It’s time to start the 2011 NFL Draft. Ryan and I conducted a final mock draft over the past 4 hours, adding 3 picks per hour up until the Vikings selection at #12. Don’t be afraid to leave comments in the comments section below this entry to let us know what you think will happen.
What do you think?
1. Carolina – QB Cam Newton
I’ve been predicting Newton would be the top pick for about 6 weeks now, but in the last 72 hours or so I’ve been cooling off on the opinion. But then a few guys whose opinions I respect chimed in with Newton as their projected #1 pick, so my confidence was restored. This isn’t the pick I’d make if the Vikings held the #1 selection, but I think the Panthers feel comfortable handing the “face of the franchise” role to this draft’s most dynamic offensive player.
2. Denver – LB Von Miller
To be honest I’m not sure if Miller fits with Denver’s defensive scheme. To my eye, Miller is a great outside LB in a 3-4 scheme, similar to a Terrell Suggs in Baltimore. I’m not sure that Broncos Head Coach John Fox is going to run a 3-4, but I am sure a defensive-minded guy like Fox covets the skill set of Miller. He’s explosive coming off the line and rushing the passer and he has the aggressive style to play the run well.
3. Buffalo – DT Marcell Dareus
In some combination, I’m sure that Dareus and Miller will go 2nd and 3rd. For the purposes of this mock draft, Dareus slips to #3 and Buffalo is happy. Dareus can play anywhere along the Bills defensive line and is “scheme diverse.” He’ll instantly become one of the best defensive players on the roster. I was tempted to put WR A.J. Green here, thinking head coach Chan Gailey (an offensive-minded head coach) would love to have an elite WR to aid QB Ryan Fitzpatrick’s development. But, in the end, I think defense wins out and the Bills wind up with Dareus (or Miller if Denver chooses Dareus).
4. Cincinnati – WR A.J. Green
Most mock drafts have the Bengals taking a wideout here, and I guess it comes down to either A.J. Green (Georgia) or Julio Jones (Alabama) if they go that route. The wild card for them would be the quarterback position. Assuming Cam Newton is off the board, the only quarterback most would consider taking here would be Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert. Carson Palmer has said he’s unhappy as a Bengal and wants out, so they would appear to be in the market for a signal-caller, but I think they go the safe route and take Green here.
5. Arizona – CB Patrick Peterson
The Cardinals, like most teams picking in the top ten, are another team with an unsettled quarterback situation. But there are reports out there that they will bring in Marc Bulger once the NFL’s labor situation is settled, and they have youngster John Skelton, who was a rookie last year and played okay in limited time. So while Gabbert is an option for them here, I think they’ll look to address their defense, which was 29th in the NFL a season ago. LSU’s Patrick Peterson is the best defensive player left on the board here, so he’s the pick.
6. Cleveland Browns – DE Robert Quinn
The Browns could go many ways here, but I think it comes down to North Carolina DE Robert Quinn or one of the two top wide receivers, assuming at least one of them is left on the board, which they certainly should be. The Browns leading wide receiver in 2010 was Chansi Stuckey with 40 catches, so there’s no where to go but up there. But Quinn has a chance to be the Draft’s top pass-rusher, and elite defensive ends are more valuable than top wide receivers, so I think Cleveland surprises and goes with Quinn and wait to address the wide receiver spot until later in the Draft.
7. San Francisco 49ers – QB Blaine Gabbert
A dream scenario unfold for new head coach Jim Harbaugh, as he will enjoy the pleasure of hand-picking his franchise QB and having him in the fold for his first season on the job. Harbaugh has publically praised current 49ers QB Alex Smith, but I believe it’s smokescreen in an attempt to keep Gabbert on the board. It worked, because Gabbert slides to #7 and the 49ers slap high-fives in their draft room.
8. Tennessee Titans – QB Jake Locker
If this happens, I’ll be disappointed. I’m hoping he’s available when the Vikings are on the clock at #12, but my hunch is Tennessee will surprise us and take a QB. They’ve publically acknowledged that Vince Young is on the way out, and I’m sure the new Titans coaching staff would like to have Locker on the roster to compete with Kerry Collins for the starting job.
9. Dallas Cowboys – OT Tyron Smith
There’s been late steam that Smith isn’t the best-rated OT among teams’ draft boards, but I think that’s wrong and Smith will be the pick for Jerry Jones and Co. The Cowboys saw QB Tony Romo go down early last year after a sack, which ruined their season. That’s the impetus for taking a pass-rushing stopper such as Smith here.
10. Washington Redskins – DT Corey Liuget
Two reasons for this pick. First, I think there’s a strong likelihood for a trade here. A run of defensive linemen is due and I think a team that covets Liuget will move up a few slots to grab him before someone else beats them to the punch. The second reason for this pick is because Washington could stay put and grab Liuget to replace Albert Haynesworth, who is certainly on his way out the door.
11. Houston Texas – DE Aldon Smith
New defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will tab Smith as an outside pass rusher who can stand up in his 3-4 defense. Smith could even slide in and put his hand on the ground as a DE in the 3-4 scheme. Phillips will love that versatility and that’s ultimately what will cause him to prefer Smith over CB Prince Amukamara.
12. Minnesota Vikings – CB Prince Amukamara
My instinct says the Vikings could very well trade back into the later stages of the 1st round to grab either a QB on their wish list or an offensive or defensive lineman. But with the way we have this draft working out, both Amukamara and WR Julio Jones are available and if the Vikings stay at #12 I think they’ll choose the CB.
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