Eric's 2011 NFL Mock Draft
By Eric Blumhardt
Final: Updated 15 April 2011
1. Carolina- Cam Newton, QB, Auburn. The word out of the Carolina camp is that it’s down to Newton and Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus. Despite new head coach Ron Rivera being a defensive minded coach, the rule of thumb is that you always take the quarterback.
2. Denver- Marcell Dareus, DL, Alabama. Denver needs help at cornerback, too, but that need is superceded by some help along the defensive line. Dareus can play all three postions along the line.
3. Buffalo- Von Miller, OLB, Buffalo. Buffalo is a poor team that is in need of some defensive playmakers. Fairley would be interesting here, but Miller is the most dynamic defensive playmaker in the draft.
4. Cincy- Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri. The Bengals are sending smoke signals that they are interested in cornerback, pass rushers, wide receiver, basically everything but quarterback. Insiders say that Cincy knows they are in trouble with no quarterback and that there is no way Palmer comes back next season. It’s an option to wait until round two and take someone like Dalton or Ponder, but with no free agency this year before the draft, teams are going to panic and take a quarterback as early as possible instead of risking not getting their man. There will be a run early in this draft on quarterback and a run at the end of the first round, as well.
5. Arizona- Nick Fairley, DL, Auburn. The Cardinals are a team that was hoping that Newton or Gabbert would fall. Don’t be surprised to see them trade into the back half of the first and take one of the best remaining quarterbacks, but here they have to take the best player available. Peterson might be the pick, but they already have Rodgers-Cromartie, so improving the pass rush will be the priority.
6. Cleveland- AJ Green, WR, Georgia. There has been some noise that the Browns are interested in USC tackle Tyron Smith, but Cleveland has to find some playmakers. Green is the best wide receiver in this draft and will make the team better. They’ll certainly look at Patrick Peterson, as well, but they used a high first round pick on a cornerback last season.
7. San Fran- Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU. Patience pays off and the 49ers land the premiere player in the draft with the seventh pick. San Francisco could use help at quarterback and pass rusher but cornerback is still a major need.
8. Tenn- Jake Locker, QB, Washington. The Titans are put in a horrible spot. They love Locker, but know that it’s too risky to move back behind Washington and Minnesota, teams that definitely need quarterbacks, to take another position of need, defensive line. Tennessee is a team to watch at the end of the first in a trade up situation.
9. Dallas- Tyron Smith, OT, USC. Dallas has made no attempt to hide their infatuation with the twenty year old tackle from USC and the need is there.
10. Wash- Julio Jones, WR, Alabama. Washington has a serious need at quarterback, but a stud wide receiver will make any quarterback better.
11. Houston- Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska. New defensive coordinator Wade Phillips would love a pass rusher, so Robert Quinn or Aldon Smith might be a possibility here, but no need is higher than cornerback. Houston get’s a solid cover cornerback to help its defense.
12. Minn- Robert Quinn, DE, UNC. Another team that needs a quarterback, Minnesota could also use a defensive tackle like Illinois’ Corey Luiget but with Ray Edwards leaving via free agency, Minnesota pounces on a player that most draftniks had as the a top three player before he was suspended for the 2010 season for illegal benefits. Quinn is only twenty years old and would be a beast to put on the other side of Jared Allen.
13. Detroit- Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson. Bowers was a stationed as the number one player on most boards for a majority of the season, but knee injuries scaredmost teams away from him. Some teams believe he’ll need microfracture surgery, however Detroit’s doctors do not believe he will and the team is drooling over putting a top five pass rusher on the same defensive line as last year’s defensive rookie of the year, Suh.
14. St. Louis- Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri. The Rams are disappointed not to land a big time wide receiver like Green or Jones, so they move on to the next position of need- pass rusher. The Rams are quite familiar with their fellow Missourian.
15. Miami- Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas. Miami GM Jeff Ireland feels comfortable with the risk/reward of Mallett. Henne will be the starter for 2011 and then its Mallett’s turn.
16. Jax- JJ Watt, DE, Wisconsin. Something tells me they still might have their eyes on Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan but Watt is exactly the type of player that Jacksonville loves- endless motor guys with big hearts.
17. NE- Cameron Jordan, DE, California. New England finds the player they’ve been looking for- a stout, pass rushing defensive end. Jordan reminds team brass of former end Richard Seymour.
18. SD- Phil Taylor, NT, Baylor. San Diego needs a nose tackle and a pass rusher. With the best pass rushers gone, they land the biggest guy in the draft that is racing up the boards and get a guy that will clog the middle.
19. NY Giants- Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College. The Giants need help along the offensive line and are quite familiar with the Boston College product.
20. TB- Mike Pouncey, OC, Florida. Tampa Bay could use help at cornerback, but there isn’t a player worth of being selected this high outside of Colorado’s Jimmy Smith, but after the recent Aqib Talib incident, the Bucs are only looking to take good character players. Pouncey is a great pick at twenty and will solidify the middle of the line for the next decade.
21. KC- Corey Liuget, DL, Illinois. Liuget is a rising player that could be a steal for the Chiefs. The young Kansas City defense gets even more talented with Liuget, who can play all three positions along the defensive line.
22. Indy- Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin. The Colts are ecstatic about being able to get Carimi at pick twenty two. Carimi is plug and play and ready to protect Manning at right tackle for the remainder of his career.
23. Philly- Muhammad Wilkerson, DL, Temple. Philly needs help on the offensive line, but the local Philadelphia products can play every position along the defensive line and is rising rapidly. Typical Andy Reid pick as he loves drafting trench players.
24. New Orleans- Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue. The Saints will consider taking Ingram here, but a pass rusher is a more pressing need. Kerrigan is all over the board but fits nicely in New Orleans.
25. Seattle- Andy Dalton, QB, TCU. Dalton is a fast riser and with four quarterbacks off the board already, Seattle needs to make a move. It would have been nicer to grab Dalton in the second, but he won’t last much longer. You got to grab your guy while you can.
26. Baltimore- Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado. Character issues have caused Smith to fall from a possible top ten pick, but character doesn’t scare Baltimore’s strong locker room and they get rewarded.
27. Atlanta- Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame. The Falcons are interested in North Carolina’s Marvin Austin and Miami’s Allen Bailey, but Rudolph’s talent is too good to pass up. Atlanta will probably use him much like Jimmy Graham was used in New Orleans last season, basically playing second fiddle and learning behind a legend but by 2012, he’ll be ready to take over full time.
28. New England- Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA. The Patriots need a pass rusher and are blessed to have Ayers fall this far. Landing Jordan and Ayers in the first is a haul that the Pats probably couldn’t have envisioned heading into the season.
29. Chicago- Nate Solder, OT, Colorado. I’ve had Jonathan Baldwin here for several weeks, but Solder is too good of a talent to pass up. The Chicago offensive line is horrible and needs immediate adjusting if they plan to have quarterback Jay Cutler finish the season.
30. NY Jets- Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State. The Jets could use help at pass rusher and defensive end. Heyward falling this far is a no brainer for the Jets. Rex Ryan will make him a star.
31. Steelers- Aaron Williams, S, Texas. Pittsburgh would have loved for Pouncey to fall this far and will consider taking Mississippi State tackler Derrek Sherrod and Villanova tackle Ben Ijalana, but Williams is a playmaker that they can pair with Polamalu or play cornerback.
32. Green Bay- Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor. Green Bay could use a pass rusher opposite of Clay Matthews or a defensive end and with Adrian Clayborn, Marvin Austin, and Brooks Reed on the board, they’ll be tempted but the name of the game is value and Danny Watkins is a wonderful talent. He’ll be ready to play day one and can play every position along the offensive line.