NFL Draft 2011: Round 1 Mock Draft

Bruno Boys Fantasy Football@@BrunoBoysCorrespondent IIIMarch 31, 2011

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10:  Cameron Newton #2 of the Auburn Tigers tosses the ball after being sacked by the Oregon Ducks during the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images


Our 2011 NFL Draft coverage continues in this multipart series of mock drafts prepared by Bruno Boys staff writers Brad Berreman, Cory Steger and James Ronstadt. Brad, Cory and James will provide individual predictions and analysis on each team’s critical first draft pick in Round 1 of the 2011 NFL Mock Draft.

Here is Bruno Boys Cory Steger's initial take on Round 1 of the 2011 NFL Draft:

1.  Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton, QB, Auburn

After finishing a disappointing 2-14 last season, the Carolina Panthers need to make changes on both sides of the ball. The Panthers offense scored a league-worst 191 points last season (12.2 points per game average) and they’re likely to work on the offense with their first-round pick. One way to fix to jumpstart the offense and energize the fan base at the same time would be for the Panthers to select Auburn quarterback Cam Newton at No. 1 overall. New Panthers head coach Ron Rivera has been vocal in his praise and admiration of Newton. Following his mediocre showing in position drills at the Combine, Newton wowed scouts and coaches with his Pro Day workout. Newton still has some questions to answer and no doubt comes with baggage, however his athleticism and immense raw talent will be too hard for the Panthers to pass up.

Other Possibilities: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama; Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson

2.  Denver Broncos – Patrick Peterson, CB, Louisiana State

Louisiana State corner back Patrick Peterson is without question the most NFL-ready player in the 2011 Draft. Although making improvements to the defensive line is probably a greater and more immediate need for the Denver Broncos given the switch from the 3-4 to the 4-3, it’s impossible for the team to pass on Peterson, who draws comparisons to Deion Sanders. He ran a 4.34 in the 40-yard dash at the Combine, posted top marks in other workouts and impressed in his drills. He also weighed in at 219 pounds, giving him the size of a safety without sacrificing an ounce of agility or playmaking ability.

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Other Possibilities: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama; Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson

3.  Buffalo Bills – Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama

Should Auburn quarterback Cam Newton fall to the Buffalo Bills at the third pick, then he’ll find himself packing his bags and shuffling off to Buffalo. However it looks more likely that Newton is headed to Carolina, leaving the Bills to choose from a plethora of talented defensive linemen. In this case, Buffalo will select Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus with the No. 3 pick overall. Dareus has a lot of experience in the 3-4 scheme that the Bills run. He also showed off some great athleticism at the Combine despite his size (6’3”, 319 pounds). Da’Quan Bowers of Clemson is another terrific defensive end prospect that the Bills will consider, however Dareus is better suited for the defensive scheme and he wouldn’t have to make the large transition that Bowers would.

Other Possibilities: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn; Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson

4.  Cincinnati Bengals – Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer demanded a trade this offseason and even threatened to retire if he doesn’t get his wish. If by some miracle Palmer returns to the Bengals in 2011 to fulfill the final year of his contract, then that’ll definiitely be his last season in Cincinnati. Though the Bengals have pressing needs at both defensive end and safety, they typically spend high picks on offense rather than defense.  They continue that trend in 2011 and select Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert at No. 4 overall. Not only does Gabbert have a great arm, he showed at the Scouting Combine that he also has terrific athleticism. That’s entirely too much talent and promise for an offensive-minded franchise to pass up.

Other Possibilities: Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson; A.J. Green, WR, Georgia

5.  Arizona Cardinals – Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M

Von Miller is a freak. The Texas A&M linebacker wowed at the Combine when he measured in at 6’2”and 246 pounds, put up 21 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press, jumped 10 feet, 6inches in the broad jump and posted a 37-inch vertical leap. Oh yeah, he also ran a 4.53-second 40-yard dash and then followed up with a 4.49 at Arizona’s Pro Day. Miller is more than a freak. He racked up an impressive 178 tackles in his senior season along with 11 sacks.  Miller would make a great fit at outside linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals, who desperately need a playmaker of his caliber on the defensive side of the ball.

Other Possibilities: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri; Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina

6.  Cleveland Browns – Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson

The Cleveland Browns are making significant changes in light of the coaching change from Eric Mangini to Pat Shurmur. There are some gaping holes to fill as a result of the defensive scheme switch from the 3-4 to the 4-3. The biggest are along the defensive line where the Browns lack players that fit a 4-3 very well. Fortunately, Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers is a perfect fit for Cleveland. With 15.5 sacks as a junior last season, Bowers provides the edge-rushing end that the Browns desparately need. Moreover, Bowers is a guy who would be ready to step in and play immediately, a factor that makes him hard to pass up. Some of the other options that the Browns might consider with this pick either come with baggage or wouldn’t be immediate contributors. 

Other Possibilities: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia; Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina

7.  San Francisco 49ers – Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

New San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh would love to get his hands on a franchise quarterback like Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert. However given his soaring draft stock, Gabbert won’t be there at pick No. 7. Consequently, the 49ers choose to focus on the defensive side of the ball. While Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara sometimes gets a little lost in Peterson’s shadow, this guy is a legit cover corner with All-Pro potential. He’s the type of player who you can leave on an island and not panic. Current corners Nate Clements and Shawntae Spencer are showing signs of age and both have large contracts, meaning that one or possibly both could be gone in the near future. Amukamara is someone that a team can build a defense around.

Other Possibilities: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina; Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn

8.  Tennessee Titans – Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn

With ex-offensive line coach Mike Munchak now at the helm of the Tennessee Titans, the organization will fill holes along the lines. Former line coaches love to fortify the trenches because they believe that it makes the rest of the team stronger. This makes Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley a very attractive option for the Titans. While Fairley comes with concerns about his work ethic, maturity and decision making, Munchak will relish the opportunity to light a fire under him and hope that the former Tiger can replicate his impressive 2010 season for many years to come.

Other Possibilities: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina; Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas

9.  Dallas Cowboys – Tyron Smith, OT, Southern California

The Dallas Cowboys have seemingly ignored their offensive line for years. After getting off to a poor start last season and seeing franchise quarterback Tony Romo go down with a season-ending injury, Dallas can no longer afford to close a blind eye to their needs on the offensive line. Both their running and passing games would benefit from an O-line upgrade. Given the lack of depth at the offensive tackle in the 2011 Draft class, the Cowboys are likely to pull the trigger on Southern California tackle Tyron Smith, a prospect whose momentum is building following his outstanding junior season at USC. While Smith is a naturally gifted athlete with tremendous potential, he is a raw talent who has only played right tackle at the collegiate level. Drafting Smith this high means that the Cowboys intend to make him a left tackle. Hopefully he gets the coaching he’ll need to become a top-notch blind side protector.

Other Possibilities: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn; Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

10.  Washington Redskins – A.J. Green, WR, Georgia

The Washington Redskins will happily pull the trigger on Georgia receiver A.J. Green who slips to them at No. 10. While the Redskins will have to address their quarterback situation, they have a much bigger need at wide receiver. Veteran wideout Santana Moss is good, yet getting older and Anthony Armstrong is an interesting, yet inconsistent up-and-comer. Green brings instant playmaking ability to the position and he’d be able to step right in and produce regardless of who the quarterback is.

Other Possibilities: Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas; Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn

11. Houston Texans – Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina

The Houston Texans committed to the 3-4 when they hired Wade Phillips as their new defensive coordinator. The shift from a 4-3 means that the Texans really need an infusion of playmaking outside linebackers to facilitate the shift. Transforming their current crop of defensive ends into linebackers won’t cut it in the long run, so expect Houston to fill the void with North Carolina’s Robert Quinn. The supremely talented Quinn was suspended for the entire 2010 season after he was found to have accepted improper benefits (travel accommodations and jewelry) from an agent and then lied about it NCAA investigators. Houston owner Bob McNair tends to steer clear of guys with character issues, however his coaches at North Carolina have endorsed him as a good guy who made a bad decision and learned from it. With his great physical ability, power, speed and football IQ, Quinn appears to be NFL ready from Day 1.

Other Possibilities: Cameron Jordan, DE, California; Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri

12.  Minnesota Vikings – Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas

The Minnesota Vikings never felt comfortable with Tarvaris Jackson as the team’s No.1 quarterback and although Joe Webb filled in admirably last season, he was drafted to be a wide receiver. With Favre’s latest retirement, the Vikings are in the hunt for a quarterback. Ryan Mallett of Arkansas is the best option for them. Why? At 6’7” and 253 pounds, Mallett has a powerful arm that evokes memories of former Minnesota quarterback Daunte Culpepper. Mallett has the ability to find the end zone with ease and about the only concern about his playing potential in the short term is deep-ball accuracy. Time and experience should help him develop in that area.

Other Possibilities: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College; Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

13.  Detroit Lions – Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

Regardless of how the first 12 picks shake out, the Detroit Lions will still have some terrific options at No. 13. That said, it’ll be impossible for them to pass up Boston College tackle Anthony Castonzo. In 2007, Castonzo was the first true freshman to start for BC on offensive line in 10 years. He played right tackle and helped block for Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan during his record setting final season. Castonzo is a terrific pass blocker–an invaluable skill to the Lions in their efforts to better protect Matthew Stafford. While there are other players who would also make sense for the Lions at this spot, Castonzo is the perfect fit.

Other Possibilities: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado; Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

14.  St. Louis Rams – Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

Should Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones fall to the St. Louis Rams at No. 14, the Rams will quickly snatch him up. Last season quarterback Sam Bradford showed that he was not only ready to play, he was worth every penny the Rams paid him as the No. 1 overall pick. Bradford will be even more effective if he had a receiver who consistently makes plays, something that the team’s current group of receivers lacks. At 6’3” and 220 pounds, Jones ran the 40-yard dash in a blistering 4.34 seconds. Blessed with freakish athletic talents and amazing hands, Jones is one player that the Rams won’t let slip by.

Other Possibilities: Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA; Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois

15.  Miami Dolphins– Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama

With Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams on the roster, one could argue that the Miami Dolphins have bigger holes to fill than at running back–quarterback and center to name just two. However Brown either underachieves or gets hurt and sometimes both, while Williams is a free agent whom the Dolphins aren’t likely to re-sign. Last season Miami’s running game ranked No. 21 and the team’s paltry 3.7 yards per carry average put them at No. 30 in the league.  If the Dolphins are forced to roll with Chad Henne under center for another season, then an improved running game would make that more palatable. Alabama running back Mark Ingram is a fine solution for Miami. Ingram is a workhorse of a back and by all accounts a great teammate. In what could be a touchy situation with Brown, Ingram would make the most of his opportunities without stirring the pot. He’s a punishing runner who would add a new dynamic to the offense.

Other Possibilities: Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State; Mike Pouncey, G/C, Florida

16.  Jacksonville Jaguars – Cameron Jordan, DE, California

The Jacksonville Jaguars would prefer to take a linebacker with their pick at No.16, however Texas A&M’s Von Miller will be long gone and Missouri’s Aldon Smith isn’t the best fit for their system. Though the Jaguars spent their first-round pick on a defensive lineman in the 2010 NFL Draft, they’ll do the same this year particularly if Cal’s Cameron Jordan falls to them. Jordan has everything that you look for in a defensive end. He’s big and strong, yet fast and agile. Picking Jordan would also reunite him with former Cal teammate Tyson Alualu, whom Jacksonville selected in the first round last year. Some of the most dominant defenses in the history of the franchise came when the team paired Pro Bowlers Marcus Stroud and John Henderson at defensive tackle. Putting Jordan and Alualu together could yield similar results.

Other Possibilities: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue; Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri

17.  New England Patriots – Nate Solder, OT, Colorado (Pick in trade with Oakland Raiders)

18.  San Diego Chargers – J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin

19.  New York Giants– Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

20.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue

21. Kansas City Chiefs – Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State

22.  Indianapolis Colts– Mike Pouncey, G/C, Florida

23.  Philadelphia Eagles – Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

24.  New Orleans Saints – Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois

25.  Seattle Seahawks – Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple

26.  Baltimore Ravens – Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland

27.  Atlanta Falcons– Justin Houston, DE, Georgia

28. New England Patriots – Aldon Smith, DE/OLB,

29.  Chicago Bears – Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA

30.  New York Jets – Phil Taylor, DT/NT, Baylor

31.  Pittsburgh Steelers – Brandon Harris, CB, Miami

32.  Green Bay Packers– Cameron Heyward, DE/DT, Ohio State

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