As each week passes, NFL Scout Jayson Braddock along with our College Football Editor Danny Hobrock continue to adjust their mock drafts as they do more research on this year’s prospects and continue to consider the individual needs of all 32 teams.
Our mock drafts have caught a lot of attention this year with Colin Kaepernick our first quarterback off the board. We want to make clear that while we take into consideration what we believe teams will do on draft day, we focus more on what we believe teams should do when they’re on the clock.
We’re moving right along as we head into the second full week of April and the start of the first round begins to peek over the horizon. Our updated mock draft (version 6.5 for those keeping track) again features two full rounds with several changes throughout. We are holding steady with Colin Kaepernick our favorite quarterback in this draft class, while a fourth running back makes an appearance at the bottom of the second round, joining Mark Ingram, Ryan Williams and Mikel Leshoure in our two-round mock. Meanwhile, two offensive tackles make their return to our first round.
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Xtra Point Football 2011 NFL Mock Draft 6.5
Returning to 1st Round:
Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State Bulldogs
Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin Badgers
Dropping Out of 1st Round:
Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh Panthers
Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado Buffaloes
1. Carolina Panthers- Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn Tigers: The Panthers are a tough call to make given their need for a franchise quarterback and the abundance of defensive talent at the top of this year’s draft class. Marcell Dareus has been mentioned as a possible top overall selection, but as we scan game film we can’t help but think that Fairley is the cream of the crop of this year’s tackle class (even if the margin is razor thin). Da’Quan Bowers falls out of the top spot amid speculation that his injury is worse than is being let on.
Previous Pick: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
Other possibilities: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia; Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
2. Denver Broncos- Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama Crimson Tide: We like Fairley better as a 4-3 defensive tackle, but Dareus isn’t far behind him. Denver has to improve their D-line; with the injury concerns to Da’Quan Bowers and Fairley already taken, we would be surprised if the Broncos didn’t select Dareus.
Previous Pick: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
Other possibilities: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU; Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
3. Buffalo Bills- Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M Aggies: Miller has shot up draft boards since the process began. He’s arguably the top pass rusher in this year’s class and would be a real asset to any defense regardless of alignment.
Previous Pick: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
Other possibilities: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU; A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
4. Cincinnati Bengals- A.J. Green, WR, Georgia Bulldogs: Chad Johnson might not be back in 2011 and the Bengals will need to get their quarterback a true playmaker whoever the quarterback is. Green grades out as one of the top athletes in this draft. Instant star.
Previous Pick: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Other possibilities: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina; Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
5. Arizona Cardinals- Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU Tigers: Imagine Peterson lined up opposite Dominic Rodgers-Cromartie. Teams would be hard-pressed to throw away from Arizona’s top corner and would be forced to pick their poison. What’s more, Peterson is arguably the best player in this year’s draft.
Previous Pick: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Other possibilities: Cameron Jordan, DE, California; Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
6. Cleveland Browns- Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina Tar Heels: We’re firm believers that you should make you evaluations based on game film. There are exceptions to every rule, though. Da’Quan Bowers has been one of our top prospects, but he appeared to be still recovering at his pro day. Cleveland can’t risk taking Bowers when Quinn is graded slightly lower at the same position and is completely healthy.
Previous Pick: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
Other possibilities: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama; Cameron Jordan, DE, California
7. San Francisco 49ers- Cameron Jordan, DE, California Golden Bears: Choosing between Jordan and J.J. Watt isn’t an easy decision, but we like Jordan as a 3-4 defensive end prospect. The 49ers could also look to grab Patrick Peterson if they’re lucky enough to see him fall to them here, or could select any of this year’s top quarterbacks.
Previous Pick: Cameron Jordan, DE, California
Other possibilities: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin; Prince Amukamara, S, Nebraska
8. Tennessee Titans- Julio Jones, WR, Alabama Crimson Tide: There are plenty of holes for the Titans to fill. They need a quarterback, but we feel it’s too early to grab one here, so we believe they should take the best player available. The Titans don’t have a true number one wide receiver. Kenny Britt has had some injuries and could play opposite of Jones as the number two. With Britt and Jones as receivers and Chris Johnson in the backfield, this offense will be easy to run for any quarterback.
Previous Pick: Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
Other possibilities: Prince Amukamara, S, Nebraska; J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
9. Dallas Cowboys- Prince Amukamara, S, Nebraska Cornhuskers: The Cowboys seriously need to upgrade the secondary. Seriously. Amukamara could compete at cornerback upon arrival in Dallas, but we like him as a safety at the next level.
Previous Pick: Tyron Smith, OT, USC
Other possibilities: Tyron Smith, OT, USC; J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin Badgers
10. Washington Redskins- Tyron Smith, OT, USC Trojans: We realize that Washington drafted Trent Williams last season in the 1st round, but Mike Shanahan has always run high-powered zone blocking schemes in which it didn’t matter who the running back was. To do that, he needs the right mobile linemen up front. Smith would push Williams for starting left tackle and the loser of the battle would be the starting right tackle. They’d have the core of the line that Shanahan wants.
Previous Pick: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
Other possibilities: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama; J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
11. Houston Texans- Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson Tigers: He’s the prototype defensive end in Wade Phillips’ 3-4 defense. The Texans would be ecstatic to get top-notch talent with the 11th pick. Bowers was a stud on tape and should still produce after the knee is completely healed.
Previous Pick: Prince Amukamara, S, Nebraska
Other possibilities: Brandon Harris, CB, Miami; J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
12. Minnesota Vikings- J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin Badgers: Minnesota needs a bigger defensive end to man the left DE position on the defensive line. Watt will bring youth to an aging line and play opposite of Jared Allen. It’ll be hard for an offense to stop a defensive line with Allen, Watt and the Williamses.
Previous Pick: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
Other possibilities: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College; Nate Solder, Colorado
13. Detroit Lions- Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College Eagles: Whereas last week we had the third offensive tackle coming off the board at #22 to the Colts, this year’s top three tackles are gone after Detroit picks. The Lions need to protect Matthew Stafford; it’s getting ridiculous.
Previous Pick: Tyron Smith, OT, USC
Other possibilities: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado Buffaloes; Brandon Harris, CB, Miami
14. St. Louis Rams- Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois Fighting Illini: If Julio Jones is off the board, the Rams will need to take the player that can best help their team. Liuget can cause havoc up the middle and the Rams need a defensive tackle to anchor the front of their 4-3 line.
Previous Pick: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
Other possibilities: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama; Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple
15. Miami Dolphins- Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada Wolf Pack: We still believe the Dolphins could trade out of this spot to pick up more selections in this year’s draft. Kaepernick could be a player they trade back to nab. Even if they stay at this spot, they may be forced to take Kaepernick here given that he’ll likely be long gone before Miami selects again in the third round. His stock could also continue to climb to the point that Miami would have to select him here even if they are able to procure a second round selection. We like him as the top quarterback in this year’s class and we’re sure we aren’t the only ones.
Previous Pick: Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada
Other possibilities: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn; Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
16. Jacksonville Jaguars- Cam Newton, QB, Auburn Tigers: Rumors of Tim Tebow to Jacksonville were whispered last year. It didn’t happen, so they now will go after his backup. The Jags have to breathe life into a fan base that has been bored to death by the play of David Garrard. A backfield of Maurice Jones-Drew and Rashad Jennings combined with Cam Newton should definitely bring fans to the stadium.
Previous Pick: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Other possibilities: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri; Brandon Harris, CB, Miami
17. New England Patriots (from Oakland Raiders)- Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama Crimson Tide: We apologize to the rest of the AFC East for this pick. It’s crazy to think that a team with the weapons and prolific offense that the Patriots currently have could add a top running back like Ingram, but it’s a real possibility. Teams see what New England does in the draft every year, yet they still accept stupid trades with them and help the Patriots continue to build for long-term success. As the draft nutcases that we are, we have to tip our collective hat to Bill Belichek for the way he plays chess with the rest of the NFL while they play checkers.
Previous Pick: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Other possibilities: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri; Muhammad Wilkerson, DT/DE, Temple
18. San Diego Chargers- Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple Owls: The Chargers had top ranked offensive and defensive units in 2010. They can afford to go after whatever they need. In most drafts, if players like Watt and Jordan were already gone at 3-4 DE, you could expect a long wait on the next one taken. Not this year; Wilkerson fits the bill perfectly.
Previous Pick: Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple
Other possibilities: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa; Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
19. New York Giants- Nate Solder, OT, Colorado Buffaloes: We liked the Akeem Ayers pick last week, but with Solder available at #19, the Giants get Eli Manning some protection. Solder could develop into a premier left tackle for years to come.
Previous Pick: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
Other possibilities: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State; Brandon Harris, CB, Miami
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Brandon Harris, CB, Miami Hurricanes: Aqib Talib is facing serious time if found guilty on his latest chargers. Ronde Barber is 131 years old. The Bucs have to look to the future at the position and if Talib is found innocent, they can use Harris in the nickel this year and move him to start opposite of Talib next season.
Previous Pick: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri
Other possibilities: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri; Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
21. Kansas City Chiefs- Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor Bears: The Chiefs are building something special on defense. If they can add a top-of-the-line nose tackle this defense would get tremendously better. The nose tackle position in the 3-4 is the foundation to the whole defense. Taylor is big enough and fast enough to be their ideal candidate.
Previous Pick: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
Other possibilities: Justin Houston, DE, Georgia; Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri
22. Indianapolis Colts- Danny Watkins, G, Baylor Bears: Peyton Manning is the Indianapolis Colts. I wouldn’t disagree with the strategy to use all of their picks to draft offensive linemen to protect Peyton. Of course, that is meant as tongue-in-cheek, but they do have to do a better job at protecting Manning this season. Watkins is the best interior offensive lineman in this draft class…and yes, better than Pouncey!
Previous Pick: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
Other possibilities: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State; Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
23. Philadelphia Eagles- Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State Bulldogs: If Smith, Castonzo and Solder are off the board, we like the Eagles to look at Derek Sherrod or Gabe Carimi to upgrade the offensive line. Given the needs at cornerback, a guy like Brandon Harris or Jimmy Smith isn’t out of the question if they’re available.
Previous Pick: Danny Watkins, G, Baylor
Other possibilities: Danny Watkins, G, Baylor; Brandon Harris, CB, Miami Hurricanes
24. New Orleans Saints- Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri Tigers: The Saints need a stronger pass rush and they wouldn’t hesitate to draft Aldon if he slides this far. Smith would be an upgrade at the defensive end position from day one.
Previous Pick: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
Other possibilities: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue; Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona
25. Seattle Seahawks- Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri Tigers: We’ve stated numerous times our feelings on Gabbert. We think he’s this years’ Jimmy Clausen, Brady Quinn, Alex Smith, etc. He’s being over-hyped and he’ll probably be over-drafted. We could have easily put Jake Locker here, but some team will over draft Gabbert and we believe that role is perfect for Pete Carroll.
Previous Pick: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Other possibilities: Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech; Jake Locker, QB, Washington
26. Baltimore Ravens- Rahim Moore, S, UCLA Bruins: Ed Reed is aging, but he still has the necessary skills, and he and Ray Lewis are great leaders on this team. Moore, who is already a ball hawk could learn behind one of the best safety ball hawks in the NFL, and be groomed as his replacement.
Previous Pick: Brandon Harris, CB, Miami Hurricanes
Other possibilities: Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami; Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
27. Atlanta Falcons- Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue Boilermakers: We’ve had Leonard Hankerson plugged into this spot for the longest time. We’re mixing it up this week by giving the Atlanta defense some help in the pass rush. Kerrigan sacked the quarterback 25 times over the last two seasons.
Previous Pick: Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami
Other possibilities: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA; Justin Houston, DE/OLB, Georgia
28. New England Patriots- Mike Pouncey, G/C, Florida Gators: Much like Indy with Peyton Manning, the Patriots have to protect Tom Brady better this season. Pouncey will allow Brady to feel more comfortable in the pocket, which will in turn allow him to let the deep ball develop.
Previous Pick: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
Other possibilities: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA; Rodney Hudson, G/C, Florida State
29. Chicago Bears- Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami Hurricanes: This could be a great pick for the Bears who need to come up with a number one receiver at some point. Johnny Knox and Devin Hester are good, but neither is a number one. This would give the Bears three Hurricanes in the passing game with Hankerson, Hester and tight end Greg Olsen.
Previous Pick: Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
Other possibilities: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin; Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
30. New York Jets- Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA: Ayers is a Rex Ryan guy. He shows up all over the field making plays on the ball. Ryan could place Ayers on the outside and he’ll be ready to go week one. He’s a hustle guy whose game speed far surpasses his speed in drills.
Previous Pick: Rahim Moore, S, UCLA
Other possibilities: Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia; Brooks Reed, OLB, Arizona
31. Pittsburgh Steelers- Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin Badgers: Maurkice Pouncey was the first round pick last year and that worked out pretty well. Taking a tackle near the bottom of the round could be a very good option for the Steelers, who will look to continue to bolster the line of scrimmage.
Previous Pick: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
Other possibilities: Rodney Hudson, G/C, Florida State; Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
32. Green Bay Packers- Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa Hawkeyes: Green Bay doesn’t need half as much as most teams, and that’s why they are the defending champions. But defensive end is a position of need. In most years, the team picking 32nd wouldn’t have a chance to get a 3-4 defensive end with this much talent, but because of the depth at the position in this draft class, they could nab Clayborn this late.
Previous Pick: Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech
Other possibilities: Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech; Rodney Hudson, G/C, Florida State
33. New England Patriots (from Carolina Panthers)- Brooks Reed, OLB, Arizona Wildcats: Shedding his ‘sleeper’ classification, Reed is moving up boards and could be taken sometime in the first.
34. Buffalo Bills- Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas Razorbacks: Buffalo waits until Round 2 and gets a strong arm quarterback that can throw the ball through the tough winds with no problem.
35. Cincinnati Bengals- Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State Buckeyes: If Cincinnati goes Green in the first, they’ll likely look to defense in the second. That is, of course, unless they look for a replacement for Carson Palmer.
36. Denver Broncos- Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame Fighting Irish: They could really go defense the whole draft, but thanks to Josh McDaniels, they need to draft a franchise tight end.
37. Cleveland Browns- Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh Panthers: Everybody’s saying it: the Browns need to find Colt McCoy some weapons on the passing game.
38. Arizona Cardinals- Andy Dalton, QB, TCU Horned Frogs: Extremely accurate quarterback that will convince Larry Fitzgerald to stay after a few combined workouts.
39. Tennessee Titans- Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State Seminoles: The Titans cannot be comfortable heading into next season with Rusty Smith projected as the starter. Vince Young is on his way out and Kerry Collins is a free agent who is inching closer and closer to 40.
40. Dallas Cowboys- Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado Buffaloes: Dallas goes back to the secondary and gets a cornerback this round after drafting Prince Amukamara in the first round to play free safety. Smith is a top 20 talent with character issues.
41. Washington Redskins- Jake Locker, QB, Washington Redskins: Locker has his problems in the pocket, but out of it he’s a genius. With a little development, we like him to iron out some of his flaws to become a good quarterback at the next level—and Washington could use one of those.
42. Houston Texans- Curtis Brown, CB, Texas Longhorns: Houston drafts a cornerback here that has the speed and ability to attack the ball, that last year’s first round pick, Kareem Jackson is missing.
43. Minnesota Vikings- Bruce Carter, OLB, North Carolina Tar Heels: Chad Greenway was franchised, but Ben Leber is a free agent and Carter would likely be a first round pick if not for injury concerns.
44. Detroit Lions- Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia Cavaliers: Jim Schwartz will be willing to take the chance on Ras-I staying healthy for the benefit of his coverage skills.
45. San Francisco 49ers- Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia Bulldogs: If Kaepernick, Newton, Gabbert, Mallett, Dalton, Locker and Ponder are all gone, the 49ers have to look at another position. If any of them are available, expect them to get a lot of consideration. After adding Cam Jordan in the first, San Francisco looks at Justin Houston as a rush linebacker.
46. Denver Broncos (from Miami)- Sam Acho, DE, Texas Longhorns: The Broncos continue working on rebuilding their defensive line with the switch back to a 4-3 scheme. Acho will fight with Elvis Dumervil and Robert Ayers for playing time.
47. St. Louis Rams- Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland Terrapins: If the Rams don’t find a playmaker for Sam Bradford in the first (Julio Jones), they’ll likely do it in the second.
48. Oakland Raiders- Rodney Hudson, G/C, Florida State Seminoles: Al Davis gets an interior lineman here that is flexible enough to play offensive guard or center.
49. Jacksonville Jaguars- Aaron Williams, S, Texas Longhorns: Jacksonville needs to find help in the secondary. Expect a few defensive backs to be Jacksonville-bound before all’s said and done.
50. San Diego Chargers- Greg Jones, ILB, Michigan State Spartans: Jones is being undervalued as an inside linebacker, but San Diego will see the talent and value at this point in round two.
51. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech Hokies: Love this pick. Yeah, LeGarrette Blount is on the roster, but if Cadillac Williams leaves, Tampa Bay could look to add another running back; especially if that back is Ryan Williams in the second round.
52. New York Giants- Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois Fighting Illini: Brandon Jacobs had some mental breakdowns last season and it doesn’t seem like the Giants are comfortable with Ahmad Bradshaw being the main back. Leshoure could come in and compete as an every down back.
53. Indianapolis Colts- Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina Tar Heels: The Colts need to solidify the run defense and Austin is stout against the run. He could be a first round pick if not for the suspension last season.
54. Philadelphia Eagles- Johnny Patrick, CB, Louisville Cardinals: This may be the steal of the draft. Patrick is that solid of a prospect and will upgrade the secondary immediately.
55. Kansas City Chiefs- Titus Young, WR, Boise State Broncos: Young could step in and play slot for the Chiefs, who need to find a second option behind Dwayne Bowe.
56. New Orleans Saints- Martez Wilson, ILB, Illinois Fighting Illini: Wilson could become the man in the middle for the Saints, but he’ll have develop into a tougher player.
57. Seattle Seahawks- Davon House, CB, New Mexico State Aggies: Kelly Jennings is expected to leave via free agency. Seattle could use a first round pick on a corner if they don’t go quarterback.
58. Baltimore Ravens- Benjamin Ijalana, OT, Villanova Wildcats: The Ravens need to upgrade their O-line. Ijalana could come in and try to win one of the offensive tackle positions, but if he’s unsuccessful, he’s capable of kicking inside.
59. Atlanta Falcons- Greg Little, WR, North Carolina Tar Heels: Finding a second receiver opposite Roddy White will be a goal of the Falcons this year.
60. New England Patriots- Tandon Doss, WR, Indiana Hoosiers: Doss hasn’t stood out in this draft, but he’s capable of being a number one. Belichek will do his homework.
61. San Diego Chargers (from New York Jets)- Jabaal Sheard, OLB, Pittsburgh Panthers: Sheard could step in early in his career as a good pass rusher for the Chargers.
62. Chicago Bears- Marcus Cannon, G, TCU Horned Frogs: Jay Cutler got a bad rap for his injury in the playoffs, but the fact of the matter is that he needs protection. Cannon is a wall or for Cutler; he’ll be a security blanket.
63. Pittsburgh Steelers- Jerrell Powe, DT, Mississippi Rebels: Casey Hampton will be 34 in September. This isn’t the biggest of needs for the Steelers, but Powe could work his way into the rotation, preserving Hampton for playoffs, and eventually take over for the big man.
64. Green Bay Packers- Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh Panthers: We love the thought of a Lewis/Ryan Grant/James Starks backfield and Packers fans should, too. Lewis is the shiftiest back in the draft.