NFL

2011 NFL Mock Draft: Rounds 1 and 2

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1. Carolina Panthers = Marcel Dareus DT Alabama

The Panthers can go any way here as all of the top prospects are in play due to the Panthers having needs just about everywhere. They will definitely look at QB here but I think that the Panthers brass will stick with Jimmy Clausen for at least one more year as there is no franchise QB in this year's class and the Panthers surely know that they won't be winning too many more games than in 2010 in 2011, so they will be drafting high again next year. Andrew Luck & Landry Jones will be in the 2012 draft so the Panthers could bring in a veteran QB to spell Clausen and if that doesn't work out then they could go QB next year.

Defensive tackle has been a huge need since trading Kris Jenkins to the Jets and guys like Nick Hayden & Derek Landri aren't going to get the job done as starters so the Panthers will double down here and go for Dareus who according to sources they are extremely high on.

2. Denver Broncos = Von Miller OLB Texas A&M

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Denver like Carolina has needs across the board but luckily for them it's mainly on defense which is loaded at the top at DL and excellent players like Miller at OLB and Patrick Peterson at CB. Champ Bailey re-upping with Denver was huge for them and took away some of the pressure from taking a CB here so they will mainly focus on the front seven here and with Denver going to a 4-3 defense now, Miller makes a ton of sense here as he is at his best as a pro as a SLB in the 4-3 defense rather than a outside rusher in a 3-4. Denver definitely needs some DT's in the draft but with D.J. Williams as your only OLB of substance, they gotta add some pass rush here and with a Miller/Elvis Dumervil combo on the strongside, that would be a huge problem for opposing offenses.

3. Buffalo Bills = Cameron Newton QB Auburn

Buffalo really likes Ryan Fitzpatrick as their quarterback and both GM Buddy Nix and HC Chan Gailey has endorsed him to everyone they talk to but it is also no secret that they have scouted all of the top QB's in the draft heavily and sources say that Newton is now the #1 player overall on their draft board. Newton won't start immediately so Fitzpatrick would pretty much a lock to start this season at QB with Newton on the sideline but he would be lurking over his shoulder and the fans would be calling for him if Fitzpatrick has a bad stretch. I personally think the Bills should go defense here but if your #1 player overall on the board is available when you pick then you have to take him no matter what.

4. Cincinnati Bengals = Blaine Gabbert QB Missouri

The Bengals won't trade Carson Palmer this year but they will definitely take his replacement and now that Jay Gruden is in the fold as the OC, I definitely see them going QB here now whether it's Gabbert or Newton will come to who they prefer for their system. Gabbert didn't throw at the combine but he had a very impressive pro day last Thursday in Columbia and multiple sources said that he sealed the deal as being the top QB selected in the draft with that performance. The Bengals could go other ways though as A.J. Green could fill a huge need at WR and they need help on their pass rush so Robert Quinn could be in play as well.

5. Arizona Cardinals = Patrick Peterson CB LSU

Lots of factors will come into play here as the Cardinals would definitely look at QB here but they supposedly have an affinity for Kevin Kolb and if that doesn't work out then Marc Bulger's name which has been linked to them for free agency would come to the forefront to fill this need. The Cards surely needs help in their pass rush and Da'Quan Bowers is sitting here but with his injury concerns and the fact that he doesn't really fit in with what they do on defense also with Ray Horton coming in as the new DC, he would definitely look at a DB with different eyes than others. Peterson also would be a great value pick plus brings versatility where he may transform into a safety before it's said and done.

6. Cleveland Browns = A.J. Green WR Georgia

Team President Mike Holmgren has gone on record that he wants a home-run hitter on offense to give Colt McCoy weapons to work with and Green fits that bill to a tee. Mohammad Massaquoi, Brian Robiskie, & Josh Cribbs are decent as a group but adding Green would give the Browns a deep threat that would force defensive schemes to double-team him allowing the other receivers to work downfield. The Browns would also look at defensive line here since they are going to a 4-3 defense and Robert Quinn would be a good pick here but I don't think they are going to pass up on Green.

7. San Francisco 49ers = Robert Quinn OLB North Carolina

Vic Fangio is the new defensive coordinator and he loves to use the blitz in his 3-4 scheme so if the draft falls like I have it then I see it being very hard for the Niners to pass up on Quinn who could be the dynamic pass rusher the Niners need especially if Manny Lawson doesn't come back as a free agent. Parys Haralson is good at best and Ahmad Brooks has shown flashes but with a deep class of pass rushers this high in the draft it would be hard to pass up on a talent like Quinn.

8. Tennessee Titans = Nick Fairley DT Auburn

Fairley has drawn comparisons to Albert Haynesworth and no one knows the feast or famine possibilities of a player of that level on and off the field better than the Titans who Haynesworth played for from 2002-2008. The Titans haven't had a force in the middle of their defensive line since Haynesworth left and a talent like Fairley who at one point was a very viable selection for the #1 pick in the draft would be extremely hard to pass up on. Fairley has lots of questions off the field which has dropped him and could drop him towards the end of the 1st round but his film shows that when he is on he is dominant at collapsing the pocket. Another scenario for the Titans here is that they have a strong affinity for Jake Locker and they could move down to take him.

9. Dallas Cowboys = J.J. Watt DE Wisconsin

Marcus Spears is a free agent and with the lack of any kind of impact from Igor Olshansky on the other side, the Cowboys pass rush is a dire need that they must fill early in the draft. Watt's stock has been going up lately as the teams have worked him out and found out that he would be a great fit as 3-4 defensive end which there were doubts early in the process on whether he would have to stand up in the scheme. The Cowboys have good options here as they really like Cameron Jordan, Tyron Smith, & Aldon Smith so personal preference will play a factor here plus Dallas also may look at moving down here as well to gather extra picks.

10. Washington Redskins = Julio Jones WR Alabama

Jones' performance at the combine is almost legendary now after the reports of his broken foot surfaced and sealed his fate I think as a Top 10 pick plus this fits a big need as with Santana Moss heading into free agency, Anthony Armstrong would become the #1 receiver on the roster. The Skins could easily go for a QB here but I don't think they are sold on Jake Locker this high although they may double down and take him here. Redskins could also go pass rush here as well so Cameron Jordan is on the radar.

11. Houston Texans = Prince Amukamara CB Nebraska

The Texans would be ecstatic if Amukamara fell here and I think it would be a very easy pick to make even with the selection of Kareem Jackson in the 1st round last year. They want to move Grover Quin over to free safety so Amukamara would easily slide into his starting spot on the other side of Jackson giving the Texans a good set of cornerbacks which would help their pass rush in the new 3-4 defense. Texans would also look at Aldon Smith here as well to fill their need for a 3-4 rush linebacker.

12. Minnesota Vikings = Da'Quan Bowers DE Clemson

The Vikings especially HC Leslie Frazier have been enamored with the possiblity of Bowers sliding to them the past couple of weeks as his stock has been falling and with Ray Edwards being most likely gone in free agency that leaves Jared Allen & Brian Robison as the main pass rushers. Allen had a down year for him last year and Robison is a nice compliment but Bowers who if he can bounce back from his ACL injury would be a monster pass rusher to compliment Allen and would drive offensive coordinators crazy.

13. Detroit Lions = Tyron Smith OT USC

Jeff Backus is getting long in the tooth and is getting ready to slide over to the right side so the Lions will have to look at grooming someone to be his replacement and Tyron solidified his position as the top tackle on the board after a solid effort at the combine. If the Lions want to keep Matthew Stafford off the IR they must get him some help in his protection.

14. St. Louis Rams = Aldon Smith DE Missouri

James Hall racked up 10.5 sacks last year but he is getting long in the tooth so the Rams would like to draft a pass rusher to compliment Chris Long on the other side. The Rams drafted George Selvie last year and they like him but they would like some competition and Aldon who has risen up the boards over the past couple of months after a good combine and a pretty solid pro day could be the force they need in their pass rush. They would love if Julio Jones somehow falls here but I don't see it happening.

15. Miami Dolphins = Mike Pouncey OC/OG Florida

The belief for months has been that the Dolphins were looking at Mark Ingram heavily here but the talk is that the Dolphins are going to wait until later to address their HB need. Ryan Mallett is another man of interest here as both GM Jeff Ireland and HC Tony Sparano are very high on him but this would be too high to take him although if the Dolphins could move down later in the 1st round then Mallett is a definite possiblity for them. Pouncey going here would be a great fit as the inside of the Dolphins OL was a big problem last year and you can plug Pouncey in a spot most likely at guard for 10 years.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars = Cameron Jordan DE California

The Jaguars sorely need help in their pass rush and has needed it for years thinking they got it when they drafted Derrick Harvey in 2008 but he has been a big bust to go along with Aaron Kampman's ACL injuries the past two years, this is elementary. The question is who do they prefer and Jordan is someone that that they are familiar with especially with ex-teammate Tyson Alualu already on the roster.

17. New England Patriots (through Oakland) = Anthony Castonzo OT Boston College

The Patriots OL is going through some massive changes as Matt Light is probably going to leave in free agency, Stephen Neal retiring, Nick Kaczur having serious back issues, & Logan Mankins having issues with being a franchise player, this is a big position of need. Pats want to get younger and more athletic here to help Tom Brady survive opposing defenses and Sherrod brings some needed size as well.

18. San Diego Chargers = Ryan Kerrigan OLB Purdue

Chargers GM A.J. Smith made a rare pro-day visit to Purdue to scout Kerrigan personally and the Chargers brass have scouted Kerrigan heavily as they would love to have another pass rusher on the edge to go along with Larry English & Shaun Phillips especially if English continues to falter as a starter. Kerrigan was a 4-3 defensive end so he would have to make an adjustment but with Shawne Merriman being released last year, another pass rusher is key here.

19. New York Giants = Corey Liuget DT Illinois

This would be yet another defensive lineman for the Giants in the 1st round but unlike the last few years this would be on the inside which has become a big position of need especially with the uncertainty of Rocky Bernard or Barry Cofield coming back. Chris Canty is set as one starter but the Giants need to find a presence on the inside of the line to go along with their solid pass rushers to make their defensive line a dominant force.

20. Tampa Bay Bucs = Adrian Clayborn DE Iowa

Tampa's pass rush was anemic last year as Stylez G. White led the team with 4.5 sacks while the rest of the team could only produce 21.5 ranking them 30th in the NFL and with the drafting of Gerald McCoy & Brian Price last year to solidify the inside, the Bucs must now focus on the outside and Clayborn would be a solid fit for their scheme.

21. Kansas City Chiefs = Gabe Carimi OT Wisconsin

Branden Albert has been a disappointment as the left tackle and with Brian Waters on the tailend of his career a move to left guard could benefit him so the Chiefs could use another impact player on the line who could help protect Matt Cassel. The Chiefs OL fell apart against the Ravens in the wild card game last year as Cassel was destroyed and the running game that was solid all year was nowhere to be seen.

22. Indianapolis Colts = Nate Solder OT Colorado

Solder needs some work in some areas regarding protection but he may have the most upside of all the tackles in the draft and with the right coaching he could be the left tackle that the Colts have been needing the past few years and something that could keep Peyton Manning healthy during the stretch run of his career.

23. Philadelphia Eagles = Jimmy Smith CB Colorado

Asante Samuel is solid one on side but the other side is in flux because of Ellis Hobbs' neck injury which leads to some uncertainty about him coming back which left Dimitri Patterson to man the other side and while he was servicable they seriously need to upgrade here to give them the stability they used to have when they had Lito Sheppard & Sheldon Brown as a tandem. Smith would be good value here as well because character issues have dropped him down some and even off of some teams' boards completely which doesn't bother the Eagles a ton because they have a history of taking guys with issues and it has turned out well for the most part.

24. New Orleans Saints = Mark Ingram HB Alabama

Reggie Bush not coming back is pretty much a lock so that leaves Pierre Thomas & Chris Ivory as your main running backs and while Thomas signed a new deal and Ivory had his moments last year, the lack of a consistent running game killed the Saints numerous times last year. Ingram would be a great value pick here as well as he could easily go in the middle of the round so I think the Saints go with the value here.

25. Seattle Seahawks = Jake Locker QB Washington

The Seahawks brass have been going back and forth about taking a QB in the 1st round but after Locker's workout with the team last week sources say that if he is available for them at their pick then he would be the selection. Matt Hasselbeck will most likely be back this season so Locker wouldn't have to start immediately plus Charlie Whitehurst is on the depth chart so Locker wouldn't have immediate pressure to step in. Plus it doesn't hurt that Locker is a hometown guy so this would be a popular pick.

26. Baltimore Ravens = Muhammad Wilkerson DE Temple

This is the dream scenario for the Ravens in this draft because they have scouted Wilkerson more than just about anyone in the draft and they are intrigued about what he can add to their defensive line especially in the pass rushing department which has been a little down for them lately.

27. Atlanta Falcons = Justin Houston DE Georgia

The Falcons sorely need a pass rusher to help compliment John Abraham & Kroy Biehrmann plus Houston gives them flexibility of being able to stand up when the Falcons go to their multiple fronts. Houston is high on the Falcons radar and if he is available here, it's hard for me to see them passing him up.

28. New England Patriots = Akeem Ayers OLB UCLA

Ayers is a natural 3-4 outside linebacker and the type of player that Bill Belichick likes as he is very good at playing the pass along with rushing the passer plus he brings some value here so he would be intriguing to the Pats who in this era has never taken an OLB in the 1st round.

29. Chicago Bears = Derek Sherrod OT Mississippi State

It seems like offensive tackle has been a position of need for the Bears for 20 years since the heyday of Jim Covert & Keith Van Horne and with the Bears having some busts and free agency failures here, they take Sherrod who is the last of the top level tackles left on the board.

30. New York Jets = Phil Taylor NT Baylor

The Jets would be elated if Taylor fell to them here because they need someone who can be a dominant force on the interior of their defensive line and they like Taylor a lot so it makes sense. Taylor has some character issues but that doesn't faze the Jets in the slightest and his potential is big enough to take the risk.

31. Pittsburgh Steelers = Brandon Harris CB Miami (Fla)

The Steelers have avoided this position in the 1st round for years and it's time that changed because this is the biggest glaring need on their roster which was put on blast during the Super Bowl when Aaron Rodgers shredded the secondary on his way to victory. Ike Taylor who is their best cornerback also is a free agent so this is an even bigger need than before so they go with Harris here who Mike Tomlin was scouting heavily at the Hurricanes pro day.

32. Green Bay Packers = Cameron Heyward DE Ohio State

This became a position of need really quick as not only is Cullen Jenkins a free agent but with Johnny Jolly being arrested in March, his status is up in the air so the Packers grab Heyward here who has dropped down some boards lately but is really good value here. Heyward would be a big help for B.J. Raji and would give the Super Bowl champs an extra playmaker on their solid defense.

Round 2

33. New England Patriots (through Carolina) = Danny Watkins OG Baylor
34. Buffalo Bills = Kyle Rudolph TE Notre Dame
35. Cincinnati Bengals = Ryan Williams HB Virginia Tech
36. Denver Broncos = Stephen Paea DT Oregon State
37. Cleveland Browns = Marvin Austin DT North Carolina
38. Arizona Cardinals = Christian Ponder QB Florida State
39. Tennessee Titans = Ryan Mallett QB Arkansas
40. Dallas Cowboys = Aaron Williams CB/FS Texas
41. Washington Redskins = Brooks Reed OLB Arizona
42. Houston Texans = Rahim Moore FS UCLA
43. Minnesota Vikings = Randall Cobb WR Kentucky
44. Detroit Lions = Bruce Carter OLB North Carolina
45. San Francisco 49ers = Andy Dalton QB TCU
46. Denver Broncos (through Miami) = Christian Ballard DE Iowa
47. St. Louis Rams = Torrey Smith WR Maryland
48. Oakland Raiders = Ras-I Dowling CB Virginia
49. Jacksonville Jaguars = Martez Wilson MLB Illinois
50. San Diego Chargers = Titus Young WR Boise State
51. Tampa Bay Bucs = Clint Boling OG Georgia
52. New York Giants = Mikel LeShoure HB Illinois
53. Indianapolis Colts = Jarvis Jenkins DT Colts
54. Philadelphia Eagles = Ben Ijalana OG Villanova
55. Kansas City Chiefs = Jabaal Sheard OLB Pittsburgh
56. New Orleans Saints = Orlando Franklin OG/OT Miami (Fla)
57. Seattle Seahawks = James Carpenter OT Alabama
58. Baltimore Ravens = Jonathan Baldwin WR Pittsburgh
59. Atlanta Falcons = Jerrel Jernigan WR Troy
60. New England Patriots = Allen Bailey DE Miami (Fla)
61. San Diego Chargers (through NY Jets) = Quan Sturdivant ILB North Carolina
62. Chicago Bears = Jurrell Casey DT USC
63. Pittsburgh Steelers = Rodney Hudson OC/OG Florida State
64. Green Bay Packers = Daniel Thomas HB Kansas State

Top 5 available on the board

Leonard Hankerson WR Miami (Fla)
Lance Kendricks TE Wisconsin
Colin Kaepernick QB Nevada
Kendall Hunter HB Oklahoma State
Greg Little WR North Carolina