2011 NFL Mock Draft: Mocking the Complete First Round with Teams' Needs 4.0
As we sit only a few days away from the 2011 NFL Draft, mock drafts are pouring out everywhere—including mine.
This is my final version of my 2011 NFL mock draft series that incorporates each team's needs.
I have stated several times before, I am not an expert, but I consider myself an expert fan—a fan with strong insight and great knowledge of the NFL.
I hope you all enjoy this mock draft, and I have a strong feeling that it's going to be fairly close to what happens in the first round this Thursday—be sure to leave your feedback!
1. Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, QB (Auburn)
Needs: DT, QB, OLB, CB, DE
Quarterback Cam Newton may not be the top prospect in the 2011 NFL draft class, but he certainly has the most upside and potential.
The Carolina Panthers do not have too many star players or any household names, and Newton would certainly add some life into a near-dead organization.
Newton may not even be the best quarterback in this year's draft, but there's a certain buzz surrounding Carolina that they will select him first overall.
2. Denver Broncos: Marcell Dareus, DT (Alabama)
Needs: DT, CB, LB, TE, DE
There's no change here, as I've had Alabama's Marcell Dareus going second overall to the Denver Broncos in the last few mocks.
Dareus is by far the most NFL-ready prospect in the 2011 draft class and will be a first-year impact player as a member of Denver's defensive front seven.
3. Buffalo Bills: Von Miller, OLB (Texas A&M)
Needs: QB, OT, DE, OLB, TE
Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey had a rough defensive transition last season as he converted Buffalo to a 3-4 defense.
In his 3-4 defense, Gailey literally had no pass rush whatsoever, and Texas A&M's Von Miller is set to be the draft's premiere pass rusher.
4. Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green, WR (Georgia)
Needs: QB, WR, RB, OT, DT
The Cincinnati Bengals do have major issues at the quarterback position with Carson Palmer requesting a trade, but Georgia's A.J. Green is arguably the draft's best offensive prospect.
Green is projected as an NFL-ready talent and would make a huge impact during his rookie season. Green will likely develop into an elite, playmaking wide receiver in years to come, which makes him a great investment.
5. Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Peterson, CB (LSU)
Needs: QB, OLB, TE, CB, OL
The cornerback position may not be a total need at this point for the Arizona Cardinals, but LSU's Patrick Peterson is certainly a value pick as this point, as he's the best player available.
The Cardinals do need help at quarterback, but with Blaine Gabbert being the best available, I'm not too sure Arizona is too "crazy" about him.
6. Cleveland Browns: Robert Quinn, DE (UNC)
Needs: WR, CB, DE, DT, OL
I am going to be very clear about this: The Cleveland Browns absolutely have no defensive ends and can still grab a quality wide receiver later on in the draft.
UNC's Robert Quinn is an elite pass rusher and would be a perfect fit in Dick Jauron's 4-3 defensive system.
7. San Francisco 49ers: Prince Amukamara, CB (Nebraska)
Needs: QB, WR, OLB, CB, DT
In my opinion, the best quarterback available, Blaine Gabbert, isn't the right fit in San Francisco, and new head coach Jim Harbaugh may be able to turn around former No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith's career.
The 49ers may trade this pick, but cornerback Prince Amukamara is the best available that suits their pressing needs.
8. Tennessee Titans: Blaine Gabbert, QB (Missouri)
Needs: QB, DT, ILB, G, CB
The Vince Young era in Tennessee would be considered done if the Titans select quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
Gabbert has an NFL-ready arm, and is the ideal size to be a quarterback at the next level.
9. Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith, OT (USC)
Needs: CB, OT, ILB, DE
At this point, I could definitely see the Dallas Cowboys trading back out of this pick as the ideal elite pass rusher isn't available at this point.
However, there has been a certain buzz in the news that the Cowboys are very interested in offensive lineman Tyron Smith from USC.
By choosing Smith, the Cowboys would add some much-needed depth to their offensive line.
10. Washington Redskins: J.J. Watt, DE (Wisconsin)
Needs: NT, QB, WR, OLB, T, G
With no quarterback or nose tackle worthy of the pick, Wisconsin's J.J. Watt would be a nice addition as a defensive end in the Washington Redskins' 3-4 defense.
However, I would expect the Redskins to trade out of this pick, as general manager Bruce Allen loves to make multiple trades on draft day.
11. Houston Texans: Cameron Jordan, DE (California)
Needs: OLB, DE, CB, S, NT
Newly hired defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will be installing his 3-4 defensive system in Houston, and could use a well-rounded player who can play end in a 3-4 defense.
Cal's Cameron Jordan is the ideal fit, as UNC's Robert Quinn has already been selected.
12. Minnesota Vikings: Nick Fairley, DL (Auburn)
Needs: QB, FS, OT, DT
Some may speculate that Auburn's Nick Fairley will not be able to adapt to a 3-4 defense as an end or a tackle.
However, during Fairley's time at Auburn, he did play in the inside a lot and does have the athleticism and power to play almost anywhere along the defensive line.
At this point, the Vikings could trade back to grab a quarterback, but Fairley's talent is simply too much to pass on.
13. Detroit Lions: Anthony Castonzo, OT (Boston College)
Needs: OT, LB, CB
With the second-best cornerback in the draft, Prince Amukamara, already gone, the Detroit Lions will have no issue with taking offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo.
Castonzo would be a definite upgrade from Jeff Backus and would enable Backus to move inside as an offensive guard.
14. St. Louis Rams: Julio Jones, WR (Alabama)
Needs: WR, OLB, DT, RB, OL
If Julio Jones were to fall to the St. Louis Rams, the entire Rams front office will be doing front flips, as they've gotten exactly what they wanted without making any trades.
Jones is a perfect fit in St. Louis' offense as he'd emerge as Sam Bradford's No. 1 target in 2011.
15. Miami Dolphins: Mike Pouncey, Offensive Guard / Center (Florida)
Needs: QB, OG, RB, FS, ILB
Offensive guard Mike Pouncey out of Florida would likely be the smart and safe decision for the Miami Dolphins at this point.
The common buzz coming out of Miami is that the Dolphins will be selecting Alabama's Mark Ingram—I'm not buying it.
No one ever said the Dolphins weren't re-signing Ronnie Brown or Ricky Williams, and Miami also needs help at other positions, not just the minor issue of running back.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Ryan Kerrigan, DE (Purdue)
Needs: DE, FS, OLB, QB, WR
Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan is definitely the best bet right now for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jags definitely have other bigger holes to fill, but Kerrigan is certain a value pick at this point for the Jags, as he's a high-motor athlete with a lot of potential.
17. New England Patriots: Da'Quan Bowers, DE (Clemson)
Needs: OLB, DE, OT, OG, RB
This is certainly a huge shocker: The New England Patriots drafting a player whose stock has been in a freefall and isn't even a perfect fit in their 3-4 defensive system? Yes, that's right.
If Bowers' right knee appeared to be fine in New England's private workout with the former Clemson star, then Bowers will be a Patriot.
In an interesting question-and-answer with ESPN's Mike Reiss, he pointed out that the New England Patriots were in a sub-package, which is essentially a 4-3 defense, 57 percent of the time in 2010—so Bowers could be the ideal fit for Bill Belichick.
18. San Diego Chargers: Muhammad Wilkerson, DL (Temple)
Needs: DE, ILB, OLB, ROT, NT
The San Diego Chargers need some major help along their defensive line, as it lacks depth.
Temple's Muhammad Wilkerson certainly has been under the radar, but his stock is rising due to his versatile style of play.
19. New York Giants: Gabe Carimi, OT (Wisconsin)
Needs: OLB, MLB, C, TE, RB, OL
The New York Giants' offensive line was exposed last year due to injury, and they'll need to address it moving forward.
Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi is the best available offensive lineman, and would add some much-needed depth to New York's offensive line.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Aldon Smith, DE (Missouri)
Needs: DE, MLB, CB, OLB, RB
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers still have some work to do on their defensive front seven, and Missouri's defensive end, or sack machine, Aldon Smith is an ideal fit.
Smith would certainly be a nice building block for the future to go along with defensive linemen Gerald McCoy and Brian Price.
21. Kansas City Chiefs: Akeem Ayers, OLB (UCLA)
Needs: WR, NT, ROT, ILB, OLB
The Kansas City Chiefs could use some help at the outside linebacker position to go along with pass rusher Tamba Hali.
UCLA's Akeem Ayers is a well-rounded outside linebacker who can drop down in a three-point stance, drop back in pass coverage, and still be a run stopper.
22. Indianapolis Colts: Corey Liuget, DT (Illinois)
Needs: OT, DT, CB, SS
Illinois' Corey Liuget is not only a value pick for the Indianapolis Colts, but he addresses one of the Colts' major needs: run defense.
Liuget is a pure run stopper and would demand double teams for the majority of the plays.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: Jimmy Smith, CB (Colorado)
Needs: CB, ILB, OG, OT, TE
If it weren't for so many character concerns, Colorado's Jimmy Smith would be a much higher draft pick due to his very impressive skill set.
The Philadelphia Eagles are in search of a No. 2 cornerback to start opposite of Asante Samuel, and Smith appears to be the best guy available.
24. New Orleans Saints: Adrian Clayborn, DE (Iowa)
Needs: DE, OLB, SS, DT, RB
Despite character concerns, Iowa's Adrian Clayborn is arguably a top 15 talent but has seen his draft stock fall.
This is definitely a value pick for the New Orleans Saints and a great addition to Greg Williams' very aggressive 4-3 defensive system.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Jake Locker, QB (Washington)
Needs: OT, QB, OG, OLB, CB
The Seattle Seahawks will likely stay local if Washington quarterback Jake Locker is available.
Seahawks' head coach Pete Carroll is very familiar with Locker, as he was head coach at USC and played against Locker several times, as they're both PAC-10 products.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Nate Solder, OT (Colorado)
Needs: CB, WR, OT, DE, S
Colorado's Nate Solder is one of the most powerful and athletic offensive tackles in the 2011 draft class and would be a quality addition to the Baltimore Ravens' offensive line.
The Ravens could trade out of this pick, but Solder definitely offers the most value at this point.
27. Atlanta Falcons: Cameron Heyward, DE (Ohio State)
Needs: DE, OLB, OL, RB, TE, CB
The Ohio State product, Cameron Heyward, is a very well-rounded defensive end who is a quality pass rusher and a great run stopper.
Defensive end is one of the Atlanta Falcons' needs, and at this point of the draft, Heyward offers the most value and makes the most sense.
28. New England Patriots: Mark Ingram, RB (Alabama)
Needs: OLB, DE, OT, OG, RB
The fall of another very talented prospect has fallen right into the hands of Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots, and this time, it's Alabama's Mark Ingram.
The Patriots are looking to get more physically tough on offense, and Ingram is the most well-rounded back who is extremely effective between the tackles.
29. Chicago Bears: Derek Sherrod, OT (Mississippi State)
Needs: OL, DT, WR, OLB
When you take a look at the Chicago Bears' biggest needs and the best player available, offensive tackle Derek Sherrod makes the most sense.
Sherrod is a powerful tackle who can play left or right tackle and would be a great addition to Chicago's offensive line.
30. New York Jets: Phil Taylor, DT (Baylor)
Needs: OLB, NT, DE, WR, OL
Nose guard Phil Taylor is the perfect draft pick for the New York Jets at this point.
Rex Ryan is looking for a massive centerpiece to anchor his 3-4 defensive front, and Taylor is the perfect fit, as he will clog up space and demand double teams.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Danny Watkins, OG (Baylor)
Needs: OG, CB, OT, NT, WR
The Pittsburgh Steelers could use a little help at the offensive guard position, and Baylor's Danny Watkins is by far the best available.
Watkins is a decent-sized guard who is strong against the run and good against the pass—all in all, it's a safe, smart decision.
32. Green Bay Packers: Mikel Leshoure, RB (Illinois)
Needs: DE, OLB, OG, WR, RB
The Green Bay Packers are the most complete team in the NFL, and they only need to add depth at various positions—one being running back.
Illinois' Mike Leshoure could potentially be a home run if he's mixed in properly with Green Bay's Ryan Grant.
The Packers offense could become nearly unstoppable, with Aaron Rodgers at the helm along with a very productive rushing duo of Leshoure and Grant.