The 2011 NFL Draft is among us, and it’s time to unleash my final thoughts on what will happen during the first round.
Draftnik’s all around will be giddy as we edge closer and closer to 8pm EST, when the cameras will be rolling throughout Radio City Music Hall.
While I expect there to be quite a few first round trades, I’m keeping it real with my mock, and attempting to peg the perfect prospects for each team in the NFL.
Without no further hesitation, I present Keet Bailey’s Final 2011 NFL Mock Draft.
When you’re drafting #1 overall, nine times out of ten, you need a quarterback. The story is no different here. Jimmy Clausen isn’t the answer, but the second round pick of 2010 will get a chance to start in 2011 while Ron Rivera grooms Cam Newton for a starting role. Newton isn’t close to being NFL ready, but he does have the ability to be a big time play maker, and with some work on his technique and overall accuracy, he could become a top notch quarterback within two seasons.
The Broncos are rumored to favor Miller slightly over Marcell Dareus. Regardless of the selection, they can’t miss. Grabbing Miller gives them a versatile linebacker who can also put his hand on the ground as a pass rusher, which I think playing him opposite Elvis Dumervil would benefit the Broncos the most.
Buffalo’s new 3-4 defense just couldn’t seem to get a pass rush going in 2010. The biggest reason is because of the lack of defensive line mammoths. Dareus gives the Bills the ideal five technique at defensive end to allow guys like Aaron Maybin, Arthur Moats, and Shawne Merriman free to get to the quarterback.
The upset pick here, somewhat like the Darrius Heyward-Bey over Michael Crabtree selection a couple years ago. Jones fits the West Coast Offense of Jay Gruden to a “T”, and he’s the better downfield blocker and YAC guy for the Bengals. They’ll look to add a QB in the second or third round of the 2011 NFL Draft to replace the disgruntled Palmer.
The Cardinals are backed into selecting the Best Player Available at five with Patrick Peterson. Peterson could play FS or opposite Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to combine for one of the best potential cornerback tandems in the NFL.
The speculation has been that A.J. Green will be unavailable. But in this scenario, Colt McCoy gets the Browns #1 wide receiver target in the 2011 NFL Draft. Green’s size and speed combination is a great fit for the West Coast Offense, and gives the Browns a true play maker on offense.
While the 49ers could opt to go with Prince Amukamara, I think the overall potential of Robert Quinn causes them to make this selection. Quinn’s overall ability screams 10-15 sacks per season, and if developed properly, he could be one of the best pass rushers in the next few seasons.
Tennessee may not miss Albert Haynesworth’s attitude, but they surely miss his presence. Fairley gives the Titans a pure penetrating under tackle who can get to the quarterback quickly, and cause backfield disruptions. Fairley’s character may be in concern, but his effect on the field can help the Titans to overlook that.
The Cowboys’ need for help on the right side is huge. Tyron Smith played right tackle at USC, and will most likely be groomed to play left tackle eventually. But Smith not only helps as a long term solution, but in the short term as he should be able to come in immediately and make an impact on the right side for Dallas as they try to keep Tony Romo on the field for 16 games in 2011.
The Redskins are targeting Jake Locker, Julio Jones, Cameron Jordan and Blaine Gabbert most likely. Gabbert falls to pick 10, and Shanahan jumps all over the bandwagon. Gabbert can run, and throw the ball well down field. He could sit behind Donovan McNabb for a season before being forced to start.
With the Texans moving to Wade Phillips’ new 3-4 defense, they struggle to pass on the talented, but raw Aldon Smith. Smith is a natural pass rusher who looks to be everything you look for in a true 3-4 outside linebacker. If anybody can turn this kid into a star, it’s Wade Phillips.
The Vikings opt to gain depth at defensive tackle for the future Pat Williams replacement. Liuget is a big, space eating 4-3 nose tackle who can penetrate when needed. He’s excellent against the run, and one of the top defensive tackles on the board.
It’s hard to imagine Prince Amukamara falling out of the Top 10, but in this scenario the Lions strike gold by getting the second best cornerback in the draft. We saw their secondary single-handedly lose them football games in 2010, and it’s time to bring that to an end.
With A.J. Green and Julio Jones gone, the Rams move onto the next big position of need on the other side of the ball. Spagnuolo takes a risk on the knee issues surrounding Bowers and hopes to make him the next great quarterback terrorist.
I just can’t see the Dolphins passing on the best guard/center prospect in the 2011 NFL Draft in Mike Pouncey. His best position is at left guard, and with the interior line struggles, the Dolphins can’t afford to pass him up after finishing 32nd in the league in second level yardage by running backs.
A big rumor on the quarterback homefront is that Jacksonville sees Kaepernick as the ideal quarterback for their franchise. Grooming Kaep behind David Garrard could be an excellent situation for the Jags as they look to move past Garrard’s inconsistency.
Cameron Jordan is a Top 10 talent falling right in the Patriots lap at 17. Jordan played in a five technique at Cal, mostly at LDE, and he will play the same, eating space and containing the edge with the Pats. He offers excellent pass rush ability for a true 3-4 DE.
Addressing the defensive line is a big must for the Chargers who failed to make the playoffs despite having the #1 offense and #1 defense. Watt could come in across from Luis Castillo right away and make an impact.
The Giants’ man in Castonzo slips to 19, and we know they like their Boston College products. Castonzo can be groomed to start at left tackle in a season or two, and play a bit of right tackle to get his feet wet, immediately.
The Buccaneers want to upgrade one of the defensive end spots and grabbing the pure pass rushing Kerrigan with pick 20 is an absolute steal. Kerrigan is a pure 4-3 defensive end and could play both LDE or RDE for them immediately.
Branden Albert isn’t the answer, and the Chiefs need a mauling left tackle who isn’t too shabby in pass protection. Solder’s 6’8 frame is ideal for them to eventually plug in to protect Matt Cassel’s blind side.
The revolving door at left tackle for the Colts has to be fixed. Gabe Carimi isn’t the best pass blocker, but Peyton Manning’s quick release will help him. Carimi gets an amazing push in the run game, while his pass protection is adequate enough for the offense.
The Eagles are praying for Smith to fall. With the lack of depth, it’s clear they need a legit #2 corner across from Asante Samuel. When Samuel went down in 2010, players like Dimitri Patterson were forced to step up and couldn’t deliver consistently. Smith gives the Eagles a physical corner with quick hips that is a Top 15 talent.
Grabbing the space eater in Muhammad Wilkerson would be ideal for the Saints. Sedrick Ellis is more of a penetrator, and the Saints have had trouble with Remi Ayodele’s consistency.
I fail to see how Pete Carroll can pass up on grooming Jake Locker behind Matt Hasselbeck. While Locker is a big project, he’s loaded with potential, and a mentor like Hasselbeck could help his game immensely.
Derrick Mason is aging, and AnQuan Boldin can’t do it all by himself. Jon Baldwin is a gamble with his potential attitude issues, but his size and speed combination is too hard for the Ravens to pass up to give Flacco another big time weapon.
The Falcons need to add a young, stud pass rusher. Sheard fits the 4-3 LDE mold perfectly and can move to RDE once Abraham slows down. Grooming Sheard behind Abraham could be huge for the Falcons who’s pass rush has been quite inconsistent.
Despite BenJarvus Green-Ellis’ emergence in 2010, the Patriots just can’t pass up the explosiveness of Ingram with pick 28. Ingram is a pure north/south runner who can pummel over defenders in the open field, but still has the decent speed to break a long gain.
The Bears need help all over the offensive line but getting a legit guard next to Olin Kruetz is crucial and Danny Watkins has excellent value at the end of the first round. He does a nice job in mirroring defenders in pass protection, and gets to the second level in a hurry in the run game.
Kris Jenkins’ was released and the Jets need to bulk up on their 3-4 defensive front. Phil Taylor is a big, run plugging nose tackle who’s 338 pounds should have no problems eating up blockers.
The Steelers learned first hand in the Super Bowl that a lack of cornerback depth hurts big time. Aaron Williams has the versatility to play CB or FS at the next level, and his physical play as a press corner, mixed with his speed and ability to break on the ball would give them a legit #2 corner to groom to replace veteran Ike Taylor.
Upgrading one of the defensive end spots seems to be the most likely scenario for the Packers in one of the first two rounds. With the Cam Heyward free fall, the Packers struggle to pass his run stuffing ability up.