This article will focus on my 1st round 2011 NFL Mock Draft, and all seven rounds of the 49ers 2011 mock. I decided to post this on the front page to give all you on Niners Nation another perspective outside of Drew's great draft discussions. To continue to the discussion over there click here.
As you all know, our 49ers have the 7th pick in April's draft, which is quickly approaching. There are many different holes that our 49ers need to fill; among them are quarterback, guard, defensive end, pass rushing LB, corner and safety. Which direction will the 49ers go? Well, a lot of that depends on what happens with the six picks prior to the 49ers selection. Most 49ers fans, including myself, want Patrick Peterson or Von Miller, maybe Prince Amukamara if the former two are already selected. I know what fans do not want. And, that is Blaine Gabbert, Cameron Newton or Ryan Mallett with the 7th pick.
So let the discussion begin.....
1. Carolina Panthers: DT Nick Fairley Auburn
Most teams that have the 1st pick in the draft are in desperate need in a lot of positions. However, this draft isn't deep enough for Carolina to find upgrades in every position that they need. There is no true "franchise QB", so Carolina is going to have to look elsewhere with the 1st pick. Nick Fairley will anchor there offensive line for the foreseeable future. He is a clog in the middle that can get to the QB and plays well against the rush.
2. Denver Broncos: DE Da'Quan Bowers Clemson
Some pundits have Denver taking Patrick Peterson here, but I just do not see it. As mentioned in my previous article, corners do not typically go top 5. Bowers fills an immediate need in one of the worse defenses in the NFL. He is multi-dimensional, and will not just be used in obvious passing situations. That said, his major attribute is getting to the QB, and that will help a lot.
3. Buffalo Bills: QB Blaine Gabbert Missouri
For those of you that think Ryan Fitzpatrick is a "franchise QB", think again. I don't think Buffalo is going to be fooled into buying that either. Gabbert is the best QB in a bad draft class, but he is also a project. Look for Buffalo to go with Gabbert and let him sit in the wings while Fitzpatrick handles the snaps for the next season or two.
4. Cincinnati Bengals: WR A.J. Green Georgia
Terrell Owens will not be back and Chad Jackson is not a happy camper, he may want out too. Cincinnati is a mess right now, and could look QB here. But, I think they will go for the consensus #1 WR on the board. Green will come in and contribute immediately. He runs great routes, had nice hands and the learning curve from Georgia to the NFL won't be that much.
5. Arizona Cardinals: QB Cameron Newton Auburn
This selection will please many San Francisco 49ers fans, but it is a pick that Arizona must make. Their QB situation was just beyond horrible last season, and they MUST upgrade there. I am not saying that Newton will be a successful NFL QB; I am saying that Arizona might think so. Accordingly, they could take a flyer on Ryan Mallet here, but that would be too much of a reach.
6. Cleveland Browns: DT Marcell Dareus Alabama
Cleveland played real well against some good teams last season, but they were not consistent. Dareus is the definition of consistent and will anchor what has become a weak defensive line for Cleveland. I understand that the Browns do need to find playmakers on offense, but there really isn't any here to find, instead, they go for a playmaker in the front seven.
7. San Francisco 49ers: CB Patrick Peterson Louisiana State
This would be an ideal scenario for San Francisco. Two "weak" QBs taken in the top five, and the best all-around player in the draft falling to 7. This is not a pipe dream, it will most likely happen. See more on this later...
8. Tennessee Titans: DE Robert Quinn North Carolina
Quinn has been jumping up the draft boards, and the Titans need a playmaker on the defensive line, something they have not had since the Albert Haynesworth days. Quinn will accumulate double digit sacks on a regular basis, and that is something nice to find in the bottom has of the top ten.
9. Dallas Cowboys: OT Tyron Smith Southern California
The Cowboys secondary was a major issue last season, so I can easily see them going with Amukamara here. However, they must protect their franchise QB, Tony Romo. Tyron Smith has all the raw ability in the world, and that is why I have him as the first offensive tackle off the board. His upside is endless, and Dallas will most likely be seeing an all-pro performer here for years to come.
10. Washington Redskins: WR Julio Jones Alabama
What a mess Washington was last season, and they have so many holes to fill. Jones gives them a weapon on the outside and possibly in the return game. Some may think that Washington will go for the "glamour" pick here in Ryan Mallett, but I think that Shanahan understands the need to build through the draft and get value; they will have that in Jones.
11. Houston Texans: CB Prince Amukamara Nebraska
This would also be an ideal scenario for Houston, which ranked dead last in the NFL in pass defense. Teams usually don't draft corners in the 1st round in consecutive seasons, but Houston was so bad in that category last season they may be forced to. They also get nice value in Amukamara, who some have going as high as #5 to Arizona.
12. Minnesota Vikings: CB Brandon Harris Miami (F)
Let me be clear here; if either Gabbert or Newton fall to Minnesota, they will take a flyer on one. However, I do not see that scenario playing out. Antoine Winfield isn't getting any younger, and Minnesota must look to the future. This wouldn't be a great value pick, but I think that Brandon Harris has the ability to be a shutdown corner in the NFL, and getting that outside the top 10 is nice.
13. Detroit Lions: LB Von Miller Texas A&M
Some may question why I have Miller falling to 13 because of his recent performance during Senior Bowl week, but let me explain. Von Miller will be a victim of circumstance here, as teams in the top 12 look elsewhere to fill needs. I could easily see this turning out different if Patrick Peterson isn't available to the 49ers, or Prince Amukamara is gone by the time Houston picks. In Von Miller Detroit fills both a need and gets great value. The Secondary and pass rushing was a major issue for Detroit last season, but with the top 3 corners gone, they get a steal in Miller.
14. St. Louis Rams: DE Aldon Smith Missouri
Sam Bradford needs a true #1 WR to work with, but both A.J. Green and Julio Jones will be gone here. Chris Long had a breakout season in 2010, and adding Aldon Smith will give them Rams nice outside threats on the defensive line.
15. Miami Dolphins: RB Mark Ingram Miami (F)
Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown will both be gone next season, and Miami needs to find a workhorse RB to replace them, in Mark Ingram they get that. He is by far the #1 RB in the draft, and they get him with the 15th pick. In other seasons Ingram would go top 10, but once again we see a player fall because of circumstance. Teams picking before Miami really don't have huge needs at the RB position, and it will benefit the Fins a great deal.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars: DE Adrian Clayborn Iowa
Jacksonville needs to find a pass rusher; there is really no question about that. Last season they took Tyson Alalu, who had a pretty good rookie season. This year they get another cog in the defensive line in Adrian Clayborn, who continues to show great work ethic and passion for the game.
17. New England Patriots: DE Cameron Jordan California
The Patriots traded Richard Seymour to Oakland with this pick, so it only makes sense for them to find a replacement right? This is why the Patriots are continually a playoff team. Trade an aging veteran for a younger player in Cameron Jordan, pure genius. Jordan will make that defense extremely scary in the front seven, he will be a Pro Bowl performer sooner rather than later.
18. San Diego Chargers: DE Cameron Heyward Ohio State
San Diego needs to find a pass rusher to replace the enigma that was Shawne Merriman. Cameron Heyward was projected to be a top 10 pick a few months ago, but a subpar 2010 season dropped his status. That said, he should be a nice addition to San Diego's defense.
19. New York Giants: OT Nate Solder Colorado
New York could easily go secondary here (Aaron Williams), but I see them attempting to find better value with the 19th pick. Nate Solder will be good offensive linemen for the next decade, and he fits perfectly into what the Giants have continued to build in the offensive line over the years, work ethic and pure power.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: S Rahim Moore UCLA
Tampa Bay needs defensive help, as they had a great offensive draft in 2010. Rahim Moore has the ability to be a standout defensive player in the NFL, and having Morris work with him will only strengthen that opportunity.
21. Kansas City Chiefs: OT Anthony Castonzo Boston College
Kansas City's weak offensive line was apparent in their playoff loss to Baltimore, Matt Cassel really had no chance as the likes of Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata etc... got in his face. Castonzo is the ultimate professional that will keep Cassel upright for the most part.
22. Indianapolis Colts: OT Gabe Carimi Wisconsin
Continuing in the run of offensive lineman, Indianapolis selects Gabe Carimi who has a history of being great in the run game, something that Indianapolis needs desperately. Their pass protection for Peyton Manning was decent, but opening up running lines for Joseph Addai etc... is what they need.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: CB Aaron Williams Texas
If one of the teams ahead of Philadelphia passes up on offensive tackles, then the Eagles may go in that direction. However, I see them going for value and need with the 23rd pick. Aaron Williams has tremendous upside, he just needs to be more consistent.
24. New Orleans Saints: RB Mikel Leshoure Illinois
The lack of a running game killed the Saints this season as their offense was way too one dimensional. They need a full time workhorse RB, and in Leshoure they get that. He had a great season for the Illini in 2010 and look for him to continue that in New Orleans.
25. Seattle Seahawks: DT Corey Luiget Illinois
Jake Locker anyone? That would be a perfect fit for the Seahawks, but they may look elsewhere here as Lockers stock continues to drop. Corey Luiget has an opportunity to be the best Illini defensive linemen coming out in about a two decades that is how good I believe he is. He will anchor the Hawks defensive line for years to come.
26. Baltimore Ravens: CB Brandon Burton Utah
Baltimore's secondary took a huge step back in 2010 and the likes of Fabion Washington are not going to get it done. Brandon Burton may be a little of a reach here, but in the mid-20s you need to fill needs, and he does that.
27. Atlanta Falcons: DE Justin Houston Georgia
Houston from Georgia stays in the peach state. Justin Houston will work nice opposite John Abraham and give the Falcons a nice 1-2 punch on the ends.
28. New England Patriots: OT Derek Sherrod Mississippi State
With six picks in the 1st three rounds the Patriots can afford to fill holes that may not necessarily be evident right now. Derek Sherrod can be eased into the starting lineup, therefore, enhancing the possibility of him being a great tackle for the Patriots.
29. Chicago Bears: OT Demarcus Love Arkansas
Jay Cutler was destroyed on many of occasion last season and the Bears must look for an immediate upgrade. Love may not have a huge amount of upside, but he can come and start right away.
30. New York Jets: WR Leonard Hankerson Miami (F)
Even if the Jets are able to re-sign Braylon Edwards or Santonio Holmes, they are going to need another WR. I strongly doubt that both of them will return. I was extremely impressed by Hankerson last season, especially with the Hurricanes QB situation. He looks like the real deal, and the Jets get a nice #2 WR here.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers: DT Muhammed Wilkerson Temple
Casey Hampton isn't getting any younger and the Steelers usually don't waste time replacing aging veterans. Wilkerson is a beast of a man, and will fit perfectly into what Mike Tomlin has built in the Steel City.
32. Green Bay Packers: DE J.J. Watt Wisconsin
Normally, I would have them going with the o-line here, however, the run of tackles that immediately proceeded Green Bay's pick limits their options. J.J. Watt is 1st round talent, and will fit well with the Packers growing front seven.
Full San Francisco 49ers 2011 Mock Draft
1. CB Patrick Peterson Louisiana State
Peterson is the best all-around player in the 2011 NFL Draft, and the 49ers get him at 7. You really couldn't ask for more could you? The 49ers can slot Peterson into the CB position for the next decade and not have to worry about it. Not since Deion Sanders has a CB came into the NFL with such an aura about him. Look for Peterson to mimic what Sanders did for the 49ers his one and only season with them
2. DE Allen Bailey Miami (F)
San Francisco needs to find a pass rusher opposite Justin Smith, and they are just lucky enough to see Bailey fall to them. Bailey is a perfect fit for a 3-4 defense as he is great against the run as well as a good pass rusher.
3. RB Shane Vereen California
Some think that Anthony Dixon is the heir apparent to Frank Gore, and I am not going to agree or disagree. But, you cannot have enough solid RBs in the backfield. If Vereen had returned to CAL for his senior season, he would have been a top 10 pick next season; this is how good I think he is. Look for him to contribute immediately.
4. WR Vincent Brown San Diego State
Terrell Owens 2.0? Maybe. Vincent Brown runs great routes and has solid hands, he isn't a game breaker and struggles to get separation; but those were the same knocks that many had of Terrell Owens coming out of college. A good receiver, is well, a good receiver. I personally believe that Brown has the capability of being a #1 receiver in the NFL, and there is no reason why the 49ers do not take a flyer on him here.
4 . LB Bruce Carter North Carolina
Manny Lawson may not return, and even if he does the 49ers need more pass rushers on the outside. Bruce Carter fits that mold, and gives them value in the 4th.
5 . QB Pat Devlin Delaware
It is questionable that the 49ers wait until the 5th round to address the QB position, but I see Ryan Mallett and Jake Locker being selected before their 2nd round pick, and Colin Kaepernick selected before their 3rd round selection. In Pat Devlin the 49ers get a project QB, but one that has a tremendous amount of upside. The perfect scenario would be Devlin sitting behind a veteran QB for about two years. Carson Palmer, Kyle Orton, Donovan McNabb, Matt Hasselbeck etc....
6. FB Owen Marecic Stanford
I really don't see Marecic falling to the 6th round, however, most mock drafts have him available when the 49ers select here. It would be an absolute no brainer. He is an ultimate pro in every sense of the word and Jim Harbaugh has called him the best football player he has ever coached, those are amazing words if you ask me. Marecic could also add depth to the LB position and in special teams.
6. S Tejay Johnson Texas Christian
Johnson was a QB in the best secondary in the nation last season. So why does he fall to the 6th round? Well because he isn't flashy at all. What Johnson does cannot be easily seen on the practice field or at the combine. But, make no mistake about it, he will be a productive NFL player.
7. K Alex Henery Nebraska
Joe Nedney is pretty much done, and there remain a lot of questions in regards to Jeff Reed. The 49ers may look to get a kicker with one of their 3 possible 7th round picks. Henery was the best kicker in the NCAA last season, and will be a good kicker at the next level. He has 55+ yard range.
7. OL Lee Ziemba Auburn
Ziemba is slotted as a tackle, but I see him more as a guard in the NFL. With Alex Boone pretty much slotted as the primary back up tackle in 2011, the 49ers must have to look at the guard position.
7. Best Player Available