The NFL Scouting Combine has come and gone. Pro days remain, and while draft boards are going to change until the first round begins on April 28, they're beginning to take shape. 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.
NFL ScoutJayson Braddock along with our College Football EditorDanny Hobrock will continue to adjust their mock draft on a weekly basis as they do more research on this year's prospects and continue to consider the individual needs of all 32 teams, or at least the 31 who have a first round pick. This week's mock features a couple of players new to the first round, including a certain quarterback virtually everybody else has in their top ten.
Be sure to check out our2011 NFL Draft Player Profiles and get to know the players available so you can formulate your own opinions of who your favorite team should pick, we are adding new profiles every day. Also, check out our Top Ten 2011 NFL Draft Prospects by Positions.
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Xtra Point Football 2011 NFL Mock Draft 4.0
New to 1st Round
- Curtis Brown, CB, Texas Longhorns
- Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri Tigers
Dropped out of 1st Round
- Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor Bears
- Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State Bulldogs
1.Carolina Panthers - Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson Tigers: Bowers and Patrick Peterson are the top prospects in this draft. The Panthers had a top 10 pass defense in 2010, though. Plus, offenses could always throw away from Peterson. Bowers will be a one man wrecking crew and a Julius Peppers replacement.
- Previous Pick: Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
- Other possibilities: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn; Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
2. Denver Broncos - Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn Tigers:Denver is switching to a new 4-3 defense and Fairley would fit very well as a tackle as they make the switch. Fairley gets the edge over Marcell Dareus despite the latter's climb up draft boards following the NFL Scouting Combine.
- Previous Pick: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
- Other possibilities: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama; Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
3.Buffalo Bills - Marcell Dareus, DT/DE, Alabama Crimson Tide: Dareus closed the gap between himself and Nick Fairley at the combine, but Dareus is more suited for the 3-4 defense that Buffalo runs. He's flexible enough to play the defensive end or defensive tackle position in the 3-4. The Bills have so many holes that they could go in a lot of different directions but we feel Dareus is the value pick.
- Previous Pick: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
- Other possibilities:Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M; Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
4.Cincinnat Bengals - A.J. Green, WR, Georgia Bulldogs: The Bengals have a tough choice to make here. On the one hand, Patrick Peterson is there for the taking. On the other hand, so is Green. We like the Bengals to go Green, who would become the first receiver taken in the first round by the Bengals since they took Peter Warrick with the fourth pick in 2000.
- Previous Pick: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
- Other possibilities: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU; Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
5.Arizona Cardinals - Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M Aggies: Miller has the potential to be an NFL leader in sacks. This type of player doesn't come around every year. Although Arizona needs a quarterback of the future, Miller's value far surpasses that of any quarterbacks at this spot in the draft.
- Previous Pick: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
- Other possibilities: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU; Cameron Jordan, DE, California
6. Cleveland Browns - Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina: If not for a fracture in his foot, this pick would almost certainly be Julio Jones, who looked marvelous at the Combine despite the injury. Quinn, though, gives the Browns a dynamic pass rusher and while Jones displayed great toughness and athleticism, the injury could ultimately drop him a few spots.
- Previous Pick: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
- Other possibilities: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama; Cameron Jordan, DE, California
7.San Francisco 49ers - Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU Tigers: It literally pained us to have Peterson fall this far in the draft. We try to stay unbiased and get inside of the heads of what each scout, coach, general manager, etc. will be thinking inside the war room of each of these teams. With that being said, we had the previous six teams go a different, worthy route. Peterson grades out as one of the top prospects and is the prototype of the new NFL cornerback.
- Previous Pick: Cameron Jordan, DE, California
- Other possibilities: Cameron Jordan, DE, California; Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
8.Tennessee Titans - Akeem Ayers, OLB/DE, UCLA Bruins: Ayers didn't light up the forty, but he looked good in position drills and the Titans could sure use a linebacker. We debated whether we should give the Titans one of this year's top quarterbacks, so that could very well be the pick, too.
- Previous Pick: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
- Other possibilities: A quarterback; Cameron Jordan, DE, California
9.Dallas Cowboys - Cameron Jordan, DE/OLB, California Golden Bears: What Cam did at the combine didn't surprise any scouts. It's the same high motor he displayed at the Senior Bowl and during his playing days at Cal. He's a rare athlete who is built for the 3-4 defensive end. It's hard to get a high caliber player at that position. The Chiefs surprised everyone when they took Tyson Jackson with the #3 overall pick a few years back, so it wouldn't surprise us to see Jordan shoot higher up the boards.
- Previous Pick: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
- Other possibilities: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado; Prince Amukamara, S*, Nebraska
10.Washington Redskins - Julio Jones, WR, Alabama Crimson Tide: Jones would give the Redskins a dynamic offensive weapon to insert some life into an offense whose only spark of late has been Santana Moss. Jones' injury is thought to be the same one that Michael Crabtree suffered in 2009 while training for the draft. Crabtree went 10th to the 49ers.
- Previous Pick: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
- Other possibilities: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin; Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada
11.Houston Texans - Prince Amukamara, S*, Nebraska Cornhuskers:For the last several months, we have stressed to everyone who would listen that Amukamara is a safety. He proved exactly that at the combine. His skill set is made to be a top safety in the NFL. He'll cover a lot of ground and take good angles to the ball. The Texans will need to replace both of their 2010 starting safeties, so we have them getting the best one in the draft.
- Previous Pick: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
- Other possibilities: Brandon Harris, CB, Miami; J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
12. Minnesota Vikings - Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada Wolf Pack: We've taken some heat for naming Kaepernick as the first quarterback selected in this year's draft, but we liked what we saw on game film as well as at the Combine and we stand by our decision. Yeah, the guy can run and move with the ball, but he's an excellent passer, too. Not many people give him credit for that and that's a shame. Minnesota needs to find a quarterback to lead them into the future and while Kaepernick may not start day one, we like him to prove himself the best quarterback in this year's class.
- Previous Pick: Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada
- Other possibilities: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado; Prince Amukamara, S*, Nebraska
13.Detroit Lions - Nate Solder, OT, Colorado Buffaloes: We still believe that Solder is the premier left tackle in this draft...even after the NFL Network tried their best to brainwash us into believing that that distinction went to Anthony Castonzo. Solder is still developing, as he was originally a tight end. Lots of the top left tackles in the NFL come from the tight end position. It helps them build the footwork that they'll need in the NFL. The Lions have to keep Matt Stafford upright for at least one play in the game.
- Previous Pick: Tyron Smith, OT, USC
- Other possibilities: Brandon Harris, CB, Miami; Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
14.St. Louis Rams - Rahim Moore, S, UCLA: The Rams need to find weapons for Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson could use a break every now and then, leading us to think that this pick could be a running back and will almost certainly be Julio Jones if he drops this far. However, Moore looked very good in the Combine position drills and moved very well, making him a prime candidate to make a leap up draft boards by the time April rolls around.
- Previous Pick: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
- Other possibilities: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama; Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
15.Miami Dolphins - Cam Newton, QB, Auburn Tigers:The Dolphins continue their search for Dan Marino's replacement more than a decade after he threw his last pass in a disastrous playoff loss to Jacksonville. Chad Henne isn't the answer even if Miami isn't ready to publically admit it. Newton could very well be long gone by this point, but if he isn't Miami could look his way. The Dolphins are also a team that could trade back to pick up a second round pick, which they currently lack. If that's the case, they could look for a quarterback or running back in the second round while also picking up an additional pick or two.
- Previous Pick: Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois
- Other possibilities: Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada; Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois
16.Jacksonville Jaguars - Brandon Harris, CB, Miami Hurricanes: Secondary help is among the most urgent needs in Jacksonville and after the Combine, the Jaguars could be looking at Harris as a potential long-term solution at the position. He measured just 5'9, but he was excellent in the position drills and may have solidified himself as one of the first four defensive backs selected.
- Previous Pick: Brandon Harris, CB, Miami
- Other possibilities: Rahim Moore, S, UCLA; Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
17.New England Patriots - 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: Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri
- Other possibilities: Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri; J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
18.San Diego Chargers - J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin Badgers: Many view Watt as a top ten talent and he could very well find himself taken that highly on April 28. A double-digit pick seems more apt, and at 18 Watt could turn out to be a great steal for the Chargers, for whom he'd serve as a 3-4 end.
- Previous Pick: Prince Amukamara, S*, Nebraska
- Other possibilities: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa; Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia
19.New York Giants - Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College Eagles:Everyone in the world should realize how talented Castonzo is...especially after the way Mike Mayock and the NFL Network forced him down our throats. He's extremely talented and there's not much that separates Solder, Castonzo, and Tyron Smith from each other.
- Previous Pick: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
- Other possibilities: Brandon Harris, CB, Miami; Bruce Carter, OLB, North Carolina
20.Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri Tigers: Adding a player like Smith, who projects as a 4-3 end or a 3-4 outside linebacker, to a defensive line that already includes Gerald McCoy and Brian Price would give the Bucs a solid, young defensive front around which to build.
- Previous Pick: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina Tar Heels
- Other possibilities: Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois; Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
21.Kansas City Chiefs - Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia Bulldogs: There are questions about Houston dropping into coverage, but his pass rushing ability makes him worth the risk at 21. Kansas City's defense be a nightmare to face with Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey eating up lineman, while Tamba Hali and Houston come off the edge, and don't forget about Brandon Flowers and Eric Berry protecting the back end. This team is building for long term success.
- Previous Pick: Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia
- Other possibilities: Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami; Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri
22.Indianapolis Colts - Tyron Smith, OT, USC Trojans: Smith weighed in at 307 pounds at the Combine, up 27 pounds from what he was listed on the USC athletic site. The added weight should help to quell some fears that his athleticism alone would not be enough to keep him from getting pushed around by bigger defenders. He didn't work out at the Combine, so we wait to see how he carries the extra weight.
- Previous Pick: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
- Other possibilities: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois; Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
23.Philadelphia Eagles - Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois Fighting Illinis: With all of the Fairley/Dareus talk, the forgotten man is Corey Liuget. The Eagles and defensive line coach Jim Washburn would be more than happy if teams continue to underestimate Liuget's value. This Eagles line will be like the Titans line of 2008 when Albert Haynesworth was earning the league's biggest contract, if they draft Liuget.
- Previous Pick: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
- Other possibilities: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State; Tyron Smith, OT, USC
24.New Orleans Saints - Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue Boilermakers: Kerrigan has been billed as a potential outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, but his best fit is probably as an end in a 4-3 alignment. The Saints spent their first round pick last year on defense and could do the same this year as they build a defense on par with their explosive offense. Kerrigan could line up across Will Smith to shore up the other side of the defensive line.
- Previous Pick: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
- Other possibilities: Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia; Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
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: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn Tigers
- Other possibilities: Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois; Jake Locker, QB, Washington
26.Baltimore Ravens - Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado Buffaloes: Smith may have hurt his draft stock amidst concerns about his character. He also looked a little tight during his position drills. The combination could drop him in this year's draft. We've had him projected here for a few weeks, but others had him as high as #13 to the Lions. He would certainly give the Ravens a talented cornerback, though, after they failed to address the need in last year's draft.
- Previous Pick: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
- Other possibilities: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State; Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami
27.Atlanta Falcons - Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami Hurricanes: Atlanta needs a complement opposite Roddy White. The Falcons have lucked out with Hankerson coming out in the same draft as AJ Green and Julio Jones. The knock on Hankerson was that he was too slow and inconsistent. We fought everyone on the latter for the last month and stated that he is the all-time leading receiver at the U...a school that produced Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Michael Irvin, etc. Now that the Combine has come and gone, the speed has spoken for itself. How does 4.43 sound? Before you say it, his game speed shows as that as well.
- Previous Pick: Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami
- Other possibilities: Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland; Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
28.New England Patriots - Adrian Clayborn, Iowa Hawkeyes: Clayborn would fit with the Patriots as a 3-4 end. He did not exactly live up to expectations in 2010 after recording 11 sacks in the 2009 season, after which many expected him to be selected in the top half of the draft. If Ingram doesn't fall to them with the 17th pick, they could look at a running back with this pick.
- Previous Pick: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
- Other possibilities: Mike Pouncey, G/C, Florida; Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois
29.Chicago Bears - Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh Panthers: Jay Cutler has been begging for his next Brandon Marshall since he left Denver. Baldwin isn't close to the physical receiver that Marshall is, but at almost 6'5 with a 42" vertical, Cutler would be more than happy to take this receiver out for a test drive. Baldwin has to become more physical and less timid at the next level.
- Previous Pick: Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
- Other possibilities: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State; Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
30.New York Jets - Danny Watkins, G, Baylor Bears: The fourth overall pick in the 2010 CFL Draft, we like Watkins as a first rounder in the 2011 NFL Draft, too. At 26-years-old, some are concerned with the mileage they could get out of him, but there's bound to be a team that believes the extra four years he carries are offset by his talent.
- Previous Pick: Danny Watkins, G, Baylor
- Other possibilities: Aaron Williams, S/CB, Texas; Muhammad Wilkerson, DT/DE, Temple
31.Pittsburgh Steelers - Curtis Brown, CB, Texas Longhorns: The Steelers need a playmaker at the cornerback position. Troy Polamalu has had to make all of the big plays in the secondary for years. It's about time that they take a little of the wear and tear off of Polamalu. Brown is a play-making ball hawk. No errant pass will ever be safe with Brown and Polamalu lurking in the same defensive back field.
- Previous Pick: Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
- Other possibilities: Mike Pouncey, G/C, Florida; Rodney Hudson, G, Florida State
32.Green Bay Packers - Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois Fighting Illini:This could turn out to be one of the steals of the draft, as Leshoure is featured back material. The Packers could also consider taking Mike Pouncey or Rodney Hudson with this pick to bolster the interior of their offensive line.
- Previous Pick: Rahim Moore, S, UCLA
- Other possibilities: Rodney Hudson, G, Florida State; Aaron Williams, S/CB, Texas
- Top Ten 2011 NFL Draft Prospects by Positions
- 2011 NFL Mock Draft Series & NFL Prospect Player Profiles
Danny Hobrock, a sports journalist covering NCAA Football and MLB is the editor of our college football content. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. You may email Danny directly @ firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ DannyHobrock
Jayson Braddock appears on Sports Radio 790 AM in Houston, TX, every Thursday morning at 11:19 am CST as the football insider on the Dylan Gwinn show. He's a graduate of the Sports Management World Wide Football GM & Scouting Course and has been mentored by former NFL player / executive John Wooten and Sporting News.com NFL Draft Expert Russ Lande. His work is mostly appreciated by die-hard fans interested in every little detail about their team and not just watered down mainstream talk. - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports7910.com. You may email Jayson directly @ email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @ JaysonBraddock
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