2011 NFL Mock Draft: Why Jake Locker will *not* be No. 1 Pick
The wait is over.
The 2010 NFL season is upon us beginning in Canton, OH with the Hall of Fame game this Sunday, August 8th, with the Cowboys and Bengals kicking things off. Beginning Sunday we will not be without football until February, when this whole process will start all over.
Now that we're in game week for the 2010 preseason, it's time to start thinking about the 2011 NFL Draft, right? Well, it certainly is for the bottom feeders looking to win (meaning lose) the so-called Jake Locker sweepstakes.
Why so-called? Because let me be the first to tell you that I guarantee you Jake Locker will NOT be the No. 1 pick in April of 2011.
There, I've said it.
The following is a list of bold and brash picks in next year's NFL Draft. In order to make the list I guess I am also giving my Power Rankings in reverse order (to accommodate the draft order).
So without further adieu...
1. St. Louis Rams (2-14)—Marcell Dareus, DT Alabama
Marcell Dareus, DE/DT Alabama, 6'4" 306
So I cheated, Locker won't go number one for one reason and one reason only: The fact the Rams will get this pick yet again and obviously won't be drafting a QB after giving Sam Bradford the richest rookie contract in league history at $76 million, with 50 million guaranteed.
It may pay off eventually—though I highly doubt it—but not this year, as the Rams will be lucky to win three games.
Dareus will immediately bolster up their defensive line which in turn eases the stress on the rest of the unit.
St. Louis has many holes but it all starts in the trenches and Dareus is a beast of man that will wreak havoc on opposing offenses. He's a hybrid player in both the 3-4 and 4-3 and is expected to dominate the SEC this season. His impact will have more of an immediate impact in 2012 than Bradford's will this year. Mark my words.
2. Buffalo Bills (3-13)—Jake Locker, QB Washington
Jake Locker, QB Washington, 6'3" 222
Buffalo lucks out with St. Louis forced to pass on the uber-athletic.
This pick is a no-brainer for Buffalo, which has struggled mightily at the quarterback position since the days of Jim Kelly and the potent "K-Gun" offense.
The Bills are in desperate need of a star player to bring them back from the dead before they end up in LA or some other place, and Locker has the skill set and the flash to meet the hype.
3. Cleveland Browns (4-12)—Robert Quinn, DE UNC
Robert Quinn, DE UNC, 6'5" 260
The Browns' roster has more holes than a pin cushion, and they need lots of help offensively. But I think even the offensive minded Mike Holmgren has to realize the Browns need to bolster their defense to have any chance of future success.
Quinn can play down or on the end and should be able to step in and help immediately, which is exactly what Cleveland needs.
A quarterback or wide receiver project isn't an option they have the luxury of spending time on. They need a "right-now" player, and if Quinn lives up to a fraction of his potential in what looks to be a dominating front in Chapel Hill he'll be the right choice.
4. Denver Broncos (4-12)—Cameron Heyward, DE Ohio State
Cameron Heyward, DE Ohio Stat, 6'6" 290
Heyward is a monster of a man that will quickly help the Broncos weakest unit.
He will penetrate at the point of attack and often demand double teams in stuffing the run, while his pass rushing skills and freakishly long frame will agitate quarterbacks every time they drop back.
The knock on Heyward is that he can't play in a 3-4, which the Broncos run, but I'm not buying it. He's a great athlete and shouldn't have a problem in either scheme.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11) - Marvin Austin, DT UNC
Marvin Austin DT UNC 6'3" 305
It will be very tempting to jump on the sexy quarterbacks and wide receivers that will be sitting here ripe for the picking, and understandably so if they select them but they will come with risk. Let's face it, most QBs and wideouts don't pan out for two to three years, if ever.
In an offensively potent division, the safe bet with high reward is Austin. He has the size, athleticism and moxy to be special, and the Bucs could really use a special player these days.
6. Philadelphia Eagles (5-11)—Adrian Clayborn, DE Iowa
Adrian Clayborn, DE Iowa, 6'3" 282
Our first "character issue" guy comes off the board here to Philly.
I'm not sure if I would constitute punching a cab driver and then using a fake name counts as "character issues" but what do I know? In reality, Philly would likely trade out of this spot when you look at the available quarterbacks still around, but for the sake of argument I'm avoiding trades and basing things on team needs today.
In this case, Philly would love to get its hands on Clayborn, who has a huge upside provided he keeps his focus on the field. He was the Orange Bowl MVP and Defensive Player of the Year award winner.
Not too cabby, er, I mean shabby.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11)—Patrick Peterson, CB LSU
Patrick Peterson, CB LSU, 6'1" 211
When you face the Peyton Manning—Reggie Wayne and Matt Schaub—Andre Johnson connection twice a year and don't have a top tier corner, you are staring 0-4 in the division right in the eyes.
Peterson is highly regarded as the best corner in the draft and maybe even in the last several. He's a big time player from a big time school and would relish the opportunity to face the competition he would in Jacksonville.
It's a match made in heaven, and with the Jags offense pretty much in tact they would be frothing at the mouth to see Peterson sitting there for them.
8. Kansas City Chiefs (6-10)—Andrew Luck, QB Stanford
Andrew Luck, QB Stanford, 6'4" 235
The Chiefs "Luck" out here. (See what I did there?)
It's so hard to predict a year in advance for any position in college, but damn near impossible for quarterbacks. On paper, Luck looks to be "Franchise Quarterback" material, but that stock could rapidly fall with just one or two bad games.
I suspect Luck will be highly coveted for many reasons including his size, big arm, tremendous athletic ability, pocket awareness, leadership, poise and experience in a pro-style offense, all making his NFL transition much smoother.
In addition to his very well rounded skillset, the kid is a scholar athlete at an elite school and is well known for his off the field character in the community.
All of this limits the risk involved for the multi-million dollar contract teams are so terrified to give 21-year-old kids.
Although St. Louis didn't seem all that shy, and because of that now Andrew has all the "Luck". You see, 'cause his name... ah, forget it.
9. Detroit Lions (6-10)—Gabe Carimi, OT Wisconsin
Gabe Carimi, OT Wisconsin, 6'7" 325
Detroit will be tempted to take one of the many talented receivers still available like they always seem to do, but I think the real question here boils down to best available player at the corner or offensive line positions.
I know it's not sexy, but in this case I think they would regret passing on Carimi for many years. He's a behemoth and when it's all said and done may be a top two or three pick.
He has long arms, quick feet, solid footwork, and he's very strong, which usually translates into not having to worry about the position for a decade. To have him sitting there at No. 9 at a major need position, protecting the blind side of your franchise quarterback, is a godsend for Detroit.
Maybe it's the coffee, but I like where Detroit is headed.
10. Arizona Cardinals (6-10)—Allen Bailey, DT Miami
Allen Bailey, DT Miami, 6'4" 290
Arizona would have pounced all over Gabe Carimi had he slipped past Detroit, but since he didn't and there may not be another offensive lineman rated in the top 10 the Cardinals will look to plug the middle of their defensive line with Allen Bailey.
From a talent and potential standpoint, he's definitely worthy of the top 10. However, there have been whispers, as always seems to be the case with players from "The U", about his work ethic and inconsistent play. He'll have an entire season to silence those critics, and if the millions of dollars that will be at stake isn't motivation enough than nothing will be.
11. Chicago Bears (6-10)—A.J. Green, WR Georgia
A.J. Green, WR Georgia, 6'4" 207
Finally a wide receiver comes of the board, and it's the best of what looks to be a very good class.
Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears brass will be thrilled to get their hands on any of the top three guys to step into that role of true No. 1 receiver they currently seem to lack. But with Green still available, they hit a home run.
Standing at 6'4" with great speed and the hands to go with it, Green will have the rare opportunity for receivers to step in and not only contribute but fight for the right to be the main guy.
He's the rare and lethal combination of being able to dominate underneath and stretch the field with his speed. Green is good enough to actually make Mike Martz and Cutler look good.
That takes sick talent.
12. Seattle Seahawks (7-9)—Ryan Mallett, QB Arkansas
Ryan Mallett, QB Arkansas, 6'7" 238
Pete Carroll would have preferred his Pac-10 brethren Jake Locker or Andrew Luck, but it's unlikely they will slide out of the top 10, especially when you consider the number of teams still seeking that franchise quarterback.
That said, Ryan Mallett has a laser cannon right arm, he's surprisingly mobile at 6'7", and he certainly has the skills to eventually place himself ahead of Locker and Luck.
At this point he falls in behind them because they are more polished, but that's not to say he doesn't have a higher ceiling, although at 6'7"... he'd better.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-9)—Joseph Barksdale OT LSU
Joseph Barksdale, OT LSU, 6'5" 315
Despite their glaring need at receiver, especially as Hines Ward inches closer to the end of a Hall of Fame career, the "Steelers way" is big burly men to lean on the opposition that come with little risk.
Joseph Barksdale grades out to be one of the top two LT's in the draft and there is no way Pittsburgh passes on him with their wafer thin offensive line unit
Starks is playing the position now but can be moved to the right side to make way for Barksdale. This guy will be a Steeler if he is there when they select. Quite literally, Ben Roethlisxvgkzerer needs someone to watch his back.
14. New England Patriots (7-9)—Mark Ingram, RB Alabama
Mark Ingram, RB Alabama, 5'10" 215
The Patriots are draft manipulating experts, and they really have needs at RB, LB, WR and CB. With the Raiders' 1st round pick this year via trade with Oakland for Richard Seymour, they essentially will have two picks in the top half of the first round.
Which direction they go is anyone's guess, as they should have several options to get two players at those positions they covet most. They will still have viable options at the receiver and linebacker spots with their Oakland pick, so passing on Ingram here would be a mistake.
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner is a compact power runner that will immediately pose a threat. The Patriots and Tom Brady have not had a great running back since the days when Laurence Maroney was actually healthy.
Wait, what? I know.
15. New York Giants (8-8)—Greg Romeus, DE Pittsburgh
Greg Romeus, DE Pittsburgh, 6'6" 270
The Giants very well could go corner here with Prince Amukamara (Nebraska) or Ras-I Dowling (Virginia), but with the like of Greg Romeus and Greg Jones ILB (Michigan State) still on the board there is no way they pass on them. Remember, they were frothing at the mouth for Rolondo McClain last year and didn't get him.
Romeus is the pick if he is still there, but he dominated last season and if he continues to grow and improve it would be hard to imagine him still being on the board.
He very well could be a top 10 pick, but in this case I have him sliding to the elated G-men.
16. Atlanta Falcons (8-8)—Prince Amukamara, CB Nebraska
Prince Amukamara, CB Nebraska, 6'1" 205
Prince Amukamara is an interesting guy in that he very well may be the best player in the draft. But because he did not ask the NFL Draft Advisory Committee to rank him, we just don't know for sure.
We do know, however, that he is extremely talented and has the "potential" to be special, thus making him an obvious choice to bolster up the Falcons awful secondary.
Even if Amukamara is gone they will still select the best available defensive back. For the Falcons sake, I hope that player turns out to be closer to Deion Sanders than Charles Dimry. Google him.
17. New England Patriots (from Oakland 8-8)—Bruce Carter, OLB UNC
Bruce Carter, OLB UNC, 6'3" 230
Chances are New England trades out of at least one, if not both, of their 1st round picks and stockpiles several more. But just to play along and based on taking an offensive player already, they will look to add the best available defensive player at a position of need.
New England is very crafty with its selections and seems to have a knack for selecting exactly the perfect player to fit their schemes. As best as I can tell, Bruce Carter fits that bill.
He has tremendous range and is excellent at rushing the passer and playing the run. With some NFL coaching, he should greatly improve his pass coverage and overall game.
The Pats yet again walk away with a phenomenal couple of 1st rounders, which really really upsets my stomach. (I'm a Dolphins fan... hey, easy! It's a family show. Jeepers, can't wait to get to those guys in green up north.)
18. Washington Redskins (9-7)—Michael Floyd, WR Notre Dame
Michael Floyd, WR Notre Dame, 6'3" 220
The Redskins are shocked that Michael Floyd is still on the board, and they don't hesitate to take him.
The Washington offense is loaded with aging players, and there are several players they would pounce on in this situation. But it's an easy call with Floyd, who is a big athletic receiver accustomed to playing outdoors in less than stellar conditions.
Receivers generally take a year or two to develop, but Floyd would be given every opportunity to step right in and contribute.
19. New York Jets (9-7)—Julio Jones, WR Alabama
Julio Jones, WR Alabama, 6'4" 210
Julio Jones is a beast of a wide receiver, and even the defensive minded Rex Ryan would be willing to change his views for a player like him.
The truth is the Jets are already excellent defensively and that doesn't look to change anytime soon. But their offense is way behind and in need of a future star to pair up with Mark Sanchez for the next decade.
Jones makes the most sense, unless that franchise tackle is on their board. Still, when you consider all the question marks surrounding guys like Santonio Holmes (attitude), Braylan Edwards (hands) and Jerricho Cotchery (age), Jones fits. He wouldn't have to step in and dominate immediately, but he would a tremendous red zone and short yardage weapon right away.
His hands are inconsistent, but if he works that out he could end up going much higher. Jones has the potential to be as good as the best wide receiver in the game—Brandon Marshall.
Ok, gotta go!
20. Tennessee Titans (9-7)—Greg Jones, ILB Michigan State
Greg Jones, ILB Michigan State, 6'1" 222
Jones is another guy that could go anywhere from the top 10 into the 2nd Round depending on how well this season goes.
The knock on him is legitimate in that he needs to improve against the pass or he could find himself in a world of trouble in this pass happy division.
The flip side is that Jones is a tremendous talent with a relentless motor and he excels at stuffing the run. He has great instincts and athletic ability, so he should be able to improve against the pass enough to keep him in the 1st round and an every down player.
He fills a need for Tennessee and comes at an excellent value.
21. Carolina Panthers (10-6)—Jared Crick, DT Nebraska
Jared Crick, DT Nebraska, 6'6" 285
The Panthers will most certainly be looking to the defensive side of the ball here unless maybe there is an offensive lineman still available that ranks atop their draft board.
I'm guessing there won't be, but the Panthers will be just as happy for an opportunity to snatch up one of the remaining studs still available defensively. Crick spent last season along side Ndamukong Suh and like Suh, Crick poses a large dominant force inside against both the run and the pass and superior quickness for a DT to boot.
That's exactly what Carolina needs.
22. San Francisco 49ers (10-6)—Von Miller, OLB Texas A&M
Von Miller, OLB Texas A&M, 6'3" 240
Miller is the perfect fit in the 49ers 3-4 scheme, as the outside force rushing the passer to compliment Patrick Willis and take away the double teams he often faces.
Miller dominated last season with 20 sacks and very well could fly up draft boards as he racks up monster stats again this season. Regardless, he's there now and the 49ers could not be happier.
In fact, if they selected 10 spots earlier they still might take this guy. That's how perfect he is for them.
23. Houston Texans (11-5)—Deunta Williams, FS UNC
Deunta Williams, FS UNC, 6'2" 205
The Texans are loaded offensively and getting much better defensively, but will be looking to find a key component to fit into their secondary.
Deunta Williams plays a ball-hawking center field and should be able to step in right away and contribute in a big way.
The Texans close to being a contender, and if they can get their defense to catch up to the offense they will be poised to step into the elite status along with their nemesis Indianapolis.
24. Cincinnati Bengals (11-5)—Jerrell Powe, DT Mississippi
Jerrell Powe, DT Mississippi, 6'2" 330
The vastly improved Bengals will likely be looking to add a stout defensive player to the defensive line or linebacking corps, and with Powe still available there's little debate.
Powe is the poster child for stout, which could lead to weight concerns. But he moves very well for a man of his girth.
He's not easily moved—almost never—and he has a knack for getting up the field and blowing plays up.
25. Baltimore Ravens (10-6)—Mike Pouncey, OG Florida
Mike Pouncey, OG Florida, 6'5" 320
Pouncey is an extremely versatile lineman that should be able to step right in at center or guard and has tremendous potential to play the tackle positions if need be.
The only reason he'll still be available at the back of the 1t round is because the teams in front of Baltimore have bigger needs elsewhere. The scary thing about Pouncey is you get the feeling he hasn't really scratched the surface on how good he can be.
NFL coaching and experience should mold this kid into a dynamic force on the line. His strength and ability are certainly not in question.
26. Miami Dolphins (10-6)—Ryan Williams, RB Virginia Tech
Ryan Wiliams, RB Virginia Tech, 5'10" 206
Bill Parcells is not an easy guy to get a grasp on, so no matter who I select for them here I'm sure I'll be wrong.
As I write this Miami needs DT and FS help the most and likely will be facing that same problem when they draft in 2011. But how can they possibly pass on Ryan Williams sitting there at 26 when Ricky Williams is retiring, Ronnie Brown is likely to be traded or released, and both Kory SHeets and Patrick Cobbs will be one and two years, respectively, removed from a season ending injury?
Oh and by the way, Williams was projected to be a top 10-15 pick and the first RB off the board. I know Tuna loves his defensive gems and FS Rahim Moore is available, but there's just way too much value at a position of need to pass on WIlliams here.
27. Dallas Cowboys (11-5)—Rahim Moore, FS UCLA
Rahim Moore, FS UCLA, 6'1" 196
Looking to bolster their secondary, the Cowboys face a tough decision between CB Aaron Williams and Moore.
The pick here really comes down to who the Cowboys have as the highest rated remaining player on their big board. I say they take the best free safety left and arguably the best in the draft.
I do think it's pretty clear the Cowboys will be looking to their secondary this year, and they really can't go wrong with either player. Though one thing will be certain, drafting anywhere but 32nd will have Jerry Jones fuming.
28. New Orleans Saints (12-4)—Jonathan Baldwin, WR Pittsburgh
Jonathan Baldwin, WR Pittsburgh, 6'5" 225
New Orleans is set at offense, so obviously they'll be looking to the defensive side of the ball in the draft. As Lee Corso would say, "Not so fast my friend!"
Jonathan Baldwin had 57 grabs for 1,111 yards and eight touchdowns for a Dave Wanstedt-led team that only throws the football when it has to.
Baldwin is a beast at 6'5" and he runs surprisingly well at 225 lbs. As impressive as all of that is the kid isn't a diva, a head case, or headache. He has great hands, he's a playmaker, and his head is screwed on right.
Another guy that could easily go in the top 15, but this receiver class is very deep and most team will look to the 2nd round. But New Orleans won't, not if Drew Brees has anything to say about it.
And he does.
29. Green Bay Packers (12-4)—Aaron Williams, CB Texas
Aaron Williams, CB Texas, 6'1" 195
Green Bay is getting the majority of all the Super Bowl chalk, and deservedly so when you look at their roster. They have few holes on either side of the ball and will most certainly be in the running for the title throughout barring catastrophe.
That said, I have them selecting 29th for a reason, and that reason is Brett Favre.
I know, I know. Just humor me. Rarely in the NFL does the chalk team actually win it all so if not, then who? I'm saying Minnesota led by Favre, and the one and only reason is because Favre exploits the one semi-weakness on Green Bay's team—the corners.
After seeing that, rest assured the Packers will upgrade at the position, and Aaron Williams style of play suits the Packers to a tee.
How great would this be if the Pack and Vikings met at Lambeau in the NFC Championship?!
30. Indianapolis Colts (13-3)—Anthony Costonzo, OT Boston College
Anthony Costonzo, OT Boston College, 6'7" 295
Indianapolis will almost certainly pounce on the best OT still on the board. I have that player as the gigantic Anthony Costonzo.
The highest paid player in the history of professional football has Charlie Johnson protecting his blind side. No offense to Johnson, but it's saying something that nobody knows who he is.
Costonzo will step in right away and be considered a huge upgrade, which is downright frightening when you think about the fact that Manning shredded teams last year with no protection whatsoever.
Bill Polian will protect his investment, so you can bank on this pick.
31. San Diego Chargers (12-4)—Michael Morgan, OLB USC
Michael Morgan, OLB USC, 6'4" 225
Despite all the drama with USC, they still have a lot of horses in the stable and the one to really shine defensively this year will be Michael Morgan.
He's a man-child with his explosiveness, freakish strength, and pursuit. Morgan could fly up draft boards as USC defenders tend to do; it seems like they all transfer well into the NFL. The Chargers will know first hand as he is a local kid, and with their offense intact and Shawn Merriman likely gone for good the obvious selection is a stud OLB or DE.
I wouldn't be shocked if San Diego looked at Kyle Rudolph either; he's the best tight end in the country, and with Antonio Gates age and Phillip Rivers love affair with the position he also makes sense.
32. Minnesota Vikings (13-3)—Pat Devlin, QB Delaware
Pat Devlin, QB Delaware, 6'4" 220
Eventually, Brett Favre really will retire, right?
Whenever that day comes... again... the Vikings are left with Tavaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels. I'm not sure that's the direction a team as solid as Minnesota wants to go in.
It all depends on where quarterbacks fall on the Vikings big board. But if there is value and belief that they might have their guy, they won't hesitate to take him.
After all, they will be coming off a Super Bowl victory and very well may have Brett for another year. If not, Tavaris may be good enough to stop gap until the heir apparent is ready.
Pat Devlin looks the part and his upcoming season could make or break this kids' entire future. I say he excels.
And there you have it.