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2011 NFL Mock Draft - Version 4.0
John Tuvey
April 7, 2011

While NFL football in 2011 may still be up in the air, at least we know we’ll have a draft. And with the potential window for any sort of free agency prior to Draft Day rapidly closing, teams may be taking a different approach to the selection process. Here’s a third take at what might transpire in prime time on April 28.

NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0 »   NFL Mock Draft Version 2.0 »   NFL Mock Draft Version 1.0 »

1. Carolina Panthers:  Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Previous mocks:  Gabbert, Da’Quan Bowers, Nick Fairley
There are many indications Cam Newton will be the guy here, and if not for that darn lockout the Panthers would already be negotiating with someone so we’d have a better idea. I may eventually fall in line, but right now I just don’t see a quarterback developer on Carolina’s staff who can get Newton to reach his potential.

2. Denver Broncos:  Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
Previous mocks:  Dareus, Patrick Peterson
Denver will use this pick to upgrade their defense, with the good fortune of choosing between the two surest bets in this year’s crop: Dareus and Patrick Peterson.

3. Buffalo Bills:  Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Previous mocks:  Newton, Marcell Dareus
Chan Gailey turned an athletic spread-option quarterback into a productive NFL quarterback with Tyler Thigpen in Kansas City, and Newton certainly brings more to the table than Thigpen. If the Panthers do take Newton off the board, though, Buffalo shifts gears and takes Von Miller.

4. Cincinnati Bengals:  A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Previous mocks:  Green
At this juncture we must proceed as if Carson Palmer will be somewhere other than Cincinnati this fall, but there should still be quarterback options on the board when Cincy picks in Round 2. Green will give that young quarterback a premium target who’s also a whole lot less temperamental than Chad Ochocinco or Terrell Owens.

5. Arizona Cardinals:  Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M
Previous mocks:  Miller, Blaine Gabbert
If the Bills take Miller that likely means Gabbert is still on the board, and the  Cardinals would pair him with Larry Fitzgerald. But they seem willing to fill their quarterback need with a veteran, so look for them to address defensive shortcomings here.

6. Cleveland Browns:  Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
Previous mocks:  Jones
The Browns reportedly promised new defensive coordinator Dick Jauron more talent to work with. However, Mike Holmgren is an offensive guy and he knows his team desperately needs playmakers. Looks like Jauron will have to wait until Round Two.

7. San Francisco 49ers:  Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Previous mocks:  Peterson, Prince Amukamara, Da’Quan Bowers
Jim Harbaugh finds himself in a good position, as one of the two elite corners should still be on the board with this pick.

8. Tennessee Titans:  Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
Previous mocks:  Fairley, Robert Quinn
The Titans would likely take Gabbert if he were to fall, but they too could address their quarterback need in Round 2 while beefing up their defensive front here.

9. Dallas Cowboys:  Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
Previous mocks:  J.J. Watt, Prince Amukamara
Multiple options for the Cowboys to address key needs. Offensive tackle Tyron Smith is a mock favorite for Dallas, but expect them to lean defense in the first round. Medical concerns drop Bowers here, and if he doesn’t check out Amukamara is hardly a consolation prize.

10. Washington Redskins:  J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
Previous mocks:  Da’Quan Bowers, Cam Newton
Mike Shanahan would like a quarterback to develop, but he’d have to do some serious selling to Danny Snyder to take Jake Locker or Ryan Mallett here. If the Redskins can’t trade back—and there may be teams looking to move up for Watt, among others—Watt solidifies their defensive front.

11. Houston Texans:  Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
Previous mocks:  Aldon Smith, Von Miller
Most teams use their entire 15 minutes, but if Amukamara is still on the board you’ll see the Texans’ rep run a 4.29 40 getting his name to the podium.

12. Minnesota Vikings:  Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
Previous mocks:  Quinn, Anthony Castonzo
The Vikings are another team looking to trade back, as they have multiple needs are are already lacking a third-round pick. Quinn could be another target of a team like the Patriots and Chargers, both of whom are targeting pass-rushers and have extra picks in the first two days of the draft.

13. Detroit Lions:  Tyron Smith, OT, USC
Previous mocks:  Anthony Castonzo, Brandon Harris, Gabe Carimi
Castonzo is more ready to play right now, but Smith has the higher upside. It’s an interesting dilemma for the Lions, and unlike the Matt Millen years you can no longer bank on them to screw it up.

14. St. Louis Rams:  Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
Previous mocks:  Cameron Jordan
The Rams are desperately hoping for A.J. Green or Julio Jones to slide to them here, as even if they package their first and second picks the draft value chart suggests they couldn’t get any higher than the Niners’ pick at #7. They’d be slightly reaching at their other areas of need, with Liuget getting the nod over linebacker Akeem Ayers.

15. Miami Dolphins:  Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Previous mocks:  Ingram
Now there’s talk that Ingram might not be the first back off the board, that he might fall out of the first round, blah blah blah. The Dolphins run the ball 500 times a year and are kicking Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams to the curb. With no second-round pick thanks to the Brandon Marshall deal, it’s tough to see them waiting until Round 3 to draft a guy who’ll they’ll be asking to carry the load for their offense.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars:  Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
Previous mocks:  Kerrigan, Robert Quinn, Adrian Clayborn
There’s a distinct theme here: the Jaguars need a pass rusher. Kerrigan is the safer pick, but the Jags could opt for Adrian Clayborn if they’re satisfied with his medical report, or they could pursue the upside of Aldon Smith.

17. New England Patriots (via OAK):  Cameron Jordan, DE, California
Previous mocks:  Aldon Smith, J.J. Watt
New England has enough picks—six over the first three days of the draft—to get pretty much anybody they want. For example, if they package their #17 and #60 they could trade up to #11—and still have #28 and #33. They might be perfectly happy with Jordan, though, plugging him in at an end spot and enjoying the production.

18. San Diego Chargers: Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
Previous mocks:  Heyward
Heyward isn’t in every mock draft’s first round, but unless the Chargers see Justin Houston or Akeem Ayers as the solution at rush linebacker he’s their safest bet. And don’t sleep on the Chargers making a deal out of this spot as well; they have a pair of additional third-round picks that, if packaged with this selection, would allow them to move up at least five spots.

19. New York Giants:  Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
Previous mocks:  Ayers
The Giants need help at linebacker and along the interior of their offensive line. Ultimately, it’s as much about whether they’d be satisfied with a linebacker like Mason Foster or Mark Herzlich later on, in which case they could opt for Mike Pouncey or Danny Watkins over Ayers.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri
Previous mocks:  Adrian Clayborn, Derek Sherrod
Clayborn might be the safer pick, but Smith has the potential to be an explosive pass rusher—especially with the defensive tackles Tampa Bay drafted last season eating up blockers.

21. Kansas City Chiefs:  Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia
Previous mocks:  Houston, Aldon Smith
There’s some buzz suggesting the Chiefs might use this pick to shore up the interior of their offensive line, specifically on Mike Pouncey or Steve Wisniewski. But there should be o-line options further back, while linebacker—especially one who fits the Chiefs’ system like Houston does—will be harder to come by.

22. Indianapolis Colts:  Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
Previous mocks:  Gabe Carimi, Danny Watkins
Do the Colts follow the Packers’ model and take Peyton Manning’s successor here? Brett Favre was 35 when the Packers drafted Aaron Rodgers, and Manning is 35; the difference might be that Andy Dalton would be a reach here. What the Colts really need is a widebody to keep Manning upright for another five years.

23. Philadelphia Eagles:  Brandon Harris, CB, Miami
Previous mocks:  Aaron Williams, Harris
The Eagles could be swayed by the availability of Nate Solder or Mike Pouncey, but with so few quality corners in this draft they’ll take Harris here and grab a big fella later on.

24. New Orleans Saints:  Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pittsburgh
Previous mocks:  Corey Liuget, Ryan Kerrigan
The Saints need pass-rushing help, though they wouldn’t be afraid to raffle this pick to a team who wants to move up and pick through the second tier of quarterbacks. Sheard gets after the quarterback better than Adrian Clayborn; linebacker Martez Wilson could be an option as well.

25. Seattle Seahawks:  Nate Solder, OT, Seattle
Previous mocks:  Tyron Smith, Corey Luiget
Unless the Seahawks are ready to write off Charlie Whitehurst as a bad debt, I just don’t see Seattle going with Jake Locker or another quarterback here. Pete Carroll wouldn’t have issue with Jimmy Smith’s off-the-field issues and could opt to upgrade the Seahawks’ secondary, but Seattle has had so many offensive line concerns for so long they’re more likely to dip in the remaining talent pool at that position.

26. Baltimore Ravens:  Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple
Previous mocks:  Torrey Smith
Gabe Carimi wouldn’t surprise here given the uncertainty with Baltimore’s tackle positions, but they should still be able to find some help there on Day Two; same goes for a speedy field-stretching wideout. Five-technique ends, on the other hand, are in shorter supply, and Wilkerson’s draft stock is rising.

27. Atlanta Falcons:  Mike Pouncey, OG/C, Florida
Previous mocks:  Pouncey, Danny Watkins, Jon Baldwin
Atlanta could use a complementary wideout as well, but with a helper along the interior of their offensive line still on the board—and three-fifths of the Falcons’ o-line potentially free agents—Pouncey gets the nod.

28. New England Patriots:  Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor
Previous mocks:  Clint Boling, Tyron Smith
Assuming the Patriots don’t package this with another pick to move up, they’ll address their offensive line. Watkins gives Bill Belichick a versatile, moldable player who has veteran age but low football mileage.

29. Chicago Bears:  Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
Previous mocks:  Steve Wisniewski, Mike Pouncey
Carimi is much more in the mold of a Bears offensive tackle. Plus he can play either side and, coming from Madison, won’t have to move very far.

30. New York Jets:  Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
Previous mocks:  Taylor
Bench-press champ Stephen Paea is starting to get mentioned in first-round mocks again, but Taylor still seems like the better fit for what Rex Ryan’s defense wants to do.

31. Pittsburgh Steelers:  Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
Previous mocks:  Aaron Williams, Clint Boling, Smith
The Steelers’ locker room should be able to keep Smith and his off-the-field concerns in line; in return, they get an athletic upgrade at a position of need.

32. Green Bay Packers:  Christian Ballard, DE, Iowa
Previous mocks:  Nate Solder
No glaring areas of need, so Ted Thompson will look for value. That could mean trading out of the first round to let another team (Tennessee? Washington? San Francisco?) start the run on quarterbacks, it could mean Ryan Williams as a backfield complement, it could mean an offensive lineman... or it could mean some help at defensive end, a position which was thinned by injuries last season.


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