2011 NFL Draft: 25 Key Questions Heading into Draft Season

Chris Trapasso@ChrisTrapassoAnalyst IDecember 29, 2010

2011 NFL Draft: 25 Key Questions Heading into Draft Season

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    SEATTLE - OCTOBER 30:  Quarterback Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal rushes against the Washington Huskies on October 30, 2010 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. Stanford defeated Washington 41-0. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    With the 2011 NFL Draft season on the horizon, it's finally an appropriate time to look ahead to next April. 

    Over half the teams in the NFL will have their seasons end this Sunday, and their focus will turn to one of my favorite times of the year, draft season. 

    These are the 25 most pressing questions for the 2011 Draft season...take them all in. 

25. Will Donovan McNabb Get Cut?

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    ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 19:  Quarterback Donovan McNabb #5  of the Washington Redskins on the sidelines against play against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on December 19, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The Washington Redskins have made no promises to McNabb, and if he's cut, all of a sudden the Redskins will be looking for a quarterback. 

24. Will Cam Newton's NCAA Investigation Hurt His Draft Stock?

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    NEW YORK - DECEMBER 11:  Cam Newton, quarterback of the Auburn University Tigers, speaks after being awarded the 2010 Heisman Memorial Trophy Award on December 11, 2010 in New York City.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    Most likely not, but if a few teams are worried, he could fall considerably. 

23. Will Andrew Luck Go Pro or Stay at Stanford?

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    PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 27:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal in action against the Oregon State Beavers at Stanford Stadium on November 27, 2010 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    No one's sure what Luck will do. If he comes out, he's likely the No. 1 overall pick. If not, his absence will shake up the entire draft. 

22. Have the Broncos Found Their Future QB in Tim Tebow?

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    DENVER - DECEMBER 26:  Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos reacts after throwing a first quarter touchdown against the Houston Texans at INVESCO Field at Mile High on December 26, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Texans 24-23
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Tim Tebow has been impressive and surprising in his first two starts, and if the Broncos see him as their franchise guy, they'll look at other positions in the 2011 draft. 

21. Will the Indianapolis Colts Begin to Look for Peyton Manning's Replacement?

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    OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 26:  Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts looks on against the Oakland Raiders during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December  26, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Manning, at times, wasn't himself this year, but he's still among the best in the NFL. Still, the Colts could start searching for his replacement this offseason, maybe in the draft. 

20. Is John Skelton the Answer in Arizona?

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    GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 25:  Quarterback John Skelton #19 of the Arizona Cardinals walks off the field following the NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 25, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Many have the Cardinals penciled in for a quarterback in the upcoming draft, but with Skelton's size and arm, he could be the future for Ken Whisenhunt. 

19. Will the Bills Build Their Franchise Around Ryan Fitzpatrick?

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    ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 26:  Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the Buffalo Bills readies to pass against the New England Patriots at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 26, 2010 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    The Bills are another team many believe will go quarterback in the first round of the draft. But after a solid year from the career backup, they could be looking elsewhere. 

18. Will Ryan Mallett's Arm Shoot Him Up Draft Boards?

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    COLUMBIA, SC - NOVEMBER 06:  Ryan Mallett #15 of the Arkansas Razorbacks against the South Carolina Gamecocks during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 6, 2010 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Every year there's a prospect who uses the Combine as a springboard to become a higher selection. When Mallett is firing rockets across the field in Indy, he could open many GM's eyes. 

17. Will Nick Fairley's Versatility Put Him Ahead of Marcel Dareus?

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    ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 04:  Nick Fairley #90 of the Auburn Tigers cheers during pregame warmups before facing the South Carolina Gamecocks during the 2010 SEC Championship at Georgia Dome on December 4, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Ge
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Both of these defensive lineman are first-round material, but with Fairley capable of playing in the 3-4 or 4-3 and being slotted in as a DE or DT, he could cement himself as the best interior defensive front-runner in the draft. 

16. Is Gabe Carimi Worthy of a Top-10 Selection?

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    MADISON, WI - OCTOBER 16: John Clay #32 of the Wisconsin Badgers scores a touchdown against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Camp Randall Stadium on October 16, 2010 in Madison, Wisconsin. Wisconsin defeated Ohio State 31-18. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Ima
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    It looks as though Carimi is the consensus top tackle in the class, but with many teams in need of edge linemen, will Carimi be able to prove himself worthy of a top-10 pick?

15. Where Will the Seattle Seahawks Turn in Their Search for a Franchise QB?

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    TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 26: Quarterback Charlie Whitehurst #6 of the Seattle Seahawks throws a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the game at Raymond James Stadium on December 26, 2010 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Matt Hasselbeck doesn't have many years left, and I doubt Seahawks management is banking on Charlie Whitehurst. They're in the sweepstakes for a top-tier signal caller. 

14. How Dedicated Are the Green Bay Packers to Upgrading Their Run Game?

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    GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 26:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers rolls out of the pocket against the New York Giants at Lambeau Field on December 26, 2010 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    The Packers offense is superb, but very one-dimensional. 

    Aaron Rodgers can't do it all, and a top runner would be a huge boost. 

13. Is Carson Palmer Done in Cincinnati?

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    CINCINNATI - DECEMBER 26:  Carson Palmer #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws a pass during the NFL game against the San Diego Chargers at Paul Brown Stadium on December 26, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals 34-20.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Carson Palmer was booed multiple times at home this season, in the midst of his terrible 2010 campaign. 

    If Marvin Lewis is fired, the new coaching staff may want a young, new quarterback. 

12. If Brett Favre Retires, Who's Next at QB for Vikings?

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    DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 13:  Tavaris Jackson #7 of the Minnesota Vikings walks to get his helmet after a play while playing the New York Giants at Ford Field on December 13, 2010 in Detroit, Michigan. New York won the game 21-3.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/G
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Brett Favre has put the Vikings in quite the predicament, and we aren't sure if Tarvaris Jackson or Joe Webb are the answer in Minnesota. 

11. Will the Raiders Continue to Put Their First Priority on Drafting Speed?

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    OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 26:  Jason Campbell #8 of the Oakland Raiders sits on the ground against the Indianapolis Colts during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December  26, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Image
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    They've made most of their recent selections based on the famous 40-yard dash, and actually, Jacoby Ford turned in quite the rookie season. 

    If so, look for Oakland to draft the guys with the lowest 40 time. 

10. Who Will Test Better at the Combine: Julio Jones or Justin Blackmon?

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    TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 26:  Julio Jones #8 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts after a long reception against the Auburn Tigers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 26, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    These two physical receivers are the possession targets of the future in the NFL. Assuming Blackmon comes out, the battle between these two dynamic wideouts could be very intriguing. 

9. How Far Will Jake Locker Fall?

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    SEATTLE - OCTOBER 30:  Quarterback Jake Locker #10 of the Washington Huskies passes against the Stanford Cardinal on October 30, 2010 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    If Locker would have come out last season, he probably would have been the No. 1 overall pick. 

    But after a disappointing and inaccurate senior season, Locker certainly hurt his draft stock. 

8. How Will Mark Ingram Perform at the Combine?

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    TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 26:  Mark Ingram #22 of the Alabama Crimson Tide rushes for a touchdown against the Auburn Tigers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 26, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The 2009 Heisman Trophy winner has been extremely productive with the Crimson Tide, with some analysts saying he runs like Emmitt Smith. If Ingram runs slow at the Combine, what could that do for his draft stock? 

7. How Will Kyle Rudolph's Injury Affect His Draft Decision?

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    SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 03: Kyle Rudolph #9 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish runs after making a catch against the Washington Huskies on October 3, 2009 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Washington 37-30 in overtime.  (Pho
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    He'll still most likely enter the draft, but after getting surgery on his hamstring, will he stay in South Bend one more season? If he is a 2011 draft entry, how much has his injury hurt his draft stock?

6. After Da'Quan Bowers Who Will Emerge as the Best Pass Rusher in the Class?

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    COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 11:  Quarterback Terrelle Pryor #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes gets off a pass as Allen Bailey #57 of the Miami Hurricanes applies pressure at Ohio Stadium on September 11, 2010 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Image
    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Bowers is a likely top-three pick, but many teams are in dire need of a pure pass rusher. Von Miller? 

5. How Will Robert Quinn's 2010 Absence Hurt His Draft Stock?

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    CHAPEL HILL, NC - SEPTEMBER 19:  Robert Quinn #42 of the North Carolina Tar Heels celebrates after a sack with teammate Marvin Austin #9 against the East Carolina Pirates at Kenan Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by St
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Robert Quinn was widely considered the ideal hybrid at the next level heading into the 2010 season, but without playing a down this year, where will he land in the draft?

4. Will the Indianapolis Colts Look for a Center?

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    MIAMI GARDENS, FL - FEBRUARY 07: Jeff Saturday #63, Donald Brown #31 and Pierre Garcon #85 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrate after a touchdown in the first quarter against the New Orleans Saints during Super Bowl XLIV on February 7, 2010 at Sun Life Sta
    Scott Boehm/Getty Images

    Jeff Saturday isn't going to be around forever, but the Colts know the importance of a physical and intelligent pivot. 

3. What Will the Eagles Do with Kevin Kolb?

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    NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 24:  Kevin Kolb #4 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks to pass the ball during the NFL game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on October 24, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Now that Vick's the man in Philadelphia, will the Eagles be looking to ship Kevin Kolb? If so, a bottom-feeder in need of a QB may not have to draft one, if they land No. 4.  

2. Will the Texans Look to Upgrade Their Secondary in the Draft or Free Agency?

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    NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 19:  Nate Washington #85 of the Tennessee Titans makes a catch under pressure from Glover Quin #29 of the Houston Texans at LP Field on December 19, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Texans, 31-17.  (Photo by G
    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    The Texans are dying for help in their defensive backfield, and it's possible they'll add a vet in free agency and draft a few youngsters in the draft. Things are that bad. 

1. Will the Ravens Continue to Add Youth to Their Defense?

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    CLEVELAND - DECEMBER 26:  Linebacker Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates as he leaves the field after their game against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on December 26, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty
    Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

    The Ravens still boast one of the NFL's best defenses, but they certainly need more youth to their secondary and linebacking core. 

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