Well it's finally here. Today is Day 1 of the 2011 NFL Draft which means that all the mocking and prognosticating is over. All the player info and team needs have been processed and there is nothing more to do but sit back and see what happens. This is my final attempt to sort out what I think will happen in the 1st Round tonight. Enjoy!
If you're interested in seeing the SKOHRboard Top 80 Players in the Draft, well look no further than here. If you are interested in seeing other mock drafts hoping to live up to the greatness of this one (but failing) check out Walter Football or DC Pro Sports Report.
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1. Carolina Panthers - Cam Newton, QB - Auburn
The Panthers are going to take Cam Newton because they think he has unlimited potential at the most important position in the game. If that's how they feel then they have to make this pick. Personally I think they should take Dareus or Peterson, reinforce the O-Line later to uncover their running game, and stick with Clausen for another year.
2. Denver Broncos - Marcel Dareus, DT - Alabama
Dareus is probably the safest pick in the whole draft and I know that is usually the best way to jinx a guy, I'm pretty sure that Marcel isn't going to read this. He had great production for three years at one one of the best defensive programs in the country and against some of the best talent in the country. He will absolutely help Denver's defense immediately.
3. Buffalo Bills - Von Miller, OLB - Texas A&M
The Bills didn't have any pass rush whatsoever last season and they need to improve that immediately. Aaron Maybin is all but written off by now and the Bills hope that Von Miller's superior production, athleticism, and character mean that is NFL stats are also the opposite of Maybin's.
4. Cincinnati Bengals - AJ Green, WR - Georgia
The Bengals refuse to believe that Carson Palmer is actually done playing for them. AJ Green has to be the pick here even if they subconsciously think Palmer is gone. While Gabbert has been really hyped up over this process, it's likely that the Bengals will be able to find a QB at the top of Round 2 who is highly valued while there definitely won't be any more elite WRs hanging around in that area. Chad Ochocinco is almost definitely gone too, so they really have a need at WR anyway.
5. Arizona Cardinals - Blaine Gabbert, QB - Missouri
Plenty of talk has been given to Larry Fitzgerald's desire for better QB play NOW. Well unfortunately Fitz isn't the GM of the Cardinals. Gabbert could absolutely improve their QB play but it's not going to happen immediately. He is going to have to learn the NFL game and work on some things. That could take a few months or even a year. Either way, the Cardinals are going to have to find a veteran QB to come in and start for them to at least begin the season. I guess Fitz kind of get his wish afterall.
6. Cleveland Browns - Julio Jones, WR - Alabama
The Browns are totally jazzed that Julio Jones fell to them here. They literally have no receiving threats. Zero. Not many rookie WRs are able to step in and really contribute in their first year, but when Colt McCoy looks up and the only person who is open is rookie WR Julio Jones, I think things might be different.
7. San Francisco 49ers - Patrick Peterson, CB - LSU
Peterson along with everyone else is stunned that he fell this far despite being the best player on the SKOHRbaord Top 80. However, Coach Harbaugh couldn't be happier that he is able to get the kind of dynamic playmaker who can step in and significantly improve his defense.
8. Tennessee Titans - Nick Fairley, DT - Auburn
Nick Fairley is probably the most explosive and disruptive Defensive Lineman in this year's draft class. The only reason he has "fallen" this far is because some people have been questioning is motor and his desire to do the consistent hard work that is necessary to be a star in the NFL. His attacking style is perfect for Tennessee who has always been a team that drives their DL upfield.
9. Dallas Cowboys - Tyron Smith, OT - USC
Dallas needs help in a few areas but none as much as OT. They are able to select the OT with the highest ceiling in this year's draft. Tyron Smith is super athletic for a man his size. He is a bit raw and might not be able to play immediately but he should be able to work his way onto the field soon enough. Jerry needs to protect his fragile little Romo and Smith looks like the best man for the job.
10. Washington Redskins - Jake Locker, QB - Washington
The Redskins would love to trade back and grab more picks but they need a QB and despite how many QBs there are that could go in the 1st in this class, none of the rest have the upside that Locker does. If they move back, they'd risk letting Locker slip by. He could very well develop into the best QB in this class but the key word here is develop.
11. Houston Texans - Prince Amukamara, CB - Nebraska
The Prince has fallen! The general consensus seems to think that Prince is a top ten lock, but he has fallen all the way to 11 and the Texans couldn't be happier. Their pass defense last season was just about as poor as a pass defense could possibly be. Playing against the likes of Peyton Manning twice a year doesn't help that but at some point they have to get better, right? Well Amukamara is going to go a long way to helping that. He and last year's 1st Rd pick, Jackson, should be a great pair of CBs for years to come.
12. Minnesota Vikings - Ryan Mallett, QB - Arkansas
Mallett is really going to surprise people when he is taken this high, but with his arm it shouldn't be a surprise. His lack of mobility is troubling but if you watch his throws you can't help but come away impressed. It's not just how far or how hard he can throw it but Mallet can also put great touch on the ball. Plenty of negative rumors have spread about him during the draft process and while I have to think some of them are real, I also think that the Vikings understand how to deal with that, just look at how well Harvin has turned out for them.
13. Detroit Lions - Robert Quinn, DE - UNC
Quinn is a top ten talent but he slips here because teams have needs other than a 4-3 DE. Fortunately for Detroit, they are able to snap him up here and immediately improve their pass rush. Quinn isn't the best against the run but he probably better than people give him credit for. His speed and athleticism are terrific and he should play right away for the Lions.
14. St. Louis Rams - Da'Quan Bowers, DE - Clemson
Bowers knee has gotten a real bum rap over the past few months and if the Rams think he'll be alright, Bowers is a steal at #14. He is a perfect 4-3 DE because he can play the run and get after the passer equally well. Unfortunately for the Rams, they'd much rather have gotten their hands on one of those top WRs to help Bradford out. With those guys both off the board, they could also try to trade back to a team who thinks Miami might be taking their QB.
15. Miami Dolphins - Christian Ponder, QB - Florida State
The Dolphins haven't quite given up on Chad Henne yet but let's just say that with this pick, his leash is very short. Ponder has all the makings of a great NFL QB. He has dropped in rankings because of injury fears and some inconsistent play but he is smart, he is hard-working, he is athletic, and he can be very accurate. Now Miami just has to improve their Offensive Line who happens to be really good at getting their QBs injured which is obviously not ideal for anyone but especially Ponder.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars - Aldon Smith, DE - Missouri
Smith is a super long and athletic DE who has room to grow and room to improve. He could develop into a very dangerous DE in Jacksonville. The Jaguars seem to always been searching for a pass rush and Smith has the ability to really help them out.
17. New England Patriots - JJ Watt, DE - Wisconsin
We all knew JJ Watt was a good football player, but at 6'5" and 290lbs who knew he was that athletic. Watt really impressed me at the Combine and I think proved his ability to succesfully play either DE or DT at the next level. The Patroits are a team that loves hard working versatile guys on their defense and eagerly scoop him up here.
18. San Diego Chargers - Cameron Jordan, DE - California
The Chargers have been trying to find the pass rush that they lost ever since Shawn Merriman stopped taking steroids. While Jordan isn't a pass rushing specialist, he is a force to be reckoned with and if he isn't getting QB pressures someone else should be free to do so. Jordan will be able to start right away for San Diego.
19. New York Giants - Anthony Castonzo, OT - Boston College
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Ryan Kerrigan, DE - Purdue
After bulking up their DT position last season with 1st and 2nd Rd picks of McCoy and Price, the Bucs add to that young and talented D-Line with the Ryan Kerrigan who was 1st team all-hustle last season. Kerrigan is a non-stop QB attack machine. He isn't the fastest or the strongest but he is always in the right place at the right time and has racked up dozens of sacks and forced fumbles over his career at Purdue. The Bucs will love his enthusiasm, high character, and love of the game.
21. Kansas City Chiefs - Phil Taylor, DT - Baylor
Taylor isn't without is personal problems but he is mammoth and you can't teach mammoth. He easily weighs over 340lbs and that has the makings of immovable Nose Tackle written all over it. The Chiefs have gotten much better play out of their DEs and their LBs as last year went on but a NT like Taylor would just soak up potential blockers and let all those other players more freedom to make plays.
22. Indianapolis Colts - Gabe Carimi, OT - Wisconsin
I keep thinking about the Colts taking defense here but then I remember that the key to the Colts is Peyton Manning not being injured. Their Line play was spotty at times last season and they need to get better if they are going to give Peyton the biggest contract in the NFL soon because you really don't want to pay him to be hurt. Carimi could step in and play RT immediately or he could probably play Guard if need be.
23. Philadelphia Eagles - Jimmy Smith, CB - Colorado
The Eagles really need help opposite Asante Samuel and they find it here in Smith. Lots of talk has been devoted to his "character issues" but I don't think whatever he's done is that troubling. I don't remember hearing about him acquiring stolen laptops, cheating on exams, or demanding money to sign a scholarship offer. Smith has just as much CB talent as Amukamara or Peterson but those concerns let him slide all the way to the Eagles who couldn't be happier that he experimented with pot and substantially increased the value of their 23rd pick.
24. New Orleans Saints - Muhammad Wilkerson, DE - Temple
The Saints are a team that could use some help getting after the passer. Wilkerson absolutely dominated as a DT at Temple and by moving him to more of a DE position in the Saints 3-4, he should continue attacking upfield and penetrating into opponents backfield's.
25. Seattle Seahawks - Andy Dalton, QB - TCU
The Seahawks QB position has been in doubt since the end of the season. While it isn't readily obvious that they'll try to resign Hasselbeck, they probably should. However, even if they resign him, they'll need to find someone to replace him and Andy Dalton can absolutely be that person. Dalton is accurate, he wins, and he is a leader. He will hopefully be able to learn under Hasselbeck for at least a year before taking the reigns.
26. Baltimore Ravens - Nate Solder, OT - Colorado
The Ravens have a big question at OT going into next season and they can very easily choose to draft one of these very good OTs. In this scenario Nate Solder is the best available and would form a terrific bookend protector for Joe Flacco with Michael Oher. Flacco is probably the only QB in the league who would be able to see over 6'7" Solder, and good luck finding Ray Rice behind him.
27. Atlanta Falcons - Leonard Hankerson, WR - Miami
The Falcons badly need help for Matt Ryan and Roddy White. They could easily go with TE, Kyle Rudolph here but I think they want to lock up the best available WR and that is Leonard Hankerson. He is big, fast, and has great hands which are really critical components to the makings of a good WR and the entire Falcons Offense is going to be happy about this pick.
28. New England - Derek Sherrod, OT - Mississippi State
The Pats use their second pick of the first round to help shore up Tom Brady's protection. Much like the Colts, the Patriots realize they must keep their valuable QB upright if they want to compete. They do that by adding the athletic big man, Derek Sherrod who can play both OG and OT. His versatility gives the Pats some flexibility with regard to re-signing some of their free agents along the O-Line.
29. Chicago Bears - Corey Liuget, DT - Illinois
The Bears really wanted one of those top OTs to fall to them here and it's somewhat surprising that they haven't but they are more than happy to take hometown DT stud Liuget. He is a non-stop attacking DT much like Wilkerson who can play multiple fronts along the D-Line. The Bears will try to grab a solid OT prospect in the next frame.
30. New York Jets - Justin Houston, DE - Georgia
Initially I thought they'd go with Cameron Heyward but then I remembered how everyone would die if they chose another Buckeye DE with a questionable motor in the first round. They'd really like to take Phil Taylor but he isn't available here. Houston makes the most sense because they need help at OLB and it's generally pretty risky to take college DEs with the intention of converting them to 3-4 OLBs however, Houston already converted to OLB last season so he has at least a year playing the position under his belt.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers - Aaron Williams, CB - Texas
The Steelers absolutely need help in their Secondary and Aaron Williams size and versatility make him the choice here. This choice will cover them for at least one position and will give them greater flexibility in Free Agency. Williams was highly productive at Texas and does a good job coming up against the run, which is something the Steelers will really appreciate.
32. Green Bay Packers - Cameron Heyward, DE - Ohio State
The Packers love big DEs in their 3-4 and in Heyward they get a 6'4" 295lb athletic monster. Heyward has shown the ability to absolutely dominate games but he doesn't do it all the time. On a team coming off the Super Bowl Championship, I have to imagine that there are some leaders on that team who will know how to get the most out of Ironhead's progeny.
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