2011 NFL Mock Draft First Round Sees Plenty of Quarterback Go Early
This 2011 NFL Mock Draft focuses on the rise of the draft stock of Andy Dalton. He had a tremendous college football career where he became a large part of the success of the TCU Horned Frogs and was a big reason for their rise to prominence.
With Dalton at quarterback the Horned Frogs had an undefeated regular season last year and proved to critics that they belonged with the best of college football by defeating Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.
Dalton was a four year starter that showed improvement each year and, despite the early infatuation with junior's Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert by teams in the draft, Dalton can actually make the case for being a more mature and NFL-ready candidate.
After generally being viewed as a second to third round talent, Dalton is making a late jump to the first round because of all the intangibles and leadership skills he brings to the table.
Now he's said to be a lock to go in the top 20.
How high will he go?
Let's find out....
1. Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, QB , Auburn – He’s either possible face of the franchise or a potential disaster waiting to happen. The tools and raw talents are undeniable which makes him a risk worth taking for the hapless Panthers.
2. Denver Broncos: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M – Miller is a top athlete and hands-down the best edge rusher available in this draft. Although there’s a need to fortify their interior defensive line, there’s a surplus of talent at that position that they can afford to wait later in the draft.
3. Buffalo Bills: Marcell Dareus, DT/DE, Alabama - The league ran all over the Bills last season who were among the league worst in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns allowed. Although Fairley could be a consideration, Dareus has the better work ethic and brings no other baggage.
4. Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia – Green is the best receiver in this draft, Jones may have him on combine scores but he’s more NFL-ready and just has much better football instincts.
5. Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU – Widely viewed as the best athlete in this draft. He has excellent size, hands and quickness that could allow him to develop into an elite cornerback. His presence can immediately help the Cardinals’ weak secondary and give them a kick returning threat on special teams.
6. Cleveland Browns: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama – Great size, condition and raw talents make him an intriguing prospect. His impressive combine also won him many fans. But he’s not as ready for the league as A.J. Green and could be a bit of a stretch this early.
7. San Francisco 49ers: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska – Patrick Peterson would been the dream scenario but Amukamara also has shutdown corner skills. Someone with his size and potential will be an immediate help to their secondary.
8. Tennessee Titans: Andy Dalton, QB, TCU – Here’s the biggest draft surprise so far, Dalton becomes the second quarterback taken in the draft and not Blaine Gabbert. He may be undersized at 6’2” but the intangibles are all there—he’s a four-year starter, true leader and helped mid-major TCU earn an undefeated season, then defeated Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl
9. Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith, OT, USC – Rarely does Jerry Jones ever go by the book, that’s why he’s taking an offensive lineman in the top 10. At least in Smith he gets the most athletic tackle in the draft and a guy that can play right away.
10. Washington Redskins: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri – There’s a vacancy at the quarterback position with McNabb on the way out. Gabbert has the size and arm strength that could make him a solid starter in the league, all he needs is more coaching and learning—that’s what the Shanahan’s are for.
Is Andy Dalton a First-Round Talent?
11. Houston Texans: Robert Quinn, OLB/DE, UNC – Houston was just a joke on the defensive side of the football last season that’s why they brought in a new coordinator in Wade Phillips. What better way to implement his defense than by drafting a guy that’s been getting DeMarcus Ware comparisons.
12. Minnesota Vikings: Jake Locker, QB, Washington – They may be a veteran team that would ideally like a veteran quarterback as their leader. But sooner or later they can’t ignore the need to develop a quarterback of the future, Locker is the guy—with some fine tuning that poor accuracy may get refined.
13. Detroit Lions: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston – This team is on its way from becoming an NFL joke to an NFL up-and-comer. Now the next order of business it protect their franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford from more injuries, that’s why Castonzo becomes a must-have big body that can start on the line right away.
14. St. Louis Rams: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn – The knock on Nick is his lack of motivation and poor work ethic. He may have taken plays off in college but the ones that he did show up for displayed a true athlete with size, quickness and strength. That makes him a guy that Rams can’t pass on at this point in the draft
15. Miami Dolphins: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama – Miami needs to find a running back even if Ricky Williams or Ronnie Brown come back for another season, their bodies won’t allow them to carry the entire workload from the backfield. Ingram gives them a guy that has the field vision and lateral quickness that could make him a durable and reliable back for a long time in this league.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson – Jacksonville’s pass-rush was virtually nonexistent last season with a total of only 26 sacks. Bowers was the best sack-artist of his class last year and, despite concerns about his knee, could be a risk worth taking because of what he’s capable of.
17. New England Patriots: Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal – He’s a versatile athlete that can play inside or outside in the Patriots’ scheme. As a 5-technique he’s one of the best available and a guy that Pats’ front seven could use right away.
18. San Diego Chargers: J.J. Watt, DE/OLB, Wisconsin – Another top 5-technique guy that can play as linebacker or defensive end. He plays with a non-stop motor.
19. New York Giants: Mike Pouncey, OG, Florida - There’s a definite need for a strong and athletic lineman on this team. With the Giants’ offense showing signs of great promise last year, a high ceiling interior lineman like Pouncey can put them over the top.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Wisconsin – The Bucs are an up-and-coming football team that need to fortify their pass rush. Kerrigan is a workhorse with a nose for the football on defense.
21. Kansas City Chiefs: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA – Pass-rushing is a concern for the Chiefs and Ayers has proven to be a versatile game-breaking talent with his game tape. His Combine scores, on the other hand, have been a different story. But game tape does not lie and pairing him with Tamba Hali could give rival AFC quarterbacks nightmares.
22. Indianapolis Colts: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin – The Colts can’t deny the need to draft an offensive lineman early in this draft. Carimi gives them one of the draft’s biggest bodies and offers Peyton Manning instant protection.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado – Pass protection is a definite weakness for the Eagles. If they want to protect Michael Vick and extend his career big Nate Solder is a must-have.
24. New Orleans Saints: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois – Some scouts have been giving Liuget Nick Fairley-like grades. With no Fairley-like baggage, he should be considered a steal.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State – The demand on quarterbacks early in the first round forces the Seahawks to pull the trigger on Ponder early. There’s simply no way he drops to them in the second round. In Ponder, they get the most NFL ready of the quarterbacks in the class.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado – A world-class talent that would go a lot earlier in the draft if it weren’t for his character issues and history with drugs. But if there’s a group of defensive veterans that can keep him in line, it’s Ed Reed and Ray Lewis.
27. Atlanta Falcons: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri – Great burst and long arms are the assets he brings to the table. The Falcons were in dire need of another pass rusher last year as they let Aaron Rodgers throw at will during the playoffs.
28. New England Patriots: Aaron Williams, CB, Texas - One of the smaller and underrated corners available in this draft but comes from a family with a background in football, very coachable and has a tremendous work ethic. Sounds like Bill Belichick type of player.
29. Chicago Bears: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State – Cutler needs protection and Sherrod is the next best offensive lineman available. Their need for another receiver can wait until later in the draft.
30. New York Jets: Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami – The Jets are short on receivers because of free agency and the futures of Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes are still up in the air. While they can probably find a receiver in the second round, they already sent that pick away in the Antonio Cromartie deal, that’s why adding a big receiver like Hankerson makes sense this early.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor – Age is creeping up on the Steelers veteran defensive linemen. Taylor brings depth and a reckless attitude suitable for causing havoc as a defender.
32. Green Bay Packers: Danny Watkins, OT, Baylor – He may be 26 years old but he has only played football for four years. The strong hands, technique and footwork are all there.