
The Colts really just have to select the best available offensive lineman, which in this case is Anthony Castonzo.
Castonzo started as a true freshman for the Eagles and moved over to left tackle his sophomore year. At 6'7" and 300+ pounds, he certainly has the build to protect Peyton Manning for years to come. Ryan Diem is coming into his 11th season, and Castonzo could fill in right away at right tackle before switching sides after gaining experience.
23rd Pick, Philadelphia Eagles: Gabe Carimi, OT (Wisconsin)
Previous Pick: Gabe Carimi
The Eagles need to find a player who can help protect Michael Vick, but also open up running lanes for LeSean McCoy.
With Jason Peters holding down left tackle, Winston Justice and King Dunlap aren't of the same caliber as Carimi, who is a man mountain. Though he may need work with his footwork in pass protection, he excels in the running game and uses his frame to his advantage.
24th Pick, New Orleans Saints: Corey Liuget, DT (Illinois)
Previous Pick: J.J. Watt
The Saints' rush defense was demolished by Marshawn Lynch in the playoffs. New Orleans will be looking to upgrade their pass rush as well since they were only able to get 33 sacks in 2010.
Liuget had an outstanding year, making an unofficial 63 tackles and five sacks. He possesses the unique qualities of size and athleticism, which should make him a plug-in-a-play prospect for the Saints.
25th Pick, Seattle Seahawks: Jake Locker, QB (Washington)
Previous Pick: Corey Liuget
The likes of Minnesota, Tennessee, San Francisco and Washington will be desperate to move up into the bottom of the first round to take Locker, but since this is a mock draft, I'll pretend nobody can trade.
In that case, Seattle needs a quarterback. With Matt Hasselbeck gone, Clipboard Jesus is next in line for the starting job. That makes Locker's selection an easy pick for Pete Carroll, who gets a hometown prospect to lead the team for years to come.
26th Pick, Baltimore Ravens: Brandon Harris, CB (Miami)
Previous Pick: Brandon Harris
A bit of a fantasy pick for the Ravens; another Miami (FL) player to join Ed Reed and Ray Lewis on the Ravens' fierce defense.
The Ravens do need a corner to play opposite Lardarius Webb, who had a good season last year. With Reed coming back next year, the Ravens should be more than capable of reaching the playoffs again, and the addition of Harris should make it much harder for other teams to put points on the board.
27th Pick, Atlanta Falcons: Torrey Smith, WR (Maryland)
Previous Pick: Justin Houston
Roddy White had an outstanding year finishing with 115 receptions. Tony Gonzalez did what Tony Gonzalez does best, catching 70 balls with six touchdowns.
However, the Falcons could do with another receiver to spread the field.
Michael Jenkins only managed to bring in 41 catches last year; that's 74 catches less than the team's No. 1 receiver. Torrey Smith can double up as a kick returner and a receiver who can take the top off of a defense.
28th Pick, New England: Mike Pouncey, OG (Florida)
Previous Pick: Mike Pouncey
Bill Belichick loves Florida players who have developed under Urban Meyer.
With Stephen Neal retiring this year, there is a hole to be filled on the offensive line. Mike Pouncey can slot in at guard and can also fill in at center if needed.
Although Pouncey proclaimed on Twitter that he expects to be playing for Dallas next year, I don't think the Cowboys will take a guard in the top 10. Unless the Cowboys trade up to the top of the first round, Pouncey will be in Foxboro come September.
29th Pick, Chicago Bears: Derek Sherrod, OT (Mississippi State)
Previous Pick: Derek Sherrod
Simple pick for the Bears.
Any time you give up a league-high in sacks, your first choice had better be an offensive lineman.
Though there are some suggesting that a cornerback, wide receiver or defensive tackle could be selected, the Bears need to solidify the line. This pick won't just benefit Jay Cutler, but Matt Forte should be able to find more running lanes and expand on his great season last year.
30th Pick, New York Jets: Muhammad Wilkerson, DE (Temple)
Previous Pick: Phil Taylor
Sione Pouha filled in well for Kris Jenkins after his unfortunate injury and could very well inherit the nose tackle job. The Jets do need to add some youth and depth to their defensive line though.
Wilkerson did a great job of stopping the run and getting after the quarterback, finishing his final season with 13 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. He's a very instinctive player who manages to find a way to the ball carrier, racking up 68 tackles with 43 solo tackles, according to ESPN stats.
31st Pick, Pittsburgh Steelers: Jimmy Smith, CB (Colorado)
Previous Pick: Jimmy Smith
The Steelers are coming off a Super Bowl defeat, looking to improve their cornerback situation.
Ike Taylor had a good year last year, but the stability for the other cornerback position was far from certain. Jimmy Smith is a bigger corner at 6'2", but size does not diminish his speed, with a very respectable 4.46 40-yard dash at the combine. Smith's coverage skills forced other teams to shy away from attacking his side of the field, hence why his numbers do not look impressive.
32nd Pick, Green Bay Packers: Cameron Hayward, DE (Ohio State)
Previous Pick: Cameron Heyward
The Packers are in the enviable position where there are no obvious needs to be filled.
Heyward is a great run-stuffer who will slot in at defensive end in the Packers' 3-4. He's got great strength and great size, but seems to lack top-end speed with a 4.95 40-yard dash. Nevertheless, he was a four-year starter for the Buckeyes and was also a team captain.
With Cullen Jenkins hitting free agency, Heyward will be able to compete with last year's second-round selection, Mike Neal, for a starting job.