2011 NFL Mock Draft 2.0: Predicting Round One with Pick-by-Pick Analysis

Michael AkelsonCorrespondent IApril 24, 2011

2011 NFL Mock Draft 2.0: Predicting Round One with Pick-by-Pick Analysis

0 of 32

    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

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

    Five days ago I released my first mock draft for the 2011 NFL Draft which you can read here.

    But things have changed since then. 

    In what is quickly becoming one of the most unpredictable drafts in recent memory five days have changed nearly half the board.

    If there's one thing we can expect from the 2011 NFL Draft, it's the unexpected.

    So with the draft just five days away I'm about to tell you all you'll need to know about round one. So just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

1. Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn

1 of 32

    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Just as I did in my first mock I believe that on April 28, 2011, Cam Newton will become a Carolina Panther.

    This team has as many holes as swiss cheese, so they don't have to make the safe pick here because they'll be picking in the top five for a number of years.

    So they have to go with the guy who has all the upside, the guy who has a chance to become an elite quarterback in the NFL.

    Cam Newton is their man, we'll see how it works out.

2. Denver Broncos: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama

2 of 32

    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    The offense in Denver isn't great, but it's not terrible. The defense, well that's a different story.

    This is a unit that has some talent, but is so desperately in need of an anchor. Marcell Dareus could be that anchor.

    He's one of the safest bets in the draft to go on to great things.

    Dareus most certainly won't be able to turn the Broncos into a contender as a rookie, but if they get this guy now he'll make everybody else they acquire look better later.

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

3 of 32

    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    A lot of people see the Bills going quarterback here, but I'd be shocked if they did. Ryan Fitzpatrick was excellent last season and I think the Bills feel they have a Chad Pennington type guy in Fitzpatrick- he's not great but he can fill the void at QB for now until something better comes along.

    Yet, even if the Bills do think Gabbert has a future in the league, it won't be enough to keep them away from Texas A&M star Von Miller.

    The Bills defense has some pieces in place, but right now their still not very good. A dominant pass-rusher can change that, and that's what Miller is.

    Aaron Maybin has been a major disappointment, and who knows what to expect from Shawn Merriman.

    The Bills have to go with one of the finest talents in the draft here, Von Miller is an easy choice.

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

4 of 32

    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    With the uncertainty that is Carson Palmer in Cincy, many people see Blaine Gabbert becoming a Bengal, but that's highly unlikely.

    Think about it, Palmer has been begging for a trade going as far as saying he'd even retire before ever playing for the Bengals again, yet they refuse to trade him. Do you really think their about throw him a bone by drafting a QB fourth overall?

    No chance.

    And since the best player on the board is a cornerback where the Bengals are set, they'll probably look to address a need with one of the better talents of this draft.

    A.J Green is the pick here.

5. Arizona Cardinals: Blaine Gaberrt, QB, Missouri

5 of 32

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    If Von Miller goes before five, there's really no other option here for Arizona. They have to go QB.

    They have other needs, but the Cardinals need to get somebody to throw Larry Fitzgerald the ball before he passes his prime. Blaine Gabbert is a no-brainer here.

6. Cleveland Browns: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

6 of 32

    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    The Browns seem to think they have a decent starting quarterback in Colt McCoy, so there's a good chance they use this pick to get him a weapon.

    Jones has all the tools to be great, and would be a great addition to a fast-improving Browns team.

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

7 of 32

    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    If you read my previous mock draft you'll notice that my top seven remains the same in both, that's how I see it going on draft day.

    Peterson is easily the best player in this year's draft and if he falls to the 49ers at seven, they'll be dancing in the streets of the Bay Area.

    He's been compared to Deion Sanders and Charles Woodson, that's as big a compliment as you can give a person in football.

    There's no chance he gets past seven.

8. Tennessee Titans: Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State

8 of 32

    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    I'm not too high on Christian Ponder personally, but he's starting to separate himself from Jake Locker as the third best QB on many people's boards.

    Most people think the Titans will grab Nick Fairley here, but they desperately need a QB.

    Expect to see them reach for Ponder or Locker on draft day, most likely Ponder.

9. Dallas Cowboys: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

9 of 32

    Elsa/Getty Images

    This may come as a surprise since most people have Tyron Smith on top of their big board when it comes to offensive tackle, but lately Castonzo has been closing the gap.

    More and more people are predicting that Smith will turn out to be a bust, which could scare Dallas away.

    Still, they need an offensive tackle bad, so they'll reach for Castonzo.

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

10 of 32

    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    If there's one NFL GM who has the potential to be a future Al Davis, it's Dan Snyder. The guy flat out take way too many chances.

    And with a need at DE/OLB, and Quinn still on the board, expect him to take a chance on the kid who didn't play a game last season due to injury instead of taking one of the many safer players on the board of the same position.

    Plus, there's no way he takes Nick Fairley, do you really think he wants another DT with attitude problems?

    Quinn could be a stud, but he could also be a monumental disappointment.

11. Houston Texans: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

11 of 32

    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Most people have Houston going with a defensive end here, my question is why?

    The Texans had one of the worst pass defenses in the history of the NFL and while a defensive end would help, Houston needs another corner back more than anything.

    Amukamara's the pick.

12. Minnesota Vikings: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn

12 of 32

    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    My predicted free-fall of Nick Fairley down the draft ends here, there's simply no way he'll fall any further.

    If he gets this far, Minnesota will pick him without a second thought. The Williams wall is getting old, and Fairley could help the Vikings continue to dominate the line of scrimmage long after they're gone.

13. Detroit Lions: DaQuan Bowers, DE, Clemson

13 of 32

    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Originally I had Detroit picking Aldon Smith here, but now I'm beginning to believe Bowers could become a part of the dominant Detroit defensive line.

    While the injury is a concern, Bowers is simply so much more talented than every other defensive end on the board, making him well worth the risk for a Lions team that is trying to build their dominant defense from the inside out.

    Tyron Smith is a possibility here, but their O-Line isn't nearly as bad as everybody else makes it out to be.

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

14 of 32

    With no wide receivers on the board worth taking here, St. Louis will get decent value while addressing their need at defensive tackle here.

    A defensive end/outside linebacker type is a possibility here too, but Aldon Smith and Akeem Ayers are the two most that St. Louis would have to choose between, and both of them have been trending down lately. 

15. Miami Dolphins: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama

15 of 32

    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Too many mock drafts these days are trying to get cute with the Miami Dolphins.

    I've seen them taking Tyron Smith, Anthony Castonzo, Mike Pouncey, and many others in several mock drafts.

    Meanwhile, the Dolphins rely on their running backs just as much as other teams rely on their quarterbacks, and now that Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown (who both struggled last season) are both free agents, how could they pick anything but a running back?

    They have their hands tied here, and with Ingram's potential, that's not such a bad thing.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue

16 of 32

    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    There's several defensive ends left at this point with higher upside than Ryan Kerrigan, but since when has Gene Smith ever put emphasis on upside?

    Last year he picked Tyson Alualu 10th overall, do you really think this guy wants to take any chances?

    Kerrigan is a safe bet to be a solid defensive end in this league, he's also a safe bet to help the Jaguars continue their effort to become the most boring team in the league.

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

17 of 32

    Sean Gardner/Getty Images

    The Patriots defense is starting to look more and more like a pre-retirement home for football players, especially on the line.

    The Pats need a space eater to help out Vince Wilfork on the line, and that's exactly what Cameron Jordan is.

    JJ Watt and Muhammad Wilkerson also fit that bill, but they don't fit the Patriots nearly as well as Jordan.

18. San Diego Chargers: JJ Watt, DE, Wisconsin

18 of 32

    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    In my first mock draft I had the Chargers picking Muhammad Wilkerson instead of Watt, but the more and more I think about it the more and more I realize that Watt will probably be the pick here.

    He's a big, strong, blue-collar kid from Wisconsin, and he should be a fine 3-4 defensive lineman in this league, which is exactly what the Chargers need.

    Wilkerson may have more upside, but with the Chargers missing the playoffs last season they'll take the safe bet in Watt and be happy with it.

19. New York Giants: Mike Pouncey, OG, Florida

19 of 32

    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Originally everybody said this was the Ginats dream pick, but now that many mocks actually have Pouncey falling this far, all of a sudden people want to see the Giants go for an offensive tackle here.

    But the fact is that Pouncey is a very versatile and talented lineman, and the that's exactly what the Giants need on their aging line.

    Pouncey will be the pick here.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri

20 of 32

    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Now that they've announced that they'll cut Aqib Talib it's very possible that the Bucs go with a corner back here, but the fact is that there's no way they're gonna get any better at defending the pass untill they get a guy who can get to the passer.

    That man is Aldon Smith.

    He has great pass-rushing abilities and would be a welcome addition to a Tampa Bay defense that's trying to find an identity.

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

21 of 32

    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    It seems all the cool kids have Akeem Ayers falling out of the first round in their latest mock drafts, luckily for Ayers I'm no follower.

    Although he's been trending way down lately he still is a tremendous talent, and with Mike Vrabel finally starting to look his age Kansas City could use a new compliment to Tamba Hali.

    Ayers could be a great player in this league, and just the thought of having Ayers and Hali on the same team should be enough for the Chiefs to go with Akeem here.

22. Indianapolis Colts: Tyron Smith, OT, USC

22 of 32

    Jeff Golden/Getty Images

    The dramatic drop down the draft ends here for the former USC great.

    There's no way the Colts pick anything but O-Line here, and Tyron Smith should be the best one left when the Colts pick.

    They have to protect the franchise, this pick should make Sandra Bullock proud.

23. Philadelphia Eagles: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

23 of 32

    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Originally I had the Eagles going offensive line here, and while that still may be the case it's appearing more and more likely everyday that the Eagles will go corner here.

    And if they do Jimmy Smith will be the best corner back on the board.

24. New Orleans Saints: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa

24 of 32

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    A lot of people evaluate Adrian Clayborn as a top 10 talent, but his injury history is the reason he falls.

    But I wouldn't be surprised of New Orleans, who badly needs a difference-making pass-rusher, gave him a look.

    He's a fantastic talent, and he's probably a better fit for the Saints system than guys like Justin Houston and Brooks Reed.

25. Seattle Seahawks: Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas

25 of 32

    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Some people think that Mallett is the best quarterback in the draft, but his baggage is a major concern.

    The guys has great, great talent, and if he straightens himself out he could be an elite NFL QB.

    Which is why Seattle is a perfect fit, they have the ultimate boring, anti-trouble veteran QB Matt Hasselbeck, to teach him how to also turn himself into a boring guy who plays by the rules.

    Hasselbeck can also teach him a thing or two about how to be a successful NFL QB. Mallett has more upside than any other QB available at this point, which is why the Seahawks will definitely give him a look.

26. Baltimore Ravens: Brandon Harris, CB, Miami

26 of 32

    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    There's two option for Baltimore here: they can go for a shutdown corner to help improve their secondary, or they can look for an offensive tackle to replace Jared Gaither who will most likely not be a Raven next season.

    I think they're gonna go corner back, and if they do, Brandon Harris will probably be the best one left, so he'll be the pick.

27. Atlanta Falcons: Brooks Reed, DE/OLB, Arizona

27 of 32

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The Falcons are looking for a pass-rusher that they can groom into an eventual replacement for the aging John Abraham.

    So that leaves them two options: Brooks Reed and Justin Houston.

    Houston seems like more of a 3-4 outside linebacker type, while Reed seems to fit well in both systems.

    Reed is also getting comparisons to Clay Matthews, so expect Atlanta to make the kid a Falcon.

28. Justin Houston, DE/OLB, Georgia

28 of 32

    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    If Justin Houston falls to the Patriots at 28 we could see the fastest pick in draft history.

    He's absolutely perfect for the Pats system, and they desperately need a pass-rushing 3-4 outside linebacker.

    This would be a no-brainer if he's still there.

29. Chicago Bears: Danny Watkins, OG/T, Baylor

29 of 32

    The Bears O-Line was absolutely pathetic last season, and they need help immediately.

    The 26-year old former fireman from Baylor can do just that.

    He's ready to play in the NFL now, and he can play several different positions on the line.

    Expect the Bears to go with Danny Watkins here.

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

30 of 32

    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Last year the Jets pass-rush was so bad that they wouldn't have been able to get pressure on a man taped to a chair without sending six.

    If the Jets get Cameron Heyward here, that could change.

    Not only could he push the pocket, but Heyward could eat up blockers so the Jets blitzers can have an easier time getting to the quarterback.

    Phil Taylor is also a possibility here.

31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

31 of 32

    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    The Steelers would love nothing more than to have Gabe Carimi fall into their laps at pick no. 31.

    Flozell Adams will not be a starter in this league much longer, if ever again, and the Steelers need to protect Ben Roethlisberger.

    Because if they don't, how else is he gonna hold onto the ball for 10 seconds every play?

    Carimi would be a gift here, and the Steelers would be smart enough to accept.

32. Green Bay Packers: Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple

32 of 32

    Cullen Jenkins will not be back next year. Johnny Jolly will not be back next year.

    And even though the Packers have two interesting prospects to fill out the last third of their defensive line in C.J Wilson and Mike Neal, they'd be smart to draft another defensive end just in case.

    Muhammad Wilkerson is an absolute beast, and one that Green Bay wouldn't mind getting into their defensive line rotation.

    He should be the pick here.