2011 NFL Mock Draft - Post-NFL Combine Results Edition

Last year, I put out several mock drafts... more than I probably should have. This year I have been a bit more conservative and kept the flow a bit on the low side. Mock drafts tend to start getting watered down if you're shooting out nine hundred of them.

The time and effort that it takes to do a well thought out mock is not the easiest thing to do. Taking in to consideration team needs, team statistics, analyzing current starters for each team, etc. are all factors in the assessment process. There's more detail to it than that, but we'll keep it simple for now. There's no analyst, or mock guru out there that get's a high percentage of picks right.

Everything should always be taken with a grain of salt. Each year, in the real draft, there are several trades throughout. You simply cannot predict trade scenarios... it's nearly impossible. So with that, here is the mock...

1. Carolina Panthers - Cat Scratch Reader
Nick Fairley | DT | Auburn: Panthers new Head Coach, Ron Rivera has stated recently that having a franchise quarterback is imperative to winning. He goes on to say that without one, a team cannot win. This leaves possibility open in drafting a guy like Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert. However, my thoughts are this, I believe that the rookie coach will go after a veteran quarterback like Vince Young or Donovan McNabb via trade if he's able to. This would allow him to go after the sure-fire, can't-miss stud in Nick Fairley to anchor that defensive line for years to come.
2. Denver Broncos - Mile High Report
Robert Quinn | 43 DE | North Carolina: New Head Coach, John Fox is putting the 4-3 defense back in to effect in Denver. The Broncos would be well-suited to go after Quinn considering his strength as a 4-3 pass rushing defensive end. Quinn's tangibles on tape are off the charts, and most pundits feel like he will peak once he is in the NFL. We may not have seen Quinn's best just yet. 
3. Buffalo Bills - Buffalo Rumblings
Von Miller | 34 OLB | Texas A&M: Von Miller had a phenomenal offseason from the Senior Bowl all the way up to the combine. He has most people thinking that he is going to be the best outside linebacker to come out since Clay Matthews and Demarcus Ware. With the Bills offense not looking as bad as the defense last year, Gailey and company would be hard pressed to pass up Miller in the top five.
4. Cincinnati Bengals - Cincy Jungle
Cam Newton | QB | Auburn: It's no secret that Palmer will not be back as a Bengal in 2011. He will either retire or be traded; it's as simple as that. Cam Newton fits the bill as a Marvin Lewis type of player. The winning attitude will go a long way with the Bengals Head Coach. He has to produce this year, and without Palmer at the helm, he will need to take drastic measures. There's always the possibility of Vince Young or Donovan McNabb I suppose, but Newton could help secure Lewis' job for years to come.
5. Arizona Cardinals - Revenge Of The Birds
NFL TEAM
Patrick Peterson | CB | LSU: The Cards could go so many places with the pick here, but with Peterson still on the board, and their secondary being ranked 23rd in the league last year, they will be looking for some help back there. Many will argue that there's no way that the Cards don't address the quarterback position here, but Patrick Peterson can play safety or cornerback; two birds with one stone mantra. They may target a guy like Mallett or Locker should they fall to the second considering that they will be picking early then as well.
6. Cleveland Browns - Dawgs By Nature
A.J. Green | WR | Georgia: There are a couple of potential number two targets on Cleveland's roster right now but they don't have a clear-cut number one target. I have a sneaking suspicion that they want to stick with Colt McCoy as the quarterback. He fits that west-coast-offense mentality. One more year won't hurt in a year that is not too stocked with more than one franchise quarterback option. Even though Julio Jones could be slotted here (due to a stellar combine performance), Green is still by most considered the consensus number one wide out.
7. San Francisco 49ers - Niners Nation
Blaine Gabbert | QB | Missouri: There's no question that the 49ers are going to do something about the quarterback position. While Harbaugh has been enamored with the potential he's seen on film with Alex Smith, Smith has yet to be re-signed. Even if Smith re-signs, it's quite clear that the job will not just be handed to him. Gabbert makes a whole lot of sense at number seven. Mike Mayock has stated that Gabbert is the only true "franchise" quarterback in the draft. Harbaugh will need to get Gabbert custom to taking snaps under center at the next level. Bill Walsh had to work on footwork with both Joe Montana and Steve Young... it may not be too big a transition for Gabbert anyhow.
8. Tennessee Titans - Music City Miracles
Da'Quan Bowers | 43 DE | Clemson: It's taken Jason Babin five teams to finally find his niche since being drafted in 2004. Last year he had 13 sacks (one of best in the league). On the other side though, Jacob Ford (a 6th rounder in 2007) hasn't been able to hold his own. Taking Bowers here would keep opposing offensive coordinators up at night similar to that of a Freeney-Mathis combo in Indy. While the Titans could easily take a quarterback here, Bowers may be too tempting for new Head Coach, Mike Munchak to pass on if he's here. Look for the Titans to go hard after Kevin Kolb or Donovan McNabb to address the quarterback position.
9. Dallas Cowboys - Blogging The Boys
NFL TEAM
Prince Amukamara | CB | Nebraska: Jerry Jones (the king), will most definitely be enamored in finding the Prince of his subpar secondary. Last year, Dallas' defensive secondary was ranked 26th in the NFL. Rob Ryan will convince newly named Head Coach, Jason Garrett that they would be dumb to pass on the former Nebraska star corner. Terrance Newman had a so-so season last year with 5 interceptions, but Mike Jenkins (the former 1st rounder in 2008) has been a real disappointment. If at first you don't succeed, just shell out more money at the same position (says Jerry "the emperor" Jones)... If the Cowboys make this selection, look for Jenkins head to roll making room for the Fresh Prince of Texas Stadium. 
10. Washington Redskins - Hogs Haven
Jake Locker | QB | Washington: Let's face it, Shanahan doesn't want to have anything to do with Donovan for whatever reason. Rexie probably isn't the guy that Shanahan wants to base his tenure on in Washington with either. Jake Locker had a very impressive combine showcasing that he worked diligently on his footwork from the Senior Bowl to present. His accuracy was night and day from what we saw during his time as a Husky and at the Senior Bowl. The other option that Shanahan has here, is going with Ryan Mallett, but it's hard to see the two-time Superbowl winning coach going with a loud mouth, self-indulgent weiner.
11. Houston Texans - Battle Red Blog
Mike Pouncey | G/ C | Florida: The Houston Texans have one of the worst interior lines in the NFL. After watching his twin brother play center excellently for Pittsburgh last year, it would be very hard for the Texans to not consider him here. Some people may think of this pick here as a reach, but is it really a reach if he winds up being as good, or better as his brother considering the need? Houston has a few other ways they could go here, but they have got to get that interior fixed sooner rather than later.
12. Minnesota Vikings - Daily Norseman
Marcell Dareus | DT | Alabama: Pat Williams is done in Minnesota leaving a huge hole on the interior of the defensive line for the Vikings. Leslie Frazier doesn't strike me as a guy who will go for a quarterback (especially Mallett) in this years first round. There's a chance that he could go after one of the veteran quarterbacks to lead his team as well. And who knows? He may just like Tavaris Jackson or Joe Webb enough to give one of those guys the nod. Either way, Dareus would be too tempting should he fall to number twelve.
13. Detroit Lions - Pride Of Detroit
Anthony Castonzo | LT | Boston College: This is somewhat of a reach, but it fills a big position of need. The Lions have struggled to keep their franchise quarterback Matt Stafford healthy since drafting him as the number one overall selection in 2009. Jeff Backus is not exactly the most reliable guy to have over there on Stafford's blind side. They can slide him over to right tackle and protect their multi-million dollar investment a bit better and immediately with Costanzo here.
14. St. Louis Rams - Turf Show Times
Julio Jones | WR | Alabama: It would be a no-brainer to get Sam Bradford a receiver like Jones. Jones' performance at this years combine was off the charts. He has a few question marks with his pass catching, but Sam Bradford should make things very easy for Jones in 2011. If Jones is selected here, he may be the second best wide out in the NFC West behind only Larry Fitzgerald immediately. If the Rams go here, they could be the front runners next year to win the division.
15. Miami Dolphins - The Phinsider
NFL TEAM
Adrian Clayborn | 34 DE | Iowa: While virtually every single mock draft out there has the Dolphins either taking a quarterback (mostly Cam Newton) or running back (mostly Mark Ingram), it's no secret that the Dolphins had trouble getting any kind of production out of either of their current defensive ends. Randy Starks and Kendall Langford were average at best. They have a couple of awesome outside linebackers in Cameron Wake and Koa Misi. If they can get one of those guys free a bit more, that means more pressure. The Dolphins have a pretty good secondary, and this can lead to more defensive turnovers. 
16. Jacksonville Jaguars - Big Cat Country
Cameron Jordan | 43 DE | California: Del Rio and the front office knows all about Cameron Jordan. In scouting Tyson Alualu (who had a very productive rookie year), they had to have seen Jordan's dominance as well. The reunion would be sweet for both Alualu and Jordan in knowing each others tendencies already. The Jags need to get a better pass rush from their defensive line to help the guys out in the secondary. Jordan would be the best option to address a pretty big need with this selection.
17. New England Patriots - Pats Pulpit (from Oakland)
NFL TEAM
Mark Ingram | RB | Alabama: BenJarvis Green-Ellis will not be able to carry the full load. He would serve as a very good complementary back to a potential feature guy like Ingram. If the comparison's to Emmitt Smith are even halfway true, Tom Brady will be a happy man in that all the pressure won't be solely on him. I have a gut feeling that Mark Ingram may be the last guy in the green room on draft day due to the plethora of talent at other positions. In recent years, the need for running backs, particularly in the first round, have deteriorated.
18. San Diego Chargers - Bolts From The Blue
Rahim Moore | FS | UCLA: The Chargers are not exactly strong in regards to the safety position. Eric Weddle and Steve Gregory just flat out aren't anything more than average. With Moore sitting on the board here at eighteen, I am sure that the Chargers will have him prioritized to pick here. They don't have too many other glaring holes anywhere else. This pick makes the most sense.
19. New York Giants - Big Blue View
Akeem Ayers | SILB | UCLA: Yes, back to back players from UCLA. The Giants are weak right now in the linebacker department. They seemed to have had a decent secondary, and okay on the defensive line, but a bit weak at the mid level. Ayers instantly makes their defense a whole lot better and takes some of the pressure off of the up front guys as well as the guys behind.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Bucs Nation
J.J. Watt | DE | Wisconsin: The Bucs, although going with Gerald McCoy and Brian Price in last years draft, were still somewhat hollow in the department of putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. A lot of people see Watt as a Justin Smith type of player; high motor and all that. Smith started his career as a 43 defensive end in Cincinnati and made the transition quite well to a 34 defensive end. Watt would be best suited to start his career playing next to a guy like McCoy or Price. He is a solid pick and fit here at twenty.
21. Kansas City Chiefs - Arrowhead Pride
Jimmy Smith | CB | Colorado: Smith had a very good showing at the recent combine. Brandon Carr has not proven himself to be worthy of a starting spot in the NFL and will need to be replaced. Javier Arenas is probably not going to be that guy due to his lack of size (although he's a good option in a nickel package). Smith would solidify the secondary and give new sensation Eric Berry a little more freedom to roam the field. Smith would be a perfect fit in the Kansas City defense.
22. Indianapolis Colts - Stampede Blue
Derek Sherrod | LT | Mississippi State: The Colts have had a bit of instability in the last few years at the left tackle position. First with Tony Ugoh and now with Charlie Johnson. They need a sure-fire guy to get in there to protect Peyton Manning for the last portion of his career. Johnson may be better suited to play on the inside at left guard. The Colts could also go with a running back here, but there will be much more options later on to push Joseph Addai and Donald Brown for a full-time feature back role.
23. Philadelphia Eagles - Bleeding Green Nation
Stephen Paea | DT | Oregon State: One of the Eagles biggest problems on defense last year was getting consistent pressure up the middle and stuffing up the gut runs. Paea would be an excellent compliment to go along side of former first rounder Mike Patterson. If the Eagles get stronger on their defensive line internally, then it will much easier for the outside guys to get more pressure on the quarterback. If the Eagles don't go here, then the alternative would be to reach on a guy like Brandon Harris at the corner position.
24. New Orleans Saints - Canal Street Chronicles
Martez Wilson | OLB | Illinois: The Saints are not strong at all at the left outside linebacker position. They need a force like Wilson to step up and make a mark. The Saints don't have too many holes to fill on either side of the ball, but this is the one that pops out the most. Most mocks I have seen have the Saints going with a running back, but the recent re-signing of Pierre Thomas leads me to believe that they are content with him, Bush, and either Ladell Betts or Julius Jones as the third option. Running backs are a dime a dozen these days.
25. Seattle Seahawks - Field Gulls
Ryan Mallett | QB | Arkasnas: For some reason, I see Mallett being a perfect marriage with the Seahawks. Ryan Mallett is almost a chip off the old block in reference to Pete Carroll. They both have monstrous ego's and they both have that "never say die" attitude; even though Mallett does "die" from time to time. In any case, Mallett would not have to start immediately because Hasselbeck is there to captian the ship for now. It would serve Mallett best to ride the pine for a year so that a bit of humilty sets in. Hasselbeck would be the perfect guy to school the fiery big-armed Mallett. 
26. Baltimore Ravens - Baltimore Beatdown
Cameron Heyward | 34 DE | Ohio State: The Ravens need to get stronger at the defensive end position. Redding and Ngata should be back, but the other defensive end position has a flashing vacancy sign. Heyward would have to gain a few pounds, but a few pounds is not going to slow him down much. Heyward was a menace at Ohio State, and the Ravens thrive on disruption. This would be the best player that fills a fairly large need for the Ravens at twenty-six.
27. Atlanta Falcons - The Falcoholic
Aldon Smith | 43 DE | Missouri: The need for a presence on the left side of the front seven has been missing for a while now for the Falcons. This will be the year to address it considering the overflow of talent with defensive linemen this year. There's always a chance that they could go with offensive line, but it did not seem like the weakest link on their team. Smith would provide an instant presence on that left side.
28. New England Patriots - Pats Pulpit
NFL TEAM
Ryan Kerrigan | 34 OLB | Purdue: With Mayo and Spikes securing the middle, Bellichik will be looking to add a fierce outside pass rusher. Kerrigan has one of the better motors in this years draft. With so many of the other 34 outside linebackers gone, the Patriots would be excited with this selection here. In having two selections in the first round, it's also quite possible that the Patriots are involved with some first day shenanigans in moving up or down the board. It would be short sighted to think otherwise considering the track record there.
29. Chicago Bears - Windy City Gridiron
Torrey Smith | WR | Maryland: Jay Cutler needs help... in more than one way. But for the sake of argument, he needs some more options at the wide receiver position... Hester and Knox just aren't going to help them get over the mountain. Smith is a very quick, athletic receiver that will give defenses another thing to game plan against. Mike Martz loves to have as many options in the passing game as possible. His success heavily relies on it. Smith could be a great addition.
30. New York Jets - Gang Green Nation
Phil Taylor | NT | Baylor: Jenkins packed his bags and is gone from New York. At nearly 360 pounds, Phil Taylor is a monument of a man to move. The Jets need desperately to have a player like Taylor in the middle to hold things down. Rex Ryan has yet again promised the fans of New York a Superbowl next year. Whether Taylor is the missing piece is undetermined. But in looking at the stats, and the Jets roster, this would be a very nice way to go for them.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers - Behind the Steel Curtain
Brandon Harris | CB | Miami: The Steelers corners were exposed big time in the big game. The Packers spread the secondary out thin, and the terrible towels were left on the ground in disappointment and shame. They have to get some more pieces to be a contender against teams like the Packers and others that spread receivers out like that. Taylor, McFadden, and Gay just aren't enough to get the job done. Harris is super quick and very nimble. Deion Sanders always has his guys at the combine, and he was fascinated with the Miami corner just days ago.
32. Green Bay Packers - Acme Packing Company
Jason Pinkston | OG | Pittsburgh: It's extremely hard to pick apart a Superbowl winning team, but in looking back on the season, it seems as though the weakest area would be at the guard position. Specifically the right guard position. Pinkston has played both guard and tackle but he seems to be better at the guard position. The Packers could be favorites to go back to the Superbowl as they closed out very strong.

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