2011 NFL Mock Draft 3.0

Posted March 17th, 2011 at 12:30 pm

What follows is the third mock draft for this year with the Combine complete and individual Pro Days taking place over the coming weeks. The plan will be to refine the mocks with new versions every so often all the way up to start of the draft on Thursday April 28th. Future mocks will include a full two rounds. The new format of the draft this year will put the first round in primetime on Thursday night, followed by the second and third rounds on Friday night, and the fourth through seventh rounds on Saturday.

With the lockout and no CBA agreed upon free agency has not opened. That makes things a little more stable for the time being as analysis will be based largely on need, which is known right now, rather than having free agent signings that fill in certain holes prior to the draft. Assumptions will be made as to which players will re-sign with their teams and which are likely to hit the market eventually.

Continue on to check out the full first round mock draft and as always leave your thoughts and/or feedback in the comments!

1. Carolina Panthers – Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
Previous Mock Selection: Nick Fairley
The Panthers would have loved to get the potential franchise QB Andrew Luck but unfortunately for them he chose to return to school rather than enter the draft. Looking away from QB then the team obviously has several areas of need. This pick though seems more wide open than ever with six names legitimately in contention. The Cam Newton talk has even started to ramp up. The Panthers have spent multiple picks on wide receiver over the last few years so A.J. Green would probably not be the guy here. Dareus has jumped Nick Fairley in the minds of many after a more impressive Combine performance as well as the perception he would be the less risky selection. With Charles Johnson becoming a free agent Da’Quan Bowers might have the edge if he checks out medically.

2. Denver Broncos – Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
Previous Mock Selection: Da’Quan Bowers
The new coaching staff is changing the defense from 3-4 to 4-3 and that will put an undersized Elvis Dumervil on one end. Beefing up the rest of the defensive line would be in order. Fairley would provide a presence in the middle that might be too enticing to pass up even with concerns over his character and work ethic. Da’Quan Bowers could provide the pash rush from the other end that the team will need in the new scheme. Champ Bailey being re-signed probably removes Patrick Peterson from the discussion and corners generally don’t go this high in the draft anyway.

3. Buffalo Bills – Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Previous Mock Selection: Von Miller
Von Miller would provide a much needed pass rushing threat at OLB. Other areas of need include quarterback, though Ryan Fitzpatrick performed relatively well last season, and offensive tackle but there are none expected to go near the top of the draft. This pick would seem likely to address the defensive front seven but Peterson, regarded by many as the best player in the draft, could be the choice. The Bills shouldn’t reach for need being better off taking the best player on the board. Cam Newton is another intriguing possibility.

4. Cincinnati Bengals – A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Previous Mock Selection: A.J. Green
With Terrell Owens gone for sure and Chad Ochocinco likely on the way out as well the Bengals could look for the explosive playmaker at receiver and Green has the talent to go this high. The Bengals could also use a pass rushing threat on the edge so if Bowers were to fall here he would make sense for them. Carson Palmer has demanded a trade but even if he stays it would not be out of the question for the Bengals to draft a QB here. The Bengals though have shown a stubbornness to giving into demands and they would probably view drafting Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert as costing them leverage in the situation.

5. Arizona Cardinals – Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
Previous Mock Selection: Patrick Peterson
Many will expect the Cardinals to take their choice of quarterbacks at this spot and no one would fault them for doing so. There is a sense though that the team will sign a free agent or acquire through trade (Donovan McNabb or Kevin Kolb) and continue to try and groom one of their young picks from last year. Should that be the case the team needs a pass rusher at OLB (Joey Porter was not the answer) or they could go with the best player available on the board and upgrade their secondary with Patrick Peterson if he is still around. Miller blew scouts away at the Senior Bowl, in workouts, and at the Combine. His involvement in the players lawsuit against the NFL however could result in some backlash.

6. Cleveland Browns – Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
Previous Mock Selection: Marcell Dareus
The Browns need some help in the front seven on defense especially as they transition from the 3-4 to 4-3. Bowers could provide the pash rush the team will need from the edge. Concerns over being a “one year wonder” in college and a knee injury (that kept him out of the Combine) have dropped his stock as of late. His Pro Day takes place on April 1st and will be a big factor in where he goes. If a playmaker like Green were to fall here it would make sense to grab him and help in the development of Colt McCoy.

7. San Francisco 49ers – Robert Quinn, OLB, North Carolina
Previous Mock Selection: Akeem Ayers
New coach Jim Harbaugh will have the ability to draft his QB of the future here but there is no certainty that is what he will want to spend the pick on. The 49ers could be a team that looks to sign a veteran QB or trade for someone like Donovan McNabb or Carson Palmer. The team has a big hole at CB and that doesn’t even include the possibility that Nate Clements gets cut. Patrick Peterson or even Prince Amukamara could be possibilities at this pick however San Fran could use a presence at OLB and Quinn has the talent. Having been suspended for all of last year and had a tumor that was removed from his brain in High School has created some concern. His performance at the Combine was good but not exceptional.

8. Tennessee Titans – Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Previous Mock Selection: Blaine Gabbert
Vince Young is gone and Kerry Collins is old and a free agent. This is where a QB almost seems to be the most certain choice. Blaine Gabbert or Jake Locker will likely be the two that get consideration as the team looks to avoid any possible issues due to character. Gabbert may not be able to step in right away as the transition will take some time coming from the spread system in college. He has a good frame, strong and accurate arm, and is thought to have the leadership skills necessary for the next level.

9. Dallas Cowboys – Cameron Jordan, DE, California
Previous Mock Selection: Prince Amukamara
The Cowboys could look a couple directions here but the secondary and defensive end could really use an upgrade. Offensive line could be under consideration here and someone like Nate Solder might get a look. Prince Amukamara didn’t look completely fluid at the Combine which might make it tougher to take him this high. Cam Jordan though has been impressive in the Senior Bowl and the Combine and offers the versatility that would make him a good fit at DE in the base 3-4 or sliding inside to DT in 4-3 looks.

10. Washington Redskins – Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Previous Mock Selection: Cam Newton
Donovan McNabb is obviously not the guy for Washington, and no one can believe that Rex Grossman is the long term solution. Mike Shanahan’s offensive system calls for a QB with a strong arm that can throw on the move and Newton fits that bill exactly. The mobility would be a big asset. Remember Shanahan is the guy that drafted Jay Cutler who possessed a similar skill set and questions surrounding his character which also affects Newton’s image. Wide receiver (Julio Jones), offensive line help, or possibly a defensive tackle to replace Albert Haynesworth would be other options. Newton seems to have some momentum right now though that could have a team even above the Redskins nab him based primarily on potential. He was very shaky at the Combine but that is unlikely to sway teams that have grown enamored with him.

11. Houston Texans – Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
Previous Mock Selection: Robert Quinn
The Texans had the worst pass defense (maybe ever) last year. Amukamara falling to them would be ideal and until recently seemed unlikely to happen. Another option then would be to grab an OLB and Robert Quinn would make for an intriguing selection. Defensive tackle could also get a look. Essentially this pick is going to be on defense it is just a matter of where the best value remains. Getting a top-flight corner would obviously be the best case scenario.

12. Minnesota Vikings – Tyron Smith, OT, USC
Previous Mock Selection: Cameron Jordan
The defensive line was a disappointment last year, after having been a strength for the team for a long time. Pat Williams is 38 and a free agent and Kevin Williams will be 31 at the start of next season. The line could use an infusion of youth either there at DT or on the end where Ray Edwards is a free agent. Tyron Smith though would fill an emerging need on the offensive line and his stock has been soaring putting him in discussion to be the first offensive tackle to come off the board. Some even believe he could eventually find his way into the top 10.

13. Detroit Lions – Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
Previous Mock Selection: Jimmy Smith
Just like the Texans the Lions are in desperate need of help in the secondary. With the first two corners gone though it could be a reach to take someone like Brandon Harris this high. If not addressing the secondary than OLB would be the next place to look, and they can also use help on the offensive and defensive lines. Ayers can provide pass rush but hold his own in coverage as well. A disappointing 40 time at the Combine is damaging his stock though and he could end up falling behind a few other players that provide similar skill sets if he doesn’t improve on the numbers at his Pro Day.

14. St. Louis Rams – Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
Previous Mock Selection: Julio Jones
The Rams need to get weapons for Sam Bradford and Jones could be a true #1 receiver. Despite that the receiver corp is not as bad as it seemed last year as it was just ravaged by injuries. Donnie Avery will be back and Mark Clayton would make sense to re-sign. That means they could also look to draft an OLB here or even upgrade on the offensive line. Jones was one of the stars of the Combine which has increased the possibility that he won’t be around by the time this pick comes up.

15. Miami Dolphins – Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Previous Mock Selection: Mark Ingram
The Dolphins aren’t sold on Chad Henne and both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are set to be free agents. As such QB and RB would appear to be the most likely options here. Mark Ingram as the clear cut top running back in the draft class would come in and make an instant impact. At QB either Jake Locker or Ryan Mallet could be considerations, and Miami is in a position where they could let a rookie sit for the whole year behind Chad Henne.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jake Locker, QB, Washington
Previous Mock Selection: Ryan Kerrigan
It seems like every year the Jaguars are drafting a DE or signing a free agent and the position still remains a weakness. That would be the obvious direction to look here, or possibly an upgrade to the secondary. Taking Jake Locker, though it might be surprising, makes sense for a team that has never been completely sold on David Garrard. Locker has the all the physical tools and intangibles but would be best off in a position where he could sit for his rookie year. This would be a great situation for him to land in.

17. New England Patriots (from Oakland Raiders) – J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
Previous Mock Selection: J.J. Watt
The Pats have three picks in the first 33 selections so they can take the best player available. RB, OLB, DE, and offensive line are areas where the team can improve. Watt would be a great fit in the Patriots 3-4 scheme.

18. San Diego Chargers – Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
Previous Mock Selection: Adrian Clayborn
Vincent Jackson has been slapped with the franchise tag but who knows if he’ll be sitting out yet again. Either way the team may want to look at taking a top flight receiver. More likely though they will choose to upgrade at DE or possibly grab an offensive tackle. Clayborn would be a good fit in the 3-4 scheme that the Chargers run though there is some concern over his having Erb’s Palsy and his drop-off in productivity in his senior year.

19. New York Giants – Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
Previous Mock Selection: Anthony Castonzo
There aren’t many glaring areas of need with the Giants but offensive tackle and even defensive tackle are possibilities here. Castonzo will be in the discussion as to which LT comes off the board first. He comes from a program that has a history of producing good lineman at the next level and was a four year starter.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
Previous Mock Selection: Aldon Smith
The Bucs can most use upgrades on the defensive side of the ball with focus going to defensive end, outside linebacker, and corner. Kerrigan would be a good fit in the Bucs’ defensive scheme, providing pass rush from the edge as well as solid run support, and is a polished three year starter.

21. Kansas City Chiefs – Justin Houston, DE/OLB, Georgia
Previous Mock Selection: Nate Solder
The Chiefs could look at taking an OT here to help protect Matt Cassel. DE, OLB, and even another WR could be other options here. One player they’ve shown interest in that would make a lot of sense is Houston. In college he showed that he can play both down on the line and standing up, and that versatility would really come in handy for the Chiefs who need another pass rusher in their 3-4 defense.

22. Indianapolis Colts – Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
Previous Mock Selection: Derek Sherrod
The Colts need help on the offensive line and Solder is an intriguing option. His mobility and size makes him well suited for the zone blocking scheme the team runs, but he is going to be a project given his need to work on technique. If not offensive line then the team can once again use help stopping the run with a new defensive tackle or could look to replace the released Bob Sanders at safety.

23. Philadelphia Eagles – Mike Pouncey, G, Florida
Previous Mock Selection: Brandon Harris
The Eagles could go defense here (OLB and CB) with a good value being Brandon Harris. The versatility of Pouncey however would provide a nice upgrade for their offensive line. He has been impressing many lately with comparisons to his Pro Bowl center brother Maurkice being made (though Mike performed much better at guard than center). The offseason surgery leading to uncertainty with Winston Justice could also have them looking at offensive tackles too.

24. New Orleans Saints – Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
Previous Mock Selection: Stephen Paea
Reggie Bush is not a full time back and may not even be back with the team, and Pierre Thomas is injury plagued and a free agent. That makes RB a priority though taking one this high might be a questionable decision. The Saints could also look to the defensive line or grab a replacement at strong safety. Paea could be a dominant force but due to an injury suffered at Senior Bowl he lost some momentum, which he may have gained back by breaking the bench press record at the Combine.

25. Seattle Seahawks – Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
Previous Mock Selection: Jake Locker
The Seahawks improbable playoff run dropped them from what would’ve been the 8th pick all the way to the 25th but the team has needs all over and not just in seeking a potential franchise QB. If Jake Locker were to slip here he would certainly get strong consideration as would Ryan Mallet and even Christian Ponder who may be the best fit of them all. It is no foregone conclusion that the team would go QB even in those scenarios as CB, OL, or DE make just as much sense. Jimmy Smith’s character concerns drop him down this far but he is the prototypical big physical corner the team seeks out.

26. Baltimore Ravens – Brandon Harris, CB, Miami
Prevoius Mock Selection: Aaron Williams
Baltimore had serious issues with depth at corner and made the trade for Josh Wilson who played well but is a free agent. Fabian Washington and Chris Carr are also set to hit the market. Harris would be a good selection here and would fill an immediate need, he comes from a program that has provided many good players at the position. Don’t be surprised if Jonathan Baldwin or Torrey Smith come off the board here as Derrick Mason, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and Donte Stallworth could be lost to retirement or free agency.

27. Atlanta Falcons – Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri
Previous Mock Selection: Allen Bailey
John Abraham is getting up there in age and the Falcons could use someone opposite him if not just to be the eventual replacement. Smith is raw but has a lot of potential and the team could afford him some time to develop. Corner (Aaron Williams) or offensive tackle are other positions to watch but a pass rusher might make the most sense.

28. New England Patriots – Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
Previous Mock Selection: Mikel Leshoure
Back to New England and grabbing an offensive lineman would be their type of pick made all the more necessary by the line disintegrating this off-season. Running back is a possibility, and outside linebacker could be looked at. With the 33rd pick coming up they can really take best value at any number of positions. Carimi is another OT that is in the mix as the best in class, though not all that athletic the blocking scheme the Pats run doesn’t really require that, and as a four year starter he has the experience to contribute right away.

29. Chicago Bears – Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
Previous Mock Selection: Tyron Smith
Obviously the offensive line is the biggest need for the Bears, and it would be really surprising if they went any other direction. Defensive tackle and wide receiver would be other options, but if one of the top offensive tackles are around than they would be best served addressing that need. Sherrod is really the last of that group available here.

30. New York Jets – Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
Previous Mock Selection: Torrey Smith
Both Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes are set to be free agents and they’ll likely only be able to bring one of them back. The Jets went all in on this season and now will be faced with a bunch of decisions. A replacement at receiver or more pieces on the defense (particularly at DT or DE) would contribute. Baldwin separated himself at the Combine as likely the third receiver to come off the board. With the team more likely to bring back Holmes than Edwards, the size of Baldwin makes him a very good fit. Torrey Smith is another option and as a fantastic returner could also fill the void if Brad Smith leaves in free agency.

31. Pittsburgh Steelers – Martez Wilson, ILB, Illinois
Previous Mock Selection: Mike Pouncey
The Steelers always seem to draft well and refresh talent particularly on the defensive side of the ball. They have the ability to go best available value here whether that be on the offensive line or at a number of positions on defense. Pittsburgh does not have an immediate need at ILB but Wilson has been a fast riser as a surprise underclassmen declaration that teams are just beginning to realize is first round talent. He put up the best 40 time of any LB at the combine which could also be a sign of potential to move him to outside linebacker. Either way his potential is high, and the Steelers are in a spot where they can make a pick that doesn’t have to address immediate need.

32. Green Bay Packers – Muhammad Wilkerson, DT/DE, Temple
Previous Mock Selection: Gabe Carimi
The Packers faced a ton of injuries this year so evaluating their areas of need isn’t as straight forward as some other teams. They can probably best use new talent on the offensive line at either guard or tackle. A defensive end could also be a possibility. With the top offensive tackles off the board, a guard or defensive end makes sense. Wilkerson could go even before this spot after turning in an impressive performance at the Combine.

***Featured in the Walter Football Mock Draft Database***
***Featured in DC Pro Sports Report Mock Draft Database***