2011 NFL Mock Draft: Predicting the Top 15 Picks in the Upcoming NFL Draft
With less than seven days until the 2011 NFL draft, the National Football League is still in the middle of a grueling lockout with its players. However, the draft will still take place on April 28th, 2011.
From Cameron Newton to A.J. Green, there is a deep pool of offensive and defensive talent entering the NFL this year.
However, a majority of the projected first-round selections in 2011 are expected to be on the defensive side of the ball.
The draft values of each player have been continuously fluctuating since the end of the college football season, with the No. 1 overall selection still completely up in the air.
As the 2011 NFL draft quickly approaches, take a look at mock selections for the top 15 picks in the first round.
1. Carolina Panthers: DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama Crimson Tide
Top Needs: DT, WR, QB
Selection: DT Marcell Dareus; 6'4'', 306 pounds
Why?: The Panthers need some real help on their defensive line. Dareus has the capability to penetrate against the pass defense, as well as anchor versus the run, which makes him a great choice for Carolina with their first overall pick. The Panthers may not feel safe with Jimmy Clausen, but they won't waste the first overall pick in the draft on any quarterback in this draft.
So if Carolina decides to pass on A.J. Green, who alongside Steve Smith would create one of the scariest WR duos in all of football, then Dareus seems like the right selection.
2. Denver Broncos: LB Von Miller, Texas A&M Aggies
Top Needs: DE, CB, RB, LB
Selection: LB Von Miller; 6'3", 243 pounds
Why?: Todd McShay described Miller as having "a freakish combination of size, speed and athletic ability." Miller has a great aptitude for continuously getting after the quarterback and has improved his ability to drop and cover, which will be a valuable asset to the team that selects him. With Miller's unbelievable talent and athleticism, I highly doubt Denver will pass up on the promising linebacker.
3. Buffalo Bills: QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri Tigers
Top Needs: QB, DE, OT, OLB
Selection: QB Blaine Gabbert; 6'4", 234 pounds
Why?: As analysts have looked back at past tapes, and with Andrew Luck deciding to stay at Stanford, Blaine Gabbert has quickly become the highest-rated quarterback entering the 2011 NFL draft. This past season, Gabbert completed a total of 301 passes out of 475 attempts for 3,186 yards, a 63.4 CMP percentage, 16 touchdowns, nine interceptions and a 127.03 QB rating.
4. Cincinnati Bengals: QB Cameron Newton, Auburn Tigers
Top Needs: QB, OT, DE, RB
Selection: QB Cameron Newton; 6'6", 250 pounds
Why?: Cam Newton is known for his unbelievable running abilities but also has a cannon for an arm with underrated accuracy. Newton has exhibited the potential to be a great professional quarterback and is projected to be selected in the early first round.
5. Arizona Cardinals: CB Patrick Peterson, LSU Tigers
Top Needs: QB, OL, OLB, CB
Selection: CB Patrick Peterson; 6'1", 222 pounds
Why?: Throughout his three seasons with LSU, Peterson has exhibited rare athleticism and superb instincts. College football analysts and experts all over have been raving about this kid and the potential he possesses. Peterson is expected to develop into one of the premier cornerbacks in the National Football League.
6. Cleveland Browns: WR A.J. Green, Georgia Bulldogs
Top Needs: WR, OT, DE, LB
Selection: WR A.J. Green; 6'4'', 211 pounds
Why?: Colt McCoy had a solid first year with the team that surrounded him. With the addition of A.J. Green, McCoy would gain a reliable and consistent threat at wide receiver, which is something he needed badly last season. Green has supreme physicality for a receiver and is as athletic as they come.
7. San Francisco 49ers: WR Julio Jones, Alabama Crimson Tide
Top Needs: WR, LB, DT
Selection: WR Julio Jones; 6'3", 220 pounds
Why?: With Julio Jones still on the board, the 49ers will snag one of the most athletic players in this year's draft. Now that Gabbert and Newton are already off the board, the Niners will be forced to select the best talent remaining, which is of course Julio Jones. Paired with Michael Crabtree, San Francisco would be a hard team to stop on offense next season.
8. Tennessee Titans: CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska Cornhuskers
Top Needs: QB, LB, CB
Selection: CB Prince Amukamara; 6'0", 206 pounds
Why?: One of Tennessee's weakest positions has to be cornerback. With Patrick Peterson off the board, the Titans would likely go with the next best defensive back in Prince Amukamara. Amukamara is a shutdown corner that scared opposing quarterbacks so much this season that they would rarely throw the ball his way.
9. Dallas Cowboys: DE Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson Tigers
Top Needs: OL, DE, S
Selection: DE Da'Quan Bowers; 6'3", 280 pounds
Why?: The Dallas Cowboys need some serious improvements to their pass-rush game on defense, as well as some depth. The Cowboys must draft on the defensive side of the ball and try to win much like the Jets do on a weekly basis. Dallas has so many offensive weapons that if its defense could just hold teams to under 20 points every week, it would have an extremely good chance to win week in and week out.
Bowers has proven to be a natural pass rusher who led the FBS in sacks this season with 15.5. College football analyst Todd McShay has said that "Bowers is a stud, can fit any defensive scheme, and is blessed with a rare combination of size and athleticism."
10. Washington Redskins: DE Robert Quinn, UNC Tar Heels
Top Needs: QB, WR, DE, OL
Selection: DE Robert Quinn; 6'4", 265 pounds
Why?: Robert Quinn is a pure athlete with good size and great quickness. Quinn was declared as permanently ineligible to play college football after accepting over $5,500 in extra benefits from agents. Despite not playing for the entire 2010 season, Quinn has still impressed scouts with his freakishly athletic talents.
11. Houston Texans: DT Nick Fairley, Auburn Tigers
Top Needs: CB, DT, S
Selection: DT Nick Fairley; 6'4", 291 pounds
Why?: While at Auburn, Nick Fairley exhibited an explosive first step and proved that he can be a highly effective pass rusher. Mel Kiper Jr. has Fairley as a top-10 lock and believes that he "epitomizes the ideal penetrating 4-3 tackle."
12. Minnesota Vikings: OT Tyron Smith, USC Trojans
Top Needs: QB, S, OL, OLB
Selection: OT Tyron Smith; 6'5", 307 pounds
Why?: With the top two quarterbacks already selected, the Vikings will decide to select some protection for whoever they decide to start at QB next season. Smith is one of the most athletic offensive linemen I have ever seen play and has shown supreme strength against opposing defenses.
13. Detroit Lions: OT Nate Solder, Colorado Buffaloes
Top Needs: LB, OG, CB, SS
Selection: OT Nate Solder; 6'8", 315 pounds
Why?: Nate Solder has proven to be a physical beast that has a passion for improvement. With the top athletes already selected, the Lions will be a bit conservative and draft an offensive lineman to protect Matthew Stafford.
14. St. Louis Rams: DT Corey Liuget, Illinois Fighting Illini
Top Needs: WR, OLB, DT
Selection: DT, Corey Liuget; 6'2", 298 pounds
Why?: Corey Liuget is an explosive defensive threat that has consistently clogged up the middle for his defense. Once Liuget gets adjusted to the professional level, he will be one of the best defensive tackles in the National Football League.
15. Miami Dolphins: QB Jake Locker, Washington Huskies
Top Needs: RB, OL, QB
Selection: QB Jake Locker; 6'3", 230 pounds
Why?: Locker's stock continues to drop, but his extreme competitiveness, work ethic and natural skill set make him seem like a safe pick for the Miami Dolphins, who haven't had a reliable quarterback in quite some time.