2011 NFL Mock Draft: Predicting Round One with Pick By Pick Analysis

Michael AkelsonCorrespondent IApril 19, 2011

2011 NFL Mock Draft: Predicting Round One with Pick By Pick Analysis

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Cam Newton to the Panthers, Marcell Dareus to the Broncos in latest 2011 NFL Mock Draft.

    The 2011 NFL draft is quite possibly the most subjective in NFL history.

    There really isn't one pick set in stone. Nobody really knows who will go first overall, or who will be a top 10 pick.

    I've seen some guys going in the top 10 in some mocks, and the second round in others.

    With nearly 15 defensive linemen expected to be taken in the first round, no two mock drafts could possibly be alike.

    So allow me to delve into the world of NFL mock drafts and tell you not what teams should do, but what they will do.

1. Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn

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    The Panthers have needs across the board, but right now it's looking like Cam Newton is their man.

    He may not be the best prospect in the draft, but he may have the best upside. This guy has all the physical tools to be great, but he's a definite risk pick.

    Then again, when you're as bad as Carolina, maybe taking a risk is exactly what you need.

    The Panthers front office knows they won't be good for a few years, so look for them to take the project who could be the best player in football, or the biggest bust in football.

2. Denver Broncos: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama

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    The Broncos are in desperate need of an anchor for their defense. Marcell Dareus is that guy.

    He's one of the safest players in the draft, and that's exactly what the Broncos need. Their offense is good enough to put up points, now they need their defense to be good enough to not give up points.

    Dareus certainly won't turn this defense around by himself, but he's a step in the right direction.

3. Buffalo Bills: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M

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    Some people have the Bills going with Blaine Gabbert here, but I just don't see it. Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn't terrible last season, and while they know he's not their future, they feel they can win with him for now.

    However, if they expect to win, they need to improve on defense.

    They have some pieces in place, but Aaron Maybin has been a huge bust. Buffalo needs Miller to make an immediate impact filling in for Maybin, and that's exactly what he'll do.

    My pick for defensive rookie of the year.

4. Cincinnatti Bengals: A.J Green, WR, Georgia

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    With the uncertainty of Carson Palmer, a lot of people see Blaine Gabbert going here. I don't think they'll let Palmer off that easy.

    Palmer has said he would retire before returning to the Bengals, yet Bengals' management has said they won't trade him. To me, that's an indication that they have every intention of bringing him back, and I don't think they're about to throw him a bone by picking a quarterback.

    Since the Bengals are set at cornerback, Green is probably the best player on the board other than Patrick Peterson, so I think that will be the pick.

5. Arizona Cardinals: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri

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    With Von Miller off the board, there's no way the Cardinals pass on Blaine Gabbert.

    Sure there's other needs for Arizona, but when the quarterbacks on your roster are Max Hall and John Skelton, and you have Larry Fitzgerald, you don't pass on a franchise QB.

6. Cleveland Browns: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

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    The Browns seem to think Colt McCoy has a future as a starting NFL quarterback, and because of that they'll probably go get him a weapon in Julio Jones.

    Robert Quinn is probably a better choice, but the wide receivers in Cleveland are absolutely dismal, and Jones has all the makings of a future Pro Bowler.

7. San Francisco 49ers: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

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    This is a no-brainer, if Patrick Peterson falls to No. 7, expect him to be a 49er for a long, long time.

    People are saying Peterson could be as good as Rod Woodson, Deion Sanders and Charles Woodson. That's cornerback royalty.

    Plus, a shutdown corner would make this 49er defense one of the best in the league. They'll be praying Peterson falls this far in California.

8. Tennessee Titans: Jake Locker, QB, Washington

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    And on this note, I give you the first big surprise of the draft.

    Jake Locker was the consensus No. 1 overall pick last year and even though he's fallen hard, the Titans have a desperate need at quarterback. And this guy clearly has talent.

    It's a huge, HUGE reach, but I really think the Titans are gonna do it. It wouldn't be the first time we've seen a team in desperate need of a quarterback reaching for one in the first round.

    Look for the Titans to deliver the shock of the draft early. And I think it'll work out too.

9. Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith, OT, USC

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    It's unusual for the Dallas Cowboys to pick a player who can actually benefit the team over a big name prospect still on the board (I'm looking at you, Nick Fairley.)

    But after losing their quarterback to injury, and having a truly embarrassing season, I think Jerry Jones and co. will finally make the right choice.

    They need an offensive lineman, Tyron Smith is their man.

10. Washington Redskins: Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, UNC

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    If there's one guy who loves to take risks more than Jerry Jones and Al Davis, it's Dan Snyder.

    I think he'll let Nick Fairley pass by here, because the last thing Washington needs is another Albert Haynesworth.

    But Robert Quinn is a different story. He's a very different kind of risk. He had a great pro day, he was a beast as a sophomore, but he's pathetic against the run and didn't even play his junior season.

    He could be the next big thing in he league, but he could also flop horribly.

    Such is life as a Redskins fan.

11. Houston Texans: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

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    Most people seem to think it'll be a defensive lineman for the Texans here, I'm not one of those people.

    It just doesn't make sense to me, the Texans' pass defense was historically bad last season, and now they have a top 10 prospect cornerback staring them right in the face and they're not gonna take him?

    No way. Amukamara's the pick here.

12. Minnesota Vikings: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    No, I didn't forget about him, but I can seriously see Nick Fairley taking a free-fall out of the top 10.

    His stock has already been down of late due to work ethic and character concerns. Most people had him going to the Titans at No. 8, but if he gets past them (as I predict he will) he definitely won't get past Minnesota.

    With the Williams wall getting older, look for the Vikings to go with Fairley for his undeniable talent.

13. Detroit Lions: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri

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    The strongest part of this Lions team is their front four, and they'd like to keep it that way.

    Ndamukong Suh is a beast, Cliff Avril is improving, Corey Williams has a few good years left, Kyle Vanden Bosch is old.

    With no cornerbacks or left tackles worth taking at 13, and no real 4-3 linebackers available, the Lions could pick Aldon Smith here and set themselves up to have one of the league's most dominant defensive lines for years.

14. St. Louis Rams: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois

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    There won't be a receiver worth taking when the Rams pick, and there won't be a 3-4 outside linebacker worth taking either, unless they reach for Akeem Ayers.

    But that's unlikely, so look for the Rams to address their need at defensive tackle with this big, strong kid from Illinois.

15. Miami Dolphins: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama

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    Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown are both free agents and even if either of them returns, they're not what they used to be.

    For a team as reliant on it's running backs as Miami, Mark Ingram should be an easy choice here.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue

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    Da'Quan Bowers has higher upside, but since when has Gene Smith ever put emphasis on upside?

    If last year's pick of Tyson Alualu is any indication, the Jaguars would rather have the sure thing over the risk.

    Ryan Kerrigan is a pretty safe bet to become a productive player in this league, and that's exactly what the Jaguars are looking for.

17. New England Patriots: Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal

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    The Patriots are starting to get old on defense, especially on the line.

    They need an end who is big and strong enough to play in a 3-4, and Cameron Jordan is just that.

    J.J Watt and Muhammad Wilkerson should also be possibilities here, but in the end, Jordan to the Patriots just seems too perfect to not happen.

18. San Diego Chargers: Muhammad Wilkerson, DE/DT, Temple

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    Muhammad Wilkerson should be an excellent 3-4 lineman in the NFL.

    And in the end, I think he'll fit perfectly in San Diego, which is why they'll choose him over J.J Watt.

19. New York Giants: Mike Pouncey, G/C, Florida

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    The Giants desperately need to get younger on the offensive line, and Mike Pouncey allows them to do that.

    This is a no-brainer pick for a team that has the talent to make a Super Bowl run. They can help themselves this year and in the future with Pouncey.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson

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    The free-fall ends here. Da'Quan Bowers will finally be selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at No. 20.

    There's no way he'll fall any further.

    Even with the pick of Gerald McCoy last year, they still need to improve some of the defensive line, and Da'Quan Bowers may be able to do just that.

    At this point, he's clearly the biggest risk in the draft, but a risk worth taking for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

21. Kansas City Chiefs: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA

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    Ayers was mediocre at the combine, and his draft stock has fallen because of it. Some brave souls even have him falling as far as the second round.

    Fortunately for Ayers, I don't see that happening. Mike Vrabel is really starting to look his age and I can't imagine him being a starter much longer.

    Ayers should be a good player right away, and him and Tamba Hali could make one hell of a combination.

22. Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

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    There's no way the Colts go with anything but O-line here, and Castonzo will be the best one left by the time they get on the clock.

    They have to protect Peyton Manning, and Castonzo should help them do that.

23. Philadelphia Eagles: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

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    The Eagles need some serious help on their offensive line, and they need it quick.

    Gabe Carimi is ready to step in and make an impact for the Eagles right now. Nate Solder probably has more upside, but the Eagles are on the brink of a Super Bowl, so if they pick anybody but Carimi (assuming he's still on the board when the pick), it would be a surprise.

24. New Orleans Saints: J.J Watt, DE, Wisconsin

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    The Saints need to improve their run defense, and that starts up front.

    There may be bigger needs in New Orleans than a big, strong run-stuffing defensive end, but they simply can't afford to pass on somebody of J.J Watt's talent level this late in the draft.

    Expect the Saints to make this pick and be happy with it.

25. Seattle Seahwaks: Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas

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    The Seahawks clearly have a need at quarterback that they need to address, and although it doesn't have to be done in the first round, they can't afford to take the risk of waiting for the second round and missing out on the second tier of QBs completely.

    Of the three second-tier quarterbacks (Andy Dalton, Christian Ponder and Mallett) Mallett has the most upside, but he's also the most risky.

    A lot of people believe the kid from Arkansas can be a great quarterback, others think he's far too immature and he lacks intangibles.

    Still, I think the Seahawks will be willing to take the gamble on him, and hope that Matt Hasselbeck can teach him along the way.

    With Jake Locker already off the board, Seattle will take Mallett.

26. Baltimore Ravens: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

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    With plenty of wide receivers sure to be available when the Ravens pick again in the second round, they have a choice to make here.

    They can replace Jared Gaither (who looks to be on his way out) with offensive tackle Nate Solder, or they can address another need at cornerback.

    I think they're gonna go cornerback. And if they do, Jimmy Smith will be the pick.

27. Atlanta Falcons: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa

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    Ultimately, this decision for the Falcons should come down to two men—Adrian Clayborn of Iowa and Brooks Reed of Arizona.

    Reed is the more flashy, exciting pick, but Clayborn is probably the overall better player.

    If the Falcons go with Reed, or anybody else but Clayborn, it'll be because Clayborn's injury history scares them. However, I think the Falcons are willing to take that risk.

28. New England Patriots: Justin Houston, OLB/DE, Georgia

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    The Patriots could use a 3-4 edge rusher, and Justin Houston fits the bill.

    He's strong, fast and has great instincts. I've heard several people compare him to Terrell Suggs, and that's probably not too far off.

    Brooks Reed is also a possibility here, but Justin Houston just seems like more of a Bill Belichick-type guy.

29. Chicago Bears: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado

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    The Bears front office will literally be doing cartwheels if Nate Solder falls this far.

    Their offensive line was a disaster last year, and when you play in a division with Jared Allen and Clay Matthews, that's a problem.

    It got to the point where Jay Cutler's health was literally in danger for some of the season.

    Solder is a no-brainer pick here if he falls this far.

30. New York Jets: Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State

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    Defensive tackle Phil Taylor is a possibility here, but ultimately, the Jets can't afford to pass on Cameron Heyward at this point in the draft.

    Shaun Ellis isn't getting any younger, and last season the Jets couldn't get pressure on a quarterback tied to a chair with the ball in his hand without sending at least six guys.

    Heyward can help change that.

    He can also stop the run. The Jets should be smart enough to take Heyward here if he falls.

31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Danny Watknis, G/T, Baylor

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    The Steelers' biggest need is clearly on the offensive line. They picked up a gem last year in Maurkice Pouncey, and they look to keep improving this year.

    Although there's an outside chance they go corner and take Brandon Harris here, Danny Watkins is the most likely pick.

    The 26-year-old rookie should be a good offensive player and an improvement over whoever he replaces on the Steelers' offensive line.

32. Green Bay Packers: Brooks Reed, DE/OLB, Arizona

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    Some people think the Packers will look to find replacements for some of their aging stars with this pick—Chad Clifton, Donald Driver and Charles Woodson. Others think the Packers already have those replacements on the roster.

    But one thing is for certain, if Brooks Reed falls to the Packers at 32, he's gonna be pretty damn tough to pass up.

    The Packers have a need at outside linebacker and Brooks Reed is a perfect fit for their system.

    Ted Thompson loves good character guys, and guys with great work ethic. Brooks Reed is both of those things.

    Also, the parallels to Clay Matthews are undeniable.

    He has long blond hair, he's exploding up draft boards of late, he has a great motor, he's a great teammate and he's got incredible burst.

    Could the Packers really pass on a guy who resembles Clay Matthews this much? I think not.