Here is my first attempt at a Mock Draft for the upcoming 2011 NFL Draft. (Which in 3 days will be obsolete!)
1. The Panthers are not sold on Jimmy Clausen, and they do not have a second round pick to grab a QB later, so they take a gamble on Cam Newton and his huge upside.
2. Marcel Dareus is touted as the top front seven defenders in the draft and will fill a huge void in the middle of the Broncos new 4-3 defense.
3. Von Miller is rated as not only the top OLB prospect in the draft, but as the premier pure pass rusher as well. Buffalo has stated that this is the perfect time to draft a QB, but they also have said they fully believe Fitzpatrick can lead them to the post-season. Unless they get offers to move down, Miller will be the pick.
4. Carson Palmer insists he will not play again for this team, and Mike Brown is as stubborn as a mule, so their is an impasse. This team does need a QB for the future, but taking one in the top 5, without a rookie wage scale in place could be disastrous if Palmer decides to un-retire after the draft. Bengals are also reportedly in love with Andy Dalton who can be had in rounds 2-3. Bengals make the right choice, and select the elite of the receiving class A.J. Green, who is a more natural receiver than Julio Jones.
5. Coaching staffs that are fighting for their jobs, generally do not bring in young quarterbacks. However with free agent uncertainty, and the value Blaine Gabbert represents, they pull the trigger.
6. The Browns are a team that is closing to being competitive than most realize, so there are a lot of options available to them at this pick. But, at the end of the day, getting a blue chip pass rusher can fill more voids than any position, other than QB. Robert Quinn may not stack against the run well just yet, but he is an athletic freak who knows how to get to the quarterback.
7. The 49ers are ecstatic that the best defensive player, if not the best player in the entire draft, falls right into their lap at #7. Patrick Peterson, welcome to San Francisco. This defense just got better immediately.
8. The Titans can find a lot of high value picks at this position, but the possibility of pairing the best interior pass rusher in the country with an already talented D-line is too much to pass up. Remeber that Nick Fairley's former defensive coach is now on the Titans staff, and will be lobbying for him.
9. Dallas needs help on the defensive line and their secondary had a disappointing season last year, but their O-line needs more attention. They need to be able to run the ball, and most importantly keep Tony Romo healthy. Jerry Jones is hoping Boom or Bust candidate Tyron Smith can help them do both.
10. Last year Santana Moss was the teams leading receiver, and this year he is a free agent. Even if they do retain his services, he turns 32 this year. Julio Jones is the the best available receiver, and has all the physical gifts a receiver could ask for.
11. The Texans pass defense was dead last and Kareem Jackson did nothing to prevent that. Despite needing help in the secondary, new defensive coordinator believes he can turn Aldon Smith into the next Demarcus Ware.
12. Despite the needs at QB and at DT, the Vikings can not pass up on the chance to get the best pass rusher in the country. Da'Quan Bowers led the NCAA with 15.5 sacks. Despite concerns over his knee, the risk reward here is worth the shot. This allows the team to let Ray Edwards walk in free agency.
13. The Lions can always be found at the corner of BPA and Needs. Tackle and Outside Linebacker are clearly needs as well as corner, but Prince Amukamara is their highest rated player at this point.
14. The Rams were hoping Julio Jones would fall to them, but he is gone. So they take the Best Player Available, and grab J.J. Watt. Watt appears to be more ideally suited to play a 5 technique as a 3-4 end, but he is athletic enough to play inside and out in Spagnuola's 4-3, like Justin Tuck did in New York.
15. Miami is an interesting pick here. Their situation tells you that they need a running back and a quarterback, but I don't think they do either. I think Miami worries about those needs in later rounds and free agency, and continue to build their defense. Cameron Jordan is the pick.
16. The Jags are building a hard working blue collar team, and that continues with the selection of Purdue's DE Ryan Kerrigan. Kerrigan is an athletic player, but his greatest attribute is his passion for the game. He is the quintessential high-motor player that will produce at the next level. Some player comparisons that come to mind are Kyle Vanden Bosch, Jared Allen, and Aaron Kampfman.
17. The Patriots are unlikely to "stand pat" with this pick, as they are always trading back to grab a slew of those highly valuable 2s. But, if Belicheck uses the 17th pick, it has to be Anthony Costanzo, the local guy from BC. They love Mark Ingram, but the Pats don't pay players big money, and Matt Light is a free agent. They need to solidify Brady's blind side.
18. Muhammad Wilkerson of Temple is not as well known as some of the other defensive line prospects, but he is an ideal fit for a 5 technique with big wide body at 300 plus. This is a value pick for the Chargers.
19. Mike Pouncey may or may not have the impact that his brother did with the Steelers Last year, but he will still be a solid pick. The Giants need help in the middle of their aging Oline, and he is the best prospect for the job. This is also the right slot for him, as he is a perfect pick for the value.
20. I like what Raheem Morris is doing with the team, between the white lines. However, their decision to ignore character flaws, are the price they appear to be willing to pay. Adrian Clayborn was believed to be a top 15 if not top 10 selection going into the season. But off the field issues and a below expectations year have dampered that. However, his ability as an edge rusher fills a need for this young Bucs team.
21. The Chiefs are a ground an pound team and that continues with the selection of the Wisconsin Mauler, Gabe Carimi. Carimi plays left tackle, but projects as a dominant potential pro bowl caliber right tackle. The Chief hit a home run on this selection.
22. The Colts need help in the middle of that defense. Fili Moala has been a disappointment, and no one else at the DT position scares anyone. Corey Liuget is a disruptive high motor type of player that plays sound disciplined football. He does not flash as much as Nick Fairely, but several scouts rate him higher, and find him playing at a high level more consistently. This pick instantly upgrades Indy's pass rush.
23. Jimmy Smith is physically one of the most gifted cornerbacks in the entire country, but off the field concerns have been a big hit to his draft stock. Smith seems to be a player that will greatly benefit from a veteran locker room, and Philly has that. He provides them a press cover corner that has the speed to turn and run after the jam. He is a great compliment opposite Asante Samuel.
24. The former super bowl champs had some challenges last season, and they still played pretty well down the stretch. However, the Saints still need a pass rushing presence to help fuel Greg Williams attacking defense. Cameron Heyward, Iron Head's son, will be that pass rushing presence opposite of fellow Buckeye Alum Will Smith.
25. Everyone but Pete Carrol was surprised at the Seahawks post season arrival last year. It wasn't pretty, in fact it was pretty ugly, but someone had to win the west. This team certainly has a lot of needs, but they have to get some one opposite of Chris Clemons. Georgia defensive end Justin Houston is an explosive edge rusher they hope can cover up some of the deficiencies of the back 4.
26. The have needs that they will not be able to address at this spot in the first round, without making a major reach on a wideout like Torrey Smith or Titus Young. I feel those are both 2nd round or later prospects. The ravens are not going to give up on Sergio Kindle any time soon, but they don't know what they will get out of him at this point, and T-Sizzle is almost 10 years in the league. Getting a young pass rushing backer in Brooks Reed, presents too much value for Ozzie Newsome to pass up.
27. The Falcons are disappointed that all of the 1st round defensive ends are off the board at this point, and decide to go with the best TE prospect in the years draft class. An injury and team needs, not talent, have pushed Kyle Rudolph down the board. Tony Gonzalez is still playing at a high level, but he has mentioned playing 1-2 more years. They need to groom his eventual replacement, besides having a second dynamic tight end allows allot of freedom to a power running team.
28. The Patriots were tempted to pull the trigger on Mark Ingram earlier, but were disciplined and went with the trenches first and it pays off. Belicheck is thrilled that Ingram slides right into his lap 11 picks later. Ingram will provide some muscle to go with the law firm, and is a good value at the bottom of the 1st.
29. The Bears won the North, and made it to the championship game until they were knocked off by division rival Green Bay. They did this while boasting an aging and average offensive line. The bears are happy to find Nate Solder still available, even if he is a year away from starting at LT. Welcome to Soldier Field, Solder.
30. The Jets have an imposing defense that played very well, despite not having Kris Jenkins last year, but they could have been a lot better. Phil Taylor is the top rated "power pig" and looks like he could be a force at Nose in the 3-4. Injury concerns not withstanding, foot issues are always overblown in New York.
31. The Steelers always boast an elite defense, but some parts have a lot of mileage on them. Anyone who watched them in the post season saw that Polamalu just was not the same player. Maybe it was just him battling the injuries, or maybe it is that the wear and tear of his reckless play style catching up with him. Either way, the Steelers have hinted at their intrest in Aaron Williams out of Texas. Williams is typically rated as the 3 or 4th corner in this draft, but some evaluators like Mike Mayock have said he may be even better suited to play safety in this league. I really like Williams. He is a very fluid athlete with great ball skills and explosion. I think that whether he plays CB or S, that he will be a good player for a long time. He is my steal of the 1st round.
32. Congrats Packers, you brought Lombardi home. Now get back to work. The pack are still a very good team, and have a great shot at a deep run again next year, but if they don't invest in their Oline, no chance. Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher are 34 and 33 respectively. Brian Bulaga is developing nicely, but he can't play left and right tackle. Derek Sherrod, left tackle from Mississippi State is a 1st round talent, and he does not get past the Pack. He may not be a day 1 starter, but he will be an integral part of this teams future.