The storylines of the 2011 NFL draft have been swirling around Cam Newton and the rare potential of this defensive line class. Newton is seen by many to be one of the toughest prospects to predict, which has helped make him the hottest topic of the draft.
Although, his transition into the NFL has been heavily questioned, his draft stock doesn't reveal that at all.
Newton has ultimately been projected to be selected within the first four picks in the majority of mock drafts.
With the CBA questions looming over the draft, many teams will be forced to make decisions that aren't in the norm come April 28th. Since the unfinished CBA has disabled teams from any offseason moves, not only will teams not be able to operate as usual, but many teams will also be forced to put need over value when drafting the future of their franchise in this draft.
With over one-fourth of the teams quarterback-needy, I believe this is the most intriguing aspect of this draft.
They all need a quarterback.
That's an awful lot of franchises in need of the game's most important positional player, and with no way to sign a QB through free agency (until the lockout is over), this creates somewhat of a sense of urgency for these teams.
The general consensus is that Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert will both be gone by the time the ninth pick is on the clock, and the other QB prospects are basically in a gray area.
The most notable of the "second-tier QB prospects" are Jake Locker, Ryan Mallett, Christian Ponder, Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick. What their destinations might be are much in question.
The two wild cards of those QBs are Locker and Mallett, who I believe could go anywhere from the eighth overall pick to the 43rd overall pick. Both players have the kind of potential that could have them as high as a top-two QB on some teams' boards.
Some teams will go with a proven veteran and some will enter into the Kevin Kolb sweepstakes.
It will be interesting to see how the quarterback lottery plays out and which teams feel the pressure to draft a QB come draft day.
Now, here for my predictions:
- Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
- Denver Broncos: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
- Buffalo Bills: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
- Cincinnati Bengals: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
- Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
- Cleveland Browns: AJ Green, WR, Georgia
- San Francisco 49ers: Robert Quinn, OLB/DE, North Carolina
- Tennessee Titans: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
- Dallas Cowboys: JJ Watt, DE, Wisconsin
- Washington Redskins: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
- Houston Texans: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
- Minnesota Vikings: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
- Detroit Lions: Anthony Costanzo, OT, Boston College
- St. Louis Rams: Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
- Miami Dolphins: Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri
- New England Patriots(from Oakland): Cameron Jordan, DE, California
- San Diego Chargers: Tyron Smith, OT, USC
- New York Giants: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
- Kansas City Chiefs: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
- Indianapolis Colts: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
- Philadelphia Eagles: Mike Pouncey, OG/C, Florida
- New Orleans Saints: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
- Seattle Seahawks: Andy Dalton, QB, TCU
- Baltimore Ravens: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
- Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame
- New England Patriots: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
- Chicago Bears: Muhammad Wilkerson, DL, Temple
- New York Jets: Justin Houston, OLB/DE, Georgia
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor
- Green Bay Packers: Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio St.
For an explanation of each pick please check out Dolphin Shout Mock Draft.