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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

2011 NFL Mock Draft 3.0: Post Super Bowl

It's a wrap.  Now that the 2010 season is in the books, teams turn their attention to building a better team in 2011.  Let's ignore all the CBA BS for now and focus on the upcoming draft.  The All-Star games are over so we have a better idea of where the top guys are shaking out and we have the entire draft order set, so let's do it.

As always you can create a mock of your own over at and you can find tons of other mock drafts at WalterFootball and DCProSportsReport.  Please let me know your thoughts in the comments especially if you are a fan of one team and really disagree with the position or style of player drafted in this mock.

Round 1

Patrick Peterson   from LSU 
The Panthers will take Peterson because he is a truly elite talent.  The complexity a lockdown Cornerback affords a defense is something that their new DC, Sean McDermott, will love when they start using his blitz packages that he ran with the Eagles. A shutdown CB helps in 2 areas of the field, first by stopping a team's top WR and second because he makes the QB hold on to the ball too long and then the pass rush can get to him. Peterson is being talked about like he is one of the best in a long time.  

Fairley and Bowers will certainly get consideration here but it's much easier to find highly talented DTs and DEs later in the draft than it is to find once in a generation CBs.  


Nick Fairley   from Auburn 
People say that Fairley is a one hit wonder and he takes plays off so that will hurt his stock.  I'm not buying it.  Fairley was dominant in every game that I saw him play and he even played multiple positions along the D Line.  That versatility is going to be huge for him on draft day and compel the Broncos to take him 2nd overall.  He'll pair nicely with Dumervil and be flexible enough to move to either the NT or DE spots depending on what front they are using. 

Marcell Dareus   from Alabama 
The Bills could not stop anyone from running on them last year which was a problem because they were often behind in games and needed to preserve the clock.  Dareus is more of a penetrating tackle than he is a run stuffer but there is more than one way to mess up a running attack.  Dareus played against double teams and through injuries this season so he wasn't as dominant as he was last year but the talent is still there.   


A.J. Green   from Georgia
While I don't think the Bengals are going to trade Palmer, they are going to get rid of TO and OchoCinco.  They have drafted a few good WRs in the last few years but nobody is close to Green.  If they address their offensive line in the next round, they have the ability to pull off a very quick turnaround despite losing those marquee names.  


DaQuan Bowers   from Clemson 
There is probably a very slim chance that Bowers falls this far because people love him and he has even drawn comparisons to Julius Peppers.  While I don't think he is quite that good, he will almost definitely be a Top 5 pick.  The Cardinals have Dockett and Campbell playing end now, Bowers is too good to pass up here.  He'll be able to rotate in with those two guys and keep a fresh pair of legs attacking QBs all game long.


Julio Jones   from Alabama
It might be impossible for the Browns to have worse receiving options.  This could be a little high for Jones but he will step in and be the #1 WR for Colt McCoy right away.  He has the speed, the size, and play-making ability to be a very good WR in the NFL as long as he continues to improve his hands this is a good pick for Cleveland.

Blaine Gabbert   from Missouri 
New Head Coach Harbough is familiar with good QBs and has a knack for developing talent.  Gabbert has the ability to be a great QB in the NFL and Harbough would be a great coach to bring it out of him.  Hopefully they don't make the same mistake of so many top QBs before him and put him in there too soon.  Fortunately the 49ers revamped their OLine last year so he should be relatively protected when they do put him in.  He'll also have good targets in Morgan, Crabtree, Davis, and Gore.

Cam Newton   from Auburn 
Vince Young and Jeff Fisher are both gone which means that the Titans need a new QB and if Owner Bud Adams liked Vince Young, he will love Cam Newton.  Newton is going to need a lot of work much like Gabbert, but probably even more.  Newton has all the physical tools and looks like he is athletic enough to learn how to play the position as well as anyone.  The Titans have to figure out over the next few months whether he can understand how to play QB in the NFL.

Prince Amukamara   from Nebraska 
This has to be the absolute dream scenario for the Cowboys.  They NEED to find a replacement for Mike Jenkins who might have been one of the most embarrassing CBs in the NFL last season.  The Prince isn't as athletic as Peterson but he is a complete Corner who will be an immediate upgrade across from Terrence Newman.


Cameron Jordan   from California 
With Julio Jones gone the Redskins are in a tough spot.  They need a new QB but unless they are really high on Mallett or Locker, there really isn't one worth taking here.  At that point I think they take the best player available and to me that is Cameron Jordan.  Jordan seems like the most "sure thing" DE prospect after Bowers.  While he may not have the upside of a Quinn, he seems to be a safer bet and a team like the Redskins can hardly suffer a bust at this point.  


Von Miller   OLB from Texas A&M 
Von Miller has been one of the top OLB's in College Football for the last two years and really solidified that reputation at the Senior Bowl when he continually wowed scouts with his explosion and agility.  The success of Clay Matthews could also inspire teams to look for the next pass rushing OLB specialist and Von Miller is exactly that.  He would be huge in Houston's new 3-4 and would be an incredible nucleus of young defensive talent with Williams, Ryans, and Cushing.  There should also be some good CBs in the 2nd round that they can pair with last year's first round pick Kareem Jackson.


Gabe Carimi   OT from Wisconsin 
Minnesota is going to need to find a free agent QB this year because it doesn't look like really any in this year's class are going to be able to come in and start right away.  No matter who they eventually find to play QB, they are going to need to protect him and taking a great OT prospect in Gabe Carimi here and a developmental QB in the 2nd is a much better idea than reaching for a QB here and getting a 2nd tier OT in the 2nd.  Carimi is a mauler and he is going to be able to open up some huge holes for Adrian Peterson.


Robert Quinn   from North Carolina
Quinn was widely regarded as a Top 5 pick going into the 2010 season but wasn't eligible to play due to some snafu with a scout and the NCAA being awful.  But UNC's loss is Detroit's gain here.  Quinn is still an absolute stud.  Not playing football for a year doesn't make a guy all of sudden slow.  Maybe he's a little rusty initially, but he could be a huge pickup for the Lions.


Aldon Smith   DE from Missouri
Coming out a year early, Aldon Smith still needs work on technique and pass rush moves.  The Rams already have a solid veteran in place with James Hall, but he and Long would be able to help Smith learn the ropes and put his ridiculous size/athleticism to use.  Smith looks like a puppy out there sometimes, he has tons of energy , his arms look almost too long for his body (a good thing for football players), and he doesn't always seem to know what he's doing.  Once he learns though he could be dominant.  This is about where Jason Pierre Paul go last year and although Smith doesn't have a backflip youtube video he has the same athleticism and maybe more experience. 


Mark Ingram   from Alabama 
This might be the most commonly mocked pick right now.  Just about everyone I've seen or spoken with has Ingram to the Dolphins and it's just because it makes so much sense.  Ingram is definitely the top RB in this class with only LeShoure coming anywhere close and the Dolphins definitely need to overhaul that position which had been a strong suit for them.  Both Brown and Williams are getting older and their contracts are up.


Ryan Kerrigan   DE from Purdue 
Kerrigan could finally be that pass rushing DE that the Jaguars have been trying to draft for the past decade.  He is a hard working, high motor beast.  Kerrigan isn't as big or athletic as some of the other 1st round DEs, but he has good pass moves and he never stops.  That kind of energy will pair fantastically with last year's top pick DT Alualu.

Cameron Heyward DE from Ohio State
This pick is going to be a DE.  I give the nod to Heyward instead of Jordan or Watt because of his continued dominant play and versatility.  Heyward is also more athletic than the other two.  The Pats need help at the Defensive End position and the Offensive Tackle position.  Fortunately they have 900 picks in the first three rounds this year and 3 picks in the top 33 overall.  I'm pretty sure they'll be able to fill whatever holes they have with this year's bounty.


Jonathan Baldwin WR from Pittsburgh
Could there be a better candidate for the next Charger WR?  The Chargers entire WR group is on the verge or free agency right now.  Based on the all the injuries and holdouts last year it's clear that the Chargers need to add another WR anyway and Baldwin absolutely fits their mold of big and fast.  This is a little high for my taste, in fact, I can very easily see Baldwin slip into the 2nd round unless he has a a great Combine but he gets the benefit of the doubt right now.


Nate Solder   OT from Colorado
Solder was always thought of as a finesse kind of guy who was too lanky at 6'9" to anchor against a powerful bull rush.  However, his performance at the recent Senior Bowl put that to rest.  He was powerful and even played with a nasty streak.  This guy would start immediately at RT and eventually be the successor at LT.


Justin Houston   OLB/DE from Georgia
Houston is a very productive OLB/DE and would plug in nicely as a pass rush specialist DE in Tampa right away while working himself into the full time position.  He is fast and strong but a bit undersized to really hold up against the run right now.  However, continued time in the weight room should help that out.  This would give the Bucs a very young and talented defensive line


Tyron Smith   OT from USC
Smith is maybe the most athletic OT in this draft class but is a bit raw.  He could probably step in during his rookie year but might take some time to fully develop.  The good news is that he will never lose that frame or athleticism so it's really just a matter of coaching him up.  This would be a great pickup for KC and should help give Cassel some time to find Bowe, the Chiefs only WR.   Or who knows, maybe there are other WRs on the Chiefs but Cassel doesn't have enough time to find them?


Mike Pouncey   OG from Florida
The Colts finally get the help along the offensive front that they've needed.  Pouncey can essentially apprentice at Guard next to the aging star Jeff Saturday until he is ready to retire.  If Pouncey is anything like his brother, this is going to be a great pickup for the Colts.  

They will also consider Defensive Tackle here, but when you are about to hand the richest contract in the history of football to Peyton Manning you want to make sure that he stays upright.  They will take the best offensive lineman here and that's Pouncey.


Jimmy Smith   CB from Colorado
Jimmy Smith is a Cornerback with a great combination of length, athleticism, and speed.  If he were a bit stronger and attacked the run like Amukamura was he would be going much higher.  The Eagles really need help opposite Samuel, this need was showcased last season when Kenny Britt burned the Eagles for 3 TDs.  Smith is the kind of CB that won't be laying anyone out in the run game but he can definitely hang with the size/speed freak WRs like Britt.

The Eagles will also be considering O Line help here and if any of those top DEs fall here because teams are looking for 3-4 help, I wouldn't be surprise if the Eagles think about another 1st round DE.


Mikel LeShoure   RB from Illinois
LeShoure really put on a show this year and it's no surprise that he declared early.  LeShoure has great vision, power, and agility with good speed and hands.  After the Saints woes at RB last year I can definitely see them targeting a top RB in this draft.  Bush might get a new deal because the Saints aren't paying him the scheduled $11 million next year and Pierre had a pretty big falling out with the team so I'd be surprised to see him back.  Rookie Chris Ivory was very good this year but I still think they'll pull the trigger on another great RB.


Ryan Mallett   QB from Arkansas
Seattle might be rethinking it's QB future after seeing how good Matt Hasselbeck played in the playoffs this season.  However, just because they spent a 3rd round pick on Charlie Whitehurst last year doesn't mean they won't look for QB here.  Hasselbeck does have another few years left in him so this could be a great place for a developmental QB prospect like Mallett to end up.  Mallett obviously has all the physical tools but he needs to be trained how to play QB in the NFL and by going later in the 1st round he should have some time to develop behind a veteran QB.  

The Seahawks need real help in a few places and they could look for a more immediate need like the Offensive Line, DT, or DE.

Brandon Harris   OLB from Miami
 How is it that the Ravens almost always have one of the top players in a position of need fall right into their laps?  The Ravens absolutely need help at CB and lots of people have Harris as the #3 guy.  This pick is almost a no-brainer for Harbough.  WIth all of the talent from the U already in their defense this guy will have quite a support system in place and could probably step in immediately.  


Kyle Rudolph   TE from Notre Dame
After watching Atlanta get eliminated from the playoffs this year Tony Gonzalez looked like a very tired man.  He's discussed retirement before and I think he has at best one year left.  In order to get a jump on finding their next Tight End I think the Falcons will go after the best prospect in this year's draft, Kyle Rudolph.  Rudolph is more of a pass catcher right now but he is not a bad blocker either.  If he gets to learn behind Gonzalez for any time at all it would be very beneficial for Rudolph.

The Falcons are also going to pick up some help at Safety in this draft but I think they'll wait until the 2nd round to do that when they'll get more value for their pick.

Akeem Ayers   OLB from UCLA
The Patriots are another team that just always seems to be in the right place at the right time in terms of great players at positions of need falling into their lap.  It does help when you have 2 picks in each of the first 3 rounds though.  They completely luck out here as Ayers who could be a top 15 pick slides to them at 28.  Ayers is super athletic and can play OLB in either scheme which helps the Pats because they really like to switch it up.  He and Heyward would both likely be able to step in and start right away.  


Anthony Castonzo   OT from Boston College
Castonzo is a 4 year starter at BC who specializes in pass protection but is still good enough to become a starting OT in Chicago the second he signs his contract.  Cutler was sacked more times this season than any other QB in the league.  It's pretty safe to say that they need better protection for their huge investment.  That is if they keep him after that "knee injury" against the Packers.  


Muhammad Wilkerson DT from Temple
Shaun Ellis and Kris Jenkins are currently the Jets NTs.  Jenkins has had back to back season ending knee injuries and Ellis is 34 and really slowing down.  Wilkerson is one of a few really good NTs in this years draft.  He dominated for Temple with his size, explosion, athleticism, and speed.  With a defensive minded coach like Rex, he could become a monster.


Derek Sherrod   OT from Mississippi State
The Steelers managed to tape up their wounded OLine all the way to the Super Bowl but they were finally exposed by the Packers.  Sherrod is a very quick and very strong OT who would be able to help solidify Big Ben's front line of defense.  Pouncey and Sherrod would form a great young nucleus to build around in Pittsburgh.


Adrian Clayborn   DE from Iowa
Despite a down year for Clayborn, he is still a top DE prospect.  He can rush the passer and hold up against the run equally well.  A 3-4 position might actually help him as he'll have less ground to cover in his DE responsibilities.  The Packers pick up another piece of a great defense here with Clayborn. 

We had a pretty good conversation going after the last mock, so let me know your thoughts in the comments and we can get another one started here.  I'll be doing the next Mock after the combine in a few weeks and it might even be my first 2 rounder of 2011 (!), so stay tuned. 

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