The 2011 NFL Draft is only 10 weeks away! And the NFL Combine is only two weeks away! Football will not die. I posted a Mock Draft in January – playoff teams were excluded – and there’s been a few changes, but not really at the top. The Senior Bowl led to some changes in the Top 15, and I suspect the Combine will dramatically shift things. I’ll throw together another mock after the combine.
1 Carolina Panthers (2–14) – Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn. No change.
2 Denver Broncos (4–12) – Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU. No change.
3 Buffalo Bills (4–12) – They need a QB, but there isn’t one of value here. Sticking with Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson, who will help bolster a team that had a paltry 27 sacks.
4 Cincinnati Bengals (4–12) – Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama. Some mocks are projecting him as a DE, but I think he’ll fit nicely at DT with young ends Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson on the ends.
5 Arizona Cardinals (5–11) – Tough to guess their move with the potential lockout looming. If they can get a QB via free agency, there’s no need for one in the draft. I’m thinking lockout. And Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri.
6 Cleveland Browns (5–11) – AJ Green, WR, Georgia. The only way this doesn’t happen is if Cincinnati decides the best way to keep Carson Palmer is by bringing in a young, awesome WR (and getting rid of Ocho Cinco and Terrell Owens).
7 San Francisco 49ers (6–10) – Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M. Unlike Arizona, I think they’ll get a QB in free agency. And then take Miller – who soared up draft charts at the Senior Bowl – to bolster the defense, and win the NFC West.
8 Tennessee Titans (6–10) – Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas. Flip-flopped him with Gabbert. What changed in a month? I guess I bought into the Gabbert hype. Other mocks have Mallett dropping out of the first round completely. I’m not buying it.
9 Dallas Cowboys (6–10) – Jerry Jones like flashy items, just like Al Davis. The question is which flashy DE Jones will grab. Kerrigan? Quinn? I’m going with Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State, who will put on a show at the Combine. [Ed. Heyward still not confirmed for the Combine due to Tommy John surgery.]
10 Washington Redskins (6–10) – Cam Newton, QB, Auburn. The only way I’ll move off this guess is if they keep McNabb, which obviously isn’t happening.
11 Houston Texans (6–10) – Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska. What a gift for the worst secondary in the league.
12 Minnesota Vikings (6–10) – Jake Locker, QB, Washington. Sticking with Locker despite other mocks claiming the Vikings are going with a defensive lineman. I don’t feel confident they’ll land Kolb or McNabb in the offseason, and I don’t think Webb is the answer.
13 Detroit Lions (6–10) – Sticking with last month’s pick, Nate Solder, OL, Colorado.
14 St. Louis Rams (7–9) – Julio Jones, WR, Alabama. The real question is what happens if he’s off the board. Do they reach? Trade down?
15 Miami Dolphins (7–9) – Will their meddling owner get involved? Is Ricky Williams definitely gone? Is Henne their QB of the future, or at least the near future? When in doubt, lean offensive line. Anthony Costanzo, OL, Boston College.
16 Jacksonville Jaguars (8–8) – With a few talented WRs opting to stay in school, we’ll go to the secondary (28th against the pass) to help against a division that boasts Peyton Manning and Matt Schaub. Aaron Williams, CB, Texas. Lots of people like Brandon Harris, the CB From Miami, but I prefer Williams.
17 New England (from Oakland) – The primary needs are WR (none of value here), defensive line (plenty of value here), offensive line (it’s getting old) and running back (Woodhead and Law Firm are nice No. 2’s). I’ll go with Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama, and then project the Patriots going DL later in the round.
18 San Diego Chargers (9–7) – Could have used a WR here, but there isn’t one of value. So the Chargers get help for Phil Rivers in the form of Derek Sherrod, OL, Mississippi State.
19 New York Giants (10–6) – Could be a RB, could be a MLB, but right now I’ll guess OL. Tyron Smith, OL, USC.
20 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10–6) – I was really hoping he’d fall to the Jets, but they had to go win a few playoff games and slide all the way to 30, where there’s no chance they get him: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue. When you factor in Stylez G and McCoy, the Bucs could build a formidable front line.
21 Kansas City Chiefs (10–6) – Their playoff loss to the Ravens exposed the lack of offense if D Bowe can be contained and Charles is bottled up. They get offensive and grab Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland.
22 Indianapolis Colts (10–6) – The offense will be healthy and formidable in 2011. The defense? It’ll get help in the form of Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia.
23 Philadelphia Eagles (10–6) -Similar to the Colts in that the offense will be healthy and productive next year, but the defense needs work. Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA is the pick, because Andy Reid will have nightmares for the next six months of James Starks gashing his defense.
24 New Orleans Saints (11–5) – Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina. It seems unlikely he’ll fall this far just because he missed a year. If teams in the Top 20 decide none of the QBs are ready, then I think Quinn rockets up the board.
25 Seattle Seahawks (7–9) – Does Pete Carroll still think Charlie Whitehurst is the QB of the future? I sure hope not. But he traded for him, so I think he’ll give the kid another shot. My guess is they bolster the secondary with Rahim Moore, S, UCLA, who takes the play of Lawyer Milloy.
26 Baltimore Ravens (12–4) – Brandon Harris, CB, Miami. He’ll fit right in with two other members of the U on the defense.
27 Atlanta Falcons (13–3) – Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh. If he manages to fall this far, Matt Ryan may be the happiest QB in the league. Baldwin + Roddy White = deadly.
28 New England Patriots (14–2) – Cameron Jordan, DE, California. Remember how meek that pass rush was against Mark Sanchez in the playoffs? Jordan helps immediately.
29 Chicago Bears (11–5) – The worst offensive line of any playoff team needs to help. By all accounts, Gabe Carimi, OL, Wisconsin is very good.
30 New York Jets (11–5) – Absolutely, positively, must be a pass rusher. I doubt Aldon Smith, OLB/DE, Missouri will be around, but he’s getting high marks from everyone who intently follows the draft. Backup: JJ Watt, Wisconsin?
31 Pittsburgh Steelers (12–4) – Offensive line to protect Big Ben? Or the secondary, which was torched by Aaron Rodgers in the Super Bowl? How about another Pouncey? Mike Pouncey, OL, Florida.
32 Green Bay Packers (10–6) – What do you get a team that has everything? Best on board, right? They found success with an Iowa kid in the first round last year, so how about another one? Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa.