Tuesday, February 8, 2011

JC's Take: 2011 NFL Mock Draft Version 1

JC's Take: 2011 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

Hello everyone. This is my first mock draft this off-season. I hope you all enjoy it.

1. Carolina Panthers: Nick Fairley DT/Auburn
-Poor Panthers. They had their hearts set on Andrew Luck, then he decided to go back to school. There is no doubting the Panthers need for a new QB. Jimmy Claussen did not look good last year. The problem for the Panthers is that there is no QB worth taking #1 overall this year. Even a spectacular combine probably wouldn't catapult a new QB to #1. So now the Panthers have to look elsewhere.

This pick comes down to 4 players: Fairley, LSU CB Patrick Peterson, Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers, and Georgia WR A.J. Green. Green can be eliminated because he would be useless without a QB. Peterson, while possibly being the best talent in the draft, doesn't fit a need for the Panthers. That leaves Bowers and Fairley. Bowers would fit if the Panthers decided to stick with a 4-3 defense. He's a DE in that defense and it is the best fit. But new coach Ron Rivera likes to run a 3-4 defense, and Bowers wouldn't fit in that Fairley does.

Fairley was an absolute beast in the National Championship game, and he was dominant all year for Auburn. The 2010 Lombardi Award winner seems ready to play in the NFL, and there are already comparisons to Ndamokang Suh from last year's draft. He has some character concerns, but those can be overlooked by many teams. The Panthers ranked 23rd against the run last year, and he fills an immediate need for Carolina.

2. Denver Broncos: Da'Quan Bowers DE/Clemson
-The Broncos ranked dead last in sacks last year with 23. Part of that is because they lost Elvis Dumervil last year to injury. He was their leading sack getter in 2010. The Broncos played the 3-4 scheme in 2010, but with John Fox as their new coach, are expected to switch back to the 4-3 in 2011.

Bowers was a sack master at Clemson in 2010. The problem some scouts have with him. however, is that last year was the only year he produced at Clemson. He struggled his first two years there. But I'm sure Bowers reminds Fox a lot of another pass-rushing DE he had at Carolina, Julius Peppers. Fox also selected Peppers #2 overall in his first year at Carolina.

The Broncos could also take Patrick Peterson here. If Champ Bailey decides not to re-sign with Denver, they will have a hole at CB. And even if Bailey re-signs, they may feel the need to get younger at that position. But Bowers will help the pass rush of the worst pass-rushing team in the league.

3. Buffalo Bills: Patrick Peterson CB/LSU
OK. I know a lot of Bills fans won't be happy with this. Being a Bills fan myself, I can tell you that I am ok with this pick.

GM Buddy Nix, speaking recently to the media, said that the Bills won't stray away from taking the best player on their board. More than likely, if the 1st two picks go as they do above, the pick will come down to Peterson or Georgia WR A.J. Green. Unless the Bills plan on trading Lee Evans, there is no need for Green. That is why this pick is Peterson.

The Bills need all kinds of help stoping the run, which is why Alabama DE/DT Marcell Dareus would be the perfect fit, especially because he can play the 3-4 and 4-3. But if the Bills are going BPA, then Peterson is that and fills a slight need. The Bills secondary gets good reviews, but it is not the greatest. Leodis McKelvin can have his off days, Drayton Florence is a free agent, and Terrence McGee is on the wrong side of 30 and has been hurt the last two years.

Peterson is being hyped as the second coming of Darelle Revis. QBs in the SEC strayed away from throwing to him as much as possible. If the Bills take Peterson here, then they'll need to address the defensive line either immediately in the 2nd round, or via free agency whenever it will start.

4. Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green WR/Georgia
The Chad Ochocinco/Terrell Owens era only lasted 1 year in Cincinnati. I thought for sure those two, along with a healthy Carson Palmer, would help the Bengals improve on their 2009 NFC North winning season. Instead, the Bengals choked big time. They finished 4-12, worse than their in-state rival Cleveland. That's embarassing.

With Ochocinco and Owens gone, the Bengals will need a new #1 target for Carson Palmer. Green is one of the top WR prospects to come out in a while. He's a big body that has great play-making ability. He should help satisfy Carson Palmer's needs for change in Cincinnati. Palmer recently demanded a trade, but owner Mike Brown said he would not meet Carson's demands. So Brown will probably listen to Palmer and give him what he wants, which is a new #1 target to replace Chad John, I mean Ochoc, I mean Johnson.

5. Arizona Cardinals: Von Miller OLB/Texas A&M
Talk about someone who has SHOT up draft boards. Miller had an impressive week in Mobile at the Senior Bowl. He may even go as high as #3 to the Bills, but with the emergence of Arthur Moats and the re-signing of Shawn Merriman, I don't think that happens.

Miller is a pass-rushing specialist. And not only that, he has the ability to go out in coverage and take on tight ends 1-on-1. The Cardinals pass rush struggled last season. Joey Porter did not solve any of its problems. Miller may turn out to be a bust, but as long as he continues to perform strong at the Scouting Combine, Miller will likely go in the Top 5.

The Cardinals may take a QB here, but with coach Ken Whisenhunt on the hot seat, and Larry Fitzgerald reportedly unhappy, I don't see that happening. They will more than likely go out and sign a veteran, or trade for one rather than draft a young rookie again.

6. Cleveland Browns: Marcell Dareus DT/Alabama
The Browns would LOVE to have A.J. Green fall to them here. He'd be the perfect target for QB Colt McCoy. But with Green off the board here, the Browns will more than likely look to improve their defense.

With Dick Jauron hired as the defensive coordinator, the Browns will be switching to a 4-3 defense. Dareus is the perfect fit for the Browns on the inside to go along with Shaun Rogers. The Browns may also look at DE Robert Quinn here to help their pass rush, or they may reach for WR Julio Jones. But Dareus is the safest pick of the three.

7. San Francisco 49ers: Prince Amukamara CB/Nebraska
This is a tough one to call. Jim Harbaugh is the new coach in San Francisco. He probably wants his own QB there. The problem is, Harbaugh runs a pro-style offense, and none of the top QBs in this draft have played in a pro style offense. The closest would be Jake Locker, but unless he has a spectacular combine, he isn't worthy of being picked here.

The 49ers need help at the CB position. Nate Clements isn't getting any younger. If it wasn't for Peterson, Prince would be the top CB in the draft hands down. He's the pick here. For all we know, the 49ers may try to "tank it" this year so Harbaugh can be reunited with his Stanford QB Andrew Luck in 2012.

8. Tennessee Titans: Blaine Gabbert QB/Missouri
Vince Young is gone. Jeff Fisher is gone. A new coach is coming in. And unless that coach wants to lose his job in 1 year by sticking with Kerry Collins, he'll draft a QB here. The question is which one will the Titans take. Gabbert appears to be the top overall prospect of the QB class. Locker is the most pro ready, but struggles in the pocket. Ryan Mallet has a big arm, but also character issuses. And Cam Newton has the play-making ability, but has never played in a pro-style offense.

This pick will probably come down to the way all of these QBs workout at their pro days and the NFL Combine. For now, Gabbert is the pick. He impressed this year at Missouri and could be ready to step in from day one.

9. Dallas Cowboys: Nate Solder OT/Colorado
Who would have thought that the Dallas Cowboys would be picking here in the Draft. There were a lot of people that thought they'd still be playing in early February. The Cowboys have weapons on offense and some playmakers in the front 7 on defense. So this pick is almost a need pick for the Cowboys.

The Boys would love for Prince Amukamara to falll to them here at 9. They struggled in the secondary last year and could use the help back there. But they also have problems protecting their QB. That was evident by Romo getting knocked out last year. Solder looks like the best tackle in this draft class.

10. Washington Redskins: Robert Quinn  OLB/North Carolina
The Redskins would love to draft a QB. I highly doubt that Donovan McNabb is coming back to Washington, and Redskins fans might rather watch paint dry then sit through a season of Rex Grossman at QB. The problem for the Redskins is that no QB is worth taking this high at 10. So there best option might be to trade down.

If QB isn't the pick, then the Redskins will look for a player to help out their poor defense. They ranked 29th in both stopping the run and the pass. Quinn has a great athletic frame and can be a pass rushing force for the Redskins to go along with last year's pick Brian Orakpo. That should definitely help the Redskins pass rush.

11. Houston Texans: Ryan Kerrigan OLB/Purdue
The Texans do not need to touch their offense here. Hell, I might even draft all defensive players if I were them. They are loaded everywhere and need all the help they can get on defense.

With the hiring of Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator, it means that the Texans will be switching to a 3-4 defense. They need someone to help out on the outside in this scheme. He had 12.5 sacks in his senior year and that put him in consideration as a top 15 pick.

12. Minnesota Vikings: Cameron Jordan DE/California
This is another team that could use a QB here. But I think the Vikings could wait until the 2nd round to address the QB issue. Again, the #12 pick is just a bit too high for another QB to be taken.

The Vikings could use some help on the defensive line. Ray Edwards and Pat Williams aren't getting any younger. They could also use another pass rusher to play opposite of Jared Allen. He had a good senior bowl and should be able to step in immediately and contribute on defense.

13. Detroit Lions: Akeem Ayers OLB/UCLA
My bold prediction for 2011: the Lions will make the playoffs. If everyone on offense can stay healthy, they have a really good shot. They good be the NFC's Houston Texans, but actually make the playoffs this time.

The Lions need help at a couple different place on defense: linebacker and in the secondary. There are no secondary players worthy of being taken this high here, so they should look for a linebacker. Ayers is a good fit for them on the outside and can replace Julian Peterson.

14. St. Louis Rams: Julio Jones WR/Alabama
Sam Bradford could be the QB of the decade. It looks like he has all the tools to beomce the next great franchise QB in the NFL. He did a lot right in his rookie year, even with his weak supporting cast at WR. Most of that had to do with injury, but even when healthy, they still aren't the best group of WRs.

Jones is the 2nd best WR in this class, and he would easily be #1 if it wasn't for A.J. Green. Jones has the capability of being a future #1 star for the Rams, and I'm sure new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will have no problems working him into their offense. The Rams are another dangerous team to look out for in the NFC during the years to come.

15. Miami Dolphins: Jake Locker QB/Washington
This is a tough one. The Dolphins clearly need help on offense. Their two star running backs, Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, are both free agents, aging quckly, and have battled injuries the last couple years. They could also use a better threat as the #2 WR oppostie Brandon Marshall. But the big question is: Does the Miami staff have faith in Chad Henne?

Henne struggled mightly last year, especially late. He took most of the blame for the Dolphins inability to score touchdowns. Tony Sparano may not have a lot of time left in Miami, so if he does take a QB, he will want one to produce right away.

Out of the 3 QBs remaining at this point (Locker, Cam Newton, Ryan Mallet) Locker would have to be considered the safest and most pro-ready. Newton wouldn't be ready from Day 1, and Mallet has character concerns. Locker struggles at times in the pocket, so that will have to be worked on. But Chad Henne's time may finally be up in Miami, and Locker could come in and compete for the starting job immediately.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Cam Newton QB/Auburn
Now just because Newton would be considered a reach at this point, and wouldn't be ready from Day 1, doesn't mean a team won't take a chance on him.

The Jaguars are a team that might be willing to take a risk. They competed until the end last year. But David Garrard struggled late and couldn't even play in their last game of the season with the playoffs on the line. Newton can sit behind Garrard for a year and learn, then be ready to assume the starting role in 2012. Garrard has not lived up to his big contract, and the Jags may be ready to move on in 2012. Newton can make plays with his legs but at times can struggle with his decision making ability and has not played in a pro style offense before.

17. New England Patriots: Mark Ingram: RB/Alabama
Lets thank the Raiders for performing above expectations this year. With the Raiders playing well and not like their normal terrible selfs, they avoided giving the Patriots a Top 5 pick.

The Patriots need help in only a few places. If Matt Light leaves, they will need an offensive tackle. They could also use a young outside linebacker to improve their pass rush. But the one thing the Patriots have never had under Bill Belichick is a solid, consistent #1 running back. They've used a platoon for as long as one can remember. Ingram would give the Pats a solid RB capable of playing every down. He would be a great dynamic added to their offense.

18. San Diego Chargers: Cameron Heyward DE Ohio St.
The Chargers were a surprising disappointment last year. They could not recover from their early season struggles like normal. They also dealt with injuries on both sides of the ball and the holdout of Vincent Jackson.

Heyward fills a need and provides depth for the Chargers upfront. If the Chargers stick with the 3-4, he will have to put on some bulk in order to play the end position.

19. New York Giants: Gabe Carimi OT/Wisconsin
You would think the Giants would like to address their defense here. It's what cost them at times making the playoffs, especially in the Green Bay game.

But the Giants also don't have a true LT prospect for the future. Carimi could be that guy. He had a great Senior Bowl week and would provide protection for the Giants long term investment in Eli Manning.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Adrian Clayborn DE/Iowa
Most people would probably consider this a reach. Clayborn has major character issues that need to be addressed, and he didn't take part in the Senior Bowl. That could cause Clayborn to slip as far as the 2nd round.

But the Bucs are desperate enough for help in their pass rush that they may be willing to take the chance on Clayborn. They need somebody to help out Gerald McCoy, and Clayborn could very well be that guy. The Bucs coaching staff will just have to do their homework before the draft, and make sure Clayborn will be fully ready to adapt to life in the NFL.

21. Kansas City Chiefs: Stefen Wisniewski  OL/Penn St.
The Chiefs desperately need help at the WR position. That was evident in their loss to the Ravens, where Dwayne Bowe was shut out and no other receiver stepped up to take his place. The problem is thee is no WR worth taking with this pick.

Wisniewski is the top interior lineman in the draft. He could step in right away and play either guard or center. He could be an anchor for the Chiefs many years down the road.

22. Indianapolis Colts: Derek Sherrod  OT/Mississippi St.
This season should that Peyton Manning is human after all. At times this year when he didn't get proper protection he was forced to make quick throws, which resulted in turnovers. The Colts also need help stopping the run, but protecting the face of the franchise is probably their #1 priority.

Sherrod is a solid OT prospect. Some scouts consider him the best in the class and most ready to start from Day 1.

23. Philadelphia Eagles: Tyron Smith  OT/USC
The Eagles desperately need someone to protect Mike Vick. Jason Peters has been mediocore at best since his trade to Philly. The Eagles also gave up 52 sacks last year.

Smith can come in and play either RT or LT. He has great athletic ability for an offensive lineman.

24. New Orleans Saints: Aldon Smith  OLB/Missouri
The Saints could use a RB here to help their offense, but I don't think there is one worth taking with this pick.

Smith would have to be considered a steal at this point. He had an impressive Senior Bowl week and most people believe he will be picked earlier in the middle of the first round. Smith would help the Saints pass rush immencely.

25. Seattle Seahawks: Brandon Harris  CB/Miami
The Seahawks still need a QB of the future. The only problem is that unless they feel like Ryan Mallet is their guy, there would be no QB worth taking here.

Seattle's pass defense is atrocious, that was made evident during the playoffs last year. Harris could step in and start immediately. And with Kelly Jennings headed for free agency, the need to address the CB position is even bigger.

26. Baltimore Ravens: Jimmy Smith  CB/Colorado
Baltimore has a glaring hole in the secondary. They were shredded on numerous occasions last year. They even got torched by Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills!

Smith is probably the last CB worhty of a selection in the first round. He has to be better than Josh Wilson, who was picked on constantly throughout all of last year.

27. Atlanta Falcons: Justin Houston  DE/OLB Georgia
Atlanta had plenty of opportunities to win their playoff game against Green Bay. They had Aaron Rodgers rapped up on numerous occasions during the game but were unable to bring him down.

Houston would help with that matter. He could fit in as a DE in Atlanta's 4-3 scheme. He might need to put on some muscle but that shouldn't be a problem.

28. New England Patriots: J.J. Watt  DE/Wisconsin
If Watt is available at this pick, Bill Belichick might be doing cartwheels in the draft room.

The Patriots defensive line is aging, and Watt is considered by some the best 3-4 DE in this draft class. He could help a weak pass rush and also has a great ability to stop the run.

29. Chicago Bears: Mike Pouncey  G/Florida
The Bears gave up a league leading 60 sacks last year. It's a wonder how Jay Cutler didn't get hurt worse before the NFC Championship game.

Pouncey could step in immediately at guard for the Bears, and could provide some great interior protection for Cutler.

30. New York Jets: Corey Liuget  DT/Illinois
The Jets have a lot of players leaving via free agency. They could be affected more on the defensive side.

Liuget is a big defensive tackle and could fill in as a replacement for Kris Jenkins should he get injured again.

31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Anthony Castonzo OT/Boston College
Jonathan Scott and Flozell Adams were ok fill-ins, but they are not the long term answers to the Steelers offensive line problems.

Castonzo could have gone higher in this mock. The NFL Combine will decide who the best tackle in the draft class is. Castonzo is a very intelligent tackle who can play either side of the line.

32. Green Bay Packers: Allen Bailey  DE/Miami
The Super Bowl Champs don't have a lot of needs. When healthy they are probably the best team in the league.

Bailey is a good depth guy to have at DE in their 3-4 scheme.

There it is. I don't know when I will do a second version. Probably not until after the Scouting Combine. I do plan on doing an off-season needs column for every team.

That's all for today.

Until next time,
Justin C

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